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It started innocently enough. I was doing a bit of research for my brother Roy, who has a new music project in the works. I was looking for contacts in the Nova Scotia Mi’qmaq community who have some legends to tell about Cape Split.
My search took me to a woman who works at Kejimkujik National Park, where she is a story teller and guide. So I spent the next 20 minutes reading about ancient petroglyphs in the park, like this one (photo credit http://www.muiniskw.org):
From there I went searching at the Nova Scotia Natural History Museum, and eventually found myself learning about Charles MacDonald. He started a concrete factory in my home town close to 100 years ago. He apparently didn’t pay his employees, but instead had a company money pot. Staff took what they needed whenever they needed it. MacDonald also hired workers to build five cottages for him (this was during the 1930s when employment was scarce and so this was a bit of a ‘make work’ project). All the cottages were constructed of concrete of course. Four of them are still standing. They are known as the ‘Fairy Houses’ and are located at Huntington Point near Hall’s Harbour. (Photo credit for next three pictures http://www.valleyfamilyfun.ca)
If you become a member of the Charles MacDonald Museum Society you can stay in the blue cottage for a donation of a few hundred dollars a week.
Then I fell down another rabbit hole…hikes in the Annapolis Valley. This led me to this beautiful waterfall, which is just a stone’s throw from where I grew up. Funny that I didn’t know of its existence before now.
By this time it was getting close to lunch, and I was good and homesick. There was only thing one thing to do…make crab cakes. So while I didn’t get far with my brother’s project, I did learn a pocketful of other facts, and I had a tasty lunch to boot.
A couple of weeks ago a co-worker had a mild heart attack. She is my age. Someone else I am close to, a few years older than me, just found out he has arthritis.
As much as I hate to admit it, I have reached the age where I can no longer take good health for granted. Enter my new regime. I have never been a runner, even as a kid. Never liked it. But a couple of very supportive colleagues of mine have started me on a learn to run program…zero to 5 k over the course of several weeks. I am in Week 2, and in fact am quite enjoying it. Also enjoying my morning shakes…today it is cherry, mango, banana, chia seeds and flax meal with almond milk. Onward and upward.
My plan had been to ply you with many tales and photos from my wonderful holiday in Turkey. However life has been absolutely crazy since my return. Until I have time to turn my attention to this, I am – temporarily – opening up my Facebook page so you can view the images I posted over the last few weeks. The header photo, by the way, is from a balloon ride we took in Cappadocia in the central part of the country.
Although totally exhausted, sleep escapes me as I lie in our little guest house in the old part of Istanbul. I will have photos of the city for you soon, but for now here are a few aerial shots of the flight across Europe.
As part of a fundraiser for the local United Way, I donated a promissory note for two homemade pies. The winner (my boss – but no pressure) decided today was the day to cash in his prize.
As I rolled out the pastry, my mind wandered back through the decades. Much of our family history can be told with pies.
There’s the now legendary tale of my oldest brother, who – as a toddler – plunked his diapered bottom into the middle of a pie at a family picnic. Everyone ate it anyway; apparently taste-wise, it was none the worse for wear.
I smile and think of Garth, an old family friend who had an unencumbered enthusiasm for good home cooking, especially my mom’s. It was a given that there would be pies on the menu when he came for dinner. He always had at least two slices (one of each kind).
Pies marked the seasons of my childhood…June meant rhubarb and strawberry; July was blueberry and cherry; August peach; September apple; October pumpkin. And on it went through to the mincemeat pies of Christmas.
There’s the apple pie I made for the first Thanksgiving feast I hosted after leaving home. One of my guests misbehaved and I had to ask him to leave, but the pie dissolved my anger. Even I was surprised at how tasty it was.
There are sweet memories of making pies with my own children; Alan, age four, perched precariously on a red IKEA chair so he could reach the counter to roll out pastry; two-year old Iris gleefully mucking about with her hands in Alan’s freshly baked pie; Jamie, also age two, looking pleased as punch with himself as he finger painted the dining room wall with blueberry pie filling.
As I finished making this morning’s pies, I poked vent holes…A for the apple/cranberry pie, and P for the peach/cranberry.
