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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Do you think he really knows it's Christmas??

I was sitting at the computer and heard the thump of a toy hitting the floor.  This always signals that Duffy wants to play Hide and Seek with the chosen toy. I turned around and this is the toy he had chosen--Santa Dog.  It's the only Christmas toy he has, but he hasn't played with it since early in the year. We know collies are really smart and I know Duffy is especially smart!!  Do you think he knows it's Christmas Day and connected this toy to the day? I think so!!

Merry Christmas from Duffy!!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

So this is my plan...

I'm going to pretend that this past week is just starting and that we are still 10 days away from Christmas.  That way I have plenty of time to do lots of baking, keep up with the snow shovelling, and enjoy the week.  There will be a tiny glitch in this plan though, because I will be expected to visit my dad on Tuesday--and we all remember how well that went last year!

Why this plan? Because last Sunday I started to cough, and by Monday I had a nasty, awful, debilitating influenza.  I guess it's the flu, because if this is a cold--yikes!!  The coughing has been horrible, almost non-stop at times, has given me sleepless night after sleepless night until a couple of nights ago, and has rendered me so exhausted I couldn't do a thing. The headache, the achy legs, and feeling of malaise are gone now.  But the cough carries on--deep rooted in the chest but causing the throat to be raw, because of all the coughing. I should have 6-pack abs by now from all that abdominal tightening from hacking up a lung and part of the stomach!! Hahaha!! I hear the cough sticks around for a least a month--oh goody! We can become very good friends!! I have lost another 5 pounds too--which is good. I'm getting down to where I want to be--but that's a topic for another post!!

Now if you think I've had it rough, let me tell you about Dave.  So he got some kind of cold, but was getting over that and then went to BC to help out his uncle while his aunt was in the hospital.  He came back with an intestinal bug--in fact it attacked him on the road.  Imagine stopping on the Trans Canada Highway and having to upchuck! Fun!! He got back the day before my birthday but stayed in Olds to get over that bug.  By the time he was feeling better, I'd come down with my bug and we missed his birthday!! Then he got hit with a problem which has been plaguing him on and off since he started getting Avastin shots in his eye--extreme fatigue, shortness of breath.  Many of his symptoms sound like COPD or Congestive Heart Failure.  I've nagged for months about him making an appointment with the Carpenters, but he never would.  He finally did last week and has one Monday morning at 9.  But we've been having snow for a couple of the days, the highway's not great, and with his fatigue, he may not be able to come. Now if he made an appointment months ago? Yeah, well, whatever! I think he needs to get detoxed from the Avastin. Here are some links to read about this delightful drug:
He went to the hospital in Olds 2 days in a row but never got to see a doctor.  There are no more clinics in Olds, so anyone needing to see a doctor has to go to emergency at the hospital. The wait times are unreal. Dave is not the most patient (no pun intended) person in the world, so you can imagine his temper!

So now you can see why I'm having a re-do of last week and having Christmas whenever we can manage to finally have it--and our birthdays too!

I'll leave you with a couple of photos of Jacqueline and I.  It was just the best gift in the whole wide world that she came over for my birthday and I sure didn't want her to leave!! We saw The Hobbit on December 14 at the North Edmonton Cinemas (that's where we were Jane, while you were at South Edmonton Common!!) and I enjoyed it.  Now we have to wait a year for the next installment!!
Celebrating my birthday at a wonderful Persian restaurant called Sabzy Persian Grill. We always went out together for our birthdays--both birthdays often with the coldest temps and snow storms!!  It was so nice to be able to do this again--the dinner, not the cold and snow!!!! I can't wait to take Dave here for our combined birthday dinner!

At Jacqueline's in-law's house. Good color coordination with the sweaters eh??!!

Merry Christmas to all, and may your holiday season be filled with good cheer, good friends, family, and good dogs!!


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hey, turning 60 isn't so bad after all...

Especially if you have great friends. XOXO Not everyone could make it from the southern reaches of the province :(

Margaritas and another Diane.
A delicious meal of bison delicacies followed by an excellent chocolate cake.

