Friday, September 30, 2016

Canadian Beauty and Quirks

Our trip to Calgary, Canmore, and Banff Canada brought our travelling group into new and surprising realms of experience-some good and some not so good.


  • Look at the first photo over there and you will what's best about Canada.  This random shot of the Bow River represents what's all nearly everywhere you can look as you walk your body around in a circle. I'm not kidding.  Big plus=no billboards, no advertising, no litter, few traffic or directional signs. You can drive and drive and see nothing but stunning views that bring instant calm and peace to your soul.
  • Eating is truly fun. Not only is the food superb, the servers are all interesting people from all over Canada who have come to Canmore and Banff for snow sports, to make some travelling money, or just to enjoy the different life experience found in remote resort areas.
  • And about the food mentioned above-we only had one mediocre meal in all our time there. Even though the food was just okay at one of our stops, the service was prompt, courteous, and saw to every serving detail.
  • Imagine you just left the crowds of tourists at Lake Louise and don't care to spend top dollar at the chateau. Just a hop down the road and two left turns and following the short gravel road will bring you to the Railway Restaurant.  Too small to accommodate the herds of bus tourists, you'll find few diners here at this unique preserved RR station from old time Canada. The wooden floors creak, the lovely tables are set up beautifully, and you can gaze at all the historical items displayed in the cabinets here and there.  The food is fabulous.
  • Check out the photo of the head. That's one of Canada's quirky things. This head is found near the footbridge in Canmore.  Canmore means "big head/smart person" in Gaelic. Ed's big head is also quirky in its own bald and likable way.
  • Visit the Heritage Historic Park Village and enjoy the authentic buildings, whimsical costumed people who periodically break out in acting scenes of representations of street life back in the Canadian day.
  • READ all the small print on your passport. As we were picking up our boarding passes at PDX, Ed and Penny learned that their driver's license sized passports  only permit travel into Canada by land or by sea.  Uh-oh. Major disaster for all of us that called for quick brainstorming. We ruled out abandoning the trip. Canada Air helped them get a flight to Spokane where they rented a car and made the nine hour driving trip to meet us in Calgary. That surprising leg of their trip left them exhausted and anxious but brought us all back together for the rest of the trip.  And how did they get home? You cannot be denied entry into our own country so we all flew home together. Big, big WHEW.

Saturday, September 3, 2016


The cake pictured on facebook will never win any State Fair awards for appearance but would easily earn some kind of recognition somewhere because of its fabulous taste and quirky history. It looks funny because it's totally homemade from the wax paper lined cake pans to the melted chocolate drizzle on top.  It's been presented to my family on this plate made by Brian when he was in pre-school at age four originally as a way to award his art endeavors.  When the Cake is brought out, the family greets it with hoorays and clapping.  Everybody loves it.

The recipe came to my mother from her oldest sister, Ethel, who sweet talked her way into procuring a copy from a family down the street a few houses.  That neighborhood was somewhere in California in the 1920's and the recipe belonged to the Comstock family of the famed Comstock Lode.  Ethel was served a piece at a social gathering of the Comstocks and when she asked for the recipe, she was told it was "secret."  Ethel, whose people skills were as honed as anyone's, figured that if she couldn't get the recipe through the front door, she could maybe get it through the back door.  Hence, her friendly approach of the Comstock maid who happily produced the recipe. She shared it with my mother who, in turn, taught me how to make it and now my own daughter (the non-cook, as you'll remember) and two grandgirls all know how to prepare this cake exactly as it was intended to be made and served all those years ago in a rich person's parlor.

The made from scratch cake begins with wax paper lined cake pans and ends with the chocolate drizzled according to the creative mood of the baker and thus always looks the same and yet has an original twist due to the mood or fancy of the baker as she applies the drizzle. The leavening is vinegar and baking soda and "don't over mix it as you add it to the batter."  Be sure to add "just a drop or three of almond extract to the cream cheese frosting for that extra bit of flavor" and "remember  it tastes even better the next day because of the buttermilk." I can hear my mother reciting these lines more than a few times as she led me through the process of making the Cake.

The Cake in the photo is literally only moments completed by my own hand and will be served tomorrow at a family BBQ. I can never, ever get the Cake to rise as high as my mom's Cakes always did, but I'm resigned to my shorter Cakes due to the compliments of the family.  And tomorrow the birthday will be my own as I enter my birthday season celebrating 70 years at the table.  And I'll bet that I've easily made 100 if not more of these cakes in my lifetime.

Happy 70th birthday, Terry!


