Blog Archives

“one for the road”

That expression, “one for the road”, has only been in use since about the 1930’s. It usually refers to someone having one more drink before departing a bar or party, which is not recommended just before getting behind the wheel of an automobile. In this situation, one would hope one’s friends would prevent that drink from being consumed.

One for the road” by Graham McKean

The broader concept of being able to enjoy a cherished pastime once more before an occasion ended is perhaps more desirable, but also far more difficult to achieve. We often don’t know when good times will end, so guaranteeing a bonus round of fun is tricky at best.

The best philosophy, of course, is to live life to the fullest. “Carpe diem”, and all that. I am so glad I can say I’ve tried my level best to Carpe the hell out of every diem.

Eating seasonally is one simple way to employ the spirit of carpe diem: “ seize the day”. If you’ve tasted fresh garden tomatoes you’ll find it hard to buy them in the grocery store in winter.

Stopping to smell the flowers is another good practice. I don’t mean this figuratively; stop to enjoy a new blossom, a buzzing bee, a sunrise or sunset, or even a scent on the breeze. You won’t regret the time spent, I promise you.

Having a dog is the best way to make this philosophy part of your daily habits. They are masters of living in the moment, seeing the cup half full, and making the most of love – both in the giving and accepting of it.

I have been blessed with dogs as companions for most of my life. I am partial to Chocolate Labrador Retrievers, who are gourmands in addition to being zen masters. They have done more for me than anyone in ensuring I make the most of my life as it happens.

I had to say goodbye to my best brown girl of 13 years this week. Ella, my bunny bear, my silly monkey, my number one pal… she fell ill last week and just couldn’t recover.

We had a deal: she would give me a sign when it wasn’t fun anymore. After the scare we had this summer with her almost-drowning, I knew we were on the same page.

By Thursday she could hardly move on her own. Her breathing was shallow. She was on medication but I was doubtful it could fix that kind of malaise.

I got her somewhat comfortable in the living room, with a view to the field and the patio door open. I worked on my chores and checked her every few minutes. She was maintaining, but that was all.

I came to sit with her and she wagged her tail. She was panting, and shivering in places. That’s when I knew for sure that it was time.

When you care for someone, you want them to be well taken care of. If I was going to be trusted with sending my girl over the Rainbow Bridge, I wanted to say a proper goodbye. This was not by sending her away on her own.

Oddly enough, despite the fact that animals are not any significant factor in the transmissions of Covid-19, our neighbourhood vet won’t allow people into the clinic for any reason.

I am so thankful we knew a holistic vet who has a fabulous clinic in Kelowna. Dr. Moira is semi-retired now, but Pawsitive Veterinary Care is a top notch team of folks who care for animals and people. I can’t recommend them enough.

I have said goodbye to three Brown Girls in my life. It does not get any easier. The only redeeming part of the experience is knowing I was there to send them over to the other side.

Ella and I didn’t get “one for the road”. There was no chance for a last walk in the orchard or a last wrestle in the yard. But just a few days earlier we made time to go for ice cream at Paynter’s Market and I got some great pictures of her amongst the pumpkins.

We shouldn’t need a pandemic to remind us life is precious. If that’s what it takes to motivate you, so be it. But I can say even from something that just happens in any life, it’s worth your time to do the things you want to do.

I miss my Brown Girl. She was, quite literally, half my life. She got me up to go walking, she cheered me on while I worked out, she reminded me to drink my water, she helped me taste all my recipes, she listened to all my rambling… all the things my Hubby doesn’t do ( he is my other half, literally and figuratively).

It sucks to be left behind, to lose a friend. I hope Ella is with her old roommate, Simon the German short haired pointer – biting his tail the way she used to when they had the run of Rabbit Hollow. Me, I’ll just have to find my way forward.

Kveðjur, elskan! / Salutations, little one!

This week I became an Amma. (That’s Icelandic for Grandma. ) I have no children of my own; my stepdaughter, whom I’ve known since she was a bit less than 4 years old, just gave birth to my husband’s first grandchild. I am overjoyed.

This is my shot at having a legacy. Since I have no children and neither does my brother, so our branch of the Peturson clan dies with us.

