Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Lucky Phone Call

fig and fennel bread -- doubled there were two (large) loaves
I know for sure at least one person is  checking the Larch Kitchens food blog.

For example, the country seed bread recipe has been up there for months. Yesterday Rebecca called to say,"Hey,there must be a mistake on the blog. No water in the recipe and I need to make country seed bread today."

Lucky for her that my binder of bread recipes was on the counter at that time.

... I took out the first fig with the first bite ...
They were there as I was busy making fig and fennel bread -- something Mary taught me to do in Ottawa.

There is nothing like having an ingredient  in the house that has been purchased out of the half price bin to put a cook to work.

 "I don't know why I bought these figs except that they were half price."

The recipe names the other secret ingredient: fennel.

It doesn't name the third ingredient -- 4 tsp of rosemary.


The internet always provides a way to use mystery ingredients.

... the sky is blue ... the water is clear ... the wind is just right ...
... better to sail than to cook ...
The bread was so good that I began to buy packages of figs even when they weren't half price.

Mary likes to cook.

She also likes to sail.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014


From Mary:

The strawberries you are planting will be delicious. Every time I think of strawberries and the lake, I think of Doral Pilling. This is why.

One year I was at the lake alone early in the spring. Every morning I would go for a long jog around the property. I got to know where all the wild strawberries were because I would see their tiny white flowers. By the time they were ready to eat, there were a lot of people at the lake. I spent an hour gathering those tiny little berries one morning. Each one was about half the size of your pinky finger nail. In an hour I managed to gather a half a cup. I took them back to the cottage and shared a few with Arta and Moiya (they probably won’t remember this).

The strawberries were amazing – like a little bite of sunshine. I remember Arta saying, “If Doral were here he would put just a little cream on these. He always said, anything that is good, is better with cream.”

My other “strawberries and the lake” memory is countless breakfasts of pancakes with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. I feel like that’s what we had every single morning, of every summer. Oh, sometimes the parents might swap out the strawberries for blanched, sliced, fresh peaches.

I am absolutely sure this happened every single morning.


Lake Lists

.. a daffodil in a half weeded garden ...
One of the techniques Bonnie uses in her work with her clients at the Interior B.C. Health Clinic is making agenda’s visible on paper. She uses the strategy with her clients and in her own life.

I tried to do it with my gardening, so she could tell what I am doing out in the yard. And of course, I want to know what my top priorities are, too. On this visit I haven’t seen her long enough to show her that list. But I have returned to it again and again, because I need help with seeing the bigger picture. I am inclined to find a small bed of daffodils and weed it until there is not one piece of quack grass left in the earth.

I have some new strawberry plants from Marla Bjornson. Last night, just as the day was ending, I decided to weed a spot for them. No matter how many times I dug in the earth, I was still turning over clumps of rich organic soil full of quack grass roots. The sun was setting. I kept digging. Soon the roots were all I could see – those long white strips twisted into the rich black earth.

... early morning cloud cover ...
This kind of detail doesn’t work for a yard where a stream has just gone out of control and there are now piles of gravel that have come out of the culvert and now need to be carted away. That is my job this morning. I got half of it done two days ago. Now I must go back and finish the job.

 I have a pair of black rubber calf-high boots that I use to go into the stream ... and other places. I have been wearing them, but notice that I should have done as Glen suggested – buy a pair one size larger than I need. Of course, I bought my boots before he gave me the suggestion. Canadian Tire will get another visit from me because these boots that fit just right in the store are a little tight when I wear them all day. The upside of boots that are too large is that they are easy to slip on and off. As well, they don’t hug the foot and make bruises when you wear them for a long time. The down size of boots that are too big is ... they don’t quite fit.  Why not!

That is what double socks are for.


Monday, April 28, 2014

King Lear

Simon Russell Beale as Lear,
pictured with Anna Maxwell Martin as Regan,
brings out the moment-by-moment conflicts
within the character.
Photograph: Mark Douet
This Thursday, May 1 NT Live will broadcast the National Theatre's acclaimed production of King Lear live from the Olivier Theatre.

Enjoy Simon Russell Beal's  interview about taking on this role.

Or take a look at the Guardian review by Michael Billington.

This is fun -- an interview with the 3 actors who play the sisters in Lear.

I am going to see if I can make it to my local theatre that night.


Deep Fissures

... looking up to the main curve in the road ...
April 28, 2014

On the way home from the opera Moiya drove slowly along Pilling’s Road, showing me where the three culverts are on that stretch.

I know the one by the drop off that we call Moose Pees in Stream.

That is the place where Bonnie and David stopped one day to watch a moose forage and drink water.

One of the other culverts couldn’t take all of the water that was driving down the side of the road and so it travelled on down to the culvert that empties into the stream by my place.

white pipe taking overflow from full culvert
... helping the water get across the road  ...
I was thinking that the culvert had been plugged up because I should have gone in and emptied out the silt around it, but Dave Wood said no.

