Saturday, December 22, 2012

Happy Solstice, Happy St. Thomas Day

So we all apparently survived the apocalypse

unless you are one of those cheerful people who believe that this life actually is hell and we're all post-apocalyptic. (Wow, did I spell that one right?) Not me. 

Surviving the apocalypse means we are all free to celebrate one of the hallmarks of life in Canada - winter solstice.

Surviving the shortest day of the year gives hope, as the daylight period gradually gets longer, that we will indeed survive the winter. There was a time, even in my life, when that was the slim straw we held onto to keep sane through the deathly cold and episodes of cabin fever.

When you have time and a bottle of rye, let me tell you about -54C in a log house on a northern homestead housebound with small children. (No exaggeration - I have photos of the thermometer to prove it.)

I recently learned that 1100 years ago, December 21 was dedicated to St. Thomas of India.

I'm not Catholic but I've been known to hang out with a few of them in my time (one's even a monseigneur now!) so I'm well aware of Saint's Days and Saint's medals, la la la la.

St. Thomas is sort of at the front of my cerebral cortex because of these two very odd and unusual books I've been reading lately:

I'm half way through the second one and finding it every bit as challenging as the first but still very entertaining. They are rooted in the legends of St. Thomas of India and Prester John. If you don't know, or are only vaguely familiar with Prestor John, I recommend a quick primer lesson with a wiki search; there's also a Prestor John website. 

The narration in these stories takes place in the 1500's when a delegation of monks is on the hunt for the truth of the Prestor John story. The challenge comes in the four or five points of view that tell the story in alternating voices and at different points in time, but it's a rich amazing world.

So back to St. Thomas - the story claims that John of Constantinople was looking for St. Thomas, and the saint does appear in the story though not in a form that you'd ever hear about in Sunday School.

Cool stuff.

This morning on the way to work, the less-commonly-broadcasted carols were - thankfully - being aired. One of them was Good King Wenceslas. I always like the carol but disliked singing it because it has SO MANY VERSES. It goes on and on and on.

But of course the good king went out on the Feast of Stephen. And even I, a non-Catholic, know that is December 26 ... a day when the snow is deep and crisp and even. Sorry. Couldn't resist.

Funny how a day can develop a 'theme', something I've commented on before. Today I seem to be innundated with all things Saints.

Given how things have gone the past few weeks, I need all the help I can get thank you very much.

Friday, December 21, 2012


Nothing says 'Happy Holidays' like a reinbeer on your desk ...

... on a in the immediate vicinity - not mine, though.

(No beer was harmed in the making of this installation.)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Here and There

Almost Christmas.


Gifts have made their way north, west and overseas so my bases are covered.

Bryan tells me the replacement door for the basement walkout (a garden door that opens full width - be still my heart!) is my Christmas gift, and I'm OK with that.

Wonder what I can 'break' next year for Christmas?

I've been sewing - can't tell you what as it involved gifts. Had to do 'open heart surgery' on my ancient Viking sewing machine and almost have it back to its perfect working condition. Need to bring in local expert Patty to help with a bobbin pick-up issue.

Bryan's making great gains in the basement - framing all done in the areas he can work in (I have to move the spare bed, many bookshelves and an entire sewing/weaving room to enable him to work in the rest of the area), wiring mostly done, insulation in progress and even some walls finished with tongue-and-groove pine.

It's our social life - or what passes as - that's cramped by blog style. So let me tell you a bit about where we've been, what we've done and who we saw.

A few weeks ago, we spent a Saturday night at the venerable Vernon Jazz Club.

Vernon Jazz Club, upstairs. Great joint!
 And we were WONDERFULLY entertained by The Dharma Dolls.

The Dharma Dolls. Tanya Lipscomb, Melina Moore and Judy Rose.
In their non-trio lives, they are all solo performers in very different genres. Tanya is a blues-jazz-Latin-funk-folk performer who vibrates with energy. Melina is a coloratura soprano, with an international career. And Judy Rose is a jazz-blues singer who makes my heart sing.

Visit their websites and you'll see why we love them.

Tanya  Melina and Judy

Last Sunday was kind of a blah day. It was snowy, grey, overcast. I was writing Christmas cards and learned something about myself: I hate writing Christmas cards. I love keeping in touch with people (obviously) but writing those cards makes me cry because so many go to people I haven't seen in person for a long time and maybe never will again - time and distance and age and all those factors that make people precious and break my heart just a little bit.

Bryan picked up on my melancholy mood and proposed a night out.

We had supper at Boa Thong, a local favorite Thai place.

Boa Thong Thai Restaurant, upstairs. Odd how some of the best places are 'upstairs'

And a movie - Bond, always Bond. I adore Daniel Craig as James Bond.

