Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mom


When we returned home from the hospital after my mother passed away yesterday morning, we searched out her bible.  A piece of paper marked a page, and in her handwriting, the name of the following verse directed us to this message from her.

2 Corinthians 13: 11-13

And now my friends, good-bye!  Strive for perfection; listen to my appeals; agree with one another; live in peace,  And the God of love and peace will be with you.

Greet one another with the kiss of peace.
All of God’s people send you their greetings.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Happy Days

It's hard to surprise my Mom, but her friends sure did when they showed up en mass for a housewarming party after my parents moved into their first house, circa 1970.  It was  a two story, three bedroom with a rumpus room and it cost a whopping $15,000.  Those were the days my friends!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fruit of my Labour


Hello you people who arrived here in search of info about the Benvoulin strawberry patch.  The phone number is in the bottom paragraph.  Happy picking!

So there I was at the Benvoulin strawberry patch at 7:30 this morning about to take a photo of those endless rows of green bushes and shiny red strawberries in that magical morning light, only to discover my battery was dead.  On Sunday I went to take a photo of a brilliant orange Chevy at the Father's Day Show and Shine and was disappointed to see I had arrived sans memory card.  I think I'm getting to the age where I need check list before I leave the house, at least as far as photography is concerned.  

I did however remember to bring my own bucket to my first visit to the patch this year and I will be back so don't worry, you'll be seeing more strawberries in the future.  This first batch will be just for eating as God intended and making into strawberry shortcake...which I suspect God had a hand in as well.  

For Kelowna followers, berries are $1.90 a pound and they plan to pick until at least 11 this morning.  For the long term they tell me there'll be berries for another 5 weeks. You can call 250-860-2964 for the most up to date info. This small pail of almost 4 lbs took 15 minutes to pick with nary a mosquito in site.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Daddy's Girls

This photo is almost exactly three years old, taken during a family photo shoot on my Mother's 70th Birthday. The story below was written by my sister Stephanie as part of a collection we made for my Dad's 60th birthday.  I felt it captured my Dad quite well and thought I'd share it with you.

My earliest vivid memories, as a child, are times that I spent with my father.  He would be working afternoons, or nights, and as I had not yet started school, my mother would pop me into bed with him before she took Suzan to school and went to work.  He would wake up momentarily, just long enough to hug me close and I would fall back to sleep, protected in his arms (translation:  He had me in a head lock).  I would later wake and wait patiently until it was time to get up and start the day.
We would do a variety of different things on these days, but it always started with:  “Come on, we’re going for coffee.”  So off we’d go for coffee and a talk with the guys.  Then it was off to the Police Station where I would get a coke out of the cooler, and you guessed it, more talking with the guys.  Then off to the Post Office, possibly talking, maybe to Jolly John’s for ice cream (rainbow flavour), or out to someone’s house so he could show me their puppies.   Some days we would head out to our Camp for the day , or we’d just go back home, eat clams out of the can and watch “The Edge of Night”.  
One particular day at the Post Office stop he was just running in, so I waited in the car.  Now sometimes when you’re a kid there are things that you have to do, you just can’t take it, the temptation is just too great.  This day was one of those days.  I threw caution to the wind and put the car in gear.  As I went rolling by, I was sighted by Cy and my shocked father came barreling out of the building, catching up to me and stopping the vehicle that I thought I was driving.  I survived unscathed, however, upon my mother’s return from work, when asked “What did you two do today?”  I replied with a resounding “Dad tried to kill me.”
I also remember a time when we were at our cabin.  Suzan and I were playing “Follow the Leader” and I disturbed a bee hive while crawling over a fallen log.  Needless to say, they were not happy bees and immediately swarmed me.  I started screaming hysterically.   Then suddenly, I could hear my dad crashing through the bush and I remember knowing that I didn’t need to panic because he would come and everything would be all right.  (I truly thought he was Superman, although I never did find his cape).  Again, fortunately, other than the multitude of stings, I was not seriously hurt.
Now that I am older, I think of my father and the thing that I would really like him to know is my heartfelt gratitude for the unconditional love and support that he has given me through every day of my 33 years.  He may not always agree with my ways and I think it just might be possible that he finds me a little frustrating at times.   I do  know one thing for sure:  that no matter what, he is there.  If my life comes up and swarms me he will come crashing through the bush in his cape and tights, with a big “C” on his chest and do everything he can to help me.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Lacking That Driving Ambition


The strawberries were all picked out by 8:50 this morning so Pitou and I went for a walk along Mission Greenway instead. It runs behind Mission Creek Golf Course at one point and signs on a high fence separating the path from the course warn you to watch for incoming golf balls.  My Dad golfs, my husband golfs, my sister golfs and what I do...would not qualify as golf.  I like the idea of it, and the idea of my husband and I playing together on occasion, but I think I'm on the same side of the fence as my friend Jeannie.  She says she's going to save a lot of time during her retirement by not golfing.  

