Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas Creme Brûlée

sugar sprinkled on top....
Duncan has been asking for us to make Creme Brûlée for EVER.  

Arta tried one summer, but it was too hard to get the sugar to caramelize on tip just using the oven.  

And then, this Christmas, while on the hunt for a wooden paddle to beat fondant, I found creme brûlée kit, so under the tree it went for Duncan.  :-)
applying the heat!

He has now worked the whole thing through twice (yes, that means working with a vanilla bean, making the custard, baking it, and then caramelizing the sugar on top!)

It was the surprise hit of the holiday season.  I mean, seriously, what kid doesn't want 4 ramekins, and their own mini blowtorch!?

  


ready to eat!



Tuesday, December 24, 2013

My Christmas Sweater and Tocque

Finally, after year of waiting, i decided it was time to get a sweater! (given that we live in an area known for it knitting).  Some of you may have got the book Yetsa's Sweater from me in the past.  It is a really fun read on Cowichan knitting.  http://salishfusion.ca/product/book-yetsas-sweater/

If you don't know much about Cowichan or Coast Salish sweaters, here are a few links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cowichan_knitting

http://www.artofyarn.com/blog/index.php/tag/salish-sweater/

They are the sweaters that were part of the 2010 Olympic scandal (since the olympics crew used the cowichan designs for official sweaters, but then sent them off to be manufactured in China rather than by the Cowichan and salish knitters)

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/cowichan-tribes-reach-olympic-sweater-deal-1.830116

Typically, the sweaters are knitted using three colours of natural undyed wool (just the colour of those sheep: white, black and grey).  Lately, little shots of colour have been appearing there too!

My new sweater, knitted by May Sam

May Sam (one of the elders over at the First Peoples' House on campus) agreed to do it for me.  We talk about the possible patterns (i.e. whales, eagles).  I asked her what she was enjoying knitting these days, and she said she had just done a few sweaters with a Bear pattern that  her nephew had made for her.
my sweater, ... and kiwi looking for ball under sofa
Bingo!  Having grown up with the bear skin that my dad brought back from the north, what could be better!?   I know, I know... that would be a polar bear, vs. a brown or black bear (more local to here), but those of you 'in the know' would know that the guy who mounted the polar bear skin did not have the mould of a polar bear head handy, so instead used a plaster cast for a black bear, creating an odd hybrid!   All that to say, bears are in my blood, so it was a perfect choice!  
the matching 'bear' tocque
I also ordered a matching tocque...and she said she would put a pompom on top.  Most of the Cowichan hats have some litre doodad on top, so that seemed fine with me.  But I never anticipated that the pompom would be so gorgeous!   It is some magical swirling of the three natural colours of wool, and is about the size of a lime.  wow.
now THIS is a pom-pom!

May says she teaches a workshop on pompom making.  I think i might have to sign up!

Anyways, it arrived on Steve and my anniversary (27 years?!), so it was a perfect gift to myself.
  
Here are some photos of me modelling it!  Note the bear paw prints on the front.  Given all the writing I have done about nursing mothers, I find it absolutely amusing to refer to this as my 'bear-breasted-sweater'

My 'Bear-Breasted' sweater!


Monday, December 23, 2013

Eyes and Ear(ring)s

The students in the Inuit Law and Film (Legal Theory Workshop) class once again produced a really rich variety of final projects. I was warned by one member of the class (Brittany Goud) that her proposed project would require my active participation.  I agreed that I would be willing to give it (whatever it was...she was closed-mouthed about it).
laying out the materials

I have now participated!  I also took a few photos along the way to capture the 'installation/participation art' nature of it. 

What Brittany had delivered to my office was a lovely pink box with instructions on the front (to go to a webpage and start watching before opening the box). I cheated and opened the box first, but I still could not figure out what would be required from a visual glance at the box or contents alone.


half way there!
So.... the website is here:  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQkfPVWXs0Q  

If you go there, you will see a kind of DIY/How-To video for beading an earring.  The box contained all the material I would need to make a giant earring (made out of foam tubing, covered by colourful duct tape.

As per the visual instructions (no words, only sound is the soundtrack from Nanook of the North), I laid out the material and began working...

...what it should end up looking like....

Success!  I did it!
I gotta say, it has been MANY years since I was a serious beader (I am now referring to my pre-teen and teen years at the Shuswap, where I spent the summers beading rings and necklaces), and I was a bit panicked about it.... would I be able to follow the video (particular since she use NO WORDS...)? 

It was great fun. 

Here is a photo of the completed earring hanging on the wall....it is alongside a drawing by Peter Ragee, that I bought in Iqaluit last summer. 

Generally, there are two drawings usually there: the first (hanging) has the hunter waiting for the seal. The second of the companion drawings captures the moment when the hunter GETS the seal. 

