Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Freedom To Read

With this year's Freedom to Read week well under way, I took a look at the growing pile of books at my bedside.  I consider myself an avid reader, but I don't come close to the pile that Janet, my friend and fellow blogger shared last summer.

Freedom to read is on my wish list at the moment, though I don't think my interpretation of the phrase is what the Freedom of Expression Committee had in mind when they started this annual celebration.  I have deadlines and guilt that keep me from reading as opposed to a tyrannical regime or over zealous special interest group that's keeping me from exercising my rights as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

For now the pile on my bedside table is made up of books for fun, research, and self-improvement.  They are; Cesar's Rules  - Cesar Millan, My India - Jim Corbett, The Man-Eaters of Kumon - Jim Corbett, Annabel - Kathleen Winter, The Fifth Agreement - Ruiz & Ruiz, Tastebuds and Molecules - Franรงois Chartier and 
The Origin of Species - Nino Ricci

I don't think any of these have been banned, but I think you'd be surprised to at some of the books that have. Follow the link and count how many of the Top 50 Banned Books Everyone Should Read  are on your list.  

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Lasting Lilies

On February 17th we invited friends over for a quasi regular event that happens around the neighbourhood called "Friday Night Happy Hour".  

Our friends Dan and Heather brought us a beautiful bouquet of flowers which still look fantastic 11 days later.  

I love having fresh flowers around the house, don't you?  Alstroemerias (or Peruvian Lilies) are in my top three of favourite flowers to buy.  They just seem to last forever.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday, Monday...So Good To Me!

It's gratitude Monday once again.  Today I'm most grateful because:

86.  I received an encouraging email from my writing mentor and it has really motivated me.

87.  I had a nice chat with my son yesterday morning.  Miss him!

88.  we have car insurance and I remembered to take the car in today.  While we were away, on a slippery snowy evening our bumper got crunched while our daughter was stopped at a light.

89.  I have book club tonight.  I missed the last meeting and those awesome ladies!

90.  last night I decided to take two Robaxacet before bedtime instead of one. I had a pain free night and I'm relatively pain free so far today.

Just had to add one more.

91.  there are service people who can be very pleasant to deal with.  Just got off the phone with "Troy" at Visa and he was so helpful and polite.  Didn't charge me for reprinting my June statement for the business Visa and it has appeared in my email box in record time.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Thank Heaven for Little Boys

I've been keen to take a photo of my husband in the football jersey he bought while we were on vacation in Venezuela last month.  It's the jersey of the favourite football team of his youth, Venezuela's Vinotinto or "The Burgundy" and appropriately he's sporting it for his last soccer game of the season.  

It's not often I can get him to pose without sticking his tongue out,  or his chest, making some sort of face, or mooning me.  

Sometimes I think he's the poster boy for the adage "Growing old doesn't have to mean growing up", except he doesn't seem to be growing old either.

I must admit there's something appealing about a fifty year old man still very much in touch with the little boy inside. Sure, there are times when I'm not in the mood for childish behaviour, but in truth those are the times when childish behaviour is just what I need.

Sometimes I take myself a little too seriously and when I do I'm awfully grateful for this guy with the twinkling blue eyes, the boyish grin and the ability to help me get in touch with my inner child too.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Frugal Fail

After all the ways we've been indulging ourselves for the past couple of months, I thought it was time to tighten our belts and get back into Frugal mode...mostly so we can afford to repeat our indulgent behaviour again next year! 

