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Thanksgiving Dinner, a day early

Thanksgiving Dinner, a day early

Today I am grateful for family, turkey, dogs and the kitten.

First, the family. Eight of us sat around the table downstairs and feasted on turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, yams and pecans, carrots, celery and tomatoes. There was also cranberry punch and asparagus from Thamesville.

For dessert, there was pie and cake.

Sarah and Brendan’s pumpkin cheesecake, Ryan & Liz’s rhubarb and strawberry pie, and Carol’s mini lemon-cashew pies with blueberry sauce. All accompanied with herbal cinnamon tea, decafe coffee and homemade Port.

The turkey was a happy, free range, juicy turkey carved by our on-site chef. (How many families get an on-site chef?)

And finally, there were the pets. Makita was there, an eighty pound Labradoodle. Makita is usually the only pet to show up. Today, we also hosted Jameson, a long-haired Dachshund.


This is Jameson, a Real lap dog.


This is Makita, a Pretend lap dog.

And we had Ollie, the rescue kitten. I was bit concerned that the kitten would have a problem with the two dogs. Not so. That little ball of fur knows how to take care of himself.


And this is Ollie.


turkey from bigstockphoto.com #6379720

Denman and Hornby

Denman and Hornby

The leaves in Calgary are changing to gold. No frost yet and, so far, none in the forecast.  Of course, it’s still technically summer until the twenty-first. And I’ve heard predictions that we’ll get a very warm autumn.  That would be nice.

This past July, we spent over three weeks in British Columbia.

On July 4, we left Horseshoe Bay on the mainland , taking the BC Ferries ship called “Coastal Renaissance” and landing 90 minutes later at the terminal in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island.

Coastal Renaissance

From there we drove north to Courtenay to stock up on groceries. Then we headed back down the island to Buckley Bay where we caught another ferry, a much smaller one, which delivered us to Denman Island where we stayed for a week. During that time we visited Hornby Island twice.

Denman and Hornby are two small islands on the east side of Vancouver Island.

Vancouver Island with Denman and Hornby in the circle

Vancouver Island with Denman and Hornby in the circle

Denman and Hornby

Denman and Hornby

Our son (Ryan) and daughter-in-law (Liz) and their Labradoodle (Makita) joined us on Denman. They were coming from further north on Vancouver Island where they had spent a week at Nootka Sound salmon fishing.

We stayed in a little cottage and, with a five minute walk through the trees, we could be at the ocean shore.

nighttime on the deck of the cottage

nighttime on the deck of the cottage

Denman Island is about 19 square miles and home to approximately 1000 year round residents. Tiny  Denman Village is made up of a general store, a bookstore, a couple of cafes, a hardware store, some craft stores, a library, a church, a school, a community hall and a post office.

Hornby Island is a bit smaller, about 11 square miles, and also has about 1000 year round residents. During the summer months, the population can swell to 5000.

The people who live full time on these islands are farmers, crafts people, artists, potters, writers, retirees and others looking for a laid-back lifestyle.

apple trees

~ Walking around the “downtown” on a warm summer’s day ~

buzzing bee

While exploring the island, we visited a vineyard. The farmer was out with her vines so she left this note.

vineyard note

We called her, she returned and invited us inside to taste some wine, and I bought three bottles of the Sandy Island White.

Corlan Vineyard

On Wednesdays, there’s a Farmers Market on Hornby Island so we took the ferry across.


Makita watching the ferry’s progress on the short trip to Hornby Island.

Hornby Island ferry dock~ Approaching Hornby Island ferry dock ~

The market is in a treed area with a huge array of stalls selling muffins, jams, vegetables, jewelry, clothing, wine, massage, pottery and more. After the market, we went into “downtown Hornby”  to one of the restaurants.

 watermelon, cucumber, feta and mint and spices

~ Watermelon, cucumber, feta, mint and spices ~

avocado, romaine, red onion, cucumber and hummus

~ A wrap of avocado, romaine, red onion, cucumber and hummus ~

Later we walked down to Tribune Bay.

