They came, he barked, they went away

I’m sitting out on the deck this morning with my coffee, where it’s warm in the sun but still cool in the shade.

Sam is sitting out on the dock looking serene and peaceful, sniffing the breeze, watching the fish jump and keeping an eye on the boat launch in the campground next door.

 This is what he wants me to think, anyway. What he’s really doing is lying in wait for unsuspecting canoeists and kayakers to glide by.

When he sees them coming, he’ll lay down on his belly like a cat in the grass, and when he judges the time just right, up he’ll leap in a frenzy of barking. “Oh, look, a puppy,” the paddlers always say, unfazed. But Sam is never disappointed.

As they continue on their way, he sits back down, content, his mission successfully completed.

Following the Lilacs North

The Collins’ are back in the Land of the Midnight Sun!

Last year we followed the unfurling leaves north, but this year we left a couple of weeks later, and so it was the lilacs we followed. Back home in Salmon Arm the lilacs were long finished, but by the time we got to Smithers, two easy days of driving, they were in full glory and I got to enjoy them again. Now, here in Whitehorse, the buds are all closed up tight and won’t open for another couple of weeks.  I look forward to enjoying their sweet-spicy aroma for a third time at the end of June.

new leaves

We didn’t miss the arrival of the Yukon spring entirely, though…we got here just in time to see the last of the leaves unfurl on the shores of Fox Lake.

new leaves2

Let the summer begin!

Mount Lorne hockey heroes

For several years we lived in the Yukon bush, in an area between Carcross and Whitehorse, near what is now the Hamlet of Mount Lorne.

That’s where M played hockey on the outdoor rink. Yes, outdoor hockey in the Yukon!

But it was cold, I’m not going to kid you. Someone always had to get there early to light a fire in the big old wood stove on game days. The kids used to take their skates off between shifts on the ice and hold their frozen feet up in front of the fire. When it was really cold (-25 or so) they could only stay on the ice for about 10 minutes at a time.

During my hockey-mom years, I volunteered many hours in the concession stand, selling hot dogs and hot chocolate, bags of chips and hundreds of cups of coffee. I took my turns driving the carpool, cracking the windows against the overwhelming odour of boys and unwashed hockey gear. Eau de Hockey Bag. Those were the days.

Hockey has its downside, though. Your parents must be moderately wealthy in order to hold your head up amongst your peers. Pity the 12-year old boy who has to shop for his gear at the second-hand sports store and depend on hand-me-downs from wealthy friends.

Thank goodness, most of the families on our team shopped at Canadian Tire – as we did, for the most part. However, there was always one boy who was being fitted for the top-of-the-line brand at Hougen’s Sport Store while another was making do with duct tape and extra socks.

We were not wealthy. We made do. M wore more than his share of second hand gear.

One time, the boys went on a road trip to play a tournament in BC. M was wearing an old pair of oft-mended skates. Wouldn’t you know it; they had to break on the road trip. Rather than poor M having to sit out the tournament, the team’s two coaches took him to town and bought him a new pair. These were not the Canadian Tire, mid-priced ones we would have been able to afford. Oh no – these were Top of the Line skates. Best-skates-money-could-buy skates. Every boy’s dream skates. M was over the moon with pride and joy.  When he innocently presented me with the receipt for reimbursement, I burst into tears. There was no way I could pay it. I was angry, hurt and mortified beyond belief. Did the coaches think that we sent our son out in cheap skates because we were… cheapskates?

They were kind men. Good fathers. Great coaches. They just didn’t think –they probably had a limited selection to choose from and very little time to shop. Really, they probably just bought the first pair that fit, in a rush with a bus-load of boys waiting in the parking lot. They were heroes, really. M’s heroes.

They were kind to buy M skates and not make him sit out the game. They were kind to create a scholarship fund (which hadn’t existed before this trip) to help us out. Because what can you say when the mom is standing in the parking lot crying over a bill she can’t pay?

The very next year, the new scholarship fund bought skates for another little boy whose family couldn’t afford them. We haven’t lived in the Mount Lorne area in decades, but I know that that hastily created scholarship fund has probably helped a lot of families out when they needed it.

I never in a million years would have believed I’d move so far away from home…and a home yoga practice

I’ve been thinking lately about how we identify with place. Last year at a gathering in Whitehorse, I was introduced as being from Salmon Arm, BC. Which, I suppose, is true, since that’s where I’m living right now. I had, after all, flown in for the event.

But at time, we had only been gone from Whitehorse for one year and I still very much identified myself as a Yukoner. So when the introduction came over the sound system, I had a very visceral reaction. A little twinge of adrenaline shot into my heart and I actually caught my breath. It felt so wrong! I felt, suddenly, like an outsider, a stranger in a place that was was so dear to my heart that I could still taste the air just by thinking about it.

I still can.

I’ve been living here in the Salmon Arm area for just over two years, now. And while I definitely feel more at home now than I did at first, I still don’t know my way around very well.

Forget directions that involve the name of whatever business was previously located next to the one I’m searching for. “It’s next to where the old yoga studio was before it moved up town.”
“And where is up town, exactly?”
“At the top of the hill, by McDonalds.”
Oh.

Or how about this one: “It’s on 18th.”
(Avenue or street? West or Nortwest? I believe there are four streets that begin with the number 18 in Salmon Arm. there might be more, I’m not sure.)

