Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Grey Cup Frenzy

While our American neighbours had a long weekend to celebrate their Thanksgiving we were celebrating our annual football final game, the Grey Cup, which pits the west against the east of a very wide country.  The Grey Cup was started in 1909 by Earl Grey, then the Governor General and King's representative to Canada.  Originally it was called rugby-football.  See the picture of the silver cup. 
The game was not played from 1916-1919 hence the mismatch in 100 years to be celebrated. 

Canadian football rules are slightly different than the American rules.  The crowds go a little crazy cheering for their favorite

team.  These must be Toronto Argonaut fans....blue and white.

Above is the Calgary Stampeders mascot.

Here are the Toronto Argonauts streaming onto the field before the start of the game.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have to guard the silver cup while it is transported and displayed.
Toronto Argonauts won. 

Monday, 26 November 2012

November and Canadian Winter Cocooning

The weather really isn't even cold yet, for Canada, but the chill in the air and cleaning up the vegetable gardens has made me start to cocoon.  I felt a need to make vegetable soups, and stews and get some wool to start crocheting again.  One day I had spaghetti sauce and borscht (Ukrainian beet soup) going at the same time.  There is a glut of beets and carrots right now so rather than compost them, I am filling our little freezer. The cocooning feeling got so bad that I made bread pudding and a caramel sauce for serving it.  Old Man is type 2 Diabetic.  He devoured this stuff over 3 days.  Slap me up beside the head.  I really am not trying to kill my husband.

We are comfortable in this suite with a cable TV and Internet connection.  I have been watching the Israeli and Hamas crapola.  They are ALL wrong.  Get over your arrogant selves.  BUILD a BRIDGE and just get over it all.  Grow up.  After the Old Testament readings in church last week, I kept thinking, "Don't those Israelis read their Torah's?."   I start to lose patience with the whole Middle East conflicts.  It starts to seem infantile. 

Then after today's bible readings I understood Pilate's frustrations trying to work with those factions.  I had never felt sorry for Pilate before, but had a passing moment of pity today.  And the same tensions and crapola/misunderstandings go on now, centuries later.  For the first time in my life I understood Pilate's frustration, especially after he declared Jesus to be innocent of any crime.  He must have wanted to bang his head on the wall.  I confessed to the priest that I had actually felt some pity for Pilate, for a few minutes, as the governing ruler.  The response was, "Good."  I had been feeling guilty about my thoughts, so I will have to think on that response some more.

But I also finished a prayer shawl.  It is almost finished in this photo,  but ended up twice as long and bound along the sides to keep it even.    Our Bishop, Barbara, had put out a call for more prayer shawls to be knitted for the Healing and Reconciliation Gatherings next year.  The First Nations folk who got up to tell their painful stories about the damage done by Residential Schools in the last century were each given one in varying colours and patterns last year.  Their children were scooped up and taken away to teach them how to be "assimilated" into white (Shemah)  society but the scoop/stealing of children was totally devastating for Indian family life.  Last year after they told their stories they were given hand-made prayer shawls.  There were more tears, but that means some healing too.  So for this year's meeting in Victoria I made a (shades of purple and fuschia) crocheted shawl last week.  I say prayers for the healing of the person who will eventually receive it, but prayers will also be said over the shawls before they are presented.  The Bishop, who is Metis by the way, has called for BC Anglicans to make 400 shawls for the 2013 gathering.  I will try to do 3-5.  I finished the purple one and started a teal green "TRINTIY SHAWL".  Next will be a rainbow arcs patterned stoll/wrap.   I am making these designs up, and can forward some simple instructions to anyone who might want to do an easily-crocheted shawl while watching the idiocy on TV in the evenings.  If nothing else they make cozy lap rugs as they grow longer as you crochet them.

