Friday, September 30, 2011

The Lady of the Mountain

One of things I love about Kelowna is the feeling I get when I look to the horizon and see that I'm surrounded by mountains.  Now if you live in Banff, Alberta or Aspen, Colorado you might argue that these are more like foothills, but Black Knight Mountain, pictured here, has an elevation of 4,205 feet, so it's nothing to sneeze at in my opinion. 

Though it's called Black Knight Mountain, and has also been described as looking like whale (?), I see a woman lying on her side when I look to East Kelowna.  The very top curve is her shoulder and if you follow it down to the left in the foreground, you can see where her elbow bends and her forearm runs in front of her chest.  Her head lies on it's side and you can imagine long hair splayed forward making the gentle curve that reaches the bottom of the mountain to the right.  It looks to me like she's covered by a blanket and the curve of her hip makes the rise on the left side.    She's a comforting presence that I look to every day, so grateful to be living in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wetland Habit At The CNC

Behind the Capital News Centre, a gravel pathway runs along Thompson Marsh.  It's another favourite place for me to walk the dogs.  Often there's a duck perched on that log, and in the springtime, yellow-headed and red-winged blackbirds cling to the bullrushes filling the air with their happy songs.  

Pumpkin Eaters

Missed posting yesterday so I thought I'd share some dessert from earlier this week.  Nothing beats a pumpkin pie made from scratch and since my Dad won't be here for Thanksgiving I thought I'd make one while he was visiting.  It's easier than you think and well worth it! Here's the one I made in the photo above.  It always gets rave reviews.

Pumpkin Pie from Scratch

Start with a sugar or pie pumpkin from your local fruit and vegetable market.
Cut pumpkin in half, remove seeds.
Place cut side down in a 9X13 pan with 1/4” of water
Bake @400 for 30 minutes or until soft.  
Remove immediately from water

Put pastry in 9” pie plate
Preheat oven to 425 F

Mix together:

2 C of cooked pumpkin
3/4 C sugar
1 2/3 C evaporated milk ( = one 370 ml can)
2 lightly beaten eggs
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Bake for 15 minutes at 425 then reduce to 350 and bake for 45 minutes or until knife inserted in centre comes out clean.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Three Hour Tour...

Took my Aunt and my Dad for an afternoon tour of a few of the highlights in Kelowna.  We moved here in October 1995 and this is the first picture I've taken of The Sails...

...and Rhapsody aka The Dolphins.

We walked along Waterfront Park...

...past the Kelowna Yacht Club.

Visited Kasugi Gardens...

...and watched the multi-coloured Koi.

Then ended the afternoon with a tasting at Cedar Creek Winery.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Tie-ing On One

Pitou's Auntie Linda is visiting and brought him a special present.  (Aunties are the best!)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Harbinger of Autumn

Local fruit and vegetable markets are displaying their pumpkins these days. These beauties were tempting me at Don-O-Ray this afternoon. I did buy a pie pumpkin since I thought I'd treat my Dad to a homemade one before he left this week.  I'm thinking I'll wait another week before I grab some for Hallowe'en.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Got 'er Done, Then Had Some Fun!

Finished my tomato canning this morning....this is what 100lbs of canned tomatoes looks like:

After lunch we took the dogs and my Dad up to Myra Canyon to walk along the Kettle Valley Railway Trestles.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fall Equinox Tomato Massacre

Well it started off innocently enough....

...but then it got ugly...

Just over 80 lbs canned...hoping to finish the rest this evening!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Finding The Balance

I didn't get around to my tomato canning today...spent some time studying and writing and that was a good thing.  And I'd like to think the universe agreed and sent me a sign.  When I poured some red wine vinegar into my olive oil and left it while I went to get oregano for a greek salad dressing I came back to see this Yin-Yang symbol.  Oil and vinegar don't mix but it looks I got just the right balance of the two.  Perhaps a gentle reminder that the balance of two opposing things can create harmony.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

100 Pounds of Procrastination

Incase you've been wondering what 100lbs of canning tomatoes look like....tah dah!

