Sunday, December 14, 2014

Community Supper and Bears

It's so quiet in the house this morning ... just me and my coffee pot. The laundry is all done. The floors can wait until tomorrow because I'm going to do some baking this afternoon, so there will be debris - that's just the way it works. The Husband is over at a buddy's house for a few hours.

Am crocheting a scarf, simple pattern, easy to pick up when I need a break.

The perfect set-up for writing letters and posting a few pics from the last week or so.

Our annual community Care-a-Thon aka the Insurance Supper was a few weeks ago. The Community Association and various local clubs get together to host a supper, silent auction and general get-together. The proceeds are then used to help the organizations offset the cost of their insurance premiums. Insurance rates for public use facilities like the community hall, district museum, curling rink, rodeo grounds and outdoor skating rink can be high, and it can be a burden on the membership. This event is a real boon to all of us.

Silent Auction in the Seniors Hall (an annex to the main hall).
Many items, all donated.

A wide variety of things to choose from, and the bidding can get quite competitive!

The old hall is very festive in its holiday gear. This is looking towards the back
- the kitchen to the left and bar on the right. Behind me is the stage
and to my left is the doorway to the Senior's Club.
The Hall was built in 1934.

Last weekend was busy - the company party was held on Saturday night at the Vernon Curling Club. 32 people on the ice, of which only 3 have active curling experience, a few more played in high school for phys. ed. class ... and all who had been (or still were) imbibing in 'seasonal cheer'. The miracle was that no one was injured and only a few tumbled onto their butts. The word 'amusing' comes to mind.

Our curling club's Turkey Bingo was on Sunday, and was the most successful one in recent years with over 110 people taking part. That will help our coffers tremendously.

AND yesterday was Bear Day at the newspaper, the 16th year we've had a sales promotion in which readers bring receipts from participating merchants of a stated amount to qualify for one of 50 Gund bears we give away, plus the chance for one person to win $500 in gift certificates from the merchants

The day starts with Lynnaya bringing us hot chocolate from Timmy's,
to which she adds a little somethin'-somethin'.
What a way to start the morning.

I'm the first person at the office because it's my regular work day.
I get to run the gauntlet of people who've been waiting outside the building since midnight.
These people take their bears seriously. Some have all 16 bears.

The bears all have numbered name tags, so they are set out in a line in numerical order.
Lisa is checking tags while Stephanie works on the line-up.
Do NOT give the bears out in the wrong order.
These people take their bears seriously. Seriously.

Checking the line-up.

Lynnaya double-checking the line-up.

And there they are - 50 bears.

Say, 'Aah!"

People are admitted three at a time (you do not want to know what a mob scene it was in years past).
Lynnaya, Trent and Lisa checked sales receipts and then handed out the bears with a smile.

Stephie kept the bears flowing to the front counter.
Ian was out front doing crowd control. Graeme interviewed winners and participant. Lisa the Other took photos. And me? I helped wherever - setting up, cleaning up.

And then everyone left and it was quiet, and Graeme and I went back to our regular Saturday.

How was your weekend?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Getting Through the Days

I have a little time this morning to take a deep breath and enjoy the quiet. It's the peak of the Silly Season in the newspaper business, and my co-workers and I are pretty much in coping mode.

So I thought I'd share a few photos of places and events through the last little while.

The Husband and I went to Kamloops on Monday a few weeks ago, early enough that I had my second cup of coffee in my 'go' mug. I know.

I'm always packing a camera and on the look-out for landscape shots to use on the cover of the weekly real estate supplement. Hwy 97 travels alongside Monte Lake, and the sharp temperature change that day provided some nice pics:

Monte Lake early morning, looking southeast

Monte Lake early morning, looking northwest

I was scrambling for photos to use this week, so during a brief lull on Wednesday afternoon, I grabbed the camera and went for a walk down the street from the office, hoping for something before the light faded.

One of the problems this time of year is the short daylight hours. I drive in to work in the dark and drive home in the dark. Saturdays and Sundays are busy, so my photo ops are limited.

This is a few samples of what I found within a block or two:

Looking up to Bella Vista, and above it, The Rise
(housing and golf course development area)
west northwest view from 25 Ave.

Waxing moon over Coldstream.