When we spent a year in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, I met an elderly woman who took me under her wing a little bit. She lived in a nice little house in a nice little neighbourhood of “newer” homes in town. “Newer” meaning built in the 1950s.

“Would you like to see where I’m from?” she asked me one day.
“Is it far?” I imagined a day trip to some other small Manitoba town, maybe an hour or so away.

We got into her car and drove about six blocks to the other side of town, and parked in front of a beautiful old heritage home.
“My nephew lives here, now,” she said, pointing out the dormer window that had been her childhood bedroom.

We walked up the street and down the alley behind the house, admiring the gardens full of tomato plants, rhubarb, and peonies while she reminisced about her childhood.”I never in a million years would have believed I’d move so far away from home,” she said, sadly.

It’s funny, isn’t it, how we can live quite happily in one place and yet still yearn for another. I don’t know if I’d move back to Whitehorse. I like it here. And yet, I identify myself as a Yukoner living away.

And every time we visit the coast and I get a whiff of that salt air, I yearn to live by the ocean again.

If home is really where the heart is, then I guess one can be at home in several places at once. And that’s a good thing, eh? Because the moral of the story is that home resides within us. We carry our homes inside us like turtles carries their on the outside.

HHome Yoga Practice

There are many ways to set up a home practice. If you’re interested in having one like mine, all you need is a space big enough to roll out your mat, a few uninterrupted minutes and a place to set your laptop (or a TV with a DVD player).

I currently practice with the Dianne Bondy on-line videos and with my Rodney Yee DVDs.

Here are some links to get you started. Have fun and choose what fits your style and your body. ♥

You can enroll with Dianne Bondy at Yogasteya. You can also check out her YouTube channel. Here’s a short sample:

There’s Curvy Yoga on YouTube:

And there’s Curvygirl Yoga, too:

My Aunt Margy recommends Jane Fonda’s yoga videos, which can be found on YouTube:

Last but not least, my all-time favourite  DVDs are by Rodney Yee. Especially his Yoga for Beginners series. Here is a sample:

Trifle Dish Quilt

You must have guessed that I did some quilting during my recent 2 months visit in the Yukon, right?

Robinson Road House 3Well, of course I did…and I took some pictures, too. Enjoy!

bicycle I know what food will taste like when I get to heaven…it will taste like Dee’s trifle. So when the Moda Trifle Dish sew-along happened, I knew who I was going to make this for.

fox lake 2Each row was designed by a different Moda Bakeshop guest blogger. I found that to be a bit of a challenge…

robinson road house 4…because I had trouble getting them to all go together smoothly. I ended up adding or subtracting spacers between blocks, jigging things to get them to fit. But in the end, they did fit and I was pleased with the result.

ice cream shop 2Trifle is a sweet, old-fashioned dessert, so I decided to use sweet, old-fashioned 1930’s reproduction print fabrics, along with a variety of whites and a little bit of grey for the background. Everything came from my stash.

truck 2And speaking of sweet, old-fashioned, this truck belonged to Dee’s grandfather-in-law. Yes, this truck – the one right here in the picture! I think she’ll be surprised when she sees this photo, don’t you?

truckI added a row of decorator trim to the top edge to simulate whipped cream. Because, you know…trifle.

fox lake 3The backing is adorable! Look, it’s all baking items in lime green and bright pink! Dee is going to looooove it!!!

067Trifle Dish was hand quilted with a #10 John James needle and 40-weight ecru-coloured hand-quilting thread in a shell pattern. I did actually start to do it by machine, but then picked it all out and did it by hand instead. Crazy. I know.

train tracksI wanted the photos of this quilt to be meaningful to Dee, so some of the pictures were taken in Carcross, Yukon, where Dee’s in-laws hail from (Hi George! Hi Millie! Hi Donna & Heather!)

tutshiAnd guess what…so do mine! (Hi Cal & Norma!). Now you know it’s a small world when your good friend’s in-laws and your in-laws all come from the same place that has a population of under 300.

tiny cabinCarcross is the sweetest little teeny tiny town about an hour from Whitehorse, on the shore of the spectacular Bennett Lake. Keep going further down the South Klondike Highway and you’ll find yourself in Skagway, Alaska in about an hour.

mathew watson general storeI had some help, of course.

helpersOther pictures were taken at the Robinson Roadhouse…a historic site on the South Klondike Highway, half-way between Whitehorse and Carcross. A convenient place to stop and use the outhouse (because I take pride in knowing where all the outhouses are… Hello! Yukoner!)

Robinson Road House 2Pictures were also taken at our cabin on Fox Lake, because that is where Dee’s and my friendship takes place.

Fox LakeI mean, we’re friends wherever we are, of course. But here at Fox Lake is where the magic happens for us. Back in the day when we were full-time Yukoners, she and George used to come out on a Saturday afternoon. Dee would always bring her knitting or her sewing along, and would sit on the deck and have a good old-fashioned stitch & bitch while our guys fished off the dock or did whatever guys do together when they’re at the lake.

wild roseAll those good times were stitched into this quilt along with every delicious yummy bite of Dee’s trifle I ever ate.

hand quiltingThere ya go, Darling Dee. She’s all yours. 🙂