The Falkland Fire Department Christmas party was at the Falkland Pub last Saturday night. Bryan is on the  fire department committee - although I've been to more of the meetings than he has!

Falkland Pub dressed for Christmas.
The black marks on the floor are motorcycle burn-out marks.
Yes, real ones. We were there.

The pub is a major social centre in our little burg. 2012 is its 75 birthday. Jeff and Julie are the owners, hosts and friends to much of the community. Come on by, we'll buy you a beer!

The local moose lick - The Falkland Pub
And now if you don't mind, I'm going to do some window-shopping at I feel a book or two calling my name.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

MOvember and Lights

The MOvember movement has spread around the world, a fundraising and awareness campaign for prostate cancer and men's mental health issues.

Usually men grow their moustaches during the month. We at the Morning Star had a whole 'nuther campaign in mind. To wit: shaving salesman Bruce Rasmussen's moustache OFF.

Bruce has had a fuzzy upper lip for nigh on 40 years. The challenge was conceived, the bounty set ($2,000) and the posters made (we are BIG on posters - no shame or thrown gauntlet goes unnoticed).

Oh, and then we told Bruce that we published the poster in the paper.

He protested mightly, but then rose to the challenge with grace. And then was almost shocked at how quickly the funds flowed in to our coffer.

At the $1,200 mark, the moustache was removed with great pomp and ceremony, right at Bruce's desk:

Bruce watching Lisa with a slight bit of apprehension.

Oh sure, he's laughing now, but things were much more sober when
she pulled out a safety razor for the other half of the 'stache.

All done! Looking great ... and yes, that's shock on Bruce's face, glee on Lisa's.
So many people have told him how much younger he looks, he's now saying he's not going to grow it back. His mom was outraged that we 'made' him do it and threatened that it had best be grown back by Christmas. When she saw the pictures, however, even she changed her mind and one of his sister's sent us a generous donation.

The weather continues mild in the Southern Interior. I took advantage of a nice day last weekend to begin putting up outdoor lights. The trees at the south end of the yard are getting big enough to support some strands of LED lights.

The old-style lights are heavier and so threaded through the fir trees at the north end around our fire pit area. 

I used up all the strings of lights we had and went shopping last night after work for a few more ... always a few more.

I get quite agitated by Christmas hoopla and consumerism but can't get enough of Christmas lights. Maybe it's all the years in the long dark winters of the north country.

Talk about Christmas expectations yesterday prompted me to offer my recurrent complaint: for what other child's birth do we whoop it up before the delivery and then stop celebrating the moment the child is born?! The 12 days of Christmas are from birth to Epiphany.

I hate to rag on about it, but every year it bugs just that little bit more.

As I said to a person once (and recounted to the other Brenda yesterday) "If you don't believe in the Child and the birth, then who invited you to the birthday party?"

Deeeep breath.

Grey Cup tomorrow. The 100th and a classic match-up between Calgary and Toronto. That'll put life back into perspective.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Floors, Costumes, Backyard Tourism and Gordon Lightfoot

So, as I've been reminded, I owe you some photos.

Part 1, Chapter 1: painting the floor

'Before' painting the floor.
Hard to get an accurate photo under florescent lighting but the concrete is grey.
Trust me. Photo looking to SW corner of house and basement walkout door.
View out the walkout, to the south and Taktakmin Mountain across the valley.
Floor cleaning tools in foreground: garden hose, boat brush, bucket o' citric acid.

'After' photo, after many hours of scrubbing stubborn stains
(why oh why didn't I do this the first summer?!), after painting and after 3 days of drying.
 Part 1, Chapter 2: Bryan is currently working on framing the walls for wiring and finishing.


I haven't got complete photos of the entire costume yet ... never mind why.

This is one of the patterns I used. You can find it here.

Pattern for the medieval dress ... in Finnish with annotation in Canadian.
The surcotte pattern is similar but without sleeves and with longer armholes.
You'll notice that there aren't many curves in the layout and yet it is a very full skirt. That is due to the gussets set into the sides, front and back. It's a modified pattern - a 'real' medieval pattern would be entirely squares and rectangles, necessary to maximize handwoven yardage - expensive in the time and labour required to produce (again, trust me, I've woven handspun).

Laying out the dress pattern. 
This is the underdress being cut out. The surcotte (below) was already partially done. I was frustrated with some aspect of it, so hung it on Dummy Girl and proceeded on this piece. Once I cut it, I realized the neck opening was at too acute an angle, so trimmed it and adjusted my paper pattern. I also added gores in the underarm to make them fit more comfortably with better movement.

