Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Bit of Family History

I found a small notebook yesterday that I had carried in my purse when Lloyd and I, my sister Wendy and her husband Randy, went to Nova Scotia to visit Mum back in 2005.   In this notebook I had made notes on a visit we made to Taylor Head Provincial Park.  Then I put it away and forgot about it.   Just a couple of days ago Lloyd and I were talking about that trip and wondering what the name of the man was that we met at the family homestead there.  This notebook provided that information, as well as other tidbits that I had forgotten.

For years Dad would take us to the Taylor Head beach (before it became a provincial park) to swim and visit the old McCarthy homestead (I'm a McCarthy). 

The McCarthy houses, from the beach
There are two houses there, built in 1838 built by Dad's grandfather.  My grandfather and his twin brother were born in the white house. 

Both houses are still used today as summer homes for various members of the extended McCarthy clan.  The day we went to visit, one of Dad's cousins' sons was there painting and fixing up the yellow house.  Dad's cousin, Vera, was also there staying in her cottage further off from the original houses.

Wendy, Mum, Gerald, Me, Vera

I think in almost every family there's one person (at least) who is the keeper of the family history...either officially or unofficially.  For the McCarthys, it is Vera amazing woman who loves having family stop by for a visit. I never knew my grandfather - he died when Dad was only 10 years old, but Vera knows enough stories about him to make him come alive for us. Although they've never met, her nephew, Jim, and my oldest daughter have been corresponding via email for years now, comparing notes and family history information.

Vera gave us some neat tidbits of history.  For instance, I've always loved lighthouses, but until that visit I didn't know that my grandfather had, at one tme, been the keeper of the Sheet Harbour Light, not far from Taylor Head.  And it had been one of my Dad's dreams to retire to a lighthouse.

Sheet Harbour Light with seagulls roosting

After Taylor Head was made into a Provincial Park, the government allowed the McCarthys to keep their homestead and the two additional cottages they had built for summer visiting, and the beach in front of the family's homestead as the only privately owned land in the park. There's a small access road, called McCarthy Road,  leading to the homestead.

The McCarthy Girls - Wendy, Pat and Meta - 2005
I love the beach there.  It's in a sheltered cove with lots of soft sane and rocks perfect for climbing on jutting into the ocean.  I've been homesick for the ocean these past few weeks and I'm afraid that going back and looking through these pictures has made me want to go back even more.  Lloyd and I are going to have to plan on making another trip back 'home'.  It's only a three day drive if we drive all night the first night and don't stop too much!

The boardwalk down to the beach

Lloyd and Me in 2005

Looking out from the houses - Psyche Island in the middle of the picture.
Nobody lived on it but the McCarthy's used to graze sheep on it until
it was sold to the Provincial Government in the late 1990s.

So that's where my roots are and where I want to go back to - for a visit.  No matter where I live I think I'll be a Bluenoser forever!

Take a minute if you'd like and listen to the anthem of all displaced Bluenosers - Farewell to Nova Scotia.  It's an old folk song about a young man who is leaving Nova Scotia to go to war. The video scenery is nice as well.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Awards and Follow-Up

I received an award the other day from my blogger friend, Anne, over at Frayed at the Edge.  You might want to pop over and take a look at her blog.  She lives in the UK, takes beautiful photos, and shares her life of quilting, walks, outings for 'a cuppa', and lots of interesting things.

The conditions of the award require me to tell about myself and nominate three other bloggers for the award and link back to Anne.  So here goes.

After years spent raising seven children (2 sons, 5 daughters) Lloyd and I are happy empty nesters.  Our children are mostly nearby and have provided us with 20 grandkids to love.  I have lived all my life in Canada, except for one year spent in Germany when I was 12/13.  I've lived in many, many places across this huge country, from Nova Scotia on the east coast to British Columbia on the west. We have since made Alberta our home.  I am a scrapbooker and love spending time scrapping with my friend Mickey and creating beautiful layouts with our photos and embellishments.  I'm also a collector and over the years have collected eggs, owls, thimbles and pretty things. Before I got involved with scrapbooking and blogging, I used to spend my time doing cross stitch embroidery and knitting.  I love going on road trips with Lloyd and we've managed to travel through all of the northern states, New England,  and south to Arizona.  One day we'll have seen them all.  We have vague plans to travel to Scotland but haven't yet set a date for it.