It's not really fair to call it procrastination, more like distraction.  My timing is really off right now, with three sets of company and 100 lbs of tomatoes arriving within an eight day period.  Luckily my mentor is understanding and patient, and my company too! 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Top 10 Ways to Procrastinate When You Should Be Writing

Turns out writing a book is not unlike writing an essay for English 101. There are times when you're just not that into it.  For those times, here are my top ten time wasters:

10.  Go to Golf Town with your Dad, even though you don't golf.

(Apologies - my iphone refuses to focus even when I touch the screen
...maybe it was the wild patterns more than technical difficulties.)

9.  Organize and cull the sites in the folders for your Internet Bookmarks.

8.  Clean up the kitchen so you can wash the kitchen floor....then don't wash the floor.

7.  Look for Youtube videos for tomorrow's song selection in the 30 day song challenge.

6.  Flat Iron your hair.

5.  Pick up the dog poop in the back yard.

4.  Watch old film footage online about Larkhill, Salisbury Plain.

3.  Do laundry

2. Chat with Val on Facebook.

...and the number one way to procrastinate when you should be writing:

1.  Make a list of the top ten ways to procrastinate when you should be writing!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Hello Monday!

Hello sunshine!  The forecast called for rain all day, but you fooled them!

Hello Liz Corrigan and her All For Dogs Puppy Training!  Max has his first class tonight.

Hello "Hello Monday" Meme!  And hello to The Pear Tree and Lisa Leonard for this fun link up and blog post idea.

Hello favourite painting!  Memories of Sioux Lookout flood in whenever see this work by the talented Ojibway artist Don Nigewance.

Hello Dad!  He's visiting us this week and brought the painting across the country to me.

Hello son!  So happy you are able to visit too, if only for a couple of days. Help yourself to my food!

Hello Emm Gryner who's recent release Ciao Monday is the perfect ending for today's post.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Impedo Flere

As I've gotten older it seems either my eyes are more sensitive to chopped onions, or they're making onions stronger.  I used to use an old scuba mask to keep my eyes from burning.  When my daughter bought herself a pair of Quidditch goggles as part of costume for a Steam Punk party, we started using them instead.
....not my finest hour.

Advantage number two of having my daughter back at home is the return of the Harry Potter Quidditch Goggles!  They're really quite handy, and if you don't have an old scuba mask lying around, they're easy to pick up at Amazon.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Day to be Grapeful

My hubby took me to the The Old Vines Restaurant at Quails' Gate Winery for lunch today and I snapped a quick shot with my iphone.  These merlot grapes look like they'll be picked very soon.  I managed to restrain myself from eating any but didn't restrain myself from buying two bottles of the Quails' Rosé before we left. It's one of my summer favourites and I'm determined we still have some summer left!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Winging It

I've done a lot of writing, read a lot of books on writing, taken a few writing courses, had some writing published and won a writing contest.  Most recently I've been accepted to a program where I've been matched with a two time Giller Prize, one time Governor General Award winning Writer to help me work through a book I've been writing.

I knew this project would require some hard work...a lot of hard work.  Until recently though, I don't think I realized how much.  With this comes self doubt ...a lot of self-doubt.  Still, I have to believe the submission that lead to my acceptance showed some sort of promise.  I'm sure award winning authors don't enjoy spending their time mentoring wannabee writers with no potential.

Yet the past few mornings I've been overwhelmed by the thought of the amount of work ahead of me and the time it will require.   How will I ever get through it all? So far I've been able to encourage myself by remembering the wise words I read in an instructional and entertaining book by Anne Lamott.  In it she tells the story of her brother who had a project on birds due the next day at school.  Having had three months to work on it, he naturally left it all for the night before.  Surrounded by books, papers and coloured pencils, he was totally overwhelmed by the task at hand.  His father, who was a very disciplined writer, put his arm around his son and said "Bird by bird buddy, just take it bird by bird."

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Have You Seen This Man?

On my way home from the dog park this morning I noticed the Google Maps car driving behind me. It's plastered with the Google logo and has  big blue camera mounted on top.  I thought it would be pretty cool in an ironic kind of a way to get a photo of it to put on today's blog.  

