Thursday, September 19, 2019

Sedona ... in the Arizona Desert

The day after arriving in Phoenix, we (my son, his wife, daughter and I) drove to Flagstaff, via Sedona. It was about a two-hour drive.

The striking thing about Sedona is the redness of its rocks - which reminded me of the red sand beaches of Prince Edward Island.

Such beautiful scenery!

No wonder the town attracts artists!

My son had read about a catholic church built into a mountain in Sedona... so we headed off in search of it.

We learned that it had been designed by a woman - back in the days when most architects were men.

The red rocks of Sedona - and the church - will be my main memories of this beautiful desert spot.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Trip to Arizona and the Grand Canyon

Do you plan to do any travelling after you retire? was a question I was often asked during my last months of teaching.

Well, I've never seen the Grand Canyon, I would reply. I'd like to see that... 

But the Grand Canyon trip never happened. It became sort of a family joke - Mom's trip to the Grand Canyon!

In our younger years, Terry drove our family across the continent every year or so... to visit my parents in BC or my brother's family in Dallas. But we're older now. Could we do it?! (And Terry really doesn't like to fly...)

Finally, one day last spring, my youngest son said: Mom, Dad isn't ever going to take you to the Grand Canyon. So I will...

So a few weeks ago, I boarded a plane for Phoenix, Arizona with my son, his wife, and their three-year-old daughter - for a  5-day Grand Canyon adventure...

We didn't do much outdoor walking when we arrived in Phoenix - the temperature was 103 Fahrenheit (39.4 degrees Celsius). Very hot and very dry!

But we spent our first night on the 17th floor of a lovely hotel...

And had amazing views of the city at dusk...

The next day we headed off into the desert by car...

Towards Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon, several hours away.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Childhood Airing of Grievances

One of the interesting aspects of organizing papers is finding souvenirs of the past.

I recently came across some hand-written "documents" from the days when my sons were in grades 7 and 5. They had to share a bedroom. Generally, they got along well, but occasionally there were conflicts, not only with each other - but with parents.

My older son, age 13, wanted more freedom - not an unreasonable request, but hard to enforce when he shared a room with his younger brother, who would most certainly want the same privileges his older brother had...

A parenting dilemma!
We must have had a disagreement about what he was and wasn't allowed to do after school - like head to the mall with friends to check out (and possibly buy) video games. I was adamant that they let me know where they were at all times... (and there were no cell phones in those days!)

At some point my older son and I must have had an argument about it...

To help us both step back and look at the situation more clearly, I created a "document" that listed my expectations of him - and invited him to share what he wanted of me. We read each other's expectations - I see he checked off each item as he read it (top photo).

His position was that he wanted me to trust him, to let him go to the mall without permission and to stay up as late as he wanted. He also wanted to be able to relax and play video games after school without my complaining.

I, on the other hand, wanted to know where he was at all times. I wanted him to try harder in school and fulfill his responsibilities (homework and chores)... which probably impinged on his video game playing time. He had a paper route, so he did have money to spend - money that he had earned so I had no control over it.

We both signed the document, to signify that we were aware of the other person's point of view.

We must have both been satisfied with our airing of grievances, because a few days later, he gave me a document listing his grievances against his brother: He no longer wanted to share a room with him because (1) His brother had eaten two of his chocolate bars - for which he now owed him $1.50, and (2) he had turned off the Game-Boy when my older son was at the last level of a game.

The background story to that was, I think, that when I announced bedtime lights out, older brother wasn't quite finished the game he was playing - so younger brother turned it off! This happened from time to time...

Younger son - having witnessed this exchange of "documents" now created a document of his own, which he presented to both of us. He was (presumably) guilty of having eaten his brother's two chocolate bars, because he suggested that by selling his brother's old video games, keeping  a commission of 75 cents a game, he could pay off his debt.
I really don't remember what happened next...

But how can I - sentimental mother that I am - throw out all these "documents" (all officially signed) that bring back such wonderful  memories of their childhood years??!

Monday, September 16, 2019

It's Always So Peaceful...