I'm afraid it didn't take much of a nudge for me to fall off the frugality wagon when I stopped for cooking oil at Valoroso this afternoon.  I swear I have mediterranean blood in me somewhere.  I absolutely love Spanish, Italian and Greek cuisine.  I did refrain from tossing a few of the more extravagant "wants", like instant espresso, into my basket, but I just couldn't resist those tiny red tomatoes and the spicy pickled eggplant.  In the deli case beside the eggplant there was a boccocini salad that would be so easy to make myself,  so of course I bought some boccocini since the tomatoes, basil and kalamata olives were already there in my basket.  Did I mention the fennel?...oh how I love the liquoricey flavour sauted with onions and capers.  And I want to try to make the fennel soup with apple and blue cheese that Nicole had last week. And speaking of soup, I haven't made tortellini soup in quite a while and here the frozen tortellini is  cheaper than the grocery store. And what about that Spanish salad in House and Home magazine with the blood oranges...there they were right in front of me in the cooler - who knows when I'd find them again.   Honestly, when you really look at it....I didn't stand a chance!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Agreeing to Disagree

These photos weren't taken today, but they relate to something I'm doing today.  After reading The Four Agreements several years ago, I'm finally getting around to The Fifth Agreement. I started it on Monday, reading little bits at a time, and even though I'm only twelve pages in it's really making me think about the things we are told, and tell ourselves, and the lies we believe.

Today it reminded me of this picture I came across in January, from my husband's university graduation in October 1986.  I'd bought a new outfit (forgive me, it was the 80's) and he'd been with me when I picked it out.  

When I saw the photo I was furious with him.  I couldn't believe he'd let me buy an outfit that made me look so fat.  Yes, fat.  We really did have a big argument about it. It boggles my mind now, but I remember looking at the photo then and  seeing great bulging thighs and a big roll around my middle.  We'd been married for seven months and I'm sure he was wondering what kind of nut he had saddled himself with.

I can't really pinpoint where this warped body image originated but 25 years later it hasn't improved, especially now that I'm at least thirty pounds heavier than I was back then.  In my mind's eye that thirty translates to 100. There are events and parties I stay home from because I don't want to run into people I haven't seen for a while and have them think, Wow, she's really let herself go.

Looking back at this photo, and thinking about what I'm reading has made me realize I can't always believe everything I see.  The camera may not lie, but it turns out the eye has a tendency to embellish.  To prove my new found belief and acceptance, I'm going to upload one of the "truly awful" photos I referred to in last month's Coche Island post.  When I first saw the photo below, and the dozens of others on the CD purchased from the on board photographer, I was horrified.   I was further horrified by the thought that everyone else on the trip would have copies of these photos on their CD too. When I looked at myself, all I could see was bingo wings, cellulite and back fat. 

"You're too hard on yourself," was my husband's response.  And he's right.  When I asked if I could post this photo, he really didn't care one way or the other.

At a get-together last week, my friend Laura was taking photos and a couple of people (myself included) commented that they weren't "photogenic".  Dave piped up and said, "You know, I used to think I wasn't photogenic, but then I realized...that's actually what I look like."  Everyone laughed.  As with all things comedic, it's funny...'cause it's true.  

Today, maybe for the first time, I'm looking at a recent photo of myself and I might actually be seeing what I really look like.  I see a woman, almost 50 years old, with a smile on her face, having a good time with her husband.  She doesn't have the body she did when she was 24, but there's certainly no reason to be horrified.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

My favourite smoothy

1 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk,

1/2 medium banana

1 handful of baby spinach leaves
(you'll never taste them)

1/3 cup frozen blueberries

1/3 cup frozen peaches

1/3 cup fresh or frozen strawberries

Whir in a blender until smooth.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Where All Good Things Must Come To An End

This was our view from our breakfast table this morning, on our last day at Sparkling Hill Resort.  We'll probably hit the hot tub before our final spa treatment this morning (Mani-pedi for my girl and a Sparkle Scrub for me), then spend a few relaxing minutes in the Tea Room before we head back to reality....and back to frugality.  *sigh*

Check out my blog "From the Valley and Beyond" late next week to get more details about our treatments, the spa and the restaurant.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sparkling Hill Resort

Some of the 3.5 million Swarovski Crystals incorporated into the decor at Sparkling Hill Resort.
My daughter and I are at Sparkling Hill Resort for two nights, and we really packed a lot into our first full day. We got up this morning and crossed the "crystal bridge" pictured above, to have a delicious buffet breakfast with fresh fruit, eggs scrambled with bacon and sausage, a little brie, some panfried rosemary potatoes and several cups of coffee.  There were lots of other tasty options like smoked salmon, other cheeses, ham, cold meats, breads, oatmeal, muffins and scones, juices.  

