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The smallest Province in Canada

I was born in the smallest province in Canada – Prince Edward Island, although we moved to Ontario when I was two years old we have always gone back periodically for visits to our relatives.  When I was sixteen, a friend and I travelled by train then bus to Charlottetown (cradle of Confederation) and couldn’t believe how friendly everyone was down there or talented for that matter.  All my cousins and their kids play some kind of musical instrument and sing.  I loved when we all got together and had old fashioned square dances or ceilidhs (kitchen party).  They are some of the warmest and happiest memories for me.

I feel it is my duty to give you a little taste of what life is like on the Island at least in the summer months, as there and elsewhere in Canada we are now moving into the snow season which lasts up till March, early April.  Here is the Reader’s Digest Condensed version of nuggets regarding PEI.

 

The floral emblem of PEI is the Pink Lady’s Slipper established in 1965.  This perennial orchid grows from a height of six inches to 15 inches (15-40 cm).  You can find her in early summer in mixed woodland and bog areas of the Island.  These are rare flowers and you are not allowed to pick them.  Other names for it are Whip-Poor-Wills Shoe, Stemless Lady’s Slipper or Moccasin Flower.  The Lupins or lupines above grow wild and populate the ditches and meadows unfolding a carpet of colour in early summer.

 

Showy Ladyslipper

This is the land of Anne (of Green Gables fame) and is a popular destination for the Japanese tourists who think of her as a role model who personifies virtues that they admire.  The musical play based on the book has been running in Charlottetown every summer since 1965.

Lucy Maude Montgomery published 20 novels, over 500 short stories, 30 essays, an autobiography and a book of poetry. Many of them are still read around the world.

Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables has been translated into 25 languages and the historic site of Prince Edward Island National Park, which is technically Anne’s birth place, sees over 125,000 visitors each year.

Province House

The birthplace of Confederation and the seat of PEI’s provincial legislature since 1847, Province House National Historic Site is Charlottetown’s most significant cultural landmark. A magnificent example of neo-classical architecture set in a beautiful and quiet garden you can learn about the history of the Fathers of Confederation and see how the house remains a centre of political life for Islanders today.  

Fun Facts about PEI  LOBSTER

 

  • The famous P.E.I red dirt actually gets its colour from the high iron content which oxidizes when exposed to air.
  • The Confederation Bridge, completed in 1997, connects P.E.I. to New Brunswick and it is the longest bridge in the world over ice covered waters!
  • Potatoes are big in P.E.I. as it is the number one crop in the province!
  • Ten million world-class Malpeque oysters are harvested annually.
  • PEI is known for it’s lobster suppers and homemade pies and internationally renowned mussels.
  • Seaweed from PEI’s famous beaches (Irish Moss) ends up in your shampoo, cheese and ice cream.
  • P.E.I. is so small that it accounts for only 0.1% of the total area of Canada!
  • Prince Edward Island’s flag was adopted on March 24, 1964.  It mimics the province’s shield, showing an oak tree and three saplings.  The Oak is known as the “Oak of England”  the saplings represent the three counties of the province:  King’s, Queen’s and Prince
  • Charlottetown is the capital of Prince Edward Island. In 2017 it had a population of 36,000 plus.
  • The Mi’kmaqs were the first people to live on Prince Edward Island. They called the island Epekwik – meaning Resting On The Waves.
  • The island was named Prince Edward in 1799 in honour of Queen Victoria’s father – Edward, Duke of Kent.
  • Charlottetown takes its name from Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III.
  • The population of PEI is approximately 153,000. About 46% of the population lives in a city or town; the rest of the population lives in a rural setting.
  • Prince Edward Island is 220 kilometers long by six to sixty-four kilometers wide. There is no place on the island that is more than 16 kilometers from the sea.
  • The 273 kilometer Confederation Trail – is open to walkers, cyclists, runners and wheelchairs in the summer and snowmobiles in the winter. It takes you from one tip of the island to the other on old railway lines.