I'm going to nominate my Arizona blogger friends for this award and encourage you to stop in and visit them.  Jo at Just Call Me Jo is always good for a laugh - she's quirky and slightly nutty and fun to read.  Holly at Hoosier At Heart always has an interesting twist on things - very funny and sweet.  And Roe over at Arizona Living takes her readers on fascinating road trips through Arizona, with lots of fun commentaries about her cat Hank.


Just as a follow-up, I wanted to thank all of you for your comments on my last post about the close call my grandchildren had. I also want to let you know what kind of follow-up there was to that incident. By the following morning, the police had already spoken to the school principal and to the Superintendent of Schools. Notices were sent home with all the students in every school in the area to remind parents of what can happen. In addition, the school my grandkids go to has arranged for adult supervision in the schoolyard after school every day, not just at lunch and recess as is currently in place. The same policemen who had spoken to the kids the day of the incident were at the school the next day as the students were being let out - just to show a police presence I think. It's gratifying to know that these incidents are taken seriously. Our kids didn't realize what a big deal it was until the next day when they were talked to by so many concerned adults. Even their TaiKwonDo Master took them aside when they went to class after school and talked to them about it. They are being picked up every day after school now and have always been driven to school. Still no word about the guy who was responsible for the incident. We're just thankful the kids are safe.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Close Call

It was a very upsetting time for us late yesterday afternoon.  Two of our grandchildren and their friend (aged 7 and 8) were accosted by a man wearing a ski mask on their way home from school.  This creep was hanging around their school when the incident happened.  Our kids had been playing before heading home so were alone in the school yard.  The guy tried to entice them to approach him but the kids had been taught better and ran away.  He followed them as far as the driveway of their friend's home, then just walked away.  Taylor's mother called Sara to tell her what happened, then drove the kids home (2 blocks).  Sara called the police too and they came and questioned all three kids - Taylor at her home and Max and Charlie at theirs.  Although shaken, the kids gave their statements very well, and Max even thought it was cool to have the police come to talk to him.  The police left, saying they'd alert the reporters so the incident will be brought to the attention of the public - without names - and the school will also be notified.

We were very lucky this time.  It's so important that kids be warned about suspicious looking people.  It's really sad though that kids shouldn't be able to freely come and go the three blocks to school.  They'll be picked up after school from now on.   We'll be keeping an eye on them for awhile to see if they have any adverse effects from this experience - nightmares and such.  One of them was afraid to go to one of her scheduled activities last night.  It's been a reality check for all concerned.

Max and Charlie
Give your kids an extra hug today.

Friday, April 20, 2012

People Watching

I just got home (1:45 am) from picking up Sara and the kids from the airport after their stay in Arizona.  I love to sit outside the Customs doors there and watch all the people as they arrive...especially in the winter.

As I was waiting and watching, a young lady holding a tiny dog sat beside me, along with a male companion also holding the twin of the girl's dog.  I shamelessly listened as they talked.

Girl:  Just watch, when Mum sees the dogs she's going to be so excited she'll hug them before she hugs me.

Boy:  No, you're her daughter.

Then the mother came through the doors, spotted them, broke into a big grin, pointed and said to her husband, "Oh look, they've brought my babies!".  Wherupon the daughter walked up to greet her mother and her mother reached for the dogs, hugged and kissed them, while the daughter looked at the boy and said, "What did I tell you?"    She eventually got her welcome hug too.


There was another larger dog waiting for his person too.   When he came through the door, he grinned when he saw the dog but had the good sense to lean in to kiss his wife before bending down to greet the dog.  Smart man!.


I love watching people greet one another.  Some cry, some smile, some kiss, others hug, some laugh and clap, some just shake hands, some take pictures and some are coldly nonchalant. Everyone's different. I thought it was odd though when a family group came through, looked around and walked slowly toward the exit.  Then a girl who appeared to be the young woman's sister and who had obviously come to meet them, walked up to them and without a sign of greeting or welcome from any of them, they all headed to the door and out.  I guess I must have missed some secret family signal of welcome.  None of my business anyway.


