Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Another beautiful sunny day for driving

We had a great sleep last nice to be over the passes and it will be a pretty easy drive today. Last year it was still raining buckets until past Sacremento. I see Victoria will be getting rain over the weekend and the weather in Palm Springs will be in the high 70's. It will be nice to be in sandals and shorts...swimming, golfing, going to Trader Joe's,

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Whazzat...air conditioning in January?

It was wonderful weather going through the mountain passes...up to 60 degrees outside. We actually had to put on the air conditioning at times because the sun made the inside of the car so hot! We really lucked in.

Just outside Ashland we stopped for lunch at a local Mexican restaurant and had a super meal. The restaurant was really colourfully decorated so with the sun it felt like we were in Mexico especially since everyone working there was hispanic. We even had a beer...I didn't think I'd be wanting a beer going through the mountain passes in Jan...

I see our hotel has Casino Royale as a movie so that sounds like a good activity to unwind. After a big lunch, ordering in pizza will be the way to go. Good thing I packed some wine.

Looking forward to getting to Harris Ranch tomorrow and having a swim in their Olympic size pool to say nothing of the wonderful steaks and prairie oysters.

Looks like a clear day for the mountain passes

We'll be going from Salem to Redding today and everything looks clear. Great to have Internet on tap to check and Linda sent me a site with webcams on the passes to that's really handy to have as well.

We had a relaxing drive to Salem yesterday and went to the Red Lobster restaurant for the first time ever. We were impressed...casual and quite reasonable and excellent quality food. I, of course, had the seafood feast, Jim had a steak again but we shared...i.e Jim had half my seafood and I had a bit of steak. Started with lobster rolls and crab and shrimps stuffed mushroom caps. Loved the cheese baking powder biscuits.

Will have to wait until Richard comes to visit mid-Feb to get my photos up. Jim did something weird with my Flickr set up on the laptop. Richard had it in "Flickr for Dummies" mode for me.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Fairhaven Village

It was a pretty relaxing day...just 40 minutes to get across the border. We're very impressed with our hotel and this heritage area of Bellingham. Right across from the hotel is a fabulous three story bookstore called Village Books. That was our first exploration of course and I added another bag to my collection.

There is a village square right there and has bocce pitches and a big screen for an outdoor cinema. It seems they have a farmer's market and Tai Chi in the better weather. They've done a wonderful job of restoration in this area and lots of interesting shops and good restaurants. We ended up in "Dirty Dan's" (a bootlegger in the area) and had an excellent meal...Jim, steak and prawns and me, King salmon done medium rare. They give you that option...Monique, you would have loved it!

Should be a pretty easy drive to Salem tomorrow. Hope we don't get caught in too much traffic around Seattle. | Palm Springs hometown newspaper, covering Coachella Valley, California

We leave today and will soon be picking up this newspaper on our doorstep in the sunshine. Looks like driving conditions will be great. | Palm Springs hometown newspaper, covering Coachella Valley, California

We're taking it real easy going down and just getting across the border today and staying in the historic district of Bellingham. We have seaview room with gas fireplace booked in this hotel and apparently there are lots of excellent restaurants around. Should be a nice relaxing start.

Historically Situated Bellingham Hotels - The Fairhaven Inn, Hotel in Bellingham

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Itty Bitty Book Review: Maiden Voyage

"Maiden Voyage" by Denton Welch

This is by a fellow called Denton Welch.... a memoir of his time running away from public school and then quitting school and joining his father in China. Takes place in the 30's. He died very young (1915-48) but was a "born writer" as Edith Sitwell points out in the foreward. A good read. One of Jim's Christmas finds.

Voice of a City Paris

This is a rather interesting site on my favourite city in all the world...

Voice of a City Paris

Friday, January 26, 2007

Itty Bitty Book Review: The Other Woman

"The Other Woman-Collected Stories" by Colette

Colette was a French woman writer (1900-1954) who had a rather enormous output and many of her books are being published in English. I quite enjoyed these very short vignettes...most under five pages. The one longer story I didn't care for.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Raise a glass to Robbie Burns

Jim's too crazy with work getting this book project done before we leave so we didn't go to a Burns' celebration this year, but today on Burns' birthday we will definitely listen to some Burns' music.

