Sunday, January 31, 2010

Some of our favourite things in PS...on our way today!

Great wine and products from Trader Joe's.

My beloved San Jacinto Mountains.

"Patch" the dog lying in wait for us on the golf course.

Bristol Farms..that's various smoked fishes on the right.

Cactus and everything about the desert.

Palm trees and sunsets.

Modernism Week

Mid-century architecture

Getting a "hole in one" ...and the Desert Sun newspaper.

Great food and wine.

The Elephant Bar and good friends.

Palm Springs Art Museum


Music and great Mexican food at Las Casualas.

Swims and hot tubs morning, afternoon, and evening.

Being together in the sunshine.

Friday, January 29, 2010

San Jacinto morning...

And I can't wait to start gazing at my wonderful San Jacinto mountains...loaded with snow because of recent rainstorms I hear.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Atwood wins Davos award

Margaret Atwood, the renowned Canadian author and literary critic has been presented with the Crystal Award at the 2010 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

"I am very honoured to have been given the Crystal Award this year," Atwood said in a statement. "The future of the planet will depend on a great deal of human creativity, and it is heartening to see an organization focused on economies recognizing the contributions made by artistic creators and thinkers."

She added, "Language, music and visual art are a part of the human heritage that is much older than economies as we know them today. They are who we are, while money is a neutral tool that enables us to do what we imagine."

Well, it's not the Nobel Prize for Literature which I really hopes she gets soon but I'm very pleased she is being recognized in this way.

Atwood wins Davos award -

Modernism Week: Palm Springs CA Architecture Design History Tours Films & Antique Show

We're really looking forward to being in Palm Springs for the weather, the golf, the food, and of course Modernism Week. We went on a great house tour last year and this year I'm really looking forward to seeing these Airstream trailers. Great idea!

A classic Airstream and I love the canvas lawn chairs that we had as kids.

There's something very cosy about the interiors. Hey...the decor has my leopard skin blankie that Fern made me and that I (and now Oscar) love. We didn't know we were being retro.

Modernism Week: Palm Springs CA Architecture Design History Tours Films & Antique Show

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A funny old world...

In the TC Business section today:

"Root of Chinese Frugality May be Shortage of Brides"

China having a one child policy seemed a good thing when the population was exploding but of course this led to the preference of the one child allowed being a boy so now there is an imbalance of too many boys and not enough girls.

"Some commentators deplore the imbalances distorting the global economy, particularly China's tendency to save too much and the U.S. penchant for spending too much. Shang-Jin Wei, a professor at Columbia University, and his co-author, Xiaobo Zhang speculate that families are trying to increase their sons' chances in the marriage market by saving large amounts of money."

So, let me see if I get this. People who save money and help the world by limiting the reproduction of children are responsible for the global economic downturn.

Gee, I wonder what might happen if the US stopped spending so much and stopped using so many of the world's resources. What a concept!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"How to Learn Just About Anything Online for Free"

This was a featured article in the AARP (American Association for Retired Persons) magazine that came today. (BTW, it's a great organization to join because of info and the last couple of years we've saved hundreds on car rentals and hotel rooms. It's for everyone over 50 and for Canadians it costs $17US a year.)

I had no idea there was so much free e-learning out there. MIT offers over 2,000 free courses online and Apple has loads of stuff at their iTunesU from universities like Oxford, London School of Economics, etc. I did a search for "Interaction Design" because Richard is doing some work in that area and brought up lots of hits.

Here's a link to the article:

The New U.: How to Learn Just About Anything Online for Free - AARP Bulletin Today

Fifth Avenue, NYC, Apple Store

I guess the big announcement comes tomorrow about Apple's new product. This store is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. I love the building...not quite sure how I feel about the hours.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Robbie Burns birthday today...

We may not be having haggis but we'll be toasting a wee dram to Robbie Burns today.

Haggis being piped in at the Union Club.

'Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face, Great chieftain o' the puddin-race!'

Friday, January 22, 2010

Dallas Road today

These photos were all taken within about 5 minutes...interesting how blue the sky was on one side.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ain't it the truth...

Don sent me this and I thought it was quite amusing. To all the bon vivants who read this blog...let's raise another glass.


Last night, my kids and I were sitting in the living room and I said to them,
'I never want to live in a vegetative state, dependent on some machine and
fluids from a bottle. If that ever happens, just pull the plug.'

They got up, unplugged the computer, and threw out my wine.

Vineyard in Cassis with the Calenques in the background.

My favourite drive in the entire world is winding down through the vineyards to the wonderful village of Cassis thinking about dining at Le Grand Large Restaurant on the ocean and washing down sea urchins and oysters with the white wine of Cassis...available almost nowhere else because the people of the region drink the limited quantities themselves.

La carte Restaurant plage privee Cassis

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Kate McGarriggle 1946 - 2010

I was very saddened to read about Kate McGarriggle's death this morning in the newspaper. Jim and I are tremendous fans of Kate and Anna McGariggle. Funnily enough we were introduced to these Canadian icons on Britain's South Bank Show that we picked up on satellite many years ago.

From the blog of her son, Rufus Wainright:

"When inevitably I read today in the papers that my mother lost her battle with cancer last night, I am filled with an immense desire to add that this battle, though lost, was tremendously fruitful during these last three and a half years of her life. She witnessed her daughter's marriage, the creation of my first opera, the birth of her first grandchild Arcangelo, and gave the greatest performance of her life to a packed crowd at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Not to mention traveling to some of the world's most incredible places with both my sister, her husband Brad, my boyfriend Jorn and myself. Yes, it was all too brief, but as I was saying to her sister Anna last night while sitting by her body after the struggle had ceased, there is never enough time and she, my amazing mother with whom everyone fell in love, went out there and bloody did it. I will miss you mother, my sweet and valiant explorer, lebwohl and addio. X

Kate & Anna McGarrigle

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


This is a Nanaimo company that is making these rather amazingly small homes. I'm always fascinated by "small" solutions to housing problems. If we got some really creative thinking I feel we could solve most of our local homeless problems.

Modular Homes | Prefab Houses | Micro Homes | TWELVE CUBED

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Olympic spirit

Louise tells me people in Vancouver have been asked to keep their Christmas lights up to welcome people for the Olympics. Guess that might be happening here.

Snowdrops and Christmas lights?

I always love seeing these snowdrops come out at this time of year. Fern, these are some of the ones you gave me. They're still going strong!

Can anyone tell me why so many people still have their Christmas lights on? Did I miss this in recent years?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

'Baby Doc’ Duvalier pledges 8 million in aid for Haiti

So, Baby Doc is apparently giving back 8 million of the 250 million he embezzled when he was Haiti's dictator. Guess we'll put his name up for the Nobel Peace Prize.

From the Telegraph:

He inherited power from his father, “Papa Doc”, and the father-son regime left at least 40,000 political opponents dead.

Many lay the blame for Haiti’s chaotic, poverty-stricken recent history at the hands of the Duvaliers.

Faced with a popular revolt, the Reagan administration helped him seek exile in France, where he has lived in Paris ever since.

A new Olympic sport...

I got a laugh out of this photo John posted on his photoblog recently.

January 14th, 2010 — The 2010 winter Olympics are about to begin and Vancouver is in the middle of a pineapple express. Should “running for the bus with an umbrella” be a demonstration sport in this Olympics?

Miscellaneous photographs

Saturday, January 16, 2010


Richard gave us Season One of Deadwood for Christmas as well. We are enjoying it too. It wouldn't be for everyone...coarse language and adult situations but it appeals to our quirky sense of humour so a good choice for us.

We aren't offended by the language but we do find it a bit jarring because contemporary cusswords are used rather than period ones of the time. Guess this is some post-modern thing...