A cute chef comes out to cut the cake for you.

And then comes back to take pictures with you.

You have lots of laughs (and some tears too).

But best of all is a best friend who flies all the way from Perth, Australia on a grueling flight with 2 lay-overs, leaving behind balmy temps of +37 and her 2 little kiddies, to help you celebrate your 60th birthday. Sometimes coming here in early December wouldn't be too bad, but this year we have a tremendous amount of snow and it keeps falling basically every day, and some rather cool temps too. Not fun to have a crash course in trying to adapt to cold weather in 2 weeks!

I am so thrilled and so, so happy that Jacqueline came--this is the most wonderful thing that anyone has ever done for me (except maybe my mother giving birth to me, especially with me being 5 1/2 weeks late!!) Words can't adequately express my feelings. Thank you, thank you, thank you Jacqueline. I love you ♥♥♥♥. I don't want you to leave, you know!

PS We are going to see The Hobbit on opening day here on Friday!! Whoo Hoo!

Friday, November 23, 2012

You're a Star!!!

Second Wind Dreams has begun a new initiative at the EG called Star of the Month. The staff of the unit that our display cart is on, are invited to nominate one of their own. If we don't get any nominations we will pick someone that we think is worthy.  As we are just getting the program off the ground we selected Bella, a 31 year employee of the Rendezvous Restaurant at the EG!

Most of the Dream team-missing are Priscilla, Trudy, and Doreen who's taking the picture. Bella got a certificate, card, SWD bag and bottle, and yellow roses. Congratulations Bella!!! You are very deserving of the award!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Look Who's 90!!

Yes, my dad!! He made it to 90 on Sunday!! He's already started talking about 91! LOL!! And of course he's getting married any day now!! He's given up on Jill--he finally accepted that she is married.  So he set his sights on Bridget, the Irish lady who sits at the same meal time table.  She wants nothing to do with marrying him or anyone else but that doesn't stop my dad!! He sees her smiling at him, and assumes she's ready to get married!! He can't hear anything she says though--many husbands would like that gift!! Or do they employ it even without being deaf??!!
The staff came over to sing Happy Birthday
Anyway, we were going to take my dad out to the Muttart Conservatory, but it snowed in the morning, so we cancelled that.  I baked a chocolate mocha cake with mocha icing and we had a little party at the table with Dzintara, Bridget, and my dad. The staff got pieces of the cake too.

The son-in-law!!! It was so hot on the unit that the butter cream icing was softening up and sliding off the cake!!
Father and daughter!

Readers of my blog and my close friends know that my dad has made my life unhappy many times but I am glad that he's still here and that he made it to his 90th birthday. He's surpassed all members of the Stretch family (his grandfather lived to 89) and now he has to set his sights on the Jamieson/Smyth/McWilliams side--his great grandmother lived to 94). Happy Birthday Father!! ♥♥

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Family Remembrance for Remembrance Day

This story is about my cousin Hans William Jamieson. You are probably wondering about the combination of names. Well Hans' father was William Jamieson, born in Ireland in 1873 but his dad was born in Scotland. Hans' mother was a Danish girl named Martha Larsen, born in 1886. Hans was their first child, born in 1908. They subsequently had twin boys Howard Samuel and Harold James, born in April 1910, and later a daughter. Sadly one of the twin boys, Harold died at 3 months old in August 1910. The family lived on a farm at Jarrow, Alberta which is 95 miles SE of Edmonton, as the crow flies.

Hans was a 36 year old soldier in the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada. I don't know why he joined up--he was past the age of first call up. Perhaps he felt it was his duty. In the fall of 1944 Canadian troops of the First Canadian Army were engaged in the bloody Battle of the Scheldt which was fought in Holland and was to first seize Antwerp from the Germans and then liberate Holland. Geography made the Scheldt River valley very daunting. The Island of Walcheren had been fortified by the Germans into a powerful stronghold. The south bank of the river's estuaries were flat flood lands enclosed by dykes.  The area, being below sea level, was well suited to defense.

