Monday, February 29, 2016

Oh, yes I did!

I was up early this morning and was really taken with the rabbits -it made my day. I played it over and over. Goggle makes an effort to celebrate so many events but it is these animated little ditties that I love so  much.  Do you suppose they have a dedicated staff to just make our days happy, happy ??


Did anyone look at the Google image today?

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Socks are good for laugh....

I just brought up the wash when I checked the blog and read your message about socks. I had to have a good laugh as I had 5 socks in the laundry basket. I even ran downstairs to check the floor and the dryer and the washer but not one additional sock could be found!! I guess you are lucky today, Cathy.
As for tomato soup on toast -this is still a favourite with my boys. I I will have it occasionally. Tonight I had an urge for Kraft dinner so I made a box for me!  Generally I will put my homemade ketchup on the French Roll but your recipe sounds good.
I had another surprise today when I went into the sun room to water the Maplewood cactus is flowering - I hadn't really looked at it close until today -this is a real treat for me. 
I shoveled off the roof again today in preparation for some rain forecast for tomorrow - hoping it will not materialize. I ache all over and my hands can hardly move they are so sore. I had a nice warm bath and now will jump into bed. I just finished logging in the last of the daily food diarys so am very glad that is over for now. Hopefully I will receive my gift of  loaded Visa card for $25.00 . All for now...take care


I was sure mom called it welsh rabbit...then I found out it was rarebit.  I was always wondered why it was called a rabbit. :)

Tomato soup

Tomato soup with cheese--and a bit of added Lee& Perrins and a tiny bit of dry mustard--make up the sauce I use for my French meat roll.  What do you use on yours, Beth?  I remember the recipe from Home Ec classes at school.  Over toast, I think it was called "Welsh Rarebit".

Will wonders never cease!

Today, every sock that came out of the dryer had a mate.  It has been a long time since that happened.  It's also a sad statement on my life when that excites me :)  Only two of us made it to work yesterday so we were pretty busy.  I was mentally tired when I got home.  That seems to make me physically tired too.  I didn't even feel like supper.  So, for breakfast at7:30 this morning we had grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup.  That always makes me think of home when mom would melt cheese in the tomato soup and serve it over toast.  I used to love that.  It's pretty warm here today, but very windy.  The temp is supposed to drop and the snow start this afternoon.  Good thing we went for a walk this morning.  Jim is on a new medication to try to help his lungs and he is going for a short walk everyday.  I hope it helps.  I know I should be cleaning house, but sometimes I just want a day off with no work.  Then I see all the dust and fur and sigh :(  Then I go and get a cardboard box and stuff it full of junk and hide it somewhere.  There.... housecleaning done. It is also time to paint the house.  You can see the spots and cracks  on the walls.  Probably won't be till spring when we can open the windows to air it out. (good excuse to put it off)  Laundry is done, dishwasher is almost finished, just a few to wash by hand when it is done.  Grocery list is ready so it is off to town soon.  Curling is on so my television decisions are made for me.  Scotties it is.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Nothing as exciting around here

Which is a good thing. because we haven't been able to get the snowblower working.  Grocery shopping today, and as always, it exhausts both of us.  I tried breaking the chore down and doing some shopping every week, but David seems to prefer doing it this way.  So today we spent $247, and bought very, very little food.  Paper products, and health and beauty aids, but minimal food.  It is my intention to try Dr. Phil's 20/20 diet.  So I've stock piled the foods that I understand I must eat, but it is a pitifully small pile!

We spend out days quietly, each at our computer.  I have been revising and re-working the class I'm to teach in early April, and decided that it was time to put it away for a few weeks.  I have the samplers I need, and maybe more than I need.  I think I just want to sew!  So I took inventory of UFO's etc, and have several projects to work on. I've tidied the up stairs studio, ready for different work, and bought the few supplies I think I'm going to need.  And now I sit and watch tv or play Candy Crush.  I just can't overcome the inertia that often possesses me this time of year. Experience also tells me that once I start working, I'll be fine.  This procrastination often means that something is wrong with the project in my mind, and my subconscious is trying to convince me to step back and re-think it.

The weather has been warm, just a few degrees below zero.  Ice and slippery streets.  But this brings thoughts of how much longer will winter last, and do we really need to fix the snowblower?  (Yes, we do.  This is Winnipeg, and who knows what tomorrow will bring.)

What a storm

Snow and wind and blowing snow and then more snow. It lasted all night and then all today.  I feared the power would go off but we were lucky (so far). Both Harry and I went out to clear the car and driveway - just as the plow went by. We waved to him as he dumped a pile a mile high ! haha  No school buses and some highways closed because of the drifting conditions. I did some shoveling around the house but didn't get much finished - it just kept blowing in. I guess that will be on the To Do list for tomorrow. 
How are things there? Now to bed and more reading. I love this time of the day - I look forward to retiring at night haha!
Take care 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The storm is here...

I just logged in our daily food consumption for today on the net for Nielsens, and plan to read a bit before lights out. The storm arrived this afternoon and will continue through the night. Time will tell what it will bring by morning- how much snow, or freezing rain or ??.    We worked in the greenhouse this morning. I made a loaf of bread in the machine, and two dishes using up ground beef. One was the good old reliable french meat roll which I will likely freeze,and the other was a new recipe using the beef as the crust in a 9 inch pie plate and making the filling of an apple mixture. Sounds crazy I know, but it was actually quite good! Take care

Tuesday, February 23, 2016


I just finished the latest by Elizabeth George--"A Banquet of Consequences"--another from the Lynly series.  Some of her books just don't take my interest, and I leave them after the first couple of chapters.  Others grab me, and, like this one, I just can't put them down.  The characters are so well developed, and each one has a back story. Fascinating. And they all involve the same main characters, as well as a host of others.  In her books these "others" tend to take the main stage, and revolve around occasional input from the continuing characters.  She also has away of presenting some, on occasion but not on a regular basis, of the most depraved behaviour, in a very proper English way.  Very matter of fact but in socially acceptable terminology.  Her pattern is to base books on an instance of such behaviour, and to hint at it, but not reveal it until very close to the end.  Instead we get all of the events leading up to it.

