DECORATING OUR “FOREVERMORE HOME” WITH PICTURES AND MEMORABILIA

After two and a half months getting settled in what we have come to refer to as our “Forevermore Home” (or should that be “Forevermoore”? Nah, it leaves out the “Morrans” part of our name), Gayle is finally posting about what some of our friends and neighbours have started calling “the MM Gallery.” You see, we have made 10 moves in our almost 13 years of marriage and we’ve started saying the only way we will move again is if we are taken out in coffins or to a nursing home. At ages 73 and 84, and with Ian’s not-so-good health, we are planning to stay put “forevermore.” We moved last summer half way across Canada to a downtown senior’s high-rise apartment building in Winnipeg but to a too-small apartment as that was all that was available at the time. On June 1st this year we moved “up in the world” to the penthouse floor (17th) to a bit larger apartment with a fabulous view of the city and sky. After cleaning out a rental storage area and (again) downsizing some things that we have given away to family members and the Sally Ann Thrift Shop, we have finally found room for all those pictures and memorabilia that we’ve decided we just don’t want to part with. That leaves us living in the “MM Gallery.”

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The above-pictured plaque is a feature of our hallway wall and poetically expresses our sentiments about the type of decorating we have in our Forevermore Home.

One of Gayle’s hobbies is combing used book stores for unusual books that mirror her interests. Some years ago she came across a book entitled “Decorating With Pictures” (© 1991 by Stephanie Hoppen, Clarkson Potter/Publishers, New York).

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Hoppen’s text and pictorial examples couldn’t have matched any more perfectly Gayle’s natural inclinations to decorate with lots of colour and gusto. Reading the book and looking at the many and various examples of rooms full of a “wonderful kaleidoscope of colors and textures” were a true inspiration and vindication. Now, in our Forevermore Home nothing is going to be stored away for use “some day”; we are going to use things or get rid of them. Like Hoppen, we believe “pictures are the soul of a house.” Some people may remark that our home looks “busy” or “overwhelming”; but we have persisted in celebrating those items of artwork and memorabilia that we have collected over the years. We continually delight in relishing the displays on a daily basis. How great it was, then, to read Hoppen’s statement, “I love lots of pictures. I love mixing different media and different subject matter. I love framing some identically, some differently, and I love the effect that simply regrouping or reframing a collection of pictures can have on a room. A collection of pictures takes time to amass, time to evolve, and is ever-changing as new pictures come and old ones are reframed and rehung. It is a living, growing thing but don’t be frightened by it. Use it, tame it, tailor it to your own likes and needs.”

Here are some samples of the lavishly-laden walls, shelves and windows in our apartment:

Balcony Monkey, Parrot & SombreroBalcony Southeast CornerBalcony Window View 2Balcony window viewBalcony-Calla Lily & Sunflower artBalcony-Mexican Mask, Embroidery & WeavingBedroom Music WallBedroom North WallBedroom Southeast Corner into EnsuiteBedroom-Ian and Gayle musicmaking photosDen East WallDen-Bookshelf WallDen-north wallDining Room Watercolour Peonies and Ceramic ButterliesDining Room-Artwork - Oil, Lithograph, Silkscreen, etched candles, crystal stemware and decantersHalf-bathHallway looking southHallway to Den - Macrame HangingHallway-Family baptismal photosHallway-Family photosHallway-German and Alsatian picturesHallway-Ian's book promotionsHallway-Scandanavian and Scottish greeting shelfHallway-Scottish GalleryHallway-Scottish Swords and Shields plus Horses' BrassesHallway-Wedding and Ethnic PicturesKitchen-Egg Coddlers, Swedish shelf, Austrian and Scottish pot holders, cow bellKitchen-Rosemaled Canisters and Dalarna Hest, Swedish ClothKitchen-Slovakian, Norwegian and German Plaques, Swedish Dalarna Hesten, German and Norwegian doll pot holdersLiving Room Northwest CornerLiving Room West WallLiving Room Window View and Stained GlassLiving:Dining Room Northeast Corner

The particular tastes in memorabilia that we have chosen to celebrate are as follows:

For Ian: Anything Scottish, such as swords, shields, bagpipes, kilts, tartans, crystal bells and whisky decanters; items associated with his avocation of music-making; memorabilia from his profession as a machinist, such as metalwork, coins and vintage model automobiles; reminders of his early apprenticeship as a blacksmith, such as figures of horses, horses’ brasses and smithing; animal pictures and figures.

