Sunday, July 29, 2007

They've Got My Number

Gone are the quiet days where the phone refuses to intrude on my peace and serenity. That's right, they've got my number. The calls are queued up and continue non-stop. "Would you like to donate to this?," "Can we interest you in that?" Well, they've found me. This is the latest.

Me: (Phone ringing, me picking up) Hello.
Them: (silence then ever so light click) Hello, is Mr or Mrs Jones there?
Me: Sorry, you have the wrong number.
Them: (Deep sigh and then with sassy American twang) Ma'am, we might have the wrong name, but we don't have the wrong number. me...ya, you do.

Now, if I thought I could hold it together...this is really how I would like the conversation to go:

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Coming Soon... a Blog Near You:

Where in the World is Carla?

Stay tuned - Details to be announced.

Friday, July 27, 2007

House Keeping

Dear fellow bloggers, I can't believe how incredibly patient you are with me and that I haven't received more scolding. It's now been almost three weeks since "Lie Detector," and somehow I still haven't confessed. It's not that I didn't have intentions of telling you before now, but somehow life just kind of got away on me and here we are now, three weeks later.

So, the moment you've all been waiting for....drum roll please. Yes, that's right...Lie Detector revealed. Well, the truth is, that it was indeed the last statement that is not true. You know, the one about chocolate being my biggest vice. Yes, I love chocolate, but my biggest vice? Come on, how does one even measure that? A chocolate snob I would have conceded, yes. But vice? I don't even eat chocolate every day. I once had a roommate in university who needed chocolate every day, at least one bar. Ironically she was with me when I was flashed in front of that convent. Chocolate might be one of her vices, but certainly not mine. I rarely if ever touch the American stuff, too waxy and often sickly sweet. I do like the Swiss chocolate, the dark stuff preferably and it's even better if they are truffles. I did find a bar embedded with dried cherries and I quite enjoyed that. Yum. But biggest vice? I don't know. I'm going to have to ponder my vices for a bit. Perhaps that will make for another post if I get on the "confessions" train.

As for the rest, yes, indeed, I did get those Arab men to dance for me, scarves and all. I know, hard to believe, but when I was younger, I was able to convince many a people to do many a thing. The train, yep, happened right here in Nelson. How could I not get on? How often does an opportunity like that come around? The tornado? That was simply one sampling of a bizarre string of events that plagued me that entire trip. Workshops, planes, those places are fertile grounds for interesting events and misinterpretations. Life is an adventure. sometimes you just have to run with it. Chocolate, it's kind of like wine. I only take it if it's the really good stuff.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Black Forest Cake

Okay, you asked for it, or rather JBelle did. So I'll share the recipe. The only problem is that it was scooped up before I could hardly get the whipped cream a result, I am picture less on this one. So you will just have to trust me...this one is worth it...old family recipe. It's never failed us. I will, however, share a picture of this morning's breakfast. A dear friend came to visit yesterday and she had been BERRY PICKING!!! I was the recipient of a fabulous pail of wild huckleberries. Yum!

Black Forest Cake

1 21 ounce can cherry pie filling - or make your own. Throw fresh pitted cherries in a medium sized sauce pan (estimate). Add a little water and sugar to taste...stew them up. Add Kirsch, Brandy, Rum or whatever tickles your fancy or nothing at all. Thicken with cornstarch. Make sure you thicken enough, we're not making cobbler here. Yes, I know, I could be a little more precise, but this is truly how I cook. Who says you can't make art out of science?

2 1/4 C flour
1 1/2 C sugar
3/4 C unsweetened Cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 C water
1/2 C oil
1/4 C vinegar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Spread pie filling evenly over the bottom of a greased 9X13 baking pan (or two circular pans if you want to stack). In large bowl stir together all dry ingredients. In another bowl combine water, oil, vinegar and vanilla. Add liquid to the flour mixture all at once. Stir just to moisten. Pour batter evenly over cherry pie filling. Bake at 350 for 30 to 35 minutes or until cake tests done. Cool 10 minutes in pan; invert and cool. Cover with whipped cream before serving. Sprinkle with chocolate shavings if desired.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Uff Da!

Please excuse my tardiness in all things blog related these days. I have been organizing, almost single handedly, a reunion which started today. We have about 65 people in attendance, which is by no means unwieldy, but…still, there are things to do, questions to answer, activities to organize, entertainment to dream up. And I am exhausted. Will be back in a few days. Cheers.

Saturday, July 14, 2007


Here I have been touting the benefits of apricots when the reality is that in private, I’ve been glutting myself on another. Yes, that’s right, step aside apricot there is another superstar on the block who has wooed me…whose succulent sweetness is even more delicious and coveted; whose decadent charm cannot be denied; a fruit who has captivated our imaginations for centuries; and who has enriched the English language by lending itself to numerous expressions. You guessed it; I’m talking about the cherry. Isn’t life just a “bowl of cherries?” When we really want something, don’t we say, “pretty please with a cherry on top?” And haven’t we all at one point or another been guilty of “cherry picking?’