I looked at my handiwork. AP. Alice Patterson. Pie maker extraordinaire.
Mom, I think you would be pleased.
It’s round about now that the familiar feeling of panic sets in.
I know the pattern well after 34 years in the Canadian north.
The first couple of days of -30 plus put me in a bit of a funk, but I can cope. There’s still optimism that this is a fast moving weather system that will return us to more reasonable temperatures within hours.
The next few days are harder. I force my body into situations it wants no part of and so must endure its loud and whiny toddler-like protests. No, I do not want to get out of bed. No, I do not want to be forced into seven smothering layers of clothing. And no, I definitely do not want to walk out that door and into a freezing car so I can drive on square tires thud thud thud to an icy cold office.
But there are bright moments. I am thankful for the warming beef barley soup that I have had the foresight to make and freeze in lunch sized batches for days like this. And the light! It is coming back after a dark December and January. That truly is a gift.
However by about a week in (which is where we are now) the edges of my sanity are really fraying and it becomes a struggle to pretend otherwise. My dreams are peppered with images of Maria von Trapp manicly hurtling down sunshine-drenched grassy slopes, and angry bears that have been woken prematurely from their hibernation. Last night such a bear chased me through a maze of streets for hours while I unsuccessfully tried to find my way home.
I go through the motions. I work. I socialize. I make more soup. Big, big pots of the stuff. And I spend an inordinate amount of time considering an expedition to Lake Labarge to search for Sam McGee’s crematorium. I get you Sam. I totally get you.
But I have a trick up my sleeve; something that Sam didn’t possess. It’s an airplane ticket to Vancouver, dated next Thursday. It’s the one thing that is standing between me and raging madness.
As an aside, I just watched the film “Antarctica: A Year on Ice”. It tells the story of a group of people who choose to live and work at the South Pole 12 months of the year. Some of them have been there for years. I thought it would make Whitehorse by comparison seem downright balmy to me. No such luck. My only recourse now is to go back to staring at that airplane ticket. Which I am going to do. Right now.
Then I am heading out into the cold once more to see another film. The title? Freak-Out!
Joe and I are going to Turkey in the spring, so this morning I pulled out my travel file to add the visas I purchased yesterday. I figured I should make a to-do list of the things that still needed taken care of in terms of travel arrangements.
I walked to the cupboard to find a pen, and happened to look over at the antique school desk that sits in the corner of our living room.
It needed dusting.
I grabbed a dusting cloth and gave the desk a wipe, but it still looked dull.
I pulled out the lemon oil and gave the desktop a good polish.
I decided to return to the desk the things that had been there pre-Christmas and that had been packed away to make room for decorations.
I took out of storage some old school books and a collection of framed photos of my mother’s classes that she taught in the 1930s and 1940s.
I thought the photos needed to be hung and not just propped up on the desk.
I removed the painting that was above the desk, and hung the school pics.
The frame was too low.
I went to the garage to get a hammer, changed the location of the nail, and rehung the photos.
I spent five minutes looking at all the art in my living room.
I remembered I had been after a pen.
I found one and went back to my Turkey file.
The pen was out of ink.
I ran upstairs to find another one.
On the way I noticed some dirty dish towels that had been left on the stairs for the next person going up to take to the laundry room.
I scooped them up and delivered them to their intended location.
I went into my bedroom and retrieved a working pen.
I saw the box of Purdy’s chocolates I had received for Christmas.
I ate one.
I ate a second one.
I ran downstairs back to my Turkey file, pen in hand.
I smelled the meatloaf I had put in the oven earlier.
I took it out to cool.
I went back to my to-do list.
I jotted down two things.
I tried to think of a third, but couldn’t.
Yesterday was a long day. Caleb is sick with a cold and was pretty cranky. I too am sick with a cold and was pretty cranky. By 6:30 last evening, he was in bed and I followed shortly afterwards. I left my bedroom door open so I could easily hear him if he needed me.
7:45 p.m. – Caleb starts to fuss. Chanel trots in to my bedroom to alert me. I quickly send her out (our bedroom is a dog-free zone because of Joe’s allergies). Caleb stops crying after about 30 seconds and goes back to sleep. I, on the other hand, am now wide awake.