For Gayle: Folkart of many countries, particularly the Scandinavian and North Dakota traditions to which she was exposed from childhood and the German and other European traditions she encountered in her early adult years; percussion instruments; flower displays, vases and unique flower pots; embroidered, macraméd, rosemaled and appliqued items; crystal and porcelain; handmade pottery; original oil, watercolour or acrylic paintings; lithographs and copies of medieval manuscripts; religious artwork; German wood carvings.

Jointly: Family photographs including baby and childhood photos; group photos; graduation and wedding pictures. Items from our over-two years’ living in Mexico and from our shared interest in depictions of birds from stained glass to paintings to needlework to figurines.

Perhaps these will be subjects for in-depth postings in the future.

We’ll close with the house blessing made for Gayle years ago by Pam, a dear friend.

Hallway-House Blessing Plaque

 

Touring the Royal Canadian Mint

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According to its website at mint.ca, the Royal Canadian Mint decribes its Winnipeg location as “… our high-tech, high-volume manufacturing facility. Every single Canadian circulation coin is produced here – literally billions each year. Established in 1976, the Winnipeg plant occupies a 14,864 m2 state-of-the-art facility.” Ian has a special connection to Winnipeg’s Mint since he worked in that architectularly-beautiful and important building for three years shortly after it opened.

Gayle’s editing of our next book, Ian’s second memoir entitled Came To Canada, Eh? Continuing A Scottish Immigrant’s Storyis finally back in full swing after about a three-month hiatus to pack up and move into a larger apartment in our seniors’ lifelease building in Winnipeg. Finding appropriate photos to include with a story about one of the unique jobs Ian held has proved an impossibility until today. Camera in hand,  we made a trip to Winnipeg’s Royal Canadian Mint where Ian had worked from 1977 until 1979.

Though having lived in Winnipeg twice for a total of about 22 years and often having seen the beautiful Royal Canadian Mint building from the highway, Gayle had never toured the facility. Ian hadn’t been back to the building for 37 years. What a fun tour we had yesterday!

Included below is a portion of our book’s fifth chapter which Ian calls, “Heading A Wee Bit Back East-Winnipeg, Here We Come.”

“As I wasn’t too satisfied in the job I first had in Winnipeg, I applied for and got a job in the new “money factory” that had opened in Winnipeg in 1976. I should maybe explain that the “money factory” was the Royal Canadian Mint (certainly the most impressive-looking building I’ve ever worked in). The Mint building is a large, shining triangle rising up out of the surrounding prairie with a small picturesque lake at its side populated by a flock of Canada geese and an occasional pelican or two. Whenever anyone asked me what I worked at, I would say that I made money. Actually, I worked in the die production department,  using a lathe and a milling machine to make some of the dies that were eventually used to stamp images on the coins.

(If you happen to have any 1977-1979 Canadian coins in your pocket, there’s a possibility that they were stamped with dies that I made. Incidentally, the Royal Canadian Mint also produces coins for about 75 other countries as well.)

“The public was regularly invited to take tours of the mint so they could see the process by which Canadian coins were produced. You might say that I became a bit of a ‘tourist attraction’ during those tours. No one ever commended me for making the tours a bit more colourful, but I believe I did. You see, I love to whistle and have found that whistling makes the work go faster and also makes it more interesting. So there’s me, merrily whistling along (probably a Scottish folk tune) when I overheard a commotion on the catwalk above our work station. A small crowd of tourists had stopped and were pointing down at me while commenting on the ‘happy work atmosphere.’ Well, I couldn’t ignore them, so I gave them a wee wave and a bow. From then on whenever a tour came by, I would wave at the group and give them a nice whistled tune. They could have called me the Mint’s version of one of the seven dwarfs of Snow White fame (probably “Happy”) performing “Whistle While You Work.”