And I've thought several times about posting a photo of this sign, on the property next door to the newspaper's:

The lot and building belong to the Fraternal Order of Eagles (a brief Google search on the origin and history of fraternal organizations is surprisingly interesting … or at least I found that to be, when I did some research in the Modern Woodsman of America, a group one of my great-grandfather's belonged to). The Royal Canadian Legion local branch is experiencing financial challenges (as are most of the legions) and so entered into a partnership with the Eagles to lease-share the space. And the Lions Club does as all of them do (in my limited experience) which is to not invest in capital but to use existing community facilities and focus on directing their efforts to helping others.

All in all, I think this is an excellent example of co-operative alliances. And I bet the bar in the back is showing a profit.


With the taxing environment at work, I'm mostly tapped out when I get home. If I don't have a curling game in the evening, I mostly veg out on mindless activities to try and still my tired brain. I save things that need concentration, like sewing, for the weekend.

This has been the brain drug of choice:

and it helps that The Husband is as drawn to the pursuit as I am. Thank you, Friend Cheryl, for bringing us new puzzles during your visit this summer. We've completed two of the three you brought, although the third one is proving somewhat daunting … I'm scared to open the box.

You'll note the wine glasses are mostly empty. And that nary a drop has been spilt. Also will explain that the blue bowls are holding all the 'window' pieces and 'roof' pieces until the pieces on the mat are placed and there is more room to work with. Strategy. Not my first rodeo.


Tonight is the company Christmas party, and the social committee has selected curling as our activity (we've gone bowling before, which was a blast). Some people can't/won't go out on the ice, so we will also have games of cribbage (cards), crokinole (board game) and use of the club's shuffleboard table set out in the lounge/viewing area.

Classic curling rink. 

Classic cribbage board and a perfect hand of 29 points.

Classic crokinole board

So we have the classic three C's of Canadian entertainment: curling, cribbage and crokinole.

Meanwhile, of the 32 players taking part in the sport, only three of us regularly play, and several others played in high school …..  many, many years ago.

Let the mayhem begin.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Ice Wine Harvest, Movie Stars and Little Paintings

The temperature plummeted in the last few days - from raining and motorcycling weather on the weekend to -15C on Thursday morning.


Driving to work that morning, I heard on CBC radio that the ice wine harvest had started in the valley at 3 am. The grapes need to be -8C or colder to be in correct state for ice wine production.

So when co-workers arrived at the office with the usual start-of-morning grumbling, I said it could be worse. We could have been one of those hardy souls out in the cold and dark, harvesting grapes.

It's all a matter of perspective.


The city is a-buzz with the news that the movie stars are in town. Anthony Hopkins, Julia Stiles and others whom I'm not familiar with are part of movie called Go With Me, being filmed here and in the Enderby area, for release next November.


I am a watercolour aficionado. I seek them out at flea markets and thrift stores. Not quite the stuff of Antiques Roadshow but still satisfying to my soul.

And sometimes there are little treasures.

Two years ago, I purchased three little unrelated watercolours for $10 total. They're all landscapes, and the smallest measures about 3 inches wide and 2 inches high. My friend Gail who is an artist and framer recently reframed several of my finds, and was quite excited when I went to pick them up last week.

She recognized the signature as that of W J Phillips, and an art specialist at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary conditionally agreed with her. She studied Phillips' works in Winnipeg when she was learning to paint 50 years ago, so was excited by my find.

The Glenbow has a major collection of Phillips because founder Eric Harvey was a fan of his work. The art specialist who looked at the photos of my picture informed me that man who is an authority of Phillips' work lives in Summerland … just a hop and a skip away from our place. We've been in touch and plan to meet so he can look at the piece (Gail and I aren't sure if it's a miniature or a prelim sketch for a larger piece).


It's been a fun week!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Brushes with Fame

I started something with an email last weekend that's had some interesting results. I began a discussion on Brushes with Fame, and it went like this:

Yesterday afternoon, I was driving home from Revelstoke and stopped at Moose Mulligans in Sicamous for late-lunch/early-supper. I was the only person there, and the TV visible from my table was playing a NASCAR race, so I watched it while I drank my coffee and waited for my meal. We know somebody who knows somebody who's a NASCAR racer - a middle of the pack sort of competitor, but still - and as I watched the race I thought about that thing, that knowing-someone-famous thing.

Why is it important that we know someone famous, or have had a brush with or (swoon) touched them/shook their hand. Reflected awe, perhaps? I really enjoy going to curling events like the Brier or the Continental Cup because I get to see players I admire playing live and not just on TV. I never get into line for autographs, though, or am interested in speaking to them. What would I say, that hasn't been said or asked before and that I haven't heard or read in an interview.

