Friday, April 30, 2010

Day 231: Odds 'n sods

A couple of photos from today, and one that I neglected to post earlier this week.

Also an apology for not reading posts and responding as I ought.  I'm using my air card much of the time which, since I'm out of the country, will be a bit costly if I'm not careful!  I can use Sis' internet some of the time, but the time that I have to use the computer is also the end of the day when her family also has things to take care of, so it's a bit of a juggling act.  Things will hopefully get back to a semblance of a normal routine next week, when I get back.

OK.  Photos for today:

Poplar trees

There were a couple of deer grazing in this field, but as I walked up to the fence, they sauntered out of range.

Anyone think it funny that I saw this sign on the door of a school?  Every school in the province has this posted:

I'm not sure that it will do anything to help high school locker rooms, though, which is where the real concern lies.  teehee

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Day 230: Living History

Abel was 20 years old when he heard about the war in Europe and decided that it would be a great opportunity to see the world.  So he travelled by horseback from his home into town, and then by train to Vancouver, where he joined the armed forces.  Eventually, he became a member of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, nicknamed "The Little Black Devils" by the enemy because of their tenacity and toughness, and was shipped off to England, and then to France, where he was part of the invasion of Normandy at Juno Beach in June, 1944.

He told me that when they were in the ships, they were packed in like sardines.  Although the crossing was only about two hours long, they stood side by side, unable to move and barely able to breathe.  When they arrived, they found that in anticipation of an invasion, the enemy had put barriers in the water to keep the landing craft from getting too close, and the men had to disembark in neck-deep water, holding their heavy equipment above their heads. 

Only he and two others from his platoon survived the invasion.

From there, they fought their way towards Caen.  Just outside of Caen, he was wounded by a sniper.  He told me that he was fighting at the front of the Canadian lines, near the British, and when he was wounded, he remembers noticing the uniform of the nurse that was cutting the arm off his uniform, blood dripping into his eyes and down his shirt.  She was British.  He was then sent back to Britain to be treated for a head wound and shrapnel in his arm, and then when he was healed well enough to travel, he was sent back to Canada.

He did not arrive home to a warm welcome.  Instead, he travelled by train across the country in freight cars, because he was native.  Then, when he arrived back in Burns Lake, the hotel wouldn't take him in.  While he was sitting on the sidewalk, wondering where to stay the night until he could make the long trek back out to his family, a policeman came by, realized that he was returning from the war, and offered a room in a jail cell for the night.  It was the best he could do.

The next day, he made his way back home. When he arrived, his family, who had no idea about world affairs and had no idea what was happening abroad, casually welcomed him home as though he had simply been away on the trapline.

I can't imagine how he must have felt, after experiencing what he had experienced, to realize that nobody around him recognized what he had accomplished and almost gave his life for.

Lisa and I did a bit of research today.  We found that although all men of military age, including natives, were not exempt from conscription during WWII, natives weren't given the benefits other vets were entitled, such as opportunities for education and vocational training.  It wasn't until almost 50 years later that aboriginal veterans were given a degree of compensation for their service.

I've really grown to admire and respect this gentle, soft-spoken, deliberate man over the last few days.  It was such an honor to hear his story.  Today I brought in my computer, and we looked at old photographs of the Normandy landings.  I don't know that he had ever been in front of a computer before, and he kept shaking his head whenever a photo came up, not able to take his eyes off the screen.

Abel was also a contemporary of my grandfather that I never knew.  My mom's father died when she was a young teenager, and it's always a special thing when we meet people that knew him.  Abel is about the same age, and his father worked for my great grandfather.  He liked to talk about my grandfather, "Dick Skribber (Schreiber)" and his father, Norm, who was the mailman.

Who would have thought that while sitting in a hospital room with my dad, I'd have the opportunity to meet this remarkable man?


On a side note, Sis had sick kids today, but I brought dad out for lunch anyway.  We phoned the Rambler, a wheelchair accessible bus that goes around town picking up and dropping off disabled folks wherever they need to go.  The Kinsmen Club helped get funding for dad to lease an electric wheelchair, and for the first time in two months, he was able to get into real clothes and go outside.  I had to run to keep up!  Chinese food it was, and I still am amazed at how much food he put away.  An aunt and uncle joined us, and we had a wonderful time. 



Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Day 229: Pussy Willow

I know a little pussy,

Her coat is silver grey,

She lives down in the meadow,

Not very far away.

Although she is a pussy,

She'll never be a cat,

For she's a pussy willow,

Now what do you think of that?

Meow, meow, meow, meow,

Meow, meow, meow, meow, SCAT!

( corner view today, since I don't drink coffee!  No coffee break.  But maybe we can say that I took a break and took some photos of these sweet little pussy willows.  For real coffee break corner views, head over to Jane's.)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

228: Hugh

Let me introduce you to Hughie, one of my dad's cousins.  I've known Hugh all my life.  One of his sisters is my age.

Hugh has Down Syndrome.  He is one of the sweetest and purest people on this earth.  He is so full of love for everyone.  The kind of pure love that makes the hardest person soften.  He hugs you and says he loves you and you know he is completely without guile.  His dad says that there aren't any strangers to Hughie.  Just friends that he hasn't met yet.

Just look at this smile:

I have been living the past couple of days to see this smile.  When he smiles, it lifts your heart.  When he is sad, as he has been since he wanted to go home, and his face crumples, my soul crumples a little bit inside, too.

He has been in the hospital for the past week or so with what they think is Parkinson Disease.

He has wanted to go home so badly. Imagine how your four year old child would feel in the hospital without his parents being able to be there or visit every day, and you can imagine how poor Hugh has been feeling.

And today, his mom and dad came to bring him home!


Here are his mom, Janie, Hugh, and his dad, Richmond.

They are the rocks in Hugh's life.  They don't have much in the way of material possessions, but they have given Hugh everything necessary to flourish, and more. 

These days, his dad, Richmond, has shown me what it is really like to love. Janie has been really ill. They're not quite sure what is wrong, only that she has symptoms of early dementia, and what appears to be Parkinson's as well. She is really ill. Richmond has been tenderly caring for her as he has Hugh.

He and Sis were having a conversation the other day about things. Richmond loves to garden but has been unable to get out and do any, since Janie is so ill. When Sis expressed sympathy that he was unable to garden, he said:

"Oh, that's OK. I'll have the rest of my life to garden."

He's 83 years old.

And you know what else? With the trials that he has faced and stress that he is under that would try the strongest of men, he said:

"My biggest fear is that I will get so tired that I will be impatient with Janie or Hugh."

In my opinion? Angels are not only in heaven. They walk on the earth.

I was able to hug one of them today.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Day 227

Here's my dad.  Pretty happy today.  He spent most of this evening telling me all about when he was a kid. 

There were skunks, Civil War Colonels, and cigars involved.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Day 226: One little monkey

...jumping on the bed.

Just had to post a pic of myself, jumping on the bed at the Marriott (I know.  I can't believe I'm here, either.  It was an amazing deal, let's just say).  Are my kids with me?  Nope.  They're at home with Meryl, who has been extremely supportive of my taking this trip up north.  He has been just great.

I'm off to catch the 5 a.m. shuttle to the airport, so this is my post for the day.

Have a good one!  Back tomorrow, from Beautiful British Columbia.


(By the way, this bed?  Was the comfiest bed in the world. I'm wondering if instead of the shampoo and aromatherapy body lotion if they'll let me take the bed instead.  No?  Oh.)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Day 225: TOFW #2

Hilary Weeks at Time Out For women.  We also heard Mary Ellen Edmunds speak (hysterical lady.  Corny jokes.) and Kris Belcher, who has suffered cancer in her eyes off and on since she was 7 months old, completely losing her sight 6 years ago.  She had us in stitches and in tears, with her stories about being blind, but being able to find light and hope in her life.

But here's Hillary.

I think in this photo, she's singing this song about laundry.  Not a particularly good video of it, and the sound is less than optimal, but I think women everywhere (and some men, including my own dear hubby, who has taken on laundry duty since being off work) can relate:

But she also sings beautiful pieces that she writes herself (some listed in the related vids above).   Lovely voice.  I'm not usually into that soft pop/country/not sure what to call it inspirational music, but some of her songs are really nice.  I also really enjoyed the little segues into the songs.  She's sweet and funny, too!