After breakfast, my daughter took in a yoga class while I did some writing in the hotel's library.  We had to make a trip into nearby Vernon and had a superb lunch at the Eclectic Med.  Once back at the resort we did 40 minutes on the elliptical trainer, went for swim outdoors in the infinity pool, soaked in the hot tub, floated around the indoor salt pool, stimulated our circulation and lymphatic systems walking the Kneipp Water Therapy course and headed back to the hot tub for a pre-treatment soak.  I had a head, neck and shoulder massage and my daughter had a full body massage.  We followed it all with a fantastic gourmet dinner in the PeakFine dining room.

After relaxing a little, we donned damp bathing suits and went to the sauna and steam room.  We started off in the Crystal Steam Room, or what my daughter called the Chamber of Secrets because of it's resemblance to the room in the Harry Potter series.  The temperature was a cozy 40 degrees C and 100% humidity (104 F for the Americans).  I managed to last about four minutes of the recommended 8.  We hit the Rose steam after that at a much cooler 38 degrees and full humidity.  It smelled heavenly but I lasted about one minute. We finished the steam/sauna portion of the evening in the traditional Finish sauna, a much more comfortable 90 degrees C and 10% humidity.  After a warm shower we headed back up to our room, and will soon be heading off to dreamland.  Nighty-night all!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sparkling with Gratitude

Today I'm most grateful for:
81.   my husband, who thought it was fair that after he spent five days golfing, he should treat our daughter and I to two nights at Sparkling Hill Spa/ Resort. How did he ever come up with such a wonderful idea???

82.  the fact that I have a daughter who enjoys spending time with me and I look forward to having a wonderful relaxing couple of days with her.

The view from our room at Sparkling Hill just before the snow started falling.

83.   the usual suspects who showed up for the short notice Friday Night Happy Hour at our place the other night.  Good friends, good food and good wine.  It doesn't get much better than that!

84.  some exciting and promising research that recently came to light. It's the first time in my 36 years of being diabetic that I've allowed myself to believe there could be a cure in my lifetime.

85.  the wonderful core group that has begun to gather regularly at the dog park.  Our dogs get along so well and the rare occasion when things get out of hand the owners step in and sort it out without judgement, blame or hurt feelings.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Mrs. Bubble

Our aging hot tub sprang a leak over the Christmas break. Being outside on the back deck makes it difficult to repair in the middle of winter and I'm really missing it.  Going for a ten minute soak is better than any medication I've been given to help ease my aches and pains.  Though I'm not a bath person I gave in this morning and discovered a hot bubble bath works almost as well as the hot tub...and you don't freeze your buns off getting into it when the temperature is hovering around the zero degree mark.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Wondrous Winter

Yesterday we were treated to a reminder that winter is not over yet.  I was thrilled to watch fluffy snowflakes fall outside my window all day yesterday and even ventured out to shovel the driveway, as well as a path to our door.  From the look of the posts on Facebook however, it seems I am in the minority when it comes to joyfully welcoming the snow.  

I certainly understand the sentiment of people who are wishing for sunshine and warmer temperatures, but it's still WINTER people.  Every time it snows or the weather is appropriate for the season I feel heartened that perhaps we aren't tumbling into the pit of global warming as quickly I'm fearing.  

For those of you who don't enjoy the snow and cold I have this quote that was attributed to Scandinavians when I first heard it.  "There is no bad weather, only bad clothing." If you choose to live in a place with a snowy winter climate, you need to be prepared!  And there are some wonderful ways to participate in winter.   There's snowshoeing, skiing, tobogganing, skating, snowmobiling, hiking, ice climbing and hockey, just to name a few.  If you venture into the outdoors to participate in many of these sports, I bet you any money you'll find yourselves removing at least one article of clothing as you find yourself getting too warm.  

