Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Simple Pleasures

In an email today my son-in-law, Eric, reminded me that he likes to enjoy the simple pleasures of life.

I am able to do that to excess.

For example, instead of enjoying one raspberry from the bushes at the top of the road, I made a meal of the fruit that was on the vine this morning.   I literally stripped the bushes.

Breakfast = one pint of raspberries.

I saw the dogwood at the end of the raspberry bushes.

The flowers have now turned to a clump of berries with a beautiful turquoise colour.

I have been wondering if I should cut the lower branches of the tree, so that children who run past the rock and down by the stream would have a clearer path.

Which is more fun: to duck under a branch or to fly down the path unhindered by leaves and berries?

The third simple pleasure of the morning happened when I was out looking at Lot 10 with Marcia and Glen. 

He pointed out some bear scat.

Then I saw a broken fruit tree and wondered if it was last night’s wind that had done the damage. 

“Probably the bear going up the tree for fruit,” he said.

That is when I recognized the third simple pleasure: being with someone who can put bear scat and broken tree limbs into the same equation.

And that is also when I decided to take his offer of a bear bell to tie on my wrist when I walk the paths alone.


Jarvis Holiday - Half the Fun is Getting There

Half the fun is getting there ...  and getting set up.
A short note in photos of our travel day or "How we got from Prague to Paris"

All packed up from our apartment in Prague, we headed into the metro for a trip along the yellow line to Zličin.  From there on a bus to the airport.  Here we are in the metro, bags and all.  We try to travel light, so everyone only gets one suitcase.  Hebe and I share one so that each adult only has one bag to pull.  Everyone gets one knapsack on their back.  At the airport, we always try to guess who packed the lightest suitcase. The scale never indicates that I win, but at least I keep within the weight limits.

Lunch.  Sandwich extraordinaire made by Catie.  She used up the last bit of sandwich meat, cheese, bread, tomatoes and cucumbers from our fridge in Prague to make delicious sandwiches for lunch on our travel day.  We had to prepare our own lunch today beause we we're flying with Czech Airlines.  It is a budget airline.  Thus, the food and drinks are only for purchase during the flight. Sadly, they don't even provide a free soft drink to  the weary masses.  This airline is probably the worst I have ever flown in regards to leg room.  My knees were literally touching the seat in front of me, and that was before the man in front of me decided to put his chair all the way back.  It kind of felt like having someone lie in your lap during the flight.  Thank heavens the flight was only 1h40min.  

We couldn't go back home from our shopping trip before stopping at the local bakery for a fresh baguette or two.  We might have also purchased a few croissants and a pain au chocolat which didn't make it home for a photograph.  Such is life in Paris.

Since Prague doesn't use the Euro, we need to get rid of our Czech Kroner before leaving the airport.  We spent the last paper bills on a meal in a restaurant our last night in Prague so only have coins left to spend.  Eric and I pool our coins to find that we have 91 Kroner (about 5 dollars).  Enough for a Twix bar and a small bag of Candy for the kids to share.

Arriving in Paris kind of feels like coming home.  We are staying in the same apartment that we rented during Eric's sabbatical so getting there on the metro was old hat...excpet for the fact that the RER line C to Ave Henri Martin is under construction for the month of July and we didn't learn that until we had already gone to Station St Michel to change lines.  Back on another line and then yet another transfer finally found us at Rue de la Pompe and the exit to our apartment.  Ahh  Paris!  Getting there is half the fun, and the other half is getting set up in a new place.  A quick trip to a brand new grocery store in our neighbourhood (17th arrondisement) found us hauling home this cart full of treats.  Favourites local treats include Carambar toffee, Créma candies, favourite juices, apricot compote, yogurt, fruit  and a roasted chicken for dinner.

"Buckle up for safety."  Hebe with Joey and Joey Jr getting strapped into her seat for take off.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Jarvis Holiday - The Matching Game

So here is a little game to play.  Try to guess which Parisien treat was purchased for which member of our family.  Five treats.  Five Jarvii - Eric, Catie, Thomas, Rebecca and Hebe

Box of Macron = Hebe.  Hebe has been dying to eat Macrons in Paris.  She has been talking about it for weeks.  Yesterday she helped me pick out this small box of  Macrons. Her favourite was the raspberry flavoured one.  If you want to learn how to make Macron Cookies, check out this website.  Too much work for me, but you never know.  Maybe we will try it when we get back to Montreal.   After watching this video I understand why each Macrons cost 1 euro. Labour intensive treat.