OK.  I've got to be up at 4 a.m. to get to the airport.



Friday, April 23, 2010

Day 224: Time Out for Women

On the way to BC, I have the opportunity to attend Time Out For Women.

Just a couple of photos from my point and shoot of the speakers and such.

First, Ardeth Kapp.  She holds a special place in the heart of my family.  When I was a teenager, I met her at a Young Women's conference.  She is such a wonderful speaker and writer!  Also, at one point, I can't remember how many years ago it was, but I must have been living in Alberta, her husband was the mission president of the Canada Vancouver mission.  As they travelled around the province, she met my mom on occasion as mom ferried the missionaries to Prince George to conferences.

When I spoke with Sister Kapp today, she was so excited to see someone from the mission where she served, and to meet my  mom's daughter, since enjoyed her time with mom so much.  She gave me a huge hug and wanted to know all the news of the family.

Awesome lady.


John Bytheway.  Much to everyone's delight as well as his own, he came up with a new joke on his name.

I laughed so hard at this man.  Inspiring and funny.  So very, very quick on the uptake.  I wanted him to speak forever.


This is a wonderful singer, Dallyn Vail Bayles.  He is currently on tour with Phantom of the Opera, and has done bunches of different things.  Great voice.

I tried to find a Youtube clip, and there are a couple, but they really don't show the best of his voice, I don't think.  He has a really rich, strong, tenor.  Those high notes?  Swoon.

One piece that really touched me was a sweet and simple version of the children's primary song " I'm trying to be like Jesus."  I've known this song since I was a kid, but he reminded us tonight through this song that this is something we should be striving for even as adults.

"Love one another as Jesus loves you.
Try to show kindness in all that you do.
Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought,
For these are the things Jesus taught."

I think I should be more mindful of this, especially when my first reaction is to be impatient, especially with my children.  It was a beautiful reminder that showing love and being kind are attributes meant for everyone.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Day 223: Potato chocolates

I made the centers for these awhile ago, and they've been covered and in the fridge.  Tonight I HAD to dip them, because I'm going to BC for ten days to visit my dad, who is ill, and my sister, who has been caring for him.  So.  Midnight chocolate dipping.

These taste just like Mounds chocolates.  And they have an interesting ingredient that helps give it the same texture.

Sorry.  Straight out of the camera.  For obvious reasons.  I can hardly keep my eyes open, and if I tried to edit them, they might end up green or something.

Pennsylvania Dutch Coconut Easter Eggs.

3/4 cup mashed potatoes--unsalted, unmilked, and unbuttered.
2 cups flaked coconut--fresh or dried.
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
3-1/2 cup confectioner's sugar.
8 os semisweet chocolate.
1 Tbsp vegetable oil.

In mixing bowl, mix potato, coconut, salt, and vanilla.  Gradually mix in sugar.  Cover.  Refrigerate overnight (or longer...uh...yeah...).  Shape into 1/2 tbsp size eggs (I think mine were more.  I used the Pampered Chef mini scoop)  Heat chocolate and oil until chocolate melts.  Dip eggs into chocolate and oil mixture.  Set aside on wax paper in refrigerator to harden.

If mixture is too wet, DON'T add more sugar.  Add more coconut instead.  Otherwise the candy will go even softer.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Day 222: Corner View--Earth Day

OK.  I could take pictures of my recycling, or the new windows, or the blow in insulation, or of J turning the water off when she brushes her teeth.

But instead, here's something that popped up in the side flower bed..  Our flowers come out after everyone else's. The soil is bad, and I haven't done anything yet to work it, and it doesn't get much sun.

But a couple of tulips showed their heads above ground this week, and today they decided that they would deign to bloom.

The earth decided to bring forth SOMETHING, even though I haven't given that particular patch much in the way of lovin'.

Thank you, pretty flowers!  And in honor of earth day, I'll let you stay alive and well in the earth rather than pick you and place you in a vase.

You can thank me by staying nice and beautiful for a little while longer, OK?


And thanks Joyce for hosting CV for Jane while she's off painting Mexico red!  So check out Joyce's place today for more CVs. 

Monday, April 19, 2010

Day 220: When you eat your Smarties...

