Monday, 27 January 2014

January in our little Canadian Village

January has been relatively mild this year but too many days are overcast.  I prefer more cold if I can have sunshine and blue skies for my daily walks.  I have driven up the mountain three times now to work on the mosaic windows that a new artsy parishioner and her husband want to install in the sad looking blank spaces at the entrance to the church hall.  They live on a hill above the Thompson River Valley and look down on miles of cattle fields.  The cattle and sheep have all been herded down this way from their summer ranges to be fed for the winter.  Some of the spring birthings have started.  
They are developing this property as a elders' retreat.  They hope to offer dancercize, yoga, sweat lodge times, hiking, dune buggy rides, spiritual renewal spaces, walks, and art projects etc.  Or you can stay in a suite and escape from the world.   It was probably the worst day of the year to take pictures but you can see the vista is of pristine hills and mesas from the driveway.  My friend Germaine loves to do mosaics so came to help.  The long uphill driveway was icy the first day so we left my pickup at the bottom of the hill and walked up.  Behind her is one of the suites.

The lady of the house is well known in British Columbia for her glass works.  This is their front door area. 

And then below is the dining room area.

Marina spent 15 years on a Reserve, married to a First Nations man in the United States where she became very involved with their spiritual practices and the healing powers of sweat lodge ceremonies, which is much like a sauna with prayer times involved.  All the world's Wisdom Traditions will be honoured here, although both Marina and Dan are committed Christians.  Their bigger world view is refreshing to me. They certainly are NOT zenophobic. 

Marina's first vision of a project for us was to enhance the 4 blank windows at the entrance to our church hall.  She planned a series that I call "This is the Day That the Lord Hath Made" as that ditty/bible verse keeps running through my mind.  
#1 is night time. 
 #2 is the morning with a Peace Dove descending on our village or on Jerusalem or ????    Is that the Dead Sea down there?  The River of Life (the teachings of Jesus) is running through the middle of each panel.
Of course they don't show well here as we just opened the door to see the effect of light from behind and were very impressed.
My friend Germaine who is a cradle RC, and another friend Gerda who is a cradle Lutheran, and anybody from our community is welcome to work on this project which is meant to delight the eyes of anyone living or visiting in the community. 
Germaine and I were working on the big sun which had influences from the art of Hundertwassers who is German. But the sun area looks Aztec to me.  
I was trying to put a bit of rosey pink and purple into the sunset.  The two completed panels are leaning against the wall but of course have no sun filtering through them so aren't as effective.
We went up the hill to the workshop again today and finished panel #3.  Hopefully #4 will be done this week so they can be installed for parishioners to see on Sunday.  But if not this week then maybe next will be good enough.
I am booked to help on the last two Fridays of the month at the Soup's On from 11:00 to 1:00.  The really hungry people hang around outside before the doors even open.  This should not happen in this day and age.  

It is by donation or not, as one can afford to pay.  Our pod was called the Mixed Blessings Group this week and we had a lovely new helper, Patricia, from Dublin, who cut up and served desserts.  

When you look at the mixed crowd it is hard to tell who the wealthier ones are, but I know most of them and they are good giving people.  Some are Christians and some are undecided and some are Agnostics but if they are willing to work for a few hours we will gladly accept the help. 

 This lady brings her husband out of extended care in his wheelchair, every Friday for an outing.  She also made the crazy big Cat in the Hat style topper, and a skirt from a sweater she found in the Thrift Shop.  People can be clever to help keep warm in our Candian cold.
Our Rent-a-Daughter came for a visit for a few days.  She went to work on the mosaic windows and then walked back to town for her 5 km. of exercise.  She also went to church with me on Sunday and had 6 hard questions for me afterwards.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Is it really January?

We are home from our trip to the other side of Canada.  We are coping well now that we have unpacked our suitcases and become settled again....  We had lost a month of rental due to cleaning that needed to be done and advertising for a new renter when we finally came home. It seemed like we spent two weeks at the house cleaning and repairing and showing it to potential buyers and renters.  I used locally posted ads and Kijiji which is like Craig's List. Here is a summer picture, but of course the house is under snow right now.