The surcotte on the dummy (and 'she' doesn't do it justice) prior to
tweaking and hemming.Taken at the same as above photos. You'll note the classy room I sew in.
When the front half of the basement is done, this is next to be done.

It's funny. We get caught up in the day to day stuff of life and forget that we live in one of the playgrounds of the world. 

Sunday morning two weeks ago, I proposed a day trip to Naramata. We'd been housebound with crappy weather and needed to blow out some cobwebs. Bryan had never been to that side of Okanagan Lake, so off we went.

Despite the covercast cover, or perhaps because of the dull light, the fall colours were gorgeous.

Looking south along Okanagan Lake from the east shore, at the end of the road north of Naramata.
The  Naramata Bench is an area worth taking some time to explore. In terms of wine, there are 21 vineyards on a very short stretch of road. It's not all wine, though. There are

It's not all wine, though. There are galleries and bistros, walking trails and spas. A nice place for a weekend.

Looking more west from the same spot as last photo.
Summerland is on the other side of the lake, as is Highway 97.


It's Gordon Lightfoot's 74th birthday today. I heard that on CBC driving in this morning. In tribute to a great songwriter and performer, I played "If You Could Read My Mind" video while working on ads. Second favorite Lightfoot song? This one: Canadian Railroad Trilogy

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Let Me Sing You a Song of Apples

When I was a little girl, I wasn't really very fond of apples. There were two varieties available on the prairies - Macs and Red Delicious. The first were only good for a few months in the fall, and then they became pithy and tasteless. The second - well, to call them 'delicious' is a travesty.

Things got a bit more interesting when I first tasted a Granny Smith. Now there's fruit with a bite! Tart, tasty. A walk on the wild side!

Fuji was the first apple that lead me onto the road of a true apple aficionado. Then Braeburn. Then Pink Lady - oh, I still like them.

And then we moved to the Southern Interior, home of BC Tree Fruits and all things apple, and I fell completely and totally in love.

I have three varieties that have dominated my apple indulgence this season.

Aurora Golden Gala

 Aurora is a child of the Okanagan, developed in Summerland as a hybrid between 'Splendour' and Gala. Like so many of these apples, they are only available in the region, although I think they are making their way across the country now. Auroras are crisp and sweet, a great dessert apple.
Royal Gala
 Gala is one of the workhorse apples that can often be found in our house all year 'round.

But this ...... this is the absolute love of my apple life:
Honey Crisp

I will go out of my way for a Honey Crisp apple. They are everything an apple should be - the name says it all. The juice fairly runs down your chin when you bite into one of these.

And it's funny to be thinking about apples because, besides this type:

Good ol' MacIntosh 
the other one that dominates my life is this type:

The Other good ol' Mac

We recently underwent a significant software upgrade at work, from CS3 to CS6. I can hear the inhalation of breath from the techies in the crowd. Yes, a three-generation leap, a quantum leap. 

I explained it to a friend like this:

You are a competent and experienced car driver in North America. One morning you wake up in England (never mind how, it's a parable!) and are expected to drive a car ... in which the driving position and controls are all in strange places, the traffic signs are unfamiliar, the traffic travels in opposite direction to what you know, and oh, by the way, they forgot to give you a map to your destination. But hey, you're a driver, right?

And we are professionals and generally adapt well. The incidence of stress migraines has been on the rise, however.

Glitches inevitably find their way into every crack and crevice. Just the other day, several co-workers discovered that their headaches were due in part to insufficient RAM - working memory. With many machines being upgraded simultaneously in addition to peripheral upgrades to match the new system, things get forgotten.

Happily for us, it's easy to install memory cards in Mac computers.

And then our I.T. guy did something incredibly brave ... or foolish.

He left us with a screwdriver and just enough hardware knowledge to make us dangerous.



Saturday, October 6, 2012


 It's Thanksgiving weekend in Canada and my little family is spread across the map.

So rather than bemoan my quiet weekend, better to focus on what I'm thankful for. And I'm thankful for two of my favorite people. Stole the first three photos from Krista's facebook album because I want to share them ... Grandpa and Abby this summer:

And stole this from the facebook page of my other favorite girl because my daughter's quirky sense of ha-ha is one of the many things that makes her special.

Hope you're able to spend the weekend with people who are special to you and who help you count your blessings.

Thanksgiving indeed!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Worst Day Ever?