I recommend we take a lesson from our four legged friends.  My photos from today show Enzo the Greyhound and Max the Rhodesian Ridgeback frolicking happily in the snow.  Enzo has very short fur and his breed originated in Egypt, where I believe snow is highly unusual.  Max has his origins in South Africa where the breed was used for hunting lions on the African veldt. Fairly warm temperatures there I think.  These dogs aren't shivering at the gate, whining to be taken back to the car, they're embracing the opportunity to run and play and have fun no matter what the weather.  I intend to follow their lead.  Here's hoping I can get my Venezuelan born husband to join me....

Thursday, February 16, 2012

That Time of Year

I did a lot of thinking before I posted this picture today.  Should I or shouldn't I?  It's a winter wonderland outside my window, and I know I could find something beautiful and artistic to shoot, but this was an important part of my day today, and I think it's an important reminder for every woman who happens to stumble upon this post.

Of course I'm talking about the yearly pap test that women must subject themselves to each year.  Frankly, I'd rather have a week of mammograms than go for a pap test, yet I used to schedule one faithfully ever year.  Then a while back through a series of uncontrollable events, I ended up with a male doctor - who incidentally is awesome...but still, I started procrastinating.  For three years. 

If you've been putting your pap test off, this post is for you.  Just make the appointment.  After I left the office this morning, I was so relieved and so happy I'd done it.  It hardly took any time at all...I arrived at the office at 10:28 read a few pages of my book and was back in my car just before 11.

A pap test is an incredibly important tool in preventing cervical cancer.    It's incidence has declined steadily in Canada over the past decade, as a result of early screening. Once countries begin a yearly screening program, the incidence of death caused by cervical cancer drops 50%. Do yourself and your family a favour and if you're due for a pap test, call your doctor's office and make an appointment today.  You'll only regret it if you don't.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Walking on Sushine

What a gorgeous day it was today.  The temperature hovered around the zero degree mark, but the sun shone all afternoon.  While I was running some errands downtown I decided to wander over to Stuart Park to see what was going on.  Oh how I wish I'd had my skates with me.  Starting this afternoon, I'll be storing them in the car.  The ice on the artificial outdoor rink was like glass and there weren't that many people around. 

I'm trying to keep my photos down to one per day so out of all the photos I snapped this afternoon, this was the one that made me smile.  The Yacht Club marina is opposite the rink and I was tickled by the sight of these seagulls walking on water.

For more photos of what I saw today, follow the link to my travel blog "From the Valley and Beyond".

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Heart Warming

The faeries are at it again.  It's a pleasure  to stumble upon this impulsive celebration along the Mission Greenway every holiday.  I don't know who decorates this tree, and I've come to realize I don't want to know.  I believe in Wood Faeries. Just like I believe in Santa Claus.  I know he isn't real, but the spirit of kindness, generosity and love is within us all and it's certainly within the Wood Faeries.  Thank you, whoever you are!

(Sorry about this photo, it is super enhanced as I  had my camera set to let extra light in for some interior photos yesterday and forgot to re-set today).

Monday, February 13, 2012

Many Thanks!

Yup, it's Gratitude Monday once again.  I thought I'd share Ralph Waldo Emerson's list of five that I came across this morning:
"For each new morning with its light, For rest and shelter of the night, For health and food, for love and friends, For everything Thy goodness sends."  

Sometimes it's the simple things in life that we appreciate the most.   Today I am grateful:

76.  that the fog finally lifted from the Valley allowing my husband's plane to land without any delays.  I'm so happy to have him home.

77.   for Reg's compelling stories.  Talking to him always gets me excited about writing and has lifted the fog of procrastination that enveloped me last week.

