Sunday, January 25, 2009

Why I Don't Skate Well

Mt. Cheam, Chilliwack



Hi Kerri! Welcome to my weird on-line world.

Bryan and I were in the lower mainland, attending the motorcycle show (our January tradition this weekend. We spent Friday night with niece Jolene and her partner Russ who live in Burnaby; Saturday night with long-time friends (note carefully, I didn't say 'old') Allen and Barb, who have a dairy farm just east of Chilliwack. Allen and I were at Olds College together onct 'pon a time just after the last glacier receded.


The sky was clear and blue all day today, the sun shining warm and bright. Not warm enough, though, because those clear, cloudless skies have let the cold air drop down upon us, and a savage wind from the east is making outside an uncomfortable place to be.

As we drove past Monte Lake we noticed many ice fisherman out trying their luck. There was also evidence of ice racing (motorcycles with studded tires I'm thinking from the look of the 'track') and a large hockey area with nets still set up on either end although no players on the ice. Other ponds and farm lakes had home-made rinks cleared of snow. Coming in to Falkland, I saw a full complement of players on the outside rink beside the curling rink, having fun despite the bitter cold wind.

Thursday night as I went into the curling rink for our regular game, I saw a group of kids playing pickup hockey under the lights. Lots of memories flooded back, of a time when Airdrie's only rink was an outdoor one, a sometimes-heated building at one end to change into your skates and lights for evening games and play. Things got pretty sloppy when a Chinook blew through, and in the spring the slush was perfect for broomball (using sawn-off straw curling brooms worn out at the end of the season). Remember, Cheryl?

justpedalmore flickr photo of a Calgary rink

We didn't go into town to skate very often. Mom would sometimes take us down to one of the sloughs on our ranch and we'd play on the ice there. My nemesis was figure skates- or more to the point (you should pardon the pun) the picks on figure skates.

Girls did not wear hockey skates when I was a girl. Why, I don't know. Somehow there was a total taboo on that. Girls didn't even play hockey. Figure skates were too narrow for my broad, short feet so they were always tight and made my insteps ache.

Those picks, though. Anyone who's ever skated on a lake or pond or slough knows that not only is the ice not level, it's also riddled with cracks and heaves. I'd get a nice glide going and then the picks on my gliding foot would snag a crack and I'd go flying. Mom wasn't too sympathetic: "Tip your toes up so the picks are down." Oh yeah? Skate on my heels? Great idea.

I think Dad finally ground off the picks with the grinder in his shop but by then I was turned off skating.

garrymoore flickr photo

Scott, do you remember when Buzz Klein trapped 'mushrats' (he couldn't say 'muskrat') on our sloughs in the winter? He had a Ski-doo, a lumbering old beast compared to today's sleek speed machines. One time we were on the ice with Mom, and Buzz towed us behind his sled on our skates. I was surely toes-up that time! but what fun.

I also learned later in life that I have hyper-extended knees, something I was evidently born with. Both son Marlon and daughter Rebecca also have the condition. Our knees are always 'locked' when we stand, and are unsupported when bent. It makes going down stairs or inclines difficult, skiing a challenge and skating a highly entertaining event for those watching us. No wonder it was so much work for me!

Bryan is a very good skater, or was. He used to play a lot of shinny hockey, lost a front tooth to a flying puck. With his arthritic spine, it perhaps wouldn't be a recommended activity anymore. He could probably glide fine; possible falls (and with his recent history...!) would be ugly.

Pond hockey is a long Canadian tradition. Some of the best hockey players got their start skating on backyard rinks or farm dugouts. When we lived on the farm up north and the kids were small, one of our favorite winter activities was skating outside at night under a full moon in a clear sky. It was often very, very cold, in the -20C range but the magic of skating in moonlight is irresistible.

I was thinking of Simon and Quinton Bailey today, Kiwi lads who've never even seen a frozen lake to say nothing of skating on one. They'd have had a great time out there with the local kids - or at least they would once their blood thickened and they developed strong ankles.

Post comment updates:

Lynnette, when it warms up, come on over for a scanner tutorial. Be forewarned, however, that it's an addictive activity.