    Stay tuned for some more information on the beautiful lighthouses that dot the countryside.  img232 - Copy

 

The Sydney Opera House

Way back in January of 2012, my husband and I took three months off work and traveled to the South Pacific.  We flew to Victoria, Vancouver Island for a short visit to our family in Sooke – then made our way to Fiji via Los Angeles where we stayed at a resort to decompress and have our worries and cares melt away.  After that rejuvenation we were off to New Zealand for two weeks (not enough time I’m afraid, poor planning that) and then to Australia.  Perth, Cairns, Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide which I will delve into on another day – primarily I just want to tell you about the iconic Sydney Opera House which you see in most advertisements for Australia.                                Here are some interesting tidbits.

There are more than 1 million glazed white granite roof tiles covering approximately 1.62 hectares sitting over the structure. Imported from Sweden. The highest tip of the Sydney Opera House reaches 67 meters above the water – the equivalent height of a 22 story building. Over 350 kilometers (217 miles) of steel cable was used in the Opera House’s construction, which is long enough to reach from Sydney to Canberra.

There are 6,233 square metres of topaz coloured glass used in the construction of the building. The glass was made to order by Boussois-Souchon-Neuvesel in France in a shade used only by the Sydney Opera House.

The design of the Sydney Opera House was inspired by nature, its forms, functions and colours. Jorn Utzon, a Danish architect who won the design competition (a story in itself) was influenced in his designs by bird wings, the shape and form of clouds, shells, walnuts and palm trees. He looked upon nature for guidance when designing, as nature over time combined both efficiency and beauty, hand in hand.

The Opera house had originally been projected to cost $7 million AUD, but by the time it was finished, it had cost a whopping $120 million AUD.

It was initially estimated that building Sydney Opera House would take four years. Work, however, commenced in 1959 with 10,000 construction workers on site. It was officially opened in 1973 by Queen Elizabeth – 24 years after breaking ground.

It is one of the most elaborate entertainment venues in the world and has hosted some of the biggest names in the entertainment world. It is home to Opera Australia, The Australian Ballet, the Sydney Theatre Company and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

The House hosts 3,000 events every year.  200,000 people take a guided tour of the building.

The Concert Hall’s Grand Organ is the largest mechanical version of this instrument in the world, with 10,154 pipes. It took ten years to build.

15,500 light bulbs are changed every year at the Opera House.

In 1997, French urban climber, Alain “Spiderman” Robert, using only his bare hands and feet and with no safety devices of any kind, scaled the building’s exterior wall all the way to the top. (Remember that 22 story height earlier).

The Sydney Opera House celebrated its 45th anniversary this year (2018)

Bridge

The Sydney Harbour Bridge has fantastic views of the Opera House, all you need to do is climb up to the top, do you see the line of people inching their way up it in the photograph above??  I wanted to try this but my husband wouldn’t accompany me and it is rather expensive – perhaps a helicopter tour would be just as good, non!

 


 

10 Tidbits on Mount Rushmore

Located near the Badlands of South Dakota sits a majestic monument to the progression of the U.S. from its formation as a country to the great nation it used to be circa 2016 represented by four of the most recognizable faces of past Presidents.

Mount RushmoreGeorge Washington (1789 – 1797) was chosen because he was the nation’s founding father and first President.  President Washington laid down the ground work for what  today is known as democracy. He led his countryman to the American Revolution to win freedom against Great Britain. For his accomplishments he is the most prominent face on Mount Rushmore.  (This may soon change with the face of Donald Trump being carved into the space by George Washington – just kidding, I hope).

Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) was chosen to represent expansion, because he was the president who signed the Louisiana Purchase and authored the Declaration of Independence.  He put together and wrote the document that not only inspires democracy in the U.S., but around the world. Writing the declaration of independence is a pretty big accomplishment which definitely made the third President a strong candidate to have his face engraved on Mount Rushmore.

Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919) was chosen because he represented conservation and the industrial blossoming of the nation.  President Roosevelt, the 26th president brought the right kind of leadership to the country as the century turned. The U.S. experienced quick growth from an economic standpoint and President Roosevelt was there to guide it. He was one of the reasons the Panama Canal was built, connecting the east to west. He also helped eliminate corporate monopolies and was a strong advocate for the common working man.

Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865) was chosen because he led the country through the Civil War and believed in preserving the nation at any cost.  President Lincoln was the glue that kept our nation together during one of it’s most trying periods, the Civil War. He was behind the abolishing of slavery which was probably his biggest accomplishment as the 16th president of the United States.


