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Posts Tagged ‘family’

Four day weekend. Great weather forecast. Sounds like a Cottage Weekend!
Big Urchin (BU) decided to stay at school and prepare for his exams. Little Urchin (LU) was willing to come along.

And that just left our furry friends to sort out. We don’t usually take them along, but four days seemed too long to leave them with just a neighbour calling in to feed them. So we decided to take them along. Our big inside-outside crazy weekend of pre-rental-season cleaning is still a few weeks away, so the timing was purr-fect.

I took the express bus straight from my office to the ferry terminal on Thursday afternoon. Cottager and Lu caught the last ferry with Fred and Meekus. Here they are loose in the Honda Element.

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Cats don’t have long memories, I guess, since neither seemed to remember having been here last Spring. Two days later they are settling in nicely and enjoying watching the Jays and squirrels calling in for fresh water, peanuts in the shell and bits of yarn and dryer lint left out for nest building.

Freddie and Meekus watching the world go by at Keat's View

Freddie and Meekus watching the world go by at Keat’s View

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Big Urchin (Bu) is home for Reading Break so the rest of the Keats View family arranged a three day weekend and we headed off to Manning Provincial Park for some family time in the snow. Both Cottager and I remember when you had to arrive early at Manning because the cross-country trails and even parking would be full. Nowadays, the world has passed this quiet little place by and everyone heads for Whistler.

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The lodge and cabins are basic but budget friendly. There’s a nice indoor pool with two large jacuzzis, a small gym, one restaurant, pub, an outdoor ice rink (used to be free, but no longer) and a clanking school bus to run you up to the ski area. Big roaring fires in the lodge, pub and restaurant.

There is only one lift, but both Saturday and Sunday our boys never waited more than a minute or two for a ride up. The snow was powdery and plentiful, and the slopes half empty. Two all day youth passes plus equipment rental for one of them: 115$.

A basic room for four at the lodge (fridge, microwave and coffeemaker) is 119$/weeknight and 167$ weekends. Nordic ski, snowshoes and skate rental are available right behind the lodge on highway 3. Very good value, but the best part is that wifi is limited and pay (so don’t!) and there are only three channels on the old TV. So we had to go to the pool, play cards, goof around and go to bed early.

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Spring in the Kootenays: High water and lupins

I believe it’s good – every now and then – to push “Pause” and do an all-points inspection of yourself and your life. When actually forced to do this, about a year ago, I came to the conclusion that a personal retreat was in order. I have latched on to current events and dubbed my retreat my “Jubilee Year Celebration.”

It isn’t easy to pull this off. It required planning. Cottager came on board right away. My employer agreed, last November, to allow me eight weeks leave on an income averaging arrangement. I want to give my full attention, through this period, to the things that really matter to me.

So the first thing I did was make a visit, along with my sister, to my parents in the Kootenays.  We stayed five days, helping out a little bit around their property, but really just enjoying their company. Our usual visits involve husbands, children and pets and can seem rushed or chaotic. It was so pleasant to just hang out.

The second thing I did was make some quality time with my own family. It’s hard, with both urchins in school and working, but we did it.  We spent a night in a hotel near Seattle; visited the Woodland Park Zoo (we’re all bonkers for animals); had great Mexican food, and went shopping at the Outlets.  These are four things we all enjoy. Along the way we had a lot of laughs and some great conversations.  My guys are just amazing men.

And today I’ve moved on to Stage Two, taking up residence at Keats View Cottage for the next month in order to pursue personal goals which never seem to find time and space in my day-to-day life.

These goals fall roughly into two groups: Creativity and Wellness.

My creative goals include indulging a desire to immerse myself, however briefly, in a creative writing process.  Sub goals are to make a small quilt and to work an hour or two in the garden each day so as to move beyond simply trying to beat back nature.  Quite honestly, the quilt may just be wishful thinking.

On the wellness front, I aspire to get 8 hours of sleep each night, exercise, eat well, and make a daily practice of stress-reduction techniques. It’s a tall order, but I like tall things, and I am determined to give this a try.

Follow along and I will let you know how it goes.

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My kids have long envied a friend of mine who married into a Chinese Canadian family and enjoys a roast-turkey-and-chow-mein dinner each Christmas. My oldest son is graduating this year and I fear it won’t be long until I get the sad news that he is planning to spend Thanksgiving (or Christmas, or another traditional family holiday) as the guest of some other family with a fetching daughter. So, it now behooves me to up the ante a little.

Bacon is apparently the ‘it’ food these days – at least with young men. I read an anecdote in Maclean’s magazine just prior to Thanksgiving concerning a turkey-farming MP who puts pulpy orange juice and soy sauce into the roasting pan as a gravy starter and covers his turkey breast with slices of bacon for extra flavour and moistness. Without more information that this, I decided to have a go. I would say the bacon was definitely an addition; however, the orange juice/soy sauce burned in the pan and took several soak/scrubs to conquer. I’d stocked up on some gravy mixes anyway (Sorry, I can’t hear your boos and hisses) so no harm done to the dinner.