On September 21, 1944, the 1st Canadian Army's armoured division moved northward--the 4th Canadian Armoured Division was given the task of clearing the Breskens Pocket--the south shore of the Scheldt River around the Dutch town of Breskens. Meanwhile the 1st Polish Armoured Division headed for the Dutch-Belgian border further east and to the area north of Antwerp. The Battle of the Scheldt officially began October 1. The Allies had 60,00 troops, the Germans 90, 000.

What followed was 5 weeks of very difficult fighting. The Allied forces, were ultimately successful in clearing the Scheldt, after numerous amphibious assaults, obstacle crossings, and costly assaults over open ground. Both land and water had been mined by the Germans and the Germans defended their line of retreat with artillery and sniper attacks. By November 8, the Allies had cleared the port areas, but it was at the cost of 12, 873 casualties, half of which were Canadian--6,367.

It was during one of those costly assaults over open ground that Hans died. It was October 13, Friday the 13th and the Black Watch were ordered  to capture the small town of Woensdrecht, which was well fortified by the Germans. The attack had to be made up a hill and across 1,200 yards of open beet fields. It was in broad daylight--11:30 AM--with no cover, flooded fields, driving rain, and landmines. By the time the battle commander had the Black Watch retreat the regiment was almost wiped out-145 casualties, 56 dead including 4 company commanders, one company had been reduced from 90 men to 4 survivors, and 27 men had been taken prisoner. The Black Watch never had a chance that day.  They were already below strength as they had been all but wiped out at the Battle of Verrieres Ridge on July 25, 1944.  Of the 325 men who went out to fight that day, only 15 made it back to allied lines.  The rest were dead or wounded. I don't know if Hans was in that battle. October 13 would be forever known as Black Friday for the Black Watch.

Bergen-op-Zoom Canadian War Cemetery--1,118 Commonwealth burials of WW II soldiers, 31 unidentified, 1,087 identified Canadians. Hans is buried in plot 4.A.5, which means  that as you look at the picture, he is in the first row of the section to the right of the Stone of Remembrance.
Hans is buried in Bergen-op-Zoom cemetery in Holland.  As with all the war dead cemeteries in Europe it is beautifully cared for. The Dutch take particular care with the Canadian graves, because not only did so many Canadian die fighting in the Battle of the Scheldt, but it was Canadian soldiers who liberated Holland in the Spring of 1945. The Dutch had suffered terribly during the winter of 1944-45 because the Germans had cut off all food and fuel shipments to the western provinces which had a population of 4.5 million. The people suffered severe malnutrition with 18,000 starving or freezing to death. It was known as the Hunger Winter. Many ate tulip bulbs to survive. Canadians were able to negotiate a truce briefly with the Germans and allow some food in, but the real relief was when the Germans finally withdrew completely and the Canadians marched in. They shared their food with the Dutch. Canadian occupation had another effect-- 1,886 Dutch women became war brides and came to Canada.

Hans wasn't married, so his parents were listed as his next of kin. My dad told me that when he returned from his overseas service in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1946, he went out to Jarrow to visit his great Uncle and Aunt. He has also said that from time to time while he was driving a bus, he would see the surviving brother Howard downtown in Edmonton.  He said that Howard seemed like a lost soul, a misfit--perhaps the loss of his twin brother and then the loss of his older brother, had been too much for him.

War is such a terrible thing--so many men and women lose their lives and never have the chance to fulfill their potential. And in the end, wars are fought so that small groups of people or even individuals can retain or get more power or make huge amounts of money off armaments, war profiteering, and financing wars. Someday, perhaps we can stop them and not fight anymore wars.

From the Second World War Book of Remembrance

Rest in Peace Hans and all your brothers of the Black Watch and all men and women killed in wars.

Friday, November 9, 2012

90 years

My mom would have been 90 today. Happy Birthday Mother ♥♥ 

1945, on the farm

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Yee Haw!!

