Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wine Cruisin' and Roses

Cheryl at Camelot Vineyard.

It was time for what is becoming the annual wine cruise with Brian and Cheryl Goldsmith. Cheryl was a McCall onct upon a time and we've known each other forever, since her parents moved to Airdrie when she was a toddler.

The Goldsmiths arrived late last Friday night - their modus operandi for the past 25 years! - safe and sound. It was a cool but pleasant weekend and so first thing Saturday morning (or after a pot of coffee or so) we headed south towards Lake Country and South Kelowna.

Brian was our DD last year so I offered to be this year's driver. That way, Brian could actually see the countryside and partake in the tasting at each stop. It does add up! I wanted to take them to different places than we saw last year, and I'm better at reading maps (usually) than giving directions. ("Left. No, my left. The other left. That way." with emphatic pointing)

First stop was Arrowleaf Cellars. Small place. Acceptable wines. Bought the first 1/2 dozen of this year's bottles to be laid by in the cellar: Pinot Gris 2008, Pinor Noir 2008 and a lovely 'patio sipping' white called Snow Tropics 2007.

On to Gray Monk with its new wine shop and stunning view over the OK valley. Longer stop. More purchases: some white and red each of their signature Latitude 50, 2007 and 2008 respectively, Gamay Noir 2008 and Merlot 2007.

El Nihilo is on the same road as the first two but their wine shop isn't open yet. Their claim to fame so far is an endorsement from none other than Mike Jagger himself for a product they call Rolling Stone.

Stopped at The Jammery for, of all things, waffles. And lots more coffee.

The third stop, after some reference to road maps in Kelowna, was a delightful find. House of Rose will be a future buying destination. It's a very small place, a family vineyard that produces some astounding wine including a sweet red that I fell in love with. (Yes, I did have some very small tastings here.) This red was such a startling taste that for many long minutes, I didn't know what to think of it! It's a heritage wine called duChaunac (2005), so known because House of Rose has probably the only surviving deChaunac vines left in the Okanagan. Also purchased of their Chardonnay (2007 I think).

Our last vineyard of the day was down the mountain and across the creek from House of Rose - Camelot. Their big reds weren't ready yet so I wasn't too interested. I think Brian and Cheryl did buy something here - the car truck is open in the next photo. Seriously, we were loaded down with purchases!

"Hmm, let's see if we can stuff in a few more bottles....."

Mugging it up at Camelot - Cheryl and Brian Goldsmith

Not surprisingly, we had a quiet evening with soup and toast, tea and no wine.

Sunday was a slower day, and a more overcast one. This time I took them up the Salmon River road and to Carlin Crossing Water Gardens. There was a misstep (I usually find it from the west, not the east, and so missed the turn) but it was eventually found.

Of course, it's the off season and so the store was closed. I suppose technically the grounds were too, but we trespassed with gentle intentions. The Goldsmiths have a waterfall and pond in their backyard but it apparently requires some work. Carlin Crossing has almost a dozen waterfalls installed on their grounds, large ponds and streams. It's a lovely, inspiring place. Despite the temperature, most were still flowing.

We'd thought to stop in Salmon Arm but the day rapidly deteriorated. During a stop for late lunch-early supper in Armstrong, heavy rain moved into the valley. By morning, there was snow in the 800+m areas and slush in Falkland.

My friends were on their way back east Monday morning, following me out the driveway. It was lovely to have them with me for the weekend. It's been a quiet month while Bryan's away. It takes visitors to remind me how lonesome it gets sometimes.

Bryan's planning on being home mid-week next week. For how long, who knows.

It's Hallowe'en on Saturday night! and the girls are goin' howlin'! Sister Phyllis has declared we are going to the Falkland Pub party as pirates. Swash, swash, buckle, buckle. It's as good an idea as any. I've mostly got my costume assembled, as staff are expected to be in costume at work tomorrow.

Been assembling dishes for tomorrow's potluck lunch as well. There's a great little Italian grocery store just west of the office and so, ta-da! squid-ink linguini and multi-coloured orrechetti ("little ears") for Witch's Pasta (with home-made marinara sauce) and Ear Salad. The orrechetti is black (squid ink), pink (beet), green (spinach), yellow (tumeric) and grey (cuttlefish).