I was one of the lucky ones who got hugs and kisses and shouts of  "Grammie", and toddler arms reaching out to be picked up.  That makes it worth the midnight run to the airport and back.


You know what's really funny though...seeing these Canadians arriving from Arizona in April, which is still pretty cool up here, in the same strange clothes they wear when they're down there.  I don't know how many middle aged men I saw wearing plaid shorts with mismatched patterned shirts and sandals.  This is Canada, people!  What is appropriate in the heat of Arizona just looks ridiculous up here.  I think in a lot of cases it looks rediculous in Arizona too.  Why do tourists insist on dressing so funny?  Some of the women wearing tank tops and light T-shirts stopped to pull jackets out of their suitcases.  That made sense to me.  I always figure when I'm leaving Arizona I should dress for what the weather is like at my destination...but that's just me I guess.

I wish I had the nerve to take pictures of some of the interesting people and sights in an airport at midnight but I guess that would have been a violation of privacy and if one of them read my blog and saw their picture, they might not be too happy.


Well, it's late and I've got to go to bed.  I'm glad my babies are all home safe and sound, and dressed appropriately :)


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My Daughter - the Cat Lady

I'm not even going to post a picture of my beautiful daughter, Sara, although she is featured in the title.  Right now she and her four kids are enjoying some R&R in Arizona.  I went to her house yesterday to check on her cats.

It all started with the very clever Mickey three years ago.  She's definitely the alpha cat in the house...doesn't put up with nonsense from the younger ones, likes to spend all her time outside catching mice and birds and bringing them to the door.  She looks cross in this picture because she wants to go out again and I won't let her because I have to leave.  I let her out yesterday and she didn't come in when the others did, so I left her out.  Lloyd and I drove over to the house around 10 last night to see if she had returned - no sign of her.  So I went back this morning and she was sleeping on a chair on the back deck, none the worse for wear for having spent the night outside.  I opened the door to let her in.  She stuck her nose in the door and caught sight of the other three cats and ran off.  She did come back later though and by the time I had to leave, all four were in the house.  Poor Mickey.  She's still my favorite.

Then Percey joined the family.  He's the only boy in the bunch - a beautiful blue point Balanise.  He's fat and lazy though and loves to be brushed and petted.  He has the most beautiful blue eyes doesn't he.  He tolerates the playfulness of the two younger cats but doesn't seem to be too interested in playing with them. That's the newest cat scratching on the post in the background.

As if two cats weren't enough, for Christmas Sara bought the kids sweet little Jinx.  She was white at Christmas but over the next few months her Rag Doll  markings started showing up - smudges of grey on her coat and random dark stripes on her legs and face.  She has a tail like a ringtailed lemur, and blue eyes similar to Percy's.  After an initial warming-up period Jinx has assimilated into the kid and cat life of the family. 

We all thought three cats were enough.  Then this stray started hanging around.  She would't leave and would be on the deck when the family got up in the morning and seemed to think she lived there.  Of course Sara took pity on her and invited her to join the family, after the kids put 'found cat' posters up in the neighbourhood and no one came forward to claim her.  Her eyes are a striking shade of almost-orange.  It appeared that the fur along her spine has been scraped off.  That happens to cats up here in the winter sometimes.  When they find themselves outside in the cold, they'll crawl up under the car into the hood where the engine keeps them warm.  Then when someone starts the car, they get a quick and painful shave.  Newby seems to have survived her close call all right.  (I call her Newby because I'm not sure of the name Sara may have given her and because she's the New cat). 

 I texted Sara today to tell her she may have gotten more than she bargained for in this new cat.  See that big tummy.  It's firm but lumpy to touch and seems to be harboring some passengers.  I'm pretty sure there'll be a litter of kittens in the not too distant future!  Hopefully Sara will be able to find good homes for them after they get here.  She's a very sweet cat and likes lots of attention but the other cats don't seem to like her much.  It'll take her awhile to get accepted into the pack. 

Newby and Jinx drinking water out of the planter.

Sara is definitely the cat lady of our family.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Snowy Day Food

It snowed all day yesterday.  Yes, I know it's the middle of April!  It was snowing when I woke up in the morning and still snowing when I went to bed.  When I got up this morning, it was still snowing!  It has stopped now but it's still a grey cold kind of day.