That's right, it's time for the annual Farm Fair and Canadian Finals Rodeo  here in Edmonton!!  And that's no bull!! Hahahaha!! I'm volunteering 4 of the 8 days and working 4 of the 8 days!! Dave was going to take Duffy for the week and then come back on Saturday and we were going to go to the afternoon performance of the rodeo.  But he's still deep in s**t--and I mean that literally!! He's one of a 4 man crew who are cleaning out farmers' corrals and spreading the manure on their fields.  Due to various unforeseen illnesses, boo boos, and weather (none of which were Dave's fault--even the weather!!), they are still at it.  This should have been almost finished by now.  So I didn't get the cheap rodeo seats allowed to volunteers and staff.  And Dave's not going to be able to take Duffy.  While I might be away 6-7 hours a day, he's away from 8 in the morning until sometimes 8 at night.  I don't think Duffy would like that!! The earliest I start is 10, so I have time to take him for a walk.  And my work shifts start at 2 -2:45 and finish by 7:30, so that's not too bad.

I'm hoping that he might be able get here for Sunday and we can attend the Heavy Horse Pull and if he stuck around for Monday, we could see some of the 2 day Northlands Stock Dog Trials during the day and the Heritage Ranch Rodeo in the evening.  Keeping fingers crossed!!

So let's get ready to have some fun!!! See you there!!!

The crowds!!!
The thrills!!

And the spills!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Don't they look like stuffed toy animals???

Majestic Alpaca!!
I love them!!!!! I fell in love with them when I was about 12 and we went to Al Oeming's Game Farm, south of Edmonton.  There were at least a dozen in their enclosure and wherever I walked, they all ran to that side of the enclosure.  It was so sweet--how could I not love them!! My dream is to have my little piece of land and some sheep (for Duffy and Dave--don't ask, but Jacqueline knows LOL!!!), some chickens, a few alpacas, and a llama to guard the sheep and the alpacas. Dave would like a few head of beef cattle--Herefords of course.  Maybe a horse too!! We better get at this plan, before we are in the old folks home!!!

So cute!!! ♥♥

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I'm Baaaack!!!

Did you miss me????!!! :) I've had a case of the blogging blahs, I guess.  There have been lots of things that I could have blogged about--like my job which is killing me, the hail storm we had in August that hammered the garden and flowers, herding lessons with Duffy, the return of health problems that I had 5-6 years ago, the course I'm taking, how I'm going to buy a muzzle for my dad, so he can't talk, etc., etc.  But I just couldn't work up any enthusiasm about writing it down.  I noticed a number of other Canadians have been in the blog doldrums lately too.  Maybe it's something in the air???

Anyway, I decided that a good way to re-enter the blog world would be with an upbeat, fun thing--like a party!! Specifically, this is the Halloween Party that Second Wind Dreams put on for the residents of 8Y this past Sunday. We all did the decorating and settling up the tables just before the party.  Claire's nephew and his girlfriend provided the entertainment--they are very talented! I had baked 4 1/2 dozen cupcakes--mocha chocolate, spice, and pumpkin spice.  I only needed to have baked half that amount!! Oh well--lots in the freezer for Halloween!! So here goes!
Kay with the giggles about something--I think it's because the tape kept slipping!

The residents who attended--they all had some kind of costume--chiefly hats.

Doreen strikes a pose!!

Phyllis the gypsy, Doreen the princess witch, and Kay who is wearing a borrowed eyeball necklace.

Claire gave her brother (far left) and her nephew Jason and his girlfriend/fiance SWD bags and water bottles as a thank you for entertaining the residents.

Getting the cupcakes out.  Later I wore a witch's hat that was orange/red colored and matched my jacket quite well! But no one took a picture :(
They both have had training from Grant MacEwan University's music program
Elaine won the best costume award for her wounded witch who has crashed into something!!
Happy Halloween!!!!!!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Off to Work I Go!!!

