The Blogger Who Went Missing and Can’t Stay On Topic

Tomorrow I am going to meet with friends to talk about blogging.  It is not easy to keep writing blogs over time.  Some of it might be the knowledge that if you slow down and then stop blogging you may find out no one really cares.  I recall a segment in one of Garrison Keillor’s CD’s (it was a tape when I first heard it), The Young Lutheran’s Guide to the Orchestra.   He talks about hosting a university radio program on classical music.  He took it on mostly to impress a girl he admired but had never spoken to.  He screwed up his courage and asked her, one day, if she listened to the program and she said “All the time”.  The next day the sound engineer told him there had been a transmitter problem and the show had basically not gone out over the waves for several months. And no listener had called in to ask why.  In other words, no one missed him.

Blogging, is sort of like that.  It might be fun while you do it but when you quit, well, unless you’ve got a special talent or topic or you’re a celebrity, no one misses you.  That said, I am happy to share the little I know about blogging with others who plan to use the platform for good things.  Their interest has piqued mine.  I went so far as to change the picture from a winter scene (it hasn’t been winter for months) to one that looks like Gros Morne Park in Newfoundland at this time of year.

Since I haven’t blogged for so long I need to refresh my memory of how to do things and so will end with a totally unrelated (to the topic above) series of photos.   We were on a road trip to Eastern Canada earlier this month.  We logged 5700 km in two weeks traveling and sightseeing in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.  Not long into the trip I started to take pictures of the salt and pepper shakers. Don’t ask me why.  I wish I’d thought of it one day earlier as I missed the little white Eiffel Tower set in Edmundston, NB. And so, to the seasonings of the Maritime provinces. 

And if there is anyone out there reading this, let me know.  

 

The Ups and Downs of Travel

It is a privilege, to travel for pleasure.  It’s not for everyone and not everyone can consider packing up and getting away for a while.  We travel from time to time and these are some observations about before, during and after being away:

  • Before we go away I do all manner of things unrelated to preparing to go away.  It seems I want to run myself short of packing time…and I usually do.   I do it every time we go away and cannot seem to help myself.  Any suggestions to break this very inefficient behaviour?
  • While getting ready to go I think of all the things I’d do if I stayed home.  I would clean and purge those basement shelves that have set there un-purged for a long time.    I would organize that stationery drawer and the linen closet if I stayed home.
  • If you order a salad in a restaurant and two bites in you discover a long hair is part of the repast, two things happen.  First your appetite diminishes substantially and second your meal becomes more economical as the manager “comps” it.  I’d prefer really to just pay for it and not find the hair.  
  • Audiobooks are a very good way to pass time in the car.  Providing the subject is of interest to everyone in the car.
  • When arriving in new city on a happening Friday, don’t wait till 7pm to try to find a place to eat.  It is the time when everyone else is looking to do the same thing.  Driving around from place to place doesn’t work.  

Do you have gems of travel wisdom to share with someone (me) who obviously could use them?

 

The Berkshires-A Prairie Home Companion and Cricket Creek Farm

We just returned from a week in the Berkshire Mountains, Massachusetts.  There has been a lot of rain in the area but it didn’t rain every day, all day and that was a good thing.  It’s a pretty area and there is plenty to see and do.  

A Prairie Home Companion-Tanglewood 2013

Our week ended by attending (for the second year in a row), the live radio broadcast of a Prairie Home Companion (PHC) at Tanglewood in Lenox, Mass.  It’s the 40th on air anniversary of PHC and the host Garrison Keillor and his weekly show are well-known. Well, that might be a stretch.  Let’s say they are well-known within the National Public Radio (NPR) followers and people who like music, humour, stories and a host who is a singer, humorist, author and an observer of life.   I wish we’d started attending this concert years ago and would like to attend for years to come.  While I am wishing, why not include staying longer and taking in more summer concerts at the summer home of the Boston Symphony.  The performances cover a broad range of tastes.  This year the Barenaked Ladies and Vince Gill are examples of artists who will be at Tanglewood.  

 It’s quite a spectacle.  Thousands of people stream onto the lawn around the Koussevitzky Music Shed up to two hours before the PHC performance.  They bring picnic lunches, fancy set-ups with tables and chairs and linens, wine glasses, candelabras, flags and flowers arranged in vases.  Many of the attendees have purchased lawn tickets and they sit outside as the sun sets and the show goes on.  The encores are legendary.  I heard one attendant tell someone the encores may last 1.5 to 3 hours!  The audience joins in, singing along until either they or the performers finally give in to the advancing hour.

Cricket Creek Farm, Stephentown, Mass.

Cricket Creek "working" farm
Cricket Creek “working” farm

We visited Cricket Creek Farm, where you can buy raw milk and milk products (legally available in Mass) where their beef are completely grass-fed, and the pigs feed on grass and whey and veggie compost – no grain.  Blog edit update: thank you to Topher from Cricket Creek Farm who kindly corrected my original blog on what the animals are fed.   You can buy sausage, free range eggs and chickens (you can see them ranging freely), fresh-baked goods and more.  You are welcome to explore the farm and advised to stay clear of working machinery and the various animal plops found on a farm.  

The Pigs Call This Home
The Pigs Call This Home
Cricket Creek Farm-The Store
Cricket Creek Farm-The Store

The farm has an honour store.  All the products are at hand.  You find what you want, add up the total on the calculator, put your money in the box making change as necessary and away you go.  We bought some butter (ingredients: cream), locally made blueberry spread, soap and raw cheese.  While we didn’t really check we thought it unlikely you could bring raw milk products back into Canada, so we brought them back on the inside (Of us, not the car. We ate them.).  It would be great if there was an enterprise like this closer to where we lived.  We should investigate.  