No, not mine. When I read this story today, however, I decided I would to really work at it to do one better than this guy:

Drunk BC man burned in a fire, hit by a train in series of unfortunate events

KAMLOOPS, BC — A Kamloops, B.C., man is recovering from what RCMP in that southern Interior city call a bizarre sequence of events, after he was burned in a grass fire and then hit by a train.
Staff Sgt. Grant Learned says the 51-year-old was drunk when he fell asleep Wednesday afternoon while smoking in the grassy area behind his Kamloops-area home.
Learned says the man woke to find his clothes on fire and flames around him, but rather than calling for help, he raced to his home, grabbed a bicycle and fled.
Mounties were responding to reports of a man running from the scene of a suspicious fire when they got another call that a pedestrian had been hit by a train along the nearby CP Rail tracks.
Police quickly determined that the two cases were linked, and say the man is now recovering in hospital from a gash to the head, caused by the train, and serious burns caused by the grass fire.
Learned says the man’s woes continue because it’s believed the bike was stolen, and he is also a possible suspect in a September assault on a Kamloops bus driver, but no charges have been laid in any of those cases.

Got to hand it to him - this guy knows how to have fun.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

And the theme continues

I wrote an email letter yesterday to a large group of friends - a regular activity for me - but this time I took a chance and included what amounted to a philosophical essay on the difference betweens needs and wants.

Then, like an echo in the universe, this blog came to my attention:

I do not believe in the 'cast it out into the universe' club, more of a 'give it up to God' member, but it's always interesting when a theme works through your life, like a confirmation that you're on the right track.

I don't have any debt, but am of an age where counselling the younger generations is appropriate (I hope).  The blog is yet another piece in my toolbox.

Apropos of nothing other than a comment on how my day went today, I appropriated the following and display it for your enlightenment ... and you'd better hope you don't have to ask me to 'please squeeze in a late ad' for you anytime soon!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Butterfly Houses and Jerseys Galore

There isn't much of a theme to this post, just what's been up the past few days.

I spent part of last Sunday afternoon at the Bishop Wild Bird Sanctuary in Coldstream, for no other reason that they were hosting a special event and I was tired of cleaning house and garden. It was a hot day - we've been unseasonable warm for weeks now - and I soon lost interest in the event.

I did find one item that tickled my fancy - a butterfly house in their butterfly garden.

A butterfly house. Useful or not, it's a lovely piece of garden art.

From Coldstream, I took the long way home on the east side of the valley, up Pottery Road, then north to Hartnell and Dixon Dam roads.

There were several forest fires in the extended region (down in Washington State, up to the Cariboo and Tweedmuir Park) lending a blue hazy gauze to the Southern Interior.

The north end of Okanagan Lake seen in the distance from the top of Hartnell Road.
Every day during my commute, I witness the gradual encroachment of housing at the top of the Foothills subdivision. The route I was traveling this day came onto Silver Star Road, so I turned up Phoenix and sought the top of the current development.

I can see why people pay the big bucks - the view is spectacular, even on an overcast day.

Looking over Vernon from the top of Foothills subdivision:
Kalamalka Lake on the left, Okanagan Lake on the right,
the Commonage in between.

Just to the right of the above photo, looking to Turtle Mountain and The Rise.
Soon there will be houses filling the area in the foreground.

Look up at Foothills subdivision (at the intersection of L&A Road and Dedecker):
the previous two photos were taken from
beside the houses right at the treeline, just right of centre. 

It is of course apple season ... and plums, oh the plums ... and pears - my soul for a red Bartlett!

Yesterday was Sports Jersey Day in Vernon, sponsored by the Morning Star. People were encouraged to wear their favorite sports jerseys to work for a $2 donation to the KidSports fund.

The Morning Star is a sports-crazed place so there was no shortage of participation: hockey (local & NHL), football, lacrosse, baseball, basketball ... vintage, collector and game day wear.

Carol (seated) front office and Classified Dept manager, with Sue,
one of our sales people and a big sports fan of all genres.

Roger, reporter extraordinaire, modelling one of four jerseys he wore throughout the day-
this one for the Armstrong Shamrocks Lacrosse team.

Sean and Lisa, my just-behind-me workmates.
You can tell they are a sober, serious bunch.
Lisa's Vernon Viper's jersey was a special Breast Cancer game jersey.
I think Sean's doing a shot block, not jazz hands .... just saying.

Kristen and Graeme showing international flair.
Did you notice everyone seemed a little excited in these photo? Hmm. I realize it is the end of a long week and there's a full moon on Saturday, but there's a fine line between enthusiastic and manic, my friends.

Some of the Hometown crew, source of inspiration for the day and fully involved.

Vernon Hyundai got into the spirit - seems to be a lot of basketball fans here.
The woman in the Raptors shirt is with KidSport Foundation.

Some of the staff at Service BC.
A fitting end to Sports Jersey Day was time at the Vernon Curling Club taking in a few draws at the Prestige Inn cash spiel. This is a World Curling Tour event so pretty high calibre playing, many international teams and Canadian/World champions.

Yes, curling season is underway. The true mark of autumn!