Food

Winter Storm

We got up with Alex at his normal school rising time of 6:30AM yesterday so that we could head out the door early for our drive to Niagara and beat the snowstorm. We succeeded. From Guilford to Albany, the sky was uniformly blue. Then it was uniformly grey. We did not encounter any snowfall until we were half an hour from Niagara. Our eight hour drive was uneventful, not too much traffic. More cars and trucks were headed east than west. We saw dozens of large utility trucks in formation headed east. We imagined that they were preparing to be in place to repair fallen hydro lines when the storm hit the northeastern states.

We listened to most of Fredrik Backman’s book, A Man Called Ove. We laughed out loud listening to this book even though it is also sad and touching about love and loss. Ove is a wonderful character. I heartily recommend reading this 2012 Swedish novel. I see he has three more novels. He appears to be publishing a new one each year. I look forward to reading these.

Now, more than twenty-four hours later, it is still snowing and is to continue doing so until noon on Wednesday. Niagara is finally getting winter. Not so, north of here at Cobble Beach where it is sunny and green. Home to golfing tomorrow, albeit still indoors.

I put my sourdough starter in the fridge today to give me and it a rest. I made blueberry bran muffins and oatmeal raisin cookies without the sourdough. I have resupplied my father-in-law with baked goods.

Time for a game of Hand and Foot. We have one more card addict in our midst.

Birds and Beach

March 8, 2017: International Women’s Day

Morning coffee with sourdough banana chocolate chip muffins is a good mid morning pick us up. This snack is made better by watching the birds taking turns at the bird feeder. The bluebirds arrived this morning and joined the cardinals, purple finches, red bellied woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches, downy and red bellied woodpeckers. Even the chipmunk has come out to play in the morning’s first burst of sunshine.

Yesterday afternoon a goshawk circling the neighbourhood and crying his presence had the birds disappearing. Alex’s efforts at photographing birds were dashed even with Grandpa trying to call the birds in with his app.

We finished painting on Monday and had a bit of a rest day yesterday. I went for a six kilometre walk around the neighbourhood. It is the first time I have seen maple sap collected in plastic bags: long blue plastic bags with a metal cover over the top of them. The spile fit through the side of the cover.

While I walked, Brian cleaned the black concrete counter tops so that he could apply a sealant to them before we went to bed. The sealant is most odiferous, best to be as far away as possible after application. It was good to be able to leave windows ajar.

This afternoon the temperature rose to 12C, although with the off-shore breeze from Long Island Sound, it was colder than that. Brian and I enjoyed our walk on the beach at Hammonasset. Although the only birds we saw were seagulls, we spotted five seals at Meigs Point. We found the tour of the new visitors’ centre interesting and informative. Not warm enough for swimming!

We were so energized by our walk, we washed windows when we arrived back at the house. Brian and Alex went for a bike ride when Alex got home. I did more raking. Since then Alex has been doing his homework on the deck and Julie is riding her bike. Although snow is in the forecast for Friday, we are enjoying spring while we have it.

Out for a Hike

Maybe spring has not yet arrived. Although the sun continues to shine brilliantly and the days are perceptibly lengthening, it was -6C today and the wind made it feel much colder. Nevertheless we enjoyed a hike in the bare woods of Cockaponset State Forest. Huge boulders are fun to scale especially Coyote Rock, so named, because Shawn saw a coyote there once. Alex is always eager to hike, Julie less so, but she does like climbing rocks and declared that she was having fun.

Julie is no slouch; she and Alex were playing pretend games outside for more than three hours before we went for a hike. Kids do not feel the cold! Julie likes to be in charge of the imagination games. Fortunately her big brother is usually willing to do her bidding.

Julie was the Carcassonne victor last night. We played with their new Christmas expansion. There are now many more tiles which makes the game last longer and creates a much larger medieval community with more points to score.

We brought our sourdough starter with us to Connecticut. I have been feeding it for the last two weeks. Brian wondered if it needed a passport. We made it across the border without one. I made some chocolate chip oatmeal muffins with it and now we have some bread rising. It should go well with the baked beans and ham that are filling the air with a wonderful aroma. Last night’s clam chowder was delicious, as usual. Grandpa makes great chowder.

Shawn and Agnes are sending us wondrous photos from Pompeii. Alex and I think we should plan a trip there too.

