Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Splash of Red

Nothing says 'summer' like an alfresco supper on a warm night, especially a supper featuring Italian food, endless wine, music, fabulous art and over 100 convivial diners.

Bryan and I attended the Caetani Cultural Centre fund raiser A Splash of Red. Yes, the old biker got his culture on! It was a semi-formal event with attendees strongly suggested to wear the colours red, white and black.

Tables were set out on the Caetani House grounds. Little bit of a slope which tired one's back and buttocks as the evening progressed, but that made for an excuse to get up and mingle.

There was a live auction of several donated pieces of art. I had my eye on a fabulous painting of irises, but the auction itself was somewhat slow, the time late and I had to be at work the following day. Perhaps another day, another painting....

We sat with Christine and Keith Kashuba. Christine is one of the artists who donated a piece to the sale, a lovely photo of the mosaic tile floor in the Vatican, shown below (although not a lovely as in real life - the colours are much more vivid):

Co-worker Katherine Mortimer (aka Lifestyles editor) was also in attendance. (She's in the middle of the photo, both across and by depth, with sunglasses atop her head.) We agreed next morning that it was a wonderful event, that we hope (with a few improvements) that they hold the event again next year.

And now Bryan and I are inspired to try our own alfresco supper - something a little classier than bratwurst cooked over the firepit!

PS Christine has other shows and works available. See some of her works at

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Wedding, Gonzo Garden and The Girls

This is long one, so fill your coffee cup and settle down for a read.

Well, it's been a full weekend. One in a series of full weekends. August is flying by, so fast I've not even told you about July.... or have I?

Super friends Karen and Randy were down from the North Country in late July.

Karen and Randy under a fair sized weeping willow at Gort's Gouda Farm west of Salmon Arm, part of the never-ending food roadshow. This is the only time you'll see Randy masquerading as a tree hugger.

We had a wonderful, all too quick weekend with them. Showed them our playground, ate ourselves silly and even shipped a motorcycle back home with them. Yes, the trusty little Suzuki is now taking its second lady owner along the highways and byways of northern Alberta. Have fun, Alyssa!

Bryan and I spent part of the August long weekend on a motorcycle jaunt to Osoyoos with the girls. Socket and Hannah love riding on Bryan's bike in their little kennel. Stopped at Summerland and Peachland for lakeside breaks; let them run in the desert at Oliver; breakfast in Osoyoos, scoot up onto the plateau to Rock Creek and back north on Hwy 33. Nice little overnighter.

Then he headed east to Manitoba, to partner up with buddy Marc and a ride down to Wisconsin, then back west through the northern States. All reports are they had a good 2+ weeks.

So, this weekend was THE WEDDING. Niece Jolene married Russ and it was a grand event. The ceremony and festivities were up at Russ's parent's home in Rose Valley, northwest part of West Kelowna. The weather was perfect, we were fashionably almost-late and Bryan's going-to-a-wedding suit stole the show... again.

Bryan, brother Walter and sister-in-law Susan.

Try if you can to imagine the reactions of people in cars and trucks on the highway whenever we stopped for a red light seeing Bryan on his motorcycle with this suit, sunglasses and his not-quite-legal beanie helmet. What would have made it perfect is if I could have managed my long blue dress as well, but I was nervous of the chain. A quick change from jeans was required. Oh, and out of my boots to slip on flip-flops.

It was a nice group gathered atop the mountain:

Uncle Stan and Auntie Doris, all the way from Australia. I love her hat!

Gary, Terry and Mom ignoring the camera.

Brothers Bryan, James and Walter, with Susan.

The wedding was lovely as most weddings are. The maids of honor and flower girl Katy-Bug were beautiful despite squinting into the setting sun:

What a backdrop! The new Mr. & Mrs. Senyk signing their official documents with the valley and Okanagan Lake (just out of this shot, to the right) as their stage:

We had a lovely visit with friends and family. The getting lost and asking for directions three times between the hotel and house became no more than a laugh and distant memory.

More visiting during breakfast at the hotel. Not nearly enough, of course, but weddings generally aren't the best visiting occasions, are they? Too much going on.

Bryan and I rode home on Westside Road, the scenic back road from Kelowna to Vernon along the west side of Okanagan Lake.

The south half of the road is very narrow in many places, in poor condition in most places, and a sheer drop off down to the lake anywhere from 50 to 150 metres in FAR TOO MANY PLACES with no guard rails or concrete berms of any kind.

I'm not a great fan of the road going south, but I'm officially labeling it The Road That Intimidates Me The Most when traveling it north.

Once we were north of Fintry, I was fine. I really like that half. It's going to be a long time before I do that route again, though. Bryan says if he tweaks the bike's suspension, I'll feel better. I'll feel better when they widen the road by 2 m and protect some of the vertigo-inducing drop-offs.

Becca and the girls had a nice time at home. She took them up to Pillar Lake to have a free run-about. Becca asked me how, exactly, did one get to the pillar that Pillar Lake is named for.

We hopped in the car with the dogs and headed up towards the lake.

The trail is a meandering goat track up a very steep mountainside. Very steep. I had little trouble going up, but half way there I realized I was going to have a bitch of a time getting back down. I didn't bring a walking stick and I have hyper-extended knees, which makes any downhill motion difficult (some times even stairs). I didn't realize the trail was that steep, so caution overcame valour and I headed back to the car while Becca and the dogs carried on.

(Pillar Provincial Park photo)

The pillar is a basalm column about 30 metres high and 3 metres in diameter at the base, made of glacial drift cemented into hardpan with a rock cap.

