Surprise visitor

BobcatLFWe’re not too sure whether this fellow had much to do with Santa’s visit to our place but boy were we surprised! We’d loaded the Jeep with food and gifts and were heading to the first stop of the day, a family breakfast. It’s our neat tradition on Christmas Day. What used to be around 6 am with small children is now 9 am with teenagers! As we passed the lane behind the house I spotted this critter just staring and watching us. A never-seen-before bobcat (a member of the lynx family) in the neighbourhood. Lois grabbed her camera and got this shot while I scrambled out, gently moved to the rear, opened the hatch door and retrieved my small camera from the pile. Bobcat sat and watched.

Bobcat1 I focused and he moved off towards our fence, leaped up and posed long enough for me to get one picture before bouncing off my white fence into the neighbour’s back yard. I raced into our yard hoping I’d get another chance. But no, he’d gone.

What a great start to the day!

That evening we
enjoyed a smaller family gathering around the dinner table. And that’s where I cajoled family and friends into trying out the Christmas plum pudding. I pulled it steaming from the warm-up pot. It dropped beautifully out of the bowl. Man, did it look and smell good. Underneath each slice I tucked a boiled and cling-wrapped loonie, a 2013 version of the small coins my mother used to mix into the pudding. Homemade ice-cream provided

Plum pudding

the final touch and we all tucked in, some more enthusiastic than others. Their reward for attempting this dessert was the loonie and the laughter we shared.

I think we agreed that my Christmas pudding would be a one off. But the nice thing is we did it.

Health and blessings as we wind out this year and face into 2014.

How silently. . .

O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

For Christ is born of Mary, and gathered all above,
While mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wondering love.
O morning stars together, proclaim the holy birth,
And praises sing to God the King, and peace to men on earth!

How silently, how silently, the wondrous Gift is giv’n;
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His Heav’n.
No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.

O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;

Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.

We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel!

A song for the season we’ve just passed through. I like this arrangement by Sarah McLachlan on her Christmas CD Wintersong.

Ready, set. . .

ChristmasRemember when as perhaps five or six year olds we were into the waitingest day of the year, when hours dragged and dragged and bed times had to come and the longest of nights endured as we waited, hoping, wishing, that Santa would lay a long expected treasure under the tree?

For me in sunny New Zealand it was getting through a hot summer’s night and looking forward to whatever the kindly gent we knew as Father Christmas might lay that special something at the foot of the bed; the agony of the wait and the thrill of that unexpected thing. In those post WWII days it might be an orange and a big new book. Further gains of the practical type would come later at the family gathering in the living room.

For 2013, the treasure lies in our extended family get togethers Christmas Eve, Christmas breakfast and Christmas dinner. We’ll enjoy the smiles and thrills as grandchildren rip apart their unexpected gifts. We’ve been through the prep, the buy, the wrap and determined the strategies. Countdown has begun. The music and songs of the season carry us through the intervening hours.

The other day, after weeks of muttering about it, we knuckled down here at out place and cooked a traditional Christmas pudding, something that has not been at our table for many a-year. Termed out of vogue by some, too rich by others, we thought it novel this year to give it a go. We steam cooked the pudding for a good six hours and it’ll get another plus two hours warmup before serving with a goodly dollop of homemade ice-cream. Mmmm! I’m having trouble waiting. Will it be as I remember the hours my mother put into the manufacture of this dessert. I’ll let you know.

Merry Christmas!

Elf has arrived

ElfThe Christmas Elf has arrived at our place. The weather has warmed from the frigids of the past week and southern sun finds it way into the corners of our living spaces. More snow will follow the flurries of the morning. Elf toils happily as she pulls her boxes from the cupboard under the stairs and the big unpack begins. She giggles and smiles to herself, lost in the world of Christmas as she carefully pulls the wrapping from each ornament, recalling the where and how it was acquired. Within the next few days these memories and symbols will be spread throughout, the lights will be up and flickering, Nativity tableaus will have their place and the tree will be adorned with homemade, handmade and friend made and given articles of the season. Elf knows the story behind each piece, many of which have travelled the globe with us over the years. These ornaments, baubles and what-have-you bring the tales and people of Christmases past into new focus as we quietly walk through this happiest of seasons. Family, friends and memories. I’m fortunate to have an Elf who finds love and laughter under the stairs every year.


imageThe graders have just been by our place and done their thing in swooping the snow piles into the kerbside following the blizzard earlier in the week.  I watched out the window as first one and then another bladed their way by our frontage. I groaned when I saw the pile of traffic-hardened snow lumps  and ice pile up in a nice hill right across the entry to the driveway. Blast, I muttered, best I get out there right away and remove before it all hardens with the cool night temperatures, or if I have to get the car out in a hurry. Swaddled in clothing fit for the -20 or so temps I started carving into the hillock with the snow shovel just as the grader returned. I stepped back and the young driver lowered his blade into the pile and with one scoop cleaned the entry for me. I’m a lucky man! In return in went down the street a bit and cleaned off the hillock where the bus stops to let people on and off.

The snow business is just one more step in the recovery this week from the Spruce Meadows Christmas Marketplace. We did well overall with Tide Cracks and Sastrugi continuing to sell well, surpassing the Finding Dermot, the new book!

People seemed to prefer the real life adventures as opposed to the fictional, even though we emphasized the settings were real. Interesting to chat with the number of people who said they did not read, those who preferred ebooks, and the number who said they did not read fiction.

My task now is to get a few characters together and see where they want to take “the next book.” Feedback from early Dermot readers is very encouraging for this first edition print run. The global print on demand and ebook second edition is currently in layout and design at the publishers.