Yes, I have my first shifts at Northlands on Monday (7:30 AM--yikes!!) and Tuesday at the Gift Show!! We got our assignments at the orientation Tuesday evening.  Most of the other new staff will be working at Rexall Place and for many their first shifts are the Metallica concert (Friday and Saturday).

In addition to the power point presentation, sheets and handbooks, we were also given tours of Expo Centre and Rexall. We have to know where the staff areas are, where to swipe in and out, and the sign-in sheets.  Rexall was exhausting--it's 6 levels!! But we did get to go into the River Cree Club ( for season's ticket holders) and see those fancy doors that the Oilers come out of to get to the ice.  Apparently the Oilers are the only NHL team  that goes through a public area to get on the ice. We also got to sit in the Oilers' box and the penalty box!!  We went back stage where the performers, bands, etc. hang out--typically Guest Services staff wouldn't be in these areas.

The uniform--I was pleased to see that the vest was made in Canada!! Yay! But the shirt's not--it's made in China. This goes with black dress pants, black shoes and socks.  The vest is made of some neoprene-like fabric on the outside and fleece on the inside.  No that won't be hot, especially for a menopausal woman!! Hahahaha!!
Because of the times I listed as to my availability (9-6) I'm not likely to work at Rexall for any concerts or hockey games, except for an afternoon event.   I also wouldn't ever be a host in the seating areas, due to vertigo.  We got to Level 3 and I had to sit out the climb to the top levels.  I was getting panicky as it was.  And with the lights low or off in some places, that just heightened the lack of balance and panic. Yuck! But I could scan tickets at the door!! I don't mind about the concerts or games--didn't really want to have to deal with drunken, disorderly fans!!  I'm very happy to be in Expo Centre!!

Meanwhile, the heat and humidity has returned and the 3/4 inch of rain we got last Thursday brought more mosquitoes!! We were just seeing some improvement because we had some days without rain or very little. I'm doing my best though to harvest the fruits and veggies.  I picked a pail of peas yesterday--the 3rd picking and the last for the season.  There are such beautiful tomatoes too, and I got a dish pan full of cherries from the neighbor's trees, so I'm making pie fillings, and will make some jam. I have some tiny onions from the neighbor to pickle--just enough for half a pint. I must wade out there today to see what's happening in the cucumber patch!!!
Yum!!  As my neighbor likes to say, "Peas be with you!!"

Tomato sauce coming up!!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Agility, horse races, and other stuff!

Duffy and I have 2 agility classes left.  One had to be cancelled on July 25 because of rain and storms, and then instructor Dan was away at the Nationals, so the August 1 class was also cancelled. This Wednesday's class  was a hot, muggy, and horrendously buggy evening with a storm brewing.  It held off until the end of class and then started to rain.  So that was good timing! I enjoyed the class though as there were just 2 of us along with Dan. Usually there there are 6 of us with one woman having 2 dogs--the really overweight Aussies.We got a lot more chances to practise the night's new things and there wasn't the standing around waiting for everyones' dogs.  I've read some agility articles and blog posts about the value of 1 on 1 instruction and I can certainly see that one gets a lot more bang for one's buck.  I don't like standing either--my back starts to hurt, so more movement is definitely a plus there.  I also find that I don't really learn too much watching others with their dogs--I learn a lot more when Duffy and I do the exercise. However, there are pros to group instruction too--camaraderie with others just learning, and our dogs having a chance to get used to the distractions of other dogs and people, something they would see at a competition. Maybe a combination--2 different classes a week?   The next set of classes start in September and we will stay outdoors at the rink until the end of October. I think both dogs and people will find the fall weather a relief!! Mosquitoes be gone!!
Those of you on FB saw this picture of Duffy--Wednesday night after agility class.  A pooped and hot doggy lying in front of the portable air conditioner! 