My favorite route home from Toronto includes a stretch of  old highway - from Kingston through Brockville to Prescott.

As we drive along, my eyes constantly turn to the St. Lawrence River - and the beautiful waterfront cottages and  homes. They look so peaceful!

Now that the busy season is past, we should come and stay here for a few days, I suggest to Terry. Wouldn't it be nice to get to learn a little more about the area?  

Liquor was smuggled across the St. Lawrence River during the prohibition years...

Names like "Smuggler's Cove "and "Smuggler's Hideaway" make me want to know more!

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Terry and "The Guys"

When our youngest son was a teenager, Terry was the manager of his soccer team...

At the time, we had a large van. Many a weekend Terry would load up the van with team members and head out for a few days - to a tournament or game somewhere in Ontario (Peterborough,Toronto or Mississauga). Or maybe in Quebec (Montreal, Granby, Quebec City...)

The rest of the family had no interest in going - besides, there was no room for us in the van. So we'd stay home.

This went on for years!

The players and parents who were part of that team forged a bond of friendship that didn't end when the boys went to university.. .

They were there when teammates got married...

Occasionally they'd get together just for fun - like one winter when they went curling!

So it's always interesting to me when Terry gets together with any of these guys - as he did recently in Hamilton.

He is so happy!

They're like a second family! 

Only now they're grown men - physio-therapists, teachers, lawyers, fire fighters in different parts of Canada. Some are married, with kids of their own...

He's so proud of them all!

And they still know him as "Papa Hutch"!

(Sorry, Terry! There must bea dozen team photos in the house - but I can't find a single one!)

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Saturday Drive

On Saturdays in summer, Terry and I often head out into the country...

Sometimes we go to the Carp Farmers Market...

A few weeks ago, after visiting the market., we continued on to another favorite venue - Wes's French Fries in Arnprior...

To our amazement, there was a lineup!

Always delicious!

Friday, September 13, 2019

Back at St. Jacob's Farmers Market

On a recent weekend trip to Guelph, we headed to the Saturday Farmers Market at St. Jacob's.

The apple fritters were the big draw...

Though we enjoyed checking out the rest of the market as well...

Then we headed to Kitchener - to check out a vintage boutique my daughter wanted to shop at.

We happened to park near their Saturday Farmers Market, just before it was slated to close...

Just in time for the discounted price of fruit and veggies. Terry bought discounted grapes - and a non-discounted blueberry pie.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

More to Do in Brockville

We often stop in Brockville en route home from Toronto. If it's early enough, we sometimes stop for a late lunch at Taits Fresh Start Bakery... If we need to stretch our legs a bit, we occasionally wander through the restored train tunnel (the first ever built in Canada).

Last time we passed through, we did all the above, plus we stopped in at the tourist office to check out their t-shirts. It was then that I picked up a brochure for something we have never done before - check out the underwater sculptures in a park we have never visited.

My daughter took scuba diving lessons when she was a teenager living in Ottawa. Part of their training was diving into one of the ship wrecks near Brockville. Apparently someone created underwater sculptures nearby for scuba divers to explore.

I wonder if they're visible from the shore - because I don't plan to get into the water and swim!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Hunting for the Perfect Poppy Seed Cake

One of Ottawa's European-style bakeries shut down recently, and ever since, I've been on a hunt for a replacement for one of their cakes that I used to buy... poppy seed roll. I've seen similar cakes made by other bakeries - but I think the Rideau Bakery's was sweetened with honey. It had a stickiness that others don't have. And it definitely had a lot more poppy seeds.

So I've been buying poppy seed rolls whenever I see them... hoping to find one I like as much.

I bought these fresh rolls at a Russian grocery store that carries food that I occasionally crave - garlic sausage that reminds me of sausage my father used to buy, and cherry cake with crumb topping similar to one my grandmother used to bake.

Large two-serving buns, one is filled with poppy seeds, the other with cottage cheese.

Good - but not exactly what I'm looking for...

I may have to try my hand making my own!

Not sure if the recipe in this Jewish cook book will replicate the cake I crave.