78.  that my Iranian friends escaped the clutches of Evin prison and the Ayatollah and were able to immigrate to a much safer place.  I've been reading Marina Nemat's Memoir and I think you should too.  I can't imagine a life such as this and I'm so thankful to have been born in Canada.

79.  that it's Galentine's Day!  I deeply appreciate all of you wonderful ladies out there - mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, bloggers, cousins, aunties, nieces, and compatriots who make me laugh, encourage me, take my advice, ignore my advice, challenge me, share your stories of sorrow and triumph and everything you do to make me feel rich.  I love you all!

80.  that my puppies force me to go out and get some fresh air and meet new and interesting people at the Dog Park every day.  Happy 8 month birthday Max

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Okanagan Spirits

I really must visit downtown Kelowna more often.  After I retrieved my hubby from the airport this afternoon, we decided to swing by Blonde and pick our daughter up from work.  She still had a good 25 minutes to go so we wandered down the street and came upon this amazing new place that opened just before Christmas.   

Okanagan Spirits is a beautifully appointed distillery located in the 200 Block of Bernard Avenue just east of the Paramount Theatre, in the space that used to be Welkmark.

They have a tasting bar where you can sample an amazing array of spirits and liqueur.  If our bar wasn't already well stocked with Gin and Vodka I would have purchased a bottle of their Raspberry Eau de Vie which is like a very fresh raspberry flavoured vodka.  I also detected the scent of dulse, which surprised our hostess, but have to wonder now that I think about it.  I bought a really interesting book last fall called "Tastebuds and Molecules" and it suggested one of the flavours to pair with raspberry is nori, which is pretty much what dulse is, but from the east coast.  Could it be a secret ingredient?  I also enjoyed their their Gin, which had a really wonderful spruce scent with what I can only describe as a subtle note of thyme.  

By coincidence my husband had been discussing their Canados with one of his golfing partners just yesterday.  It's a Scotch-like spirit and my husband purchased a bottle of it. All of the products are produced with local ingredients, many on site, in the distiller you see pictured above.  Ashley invited us to come back another time when the distiller was in use.  I can't wait to visit again.  Okanagan Spirits is definitely going on the list of places to visit when we have company.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Afternoon Whimsy

While checking out Facebook this morning I discovered the most wonderful thing for sale at Earth Whimsy.  I immediately posted a comment saying I'd be in this afternoon to pick it up.

If you haven't been into this charming and eclectic store on Ellis North, I highly recommend you go have a poke around.  It draws me like a magnet whenever I find myself impersonating an artist at Opus or visiting the main branch of the Kelowna Library.

Earth Whimsy has a wonderful assortment of original jewellery, art, crafts, retro fashion and collectibles, children's tutu's, strollers, children's accessories, eco friendly make up....too many things to name. 

If you're wondering what caught my eye, it was this old Brownie Camera.  I can't wait to get some film and start shooting.  It'll be interesting to see if the photographs are any better than the ones I took with the Brownie Hawkeye I was given in 1972.  I think I'll really be at a loss not being able to look at the back of the camera to see if I had enough light, or if I chopped off anyone's head, since it's not an SLR.  Having to wait until the roll is finished and sent away to be developed before you can see the pictures will also add an interesting dimension.  The last time I used a camera with film was 2007 - not that long ago really.  It's amazing how quickly you get used to instant gratification.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Eggs Ben-addiction

When I talked to my sister last night she mentioned they were having eggs benedict for supper. I've been craving hollandaise ever since, so when my daughter suggested a lunch date at Cora's today, it was a no brainer.

I'd never eaten at Cora's before but I knew it was a breakfast and lunch diner so I figured they'd be sure to have some eggs bennie and I was right.  They offered three varieties:  one with ham, one with asparagus and swiss and a third with mushroom and brie.  I LOVE mushrooms, but brie with hollandaise sauce seemed like it would be waaay to rich.  My daughter ordered the asparagus and swiss and I had the ham.  They were excellent - not quite as lemony as my own hollandaise, but still very good. The pan fried potatoes were also flavourful and nicely browned and the fruit that came with it was a work of art, fresh and delicious.