Becca was tres impressed - these are her photos:

So today was Gonzo Gardening Day. It was overcast and moderate in temperature, perfect conditions for stump removal.

The fir tree that once stood here was very unstable during a violent windstorm two years ago, so Bryan felled it. The stump has been a nuisance ever since, primarily due to the roots that came just far enough out of the ground to trip people and catch the lawn mower blades. Last weekend, while Bryan was still away, Becca and I began working away at it, thinking it wouldn't be too difficult a job - fir and spruce trees generally have shallow, broad-spreading roots.

Yah, well, this one had a serious tap root. Bryan worked away at it Saturday morning while I was at work. Today was the Serious Tools part of the program, involving a come-along, chains, chainsaw and axe.

This was about the time in the program when the tap root was discovered. Most of the other root had been severed.

The mighty Poulan goes to work, waking up Becca whose bedroom window is right beside the project.

She came out to investigate and set to work on the come-along still in her 'jammies. That's my girl.

What you can't see in the next photo - I wish every so often for a video camera - is Becca bouncing on the chain, laughing at her dad as he works the saw.

There, that should do it.

And yes, we have lift off.... or lift out in this case.

Surveying the hole, the quite deep hole and discussing the project.

After this job was done and the tools put way, again with Becca's assistance, I finished the top two steps and top landing of the garden steps, cementing in the flat stones, mortaring in the sides as well. Just the bottom landing to do, but that's quite enough for one day. Mixing concrete in a large rubber bin with a shovel, then laying big rocks is all very tiring work.

The yard is moving into its late summer stage. Many of the mid-summer giants like delphiniums are looking like blowsy party girls who've been up too late and smudged their makeup. A good pruning is in order. The late flowers are showing off now.

Salpiglossis is one of my very favorite annuals. I had trouble finding it when I first moved here my now know which nursery to go to.

Salpiglossis with lavender and a volunteer snapdragon.

One of the lovely double daylilies that came from Mom Giesbrecht's garden.

A rather washed-out photo of some actually stunning rudbeckia.

The newly finished stairs lined with lavender, dragons-blood sedum, strawberries, pinks and a variety of rudbeckia, a white rose off in the distance.

Last lily of the year. The lilies have been spectacular but these are the gems and the most aromatic of them all.

And because you haven't seen pictures of them lately, the girls out on their running line.



Bryan's out for a ride with the cop next door. The girls are snoozing, and I hear a dish of hot-from-the-oven blueberry batter cake calling to me.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Mom's Cream Addiction

I was at Starbucks early this morning, as is usual on the mornings I don't go to the gym before work.

Why didn't I go to the gym? Socket and Hannah are with me this morning ... their Dad's in Fargo, Becca's in Revelstuck and our emergency backup dog sitters are on Shuswap Lake. Ergo, they get to come to work with me today.

ANYWAY, there was a couple in line before me. He picked up his drink, much like mine: straight, black and strong. Hers was piled high with whipped cream and he uttered an 'Eeeww' comment on the calorie-laden frou-frou beverage.

I started to laugh, which made them and the two baristas look at me.

"I just had a flashback moment to my mom," was my explanation. And I told them about my mom's cream addiction.

My mom was a tiny little thing with an unquenchable hunger for cream. Thick, heavy, yellow, stand-a-spoon-up-in-it cream. I was raised on a ranch and everyone knows ranchers don't milk cows (or if they do, it's a deep dark secret .... wonder where they hide the cow .... but I digress .... again) so we didn't have a milk cow and no cream ready to hand.

Every so often, Mom would go visit Mrs. Frick down the road, owner of a set of Jersey cows. She'd come back with a quart sealer jar filled to the rim with fresh cream. Mom would get a cereal bowl out of the cupboard, toss a few Corn Flakes in the bottom for pretense and then fill the bowl with cream, then sit down and proceed to spoon it down.

We'd gag. I mean, we liked cream but this was just gross. Dad would laugh at her and ask who she thought she was fooling with the whole Corn Flakes things.

What a great memory to start my day with!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Still a Friend After All These Years

Is a friend still a friend if you haven't seen her for 30 years? When news of her sudden death plucks a heartstring, I'd say the answer is 'yes'.

A college friend living in Manitoba died this morning. She'd been fighting cancer, something I didn't know. Sounds like she may have died from a heart attack, though, but details are still sketchy.

We were the kind of friends who hung out together at events of mutual interest, shared mutual friends but weren't close confidence-sharing bosom buddies. There was a day of drama while she dodged a wish-he-was-boyfriend who'd taken to stalking her. I'm sure Bryce and Blaine still have green memories of us bursting into their room in Residence with the 'stalker' in pursuit ... while their parents were also in the room on a visit to their sons. To this day I have no idea what those four people look like.

We exchanged Christmas cards for a few years and then somehow that too drifted away. Without more than just the casual chit-chat of "All's well here. Kids are growing like weeds. Best wishes for the coming year." it's hard to maintain any sort of meaningful correspondence.

Once in awhile I'd hear tidbits, as mutual friends travelled back and forth, carrying news. I imagine news from my life drifted back towards them in a similar fashion.

She and her husband are ever-young in my mind, students looking forward to their life together with hope and enthusiasm.

I remember the reaction from friends when he happily informed us of the wonderful Christmas gift he'd purchased for his wife-to-be .... an electric frying pan. The stunned silence might have been a clue that it perhaps wasn't the most romantic gift that a young lady looked forward to for a first Christmas gift from her beloved.

I remember curling with them during the winter, IVCF get-togethers, camping trips in the mountains at the Burnt Timber and Ya Ha Tinda ranges.

Good memories of friends, of laughter and of youth.