If not, I may have to hunt for a recipe online...

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Another Sweater!

It may be because my sewing room is too messy for me to work in it... (I'm waiting for a rainy day to organize!)

But I've been doing a lot of knitting this summer.

(I'm also thankful that I no longer experience pain when knitting - now that I've gone back to using metal knitting needles!)

I recently started on my third sweater using a pattern I love - where the sweater is knit from the top down, with no seams.

(My first sweater was this white tweed yarn.)

This time, I'm using yellow Marino yarn from my "stash."

Not sure who this one will be for... It may even be for me!

Monday, September 9, 2019


I'm not sure if someone has already coined the term, but I'm feeling stressed - E-stressed!

The problem, in short, is this...

I have a computer that is so old that every time I turn it on, I wonder if it will still work!

On this computer I have saved a lot of photos that I'd like to use in family albums - photo books... but these take time to create and I haven't done them yet!

In January 2020, my computer's version of windows will no longer be supported by Microsoft. (My computer is too old.)

To make matters worse... my computer is the only one that our printer works with, so when my computer goes, our printer will no longer work... except as a photo-copier.

In the next few days, we are planning to switch internet providers - in order to save about $1000 a year - but now I'm wondering if the printer will work with the new modem we'll be getting?!!

So many questions!!

Will one change - this week - mess up my whole system?!!

Sunday, September 8, 2019

"Give me Experiences!"

Give me experiences, not things... I have enough stuff, Terry tells our children when asked what he'd like for a birthday or Christmas... I recently realized that this is not a new attitude - not simply the result of having a house full of stuff at a time in life when many our age are downsizing!

Terry has enjoyed "experiences" for as long as I can remember. He used to attend an annual charity auction, where he'd bid on all sorts of things, like hot-air balloon rides... (which is why I've gone up in a hot air balloon three times!)

One year, he bought two tickets for an Ottawa Senators hockey game that included a professional photo by the official photographer of the Ottawa Senators. Going through stuff recently, I came across it: my younger son, about age 10, next to the rink, an experience Terry wanted our son to have.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Back to Baking

I don't do much baking in summer. In fact, I don't do much cooking either. I don't want to heat up the house... So Terry prepares a lot of our meals on the barbecue...

But recently, a container of souring milk make me think of baking muffins. After going through favorite recipes, I chose a bran muffin recipe that makes 18 large muffins...

I baked 6 plain - for Terry...

Added slices of peach on the top of 6 - because I LOVE peaches! And mixed a handful of blueberries into the last of the batter...

Then I invited my son to join us for breakfast waffles - also made with slightly sour milk...
Haven't had home cooking or baking in a while - so it was a good "homemade" kind of day!

I posted the muffin recipe on the blog in September  2012.

(If you're interested in a low-cal muffin with lots of bran - and molasses, click here to go back to that old post.)

Friday, September 6, 2019

Botany Lesson with the Elephant Ear Plant

This past spring, a friend gave me a tuber for an elephant ear plant.

I planted it in a container, covering the soil with stones and a brick - to keep the squirrels from digging in it.

With regular watering, the tuber has been producing large leaves...

For me, watching the plant grow has been a fascinating botany lesson...

First the stem of an existing leaf develops a thickness.

This bulge then separates from the stem...

Before long, it begins to unfurl into a large leaf.

In the picture on the left, the stem on the left hasn't separated yet. The stem on the right has opened up and is unfurling as a leaf.

A week or two later, the new leaf repeats the same process - getting "pregnant" with a new leaf, which, a few days later separates and unfurls.


Thursday, September 5, 2019

Circus School?!

Terry and I were driving around near St. Laurent Boulevard in Ottawa, hunting for the Black and Decker Service Center... when I noticed an interesting sign:

Ottawa Circus School...

I didn't know Ottawa had a circus school!!

Next to it was a store that sold costumes...

The circus school might have been fun for my kids when they were young!

And every year, my daughter and I visited dance costume stores for her ballet, tap and jazz dance classes and recitals!

I don't think the "balancing" classes offered by the circus school are intended for seniors - but one never knows!