Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas with the Alway's - the Dogs



The Alway hounds really enjoyd Mom's present to them - rawhide bones.

Christmas with the Alway's - the Cats

This tabby cat is resting on Mom's Christmas pillow present. He really appreciates hand work.


This is a bug jar. No real bugs were harmed for the entertainment of these cats.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

This is one of my favourite evenings all year. The longest night is past, the lights are lit, the tree is sparkling and the best food of the holiday is still ahead. Here in the Yukon a gentle snow has started to fall whch is just the icing on the cake for me. Joy to you all, eat and make merry.

Friday, December 18, 2009

"Erase"

I realized today when I was writing to someone for a new copy of something I'd deleted that the word 'erase' has fallen from my vocabulary. Delete has now almost compeltly replaced the synonamous erase... A teacher told me recently that children aren't even taught how to write in school now, only to print. Signs of age on my birthday...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas Reading

When I was a child my father read the Lord of the Rings every Christmas. Each year he found something new. My own ambitions are shorter, perhaps indicative of the rushed pace of our modern world. The last few years I've read and re-read Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising sequence. Each of the five novellas are part of the same imaginary world, and each has at least one character from the other. The setting is an idealized England sometime in the early 1960s. THe books fall in that category of what used to be called Junior Fiction; the step between children's picture books and adult fiction. The joy of them to me is the immidate transportation into the world of the children who are the protaganists, I am with them as they adventure and discover with the collusion of a few of the in the know adults.


What do you read at Christmas?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Proposition Parka

For some reason the new to me parka I picked up at a yard sale this spring is a bit of a magnet for the gentlemen of Whitehorse. Last weekend I was at a quilting retreat with my dear husband. We were late leaving and he was bringing out some of the last boxes. I saw a pair of legs and called out; "honey did you bring all the boxes?" When the person attached to the legs came into view I realized at once my error; "You're not my husband". His reply? "You wanna give it a whirl?"

Then on Thursday I was walking along Main Street and stopped to wait for the light to change. The fellow waiting for the light beside me glanced over and asked; "can I buy to a beer" while nodding at the Town and Mountain lounge. I laughed and politely refused.

There is something about that parka I tell you...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bohemian Waxwings


One of the wonderful things about late fall (really early winter) here in Yukon is when the bohemian waxwings descend on a tree near you and beak off about how amazing the berries are. Within moments the tree is stripped of berries and the birds are off. They arrived in our yard yesterday. For photo purposes it would be nice if the sun would come out, but it hasn't for weeks. Hence a dimly grey world.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mom's Here!

My mom arrived this afternoon on the Jazz flight. It was early for only the second time ever in my memory. In her honour we cooked a turkey and had fabulous gravy. As for the rest of the week, we have big plans!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

H1N1 Flu Shot

I decided that I'd go along with the crowd and got the flu shot. Well today I feel like death warmed over. With my luck I'll probably get the damn flu anyway before the stupid shot gets a chance to kick in. I wish that there was a little more information about how crappy you feel after the shot. Of course not everyone feels crappy, some lucky people just have a sore arm. "They" don't even track how many people feel crappy so there's no way for "Them" to say if that is what happens to everyone who gets the shot. Sigh.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Backyard Progress


We've had strangely warm weather this fall. Freakish even. The grass is still green. That is a first in my memory.

The upside is that the ground thawed enough for Chris to finish off the last garden bed and fill it with earth. This means that in the spring we'll be ready to plant our veggies in the 3 new garden beds. We, Chris and I, have big plans for the veggies we want to plant.

It just started to snow when I took the photo, but trust me the grass is still green under that snow. The dog fence proved somewhat ineffective. Walker pulled a Houdini on me last week. I'm still not sure how he got out of the rest of the yard, I did figure out how he got out of the dog yard. He simply bullied his way out through one of the ill plugged gaps. We've since remedied that and he's bashed his big head against the fence to no avail. Success!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

willow fence, dastardly dogs and migrating swans


Today we had to beef up the willow fence because the dogs were not at all deterred by it and walked right through to do their business on the lawn. Sigh. After another day of weaving willow they are trapped in their yard, as we intended.

Come the spring we plan to plant raspberries and sweet peas along the fence.

As we've been working swans have been flying by on their way south. Chris called to one flock which circled around to see who was talking. They are so beautiful in flight.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Living Willow Fence



For years we've been talking about building a living willow fence in the backyard to keep the dogs in their part of the yard. After the massive undertaking to strip and relay the bones of the back yard we finally had the conditions in place. Today we collected lots of long straight willow from our area and started the fence. We ran out of willow and energy, but really do want to get it done before winter sets in too hard.

The other photo is our cat, Mruphy about a story and a half up a tree about to leap onto our roof.