Why do we care if we are remembered? I have decided in my just over half a century of living that the importance is in knowing that I helped improve the world, or at least a few of the people in it.

I don’t care if I am recognized. I’d like to be remembered by those I loved.

More importantly, I’d like it if someone I spent time knowing or something I did while here tips the dominoes in a way that sends the world down a nicer path. Just one link in the chain.

I understand the food chain. I contemplate it often, and give thanks for my chance to participate in it. I work hard to appreciate its bounty. All I’m asking is for the chance to do the same with people.

I plan to give this grandchild a taste of my heritage, both Scottish and Icelandic. And I don’t just mean shortbread and vinertarta.

This little girl will learn the strength of both the pillagers and their impossible-to-conquer Celtic “pillagees”. She will have a chance to understand the strength of character that comes from integrity and believing in yourself – even when it means eating haggis or rulypilsa.

I can’t wait to talk to her, to hear her dreams for the world and for herself. I hope I’ll have the chance for many meals filled with scintillating conversations, just like I had with her mom. Talks about everything from what the latest cartoon characters are doing to who had what foe lunch at school to what she wants to be when she grows up.

I can’t wait for her to teach me things about the magic of the world she will know. I have a feeling she will have more for me than I for her. But that is my idea of the circle of life.

It’s just like an enjoyable meal, starting out with one course or ingredient and working your way through a collection of flavours and aromas and textures.

At the end, your memories are about the combinations and how they interacted. Your appreciation though, is for the ingredients (just like it is for the people) that make up the experience.

Jiffy Pop

As my regular readers will know, I’m an old-fashioned gal who loves nostalgia. Apparently nostalgia is a popular thing in a pandemic world. It might be one reason why camping has been a top activity for families this summer.

People are creating new memories, about which they can be nostalgic years from now. There are also us older folks, shaking our heads as we compare our nostalgia with the newer version.

I remember camping as being a time when most of the everyday rules were suspended. Bedtime was when we were done having fun for the day; parents didn’t mind because that meant we were out of their hair.

As far as I can tell, this part hasn’t changed in principle. The difference is that often the activities and entertainment are provided by the parents, not thought up by the kids.

If we ever said we were bored while camping, we were given a task like picking up any garbage on the ground in the campsite or chopping wood. It taught us to come up with our own more attractive alternative. Today’s version is often supplied: I saw more than a few parents setting up videos for viewing in camper trailers.

I’m not sure what is new and exciting for kids today; for me it was simple things that changed when we went camping. Perhaps that was because we didn’t have portable screens? I bet some other old folks out there share my memories.

Are you ready? Here we go…

🥣 Those nifty miniature cereal boxes you could cut open and eat from. We only had Apple Jacks and Fruit Loops out of those boxes, never at home. Thankfully my dad ate the Rice Krispies.

🍪 Camp cooking was home-grown ingenuity – wonders that could all be cooked in a fry pan. Store-bought cookies were a camping delicacy – Oreos and Dad’s Chocolate Oatmeal were our favourites. Mom’s cookies at home were good, but you couldn’t pull them apart or lick off the coating.

🚘 Time in the car was even entertaining. (Okay, it was, except for when my little brother took up more than his share of the back seat, or when the dog drooled on my shoulder. ) We sang songs and played “I Spy” and license plate bingo.

It’s true that there were times I didn’t enjoy in the moment. Cold and wet and tired, dragging myself back to the campsite after hiking Illecillewaet glacier, I felt even worse when my vinyl runners melted by the fire as they were set out to dry. And when my cousin got his roasted marshmallow stuck in my pigtail, that was no fun either. But those times are the threads that make the fabric of my life unique.

I don’t mean to say one has to suffer to have a good story, but experiences offer us a chance to learn and grow, and share the excitement that can entail.

When I was a kid, the ultimate camping treat was Jiffy Pop popcorn. It was a compact tinfoil pan when Mom packed it, but once we shook it over the fire or Coleman stove, it unfurled into a magnificent silver ball full of steaming hot popcorn.

On our recent trip to the Kootenays, I discovered the current version of Jiffy Pop does not have the “pop pop” I remember. Rather, it was the “beep beep” of the microwave. I winced, mourning the loss of a great tradition.