Friday, January 15, 2010

P.K. Page 1916 - 2010

Portrait by Alma Duncan, 1947.

Canadian literary grand dame and artist, P.K. Page, long renowned for her poetry and other writing died at the age of 93 at her home in Victoria.

I remember being introduced to the poetry of P.K. Page in university and the first poem we studied was the following. I was very impressed by this poem because it was the first time I had read poetry that dealt with an experience I didn't think you wrote poetry about. Poetry had all been grandiose and boring before. I've been a fan ever since.

I worked in an office as a typist one summer when I was in high school. I got the job after saying I could type 30 words a minute when I hadn't taken a typing course in my life. I spent the weekend learning how to type with a book called "Typying Made Easy".

The Stenographers
P.K. Page

After the brief bivouac of Sunday,
their eyes, in the forced march of Monday to Saturday,
hoist the white flag, flutter in the snow-storm of paper,
haul it down and crack in the mid-sun of temper.

In the pause between the first draft and the carbon
they glimpse the smooth hours when they were children--
the ride in the ice-cart, the ice-man's name,
the end of the route and the long walk home;

remember the sea where floats at high tide
were sea marrows growing on the scatter-green vine
or spools of grey toffee, or wasps' nests on water;
remember the sand and the leaves of the country.

Bells ring and they go and the voice draws their pencil
like a sled across snow; when its runners are frozen
rope snaps and the voice then is pulling no burden
but runs like a dog on the winter of paper.

Their climages are winter and summer--no wind
for the kites of their hearts--no wind for a flight;
a breeze at the most, to tumble them over
and leave them like rubbish--the boy-friends of blood.

In the inch of the noon as they move they are stagnant.
The terrible calm of the noon is their anguish;
the lip of the counter, the shapes of the straws
like icicles breaking their tongues, are invaders.

Their beds are their oceans--salt water of weeping
the waves that they know--the tide before sleep;
and fighting to drown they assemble their sheep
in colums and watch them leap desks for their fences
and stare at them with their own mirror-worn faces.

In the felt of the morning the calico-minded,
sufficiently starched, insert papers, hit keys,
efficient and sure as their adding machines;
yet they weep in the vault, they are taut as new curtains
stretched upon frames. In their eyes I have seen
the pin men of madness in marathon trim
race round the track of the stadium pupil.


The Stairwell
Painted in Rio de Janeiro 1957/58
Felt pen and Gouache

More artworks here:

Untitled Document

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Help Haiti

I guess we are all aware of this terrible disaster in Haiti and while we can't do very much we can donate to one of the relief organizations that are on the ground and preparing to help. I like World Vision but other agencies were listed in the TC today. And if you are an American reading this then has a list of agencies helping.

One of the "trending topics" on Twitter is "Help Haiti". This is the first major disaster since Twitter got popular and so far it seems to be a very effective way to raise funds.

World Vision Canada - Sponsor a

From the Telegraph today:

Virtually every developed nation in the world mobilised to send people and resources to earthquake-hit Haiti as the first rescue workers on the ground launched a critical 72-hour effort to help survivors.

Planeloads of water, food, tents, medicine and rescue equipment flew into Port au Prince's airport along with rescue and medical teams from around the globe in a bid to help the estimated three million people – a third of the population – now in need.

It is believed that up to 100,000 people could have died in Tuesday's earthquake, which measured 7.0 on the Richter scale, and Haitian senator Youri Latortue said the final figure could reach half a million.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Only in Victoria...

This message came from the golf club yesterday:

Due to the ever growing presence of black-tailed deer at Uplands and to promote equity among players, a new Local Rule has been made in consultation with the Men’s Handicap Committee which will come into effect immediately. This Local Rule will remain in effect indefinitely.