Aniversary Sweater


So, I mentioned in an earlier post that the traditional gift for the 7th anniversary is WOOL. Yes, WOOL. This was very rewarding for both of us. We bought a new wool blanket for our bed made in Canada with Saltspring Island wool. We got socks, hats, raw fleece and roving. Well, the raw fleece and roving is really for me as I enjoy making it into yarn and things.

Once I figured out the gravity of the 7th anniversary to a wool loving woman I decided that Chris really deserved another sweater. Due to the boyfriend sweater curse and a certain amount of laziness and lack of follow through, Chris has only ever recieved one sweater from me. He has been asking for a handspun hand knit sweater for som time. Less than a month after our anniversary it was complete. Here it is:

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Got to Get Me Moose Boy

The boys are off in the Yukon wilderness getting this year's moose. I hope. It was all a little dubious when I saw the amount of food and booze. I think they are going to hole up in the cabin eating and drinking. We did manage to eat almost all of our third of last year's moose. We also gave some to friends so I wasn't just us being extreme carnivores.

In other news the old, deaf dog has turned into a bit of a Houdini. I'm not sure how he did it but yesterday he got out of the yard - he was wating for me when I got back and I'd never have known but for the telephone call asking me to come and get the nice black lab that was on a neigbour's deck looking for food. Today my neighbours saw me cycling on 2nd ave and waved me down to say Walker (the old deaf dog) was out and about in the 'hood again. I'd swear that he opened the gate himself, or had someone help him... I've rolled a bolder in front of one gate and the other gate has a huge plank in front of it now. He was still in the yard when I got back from work. Here's hoping.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Boot Camp

Dude. Have you ever done boot camp? Yesterday was boot camp, today was interval core challenge. I am so tired and worn out it isn't funny. We recently decided that fitness related expenses are money no object kinda things. That means that we don't look at how much it costs, just whether it works. Over the summer we did an outdoor version of boot camp in the elementary school playground. That was a blast! This time as winter closes in on us we are indoors. If you've never tried it, do. It will kick your butt.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Saltspring Kayak

We are back to the daily grind now, but thinking back on our trip in idle moments is wonderful. I'd never kayaked before, neither had the dear husband. The first 2 days were about getting sorted out, the last day we were able to relax and enjoy. I was a courageous soul and swam 3 times during the trip. It was refreshing to say the least.

We journeyed around the island, making little side hops including Wallace Island Provincial Park . I am so used to the vast wilderness in the Yukon, it was strange to me to be camping where I could hear other campers snores and whispers.

It was also great to see our friends again and kayak with them. Photos will be posted!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Saltspring Island

What a lovely part of the world. Sigh. I am so happy to be here with my beloved. Where should I start? I'm so happy that I paid extra to reserve a spot on the 2pm ferry from Tsawwassen. It was way more relaxing knowing that we had a spot on the ferry. The 'sailing wait' for a vehicle was not a happy sign.The BC Ferries website is a bit confusing, but not bad. The ferry ride was short and interesting. Met Kevin who told some stories about Saltspring.

When we got into Ganges (the main town on Saltspring) we parked at the schoold and wandered around town. There's an arts exhibit on in Ganges for another few weeks at the heritage hall. They have everything from art to wear (fabulous felted confections) to fine art paintings and dioramas.

That night we crashed on a friend's mom's lawn (ok, septic field) and were pretty comfy anticipating the next morning's Saturday Market. That was so much fun! The food, Oh the food! I can't even tell you the joy... sigh.

I've been fighting a night cough so Chris thought it would be best to find a roof to go over our heads. The local tourist info folks were most obliging and found us Emily's Cottage, Ken is our wonderful gardener host here.

Emily's Cottage is just around the corner from Sunset Farm where we found wool to satisfy my need and Christopher's desire for a touque. They also have fabulous Queen sized wool blankets made with wool from their farm. When you pull up to the farm you are greeted by two very plump pygmie goats.

Let us not forget the vineyars. There are 3 of them on the island now. Saltspring Vineyards, Gary Oaks and Mistaken Identity. We visited them all yesterday. Wonderful wines, wonderful vintners (people), wonderful locations.

Today the rain has been on and off this morning. Who knows what the day will bring?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

7th Anniversary Traditional Gift? Wool!

So, the 7th year of our marriage is around the corner and I discovered only a few weeks ago that the traditional gift is WOOL!!! I'm just a bit of a fibre freak, wool being a particular faviourite of mine. Dear Husband has been asking for a hand spun, hand knit sweater for a number of years now. Galvanized by the knowledge of our upcoming anniversary and the traditional gifting I searched through my stash and came up with some lovely dark blue yarn that has some depth due to other colour highlights. but there wasn't enough. I still had the information from the vendor and emailed her. She found more of the lovely wool in her stash/store and sold it to me. Thanks to Paypal and Canada Post the stuff was in my hands less than five days later. It is almost all yarn now and I should have enough to make the sweater planned ("Cobblestone" designed by JAred Flood).