The Circle Tour

February 14, 2017

This past weekend we did the circle tour of southwestern Ontario, a mere 1000 kilometres in three days. As already reported, on Friday we drove to Ridgetown. I say “we” but Brian did all the driving as he usually does. I check maps and look for alternate routes just to bug the GPS.

On Saturday morning we drove Brilynn to Chatham so that she could photograph the bride and groom and theories entourage in their preparations for the wedding. Brian and I picked up a coffee and headed for Lake Erie, erroneously thinking that there would be public access to a beach somewhere. There was not, at least nothing close by, just large luxury homes with driveways posted as “private”. No lake views for us.

We proceeded to Deer Run Goldfish Course near Blenheim where the wedding was to be held. We had a leisurely stroll around the golf course. Alas we only found four golf balls, only one of which was a Titleist, but not a Pro V, Brian’s brand. We scouted out some potential wedding photo opportunities for Brilynn. The best was the covered bridge near a pond. A rust oil derricks looked interesting.

By the time we returned to the club house the groom and his mates were arriving; so, we got our wedding duds from the car and went inside to change.

The wedding ceremony was short and sweet with the bride’s brother officiating. With about sixty guests present, we had time to visit with folks, and in particular, our friends, Mike and Kathy, the brides parents. We enjoyed a delicious meal of stuffed turkey breast, roasted root vegetables, mashed potatoes, gravy and salad. Four different cakes were offered as well as chocolate covered strawberries. Perfect!

Our original plan was to return to Ridgetown to spend the evening with Doug and Midge, but since Brian’s Dad had gone to hospital Thursday evening with heart issues, we decided we should check in on him in Niagara. He went home at 2AM Friday as he did not want to leave his cat alone all night and the gurney was not very comfortable for sleeping. We arrived in Niagara Falls Saturday evening.

We took Highway 3 to Niagara and shortly after getting on 3 we saw an intriguing abandoned house. Brilynn loves photographing abandoned buildings; so, we stopped and she took some great shots.

On Sunday we celebrated World Marriage Day at Our Lady of the Scapular and renewed our wedding vows. After breakfast we headed for home dropping Brilynn off at the Aldershot GO station.

We had every kind of weather on our journey to Cobble Beach. We awoke to freezing rain, drove in slush and rain then rainy snow then greyness then huge wet snowflakes. After waiting a while at a level train crossing for a train to move on, we did a detour to get around the train.

By the time we arrived home it was blowing, rather than snowing and our good neighbour had cleared out our driveway. Good to go exploring. Always good to come home!
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

Changing Landscape

January 27, 2017

It has been snowing on and off in Niagara Falls today. We saw a little sun this morning but mostly it has been cloudy and cold. At 2C, no snow is accumulating on the ground.

We went shopping at Costco this morning, arriving shortly after the 10AM opening time. The parking lot was packed as was the store. Although I am not a frequent Costco shopper, I do not think I have ever seen so many people lined up for the checkouts. Am I missing some big gift giving holiday? Are people stocking up for a potential blizzard? Do people just like shopping. It is Friday, not Saturday; we did not expect such a big crowd. Is it this a new holiday?

Brian was so impressed with the Bose speaker that Peter had, that he bought one this morning. They were on sale at Costco, a good deal for his birthday gift.

This afternoon we went shopping at the Outlet Mall. We only went to our three favourite stores: Eddie Bauer, Solomon’s and Icebreaker. The salesperson at Eddie Bauer said, “I just love to see you two come in here. You are always wearing our clothes.” It is not as if we visit every day but we could well have been in once every six weeks in the past year. The best deal of the day was a pair of merino pants at Icebreaker: $229 for $19.99. And they fit! Yeah!

This week I was telling our friends about the pool and building constructed over the pool at our family home. The St. Peter Ave family property has been deteriorating these past few years with new owners who have not loved and cared for it as we did. In the past couple of weeks a backhoe has been busy. I went by today and took some photos. Although the house is still standing, the forty trees of the cherry orchard are gone as are the willows, plum trees, blue spruces and every shrub and tree from the front and back yard. Only the cedar hedge and a few cedars close to the house remain. The backhoe was excavating the remains of the swimming pool today.

The house will also be torn down. Plans are under way for the construction of single family homes and townhouses on the two and a half acres. The last orchard in Stamford which used to be mostly orchards is history. This is the third house I lived in that has been demolished: two in the past six months: this one that my parents owned for forty-five years and Brian’s and mine in East Linton. Our Calgary home was torn down to make way for a high rise condo. We have not been back to Calgary to see that changed neighbourhood.