“[While this book was going through its final edit in 2016, my wife/editor thought we needed to add a few photos of the mint as I didn’t have any in my photo collection. We decided to take a tour of the mint, to educate her on the minting process and help me reminisce a bit, all the while taking a few photos. This time I was an 84-year-old tour participant, listening to a guide, peering from the catwalk and straining to see the process from my wheelchair. I didn’t hear any whistling or see any workers waving; but considering that the catwalk over the working floors has been  glassed in, I’m not sure we could have heard someone whistling anyway. The tour is still interesting, though; at least for anyone curious about the minting process. We were fascinated to learn of the two-metal process that was developed for the “toonie” ($2 dollar coin) that is made of a steel ring around a brass disc. Both the “loonie” ($1 coin picturing the North American bird, the loon) and the “toonie” were introduced long after I had left the mint job.]”

Copyright © 2016, Ian Moore-Morrans

Below you can check out some of the photos Gayle took yesterday of the “Parade of Nation’s Flags”along the entrance to the Mint representing some of the 75 nations for whom the Mint produces coins; a front view of the Mint location; a view of the machine shop where Ian used to produce dies for coins; and two photos of Ian sitting on his wheelchair in the lobby where he enjoyed posing with a unique “Mountie” and an antique minting machine, as well a mint.ca website photo of some beautiful Canadian coins made right at the Royal Canadian Mint in Winnipeg.

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2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,300 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 38 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

“THE MOVE FROM HELL”

WARNING: ALL MOVING COMPANIES ARE NOT EQUAL!

LET THE CUSTOMER BEWARE!

We called it “The Move From Hell.” Okay, we didn’t literally move “from Hell” but from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, more like Paradise than Hell. Yet, our move proved to be “hellish.” In May and June 2015 we made what we sincerely hope is the last major move of our lives from Vernon, British Columbia to downtown Winnipeg, Manitoba. Two moving companies contributed to making our move less than ideal: Two Small Men With Big Hearts (TSM) in Kelowna, BC and AMS Transportation Ltd. Inc. headquartered in Dundalk, Ontario. The latter company was the most “hellish.”

In 2007, we had used TSM out of Winnipeg, Manitoba for a previous move from Winnipeg to British Columbia without a hitch. However, our circumstances were different. Eight years ago, they moved a number of already packed and stored boxes plus four small items of furniture: a cedar chest, a teak secretary desk, a captain’s chair and a teak three-drawer filing cabinet. These we had stored in Winnipeg for over two years while we were on a long-term adventure in Mexico, having sold the rest of our furniture and household goods before we took off for Mexico in 2004 in a 35-foot motorhome.

This year’s move in 2015, we had a houseful of furniture (bought when we moved back to Canada from Mexico in 2007), myriad boxes of books and all the household goods we had not downsized. We were moving from a house with two bedrooms, two full bathrooms, plus a den, a porch and garage to a one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment with the hopes of eventually moving into a two-bedroom apartment once it became available in the same seniors’ life lease apartment building. We also had to move out of our house several weeks earlier than we would have liked, would have to put our household goods into storage for about six weeks, would have to travel for about a month and then have our goods moved to an apartment which we had not yet had assigned to us, though we knew the apartment building to which we would be moving.

Ian has moved households “about a thousand” times (according to him) from Scotland to Canada and then all over Canada from east to west and back and forth. I have moved households from the US to Germany and back (with almost a year’s storage in Germany after we left) and from Wisconsin, USA to Winnipeg, Canada. This was to be Ian’s and my first “major” household move together.

I had asked a friend who had experienced a number of major moves throughout Canada over the years to recommend a moving company. After meeting with a pleasant estimator from that company, we were floored to receive an estimate of almost $13,000–way more than we had anticipated. At the time I didn’t appreciate the fact that the price included packing, storage locally for about a month, plus transportation and unloading, all by one company. That was when I decided to contact TSM, a company I knew would be less expensive and with whom we had had a good moving experience in the past.

NOW I know that I should have been much more cautious about checking out the entire process of packing, moving into storage and moving from storage halfway across the country, considering that two companies would be involved in the move, a situation I had not anticipated.

