Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Christmas Eve

I'm at work this morning. A quiet break between copy sent out and approvals received. A bit of 'Christmas cheer' in the morning coffee (Starbucks - treated myself) from a co-worker makes the morning hum along. Light snowfall, blowing winds sweeping it along the highway on the drive in this morning. Nothing like the poor beggars on the coast are expected to get walloped with. Bryan and Phyllis are getting ready for arrivals throughout the day.

I'm going to take a break from the blog for a few days. Will be occupied with family and friends (as I hope you are) and then travelling up north. The laptop will be left behind. Don't want to look at a computer for at least three days.... ha.

Merry Christmas and blessings for the new year!

The Huron Carol ('Twas In The Moon of Winter Time)


'Twas in the moon of wintertime when all the birds had fled
That mighty Gitchi Manitou sent angel choirs instead;
Before their light the stars grew dim and wondering hunters heard the hymn,
Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born, in excelsis gloria.

Within a lodge of broken bark the tender babe was found;
A ragged robe of rabbit skin enwrapped his beauty round
But as the hunter braves drew nigh the angel song rang loud and high
Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born, in excelsis gloria.

The earliest moon of wintertime is not so round and fair
As was the ring of glory on the helpless infant there.
The chiefs from far before him knelt with gifts of fox and beaver pelt.
Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born, in excelsis gloria.

O children of the forest free, O seed of Manitou
The holy Child of earth and heaven is born today for you.
Come kneel before the radiant boy who brings you beauty peace and joy.
Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born, in excelsis gloria.

Words: Jean de Brebeuf, ca. 1643; trans by Jesse Edgar Middleton, 1926
Music: French Canadian melody (tune name: Jesous Ahatonhia)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Let the Party Begin

Always tricky to take pictures of a Christmas tree - the camera flash washes out the lights and such. Phyl took this one; I'm putting hooks to ornaments, Bryan's mugging it for his sister.

I know it isn't Christmas Eve but it's close enough. There won't be enough time tomorrow to decorate the tree. I'm at work until 1pm (hopefully no later) and the rest of the family arrive throughout the day. Phyllis got here late this afternoon, so it seemed appropriate to get 'er done.

It's been a bit busy at work, for Wesley and I anyway. He has two real estate publications that need to be sent to the press tomorrow noon, and he is also covering another desk for holiday absence. I got all my stuff done and then started on his. The usual silliness - client that wants a total rebuild on a two-page layout, endless revisions for another.... worked 8-6 Monday, 6:30 - 5:30 today. I'm a bit weary. Tomorrow we'll get it all wrapped up and it'll be fine.

Just having a cup of tea with the siblings, wind down and get a good night's sleep. I'm waiting for my bread to finish (in the bread machine - don't have time to pound down a batch of bread with this crazy work schedule) and they need to sober up a bit so the snoring won't be so loud!

Miss Ava Cat, Phyllis's 15 year old tabby, is making the rounds, getting re-acquainted with the house and looking askance at the humans: "Shouldn't you be in bed?!"

Yes, Ava, we should.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cutting a Christmas Tree

This afternoon Bryan and I went Christmas tree hunting. We found the perfect tree (they're all perfect - well, perhaps the balsam fir he dragged down the highway last year, giving it an 'interesting' appearance, wasn't quite so perfect) alongside Joyce Lake on the Chase-Falkland Highway. It's standing up in the garage to thaw and drip, and the whole room is filled with the rich aroma of fir sap.

The shortest day of the year. The day, 23 years ago, that Bryan and I brought our newborn son home. The day, today, that he and Krista are bringing home their newborn daughter. Full circle.

Twenty-three years ago, Bryan and I were homesteading in New Fish Creek, 45 km from town, in an unfinished log house with electricity but no plumbing, a wood stove for heat and two mules, two dogs and one prolific momma cat for company. No biological family closer than 600 km away, but an extended 'adopted' family to help us.

It was also a clear cold day, and on the way home we stopped to cut a Christmas tree - spruce trees up in the Boreal forest. The log house was open to the centre beam in the front half of the house, 18 feet from floor to post. Bryan could never resist getting a tree right to that beam. He found the perfect one for that year along the trail to the grazing reserve at the end of Alderidge Road.

I wasn't much help getting it into the house. We used (and still do) a 5 gal. pail filled with sand &/or pea gravel to hold up and water these enormous trees. We managed to get the tree up and left it to thaw before decorating it the next day. Besides, I was still very sore and tired!

I couldn't get up the stairs to the loft where our bedroom was, so baby Marlon and I nestled into the guest bed downstairs. I'd finally fallen asleep and had been out for awhile when Bryan came thundering down the stairs.