As for the yarn stashes - I wish weaving was on the immediate horizon but it would be best to get the basement finished first, or at least that's what I'm told! I'm giving serious consideration to digging out my double-ended needles for knitting-in-the-round and trying AGAIN to make socks. There's a very active and talented support group in Falkland for knitting addicts, who claim they can teach anyone to turn a heel. I may well be their first failure.

Oh, and Gerry (SHMC President and Dictator for Life) curling is about to become the drinking game that you fondly (or not) recall because in a moment of weakness and/or temporary insanity, I signed up for the Tuff Spiel Feb 6-7 or (8, or when all the participants die). It's one-on-one curling, no sweepers, four ends and six rocks per end. That definitely speaks 'whiskey' in my ear loud and clear.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Best Laid Plans Gone Awry

I know it's happened to you. It just happened to me again this weekend. Started out Saturday morning with a clear goal in mind and in the course of accomplishing said goal, got so tangled in the process that it wasn't even begun by the end of the day!

Sound confusing? You have no idea.

I have decided to compile a CD of family photos to give to my kids, mostly scans of pictures I already have. The idea came to me as we drove home from seeing our new granddaughter Abigail. It occurred to me that Krista has not seen any of Marlon or Becca's baby and toddler pictures, that she doesn't know most of the extended family on the McKinnon/Gieck, Giesbrecht/Reimer sides. And since I do have the equipment and the know-how to use it, it only takes the getting to get done.

My great-uncle Ed and Grandpa Art in 1914, when they weren't nobody's uncle or granddad!



I hooked up the scanner, got my techie stuff all ready. Now, WHERE are those photo albums? Somewhere in the basement. We moved just a few months ago ... OK, it's been 7 months but that's flown by fast ... You expect me to have everything unpacked and neatly organized? Heck, I bought RoughTotes to repack the important stuff I hadn't unpacked when we sold the farm in 2001!!

There truly aren't many boxes downstairs. Just those containing yarn, fleece, fabric, books, weaving tools, spinning tools, books, fleece, yarn and fabric. Just the day before, I purchased a large steel frame storage unit with MDF shelves to store seasonal things like our camping gear, Christmas stuff and the business account archive boxes. Bryan was having a good day pain-wise so was able to help assemble the shelf unit.

Family photos we love and treasure....


I figured that seeing as I had to dig through the stacks of boxes to find the albums and photos, I'd might as well make the effort useful and get the organizing done. All the items for the shelving unit are now neatly tucked away. The other boxes are now all clearly labelled - so I don't keep having to open totes to learn the contents ("What? More yarn??"), sorted and stacked according to use and need for easy access.

That task took the better part of the day. It was a very satisfying job. I really dislike clutter - restoring order brings me great calm, kind of a 'zen' thing I suppose.

Eventually, when the basement is finished, there will be a room set up for my loom and sewing gear. Half the items now stacked in the dark corner will find a useful home in that future room; likewise the stash in the small bedroom closet upstairs ("What? More fabric??").

I enjoyed a restorative cup of tea, some reading time and then did, well I'm not sure what I did but the evening passed. It wasn't until Sunday morning that I realized I'd not scanned one single photo. In fact I hadn't even brought up an album or a package of pics from the storage boxes downstairs. I had neatly and methodically stored them away.

BUT I KNOW WHERE THEY ARE! and I can get to them!!

****
Quick Update on Travel Plans (for Lynnette and other vicarious travellers):

Bryan & I are going to Berlin, Germany in September to visit our 'adopted' daughter Claudia. She lived with us for a year when she was 16 and became a dearly loved member of the family.

We fly out of Calgary on 04 Sept to arrive late 05 Sept in Berlin via Heathrow (London). I've booked 2 weeks in a B&B about 8km SE of where Claudi lives now. We'll use that as base of operations but hope to get out and about, including a few days up in Denmark to visit long-time friend Christian and his family.

Spoke to Claudi on the phone Sunday morning and she's very excited. As are we. She's expecting son #2 in March and we've not yet met soon-to-be-3 son Valentin yet, nor her partner Christian (a different Christian). Her dad is planning to come up from Erfurt for a visit; not sure about mom (they're now separated). Whatever, we plan to have a grand time!