  1.   The construction of Mount Rushmore National Memorial took 14 years, from 1927 to 1941.
  2.   Historian Doane Robinson conceived the idea for Mount Rushmore in 1923 to promote tourism in South Dakota. In 1924, Robinson persuaded sculptor Gutzon Borglum to travel to the Black Hills region to ensure the carving could be accomplished.  The mountain that Borglum chose to carve was known to the local Lakota as the “Six Grandfathers.”  It had also been known as Cougar Mountain, Sugarloaf Mountain, Slaughterhouse Mountain, and Keystone Cliffs, depending who you asked.
  3.   The mountain itself, at an elevation of 5,725 feet (1,745 metres), was named in 1885 for Charles E. Rushmore, a New York lawyer. The memorial, which covers 2 square miles (5 square km), was designated in 1925 and dedicated in 1927.
  4.   Despite dangerous conditions, not one of the 400 men who worked to forge the monument died during the entire project.  The men who worked on the mountain were miners who had come to the Black Hills looking for gold.  Although they weren’t artists, they did know how to use dynamite and jackhammers.

    The average workers salary on Mount Rushmore was .45 to .75 cents an hour. Talk about some affordable labor. The chief carver Luigi Del Bianco was paid $1.50 an hour.

  5.   Construction on Mount Rushmore—consisting of 90% dynamite blasts—began in 1927. The four faces of the presidents were slowly finished between the years of 1934 and 1939. Borglum died in 1941, leaving his son, Lincoln, to head up the project. But that didn’t much matter—construction ended in October 1941 when the project ran out of money. (The U.S. entered World War II not long after, which likely would’ve ended construction on the site anyway.)
  6.   The head of George Washington is 60 feet tall with a nose that is 21 feet tall. Theodore Roosevelt’s head is slightly smaller, Abraham Lincoln’s is slightly taller. Each of the eyes on Mount Rushmore are about 11 feet wide. Each mouth is about 18 feet wide.  Imagine climbing 506 steps to reach the top of Mount Rushmore-this was how many steps the workers had to climb each day!   The height of a six-story building!
  7.  A cave called the ‘Hall of Records’ sits behind the monument and contains a vault of 16 porcelain enamel panels with text of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, biographies of the 4 presidents and Borglum, and history of the U.S.

  8. The ‘Hall of Records’ played a role in the plot of the 2007 movie National Treasure: Book of Secrets, starring Nicolas Cage.  Mount Rushmore was also used as a key backdrop in the 1959 Cary Grant movie North by Northwest, directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
  9.   The total cost of creating the Rushmore sculpture was $989,992.32, which included wages for 400 workers.  About 84% of it was paid for by the federal government.  Less than a million but irreplaceable!
  10.   Mount Rushmore National Memorial is open yearround with only the Sculptor’s Studio closed from October – April. Visitors in the winter will find it far less crowded –  roughly 5% of the visitors coming through the gates during December – March that would come through in July or August.  The day we were there it was very foggy and we were lucky to get a shot of it at all.

             This giant monument is celebrating its 78th anniversary in 2019

Jump, go ahead and jump!

With no disrespect to Van Halen, I will recount for you my version of events oh so many years ago when I did go ahead and jump – out of an airplane extremely high above the ground.  To this day I am not sure what tempted me to proceed in this adventure where in all probability I could have been killed but let’s just say I was young and foolish and leave it at that.  The photo above was borrowed from the internet as they didn’t have cameras in my day.  Just kidding but we didn’t take shots (other than vodka) back then.

My co-conspirator in crime was my boss at the time and he was the one who suggested we go parachuting and I of course readily agreed.  The week-end came and we drove to the small airfield where like-minded individuals met us. The course began with a 3 to 5 hour training program completed in classroom.  Here, you learn everything you need to know to successfully complete a skydive, including parachute equipment, exit procedures, freefall body position (arch), canopy control and emergency protocol to jump from the plane and descend safely.

arch for jumpingThere is a little bit of listening and then some practicing where you hurl yourself spread-eagled off this tower-like structure and into a big bag of air (no, not your local politician) and then scramble up again and do it all over until we have the idea down pat.  One small problem with this being you are not falling from thousands of feet and there is no air bag upon landing, just good, old hard ground if you are lucky.