The line from a Burns' song I like the best is:

"His prentice hand he tried on man...and then he made the ladies, oh"
- From the song "Green Grow the Rushes, oh"

Isn't it the truth, ladies?

This was also one of Aldous Huxley's favourites...D.H. Lawrence asked him for the lyrics.

You've got just about everything in this photo...a "wee" dram of scotch, a dirk (the knife you wear in your sock), the bagpipes, and of course, haggis 'the chieften of the puddin race'...

Address to a Haggis Ode To A Haggis

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Itty Bitty Book Review: The Devil's Feather

"The Devil's Feather" by Minette Walters

I got this book at our Christmas book exchange last year and have hesitated to pick it up because I know I generally can't put her thrillers down...this one was no exception. Very worth a read if you like thrillers.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Bunny letter opener

You gotta wonder if some of these are for real or just trick

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Weblo: Monopoly on steroids

I find these virtual worlds that are on the web rather interesting since real money does seem to be changing hands quite a bit and yet it is all virtual. However, I guess reading is virtual too. I'm not really participating in Weblo but I was intrigued enough to buy a few things after I read an article about it. Everything in the world is for sale! I bought Camosun College and the building where Richard works at Technicolor for $1.75 each and the cities of Carqueiranne, Cassis, and Bandol for $5 each. It amused me...

No Monopoly for Second Life

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Itty Bitty Book Review: Maus Vol 1 & I

"Maus Vol I & II" by Art Spiegleman

"Maus" was the first graphic novel to win a Pulitzer prize. It is about the persecution of the Jews and Auchwitz. Very well done and I think the medium of graphic novels definitely has potential to tell stories in a very effective way.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Photo Gallery

I decided to create a photo gallery in my hall. I printed up 8 x 10's of some of my favourite photos and will change them periodically. This first set I put up were the local trees in the Fall, this set is of Carqueiranne and I have other sets of the market in Carqueiranne, Paris, Victoria's Chinatown, Bandol, etc.

Photos of Carqueiranne.

For Christmas Derek and Mary gave us this great photo of the old Aristocratic Restaurant in Vancouver so this has pride of place as well.

Monday, January 15, 2007

For Roland

We heard from Jim's cousin, Maureen, that Roland passed away this morning.

It's so sad to hear we've lost a dear friend. Jim remembers Roland giving him
a driving lesson when he was around 16, and although soon after they settled
in Germany, we're glad we had the pleasure of getting to know Maureen and Roland
when we were all adults and able to enjoy many happy times together.
It's comforting to have nothing but happy memories of someone.

We still recall with pleasure our visit to Germany in 1987. We especially remember the Croatian cuisine in Bielefeld, the visit to Hermann's statue, the trip to Lubeck and Travemunde and all the shipping lore Roland was able to tell us. Richard was so thrilled to be with other kids and have all those video games to play after long boring dinners in France with his parents! And I especially remember all that wonderful schinkin and pastries.

We all had a great time together when they came to Victoria to visit us a few years later and most recently, all the fun we had in the Mediterranean sun. We won’t forget Roland’s special trunk that produced all sorts of goodies during their stay in Carqueiranne. We remember how much they enjoyed sushi in Victoria but couldn’t quite share our enthusiasm for sea urchins (or “those hedgehogs” as you called them) in France.

Maureen, it must be so difficult to lose one’s beloved husband and best friend, but we hope you can find comfort in knowing what a blessed life you had together. You and Roland had a very special relationship.

You and your family are very much in our thoughts.

Roland and Maureen in their home in Bielefeld during our visit in 1987.

Pastis and Palm Trees

We have enjoyed the wonderful warmth of our sunroom during these cold sunny days. The painting is one I did of those wonderful San Jacinto mountains in Palm Springs that one sees everywhere. Perhaps I'll capture them better this year...

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Itty Bitty Book Review: Tsotsi

"Tsotsi" by Athol Fugard

I was quite impressed with the film and our bookclub decided to read it and view the film. I think the film was well done but in the novel you do get a better understanding of why Tsotsi has lost his memory of who he was and his journey towards being able to feel compassion through his association with the baby. Even though it is rather far fetched on some levels I think it works. And certainly the main message that hope and humanity remain in even the most seemingly hopeless cases. Somewhat like Minstry's "A Fince Balance" only here hope and humanity cannot be squelched regardless of the circumstances. Rather interesting to see what else Fugard has written...obviously quite talented.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Like a winter day in the south of France...