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I was raised on a farm in Saskatchewan and our neighbours provided our milk and thick cream (unpasteurized) and in turn our mother gave them eggs.  From the milk Mom made butter, buttermilk and cottage cheese.  It’s been decades since I have tasted homemade butter.  On our trip we were listening to the book “Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan.  It makes you think about what you eat, where it’s been raised and what happens to our food as it makes it way from producer to consumer.  And it’s not all that pretty, nor comforting.  

 Have you eaten raw milk and raw milk products?  Would you, if you had access to them? 

Have you been to the Berkshires and if so, what did you see and do?

Hope Springs in Palm Springs-Part I

Golf is a very difficult game, at least it is for me.  When you golf, hope springs eternal
that your game will improve by leaps and bounds.   I just returned from a week-long vacation in Palm Springs, California where three friends and I rented a home and attended a three-day golf school.  And so, hope springs in Palm Springs.  

It’s a luxury to leave winter behind and go to places that sport palm trees and temperatures that are conducive to short sleeves and golf shorts.  The last day it sported an earthquake as we sat waiting to tee off.  Tremors should not be a surprise, I suppose,  as we were spitting distance from the San Andreas fault.   

Palm Springs is a popular destination for people who want to escape cold weather. There are all manner of license plates on vehicles from out-of-state.   It appears to me the average age is on the other side of 70.  Many Hollywood stars of years gone by owned homes in Palm Springs.  We hiked and cycled past homes that were, at one time, owned by Hollywood notables such as Bob Hope, Steve McQueen, Peter Lawford and Debbie Reynolds.   Marilyn Monroe was discovered at the Charlie Farrell’s Racquet Club.   She is now represented by a 26ft tall sculpture in downtown Palm Springs.  

Marilyn Monroe statue

The weather was mixed during our stay.  It was cold, cool, warm, hot, dry and rainy, windy and calm, sometimes all in one day.  The last day it was pretty much perfect, leaving us with a great last memory.  

There are many hiking trails in the valley and into the mountains. You could spend many a day exploring the various trails.  Cycling is fairly easy in the city.  There are a number of bike trails that often share sidewalk space with pedestrians. 

A couple of pictures from a bike ride:

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A lavender lemonade at the Native Foods Cafe:

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The home we rented through Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBO) was comfortable and the owners were very accommodating.  Here’s a few pictures of where we hung our hats for a little over a week.

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And here we are by the pool.  Do you recognize me?  Have you been to Palm Springs or the area around it?  What was your experience?

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A Favourite Spot-Hastings House, Saltspring Island

On our trip to the west coast of Canada this fall we stayed at one of our all time favourite getaway locations.  It was our third visit over the past three decades.  The place is Hastings House, on Saltspring Island, B.C.

The Green House
The Green House

We have always enjoyed the Inn and its amenities.  The food is superb.  Breakfast is included in the room rate while dinner is optional.  You may be served dinner in your room by the fire if you wish.  That’s a bit decadent, isn’t it. 

The service is always friendly, courteous and professional.  You feel very pampered from check in to check out.  

The Green House
Inside The  Green House

There are a number of out buildings where you can stay as well as rooms in the Inn.  This time we stayed in the Green House.   On a previous visit we stayed in The Meadow and during that visit I sat outdoors in an adirondack chair while lambs jumped and played in the meadow just a short distance away.  My husband spent the afternoon assisting the chefs in the kitchen.  He was very happy with the experience.  I was happy to use one of their bicycles and enjoy a nice ride around the area and not assist the chefs in the kitchen.

Below are pictures of some of the buildings and the grounds.  The last two pictures are of an endive, walnut and blue cheese salad we enjoyed one evening and finally a view of the Pacific Ocean when you take a walk up the road from one of our favourite spots, Hastings House.

Do you have a favourite getaway spot?   What keeps you coming back or at least wishing you could go back?

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Hastings House
Hastings House

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Sooke Harbour House and Environs

We stayed in two lovely inns off the west coast of British Columbia last month.  The first inn was Sooke Harbour House on Vancouver Island.  The town of Sooke is about 40 kms from Victoria, B.C.  Each room in Sooke Harbour House has a view of the ocean in one way or another.  Here are pictures of some of the changing skies outside our window.

The first day of breakfast the kitchen must have thought we were twelve in the room, not two.  We had the quantity adjusted on day two.

The entrance to the Inn.

And finally a few pictures from a drive to the “Potholes” in Sooke.  Most places wouldn’t proudly refer to their potholes (in the road where they usually are), I thought.  In this case it refers to a picturesque river and swimming destination.  No swimmers on a cool showery day in October but there were some beautiful displays of fall leaves.

Barcelona-Part II

Apologies-I am trying to blog on a mobile device and it isn’t as easy to navigate as a computer. The pictures are from the hop on/hop off bus that ferries people around Barcelona. It’s a great way to get the lay of the land. Below are three more pictures that should have been in the previous blog. I pressed publish by mistake and away it went without more pictures. Below are three pictures: first-a bull-fight arena (now a shopping centre), a house designed by Barcelona’s most famous architect Gaudet, a tree-lined boulevard with a sole scooter. Lots of scooters in Barcelona.

Have you been to Spain? What was your experience?

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