Tribune BayTribune Bay, on the south side of Hornby, has a white sandy beach and warm, shallow waters.

Still later we ended up at the Cardboard House Bakery for some blueberry sour cream pie.

Cardboard House Bakery

That’s Makita hiding in the shade of the picnic table.

The next day, we went back to Hornby using Ryan and Liz’s boat.

Makita in her life jacket

~ Makita in her life jacket ~

We anchored in Tribune Bay for some swimming. This is me with Makita. We both like swimming but I think she prefers fresh water over the salty seas.

Makita and Suzanne

Then we motored over to Ford Cove for fish and chips.

Ford Cove

Here I am relaxing on the boat.


There’s a public boat launch at Bill Mee Park on Denman.

lining up the boatLiz is lining up the boat and Ryan will secure it  to the trailer.


While Ryan and Rolf went fishing, Liz and I relaxed at the cottage. Liz (an artist, as well as an engineer) did some painting. I did some writing. And we both worked on this jigsaw puzzle which reminds me of Tribune Bay.


On Saturday, it was time to leave Denman. We said goodbye to Ryan and Liz and Makita. They headed back to Calgary and we were going up island to Campbell River.

It started to rain that morning, a very welcome rain considering the island (and much of the west coast) had been experiencing drought. The Denman Island Farmers Market is on Saturday so we stopped in before we left.

As I wandered around with my umbrella, I bought a hand woven dish towel and another bar of homemade soap. I also had a cup of steaming hot coffee and the best rhubarb coffee cake I’ve ever tasted.

O Christmas Tree!

O Christmas Tree!

Last Saturday, after a pizza lunch, we decorated the big spruce tree in front of the house. We bought 800 lights at Costco, and then our son Ryan brought over his crane.

Zoom Boom

Our other son Kyle went up in the basket along with one of their friends. Way up.

way up!

Ryan positioned the basket . . .


. . . and Makita supervised on the ground.


Liz helped with untangling the lights and attaching the next strands.

up in the basket

We had sunny weather for this, with the temperature hovering between 5 and 0 Celsius. A good thing, since the operation took several hours.

in the basket

And finally, we ended up with this:

O Christmas Tree!

When we finished, we celebrated by going out for Chinese Smorgasbord. Snow is predicted for tomorrow. I think our tree will look pretty.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

In the time I went to school, I don’t remember ever having a teacher use this writing prompt. That may have been because I grew up in an agricultural community in Southwestern Ontario.

Corn tassel

Corn tassel

Summers meant hoeing beans, picking cucumbers, picking tomatoes and/or detasseling corn.

It was hard work and no one wanted to relive the experience in a school essay. When you lived on a farm, you worked on a farm.

Sometimes there were swimming lessons at the little pool in town, but I usually only got there for the July lessons. By August, there was too much work to do. As a result, I never moved pass Advanced Beginner. Although, I did have a pretty good dog paddle.

When I was twenty-four, I signed up for swimming lessons at the local YMCA and finally passed my Advanced Beginner and now I love to swim.

This summer, I was in the little town of Deep River, Ontario. One of my best summer vacation memories is jumping off the boat into the warm deep water of the Ottawa River on a hot sunny day.

Oiseau Rock

That’s me on the far right, swimming with Makita, Liz and Ryan in the Ottawa River by Oiseau Rock.

Other than my trip to Ontario, I didn’t do a lot of summer vacation stuff because I was focused on the WIP. The Working Title is HIGHBURY and it’s almost finished. Almost. I am smoothing out the last two scenes and tying up loose threads. Along the way with this book, I discovered it was actually the Second book of a series. Once I am completely finished with it, I will begin the First book of the series. Nothing like starting in the middle.

