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December 27, 2007

Holiday Delights

Snowman-Dec24.jpgI heard Vancouver had snow on Christmas Day! We’ve certainly had a beautiful white Christmas here… I made this snowman on Christmas Eve, but our gorgeous powder is so icily dry, that I had to carve this fellow out of the snowbank Richard has been building up with the bobcat every time he plows the driveway. Yesterday, when I got back from a hike through the woods and dusted the falling snow off him, I discovered some creature had bitten off his carrot nose! Among the photos that follow you’ll see a couple featuring animal tracks – but no sightings other than llamas so far.

I’ve enjoyed the snow even more the past couple of days, because of Richard’s gift to me this year: snowshoes! Our soft powder isn’t much support, so in heavy drifts I still sink almost as deep as if I were in my boots, but these babies have crampons that help me keep my balance as I clamber blindly with my eye to the camera in search of the perfect photo, and in the shallower snow beneath the trees, I was able to hike along almost effortlessly. My last snowshoeing experience was during a mountain survival course in grade seven, and our shoes were the traditional giant teardrop-shaped cane things. No comparison to my new Elektras. They’re really easy to put on, even over my –20 boots, and they have a suspension that allows your foot to bend as it normally does when you walk. So no more wading knee deep through the snow for me!

XmasDinner.jpgOn Christmas Day Richard cooked us a gorgeous turkey (which he de-boned in advance to make stock as usual) and all the trimmings, and there’s still half a bird in the fridge. We also found time to visit Wildlights, rearrange some more furniture, watch several holiday movies, and plan my other present, my bedroom closet, which will soon have IKEA shelves, rods, pant hangers, sock bins and maybe even shoe racks…. You’ve no idea how exciting that is—that closet has been a cavernous catch-all fit only for spiders for two years. Next time we head to the coast, we’ll go shopping.

Now we’re preparing for guests arriving Saturday. We’re especially happy because last year’s guests were the Olson twins and Adrienne, giving Dagny a lift; this year it’s Ben and Adrienne Olson, celebrating their first New Years as a married couple, and Chris & Dagny celebrating the one-year anniversary of falling in love at last year’s party. Brings a big smile to our faces. (What will also bring smiles is seeing the monogrammed sweaters Marlene, the twins’ mom, made for our four dear friends: they read A, B, C and D. Did my blog give you the idea, Marlene?) And Richard will be feeding us as decadently as last year. I will really enjoy the prime rib after a week of eating turkey. Now I have to go clean up all the sawdust and tools from the electrical work Richard finished in the basement, so we can spend New Years Eve playing pool. We might do a bonfire, but if the weather is anything like last night, up the hill at a co-worker’s outdoor open house, we won’t last long, particularly our Vancouverite friends in their wimpy winter gear. I’ll have to fix us a vat of hot chocolate and mulled apple (and a little Irish cream or rum for extra warmth). Hopefully we’re all over our colds by then, so we can spend some time playing in the snow!

However you ring in the New Year, I hope you have a great night. We’ll be thinking of you.

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Posted by anita at 6:42 PM

December 22, 2007

Wishing You a Merry Christmas

Tree3.jpgWhat a beautiful morning to start our holidays! It is snowing and blowing out there, smoothing out the edges on the three inches of old snow that was still on the ground. It’s no longer snowing at the airport, so the weather report isn’t very reliable, which it gives me hope we’ll have a winter wonderland for Christmas yet. I’m looking forward to a long walk with the camera later when the wind stops gusting.

As I write this, wonderful smells are coming from the kitchen, where chef Richard is doing early preparations for holiday feasting. In addition to Christmas Eve and Christmas day dinner, he has written up menus for the 29th through the 1st, when Chris, Dagny, Ben and Adrienne will join us for New Years. Right now he’s making a vat of chili for lunches. Lots of great food, but a minimum of baking. I’ve decided to forego the gingerbread this year. Richard will make his Almond Roca, which is quite enough decadence for me!