When I pulled into my driveway I noted he turned right, and you can't get out of the neighbourhood that way so I figured he'd have to come back past my house and I'd be waiting for him! I guess he must live somewhere near by, cause I didn't see him again. After hanging about on my street corner for about ten minutes, I looked down and discovered this face smiling up at me.  It looks kind of familiar, but I can't place it...rapper?  anarchist? comedian?  He just looks like he should be on a t-shirt.  If you recognize him, let me know.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

For Lori-Anne

When I posted the link for September 1st's Pocketfull to my Facebook page, my friend Lori-Anne of The Pear Tree posted a comment saying though she liked my post, she was more interested in the Pear Crisp recipe I hinted at in the blog.  I didn't get around to making it until today and by the time I went to take a picture....Poof... it had disappeared.  The good news is, I do have a link to the recipe.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tomato Catch Up

My husband returns from a short road trip soon and like a teenager who has let the housework slide while her parents are away,  I'm spending today cleaning,  tidying and catching up on things that I've put off due to added responsibilities while he was gone.  Here's about two thirds of the cherry and pear tomatoes that have ripened this past week.   The blackberries unfortunately, will have to fend for themselves.  I have my priorities!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Killing Thyme

Most years we throw two clumps of basil and a cilantro plant in with the tomatoes and carrots and that's the extent of our herb garden.  This year, instead of trudging down the back stairs in the sweltering heat, walking over to the garden and trying not to step on any of the other plants, hoping I'd picked all I herbs I needed, and trudging back up the stairs again, (I know it doesn't sound that bad, but I am on the lazy side), I planned to do a "kitchen garden" of herbs, in pots on our deck.

I imagined myself stepping easily out the sliding glass door off the kitchen and cutting a bit of fresh basil or rosemary.  It sounded idyllic but it was not meant to be. Turns out I have a brown thumb when it comes to growing herbs from seed.  I'm wondering if I even planted the parsley...

The only two plants to do anything were the rosemary and cilantro...which were not started from seed.  I know the cilantro looks bad, but I kept forgetting I had some at home and continued buying it at the market.  If you look closely  you can see the little beige buds on the drying stems and I will now have fresh coriander seed when a recipe calls for it.

...and those few bits of green in the oval planter?  That's basil.  Luckily, before I got my brainstorm, my hubby bought some starter plants and put them in the usual spot.  Don't think I could do without fresh basil for the summer.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

How to Make A Beautiful Life

I came across a card today that my Mom and Dad gave me for my birthday a few years ago.  My birthday is coming up soon (I'm not telling you when though!) and I thought it would be appropriate to share this inspiring poem.  I don't really have a photo for today...too much going on, but I thought this one would go with the card.  The reason I have a beautiful life is because of the people (plus the kids that were the result of this) that I'm surrounded by in this photo.

How To Make A Beautiful Life

Reflections for a daughter on her birthday

Love yourself.
MAKE PEACE with who you are
and where you are
at this moment in time.

Listen to your heart.
If you can’t hear what it’s saying
in this noisy world,
MAKE TIME for yourself.
Enjoy your own company.
Let your mind wander among the stars.

Take chances.
Life can be messy
and confusing at times,
but it’s also full of surprises.
The next rock in your path
might be a stepping-stone.

Be happy.
When you don’t have what you want,
want what you have.
That’s a well-kept secret of contentment.

There aren’t any shortcuts to tomorrow.
You have to MAKE YOUR OWN WAY.
To know where you’re going
is only part of it.

You need to know where you’ve been too.
And if you ever get lost, don’t worry.
The people who love you will find you.
Count on it.

Life isn’t days and years.
It’s what you do with time
and with all the goodness and grace
that’s inside you.

The kind you deserve.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Growing Like a Weed

Max on August 21, 2011 - Ten Weeks

Max on September 9th - 12.5 weeks

Thursday, September 8, 2011

It Has Begun!