At an altitude of 4,000 feet, guided by the instructor, you exit the airplane with the static line automatically deploying your main parachute during a free fall of up to 5 seconds. You then steer your gliding canopy down into the landing field with the assistance of a ground radio instructor who transmits instructions to the radio attached to front of the harness.

Now, that particular week-end it was too windy for beginners to go up but more experienced jumpers went and we decided to stick around and watch them drifting peacefully down.  Unfortunately, this was not the case because of said wind and some of these experienced people ended up hanging from trees and being slammed into the cars in the parking lot by buffeting chutes.  Any sane individual would say okay not coming  back next week but no, we did go back.

I loved being up in a small plane watching the dwindling landscape out the open door waiting for my turn to throw myself out and the next thing I knew I was out and according to those watching kicking and scrambling to get back to the plane, not that wonderful arms and legs flung out style – more like riding an imaginary bike with legs flailing.  Once the chute opened by static line (you have to be prepared to pull the cord yourself if it doesn’t open within a certain time frame), it was spectacular, so peaceful.  As the ground approached however, I began to wonder why they weren’t contacting me by radio to assist with which line to pull left or right so I could land close to the big target on the airfield because I seemed to be drifting further afield.

I really had a sense of panic though when it looked like I was headed straight into power lines and then smack dab in the middle of the road and all of a sudden the ditch was there and it flashed through my mind I could actually die.  This happens in a matter of seconds, one thought forming in your mind being replaced before being finished by a much more pressing one and all of a sudden you hit the ground and roll like they taught you and you realize you are still in one piece except for the cut on your chin from the helmet strap when you left the plane and the sore knee from landing improperly before executing the ninja roll.  They sent out a truck to gather up the strays and discovered my radio wasn’t working so I couldn’t hear them trying to steer me in the right direction.  Then, they asked me if I wanted to go again.  Hell no!  Just get me to the nearest bar, thanks!  Not something I would do again but I am glad I did do it!  There certainly was an adrenaline rush involved, that’s for sure!  I can strike that off the bucket list!

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Capilano BridgeOne of the attractions of the beautiful City of Vancouver, BC is the Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver.

Vancouver is a beautiful city—whether you’re talking about the mountains, forests, and ocean or the glistening modern skyline of glass skyscrapers. There’s a reason so many films and TV shows are shot on location in and around Vancouver. If it’s scenery you want, this is the place.


Only 15 minutes from downtown Vancouver across the iconic Lions Gate Bridge to North Vancouver lies the  Capilano Suspension Bridge, originally built in 1889 hanging 450 feet (137m) across and 230 feet (70m) above Capilano River offering breathtaking views to the canyon floor below.

This is a popular tourist site so plan accordingly to avoid long lines.

The park offers more than just the bridge. Its surrounding 27 acres celebrate nature, history and culture in unique and thrilling ways.
On Treetops Adventure venture from one magnificent old growth Douglas-fir to another on a series of seven elevated suspension bridges, reaching as high as 110 feet (33m), for a squirrel’s eye view of the forest. Guides, signage and interactive exhibits throughout the park help you in your understanding of rain forest ecosystems and their sustainability.

The view from the bridge is spectacular, and while there is minor bounce, it’s relatively easy to navigate. The bridge is reminiscence of the one in Indiana Jones’ Temple of Doom “Hang on, lady. We going for a ride”. Equally, or even better, is the single-file walk on Cliffwalk, which follows a granite precipice along the river with a series of narrow cantilevered bridges, stairs and platforms offering views at every turn.
There are other trails on the other side of the suspension bridge.
  • There are 9 different types of trees in Capilano Suspension Bridge Park! There are 2,014 Douglas fir, 157 Western Red Cedar, and 144 Western Hemlock.
  • The suspension bridge can hold 97 elephants. That’s 203 moose, or 4520 beavers.
       HISTORY

CapilanoIn 1888, a Scottish civil engineer and real estate developer named George Grant Mackay purchased 24 square kilometres of old growth forest on both sides of the Capilano River just north of the city and built a cabin at the southern edge of the canyon. The 65-year-old engineer hired two local Coast Salish natives to help with the construction of the first bridge in 1889 that was made from hemp and cedar planks.  Ten years after Mackay’s death in 1903, the bridge was replaced with one made of wire cable.