Friday, June 17, 2011

Cultivating Community





One of Kelowna's Community Gardens is tucked behind the CNC off of Gordon Drive in the Mission.  The City of Kelowna is really to be commended on partnering with Central Okanagan Community Gardens to make wonderful use of a space that was likely no more than a patch of grass up until now.  The gardens are beautifully tended and so healthy and green you can almost feel the vitamins rushing into you just from looking at the lush plants.

A member of our dog park pack has a plot in here.  He signed up in the spring at a cost of a mere $15.00, promising to abide by the 17 rules that are mostly  common sense.  As per Kelowna City bylaws, pesticide use is restricted, members are encouraged to leave tools in the shed to share and a compost bin and blue room are provided for well, waste.  What a great opportunity for individuals with no yards or green space.  Gardening is so important to people, some call it a hobby, some call it therapy. What a great city we live in to offer this service to our community!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Plateful of Memories


Torn between financial support of my mentor and saving some trees and a little cash, I went with the latter and visited Pandosy Books this afternoon, purchasing The Book of Secrets and The In-Between World of Vikram Lall.  On the Toonie table beside the cash register I spied this plate and was transported back to the kitchen in my childhood home.   
So many memories rush in: our family meals around the formica table, seated on vinyl chairs, pushing vegetables around these plates while translating for my baby sister who as a very small child pronounced her r’s like Elmer Fudd and had words for different objects that only I understood. 
I’d almost forgotten our before bed ritual of a bowl of cereal: slowly putting spoon to mouth until only milk remained and we tipped the dish to our mouths when we thought our Mother wasn't looking.    I remember with great longing, a plate that sometimes appeared after supper, heavy with thick buttered slices of moist pumpkin loaf studded with walnuts.  I recall warm bowls of stewed rhubarb picked in the back garden and cooked on the stove for what seemed like forever.  And who can forget that roast beef, or golden pork roast with "crackles" and  mashed potatoes and gravy on Sundays.  


I remember the rare treat of having steak for dinner, fried in the cast-iron frying pan until it resembled a greyish piece of liver (these days we barely warm the meat on the grill).   And one evening, in the darkened kitchen, I stood on a chair by the sink, elbow deep in cold water.  I swished a cloth  gently over the dishes, trying to be as quiet as possible so I could surprise my mom, asleep on the couch.  Or maybe she pretended to sleep so I'd feel the pleasure of surprising her. 

Which reminds me of my sister and I carrying bowls filled with cornflakes and water up to my parents' bedroom very early one morning.  We had wanted to make them breakfast in bed but were out of milk so we figured water would be just as good.
This dinner sized plate is in perfect condition and I’m sure it’s a much more recent issue of Johnson Brothers tableware than ours that was more than likely minted in the 60’s. I’m tickled by the coincidence of it being here and the fact that The Friendly Village engraving used on this dish is the School House, appropriate since my Mother was a teacher. My memories are of patterns almost rubbed off with daily use and vigorous washings, of shallow chips around edges and gradual culling as they weren’t able to weather the enthusiastic demands of our little family. I recall the supply dwindling to what I’m pretty sure was one small dessert plate, or maybe a dessert bowl...but try as I may, I cannot recall the pattern that replaced it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I saw the sign


It has begun!  The first fruit crop of the season is ready for picking on Friday and this weekend I'll be making sugar-free freezer jam.  Then comes raspberries, then cherries...oh my the cherries.  There are no cherries like cherries from the valley.  After that it's an overlapping of blackberries, blueberries, apricots, peaches, second crops of strawberries and raspberries, plums, grapes, pears and apples.  Oh what a luscious bounty!  A toast to the farmers and orchardists that bring such sweet joy to our summers!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Write Time and Place

In the above photo: Governor General Award and Two time Giller Prize winner M.G. Vassanji's book "A Place Within...Rediscovering India." (winner of the G.G.), a silk shawl worn by my father-in-law's Anglo Indian girlfriend circa 1940, the wooden box used to ship her grandfather's belongings circa late 1800's.