There was a layer of snow on the ground this morning. It hasn't stayed and temperatures are to be warmer again on the weekend. Winter is in the air, though.

David Austin 'Jubilee Celebration'

I got my new roses planted. Oh, did I forget to mention them? There was a 50% off sale on David Austin roses at Swan Lake Nursery so I bought a few: two Jubilee Celebration, one each Benjamin Britten, Claire Austin, Alan Titchmarsh, Tea Clipper, Lichfield Angel and Wildeve. They're all modern versions of Old English roses, which means they're mostly very fragrant. The heavy, steady rain we had all the previous week made digging very easy. I had plenty o' compost to mix in (can you believe, after 15 years of raising sheep I'm now reduced to paying for sheep shit!) and the plants are already dormant, so they should do well. I have two compressed bales of shavings to mulch everything this weekend.

I'm already looking forward to spring!

David Austin 'Tea Clipper'

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Very Good Knitting Day

It's the perfect day for knitting and reading. A heavy, steady rain is falling over the entire region, a desperately needed rain. A deep soaking rain. Farmers (or ex-farmers) can wax eloquently on the beauty (or holy terror) of rain. It's the life-blood.

Much as I can look approvingly at the outside scene, I'm not going out into it except as necessary. I do need to dig the last of the carrots in the garden. Other than that, it's an inside day. And this week has been a knitting week, so how perfect is that?

These are some of the little hand warmers I've been making. The finished pair are of 3ply tussah silk that I spun 20 years ago for a show, and then stashed. Perhaps not the best choice for this project at first blush. However, I made a set from the fine, fluffy burgundy stuff in front and took them to work (my little corner of that world is very, very cold in the winter) and discovered that fine fluff is not compatible with my computer mouse. I'm still using them but made the other ones to take to work on Monday.

Meanwhile, daughter Rebecca wants a set so the one on my new bamboo needles (aren't they nice?) is for her (don't tell her; Becca, cover your eyes).

They're a nice get-back-into-knitting project ("Hmm, decrease.). I admit I had to take my first mitt to the mother-in-law's last weekend because I couldn't remember a technique or two. I am not a natural knitter. I'm great at crochet, needlepoint and weaving, adequate at sewing. My paternal grandmother was a great knitter who tried valiantly to teach me, was able to instill basic casting-on and tension control skills, but finally gave up as my super power then seemed to be dropping stitches.

When I had small babies at home, Oma (our neighbour lady, Erna Plontke, and the kids' adopted grandmother) taught me to knit on four needles to make tube socks. I made little tube socks from homespun, then shrunk them and they were perfect moccasin liners for the kids.

One day, maybe this winter, I will learn to turn a heel. Then Bryan will get his long-desired homespun, home-knit boot socks. He loves wool socks and has often looked at my fleeces and yarn stashes with covetousness.

Spoke to Becca the other night on the phone. Midterm exams and term papers are threatening to overwhelm her, but she'll be fine (once she stops hyperventilating). We've many of us been through it and come through the other side, albeit a bit battered and bruised at time. Moments like this remind me why I didn't want her to go to post-secondary school right out of high school. She wasn't ready for it and very likely would have dropped out. A few years of 'real' life taught her perseverance and fortitude.

Becca lives here....somewhere. Might have to make a quick and dirty road trip out there this winter. And this is a link to the program she's taking.

I stopped at Talkin' Donkey on the way home last night and picked up some used paperbacks. The tidy stack on the bedside table includes an Andrew Greeley mystery, a Richard Patterson detective story, the newest 'Jason Bourne' story, a fluffy Regency romance by Eloisa James and a great find - a new reprint of Grant MacEwan's classic 'Fifty Mighty Men.'

I was and am a great MacEwan fan. He was a famous western Canadian, farmer, politician and writer, a friend of my dad's uncles and an inspiration to me. As a teenager, I was a 4-H public speaking competitor and found the basis for my first winning speech in one of his books. When I graduated from Olds College, MacEwan was Alberta's Lieutenant Governor and presented our diplomas, a warm memory for me.