My sister, Rosemary, is coming to join us for a roast chicken dinner. I have chocolate chip cookies ready for baking.

I did not swim today. 😦

Bye Bye Montserrat

January 26, 2017

Last night we dined at Olveston House, the home of Sir George Martin who recorded many musicians at Air Studios in Montserrat. Sir George died last year but his wife and daughter still own it and it is being run as a B and B and restaurant a few days per week. There is room for thirty-six diners on the verandah that surrounds three sides of the house. We had seafood chowder or pumpkin soup, grilled wahu or tuna with fries, veggies and salad and we could not resist cheesecake or ice cream for dessert. Every meal was delicious and the price was about forty percent less than the night before at Watermelon. A highlight was touring the house to see a platinum record framed in each bedroom and photos by Linda McCartney in the hallway.

We had a very early wake up call this morning. I set my iPad to awaken us at 5:30 AM. I awoke suddenly from a complicated dream and tried to find the lamp switch to reach my iPad. Brian clicked the light on his watch and said it was only 3:30 AM. I asked what alarm was going off. He said it was the next shift of tree frogs. They certainly sounded different from the ones I fell asleep to. I went back to sleep until the iPad alarm awakened me.

One of the wonderful things about the Taj and this climate is that once dressed in skort and tank top, I walked out of our bedroom door and was immediately outside admiring a full sky of stars and a cruise ship coasting by on a calm sea. I like winter but it’s such a big deal to put on sufficient gear to weather the elements.

A swig of orange juice, a cup of tea and a few corn flakes with yogurt and I was hugging our friends good-bye. Everyone arose for our departure but only Bryan had the task of driving us to St. John to the airport. We were pleased to know later that he found breakfast and gas to get him back to the Taj.

We did not stop at Runaway Ghaut for a drink of water, insurance that we will return to Montserrat. We had drunk from Runaway Ghaut at the end of our Cot Walk; so, we are covered for a return to Montserrat. At six in the morning there are far fewer vehicles or pedestrians in motion on our Grand Prix style hairpin turns.

At the John Osborne airport we were accosted by our first mosquitoes on the island. We did not have long to wait for Reginald to check our bags and passports and take our departure tax. All seven passengers were ready for our 7:30AM flight. From takeoff to landing open Antigua was exactly eighteen minute. It was beautiful looking into the turquoise Caribbean, seeing the coral reefs, a five masted schooner and the toy sailboats moored in Antigua. We spotted the fort ruins near where we stayed two years ago. There was no sign of the old resort but no sign of a new one being built either.

There was no lineup at the airport in Antigua, no wait for our baggage. We had to walk over to the old airport to buy breakfast at the Big Banana. It is a good thing we were in no hurry for our next flight. I think the chef had not yet got out of bed. We enjoyed a good full breakfast of omelette or eggs and bacon/sausage with toast and tea/coffee…all on island time…slowly.

We had to don our long sleeves and legs to walk around in the new airport, cool air conditioning. Not too much to see or buy, but Brian bought a bottle of Antiguan rum in a skull -shaped bottle.
Our Air Canada flight was on time for departure; so, 3600 kilometres, two movies and five hours later we were landing in Toronto. I enjoyed Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children and Bridget Jones’ Baby.

Fifteen minutes after leaving our 320 Airbus we had cleared Customs and Immigration and were hugging Brilynn who delivered our car to us. Brilynn only had to wait a few minutes to catch the train to downtown. We are looking forward to a phone visit with Brilynn tomorrow.

Leaving the airport during rush hour is always slow, but not to bad. It’s a balmy 4C with no snow, but we are still pleased to have heated seats in our RAV4. It is a change from 28C. 7 PM in Niagara and now in search of supper. What a fun holiday we have had. We are so fortunate!

The Last Hurrah

January 25, 2017

If you are confused by what appeared to be a duplicate blog two days in a row, there really is a write-up for January 24th. Just click on the link that still appears to be about critters and you should be able Tom find out about our hiking adventure. We have since read that others had very similar experiences trying to find their way on the Cot Trail. More signage is needed.

This morning Brian walked down to the beach at Hank’s Bar to try for one last attempt at fishing. Again the brown pelicans were more successful. I walked with Brian to where the road split then walked up Garibaldi Hill to where Stephan is building a 6000 square foot home. I don’t know Stephan but we heard the house has been in the building process for a year and a half. So far they are just starting to lay plywood over the foundation. The owner will have a great view of Isles Bay.

