Sunday, 23 March 2014

I can smell it

That rain a few days ago and a few hours of snow yesterday morning soaked the soil nicely and today in the sunshine I can smell Spring in the air.  It is an earthy, loamy smell, some from raking up the leaves and exposing the damp dirt and buds pushing up.  I can identify the different shoots after all these years of gardening.  The hostas
and lilies and irises as well as the bulbs like tulips and daffs are easy to identify.  I stole a peony too, from our house in the next village, to bring here and it survived the winter.  Evidently hosta shoots can be gathered when young and stir-fried with bacon bits or steamed wrapped in prosciutto.  It is sort of like asparagus, which I like best just steamed with butter.

The sap hasn't started to run yet in the bigger trees, but that is always a delightful day in spring when I get the first whiff, usually from cottonwoods or willows that tells me the sap is running in the local trees.  It should happen soon.


  I have been spending time raking the dead and decaying leaves off the sidewalk beds that go to the back door of the house where we usually come inside as our mud room and sun porch are there.  

We agreed a few weeks ago to look after the B/B while the owners went to Vancouver to get a kit for a small gazebo.  They want to put it in the shade by the fish pond and for the whole village to use as they pass by out front.  Below is an autumn photo.
The fish pond is to the left out of the picture.  

So here is how our weekend went:  We were running a business we knew almost nothing about.  We did survive.

Their Friday night guests didn't show up but called at 8 on Saturday night to say they would be late.  So I quickly changed the owner's bed and cleaned the ensuite bathroom and changed the towels, and closed all the blinds so they could sleep in.  The bedroom windows face east.  Those guests arrived at midnight.  So I got up to say hello and locked the doors.  The other group upstairs were all related as the father/grandfather lives a block away in a small cottage on the river, and is dieing from cancer.  He has been in the local hospital this last week.  His ex-wife has been coming about every 7 days to stay a few days here and support him as too many visitors wear him out.  I have become friends with her.  
I call her "The Angel, Sheila".  The first time I met her (as she checked in here), she had a broken collar bone, but was still willing to look after a former husband/father of her two children.  This weekend one of the daughters and her family are also here to say their goodbyes.  They will stay 3 nights in this B/B.  So Old Man Watching had 9 people to feed for breakfast, but that is counting us and a baby who was picky and still doing finger food.  

He made blueberry pancakes, fried eggs, and sausage rounds.   I called it the "Cholesterol on a Plate" Special.  But there was also whole wheat toast and jam and muffins, all homemade by the landlady, not me.  I just  warm them and serve them.


The biggest problem was working on a new stove where Old Man kept turning it down instead of up when the pancakes weren't cooking.  Also the grieving family wanted to eat at 8:30 but the late night arrivals didn't get up until I went to church.  I had to leave before 10:00 as I do the Sunday School lesson, so their breakfast was left up to Old Man to do on his own.  But the first group had eaten all the sausage rounds.  We didn't even get any and neither did the late folk.  One of the guests was a celiac but she could eat this kind of sausage that Old Man really likes to cook (and eat) as there is no wheat added to it. 

 She also can eat eggs and berries and yogurt so I did up a plate with blueberries, kiwi, pineapple etc.  It was fun watching the baby in the high-chair just scoffing up those chunks of fresh pineapple.  
It was a new taste sensation for him.

But |I must admit I am eager for the owners to get back and turn their job back over to them.  By the time I reset the table and put the flowers back in the middle, washed the laundry and changed the beds and towels, and cleaned the showers and sinks and toilets, I was ready for a nap.  I took a walk first just to get some of today's glorious sun in my retinas.  Now I am sagging but it has been good to just relax and write about this weekend.  I am blessed to still be able to do this kind of thing.  The guests are superb and there isn't even a screening process.  They all seem so accepting and non-judgemental.  It is refreshing.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

March Winds and April Showers

We have been wanting a warm, gentle, Irish rain to get the perennials starting to push up out of the ground.
We do have snowdrops in bloom in the front of the house.  Every year they make my heart sing.
 The winds have been blowing but this afternoon a big storm came down the valley and dumped hail on us.  After lunch, I had started to clean up a section of the garden here along our path to the back door at the B/B where we are renting, and fortunately I had put the gleanings into an old garbage can.   I had to run out in the hail-storm to put the lid on the barrel though, in case it blew over and rolled away, scattering my work.  The storm lasted about an hour but I don't think it did any particular damage although we will check out our pickup in the morning, as we want a new one anyhow.  Below is an image of what it started to look like shortly after it began.  And tomorrow Spring is supposed to start.
  It was difficult to see across the street.  And now the hullaballoo is over.

Yesterday I took a neighbourhood child out to a horse camp where I had arranged for her to have a bursary membership during our public schools' Spring Break to learn Horsemanship Skills.  Social Services and Canadian Tire provide funds for sports camps.