"Are you ok?" he urgently whispered.

"Yah. Why wouldn't I be?" was my drowsy response.

"We just had another tremor," was the reply.

It was the third earthquake to hit Alaska that year, and our house was apparently on a fault line right to that distant place. The first tremor hit us mid-morning one Saturday in May. Bryan was in the Jeep returning from Valleyview that day, and the shock was so great where he was along the route that he thought he'd blown a tire and stopped to look.

This night, he was reading in bed when he thought he felt something. He looked up to see the top of the Christmas tree swaying back and forth. The book went flying and so did he. The baby and I hadn't felt a thing.

Marlon went to his first skating party at two weeks of age over, at Rick and JoAnne Gardner's pond. It was very cold but he was all bundled up and quite fine. JoAnne was hugely pregnant with Kord, born three weeks after Marlon. Weather wasn't and still isn't much of a deterent to a good time outside for us.

I used to bundle him up and place him outside in his car carrier seat for his afternoon naps all winter. The first few times, I went inside for a minute and came back to find the carrier tipped over backwards, Marlon still fast asleep. Couldn't figure that out, but on the third day I watched out the window. We had the first of our Irish Wolfhounds then, a lovely giant named Dublin who stood 37" at the shoulder. He was curious about what I'd set outside and pushed his enormous cold black nose in for a look-see. The carrier was rather tippy and so it didn't take but a gentle push for it to go over.

Marlon and Dublin had a mutual admiration society; they adored each other and did until the gentle beast developed cancer and had to be put down. Many times I'd look outside and see the dog curled up in the middle of the yard with Marlon and one or more barn cats sleeping on top of him.

The moccasin telegraph was alive and well on the 19th. When I called my mother later that afternoon to tell her the news of Abigail's birth, she'd already got the details from my sister-in-law Pam in Strathmore who'd been texted by her son Wynn at school who'd gotten a text from my daughter Rebecca in Valleyview. How did we ever cope without cell phones and texting (she says slightly sarcastically)?

From Valleyview to Strathmore to Airdrie to Falkland: that message made a 1400km journey in record time.

Apropos of nothing, we had a very nice meal of curry pickerel tonight, and I mention that because the curry had an interesting origin. Yesterday we went to Vernon (and finally found our wine cabinet - hurray!), and mid-afternoon went to a rather innocuous Chinese restaurant along 30 Ave for a meal. It was the regular buffet fare - most of it ok, good hot ginger beef, some lovely mussels in broth.

Anyway, I had a seat looking to the kitchen and toward the end of the meal noticed the woman who served us trying to open a jar. She twisted it, she turned it, she tapped it and put in down, looking in the back for something to help her. Her (I assume) husband had left a few minutes earlier on some errand.

"Hey, Bryan, go help that lady open a jar, please? She's having trouble."

He was done eating and so got up to see her trying to remove the lid again.

"Here, let me help you."

"No, no! That ok. I get later, it fine," in heavily accented English.

"It's no problem." And he reached for the jar, gave it a hard twist and off came the stubborn lid.

She was overjoyed, expressed great thanks and told him she was making a curry sauce, and if he would wait just a moment she would give him some. In a very short time, she came out with a rather large Styrofoam take-away container filled with the most amazing curry sauce, rich with green onion and carrot. Enough for several dishes.

"You use with chicken, with beef. It good with shrimp. You taste. You like?"

Oh, we like. For a minute I thought the two were going to hug each other, new BFFs.

Tonight I simply pan-fried the pickerel, added some of the curry and heated it through 'til it was bubbling. Oh my, it truly was delicious. We indeed have a new BFF because I intend to go back and get her to make me some more when this is all gone. And I'll gladly pay for it!

Marlon sent us pictures of Abigail on his cell phone camera. She is a little doll - of course she is! Can't figure out yet how to get them from Bryan's phone to my computer - send to my email? I'm technically astute enough, I'll figure it out.

Meanwhile, my Christmas baking is done, the dishes washed and a cup of spiced tea and a suspenseful movie waiting for me. And y'all know how I like a suspenseful movie. Bryan's here to hold my hand this time. It will be fine.

Really.

Stop laughing.

Friday, December 19, 2008

A New Granddaughter!

What an exciting day this has been! Bryan and I are brand new grandparents. Which means our son Marlon and partner Krista are new parents.

Miss Abigail Rose Giesbrecht arrived at 12:19 pm in the QEII Hospital, Grande Prairie. 12:19 on 19/12/2008. Wild, eh? And today is Marlon's 23rd birthday. Quite a gift.

I'm sorry - no photos yet.