 ... Greg straightening the plastic ...
They could hear the rocks pounds in the culvert as they were carried along by the strength of the water. By the time I got out here, Dave, Graham and Glen has spent a long time unplugging that culvert so that the water could run freely through it again.

...looking down the fissure ...
I think the debris they took out is 3 feet high and six feet long.

Every time I take a shovel full of it now, to carry it away so that the area can be mowed this summer, I think of all of the work those guys did, getting it out of the water.

A bigger worry is the two fissures in the road.

The Pig Roast cinder-blocks
being put to good use to contain the water.
I walked off the one that begins by the culvert at the curve in the road as you round the cover at my house.

Thirty paces.

The one that is further down the road, in front of Moiya’s and Wyona’s is even longer.

Dave's truck parked at bottom of Missionary Reach
The CPR came out on Friday to see what they could do, but they have no equipment that they can divert here and the work that has to be done can only be done when the ground is dry.

No one of us wants that part of the hill to slide – not LaRue and not the CPR. Rob (Bobcat Rob) ditched the road right by the hill and Glen and Dave lined it with plastic.

Dave pounding rebar into south side of hill
Sunday I noticed that the stream had pooled just at the bottom of the Missionary Reach and was spilling over onto the plastic lining and moving about half-way down it.

I went back up to the top to check again and the water seemed to be coming faster. Indeed, on my second look the water was now off the plastic and running down the ditching that had been done.

... now is not the time to miss the nail ...
I walked up to tell Dave and though he wasn’t home, he did arrive an hour later.

By now it was raining. I saw his truck at the bottom of the hill and him running back up to the truck.

... plastic lines the culvert ...
rocks hold the plastic down

The rain was mixed with pellets of snow.

Dave thought he should get another couple of plastic rolls to lay in the ditches that were now filling so he made a quick trip into Parkland Building Supplies where he also got come rebar to hold the plastic into the south side of the hill.

So, we are all asking the question, why is this happening?

Is it because of the clear cut above us and the water no longer being held on the hill as it was in times past.

 ...Arta picking up rocks, only the size she can heave ...
A second theory is that the hill has been compromised down by the track with too much water.

That is why there is a fissure above, on the road,.

Perhaps the land above is now unable to be supported because it is so wet at the bottom of the hill.
 ... a pause for a candid ...
Dave now out of his Sunday Suit and into work clothes
Greg in his burning the trash outfit.
Arta wearing C.I.A.U Women's Basketball Championship "88 t-shirt

At any rate, the plastic in the ditch is to stop the water from soaking into the hill, thus making the fissure grow bigger.

We are scientific.

I was trying to measure how deep the fissure is with the empty tube from the plastic.

I thought four feet, perpendicularly.

Dave measures it horizontally, putting his boot in at the same place every time.

He thought it had opened up another couple of inches.


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Hebe's Purchase with Her Birthday Money

Catherine sends me this picture to let me now what Hebe bought with her birthday money.

I had forgotten how important birthday money is, nor what it can do.  i.e. purchase something you have wanted for a long time that no one else thinks to get for you.

It looks to me like she is making the pinwheel turn with her hands, which is an acceptible way to get it going.

My own birthday is coming up soon.

Try as I may, I can't think of something I want.  I am more in the mode of find things I want to give away.

Curtis and Janice Pilling (Daniel Wood's in-laws) were visiting Moiya and Dave last night.

Over dinner at their house last night, he said the same thing.

Having that feeling makes birthday money very hard to spend.  I don't know what I am going to buy that will give me the same joy the pinwheel is giving to Hebe.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Cosi Fan Tutte

 Photo: Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Saturday at 10:55 a.m. is another of Mozart's operas, brought to us via satellite.

Please look for times in your own community.

As Rebecca reminds me, it is not always the same in Victoria as it is here, in Calgary.  Running time is 4 hours and 5 minutes.

Music Director James Levine makes his long-awaited return to the Met podium to conduct Mozart’s beloved opera about testing the ties of love. The cast is filled with youthful Met stars: Susanna Phillips and Isabel Leonard are the sisters Fiordiligi and Dorabella, Matthew Polenzani and Rodion Pogossov are their lovers, with Danielle de Niese as the scheming Despina.

I could only find links to reviews of last year's performances.  Here is one of the reviews entitled "Levine is Impressive in Return to Met" and here is utube clip of the Act 1 finale  from a 2013 dress rehearsal of this opera plus one of Levine conducting the overture.


Monday, April 21, 2014

The Stream's Wedding Reach

Yesterday Bonnie called me to say that the stream on Lot 3 at the Shuswap is flooding and has caused considerable overflow down in Greg French's part of its journey to the Shuswap.

Today Moiya called me  to say that things look even worse for me down by my culvert.  In this case
a picture is worth a thousand words.

What it can't capture is how cold David and Glen must be, legs and elbows deep in the cold spring water.

As far as I can tell from the picture, the stream has diverted itself away from the plugged culvert and  to the grass path.

When the path can't take all of the water, some of it spills over to the old stream bed just at the spot where the skunk cabbage is coming into bloom, if you look carefully.

Thanks for the pictures, Moiya.


