A Travelogue

Monday, September 26, 2005

First Rotary Meeting

Tomorrow I lead my first Rotary meeting.

When I think of it, my stomach floats up and I feel like I'm dropping down an elevator shaft. I don't like it. And yet, I can't stop my mind from drifting to tomorrow's meeting, over and over and over. Each time, that queasy floaty feeling of stomach seeking exit through mouth returns.

God, I wish it were tomorrow night.

Company for Dinner

We had company for dinne last night.

The gentleman who hosted us when we were in Albany is here with his wife. They spent the weekend in the mountains and actually did the drive from Banff to Jasper to our house in one day! That's a lot of driving but we anaesthetized them with wine when they arrived and made it all okay.

We had a large dinner. I should have made less, but it's always a struggle for me to cut back because I want to be hospitable and I equate hospitality with generous food and drink.

We had blue cheese stuffed apricots as nibblies with our wine (thanks Vanessa!) Vanessa is the Recipe Queen. She loves to pore through new recipes and try out any that look appealing. When she hits a winner, she tells me and doesn't let up until I promise to try it. The cheese crowned tenderloins we had as the main course are also thanks to her keen eye for the delicious different.

shrimp with aioli sauce laid out like flowers curled around a dollop of sauce, stems piped from aioli and slices of cherry tomato covered with pesto at the bottom. Served on a black plate. Very pretty.

Teddy's Hazlenut mesculun salad served in a ring of cucumber standing on its edge.

Cheese crowned tenderloin in a raspberry/balsamic sauce, duchess potatoes, creamed carrots and onion and broccoli.

To end the evening, chocolate cups filled with citrus sauce, raspberries, a sliced grape and little pieces of banana. The cups are only about 1/2 cup size so there wasn't a lot of room. It's amazing to think that 6 raspberries, one grape, and a quarter banana split between 4 people equals dessert. Definitely not up to my usual standards!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Golfing Triumph!

Hans has been doing brilliantly in golf. At this rate he'll able to keep us in luxury items after he retires!! The day before he didn't win any prizes, but he did card 78, the lowest he's been since New Zealand.

Yesterday he and his team won the tournament and so got first crack at the prizes. He chose a Stormtech rain outfit in a matte pewter colour but when he got home, discovered it wasn't a jacket and pants at all, but 2 jackets. Evidently they weren't sets so it's not like someone else is walking around with two pants. So I'm getting a jacket and we can match when we go for walks. After it fits.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Exercise May Keep You Keen

Say good-bye to the old stereotype of weight lifters being stupid. According to this article, iron-pumpers and exercisers may not only be building their bodies, but their brains as well!

Of course, this information was no shock to me. During yesterday’s 3 treadmilling episodes I reflected on Newton, definitely a strange man, and why he kept the news of his calculus invention a secret for 27 years.

Seems being in shape and engaging in regular exercise continues to have unseen and far-reaching benefits. What a blow to academia.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Hurricane Shrimp

Hans and I joined a group for dinner at the Rusty Pelican. My eyes zeroed in on the seafood platter: lobster tail, shrimp, scallops and a piece of fried snapper which came with fattening carbs or Caesar salad. Yes, I chose the Caesar! Can you see my halo? Better yet, can you see me shrinking? Maybe it's still too soon but keep watching.

We had a bottle of deliciouws Kendall-Jackson Sauvignon Blanc from California. It was cold and crisp, just the way I like it. And as good luck would have it, the other 4 in our group drank red wine so Hans and I had the whole bottle to ourselves. Mwa ha ha. I tried in vain to be circumspect but couldn't make my lips form the word "no" when he kept topping up my glass.

Oh, and the Hurricane Shrimp? None of us ordered it but we all mentioned it in honour of our absent guest, Dick, who was driving north out of Houston towards Ft. Worth even as we were enjoying the meal he was planning on hosting.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Free Coffee and Cake!

It's a gorgeous, sunny blue day outside, and there's an Alzheimer's Break in the park outside my office. I guess they forgot they had already had one on Monday in my building. They are serving free coffee and cake. Most days the thought of free cake would get my adrenaline surging and I confess that even now, I feel the tug of temptation.

But, I've been labouring so hard (and often!) on the treadmill that I'm actually going to resist the cake.

The free coffee is appealing though. But even there, I'm afraid it's appealing only because I'll be closer to the cake...

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Mountain Majesty

I can't seem to get the mountains out of my mind.

So many times I've seen them, but each time is like the first time.

The sky was so very blue, and the snow was so dazzlingly white. I caught my breath each time I looked up. You couldn't paint that picture; it would look fake. With a thick blanket of trees across their feet, they looked like a row of ancient women warming their toes under quilts.

We took photos but I'm not posting them because they don't do the mountains justice (and also because I don't remember how!)

Monday, September 19, 2005

Sweet Peas

I savour the delicious perfume of the sweet peas as I step onto the deck.

"What?" you say. "Blogging again? Shouldn't you be on the treadmill?"