He phoned us at just past 8am our time (9am there) to say she'd gone into labour at around 2am. Things were going ok but the doctor decided to give her an epidural. I was thinking they were in for a long day. Not so. Three hours later he called again to say she'd safely delivered of a wee girl who was alert and wide awake, getting acquainted with her mom and dad.

I can hardly wait to meet her, but we need to give them time. Marlon and Krista need to bond with her and get settled before company descends. I'm thinking (hoping) Auntie Becca and Uncle Chad can get over there before too long - Valleyview's not so far away.

Bryan made an executive decision: we are heading up to GP on the 27th, after Christmas here with some of his family, Boxing Day with his sister Dianna and family in Kamloops. Of course travel plans are dependent on weather. It's been absolutely nasty the past week and bitterly cold tonight. Wind is the worse foe, of course. We'll see.

Grocery shopping for company is mostly done. Gifts are all purchased and wrapped. 'Bout as ready as I'm going to get I guess. Learned today that an unexpected guest is coming, brother-in-law James from Saskatchewan, so we will be 9 for dinner. A nice size group. If David comes from Calgary (long shot) we will be 10 and that would be even better. Even teams for crokinole and Scrabble - be aware that those are blood sports in our house! Likewise canasta gets fairly intense. Never let it be said that this is not a competitive family.

Tomorrow we're off up the mountain to find a tree. If it's too cold, we'll just cut one from Kelly's lot next door (kidding - she might read this before then!). Promised sister-in-law Phyllis we wouldn't decorate the tree before she got here. Is she nuts? It doesn't get put up and decorated until the 24th, and as I'm at work until early afternoon of that day, she and Bryan can have at 'er. Better yet, she should be here on 12th Night to take it down.

Guess I should call it a night. Do you think I'll get much sleep? Oh, oh!! I get to sleep with a grandpa. New adventures every day.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Quiet day at home


Something didn't agree with me last night. The time that should have been spent in blissful repose was instead a series of sprints to the toilet. When the alarm clock rang at 5:45am, I'd just managed to get perhaps an hour of sleep. At 7am, I called Deb at the office and said that perhaps I'd best stay home. My tummy was still fluttery, my brain dulled by lack of sleep, and quite frankly I was afraid of what might happen if I should so much as sneeze! With all the other bugs circulating that particular fishbowl, they didn't need whatever has laid me low.

It's a dull overcast day. A new layer of snow fell during the night, but there's not a breath of wind. The temperature's come up a bit, I think it's in the -15C range.

Soup is on the menu. I roasted one of the pumpkins I bought for Hallowe'en; carmelized a batch of finely chopped onion, garlic and red pepper to make the stock; scrapped the pumpkin flesh into the stock and have it simmering on the stove. Comfort food that hopefully will be kind to my GI tract.

Curled our last game before Christmas in mixed league last night. I wasn't looking forward to two hours on the ice with the temperatures being so cold outside, but it was more comfortable there than had been in the office all day. Played most of the game in shirt sleeves, and found the ice to be wet by the 5th end - at least that's my excuse for my shoddy play (funny, didn't affect the opposition skip's shots. Hmm). Yes, we got whipped but still had fun. Natural ice is always a challenge.

Got another bath robe sewn up this afternoon. Takes less than an hour on the serger. I bought 8m of soft drapery fabric on sale at FabricLand and it's working out quite fine. Messy stuff because it's woven with large diameter yarn in a somewhat loose weave. It will do for what I require, however.

Ohh, tummy still churning. No pain or fever, any of that sickie stuff. Just a propensity to make quick preemptive visits to the loo!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Brrrrrrr


I echo fellow local blogger/weaver Lynette: "Baby, it's COLD outside." She may have not felt the wind over in 'balmy' Coldstream but Falkland was buffeted by tremendous winds over the weekend in addition to considerable snow. It was a weekend to do northern Alberta proud.

'Course up there, it was even worse; likewise the wide open prairies are suffering the first major arctic front to assault the northern plains. Just in time for Christmas, yup.

It's -21C outside now as I write, plus windchill factor. "Oh but it never gets really cold in the Okanagan"- horse puckeys.

Bryan arrived back here just barely ahead of the front, pulling into Falkland late Friday afternoon. He said the TransCanada between Golden and Revelstoke was its usual winter self - ice covered and fun.

I know the old man's home because the fridge and pantry overfloweth. He surely does enjoy grocery shopping and cooking and eating. Which all makes it even more unfair that he's a tall skinny rack of bones while I'm broad in the beam and round all over.