Claudia and Valentin in Berlin, taken last year.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Making Travel Plans

What a lot of work I did this afternoon! And all via Internet from my kitchen table. Bryan and I explored all our options for a planning trip to Germany in September. It's our 25th anniversary on the 21st. We'll be there 05 to 19, celebrating Bryan's 61st birthday (hopefully) with 'daughter' Claudia and her small family.

Finally, finally found a highly recommended and afforable B&B in Berlin, a place called Friede's B&B Beate Richter. It's within reason distance of Claudia and Christian's place - at least where they are living now. And it's a do-able distance for a quick trip up to Denmark to see Christian and Tove (a different Chris).

Now all I have to do is book airline tickets and we're set. I'm tired and excited all at the same time. "Another glass of wine, waiter." Damn, he's listening to an audio book. Guess I'll have to serve myself.

Bryan had another massage treatment today. The physio won't touch him until they get the latest CT scans and X-rays. The workouts seem to give him some relief. Thank goodness.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Coffee as Life



I dashed out during my lunch break today to run a few errands. The problem with a 7am - 5pm work day is that most places are closed outside those parameters. Nothing like a 30 minutes errand dash to learn the quick routes around a city!


On my way back, I stopped at the downtown Starbucks for coffee - good coffee, not urn (burn) coffee. It occurred to me, not for the first time, that we are a coffee people. We being Canadians. Yes, I know the States is the home of Starbucks and Seattle's Best. But Canada is the birthplace of TimmyHo's - Timmy's- Tim Horton's, the iconic coffee and donut shop

How iconic? Go to a coffee place in the States as ask for a double-double (which I don't order, by the way) and you'll get a blank stare. Timmy's and Canadian Starbucks (and thouse that cater to large numbers of ex-pat Canadians) know it means two sugars, two creams.

Yes, I drink tea. All kinds of tea: Red Rose (remember the TV commercials: "Only in Canada? Pity."), green tea, jasmine tea, herb tea. I'm enjoying a cold glass of 'Wellness Tea' (lemon grass, liquorice, ginger and peppermint) as I type this. Tea is our evening drink. Coffee is the "OMG, it's morning!" drink, the "It's 10am and my brain's gone walk-about" drink.

Ideally it should be coffee brewed in an aluminum percolating pot over a gas stove, a close approximation of cowboy coffee. Have you seen the movie 'Hidalgo', about the endurance race Frank Hopkins undertook in Arabia during the 1890s? The sheik in command of the race (played by Omar Sharif - swoon) was a Western Cowboy lore junkie, and when he asked Hopkins (played by Viggo Mortensen - swoon again) if the Arabian-style coffee was too strong for him, Hopkins replied that for a cowboy, the coffee wasn't ready until you could stand a horseshoe up in it. Yeah!
My Grandma and Grandpa McKinnon made cowboy coffee even when they retired into the city, the type where the perk guts were removed from the pot and fresh ground coffee put directly into the water each morning. The used grounds were removed at the end of the week.

Do you remember coffee made outdoors, on camping trips or range tours? Especially range tours when coffee for 100 or more people was made in copper boilers over an open flame. If you are under the age of hmm - 40? you might need to be told that a copper boiler was a long, deep vessel used to boil white clothes in or to process hot-water canning, or a multitude of other large-volume hot water duties.

Ground coffee was put directly into gallons of water, boiled to a fair-thee-well, then removed from heat and cold water dashed into it to (supposedly) settle the grounds. Chewy coffee. Nummy.

When friends from New Zealand spent time with us a few summers ago, I learned long afterward that they thought my coffee was too strong. I wish they'd said something then (I was using a French press at the time) because I certainly could have made it milder.

On the other hand, some years before that our 'adopted' German daughter Claudia came to visit us with her parents. Her physician-mother Ursel said she couldn't understand why doctors in Canada warned patients against excessive consumption of coffee: "The coffee in this country isn't strong enough to do any harm!"

All a matter of taste and perspective I guess.