I've got the sleeves knit and a chunk of the body... deadline looms...

Monday, August 17, 2009

More on the yard


We contracted with a really nice local fellow who has his own dump truck and bob cat to do the work on the yard - here's a portrait of the dump truck.

Progress Indeed!




After the yard was stripped of the over burden - ratty lawn, poplar suckers, cobbles, gravel and sundry dog do it took a long 12 hour day to get it all trucked away. My father in law Bruce, made the coolest barn style doors for our carport/garage so that a small bobcat can get through to the back yard.

Then road grade textile was laid down and 3 dump truck loads of 'crush' was brought in and spread around.

Our upload speed is criminally slow due to traffic throttling by Northwestel so I can't post as many photos as we have.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Progress is Being Made


For many years the DH (dear husband) and I have had a plan for the backyard. One of the wonderful things about our relationship is that we have a very similar design ethic and perspective on the purpose of things. Thank-God. I can't imagine how awful it would be to love a man and attempt to live with him and his hunting trophies. Equally, I've never understood how a woman could impose a floral decorating scheme in the marital bedroom, assuming her husband is straight.

Anyway, for all these years we've tried to pick away at it with no success. Yesterday all the trees and sod were stripped and piled, today, the pile is being taken away. Already it looks better. It is flat now. Next step is to put down road grade geotextile to deter the poplar trees from coming up in the lawn, which will be put in next.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Got Lucky! Haines Alaska Fair

Chris and I were at the Haines Souteast Alaska State Fair over the weekend and in addition to enjoying the fair and the food I caught a fish! Finally, after a year of no fish. We ate it last night and it was good.

I also got a really nice piece of art, a multi-media piece with real sea wrack. I know it's real because the cats tried to eat it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Fish Camp

It is an annual ritual of Yukon first nations peoples to go to their fish camps on the Yukon River and net salmon. Last year my dear husband went to a number of fish camps for his work. This year he is visiting and helping out at May's fish camp. May is his favourite elder and a real sweat heart. I went down for only an over night and helped out a little bit with the whole fish smoking and drying. May's first language is Northern Tutchone, not English. To be able to interact with May I had to really tune my ears and put myself in her shoes. Entirely new converations would be started quitely and accelerate rapidly into fascinatingly brief stories of life on the Yukon River.

May said to me, as she was slicing a large slamon into stips; "Tourist would get off here, and run into town... when steamboats ran". And that was the story. All of it. i was left on my own to imagine how fast, how hard, how hard those tourists would run to get into Carmacks. Even my own husband begins to tell stories this way. "Japanese tourist ate Chinook eggs like candy. Last year they stopped at the camp and May told them with hand motions that the eggs were food". My imagination fills in the details.

Hot! Hot! Hot!

No complaints from me. Every time I feel slightly warm, I drink more water and reminisce about the -45 degree weather of this past winter. Mind you, I will be sleeping in the basement this evening as the sheets sticking to me is an unfamiliar feeling and kept me awake last eve.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Atlin

We're off to the Atlin Arts and Music fest this weekend. I'm really looking forward to it. Check out who's there: http://www.atlinfestival.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=8&Itemid=8

Monday, July 6, 2009

Haines Alaska

We have just returned from a wonderful 'mini break' to Haines Alaska. The weather was fabulous and this time for the first time we brought our canoe! I'd decided that if the canoe didn't get used this year we should sell it. It was wonderful to have and paddle on Chilkoot Lake. Ever since I first saw that lake I've wanted to paddle it. Each morning it is still as glass. You can see little concentric ripples caused by the tiny fish fry as they come to the surface to devour unlucky bugs. It is just like being in a picture post card as bald eagles cry, salmon jump and mergansers shepherd their young. As I always say, I'll post photos when I can.

The fishing was the pits sadly. Not one nibble. Except Christoper. He caught himself. That was fun and dramatic. He managed to sink one of the barbed hooks of a trebble hooked lure into the flesh of his right arm. He sank it past the barbs, which meant it had to go through the other side to come out. He was more embarassed than hurt, although his capacity for embarassment seems rather large ... After much frantic searching I found a pair of wire cutters in the truck's tool box and proceeded to cut the barbs off the other two hooks. Then Chris says; 'don't watch'. Well, hell, I couldn't help but watch and hold the skin as he pushed the hook through. Then I had to cut the barbed tip off so he could pull it back out. All that drama and surprisingly little blood. After it was all said and done, two small puncture wounds and a bandaid was all that was needed. Along with a bit of restorative elixyr.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Bicycle Felting Machine

I've been on a 'use it up' kick for some time now. I am far too often sucked into 'retail therapy' and I've been trying in the last few years to stem the tide. I revist my stash regularly to remind myself of the beautifl fabric, fibre, yarn and notions I already posess. The other effort here is to free up space for more new to me fibre, fabric and notions. I've got a plan to go to the Olds Alberta fibre fest next year. I decided i couldn't go this year because I still have an entire fleece untouched from last time. Well, lets be honest, a fleece and a half a kid mohair fleece.