Going Home

All three of us took the train out to Charles de Galle Airport – driven in timing by whose plane would leave first. It looked like Rebecca had to check in and she promised to meet us at the gate where Bonnie’s plane would be leaving as soon as the two of us got on the other side of security. I walked Bonnie to her gate and then asked an agent where I should go with my ticket to pass through security. The last thing Bonnie heard him say to me was Ooh la la, and she knew it was not about my physical appearance, but about how far I had to go to find my gate. Bonnie and Rebecca took care that I didn’t turn any wrong corners all of the time we were in Paris. Now I was on my own and apparently a long way away from where I should be. “Take the airport shuttle at gate 8,” I was told. Finding gate 8 is not all that easy. There are a lot of eights on walls when you don’t know where you are going.

As soon as I made it through security I was sure I wouldn’t see Bonnie or Rebecca again, but there Rebecca was as though she knew where I would be when I didn’t even know myself. A treasure to hang out with her at a Nearly Organic restaurant though the wonderful eight days together caught up with me after I finished my sandwich. “I am so sorry, but there is a wave of fatigue on me and I am going to put my head right down on this table, or else just lay down on the floor,” I told her. She cobbled together a neck pillow and a blanket and I slept there, face down on the table, not too old to travel, but too old to keep near dawn to near midnight hours for eight days in a row.

Security stopped me for one of those more intensive searches. This time to open my carry on and my purse. She looked underneath every piece of clothing and opened and closed every zipper. “That one is my bank,” I said when she looked in the black leathered and zippered belly pouch pocket that contained zip lock bags of euros, pounds and Canadian dollars. “They must be targeting the baby boomers,” I said to a man who was about my age and behind me, ready for his search. But he shook his head. “I don’t speak English.” I keep forgetting that and I am often passing casual conversation. I was tired. My guess was that I would be asleep before the plane took off. I dozed but I kept being wakened by the pilot saying, “Our departure is delayed ... we are waiting for a final check on the engine ... we are waiting to install a new part in the engine, perhaps only ½ hour more, ... and after four hours ... if we don’t take off in the next 30 minutes, we will have to debark because the crew will have been at work over the labor law limit”.

I couldn’t sleep anymore because the drama inside the plane began to heighten. “Would passenger Arta Johnson identify herself.” That was because I was going to miss my Dallas connection and was being given a voucher to stay overnight in Texas. “If you want to deplane, that is fine, but you cannot take your luggage with you. It must go to Dallas now, even though you will be in Paris. However you have every right to leave.” I watched an intense conversation between the flight attendant and the woman in front of me who was worried about her 15 year old son’s anxiety getting out of control. For her the question was, better to be off the plane with no luggage? on the plane worrying about the new part in the engine? on the bus that would take them to the main terminal with others who were leaving but had no place to go?

We had been four hours without food now ... probably more for most people because of the time lag between the last meal and the time it takes to get on a plane. There was no way to heat the dinners on board. Snacks and drinks were delivered up and down the isles without the usual charm – now the goal was just to get something, anything into people’s bodies to keep them calm. With only 10 minutes to spare the good news, “Buckle up, we are leaving”. With my nose pressed to the window, Paris disappeared from my view for 15 minutes. The plane banked and I heard, “Ladies and gentlemen, we are returning to Paris. The engine light is on and it is not safe to fly across the Atlantic this way. Thank you for your understanding.” I enjoyed the pleasure of seeing the dazzling patchwork of new crops again, the greens, the canary yellows, the greys and tans, the thin strips of blue rivers and hedgerows of trees below us, my nose now on the window again.

Calming, really, to know it was safer to go back than to proceed. I heard him say as we landed, “Do not be afraid when you see the fire trucks. This is normal procedure.” I didn’t worry on seeing one fire truck. Then seeing one at every intersection on the runway, I thought, well, it looks like there will be enough water if there is a problem. We waited on the runaway again for the last precaution ... the firemen testing the heat in the tires before we would be allowed to taxi up to the skyway. There was a lineup in the isles of the cabin of the airplane, waiting for a second bus from the airport to take us from the plane to the correct terminal. Being at the door of the plane, I saw an attendant point and say to another, “Look, ... there the bus is on the runway, but it can’t find us. It doesn’t know which plane it is going to. Oh, and all of these people needing a place to stay. This is a real mess.”

Though the flight crew were off duty now, they to had to re-enter France through customs as did we. “Welcome to Paris,” the man said as he found another place in by passport to place a stamp. Why not a welcome? I hadn’t expected to be back this fast. There were new line-ups at every turn. One to pick up vouchers for a hotel for the night. A second line-up at the baggage carrousels, a third line-up waiting for the shuttle to the Park Inn, a fourth line-up at the hotel reception desk, --- this sudden influx of tired travellers with all of their luggage.