He wrote western Canadian history books and this one is a collection of stories about men who helped shaped the west, from the Black Robes (missionaries) to the cowboys, doctors, chiefs and everyone in between. He wrote a followup 'And Mighty Women, Too', which I have but I'd never found a copy of this one because it was long out of print. I love his writing style; my dad dislikes it intensely but is a big fan of Pierre Burton's stuff, which bores me intensely.

Neighbour Adrienne called early this morning: was I going to the chili cooking competition at the community hall tonight? I only knew about it from the sandwich board on the sidewalk when I went to get the mail on the way home last night.

"I made a pot of chili. Are you still alone? (her Ken is up in Edmonton, my Bryan in the Peace) Then you could be my date! Would you bring a salad?"

Of course. I'm thinking a Copper Penny salad, what with my supply of carrots. Or a Five Bean salad. I do like a good bean salad.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Potsdam, Denmark, and Turkey (food not country)

Statuary in gardens at Sansoussi.

After our gallivanting with Ursel, Bryan was tired. We did a lot of walking, and his beat-up ol' body don't do walking on cobblestones so well. We had a quiet day with Claudi and Chris, a wonderful evening of conversation made possible by Chris' comfort level with us and increased ability to converse in English. (Claudi said they found themselves speaking English at home even while we were away!)

It was Bryan's birthday on Saturday, and so the kids took us to Potsdam and Sansoussi, Fredrick the Great's summer palace. We couldn't all fit in Chris' car with the child seats, so they rented a SmartCar for the weekend. What a hoot! We are thinking seriously about getting one after the fun we had with it, and playing red-light tag through Berlin (girls in the SmartCar, guys and kids in the Audi).

Anyway, Sansoussi was fabulous. Can't take photos inside, so y'all will have to go see it yourselves or perhaps click online. And of course, as with all the places we went to, a person could spend days just exploring that site and area.

The gardens around the palace are extensive and elaborate. Many people go to Sansoussi to spend the day on the grounds, picnicking and relaxing. The only cost is for tours of the palace itself. Claudi and Valentin enjoy a moment by one of the many fountains. The little guy loves fountains.

There are terrace upon terrace of grapevines and fruits - the glass doors you can kind of see in this photo enclose niches for figs.

Sunday we left by train for Denmark. Claudia and Chris both said, "Don't worry. Everyone one on trains speak English."

Well, as we pulled out of Berlin, a long involved announcement came over the speaker system explaining (I think) destinations, times and connections, all in German. There was a brief pause, then "Welcome to I.C.E, destination Hamburg." in English. And that was that.

"I think we lost something in translation," I said to Bryan.

The Inter-City Express is a very fast train, over 200khm most times (heck, just like the Autobahn). The countryside continued flat, flat, flat all the way north, and hundreds of power-generating windmills throughout the area.

We changed to the Regional Express train north in Hamburg.

Hamburg train station is not as big as Berlin's but still has 12 (14? lots of) tracks and enough going on that you have to have your wits about you.

The concourse above the tracks is extensive, full of shops and food venues, much like an airport. Trains are a primary transportation mode in Europe, something we Canadians are not used to, unfortunately.

A sight very common in my life: Bryan headed off (not always with suitcase in tow, I hasten to add) without seeing if I'm with him, confident that where he's going is the right direction and I'll have the good sense to keep up. This strategy is somewhat less effective in crowded shopping malls, one reason we don't go to them together very often.

Arrived in Flensburg, on the border, whereupon Christian and Tove Marcussen met us. They were almost on time, too! I don't know about Christian, but after 25 years, I still recognized him perfectly well! We've exchanged a few photos of family, etc over the years.

I didn't realize we'd crossed the border until we were well into Denmark. Dealing with the US border service all my life has conditioned me to onorous procedures. I don't think Chris (Claudi's Chris) understood my vague anxiety about crossing borders because all (? most, I guess) of Europe has open borders.

Christian and I worked in New Zealand at the same time as trainees with International Agricultural Exchange Association. I've thought lately about that term 'trainee' - we were born and raised farm kids, so the 'training' had been done long before. No matter.

We were milking cows in on farms in Taranaki, his near Ti Riki (I think) and mine at Stratford. Our small group was the first to arrive in August (the main group didn't arrive until November), which made us a tight bunch. Christian and I became good friends and kept in touch after returning to our respective homes.