Wednesday, August 10, 2016


I'm late for the August posting because I was at the beach.  I was so excited about going and so involved in getting ready that I forgot.  Sorry.

Going to the beach with my female relatives on my Dad's side has become an annual tradition.  Plus or minus 15 of us rent two houses and spread ourselves between them. My niece Tracie is our travel agent and she always finds us roomy yet cozy places to stay.  We always bring way too much food and pack in more clothes than we'll ever wear and many even supplement with new outfits from the outlet stores.  Others buy clothes and gifts for their families at home. We are serious shoppers.

My sister and I always spend as much time as we want in a bookstore and revel in the lack of a timeline. My goal this year was to look at every shelf of books in the Canyon Way Book Store and Restaurant.  That was fun and easy and most enjoyable because we also brought along my niece from Madras who found her books, bought them, and then sat down to happily read while she waited for us.

Another tradition is our trip to the casino to play Bingo. I don't really like casinos because they are too noisy and smoky and seem full of people who fool themselves into thinking that they will hit the prize of a life time if they just spend $20 dollars more. But those of us in the Bingo room are content to wear our lucky hats (which we made before we came) and enjoy the contest. We don't win much but three of us won enough to cause an explosion of screaming and yelling.

Our big deal this year was our Sand Drawing Contest.  This idea had been in the works since my sister suggested it last year. We divided into two teams:  North and South.  We were split into those teams according to where we reside. My sister-in-law and I were the judges and we sat at the top of the 107 step staircase to the beach while the two teams prepared their entries.  The North team even had matching hot pink t-shirts and it was hard not to give them extra points just because they did. The South team drew a gigantic Starbucks coffee mug full of a steaming latte with a donut minus one bite on the plate next to it.  The emblem was detailed and gorgeous with the mermaid's hair steaming beautifully on the front of the mug.  Different colored sand was imported to fancy up the donut and the latte.  It was great. The North team divided their entry with a precise grid and then used the measurements to create a sea scene with a huge fish blowing blue-ish colored bubbles. The bubbles were made with shaving cream and looked awesome.

People passing us as they climbed down the stairs helped us decide the winning team.  Several paused to spend some time just  watching the artists and the whole project became an event not only for our family, but for many other beachcombers.  Fortunately, the entries were started at low tide so there was enough time to finish before the tide began to shift. Well, just barely.  The steam in the coffee mug was disappearing almost exactly when the contest was finished.

You might try this with your friends and families the next time you go to the Coast.  It is sure to put new energy into your trip and make a forever memory at the same time.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

True Story: Sing With a Country/Western Tang

Western Weekend

'Twas a  trip like no other
as we piled over each other
to get the best seat in the  Ford.
                                                Ed did the drivin' and we did the directin'
not a second was one of us bored.

O, Jerry Jeff Walker you're more than a talker
You sing til our hearts grow full!

We stopped to see family
and a few joined us gladly
as we wound our way up the road.
Our rooms were awaitin' so we did our unpackin'
and were glad we got rid of our load.

O, Jerry Jeff Walker you're more than a talker
You sing til our hearts grow full!

To the casino we ventured
for buffet food was featured
along with the great Jerry Jeff.
We whooped and we hollered stompin' and clappin'
til the last of all songs then we left.

O, Jerry Jeff  Walker you're more than a talker
You sing til our hearts grow full!

We wandered those mountains
and stopped for food and attractions
We liked the Falls best and the most.
Homeward we traveled with taped music rattlin'
our own Walker concert we'd host.

O, Jerry Jeff Walker you led us out yonder
and sang til our hearts grew full!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Can't Say

Because of the decade I will enter in September, I can no longer say things like

  • It's bikini time! Let's step up our workout!
  • The light's just fine in here.
  • Mom, your TV is way too loud.
  • I think I'll skip dessert this week.
  • What will the neighbors think?
  • Let's go to the late show.
  • I'll never wear pants with an elastic waist.
But I can finally say things like
  • You are one hot dude!
  • I need to sit down for a few minutes.
  • Where's the magnifying glass?
  • These baggy pants are my favorites.
  • I'm sick of cooking.
  • Yes, I'd love to have some help out.
  • We ALWAYS go to the early show. 
  • Why don't they make bigger print on these directions?
You get my drift, right?  If you don't, you aren't really old enough to read this blog.  But if you read it anyway, try to imagine a time when you might drive around and around in the parking lot at the mall just so you can park as close as possible to the entrance. Or when you don't eat fries because they give you gas. Try to enjoy your smooth skin and good eyesight.  One day you'll look into the mirror and think, "WHO IS THAT?"  