She has always wanted to learn about horses so she will be able to find out if she still likes them after she has to clean their hooves and shovel their droppings and  haul it all away.  Then she will be allowed to get up on a horse and try to steer it.
 It is difficult for single mothers to tend to children by themselves on limited funds.  Above is her mom finally soaking up some sun but we stayed inside the porch as it was still too cold outside.  Her daughter, Trinity, turned 8 last week so I booked/paid to have her ears pierced, which she really, really wanted to have done.  Her mom wanted her to have her birthstone, aquamarines, but she opted for red ones.  She was very brave.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I actually started celebrating St. Patrick's last Thursday when a new friend and recent immigrant from Dublin had a free day and made us an Irish stew with Guiness beer in it.  It is darker and richer than we are used to but very tasty.     

Then we sat to watch The Quiet Man which has become a ritual each year for me.  She loves that movie too.  Old Man Watching says the same thing about it every year.... it is the only John Wayne movie he doesn't like...too mushy.  
I bought her an Irish beer sampler box and some Bailey's for me to have over ice while we watched that old show that has been colourized.  My father used to watch it on TV every year too, but now we have it as DVD.

So today all we are doing is having corned beef and veggies in the pickling spices broth.  That is a yearly treat too.  For some reason it was a little tough this year and gristley.  Or maybe our teeth are getting too old for all the chewing.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

New Years Resolutions

New Year's Resolutions are often blown by the middle of January.  My New Year's Resolution this year was to never, never let the ironing show over the top of the laundry basket ever again.  I wrote "ironing" on every Monday of the calendar, and so far have managed to keep on top of the ironing before it becomes overwhelming.
 This is probably the first time in my life I have kept a resolution this long....and I am 70 this year.  Ironing was always something easy to hide but when you only have 4-5 shirts and some other things like doilies or such, it is not a big chore.  It also makes the laundry room a more pleasant place to be for the rest of the week.  
Maybe I am getting more organized as I age??? or there is less ironing to do for just the two of us.  Either way it is working.  I promised myself that Monday and Tuesday would me "ME" days.  I do ironing and bills and dust and mop floors and do things that are hard to find time to do when other things are booked into the day.  I love getting up and having a shower, putting on clean pajamas and puttering all day.  Retirement can be a good thing.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Ash Wednesday

It is the first day of Lent and the frivolity of Mardi Gras stops.  A friend travelling in Columbia sent an e-mail today saying she saw people on the streets wearing black felt crosses on their foreheads. She asked them why and was told it was Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.  Ours are just made of dust and ashes from burning last year's leftover palm leaves from Palm Sunday 2013.  They are mixed with holy water and stirred to make a paste for this year.  I used this picture last year too as there is something about this child that is intriquing.  I wonder what he is thinking.  (It is from Google Images)

We are expected to leave the church in silence and meditation.  It is not a socializing time.  For some reason the cross on my forehead felt heavy this year.  Weird.  I didn't manage to get home without smudging it so couldn't even take a picture.  I don't know how long one is supposed to leave it on the forehead.  I should have asked.  I will wash it off before bed I guess. 

It is also a period to let our light shine out in the world and be a blessing to others.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Shrove Tuesday/ Pancake Day/ Mardi Gras

Today is the day that traditionally we have cleaned all the rich foods out of our cupboards to eat them up before the more austere days of Lent.  If they are all eaten they won't be a temptation will they?  That may be how a wide range of pancakes came to be.  
Blueberry ones are a favorite of mine.  

Nowadays the shift is more towards being austere in our approach to consumerism, improving relationships, honouring Mother Earth, thinking of kinder ways to be, making time for others, being less self-centered and being more aware of our blessings for the 40 days of Lent.  It is always a relief on Sundays as we have a mini-break from the fasting if we have given up something like beer or cigarettes or expensive cheeses.  Or heaven forbid, roast beef and yorkshires.  But that would be good for me too.   I probably won't have them for a few months anyhow as we did them last week.
  I decided to give up wheat.  I have no idea how a gluten-free diet will work for me but I will have to watch labels more closely.  I just realized that my favourite won ton soup will disappear unless I can find one with rice flour wrappers.  Yikes, there goes vodka, unless I buy the expensive  kind made with potatoes, which just won't happen on our budget.

I also want to spend more time helping others and spreading cheer.  So on my daily walks I will talk more to others, especially those who struggle to get around.  I have two friends who need extra help now due to a fall on ice in her yard, and an emotional crisis for another.  I will give them some more of my time.  This won't be easy as they are not the easiest people to interact with even when they are in top form.  But this is something I feel I NEED to do.  I am also booked for an extra day working in the Soup Kitchen this week.  These are all things that need meditation and prayer to do them well and with the proper attitude (think nun-like, which I am NOT).  
Lent begins tomorrow so I will be helping a young and less-fortunate child (unbeknownst to her) arrange to have 5 days of riding lessons during the Spring Break in a few weeks.  She so wants to be near horses.  I am hoping it will be therapeutic for her.  Then I will go to the Ash Wednesday service in the dark.  This year several churches will gather in the evening at Zion United pictured above.
 It was also their turn to host the Shrove Tuesday pancake supper.  Their minister did a short presentation on the historical reasons and rites of the day.  Then she had people up at the end of the hall doing pancake races with pancakes on their heads.  Then we had a flipping pancakes contest and our landlord won as his hit the ceiling and still landed back in his frying pan. 