Here is a brief list of the problems we encountered:

  1. Our household goods were neither properly inventoried nor tagged. After the move was completed, TSM declared that they did not inventory items that went into storage but just labeled the boxes (usually) and delivered them to storage. They further declared that AMS always tagged and itemized the boxes and furniture when it picked them up from storage. In contrast, AMS declared that TSM should have itemized the items when they were packed. In other words, each moving company blamed the other for neglecting to tag and inventory the household goods.
  1. During the move-in on June 19th, when I noted that the movers were not leaving room to set up the bed, dining table, entertainment unit and living room couches/recliners, the driver of the AMS van declared that he had neither instructions nor tools to assemble any of the furniture that the TSM packers had unassembled. After numerous calls to both moving companies, the driver was finally instructed to see that the furniture was assembled (they only did the bed and the dining table) but I had to borrow tools from our apartment building’s maintenance man for them to use.
  1. The two local-hire personnel who were hired to unload the van and carry household items to the apartment were not always attentive and, at times, clumsy or careless. No matter what room was labeled on the boxes, about half of the time they unloaded the boxes into the wrong room.
  1. Not all the TSM-packed boxes were labeled, so it took some days after delivery to find essential belongings. Finding them in the wrong rooms only exacerbated the confusion. The worst problem was the four-day delay before the cable company could complete setup of our TV and component parts. All parts were in the living room except for the main TV cord which I eventually found in an unlabeled box under four other boxes in the bedroom.
  1. I itemized the extra money we had to pay to hire someone else to reassemble the entertainment unit and living room couches and recliners, plus replacement value for those items that were damaged or broken and the costs of long distance telephone calls to both moving companies on moving-in day. AMS refused to pay us compensation, citing a $300 deductible about which we had never been informed. TSM also denied knowing about this deductible. To their credit, TSM volunteered to pay the money we had claimed and declared they would no longer be doing business with AMS. (Donna, the estimator from TSM was very gracious and helpful to us.)

OUR RECOMMENDATIONS: In hindsight, we offer the following recommendations to anyone undertaking a major move that includes storage for a time before household goods are moved on to another address:

  1. If you can afford it, go with a major international moving company that can handle all of the tasks of moving such as packing, loading into storage, storing the goods, moving out of storage, transporting to, unloading and reassembling at the new address. That way you have one point of contact to deal with any questions or problems you might encounter during the move and will have all the information you need in writing.
  2. If you cannot afford moving with a major company, be sure that the company you do go with spells out completely that they will itemize and inventory all your household goods during packing.
  3. Be present when that moving company delivers your goods to storage and leaves the inventory at storage so that whoever picks up the goods for moving on to your destination checks that inventory as they load their van.
  4. Have contact information on the company who will be picking up the goods from storage. We were merely told that another company would be picking up the items from storage but never had anything in writing from that company until after the fact (thus we knew nothing of a deductible). However, they did call us before pick up from storage and demanded our credit card information so they could charge us $5041.95 for their part of the move before they picked up the items. (We were two provinces away from the storage unit when they called us so had no way of checking that our items were truly picked up and on the way and had no contact information about them.)
  5. If at all possible try to insure that only one franchise does the entire move. The company we booked with recommended the second company over their own franchise in Winnipeg. I wish, at that point, that we had gone to another franchise that would have completed the entire move.

Incidentally, the move cost us a total of $8,451.00, including costs for both moving companies, the storage facility and extra boxes we purchased. I had packed many boxes of books and other non-breakables prior to the packing day to reduce the packing costs. Yes, we saved around $4000 but also had a great amount of extra work, frustration and dissatisfaction as well.

For anyone who is interested in reading the entire correspondence regarding our move, I am including that herewith. I hope our warning will help anyone contemplating a similar move.  Continue reading

AN APRIL SWIM IN PARADISE

Gayle is experiencing a nostalgic evening and needing a break from visiting Ian in hospital (he is recovering well from two mini-strokes or transient aschemic attacks three days ago), preparing for a Saturday moving sale in our garage and back yard and trying to pack a few boxes a day in preparation for our move in May. (Any semblance of having a routine day has vanished for the time being, yet she feels compelled to do a long-overdue post on this blog.) We have sold our house in Vernon, British Columbia, actually move out in three weeks (on May 11th), will have our household stuff put into storage and move in with friends for about 10 days before heading east to Manitoba where we hope to settle once a life-lease apartment (for which we have been on a waiting list) comes available – hopefully by June or July. In the meantime, we plan to drive to northern Manitoba to deliver our dog, Misty, to her new parents, daughter Shirley and son-in-law Brien, visit for awhile and then head south to Winnipeg where we plan to settle. In a way it will be like coming home as that is the city in which we met and married almost 13 years ago.