I think Duffy enjoys the classes.  He also enjoys lots of sniffing the ground and peeing!!!!  Oh the joys of an intact male! Other dogs there: a black lab sort who's hyper, a miniature poodle named Prada, the 2 obese Aussies, who are nice dogs but need a diet for sure, a cute little Pom who likes Duffy and he likes her, and a 11 month old German Shepherd named Raina.  The Pom is shy/scared--she makes a little bold move and then decides she's scared. She likes to drink Duffy's water--she's probably has never had such good water in her life!  Lovely tasting spring water either from a farmer's place west of Olds, or the springs at Ya Ha Tinda, or from Rattlesnake Springs on the Penticton Band's reserve in BC. And then there's Raina--Raina is besotted with Duffy, seriously besotted.  She makes a bee line to him every opportunity she can, dragging her owner along with her!! She throws herself in front of him, usually crashing into my shins (ouch) as she does so, and openly flirts all the time. Duffy just stands there and I swear yesterday he was thinking, "Pull yourself together girl, for heaven's sake!!" At one class others were noting what a gentleman he was despite Raina's antics, and her owner commented, "And meanwhile she's acting a like a slut!" LOL!  I hate to see what she's like when she's in heat!!  Kidding aside, hyper sexuality is one of the signs of vaccine damage.  I see so many different signs of damage in almost every dog--it's very sad really. But what can you do?  People seem to have to learn the hard way. I basically employ the "don't ask, don't tell" policy these days!

Now to horse races! Last year I had a blast volunteering at the Canadian Derby and I really wanted to do it again this year.  I kept checking VicNet, Northlands' online volunteer scheduling program and they only had jobs at the Derby Marathon on Sunday handing out water to the runners for 6 hours on Ada Boulevard. Um, no thanks!! So then on August 2, I had to be at Northlands for 6 o'clock (more on that later).  I got home and saw there was an email from Northlands about Derby jobs--whoo hoo!! I went to VicNet--nothing, just the water boy work :( Usually this means that all the spots have been filled very quickly just after the email went out. But I decided to email Kelly anyway.  She was away until Tuesday and I got a call on Wednesday asking if I was still interested in volunteering at the Derby! You bet! She had one morning shift spot left--"I'll take!!" I have an info session to go to on August 23 and then the Derby on the 25!! Yay!! This year, because there are all new people at the racetrack, they will be assigning our jobs either at the info session or the day of the Derby.  Last year I worked at the infield with another woman, setting up and supervising the kids' craft tent. We had a great view of the races, they brought us a bag lunch, and then after our shift, we placed some bets and watched the races.  I won $7.50!!
From the stands--the kids' crafts and a face painter were in those far off white tents.

Fancy food was served in that big tent--special passes were needed to get in there! People are starting to gather for the arrival of the winning Canadian Derby horse.

And there he is--Freedoms Traveller, 3 year old gelding, Alberta bred and owned by Randy and Donna Feddema.  Jockey-Rafael Zenteno. It was a poignant win, as Freedom's trainer, Barry Brown had died of cancer in May, and Brown's partner Leanna Knechtel had taken over the job of conditioning the horse. I had bet on Tommy D'Horsey--because the name made me laugh, and Lemon Loaf--for obvious reasons.  Tommy D'Horsey led at the start but was quickly overtaken by Freedoms traveller!! Oh well!!

Why was I at Northlands for a 6 o'clock appointment? I was being interviewed for a job, that's why!!  This was one of the things that I had been planning from early in the year. I wanted to work in the "Guest Services" area--basically the kind of thing I do as a volunteer--an ambassador for Northlands. The 6 o'clock interview slot had 6 people waiting and we had a group interview. Never had one of those before--different. We were told they would make their decision by the following Wednesday and if we hadn't heard from them by then, apply again next time! I came home quite sure I wouldn't be hired--everyone was young except for one other woman and I wasn't sure I had answered the scenario questions very well.  But I was okay about the fact I wouldn't get a call.  Dave said to me, "Well you are definitely over qualified for the job"!! Hahaha!! You think???!! I wasn't thinking anything about the job, as I knew I had days to wait--no worries until at least after the weekend.  Friday morning, the phone rings, it's Northlands--and they want to hire me!! Shock, awe, thud!! Orientation is next Tuesday for 4 hours. I did ask at the interview, if my having vertigo would be a problem.  They had said no.  Vertigo means I can't work as an usher/guide at Rexall place for the hockey games and concerts. My screams of panic would drown out the bands and distract the hockey players!!!