On Saturday, when the snow was not too deep, Bryan was contemplating his road clearing options in lieu of a tractor. I said, "You have a tractor in the garage. It's a little one with a mower but why couldn't it work as a snowblower?" I was joking, but he took the idea seriously. The next thing I know, he's out there in his old arctic parka on the riding mower, deck up high, blade on full power, 'mowing' the snow down the driveway. Be damned if it didn't work! Sorta. Good enough for the girls he dates. He packed down the rest of it with the service truck. I took pictures but don't trust the file tranfer between this computer and the other - need to rectify that situation.

On the fibre front, it'll be a while before the loom is up and operational. At the moment, the bits and pieces of our sauna are cluttering the future weaving/sewing room. And other preliminary construction work needs to be done before said sauna is also up and operational. If it ain't one thing, it's another.

So to pass the time, I've been sewing bathrobes - quick projects that take 2 hr. max from cutting to wearing. I had the end of a bolt of polar fleece, another of heavy soft drapery fabric, both perfect for the job. The entire piece is done on the serger. I need a collection of robes for guests, particularly summer biking visitors who don't have room to pack the niceties like lounging/after shower wear. The soon-to-be-operational sauna is another reason for a supply of nekked-coverers. All the best hospitality establishments provide robes for their guests.

A very 'twilight zone' day dropped into the middle of last week. Have you had one of those, when you seem to be an observer of yourself and the events around you rather than an actual participant? Sort of an awake out-of-body experience.

The weirdness was amplified by strange things like all the photo file links dropping out from under Deb, Jordan and I. We were working on advertisement layouts when all of a sudden the computers said they couldn't find our photos, logos or links. Oh, they were still on the screen, but we couldn't send them to print. I knew I hadn't done anything, or at least I hoped I hadn't!

Deb thought perhaps our server had glitches and so we did a complete shutdown at end of day. Didn't resolve the problem and so we soldiered through the following day. I began to feel guilty, like I had done something (what's that all about?!). I had said something to Deb early in the day, "Did the name of our photo folder change?" No, she said it hadn't. But I'm a creature of habit. I can't tell you what changed, just that it didn't. It took a few hours for that to percolate through our brains. And then, almost simultaneously, the three of us looked up, at each other, and said "Someone did change the file name." The master file. The one with perhaps 5,000 photos, maybe more. Who?

Well, the mystery was solved, human error not malicious intent. Serious lesson reinforced there.

In the midst of this and other general weirdness, I checked one of my email accounts and found one of those chain letter things from a friend in Airdrie. I tend to delete them without even reading them (take note, those who send them to me!!) but for some reason I looked at this one. There was no attachment, just instructions to make a wish, scroll through the message, and then send it on to five or more friends. If you did this, said the message, expect a phone call in the number of minutes corresponding to the number double your age.

What the hell. Could be fun. So I did it. And left my cell phone on the top of my desk, just in case. And in the correct number of minutes (give or take five) I got not one but three phone calls. One was a wrong number, the second from Travis up in Valleyview (the friend who's book I helped get printed last spring) and the third a random 'hello' call from daughter Rebecca at the house phone.

Cue the Twilight Zone theme: do DO do do, do DO do do....

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Scaring Myself Silly

and pertinent instructions - skip to the end of this posting if you are impatient.

It's Advent, and what do I do for entertainment this evening? Scare myself with a scary movie.

Now, as these things go it isn't all that scary - on a 1-to-10 scale kinda thing, I suppose it would properly be called a suspenseful movie. Anyway, I was doing some small shopping at Stupidstore and noticed that 'The Dark Knight' was on sale, so I bought it. And have been watching it. Sort of.

I like the idea of scary movies but I really don't 'do' them very well. My kids will tell you I'm their biggest annoyance if we're watching one together at home, especially if they've seen it before. I want to know ahead of time what's going to happen, to alleviate the tension. That truly exasperates son Marlon.

He knows me so well, he acts as my movie screener: "Mom, you'll have to watch this one twice because you'll have your hands over your eyes too much." or "Mom, don't waste your money." Better still, "Sure, go ahead." and then he waits and chuckles.

My love-hate relationship with scary movies goes waaaaaay back. Dad could judge the scare-factor of any movie by the number of times mom or I or both of us excused ourselves from the action for a drink of water or a Kleenx or a pee break - he knew better. She still does that.

Theatres are almost impossible for me because if you leave the show, you can't rewind/play to catch what you missed. That's why I love DVDs. It's taken me twice as long as most people to watch the show because I have to load the clothes washer/unload and put wet things in the dryer/fold dried clothes/make a cup of tea/type on my blog......

Once the tension of the moment has subsided, I can handle the next ickky thing that's going to happen.