Christian worked in the Middle East for several years (working for a Danish company establishing a dairy operation in Saudi Arabia, for example) and wrote very fascinating letters about his experiences there. In 1984 he and a friend travelled to Canada and the US, and fit in a visit to our place. Bryan and I had just bought the farm the previous fall - we didn't even have running water yet, but the guys were game.

Christian and Tove are close to Skaerbaek; they have a large pig operation, having got out of dairy many years ago. Their children are grown, or almost (the youngest is attending high school in Ribe).

Spending a few days in the country on a farm was a soothing experience for our rural souls after many days in cities. Tove had days off work (she's a nurse) and so the four of us had two very lovely days exploring Jutland.

I was lost much of the time in Denmark - the language had me completely baffled, and I didn't have a map. I can place most of our travels and a few of the placenames.

On Monday, we drove to the island of Romo. There's a causeway now, but it's not long ago that it was an isolated place. It was the home of whaling families: the men were gone for long periods of times on the whale boats while the women and children kept the homefires burning (sounds like life in the oil patch, eh?). It's part of the maritime legacy: centuries before, the Viking women and children ran the settlements while the guys were out pillaging (cue Hagar the Horrible).

This little building is a school. It's typical of the building on the island - brick walls, thatch roof. One of my mom's dreams on her long-ago trip to England was to see a thatched cottage. Denmark is the place to see thatch. We saw dozens and dozens of thatched roofs, even one in the process of replacement.

Close-up of the thatch roof: they use marsh reeds.

Yet more thatched buildings, and of a common design: the family residence and livestock barn all one unit.

The beach on Romo is large and wide; we never did get to the water's edge here. The flat expanse is popular for many sports, primarily parasailing (both with parachutes and the large sails).

We continued down the coast and stopped at an honest-to-God windmill. Ya, I'm a nerd but this was cool! I've been fascinated by windmills and dikes since Grade 3 when we did a geography project about the Netherlands.

This is Hojer Molle, not spelled correctly here because I don't have the O with a slash through it that's part of the Danish alphabet. Anyway, that means the Hojer Mill in Sonderjylland (Southern Jutland). Thankyou, Babelfish translator.

This was a milling mill, not a water-pumping windmill (they had them as well). There's a store to the right, a warehouse to the left, and the photo (one of my favorites, I must confess) is from the mill garden. A specimen garden with little tiny plant ID signs, and when I trod on the grass to read one, Tove pointed out the much larger sign that warned me not to walk on the grass. We liberated several delicious ripe pears from the tree in the foreground as revenge.

Bryan checking possible weight gain (ha) from excessive consumption of German chocolates (Mr. Never Gains Weight).

On the platform atop the windmill, looking at the mechanism the miller would have used to turn the sails: Christian, Tove and Bryan.

This entire part of Europe is called the Lowlands for a reason - they're barely above sea level and so very prone to flooding. Farming and habitation is possible only due to extensive drainage and flood management. Long dikes keep the Wadden Sea from inundating the area when fierce winter storms whip up the water.

This photo is looking east from one of the locks. The river flows to the west, behind me and out to the sea. I told you it was flat!

And looking out onto the Wadden Sea, Christian leaning on the railing. There are huge gates below him that close when the tide rises and threatens to flood back on the land. The incline on the seaward side of the new dikes is very long and gradual, so it's had to see just how high they are.

Note that many of Bryan's new 'friends' are of the stone variety (not stoned). Found hisself a seal to cuddle up to.

I don't remember the name of this town, and I'm going to get my fingers slapped when Christian reads this, but it's a very, very old town. The houses were intriguing. If you could find a passageway or gap between them, you would see the gardens behind, where the inhabitants really live their lives, and oftimes the barns from years past. As in the photo below.

I think this was also the town where a Danish prince has a residence. We peeked through the gates and Tove fed a resident dog some dog cookies that happened to be in her pocket, but no one was home (how do we know? The flag was not flying, the universal sign for 'come on over, the coffee's on').