I will keep volunteering with Northlands too and I put down for only 10-15 hours a week for work.  I still have my dad to see to, and fun stuff to do with Duffy.  In addition I have signed up for the next course in homeopathy with Magda, the Repertory Course--that starts September 9 and goes for 10 weeks. Should be a busy fall!!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Dave's Mom who died this day one year ago, and my goddaughter Clara who died August 8, 2003.

Somehow it seems unfair that a bright Summer day should be filled with sadness and longing. But life seems to hand out these ironies to us on a regular basis. My mother-in-law was snatched away almost without warning although in truth she had had many spells where she blacked out and then didn't remember them. But she seemed to have many more years left and neither Dave nor myself could have conceived that our visit for her 90th birthday would be the last time we would see her alive.  Still, she had lived a full life and had the career she always wanted, the boy and girl she had dreamed of, and the love of family, friends, and colleagues.  Her life wasn't always a bed of roses, but she had such deep strength and always carried on.

Clara was also snatched away without much of any warning.  But instead of the full, rich life she should have had, she died the day she was to have emerged into this external world.  All the dreams, hopes, and plans her parents had, died with her.  All the hopes and dreams the rest of her family had, died that day.  All the hopes and plans of friends like myself, died that day too. Clara's death has no rhyme or reason, at least not that we can see or understand.

I miss Mom.  I miss being able to talk to her.  For a little while after my own mother died, I still had a mom to talk to.  Even though her memory was failing and she didn't remember most conversations, that was okay.  I was used to that with my mom's dementia and that of many people I have encountered at the Edmonton General. I long to have talks again with my moms.

I never got to have all those conversations that I imagined having with Clara as the years would pass by. That August day in 2003 I held her and loved her.  I will always love her and always long for what might have been, for what should have been. She visits me though--this year in particular so many times ladybugs have landed on my hand, arm, or clothes.  They are young ones and small, not large adults. I know it's her, saying hi to Auntie Dianne.

Roses from Mom's garden. For Mom and Clara, love always XOXOXOXOXO.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


To Diana and Ali'i for successfully finishing the Tevis 100 mile endurance ride yesterday. This is their 2nd Tevis ride--they also finished last year's ride. I'm so proud of her and her great little horse.  I hope he didn't do any bucking along the way!! I can hardly wait to read all about the ride in her blog.  But first I hope she's having some much deserved rest!!
Diana and Ali'i--pre-ride photo from the Tevis website

For those who don't know she was kicked in the leg by a friend's horse just under 2 months ago and her leg was pretty badly beaten up.  But she gave it the rest it needed and it healed well, and she was able to ride in Tevis. Her friend Janine took Ali'i for a month to condition him, as Diana wasn't able to ride him with her injured leg.  I was sad to see that Janine and her horse were pulled at Chicken Hawk for metabolic reasons.

I followed her progress on the Tevis Webcast all day ( yes I know, I really need to get a life!!).  It was frustrating at times, because it often took up to an hour and a half before results were updated and that's not counting the time zone difference. But I can only imagine the logistics of  getting the info at the vet check stops, then compiling it, and typing it in. There were 231 riders who started the ride and 98 finished it within the given time. Tevis is in the top 10 rated endurance rides and is sanctioned by the American Endurance Ride Conference. The first ride was in 1955 and it has only been cancelled once and that was in 2008 due to the wild fires. Check out for lots of pictures, information, and stories about Tevis. Riders who complete the ride within time and who's horses are deemed 'fit to continue' receive a silver buckle!!
Pretty spiffy!!!

