First the baby. No longer a bump, second grandson, Parker Jay, arrived three weeks early on August 8th, 7 lbs 10 oz, 20" long. Proud parents and big brother: Elina, Sean and Rye. All's well back at home after a few nights in the NICU.
Blogging bumps - in preparation for the Camino, I'm practicing mobile blogging via email. I imagine this method will result in a few bumps along the way. So here goes...
Seriously working on my Spanish, I've found an online course that teaches in a way that sticks, unlike all those old tapes, CD's and workbooks of my past. Having grown up in a Spanish speaking extended family and taken French in high school and at the university level, I thought I'd forever mixed up the two languages, developing my unique version of Frespanol.
I highly recommend Synergy Spanish, the video version, which introduces the words visually while you listen. The non-grammar based course is the baby of Marcus Santamaria, who without the ability to speak Spanish, moved to Mexico to be near his in-laws. It's a low budget production that does the job. Never mind the crowded, confusing website, have a look and try some of his free samples.
Trouble with the Camino, is that you cross into areas of different dialects and languages. Aside from the first days in France, the entry in to Spain is through Basque country, known for it's pre-European language. Our pre and post Camino time will be spent in Catalonia, also in Spain, but with it's own language.
The title of the post is Los Pulpos Velcros, the Velcro Octopi, our Spanish name for my ankle braces. Keep all knitting and fuzzy fabric away from its sticky tentacles. Look closely, you can probably see remnants of velcro-ed victims:
We're weighing each item we're carrying in our Camino backpacks. Prior to the recent ankle fracture limb care included metatarsal pads, one ankle brace and a just-in-case knee brace. Our updated list has the addition of gel inserts, an additional ankle brace and Injinji toe sock liners.
Marathon physical therapy sessions and two trips to the podiatrist have me thankful for my post retirement insurance coverage. My sweet young physical therapist laughed out loud when I replied to her question regarding the length of our trek. Not to worry, we have a Plan B if necessary. This trip is not about winning or losing (except maybe the 5 lbs I gained while cast encumbered), it's about the process of bridging our lives into retirement and being open to whatever happens.
A good portion of the weight is in the packaging. This reminds me of the year 1984, when we moved to Canada from Omaha, Nebraska. The cost of moving items came out to fifty cents per pound. We weighed everything, including the fridge to determine its move worthiness. Can you imagine what it would cost now?
Regardless of re-emptive plans for foot comfort, we know from all of our research that pain is part of the Camino process.The real inspiration, however, came from the woman at the medical supply store where I bought my braces. She told us that she has done the entire Camino, St. Jean Pied de Port, France to Santiago, Spain, 500 miles, three times - the first at age 65, the second at 67 and the third at 70.
It's coming up quickly, our Camino de Santiago adventure. We're going with total flexibility, to take it as it comes and make decisions as we go. Nothing's set in stone considering the recent setback of the broken ankle. A week post-cast with the help of six cortisone injections and two ankle braces I picked up the training again. Looking into the distance from my daughter's Calgary window I saw this spire:
A quick Google investigation found that it was the new Calgary Mormon Temple, located 11.5 kms away. That was my goal for the trip - a walk from M's house to the temple. I'm happy to report that three days before the end of our trip we did it:
One thing I noticed is that it was easier to accomplish that kind of distance in new territory. When doing our familiar routes here at home, it seems to feel longer probably due to familiarity and expectations. That's encouraging in terms of Camino walking where everything will be unfamiliar and expectations remain flexible.
It was when we lived in Omaha we learned that expression "Don't like the weather? Wait a few minutes and it'll change." Now we know they say it in Calgary, too. And rightfully so. After two weeks we witnessed many changes in the sky, particularly from my daughter's front window.
There were funnel clouds in that one. And this morning we're back in Vancouver where stage 3 drought conditions continue.
1. I've been released from ankle jail getting the official word that this time the ankle has actually healed. Not like the last time, which has left me with a permanently broken right ankle. Both will require bracing for the Camino. Better safe than sorry, as my Mom would say.
2. My son's movie, a documentary about a chapter in our family's history, is being released (on DVD or pay per view) North America-wide on July 21st. Pre-orders for Taking My Parents to Burning Man are being accepted on iTunes. Aside from the basic premise of the movie, the post filming experience has been a journey in itself: many awards, positive reviews, and interesting discussions. It has done wonders for my discomfort with public speaking. It's funny to read reviews and people's take on things. The last one, in Vancouver's Georgia Straight, described daughter Mari as sagacious, me as easy going, and Chuck simply as white haired.
Be forewarned, it's not everybody's cup of tea. The movie does border at times on the risque side. It really shouldn't come as a shock, it's about the Burning Man festival. The rating process is not yet complete, but it is not PG. There is one F word said in frustration and some glimpses of bare bottoms and breasts. There are people in the background smoking joints and drinking alcohol. I've seen worse on prime time.