What I’ve really enjoyed over the past couple of weeks has been my holiday decorating. I add a few little things to my collection of ornaments each year, but most years I try to make at least some things myself. This year, because of the pine beetle, I collected a huge bag of cones, and went maybe just a teeny bit overboard decorating with them. The following photos are from last week as I was just getting warmed up! And then we got our tree, and I decided since it was short, that it was going to be overpowered in the usual corner by our ugly metal shelving holding the tv etc. I was just going to change the tree’s location to the other side near my office door, but Richard had the brainwave to adjust the metal shelving to half the height. We hadn’t been using it fully anyway. And what a difference! Richard will tell you I must have been suppressing some rage that afternoon, because I took the unit apart with a rubber mallet while he was trying to take a nap. Clong, clong, clang, bang… But he agrees that the result having the unit at half height and better organized is much more attractive, and then he put it in the corner, so we can really appreciate the tree. Now if I could just find space elsewhere for the jumble of things that didn’t go back on the shelving. Two days ‘til Christmas and the living room is still a mess! And there’s the pile of metal on my table. But Richard didn’t have to work today after all, so we’ll get it done. And it is still merrily snowing.

Richard and I want to wish you all a merry, warm and cozy Christmas. We’ll be thinking of you. All the best for 2008 – health, prosperity, happiness and love. The carols say it best, so I’ll sing it again: Love and joy come to you, and to you your wassail too. Cheers!

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Posted by anita at 9:40 AM

Just In Time for Christmas Dinner

Dec17-MicroOvnRng.jpgThis busy week started out with a quick visit from Jason. He came up here for a heating job, but at the end of the day Monday when we were about to put our feet up on the coffee table, he got Richard motivated to do a quick and dirty (very dirty) installation: our over-the-range microwave convection oven. The box in our entry hall had become the new catch-all spot coming in the front door, sitting there for 3 months after a similar delay getting the thing; but with Jason’s expertise it didn’t take the guys long to plot out the ventilation, install the fan and get the oven in place. Jason was a little perturbed by my hovering with the camera, but I couldn’t resist documenting yet again. Richard still has to install the vent duct, which of course means that with less than 72 hours until he serves up the Christmas Eve ham, my dining room table is hidden beneath a pile of razor sharp bits of metal. But it’s in, and isn’t it shiny! More than makes up for the sawdust I had to clean off everything when they’d finished.

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Posted by anita at 12:09 AM

December 21, 2007

Who Needs Reindeer...

...when you have llamas! It felt like an early Christmas present yesterday afternoon, as I was standing at my kitchen window doing a few dishes. I saw a reddish-brown creature grazing at my fenceline and couldn't believe my eyes. Got on the phone to the neighbour, and sure enough, they've just arrived - not one but two, tame and friendly, long-lashed, foul-breathed beautiful llamas. And if you follow my blog or visit us in person, you know that llamavision goes both ways. Just now I spotted the all-brown one at the fence as I stood at my back door, and it instantly spotted me, too. And perked up its ears. I went out alone to meet them yesterday, not sure the reception I would get, but once I got close and tossed a carrot, it was mere seconds before the alpha female was eating out of my hand. (And not letting the other one have a single carrot, though it was happy with alfalfa.) I'm so thrilled, I had to share. Llamavision returns! And just in time for our guests arriving on the 29th for New Years. Yay!

Posted by anita at 11:19 AM

December 13, 2007

Tannenbaum

Dec07-Tannenbaum.jpgWinter is whiter this year. I'm in mourning for our lodgepole pines, half of which have been felled, and of those still standing most are a sickly shade of rust. This beautiful young one in our yard is already infected. It looks just like the faithful pine in the song, green against the white. But in the spring it will fall with the rest. Inside, waiting for spring, I have seedlings of white pine, a memorial to my great uncle Toby. Hopefully they can thrive where the lodgepole has not. For now, we're taking the time to appreciate the beauty of these trees, and the last of their cones are a part of all my holiday decorations this year. I would welcome 30 days at -30, if it would save the rest of these trees. But as usual, it's warming up again after a week of cold, and this snow will be replaced by grey skies and brown muck for a bit before we get another cold snap. I'm wishing for a white Christmas - white and green.

Posted by anita at 9:43 AM