Strips of bacon keep the turkey moist and add flavour.

We cooked our turkey at the cottage on Saturday, so we could indulge ourselves in cold turkey sandwiches for lunch on Sunday and hot turkey sandwiches for dinner. When the turkey was resting and I was mashing the potatoes – which didn’t get into the picture somehow – I sent Cottager out on a secret mission to the Bayview Szechuan restaurant in the village for a container of chicken chow mein. He was back just as I finished carving the bird.

I don’t fuss with setting a beautiful table when we don’t have guests since my crew is fairly food-centric. It was just nice to have a quiet family meal at the end of a day working out-of-doors at our fall clean-up tasks. The chow mein was a surprisingly nice addition. I believe we have a new tradition. Hopefully one that will keep my boys coming home for Thanksgiving dinner.

Turkey and chow mein with all the trimmings

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One day, about 8 years ago, after a break from owning pets, I had an  overwhelming urge to get a cat. Without consulting anyone in my family, I went to Petcetera, where there was a handful of SPCA cats featured for adoption. One was timid, one was recovering from injuries after jumping from a third floor balcony and the third was named Frank.  Ginger in theory, he was actually the colour of a sad beige carpet.  But he looked me in the eye and didn’t struggle when I picked him up.  His name seemed like a good omen as when we had chosen names for our sons, my husband had lobbied, unsuccessfully, for Frank. So I took Frank home. 

When my kids came home from elementary school that day they were ecstatic. By the time Cottager came home from work, both boys and the cat ran to the door to greet him.  Frank always met us at the door from then on  – even after the boys ceased to do so.  He had some quirks – but in our opinion, he was the best of cats.

Last September we introduced a female tortoiseshell into the family. Meekus was a crazy kitten, and she drove Frank to distraction with her stealth attacks, but they came to an understanding in time.

Meekus and Frankie

Sadly, over the winter, Frank began to lose weight. Tests and treatments were in vain, and every possibility was eventually eliminated except cancer. By June he was in such poor shape that we had to do right by him.

Over the summer we mourned and eventually came around to discussing  getting another cat, as Meekus seemed lonely.  A friend at work put us on to VOKRA – Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association, and through them, we found our new guy, Freddy.  Like all VOKRA adoptees, he came to us from a foster home, where he was known and loved. 

Freddy on his first day in his forever home.

VOKRA does fantastic work rescuing cats and kittens. If you can support them please do, and if you have been thinking of opening your home to a new pet have a look at their website for information that will help you assess whether cat adoption is right for you. They have an on-line gallery of cats looking for forever homes. 

Meekus and Freddy

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That’s what Millie, our GPS, has been saying a lot lately. We knew she wasn’t much of a Croatia expert, but what is maddening is that she doesn’t know it and keeps trying to send us off in the wrong direction.

When we left Rovinj for the ferry port of Brestova we anticipated a short jaunt on a toll road followed by another short jaunt on a secondary road. Didn’t pan out.

Did catch the ferry to Cres though and then had a hair raising journey on crazy roads to the village of Beli – inhabited for 4000 years -and a still more hair-raising trip down a single track 17% grade to camping Bradji on a beautiful cove. It was a bit of a hippie place reminiscent of Kokkari, Samos and some other unknown places I came across in my wild backpacking days. Except for the 2-3 tour boats of day-trippers who arrived each afternoon around 2. Oh, and the “market priced” fresh fish which worked out to 52 euros per kilogram! Still, enjoy the beach in the morning and avoid the seafood and this place was close to paradise.

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Quick catch up: parked outside Salzburg and rode in along the river for cheeseburgers, a walk up to the castle and ride down the funicular railway, then a beer at the Felsenkellar- funky cave bar I remembered fondly from my backpacking days. Rode back to our free parking spot and headed out to Hallein, roughly 15 km south and camped. Lu and I rode around the town that evening until dark. Next day, salt mine tour, Celtic museum in Hallein, first big family dust-up followed by make-up snitzel prepared by a lovely Indian family, then drove two hours to Italian border and camped. Next day, awesome roman ruins at Aquilea, watermelon(see photo), and camping at a huge, weird resort campground at Grado, near Trieste. Yesterday we entered Croatia, toured the old hilltop town of , and then came to Rovinj where we have settled into a beautiful terraced campsite 700 m from the very beautiful town. Wandered for hours last night after stuffing ourselves with mixed grill called Mesna (?) – pork, chicken and beef, fries, ratatouille made with an arborio style rice plus a paprika flavored dipping sauce and piles of sliced sweet onion. Yum.

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