Do you eat the red ones last?

Do you suck them very slowly,

Or crunch them very fast?

Eat that candy-coated chocolate,

But tell me when I ask,

When you eat your Smarties,

Do you eat the red ones last?

I do.  Nom-nom.  Thanks, Sis, for sending probably my most favorite candy coated chocolate in the post.  The question now is:  Do I share? 

The following vid has used the same tune as the original but changed the words.  It's so cute, though, that I'm posting it anyway!

**If you follow the wiki link above, then scroll down, it will tell you a bit about this ad campaign,
a part of every Canadian of my generation's childhood experience. **

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Day 219

Just a piece of what is strewn all over my living room floor right now. 

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Day 218: The lighting in my house...

...when I am Queen.

A good friend of ours has season tickets to the Pittsburgh Symphony's Fiddlesticks Children's Concert Series, and with one thing and another had extras today, and so graciously asked us if we'd like to go.  Of course!  We were the lucky recipients last year as well and jumped at the chance to go again. 

Whenever we step into Heinz Hall, the kids feel that they are inside a palace.  And here's just one reason why:

My foyer...when I am Queen.

Here's a detail.  Much better photo:

Some day, when I am Queen, I'll have a more useful lens for my good camera and won't be settling with bringing my point and shoot.  I love my point and shoot--it is an IS superzoom, and I'd be lost without it.  But still, it's not a DSLR, so options are a bit limiting, especially when I don't want to use a flash.

And when I am Queen, I will have a powder room like where this was taken, just off the restroom, with beautiful plush furniture, gilt mirrors, and a cozy fireplace, where I can adjust my gown or languidly wait for...oh, I don't know...the royal fanfare to begin or something..  And where I can gracefully swoon wilst my ladies in waiting bustle around with smelling salts (although I have fainted before.  It made me feel nauseous.  Swooning sounds so much more romantic).  And when I am Queen, my kids will be just as cute.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Day 217

The weather today was kind of iffy, but I thought that when Adam and I came back from our errand this afternoon, I would take a photo of some magnolia blossoms. It was sprinkling a bit, but off and on. Nothing serious.  I'd go out when we got home.  And away we went. 

Came out of the mall, where we had to exchange some clothing for J (that girl is shooting up like a weed, I tell you!), turned onto the access road to the highway and BAM!

The traffic lights flickered and went out, and then...the deluge..  I have never seen anything like it.  It reminded me a bit of the pre-tornado weather in Edmonton in 1987, but that was a tornado.  Different ballgame.

That said, the lashing rain, wicked wind hurling debris onto the highway, and inability to see even a few yards in front of the vehicle was more than a bit scary.  By debris, incidentally, I'm not talking a few small tree branches.  We're talking trees and pretty large rocks.  Traffic was crawling along, even after much of the traffic had pulled over to the side of the road to see if the rain would subsite a bit.  I was behind a trailor truck for quite awhile, when it suddenly swerved to the right, and I'm glad it did, because I would have never seen the flat boulder in the middle of the highway.  I would have ended up like the car that we passed.  Tire completely destroyed.  It was amazing the driver kept control of her car.

Power was out everywhere.  Adam thought it was fun how everyone took turns at the lights.  BUT there was power up on the hill, where we live.  At least in our portion.  So we hunkered in for the evening and put the kids to bed.

And then the power went out here, too.

So.  No magnolia blossoms.  This is what you're getting.  Cos other than the light from the computer screen, thanks to an air card, it's blacker than the inside of a cow.

Except for when I turn on the flashlight.  Thankfully, the kids hadn't lost the thing.

While the lights were on, I put out a facebook SOS for ideas.  Some suggestions were:  put a daisy between my toes, paint my toes like a flower, milk and cookies, and candles.  All good ideas.  After the lights went out, candles was probably the best option.  Except that it required my tripod.  Which has a wonky leg.  And I'm klutz and just KNOW I'd break something in the dark.  Not to mention I haven't yet taken a candle photo that I like.  Which means I'd best start figuring it out.  I know it.  And I'm making excuses because really...

I'm just too lazy to get up and do it.