Our house was rented again and the renter, again, said he wants to buy it.  But this time we decided to keep the FOR SALE sign on the fence and keep advertising it for ourselves.   Last time we took it off the market for a year.  So the new renter agreed to that, and asked that he have first counter-offer over from a potential buyer over the next 3 months.  We agreed.  In the meantime I am sleeping better as the couple that are renting don't have children or pets.  We also got the old oak desk taken apart and ready to go to a nephew's log house on a ranch at Nanton Alberta.  We are also sending him the credenza/liquor cabinet as he has a big house and not a lot of furniture.   
 And so now we can settle in for the rest of the winter.  I am walking everyday for an hour around town and/or to shop.  Old Man Watching goes for a half hour walk for his Type 2 diabetes.  We really like our little retirement suite and hope the house in the next village 15 minutes away, sells soon so we can make this place our permanent living quarters until we are put in assisted-living quarters up by the hospital in Ashcroft Village.  I like to walk along the Thompson River under the bridge when the path isn't too icy.  I really worry about falling again as I still suffer from the stepstool fall last fall.
Today I went up the mountain to work with some other women and a few men on a mosaic glass window hanging.  The artist did this one as a prototype but the final ones are much less abstract.  
I forgot my camera.  I will go to help again on Thursday so hope to show you more then.  The project is getting very exciting and is very Christ-centered but also an attempt to brand the village as an art centre.  It was a joyous day for me even though I got stuck on their long icy driveway up the hill.  I had the pickup truck so thought I would be OK as there was still a lot of dirt showing on the lane.  Dan got me out and back down to the highway so I was fortunate and the walk to the house, up the hill was good for me.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Home again, home again, Jiggity Jig

Home Again.........Jiggity Jig........I am not sure what that chant from my childhood really means.  I have been feeling guilty about reading all your blogs and being a blog-slug myself on winter evenings.  So I will finish off with pictures that ended our Christmas holiday on the other side of North America and then go into some things for the beginning of 2014.  I am catching up AGAIN.  I don't know why it bothers me to get 3 weeks behind but it does. My son says I am 'anal'  but I don't know what that means. Maybe catching up is hard because I leave out some observations that were important to me.  I am listening to Ray Charles right now as he sings "It's Crying Time Again".  Maybe he is not a good choice for blogging about separating from family, AGAIN.  It may be another year or more until we see them again.  So I just switched to Enya.

Christmas morning was delightful for us to watch of course. Both girls wanted bean bag chairs for watching TV.  They take up a lot of the living room now.
Their Auntie Karen (home from teacher training at University and a week's holiday in New York City) stayed the night and helped with the Christmas Eve carol service and stocking the presents under the tree.Her boyfriend showed up the next day with the rest of the family for the turkey feast.  Our son was delighted to receive a range finder and camouflage gear for his bow hunting hobby.

On the last day we finished our third jigsaw of the holidays.   Jacklyn had the honour of adding the last piece that had been hiding under the sofa.  This one was the most difficult one we did over the holidays, due to all the different shades of white and gray.

It was callled "Following Santa's Footsteps".  

We left on the 27th knowing we would not be able to do family joys like this again for a few years, unless we win the lottery.  I had a hard time holding back the tears when we finally had to go.  We had also caught the youngest's cold.  Old Man Watching had it for 3 days before we flew out, so really wanted his own bed and space and quiet.  I started to feel it coming on the day we were leaving, so dosed myself with zinc lozenges.  That really seem to minimize the severity of any illness for me.  The two flight stop-overs going down in altitude and back up out of Winnipeg and Edmonton didn't help our ears at all, at all.  Ouch and ouch again.  

And here is the front yard with the Museum across the road, which is closed for the winter.  This is what we woke up to the next day after arriving back home on the west coast and driving inland for 6 hours.    But at least we were home.

The bad news was that our rent-to-buy fellow who had been in our house for a year and said he still was working on a down-payment at Halloween, left on New Years Eve as he bought a little house a few blocks away.  So we are back to square one and have to find another renter or preferably sell the cottage on the river.  