Nostalgia has been brought on by our choosing to sell some of our Mexican treasures that we accumulated when we maintained a home in Mexico (November 2004-May 2007, with yearly trips back to Manitoba to retain our Canadian residency). It is now early spring here in British Columbia with tulips, magnolias, daffodils, lilacs and fruit trees in full bloom, and still the end of winter in Manitoba. In contrast our first April in Mexico was glorious with a warm, full-blown spring, as we moved from our motorhome into a rental house in Chapala Haciendas, a suburb of Chapala in the mountains of central Mexico on the shores of Lake Chapala, Mexico’s largest lake. Here we became acquainted with new types of flowering plants and trees, a much earlier and warmer spring than either of us had ever experienced and an exotic atmosphere that led to a charmed fascination with all the new experiences we were enjoying. Though Gayle got fully acquainted with Location Writing last summer, now that we think about it, the following piece was an even earlier occasion for Location Writing. Our rental house was a one-and-a-half story brick house, inside and out. We mostly lived on the front veranda and garden surrounding the swimming pool which took up most of the front lawn. You will notice that Gayle refers to Ian as “Scotty,” the name he chose to be known by during our Mexican sojourn. We will start with a slide show to illustrate her story.

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AN APRIL SWIM IN PARADISE

by Gayle Moore-Morrans

With the sun’s rays a bit deflected as the clock nears four, it is finally time for my daily rendezvous with my beloved new pool. I don my orange flowered swimsuit to contrast with the turquoise pool walls and lavish on some sunscreen. My swim shoes await me at the brick steps that surround our upstairs bathtub; but first I need to shake them out in case any wee scorpion has decided to take refugee in one of them. (Thankfully, one hasn’t.) Grabbing my sunglasses and a towel from the clothesline downstairs, I descend from the terrace to the front lawn and down the steps into the pool. Scotty, my husband, has already moved the solar blanket off the water, skimmed the water’s surface with the pool net and turned on the pump so the water is shimmering fresh and turquoise in the sunlight.

My routine begins – ten laps along the length of the pool. Not too impressive when you think the pool is only 16 feet long, but that’s all my metal-laden bones can handle. With a humerus supported inside by a titanium rod, an artificial knee and an ankle held together by plates and screws, I’m proud to be able to do that much kicking and stroking. Then its time to whip out my trusty foam noodles – one fuchsia and one chartreuse. Without them, my pool time would be shorter and much less fun. Spanish practice comes next – cientos agua (100 water) sit-ups with the noodles’ assistance. When I started five months ago I kept track of my sit-ups while counting from uno to diez (1-10) in Spanish, over and over until the counting became rote. Then I graduated to the teens – onze, doze, treze, quatorze, quince, dieseseis, etc. Now its second nature to get from uno to cien (100) and beyond.

Sit-ups done, it’s time to relax and enjoy the surroundings. Fronting the built-into-the-hill pool is a brick wall which I peer over to enjoy the panorama in front of the house. A bright red-headed-and-breasted bird sits on his usual perch on our car window where he visits with and pecks at his reflection. Then he flies to the front gate leading to our driveway, on to the bodega (gardener’s shed) and finally into one of the towering jacaranda trees lining the street. I admire those graceful trees, profuse now in all their springtime glory, blanketed with large grapelike clusters of tiny, light purple trumpet-shaped flowers, their fernlike leaves just beginning to appear.

Beyond the street our hill continues descending into a valley dotted with houses peeping out from swatches of purple from more jacarandas and the dark green of pine and fichus trees. Then the heavily wooded mountains loom at the horizon, still brown from their winter rest but beginning to show patches of green with the promise of an emerald blanket once the rainy season begins in June. Towering over the highest peak is a cluster of telecommunications towers and a clear blue sky broken only by a fading jet stream.

Now my attention turns to my immediate surroundings. Several “critters” attempt to share the pool with me. A few days ago when I first started down the pool steps, I jumped at the sight of a two-inch long scorpion floating by. He (or she) wasn’t alive, though, so I relaxed and watched it sink to the bottom of the pool. Today I decide to check the drain pail at the far end of the pool and, sure enough, “Scorpi” has been drawn into it by the action of the pump. (I ask Scotty to take it out and let it dry so we can add it to the collection of dead scorpions I’m planning to take as souvenirs to my son in Canada.) Another of my more unpleasant swimming companions is the “helicopter-wasps” who buzz around my head from time to time. I’m not sure of their scientific name, but Scotty has given them the helicopter handle because they seem to have revolving antenna on top and long legs that hang down when they are flying, resembling landing gear. (Luckily, they don’t seem to be interested in stinging me, except for the one that got caught in my towel when I was drying myself the other day. The cool water sure felt good on that sting.)