Now, on the upside I turned some decade old handspun Manx Loughtan yan into a lovely warm cardigan. I've created a sheet of fabric using a friends knitting machine that used hardly any yarn. There's the rub, I've made very little headway into the fibre stash. Hence, the bicycle felting machine. So far results are mixed. That has to do with the learning curve I'm sure. Also, the fibre I'm attempting to felt is a lucious Romney with lovely open locks, not the best for felting. I think with work it will result in a lofty soft felt. Chris' idea was to use it as a quilting bat. Extrapolating that I may try to cut it into pieces and quilt it to a cotton backing for a fibre stylin' jacket.

Stay tuned for photos.

Dragon Hunters

It's a cartoon from someone who has done a LOT of hallucinigens. The coolest part is that teh top heavy male hearo figure is obsessed with kntting. You see his mom taught him just before she was sizzled by the world gobbler dragon. Furthermore, he is highly invested in the idea of a farm, with sheep for the wool. The hero Lian Chu is voiced by Forest Whittaker. The dog,Hector, has to be my favourite character. Somehow he 'spits' fire, although not from his mouth...If you like works of teh imagination, check it out from your local video store.

Monday, June 22, 2009

June the Unbroken Promise

June is my favourite month. All the promises of summer remain as yet unfulfilled and unbroken. The days get longer, not shorter. There are still new things popping up in the garden, not dying off. All thats good and great about summer is still anticipated, not over. It is a time of starting, not ending. And yet, you are still in summer, it is all around you happening. I just love that. Once we pass the equinox I start getting just a little sad because I know that for the next 6 months the days are only going to get shorter until that ultimate dark, drear day in December when it turns around again.

Sliding downhill into Winter we are now.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Tandem

My beautiful bike friday was actually my second choice. My first choice was a tandem for me and my sweetie. Unfortunately, when we found some tandem's to try out we discovered that our riding styles were incompatible. I'd be pumping from the back yelling; "faster faster!" and Chris would be putting on the brakes. I still dream about having a tandem, but must work on Chris first so that we can both enjoy it, or the tandem won't get on the road. Sigh. If you are interested in tandem's check out Co-motion Cycles, they had our favourite tandem that we test rode.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Kluane Mountain Bluegrass Festival

What a great weekend. The tickets had to be bought in December they are so popular. For good reason. We forgot the camera, so no photos will ever show up. The best part was that we took a crash dance lesson and had a great time at the dance on Saturday night. Of all the bands Spring Creek was my fav. The 'killing song' of Caleb Mayer raises goose bumps. They also have an amazing website. http://www.springcreekbluegrassband.com/ Bluegrass. Who knew?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Lost Dogs

On our walk today we acquired another dog. A lovely black lab husky cross was running accross the road and was interested enough in our dogs that I was able to get him on a lead. He walked with us for the whole millenium trail and is waiting in my backyard for his people to call. He is such a sweet dog, nice to the cats, puppies and people he met on our walk. He is even nuetered. I really hope his people call.... Strange that he has a collar but no dog licence or id tag. Sigh.

Friday, June 5, 2009

June buggin

The garden is amazing! I was rather upset to discover that around 7 of my 12 asiatic lily bulbs were eaten by rodents over the winter. The past winter was so cold that the cats hardly went outside at all. Hence, rodentia ate my plants!

On a positive note I fashioned a 'water feature' out of an old garbage can, a piece of galvenized chain and a length of copper pipe. All left overs from our lives here in Whitehorse. the garbage can was made redundant by the city's institution of a new curbside program that includes municpal compost bins and garbage bins that can only be picked up by a special lift on the garbage truck. The galvanized chain was one of Chris' aquisitions, which he asserts had a use at the time. The copper pipe was left over from the plumbing of our bathroom 5 years ago. I nabbed a piece of papyrus from the pond at work, which if the cats stop eating might reach a decent size. We did have to buy a pump.

Photos, as always, when I can.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Canadians Do It Well

Being away makes me think about what Canada and Canadians do well. Beer. We do good beer. Potatoes, clean washrooms with toilet paper. Clean generally. Botanical gardens - that we get from the British heritage I'm sure. Disabled access we do well. I'll never forget the train stations in Sicily that had 'disabled access' which meant a stairwell with a lift. The lift being locked with a rusty chain and padlock.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Rome to Whitehorse

I've done it! Made it back to work and completed a whole day a mere $#@$# hours after leaving Rome. I think I'm going to go lie down now.

What do Canadians do well? Clean. We do clean.

Monday, May 18, 2009

First Class Pods

This last flight we were accomodated in the newest first class innovation; the pod. Lord only knows what ungainly moniker the airline has attached to these types of seats. If you watched Quantum of Solace (latest James Bond adventure) you would have seen them, they fold out flat and look like little personalized space capsules. photos later.

