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Z - Zeros, Zoos, and Zucchini
Posted On 03/26/2018 08:48:51

It has been quite the start to the year os 2018. Conflict, disasters, social issues, and slumping economy have grabbed our attention. But I am not going to delve in any of those topics. There are better things to talk about.>There has been a lot of talk in our area about Zeros… at least in the weather. There has been so much snow, that the city doesn’t know what to do with it.

Transportation has been difficult at times, but most days, workers did manage to get to their jobs. What about the zeros, you ask? If the temperature would at least get to “zero”, it would help the situation. However, are they talking about 0ºC or 0ºF? If it is 0⁰C, it is 32ºF, but if it is 0⁰F, it is -17.78ºC. Sometimes it is just easier to stick your nose outside to find out how cold it isZoos have been in the news in our area this month. It is all about four panda bears, who have arrived at their new home in the Calgary Zoo. The adult bears are on loan from China, and the two cubs were born in the Toronto Zoo. The bears cannot be visited immediately by the public at the Panda Passage at the Zoo, as they are in quarantine until May. However, I have a problem with all this ‘fuss’! Do you have any idea how much our city spent in preparation for these bears, who will be with us for five years? The Panda Passage exhibit itself costs $14.5 million, as it was built specifically to meet the pandas’ every need, as well as appeal to the public (as reported by CTV News). There is so much need in our city and country, unemployment, immigration, seniors and veterans, and yet four bears will have all their needs met and the public will approve the expenditure and be pleased.

Even though I am not a gardener,and don’t even pretend to be one, I do enjoy zucchini that arrive at our place from a gardening friend who has run out of ideas of what to do with all the excess zucchini from their gardens. There are dozens of ways to enjoy this vegetable; pasta dishes, soups, fritters, baked fries, salads, muffins and cakes. My very favorite is a loaf that does well in the freezer, and a ready treat with coffee for unexpected guests.

Tags: Weather Animals Gardening


Y - Yak, Yakima and Yakking! Surprize!
Posted On 03/08/2018 21:08:14

Little did I know, that when I was first introduced to Yak, I would be explaining it in a Blog, but here I am. Whenever we drive to Washington to visit our daughter and family, we would drive through a small picturesque town in southern British Columbia. We often stopped at the two antique shops there, just in case there was something there that we didn’t know we needed! Several years after our first visit, a school chum of mine (when we both lived on farms), moved with her partner to Yak. Her partner was a trucker, and there was lots of work in the forest industry. Shortly after their move, my friend was involved in a very serious highway traffic accident, and she spent months in the hospital. Now, when we travel through the town, my mind is not on antique shops but my friend who survived and is now living in a Seniors’ complex abou 80 km. from our home.

Yakima is a city in Washington, located in the fertile Yakima Valley. It is a “must stop” location because of the fresh apples that we can buy. Precision Fruit and Antiques was our favorite place to stop; sort of “killing two birds with one stone”, if you’ve heard that expression. Honeycrisp is our absolute favorite apple; it is crisp and noticeably sweet.

Now I come to ‘yakking’! That’s what I do much of the time! If I can’t talk to friends, I type with eight fingers and two thumbs. My husband has said many times… “How can you do that much ‘yakking’ on the phone?” and I have to remind him that I (we) have so many friends in many places around the world, and I like to keep in touch with them. If I’ve been on the phone for over an hour, he assumes that it is just to one person. When he learns that it was several friends, he then wants to hear the news that I learned over that time. I try to avoid the question (because of his teasing) by saying, “No much!!” and hoping he will drop it, but he comes back immediately with “Not much? With all that yakking, you are telling me that didn’t learn much? Ah..hhm?!!”

Tags: Travel Friends Habits


X - From X to Xyster
Posted On 02/27/2018 06:30:53

In my opinion, the last three letters of the English alphabet are the most difficult in this challenge. In previous challenges, I have used common words like xylophone x-ray and xylitol. What’s left? To get some idea, I went to Google, and typed ‘words that start with x’! I was amazed at the huge list of words, most I can’t even pronounce.

Did you know that the first word that starts with ‘x’ is X? I didn’t either! Here is the definition: X - to represent the signature of a person who cannot write; to indicate a particular point on a map, diagram, etc.; or as a symbol for a kiss in letters, etc.

The last word in the long list of ‘x’ words is xyster. A xyster is a surgical instrument for scraping bones. I wonder if they used one of them in surgery when I broke my foot off? Perhaps they had to scrape a spot to attached the steal plate that holds two bones together? If they did, everything has gone well, and I’m still walking without the assistance of a cane or walker.

Many of the words in the list were medical terms, and the middle word in the list is xeroderma.  I don’t remember having to learn many ‘x’ words in my nursing training. Perhaps they are newer terms that have been invented in the last 50 years. The word means any abnormal dryness of the skin as the result of diminished secretions from the sweator sebaceous glands.