I prefer more pleasant pool companions, although they don’t seem to fare too well in the water. Lovely dragonflies flitter along above me, the occasional one getting too close to the water. As its wings get waterlogged, it struggles to free itself, just getting wetter and in danger of drowning. I come to the rescue, picking it up along with a handful of water and gently toss it to the brick edge of the pool. Its struggles lessen as it feels the solid wall beneath it, but its wings are still too waterlogged to fly. I watch to see how it is drying out and, when the drying seems to take excessively long, swim over to it and gently blow on the wings. Before long, the lovely insect seems to shake itself, flex its wings and take off for another flight. It’s not the only reckless flyer, however; before long I’ve got three other dragonflies recovering on the sides of the pool wall.

Peppy, our wee poodle, strolls down from the terrace to sniff around the pool and watch my antics. I try to coax him in for a swim, but he’s not interested. He’s joined me swimming in a lake in Canada, but I think the steps into the pool are a bit daunting for him. Or maybe he’s decided he’s just too old to swim or, like Scotty, thinks that the water is too cold.

My last daily routine includes floating around on the noodles, exercising my arms and “bicycling” with my legs while checking on the growth and beauty of the plants and trees in the yard surrounding the pool. Two fan palms on the south side provide a lovely bit of shade and an ever-interesting view of their delightful crisscross patterned trunk made from the scars of palm fronds long ago wilted and cut away. I continue to be appalled at the sloppy job the landlady’s son did while painting the pool – the turquoise paint somehow made its way over to the palm trunk, strangely colouring some of those crisscrosses. Surrounding the palms are eight-to-ten-foot tall poinsettia trees, rather scrawny now that their winter blooms have faded and most of the leaves have dropped. They’ll need severe pruning before long, having earned a bit of rest before those barren stalks again produce profuse red, pale pink or white flowers ready for another Christmas. I remember that they are native to Mexico and have a most apt name in Spanish – flor de nochebuena (Christmas Eve flower). I also love to think of the large scarlet poinsettia blooms that covered about a mile of cobble-stoned streets last December when we watched a village parade in honour of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico’s patron saint.

After the poinsettias, a number of very strange looking “skeletons” line the walk going around the south side of our house. These trees are called “frangipani” in English, but in Spanish are known as flor de mayo or mayflower trees. At present they look a bit like giant saguaro cacti with their barren arms sticking out and up, except that they don’t have spikes and their fat leafless stalks are a dull gray colour. I’ve noticed that the ends of each stalk have begun to produce a deep dull reddish and spiky growth, several of which have turned into a circlet of long green leaves with small buds in the center. Apparently, by May these buds will open into delicate, fragrant clusters of small four-petaled pink or white flowers that are often formed into leis. It’s hard to imagine that such an ugly tree will turn into a celebrated beauty in just a few short weeks.

Swimming into the southeast corner, I gaze at the fascinating banana trees. Though rather young and thus not very high yet, one of the trunks has produced a huge, full-grown dull red flower whose large top and bottom petals are slowly curling open, little by little each day. Several days ago the inside of this flower revealed small teeth-like protrusions which have been very gradually turning into larger rows of “teeth” and now today the top row has begun to look like teeny green bananas. I know they will eventually become larger hard green bananas and finally ripe light green and then softer yellow fruits. Surprisingly, the huge bunch of bananas that is finally formed doesn’t hang down as I supposed; instead, it proudly “hangs” upward, just waiting for the picking. Every few days, I ask Scotty to get the camera and record the progress of the flower as it gradually turns into fruit.

Across the cobblestone driveway on the west side of the pool, I enjoy the shade of a towering fichus tree with its huge, gnarled trunk and large, exposed upper roots surrounding several hills of ant debris and a crowded pot of peace lilies which I’m planning to divide into two pots, claiming one for my own. On either side of the fichus, vibrantly-colored bougainvillea vines climb the fence and twine their way into the trees, cascading with lush flashes of purple, violet, crimson, orange, gold, fuchsia, pink, rose and white. Several beds of brilliant, scarlet lilies complete the scene.