There are now two versions of the trailer, one more tame than the original. To date the film is rated 4.8 out of 5 on IMDB and 8.9 out of 10 on Rotten Tomatoes.
If you are so inclined, give it a watch. You'll laugh, maybe cry, and you'll definitely have opportunities to shake your head in disbelief. And for you Vancouverites, it will be playing at the Rio this Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Have fun!
That title came back to me, having first been exposed to the expression as the name of a column in my high school newspaper. Funny how things just pop into your brain.
The first month of retirement has been happy busy with visitors from Alberta, Seattle and Germany. I included previous photos of some of the AB crew. Representing Seattle is Blogless Marsha, auto correct desperately wants to call her Bloodless. A nasty feature of modern life that auto correct can be, but doesn't she look glamorous in her Dame Edna shades?
We had so much fun, the four of us experiencing Pink Martini from second row seats. Second time for them, fourth for us. Chuck says we'd better be careful lest we get labelled groupies.
Our beautiful friends from Berlin, were here for the Women's World Cup, with their engaging and adorable 17 month old. I liked C's observation regarding communication with the little one: we may not have understood our respective languages, but we understood each other.
Chuck got Pavlova for the second time. Miraculous! As far as he's concerned. Whipping cream was on sale for .95 per litre for Father's Day and the first go around only required half. I knew the leftover cream would end up in his tummy arteries somehow. This way ensured his ingestion would be proportional, as I am sure that although he could consume the entire half litre, it was more fun to share it with company.
I got in some drawing time, thanks to blogger Carol, who reminded me of this ink technique. I combined it with pencil drawing. It's too hot here to touch yarn. A pencil I can handle.
And that ends the bits for today. More to follow. Think Bryant, think yet another school bus of another colour. They get brighter each time.
Ask C what he wants for his birthday (Father's Day, Easter, Christmas...). His answer is always Pavlova, believing that a quarterly indulgence of sugar and fat won't kill him. Well, I figure if it does, let him go happy. At some point, partners of those with health related diets have to have to throw up their hands in submission. But that's another post.
The trouble with Pavlova is that his favourite local source, Sweet Carrie's in Lonsdale Quay Market, has gone out of business. Armed with our favourite Aussie recipe, sugar, eggs and whipped cream I embarked on a surprise that's hard to keep secret when ten minutes of high speed beating are required. It may look like a traditional North American meringue, however the inside of this one is a soft and foamy delight. Follow that recipe and it's a guaranteed success.
Successfully hobbling down the stairs Pavlova in hand, ankle encased in cast, one step away from the spare fridge, off it flew form the pan on its magic carpet of baking parchment. Oopsie. C very happily volunteered to clean it up, spoon in hand.
Somehow, I doubt that picture would be used in a cookbook as a serving suggestion.
I'm retired and supposedly have all the time in the world. But why spend it in a hot kitchen? My retirement strategy included the decision to do it in summer, and although technically spring, the weather has cooperated beautifully.
My traditional cabbage roll recipe always turns out well, and this cheaty version may not look as pretty, but it takes a fraction of the time and effort and tastes just as good. Fits into my retirement plans just fine. Maybe I should have routinely done it this way when I was working. Seriously, I'd come home from work and make the long version. Over time I came to realize I used cooking for stress reduction. It's ironic, now that I have the time, the levels of stress are lower and I'm cooking more simply.
Cabbage Roll Casserole:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2 lbs ground beef
1 C chopped onion
2 cloves garlic
3 T olive oil
1/2 C catsup
1 14 oz can tomato sauce
1 can tomato soup
1 can condensed beef broth
2 C hot water
1 C uncooked brown or white rice
1 t dry thyme
1 t dry dill
pepper to taste
3lbs chopped cabbage or 3 bags of chopped cole slaw veggies.
In a Dutch oven or large pot that has a cover, brown the first three ingredients in the olive oil. Drain off any liquid and add all but the cabbage. Bake in covered pot for an hour. Stir in cabbage, replace cover and cook for an additional 30 minutes.
That's what I learned on my last day of work. And you can't expect to leave without tears. It was hectic right to the end, so although I have handed my office over to my wonderful replacement, I have a few hours to do from home.
The celebrations were lovely, a community reception and dinner with the family, staff and members of the board. So many good memories.
Chuck tries his comedy routine at the restaurant, Anatoli Souvlaki:
My favourite pictures. Auntie Mari and Rye and one at the dinner:
I was asked what I wanted for a retirement gift. I decided on one that's practical, to be used on a regular basis, but keep-sakey, something I couldn't lose, an item that could be passed down in the family someday, and preferably something vintage that can continue it's life happily in our house. Try filling those requirements!
Here it is, my giant Danish silver serving spoon from 1880. It was probably a gift for a silver wedding anniversary. Coincidentally one set of initials engraved on the back for that event were the same as my Dad's and the date was on my birthday, March 15th.
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