LOCAL RULE – Deer Damage in Bunkers

If a ball has come to rest in or on damage within a bunker where it is known or virtually certain that the damage was caused by a deer, the damage is deemed to be Ground Under Repair even though not marked as such and relief is provided under Rule 25-1bii. The player must proceed with one of the following options:

1. Play the ball as it lies; or
2. Lift, clean and drop the ball in the bunker, without penalty,
within one club-length of the nearest point of relief not nearer the
hole; or
3. Under penalty of one stroke, lift clean and drop outside the bunker,
keeping the point where the ball lay directly between the hole and the
spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit to how far behind the
bunker the ball may be dropped.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

27 inches of blog in 14 volumes...

I really appreciate it when people take the time to tell me they enjoy my blog and why and many of you do...merci beaucoup!

This is part of an email I received recently and wanted to share it with my readers.

"I read your comment that that your blog seemed to project an ideal life. Of course I realize that your life is no more ideal than anyone else's yet you have the gift of uplifting your readers to see the pleasure in even ordinary events. It's a gift--truly! That's why we follow you. I don't want to be depressed by complaints and criticisms and tedium, I want to rejoice with you in the everyday enjoyment you share with us--your travels, your photos your art and your friends and family. Because you have been such dear friends for nearly 40 years, I love the time I get to spend with you in both real life and the virtual world. I admire how you are able to (effortlessly) come up with things to write about and make them always so interesting. Don't stop! :)"

I have to thank Richard for getting me started on this. After I retired I thought I would write and was very frustrated by not enjoying the process and not producing anything I felt was of any value. Richard was working in the Silicon Valley at the time and told me about this "new way of writing". And, amazingly, it is effortless!

Writing my blog gives me a lot of pleasure and my pleasure is increased tremendously by knowing people enjoy it. It helps me to focus on the positive things that are happening and I think that's good for all of us.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Wonderful dinner chez nos voisins fantastiques!

We were invited at Susan and Chris' Sunday night and Susan made this fabulous halibut dish from the Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics cookbook. elegant and so simple to make. (I learned that Pepper's has creme fraiche as a regular staple.)

We were having so much fun I forgot to take photos but Susan's dish looked even better. And Chris spoiled us with some wonderful scotch whiskies.


* 4 (8-ounce) fish fillets such as red snapper, halibut.
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 8 ounces creme fraiche
* 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
* 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
* 2 tablespoons minced shallots
* 2 teaspoons drained capers


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. (You can also use an ovenproof baking dish.) Place the fish fillets skin side down on the sheet pan. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

Combine the creme fraiche, 2 mustards, shallots, capers, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Spoon the sauce evenly over the fish fillets, making sure the fish is completely covered. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish, until it's barely done. (The fish will flake easily at the thickest part when it's done.) Be sure not to overcook it! Serve hot or at room temperature with the sauce from the pan spooned over the top.

Good news for carryon baggage!

I see small stuffed animals are not considered "carry on" so Jim can bring his teddy bear and I can bring my knitting needles as long as I have wool but of course most importantly we can bring religious items like prayer mats.

Ah the end of it we will have this.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

An exotic evening!

Sidi and Badia, students in one of Jim's classes, invited us last night for a wonderful authentic dinner of couscous, chicken, salad, sauces, homemade bread with fennel, and fabulous desserts. The couscous grain was a special hand ground grain and I must say it was fabulous. We also met their very charming children, Halima and Matty.

They are from Rabat and still have a house there so we just might manage to get there if Jim does this teaching exchange at the university in Almeria, Spain. It would be great fun to get to Morocco!

Sidi, who is a doctor, specialty in internal medicine, is wanting to improve his English so he can take the Canadian medical exams. It seems he also has to do a four month internship so he can learn the Canadian "medical culture". Badia, who is a dentist, seems to have a much more complicated path to be able to practice here. Interesting to hear how all this works and of course very interesting to hear about Morocco.

Jim, Halima, Sidi, Badia.

Jim, Matty, Sidi, Badia, me.

Our wonderful meal!