The cutest part was that we couldn't be seated next to each other due to the seating design, so I visited Chris regularly. One of the other passengers thought we were on our honeymoon! :-)

Toronto Maple Leaf Lounge

I must say that first class travel agrees with me. We remain confused by the whole customs process which seemed designed to wear us down rather than clear us for acceptance on Canadian soil. Some how the airport authorities haven't grasped the fact that folks arriving on international flights are unlikely to have a twoonie handy to PAY FOR the luggage carts. An enterprising couple who did have a cart created a sort of train with her pushing his wheel chair and him pushing the luggage cart (obviously either very forward thinking or domestic travellers with the requisite twoonie).

The vast white halls of this airport still disoritent me, if not for teh enormous herd of people I would likely have missed the exit and wandered aimlessly in the white featureless expanse until subdued by taser...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Packing

The only nice thing about packing is the pleasant surprise if finding enough Euros for a nice last meal in Rome. Send us prayers for sanity and luck (to get it all in the bags).

Tomorrow the airport.... at 5am... Luciano the taxi driver has been contacted...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Rome

The night train was a bit of a schmozzle. I hadn't realized a few things when I booked, like the fact that the train didn't terminate in Rome Termini and that the 2 person compartment would be 2 coffins stacked and there'd be no baggage slot, let alone car.

I have begun to realize that as the folks here say; 'not possible' is rather a state of being at times. Little sleep was had, but despite this we arrived safely in Rome, found Termini, found our hostel, ran into a fellow tourist we'd seen in Sicily a few times, saw Ostia Antica, ate lunch, drank coffee and watched people.

Tomorrow, who knows?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Internet issues

We are still alive, just can't find internet. Things are fine, I'll try and post again before we leave Italy.

Events: Syracusa, lovely. Met up with Maria and Elleo had a lovely time.
Modica also lovely enjoyed walking the town that is set into a steep valley. Many stairs.

Tomorrow back on the train headed for Rome. We will be staying at the Funny Palace in Rome for 2 nights then flying back to Canada.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Faschist Fish!

We had a wonderful 5 hour tour around Ustica Island yesterday. Our guide took us to all the grottoes and pointed out areas of interest. He was obviously very sad we could not learn all about the fabulous island he loves as we have no Italian and even less Sicilian.

After circumnavigating the island we fished in three small coves. I was satisfied with the one fish I caught in the first hour, as was Chris. but this was not good enough! We must have more fish, or at least use up the bait. After sitting off the mouth of the port for what felt like 2 hours we finally succeed in using up the bait and had amassed a small number of fish in our bucket. We were all exhausted by the effort. And the 2 Canadians were a little crispy. Gentle Readers, do not think it was not a good time, it was. It was also just a trifle long. Afterwards we fell exhausted into a nap that was terminated by outrageous ringing from the Salvador Dali decorated church just outside our balcony. We still have no idea what the purpose of the celebration was, but bells were required.

Today Chris will work while I circumnaviate the island by bike. All 12km of it... A major effort is required. Perhaps even a mountain will be scaled, or a swim in the Azure waters....

Other notable events of the day? Chris had his hair cut. I would learn to slow down to this breakneck pace eventually I am sure.

I almost forgot about the cat man of the port. When we were waiting for our guide to procure rod and reel we watched the fishermen futz with their nets. One in particular had the avid attention of untold pairs of cat eyes. We could not understand it as other cats in town seemed quite skittish. Then of course we grasped the meaning - he likes cats and feeds them pieces of fish from his net. When I saw him in town later I was surprised to see no cats following him. I had expected a pied piper of ustica situation but with cats instead of rats....

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Ustica Hotel Clelia

I am very happy that we opted for the half board option. That means breakfast and super are included with the room. The cook is not skinny and her cooking is just fabulous. I have never trusted skinny cooks, only the plump ones are any good at what they do! The cook is the same woman who helped arrange our fishing excursion for this morning and she helped us order last eve. she put together a special plate of mixed starters. Then I opted for the fish egg pasta (fabulous), Chris had the shrimp pasta (also fabulous) and we shared a second of jumbo shrimp grilled to perfection. They were so good I got goose bumps.

this little town on Ustica is just our speed = slow. Thank God there are less of those slow food snails here though, as they were really starting to freak me out. they are on EVERYTHING!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

End of the Cycling Tour

The posts are a bit out of order as internet connections are sporadic. A quick post about our cycling Italian Angels Angelo and James . Our final day of cycling was a very long one made longer by poor directions from our tour company.