We didn't see "Star Wars" yesterday.  I took my information from the Saturday paper, and somehow the times of the show got changed.  We arrived an hour late.  But David bought advance tickets for today instead, so we're off again, this afternoon.

And the crazy old woman is back.  Yesterday she couldn't find her "mouse".  She searched everywhere, even checking the pockets of the clothes she had been wearing--bathroom, fridge etc.  Finally she made her husband join in the searched.  He walked up to the computer and pointed out the "mouse" sitting right beside it, where it usualy sat.

Calm before the storm.....

Apparently we are about to be hit with a major storm tomorrow into Thursday. At this point, I wonder if it really matters. We've been through so much already - even in this past week. And since the big greenhouse opened, it has been another roller coaster ride - not unexpected mind you, but nevertheless requiring attention. 
Today we are going to SpringHill Farms again to buy some more lettuce, kale etc. It has been nice to have a supply in the fridge ready for preparation to a salad or whatever. But it also means one must be vigilant in consumption for fear of spoiling.
Speaking of food, can you both provide your method /recipe for your goulash. I have made it various ways but I'm looking for the "real" recipe. haha!
Pati, I admired your straw hat when you first posted a picture and seeing it up close makes it even more admirable. You are fortunate to have such a nice souvenir of your trip. I expect to see you out in the back this summer enjoying the outdoors! And wearing your sun hat of course...right?
Well, the day begins. Coffee has been drank, and toast eaten,so on with the rest of the day. I took another Gamache book out of library yesterday - Dead cold. But I haven't yet started to read. These older books are in paperback and some of the pages ripping from wear so not as comfortable to hold and read in bed. But I shall prevail
Take care

Monday, February 22, 2016

Cuba addendum

David has pointed out that I missed a couple of things--minor stuff really. 

First of all are a couple of pictures of the restaurant where we had most of our suppers.  This particular evening, we were the first there, and the restaurant was deserted, so I was able to snap a couple.  In the second one, you can see David looking at the menu and several of the wait staff in the background.  The chandeliers were interesting with very long necked glass drops.

And the other is a picture of my new straw hat.  They are mass produced somewhere, as we saw similar ones in the market in Remedios, when we were there.  But I think I got the prettiest of the bunch.  It cost 5 pesos--about $7.50.

We're off to see Star Wars this afternoon.  We were planning to go tomorrow, on cheap movie night, but I now have a meeting scheduled that I promised to attend.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Nothing worse than a .....

.....winter cold. By the sounds of it, a different strain than usual. Take care of yourselves.
I was a penguin as well!  Mild and rainy and melting all produced another strange day of shoveling water and damning up sidewalks and generally running in and out all day. And to top it off, the power went out again in the middle of the night but only for about two hours. The dog woke me up to alert me - what a good dog. I had to go out and shovel some water at the front, and then check the heater in the greenhouse to make sure it went back on - this was at 3 am this morning. 
Back to penguins - The ice was bad here yesterday as well. I emptied one box of sand and got another from the back shed to bring into the house. In the spring each year I go out onto the road and shovel up boxes of the sand the village uses over winter. I have to try to get it once it is dried and before the professional street sweeper comes around. I store it until next winter and then use it on our steps and sidewalks. Anyway, as soon as I brought this full box into the house , the bottom fell out of it. Can you imagine the mess! So I got another empty box, and carefully swept up the sand so as not to waste any. This is in between Harry carrying all the plants from the house out to the big greenhouse. With the milder temps he was tempted to make the big move. Mind you the night temps this week coming may be in the high minus teens but hoping the heater will be able to manage - I turned it up to 80 degrees and so far it is maintaining around 60 degrees inside the greenhouse. Never a dull moment. So busy that I did not have time to buy a ticket on last nights lottery draw. I feel terrible - as if in withdrawal haha!  If I can today, I plan to walk up and buy one for Wednesday night - just to be sure.
I received a call from Nielsen- the Food Survey people and signed on to start another weeks food diary but they did not send the necessary emails with the registration info. So I can't do it for today, and tomorrow I must call them to send it so I can start. I can miss a day or two apparently without penalty and losing the reward of $25.00 Visa.  I only do it for the money - so I guess I can be bought for any price, right??
Time to go - have a wash on, and need to do some dishes.  Take care.

Saturday, February 20, 2016


There has been a nasty cold working its way through our community and unfortunately both Jim and I have caught it.  Jim is about three days ahead of me and today he is feeling much better so I have hope.  It has been over a week and I am worn out.  Jim just happened to have a doctor's appointment last week and his doctor told him it is a really wicked cold and it has hit a lot of people really hard.  I have really enjoyed the story of your adventures, Pati. The pictures are wonderful.  I usually click on them and get the slide show.  The pictures are bigger but I loose the labels so I read first and try to remember :).  Work has been really slow this month.,  February is always slow but they have taken all the work from Sims Law office away from us and they haven't replaced it so it is even slower than  usual.  We have had a few days of freesing rain here so everything has a layer of ice.  We spread some de-icer in front of the garage but it is still scary to try to walk across it.  Even going for a walk is  deadly since the road has the layer of ice on it.  Today it was okay going east but when we headed back west it was downhill and both of us were doing the penguin walk.  The dogs had fun though. We played crib today.  Jim kept saying we had to play the rubber to see who was the winner. He actually just wanted to win a game :) 

So--what have I been doing since we got home?

Not much!  However, we did get a humidifier installed on the furnace.  No more having huge pots of hot water slowly evaporating on the stove.  I'm also sleeping much better at night. I've been re-vamping the machine quilting class for teaching in early April.  This means making more samplers of the various techniques I plan to teach.  David has been playing Candy Crush.  When he runs out of lives, he'll sometimes sit in front of the computer reading until he gets some new ones.