There are some absolutely beautiful and simply great stories within our group of friends about their brushes with fame. Gail's story about meeting Keith Richards while on vacation is a classic example, and it's all the better because she did not seek it out but was invited in, as it were. And the father of a former roommate I had in High Prairie yea these many years ago, spent a wonderful hour chatting with Sophia Loren while waiting for a flight. And Dad had a brief chat with Prince Philip during a Royal Tour to the Calgary Stampede while we were taking part in the 4H show and sale.

The someone-who-knows-someone story that really makes me laugh, though, involves my two brothers. I was living at the homestead north of Valleyview and was tutoring English as a Second Language to a woman from Bogota, Colombia who married a local man. Her sister had come for an extended visit, and I took them on a weekend trip to Airdrie so they could see something of southern Alberta. We stayed with Mom and Dad, and one evening Scott and Todd also came for supper (and Pam, too? I can't remember). 

During this time, there was a popular television commercial for Colombian coffee that featured a man called Juan Valdez, supposedly a coffee grower, complete with burro and serape. He was very handsome, with a big, black moustache. One of the boys, probably Scott, asked Helena, "Do you know Juan Valdez?" - more a joke than an actual question. Wasn't he surprised when she answered, "Yes. Well, sort of. My sister Lady knows him better than I do."

Turns out 'Juan Valdez' is a well known waiter at a well known eating establishment in the city, who also does acting jobs, and yes Lady did know him.

At which point, Scott said, "Now I can say I know someone who knows someone who knows the real Juan Valdez." I about died laughing, and I've never forgotten the line. And you know what? I can say the same thing!


Friend Fay wrote in reply about meeting an Edmonton television personality that she and her husband admired, and with whom they had a nice conversation.

Her big regret, however, was a missed opportunity to meet Archbishop Desmond Tutu when he visited Alberta. The priest who performed my friends' marriage was the archbishop's "chauffeur" for that tour and had she known about it, she would have been welcomed to meet him.

Subsequent to the letter, I recalled other brushes with fame. Brother Scott of Juan Valdez fame met Clint Eastwood at a bar in southern Alberta in the company of mutual friends. Said he's a really nice guy.

Friend Vince's mother has been a camp cook much of her life, in later years at mule deer hunting camps in east-central Alberta. When the hunt was over one year, she was talking to us about some of the guests. Now, you have to know this woman does not watch television or movies, and has no interest in modern pop culture.

"There was this really nice fella," she said. "Apparently he's quite famous. Have you heard of a guy named Jack Nicholson?"

He happens to be one of our favourite actors.

"There was another guy, though. I know he's an actor cuz he told me so, and he was an asshole. Name was Steven Seagal."


George Clooney was in the North Okanagan last summer filming a movie called 'Tomorrowland' which is apparently in post-production. That created quite a flurry of George-sightings.

Things are about to get REALLY crazy in the neighbourhood, though, because Anthony Hopkins is expected in Vernon this month when parts of the movie 'Go With Me' are filmed here.

This is man I'd love to meet, and I have no idea what I would say to him.

What has been your brush with fame?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Directions Workshop

Did you ever get one of these when you were in grade school? Was a topic of conversation during a lull at work today, so I found an example.


Directions Worksheet

Materials: You may need: a sheet of paper, a pencil, and a box of crayons. 


1. Read all directions before beginning.
2. Take out one sheet of lined paper.
3. Place it on your desk so that the holes are on the left side and the margin is at the top.
4. Skipping lines, number your paper 1-7
5. On the first line, write your name.
6. On the second line, write the name of the person sitting across from you.
7. On the sixth line, draw three stars using a blue crayon.
8. In the center of the paper, about 5 lines below line seven, draw a box.
9. Write the number of siblings you have to the right of the box.
10. Divide the box into four equal parts with a purple crayon.
11. Color the top right hand section of the box orange.
12. Draw a flower in the bottom left hand corner of the box.
13. Color the center of the flower red.
14. Turn your paper upside down.
15. Write out today’s date using all capital letters.
16. Turn your paper right side up again. 
17. On line three, draw a small picture of your favorite food.
18. Draw a circle around it.
19. Write the name of your first pet on line four.
20. Draw a star in each corner of your paper, using four different colors.
21. Underline two of the stars. 
22. Turn your paper over.
23. Fold it in half lengthwise.
24. Fold it in half the other way.
25. Write your middle name on the outside.
26. Ignore directions one through twenty-five and enjoy watching everyone else do this activity wrong.