I'm a Heath Ledger fan from back before he was a big and now unfortunately dead star. My favorite movie of his is 'The Order', where he plays a sin eater. Very good, little known show. I remember the first time I saw him - can't think for a moment the name of the show, he played a knight wannabe in a story full of (oh man, I'm losing it -what's the word for when a story has events that are out of real-timeline order?) - was it called 'A Knight's Tale'? This why I will not play movie trivia games!!!

So, back to the movie, and I will be in a minute or two. I need Bryan here to watch it with me. Then he can fill me in on what I miss without me having to go back and actually watch it myself. Makes you wonder what the whole point of this exercise is, don't it?

I don't have television in the house. We have a television set - it currently lives in the basement under the stairs, along with the surround sound stereo system. One of these days there will be a theatre room downstairs. We do like movies - even the scary ones!

To add to the craziness, I'm just about finished a book that would make a movie I definitely would not watch - 'The Birth of Venus' is about a young woman daring to be an artist in Venice during the Renaissance and Savonarola's hell-fire efforts to rid the republic of its luxurious excesses. Lots of violence and savagery - I can read this stuff but not watch it, and I think I have a pretty good imagination.

I got the sauna home yesterday. It's still all in the back of the pickup truck, tightly parked in the garage because the tailgate is down. You'd have been proud of me, how I got it all wrapped up and tied down snug. Eugen at the shop loaded all the heavy pieces and fit them in good. I remembered two big ol' wool blankets (the door is glass), a plastic tarp and a bunch of ratcheting tie-down straps. He was surprised that (a) I had them and (b) I knew how to use them. Hmm. And thankfully the snow and rain held off until today because the load wasn't waterproof for sitting in the parking lot at work - only road safe and relatively clean.

I've tried three times now to load a picture of the quilt I finally finished for Marlon last Christmas. I don't know what the problem is - the colours are bright on my computer and in my Photoshop program, but the tones are all wrong (like the quail picture) when I load it. Perhaps because I have to pull them off the camera on one computer and transfer the pics to this one with a flash drive? I do want to show you that fibre arts are a significant part of my life, usually. And that I do finish projects, usually.

If you've persevered this far, I have a lovely bit for you to read that I gleaned from closely reading a ceiling fan installation booklet - trying to discover "what's this switch for?" and succeeding, also rewarded with this literary gem:

"The important safeguards and instructions appearing in this manual are not meant to cover all possible conditions and situations that may occur. It must be understood that common sense, caution and care are factors that cannot be built into this product. These factors must be supplied by the person(s) installing, caring for and operating the unit."

Isn't that just the absolutely best piece of writing you've read in a while?! And it makes you wonder what on earth happened that made such a warning necessary. And I thought the movie was scary.


A serious note for just one moment:


Dear Goodie past away just a few days ago after a long, hard fight with cancer and other nasties. Sincere love and condolences to MaryJane and her family. You did good, guys, and Goodie was well cared for - physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. We should all be so lucky in our life's journey. And think what a wonderful Christmas she's having!

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Art of Soup

There is something magic and wonderful about a well-crafted soup, made with no recipe, only what can be scrounged from pantry and fridge. My children know the mystery of 'garbage soup': put it in the pot before it's only fit for the garbage.

Tonight it was a tomato- red pepper (capsicum, you Kiwis) and marinated artichoke hearts - carmelized onions for the stock of course, and fresh thyme and sage for the finish. A glass of good merlot, and the evening is perfect.

Two blogs in one day? Well, with husband and family far away, no TV on site and freezing rain outside, the computer is a friendly place to haunt. I was, in fact, doing some on-line shopping. Or at least that was the plan but I have as much luck there as I do in the local stores. I am so not a shopper.

The journey up Silver Star was a success in several ways. I had an enjoyable meeting with George (publishing projects in the new year - very exciting), a good lunch with him and Valerie, and a time of visiting that involved lots of laughter. The world is always a better place when it's fill with laughter.

Discretion being the better part of valour, I didn't linger in town to do any shopping, nor did I call Lynnette for a visit - it was raining quite intently when I came down the mountain (and wasn't that a fun trip) and I didn't fancy driving on an icy narrow busy-Friday-night highway in the dark.

Hence the soup, and the wine, and my little conversation with you.

I note the photo I posted this morning has some wonky colour issues. Not sure what's up with that. It's fine on my computer. Hmm.


How was your day?

Contemplative Morning

California quail on the driveway, August 2008.

There's a fresh blanket of snow on the ground today. Everything from last Friday was melted here on the valley floor by Sunday. As I lay in bed, enjoying a wee lay-in, I heard the plow truck labouring up the road, the harsh grating sound of blade on asphalt.