Starbucks was a lifeline for me in New Plymouth. Much as I love New Zealand, it isn't a coffee culture. Plain ol' coffee in a restaurant, if it's available, is called filter coffee. Most times all that's available is espresso or some tarted up coffee confection. Starbucks is the same the world over, thank goodness.

The NP shop was my sub-office, my wi-fi spot, my sanity sanctuary. It was the place where I did a lot of my writing, a good deal of editing and occasionally spent time with friends (right, Ron?!).

How much time did I spend there? When I walked though the door, the baristas had my brew ready by the time I reached the counter; the only variable was what snack went with it, if there was indeed a snack.

If I was editing a manuscript, I curled up in one of the big armchairs with a low table handy to take the load of papers, pens and assorted paraphernalia of my craft. Midmorning or late afternoon, there was no pressure for me to give up my perch for other customers. The barista would sometimes stop by to ask what I was working on, how it was going, pass a minute or so in companionship.

In 1980 I had a similar sanctuary in Grande Prairie called Ceppella's. Do you long-ago GP-er's remember that place? It was a cutting edge establishment, in the days when espresso and the barista culture was new, especially in the north country. The owner's sister, Shawna, was my across-the-back-alley neighbour.

Ceppella's was a hangout that wasn't a bar, a place for a single person to spend a sober, entertaining afternoon on a rain-soaked Saturday. There were board games, card and cribbage boards, and people willing to play. After four hours of backgammon and espresso, a person's nerve were rather jumpy! It was a good social network in a fast-paced, hard-living oil town.

These days my coffee stop is generally Tim Horton's because there's one just down the block from my workplace, or it's alongside the road on my travels. I prefer the small independent places, of which there are several in Vernon I've yet to explore. After a long work day, all I want to do is get home to Falkland, and I'm not likely to drive into town just for coffee. Still, everytime I drive past Talkin' Donkey or one of the little places along 27 Street, I feel the urge.

There are some interesting free lance research/writing/editing projects coming up in a few weeks. Editing fairly screams "friendly neighbourhood coffee spot" to me. Finding my calm in the midst of murmur and laughter is a happy time.

When I spin or weave or sew, I'm happy at home. Writing sometimes requires me to move out of that environment, away from the distractions of household chores. I wonder what the people at Talkin' Donkey would say if I lugged my spinning wheel and sack of fleece in there one afternoon. Oooh, tempting?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Monday Weirdness

"Being sober on a bus is, like, totally different than being drunk on a bus."

~Ozzy Osbourne

Also attributed with saying, "Of all the things I've lost, I miss my brain the most."

Why all this? It's a Monday state of mind.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

"Gettin' By With A Little Help From My Friends"

Today there was an interesting weaving (sorry, Lynnette! bad pun) of old and new friends and some in between (no longer new but not yet old).

Spoke to Cheryl and Brian from Airdrie this morning. Cheryl and I have know each other for about five million years, I think we were two years old when her parents moved to our town. Caught up on things and made plans for a visit on their part to these parts next month.

Then Bryan and I went on a journey to deepest, darkest Coldstream this afternoon to finally meet blogfriend Lynnette and her husband and daughter in person for the first time. What a delightful time! Finding items of mutual interest and connect. Husband Mike is a Napier, NZ boy; I've had a few visits there to spend time with dear friends Buddy and Pieta McGregor. Small world - I'm destined to have my life filled with Kiwis!

On our way to Coldstream, Bryan's cellphone rang - a call from Yukon Andy in Whitehorse, housebound and bored, calling friends to pass the day. Andy had a serious dirt bike accident two years ago (? something like that) that broke his back; doctors said he'd never walk again, and today he was talking about two gunga-din dogsledding women who were going to help him pull traps on his trapline in a few days. Never say never. Bryan and Andy go back 30 years or more.

And this evening, neighbour Kelly was by for some wine and a chinwag, catch up on news as she and the kids were away for the holidays. Our acquaintance is now 8months or so old, and a comfort zone is well established.