We didn't leave the house yesterday.  Lloyd has been sick for a few days and doesn't have much of an appetite so I decided to make a pot of chicken noodle soup for dinner.  I went on Pinterest and found a slow cooker version of the soup so put it on early in the day and the house smelled like soup cooking all day - lovely.  It was a super easy recipe and super good, so I'll be sure to make it again.

It's a lovely thick soup.  I made it in my 4 L inset of my slow cooker and there's plenty left for the two of us to have for dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow.  Or I could freeze some of it for later.

To go with it to finish off the meal, I went to Pinterest again and found a biscuit recipe which was a delicious accompanient to the soup, served warm with butter melting on them.  (I know my British friends call cookies biscuits, but this is probably what they refer to as scones.)

We ventured out today for an ice cream treat and are now snug and warm in our house once again.  Hopefully spring will be here to stay in a few days.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Four Barns and a Church

We saw some interesting old buildings on during our trip to British Columbia last weekend.  I wish I knew their history, but I'm sure we can make up stories to go along with these pictures.  Lets give it a go.

We stopped for gas across the street from this church in one of the small towns in the Crowsnest Pass between Alberta and British Columbia.  At first glance it looks like a regular church, except that it isn't white.  Then I noticed the blue sign on the side of it...Blackbird Coffee Shop...So the question is - is it still used as a church on Sundays and a coffee shop during the week, or has the population of this town all left this church for another one, or have they built another one they like better, or has religion just died a slow death there before the church was used up???  Who knows.  Maybe the coffee shop sign on the side was advertising a popular shop down the street a bit, the church's way of making money by allowing advertisers to share space on their building.  The presence of the crosses on the roof seems to indicate that it is still a place of worship.  We may never know.  Did you notice the fancy looking lanterns visible through that first window?  Interesting. 

When we finally made it safely through the Kootenay Pass we spotted these alpine outbuildings looking all weathered and rustic.  I suppose the one with the peaked roof could have been a house when the homesteaders first settled there, with the barn nearby.  Or these could just be two outbuildings of a large ranching enterprise used when the owners were too far away from the main house to get home safely at night.

Across the road and down a few miles from the last area, I spotted this building, which I'm inclined to think is an old farm house because of the two small doors and the windows.  Maybe the steep peak of the roof was built to mimic the shape of the surrounding mountains.  The corral looks like it may still be used for their animals.  Who knows.  It looks pretty deserted.

These two buildings, above and below, stand across the road from each other in Oliver, BC, where Mary and her family lives.  They have fascinated me from the first time I saw them four years ago.  The yellow signs on the barn (there is one on the other side of the house too) indicate that these are hazardous places, not to be trespassed on, and the lack of graffiti would indicate that those signs have been obeyed.  There is some historical signifigance to this property relating to the early settlers of the valley and I believe they are going to be restored at some date.  They look pretty ramshackle right now.  As far as I can tell, the building above is the barn and the one below would be the farm house.    There is a rather beautiful large home farther down on the property - maybe it houses a remnant of the family that built and used the house and barn in these pictures.  I went on line to check it out but couldn't find anything about them.  Don't you just love a good mystery!

And that's my house/barn/church tour for today.  Have a good one.


Monday, April 9, 2012

The Last Day

We're getting ready to head home today - the long drive through the mountains.  It's been a fun trip - great to spend time with Mary and Greg and the kids.

We had a quiet time yesterday.  Layla was up at 2 am with her flashlight looking for Easter eggs!  After she found a few she was persuaded to go back to bed.  After Lloyd and I got there, she and Baron hid a bunch of their eggs so that we could find them - so cute.

I love making soap bubbles so I brought the kids a giant bubble blower each to play with.  It was a lovely windy day so they didn't have to exert much energy at all to have glorious big rainbow colored bubbles flying around.  The pup went nuts trying to catch them, only to have them disappear when he tried to clamp his teeth around them.  Lots of fun for them all.

Baron tried to blow the bubbles until he realized that he just had to hold the bubble wand up and let the wind catch it and do all the work.

It's interesting to see the shapes they take before becoming the perfectly round bubbles we're familiar with.

