Sunday, July 29, 2012

A month of my holidays is nearly done.  But I can’t sigh about it.  No, I’ve been having a wonderful time.  And, I’m looking forward to the next four weeks with a happy heart.

Am I looking forward to going back to work?  No way!  But, unless I win that fabled lottery, that’s where I’ll be heading.  And, it will be okay, because I’ve had such a great summer.

I managed to get the basement bedroom painted and redecorated before my parents arrived — which was a big job.  I decided to cover the ceiling with wallpaper — a pretty idea, but a bit of a trial.  I scraped stucco, I washed until I thought I was going to wash all the paint off and then I re-painted.  Patched and painted.  In the end, I was very pleased with my (and Tim’s) efforts.  I learned how to install a light fixture (got a shock for my efforts — nothing I ever want to repeat), and learned how to install baseboards and trim.  I have now decided I need to go out and buy my own set of tools to handle small repair jobs around the house.

Why have I waited until I’m 54 to do this?  The mind boggles.

But, anyway.  On with my wonderful summer.  I have read three books!  Three!  Sitting outside on my deck in the sunshine.  It has been totally wonderful to do that.  Some of that time was spent in the company of my mother.  The two of us, noses in books just sitting there enjoying the pages and the warmth.  Lovely.

We took my parents up to the mountains for a few days.  Stayed in Canmore at the gorgeous Lodges at Canmore.  Very comfortable condo-style accommodations with a full kitchen, two bedrooms and baths, a balcony with a bbq.  Was nice to be able to get up and have coffee without having to run out to a restaurant.

We spent a day just taking Mom and Dad around sight-seeing.  We went up to Lake Minnewanka with the idea of going out for a boat tour, but it was ridiculously expensive and Mom didn’t really relish the idea of being on a boat anyway, so we opted to take a short walk along the shoreline.  Dad, Tim and I walked to the lower falls at Johnson’s Canyon, a spectacular walk along a board walk built alongside the mountain wall.  We got some pretty shots of the water rocketing its way through the canyon.

We also went up to Banff Hot Springs and had a soak.  Surprisingly, it wasn’t very crowded.  I think the water had a wonderfully soothing effect on my Mom’s knee, which she recently had replaced.  Because of the knee she wasn’t able to do as much walking as I had planned for us, but we still got to see a lot and had a wonderful time together.

I tend to forget sometimes that my parents are in their seventies.  I think of them still as being able to do anything.  The truth is they can’t, and this trip showed me that.  Dad’s hair is white, Mom’s is salt and pepper.  They tire quickly and take lots of little naps.  They’re content to sit and read, or do crossword puzzles or watch the Jays on tv.  There’s no more go, go, go.

Dad still goes out for a walk everyday — he still has some reserves of boundless energy — he just has to pace himself in spending them.  He took my bike out for a ride one day and also went golfing by himself.  Mom, on the other had is quite happy being sedate.  In all, my parents were out West for a few days over a month.  Two weeks with my sister and her family in Manitoba, then a week in Lloyd, then the rest of the time with Tim and I.

I was happy that they got to see their great-grandchildren for a couple of times.  Grandpa played harmonica with all the kids — the noisiest, most raucous, out-of-tune concert I’ve ever heard!  Whether there’ll ever be such an opportunity again, I don’t know.

This coming week I’m going to have my three darlings staying with me.  I have been looking forward to this 

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Spring when I hatched the idea.  Just to have them come and spend a week with us, hanging out, going to the beach, playing at the park, eating ice-cream.  They arrive this afternoon and I can hardly wait.

After they return home I’m going to spend some time just puttering around getting small maintenance-y things done before Fall arrives.  I am determined to have this house ready to go for the coming winter.  Tim will be working hard to finish part 2 our deck, which will be nice.  No more dirt, weeds or ants to contend with.

