Friends, Family and Feasting!

I think that if you’re living in Calgary, you’re likely really happy that this has been a long weekend.  Tonight, folks are washing their work clothes and there’s the smell of steam in the air as the shirts get pressed for the coming week.  It was glorious to have that extra day.  While this weekend has seen a return of winter, it has certainly been warmed by friendship, family and feasting!

I was listening to CBC radio in the kitchen early this morning.  There was a great interview about walking, featuring explorer, Erling Kagge. It kept me happy as I drank my hot cup of coffee and prepared a nice brunchy meal for my family.

Food brings people together.  Yesterday I headed to beautiful Wendy’s home, where she has taken on a monthly gathering called Brunch with Buds. For this event, I made, for the first time, a batch of Chai french toast.  I was excited and looking forward to seeing my friends and meeting new ones.  Conversations flowed  and wove in and out of the cozy rooms.  Surrounded by art, good smells and music we were all put to ease and the stresses of the world fell away, at least for a short time.

I caught Jocelyn, mid-sentence.  But, look at that cute waffle maker!

Educator, ally, life long learner, artist and lover of live music, this is a strong woman! I Love you, Jocelyn!

Anam Kazim is a former member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta.  Here, she is posing in front of a portrait that was a collaboration of create! participants when Wendy initiated a number of classes and events in the East Village as it related to the Golden Age Club, at the time.  Artist and photographer, Michael Collette, spearheaded this collaboration.

Anam is open, warm and very articulate and presently exploring entrepreneurial pursuits, offering health and wellness solutions via natural/herbal medicine.  Anam is a strong woman.

I caught Karen Pickles in this beautiful shot.  What a driven and inspiring woman who cares for and is motivated by needs of ‘the other’.  She is another one of our circle who loves live music and is a maker.  Her mediums include film and paint, but are not limited to those.  She is the President and CEO of Stresscase and she is a strong woman!

Steven and Katrine are in deep conversation.  It might be that they are talking about Jazz, or possibly Beakerhead.  Katrine is a Geologist…that makes two Geologists in my circle of friends.  By sharing in these brunches, Wendy is giving us the opportunity to put our heads together.  I just love it!  Steven is on his way to becoming a jazz percussionist.  He inspires me.  He also has such a sense of humour.  I like that he can make me laugh so easily.  I wish I could laugh more.

I really wanted to capture a particular sensibility here, with Stephen as my subject; the hyacinth to the right, the boxes of inspirational cards and angel cards stacked on the coffee table.  Stephen is a writer and he is also one of the most incredibly supportive people I know.  His calm demeanor helps me to open up and over the years I’ve felt I can trust him with my ideas, my challenges.  He is steadfast.  I didn’t capture his blue eyes here, but he has incredible blue eyes.  Stephen is a good human being.

Suzanne Presinel looked so familiar to me, but this was our first time meeting in a situation where we could sit back and chat about ALL SORTS of topics.  We realized at some point that we’ve encountered one another at Esker programs…where Suzanne volunteers on a regular basis.  The most wonderful thing is that she is deeply entrenched in the Boomerang Bag Global Grassroots Movement, here in Calgary.  Suzanne is a strong woman.

The food….well, the food was exceptional.  That’s all I can say.  Beautiful coffee was served and the various dishes were scrumptious.  Just look at this salmon mousse and the wee chicks on this serving dish!!

Here’s a strong woman!  Lauraine has just grown to be such a special and supportive friend.  She is an amazing mother and she is a remarkable person to have in my circle.  Always helpful, she seems to fill gaps.  Lauraine is creative and like so many of us, she too, loves live music.  She inspires me to seek balance and to takes steps to simplify my life.  She is a practicing Psychologist as well as part of a high school student services team.  I can only imagine that Lauraine is likely making a huge impact on people’s lives, especially adolescent lives.  We need more like her.

I’ve met Sarah before and know her to be a generous and caring neighbour.  She loves fun and is open.  This is her friend, Kat, who I met for the first time.  I have to say that I really enjoyed our conversation and look forward to seeing her again.