Rae Mitchell, bought the bridge in 1953. In 1956, he rebuilt the bridge completely, strengthening the cables and the anchors.  In 1983, Mitchell sold the Capilano Suspension Bridge to his daughter, Nancy Stibbard who is still its present owner.

Tickets are rather pricey, a little under $50.00 but if you have young ones under 6, they can get in free.  I think this is worthwhile if you are going to do some hiking while you are there and maybe pack a picnic.  You definitely want to arrive early to avoid all the shuttles and crowds.

Note:  There is another similar bridge not far away, called the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge. In addition to being free and “just as nice as the Capilano bridge,” the Lynn Canyon bridge leads to some of the best walking trails in the area and is far less crowded.

Clipart Of A Leaf Inspirational Maple Leaf free graphics Flower Leaf Pinterest……………………………………………….the end!          Totems

Spirit Bears, Eagles and Orcas of BC

In the summer of 1999, Chicago cooked up a tourism ploy that not only worked like a charm, but also inspired countless imitators. Fiberglass cows–300 strong–decorated by local artists were placed around the city. The “Cows on Parade”–inspired by a Swiss project in 1998–began in early June and lasted through Halloween.

“Moose in the City” was a year 2000 project by the City of Toronto in which 326 life-sized moose sculptures were placed throughout the city and decorated by local artists.

orcas_eventlogo“Orcas in the City” was a 2004 British Columbia fund-raising project for the B C Lion’s Society, the first of four such events that I am aware of.  Many locals do not share the idea that this ‘art’ represents their city and find some of them downright embarrassing or kitschy and would just as soon not have them displayed throughout the downtown.  I, however am one of those people that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder and I commend the imagination and artistic ability that is showcased in many of the works of art and the camp in some.

 


‘Bears in the City’, was a British Columbia charity fund-raising initiative in 2006 where life size (approx. 7ft) custom formed fiberglass Spirit Bears were distributed across BC to local artists who created a unique design and applied it to the surface in the medium of their choosing. The Bear became the artist’s canvas. Once the work was completed the Spirit Bear was displayed in prominent public spaces around the participating cities.

The bear was actually the rare “Spirit Bear” or “Kermode Bear”. A First Nation legend states that the Raven, their creator, made these bears white as a reminder of the time when the world was pure and clean and covered with snowdrifts and ice blue glaciers. Raven promised that these bears would live in peace and harmony forever.

The exhibit ended with the great ‘Spirit Bear Auction’, a gala event where the Spirit Bears were put on the block and auctioned to the highest bidder. Spirit Bear auction proceeds benefited the BC Lions Society’s Easter Seal Operations and the Vancouver Canucks for Kids Fund.


‘Nazzy Bear’ was named in honour of Marcus Naslund – the captain of the Vancouver Canucks hockey team.  The artist was Dean Lauze who painted it for Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment.  More of a promotional piece than ‘art’ could be argued here but definitely a more light-hearted version of spirit. Besides, how do we know that kermodes don’t appreciate hockey!

The ‘Kody’ bear was designed by my brother-in-law Gene Sebelius who did all the mosaic work and his good friend and artist, Bonnie Spencer who did all the painting.


 

Note:  The Eagles can be found on this website with an explanation of the project and photos of the work.  Keep in mind however that this was from 2010 and I could not find any contact info on this site so the eagles they say were not purchased at that time may indeed have sold by now.  www.eaglesinthecity.com

The front and back photos on right were by the renowned artist Jerry Whitehead


 

Below is a link to a newsletter regarding the Terra Cotta Warriors initiative of 2012

Terra Cotta Warriors 2012


Presently in Bonn, Germany you can find these and other representations of their beloved Ludwig van Beethoven who was born in this city.

 

If you know of other artistic displays of fiberglass statues that are auctioned off to raise funds for worthwhile charities, I would love to hear about them and see some of your photos!  Thanks for visiting and have a tremendous day!

Savannah, Georgia

Savannah, Georgia is one of those cities that’s worth visiting simply because it’s so beautiful.  When someone mentions Savannah the image that first pops into my mind is the sight of all the moss-covered oak trees that languidly shift ever so lovingly in the southern breeze.