Suffice to say if we had not been <> by the angels of Italian cycling we would be dried crusty things on the side of the road somewhere between Tri Fontana and Selinute. All day we had trouble, getting lost a number of times, and we were lost again when this pack of cyclists slowed down to chat with us. Very quickly they discovered we were lost and took it upon themselves to guide us to our destination. Two of the pack volunteered to be our Angels, although truth be told, we did not have much choice as they quickly guided us along country roads not on our maps. As they put it, 20k this way or that, it is ok. Their skill at keeping us in line and all the drivers away was something else. A quick whistle and hand wave from Angelo was all it seemed to take and those cars slowed right down.

I will post photos of the crank brothers (as I have dubbed them) when I get a chance.

Ustica

Today we travelled from the port of Palermo to the island of Ustica. The port is something else, passenger ferries, container ships and cruise lines all docked together. Finding the little ferry to Ustica took a lot of asking around. As did buying the tickets. You can get coffee, breakfast, fresh oranges, but no ferry tickets at the port. The tickets are purchased at the office 4 blocks away. I acquired some new bruises and scrapes on my legs as I made a mad dash assisted by my bicycle through the morning traffic.

The ferry ride was peaceful and uneventful. Our arrival was a bit fraught as we tried to wait until all the traffic had left the so called ferry terminal which was actually only a worn concrete ramp into the sea.

The helpful port police (Chris thinks they were finance police) at the top of the ramp directed us towards the nameless town. We managed to find our lovely little hotel without too much asking around. The streets here are not paved with ashphalt, but rather with the local volcanic stone set in patterns that are a bit hard on the cyclist butt.

We cycled around a bit and saw some lovely scenery and a few fixer upper sorts of homes. On our return to the hotel we think we arranged to go for a guided fishing trip tomorrow... more on that after we do it.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Buseto Palizzo to Nubia


Yesterday's ride was nice and short. From the interior hills of the western part of Sicily we rode to the coastal salt flats. A highlight for me was passing through a flock of sheep. There were 4 sheep dogs who tried to make us part of the flock. The shepherd had to speak strongly to the dogs to tell them we were not sheep and to let us go. Our friend lagged behind a bit to film the flock and the dogs were not happy about that, giving him a run for his money.

A low light is that Chris gimped his knee. He managed to tough it out and get to our lovely hotel. And we hope with rest and ice it will improve. We are working on some plan B options that will not involve cycling.

Thankfully yesterday was a short day and today we are in the same location, so Chris can sun himself by the pool and rest up while we ride off to Erice.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Scopello





We were transported by a very small little taxi from our hotel in Palermo to the lovely agritourismo Tenute Plia in Scopello. The briefing for the bike trip was over shadowed by my hunger - luckily someone else was paying attention and we got written directions. The lunch was just fabulous - in fact, my mood improved so much with the good food one might have thought I was a bit manic. A hard napping session of 3.5 horus helped.

In the evening we headed into 'town' and saw the lovely wildflowers, bakery and the turning for the road to the Riserva Zingara. The bakery had these amazing 'sandwiches' made with fresh bread, tomatoes, olive oil, cheese and some green herb that are typical to the region. That and a beer completed our supper.

The next day we ate a lovely breakfast and headed off to the nature reserve. Only in Italy would the tourist shop sell perfume, nice perfume that smelled like the flowers of the nature preserve. The nature reserve was wonderful, we managed to hike almost the lenght of it before we had to head back. The winds were terrific - our friend felt as if she was going to be lifted into the air like a kite. DH and I had no such problem being such grounded folks.

The afternoon was spent with chef Tony in the kitchen of the Tenute Plia. Our hostess took us into the field to gather the artichokes, fennel, onions and fava beans that we would later turn into our meal. That was an amazing cooking class. Later that evening we were able to eat the meal we had cooked. It is hard to express in words how much we all enjoyed the experience.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Orto Botanico & Cerda

Wow - the botanical gardens here are just lovely and the citrus fruits were really fun. The royal we tried 4 oranges and we all consumed the grapefruit. Who knows whether we should have or not, but hey! They were good.

Then the adventure to the Cerda artichoke festival began. I thought we had it all worked out. The Cerda train station is 7km from the town and all uphill. Sigh. Our friends were smart and hitched a lift into town, we toughed it out and hiked. That was a rather tougher option than I thought. By the time we arrived the parade was over and things were slowing down. We were also rather foot sore and not looking forward to the return journey. We managed to procure a taxi cab of sorts that took us from Cerda to Termni Imresse where we caught a train back to Palermo a mere 5 minutes after we arrived. The walk to the festival was probably the best part of the adventure - at least the first hour. The second hour was a bit of a grind. I did managed to find the speciality of the day roasted on a grill with salt, pepper and olive oil. It was good, a nice treat, but not really worth the walk. Wait til you see the photos though. The landscape was picture postcard material.

Tomorrow, the bike trip begins!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Palermo



We arrived this morning at the Palermo train station with our million bags only slightly exhausted. We managed to get some sleep. I freaked myself out thinking I'd gotten my passport(s) stolen. Happily I was just farfing and Chris pulled my bacon out of the fry pan before I got too badly bent out of shape. I'd put the passports so deep into my little backpack that I didn't find them on the first or second check.