I walked 5.8 kilometres this morning in an hour and twenty minutes, stopping to take photos. I also took time out for a swim in waveless water at the beach. How unusual! I had my goggles on. Although the water was clear, all I saw below the surface were sand patterns.

Back at the Taj I needed another swim in the pool before all of us boarded the people mover, an eight passenger rental van, for a descent to a bank run and shopping in Cudjoe Head. Except for withdrawing money from the bank and buying fresh buns at the bakery, most other errands were unsuccessful because of a closed store or office or a store with no products. Some of us visited the artistic clothing store. The artist makes bright colourful dresses tops, pants and sheets in batik or tie dye. No purchases were made; so, some might say we were successful in not spending money.

I checked out a couple of the nearby stores; most were packed in narrow aisles with a huge assortment of goods. The best place to visit was the public library. It was air conditioned.

It was great to get back to the Taj to relax with a tuna melt and cold drink.

Yesterday afternoon we had one of our daily swims at our Isles Bay Beach just below us. The waves were calmer but nothing like this morning’s calm seas.

We went out for dinner at the Watermelon Cottage a couple of kilometres north of us. Trevor, the owner, chef and server, lives in the cottage which is completely surrounded by foliage. We felt as if we were in the rain forest. The dining area is open on three sides. One side opens to a pool and loung area. We had a table set for eight in the middle of the restaurant. Dining is by reservation only and Trevor never accepts more than twelve people. Last night he limited it to the eight of us. The one page menu changes daily. Everyone pretty well opted for the four course menu: coconut shrimp or escargots, lettuce salad with beets, filet wrapped in bacon with fries, broccoli and cauliflower, chocolate layer cake with mocha icing or butter pecan ice cream. All delicious. All accompanied by a steady stream of chatter from Trevor who has lived on the island for thirty-nine years after years spent entertaining on cruise ships and a couple of years in musicals on Broadway.

Trevor’s restaurant was filled with an eclectic mix of art and artifacts including a tiny operating carousel, carved masks, a camel, figurines from various cultures, a large hanging drum, a huge yellow butterfly kite suspended from the ceiling, the flower arrangements on the table include tiny birds of paradise.

We finished our evening star gazing.

Island Critters

This blog got replaced by January 24th; so, I will try again.

January 23,2017

We did go for another walk, checking out the homes hanging on cliff tops draped in colourful flowers. We were accompanied by a kestrel as we kept our eyes peeled for iguanas. They have not chosen to give me a close up view. My telephoto just is not good enough. The forty foot tall almond tree beside the house is home to at least three iguanas. We spot one to two foot long striped tails hanging from the thick foliage. Occasionally we see a spiny back. One fell from a branch yesterday but successfully clung to a lower branch and would not look at us. This afternoon one posed for me, caught as he was between a concrete wall and the road.

Brian and Bryan cracked open a coconut yesterday throwing a big rock down on the coconut. That action successfully severed the husk off the coconut but did not crush any feet. Yeah! Today they are busy playing in the dirt, reconstructing a stone wall that collapsed when the gardener was trimming. The third Bryan, renamed Peter, is using a pick axe to try to remove stumps. Are any of them wearing steel-toed boots? No! Apparently Keene sandals or canvas tennis shoes are sufficient.

Sunset was a long display, changing from lemon to fuchsia to papaya with all the shades in between. The colours lasted for at least twenty minutes past sunset and every photographer was trying to capture the uncapturable. Awesome beauty!

We played an outrageous game of Trivial Pursuit, Baby Boomer edition. If you have never played this edition and you are a baby boomer, don’t bother. Most questions focus on the fifties. It is advisable that you were born in the thirties to answer these questions. Even our two kings of trivia, Brian and Peter (how did they get on the same team?), were struggling after what looked like an easy start.

I baked an angel food cake in a springform pan for Brian’s birthday. We are a day ahead of schedule for that but we will be out for dinner tomorrow night. I was pleased that the cake did not flow over the sides and make a mess of the oven. It sunk a little in the middle after I took it out of the oven. That just makes a bigger receptacle for chocolate whipped cream. Susan is going to make an island treat: coconut chicken for supper.

Three out of the four us who went to the beach at noon challenged the huge waves. It was easier to get back to shore than I feared.