8:20 p.m. – Caleb starts coughing. Chanel once again fulfills her self-appointed role of night watchman, and again I send her out of the room. This time I close my bedroom door so she can’t get in. Caleb goes back to sleep. I am still in the throws of insomnia, even though I am exhausted.
9:13 p.m. – Caleb starts to cry, and then I hear the insistent scratches of Chanel’s nails on my door. I get up, send Chanel off to her bed in the family room, and get Caleb a bottle. Fifteen minutes later he is asleep again. I manage to fall asleep shortly after 10.
11:10 p.m. – Scratch, scratch at my door. Caleb is crying. I go comfort him, and he goes to sleep. I put Chanel downstairs and put up the baby gate so she doesn’t have access to the upper floor. I open my bedroom door again.
12:07 a.m. – Chanel is in my bedroom alerting me to Caleb’s crying again. How the hell did she get up here? Another bottle, a diaper change, another forced trip for Chanel back downstairs with a double check of the baby gate, and back to bed for me.
2:57 a.m. – Caleb is crying. Chanel is whining. I am silently screaming. Why is it that there are three adults in this house and I am the only one who does the night shift? I consider running away from home.
4:15 a.m. – Caleb is crying. Jamie has slammed his bedroom door, stomped off to the bathroom, and slammed the bathroom door. I yell at him (Jamie) to JUST BE QUIET! I have many dark thoughts about him. He could offer to help, but instead chooses the role of sulky teenager.
4:25 a.m. – I have just put Caleb back to bed. I hear a loud and prolonged crash. It is Chanel. She has catapulted herself over the baby gate (although probably got stuck at some point during her acrobatic feat) and is once again upstairs. I give up and go back to bed.
6:03 a.m. – Jamie comes to my room with a restaurant quality breakfast…Canadian back bacon, a perfectly cooked cheese omelette, and toast. Joe asks if it is Mother’s Day. Jamie says he just thought I needed it this morning. I shed a few quiet tears and eat it gratefully. I fall back to sleep and get an hour’s rest before Caleb wakes up for the day.
Have you ever wondered why some people seem to be more fortunate than others? I’m talking here about more than just financially. That does play a role of course, but I am thinking about this in a more wholistic way I guess.
I am pondering this today as I enjoy an afternoon off from work. This is a milestone year for me, having been with the company I work for, for 10 years. Today all of us who have reached significant milestones were treated to a delicious meal and then sent home to enjoy the rest of the day. It gave me an opportunity to go for a long walk with my dog. It was mild, light snow was falling, and it was incredibly peaceful. How lucky I am to work for a company that granted me this serenity at a time when my life in general is pretty busy.
But as I look back, I have always been fortunate, even as far back as my birth. It appeared I needed a blood transfusion and was rushed to hospital in the big city. Though an error, the doctors forgot to get a sample of my father’s blood. This could have proved fatal. But somehow things turned around and I was fine after all.
Since that day, fortune has followed me. I grew up on a farm where I learned the value of hard work and an appreciation for the gifts nature has given us. I’ve had a varied and interesting career. I’ve had amazing people in my life all the way along who have challenged and taught me. And I’ve had the chance to pursue my dreams.
What I don’t know is why life has been so easy for me. Yes of course I’ve had struggles, but they seem minor compared to the hardships and pain of so many others. In a tiny corner of my mind there is a fear that fate is just biding its time, waiting to hit me with the zowie. Who knows. All I know is that I’m feeling pretty darned grateful right now. xxx.
There was so much I had planned to write about today…about what I was going to do with the additional $10 that I discovered I had, about how I was going to prepare the wonderful wild meat that I was given last night, and about the fact that most of us do get by through the kindness of others, and we should remember to reciprocate whenever we can. But life has a way of throwing a curve ball from time to time, and our family was recently thrown a rather big one.
Without betraying confidences, I’ll just say that a couple of my family members really need me right now. It doesn’t make sense for me to be devoting a fair chunk of my day to a rather artificial social science project when there is a very real situation that needs to be attended to.