Anyway, my excellend friend Monica found us a van cab that agreed to take us to our hotel with all the bags for only 15E. Cheep at the price I say. The Hotel Ambasciatori is fabulous. They let us check in at 9am, thank God, as we were all feeling more than a little worse for wear. A quick shower and coffee on the fabulous top floor terrace had us all feeling much better.

We eventually wandered out in search of sustenance, which we found and enjoyed with some of the house red. At which point I mentioned that the last night of the opera was tonight. Long story short, we bought tickets, although we were almost refused on the grounds of our innapropriate apparel. We literally sprinted back to the hotel, did a quick change, and were greeted by "elegante" on our return. I would have to say that Die Tote Stadt is not that accessible when the sur titles are in Italian, the singing in German. It was very post modern in feel with a monochrome set of grey, black and white. We didn't make it past the intermission I'm afraid. It was still fabulous being in the Teatro Massimo.

On the way home we ate gelati whilst walking through what seemed to be an impromptu back alley rave - complete with dogs scavanging in the garbage. The evening ended with a glass of wine on the terrace.

Tomorrow- the gardens.

Day 2 Rome


We had a wonderful day wandering around in the gardens of one of the famous sites. We even managed to get into the museum using a slight ruse offered by our hostel host. It was extreme renassance and baroque art over load. We managed to also squeeze in a visit to the Spanish steps.

Then we were off to the Roma Termini to get our bags out of hock and catch the night train to Palermo. Everything went so smoothly we ened up cooling our jets for a hour waiting for the platform for our train to come up.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Roma!





Why did I think I'd ever be able to sleep on a flight? Well, par for the course, I didn't. Both Chris and I were too excited to sleep until we were about 45 minutes from Frankfurt. Not enough time. The coolest thing was the Lufthansa agent who met Rome bound passengers at the bottom of the stairs. Yes, stairs.

Word to the wise, if you are landing in Frankfurt go pee before you land, because it takes 20 minutes to get to the terminal. Anyway, back to the special bus for Rome bound passengers. We hopped on and realized fairly quickly that we weren't supposed to be on that bus. There was a 7:25 flight that a number of passengers were trying to get on. The coolest part was that the bus for the Rome passengers went through a special security area and passport clearance. It looked like we actually woke up the crew running the area. We got run through security, passport clearance, back on the bus whisked around the airport, chucked out on the tarmack underneath the Rome bound plane. I'd never been on the tarmack in front of an aircraft before.

Long story short, we didn't get on that flight, but on the one 3 hours later. We arrived in Rome, collected our bags, all 4 of them and realized we had a problem. We have too many bags! We managed to make it into Rome on the train - thank-god for all the exercise I've been doing in preparation or I would never have been able to heave that 60lb bag up 3 flights of stairs onto the train. On the way into Rome it occurred to me that the left luggage could be our best friend. Our faithful bike friday's are patiently waiting for us to pick them up at Roma Termini.

Got lost looking for the hostel. Found it eventually. The folks running it are great. Mabry encouraged us to take advantage of the free entrace for the Colloseum, Palatine and Forum. Some municipal celebration has lead to a free entry. We managed to trot our tired carcasses down hill and all around the fabulous sites. Photos soon.

We did take the subway the 2 stops back as we were dead on our feet. That was like being a sardine in a can, not possible to fall as other folks pressed from all sides. Luckily a short ride and with Chris as my point man, no problems getting out. We then managed to find the shoe store that Crhis bought his last Birkenstocks at when we were here 4 years ago. He bought another pair just before closing time.

We staggered into a grocery store for my favourite pop and succumed to a few other sundries. All in all the longest day I can remember in a long time. That happens when you pack 32 hours into a day...

Today Rome, tomorrow the world!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Bon Voyage


We're on our way to the Italian holiday. After a tense Saturday of packing and coputer crashes (FU Microsoft update) we had a very early morning start. The fun thing about living in the Yukon is how you end up knowing so many other Yukoners. Not just in the departure lounge in Whitehorse, but in the first class lounge in the Vancouver Airport. Yes, I did say fist class lounge. I said to my dear husband (hereinafter dh) I like that we associate with the class of people who you find in the first class lounge! ;-)

My first attempt at this post was blocked by the Airport WiFi, but was impecably spelled thanks to a fellow lounger who knew how to spell 'passepartout'. More later...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

9 Minute Commute

My best ever time from my front door to the underground parking at my office. 9 Minutes. On a bike. Yes, bike. I loved it! I have always gotten an indecent thrill from passing cars when I'm on my bike. This morning it was past thrilling, it was heart pumping JOY! My new bike friday is fast, nimble and I may be in love.