This afternoon the ladies walked up, up the hill to Shann Murrell’s art studio. She does very pretty collages and paintings, makes cushions, silk scarves, note cards and jewelry. I took a photo of Shan with a large Montserrat WI batik. I took the photo for you, Cory. I thought it was for the Women’s Institute, but of course, it WI stands for West Indies. Shann said lots of people make that mistake. You can see her art on Facebook.

I really wish I had my hiking poles with me. I am sure I could do double time climbing all these hills if only I had my poles.

Time for a swim!

 

 

 

 

Riding the Waves

January 22, 2017

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Last night we danced under the stars. Al and Barb gave us bachata lessons. I would say that they taught us the bachata but that might imply we learned it. More lessons may be required. We, even Brian, notorious for not dancing, had lots of fun trying.

John and Pam regretfully left for the airport and Canada this morning. Their month passed too quickly. And then there were eight.

A gardener spent the morning cleaning up the undergrowth. In the process a wall, lime tree, banana trees no frangipani were rediscovered. The kestrels have been sitting on the wire to profit from what the gardener exposes. A lizard lost his tail to a kestrel.

We drove to Woodlands Beach this morning hoping to find clear water for snorkelling. The water was very clear but there were also large waves crashing on the shore. Once past the waves it was easier swimming than it has been in big waves, but also a little cooler. The rocky area at the point, closer to the shore, would have been the best snorkelling area but it was too rough. Brian and I only saw sand patterns as we did not swim as far as Al and Bryan who wore life preservers and flippers. They saw a variety of colourful fish.

We had fun swimming then walking the beach trying to get interesting wave shots. A sign at the beach wishes us well: “May your life be filled with relaxing sunsets, cool drinks and sand between your toes.”

Once again, supper provided us with lunch for today: rotis, salad and the remains of chocolate cake. Brian and I are on chef duty this evening: roast beef and vegetable stir fry and roasted squash. Brian has made a few loaves of bread this week. Each one has been gobbled up.

I might work up the energy for a walk and another swim…or not. Reading in the shade of the coconut tree is good too.

Montserrat Memorabilia

January 21, 2017

The past two evenings we have reclined on the deck marvelling at the stars. Every now and then someone gets out an iPad to identify a constellation. The brightest star in the sky is the planet, Venus, in the northwest. It is so bright there is a reflection as it descends into the sea. When it disappears into the water, that signals bedtime, usually around 9:40 PM. I am not positive as I am often among the first to head for bed. We do not often, if ever, observe the heavens as long in Ontario, as we need more clothing and/or insect repellent. No mosquitoes send us for cover here.

Each evening one cruise ship sails past from north to south. While at Hank’s we watched the sun set with a sailboat in the foreground, a barge of sand crossing through the sun and platoons of brown pelicans putting on a comic air show crashing into the sea. What a pleasurable way to eat our seafood platters and drink Carib beer or rum punches.

Last night, for the first time we pulled our blanket, a duvet cover, over our single sheet. The temperature must have dropped to 25C.

The last two night’s the roosters crowing in the wee hours have been seriously in need of voice lessons or someone has been murdering them. For sure they have failed Crowing 101.

This morning after yoga and a swim in the pool we went to the Hilltop Coffee House in Brades to have their Saturday special of waffles with delicious coffee. After David Lea gave us a tour of his photo and memorabilia collection, we decorated our waffles with whatever pleased us from the dishes assembled on the bar: blueberries, raspberries, pineapple, shredded coconut, chocolate, raisins, peanuts, chocolate sauce or male syrup and whipped cream. No sugar highs here!

David and his wife Sun have been here since their hippie days. Their son, Sun, gives tours of Plymouth. He was not available for us. David has been involved in several video productions about the volcano eruption and Plymouth. He also authored a book, Through My Lens, about Montserrat which include his photo collection about the volcano, Plymouth and George Martin’s Air Studios. His photos cover the walls and the tabletops under glass. He also has posters from those early days as well as signs and memorabilia recovered from Plymouth and the buried Belham Valley Golf Course. David is the local historian, a very engaging host.

We found Plymouth Nuts in the narrow aisles of Ashoks’ grocery store. Benjamin’s factory is just down the hill in Brades, but not open on Saturday.

The waves are big again. Yahoo! And the sky is cloudless blue. The volcano is very clear. All we were missing was a water ready camera with a photographer in the water to get our ten bobbing heads with the volcano in the background.

We ordered roti for tonight from Joe’s wife. Joe just delivered them. We are having an awesome chocolate birthday cake a day late for Al, but just right for my sister.

Happy birthday, Rosemary!