But, today I attended a class on painting a Winnipeg Street Scene in Acrylics.  When I attend a class like this, I buy lunch at Tim's, as a special treat.  But today Beth bought me lunch with a gift card she gave me when she was here.  Thank you Beth.

Tonight I should get to see a new show of "The Dead Files".  And for supper I'm having Lean B-B-Q pork from the recipe Cathy gave us.  Speaking of recipes.  Many years ago I seem to remember us--at least Cathy and I--looking for a recipe for Pickled beets that came from --I think--was her name Linda, --Prior?  I'm not sure of the name.  My memory was that it was a fantastic recipe, and one that used lemon slices.  But we never found it.  Well, yesterday I found a recipe mis-filed in my box, and it uses lemon slices.  Does any one remember any of this?  I have no use for pickled beets , but maybe someone else might want to take a look at this.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Another chapter enjoyed....

I had just made a pot of tea and had hot muffins out of the oven on the rack cooling as I logged on and was greeted with "another chapter" - so I sat down with my treats and enjoyed the ride!
Thank you so much for this journey with you. Yes, so was I happy to see you home - safe and sound. And by the sounds of it, full of delightful stories of your visit.
Still not really warm today but promises of milder weather have been made.  I walked to the hardware and then post office this morning, and it was snowing with a brisk cold wind to add to the discomfort. That's why there are fresh baked muffins this morning - I always try to think of something to cheer me up as I walk - and today it was "go home and bake some muffins"
Still have not moved plants from the house to the greenhouse but that will occur when the temps stabilize a bit. On that cold night a few nights ago the greenhouse temperature dropped to 34 degrees F with the heater on full, so that would not have sustained any plants if they were in there.
I plan to work on some hexis this afternoon if all goes well.  I gave up on those 2 inch squares for now. 
It's the Weekend folks - time to relax. What are you up to Cathy?
I have a ticket for Lotto Max- only $40 million but I guess I could work with that if I had to...... Take care xx


One of the features of our trip on Saturday was the need to be "up an' at 'em" quite early.  The closest restaurant wasn't open for breakfast until 7:30, and we wanted breakfast, not knowing when or where we would be having lunch.  ( On a previous trip, the "Lunch in a Cuban restaurant" turned out to be a slice of weak cheese pizza and a canned cola).  But all we had for time was David's unreliable wrist watch.  I mentioned that our Butlers were one day on , one day off.  We had reason to speak to the alternative butler and asked about a wake up call. The discussion revealed that we had no clock in the room, so when the dust settled, his solution to the problem was to ask the maid to provide us with a clock.  It was a huge thing, with a very well big dial, that lit up the whole room.  I have never before seen a 24 hour clock outside of specialty areas where they are required.  It had more buttons than a shirt, and no way of knowing how to do anything. So David approached the reception desk and requested a wake-up call.  We were very anxious to find out if it actually happened, as we knew we had to be up by 6:00 Sunday morning to catch our bus to the airport.  It worked.

The other thing I left out about our trip, was that we were each gifted with a 700 ml bottle of dark rum at the sugar mill.  It was enclosed in a tubular container, and we didn't really look at it until we were back to our resort.  Neither of us has any use for dark rum, and David got the idea of seeing if we could trade it for white rum at the resort.  So he approached our more familiar butler.  I was in the upper infinity  pool as soon as possible after getting back,  So I could watch the movement back and forth between our room and the Lobby Bar. ( Check the map)Success!  They gave us 2X 1litre bottles of white rum of a lesser brand than the dark.

Both of out butlers gave us a bottle of wine.  The more familiar butler gave us a bottle of white, which we drank Friday evening.  The other gave us a bottle of Merlot, late Friday, which we ended up bringing home with us.  Neither of us wanted it, so we gave it to Loren to use in cooking.

We discovered that buying our "Elite Plus"service for the trip, covered only assigned seating, no waiting in line, and extra baggage.  So after thought and discussion, we purchased a VIP service at the Cuban airport.  I cost us $25.00/person, but meant that we could use a special air conditioned area at the airport complete with seating other than stacking chairs, and food service.  Since our wait was several hours. it was worth it.  We got breakfast, snacks, unlimited drinks ( we chose cola, but there was a full bar), and news tv--in Spanish, and French.  There were a couple of different areas, but I noticed that the one with a large window into the airport waiting area was quite lavishly furnished.

Thank Goodness our plane for the return trip was larger, not by much, but enough that I was fairly comfortable.  We had a young man sitting in the window seat who spent the whole trip playing Candy Crush on his phone.  When we arrived home and were taxi-ing to the terminal. David asked him what level he was at.  Answer- 1281.  He told us that he was only aware of 3-4 people who had gone further than he had, and that he once spent 3 months trying to get past one very bad level.  When I looked at him again, I realized that he had more grey hair than I did--so maybe not so young.

Taking off in Cuba and seeing palm trees and military helicopters out of the window and then seeing blowing snow and blizzard conditions through the window as we landed was a bit of a shock.  But Loren met us, and got us safely home. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

No,I'm not finished yet

Well done!

I really enjoyed ready about Saturday. It sounded like a really varied excursion but I wonder about those train rails!  I like seeing those pictures with either you or David. Makes it real.
Is there a tale to tell about your trip back home on Sunday?

I spent some time a few days ago sorting through the bag of 2 inch fabric squares I received from Pati years ago. I put them into separate little baggies according to colour theme.  This afternoon I started to sew them into long strips with intent to make another small topper. I randomly choose a colour and sewed little squares into ten square strips. Don't know what will happen next, but it was fun for an hour or two haha
I walked up to the post office to check the mail and to mail a card to Loren. When I got home, there was the card still in my bag - forget to mail it. Oh well, tomorrow it will have to go. Hope it will arrive in time - Not too forgetful, am I?
I have some pork cutlets in the slow cooker with gravy mix, and a bottled mixture marinade called balsamic vinegar and fig sauce, and the smell is driving me crazy. I put it on high temp so maybe I can eat earlier?
Take care.