Well, the cherry and I have a long history. Cherries bring back a myriad of childhood memories. What little girl hasn’t hung a pair of cherries over her ears, creating beautifully round crimson earrings and being instantly transformed into a princess? And show me someone who doesn’t glean great delight from grabbing a handful of cherries from a bowl, sucking out all of their sweet goodness and then spitting out the pit.

But seriously, cherries are today’s hottest “super fruit.” Science is now revealing that cherries have among the highest levels of disease fighting antioxidants of all fruits. They have a rich supply of anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are more effective than vitamin C and four times more potent as an antioxidant than vitamin E. It has been compared to ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen for their anti-inflammatory action. Have gout, arthritis or even a headache? Perhaps you should be eating cherries.

A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan Integrative Medicine Program found that a cherry-enriched diet helped reduce risk factors for heart disease and metabolic syndrome, also known as insulin resistance syndrome or pre-diabetes. And…cherries are one of the few food sources of melatonin. According to Dr Russel Reiter, a nutrition researcher and one of the world’s authorities on melatonin, eating cherries might possibly be a way to boost the body’s melatonin levels to hasten sleep and fight jet lag

Back to my story: initially, I had a whole box of cherries. I had great plans of drying some and making brandied cherries with the rest (a great winter treat). But those plans were quickly left by the wayside as I started in on the box content to eat until my tongue turned purple. At the tail end, I remembered an intriguing recipe posted over at La Tartine Gourmande: Chocolate Clafoutis! Now how could one go wrong with what amounts to cherries cooked in chocolate pudding? Delicious! Now if I get another box, perhaps I'll share my easy, easy recipe for no fail Black Forest Cake.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Summer's Bounty: the Apricot

I love this time of year if for nothing else than mother nature's sweet treasures. Today's tasty treats hail from the Okanagan: the elegant apricot, one of the first signs that summer truly has arrived...not that I would be one to doubt with the little heat wave we've been having.

Several fact to confirm the apricot's status as a noble fruit: these beautifully orange coloured fruits are chalked full of beta carotene, lycopene, vitamin C and fibre. They've been known to protect against cataracts and prostate cancer. They were revered as aphrodisiacs in some cultures, and in the Hunza region (longest living and healthiest people in the world), a person's wealth was measured by how many apricot trees he owned. As early as 502, apricot seeds were used to treat tumors...they have a remarkably high amygdalin content and are a source of vitamin B17. The kernels are also often substituted in place of almonds to flavour Amaretto and the pressed oil is used for cooking or in cosmetics. (Quick side note: if you're going to try to do anything with the pits, please bake them first as the kernels can be poisonous if ingested raw in large quantities).

So what have I done with my apricots aside from eating? Give you one quick guess.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Adventure in Learning English

Conversation with an 11 year old Korean boy...

Me: How are you today?
KB: Good
Me: Well, what did you get up to?
KB: I was raking the bitch.
Me: Pardon me? You were raking the WHAT?!
KB: I was raking the bitch.
Me: Oh....okay, put you teeth together and make your lips really wide like you're going to give me a nice big smile. Now try.
KB: Eee...eee...eee.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Lie Detector

I was recently tagged by Pandave over at Odi Et Amo. The rules are as follows:

  • Post the rules before beginning
  • List eight random facts/habits about yourself and post to your blog
  • At the end of the post, choose eight people to tag and list their names
  • Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged and to read your blog

Now, because I am sooooo good at following rules, I’ve decided to throw in a little twist to make this a little more interactive. One of the things I list is going to be false. Your job is to detect the lie. These are more stories / experiences rather than facts / habits. Oh, well. Feel free to ask me any questions about any of the stories. Good luck.