The new Terry Liberator X saddle arrived yesterday and that is what I sat on during my ride. 9 minutes isn't long enough to provide a decent test, so perhaps a longer ride is on order. First impressions? The saddle doesn't pinch my precious parts, but boy is it HARD. I know that is what some recommend, but really isn't comfort what counts to keep you on your bike?

Oh yes, 4 sleeps and counting...

Monday, April 13, 2009

4 day weekends

Sigh. If only all weekends were 4 day weekends. It is just so relaxing to have an enitre chunk of time that is 'unscripted'. Of course, it never is totally unscripted. We had a last hurrah Easter supper with the Year Without Winter folks. The last of the fall goose was cooked and eat with the required gravy.

Packing for our Italy sojourn continues. Just when I think I've decided on X, another factor comes into play. Like, for example, should I bring my running shoes. It is a bike trip, so already I've got that form of exercise, but for those stationary days, should I bring them? I just can't decide. I've already got enough sports gear to go for a run, just no shoes... If only all life's problems were so inconsequential...

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Africa Bike Gets Around


Africa really speaks to people. I notice a lot of drivers pointing me and Africa out and turning to their passengers. Other cyclists give her a second look and let me tell you she is popular with the ladies! She gets around is all I'll say... :-)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Bicycle Saddles

Judging by the huge number and variety of bike seats my problem is pretty common- I want a bike seat that is comfy and keeps my precious parts from going numb. I have yet to find one. My DH (dear husband) swears by his Spiderflex seat, I find it hideously uncomfortable. I bought some 'Moon Saddles' for us for the new Bike Fridays. They get an OK. My precious parts didn't go numb, but my ass cheeks did! OUCH.

Africa bike has a wide fairly comfy seat, but it isn't perfect either. Luckily Africa is only for short rides so the numbness doesn't go on for very long. Next up is a Terry Liberator X which I've ordered from MEC. I love their Rock Solid Guarantee - if it doesn't work, return it for your money back. Stay tuned my intrepid readers.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Bicycle Like Her Majesty

A friend loaned me her Kona Africa bike and today I rode it to work. I couldn't stop smiling! It is a nice, feel good ride. I wouldn't call it fast though. The flip side of that is you can be at a complete stand still (almost) without putting a foot down. It is a very stately ride. It does need a running start to get it going.
Check out this link for more intel; http://www.konabiketown.com/

Canadians & Weather

If it wasn't for the weather, what would we talk about? This morning it is -10. Yes, the date on this post is right. Sigh. How many days until our Italian holiday? 12. Thank God.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Morning People & My Night Owl Manifesto

Why is it that morning people, so secure in their righteousness feel it is OK to call at 8am on a Sunday? The Tyranny of the morning people must STOP. This is my night owl manifesto;
  1. call all the morning people you know at 10pm - be chipper, ask hard questions;
  2. engage morning people in challenging intellectual pursuits after 6pm;
  3. make fun of them when they can't do simple arithmetic in the evenings;
  4. invite them to parties that they can't stay at because they are too tired;
  5. serve them dinner at 9pm; and
  6. make them start work at 3pm and work until 11:30pm.
To all you night owls, implement the manifesto and take back the moral high ground! Sisters and brothers of the evening, this is the day of the REVOLUTION!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Holy $#%@#$2

Minus freaking -20 this morning. FLEE the COLD! We are tough, but holy, this is just beyond the pale.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Here's what my bike looks like all packed and ready to go. I hope to get faster with the process of putting it together. Right now it taks about 45 minutes for me to get it ready to roll...

the coolest thing is the little plaque on the side that says custom built for me...

Travel Planning

I'm one of those folks who gets a kick out of planning trips. Sometimes it is mere armchair travel, like the trip to Morocco I planned out. Other times it turns into real travel.

I tend to think the world is divided into pre-packers and day of packers. I've found out that I'm a pre-packer, I enjoy the packing as part of the trip. The weird thing is that i still get stressed about the packing, even though I am doing it days or weeks in advance. So anyway, the reason for this story is that I've already started the pile of stuff to pack for the Italian Holiday. Which is kinda cool because we are planning a 'shake down' ride on Sunday with the new bikes and all the gear we plan to pack with us to see if it fits and how much it slows us down.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Sheep Thrills

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2FX9rviEhw Check it out! Extreme Sheparding in deed...
http://siciliamo.blogspot.com/ Is a great blog - I have mined it for details and fun stuff for our upcoming cycle trip to Sicily.
I couldn't resist a ride... neither could my dog.

A distance shot of me on my new bike, testing it out on the street by our house. What you see is 'spring' in the Yukon.

Buckwheat Ski Classic

What a blast! If you havn't done it, put it on your calendar for next year. No photos yet, but soon. I was lucky enough to win a pair of skis at the awards ceremony. Must be present to win... They are a bit long, but you know what they say about gift horses.

Ah, technology

This is my second try, this time my spelling is correct!