Monday, May 2, 2016


There are so  many reasons why this blog is a day late.  They are listed below. Which one do you like the best?

  • I spent too much time at Fred Meyer on Sunday and didn't have any writing time left.
  • We needed to watch "Duel" with our granddaughters this weekend and I stayed up too late during the time I'd set aside for blog creation.
  • Mother's Day is next weekend.  I gave a lot of writing time over to thinking about the best way to celebrate it. I should note that my own mother has been gone for ten years. (There's a lot of sub text in this one.)
  • I forgot.
  • The weekend was perfect for planting annuals so I was too tired to work at the computer.
  • Colene's job application and Greg's writing project kept me too involved with other people's writing.
  • The Blazers played during the day rather than in the evening and I had to watch even though they never really stood much of a chance against the Warriors. I could have sacrificed the second half and just gotten a report on the fourth quarter. 
  • I had a headache and I'm still recovering from my foot surgery. I needed a long nap.
Actually, they're all true and, yes, I know they're lame.  The reason I know about lame excuses is because I was an English teacher for 30+ years and I've heard every excuse you can possibly think of
for why an assignment is late. When I was in my early teaching years, I was easily swayed and would accept your paper if you promised never to do it again.  In the middle years, I would accept your paper for fewer possible points.  And, in the later years, NO LATE WORK WAS ACCEPTED. Period. This rule was always included in the syllabus and we could discuss it all you wanted to, but I won all the time.

P.S. I tried to check my spelling on this piece but the function wasn't working.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

My Newest New Car

My best new car so far was my 95 Toyota RAV4. She was a peppy red rolling classroom/child care center with a sporty hood scoop and an overhead ski rack.  There was plenty of room inside for stacks of student essays as well as some Dr. Seuss favorites along with small packets of jelly beans hidden in all kinds of special car pockets. It served my teacher-self and my Granny-self well until that day in early spring when Mrs. No Driver's Licence-No Insurance tried to make it to a good parking spot at the Head Start Center right through the driver's side of my beloved Salsa Linda causing her to steam, smoke, and shatter into a total loss. I really mourned that car. She was perfect and suited me just fine.

I replaced her with my worst new car - a smoky colored 2014 Mazda CX-5.  It didn't take me very long to figure out that I couldn't see very well through the peephole rear window let alone to the sides of the car around the huge frame posts. And it took forever for me to learn how to use all the modern techno-gadgets that come with new cars these days. Not long after I figured out how to use the phone and tune in the really great sounding Bose radio and christened him Thunder, I decided he was just way too big for me.  He required clever steering and reversing to get him into a parking spot at Safeway and in spite of the great tunes and lots more room for grandkids, I began to think about getting  a different car. Mind you, this one wasn't even two years old (and paid for) when I proposed downsizing to my husband after I'd done lots of research to be able to talk persuasively.  Then the deal became done when I accidentally tried to make the garage a little bigger with Thunder's right front panel.  Pat was on board for the car search.

It's not a good idea for me to share the experience of car shopping on  my own.  It makes me angry to remember how quickly I was dismissed. If that salesman had only known that I was ready to give Thunder to him and throw wads of money his way, he wouldn't have sent me to the back lot two blocks down the street.  No, "Let me drive one up here for you."  Nothin'.

So we drove out to the very friendly Subaru lot in Gresham where a welcoming young woman stood waiting for us with an encouraging smile. She was new at it and had to summon Bryce to help her out.  It was an easy sell after the five or ten minutes it took me to find Fern F. Forester only steps from the showroom door. She is a just right for me kind of car even though her technology is even trickier than Thunder's. She gets good gas mileage on my many drives back and forth to Salem, is comfortable, and has good visibility. She's smaller than my other new cars but still has room enough for grandgirls and their teen and pre-teen gear along with a good spot for TicTacs, lip gloss, and coffee credit cars and my gym pass.  (I couldn't resist adding that; yes, I have a pass to the gym, but it will take a very long time for me to wear it out.) We were quickly able to go through the torture experience of haggling the price and giving over Thunder into the hands of someone who will find a more loving garage for his bubbly-windowed self. I didn't even need to excuse myself to the restroom to take pain reliever for a headache. We weren't there long enough for me to get one.

I've heard rumors about the kind of people who drive Subarus but will let that subject slide for now. Fern fits our garage to a tee and I think she'll be with me for a long time. She's my newest and I hope my new best car. . .and she's paid for.