An interesting link through our lives, from 48 years ago to newborn today. And tonight, quickly checking my world on-line, emails from friends in the north country. When I doubt myself, when my belief in myself is at low ebb, I'm reminded that these folk think enough of me to keep in touch and be part of my life, including me in theirs. It grounds me and reminds me that I do have value and worth. We all need that validation from time to time.

Thanks, guys!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Curling for Fitness and Fun



Man, doesn't that read like a promo for a 'Further Ed' course? It's actually what I do in Falkland in the winter on Tuesday &/or Thursday evenings.

It's been a long time since I curled in any serious way. The last time I was in a league, we were still using straw brooms. The new style brooms are much cleaner and easier to use, but they aren't as handy to saw short at the end of the season to use in broomball on the sloppy ice when the outdoor rink melted at the end of winter (who does that anymore?).

I have a great team in the local mixed league: Carrie, Fay and Mike. I play lead - that's the 'exercise' part of the program, sweeping doncha know! Carrie is a good skip, a good curler. Fay, Mike and I share our moments of glory and shame; all in all, we're doing ok and having a lot of fun.

The league is a dog's breakfast of age and talent: teenagers to 'oh my god how did I get this old?!'; experienced and novice and those of us just a bit rusty.

The recent snow removal project was beneficial to my sports career such as it is. I wasn't achy at all today, other than my elbows (can someone please explain that?), which is good considering the long break between games after Christmas. I had enough good draws to prompt Carrie to ask if I was signing up for the Tuff Spiel on 07-06 February. Tuff Spiel is a one-team event - basically you throw without the aid of sweepers, curling's equivalent of one-on-one basketball. Have to think about that. How badly do I want to embarass myself in public? Hmm. Like that's ever stopped me.The World Junior tournament is being held in Salmon Arm the first week of February. Maybe this is Fate's way of compensation me for missing the Women's Worlds in Vernon last winter. Definitely going to make the effort to take in some games there. Tuf Spiel notwithstanding.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Thoughts on the News of the Day



It started out to be a nice day. The temperature was 1C and the sun was shining. Alas, winds picked up and brought rain clouds into the valley. It is winter, I know that, but where oh where is my sunshine? Too many days like this and one might be reduced to single malt scotch for breakfast.

I came home from work early on Tuesday in the teeth of the last heavy snowfall that hit us. Barely made it up the hill from the highway! It took me most of Wednesday morning to (again) dig out the driveway. Things are slow at work this week so I booked off until Monday; I wasn't feeling good about leaving Bryan home alone with his painful back, especially after he fainted from pain on 01 January so it was just as well.

We don't have television service, mostly by default rather than purpose. It was frustrating to pay much money for satellite service up north, only to endlessly flick through the channels looking for something interesting to watch. I do miss the news programs although I admit they were a sick addiction for me. I'm a news junkie.

So once again, my primary source of news from the outside world is CBC Radio One. Yes, I staunchly support the publicly-funded Mother Corp. You nay-sayers, turn off CNN and CTV for a week and see if you change your mind.

Big news in BC the last 24 hours is the arrest of Winston Blackmore and James Oler on charges of polygamy. For those not resident in Canada or unaware of the FLDS community near Creston, BC, Blackmore is the leader of a fundamentalist Mormon group at Bountiful (their name for what is not an official 'town' or place). The group has been under investigation for something like 20 years. They defend their lifestyle under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom, declaring that polygamy is part of their religious observances.

I have problems with the arguments on both sides. Hiding behind the Charter rubs me wrong. Although religious rights are protected, those rights can be superseded when an individual's health and/or welfare is put at risk. For example, Jehovah Witnesses are against blood transfusions and other interventionist medical treatments, yet child welfare Ministries have taken JW children with life-threatening illnesses into protective custody in order to adminster treatment, in defiance of the parents' beliefs. The primary concern about FLDS practices are child welfare issues, in particular underage marriages of the girls and suspect sexual exploitation. If there is to be a challenge of their rights, that should be the focal point.

BC Attorney General Wally Oppal has decided to proceed with charges on their polygamist practices because they are again the law. Why? Not why has Oppal proceeded, but Why is polygamy illegal?