It's a whole lotta carbs for a diabetic, but I dubbed it insulin worthy.  I gave myself an extra blast and didn't eat the whole thing.  That's the beauty of insulin, you can take a little extra when you need it...but you have to remember, the more insulin you take, the more fat you store so it's good idea not to overdue it.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Monday, February 6, 2012

I Feel Rich When...'s gratitude Monday.  Almost fifteen years ago I joined a writing group along with three amazing women. We did all sorts of different projects mostly from The Artist's Way.  One multi-talented woman, I'll call her Lizzie, inspired me with a book she made for herself long before expressing gratitude was fashionable.  I think it was called "I Feel Rich When..", an illustrated collection of the little things in her life that made her feel rich.  I don't think she ever published it but I'm hoping she has it still.  Expressing gratitude is a great way to make you feel rich in all the ways that count and I truly believe it leads to an increase in reasons for gratitude.

Today I'm grateful for:

71.  my friends both old and new, you encourage and inspire me and make me feel rich!

72.  the way so many of our plans seemed to go awry on our Venezuela vacation.  These changes led to some amazing experiences we wouldn't have had other wise.  Life's funny that way.

73.  that I only paid six dollars for the 50 lbs of potatoes I stored in my cold room in September.  I don't know what happened, the first ten pounds were fine, but I went to load up my potato bowl this afternoon and let out a shriek when I opened the box.  What is it about potatoes growing eyes that is so creepy?

74.  the fact that my husband was able to get away on his golf trip despite his first flight being cancelled due to mechanical difficulty.  The following day the valley was socked in with fog meaning his flight was delayed seven hours.

75.  the multi-cultural aspect of Canada that allows us to experience so many different cultures through festivals, celebrations, and especially cuisine.  Here in Kelowna we have restaurants that are French, Mexican, Cuban, Greek, Italian, Caribbean, Indian, American, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Korean, Dutch, German, First Nations, English, Canadian,Tibetan, Irish, Philippino, Persian, Japanese, Lebanese and any number of restaurants that fuse the cuisine of many of the above countries.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Dear Photograph

Lori-Anne of The Pear Tree recently introduced me to a  neat site called "Dear Photograph".  People use their old photographs and take a shot of them within the original setting circa now.  After surfing the site,  I thought it would be fun to try to take one or two when we went to Venezuela as we'd be visiting some locations my husband would have photos from, from the 60s and 70s.  Unfortunately I couldn't find his photo albums before we went away.  This morning however, I did come across a small black and white photo taken on a family trip to Canaima, sometime in the mid 60's I would think.

Here's my attempt to turn it into a "Dear Photograph" after the fact by holding the old photo infront of my lap top with the new photo as the wallpaper.

 Here's a better version of the recent photo.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Saturday Supper

I dropped my hubby off at the airport to catch a flight to Phoenix this morning.  He and a coworker planned to join a client for a few days of golf.  "A vacation from his vacation?" my friend messaged.  "No, a vacation from the past two weeks with me," I replied with an LOL. 

Unfortunately their flight was cancelled due to a mechanical issue with the plane.  I celebrated having my honey  home for an extra day by whipping together what turned out to be a yummy dinner.  Sometimes scrounging in the fridge and pantry can lead to delicious creativity.  

Who knew a chicken breast with a thin layer of Nayonase and dijon, coated in Panko could be so flavourful and juicy.  It was an organic chicken breast from Mission Meat which gave me a bit of an edge.  I stuffed a zucchini with some sauteed mushrooms, onion and garlic, sprinkled it with Italian spices  and covered it with the left over provolone and mozzarella from Thursday's pizza.  The broccoli was simply steamed and the most labour intensive was the brown rice pilaf.  I browned some pinenuts in butter, removed them from the pan, added chopped onion and garlic, cooked until the onions started to brown.  Then I added the rice and vegetable broth, cooked it for close to an hour and then added the pine nuts and a sprinkling of dried parsley at the end. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Ants Come Marching...