Do I think I could have finished this 30 day challenge had this not come up? Yes I do. I can be pretty stubborn, and I was determined to see this through. But I do think I’ve made the right decision. And even though I’ve only completed one-third of the month, I certainly feel I’ve had my eyes opened about certain things. I will never take for granted the food I am lucky enough to have, and I will do my best to never waste it.
I thank all of you who have followed me for the last ten days and who have offered suggestions and support. I hope I haven’t disappointed you by not finishing the challenge.
Oh, and as for what’s for dinner tonight? Those amazing moose sausage that Dave gave me last night!
Sorry for the delayed post. It’s been rather crazy around our house of late and I simply didn’t have an opportunity to post this yesterday.
Here is the day’s summary:
Breakfast: 1 piece of whole wheat toast with peanut putter. Cost: 12 cents
Lunch: chicken rice soup. Cost: $2.71
My friends Jocelyn and Dave served up what, as you can see, was a wonderful feast: a moose stew with a biscuit topping, mashed potatoes, peas, carrots, and three different salads (including one that Joe brought with us when we came to dinner). There were spring rolls as an appetizer, and for dessert, apple pie and ice-cream. It really did seem like Christmas had arrived early. Everything was so delicious! Total cost to me: zero dollars!
Not only that, but Dave sent me home with a bad of wild meat for future meals!
I am a very lucky girl.
Now, the other bit of amazing news. As we were chatting about my monthly food allowance, it dawned on me that I have given myself $5 a day for 30 days. I have no idea then why I have been going on the preface that I had a total of $140 to spent. I actually have $150 to spend!! Math was never my strong subject :-) I have gone back and fixed all my totals. The correct numbers are:
Total spent today: $2.83
Total ‘credits’ for carry-over: $7.20
Total spent so far: $80.35
Total left to spend: $69.75
My oh my it’s been a while! Life has a way of taking over sometimes, with little to no time left to blog. Since I last posted:
1. Had a wonderful long week-end in Vancouver in September, enjoying the early fall there.
2. Booked a trip next spring to Istanbul!! So excited!
3. My grandson started walking :-)
4. Spent tonnes of time in my garden, harvesting and getting it ready for next year.
5. Been doing research for a new project in November, which I will tell you about very shortly. So do check back…I promise I won’t be absent so long next time.
For the past few weeks we have been working around no washer and dryer, no toilet in the main bathroom, and all the contents from our family room and tiny spare bedroom smooshed into our larger spare and master bedrooms.
However the end is in sight. We now have an almost finished laundry room (still need to install shelving and baseboards), new flooring has been laid in the main bathroom, as well as in the family room and the tiny spare bedroom (out with the old carpet and in with some marmoleum that is the colour of the Caribbean Sea). Over the week-end I managed to get two coats of paint applied to the family room and one to the bedroom (a very pale blue in both rooms), and we are almost at the stage where we can start putting everything back together again.
Hopefully getting rid of the carpet will ease Joe’s dog allergies, which have been getting steadily worse over the summer. Some nights he can hardly breathe, so if this doesn’t work I will sadly need to start looking for a new home for Chanel. It will break my heart to see her go, so I am going to try everything possible to flush out the house. I also just bought an air purifier, hoping that might help. Note: photo taken from this website.
Just returned from a holiday in Newfoundland, where I hiked parts of the East Coast Trail on the Avalon Peninsula. What a gift this trip was! I have been to the Rock a few times before, but mostly stayed within St. John’s. Having seen this part of the province was added proof of what a special place it is, and just how beautiful.
I arrived too late in the season to see the icebergs, although my friend Ted and I shared a scotch with 10,000 year old iceberg ice that he had collected a few weeks previous. What I did see were dozens of whales! One day, sitting at the edge of a cliff looking over the ocean, whales were continuously breaching all around me. It was incredible, and it made my heart glad that these beautiful creatures seem to be doing OK in spite of all the garbage we humans are dumping into the oceans.
There are lots of photos on my Facebook page, which I have opened to the general public to view, but here are a few of them:
By the way, I want to give a shout out to the East Coast Trail Association and the volunteers who do a fabulous job of maintaining this trail. Many thanks for all your hard work.