How did I ever manage to live this long without knowing these facts?

Tags: Medical Words


W - Wondering Why, When and Where?
Posted On 02/20/2018 22:16:25

For those of us who are always trying to learn stuff, we often ask “Why?” We learn in many areas in our lives, and so much of it seems to cause us to ask “Why?” Some of the answers will never come, some will come with an explanation we can’t understand, but often, the answer helps us to learn the “behind the scenes” facts. I started thinking about questions I’ve been asking, and decided to share some of them with my friends. I would be pleased and surprised if I receive a plausible answer, but many questions can never be answered by others; we have to figure out the answer ourselves.

Here are a few of things that I have wondered about… some are silly, and some are serious.

  • Why have I been told that there are no calories in birthday cake? Can the answer be considered to be a birthday present from a thoughtful friend?

  • Why does a person want to train so hard to be an Olympian? We’ve been hearing the last few days of the sacrifices that athletes endure, just to compete against International athletes? Is it only the competition, or more to be in the public eye, and to meet new friends?

  • Why do people give up their private family and personal life to be a politician? It is supposed to be to help their fellow citizens, but it often looks more like they are thinking about the huge paycheck and the ‘perks’! Many of them don’t look too attractive on TV!

  • Why do I travel twenty miles to buy groceries, without making sure that I have my shopping list in my purse?

  • Why do some people think that the rules don’t apply to them, on the road, in the neighborhood, on the Internet, and in the family? Do they forget to consider the consequences?

  • Why don’t we eat pizza for breakfast, and serve dessert as an appetizer?

  • Why do we complain about the weather when we don’t have any control over it? Do we just want to hear ourselves whine?

  • Why do we want to be good neighbors and good friends, then lock ourselves away from contact with them? Do we think we have to be “professionals” to be an acceptable friend?

  • Why do so many of us become so “picky” about the food we eat, the clothes we wear, and the place where we live? There are so many in this world who don’t have enough food to eat, clothes to keep them comfortable, and four walls and a roof to home.

  • Why is there so much evil in this world? What is life going to be like for our grandchildren? Where have we placed God in our lives?

Tags: Questions Friends Learning


V – Visiting Vancouver and Victoria
Posted On 02/11/2018 20:50:13

In my growing up years, I could never even dream of travelling through the Rocky Mountains to the west coast. My mother had a fear of narrow roads high up in the mountains, didn’t like crossing high bridges, and wouldn’t even consider a ride on an airplane. As a child, I thought it a bit strange, but my father never tried to change her mind, so we stuck to the flat prairies. Fortunately, our American relatives lived in the Dakotas, and we made several car trips to visit them.

My husband was born and raised in Manitoba, and his dad had an old truck for farm work but never did much driving. They could walk to town for groceries and the mail. When Ed was 15 years old, he came to Alberta to join his older brother, and to be 700 miles from home was like moving to another planet. However, he only went to the mountains to watch his brother snow ski. Even that didn’t happen often because his brother had had a construction business to run which was more important than having fun.

We got married in May (almost 55 years ago), but we had little money to spend on travel. We had Ed’s brother build a house for us in the town where we met, which caused us to be much more careful with the little money we had for ourselves. Our plans were to drive to the town of Banff for one night, and then move into our new home. Those plans changed drastically during our wedding reception. Ed’s uncle and aunt were unexpected guests when they appeared at our wedding. We did send an invitation but didn’t consider that they may attend; they lived in Vancouver… on the other side of the mountains! They came to our head table with a small gift… an envelope with a note and a key. We were invited to travel to Vancouver and move into their home because they would be in our city as interim pastors to cover for an ailing resident pastor. We had already received a cash gift from Ed’s father, who was not able to attend our wedding, so we decided then and there that we should not pass up this opportunity to go west and see the Pacific Ocean. I had never seen fruit trees in blossom and Ed had never driven mountain roads like the ones west of Banff and into British Columbia. What a treat!

A relative in Vancouver presented us with tickets for the ferry that sailed to Victoria, and to visit the Butchart Gardens. We had never seen such beauty in a garden; the gardens on our home farms were vegitables to be harvested and preserved for our meals in the winter.

Two years ago, when our granddaughter was attending University of Victoria, we were able to travel to see her. We took her with us to visit the Butchart Gardens again, and it is even more beautiful than when we saw it the first time. It brought back so many wonderful memories that we also shared with Emily. When she came home for the summer, we showed her the pictures that we took on our honeymoon.

Click here to see some pictures of the gardens.