To hear that sound whilst in bed up at our last place meant the roads were not in good condition at all. Plow truck drivers prefer to work in daylight when there's a better chance impatient drivers will see the blunt end of the blade sometimes extending beyond the width of the truck.

I love the huge curled plume of snow when they are clearing deep snow with the wind blade out!

Today is not a regular workday for me - 'my' publication goes to press on Thursday. But one of the other designers was away yesterday to deal with family matters and could be away today as well. I'm just waiting here in Falkland long enough for the post office to open so I can pick up a parcel, then head into Vernon. I was traveling in today anyway, for a luncheon date with friend George up on Silver Star Mtn. I truly must get some presents selected so as to get them off to their destinations in time! And maybe there will be time for a cuppa with weaver Lynnette over on the easterly side of town.

Writing of the plow truck sound, I am reminded of childhood mornings on the ranch in southern Alberta where I grew up. It's in Chinook country, and laying in bed in the dark I'd try to guess the weather by the pitch and intensity of the wind. Was it a frigid blizzard wind that would tear the breath out of me on my way to the barn to do my chores, or a wild warm Chinook wind that would turn the yard into a big sheet of ice? Plan for the worst and hope for the best, right Todd?

In my 20s, living with husband Bryan in our big log house, it was the pop and snap of the big timbers that would alert us to extreme weather. It takes several years for the logs to settle under their own weight, and sometimes that process would create the sounds. I remember a few time, being shocked straight out of a dead sleep by a deep sonic 'boom' - the wood straining to adjust to sudden temperature changes as a rouge Chinook roared through the north country.

Sometimes the booms and snaps were from the gigantic black poplar trees on our land. Deep cold would penetrate the old trees to their core, freezing the heart wood and ultimately killing the them. The carnage wouldn't be evident until spring or into early summer when no new leaves emerged and strong west winds would break the trees off high up the trunk.

Looks like Bryan's bird feeders need attention. I'll set out ground seed for the quail as well. And now, looking at the time, I'd best be off!

"Some people, I reflected, took potent drugs to give their experiences that extra surreal dimension, but I seemed to manage quite well without them." Ted Simon, round-the-world motorcyclist, quoted from "Riding High".

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Anybody else been having trouble with their internet server these past two days?! I think the system was overloaded with people in an uproar over our constitutional crisis. Good news, from my point of view at least, was the GG's decision to grant prorogation. At least it will give everyone time to settle down ... cooler heads and all that.

Read a good on-line commentary, to the effect that the Nativity scene on Parliament Hill was cancelled; the stable was full of a$$es but Three Wise Men were missing.

Just a quick update on things.

Bryan is fine, thanks for asking. Daughter Becca reports he's sporting a stylish neck collar as a precaution - although with fused vertebrae, his neck's not so wobbly at the best of times. He reports being black and blue from ankles to earlobes but otherwise doing just dandy.

Went curling Tuesday night for the first time in, oh, since they were still using straw brooms. Was great fun, my bad knees notwithstanding. Have a great team to play with and lots of exercise - I'm throwing lead so sweeping lots. If I recall from my dim distant past, that's why I used to skip - less sweeping!

The acquired table linens have all been washed and ironed, ready for wrapping. I'm looking at the calendar and Christmas Day swiftly approaches. I really need to get my skates on to get my purchases made and parcels sent on their way.

To my friends in Europe and NZ, cards and gifts are delayed. Sorry! Look for them sometime in, hmm, shall we say May? Just couldn't get my act together. Every Christmas seems worse than the one before on this particular topic.

I didn't get leave for the week of the 22nd, am working on Christmas Eve ("We leave a bit earlier" I was told) so preparations for our house guests will be 'interesting'. I'm really hoping Bryan gets home before the end of next week.

On the other hand, we are on 'baby alert' with the understanding I'll be flying/driving (depending on weather) to Grande Prairie sometime after Christmas. So exciting!

Falkland is all lit up from one end of town to the other. It's quite an impressive sight at night. What an interesting little place we've chosen to live in!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Wishin' I Was Weavin'

I was doing some Christmas shopping this morning before work (start at 11am on Mondays), looking for place mats and napkins. What a weary task! Made more frustrating by the knowledge that I have the tools and materials at home to make the very items I'm unable to find anywhere in town!!!

I really, really, really need to get my loom set up.

Yesterday did not go completely as planned. As the coffee was perking on the stove, the phone rang. Daughter Rebecca calling and sounding a bit stressed.

"Mom, Don called and said Dad fell on the ice last night and is in the hospital."

