Wednesday, August 16, 2017


The early part of the summer is a good time to do repairs and painting around the "homestead" because by this time there is an huge of amount of picking, juicing, canning, freezing, making of jellies, juices, jams, syrups and sauces.  I used to do lots of freezing, but since I sold the big freezer and now have only a modest sized freezer, I need to do more canning.

S. picked and I juiced lots and lots of cherries this week.  The trees are just loaded.  It was the same with raspberries, Nanking cherries, red currants and it will happen again with apples this year.  Maybe everything is producing like mad because we started the summer with lots of ground water.  We sure notice that the weeping willow at the foot of the garden seems to have almost doubled in size this year.
The red currant bushes were likewise thriving.  We have lots of red currant juice put up already.  Enough for now....

Here's just a small portion of the cherry tree.  The branches are so loaded with fruit they are hanging dangerously low.  But that does make picking cherries easy!

What a lot of goodness!
Here are three ice cream pails of picked cherries.  This makes one nice big load for the steam juicer.

I wash them, load them into the juicer and steam them for three to five hours.  Depending on how ripe and juicy they are that will yield about 6, sometimes 7  quarts of pure juice.  Often I can the juice directly from the juicer.  It's perfectly hot and when loaded into a hot, sterile jar, will seal the snap lid very nicely, and store well until needed.  But sometimes I make something further and this is what I did yesterday.  Twenty pints of cherry jelly which includes one pint of cherry syrup.

This morning I made 15 pints of cherry syrup.  The first time that happened by mistake.  I like to make jelly with about half the usual amount of sugar.  That gives a nice, tart jelly.  And if I use "No Sugar Added" jelling powder, they turn out nice and firm.  But the local IGA didn't have the "No Sugar Added" so I bought the 30% less sugar kind.  With just two cups of sugar to four cups of juice it did not jell, but formed a nice sort of syrup.  Since I had bought several packets of that jelling powder, I simply made syrup from the juice.  The Dear One enjoys a breakfast now and then of couscous with fruit syrup.  This will fill the bill very nicely!

Next up are the apples.  I plan to can several pints of unsweetened applesauce, maybe make that quarts.  And also make maybe 7 or 8 pints of Apple Butter.  This is the Dolgo apple tree in the back area.  it's super loaded this year.  These apples will turn a very deep, almost a burgundy red.  They make a nice sauce, but these are going to go for the birds and coyotes, because there is a tree down by the greenhouse that makes really good unsweetened applesauce.  That's on the To Do List for tomorrow.

Our helper S. can help me pick,  wash, quarter and core the apples.  

That's what goes on at this time of summer.  It's too late for scraping and painting!  The neglected project of the downstairs door will have to wait one more year.  But it won't rot in the meantime, and all this fruit will if it's not taken care of promptly.

Sunday, August 13, 2017


Our daughter who just visited us gave me a very special present!  A few years ago she took up pottery, a creative activity that takes a lot of skill and training.  Last week she gave me a bowl that she had made, a very, very nice bowl:
It's placed on the sofa cushion to show how well it coordinates with the upholstery.  In this next picture it is on the coffee table, which will be its special place in the living room.

I really love anything made by hand.  Handmade objects show time and skill, and a willingness to use them to give something of value.  

In the 80's I taught Suzuki violin in Kelowna, B.C. for five years.  When we left for Regina, my students' parents got together and bought several pieces of pottery from a local studio as a goodbye gift for me.  I thought it was about the nicest present I had ever received.  There was a coffee pot, a sugar and creamer,  six smallish mugs, a dinner plate and rice bowl (for snacks) and 6 luncheon plates, all decorated with a "soft fruit" design, such a very Okanagan icon.  The Okanagan is THE PLACE for soft fruits.  Many orchards offer U-Pick and it's possible to pick, for instance, huge ripe peaches that come off easily into your hand.  It's just not possible to buy that kind of fruit in any grocery store!

Within a year I had accidentally broken the coffee pot, so I simply ordered another one from that pottery studio.  I also ordered 5 more dinner plates and 5 more rice bowls and a serving bowl.  We still have the coffee pot, the sugar and creamer, 6 mugs, the serving bowl, 5 dinner plates and 4 luncheon plates.  All the delicate rice bowls are history.  These are the dishes we use every day, and you can be sure that I think of all those good people in Kelowna and feel grateful very often!

I don't plan to use this new bowl that way.  It will hold place of honour in the living room for as a long as I'm here.

Saturday, August 12, 2017


Sniff, sniff....they just left!  The Dear One is driving them to the airport for their flight home.  It was a wonderful visit.  I enjoyed them so much!  But a whole week has gone by and now it's time for them to leave again.

Usually the "goodbye" picture is taken by their car, all packed up and ready to go.  But this time the DSIL had to stay home for work reasons, and they didn't drive.  So here's an indoor goodbye picture, and that actually works better--no one's squinting into the sun.

Goodbye and God Bless!  For another year.

One of the sad things in my life is that we never have and probably never will live close to growing grandkids.  Some things in life are just the way they are and have to be accepted!

We did have another nice day out together yesterday.  We went to the Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller--the Dinosaur museum.  On the way we took a little detour through the country in order to cross the Red Deer River on this little ferry.  The kids had never been on a ferry before.  About 45 years ago the Dear One and I crossed with this ferry.  I should dig out the old slide of the ferry to compare with this new one.

The trip is SHORT!!!  Just 344 feet.  The kids comment was, "Why not just build a bridge?"  I mentioned this to the nice young man operating the ferry and he replied, "No one would come here if there were a bridge."  He's probably right.  We came just to give the kids a "ferry experience."

The weather was beautiful, the drive was enjoyable and the countryside looked quite lush, considering this is Alberta and the middle of August!