Day two was a real time travel day. We went to Ribe, originally a Viking settlement goingback to the 700s, and a stop at the Ribe Viking Centre just outside town where Viking-Ribe is being recreated as sites in the real town are discovered. This is the point in the journey where I was sans camera due to crossed communications, so I stole a few pics. You can Google Riber Viking Centre, or better yet, go there yourself.

Interesting that as close as they live to it, Christian and Tove had never gone themselves. Takes visitors to kick in the 'home tourist' mode.

Then to Ribe itself and one of the funnier moments of the trip. This is Ribe Cathedral, Lutheran I hasten to add. We went to see the Cathedral, and once there Christian bought tickets to go up the tower. I didn't realize at the time that he meant right to the TOP of the tower.

There are people in my life who know how much I hate climbing things, especially long flights of stairs. I have hyper-extended knees, which makes stepping up and down things (particularly down) difficult. Two flights of stone steps to the clockworks - how hard was that? Piece o' cake. But then Christian said, "Come on, we're not there yet." Not where yet?

Up narrow wooden stairs, and then another flight, and then the bells, but are we 'there' yet? NO!

"Just a few more steps." Great lies of our times. But once out on the top, the stunning view was worth the climb and laboured breathing. All of Ribe and the Jutland penisula was laid out before us.

Christian was pointing out various places of interest. When I couldn't figure out where one of the places was that he was pointing to, he said, "There, by that red house."

I stopped and turned to look at him and said, "Christian, they are all red houses." Long pause, and then we both laughed, and it became a running joke for the rest of the day.

And look, I was right, wasn't I?

The inside of the cathedral is dramatically different from the roccoco and renaissance specimens we'd already seen. This is a very modern altar, redone not that many years ago, inside a clean and austere sanctuary. I would be comfortable here, rather than over-awed as I was in the German Doms.

While Tove attended a meeting during the afternoon, the three of us spent the afternoon with another old IAEA friend, Grethe Jensen. She worked for Fred & Jessie Cook, close to where I lived. We wrote to each other for a few years and then lost contact, as those things happen. When we arrived at Marcussen's, Christian asked, "Would you like to see Grethe?"

Turns out she's a nurse at the same hospital as Tove! Of course I'd like to see her. We had a lovely visit at her place just a short distance out of town. It was a little awkward at first, not surprising considering we hadn't seen each other in 30 years! and lost written contact perhaps 25 years ago. And yet, in a short while it was comfortable. And as the photo albums came out and the coffee pot replaced with beer, the stories flowed. Whereupon Bryan learned that not only were the stories I'd told him over the years all true, but that there were a lot more he'd never heard!

"Do you remember the time we were coming back from a party and I drove the wrong way round the round-about in Stratford?" asked Grethe. Which made Bryan laugh, because I'm sure he didn't believe that one.

And my answer that the modus operandi for the Canadians and Brits who were at large in NZ was to always travel with a Dane, then pretend not to understand English and let the Dane-of-the-moment talk to whatever officer of the law whom we might catch the attention of.

"Ya, I remember that!"

Grethe's husband and son arrived home just as we were leaving, so we weren't able to visit much with them. Enough, however, for the respective husbands to decide that the stories grow in the telling - but I think they're just jealous.

That's it for photos of Europe. We were back in Berlin for a few days, but we both acquired head colds from the little boys (all the adults got it) and Bryan had a very bad, achy Thursday in bed. Friday was a quiet recovery day for him. Chris took us for a drive in the city and out around Brandenberg.

Leaving was difficult, as partings always are. We'll be back, though. We've got our feet wet and now are ready for the plunge.

Bryan, back where he's most comfortable: as the driver, not the passenger, driving through the Cochrane area, towards the mountains and home.



The day after the turkey before.... but I'll say none of us overindulged. Getting older sometimes does mean getting wiser. And I'll truly enjoy my turkey sandwiches today.

PK wanted to kick up a cribbage game but mom's crib board is MIA. We tried just keeping score, but it lacks the thrill of pegging (you crib fans know what I mean) so Gary took pity on us and we embarked on a riotous session of Crazy Eights. Yes, the children's card game we all grew up with. Now, be honest, when's the last time you played Crazy Eights? I challenge you to get a game going around your table tonight and if you don't laugh as hard as we did for a few hours, I send you my apologies. We howled with laughter - strategy forsooth!