Maizie got her exercise jumping at the bubbles - very frustrating for her not to be able to catch them
Then the kids started chasing the bubbles Lloyd generated.

Everything's a competition to Baron so he declared himself the winner for catching the most bubbles, but nobody was counting!

 Later we took Maizie for a walk at an off-leash area where she was free to run and play to her heart's content.  She's a well behaved dog though and always came running back to her family and sitting nicely when we met other people who stopped to chat and admire her awesomeness.

All in all, it was a lovely way to spend a quiet day.  And now I have to finish packing up to head home.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Busy Day in Osoyoos, Oliver and Penticton

Since we just have 2 full days with the kids in Oliver, we packed a lot of fun and adventure into our first day.  Since Greg had to work at the golf course that he and Mary manage, Lloyd and I picked up Mary, Baron and Layla in the morning and headed out.

Our first stop was a bird sanctuary not far from their home.

Mary, Baron and Layla on the boardwalk
 It was a lovely, peaceful place.  Although we heard many birdsongs, we didn't see any birds.

 Except for these two pink jacketed females of the MacKenzie species.

When we came to the observation tower, we climbed the stairs and looked out the windows.  Layla and Baron were the first ones up and leaned out to see me and have their picture taken.

From up there we finally spotted the one and only bird we saw - a bald eagle in the water quite a distance from the tower.  Thanks to a zoom lens I was able to get this picture of him, and his reflection in the water.

Then, following the water theme, we visited the first of three or four lakes in the area.  The first was a called Green Lake.  It really was a remarkable and beautiful shade of green.

We were driving up some low rounded mountains which framed the valley, following beautiful twisty roads to get to these lakes.    The Okanaghan is really the most beautiful valley I've ever seen.

We walked through the brush to the next lake.

This one is unofficially known as Purple Lake.  Because of a particular bacterial strain in the water, there's a layer of water slightly beneath the surface that is a deep purple color.  The water is high right now so the purple layer wasn't as obvious as it usually is.  The shore of the lake consists of sticky thick white sand-like ground...kind of weird feeling.

Even the rocks along the shoreline were coated in the dried and solidified version of the white gooey soil.

Another view along the road we were beautiful.

In a field along the way we spotted this interesting looking car for sale.  It only has three tires - the one tire in the front is placed dead center.  Must make for easy cornering, but I think it'd make the car feel slightly unbalanced.  I wonder how much the owner wanted for it.

The third lake is one of two lakes called White Lake.  Can you guess why???

It was fenced off and unapproachable.  I don't know why the lakes in this valley have such interesting colors.  Mary also told us that half an hour further on there's a Yellow Lake, and another lake with large spots in it.  Strange.  We'll have to see those another day.  As we headed toward Penticton for lunch, we passed the large, beautiful, popular Skaha Lake.  We stopped at a lookout where I took this picture of the  far shore of the lake, and it's reflection in the water.  It's hard to tell where reality ends and the reflection begins.  The water was so still and smooth today.

Then back to Mary's place again where the new Mastiff pup, Maizie, was waiting for us.  She's a sweet dog, if a trifle enthusiastic in her puppiness.  Very friendly and sweet.

Greg was home from work by the time we got back, so we all headed back to the golf course for an early evening game - except for me - I just went to take pictures.

Mary and Layla are cute in their matching jackets and pink golf bags.

Baron (3 years old) is very serious about his golfing - he even takes lessons.  He tires quickly though and ended up just hitting a couple of balls each hole.  He has his own clubs too, a gift from Papa last year.

And Layla looks like a junior pro out there.  She can actually hit the ball quite a distance.  She'll be a serious golfer one day.

And see, that's cactus growing in the rough on the golf course.  There's quite a lot of it there.  The Osoyoos area is in Canada's desert so it's only natural that we have desert plants here - surprizing, but natural.

The Bournes on the golf course.

The kids fought over who would ride with Papa, so it was settled by having both of them ride with him.  He's a very popular grandfather.

I spotted these guests on the 7th hole.  The rest of the herd - about 5 more - were grazing in the brush. They tolerated my presence for a little while before they got spooked and ran off.  Beautiful animals.

And now it's time for bed to be rested up for tomorrow's excitement.

Happy Easter everyone.