Every year or two a tiny species of ant appear in my kitchen and bathroom - perhaps for a their winter vacation.  They stay a couple of weeks and then disappear.  I hate to bring in an exterminator because of the noxious chemicals, but I'm not above squishing the poor little creatures.  It's funny how something so tiny can make you shriek when you turn on the bathroom light and find a few dozen of them marching up the wall towards the sink.  These guys seem to be drawn towards water.

I have a soft spot for ants as a result of a little piece I wrote a few years ago that was read on CBC's Richardson's Roundup.  I thought I'd share it with you here.
In order for you to understand this story I have to describe the candelabra that used to sit on my dining room table.  It's made out of rusty looking iron and supports three glass votive candle holders. These cups are supported by a ring of metal that surrounds each glass.  The centre support of the candelabra holds one candle and two sideways "s" shaped pieces extend out each side to support the other two candles.  The middle candle is set up a little higher than the other two.

One day during lunch I noticed an ant running around the metal ring that surrounded one of the votives.  He was quite focused on his task, traveling around and around the ring at a steady pace.  Every so often a little burst of speed would come upon him and would go a little faster for a while.  This went on, literally for hours.  He was still there at supper time, going around and around and around.  I felt sorry for the poor little thing.  A tiny step off the path would take him down to the table via the middle support, but he seemed determined to stay the course.  

After watching him for a while, my daughter put her fork at the juncture where the circle met the "s" in hopes of making the ant stop and see the way down.  At first the ant just went around the fork, but the next time around, my daughter made it impossible for the aunt to do so.  With no choice, the ant followed the new path, at a more cautious pace.  The path went down at first but then followed the curve of the "s" up a bit on it's way to the centre support.  Once the ant reached this centre, it would be clear sailing down to the table and he'd be on his merry way...or so I thought.  The ant began to make his way up the hill and just before it reached the crest, he paused, turned around, went back up to the circle he had been on previously, and continued ....around and around and around.

People are often compared to ants, and it made me think about how often people behave like the one on my candelabra.  Sometimes we go around and around in circles, following the usual path to get somewhere, working harder and harder but never seeming to make any progress.  Sometimes it takes an outsider to force us to look at the fork in the road and take the one less traveled.  Sometimes we seem well on the way to our goal, it may be almost within sight, but something keeps us from climbing that final hill.  Maybe we run out of steam, maybe we fear failure...or success.  Perhaps we fear the unknown and chose to return to the familiar path, going around and around clinging our ingrained habits and rituals, hoping for change that won't come unless we do something about it ourselves.  

It may seem silly, but that ant showed me that it would be a shame to give up on my dreams before I'd given them my best shot.  I've always believed that we can do whatever we want with our lives, but it's up to us to do it.  I hated to think I hadn't take advantage of every opportunity just because I couldn't see what that opportunity would bring.  For all I knew, my goal was just over the next hill.   

I hope this story encourages you too, to continue striving for your dream.  It may be closer than you think.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Memories of Movida

As tradition seems to dictate, our first night back from vacation leads to a dinner inspired by the cuisine of our favourite restaurant on the trip.  Tonight's dinner is inspired by the chefs at  Posada Movida on Los Roques.

A simple pizza, some mild Italian sausages from Valoroso, our local Italian grocer, and an Ensalada Mixta; mescalun, big chunks of tomato and avacado and sliced red onions.

Wish we could get the avacados we had on Margarita.  One lasted us two weeks.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Almost Home!

Sitting in the Calgary Airport admiring the view of city set against the stunning Rocky Mountains.  It's been a long trip to get home.  Landed in Toronto at 10pm last night, left this morning at 7am with an hour in Calgary to switch to a plane bound for home.  Unfortunately that plane originated in Montreal where they had freezing rain this morning.  Our flight has been delayed one hour.  Had a lovely trip but it will sure be great to be home!