“The evening buffet closes in ½ hour, at 10:30 pm,” I heard the clerk say to someone. I ran my bags to my room, though not without some difficulty. In the dim hotel corridors, I can never figure out where that plastic card goes into the slot to open up the bedroom door. Usually Wyona or Greg do the honours. Case in point? One day in Buenos Aires I was trying to get into our room on my own. After many unsuccessful tries, a man whose door was ajar came out of an adjoining room. Without a word he grabbed my card from my hand, put it into the slot, turned his back on me in irritation marched back into his room and slammed the door.
Now, if I didn’t figure out how to open the door of my bedroom at the Park Inn, I was going to miss supper. I ran down the hall and watched another old couple. I can manage with a demo.

I cannot tell you how fun this dining room was. At 10 pm at night, just as the restaurant was closing and with most of the help gone home, now the cook had 50 people in the dining room ... and more coming. The food came out: fish, kebabs, desserts, rice, 4 marinated salads, hot buns – but everything was sporadic in its arrival and the previous food was gone before the next dishes could get out on the table. Now you see it, now you don’t. I saw one traveller sitting at the back of the room go to the buffet. There was nothing left but rice. He took 3 cups on his plate and sat down to eat.

The American Airlines had promised people 2 free calls from the hotel. For access to those free calls the hotel needed a 50 Euro deposit at the front desk. They would give a receipt. You were to claim your phone call from the airline. North Americans aren’t used to that. People were lined up at the desk bitterly complaining. Furthermore the number to American Airlines wouldn’t work from their rooms. And in fact it wouldn’t work at all, for it was a wrong number. When I got through to American Airlines from the front desk, their office was closed for the night.

None of this seemed to bother me.

I have internalized the “I am on holidays” attitude. I did ask the woman in a line-up ahead of me, if I could use a few seconds of her 15 minutes of free internet time in the airport. I didn’t want Wyona driving to the Calgary airport and me not showing up.

There was enough info in the cryptic email to her that I got a 1 am call from Wyona. She is quite the detective. She found me. She said she would rebooked my flight from Canada ... since North America does have 24 hour call lines. She called again at 2:30 am to tell me the job was done and she called at 5:30 am... a wake-up call so that I could get out to the airport on time in the morning. I considered myself as having a good sleep. I can still remember months of interrupted sleep with new babies.

The wake-up call did make me laugh. I couldn’t get the hotel telephone to give me a wake-up call. I had tried. I could figure out which line to pick up to do the automated function, but after I picked it up, then a voice tried to walk me through which numbers I should select. My French isn’t that good. I can pose questions in French. I don’t understand them or answer them in French.

While I am on this subject of things going wrong, the ride back to the airport was no less harrowing than the ride away from the airport had been. To begin that story, there had been a young Nigerian woman in full costume on our flight with 3 children, 2 strollers, one of the babies was in arms and she had mounds of baggage, 2 pieces for each of the four of them. Five feet high when it was all together. She usually waited for help from a porter. When the airporter bus came to our hotel at 7 am and many of us got on the bus, she came at the last minute. An old man, too frail to carry his own bags, helped her with her luggage as did others who helped her with the children. Our bus was already packed. Now it was fuller. Then the airporter stopped at two other hotels to pick passengers up. Everyone seemed to squeeze on, although I have never seen a bus packed so tightly. A fire marshal would have had a heart attack or at the very least, closed us down. I mentioned that young mother because when the doors of the bus opened at Terminal 2 and people began to get off with their luggage, one piece of luggage rolled down the aisle and into the baby stroller that someone else was in charge of. I had surge of adrenalin over that collision that lasted well into my flight back to Dallas. The stroller took the hit. The baby was fine.


Locked Bathrooms

Going from Paris to Calgary through Dallas is not the quick way home. It worked for me, since it was the way I was able to book on short notice to get to Paris.

On my delayed return flight, Wyona begged a preferred seat on the plane for me out of the agent. “This is an old woman, 73, she has to get up out of her seat often.”

Lucky me, a preferred seat,  in the front and right next to the bathroom.

Mr. Clean-Cut-Forty-Year-Old stood waiting for his turn to go into the bathroom. He was the only one in line and I decided this was my chance to stand up.  We chatted for a while. He was grumbling. He had been standing there 10 minutes. A third party joined our line,  an outgoing and sweet, darling  Grade-Seven-On-Holidays-to-Paris student. She and I chatted. Her friend’s dad is a pilot and she knows that pilots get a chance to sleep on the long flights.  She knew our pilot was behind some curtained doors close by.   That knowledge seemed to be calming to her.

Soon the line was long.

Mr. Clean-Cut-Forty-Year-Old was fed up and said, “I am going to knock”. No answer. Another two minutes passed and he said, “That is it! They have got to get out of there.” He rapped loudly. I didn’t want to be there when that person came out and a confrontation began.

I suggested getting the stewardess, but no – he really banged on the door this time.

No sound.

The Grade Seven girl and I speculated. Is the person embarrassed because they can’t figure out how to open the door? Has the person had a stroke? Has the person died? I decided sitting in my seat was a better option now. I got out of there while he marched off to find a stewardess – it was one of those moments when you can’t find one at the front of the plane, nor at the back. I went back to reading but in a few minutes Miss Grade-Seven-On-Holidays-to-Paris came to me and said, “Your turn next.”