So.  Flashlight on curtains, taken from the couch because trying to figure out how to make things artistic when it was that dark wasn't something I really wanted to do right then.

Pbtht.  LOL  At least I can admit I have a problem!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Day 216

Can anyone love this movie more than I?  I think not.

After the kids got this little Terrible Terror and a Monstrous Nightmare at McDonalds (gasp!) it makes me want to go stock up on Happy Meals.  Or start collecting action figures from Walmart, which I have never, ever in my life done.  Seriously?  LOVE this movie.  Can I wait for it to come out on DVD?  Nope. 

Now where is that viking helmet and breastplate?  I know they were right here... 

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Day 215

Very quickly, because it's late and I'm tired! 

Sometimes there are friendships really worth nurturing, and it's like that with M and I.  But since September, we really haven't been able to touch base much--just on the phone for a few minutes or while picking up either my child or hers.  It has been a crazy year, as we've both been working trying to hold things together while both husbands were out of work.

A couple of weeks ago, we decided that taking an hour wouldn't hurt anything.  So today we took an hour and went over to a little coffee place for a muffin.  I don't drink coffee, so it was a soy steamer for me (since milk is a no-no these days).  We'd never been to this place before, and it looked charming.  The lady that owns the place was a bit...eccentric.  She was a real talker and kept us informed about the history of this or that and "Will you please let me do your coffee this way and did you know decaf still has caffeine and although I never second guess my customers will you please let me do your coffee this way?  And (my favorite) I baked these scones this morning and they're delicious!" It was kind of unusual, and turned a 5 minute order into a 15 minute ordeal!  But I guess she's part of the place's character, and she was more than helpful.  While she lectured on coffee and Ms choice, I worked on a really cool puzzle she had set out at one of the tables.  And when our order was finally filled, we were able to enjoy it in a really cozy, comfy space.  I brought my camera, hoping to take a photo or two, but we got so busy yacking that I didn't take the time.  Also, I didn't think a couple of paper cups and a wrapped muffin would make particularly nice photos!  But just as we were packed up to go, and M headed out to put her little one in the van, I took these.  I have something, at least, to post today!


ALSO!  A very big "HURRAH! and CONGRATULATIONS!" to Jane and her Corner View idea having a birthday!  I raised my soy steamer in her honor today, and imagined a candle on my muffin.  Good on ya, Jane.  There have been so many great themes that I couldn't choose my favorite over the past year to post, so I'm just going to send you over the Spain Daily and see what everyone else has been doing, and to encourage you to jump in!  It's a great way to see what is happening in many, many corners of the world--and the photographs?  Wow.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Day 214

Adam's preschool was celebrating his summertime birthday today, and I had to find time somewhere to make and decorate a cake.  And Adam asked for an excavator on it.  Oy.  

Here it is:

There wasn't time to add the details on the treads or the bucket connector doohickies.  But I don't know that a bunch of preschool kids are going to care, particularly.  With less than an hour to decorate it, this is what they get.  I didn't even take time to write the kiddo's name on it or anything!

BUT I have to share the recipe for this cake and frosting.

I am almost ashamed to admit that the cake recipe is from Martha Stewart.  I put about twice as much lemon zest in it as she calls for.  But the cake is yummer.  You can find it here.

It's the frosting that is to die for, though.  Buttercream frosting always seems so cloyingly sweet to me, yet it's the best kind to decorate with.  A connundrum for sure.  And then I found this recipe from Southern Living.  I use it so much I know it by heart.  It's on line somewhere, cos that's where I found it.  I think under "Almost Homemade Buttercream Frosting."  So get a pencil and a recipe card and write this down.  You won't regret it--and you'll have the best, slightly sweet, frosting ever.  OK.  Ready?

1 16-oz container of marshmallow cream. 
1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter. 
5 teaspoons fresh lemon juice. 
1 teaspoon vanilla. 
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar. 

On low speed, beat marshmallow cream.  Add butter in 1-inch pieces, beating well after each.  Beat until smooth.  Add lemon juice, vanilla, and sugar and beat on medium high until fluffy.  And that's it!  Fluffy, beautiful to frost and decorate with, and just a touch of sweetness.  Perfect.