And here she is….Wendy. She is the lady who made this wonderful brunch happen! Wendy is smart, funny and has a huge heart.  She works so hard.  No one works harder…but always work that makes for good and that she loves.  Wendy is a connector.  She has brought a world of people together over time.  When with Wendy, the conversation is inspiring and positive.  Despite the troubles in the world or in the community or even close to home, Wendy is one of those people who looks at a situation and asks herself, “What is it that I can do?”  She brings the positive into conversations.  She is a maker!  So much collaborative work and creation happens within our city because she makes it happen.  Teaching at the Colonel Belcher, the Central Library….working with innovators and linking up with Mount Royal…and let us NOT FORGET her amazing abilities as a creative in the kitchen.  Food just tastes way better when Wendy prepares it!  Thank you for the blessing of your friendship, Wendy.  You are such a strong woman.

I drove home feeling energized, with a whole number of conversations floating in my mind.  It was time to clean my house.  I was excited that today I would host my family for a nice hot breakfast.

Photos?  Not a one!  I guess that speaks to the fact that we were totally wrapped up in…..nope, not the food….my grandson!!  I shared Steven’s home made Valentine’s paintings with everyone and then it was all about the french toast, for Steven.

I’m grateful for my children and for Shawn and Doug.  I felt blessed.  Thank you to Cayley and Shawn for bringing our celebratory Prosecco and orange juice!  My family means the world to me.

Oh!  I DID get one photograph….QWIRKLE board!  One game under our belts!

The Clam Chowder Feast

Sidebar: To read up on how to make Rapure, see the post titled Comfort Food From the East.

Wendy Lees said it best…

“It took ages to coordinate our schedules but we finally all made it to the very inviting and interesting home of Kath for a delicious clam chowder feast, visit with Max, studio tour, and big catch up!

Along with the chowder, Kath treated us to Rappie, a traditional Acadian dish she recalled from her childhood. It’s made with shredded potatoes and fatty pork – yum! Tammy and Jas brought homemade pickles, spring flowers and a canned treat. Karen brought Red River bread she’d made, and we enjoyed Christmas baking brought all the way from Nova Scotia by Stephen made by his mom, Betty. Oh, and I didn’t get the memo about drinking at noon being OK but Lauraine brought vino from the Rockyridge growing region in Calgary’s NW.  Steven made the very same selection!

What a tasty and heartfelt meal. My only quibble with our gathering was there just wasn’t enough time to visit thoroughly with every one of these wonderful people ❤️”

I’m posting Karen’s bread recipe here.  It’s amazing! Red River Bread Photo Credit: Wendy Lees.

Red River Bread
Recipe
2 cups water
3/4 cup red river cereal
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup molasses
2 teaspoon salt
1 Teaspoon Sugar
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 package dry yeast (fast rising works great)
4 1/2 cups flour

Combine 2 cups water in pan with cereal. Boil then simmer 5 mins or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and add butter, molasses and salt. Cool completely.

Dissolve sugar in lukewarm water. Sprinkle yeast and proof for 10 minutes.

Combine yeast with cooled cereal mixture.

Using a wooden spoon mix in all of the flour to make a stiff dough.

Turn dough onto floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Form a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl, covering the whole ball with grease. Cover with wrap and let rise (can use oven to proof) for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until ball doubles in size.

Punch down dough. Turn onto floured surface and knead until smooth. Divide dough in half and shape into loaf pans. 8×4
Cover and let rise for about and hour. Then bake at 375 F. 30-35 mins.
Loaves will be golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom of the pan.
Remove from pan and let cool. Enjoy!

Tammy and Wendy, Stephen and Steven and Lauraine, brought yummy things.  I wasn’t archiving at the time,  but, my buddies were.  The following two photographs, though, were mine taken this morning. The next time you pickle, Tammy, I want to be there.  They got eaten tooo fast for a photograph!

Photo display I made, in order to acknowledge my family.

Thank you, Jas and Tammy for the springtime flowers!  So beautiful when it’s -40 outdoors.