Guardians of the GalaxyI missed most of the summer movie fare, but I did see Guardians of the Galaxy. If you like the Marvel movies (The Avengers, Ironman) you will probably enjoy this one. I did. As usual, Stan Lee makes a cameo appearance. What a guy.

We had one BBQ in the backyard this summer with a few friends sitting around the fire. I will make sure to have at least one more BBQ in the warm days of Indian Summer.

And I only went hiking once, to Johnston Canyon, so I must make time to do at least Larch Valley this fall.

2014-09-02-yoga-FreeDigitalPhotosdotnetThis summer, I signed up for an eleven-week session of drop-in Yoga. The Summer Sizzler. Turns out I love Yoga and I managed to get to 28 classes. I’ll go back to swimming at the Y this fall, but I want to do more Yoga.

Did you swim in any rivers, lakes or oceans this summer? Did you see any blockbuster summer movies? Did you take up any new sports or activities? How did you spend your Summer Vacation?

beach chairs from Bigstockphoto.com #5904213
corn tassel from Wikipedia
Guardians of the Galaxy movie poster from Internet Movie Database imdb.com
yoga from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sunshine Award

Sunshine Award

Last week—all the way from Melbourne, Australia—my WANA friend Ellen Gregory gave me a Sunshine Award.

The rules of the Sunshine Award are:
  • Include the award’s logo in a post on your blog.
  • Link to the person who nominated you.
  • Answer the 10 questions below.
  • Pass the award on to a bunch of “Sunshine inspiring” bloggers. The rules say 10 people, but choose however many you like.

And here are the questions: (note: We are talking about Favourites, and that will be Favorites to some of you. See my post on being bilingual.)

Favourite Colour:

Pink, because it’s a bright, alive, happy colour. I love my pink ski jacket and I do some of my best writing when I’m wearing pink socks.

Favourite Animal:

Makita the Labradoodle 

That would be Makita, a Labradoodle, a cross between a Labrador Retriever and a Standard Poodle.


Favourite number:

13, because there are 13 letters in my name.

Favourite non-alcoholic drink:

Ellen likes a large skinny flat white – which I just discovered is slightly different from a latte. It has a higher ratio of coffee to milk and is more “velvety” in consistency.

My favourite is a grande decaf latte, sometimes skinny, sometimes not. And sometimes I go all out and have a grande caramel Frappuccino.

Favourite alcoholic drink:
a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc called Saint Clair



Currently, a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc called Saint Clair, Family Estate, Pioneer Block 18.

We had this for Mother’s Day when we were at Notable’s.



Facebook or Twitter?



Writing, of course.

Prefer getting or giving presents?

Definitely giving. Sometimes I even give myself presents. That way I always get what I want 🙂

Favourite City:

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Even with the short summers, the Chinooks, and the hail in July, it is still a beautiful city. And I love that it’s close to Banff National Park.

Favourite TV show:

At the moment, Elementary.

And those are my 10 answers. Thank you, Ellen!
You can find Ellen at her blog, to beyond and back.

Here are my nominations for the Sunshine Award:

Sheila Seabrook (Author of Romantic Women’s Fiction)
Brenda M. Collins (Sweet Romantic Stories laced with MYSTERY and MAGIC)
Roxy Boroughs (Passionate…Paranormal…and moments of Pandemonium)
Amy Jo Fleming (Moonbeams and Mysteries)
Jan O’Hara (Tartitude – Jan O’Hara’s home of art, attitude, Vitamin C)
Diana Cranstoun (Writer of Women’s Fiction, with a particular interest in women’s experiences during World War 2 and the early 20th Century Canadian West)
Catherine Johnson (poetry and other oddments)
Jennifer Jensen (Reading, Writing & Real Life)
Sara Walpert Foster (Nobody Expects The Spanish Inquisition)
Margaret Miller (Marmalade and Roses)
These bloggers may or may not continue the meme but have a look at their blogs, and be entertained.

Want to share your own answers here?