Posted by: Valerie | January 6, 2013

Snow and ice and everything nice.

So, it’s the first day of 2013 (or it was when I began writing, now it`s the fifth). Seemed like a good day to write my first blog of the year.

I don’t think I’ll review last year. It was fairly dull and uninteresting except of course for the birth of my wee granddaughter, Dahlia. /’/’: (Oops! Cat just strolled across my keyboard.) I haven’t seen her since she was two days old so I am looking forward to seeing how she has grown and changed. She must be six weeks by now. Can`t wait to spend some time with Deklin either.  We will likely celebrate Russian Orthodox Christmas with a trip to see the Ottawa family as there are still a lot of presents in the corner of my living room. None of us is Russian or, for that matter, orthodox in any sense of the word but the timing is suitable.

Our own Christmas passed quietly with just a pleasant visit from Duncan, our neighbour. We amused ourselves with M. Hulot’s Holiday which is a real gem of a movie. We laughed and laughed.  Then off to Toronto at the weekend (horrible trip) for some noisy fun with Joe’s son, Stephen and his family.  We were eleven in a small space but it all worked out and we were well fed and entertained. Stephen’s 17-year-old twin daughters are beautiful and talented. Hope is into photography and graphic arts and Patience is going to study music at Uni and entertained us with her brand new saxophone. Lovely. Still waiting to see your photographs, Hope!

With the passing of Christmas and New Year, I find myself in need of some way of cleansing all the musical junk from my brain. I have got Anne Murray and Bette Midler firmly lodged there. I have no idea how they got there as that is definitely not my kind of music! Begone, ladies. Get the hell out of my head. I think I’d better work on squeezing them out with more acceptable stuff. Now, what would be the best Murray/Midler antidote? Some good blues alternating with some exquisite Beethoven would do nicely. A Pink Floyd concert on the telly last night was a help. I still love that stuff!

Shall I make some NY resolutions? Shall I resolve to lose weight? Tried that before – didn’t work- probably because I can’t stick to anything longer than a couple of weeks. Shall I resolve to walk 10,000 steps a day? Fat chance when I spend much of the day hunched over my keyboard. I know, maybe I will dig out my art supplies and have a go at drawing again. Whatever, I’m tired of knitting socks, gloves and baby blankies. I do however have a book that requires some attention – called Knit Your Own Cat. Got to try it, don’t you think?

My friend Janice Gray is about to depart to Cairo for her annual volunteering jaunt. Clever planning to go from January to March or April. The weather will be pretty well perfect. Weather is on my mind right now as it is minus 20C at the moment and somehow the house just isn’t warm enough although the furnace is doing its best.  Anyway, I really look forward to hearing how things are in Cairo and Janice writes wonderful reports. There is a photograph of her in Tahrir Square waving a flag after Mubarak stood down.  I can hardly believe it’s ten years since I was in Egypt. Christmas Day at Abu Simbel – you can’t beat that, believe me! I will always be grateful to my kids for making it possible for me to go to Egypt. I am really happy that I kept a detailed journal of the trip. I found it recently and spent a pleasant hour reliving many details that I had forgotten.

Joe and I haven’t really been anywhere since Hungary in 2011 and I am definitely getting twitchy.  We will have to put our heads together and examine the possibilities. The trouble with having such a far flung family is that visits to the kids necessarily are “trips” and sometimes that takes the place of more exotic ventures. Of course PEI is a delightful place to visit (Richard) and the Rockies are not too shabby either (Anna, sister Sue and brother Robin)!   I love to go abroad but that is becoming more problematical. Joe will be 80 this year and although perfectly healthy, he is diabetic and both factors really slam up the price of travel medical insurance to more than the price of an airline ticket!

Our little town is looking up! In early December, the Art Gallery put on an excellent fund-raiser that they called “Wine, Women and Song” and that was indeed what it was. Two excellent women performers, one a chubby blues singer and the other a really talented saxophone/clarinetist made it a great evening, washed down with plenty of wine.  We were both able to indulge in the wine as we now live close enough to walk to town. It was a fine night and we strolled down our hill, crossed the river via the footbridge and there we were – bingo! (Actually bingo is what generally happens in that particular venue!) Of course we were later faced with the reverse journey. Full of wine, we trudged back up our hill which is so much steeper than on the way down.

Before my time, Joe and his wife, Pam, had some Scottish friends who had a lovely house right up in the trees overlooking a beautiful lake.  They had bought the house in the summer, not realising that they would be in very serious trouble come winter. Their vehicle could only climb the hill so far. Beyond that point, they had to slog up through knee-deep white stuff, clinging to ropes. Apparently they did have a snowmobile but they didn’t like it! Groceries were transported in backpacks. These were elderly folk too. Eventually they sold up and went back to Scotland where the weather is a different kind of horrible. 

It was expected. Our local winter version of Darwinism has started. On New Year’s Eve some drunken kids drove a Jeep onto a lake. The ice was not thick enough and it fell through, drowning all four kids.  Sadly, we are no longer surprised by this, or the skidoo-ers that also drown or wrap themselves around trees. I do feel for the poor sods who have to try to rescue them or pull out the bodies.  We have equivalent boating accidents in summer – nearly always booze related, of course – and in the autumn they get to shoot each other in the woods.  So stupid! It does clean out the gene pool somewhat but around these parts, a simple stroll around town demonstrates the inbreeding.

Bancroft really is a small town. The population for the whole region is still under 4,000  and like so many small towns, it is aging.  The town was first settled in the 1850s by Irish settlers taking up an offer of free land. Logging has always been important and still is. Some loggers still use horses in the bush in the winter. In the 50s there was a boom in uranium mining which lasted until the 80s, I think. There is a lot of unemployment since a large wood processing plant closed down and now the town relies on retirees, tourism and service industries.  There are maybe a dozen family names that appear everywhere – including the food bank, as Joe and I discovered when we were volunteering there. But on the flip side we have a very strong arts community which gives rise to interesting arts and crafts and we have an actual live theatre which was originally the local jail. We don’t have a cinema although we do occasionally get some “art” films at the theatre.  All in all, it is a pretty good and a very pretty place to live. Come and join us – or at least come and visit us.

I have a little problem in the meantime: I proudly put big fat Christmas ornaments on a tree in our front yard and they looked great during the season. Unfortunately our neighbours will have to enjoy the season until about April because the snow is now so deep that I can`t get there to take them down! Ho-hum – so it goes…








  1. Lucky neighbours. I would enjoy it if I could see it. So pretty.

  2. What an interesting life you lead Val. And how delightfully you write about it.

    • Thank you so much, Elizabeth. It’s great to get comments.

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