Saturday was the only day we ventured off the site.  A really big deal is the excursions that are available.  The tour companies go to great lengths to plan tours--not necessarily meaningful tours but rather those that will sell well--such as swimming with dolphins.  Most are clearly marked as being not recommended for those with mobility issues, but we found one that advertised itself as being one that would cover the importance of the sugar industry to the economy of Cuba.  The information was interesting, and mostly provided during the bus ride back onto the mainland.  But when seen overall, the tour was a bit of a mish-mash of places and concepts.  Regardless, we had a great day and saw some things that we wouldn't necessarily have seen otherwise.  Our first stop ( Not counting the military check-point that checks traffic going on and off the causeway--a little scary) was a, now closed, sugar mill.  The main market for Cuban sugar was Russia, and that market disappeared with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1998.  It was such an important market, for may other things as well, that the economy of Cuba was decimated.  This was the main impetus for the concentration on tourism that we now see, but that took several years to develop.

Here we were first treated to a a drink of "sugar water", which we saw being squeezed from sugar cane in a device that looked much like the wringer of a wringer washer but on a slightly larger scale.  The cane was put through by hand.  Then we saw a video about the history of slavery and such, before heading over to the actual de-commissioned mill that is now a museum.

To get there we had to cross a railway track that is still in use.  While the mill has been de-commissioned, it still houses a huge storage tank for molasses--which are used in the distilling of rum. There was a train backing into the site along the track and while we watched it hit the main support of a large over head sign. Not too clear in the picture but there was damage to both the train and the support.  And we got to see problem solving by committee of five men, at full volume and with much arm movement--all in Spanish

The museum wasn't really that interesting. Started with statues of more primitive methods, and then we were shown all sorts of equipment that was just sitting there--most of which was manufactured in Erie Iron Works

 Then a bit of a walk across the site to the Railway Museum.  Many old steam engines.  I remembered Daddy telling us about the steam engines at Pointe du Bois, and saying that they were usually so well made that they would never wear out as long as they were used.  Only rust and dis-use could destroy them.  Most of what we saw was no longer running.

Finally with much noise and smoke our train arrived.

 The three cars were open with just a couple of rails to protect us.  And us included a couple of toddlers.

Our trip was through the country side for about 32 Km, to the next town.  It was a ricked-y ride.  The rails were just set into gravel--no railway ties for this country! Along the way were Cuban houses quite typical for the area we were in.  Mainly one story, and what we might consider as dilapidated sheds.  But then I think of the old kitchen at the lake and the building before we put in power and water--and we were happy and made out fine. The houses in towns are much the same but right beside each other in tight rows, and usually a little better finished--paint or a substance like stucco.  Sometimes the better ones are two story, but often with two families living there.

 The other town, Remedios-once we reached it, was a very old town--and quite colonial in appearance.  We were dropped off at a cigar store and walked through a two block street market before ending up in a bar.  You can see David buying beer--in cans--for us.   You can see that even this regular building was ope air.

But the main reason to stop here was --ta-da--a washroom!

There was a huge town square with this church on one side.  I'm not sure of this but I believe our guide said that this was the first church on the island, but that doesn't make sense to me, and he may have meant the first in that province.

Here is the view of the square from in front of the bar .  The red roof you see in the middle is the bandstand

 The rest of the trip was not much.  We were taken back to Cayo Sta. Marie, to one of the other resorts, where we had lunch in the main buffet. Then we were taken into the resort Cigar Bar, and shown how to cut, light, and care for a cigar.  But actually, for three bus loads, the room was so big and dark, that no-one could see anything much. I would rather be shown how a cigar was actually made (is the term rolled??).  But we did come home with 2 cigars and I scored an empty cigar box. And then back to our resort for a swim before supper.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

I'm loving the story...

It is fun to log on and see another post with story and pictures. But we're at Friday now, and I am sorry there's only two more days to read about. Hope there is a wonderful story to tell about Saturday?
The big greenhouse was 'fired up" yesterday to much to do about this and that. And tonight it will be in minus 20's again. Fortunately we only have the heater and one planted window box actually in the greenhouse - the rest of the plantings are all hanging around inside the house waiting.  
I couldn't get the front door open first thing this morning- build up of ice around the edges?? Tried the hairdryer and finally able to pry it open. Poor Scobby was waiting patiently (not really!) for her morning pee. The back doors were also stuck with ice so this morning I spent several hours with hairdryer and kitchen knife getting them opened up. I secure them for the winter with blankets and sometimes tape and we usually don't try to open them until it is warmer. But I fear not being able to get out of the house if the front door is giving me such grief right now. Always something eh?
I took out another Louise Penny Gamache novel yesterday - I went on the net and wrote down a list of all the Gamache books in order of publication and decided to start reading again from the beginning. I've read about half of them but all the most recent  - this one I have now is the first one. So here we go......

Thursday and Friday we slept

Not really.  We took two lazy days.  We napped, and read, and ate, and played Joke-R-ummy.  David spent both afternoons lying out on the lounger on the balcony.  Even I had a nice nap there on Wednesday.

This meant that we were around when the maid came.  Every day we would find one of her towel creations on the bed.

This one is actually supposed to be a lobster.  They are made of towels and some of the flowers that bloomed out side everywhere, but also off our balcony.
She even put them in the bathroom and the bottom of the tub!

My favourite was this little elephant

 But one day when we came off the balcony there was David, complete with hat and sunglasses, and the next day, me, with my new straw hat.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Wednesday we went to the beach

And, as you can see, I got into the water.  Unfortunately the waves were strong enough that they caused me some difficulty standing on very soft sand.  But I did get into the water, which is more than I can say about the previous trip.