“Whatever happened there?”

“Oh, the stewardess checked. The lock was only half closed and there was no one in there.”

I only saw Dallas from the air and then only passed through the airport. I did notice that the food portions are bigger, the cowboy boots fancier and the airport – built for the future. Fantastic with that sky train every two minutes, the long escalators, the huge hallways. If I had been in the airport for longer, I would have ridden the sky train to get a good look around. As it was, I did get the joy of going from one posted gate to another when I saw the change for my plane. No use letting things go wrong at this point.

I love the welcome home at Canadian Customs. I hope the officers never quit saying welcome home. I was disappointed that I had nothing to declare. No liquor, no alcohol, no cigarettes, no food, no scarves, no books, no jewellery, no gifts. I did bring back what I could internalize. There is no way to estimate its value.

I am moving to a new way of travelling: bring money for every airport and pack lighter.

Oh, I know, Wyona says just use my credit card in the first instance, but I still can’t take the kick of the exchange of money at a higher rate than I can get at the bank and then an added 2 ½ percent fee on the credit card. Just doesn’t seem right to me.

I am acting like I came out of the depression, even knowing that was my parent’s era, not mine.  I wonder if I will be able to  modernize and believe that using that credit card is the way to go?


What We Didn’t Do

Not to seem ungrateful, but when I look back on a holiday, there is always something I wish I had done. Perhaps that is the nature of the human spirit. Just wishing I had worked a little harder to have made an event happen. I asked Bonnie and Rebecca if they had such moments. Yes. Rebecca wished she had bought something to remind her of the trip. Just a small memento. I saw her finger an inexpensive replica of the Eiffel tower. She didn’t buy it ... looking for the perfect one, I guess. Later I saw many such mementos and wondered if she had looked at them as well. Replicas of the Eiffel Tower on key rings, platters, t-shirts, scarves, and mugs. I saw pieces of pasta which would have been fun, and the piece de resistance – for 40 Euro, a 12 inch high replica, the tower in psychedelic pink and complete with red, yellow and green LED flashing lights. Ah well, there will be other trips to Paris.

On Rebecca's  list would also have been a concert at Sainte Chapelle. The Four Seasons. That is what they were playing that evening. We had checked it out, were in the vicinity and had plans to go, but had worn ourselves out with walking along the Seine. Planning for such a concert would also mean having an afternoon nap for me. Barring that, I am always willing and able to sleep through performances.

Bonnie wanted to go to an opera. One at the Paris Opera House.  We looked at the schedule of events. This was not a perfect match. Nothing was playing. But as we walked through Sacre Coeur the next day, the 4 pm Sunday service began. We sat on the side pews and listened to the glorious sound of the organ and the choir, the notes ringing up into the ceiling and around the side chapels. Maybe not an opera, but a close second.

The only thing I would have liked to have changed?

Linger longer at the scarf markets.

Maybe next time.



... view of one magnificent building from another ...
We first saw Sacre Coeur a few days earlier from the top of the Musee d'Orsay (top floor, where the big collection lives -- the painting done for us by the impressionists.  We thought we had seen all Paris had to offer.

Then on Sunday, we began the climb to Sacré-Cœur from the bottom of the hill where we alighted from the bus.

The steep road was filled with people going up and coming down.

I stopped at a few local scarf stalls. Rebecca and Bonnie stood on the other side of the street watching the merchant who tried to straighten the scarves as fast as I could go through them.
... chapel ceiling ...

We stopped for a snack half way up the hill and watched a vendor get someone to hold string for him, and then he braided it into a bracelet, tied it on the tourist’s wrist and then tried to get them to pay him for it.

When we finally reached the top of the hill and got in the line-up to go through the church we lost each other.

Oh, Bonnie and Rebecca will say I lost them.

 But they should keep up.

To find them I did a second round of the church and being unsuccessful I just went to stand on the wide steps and imagine what I would do if I never found them.

Title of Restaurant?  Ma Mere Catherine
... a cartoonist commandeeers Rebecca outside of Sacre Coeur ...
...she does not buy his product of her ...
We walked around all of the touristic venues on the top of the hill.

Rebecca looked down the steep stairway behind the church and remembered that her boys had slid down the cement abutment there enough times that they wore out their jeans and needed new pairs.

I stood in front of a restaurant for a photo.

The name of the restaurant was Catherine’s Mother.

Rebecca pointed out some of the political graffiti that is on the walls of some of the buildings, especially pointing to the one where Sacré-Cœur looks like the Disneyland logo – the words Sacre Coeur through the middle and the building somewhat shaped in the iconic image of the Disneyland castle.

“Probably protesting the fact that we have turned religion into entertainment,” Rebecca said.

 ... Rebecca in black and white and cartooned ...
A cartoonist stopped Rebecca telling her how he loved her hair and asking to draw a picture of her.

“Only three minutes I will take. Only three minutes.”

Being somewhat irritated over having to give up three minutes of my holiday I began to time him.