I did a quick search using that query: Why is polygamy illegal in Canada? and there was no answer. Opinion but not substance.

I may not want to enter into a polygamist relationship (which could just as easily be one woman with several men as one man with several women - remember that totally hilarious movie 'Paint Your Wagon', with Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood?). That doesn't mean that others couldn't/shouldn't choose that lifestyle. What is inherently wrong with it?

If I choose to live in the same house with several men, who is to know whether or not I'm legally married to one or any of them? Even if I was married to one, who would know which others I was sharing my bed with? And who's business is it other than those in the relationship?

Don't get me started on the possible effects on the lives of children who may be raised in such an environment. There are so many abuses perpetrated in the legitimate cover of a 'normal' family, 'normal' marriage that it is to laugh. There can be loving and nurturing child-rearing in many family configurations with fabulous results. A monogamous man-woman family unit has no exclusive claim to the successful care and wellbeing of children.

The problem often comes back to the word 'marriage'. I do believe that it has one use only, to describe the civil, legal union between one man and one woman. That doesn't mean that I have issues with any other couple configuration, because I don't. Just don't use the word 'marriage' to describe it. If governments at all levels could get past that (they did with unwed man-woman couples by coining the term common-law marriage) and issue the same benefits to all declared family units (or remove them from everyone and keep it on a level playing field) then the word wouldn't get everyone hung up.

You and I both know people who have used a conventional marriage to hid all types of socially-unacceptable behaviour. It makes a travesty of the thing.

Wow, I've totally gone on a rant, haven't I? And I'm kinda nervous about reading it over in case I discover it's a real irrational mess.

It's just that I don't see the rationale in trying to fit all people into narrow parameters of what is 'normal' and acceptable. Just because it's not the lifestyle I choose doesn't make it wrong.

Coming the long way back to the news item about Blackmore and Oler, what is it about their lifestyle that gets people so riled up? If it's the suspected exploitation of women and children, then call a spade a spade and base the charges on that. And while you're at it, make should you also charge and prosecute all other perpetrators of such exploitation.

At the risk of both offending friends and inciting outrage, I'll be so bold as to suggest that the reason people are riled up about Bountiful is jealousy. I have a friend who lives in close proximity to Bountiful (you know who you are, honey!) who's been heard to say there's hardly a man in the region who wouldn't want to be Winston Blackmore (at least on a good day when the women aren't squabbling).

Why do you think polygamy is illegal? What, exactly, is not legal or right about it? I really want to know.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Snow snow snow

I hereby declare I am officially tired of snow. I've shovelled out the driveway (100m) and the parking/turn around area around the house three times in four days. Or almost. I still have 2/3 of the driveway to do tomorrow because I plain and simple tuckered out at dark today. I'm getting too old for this shit.

I barely got out of the driveway with the car today (used the pickup in 4WD yesterday) and thought I was home-free. Then a heavy snowfall came through and dumped another 20-30cm on us between 11am and 4pm. I looked out the front windows of the office at noon and skedaddled; parked in the neighbour's driveway rather than chance getting stuck coming back down. Actually the road up from the highway to the corner was worst part of the entire trip home!

I'm not going in to work tomorrow. Going to finish the driveway, dig my car out of Kelly's drive and try to get it in our garage, then have a long long nap.

Bryan is slowly healing. He got through today without pain killers although not without pain. I did get in to work yesterday and stopped at the video store close by my office to get some new movies for him to watch. Thank goodness for 7 day rentals.

I'm beckoned with a cup of tea to go watch the new "Mummy" movie with Brendon Fraser (love him) and Jet Li.

Hope y'all are warm and cozy, safe from the nasty weather. I see on The Weather Network that my kidlets up north are in some nasty stuff again, -35C range with additional windchill factors. It's supposed to be above zero here tomorrow with rain; that'll make that snow good and heavy.

Sincere condolences to MJ and Randy - MJ's mom lost her battle with cancer earlier in December and now the news that Randy's father died in Baltimore. Lots of sorrow but also joy in a new grandchild. Balance in all things isn't there?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Abigail

Here is our newest family member. Chad took the photo when he and Becca went to visit Marlon and Krista just a day or two ago. My pics are still on film (yes I'm a dinosaur, and I left the digital at home so that makes me a dinosaur with a very little brain).