Joe and I just returned from a week in Juneau on the Alaska Panhandle. We went there in large part to witness a large Tlingit cultural gathering that takes place every two years. But apart from that, we enjoyed the stunning beauty of the place and the ferry rides there and back (complete with whales, seals, a rainbow as we headed into Juneau and a bald eagle sitting on the dock waiting for us as we arrived in port). Here are just a few shots…lots more on my Facebook page.
Just now getting around to catching up on my blog posts. Last month, my friend Lucca and I headed to a little place called Friday Harbour on the San Juan Islands, Washington State, for a week-end. Pretty little place with very friendly people. I was reminded again of how difficult it must sometimes be for introverts to live in the United States, given that it appears to be a country full of outgoing and vivacious folks.
We spent the week-end just walking around, visiting the local farmers’ market, watching a local production of Annie (it was great!), and of course eating some tasty food and drinking wine!
Here are just a few pics from the trip:
View of Friday Harbour.
Took a taxi to the southeastern part of the island where we walked among
the old trees. I always feel better after being washed with ‘tree energy’.
A couple of weeks ago, Iris and I headed down to Vancouver to catch Lady Gaga in concert. Unfortunately, the morning we were to leave we found out the Lady was sick and her gig was postponed until August. What to do?
We decided to go down anyway, and enjoyed a few days just hanging about in the city. I didn’t take many photos, but here are a few:
We spent a few hours at Granville market, where I bought a handmade broom. They made the brooms right there, and the smell of fresh hay was lovely!
Glorious cherries from the market!
The company I work for is involved in a potential project that does not have much apparent support from Yukoners. Over the last several months, there have been letters to the editor and impassioned speeches at public meetings. Last night was one such meeting.
It’s no fun having person after person stand up to bash a project that I know was conceived with nothing but good intentions and lots of sweat and hard work. It’s also difficult to listen to statements made based (in some cases) on incorrect information. But all that aside, I am so proud to live in a place where people really care about issues and aren’t afraid to share their views.
I have lived in other places where I have seen a fair amount of apathy. I don’t think Yukoners can be accused of that.
Of course I have no way of knowing whether this project will end up proceeding or not. But either way, I hope that Yukoners never stop being passionate about what matters to them, and I hope they never stop caring about our little blue planet. xxx.
I was standing in front of my open closet the other day looking for inspiration, and not getting much I am afraid. I haven’t bought any new clothes for a while, and truth be told I am bored with most of what I own.
Yesterday I did a big clean out, keeping only those things I still love and hauling off three bags to the local Salvation Army thrift shop. I bet if I did a further cull today I’d find another bag or two to donate.
While at the Sally Ann I did see one skirt that I liked and brought home with me…it reminded me of an old apron that my grandmother wore for years (I’m a sucker for anything reminiscent of the 50s) but it is a summer skirt so not going to help me out now. Time to get out the sewing machine I guess. I’m not much for retail shopping (I find the quality leaves a lot to be desired even in the more expensive brands) and the pickings have been slim of late at the local consignment stores.
What a remarkable year we’ve just gone through…a grand baby who has given us great joy, trips to Ireland, San Francisco and the East Coast, one of the best summers and autumns weather-wise that I can remember, the realizing of a dream by helping to launch a local food co-op, some personal accomplishments on the yoga mat…so many good memories! And I am very excited about what lies ahead in 2014. Life just doesn’t get better than this!
Happy New Year everyone.
I’ve been looking for some time for a dress or skirt to wear with my beloved Kitschy Kitschy Boom Booms. And yesterday I think I found the perfect match!
I went in to a local consignment store (to take in three pairs of shoes I was ready to say good-bye to), and I came across this skirt.
The photo doesn’t do it justice. It’s a vibrant turquoise silk with lots of swish and swing. It was made by a local woman who used to be a designer. I love the fact that she used purple raw silk as part of the attached crinoline slip.
What I don’t like is the waist band, which is made out of a stretchy material. It’s warped and the tailoring is not up to par.
I’ll find a small piece of silk and replace the band. I also hemmed the skirt – she had finished it with a serger but had left it at that, and I don’t care for unhemmed clothes. In any event, when I’m finished with it, I think I’ll have a skirt that I love and that I’ll wear for years.