  1. I once convinced a few Arab men to put on some traditional Lebanese music, pull out some scarves, and show me how the women in their country danced. At first they were a little apprehensive, but eventually they all got really into it and I think actually enjoyed themselves. I, of course, was highly entertained.
  2. Once while taking a shortcut along train tracks, a train came by. I moved to the side and waved at the conductors and then pretended to hitchhike. Much to my surprise, the train stopped and the drivers asked me where I was going. I hopped aboard and was taken to my destination. The traffic waiting on either side of the tracks was somewhat stunned when the train stopped (not a stop) and I climbed out. (As a side note, there are very few passenger trains in Canada and not a lot of stops)
  3. A number of years ago at a conference down in Vancouver, I was facilitating a workshop called “Survival Activities to Add to Your Bag of Tricks.” When I arrived at where I was to present, I noticed that there was a typo in the workshop title. It now read: “Cervical Activities to Add to Your Bag of Tricks.” Of course it provided for a great opener. The room was packed and I had to question why there were so many men in the audience. I figure that either they thought they were at a medical conference or they simply stopped in to see the demo.
  4. When I lived in Quebec City, I used to take a short cut beside a convent to get to the university. One day, right in front of the convent, I was flashed (I always found that juxtaposition quite ironic). I laughed at the guy and continued on.
  5. I used to travel a fair amount for work. One day I was on one of those aqua velvet flights to Toronto. You know, those first flights out in the morning filled with men in suits and the permeating smell of after shave. Well, a nice suit sat down beside me and he smelled goooooood. I was thinking that the fellow I was with at the time could use a new cologne. So I turned to this guy and innocently asked him what he was wearing. He gave me a cheeky smile and said, “Actually, I’m going commando.” Me, never having seen that Seinfeld episode quipped back, “That’s great, cause I sure would like to get me some of that.” I’ll leave it to you to imagine the expression on his face. (And he thought he was shocking me!)
  6. In Banff, there is a great restaurant that does a wicked fondue. While there, there was a couple at the table next to us, obviously foreigners. The person who I was with and I were having a friendly debate trying to guess what language this other couple was speaking. I said Swedish, my friend thought perhaps some Slavic language. Eventually we asked them (it was Swedish) and after a bit of discussion back and forth, we invited them to join us for a drink. After a fabulous dinner and much merry making, we asked for the bill only to be told that another customer had asked to pick up our tab and had paid our entire bill. This person was no longer there so I couldn’t even thank him and to this day I have no idea who it was.
  7. While traveling in the mid-west, I was either chasing a tornado or it was chasing me. The air became very calm and all bird chirping etc, eerily ceased. Then there was a huge siren. I had just hopped into my rental car and put the key in the ignition seconds before the alarm. Having never been exposed to such things, I initially thought that I must have triggered an alarm on the car. After pressing all the buttons and searching high and low to no avail, I pulled the key out but the alarm continued. So I hopped out of my car and walked around it wondering why the alarm was much louder outside the car. Eventually it dawned on me that “oh, this is a tornado warning.” The siren stopped soon thereafter and I started on my merry way. By this time evening was starting to fall. The rains started, cars were pulling under overpasses and stopping. I continued on, but decided it would be prudent to turn on radio. I was heading straight for the tornado. I eventually got turned around and went back until I found a decent hotel…almost at my starting point. That was enough of an adrenaline fix for me for quite awhile.
  8. My biggest vice is dark chocolate. Not the cheap stuff…good quality, usually Swiss, German or Belgium. But I recently discovered another company that does an amazing bar with dark organic chocolate and dried cherries. Mmmm….
Now, if the following would be so kind to play along, consider yourself tagged:
The Fool over at Relationalisms
Fede over at Strayed, Uncorrelated Thoughts
Jillie at Nurse Scratched
Dawn over at Colours of Dawn
Sirdar over at Sirdar Inc
Chani at Thailand Gal
Tracy at Mom the Minx
JBelle at Notes from the 'Kan Ewa

If you've already done this meme, that's fine. Anyone else who wants to play along, let me know, the more the merrier.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Behind The Walls

I make my escape into the Forbidden City leaving behind the noise and relative chaos that surrounded me in Tienanmen Square. The Imperial Palace has been the home of 24 Chinese emperors since 1420 during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Most of these emperors rarely if ever left the palace grounds. The City is 720 000 square metres (nearly 2.6 million square feet) and the walls surrounding the complex are more than 30 feet high.

I continue along the “Imperial Road” until I step forth into a huge courtyard. The stillness is deafening. Ramps lead up in four directions towards different pavilions within the city. I hear the rustle of a broom as a simply dressed woman in a charcoal grey dress rhythmically sweeps the cobblestone in the far corner. I imagine this scene wouldn’t have been much different than when China’s imperial rulers walked these grounds. The tension from Beijing’s busy streets slowly begins to roll off my shoulders as I breathe in the tranquility. I turn the corner and find a shady spot to sit and rest.

I am there for not more than a couple minutes when a teenage girl approaches me. She politely asks me if I would pose for a picture with her family. I look over to see her parents and beside them, two sweetly smiling grandmothers sitting upon a ledge. I don’t have to look hard to notice their tiny, tiny feet. Their feet have most obviously been bound. I ask the girl how old her grandmothers are. Through a series of hand gestures, (the Chinese have the most fascinating system of hand gestures for indicating numbers which comes in very handy when bartering), I surmise that the grannies are 92. Through some further gestures, I ask the girl if I could take a picture of the grannies. They are delighted.