Saturday, October 18, 2014


I travelled north last weekend to spend Canadian Thanksgiving weekend with my little family - my ENTIRE little family!

I drove up Saturday after work, arriving The Husband's northern abode at midnight AB time.

The daughter flew up from YLW on Sunday, and we gathered at The Son's house that day, all of us together for the first time in four years!

Auntie and the Little Guy

Grandpa, Grandma and Auntie met the newest member of our family for the first time. He was three months old on Monday, and mostly an engaging and 'chatty' little fellow when not in the grips of teething pain. Poor little man.

Monday was turkey day: deep fried turkey (don't knock it if you haven't tried it - good eatin') with all the fixings and pumpkin pie, of course. We played games, spent time around the fire pit outside, and generally had a wonderful weekend together.

The Daughter and I drove back to southern BC on Tuesday, both of us having that day off in lieu of days owed, so it worked out well.

The autumn colours are still vibrant in this area. I was up on Turtle Mountain on my way to work Friday morning, in need of a photo for the cover of the Sunday real estate supplement. What do you think of these pics? I kind of like them.

Used the first photo on this week's cover. Posted the following two photos simply because I love the cloud formations. I'm a cloud junkie.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Autumn Travels

Got back from my little jaunt to southern Alberta, visiting friends and family. Places to go, people to be see ….

The yard is looking lovely these days, intense colour before the frost hits:

Self-seeded salpiglossis - favourite of mine.

Pansies and sweet pea hiding in the iris leaves.


Larkspur - an old-fashion plant and another favourite.

And so on that happy note, I headed east and south to the Crowsnest Pass via the Columbia Valley.

Columbia Lake, looking to the southeast.

It seems counterintuitive to me to encounter the headwaters of the mighty Columbia River south of Invermere when I know it best running through Revelstoke, far to the northwest. You have to understand that rivers in this part of the province generally run south and west to the Pacific. (In northern Alberta, the rivers run north to the Arctic. In southern Alberta they run south and east to the Mississippi system.)

Then I looked a the map and realized that I had to consider the fall of elevation off the mountains as well as the path to the ocean, and yes, it all makes sense now!

The purple highlight line is the Columbia River. The yellow area is its drainage basin.

A travellers knows she's in Alberta when Crowsnest Mountain dominates the skyline. This majestic solitary sentinel north of Hwy 3 marks one's entrance onto the prairies.

Crowsnest Mountain with Seven Sisters behind it.

I spent a few days in the Milk River area visiting Aunt Betty and Uncle Wes. It should have been a season of clear skies and dry air, perfect conditions for harvest. Instead, storm clouds built up, bringing no joy to the farmers.

Moody prairie sky - snow's a'comin.

Cousin Eugene blowing chaff and dirt out of one of the combines, knowing that
 the harvest was going to be delayed for the next few days as a
huge low-pressure system moved in from the north.

Aunt Betty and I did a little tour through Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, not far from the farm. The park gets its name from the petroglyphs found on the rock walls along the Milk River.

The Milk River Valley is a wild, almost prehistoric landscape.

Kids love to play on the hoodoos.

If you're not from the prairies, you won't know how rare this sight is: green grass in September.
It's usually a golden brown by now.

The Sweetgrass Hills across the border in Montana kept themselves hid in broody clouds all day.

The Milk River, and on the south side are replica buildings of the original RCMP post established in the 1890s.

Looking north over the prairie.

It was time to head north to Nanton, Airdrie and stops in between.

And this was what greeted me Wednesday morning:

Highway 2 south of Ft McLeod … SEPT 10!!!

I'll take a moment to remind you that the date was September 10. It is technically still summer. Most of the crop is still on the ground. And remember the flowers at the top of this entry?!

Calgary was devastated by the heavy wet unseasonable snow. Travel was hindered by broken tree branches strewn over the streets, thousands were without power - pretty much a grand shit show.

I managed to avoid the worst of it. Had a grand time catching up with friends and family. And then it was time to turn back west.

See this? Blue sky!!

And more blue sky (with time to admire the scenery during one of the many stops for highway construction).

Yes, the storm did dust the mountains with fresh snow that made them very pretty. I like snow … from a distance.

Call me a wuss. I don't mind.