 It is good to laugh at ourselves.  There weren't any was just for laughs and a chance to cheer for others.  It is a fun way to make a mess on a church hall's ceiling.  hee hee

Ash Wednesday service tomorrow is a more solemn evening.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Cousin Rita

Cousin Rita came for a quick visit for 2 nights and 3 days after getting back from her long, boring weeks and weeks holidaying in Mexico, wink wink.  She looked tanned and fit and relaxed.  I am jealous as I have no tan left at all this year. We did not do the snow-birds thing over our cold Canadian winter and probably never will again.   She needed to drive from Kelowna, British Columbia, about 3 hours away, before going back to work on a long contract and long hours at a road construction site this week.  The roads were good for her route last week, but we have been having bad avalanches on our BC roads in mountain areas.  

We always enjoy talking with her.  She is researching the valley and the settlers and ranchers who lived around Pavilion BC, where she and Old Man were raised.  So she is always asking Old Man about what he remembers.  She is getting info from people she has never met, as they connect with her researching forays on the Internet.  It gets exciting to find out who ranched/managed which ranch for years and years and to read about their memories.  

We went to a funky little local restaurant that has been a part of the town since the turn of the 1900's, which also now sells antiques.  We went for their large wonton soup lunch on Thursdays at noon.  
Rita paid the bill so it was extra tasty.  

I also took her to a friend's art gallery up on the hill.   Rita absolutely stunned me by buying paintings of her birthplace for $1200 and then asking for a commissioned one of a specific view.  
You have to have experienced Marble Canyon to appreciate Jo Petty's paintings of it.  It is a magical and spiritual place.  We love camping there.  Jo Petty, the artist, is holding up one of the paintings.  We also know all the old Indian legends that are attached to different places in the area.  Those tales make the paintings come to life and make them more meaningful.   I also brought home two paintings ... to try out ...but am shaking my head as we are supposed to be DOWN-SIZING.  I may keep the smaller one.

Old Man Watching's brother has written a book called

"A Cowboy's Life" which is mostly about his/our early years when we were on the Empire Valley Ranch.  He acknowledged that our cousin who was visiting, Rita Morrison-Bryson had done much of the research that he quoted.   

Below is our GReeaaaaaat Auntie Liz and Old Man Watching's brother, Mack, who wrote the book.  Somehow I feel Liz may have helped quite bit with the editing and the fine tuning of Mack's stories.  But local people seem to love the book.  I actually enjoyed the stories about the interactions 50 years ago with the local First Nations folk, as much, if not more than, our family history.  The Indian cowboys and their families, just make me laugh and laugh.  It is a special sense of humour they have.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Days are Getting Longer

We can smell Spring in the air and there is warmth in the sun and people are coming out of hiding to walk the streets again.  We go to Daylight Saving Time next weekend so that will all help lift our spirits out of the darkness of Christmas and Epiphany in the depths of winter.  I really have found that if I go out during the noon hour for a walk (or when the sun is high) that it does improve my mental attitude.  

We had to go to the funeral of  good friend's brother last weekend.  He was a lovely family man and cattlerancher who worked tirelessly for the Cattlemen' Association.  My husband and I met at a dance in this hall about 50 years ago.  The wooden floor was set on horse hair and stuffing so it bounced as folk danced.  We could dance all night and be awake still for the pancake breakfast.  Then we would sleep until the rodeo in the afternoon and do another dance the Saturday night.  Now they invite us to the OldTimers' Teas in the afternoons.  
Old Man Watching was telling a story to some folk outside after the funeral affair, about how the last time he left this building he got in a fight and another older rancher, an uncle of the man who died, rescued him from the RCMP and said he would take him home as the police were planning to take Old Man who was a Young Stud then, to jail.  Rescued again.  It was a rowdy rodeo weekend in those days.

 Old Man Watching's Father, Clarence, worked hard for the Cattlemen's Association in the interior of British Columbia too.  So this spring he is being inducted into the Cowboy Hall of Fame for BC.  I guess we will have to attend the ceremony even if we hate big crowds of people.  He is best known for his years at Merritt and here at Empire Valley.
Below is a picture of Grandad in the middle with Old Man on the left and his brother, Mack on the right about 50 years ago.  They all look so young.  Grandad died in 1990 and now Old Man is called Grandad by his grandchildren.  

We don't know who nominated Clarence for induction after 24 years since he died, but we do know the honour is deserved.  He was a hereford supporter.

Cousin Rita came for a visit and I will write about that next.
above is grand-daughter Dana, in Ontario with her new Christmas onsie that says THE END and has 3 horses butts below