His friend came over to draw a caricature of Bonnie.

She hid her head under her jacket. Rebecca continued an interesting patter with the cartoonist and soon a crowd had gathered around to watch.

I began to enjoy the costuming of the artist, a lovely silver decoration on the heel of his boot. The heel was so worn down that even a shoe-maker couldn’t have helped out that boot. We wandered one street over to see the funicular – the easy way to get up to the church. We researched the cost – only the price of a local bus ticket.

Tired we made our way back to our local community and ate our last meal in Paris at a restaurant. Our only meal at a restaurant to tell the truth. Bonnie practised her French on the waiter. She was successful because a delicious meal arrived in front of her.


Saturday, April 19, 2014

War Horse - TED Talks

Photo: National Theatre of Great Britain Website
I am off to see Warhorse again today.

Last night I  watched this wonderful 18 minute video about how the horse puppets were made.

If you have a chance, look at a few minutes of it to get a flavour of the incredible mechanism behind the puppet. The clip will show you how the horse is made, why it takes three puppeteers to have the horse move and will tell you how the whinnying sound of the horse is created by those puppeteers.

Here is the link. 

Thank you TED Talks.

If you make your way through that one, then this one takes you right to the factory where the horses are made.  A little slower video.  I loved seeing the hand mechanisms up close that control the movement.


Friday, April 18, 2014

Grease and Hebe

Hebe Jarvis in Grease
This is a picture of Hebe Jarvis, doing her part in her school production of Grease.

What can get much cuter than that.

I asked Wyona if school productions like this are a common phenomenon.  She said yes and that in fact Gabe is going to be Donkey in his school production of Shrek. And Zach also has a part in that production, though Marcia will have to give us the name of the character Zach plays.  I don't know the dates, either -- my best guess is May 1, 3 and 5.

Hoping to see some pics of the Treleavens in their production.


The Good Friday Tea Party

tea party dishes compliments of Grandma Kathy Jarvis
The Mary and Leo Family went down to visit the Catherine and Eric Family for the week-end.

Before leaving for Montreal, Mary and Rhiannon went to their community Easter Egg Hunt where there was face painting.

Although you can't see it in the picture, Rhiannon has whiskers and the nose of a bunny.

Hebe was enthralled at Rhiannon's look and did her own face painting.

The green nose she applied to herself is the result of a green felt tipped marker.

It worked for her.
... more than just a tea party -- a time to rejoice ... a cousin party!

Their double-family week-end is packed with events.  Tonight is the live streamed broadcast of the tabernacle choir singing Handel's Messiah.

Catherine and Catie are both performiing in a stake musical festival -- Catie on her tuba.

Happy musical Easter to all.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Roots and Blues Teaser


I got an email advertizing the 22 Annual Roots and Blues Festival.  How fun to find myself at 3:03 and 6:15 on it.  Check it out.  I was wearing a pink hat and though it looks like I wasn't having much fun, I am sure my toes were tapping.

See you there next year!


Upcoming broadcasts - NT LIve

Simon Russell Beale as King Lear
King Lear
In cinemas from May 1

Michael Billington reviews the production in the Guardian .

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Returns to cinemas from May 22

A Small Family Business
In cinemas from June 12


Saturday, April 12, 2014


Are we really here?
Oh, I am going to spell everything wrong, but what does it matter, today. We took a fast bus ride right to the Trocadero to talk down the steps to the Eiffel Tower. When Rebecca says whoops, right bus but wrong direction, we know a new adventure has begun.

The bus driver told her that her French seemed good enough that she would understand where to go next. She replied to him that her French is good enough but she is "off" directionally. It took another bus, a tram ride and a metro ride to get us to the right spot. Oh yes, and an unintended our spent on the public transport.

Our tram tickets wouldn't work in the Metro and while Rebecca went to the information centre to check that out, I watched how people get through the gates of the metro without paying. 

Some boys just go right up against the back of a person who is paying and slip though with them. I watched two boys try to do that. Only the first got through. The second had to choose another paying patron, while a third boy just jumped the iron gate. I wondered what is the ratio of paying customers to riding customers but we didn't stay long enough for me to take a survey.

Eiffel Tower
Bonnie used her French, trying to buy one banana. She ended up with one bunch, which is close to one. Afterwards she remarked that the bananas cost less than the bottle of water she purchased later.

What is there to say about walking down the Trocadero steps that can be captured in words. Bonnie was thrilled. Her first time back in 30 years and a new approach to the Eiffel Tower -- walking down the hill and getting the full length view rather than only the view from under the tower.

Rebecca ordered a crepe -- just sugar on it. Not because she needed it, but because it was her way to celebrate her return to that spot. There was a protest going on. Drumming. Marching in a circle around and around. Algerians drawing attention to their illegal status and their fear of reprisals. Buskers were warming up on one of the plateaus on the way down. She wanted to watch them, but you know how busking goes. First there is the warm-up, gathering the crowd, getting them to buy in to the idea that they will be paying after the performance.