It's a sure thing now!  I have received my first email from my writing mentor MG Vassanji.  I've had so many challenges with the Humber administration, I didn't really believe it was going to happen until I received this email.  Look...he called me Dear! and I'm allowed to call him by his first two initials...though a writer friend suggested I add an "O" to that.  OMG I'm pretty excited!  

I've been through the first edit of the fifteen pages that I'll be passing on to him soon and I'm really frightened about looking forward to seeing what he'll say about them.  In the email he said that he will be blunt, and though I tend to be a bit sensitive, I do appreciate the fact that someone will be giving me honest feedback, in particular someone I respect, who will know how to help me improve things.....wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Childhood Is A Short Season*

While having a turn out the other day, I came across this framed "essay" by the artist/writer known as Sark. I think what she's saying is:  Spend quality time with your kids!   I wanted to run out of the house and whack it over the head of give it to a woman who was walking down the street with her two elementary school aged kids yesterday morning.  One blonde headed cutie skipped along on either side of her whilte she sauntered between them, head down, texting and smiling to herself. (Parents ignoring their kids while on cell phones is a pet peeve of mine.)   Instead, since my kids are grown, I passed the picture onto a friend who was spending time with her pre-schoolers at the Farmer's Market today. 

There's so much that's happened in our lives since our kids were little and I've treasured so many things we've done together.  Though it doesn't seem like it was "only yesterday",  it does seem like the time was much too short in comparison to the time they'll spend away from us as independent adults. And though I enjoy them immensely now, I do miss that innocence and open minded curiosity, the surprising wisdom and undisguised emotion, the impulsive hugs and kisses, and the unedited truths.  

If I could go back, I would have spent more time just watching them play and interact,  kept myself from tell them how to do things so often, and let them figure things out in their own creative ways, and  not worried so much about finding "teachable moments".  I know my kids didn't suffer too badly from not having the perfect Mom.  I just wish, perhaps selfishly for my own enjoyment, I'd taken the time to observe a little more and prod a little less.  It's a shame that no matter how many people tell you "they grow up before you know it", you don't always understand what they're trying to say.  So here I am trying to tell you the same thing and hoping if you don't already know it, you'll get what I mean.

* The title is a quote from Helen Hayes

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hazy Daze of Summer

Tantalus Vineyard, Southeast Kelowna
What a sense of deja vu I had this morning when I headed out the front door on my way to the dog park and was met by the smell of burning forest. I was immediately sent back in time to August 2003 when the Okanagan Mountain Park Fire raged up the hill from our house and we were evacuated for a week.

At 10:00 last evening a fire was reported in the Bear Creek area,  about 10 km north of our place, and across the lake.  The latest report on Castanet indicates difficulty fighting the fire due to smoke and terrain.  About 550 people have been evacuated include 100 campers from Bear Creek Park.  In the meantime the valley is filled with smoke, our windows are shut and we feel for the evacuees, praying that no homes or lives are lost.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow

Well, Friday came and went without the arrival of the Pick-n-Pull guy.  Turns out my husband locked his keys in his truck at the golf course that morning so he couldn't come home in time to sign the papers for the tow truck driver...a likely story!  As a result there was a short stay of execution.  But all good things must come to an end and this morning at 7:30 a.m. Paul arrived to haul the Accord away.

I'm sure he thought I was some kind of nut, photographing the proceedings.  Then again, I'm sure many people are  sentimental about these things.  Have a look at the expression on my husband's face, caught in the car window...or maybe it was just the sun in his eyes.  ;-)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

...Should You Choose To Accept It...

After spending several days in July, cleaning out my mother's basement and closets I'm starting to freak out a little at the amount of stuff I have.   It's not that I have a lot of nick-nacks and gee-gaws sitting on top of side tables and in curio cabinets in fact I hardly have anything on the flat surfaces of my home...more because I don't know how to decorate and I don't like to shop, than any concerted effort at minimalism.  What I do have is piles of papers, boxes in closets, too many kitchen cupboards and rubbermaid containers under desks and in store rooms...all with too much stuff in them.  