These nutcracker decorations disappeared from our front entrance a few days ago.  It truly means Christmas is over.

In our empty house/cottage for sale
we have a roll top desk that originally came from the Rand and Leopold Desk Co. in Burlington Iowa U.S.A.  Old Man's father picked it up at an auction after the war.  His mother, Eleanor, used it on the ranch, and then I have used it for 25 years also.  It is too big for our living quarters now.  I need to find a buyer.  It has secret compartments at the back of each drawer.  The roll top still works and the key locks it.  Come and get it, somebody please.  

Hello 2014.  I took some time to write 2014 on the top of my cheque books so that I won't forget over the next few months.  We so seldom use cheques these days.  The last time I went to order some they wanted $50 for a box of them.  So I guess when these run out that will be that, for paper transactions for me.  Another era disappears.  It makes me feel insecure to not be able to write a cheque in an emergency.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Busy Fun in Ontario Before Christmas

We are safely home on the western side of Canada now after a trip home with WestJet.   The cardinal sightings were a special memory.  I will try to pick about 10-12 photos or maybe more, of our favorite times in Ontario with the grandchildren before Christmas after we arrived on December the 11th.  I already wrote about the Nutcracker Ballet we went to that had very Canadian nuances.  So I can cross going to a ballet off of my Bucket list.  I keep adding more than I cross off.  I would really like to go to the Cook Islands.  Does anybody out there want to pay for me to go?  

I also need a payer for a cruise around the north of Scotland and Ireland for bird watching.

So here are the other photos I will pluck from my files of things we did over the freezing-rain days with many Canadians in the Ontario area without hydro.  Fortunately, we did not lose power at our son's house but the geo-thermal furnace pump did stop so they had to switch to electricity heat in the backup system, that is very expensive compared to their geo-thermal unit.  Their sump pump in the basement that clears out stagnant water under the house also died.  Then their dishwasher decided it was too old for Christmas.  That was 3 expensive whammies.  Our son paid for our flights out and the return trip back paid through his Airmiles account.  We are glad he did that before all the break-downs.

The bathtime ritual got a little out of control in the photo below as suds and water overflowed the big tub.
During the last week of school I was invited to Jacklyn's class to make crafts with her, and to help one of her friends who didn't have a helper.  All the instructions were in French but somehow I managed to figure out how to make some of the crafts with her.  The teacher also served home-made cookies and warm apple cider.

Our youngest angel, Dana, was centre stage in the red dress for the school concert singing a French song about Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star en Francais.
Jacklyn also did a song in French as they go to a bilingual school.  Then on the last day if school we went to the children's presentations of recitations at their Knox United Church near Russel where their parents were married.  

We also took time to decorate mom's gingerbread cookies. 

Jacklyn helped me cook one of our favorite dishes for everybody before the concert at the church.  It is hamburger stew with mashed potatoes.  Simple but yummy.  She even peeled the potatoes to be mashed later.  

We took our stocking bears and left them at their house as we only use them there, so it seems silly to keep taking them all that way in suitcases.  Ours were put on the mantle and were overflowing with goodies on Christmas morning. After school closed for the season we made cranberry sauce and shortbread cookies.  Then we had to make another batch as they were disappearing so fast.  Dana, 5, loves to see the cranberries popping as they cook and then turn to a beautiful dark red sauce.

Decorating the tree was exciting with all blue lights that looked lovely in the window at night, seen from the river road.

Shane made fresh pasta for lasagne one evening and playing games like Rummoli keeps the family entertained.

                        Auntie Linda sent a table centre.  
On one of the milder days we went on a walk 2km to the bridge.   
The fridge was so full we had to store the turkey out on the deck in its stainless roaster.
                   The Christmas Eve sunset was spectacular across the farming fields. 

 Christmas Eve was a lovely service of lessons and carols with candles and anthems.  But it is a 45 minute drive so we had to leave early.  We were so blessed this year to be able to participate in so many joyous activities with our son's family before the big day.

I will close this now and do more about Christmas day and Boxing Day and the trip back to the west side of Canada tomorrow or whenever ?????????