The second might not be overly familiar to some … but it is the Daiquiris drive-throughs where you can pick up your favourite concoction at the window a la Tim Hortons.  When we first walked in through the doorway (there was one across the street from our hotel so we didn’t need a car) there was a row of giant slurpee like machines where you had to make the difficult decision of what flavour you wanted your alcoholic libation in.  Daiquiri Drive throughSweet mother of …..I felt like I had died and gone to heaven.  What does MAAD think about all this?  One-eyed Lizzy’s on River Street also makes exceptional margaritas!  If you have time you should also make a trip to Tibee Island and have dinner at the Crab Shack.


A little background on Savannah – not that big, easy to navigate and very pretty squares.

The 22 squares in Savannah today provide locals and visitors alike with a little greenery amid all the businesses and historic houses. At one time there were 24 historic squares, but two were lost due to city development while others, such as Ellis Square, were redesigned and made even more appealing.

Savannah was established in 1733 by General James Oglethorpe and was the first colonial and state capital of Georgia.  Oglethorpe named the 13th and final American colony Georgia after England’s King George II.  Plus, Savannah is a port town so there’s also pirate history and … it’s haunted!   How much more can you ask for?

If you like architecture, you’ll really like Savannah, something visually noteworthy is pretty much everywhere you turn.  Forsyth Fountain.jpgThis is the fountain in Forsyth Park, which is definitely worth a stop.  You’ll enjoy a short walk to the fountain and those gorgeous live oaks along the way.

Forsyth Park in the historic district was laid out in the 1840’s. The land for the original space was donated by William Hodgson. In 1851 John Forsyth, the 33rd Governor of Georgia donated an additional 20 acres, bringing the total size of Forsyth Park to 30 acres. The Park was named after him and still retains his name today.

The Forsyth Park Fountain

Perhaps the most well known feature of Forsyth Park is the large fountain that sits at the north end. The fountain was built in 1858. It resembles a few other fountains found around the world, including fountains in Paris and Peru.  On any given day you can find many people, especially locals, lounging on the benches, taking in the scenery and people watching.

Every year on St. Patrick’s Day the city of Savannah dyes the water in the fountain green.  We just happened to be there at that time but it wasn’t planned.  The ceremony when the water is dyed is a popular event attended by hundreds, sometimes thousands of local ‘Savannahians’, many of whom are of Irish descent.


The Mercer Williams House

Thanks to the 1994 book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, the Mercer Williams House has become one of those ‘must-see’ attractions for many people coming to Savannah. Even before the book came out the house was a beautiful fixture on Monterey Square.  The Mercer House was designed by New York architect John S. Norris for General Hugh W. Mercer, great grandfather of  the songwriter and co-founder of Capitol Records, Johnny Mercer. Construction of the house began in 1860, was interrupted by the Civil War and was later completed, circa 1868, by the new owner, John Wilder.

In 1969, Jim Williams bought the house and restored it. Williams was a noted antiquities dealer. He also enjoyed restoring old homes, the Mercer Williams House being one of them. It was in this house that Jim Williams allegedly shot Danny Hansford in 1981 killing him. Williams was tried four times, finally being found innocent of all crimes. Williams died in the house of a coronary brought on my pneumonia in the same room as Hansford.

Bird Girl
If you are looking for the statue of the Bird Girl from “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”, you could have found it in Bonaventure Cemetery prior to Midnight’s fame.  Now you can find her in the Telfair Museum.

 

There is much to see and do in Savannah and should be enjoyed at a relaxed and leisurely pace.  Visit www.savannah.com for more information or www.visitsavannah.com and receive a free guide.  I would love to visit the City again in the future but for the time being I think I will make myself a daiquiri and relive the time I was there.  Enjoy and explore.  Bon Voyage!

Home Sweet Home

I will never receive the Good Housekeeping Award of the year or the week for that matter.  I am not one of those people whose home you visit and everything is in its place and so clean you could eat off the floors.  Our house is cleaned when we know we are going to have company and we run around like mad the day before (even though we’ve had all week) cleaning toilets, vacuuming, dusting, polishing, washing, etc. but only those rooms where I know company will be – our bedroom is still untidy and could probably use a good air freshener to boot.

I don’t mean the house is dirty or crawling with germs and maggots overflowing the trash can – though my husband did ask me last week if there were maggots in the trash but it was leftover Chinese rice that I threw in and some of it stuck to the sides of the can, so I had to take it outside and hose it clean which it more than likely needed anyway.  Cleaned by necessity.