Croissant = Rebecca.  It's a classic and her favourite

Pain au chocolat = Catie, although she chose a croissant the first night in Paris

Pain au chocolat = Thomas

TArtelette au pomme = Eric.  
His favourite however is an abricotine but there were none left when I arrived at the patisserie yesterday.

We spent yesterday holed up in our apartment.  Everyone had their fill of computer/internet time and sleep.  In the evening we finally left the apartment for a family walk to La Tour Eiffel.  It is just 15 minutes from our apartment.  Last time we were here Hebe didn't have a chance to take the classic "I'm holding up the Eiffel Tower" picture.  She made sure to get a photo this time.  Even Joey, her stuffed monkey got into the photo.

Here is a family selfie in front of the Eiffel Tower during the 10 p.m. light show.  Eric and I moved our family quickly through the crowds of people and tried to head to a more open spot under the trees on Trocadero.  It feels less safe/more at risk to be in Paris this trip, so heading for crowded public spaces doesn't seem like the best idea.  There is, as always, security around the Eiffel Tower, but because of all the recent terrorist attacks across Europe, heading for places that are a bit off the beaten path seems prudent.

Ahhhh.  Paris.  
The city of love and lights.
Hebe saw a playground to her left after I took this photo.  She headed straight for it and played until the sun set.  
Catie, Thomas and Rebecca joined her on the playground equipment.  After Hebe spent 5 minutes on a merry-go-round in the park, she came over and crawled into my lap.  "I don't feel good."  Motion sickness at it's best.  We headed for home and gratefully she didn't loose her lunch.  We arrived home near 11 pm to call it a night.

Lunch at the Bates' House

There are 17 people at the Bates house right now.  I stopped in at lunchtime.

Lunch for the Children
The macaroni and cheese looks great in that fuchsia bowl!
Looks like stainless steel makes a good serving bowl.

Lunch for the Adults
Mexican Stuffed Tomatoes
I was drop-jawed when I saw this.
Do people really eat this way on vacation?

I stopped by Moiya's after I had seen lunch at Wyona's house.

Moiya had made cinnamon buns, orange glazed buns and an orange icing swirl bun.

A big wow to both homes!

One Foot in the Mud

Tonight seems to be so far away from this morning. I don’t feel that the two points are connected in any way. In between there was a long walk, orange-glazed buns at Moiya's, haunting the local thrift shop, finding more flour on sale at Save-On-Foods ($6.99 for 20 lbs), eating a Chapman’s double chocolate ice-ream bar with Zoe, playing Sherriff of Nottingham with David Camps, and finishing the evening at a soirée with Wyona, Glen and Moiya.
Greg has been seen moving this dirt
for many days now.

In the morning, I thought I was going to walk the property with Marcia, calling out “bear, bear” as we chatted our steps away. I had forgotten that this morning Greg was going to show us where there has been a mini-mud slide off of Lot 12. There had been rain at 6:30 am and again a sprinkling of it just before 7 a.m. That didn’t stop Greg, Marcia, Ceilidh and me from walking down the Bates’path that is lined with mini-sweet peas and toward the route that would take us to the place where the Robertson Stream crosses the footpath that leads to the meadow.

Greg stepped into the stream to show us where the culvert was. The water was pure, running clean and clear. The culvert was plugged. Somehow Greg lost his footing. His foot sunk mind calf into silt. He leaned backward to stabilize himself and pulled his foot out, but he was far less dry when he became sure footed again.

Not to have us miss out on the fun ahead, he kept going forward. I could feel the slosh, slosh every time his right foot hit the ground. “These were my best boots.” That is all he said as he lead us through the meadow to look at the culvert there – it will be a major job to take the deadfall and roots out of that culvert. In fact, the water has found a way around it.

Two points in the path that we walked were exquisitely beautiful. One was a tree that had fallen over the path, but the bole was so high that we could walk under it. “No use cutting that one with a chain saw. It is so stunning there,” he said.

The other magnificent spot was at a steep climb. Greg paused to show us a fallen Douglas fir that stretch breathtakingly upward toward the highway. Oohs and ahhs at its length. He told us that the hole it left when it fell was so large that he thought the path was ruined and that we wouldn’t be able to use it again. Glen came up with his chain saw to see if there was anything that could be done. Glen cut off the root and when it fell, the stump fell back into its original place, making it safe now to take that path and filling the biggest hole you ever saw. For years people will be stopping at that spot, pointing to the repair job and explaining about the clever way that the path was fixed.

The sun was reflecting through the trees and sparkling as it refracted through the dew on the ferns. I was breathless with the beauty around me. I was also full of gratitude to Greg and Glen for maintaining the path. I wonder if there will be a statue some day, erect to honour them – one man with a chain saw and the other with a shovel.