Wednesday evening there were no menu choices in the restaurant.  Instead we were treated to a "Gala Dinner", no matter which restaurant we ate in.  Sea food, of course, featuring lobster.  I couldn't find out if this was a special holiday of any sort.  That night there was some sort of concert, that appeared to be in the Market.  Very loud music, and fireworks that went on until 2:00 am.  If you remember the map, this was just behind our cabana.  Needless to say, sleep was difficult. I think we had both just managed to get to sleep when the fireworks started.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Tuesday in Cuba

Tuesday was our busiest day.  After finally getting some money, we walked back through the Market or "El Pueblo".  It was probably built at the same time as the resorts, but was made to look much older and quite traditional.  There were large one or two story buildings that held such things as the bank, a gym, a spa and many restaurants.

I mentioned that it was a good two blocks long and those blocks were almost at right angles to each other.  In the center, between the two blocks, was a reproduction of a traditional town square.  there were low walls and a few benches around the outside edge, and in the center was a bandstand.  We sat on one of the low walls and took these pictures.

The first is a view of the street vendors, across the square.

The next is of the central bandstand, and a larger area of benches.  On the other side of the bandstand you can just make out a yellow building, which is in a mall area of about 6 businesses, including the bank

This is the same area but from a different viewpoint

Finally, when we had had enough walking we sat down for a drink in an ice cream bar. One can of cola was 2 pesos--about $2.50.  You can sort of see the new straw hat I bought.

And that was about all we did on Tuesday

Hate to tell you this.....

I'm looking out the kitchen window, and there is water running down the wrought iron cows that hang outside.  Snow melt from the roof.  The house never cooled down to where I set the thermostat, when we went to bed. What can I say?  Bonspiel thaw, or Festivale du Voyageur thaw, if you live around here. But it should reach you in a couple of days.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Not happy times here.....

Believe I mentioned we are going through a really tough cold weather situation right now - not uncommon in winter as you can attest to, but seems to be especially brutal. Friday night was minus 43 and last night the outdoor thermometer registered minus 42.
However last night at midnight we lost our power. The power just came on this afternoon at 3 pm. That was 15 hours without heat!!!
I have been up since midnight - great concern with water and potential for frozen pipes. I had a trickle of water flowing from kitchen and bathroom tap to try to keep it going but remember with wells and water pumps there is no ongoing supply as in the city. If the power is off, so to is the pump. So I was running back and forth to ensure there was water dripping still. I lit a coal oil lamp to keep me company, and sat bundled up in the living room - adding more layers as the indoor temperature dropped. It was eventually 36 degrees F inside by this afternoon when the power came back on.  Now, I have set up two extra heaters - one in the basement room where the pipes are and one in the back room where the plants and Harry's new seeded vegetables are. First thing I did was make a nice cup of coffee, then when I had made sure the house was looked after, I had a nice comforting bowl of French Onion Soup that I made yesterday. Late this morning I went outside and started the car- groan groan- and heated it up and took it around the block.
I backed it into the driveway just in case it won't start tomorrow morning and would be easier for a boost. Things should settle down by tomorrow weather wise, and should be warmer for the rest of the week. Poor Scooby was only able to run out quickly and pee, and then limp in on her cold little paws.
One good thing was that I was able to finish the Gamache novel today The Nature of the Beast while sitting impatiently waiting for the powerHopefully I can find another I haven't read at the library this week.
That's all from here. I reread the Cuba adventures and pretended I was in the warm and sunny tropics haha!
Take care

Saturday, February 13, 2016

More Cuba

Monday we spent in the resort, getting out bearings.  Monday evening we ate at the "Senses" restaurant.  This is only open in the evening.  All three restaurants had live music at all meals.  Sometimes it was lively Cuban music, but usually in the evening, a gentler type of music.  Usually with a guitar involved and some other instrument, such as a violin or flute.  Monday night we had a very nice meal, but Tuesday we returned to "Eggsellence" and disaster.  I ordered the beef (never order beef in Cuba.  It's usually an ox and usually an older animal)  It was too tough to cut let alone chew, and I sent it back, something I very rarely do.  I remembered a seafood pasta on the menu and asked for that as a replacement.  Since this is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, seafood is their specialty, and lobster their mainstay. After a wait it came.  It was garnished with tiny little deep fried whole octopus.  I just about threw up on the spot.  David quickly took them off the plate, and I tried to eat but just couldn't.  We left as quickly as we could, and David contacted our Butler, who rearranged things so that we could eat the rest of our meals at "Senses".  That didn't really solve the problem as all of our breakfasts, and a couple of lunches were at "Eggsellence", as the snack bar was just too far a walk.  But we had no further problems, with the exception of a comment made by our waiter a couple of days later about how we were having all of our evening meals at the other restaurant.

Tuesday we really had to visit a bank.  We had been able to get $20.00 worth of pesos at the resort reception, but with a poor exchange rate.  We had been told that there was a bank in the market near by but it closed at 2:00, and an exchange facility in the other half of the resort that would be open until 5:00.  We had also been told that we had full use of all of the facilities at the other half of the resort. We were still feeling a little out of our depth, and figured we would check it out. So planned to head over, exchange our money and have lunch.  We got a ride over, arriving about 11:50, and our driver arranged to come back for us at 1:30, dropping us off and picking us up at the exchange.  Well, David got in line and had the window close in his face, after being told to come back at 12:30.  So we set out to find the buffet.  It was a very long walk, in the hot sun, only to find that it didn't open until 1:00.  So  we went back to the lobby bar.  The lobby was a very busy place full of children, harried parents, and loud music.  They had no white wine at the bar, so David got a cola and I got water.  Finally it was time for him to go back to the exchange, only to be told that they were now closed for lunch, and to come back at 1:00.  We found a seat and waited and at 1:00, he was told that they would not accept a Canadian credit card for a cash advance.  ( Everywhere else we had been told that any banking facility would ONLY accept Canadian credit cards.)  

We were no getting concerned , and our only option was the bank in the market, which closed at 2:00.  David arranged a ride to the bank, with one of the jitneys from the other resort and took off, while I waited for the driver from our resort to return.  As it turned out, David got to the bank in time, and got some pesos.  Our driver came across him walking back, in the hot sun about 3/4 of the way to the other resort.  By this time we had "had it", so just had him take us to the Subset Snack Bar for lunch.

I have no pictures of this excursion, but will have pictures of the Market next time.  The Market is on the map as "El Pueblo".

I enjoyed the tour so far...

With map at the ready I followed every comment and picture and then did it again. Thanks for the tour so far....I assume by your comment there is more to come?
Minus 43 last night with wind chill- perhaps a tad too cold? And the rest of the weekend to be the same.  Next weekend they forecast above zero temps - makes no sense.
Take it easy today everyone. Take care

Friday, February 12, 2016

Then I can start talking about the trip!

We had a suite in cabana 601.  The cabanas are the buildings in green, that are around the main lobby.  The buildings in red around the lower pool are at least two stories, and contain 4-6 rooms.  We never got into the lower pool, as it was quite a walk from our room, and up hill coming back.  We did have 2-3 lunches at the "Snack bar ("Sunset") which was on the south side of the lower pool.

These pictures are taken standing at the north side of the lobby.  In the first picture, the area on the far right, at the back is where all of the buses etc come in.  The small desk at the left is the reception.  There were two small desks ( there is just a hint of the second one to the right of the first one)  Nothing like the huge reception desks one expects in hotels.  As you can see, most of the building is open to the outside.
Moving to the right of the previous picture is the other side of the lobby, with the Lobby Bar on the right side.

Then we move to the inside of the lobby bar .  It isn't really that big, but when there are only 215 potential patrons you don't need a big bar.  This bar was open 24 hours.  Any resort we've ever been to has had one bar open 24 hours.  At this resort, the Sunset snack bar was also open 24 hours with full service food.
Then, if we continue moving to the right this is the outdoor sitting area of the lobby bar.  We would sit here during the day, but move into the bar in the evening.

 Here we have moved further clockwise and are now facing north toward the upper pool, which was an infinity pool--sort of neat.  This is where we did our swimming.

And here is the upper pool from just in about 20 feet forward from where I took the last picture.  The low building on the left was the pool bar--yes, just outside the Lobby bar.

Our first day at the resort, we didn't travel much further than this.  If you look at the maps you'll see the two main restaurants between our suite and the areas above.  Initially our butler made dinner reservations between the two of them, on alternate nights. Sunday night we were in "Eggselence".  By dinner time, we had been up for over 18 hours, and were exhausted.  As it turned out neither of us was very hungry and we tried to eat but just couldn't get more than a few mouthfuls in.  I apologized explaining that we were too tired to eat.  The next day a member of staff , upon meeting us said "oh, you're the tired people".  I wasn't too pleased at being talked about that way amongst the staff.  More about this next time.

and more mail....

My letter arrived today so I'm ready. I'll absorb more of the info in the brochures this afternoon if I can - looks exciting and now to hear more from you! XX

Thursday, February 11, 2016


Today I got mail from both my sisters! Wonderful treat.  Pati, I didn't know where you were staying until I got the brochure.  I immediately went on line to check it all out.  What a wonderful place for you.  The room (room???? Suite sounds more like it) looked fantastic.  I looked at the bathroom there and then my bathroom at home at felt pretty sad.  I think my entire bathroom would fit in the shower stall!  Did you go on any adventures while you were there or did you just relax the whole time?  I think I would have laid around the whole week if I were in a place like that.  Now I have to face reality and -29 temperature.  Oh well.

A sneak peak....

I will let you know as soon as your letter arrives - I expect Cathy will get hers before me? But I loved the sneak peak - and looking forward to hearing about the rest of your adventures.
As for the Gamache novel - it is the latest one from Louise Penny and the one with the gun - you were actually investigating historical info re: The Whore of Babylon at your library if I remember correctly.  I now realize that I was premature in my comments - I hadn't read into it enough but the first few chapters were shedding a different Gamache characterization  but as I read further and it explained why he was reacting so vehemently to remarks, it became clearer that it would all work out. I hope I shall enjoy this as much as the others I've read but I must say the theme is bothering me a bit.
Cold here right now - no walking the dog for awhile. That is usually my exercise. Keep warm.....take care

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


Is "The Nature of the Beast" the book about the big gun found in the bush of Gaspe?  If I remember correctly, a little different but still the same type of story, and the same characters.  Unless I'm thinking of the wrong book, while the topic is a little different, the thread through the story is one of reconciliation, amongst those characters.

Have you got your maps yet?

Maybe not--they were mailed Monday.  

The trip, down was maybe best forgotten.  We went to bed about 7:30 Saturday evening and were up at 1:00 Sunday morning.  The cab was ordered for 2:30, and off we went.  There was already a long line when we got to the airport, but we had paid for "Elite Plus", which got us into a very short line.  Then we waited until 5:30 to get on the plane and it was so small that we were crammed in like sardines. That meant that the whole trip was a bit of an ordeal, and when we got off the plane, I could barely walk, with having been unable to move my legs for 5 hours.  And there was only one of those high stair cases to get off onto.

But a wheelchair waiting at the bottom and then through the airport, and immigration, and onto customs, through which I was pushed almost faster than David could keep up.  There was a man with a list standing at the doorway.  You tell him what hotel and he gives you a bus number. Onto our bus and away we go.  An hour plus to the hotel, but they were selling cans of beer on the bus, so many were quite content to relax for the ride.  I wasn't expecting the causeway I mentioned, so I enjoyed what we saw on the ride.

At the hotel we were greeted and herded into the Lobby Bar, where we were offered cool, moist face clothes and a champagne cocktail.
This was when we were introduced to our butler, Lionel, who would attend to our every need during our stay.  This was when I realized that this wasn't going to be anything like our our stays in Cuba.

Our next surprise was our suite, which was referred to as a "cabana".  Although we weren't told so, I'm sure it was an upgrade, as we had been warned that this might happen, given we had told our travel agent that it was for our 50th anniversary.  There were only two suites in the building. Ours was a one storey but the other half of the building was two stories. This was certainly more luxurious than any other place we've stayed.

In no particular order here are pictures of the bathroom,

the bedroom

the bathrub and shower

the "dressing room

the foyer
 the patio/balcony

the scenery from the patio/balcony--very private--but just beyond the trees is the road to the marketplace or "El Peublo"

and finally, the bedroom and foyer, from the sitting area

Wow. are you full yet?

Sounds like a great dinner. We had pancakes - I always like to follow some old traditions and one in Shrove Tuesday. And today is Ash Wednesday, and the start of Lent. Even if I do not formally demonstrate beliefs, I still have lasting remnants of them in my heart.
More snow - I just came in for a rest before going out again to shovel. I think the snowplow operator last night had a vengeance on - dumped so much into our driveway - lumps of snowy ice!
I picked up the book at the Library yesterday and started it last evening before bed. It has a different flavour to it, and I'm hoping it will not be too different from the others. Did you find it so Pati? (ie The Nature of the Beast)
I cleared out the snow from both greenhouses yesterday and dug out some trays for Harry. he planted a few trays here in the house and has them against the Aerogarden lights for now in the back room. I wonder how long it will be before talks of heaters in the greenhouses comes up again.
Well, back to work. Harry is dehydrating onions and garlic this morning and the house smells of same. I should go out and do more shoveling haha! 
What's on the agenda for you folks? Take care

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Wonderful supper

We went for my celebratory dinner tonight.  It was great and I am stuffed.  We hit the buffet and had some wonderful food.  the usual Chicken balls and fried rice and noodles, but also deluxe  veggies and some kind of thin sliced coated pork that was great. And veggie rolls and chicken wings and sweet sour pork and wonton soup and I can't remember it all.  I just know that I am full and want a nap.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Nice to see you back Pati

Looking forward to the mail and info on your trip. I had actually gone on line when you first mentioned your trip and location, and viewed a map displaying the extent of the causeway to the island resorts. It will be interesting to see more.
Speaking of interesting....we toured a hydroponics greenhouse specializing in greens - lettuce, kale, bok choy etc.  this morning. These are the folks that run the Springhill Farms where we buy during the summer especially the blueberries I tell you about.  They built a huge new greenhouse last summer, and have set it up as a hydroponics house. So much work has gone into revitalizing their business - they are the only business around the area doing large scale hydroponics with vegetables. Many stores and restaurants are buying the greens from them now. He spent a great deal of time explaining and demonstrating the whole process. Then we bought bags of lettuce. Pati, I bought fresh kale and it is nothing like you buy in the store. So fresh and tender. I have had a big salad and then a sandwich already to eat today and with the bags in the fridge likely will be eating this way all week! (I wonder if it would stay fresh if shipped "on the bus' haha)
Time to read. I am just about finished another Gamache novel  (Bury the Dead). and the library called this afternoon to say the book I reserved has come in - the new one The Nature of the Beast  I'll pick it up tomorrow. Take care

Well done, Cathy!

You got your promotion!  How could you not get it?!  They know  a good thing when they see it.  Well done, and well earned.

And you also got your boot off! You've been waiting quite awhile for that.  But don't push it--you've already found out that it doesn't pay.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Yes, we're home!

Loren picked us up at the airport, in a nice warm car.  We were glad to see him, but not glad to see blowing snow, with a blizzard warning.  

Our flight there was a horror with a very small plane and no leg room, although we had paid extra for it.  I was in the middle seat and so cramped up that I could move neither my legs nor my shoulders, so absolutely no way to read or relax.  David was on the aisle and every person or cart that went by knocked him on the shoulder.  I had to keep reminding myself that "what can't be cured, must be endured".  Then an hour and a half bus ride to the resort.  

I did not know this, but off the north shore of Cuba along the middle third of the island is an archipelago of islands.  If you have a chance, Google this on a fairly large scale map, and look for Cayo Sta. Marie, which is where our resort was.  I'll look as well, and see if I can find a site for you.  We had to fly into Santa Clara, which is just about in the middle of the island of Cuba, and the closest airport to the islands.  It's a fairly small airport, which is the reason for the small airplane.  During the 90's the tourist potential of this string of islands was seen, and a major construction project resulted in a causeway--38km long.  It evidently received world wide acclaim for the engineering of the project, but the disintegration of the USSR occurred just before completion, and the whole Cuban economy was devastated.  It took years to recover, so the development of resorts was slow. 

Our resort was only part of a much larger resort.  The other half was called "Memories".  Memories has over 1100 rooms and can accommodate about 3000 guests at any one time.  Our resort, "Royalton", accommodates a maximum of 215 guests, and is for adults only.  Tomorrow, I'll try to get a resort map in the mail to each of you, as well as a brochure for the various excursions that could have been taken--for a price.  Once you get your hands on them, I should be better able to tell you what we did and what we experienced--including pictures.

One down side to this all was that we are reasonably sure we were exposed to bed bugs.  These are very common in the tropics and very, very hard to control, so-for the most part--are tolerated.  This means that all of our luggage went straight into the garage, where it will stay for about 48 hours, as freezing is one of the recommended strategies. This happened to us once before, and Loren says he experienced it as well.  Freezing worked last time--here's hoping.