It was a cold and windy day, despite blue skies. Not a day to invite leisurely fall strolls. On the list of things I'm thankful for is that I spent all Saturday afternoon outside.

It was only marginally warmer yesterday (yes, I realize it's much warmer than the land east of the Rockies, and no snow, Ive seen everyone's photos, so stop yelling) but I still had a great time planting lavender and gaura (I said, stop yelling), burning potato and tomato stalks in a lovely bonfire. With the tops froze off, it was time to dig potatoes, and my little plot yielded a very respectable crop with some fairly large tubers. They're definitely going to be included in next year's garden crop.

This posting has taken me most of the morning. Think I'll brave the cool wind outside this holiday Monday and take a walk down to Bolean Creek. The laundry is done but there are still chores to be done inside today.

Hope you've had a great holiday weekend. And that you've enjoyed our photos.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Travels Continued - Erfurt; and the Today's News

St. Mary's Cathedral in Erfurt, with the morning market on the Dom Square in the foreground.

Day two of our whirlwind tour of Thuringia. Spent the night at a friend's house in Grafenhainchen (yes, I used notes for that one!), then on our way to Eufurt.

If you go to Eufurt, you'll soon learn that the Domberg (cathedral hill) dominates and somewhat defines the small city. There are two churches on the promontory, St. Mary's Cathedral (picture above, medieval) and The Church of St. Severus (to its right and gothic).

Eufurt is a medieval city; Boniface was one of the Legion of Irish monks who reintroduced Western thought and culture to Europe after the barbarians destroyed the Roman empire. He arrived in the 740s and established the bishopric here.

There are 70-some steps up the Domberg. From the steps, one has a great view of square. It's unusually empty in this photo. The 2 ha (about 5 ac) space is often busy with markets or cultural events. The buildings on the far side are mostly half-timbered, very old and very precious.

St. Mary's choir and altar. 16m high and 13 wide. Big intake of breath.

Stained glass windows - stunning no matter how many you see. These and the choir/altar are from the mid-1300s.

Not a great photo of the Wedding House, a renaissance building where both Claudia's parents and her sister Kathrin were married. It's presently getting a maintenance treatment on the facade.

The Wedding House is properly called the Sonneborn House, established (as you can read, I hope) in 1546. That would make it renaissance, right?

Right beside the wedding house is a wine shop (appropriate?). We were there the week that First Wine was released. It smells awful (as raw wine does) but tastes heavenly and fruity, and we soon learned is high-octane stuff. Ursel asked for a taste, and the kind lady shown here poured us each a full glass! When we gave our approval and Ursel said we'd take two bottles to Kathrin's for supper, she filled the bottles. Meanwhile, the host refilled our glasses!

Enroute to yet another mystery destination, we came upon this colourful fellow.

He's sort of a goodwill ambassador. The basket on his back holds bread. The one on his arm holds schnapps and other goodies. The loops on this basket (better seen in the first photo) hold schnapps glasses. The pouch on his belt is for coins. And the bells on his ankles are just for fun!

After the schnapps break, I noticed a man in a high window leaned out with a camera. I went inside the building, up the stairs, to discover he was a professional photographer waiting for "just the right light" and allowed me to take a photo only if I was very quick! And I was, and then learned that he's spent much time in BC and so we had a wee chat.

What I didn't realize then and will tell you now is that the street in the photo is actually the top of a bridge.

And these are some of the 32 half-timbered houses that sit atop that bridge! There were originally 64, but time and renovations have reduced the number. I don't know that there are exactly 16 on each side, but I do know that the Merchants' Bridge is the longest one with housing north of the Alps. The bridge goes back to 1325. The occupants then and now are the merchants whose businesses on on the ground floor of buildings.

To Kathrin's for supper, and per usual, Bryan commandeers the barbeque. We had a very lovely meal of lamb and chops, plus tomatoes, fresh mozarella with basil, and of course young wine.

The next day we headed back to Berlin with stops at Weirmar and Worlitz.

Weirmar - home of Goethe, Schiller, a concentration camp and the Weirmar Republic. Not going to get into the last two - didn't go to the camp, partly because there was no time, partly because it's still a very tender topic.