Check out the jar of pickles in the photograph, below.  This one must be Tammy’s shot.  I’m sorry I didn’t get an image of the plate of baked goodies Stephen and Steven shared.  Oh man!  So good!

The photo journal above is a collection of photographs taken by Wendy and Tammy.  We always have so many laughs when we gather.  I’m grateful for all of you!  Being with friends and sharing conversation/food/beverages and/or live music/dancing is so life-giving.

Please take note of Max (I snapped that one), only an hour after the lunch…completely played out!

Dad Bottles Wine at Cold Creek Winery

It’s always nice to document something a little out-of-the-ordinary.  Dad has been working with Dave at Cold Creek Winery at 21 Mill Street, Frankford ever since he bought and made up his own kits out on Glen Miller Road, out Frankford-way.

I wasn’t any help at all, but enjoyed the interactions and the chat while Dad, assisted by Dave, bottled up three boxes of vino together.  Dave isn’t a real ‘technology/social media’ dude, but he offers such personalized and friendly business that he’s as busy as he needs to be!  I enjoy that, he’s an art enthusiast and a bit of a historian as well, so the stories that he shares are always colourful and entertaining.  I’ve always left having learned things, from my visits at Cold Creek and that’s awesome!

The process involves washing and rinsing bottles, filling, corking and heat-wrapping the tops.  Fantastic…and likely only took thirty minutes in total, maybe 45 because I learned about Dave’s enthusiasm for the art of artist, R. G. (Gary) Miller.  When I got home, I looked up his history and the back-story on the Mush Hole work and was saddened and captivated, all at the same time.

The image of the wooden sculpture that I’m going to post, a heron in flight, is not a completed sculpture, but was carved by Dave’s father.  It is so beautiful.

Thank you, Dave and Dad, for such a great afternoon.

Wine, of every variety, in carboys…everywhere!

IMG_0355 IMG_0356 Washing and rinsing…IMG_0361 IMG_0362 IMG_0363This gizmo vacuums the completed recipe into the bottles. IMG_0364 IMG_0366 Corker…my Dad’s a tough guy still!  Did the whole job!IMG_0367Yes!  That’s right!  A Calgary Flames jersey hanging out here in Ontario! IMG_0368 Stories abound, at this point.IMG_0371 IMG_0372 IMG_0375 IMG_0377Yup!  That would be 21 Mill Street…back in the day. IMG_0379 IMG_0380Front of the store. IMG_0382Beauty. IMG_0383Grateful…now, for a glass!

Cat Ladies and Other Good Habits

In 2007 I met one of the most gracious and fun-loving women of my life.  There was a huge context there and quite a history, but as of today, we jokingly share that we met in rehabilitation.

My readers will know that I lost my beautiful cat, Peanut Meister, this past year…well, I had to go and visit with Kirsten to get my fill of cat loving and at the same time, eat my belly full of beautiful white chocolate and berry scone!

We shared updates and laughs and took photos of Zebbie and Mitz from every angle, while sipping a home brewed latte flavoured with just a wee bit of vanilla.  YUM!  It was an awesome start to my day.  Thanks, dear Ya Ya!

DSC_2527DSC_2532

DSC_2531I am now going to wade through the kazillion photographs of these precious siblings and post a small selection here.  I also want you to notice what I was willing to do in order to capture these photo moments.  Zebbie is the one who looks somewhat like a zebra because of the markings down her back.  Mitz (not to be confused with Mitts) is a chill sort of guy…totally different demeanor as compared to his sister.  My purple winter coat became a fascination to both cats, but especially Zebbie.

First… one of the crazy cat ladies. (Because the other one doesn’t like her photograph taken. I am true to my word with people like this.)

Kath at Kirsten's 2(Anything for a picture of Mitz)

Kath at Kirstens 1Here’s the cat lady who shall remain out of photographs (for the most part).

DSC_2558And here just a couple of the little sweethearts.  It’s easy to see why cat videos and cat books are the norm these days.  They just put a smile on your face.