You can rest assured if I were ever to win the lottery, the first thing I would do is hire a cleaning lady or man – I’m not prejudiced – and a chef.  Namely because I don’t like to cook that much either – not after 40 years of doing it.  Of course my mom who had to make three meals a day and lunches for six kids and her husband had every right in my opinion to complain  about it…but never did!

If it wasn’t for my husband, I suspect the filter would never be changed in the furnace, the ducts would not be cleaned out and the light fixtures dispossessed of flies.  I just find that I am readily distracted from any chore I might be attempting by the phone ringing, checking e-mail, walking the cat, games on the i-pad – anything really that seems more interesting than the job at hand.

No, Martha Stewart need have no fear of being dethroned by yours truly!  She has drive and ambition and a whole crew to help her out, I am basically lazy by nature and a slob at heart.  Oh well!  Time to see if the Blue Jays are playing!

 

So many drinks, so little time!

In one of my previous lives or careers, jobs, vocations – whatever you want to call it – I was a bartender and I loved it, mainly because I got to socialize while at work, listen to great music, have a drink after shift and play euchre with the management for money at two o’clock in the morning – go home at 4 and get up at 10 am and start all over again.  Being younger, the long hours on one’s feet didn’t really bother me all that much.  Plus, I am not a morning person so getting up at 6 am or 7am was beyond my wheelhouse.

From the age of 21 to 45 I was in the hospitality business off and on with odd attempts at a “real job” as my mother used to say.  I banked my paycheque to pay the rent and bills and spent my tips; having a wise financial advisor at that time might have done wonders for my retirement, but alas I was not a saver.

I remember vividly how a well dressed older gentleman would come in to the bar and order green chartreuse and I thought it must be pretty good, otherwise why would you drink it, so after work one night I tried it and it was godawful (grotty) to put it mildly.  In those many years of working the bar I have tried many fancy concoctions and different types of liquors and liqueurs and below is a list of those I find offensive to the palate – just my personal dislikes – pretty much anything with licorice in it is at the top of the list as I can’t stand that taste but there are plenty of people out there who do like it.

Green and yellow chartreuse
Absinthe
Jagermeister
Ouzo
Pernod
Aquavit
Grappa
Scotch – no, I don’t care if it is single malt
Gin

 

Now some of my favourites:  Southern Comfort, Kahlua, Vodka, Frangelica, Dark rum, and Tequila in moderation.  Cheers!

 

A peek at a few of the many castles in Scotland

Today, I came across a box I had set aside with trinkets and guides and photos from when my husband and I took a month-long trip to Scotland.  When we returned to Canada, his mother who had emigrated here in the sixties remarked that we had seen way more of Scotland than she had in her lifetime!

It was a fantastic trip even though it rained most of the time – a lot like Vancouver that way so we were kind of used to it.  Besides, a lot of the castles and museums and galleries and pubs were indoor; so when it started to rain heavily we just popped inside and when we came out – it was still raining, who am I trying to kid!  Never-the-less a great trip which we hope to repeat again in the future.

One of the many things I had been looking forward to were seeing some of the many castles in Scotland – after a few weeks however, I was complaining about turning a corner and wasn’t there another blasted castle in front of us.  Lesson in this, be careful what you wish for, Ha! Ha!

I am going to break down our trip for the moment and just concentrate on some of the Castles we did see and which ones were worth the price of admission – some were free!  In the future, I would like to re-visit some of these castles and take photos with a drone as they are spectacular seen from a height.  When we first visited all our photos were on film, can you imagine, so we didn’t have the luxury of taking 15 shots of a castle and then deleting all but that spectacular shot that you did get by having a digital camera.

I’ll start with one of the nicest – and more a beautiful country manor than a castle.  We headed out from Glasgow down to Ayr which is about 45 minutes depending on who is driving – so a nice day or afternoon excursion.   Please click on link below for synopsis of castles we visited.  I hope you enjoy and that you will plan your own excursion over there as it is a beautiful country and the people may appear standoffish to start but are very friendly when engaged  – especially about their history and culture!  If you incorporate a side visit to Wales and Ireland – even better!

Castles of Scotland booklet