But I am also back into writing Amnesty International letters again for those who are being unjustly jailed. Dec. 10 is Human Rights Day and I have pledged to write at least 10 letters. So winter is settled in here for us.  We walk every day and can happily walk for all our needs.  Our pickup truck has not been started for 2 weeks.  That might be another 'sign of old age' but at least we can still walk.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Chainsaw Bill

On our last fishing campout of the year, when we were sent off from our B/B so the landlord's relatives (brother with Lou Gehrig's needed the downstairs) could visit in our unit, we went to our favorite lake that is just 15 minutes up the mountain. On Saturday morning this fellow came along and set up his rod, chair and coffee at the shore.  I joined him and realized I had met him last year.  I didn't recognize him as he had grown a beard.  He used to be the barber in our village but is retired now.  He has this handy tool that is a gutting knife and a weigh scale too.  It came from Europe so I guess I won't get one.  He was getting upset with me as I kept catching fish and he kept losing them.  Finally he borrowed some of my bait and that didn't help him land any either.  He is nick-named Chainsaw Bill.  He got the name because years ago some kids were roaring around the hills behind his house on motorbikes and the buzzing noise was disturbing his backyard relaxations.  I know the feeling.  So he and others went to complain at the village office and were told there was nothing they could do because the village didn't have a noise by-law.  One day he got fed up and went down in the evening to the council meeting, walked in, and started up his chainsaw.  It was just to show the councillors what the noise was like.  He did get their attention, but one councillor tried to take the chainsaw away from him.  He got a leg cut and a trip to emergency, and a vist from police followed.  He never laid charges but the kids started riding on the other side of the village.  I am sure there is more to this story that I may not have heard.  Anyhow his nickname "Chainsaw Bill" has stuck and everyone knows who you are talking about when you use his moniker.  I love listening to these old village characters.

He ended up cleaning and weighing my fishies for me.  This one was a pound and a half which is average for that lake.  I ended up giving him two to take to his wife.  All he needed to tell her was where he got them, not how.  I keep bumping into him on my daily walk-abouts.  There is no way to not stop and talk, which is fine as I enjoy him.  Some locals turn up their noses about him, but I think he is delightful.  It got cold that weekend in late October, and went below 0 C. at night so we were glad to get back down in the valley and cocoon for the winter.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

November in a small village

We are settled into the wee village of Ashcroft which straddles the Thompson River.  It is about 10 minutes driving time, up the mountain, to our house in the next village.  We have rented the house out to a fellow who wants to rent-to-buy.  Alleluia.  So we will just stay here in the Bed and Breakfast, where we do have to make our own breakfast, for the winter.  We will have very itchy feet that will want to get travelling again by Spring.  The lovely thing is that my church is on the next corner so I can walk to all the activities and I joined a study group on Tuesdays and help with the Soup kitchen on Fridays.  We are also making prayer shawls for the Healing and Reconciliation Meeting next year with the First Nations folk who were abused at Residential Schools earlier in the century.

On November 11, I went to an early service as we were all going to troop 3 blocks to the cenotaph for the service there at 10:30.  Our church has all stained glass windows, so imagine our shock to open the doors to a white world.  Hello Canada.  The streets were blocked off for the parade and to make it safe for the crowd to gather on the roads at the cenotaph's corner.  The red coat on the fellow by the cable/Internet company building belongs to an RCMP officer going to stand on duty at the cenotaph.

My friend John Pierro, who is from the Bonaparte Reserve, drummed and sang in memory of all his First Nations folk that served in the Wars and never came back.  He named his song 'Soldier Boy'. 
The landlord Jim, turned 65 in late October, so they held a huge family party.  We were sent off fishing for the weekend so they could use the suite for visiting, but welcomed back to join the dinner on Sunday night.  He is a fine fellow, who does a lot of volunteer work for this community and even for our church, although he doesn't attend services and isn't a believer.

This is what it looked like in our kitchen with more tables to do a sit-down ribs and chicken dinner for all the family that could get to Ashcroft for the big day.  I helped with the cleaning of vegetables in the morning.  But it didn't take them long to clean up and remove the tables and chairs afterwards and we had our suite back.              

It feels good to be back in our old community.  Old Man Watching says that he was born here (almost on the steps of the original hospital) and he plans to die here.  I hope that doesn't happen for a few years yet.  But we are happy to be in one spot for the winter.  Now I will catch up on what you folk have been up to.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Home again and over the Rocky Mountains

We left our nephew John's ranch in Alberta after Canadian Thanksgiving holiday weekend, and had lovely weather to cross over the Rocky Mountain range, drive up the trench in between the ranges, to Jasper,  and over the Rockies again to Golden.  We had a golden autumn evening in Golden in a very friendly camp ground that also had cabins and mobile home spots for rent and sale.  They still had marigolds and petunias and other flowers blooming, which we hadn't seen across the prairies.