Tags: Travels Photography


U – Utah: Unique and Unforgettable
Posted On 01/14/2018 21:48:42

I hope that all my "cyber" friends had a wonderful and unforgettable celebration of Christmas, and that you are looking forward to many new and wonderful "happenings" in 2018. It's time that I got back to my "routine" too, which has included my "Blog Alphabet Challenge". I still have a few more to complete, and they certainly will be a challenge.

My husband and I have done quite a bit of traveling in our years together, and one of the longest road trips that we made was across Canada, and returning home on the U.S. side. Our travel buddies were retired farmers, and they were so pleased to take this trip with us because they had done very little traveling outside of our own province. Each of us made a “wish list” of places we would like to see. Ed selected Sudbury, Ontario to visit the Nickel Mine that had some family connection in the 1800s. Our friends selected Niagara Falls and the Amish community in Southern Ontario, and I was anxious to travel the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia, and any other place where I could take many pictures so that I could “relive” the experience when we were back home.

We saw the “colors” of autumn in the Maritime provinces and the eastern U.S. we attended Celtic music concerts, bypassed large cities because there was too much traffic and we didn’t want to get lost (no GPS was in existence yet), and when we saw road signs that peaked our interest, we turned off the freeway to investigate. One of the most unique and unforgettable side trips we took was our visit to Arches National Park in Utah. We had never seen such terrain and natural creations. I don’t know how to describe what we saw, so I am sharing some of my photos. Click on the link below for a quick tour of the Park. The van in the picture is our vehicle.


ARCHES NATIONAL PARK


Vacation 2008 032.JPG

Tags: Travels Photography


T - Tinsel, Toys, and Turkey
Posted On 12/10/2017 22:08:32

I gave myself a bit of a break from writing stories. I keep hoping that others will join our fun and submit some of their stories. In the meantime, I still have a few letters to complete this round of the Alphabet Challenge, so I'm at it again!

I’m sure you will have guessed that this blog has to do with Christmas. Well, part of it is but it is a story about our family, mixed together with some my childhood memories. 

Growing up on a farm, we made ‘do’ with a lot of things that we now take for granted. Christmas was a huge occasion and celebration, at home, at school and at church. We didn’t have close neighbors, but there were a lot of relatives who gathered at many homes for celebrations of food (I don’t know what else to call it). Everything was homemade, starting with Christmas fruit cake that was made no later than October. It had to age properly in a stone crock, with a bit of brandy added to give it a unique flavor. For a family who never touched any alcohlic beverages, this was always a challenge to have someone who was brave enough to venture into a beer parlor to purchase the “vile” stuff, without being recognize, just because of the Christmas cake.

The men in the famly were responsible to find an evergreen tree that they could cut down and bring home for moms and kids to decorate. We didn’t have any electricity, but sometimes Mom would light candles and place them in holders that were attached to the tree branches. I don’t remember anyone making comments about fire hazards, because we used koiloil lamps to light the room every evening. I do remember how important tinsel was to decorate the tree, wo give it some sparkle. It wasn't a lot of fun picking all those glittery strings off the tree after Christmas, but we needed to save it for next year.

The most important item we looked for in the mail was the Sears cataloge. The first Sears Wish Book was printed in 1933, and it contained toys and other holiday-related merchandise. We spent hours looking at wonderful toys and “store-bought” clothes. If we didn’t pick the most expensive item, but kept in mind that Mom and Dad didn’t have very much money, we were likely to receive that as a gift. What joy it was to find a new doll, or even a toy truck, under the Christmas tree.

The Christmas Party at my country school was a community party... parents and neighbors (even if they didn’t have any children attending the school) joined the school pupils for an evening of games and singing. Santa Claus would drop by with his sack of gifts, and we all went home with a small gift (supplied to Santa by our parents), and a brown paper bag filled with treats (gum, suckers, nuts in the shell, etc.) and topped with a 'Japanese' orange, now called a Mandarine orange. We would receive similar treat bags at church, after the program presented by the Sunday School children. We learned poems, often referred to as resitations, and sang songs, and some got to dress up like shepherds and wise men, or even Mary and Joseph, with a real baby in a manger. There was nothing professional about the participants, only joy and laughter, as we learned the real story of Christmas.

In our family now, we have a different take on Christmas. We love to get together, even if we have to travel a long distance. Only the school-age grandchildren receive gifts, with one rule for the grandparents. Only ONE gift for a grandchild, and that doesn’t mean one big box the multiple items inside. It was our two adult kids who suggested some twenty years ago that we should stop stressing over Christmas shopping because none of us “need” anything. We try to focus on what we can give, not what we can get.

Oh... about the turkey! What can I say about my growing up experience. I eat a bit now, because that is “what we do at Christmas”, along with a helping of Brussel Sprouts that is a traditional “must”, even though very few in the family like that vegitable. On the farm, my mother raised turkeys, and I played with them. I didn’t like eating a piece of my playmate, especially the ones that responded when I called out their name.