As the online house organizing guru Flylady says "You can't organize clutter, you can only get rid of it."  So I decided to start going through some of these boxes.  The photo above shows a collection of journals, sketchpads and notebooks I've filled over the years.  Most of them are purse size books that I thought would be handy to have incase I saw or overhear something that inspired a writing idea, or heard a good quote or book recommendation, or if I found a good recipe in a magazine while waiting at the doctor's office.  I flipped through a few of these books and turns out most of them are filled with To-Do lists, menu plans and grocery lists.  The few notes that looked like inspiration for writing ideas were often illegible, and rarely made any sense.  

Take for instance a numbered list of twenty words, written in red marker with the cryptic title:  20 words.  I think it might have been a list that my artist/writer friend Jeannie and I came up with over the phone one day by taking turns pointing to random words in the dictionary and then giving ourselves the task of writing a short story containing all those words.   I'm not sure about Jeannie, but I'm pretty sure I never did the task.  It looks like it could be fun though, and since the writers I know are always looking for interesting writing exercises, why don't you give it a try....

Here's the list:
1.   canny
2.   Christian
3.   pique
4.   button
5.   buxom
6.   rip
7.   side
8.   single minded
9.   hypolimnion
10.  motivity
11.  airplane
12.  transpiration
13.  transvestite
14.  penultimate
15.  penny pincher
16.  have
17.  hazel
18.  hollow
19.  companionable
20.  decadence

Good Luck!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

MMMmmmm Bacon!

Today is International Bacon Day, and what better way to celebrate than with a toasted BLT for lunch!

I'm making Rachel Ray's Pasta Carbonara for dinner.  Spicing it up with a little Marash Pepper flakes from Abby's rather than the usual plain old red pepper flakes.  Can't wait to eat it!

Friday, September 2, 2011

In For the Long Haul

In 1984 I met this really cute guy at the laundromat.  I should have seen a red flag when I noticed the fraying green underwear he was folding, but I was drawn to those baby blues, staring with such confidence into my flirty browns.  
I also missed the next flag, when he drove me home from our first date at The Bullring (after my purse was stolen), in an rusting Ford Capri.  
After graduating from university, my now husband picked up a grey Hyundai Pony we named “Silver”.   A couple of years after our son was born, we purchased our First Brand New Vehicle...a 1989 Honda Accord.  We kept the Pony as a second vehicle and drove it practically into the ground...I'm pretty sure there were holes in the floorboards while my spouse was still driving it.  Still, it sat motionless in our driveway for quite a while, along with the spiffy red truck he purchased from a buddy.  I don’t remember how I convinced my hubby to eventually put Silver out to pasture, but I know it took a while.

We drove the Accord all over Ontario, across Canada to our new home in BC and traversed Okanagan mountain ranges on many occasions, visiting our relatives on Vancouver Island.  In 2007, with 303,000 km on it, it was time to retire the Accord and we purchased a Toyota Camry.   My husband was reluctant to part with the Honda and to my horror he suggested one of the kids take it over.  I put my foot down.  

Today, the lads from Pick-n-Pull will arrive soon to divest us of this eyesore (my word not his) that has been parked at the side of the house for almost 5 years now. 

I’m not sure why my husband has such a hard time giving up his vehicles, but I’ve just realized this does bode well for me.  Over the past 27 plus years we’ve clocked a lot of miles, my hubby and I.  I certainly don’t run as well as I used to, my joints feel rusted and I’ve got more than a few dents and scrapes, as well as chronic conditions that require a lot more work than a little bondo and duct tape could fix....and let’s just skip the discussion on emissions.  Yet so far my guy has given no sign of wanting to send me to the scrapyard.  

I’d have to say what I thought were warning signs when I started this post, were  in fact evidence of my husband's admirable character - of his loyalty, of his patience and strength of commitment.  Maybe holding on to something that’s seen better days isn’t such a bad thing after all.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Ap-pear-ently I was right.

Anyone remember the post I did in May called How d'ya Like Them Apples?   I suggested they might not actually be apples, but might be pears? Four months later, I can confirm that they are definitely pears.

Coming soon to a fruit and vegetable market near you!