“When I was a kid” was the preamble for my Dad’s tales of how his childhood was more interesting than mine. Dare I say “challenging”? He might have even said “better”.

Now that I’m about to become a grandmother I look forward to being able to pass along the wisdom of my days to a brand new generation.

Most of all, I hope camping will be an occasion to remind my grandkids about having time when there is no need to rush, just a desire to share. We will sing songs in the car and stop for ice cream and collect treasures and roast marshmallows. Then they can tell their kids about the days of old…

My door to the world

I am a sentimental and nostalgic person. I love symbols and traditions and fairy tales. Smiling at the whisper of a fairy’s wings or the twinkle of a star is often the highlight of my day.

 

Our lovely home and garden in the Okanagan is my sanctuary. We have a beautiful expanse of space with my wild gardens. I say wild in part because there are wild blossoms courtesy of the wind and birds, but also because I can’t seem to be disciplined enough in the dirt to create a formal structure. Like my life I suppose – elements of a framework but never enough to close the box.

 

My original plan was to have the flowers in my raised beds but when you plant heirlooms in a windy place, well…

Ella doesn’t mind that sunflowers pop up wherever they like…

I am inspired by quirky things, and I love to cheer for the underdog. (Another reason my gardens look so unkempt- everyone gets the benefit of the doubt until they demonstrate more evil than good.)

The back garden is full of artifacts and artful tokens. Some are simple junk, retrieved because I loved the memories they evoked or wanted to ponder the ones they contained. A few pieces I created, and a few I inherited. All of them add to the natural character of our place with a worldly sort of homey-ness.

My homemade heron sculpture
A scale from a junkyard now measures time in the garden…
A thrift store bunny is now an ambassador at Rabbit Hollow

We always envisioned a sort of gateway to the world even though we had no intention of a fence. Our original vision was for a moongate, inspired by our honeymoon visit to Bermuda with many of them showcasing the sunsets. We talked of an arch, but that became the passage from the garden to our harvest table. When we rebuilt the front door to our old farmhouse, I knew I had just the thing.

There are so many expressions about doors, with many of  them seeming appropriate for 2020:

  • getting one’s foot in the door (what the virus did around the world)
  • closing the barn door after the horse has bolted (what happened in some regions as the pandemic struck fast and hard)
  • having the wolf at one’s door  (the financial situation for so many after the pandemic lockdowns)
  • don’t let the door hit you on the way out (what I’d like to say to the virus)

You might say I ought to have left the door open to foster a spirit of hospitality and welcome. I’ll add an expression to the historic list to defend my case – a sort of “be prepared for any occasion” idiom: 

Never leave the door ajar on a windy day.

I am heartened to see the door when I look out the window now. It announces the rest of the world is out there, waiting. It keeps out the negative energy as it makes me smile, thinking of all the good times it brought into our house. And it’s there for us – day and night, through every kind of weather – ready when opportunity knocks.

Who knows when the winds will change and the world will return to one that allows for more work, more hugs, more visitors through our doors. But in the meantime, I’ll watch out the window and remember…

When one door closes, another one opens.

 

The view from one corner of the garden, out to the world.

 

Life is like a loaf of bread

I’ve been spending consistent time baking sourdough bread since the world went sideways with covid-19. As I’ve gotten into the rhythm of it, many thoughts have floated through me. Baking has been my meditation, a good thing since it’s not yet gardening season – my other therapy. I thought I’d share some of my musings here, for posterity’s sake.

sourdough process

Life is Like a Loaf of Bread…

Slow to react, but almost always there if you don’t give up on it.

Unpredictable, but rewarding in so many ways.

Requiring many steps and various skills that aren’t necessarily related to each other.

Complex – not all of its parts are loved by everyone. bread crust

 

 

Not as easy as it looks – and it doesn’t look easy!

bread ready to bake gif

Able to reflect the character and mood of its maker.

 

 

 

 

Worth the time and effort it takes to produce something for which we can be proud.

Takes time and patience and extreme conditions to succeed to the utmost.

 

Beautiful in all its forms.bread scoring

Meant to be shared. 

bread as world image

Wishing you all happy moments in this new crazy world, whether they be alone in your kitchen or virtually with your loved ones. Stay safe, stay home and be kind. 

%d bloggers like this: