Cars

Next week, I’ll take possession of my sixth car. It is interesting that I have had so few cars. I proclaim not to care very much one way or the other. But, as my husband began the search for car #6, it quickly became clear that I do have strong preferences.

And so I should. Both my father and husband are extremely well versed in all details of vehicles – make, model year, full retail prices; they can spot tiny differences as they zoom past on the freeway. Their opinions were hard to ignore. I’ve spent many hours walking through car lots, even junkyards, looking for a certain part or hopeful to find a hidden treasure.

So I really started to look at cars in the past couple of weeks. I drove the “cheaper” version of my wrecked car. And my list of possible cars became very short for a number of reasons. Turns out when you are spending tens of thousands, details that are second nature to my husband start to become far more important to me.

It occurs to me that most of my cars have not been my choice. More often, a little bit of chance and circumstance.

  1. 1977 Chevrolet Monza, rust colored – new to me in 1986. Bought this from a family friend for $100 who wanted to buy a weed wacker with the cash. Of course he didn’t need the money. Wanted the car gone. We were soon to realize why. The list of repairs, (including rebuilding the engine, changing the head gaskets many times, chronic carburetor problems) are too long to mention. Suffice to say, in the first summer when I stopped for gas, (which it was a guzzler of), I also had to refill the radiator with water and usually add a half litre of oil. Nice. Drove that baby for 7 years. When I was off to Vancouver with it, my Dad said famously, “find a boyfriend that can fix cars”.
  2. 1991 Geo Storm, black on black – new to me in 1995. I bought this in the US for about $7,000. It was on a Ford lot and my boyfriend, who would be my husband, gave me the down payment from Canada when the loonie was about 60 cents to the USD, ouch. I financed this car and probably didn’t negotiate one bit. I did not even test drive it. Just loved the look of it. This car had a major problem with the struts and I had one replaced in the first month, under warranty. My husband would come in handy for years later, changing those struts regularly.

    Jeep - my son age 2

    Jeep – my son age 2

  3. 1990 Jeep Grand Cherokee, red with grey leather interior – new to me in 2001. This would later be called “Darth Maul” by my son. But he was to young at the time to know what a menace this vehicle was at times. However, those “times” where never under my command. My husband bore the brunt of the breakdowns and the quest to fix the strange things that seemed to go wrong. I loved this truck. When my children were young, it was perfect for infant seats and toddler car seats. The leather repelled everything they threw at it. It was extremely sure footed in the snow and even on ice, which we experienced much of in those years. This was our first family vehicle and we had some epic adventures.
  4. 1994 Acura Vigor, kind of a brown color with taupe leather inside – new to me in 2003. This was a fun car, 5 speed, heated seats, go fast engine, lots of other luxury features. I felt like a serious grown up in this car. After a few good years, we ended up limping it into a Honda dealer for a trade in on car #5.
  5. 2004 Mazda 3, grey with grey leather – new to me in 2007. This was the first nice “late model” car I ever owned. 5 speed, one owner, low kilometers. We paid, what seemed to me at the time, a lot of money for this car. Of course, when your first car cost you $100, well, you see how far I’ve come. My kids named her, Queen Amadala. We had no major problems with this car, until late March of this year. Coming into the entrance of the George Massey Tunnel at rush hour, I was hit twice after I came to a full stop. Evidently there was a fatality that day in a separate accident at the other end of the tunnel. So, it was really a lucky day for me.
  6. 2010 Acura CSX, charcoal with black leather – new to me April 2014. I can’t even imagine how nice this car will be to drive. It has an integrated hands-free iPhone system, navigation, XFM, 5 speed, v-tech engine, another 3 year Acura certified warranty, etc. I’ll never understand, or forget the experience of negotiating the price at the Acura dealership, which my husband conducted. It is a very formal, offer – counter, new offer, counter and so on. All written down on a piece of paper and the salesman bouncing up and down like a yo-yo to get approvals. Both sides throwing out statements to support their numbers. Strange game.

So it ends, my list for now. I’m sure I’ll drive a few more, see a few more places. The fun is in the journey, not only the destination.

Folk Wisdom of Mexico

Proverbios y dichos Mexicanos

I picked up this little book in the condo we are renting. I love finding these little treasures. Especially when the subject is local. Gives me a glimpse into the culture, the customs and the feelings as if we too were living here.

However, this kind of wisdom would not necessarily come form merely living here. We would need to understand the language, inside and out. Without growing up hearing these stories passed down through generations, the essence, the real meaning may not make sense.

Translated into English, the understanding gap gets a little wider, I think. But it is interesting to interpret in our own way. Learn by viewing old ideas in a new light. (And I feel a little bit caught in a Modern Family episode, with Gloria talking about “her country”.)

*Flies don’t enter a closed mouth.

*There is more time than life.

*Ambition never has its fill.

*Blood boils without a flame.

*One must learn how to lose before learning how to play.

*When in doubt of what is right, consult your pillow overnight.

*Conversation is food for the soul.

*All the time spent angry is time lost being happy.

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Making cheese

This week, while listening to the audio recording of “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle“, I learned that you can make cheese at home. I had no idea. My daughter was listening to that segment with me and proclaimed she was very much wanting to make cheese. (This is picky eater #1)

Yesterday we did it. Our first creation – lemon cheese.

The recipe, if you can call it that, is ridiculously simple. 2 ingredients. I watched a video on YouTube and basically followed those instructions.

  1. Have ready, 1/3 cup lemon juice and a colander in the sink lined with cheese cloth or a nice clean tea towel. (I have not been able to find cheese cloth at a grocery store in a long time.)
  2. In a large pot, over medium high heat, (or it will take forever), stir 2 litres of milk. I used Avalon Dairy‘s 3.25%MF.
  3. The video explains to watch the edges of the milk and notice the little bubbles that appear as the milk is about to boil. A recipe says 175 degrees F. I don’t have a proper thermometer, but my meat one registered this temperature, if not a little hotter.
  4. Take off the heat, pour in the lemon juice and continue to stir as the curds form. To limit the taste of the lemon juice, the recipe suggests using less than the full 1/3 cup. But my daughter was keen and in the whole thing went.
  5. Pour into the waiting colander. This is where cheese cloth would be nice as it is so fine. Squeeze out the whey. Open up and add salt along with herbs or other flavour. My daughter wanted salt only. Tie into a ball continuing to let the whey drain off. After about 20 minutes, I put opened the cloth and put the ball on a plate as shown above.
  6. Evidently this keeps in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Although I will be surprised if ours last beyond today.

I am hooked. And that is not surprising. Cheese is an ancient food whose origins, predate recorded history. It was likely an accidental result of transporting milk that came in contact with natural rennet. So our milk drinking ancestors have consumed cheese since the beginning.

Now I am on the hunt for the ingredients to make 30 minute mozzarella. And I’m keen to find and try other kinds of milk. Stay tuned.

The Haida

On Sunday, my parents were available for a few hours of sight-seeing before they were heading back to Calgary. We decided to drive over to UBC and have a look around MOA, the Museum of Anthropology. My husband and I have talked about this a few times before and were looking forward to the day. After a few short hours, it became apparent that this would take several days to see all the exhibits. We had no idea of the treasure that has been sitting in our backyard all this time.

After looking through the photographs and doing a little more research today, I have a little better understanding of the Haida. Their artwork and totem poles are the larger pieces on display, so upon entering the Museum space it is very awe-inspiring.

For at least 10,000 years, the Haida people and their ancestors have lived on Haida Gwaii (the Queen Charlotte Islands), an archipelago of 150 islands off the North-Western coast of British Columbia.

Monumental totem poles carved of red cedar are one of the means by which Haida people, today as in the past, honour their ancestors and record their histories, territories, and inherited privileges.

My thoughts go back to my recent experiences in Alberta learning about the Blackfoot Nation. As well, reading about the Coastal people portrayed in the novel, “Vancouver”. It is with the descriptions in this novel that I often visualize what it must have been like to be an early settler here on the Coast. When I start to think about complaining of the non-ending rain, I only have to conjuror up one of the many scenes from the book, where the hardships of the land would have been unbearable by today’s standards.

Some related posts and pages from: The Good Stuff

Blackfoot Crossing

Ages

“Vancouver” by David Cruise and Alison Griffiths

Heart of a kitchen

If the kitchen is the heart of a home, then the main counter is the heart of a kitchen. At least that is the case in my house.

In our tiny kitchen, the counter serves as the main hub of activity.

At the back of the photo, I was working on my goals, including a large sketch book, coloured pens and glue. To the left of that is a cotton knitted basket that I made, holding various iPods being charged. A box of tissues, a CD recording of Jimmy Buffets, “A Salty Piece of Land”, and a cluster of bananas in the next row. A cracker box on top of my iPad, a container of tomatoes and my cookbook run into the snack in various dishes. My husbands computer and papers and my sons blue pencil box pretty much covers it all.

This is a typical situation for our family. Probably pretty chaotic looking for some people and maybe a little tidy for others, (notice nothing has spilled on the electronics!)

What I want to do one day is set up a video camera with time elapse recording. Even a week would be great to show just how much we rely on this one piece of furniture to live our life.

Daggett Farmhouse: Hearth cooking at Greenfield Village open air Museum

I suppose, back in the day, the fireplace was the centre of the kitchen. Women would cook all day over it and sit by the light of it to sew and do chores in the evening. It was where the warmth radiated from and where the vital, life-sustaining food stuffs were prepared.

I often think that I could have done well in that time of history and then I see these kind of photo’s showing what looks to be back-breaking work. I remember clearly what that was like when I cared for my babies. For one thing or another, it seemed like I was stooped over for about 4 years.

For the most part, I remain extremely happy to be living in this time of history. Even if the only reason were for our modern kitchens, which let us produce food for our family in a fraction of the time that it used to only a couple hundred years ago.

Imprints at Rogers Pass

I have known about this place in the Rocky Mountains since I was a child. In fact, I can’t remember when I learned this was the gateway to British Columbia. Who knew what kind of fun would await us. Sometimes it was a short trip to the Okanagan, and other times we would ride the mighty BC Ferry over to Vancouver Island.

Nowadays, we live on the “other side”. So getting back through the Pass coming from either side is a huge relief. If we were able to make it from the East, pretty good chances we will make it home. And if we were able to make it through from the West, excellent chance of taking some turns the next day.

It is quite amazing that trains and cars can get through Rogers Pass in the winter at all. In the first winter of railroad operation in 1886/87 there was 12 metres of snowfall. Each season, there is a proactive effort to “manage” the snowfall that will affect the area. As the snow is accumulating in the alpine, experts are studying the conditions in anticipation of avalanche risk. When a motorist is turned away for a road closure, more often than not, the blasting has brought down a dangerous amount of snow and can take 24 to 36 hours, (or more) for crews to clear from the roads and rail lines. More on Rogers Pass National Historic Site –  http://www.pc.gc.ca/lhn-nhs/bc/rogers/index.aspx

This summer, on our family road trip, we stopped into the museum at Rogers Pass. There is no driving stress when the sun shines, the road is bone dry and the only snow visible is very high at the peaks of the Selkirks. Some interesting photo’s here show imprints taken from the park. I did not write down what everything was, so your guess will be as good as mine.

 

Other posts related to Rogers Pass:

Gjøa

It never ceases to amaze me. The tenacity of the human spirit. A person gets a kernel of an idea and then, over time, it grows into a fully fledged enterprise. Of course, it is not magic. The truly great accomplishments require a multitude of resources, both human and financial. Or do they?

Roald Amundsen was the expedition leader and Master of the Gjøa, which was the first vessel to transit the Northwest Passage. The first thought that comes to mind is how small the ship is, as you can see by the photo. But Amundsen wanted a small crew, they were to live off the land and avoid all the excess, (cargo and people) which had plagued John Franklin’s expedition.

It was built and served for 28 years as a herring fishing vessel. And Amundsen had little experience in Arctic sailing. When you look at all these facts mounting up against him, it is a wonder that this mission was completed at all.

But there were a series of things that happened and contributed to success. Preparation was key. Technical knowledge had to be brought on board. But the people involved on this epic journey must have possessed the most important skill of all. For me, that would be the ability to effectively communicate. That is the pre cursor to everything in life that turns out well.

When the going got tough in the high Arctic, they turned to the Inuit for help. On display at the Maritime Museum in Oslo, there are many, many photo’s showing the details of surviving and even thriving while locked in the ice for 3 winters.

I have not personally spent time in the Arctic, but I have 2 family members that have. Stories from them detail some of the hardships that life up North can dish out. There is a level of preparedness that is required as winter sets in that us Southerners can hardly comprehend. And then put this into the context of the time and circumstances of the Northwest passage.

Truly a worthwhile visit, if you find yourself with a free afternoon in Oslo, Norway.