Abigail is about 2 weeks old here and trying very hard to wake up from her nap.
Auntie Rebecca and Abigail had a snuggle while she woke up. Poor little girl has been waking up in the arms of strangers all week!

She's still just a wee thing, so very very soft. Grandpa Bryan commented in awe that you forget just how tiny and soft newborns are when you haven't been around one for awhile. Abby's strong, already trying to lift her head, and has a remarkable vocal mix as Becca and Chad will attest: grunts and squeaks, mews and coos, and yes some good bellowing if her next meal is 3 seconds late.

We arrived home Friday after our road trip north to see the kids. Didn't visit friends as we'd hoped to - Bryan injured his back again (I know) much more seriously this time (I know) and is still not good at all. Now he has a compressed vertebrae. Sigh. I know.

Yesterday was a busy one for me: taking down the tree and putting away decorations, vacuuming and washing floors, running loads of laundry through the machine, and then shovelling out the driveway and yard - yes, the whole driveway and the whole gravelled area. Thank goodness I've been curling; my muscles aren't nearly as sore and aching this morning as I was anticipating.

Today there is time for contemplation of the past two weeks. Other than my husband's attempt to completely cripple himself, it was an excellent time. We were 8 for Christmas Eve/Day. My mother-in-law brought all the fixings for Christmas Eve dinner; I was home by 2pm and it was very good to have that done.

Christmas Day I made Cornish hens stuffed with traditional dressing and some with cornbread/pecan/oyster dressing (you'd have loved it Hunters & Hedemans all!)

Our holiday was
* drinks, coffee, cookies, crokinole ("Mom, Bryan's cheating" from the 58 year old brother)
* drinks, crokinole, lasagana, drinks, crokinole
* rearrange the furniture again, play DVD version of Family Feud ("Mom, James is cheating" from the 55 year old sister), movie (Dark Knight)
* coffee Royal and waffles with blueberries and cream
* phone calls to and from northern Alberta (Becca won the 'first call' prize) and southern, to and from BC, Saskatchewan, Minnesota, Manitoba and Ontario.
* Walter Brennan dusters (amazing what you can buy for $1) and 'Wild Hogs'
* peeling and cutting, chopping and stuffing, my Glenfiddich-fueled cooking
* Chinese checkers ("Grandma, Auntie's cheating" from the 25 year old) and more crokinole
* eat, eat, eat, wallow on sofas
* fireworks ("Will the RCMP care?" "The sergeant lives just there behind us, ask him." and said officer was among those cheering)
* tea and trifle made with raspberries and cream and brandy and custard; faint moans from the sofa; Scrabble for those who hadn't overindulged (she says self-righteously)
* Pirates Ho!

We went our different ways on Boxing Day - Jolene and Russ to his folks' place in Kelowna, the rest of us to Kamloops for a day with sister Dianna. Speed Scrabble and cribbage ("Fifteen - 2, pair's 4 - say it with pride, Mom!" "Twenty in our crib." WHAT?!!"). A feast of home-made perogies and Mennonite sausage, do-you-remembers, and a drive home in blowing snow ("There's a corner here somewhere. Oh, there it is.").

Mom stayed in Kamloops. James drove back to Calgary, had a run to make up north and then home to Saskatchewan for New Years. Phyllis and Gary stayed over with us one more night and then returned to Salmon Arm and Revelstoke. Bryan and I headed for the north country on dubious roads and made it to Hinton that night, GP by 10am the next day via Grande Cache, listening to audio books all the way (westerns and highly entertaining "Let's ventilate those hombres!").

Hope your holiday was filled with fun and love. Ours sure was. Back to work tomorrow but that's ok. I've many letters to respond to, a nice prospect for the evenings ahead. Bryan's already moving around better thanks to rest and powerful pharmaceuticals. Called his chiropractor in Valleyview who recommended a former classmate now practicing in Kamloops. He should get the old man mobile again.

One more Abigail photo, just 'cuz I can! Thanks, Chad.