I had been to the dinosaur museum a few times already.  In fact, way back in the '70's the Dear One and I visited it when it was in a small building long before this "world-class" museum was built.

There were many exhibits I hadn't seen before and everything is very well done, but I have a few negative comments, and probably wouldn't have noticed these things except for our recent visit to the Telus Spark Science Centre in Calgary.

First: there aren't nearly enough ladies' washrooms.  There are just two washrooms for women in the museum, and there are long lineups whenever you want to use them.  They need at least twice the washroom capacity.

Second: The museum is laid out in one very long continuous gallery.  That's not very family friendly!  The Science Centre has all separate but connected galleries, so you can go from one to another, or you can return to the centre atrium.  The Tyrell does not have a central atrium, just a rather modest (considering the number of visitors) space beyond the entry kiosks.

Then when you want to take a break for lunch you need to finish walking through, go to the cafeteria and then try to re-enter against the traffic flow, unless you want to repeat the whole journey through the long, winding gallery.  The two grandkids were going to go ahead of DD. and myself, and were stopped by a "traffic police" and told they were not allowed to enter unless they showed proof of payment.  We were not each given a pass, we had just one for the whole "family."  So they came back and waited for us.  That could be dealt with in a better way.

And then lastly a minor "quibble": everyone must exit through the gift shop.  I rather object to that in principle, as it seems a little too pushy to me.  But just practically, it created a real traffic jam, as there was only a narrow aisle between displays.  Someone was trying to push a wheelchair through and had a tough time of it.  Someone else was walking with a cane and also could hardly manage the congestion.

I guess that was not "lastly" as I have one more comment: It's not really a good outing for young children.  Once a three year old has seen a few dinosaur skeletons, they've had enough.  They are just not good for two or three hours of the same.  There are no interactive displays, and I can understand why, so there really is nothing for the young ones to do.  The newer beginning area of the museum was a very "intellectual" display that children under 12 would not relate to at all.

It is a really excellent dinosaur museum, but it's really not a "kid-space."  There were quite a few unhappy children there--a complete contrast to the Telus Spark Science Centre in Calgary.

Thursday, August 10, 2017


Saturday I picked up D.D.#2 and her two children, 16 and 12, from the airport.  We had a nice supper at Smitty's on the way home and got back to town early enough to pick up a few groceries for the next few days.  It's a treat to have a visit with these dear ones!  And we miss her husband but his job with the post office is too new for him to qualify for holidays in August.

Tuesday we went to the Telus Spark Centre in Calgary, a fairly new and exceedingly good science centre, with tons of interactive displays for children to learn about science. There are about 5 different galleries, organized around different topics.  There's also a theatre, but we didn't go there.  Outdoors there is a very "stimulating" playground, aimed at developing physical and mental abilities.

For me, one of the most enjoyable activities was in the large airy atrium where there were lots of big blue blocks made of some sort of rubbery substance, in several different shapes that made building things easy.  Young children were having a wonderful time with them, running around, building things out of their imagination.  Some made up a little "teeter-totter" with them.  Others created a pile to jump over, others made a sort of rocking horse. I saw so many happy children there--that was a treat for me.

In the "Being Human" gallery there was a fountain--as part of a toilet!!! Its purpose was to illustrate instinctive recoils.  There was a sign saying it was clean water--go ahead and drink!

That's the granddaughter overcoming her instinctive dislike of "drinking from a toilet"!

Yesterday DD and the grands went to town, visited the library and the very fine book/gift store in town.  The kids picked out a game each and DD found an interesting cookbook.  While they were away I finished sewing the binding on the quilt, "Entwined."  It's complete now, and she can take it home with her.

It's pictured in our bedroom where it would also look very good.  It's not quite as big as my usual bed quilt.  I like to make them reach to the floor.  But they have a dog who would chew on the quilt that reached the floor, so it's somewhat abbreviated.  To that end, I also rounded off the bottom corners which would otherwise "pool" on the floor.

This quilt was an enjoyable project from beginning to end.  I seldom make a quilt from all new material, but the materials for this top were all bought in one greatly fun, afternoon.  The Fabric Nook, our local quilting shop, was having their semi-annual 50% off sale and I found everything I needed for the top.  The pattern had the darker colours all one dark blue, but I decided I'd prefer using a mixture.  I love how it turned out!

Next up: sandwich and quilt the Picket Fence.  That will hang up in The Fabric Nook with a sign advertising a demonstration day in September at which Brenda and I will show how to cut and sew a Picket Fence quilt.  That will be fun!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017


No picking or juicing happened today because last night we had a thunderstorm that stayed around for a long time and dumped about 1" of badly needed water on our area.  While we were thankful for that moisture it made everything too wet to be out in the bushes picking cherries, etc.  Plus, it was a dark, gloomy day and one that stayed cold (not enough sunshine!).  The high temperature for the day at our place was a steady +15ºC, or 59ºF.  Not too inspiring for working in a garden!

It did seem like a good day to work on quilts!  The Raggy Quilt is finished!  Here are a few photos:
Snipping of seams finished, before washing and drying:
That's the special scissors there on the quilt.  It springs open after each cut, and that saves a tremendous amount of wear of your hand!  Here's a close up of the snipped but not washed and dried seams.

Here's what the quilt looks like after two trips through the washer and dryer:
And here's a closeup of the seams after the washer/dryer treatment:

I'm pretty happy with this bright, fuzzy quilt, and also happy that it's finished (except it needs a label on the back) so early.  It's for a baby due in November!

Later today I sewed the label on the Entwined quilt and am working on finishing the hand stitching of the binding to the back of the quilt.  This one needs to be finished before Saturday.  

With that and the cleaning that needs to be complete before the weekend, I'm giving up the idea of finishing the scraping and painting of the downstairs door and window frame.  It can wait a while.