Monday, January 30, 2012

Playing in the Snow

Bryan got home from the north country this weekend and got reacquainted with Socket's puppies. He hasn't seen them for over 4 weeks, which is a long time in the life of a little dog. It was mild yesterday after a day of snow - perfect conditions to get them playing outside (the kennel is their 'safe' place).

Bravely going where no puppy from this litter has gone before.

Mom .... mom .... MOM!
OK, time to play!
Nothing better for cold toes than a cuddle from dad.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Winter Carnival, or How to Beat the Winter Blahs

If you're feeling a little blah, there's nothing better to perk things up than throwing a party.

Vernon throws one of the best winter parties EVER. (The Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous in Whitehorse would be a close contender, maybe Carnaval de Queb├ęc - they have the ice hotel after all.)

Vernon's Winter Carnival is the BEST WINTER CARNIVAL THAT I CAN GET TO. How's that?

Following are pics from last year's carnival. Unfortunately, I missed most of it because I was over in Alberta. I intend to take in several events this year, have my tickets for both the Laugh Out Loud Festival on the 4th and the Medival Feast on the 11th. Hope to get up the mountain to the provincial snow sculpture competition at Silver Star.

Hot air balloons over Spallumcheen

Carter Classic Downhill on Silver Star

Glow - lighting up the balloons in the park

Carnival parade is very popular and well-attended

Last year's theme was Cooking with Carnival

Co-workers in the hotly contested broomball tournament, held noons on Main Street - in blue jerseys: editor Glenn Mitchell, sports writers Kevin Mitchell and Graeme Corbett

Roger Knos is our brave goalkeeper

There's even Royalty. Queen Silver Star and her princess drop the puck at the peewee tournament

Member of the Vernon Vipers hockey team trying out the speed trucks

Carnival Cops with an Arrest the Best criminal, er victim

It's going to be a great Carnival. Come on over - bet we can find something to entertain you!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Pomegranate Solution

The bitterly cold weather is putting a damper on things. How does one cheer up when Mother Nature is showing her ugly side?

Eat pomegranates.

The delightful ruby jewel seeds of pomegranates have been adorning my meals for weeks now. I didn't know much about them, and then came upon a quinoa-spinach salad that included pomegranate seeds.

They're in season right now, and one fruit can serve up enough seeds for many, many servings.

My introduction to pomegranates a long time ago was not auspicious. Knowing what I do now, I was probably fed over-ripe fruit.

I'm suitably addicted now.

Becca is the Queen of Pomegranate Seeding. Good thing she likes them too.

We aren't as 'white' in winter as we were living up in the north country, but this is still a wonderful way to add colour to an otherwise mind-numbing monochromatic winter landscape.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Brrrr, or Why We Left the North Country

This doesn't look too bad for a January forecast ..... except that it's actually Vernon temperatures. It was -19C plus windchill in Falkland this morning. The point I'm trying to make it that it is FALKLAND ..... there isn't supposed to be ugly, nasty, cold weather in Falkland. That's why we moved here.

Of course, this is what we left:

 Look carefully at two points in this screen capture: The red Alert and the "Feels like:"

This is exactly why we left the north country.

Of course, Bryan is up there right now. Pity him.

All the prairies provinces are under attack from an arctic cold front that's dropped in for its annual visit.

These are the conditions in which my brothers, dad and assorted family/friends are feeding cattle:

Other assorted family and friends are enjoying the lovely weather in the middle of Alberta:

In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find spot in Canada that isn't feeling kinda ucky (the 0C in the middle of BC is actually for Vancouver - and the 0C in northern Quebec and Labrador ... well really, you want to be there?

Shoulda moved to Mexico.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Family Reunions, Familiar Strangers

Great Grandmother Sarah

Happy Second Day of the New Year!

The first day of the new year was a quiet day for me and the little dogs, split between working on a publishing project or watching episodes of The Big Bang Theory. Considering I’d spent most of Saturday sleeping and reading, in recovery mode from my chest cold, I figured it was the least I could do. I had a very ambitious To Do list for a three day weekend. Oh, but my laundry is all done. Check.

I did spend time yesterday recalling the flavor of the first 18 years of  January 1sts in my life – the McKinnon Clan Gathering.  

In Scotland, New Year’s Eve is called Hogmanay. I have no doubt my paternal great-grandparents celebrated this occasion. They were married in 1893 but the genesis of the day I remember probably didn’t really get going until the eldest children had their families. I stand  to be – and most likely will be – corrected (Francie? Russell? Come on!)

Great Grandfather Lachlan

Whitney gathering 1914 (Sarah's family)

Suffice it to say there’s photographic proof from the 1940s of the family gatherings of the day.


The clan gathered twice a year: News Years Day and the third (or was it the fourth?) Sunday in July, down on the LK Ranch along the Bow River, the Home Place.

LK Ranch

Let me state here and now for all the members of my generation that these events were excruciating! We, the great-grandchildren, the third cousins, were familiar strangers.

Some of the cousins - those who lived closer together, whose parents visited each others homes or who attended the same school or 4-H events – we knew each other a bit better and tended to stick tight.

Most of us spent time together only at family events: January 1, the summer picnic and occasions usually pertinent to the sibling generation like landmark anniversaries, birthdays ending in 0 or 5, funerals (but seldom weddings, funny enough – I guess those were more ‘immediate family’ functions).

A few of the moms recognized the rebellion rising in our little chests as we got older. “But I don’t WANT to go!!! There’s nothing to DO! And I don’t KNOW them.” I hope that wasn’t just the conversation in our house. Pretty sure it wasn’t because we began taking games to pass  the afternoon while the senior generations –the siblings (our grandparents) and first cousins – visited, drank endless cups of coffee and noshed on Cousin Hazel’s goodies. Oh yes, I remember those. One time the Colwell’s (God, I hope I got that right; I have a memory of Wilda being involved) brought a projector and we watched slides and home movies of family past. I’m sure now it was Colwells because Murray always had a camera in his hand.

The meal was potluck although I vaguely remember there was some organization involved at the Cousin’s Meeting. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to call it a communal meal. Margaret Stewart always brought tomato aspic no matter what the schedule said – you know, at the time I found aspic to be quite revolting but long after her demise, I found myself wishing for a taste of it!

We always sang grace, the same one the siblings had grown up singing. Most of my generation didn’t know it – in desperation small papers with the words printed were furtively distributed for emergency use. Again, interestingly, when I was asked to say grace at a large formal dinner some 30 years after my last McKinnon Clan meal, I found myself singing that exact grace.

 Some waters run very deep indeed.


The picnics were much more relaxed. Sometimes members of the family camped out the night before.

Elaine, do you remember the time we made a rough tarp ‘tent’ to sleep in and woke up with the entire inside walls covered in grass slugs?!

There were games. Sometimes the ‘cool’ older cousins brought guitars – yes, Stuart, you were cool.

We learned life lessons, like checking through the gooseberries thoroughly before eating them. Who was sick besides you, Lorne?

Mostly we learned the importance of family, of connection and roots.

Isn’t it funny how many wonderful memories I have of occasions I had to be dragged to against my will?

I’ll tell you an interesting addendum to this.

The Clan gatherings eventually died out as the sibling generation all passed and the families became more dispersed through marriage. Every so often, though, my dad’s generation – the first cousins – plan a get-together. The last I attended was at our family farm and was the first (only) my children attended. I enjoyed it. My children tolerated it. Cousin Lachie was heard to comment, “I figured if I was dragged to these things against my will for all those years, it was only fair my kids suffered the same.” (See, I wasn’t the only one.)

We grew up in that environment, though, and our children did not. A few days later, my daughter said, “That was so weird. Seeing all those strangers who look just like you and Grandpa and Uncle Todd, Uncle Scott. Weird.”

No. Wonderful.