The last stretch into British Columbia (dark green on the map) means going under/through many snow slide/avalanch area tunnels in Rogers Pass. 

We then came home to Barnes Lake to camp and fish for a few weeks while deciding what we should do to be warm for the winter. The fishing was great and the fish were delicious as they had grown since spring and were feasting on lake shrimp so their flesh was pink and sweet.  But the nights were starting to get cold although still above zero.  We wondered what our next step would be when a friend who owns a B/B offered us the ground-floor suite which has two bedrooms and a large kitchen and back sunroom.  It is the same rent as we get from our cottage renters so we went for a looky-see.  

It was a mutually good deal as we offered some help perks and they have a hard time getting away for some free weekends.  Our suite is seldom rented in the winter so they gave us a deal for 5 months.

We are home.Ashcroft is actually 10 minutes from our village up the Highway #97 and down in a valley along the Thompson River, so has an even milder climate and shorter winter.     The suite is clean and within walking distance to all we need.    This suite has heritage character and is comfy.  We booked in for a month to try it out.

The bedrooms are a little 'fluffy' for us but the beds are very comfortable and internet and cable TV is free. 
It was a great summer and early fall, but Old Man Watching is ready, at 75, to quit RV-ing as a life style.  We have done that for 5 years since a year after I retired, and it has been a delightful time.  Now we want to settle in for a quiet winter and not drive thousands of miles to find heat along the Mexican border.  We enjoyed it all while it was happening and we have wonderfrul memories of interacting with the very friendly American citizens.  It is time to sell the motorhome and settle down for real old age.  We were running away from all responsibilities except on-line banking chores.  Now it is time to be Canadians again for a winter.  This is the living room view with our RV on the street with a FOR SALE sign on it.

There is an element of stoicism about facing winter.  Just as there must be with folk who live in hurricane zones.  The weather really is unpredictable but predictable that it will be bad, in a Canadian winter. 

Yahoo....... as we are home and we did settle in here at this B/B after we did runs to Vancouver (4-5 hours) for medical checks and prescriptions for meds.  We also took the ferry to go to Vancouver Island for 4 days after the eye cancer was cleared for 4 months, and stayed to babysit while the parents organized and attended a Diabetes Gala further up the Island at Parksville.  The weekend dance, dinner and auctions raised $250,000 for Diabetes research.

We are almost settled in here.  I need to take some pictures. We went to 2 local events today and I didn't have my camera.  Now I can just blog about village life and catch up with all of you.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Canadian Thanksgiving = 2nd weekend of October 2012

We passed quickly through Saskatchewan (#8 in peach) and went south to lower Alberta ( #9 in green).

We stayed one night in a very empty, but lovely camping ground along the Old Man River just north of Taber Alberta.  Here is Old Man Watching walking along the path beside the Old Man River.The deer here were again too tame for my liking at this time of the hunting season. 

Taber is famous for its corn cobs in summer, its sugar cane and the Japanese that helped develop the farms and irrigation canals, when they were interred here and forcibly moved away from the coast during World War Two.  

We arrived at the ranch in Cardston Alberta (the Mormon capital of Canada) to rest before Thanksgiving.  We stayed here in the summer on the way east but this time there was snow on the ground.  We also helped prepare for the feast day which was also going to be niece Monica's 60th birthday celebration.  I like to make the devilled eggs and cranberry sauces from scratch. 

On Saturday we drove a few hours north to nephew John's cattle ranch that he manages, on top of running his own.We peeled a lot of potatoes and veggies.  Then we all went on clean-up detail, washing windows and counters and appliances and organizing for the big day on Monday.  I can't believe Monica is 60 as in my head she is still a teenager.    He is Monica's brother.  It is a lovely setting in the foothills.  Many relatives were able to make it for the big day and we fed about 24 people and then some more kids.  These are the rodeo folk in the family who are all, or mostly, involved in ranching.  The barrel racers just made it in time for the meal and socializing.  After everyone left the core group played cards.But we had to leave sweet Auntie Donna (Old Man's sister) and her son John on Tuesday, to try to get over the Rocky Mountains before the snow line got any lower, or horrors, it got right down to the highway level.