Hi Pati and Dave

Just could not wait any longer to write a big Welcome Home to you both. Even though it is only 12 noon my time, and you have a few more hours before you land in Winnipeg, I am as giddy as a school girl anticipating your return!
Hope you are well rested, and still feeling the warmth of the tropical breezes as you sip at a fancy cocktail while slumbering in the pool by the bar. 
Or maybe not, but what ever, welcome home!
Take time to recover from your jet lag, settle in, sleep, unpack. organize yourselves, or otherwise assimilate to reality???
Then when all is well, I shall look forward to a message, and perhaps some pictures?  XX

It is what we speak of all the time... is the anticipation of the event or activity that makes it all the more exciting. The thrill of your promotion is still there and worthy of celebratory dinners out, but you need the time to absorb and "anticipate" the moment. All the better to enjoy! So go for it without any thoughts of guilt in your mind. You waited a long time for this, so savour it.
As for me, more snow last night and the temperatures are promising to dip down into the minus twenties by the end of the week. And Harry is wanting to plant today. Wonder how I'll make out?
Have a great day and stay off your foot as much as you can. Our travellers return later today and will be so full of the adventure - so much to think about and remember, and hopefully to share once they settle in.
Take care 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Feeling guilty

Jim so badly wanted to take me out to celebrate my promotion and we both love chinese. (lemon chicken, Deluxe mixed vegetables, spring rolls)  but I got up enough nerve to tell Jim that it would mean so much more to me if we could go on a week night after work.  I could look forward to it all day at work and have no other committments but supper to look forward too.  I know he was disappointed but we are going on tuesday.  We will stop at the legion after work for a drink then go for supper.  We will check out the buffet and if it looks good eat that, if not order our favourites.     It sounds selfish, but I just didn't want to go back to town today,  go to chase the ace at the legion and then go for supper.  It is so much more exciting when it is just the supper out to look forward too.  we so seldom go out for supper.  Now I can look forward to it without resenting it.  I just hope Jim is not too unhappy with me.  I know how excited he was to celebrate my promotion with me.


Enjoy your dinner out. I always like Chinese food but tend to order too much and then eat leftovers for a day or two. Different though if you actually eat out in the restaurant as you will tonight.  I like Sweet and Sour Chicken Balls, and also Fried Rice and of course Spring Rolls.  Tell me tomorrow what you had - in meantime, my mouth will water. I will likely have leftover fish I made for supper last night.We are soon at the end of our supply of frozen pickerel and since we can no longer get it on the Reserve, I guess we will be without totally. 
Today is laundry and cleanup. I already have a loaf of bread in the machine, and plan to make some apple sauce, and an apple crisp for supper.  This will be the end of all the apples e bought in the Fall from the orchard owners. they are getting soft now.
Have fun tonight. Take care

Friday, February 5, 2016

car chase

I didn/t know what was happening but the cop cars went racing out of town.  Later I found out it was a car chase from Gladstone.  It seems that a car was stolen in Winnipeg and someone in Gladstone reported that the driver seemed impaired.  There was a high speed chase from Gladstone to Neepawa.  It was #5 north and #16 that saw all the action.  There was a collision between a police car and the SUV and then when one of the police reached into the SUV it took off with him/her still attached.  The officer took a couple of shots to stop the car dragging him/her.  The intersection was closed for a few hours while cars were towed away and the police searched for the spent shells.  All over now.    Today was my first day without my boot and of course I overdid it.  I walked to the post office and to the library.  My leg aches now but I think that should be expected.  I am sitting on the couch with my foot up right now.   Jim is taking me out for supper tomorrow to celebrate my promotion.  Chinese!  Yummy.  Sandi was supposed to have her hernia surgery today.  It was postponed from Jan 15.  They had the IV in her arm when they cancelled once again.  They will try again next week.  I feel so bad for her.  Now I will relax

WFP article

Although I cannot read the whole story, the headlines in the WFP today account a police blockade south of Neepawa today for a car chase. Did this affect you - was it on #5 ? 

And I feel a part of the exitement

Congratulations to you Cathy, on all aspects of this happy day.
The promotion was earned many times over by you, and in spite of having to be patient and wait for the officials to concur, your unwavering work ethics, and perseverance have paid off. 
With your boot now off, make the best of it and comply with the conditions so that your heel will know who is boss and will acquiesce to your demands. And soon you shall be back to running around the yard.....and up and down the stairs..... Right?
As for the beer purchased by Jim, I can only assume it was most welcomed and delicious as you both celebrated your great news for the day!
I was so glad to be part of your excitement by telephoning you at the exact time of your arrival home ie still in the garage parking the truck!  I could hear the happiness in your voice - palpable through the millions of miles of radio waves from your home to mine - just as if you we were together.
So here's to another good day as we approach the weekend.
And here's to Pati and Dave as they enjoy every last minute of their vacation. 
Take care

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Good Day

Today I got that %$#*& boot off (with some compromise conditions) and I got a promotion and Jim bought me a beer AND I got to talk to Beth.  What more could I ask for

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Telephone call

Well, we had few good words together but not really what I had hoped, so we will try again tomorrow evening.
When we got into the conversation about the weather, I was thinking about Pati and Dave and how they chose a perfect week to fly away - I was wondering if Loren, who was to watch over their house and do shoveling etc, was making out OK?  So I was wanting to know from you what the weather was actually like in Winnipeg? Maybe it was alright after all?
So I'll go back to pumping water here and hope that tomorrow will bring forth a better outlook. Take care


The weather has actually been pretty bland here, though coming home on Friday we went through an area where it was raining so hard the wipers couldn't keep up.  January in Manitoba  We've had freezing drizzle and light snow hereJim let me out of the house without my boot last Sunday.   I used my soft wrap and it was wonderful.  It felt so light and easy to walk. I am counting the hours until I see the doctor.  I really feel that no matter what he says I want this boot off.  It has been 10 weeks and it hurts more with it on than with it off. We have yet another meeting today.  This one on testing the e-transfer.  An online form that will be available soon.  I think they drew names out of a hat for testing it. And now I shall drink my tea and get ready for work.  I forgot to get my clothes out last night so I will have to go into the bedroom and wake up Jim (awwwww)