The ride started at 5:15, PDT and it took such a long time before Diana's first results were shown. There must be such a glut of riders in those first couple of checks that they only gave the results for every check point for the leaders. But finally I saw she had reached the first one hour hold point at Robinson Flat at 11:42 PDT. That's 36 miles into the ride. As the day progressed, riders were pulled for horses going lame and for metabolic issues.  Some riders chose to take themselves out of the ride.  Diana kept going and moving up the ranking. By the Deadwood check in there were 152 riders left and Diana was 116. By Chicken Hawk, she was 95 out of 139. I was relieved to see her check in at Foresthill at 7:43--this is the 2nd one hour hold. She ranked 79 at that point. She was out of Foresthill (68 miles) at 8:48, out of Cal 2 (77 miles) at 9:42, and the Francisco's at 12:31(85 miles). Of course with the delay in reporting and the time difference, I finally lay down and slept around 2 MDT. I woke up at 4:30 and checked and Diana was reported out of the Lower Quarry at 2:42  and she was ranked 53. This is 94 miles into the race and was the last check point. There was no way I was going to bed now!!  I waited and the results came up showing that Diana crossed the finish line at McCann Stadium in Auburn at 4 AM!! She was rider 55 out of 98 or to put it into an even greater prespective, rider #55 out of 231 who started!!

My hat's off to everyone who rides endurance--you have to be very brave and a little crazy!! I love you Diana, you are a hero!! Congratulations! And I know by tomorrow, if not sooner, you will already be thinking about next year's Tevis! Or maybe a little longer!! xoxoxoxo

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Back in the Garden Again!! And a recipe!!

After a long week working at Capital Ex every day, plus 2 days in the previous week (another blog post, I hope), I'm happy to be able to putter in my garden and coddle my flowers again!! Mind you, the ample supply of mosquitos due to the copious and at times Biblical proportions of rainfall, make it more challenging that it was 2 weeks ago. But all one can do is either dress in long pants and long sleeved shirts--which given the high humidity readings every day, is nothing short of  torture--or spray on "Buzz Away" a Citronella Oil containing  insect repellant from Planet Organic. It doesn't say what else is in the spray!!! Well it has to be better than Off and stuff like that! So let's head outdoors, slapping as we go!!
Sweet pepper growing nicely!

My gigantic dill bush/tree!!

Close-up of a florette of dill

Despite seeing a lot of the tiny apples drop on the ground earlier this year, and despite the fact that the tree of my favorite variety is dying, there are some lovely apples up there!!  Apple trees have a life expectancy--bet you didn't know that--of about 40 years.  Several branches are going, but we have been nursing some seedlings to take over, so we won't be appleless.

The raspberries have been outstanding!! I broke a personal record of baskets picked in one session--previously 4 and a little bit.  The new record is 6 baskets!! The combination of heat and rain has really inspired them!!

Beautiful giant dragonfly ( 3 inches long), taking a break from consuming mosquitos!! I have a regular squadron of them flying around the yard and I always encourage them to catch more!!

First bean picking yesterday!!

First tomatoes from the garden--Tiny Tim's--sooooo good!!

And put them together in a Greek Green Bean Salad!

Abelofasoula Salata (Green Bean Salad)

1 1/2 pounds of fresh green beans, washed, trimmed, and cut in 1 inch pieces or left whole if they are still slender
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
salt to taste

Steam the beans until almost tender
Whisk oil, vinegar, and salt together and pour over the beans.

I've added a couple of things from another recipe. I chop up one medium tomato or several small ones and mix them with the beans.  And I add about 1/2 tsp. of oregano to the oil and vinegar dressing.  I also use a lot less oil and vinegar and find a couple of tablespoons of each is more than enough.  But you might like more. Then I sprinkle some feta cheese on top--sheep feta is best, but goat is fine.  I used to get sheep feta from Planet Organic, but they haven't had any for some time. Then I found some at The Great Canadian Stupor Store, of all places!!

I'm not a big fan of beans--of any kind, despite the fact that I plant too many green beans every year!! But I really like this use of green beans! Enjoy!!