At the end of August we’ll be heading to Toronto to see Bruce Springsteen and his Wrecking Ball Tour.  I am so excited about that!  I love the Boss — can, and have, listened to his music all day.  I own darn near every album he’s ever made and I marvel at the man’s talent, musicality and social awareness.  He is a modern-day troubadour of the highest caliber.

I have been trying to put together a list of songs I hope to hear him play when we’re in TO, but when I checked out the set-list I haven’t seen any of them on it.  There are SO MANY songs I’d want to hear him play — maybe if I had a private concert?  Oh, one can dream!

Well, friends, that’s my blog for today.  Just a rundown of my happy summer.  Hope yours has been as wonderful.

The Sun in It’s Jealous Sky

The following post was supposed to be published on Sunday night — apparently I saved it as a draft, instead.  Never did that before, so don’t know if it was my fault or WordPress did a random on me again.  Anyway, here it is a few days late. . .

I’m borrowing from Sting tonight — the sun was glorious as it was going down tonight.  Of course, the colours are not exactly as I saw them — need to download Adobe again and learn how to correct the colours.  But, I want to share these anyway.  So, here you go — a beautiful prairie summer sky.

Friday the 13th — oooh, aah

So it’s Friday the 13th — big deal!

Well, it is kind of a big deal, because it is my friend Heather’s birthday today!  Yay, Heather!

We went for a most excellent walk this morning.  Started out on our usual trip through the Gibbons river valley trail, but decided to head a different direction.  And were we ever glad we did!  We stumbled across a mother lode of wild strawberries.

My they are the tastiest, sweetest little bites of heaven.

We didn’t actually get much walking in, instead we grazed our way along the path.  With joyful cries of “Oh my God!  Just look at how many are here!”  we’d stoop or drop to our knees and pick until we had a good palm’s full of little red gems.  Then we’d look at one another, count 1-2-3 and pop the whole handful into our mouths.  Then we’d smile and make yumming sounds.

If you have never tasted a wild strawberry then you are missing out on one of this world’s most enjoyable, most life-enhancing experiences.  They have a taste that is so intense, so sweet, so pure, so joyful that it is impossible to describe.  But, I’ll try.

Imagine a fresh picked strawberry from your garden or from some one else’s garden.  Not a store-bought strawberry that has had its soul stripped away and then spent countless hours in the dark, refrigerated interior of some transport truck.  No, it has to be a strawberry that is on the vine, bedded in straw and kissed daily by sunshine.  Imagine the lovely colour and the way your mouth waters in anticipation of biting into that plump, sweet jewel. Imagine closing your eyes and savouring the intensity of the flavour as your tongue is flooded with bright, sweet berry juice.  Imagine the smile of pure pleasure that transforms your face for that brief moment, and then imagine your greedy desire for more.

Okay, so take that and multiply it about a thousand-fold and maybe, just maybe, that will come close to the experience of eating a wild strawberry.  From the moment we popped that first tiny red berry into our salivating maws we were in a frenzy to find more.  Gleeful, we were, on our hands and knees gently plucking the tiny bits of goodness from their diminutive plants.  “How many you got?  Got enough?  Here take a few of mine.”  Then we’d toss them into our mouths and stand there like a couple of kids grinning as we chewed and savoured and swallowed.

We marvelled at our good fortune this morning and I told Heather it was the perfect birthday present.  We reminisced about past days of wild-berry picking and how we’d bring them home to our children for a special little treat to add to their breakfast.  Then we got thinking about in the ‘olden’ days when people would go out and pick pails full of these tiny little beauties to make jam.  And not just one jar, but enough to last through a winter.  Enough to remind them through a long, cold prairie winter that there was hope for days of sunshine and green and berries and smiles.

I can’t imagine picking enough of the little suckers to accomplish that, simply because I’d eat them all.  I’d probably have been one of those kids that got the switch when I got home with an empty pail.  But, I probably wouldn’t have minded all that much because the taste of wild strawberry is worth that much.