It's been raining up in the north country, covering everything in ice. He'd been to supper with Don and Renee; when he went to get into his truck, his feet went out from under him and he landed flat on his back, knocking his head on the ice. It's only a short drive to our friends' place where he's staying, but he felt faint on the way, pulled over to the side of the road and blacked out for 15 to 20 minutes. When he came to and finally got to Bev and Gerald's house, he was still very bad and so Bev called the ambulance.

They kept him in the Valleyview hospital overnight for observation, then in to QEII Hospital in Grande Prairie Sunday morning for a CT scan. Son Marlon was thankfully home, lived only 10 short minutes away from the hospital. I called him, he went over to check on his dad.

All was well - worried about his neck (being fused, it's possible he broke it) and his brain. Nothing broke or scrambled but bruised from eyebrow to ankle, and those of you who know him know there isn't any body fat to absorb the impact.

He called later that day, said he was out of Valleyview Hospital and hurting like blue blazes, but otherwise "just fine."

Hmm. When Marlon pulled up to QEII, the medivac helicopter was just taking off. His first thought was, "Oh @$&^%*, I missed Dad." It's a measure of our experiences with Bryan, accidents and hospitals that he automatically assumed Dad required emergency evacuation to Edmonton, and that he remained calm in the face of it all.

The news and ensuing wait for more news put the proposed Kelowna shopping trip on hold. Oh gee. Once I got the OK call from Marlon, I did meet up with the posse (mother-in-law and youngest sister-in-law) in Vernon. Did some looking around, picked up a few things, then they came to Falkland for supper and a sleep over.

Talked to Bryan on the phone tonight. He's doing fine, a bit sore and "walking with baby steps", he said. Moving around is better than sitting around for Mr. Gimp, even at the best of times.

We've been working on a deal with a small manufacturer in Lake Country for a sauna cabinet. The owner and Bryan came to an agreement tonight and I made the payment. It's one of their floor models; we already have a heater so just needed a shell. This one is quite lovely, made of clear cedar. I'll take a pic and post it when it's up and operating here. The guys there will break it all down into its components, then I need to drive down Monday morning before work and pick it up. That's our Christmas present for each other.



Miss Susie Cailliau and Mrs. Fay at Tanya (Gardner) and Adam Mear's wedding in August at New Fish Creek. It was a blustery day, with a rain burst just after the conclusion of the outside ceremony (Plan B? What Plan B?). Miss you guys!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Singing in my Sleep


It's far too early to be up on a Sunday morning; much much to early to be on the computer.

There is that in-between time, when sleep gradually recedes and the world gently intrudes upon dreamland (that is, on the mornings when an alarm clock doesn't rudely shock me awake). I often find myself singing in that twilight, in my head (although I've been told I sing out loud in my sleep).

This morning I came out of another dream of New Zealand. I hold this place so close in my heart, my other home. And in this dream I walked through the doors of St. Andrew's of a Sunday morning, the service had already started. My companion and I had just sat down when Kim rose to welcome the faith family and then ask, "Do we have any visitors today?" I put up my hand, he asked "Where are you from?" and I replied, "Canada" and then I felt his arms around me giving me a tremendous hug. And the tears were rolling down my face, and they are now as I typed. I miss you all so much.

And in my dream I began to sing the song you taught me, and have sung so many times since then. I've sung it in praise and in anger, in acceptance and defiance, in hope and in despair. It's my anchor that keeps me steady.

To every good thing God is doing within me
that I cannot see, Amen.
And to the healing virtue of Jesus
that's flowing in me, Amen.
For ev'ery hope that is still just a dream,
by trusting in you, Lord, becomes reality.
I stake my claim, seal it in faith.
I say Amen.

Amen, amen.
So be it Lord, your word endures.
I say Amen

Amen, amen.
So be it Lord. Amen.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Calm, snowy morning

Some of you haven't seen our house in Falkland (for that matter, you didn't see our house at Valleyview nor the log house at New Fish Creek!). This is looking northwest one day in August. The scar on the mountain behind the house is the gypsum quarry. I don't know if you can see the Canada flag up there in this picture. It's 8m high and the letters on top are 2m high. That puts things into perspective, because the mountain doesn't look too imposing in this shot, and it's actually a fairly nice little mountain.




Of course, the scene now is covered in white. There are other changes. The area under the veranda is now enclosed with white lattice. But the yard in the foreground is still much the same; lots of work to do. Did I mention (only five million times) that there are rocks here?

Today was a perfect burning day. Perhaps only northern farmers understand that reference. When we were homesteading 25 years ago, today's conditions were the best for burning the large windrows of trees we cleared from the land after the saw timber was removed. The fires were huge. We wanted enough snow to suppress fly ash (but not enough to snuff the flames) and a slight breeze to fan the fire. It didn't take long for the fire to create it's own wind.