Greg said that the caption on this picutres
should read
Don't Buy the Wrong Kind of Dirt
We were on a verdant pathway through virgin forest where every step seemed to produce a different picture. I was mad that I left my camera at home.

Marcia had to get home to work. We took the easier path to return, one along the railroad track, but even the track caused us to stop and wonder. The pile of grain on the ties reminded me of the literature I have been reading – more bears are being hit by trains because the bears come to eat the grain that falls off as the train travels along and drops it. I don’t know how to measure how much was there – cups and cups for we bent down to the mound of grain and ran our fingers through it. Marcia remembered how she had tried to chew grain as a child, for she had been told if she did it would turn to gum. She never could get it to taste like Hubba Bubba.

The next pile of grain had been there a long time, and was just beginning to sprout. There was that starchy smell of wet grain. Greg was telling how some Canadian alcohol is made from fermented grain mash -- remarking that this looked like it was well on its way to that.

Ceilidh letting me take a pic for my phone contacts.
I am going to try texting her more, now that we
are spending so much time together.
I do not know how her parents had the courage to part with her.
We dropped Marcia off at 4,500 steps. I felt as though we had travelled miles and miles by then.

But that didn’t stop Ceilidh and me from travelling down to the beach where the Pillings had planted a willow.

We were not only surprised by its growth, but by the logs that have been beached there and surround it now.

I showed Ceilidh how to return home by using the path by the stream that runs by my house.

She says that the next time she leaves home, she is wearing different footwear.  She left, thinking she was going fishing with Uncle Art and instead ended up on our hike with us.  Not a good place for flip-flops.

And that is the story of my lovely morning.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Souvlaki at the Pillings

A couple of days ago I sat at the Pilling’s table watching Glen cut up a leg of lamb for souvlaki. Janet and Laynie were preparing the marinade at the kitchen counter. “Come over for supper on Wednesday,” Laynie said.

So with that invitation, David, Ceilidh and I arrived at their house at 7 pm tonight. Piper and Landon ate with us – we listened to Greek folk tunes, we wrapped the lamb in the pita bread, we drank Kombucha (the new wonder drink), we plated up Greek salad and we sat in the warm evening wind and watched the dark clouds gather as the evening went on.

“What is your favourite part of the lake,” said Glen, “starting from youngest to oldest." Ceilidh was quick to say family. Just family. The lake is where she feels the essence of family.

Laynie said it is the memories that mean so much to her.

“Acceptance,” said Janet. “This is where I feel acceptance.”

“Private,” said Glen.

“That is important to you,” said someone else.

“It is the privacy of family – extended family. I don’t mean my own privacy. What I like is that the spaces are not public – that we don’t have waves of car after car going past.”

I was last. “It’s cyclical nature. That is what I like. The same experiences recur again and again. I wait for that.”

The evening closed with ice-cream: double chocolate; raspberry cheesecake; maple walnut or frozen blueberry yogurt.

“We are not the ice-cream parlour that you will find next door,” said Glen.

It felt like it to me.


Jarvis Travels - Last Day in Prague

We are sitting in the Prague airport getting ready to fly to Paris.
Here is a brief update in photos of our last day in Prague

On the train to Kutna Hora - medieval silver mining town.

The other half of us on the train to Kutna Hora.
The link below is a really fun blog to check out if you want to learn about Kutna Hora.
On the blog is a short cartoon about the history of this town and some of the highlights of the things you can see. 

St Barbara's Cathedral.  
Quite magnificent with it's tent steeples.  There are a ton of windows in this cathedral so it is just filled with light.  This was our first stop. Thomas led us here quite by accident initially, although it was on his list of things to see.  He was the planner of this day and got us organized for the transportation there and back, and the itinerary.

Hebe and Catherine take a break and enjoy a chimney stack filled with ice cream.  We stayed outside for some ipad time while Eric took the teenagers into the silver mines.  That tour was 1.5 hours underground.

Here is another picutre of St Barbara's cathedral from below. 
Hebe toured me around the tiny streets as my tour guide.  
She loved that.

Coming out of the mines!  Hard hats off and coats in hand to keep everyone warm and dry. 

A coat of arms made of bones.  Check out the detail, especially the bird pecking out someone's eye.  At least the the artist had a sense of humour.

ARRRR matey!

Heading home for a dinner out in Prague.  Travelling makes one tired.

Cabbage soup with a spoonful of sour cream.  Delicious.

Hebe opted for chicken soup with dumplings.  
She loves soup and was not disappointed.  
Thomas and Rebecca ate fruit filled perogies. They were also delicious.  
Eric wanted one last plat of golash with bread dumplings.