It's beautifully sunny and cold today and reminds me of the cold sunny days we had in France in 2005. Our villa there was wonderfully designed to catch the sun and although it was so cold and windy (unusual winter) some days I didn't even feel like walking 10 minutes to get a bagette of the most wonderful bread in the world. (I always did, however.) It was so cosy by the windows and the fireplace.

I'm planning my activities today to spend most of the time in the sunroom and will drag Jim away from his book project for pastis and tapenade in the afternoon. Hope things start to get unusually mild when we begin our trek south to Palm Springs at the end of the month...

Les Mourillons beach in Toulon...we had some great moules-frites there one cold sunny day.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

These are "flurries"?

Quite another dump of snow although these are just "flurries" according to our official weather forecast. Soon, snow in Victoria won't be anything unusual!

I think I can see a bit of the painting of lavender and sunflowers on the flower box.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Calm before the storm...

It was nice to get a little sunshine for my walk down to Willows Beach today...80 K wind predicted for later, then snow...goodness...when will this bad weather ever end!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Inspired to paint

After looking at E.J. Hughes work again and some photos I have of Gabriola I think I will try to paint something. The things that attract me are the sandstone and the arbutus trees and also the fir trees, ocean, and mountain backgrounds to a lesser extent.

View from our house or "the shack" as my father liked to call it.

View of the house...great sandstone formations.

View of the beach out front.

This is a view of the point at Taylor Bay which is right where Hughes takes his inspiration for the arbutus trees in the painting "Arbutus Trees on Gabriola" shown below.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

E. J. Hughes 1913 - 2007

I do love the art of E.J. Hughes and what a wonderful life to quietly paint away until the age of 93 and then go quickly without a lingering illness. Of course, my favourite is "Taylor Bay - Gabriola Island" since our summer place was just around the corner and I walked around to Taylor Bay all the time, swam there, and it was where our little boat was moored on a wharf that came after this painting was done. The wharf was just about where the boat is moored.

"Taylor Bay - Gabriola Island" by E.J. Hughes

This is an old photo of Taylor Bay just about the same perspective as the painting only
not showing as much of the Bay.

E. J. Hughes
There are a lot of examples of his work here.

Craig and I heading out fishing from the Taylor Bay wharf in 1962

My brother Craig 1945 - 1999
On the back of the photo my mother wrote:
Craig Fleming 1960 - Gabriola
A mess of grils (*small salmon) at his feet. What a catch!

Richard just before leaving for Europe in 1997 where he travelled for a while then worked in London in the computer industry.
Isn't the resemblance with my brother amazing?

Friday, January 05, 2007

The saga of PAGLIACCI'S

Derek and Mary re-introduced us to Pagliacci's. We hadn't gone for years since there was always a lineup. And there was a lineup the first time we tried even though it was 5:30! So we headed to the Irish Times pub. Then we heard they took reservations at 5:30 but only at 5:30...alas, only for parties of 6 or more. But we were assured we'd get a table on a weeknight at 5:30 so Take Two: Pagliacci's...success!

We were impressed by the low prices, great food, and fun bistro atmosphere...very much like a French bistro where you are crowded in but it works.

We will return for things like a portion of fabulous lasagna ($12.50) that only Jim could finish easily and reviews like:
"I've eaten lasagna all over the world and this is the best I've ever had.” - Peter C. Newman (1986) and Mel Gibson (1989) agrees.

And Mary treated us so even better...thanks, Mary!

Victoria and Vancouver Island - PAGLIACCI'S - Restaurants, Dining, Menus

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

McSweeney's Publishing

Richard got a gift certificate from Bolen's from Monique and bought some rather fascinating materials I hadn't seen before from Dave Egger's publishing venture called McSweeney's. It's pretty counter traditional publishing but this article in the very traditional Forbes financial magazine was rather interesting, I thought.

Dave Eggers' Small Notion -

Some of the McSweeney materials.

Monday, January 01, 2007

And another year begins...what I'll be reading in 2007

Jim has the task at this time of year to find me a stack of books that I haven't read. It does get harder every year...he just had to take back two this year.