My favourite Gothe Quote begins:
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way....”
To make a long story short I was working on a memoir of my father-in-law’s time spent in India between 1937 and 1944. I met a woman at the dog park who is an editor. She encouraged me to pursue my writing and perhaps take a creative writing course. I remembered a correspondence creative writing course offered at Humber College for people working on a novel or collection of poetry in which you would be guided by a Canadian author. I applied to the course and re-wrote a portion of the memoir as my writing sample. My new editor friend offered to read it and give me some pointers. Her pointers and encouragement gave me the freedom I needed to bring myself to the work, so I re-wrote and re-wrote and re-wrote, wondering sometimes if I was just changing the same things back and forth each time. I submitted my work. A week ago I received my acceptance. Today I received an email from the artistic director. It said “Your mentor is M.G. Vassanji”.
The quote ends “... Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”

Monday, June 13, 2011

Freedom


 I often sit and wish that I
Could be a kite up in the sky
And ride upon the wind and go
Whatever way I chanced to blow

Author Unknown

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Everything and the Kitchen Sink


My mother-in-law used to say she hated making a big dinner because after all the hours of work, it was all undone so quickly.  I feel the same way about cleaning the kitchen - all that work and it never lasts for long.

Today while my husband replaced the next part of the fence that's falling down, I decided to roll up my sleeves and attack the kitchen from top to bottom.  I  dusted the light fixtures, I wiped down all the counters and large and small appliances, cleaned the stove top, shined the kettle, made the sunbeam toaster beam, washed the dishes, loaded the dishwasher, and wiped down all 27 cupboard doors and 14 drawers, (never have white cupboards!).  I finished with a good mopping of the floor and the satisfaction that comes with a job well done.  

It won't stay this way for long that's for sure, and even as I put down the camera, I glanced towards the stove where new potatoes boiled for tonight's dinner.  Water splashed over the sides of the pot, leaving brown spots on the ceramic stove top as the starch burnt.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Beauty



"Lord, make us mindful of the little things that grow and blossom in these days to make the world beautiful for us."- W.E.B. du Bois  

We've made a lot of changes to our gardens over the past 15 years, but the irises that spring up here and there will always remain as long as we are here.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Cat Nap


This is Oliver our rescue kitty, doing his favourite thing. Today it was also my favourite thing and I slept the entire afternoon away. I think it was a combination of it being day three of the caffeine wean,  and the fact that I'm feeling a bit stressed with all projects, ideas, and attempts to help the people around me.  This thought also came up as the result of a dream I had this morning.  I was sitting in the front of a plane that was nosediving into the ocean. I saw the water rising along the windows and I turned to my husband and said "We're going to drown." Everyone around me seem surprisingly calm however.  Then someone stood up and opened a small hatch in the ceiling, and just as people rose to join him,  and I wondered how we would all get out in time,  I woke up with a start.  I'm sure you know that feeling of relief when you realize it was only a dream.

Being Jungian at heart, I knew my subconscious was trying to tell me I've taken on a bit to much for my own good, that I was metaphorically going to drown in my responsibilities.  Don't get me wrong, these are things that are fun and creative, helpful to others and encouraging to my personal grown, but the problem is I'm trying to do too much at the same time.  And on top of that there are responsibilities of a home manager, a wife and a mother and a daughter.  And there is even the guilt that comes with the fact that I'm complaining about such trivial stressors. Bourgeois complaints I heard someone on CBC call them.   I'm not in Afghanistan being afraid of being blown up by a IED.  I'm not in Africa wondering who's going to look after my children when I die of AIDS.  I'm not living on the street in Kelowna, panhandling on Bernard Avenue, spending my nights wherever I can find shelter, until some security guard moves me along.  I'm pretty lucky to be living a life where I have a comfortable roof over my head, medication covered by my husband's drug plan for my chronic disease, healthy children and loving friends and family.  I am very grateful for my life's privileges.

Yet it's been a struggle for me for a while and I've been trying to tackle it logically; making lists, colour coded spreadsheets, time tables - I'm a Virgo, what can I say.  It's helped a bit, but even as I delete things from the spread sheet and re prioritize, I seem to be adding things too.  I really think it's time to take a few things off the list all together.   Wish me luck!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Must Love Dogs