Now, I have to confess that I can't draw.  Seriously?  Worst ever.  When I was teaching, I'd have the students draw whatever I needed onto the board.  It is sad.  My kids suffer, because I can barely draw an apple. Stick people?  Not even they look right.  Yet I've done cakes with lions, alligators, Snoopy on his doghouse, and so forth.  So how to get the picture onto a cake, you ask?  Although it's slightly time consuming, it's easy.  Ready?

Find a clip art or coloring page of whatever you'd like on your cake and enlarge/decrease to the size that you want.  Grab a piece of waxed paper and put the picture underneath.  Tint some frosting black (or cheat like I sometimes do, and did today, and use Wilton's decorator frosting in black).  Using a plain old line attachment (sorry, don't know the technical term!), trace your picture on top of the waxed paper, like this.  It doesn't have to be perfect.  Using the homemade frosting is a bit easier, but it's a pain trying to tint frosting black, thus the cheating:

Then, lay the drawing upside down onto your cake, like so:

Slightly press down onto the picture to transfer the frosting to the cake.  The Wilton frosting is a bit thicker, so it doesn't come off as smoothly, but that's OK.  Don't worry.  You can fill in the gaps.  You just need a general idea.  Be aware that the picture on the cake will be the mirror image of the original.  Just so's yuh knows.

Then gradually peel back the waxed paper.  Do it a bit at a time, so you can use the paper as a guide to fill things in a bit, like I've done here.  With the tube, you're not going to have a really clear line, cos most will stay on the paper.  But it should be enough to do the job. 

Once you've gradually peeled, eyeballed, and filled in a bit, you'll end up with this.

It's just kind of a general outline to go with.  Then you fill it in with frosting.  I usually use a #27 star tip, cos it's small enough to get into the corners.  But sometimes I use a bigger tip, and sometimes I just frost it in normally, using a toothpick, the back of a spoon, or whatever works, to get in the little bits, like for the lion I did for Adam's second birthday.  For today's cake, I used the star tip for the machine, and just frosted normally for the rest. 

This one is pretty bare-bones, because I ran out of time. I didn't do any details, and it lacks a bit of finesse, since I was in a rush.  But hey--at least you can tell what it is, which is better than if I would have tried to draw the thing on there freestyle. When you're finished, go around the whole thing again to outline in black. 

And there you go.

Here's the lion, the very first cake I ever did this way. I think it's my favorite:

Monday, April 12, 2010

Day 113

Maverick was on television this afternoon
so I turned it on while I worked.
Julia came in the door near the end.

The poker game is over.  Maverick and Annabelle are parting.

Maverick takes girl in his arms and they smooch.

"They're not husband and wife, Mom. 
That's not entirely appropriate."
Says Julia, age 6,
with an odd look on her face.

Trying desperately not to crack up
I think to myself that it would be nice
if she kept that attitude

until she's 40.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Day 112: Spring Walk

Today was definitely a "need to go for a walk" day.  And the Park/Nature trails almost literally in our back yard is the perfect place (or is that "are," but you know what I mean!)

Shortly after this first shot, Julia slipped while exploring a tree root and skinned everything.  Both hands, fingers, wrist, both elbows, and a knee.  OW!

These roots are soooo cool looking! 

 We're going to try to come down here next week for a family photo before hubs leaves.

Couldn't get a very good shot of the kids, though.  Ah well.

This next photo came close to being another addition to J's crackin' good collection. 

Launching leaf boats in the creek:

Then Adam said, "Pee, Mommy," and before I could get to him, it was game over.

Must have been the rushing, rippling, gurgling, dripping, of the stream, coz he's reliably trained.

But we had to go home, regardless.

The end.

(Except for this cool wood.  Neat, eh?)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Day 111: More blossoms.

Sorry--this is all I have.  What with trying to keep Adam from tearing apart every shop that we had to run an errand at, taking my eyes off him or the task at hand to grab my camera was not going to happen.  And, frankly, I'm tired. 

So blossoms it is.  Quickly taken after picking hubs up from drill, making it almost home and then yelling "STOP!!  YES HERE!  At the nursery.  PHOTO!!"

And remind me to bring the little doggie backpack leashy thingy when I go out with A next time.  As much as, in theory, I don't like the idea, after today...well...