Clouds

Was sitting out on the deck last night trying to cool off — took a series of shots of a massive thunderhead using different f-stops — here is a series showing the subtle difference.

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aargh!

Just spent the last half hour writing a post, only to have it disappear when I hit publish!  Damn, damn, damn!

Saturday night

I’m sitting here on a balmy Saturday night watching Forrest Gump.  I love this movie, but I’ve only watched it once.  Now that I’ve got the time and I’m feeling leisurely, I think I’ll just indulge myself and stay up and watch it. “Run, Forrest, run!”

My first week of holidays has been pretty good.  I haven’t worked too terribly hard, though I have made myself a pretty extensive to-do list.  I’ve even managed to accomplish a fair number of small tasks.  I’ve gone and got the paint and tomorrow hope to get started painting the spare bedroom in my basement.  I’m trying not to stress out about what I’m not getting done, and instead celebrate what I do manage to complete.

We’re set to have some blazing hot temps over the next few days — up into the 30’s.  Can’t wait.  I love the heat — and because we only get a handful of really hot days, I fully intend to enjoy them as much as possible.

And while we’re on the topic of heat, what goes better with heat than an ice-cold beer?  So, sitting out on my deck with a cool one in the hottest part of the day is my carrot on a stick.  I decided to try the new Coors Lite, Iced T — it was a bit of a disappointment.  So, today, I decided that seeing as how I’ve still got 5 bottles of it, I had better figure out a way to make it more palatable.  I filled a glass half way full of ice, added a couple of slices of lemon and poured the beer over it.  Well, it was delicious.

I’m at the part in the movie where Forrest saves the men in his platoon while they’re in Vietnam.  Generally, I avoid any kind of war movie, but this is a small piece of the story, albeit a very important part.   “Lieutentant Dan, I got you some ice-cream.”  I just love this movie.

We went for a little ride on the bike today and took in the St. Albert Farmer’s market.  Was wonderful.  Bought a lovely cabbage, some beets and carrots, fresh young onions and new potatoes.  Tomorrow it’s going to be a lovely coleslaw for supper, and new potatoes grilled on the bbq.  Not sure what kind of meat I’m going to serve, and, truthfully, I don’t care.  This time of the year it’s all about the veggies.

 

Thursday, July 5th

It’s my Dad’s birthday today.  He’s in Manitoba with my sister at their cabin so I won’t be able to call and wish him a happy day, but I’m pretty sure he’ll have a good one.

Just a quick post about a couple of things:

1.  Fifty Shades of Grey — holy crap!  read it in one day.  Not fine literature by any stretch of the imagination, but a pretty good story.  And yes, there is lots of kinky, explicit sex (which I thought I was a little above reading, but turns out I’m not) but the sex isn’t really what drives the story or keeps you hooked.  It’s the INTENSITY of the relationship between Anastasia (who is a bit confusing between her simpering and her self-advocacy)  and Christian (who talks a bit like a stuffy old English lord most of the time, but even this didn’t turn me off)  that really hooks the reader.  Can’t wait to get my hands on the other two books.  These are fantastic summer reads.

2.  I am loving not having to get up and go to work!  Yay for the summer!  Spent a wonderful Canada Day weekend with my grandkids.  We had fun, fun, fun.  They each took home a bouquet of flowers from my garden — Gramma, can we pick one of these ones? — made me smile that they enjoyed the flowers.  I’ve got a list of things to do an arm’s length long, and I’m just going to pick away at things until they’re done.  Not pushing myself, just trying to savour the time.

3.  I just re-signed my contract with Enmax for electricity and gas.  In the five years I’ve been on contract the charge for electricity has only gone up 1 cent!  Amazing!  However, it’s the g-d delivery and distribution costs that really piss me off.  Generally, they are more than the cost of the electricity.  When is the government going to do something about that?  (Everyone asks that, but nothing ever gets done.)  So, I’m set for another 5 years — one more thing crossed off my to-do list.

Hope everyone is enjoying their day!