"Yes," I reply smugly. "I did my penance and stepped out to pick the last of the Romaine." In the garden the frost has left unmistakable evidence of its visit. The squash leaves are shrivelled and black, leaving their pale mystery squash in stark relief. We don't know what squash hybrid we were sold, but it bears no resemblance to the zucchini we wanted.

Call me if you want some.


I've been blogging all morning under the guise of doing something useful.

I like to enjoy my coffee and a good book on mornings when I'm at home but today, in penance for the food and wine this weekend, I decided I could only read my book if I was on the treadmill. Hence all the blogging. But now, I'm at the end of my stories. The book is here beside me, I've been dressed all morning in my treadmill gear, and the water bottle awaits. So does the dreaded treadmill.

Trivial Pursuit

Trivial Pursuit isn't my favourite game because, obviously, I don't usually win. If I did, it would quickly become my favourite. For this very reason it's a favourite with the rest of my family. Hans almost always wins and Alethea loves the game so she can challenge herself against him. It's a double thrill when she wins. I wonder how they felt this weekend when I won?? I felt great!

Actually, I can't claim a clear victory. I was leading when we (not me) decided to forego the insetion of pie pieces and just read questions. I think the several bottles of wine we drank blunted our competitive urges and the game morphed into a congenial queestion and answer ame.

But for a brief moment, I was the winner at Trivial Pursuit. Remember, you read it here first.

Earlier, Alethea and I played Scrabble which is my favourite game (see reasons above). If I can't win, there's no one I'd rather get beaten by than my daughter. She didn't win this weekend, but boy, she came perilously close!

Dietje Hagedoorn

Dietje Hagedoorn is a jewelry designer in Canmore and time permitting, I thought we might visit her shop and so downloaded her address off the Internet.

She was quite hard to find. We drove back and forth down the street where she had her shop and it wasn't there. Turns out the address I had was an old one. The phone book yielded her new address and so we tried again. Still not an easy shop to find but eventually, there it was. It certainly didn't look like much of a shop but the sign on her door said she was open. The furious barking of a large dog came flying through the door as Alethea opened it. I stayed in the car! An odd way to sell your jewellery, I thought.

An attractive, petite woman followed the puppy down the stairs. "How did you find me?" she asked with a big smile. Hmm. Most people don't make their shops this hard to find, nor ask you how you finally got there.

"Well it wasn't easy," I said. "Some months ago a woman came into my office in and I couldn't take my eyes off her ring. She said you made it."

As she led us upstairs, she explained this was her working studio and she no longer had a retail shop. She now sells her designs exclusively in galleries though she does accept custom work. Despite the fact that we interrupted her dinner and she wasn't selling her jewellery to us, she was extremely gracious. She cleaned our rings as we browsed through her photos, fingered her loose gems and admired the few pieces she had lying around, including a stunning gold ring topped with a clear topaz shaped like a cone. It was a half hour well spent.

Terry Fox Run

We did it, but we did it backwards.

Sunday morning we decided to take our little forest path in the other direction and see where it took us. A few people passed us, but that's normal enough. It was, after all, another gorgeous fall day and perfect for a walk in the woods. I'm grateful our walk was considerably shorter than Bill Bryson's walk in the woods.

The minute you step onto the forest path, you're in another world. It's so quiet. All you hear are the leaves shivering in the breeze an the pebbles shifting under your feet. All your senses perk up. In the cool shadows of the trees the air is so crisp you think it will shatter if you flick your fingers. But when you step into exposed sunlight, it changes. Waves of fragrant warm earth spiced with the sweet smell of decaying leaves prick at your nose.

We saunter along in no particular hurry, and see more and more people heading our way. They are all wearing blue ribbons with "25" on them, the 25th anniversary of the Terry Fox run. We said hello to everyone.

"You meet a lot more people walking the other way," Hans pointed out. That's certainly true. I'm sure we passed 100 people, and that was only the tail end of the stream. Many would have passed while we were still enjoying our late morning breakfast.

Many people brought their dogs, generally big ones. We even saw one wearing bright red saddle bags. Probably carrying his own water dish.

In this direction the path makes a big loop and I quickly lost my bearings. Even if the path were completely straight I could lose my bearings but luckily, both Alethea and Hans don't share this flaw so I just follow blindly along. There are lots of roots and other trippy things on the path, so I spend a lot of time looking at my feet. I don't want to trip. As I was tiring I glanced up and there, at the far end of the path, was the comfort of Safeway. We were nearly home.

As in the other direction, the path has benches everywhere and many have been donated in memory of someone. The one I remember best was in honour of a couple from Scotland married 65 years. They moved to Canmore in 1988 when they were 70 and 75 years old. They died there in 2002. I hope they know that someone loved them enough to put up a permanent marker in their memory.

Million Dollar Houses

We took a drive up to Silvertip so Hans could show us the golf course where he had played. Oddly, they wouldn't let us walk the course if no one was playing. Since we weren't allowed to enjoy their beautiful vistas, we drove through the upscale residential area to look at houses instead and we found an Open House. Undaunted by their late model Jaguar sedan parked in the driveway, we walked in.

Million dollar open houses are unlike your regular open houses. You get escorted even though the house was vacant other than the large open concept kitchen/ living/ dining room.