Fabulous hair in a fabulous city on a fabulous woman.
Of the three of us, Rebecca is the one that other tourist's target when they want someone to take a picture of them.

I suspect that the psychedelic colours that her hair dresser gave her before she left Victoria make her accessible to them.

She obliges every request after asking them if they want a long shot or a close up or shoulder shots.

She even went over to a family of 11 members to help them out, but they dispersed before they saw she was going to help them.

The three of us walked on down the steps and across the Seine to the tower.

The tourists were shoulder to shoulder. Line-up were long and three or four deep.

We shared past stories of visiting this spot. Arta with the Jarvis children. Rebecca with her boys. Bonnie with Rebecca and a host of pigeons 30 years before.

You really walked up the stairs last time you were here?
The cost of key chains that have the Eiffel Tower on them ranges from 4 for a Euro to 10 for a Euro.

About every two minutes someone comes by to ask if we want to buy some.

Brightly coloured scarves emblazoned the the tower and the word PARIS are also on their arms. The price is 4 for 10 Euros.

I wonder if I want one of every colour and then I remember how scratchy they are -- good for wrapping on the handle of a purse, but not good for keep the wind off of my neck.

Rebecca had in mind for us to walk down the Champs Elysee.

We left the tourist hustle and bustle an walked through avenues that were filled with embassies until through the trees she saw L'Arc de Triomphe.

Protestations - government austerity measures do not work.
We hadn't found the way to get around the traffic circle and into the arch before we saw part of today's citizen protests -- the part done by motorcyclists who had gather at the circle and stopped traffic there.

They motorcycles seemed to have gathered within the space of a minute. 

Maybe hundreds of them.

 One of the cyclist rode all the way around the circle, a red torch in ihs hand, white smoke billowing into the air.

 I could smell the fumes and wondered how Bonnie was going to do with that.

Almost lost Flat David in a windy moment at the Arc de Triomph.
We heard the sound of sirens, saw the regular traffic there come to a stand still, and asked the man selling ice cream from his moveable wagon to explain to us what the protest was about. Rebecca translated -- "Manifestastions. A protest about austerity." In the late evening we went out to the Paris news to read more.

I loved the walk today down the Champs Elysee. I can't really make sense of that since in the past four days I have seen museums that hold world treasures. Every five minutes or so something comes before my eyes that is so astonishing, so amazing.  Something I have read about and never dreamed I would see. And now, out of the blue, I am completely unprepared for it.

 There are so many moments in time where I think … well, the day can't get any better than this. And then the day does get better. That part of my holiday has been exhausting. So much to see. So much to hold in my mind. So many questions to be answered when I get home. So many connections from the past being made.
Place Concoria

That is why the walk today was so restful. None of that greatness. Just ordinary lives being lived along the sidewalks of Paris. Seeing little families walking along the avenue pushing babies in high seated baby buggies, toddlers riding motor scooters alongside their parents, tourists with brand name shopping bags in their arms, cafes full of people resting with a glass of wine or a demitasse of strong coffee. I laughed at the clever buskers at the Place de Concorde -- golden statues that children went to investigate and when they did, the busker would offer to shake the hand of the child, then bringing that little thing in close so that the parents would have to take a picture and then pay.

All three of us marvelled at the cars for rent at the Place de Concordia. Proches. For 89 Euros you can rent that car for 10 minutes and drive it around the circle. Bright red and canary yellow. Bonnie was hoping that none of the renters got caught in the protests as they drove those rental cars, for it they did, their bill would have been pretty high by time the traffic moved and they got back to the rental office -- which was just a man standing by the curb waiting for his next customer.
Near the Louve, in Tullier's Garden.

The Palais Royale has an exhibition about August Ceasar, celebrating 2000 years since his death. There is a false facade on the building that was so interesting I pulled myself over to look at it. Then Rebecca saw an exhibition of Robert Mayerthrope going on in the same building. The price to get in was 13 euros. I could feel that magnetic draw toward using the last hour of the evening to see the exhibit, knowing full well that it would be a complete waste of money for by 8 pm I am pretty well too tired to take in anything of substance.

The Endive salad with oranges,  or the one with corn and olives?
So we came home, stopping at the Monoprix again to buy just enough for supper. Go out? Or pick up a few things an eat at home?

 Rebecca was promising to make an endive salad filled with tomatoes, olives, corn and walnuts. It was a slam dunk as to which choice to make.

The dinner was delicious at home. And now both Bonnie and Rebecca are too tired to stay up and have gone to bed. We have all had our days when collapse has been imminent. Bonnie was totally exhausted two days ago. White as a sheet. Last night i came home and went right to bed -- I didn't care about food or drink or company.

Another day in Paris, coming to a close.
Rebecca finally caved tonight, but not until 11:30 pm and after showing us the most beautiful Paris sunset that she photographed while Bonnie and I were in the Monoprix picking out a sharp cheese to use on the salad. 

Too bad, Rebecca said about her picture. Tonight's sunset looks better than the one I photographed last night, which in my mind is still superior, though it doesn't have the same colours. Yes that view from the Dorsey looking toward the Eiffel tower and seeing the rim of Paris against the horizon is pretty amazing.

I sure wish Rebecca would have had the energy to blog the pictures for me. But I can't wish too hard. She has been doing the hard work of planning excursions, finding bus routes, looking for museum prices, figuring out what buildings are open, doing the menu planning and getting some amazing photography moments.


Pompidou, the second time

going up the escalator at the Pompidou Centre

View of the Eiffel Tower from top of Pompidou
Multiple Modernities -- 1920 to 1970. That is the overarching theme of the art we saw in the Pompidou yesterday. Now on the fourth day of museums, I rely wholly on the audio guide for information. I rely on the icon on the wall to tell me where to stop next. There is a sense of loss in not being able to look at everything.

I stop by film again. First Manhatta, a poem that was the text for experimental film in 1928. Now it has been digitized and is there for all of us to see. As well, there are many references to Josephine Baker in other pieces of artwork. She is even there in a film which is being projected on the wall beside a 3-D artwork of wire, also in her image. Rebecca stops to join me and watch.

5th Floor of the Pompidou with the Sunset.
This is the second evening we have been there just as the sun is setting. Our view of the Eiffel Tower is always challenged by the cranes in the air, though used for building, now looking like they are there to hold the tower up. We stay on the same floor of the museum together.

Bonnie and Rebecca have picked up their old tradition of choosing from a wall, which of the pictures they could have if cost were no restriction and they could take home anything in the room that they wish -- though they limit themselves to one choice. Bonnie wants to make a run for it with the Miro, Rebecca the Klee.

We had walked around Notre Dame in the morning. Rebecca is skilled with the iPAD, at any moment showing us where we are, either on the Isle or ready to cross is. Behind me I can hear her like the voice that one hears in a car … turn right at the next intersection, only this time the voice is not impersonal, but one I know.

I hear them planning the day today, now that we don't have to use up those museum passes. I like the fact that they plan more than anyone could do in a day, and then at the end of the evening, they are thrilled if they have managed to get in at least the top choices on their lists.

Friday, April 11, 2014


... mangoes -- 2 for 5 Euros ...
We strolled along the banks of the Seine, looked at the metal boxes, now folded up, the boxes which by day, fold out into small kiosks for sellers of old books and of prints of the Seine or the city of Paris for tourists that pass by. The sun was dropping behind Notre Dame, which we could see in the distance. We had chosen to walk, knowing that we would only be in the Pompidou for a short time. Still the stroll was pumping life back into us since museums are a staid, almost stationary way to spend the day.

Rebecca makes an endive salad
stuffed with oranges, walnuts, chevre
Rebecca chose the Marie-Claire option for us, once we got to the museum. Straight to the seventh floor and then, looking neither left nor right, but straight ahead we strode down the main isle. All of us cheated, darting into one room or another. But we moved quickly. First the ticket seller, then the ticket checker, then the attendant on the seventh floor all warned us with either you have dix minute, sept minute, cinq minute seulement. One woman had turned us back as well but Rebeca told her that "the man said we could have ten minutes". The woman acquiesed.

Bonnie said, "I can remember Greg and Wyona driving us here. I can remember the slight smile on Greg's face when he told us that the building was controversial - constructed with the pipes on the outside that would normally be up in the ceilings and covered. That was 30 years ago."

... the first slice into the mango ...
When we left the museum we sat at a cafe on the square. I drank hot chocolate, sitting under the warming lamps and enjoying the scarves and coats on my body that Bonnie and Rebecca cast off, since the evening breeze was just right for them.

At midnight we left the square to walk back to the Louvre. We found our now familiar bus stop, rather than taking the faster metro home. The sign said 16 minutes until the #68 arrives. So we walked a few more blocks toward the opera house and in the direction that the bus would be coming from, just to keep walking along the streets.

 ...a simple 6 1/2 minute French boiled egg ...
 I knew at some level there is something just wrong about being out that late at night. It is not the lateness of the evening that is wrong. It is that the next day has no "must-dos" planned, no appointments, no responsibilities and so no reason to get home and be in bed. My life is generally not run on that scale of lack of responsibility.

We wandered by the Nine Wave Buildling (Grand Ondes), staring in at the large window where the description of the building takes the form of the window dressing.

 We would step backward to the curb to get a better look at the building and then return to the window for more of the words about its architectural form.

The woman from whom we are letting the flat left us a five page, single spaced exposition of the house and the neighbourhood which has come in handy.

 I have especially liked her telling of the ethnic store down the block that has scalper prices. Don't use the store unless it is late at night and you have no where else to shop. 

That is us.

...chevre and two day old baguette ... now inedible ...
 When you don't come home until midnight, there are not many other places to pick up the few items you might need, such as a fresh baguette. So we should have a frequent shoppers card at that store.

 Last night we needed toilet paper.

 We needed it the night before as well, but Rebecca says she just couldn't pick up on.

 Only fushia and canary yellow were available and that seemed just wrong.

Still last night, it had to be purchased ... at scalper prices.