We saw Old Weimar, and did so in the best way possible - by carriage! Great especially for Bryan, whose hip and back were beginning to give him a lot of pain from all the walk the day before.

There are always funny moments in the most unusual situations. Above, the driver got a call on his cell phone. The horses' shod feet make so much noise on the cobblestones that he had to bring the rig to a stop to hear the conversation.
The driver was a very nice man but spoke no English, so Ursel was our interpretor. Now, that would seem logical unless you know a little personal history between Ursel and us.

When the Otto's came to Canada in 1998 for a visit, Claudia was the interpretor because her dad speaks no English and her mother, who could, refused to try. I don't know if she was overwhelmed by the trip to that point (on the drive up from Calgary to Valleyview, she kept asking Claudia if they were on the right road - through the heavy bush and all - and Claudia kept replying "It's the only road, mom.") or didn't want to embarrass herself. At any rate, we were left with the impression that she didn't like us.

This trip was a complete 180 degree spin. Not only was she eager to take us south, but on her own and very willing to communicate as best we all could. And it was great! It really was. And her English galloped along in proficiency as the days went by. So this particular anecdote really made her daughters laugh.

Next stop was tea at Worlitz. Saw mistletoe in the trees for the first time, great large balls growing in trees alongside the road. No photo - sometimes I just get too caught up in the moment, and that's a good thing. Worlitz is a entire duchey turned into an enormous 277 ac park. Yet another UNESCO site. This is definitely a place to return to.

And like many others, suffering slow decline because the young people are all leaving for greener economic pastures, leaving the ancient towns and buildings to the elderly and those financially unable to maintain them. Tourism, both domestic and international, keep it afloat, but just barely.

Lake Worlitz features gondolas that can be rented for pleasure outtings. It was a cool windy day when we were there, plus we were pressed for time.

Then it was back to the Autobahn. Did I mention it before? Did I tell you that all or most of the stories you've probably heard about the Autobahn are true?!!

Yes, that is the speedometer hovering in the 220 kmh range, and the shake of the photo isn't from nerves on my part but from the car's movement and my attempts to be stealthy taking the photo because Ursel simply wouldn't understand why I wanted that photo. Proof was the motivating factor in my subterfuge - sorry but true confession.


Next installment will be Denmark, or at least part of the trip there, because mixed messages between my techie (Bryan) and I meant that the camera batteries died on day 2 there and the replacements were still in the bag in Berlin.

Speaking of Bryan, he's having a great time up north. Called me this morning. Work has been going well, probably keep him there until the end of November. He's found a potential buyer for our place there, at least a very probable renter who could become our buyer, and both options are good news. The weather has become winter, of course (4 inches of snow; Marlon said he had to chain up his service truck to cross one river on Thursday) so he wasn't surprised when I said I wasn't making the trip up today. He's off to Marlon and Krista's tomorrow for turkey supper with Miss Abby. Auntie Rebecca will be there as well, and her other grandpa.

'Grandma' will be going to Revelstoke for Thanksgiving at GG's house (great grandma, aka Bryan's mom). And getting her accounting work done (stop laughing) and planting the many, many lavender plants she bought yesterday at the nursery she should rightly have shares in.

Don't ask how many lavender plants. Suffice to say it will be the theme of this yard. Also bought a few Butterfly Gaura, because they also do well, and three Cushion Spurge - not something I would have considered at first blush but my partner in crime at the nursery persuaded me. This spurge, as its wild cousins, is poisonous and will cause skin irritation but besides beautiful show, it's primary attraction is that DEER WON'T EAT IT! Take that, ungulates!! Maybe I try roses next year, planted between bunches of spurge. Hmm.

Also four more spreading juniper to fill a difficult dry, steep, ugly spot beside the driveway, where there's an incline to allow access to the lower portion of the yard.

This is my afternoon work. We had a hard frost last night, -7C. Guess who didn't think to unplug her small water fountain? or take the hoses off the taps. The fountain will be drained and stored (when the ice thaws - yikes) but the hoses left out a while longer. It may be freezing at night, but gardeners know to keep watering well into the season, especially when the subsoil is as dry as ours presently is.