It was, of course, outrageously gorgeous.

The foyer has an elevator which goes right to the master bedroom. I presume this is for your convenience so when you've finished primping in the bathroom with its 5-headed shower or soaked in the oval jetted tub, you can just whisk yourself away to your luxury automobile without having to walk the unnecessary steps through your living room and down the stairs.

I loved the kitchen. Even though I'm not a big fan of wood, it's appropriate in the mountains which, by the way, are virtually outside the deck. Stunning views which by themselves are almost worth the price.

But back to the kitchen. The cabinets came in an amber colour which was picked up by the amber tones in the dark u-shaped granite counters and backsplash. That's an expensive backsplash. As the realtor pointed out the built-in hutch and exposed wine-racks in the dining room, I heard my mouth telling her that that was an inappropriate storage space for wine, exposed as it was to light and heat. Hah. I am such a wine snob.

So we're not buying it. The owners are eager to sell because they own two houses in Canmore, having bought another one before the sale on this one was finalized. Then it fell through. Too bad. Sucks to be them.

As we left, Alethea noticed the unmistakable odour of high-grade pot floating in the air.

A Slice of Heaven

Ahh,Canmore. Banff's little sister has grown into a beautiful young woman.

Barely 3 steps from the deck of our rented house put us onto a little forest path. We took it one morning and followed it along a shallow crystalline creek reflecting the brilliant fall colours in its smooth face. Not a ripple disturbed the water. We came to the first of many benches (how very civilized) and found we could count the rocks in the water. On another day we might have lingered and done that but this morning, the air was crisp and more conducive to walking than idling.

The path led us into town where we blended in with other tourists wearing cameras and fuzzy vests. The locals were in shorts and T-shirts.

We found another path, this one a raised boardwalk curving first through marshes and then along another creek dotted with ducks. Purple mountains surrounded us, their fresh snowy peaks glittering in the sun. High above a plane bisected the blue with its arrow straight contrail.

Through a window we admired two stately bison carved from grey ganite. Their strength was captured in stone. How perfect. In another gallery an exquisite painting of a trapeze artist was captured as a flash of golden light. You don't see the person right away, just the colour. Then slowly, as the light pulls you in the figure is revealed, but just barely. It's extraordinarily beautiful.

We toured the Museum, a gorgeous building all wood and glass and concrete. It also houses the municipal offices the everywhere they have large black and white photos of interesting people who have made Canmore home. One large window has a huge Rotary display listing their club's projects locally and worldwide. I'm going to recommend we do the same.

Hans, whose keen eye can always spot an ice cream vendor, had earlier noticed an old school bus converted to an ice cream shop. We sat in the sun and enjoyed towering cones in the 20 degree sunshine.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

How to Fix my Paranoia

If you read my previous post, you'll know that I get a little anxious when Hans is away overnight. I'm much better now that we have an electronic gate across our driveway. However, before the gate and before I had a cell phone, I had the following routine:

- outside shoes by the bed (so I could step out the window)
- car keys on night stand (so I could sneak to the garage and get my car)
- portable phone on night stand (so I could call for help from my car or as I ran across the fields)

When I confessed my fears and routine to Teddy one day, she said with a straight face, "Why don't you just park your car outside the bedroom window? Better yet, why don't you just sleep in your car?"

My Joggity Heartbeat

I have the slightest touch of paranoia.

It only rears its ugly head when Hans is away. In fact, I am completely and blissfully unaware of it all other times. But when he's not in bed beside me, well, I hear things.

Recently he was away fishing and my worst fear came true. I am in bed, the house is dark, and I hear something go bump-in-the-night. From the closet. Where the Boogeyman lives.

An icy fist clutches at my heart and my Paranoid Brain goes on red alert. My Logical Brain knows no one is lying in wait until the moment I turn off the lights. But evidently my logical brain is connected to the light switch.

Eyes open wide, I pull all available moonlight into them but I see nothing. The only sound I hear now is the joggity rhythm of my heart. The closet door remains firmly shut.

I know I have to get up. The alternative is to lie there and continue staring at the closet door. I also know I am being silly but in the dark, I can't acknowledge logic. So, I open the door, turn on the light and there it lies, completely harmless. A feather pillow. It fell from the shelf and because it was in a plastic dry cleaner's bag, it rustled before it whoompfed to the floor.

Scared half to death by a feather pillow.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Fishy story

"It was this big," Hans said, spreading his hands well in excess of 2 1/2 feet.

"Terrific!" I replied in disbelief. But he had pictures to prove it. Not only were the salmon well in excess of 24", they were also quite hefty. The biggest one Hans landed was 17 pounds.

Of course, the really big one got away.

Friday, September 02, 2005

New Orleans

I am riveted to the t.v. these days as I watch the tragedy unfold in New Orleans.

And what's going to happen to the million people who were lucky enough to leave New Orleans before Katrina struck, but who now have nowhere to go? Now what? Are they allowed to join the throngs of refugees filling up the Astro Dome and other centres?

Some politicians have been slammed for suggesting New Orleans should be bulldozed. Certainly not rebuilt. Those opinions make sense to me.