After an hour in the water, I’m suddenly feeling a bit cold but do another couple of laps before calling it quits. My swim completed, I climb the steps and take a seat to dry off and warm up in the fading hour of sunlight. My eyes linger on the pots of fragrant blooming rose bushes and flamboyant orange, blue and yellow tufted bird-of-paradise plants that I’ve planted along the brick path around the pool and then onto the lush potted ferns and geraniums along the terrace. This surrounding beauty captivates me anew each day. If April is this gorgeous, I anxiously await the wonders that May and June will bring to my daily dip in this Mexican paradise.

THE JOYS AND SORROWS OF A BIBLIOPHILE

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(Note: This post has been delayed over a month as Gayle had started it but has been too busy to finish it until now, three weeks later.)

March 30th, 2015 was a red-letter day for us. Above is a photo of Ian and our realtor celebrating our house sale with good British Columbia wine and some delicious hazelnut chocolates. Gayle had to take the photo so she is missing from the picture, but had her share of wine and chocolates. We have sold our house in British Columbia and will be moving back to Winnipeg, Manitoba starting in late May. The paperwork was signed March 29th by the buyers and us, with all conditions satisfied, downpayment was put into escrow and now arrangements will need to be made with lawyers, movers, lifelease managers, utility companies, etc., etc..

Besides making all the above arrangements, Gayle’s main task will be sorting and packing books. For her, going through her books is a joy, although time-consuming because she is continually tempted to start re-reading them. On the other hand, parting with books is a sorrow. As we age and prepare to down-size our household space, however, it becomes a necessary task.  We will be selling a few pieces of furniture that will not fit into an apartment. Most of our furniture and belongings will be packed by a moving company on May 11th, but Gayle insists on packing the books in the order they will go onto our teak library shelves which at present take up an entire wall, floor to ceiling in our second bedroom and a tall bookshelf in the den, not to mention three shelves of cookbooks in the kitchen and two leather baskets of music books on either side of the piano. The initial task is to cull those books which she thinks she can probably live without–a huge problem for an admitted bibliophile and book collector.

In 1996, after her late husband’s death, Gayle spent about a month going through Gus’s over-1000-book theological library in English, German and Latin and documenting it for an online theological bookseller who bought most of the collection. She also sorted through the other thousand-some volumes of books she and Gus had accumulated over 32 years of marriage, eventually selling to a local used bookstore Gus’s collection of poetry and some other books which did not interest her. That still left a pretty good-sized collection added to in 2003 by Ian’s smaller assortment of machining, how-to and Scottish-flavoured books and copies of the books we have published since 2010 kept in stock for sale locally.

Interesting the items one encounters when sorting through books. Gayle was delighted to find the only copy of “The New Puppy,” the first book she ever wrote–a primitively hand-made white paper book with torn edges and taped seams, containing eight ca.-4-by-4 inch pages, one of which is illustrated with stick figures.  She wanted to scan in that “book” before it got lost again, but that has proved too lengthy a task and has delayed this post being sent out. It will have to wait until after we get settled again.

Finally the books that survived the cull are all packed into boxes piled into a corner of the den. A narrow, six-shelved bookcase (not for sale) awaits our moving sale this weekend, laden with the books Gayle decided she will probably never have time to re-read and, should she want to, she’ll have to borrow them from a library. For sale now are a complete collection of C. P. Snow’s “Strangers and Brothers” series that include 11 volumes on fictional British academia; nine volumes of Ian Flemings’  “007 James Bond” original works in paperback dating from the late ’50s and early 60’s; 14 of Elizabeth Peters’ paperback books about Victorians Amelia Peabody and her husband, Radcliffe Emerson, on their fictional archeological digs in Egypt; Margaret Truman’s 16 mysteries set in Washington, D.C., such as Murder in the White House, Murder in the Supreme Court, etc. –  and then assortments of other books of a great variety. Gayle hopes others will want to buy them at low cost and get as much enjoyment out of them as she has had. We are sure she is going to have some separation anxiety as the books go out our garage door on Saturday. Such is the life of a bibliophile.