Mitz...and in the case that you didn't get a good look at that black marking under his chin, he will give you a better look.

Mitz…and in the case that you didn’t get a good look at that black marking under his chin, he will give you a better look.

Can you see it now?

Can you see it now?

Zebbie just loved the purple coat.

I see you.

I see you.

Oh, Go Away!

Oh, Go Away!

Intensity.

Intensity.

You're annoying me!

You’re annoying me!

We were thinking you might leave this coat behind.

We were thinking you might leave this coat behind.

I had a great morning.  Filled up with friendship, good food, good conversation and two beautiful cats, I headed home to my adoring canine, Max.  The weather was so beautiful…it was time to play!

 

I Drove Up to Didsbury…Laughed with a Friend, Drank Some Wine and Painted on a Drum

I enjoyed overlooking a beautiful garden and listening to my friend speak about magical things while I painted on a drum.  That time of year when canola fields and dramatic skies feed my soul!  I feel grateful.

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Cross-town Correspondence

Wendy and I are writing back and forth to one another by electronic mail this morning.  I’m sitting on pillows, recovering from my fall, my left arm leaning into yet another pillow as I type at the keyboard.  Wendy is recovering from serious medical interventions as of late and making me feel, as she writes about her experience with tremendous humour, that I really have nothing to complain about.  Her ‘stay’ at the hospital elicits several rants in tandem…all very poignant, if you’ve spent any time at all in hospital…but at the base of it, a consistent underlying zest for life and for observation.  Wendy can make me laugh out loud at pretty much any of life’s ‘poopy’ experiences.

From Wendy, without permission, this…and you’ll see what I mean….Food dreams ARE torturous! Counting the days until away from the hospital and really BAD food.  My awesome friends visited and brought me tea! Lifesavers!  As good as a purple blanket.  Real tea, not Red Rose in hot coffee water!

Sitting here listening to really old people snore! Thinking of a semi-private room just to get near the washroom! The Foothills is in short supply of washrooms!  All the 70/80 yr olds figure they have dibs! Younger bladders/bowels just gotta wait!!

Perhaps we can go for Ramen when I get out. There are a couple of great places in Kensington, both moderately priced and quite yummy! It would be a good lunch. Checked your food truck app lately? There are lots of other cool/inexpensive places we can meet.

Yesterday, Darren snuck me in a smoked meat sandwich at lunch and I’m afraid the results can only be described as ” food porn”. Sooooooo gooooood! He tells me he won’t post the vaguely embarrassing photos! Too intimate!

Over the holiday, Wendy’s family hosted yet another amazing feast.  Her husband, Darren, and daughter, Rebecca, never cease to amaze our ya ya group with their gourmet delights.  My photographs do not do this prime rib delight any justice at all.  Missing, is the sense of relaxation that comes with an expertly served dinner, served in courses, while good conversation is shared.  Also, there is something to be said for the proximity of the dining table to the kitchen, where the preparation happens seamlessly, sending out wafts of aroma throughout the experience.

I treasure Wendy.  I treasure her family.  I treasure this circle of friends who share the road…the sorrows and the joys, the drinks, humour, talents and feasting.  It is a wonderful thing!

All courses are aesthetically bang on!  Beautiful food.  Beautiful people.

First Course…cheese platter.

P1140344Second Course…fresh, light salad.

P1140345Rebecca provided us with warm bread.

P1140346Yes!  IT WAS THAT GOOD!

Where the magic happens…

P1140342 P1140343Main Course:

P1140348Tea is Served.

P1140353 P1140354Thank you, for your generosity.  Today, this causes me to think about how beautiful food is…flavours…and what it can do to heal the heart, especially when paired with the stories of forever-sister-friends.