Tags: Christmas Memories


S - SOME SPECIAL STITCHES
Posted On 11/23/2017 23:10:09

Stitches... different forms that I learned to do. Some I mastered, some were terrible, and some I only experienced.

Embroidery stitches were common when I was a child. My mother taught me the running stitch, the chain stitch, the French knot (to name a few), and she would iron a stencil design of flowers on a pillow case or a flour sack tea towel to give a personal touch. They were a good place for me to practice what I was learning.

My mother also tried to teach me how to knit, the European style. I later learned the reason the knitting books were hard to follow was because I learned to hold the yarn in my left hand which was easy to pick up with the right needle. The common method was to hold the yarn in the right hand, and throw the yarn over the left needle. Of course, it didn't work for me because it felt backwards. I didn't stick to knitting for very long. It was more fun to do spool knitting, to make “cords” of yarn. The tool used was a wooden thread spool, with small nails inserted by my Dad, and a darning needle to handle the stitches. 

I experienced surgical stitches several times as I was growing up, and learned to apply simple stitches in my nursing career, particularly when my first job was in a 19-bed hospital, where we didn't always have an available doctor. Some stitches were done with nylon thread, and later surgical stitches that dissolved.

My favorite shift in that country hospital was the night shift, and we often didn't have a “full house”, which gave us time between rounds to find things to do that would keep us awake, and avoid boredom. An older staff nurse was happy to help another nurse and myself to get back to knitting. She gave us a pattern (all knit stitches) of a baby shawl, and suggested that it was a big project for us, but we could have a very special shawl finished when we welcomed our first baby. Neither of us even had a boyfriend, but we took up the challenge. Two years later, we brought our son home, wrapped in the beautiful shawl that I made. We also used it when we brought our daughter home. I kept it in a memory box for many years, but because it was created with wool yarn (no polyester yet), it had faded, and shrank because of a mistake in washing it in hot water. I enjoyed that shawl so much, that I made a new washable shawl, in time for the arrival of our first grandchild in our two families.

My adult stitch hobby was petite-point. With a silk mesh in a frame, and the instructions in the form of a graph with each color coded, the project was started in the center of the mesh. The squares of mesh were meticulously counted, and the change of colors were followed and marked on the graph.

A similar stitch project was called needlepoint, and was done with wool. I never attempted cross-stitch, but it was very popular at the time. I finally had to give up petit-point because my eyes didn't work as well.

Not willing to stop hand activities... I played the piano or organ, and being proficient on a typewriter, I hooked several rugs, made raggedy-Anne dolls, and learned to crochet. When my grandkids had enough sweaters, scarves, mitts, and socks, I donated hats and scarves to drop-in centers.

I no longer do any of these projects, since a severe fracture of my dominant hand. The boxes of yarn in my storage space have been donated to a senior group who donate their projects. However, I can still use my eight fingers and two thumbs on my computer.

Here is a link to see some of my projects...

SOME SIMPLE and SPECIAL STITCHES

Tags: Stitches Hobbies Crafts


R - Roaring Reverse Rapids or Falls
Posted On 11/02/2017 22:35:27

On one of our travel adventures with our dear friends, in 1998, we headed to the eastern part of Canada, hoping to visit friends in the maritime provinces. It would be our first visit to that area, and from what we were told by friends, there would be a long list of very interesting places that we could visit, if we did the 3000 mile road trip rather than take a plane. Being tha int all of us were “retired”, our travel time was not limited by responsibilities back at home.

We weren’t disappointed! We visited many places that we had only read about... my husband’s hometown in Manitoba, the nickel mines in Sudbury, Ontario, the CN Tower in Toronto, the Montreal Olympic Stadium, and Pier 21 in Halifax, where my husband’s father landed when he immigrated from England when he was 19 years old, and all alone.

A very unusual spot that we visited was the reversing falls and rapids on the Saint John River in Saint John, New Brunsewick. The rapids, or "falls", are created by a series of underwater ledges which roil the water in either direction, causing a significant navigation hazard, despite the depth of water.

I must say that we didn’t take a boat ride on the river (we could be referred to a “prairie chickens”), but it was fascinating to watch the changing flow of the river. We heard later that the tourist ride didn’t last for very many years because the boats were hard to handle when the water depths kept changing. Whitewater kayaking has now become a challenging sport on the river, but I would never consider trying that either. A seat at the edge of the river, with a great view was enough for us. I did take quite a few pictures, but the quality wasn't the best, so I scanned this picture from a postcard that I purchased when we were there.

reversefalls3a.jpg

There is a lot of information about it online, and if you are interested, get 'Google' to help you. The best way to understand how this phenomenon works, is to be there.

Here are a couple of links with information that I had saved in my photo albums.

Info on Reversing Rapids

Tags: Nature Travels




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