It's hard to imagine where I'd be without this man in my life.  And it's hard to believe that he survived  growing up in the jungles of Venezuela; playing with real machetes, shooting authentic hunting arrows straight up into the air, swinging on vines through a jungle full of creepy crawly insects and snakes,  dumping gasoline straight out of a can onto a fire that he and his friend started in the neighbour's garage (he was 3), backing the car out of the driveway onto the road (also at the age of 3), whoops, that was Peter not Mike, unable to breathe in the middle of that night 'til the neighbour doctor came running from next door and administered a shot, blowing things up with the black powder he made after his dad gave him the recipe, riding his bike through tall grass that could cut you to ribbons if you rubbed it the wrong way, repeatedly pedalling a toy car like mad down a hill and coasting across the road at the bottom, having mid-air collisions with his best friend Cesar on his motorbike, shredding his leg on a brand new prop while climbing into the back of the boat, and again with his friends, trying to set fire to the dynamite shack at the mine where his Dad was the maintenance manager.    I don't know if he managed to survive all that (and more) thanks to his guardian angels or thanks to MY guardian angels, but I'm sure grateful.  Every Day.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Desperate Times, Desperate Measures!


Well, here we are at game 4 after getting our butts kicked pretty bad Monday night.  I know hockey players are pretty superstitious, so I'm going to try to get some luck from this jersey that a friend of my sister's signed for Adam in the 90's.  Some guy known as a "stand up goal tender", named Kirk McLean.   I'm hoping Luongo will spend a bit more time standing this game. :)  It's hanging over the TV 'cause I can't bear to watch!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Worth the Wait


When we did a Windjammer Barefoot Cruise through the Grenadines a few years ago, we enjoyed a generous spoonful of Matouk's Kuchela with almost every lunch and dinner.  When we got back to Kelowna, we searched high and low for a bottle of the stuff that's so common in many Caribbean countries. Even the local Caribbean store that we recently stumbled upon didn't carry it.  We found it online, but when we tried to order it we were told that it couldn't be shipped to Canada because it contained an ingredient we don't admit into the country (???)  While were were in Seattle at Pike's Place Market we came across a Mexican/Caribbean market, and much to our delight, they carried Matouk's.  It was the perfect compliment to tonight's Pork Tenderloin a la Jamie Oliver.  

Monday, June 6, 2011

Pocketful of Catch Up


As you can see there are several posts for today.  I'm catching up from my weekend away and this June 6 post actually begins June 3rd.  When we go to a restaurant, it's often a challenge for me to find something that I can eat without raising my blood sugar.  You'd be surprised at how many ways you can slip sugar into a dish when you really don't need it. Despite this fact, I still enjoy dining out because after I do the song and dance with the waitress who insists that there is no sugar in the mushroom soup and then goes and asks the chef and finds out that yes, there is brown sugar, I do find many good ideas for food to make at home.  Here's the antipasto I'll be attempting to copy this evening, from a restaurant we at at this weekend called The Pink Door. Don't pass up an opportunity to eat there!  We managed to get one of the last spots on the shaded patio and had a wonderful lunch on Saturday.  That olive oil is made by the restaurant and I snagged a bottle of it to bring home.

That's the spirit!


Saw these two vehicles while driving home between Vancouver and Kelowna.



Saturday Sails


The view of the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound from the Sculpture Garden in Seattle, Washington.

Bellevue Jazz Festival



Was thrilled to get my photo taken with my idol Tierney Sutton at the Jazz Festival in Bellevue Washington this weekend.  As for...well...you know....I'm thinking it's just the camera angle...Yikes!

Friday, June 3, 2011

On Hiatus


My apologies if you were expecting a recent photo today.  I'm away for a few days and will have my camera with me, but may not be able to post.  I'll be back on line on the 5th and will catch up then.  Thanks for checking me out...have you had a look at my other blog?  Haven't posted for several months but you might find it entertaining.  It's a travel blog called "From the Valley and Beyond".    In case you're curious, this photo was taken in March on the island of Huahine, part of French Polynesia.  This was our front yard for a couple of days on Motu Mahare.  Very Robinson Crusoe.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Lovin' From The Oven



I really enjoyed the Food Network on the flight back yesterday afternoon, particularly the Mexican Made Easy and French Food at Home programs.  Tonight I made most of the French meal that Laura Calder made for her family reunion which was appropriate since Nicole came for dinner.  I skipped the Risotto but I'll definitely try it another day.  We had the aperitif platter, the Ratatouille (without the meat as Nicole is Vegetarian) on Red Thai Rice, and the Strawberry Galette shown here.  I'm usually a disaster when it comes to baking, but I'm proud to say this one worked out so I had to have proof.  Do give it a try!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Faith, Hope and Love




One last photo from my Mom's house


1 Corinthians 13:13 
Three things will last forever--faith, hope, and love--and the greatest of these is love.