Katie Ohe and Harry Kiyooka and Their Objects of Affection

Generously, Katie and Harry shared their spaces with us.  Conversations were rich and warm.  Hospitality was offered us…a group of diverse travelers from the city.  Stories were told…so many stories that connected objects to the souls of the artists.  A fabulous journey into the lives and motivation for creativity, in the sense of art practice, but also largely in the sense of a vision coming to life in the form of the Kiyooka Ohe Arts Centre.  I highly recommend that your contribution be known as funding is always challenging for the arts opportunities and they are imperative to the health of our communities.  In the spring, a group of us will be heading out to clean out scrub brush and physically labour on the property.  Let me know if you wish to join us.

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Lisecki and Remnants of a Past

Darcy Lisecki and I shared a short conversation while I pulled out my paints last evening.  He passed these two photographs over to me and likely saw my eyes light up.  He had found them tossed…garbage.  We shared a few words about that and then he gave them to me.  I’m pretty grateful.  These will be added to my treasures of a past conversation, mostly between Gordon and Eddie.

P1130257 P1130258Sunday, August 24, 1938

(Gordan’s photo, not mine)

Taken up the infant Elbow R. into Rockies from a car (Eddie’s) at nightfall. Very typical.  But here the ‘ranger road’ ie. really only for use of fire wardens in land rovers, got so rough we wondered if we’d even get back.P1130259 P1130263Eddie wading thro Bragg Creek nr. where we picknicked. (taken by Gordon)

When I asked him when he first began to make art, Darcy told me that he sold his first piece of art to his Grade four teacher.  It was a drawing of a chair in perspective.

This got me thinking about a recent project…

Love Art in Calgary: Axis Contemporary Art and The Kite Unfurls!

Director, Rob Mabee, is warm, good humoured and smart!  Stepping into the intimate world of Axis Contemporary Art Gallery is like stepping into a place of discovery.  Welcome to explore and ask questions, a person can always learn things from Rob.  As Art Central winds down in its vibrant life and its unique vision, Axis continues to open its doors and educate the public.  I am so grateful for the opportunity to share in another unique opportunity for the sake of loving art!  Thanks, Rob.

On this visit, there were a couple of things I really noticed and enjoyed.  Norah Borden’s piece, The Kite Unfurls was beautiful!  I captured a quick photo of my friend, Lauraine, in front of the piece…for me both the art and the person describe the very same thing.  Tell me if I’m wrong.

P1120952The thing is…on a Love Art in Calgary Tour, we stop midway through the tour and enjoy a lovely lunch together and given that friend, Jennifer, was not there to enjoy a La Fleur, Lauraine stepped in and shared in a celebratory martini with me at Murrieta’s this time around.  Wendy Lees strategically plans the order of our day so that we can walk to the next location.  And this weekend in Calgary, the weather was extraordinary!

P1120916Back to the art…

I enjoyed learning about Lisa Brawn’s work…her technique and subject matter.  As Rob talked about her prolific practice and the pleasure she has in carving, I felt I understood and appreciated the act of making art, through her experience.  I encourage my readers to spend some time exploring her website and reading Lisa’s blog!  Some very ‘yummy’ projects and inspirations are archived there.

P1120924Of course, I am always drawn to one painting in particular when I check out the ‘stuff’ at Axis…that being a painting by Audrey Mabee.  Conversation with Diva  is both full of fun and vibrant with colour.  I like both!

P1120922We were blessed with this time together…rich…full of conversation…and saturated with wonderful art!

P1120937The Kite Unfurls!  A tremendous celebration of art and human interest!

 

Dinner With the Ya Yas

Cour de Lion Cheese, Blue Cheese, Apricot and Jalapeno, Green Grapes

Cour de Lion Cheese, Blue Cheese, Apricot and Jalapeno, Green Grapes

 

Wonton stuffed with Mashed Potato

Wonton stuffed with Mashed Potato

It is a blessing to have dear friends to share good food and wine with.  As we gather for our Christmas feast each year, I am reminded of all of the wonderful times we have shared.  Darren, Wendy’s husband, prepared the most beautiful meal and it was served with a flare, by their daughter, Rebecca.  I have not enjoyed anything like it before.  Spectacular flavours and enjoyable conversation for an entire evening.  Welcome to your new home, Darren, Wendy and Rebecca!

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