Other times, we were burning smaller piles of debris from sawing firewood - branches, bark. We threw in roots and stuff from cleaning up the yard and garden. In the summer, I waited for a drizzly day to burn weeds and garden debris not suitable for the compost pile.

I admit it. I just like building and poking fires. Heaven help the person who mistook the 'pokey fire stick' (yes, that's what we called it) for an ordinary stick of firewood.

I was having so much fun this morning, I was tempted to pull out the chainsaw and buck up the dead fir tree lying on the fire department's lot just beside us. On second thought, it was 8:30am on a Saturday morning in town. What are the chances I'd annoy a neighbour or two? Rrrrinnggg-ng-ng-ng-ng. Yep, I'd be popular.

What do you think was Bryan's silliest move - teaching me to ride a motorcycle or run a chainsaw?

Becca will tell you that my chainsaw skills, rudimentary as they are, came in very handy more than once when big trees blew down over our driveway, impeding our travels to and from work and school.

I'd like to spend the entire day outdoors but there isn't much for me to do. Not like the farm, where there were always chores and maintenance to do. Not enough snow to pull out the cross-country skis, and no one to go walking with. I know - no one likes a pity party.

So today I'll get at some sewing projects. The big cutting table is set up downstairs, in front of the window so I can enjoy watching the clouds drift across Tuk Mtn. while I work. I'm so looking forward to the day when I can enjoy the view while working at the loom.

Yes,weaving bloggers, I do have a loom. A 1930s vintage LeClerc Nilus 45" counterbalance. It came from St. Isadore (just east of Peace River in northern Alberta) and to my knowledge, I'm the third owner. St. Isadore is a French settlement, and several looms were sent out from the factory in Quebec during the depression for the women to use as a means to earn supplementary income.

Somehow an elderly Ukrainian woman, Mrs. Walyshyn from High Prairie, came to own it but never used it. Her house was too small, and so it sat in pieces in her basement for six years. I can't remember how I came to know know her- I think it was through cooking hundreds of peroghy together at the annual Ukrainian New Year's suppers - but we became good friends. I got the loom, bench, skein and bobbin winder, an enormous warping wheel, extra heddles, reeds, bobbins and shuttles - all for $500.

I used the loom for many years when we lived at New Fish Creek, making everything from table runners and yardage to floor rugs and horse blankets. I dismantled it in 2001 when we sold the farm, and it's been that way ever since. I thought about selling it but couldn't actually bring myself to do the deed. Now I look forward to room for it once again, and time to hone my rusty skills.

I still have the same spinning wheel I brought home from New Zealand in 1980 - a traditional Ashford, of course. I've owned several other wheels since then, but they've all gone to other homes (one particularly useless homemade jobbie that was foist upon me is now a store decoration). Among the boxes stored in the basement, waiting for the day that space is finished, are four lovely fleeces (two acquired just before this last move in May - what was I thinking?!), several packages of silk and camel, kid mohair, far too much angora rabbit fibre for one person to possess (a family friend once owned 500 bunnies) and a lovely cinnamon-coloured llama fleece from a now-deceased-and-not-lamented-llama we owned.

Yep, semi-retirement beckons.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Immediate update and apology!

Sorry, Becca! I was so excited about getting your photo loaded and in place, I forgot to notify my adoring public that you are Rebecca (aka Becca) and this is you in your work truck (my little ballerina-oilfield rat!).

And one of Bryan to prove he exists! Him, Harry The Dog in his 'best dog' pose, and Becca one day this past summer up at the Valleyview place.

Whew! This blogging is a tense business!

Nervous beginnings


As a 'blog virgin', this is very exciting stuff for me. I've been an avid reader of other people's blogs and wondered just how they did that - blog, that is.

And here I am!

The silly part is, I spend long days at work in the publishing business sitting in front of a computer (sometimes I even use it). To spend even more time in front of a computer at home seems the height of foolishness, but it's snowing and blowing outside and that's my excuse.

It will no doubt take time to make my blog a thing of beauty (look, mom! I did it myself) but if nothing else, it's a place to post photos for friends with very slow dial-up email. Shall I try to post a photo now? Sure.

.... and the photo is at the top of this post, so that skill will require practice. The photo is of my son Marlon and his partner Krista, and yes that's a wee baby bump showing. She's due 23 December.

OK, photo of daughter coming up.Yes! Now I know how to move a picture. Big sigh.

Hello to my friends across North America and overseas. Perhaps this will be a better forum for my long letters. If so, let me know.

For now, be patient.