I took down the second in honour of Brittany's project:  in her video, while she uses the music from Nanook, she actively did not use any of the music where there was an 'actual' kill (keeping instead the part where the actors are on the hunt.)   I am now thinking of my earring as 'the kill' (hahah).  I think that is in part a kind of auditory reference to one of the articles we read during the term, Kulchyski's "Hunting Stories" (double play, both on 'hunting', and on the search for stories). 

Now I am left with the question: does my success with the earring mean I am a good student, or rather that Brittany is a good teacher? :-)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

hammer on a drum!

centering the cedar ring on the deerskin
A while back, i made a contribution to a fundraising drive for the film "Fractured Land" (which follows a fabulous UVic law student who is doing work on water and fraking in his territory). http://vimeo.com/57914714

Part of the fundraising package (done through crowd-funding) was a "Drum-making Workshop" in Squamish, with Tsawaysia (Alice Guss)  http://tsawaysia.com/  In due course, I got the notification re the workshop.  I also realized I could sign up the rest of my men (Steve and the boys) to come with me.  

Alex getting set up, Steve providing commentary
Steve's failed attempt to help Alex tighten the drum
Unfortunately, I then realized it was being held the same weekend as the Junior Varsity Football championships.  That is, I suppose, a 'win-win' (or 'lose-lose', if you prefer).  It was clear that we would be heading over to the mainland, but I didn't know til the last minute whether the weekend would involve a family trip to Squamish to make drums, or a family trip to Vancouver to watch Alex in the Provincial football finals.  Well... last week, Alex's team lost in the semi-finals, so drum-making it was!

The whole group
There were some moments of high-drama, such as when steve tried to 'help out' with alex's drum, only to accidentally break the inner ring.  We decided that was typical project-management!  hahaha!  All was well, as Alice Guss (who ran the workshop) was fabulous, and showed/helped Alex how to restring the inside without having to restring the whole drum.  Success!  In the end, our drums are all drying nicely, and will be ready for the next protest march (or sing-a-long at the lake this summer!)


our family drums!





Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Brussels for a quick visit (and attempt to speak in French!)


Jacques Brel grafitti?
While it was a whirlwind, I did get a few days in Brussels in November!  
Justices Suzanne Baer and Brenda Hale at the wrap-up

I was there for a really excellent conference on gender and judging.  Marie-Claire and I did our presentation we did was in french.  Yikes!  If you end up really keen, or wanting to hear what happens when I try my french, you can listen to the podcast here: (you will get to hear the beginning where my mike for the translators was too close and all they could hear was my heavy breathing! :-))

http://droit-public.ulb.ac.be/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/08.-Expos%C3%A9s-de-MAD.-JOHNSON-et-MAD.BELLEAU.mp3

Blue skies above Notre-Dame au Sablon
Like I said, a short visit... after two really full days of conference going, I had just one day to reconnect with memories of my year in Belgium!

the Musee des beaux-arts! (Magritte next door)
I got to wander past the Notre Dame au Sablon (where there is a regular flea market)... flashback to the 80s, when Bonnie and I arrived in Brussels, and it was the first thing we really saw.  

Was delighted that I got to see it during one of the very rare moments of blue sky during the visit.

Marie-Claire and I spent a fabulous hour in the Magritte Museum (attached to the Musee des Beaux-Arts.  

I don't remember the Magritte Museum being there back in the 80s...).

After that, we had the chance to catch up with Francoise Tulkens (amazing jurist, on the european court of human rights) and get a tour of the Royal Academy for Science and the Arts.

Our 'magritte-esque' contemplation of Magritte
After that, we were off to spend the better part of the evening with Sophie Moonen (Bonnie and Mary will remember hanging out with her that fabulous weekend in Chicago). 

It was fun getting to see her place post kitchen-reno (which is where she was during the last visit... the ill-fated christmas catastrophes visit! http://carter-johnson.blogspot.ca/2012/01/losing-it-in-belgium-or-real-truth-of.html)



Late night at the Grand Place
grand place
It was after 10pm when we got back to the hotel, but we charged forward nonetheless and wandered down to the grand place.  

RJ and MC resting our sore feet in the pub.
It was a double-duty visit.  I needed to simply walk into the square in order to affirm that I had indeed returned.  I was also under strict instruction to find a pub where I could locate a Stella or Jupiler glasses for Steve!  

Success!

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Day Out in the Boat with Dave

Dave getting the boat ready to go
The most fabulous Uncle Dave got the boat up and ready for a day in the water. 

Alex, Nathan and Alicia headed out on the tube.

Alex trying to stand
At first, Alicia was in the middle, and the two boys were on the outside:  Alex 'bit it' with three fabulous wipe-outs, though none as impressive as the time he lost his shorts all together! :-)

Alex negotiated with the other two to rebalance the tube to place him in the centre.  

Nathaniel getting ready to walk on water
It did the trick, and dave was unable to shake the three of them loose (though his efforts were memorable!)

Then they switched to skiing.  

It has been three summers since Alex strapped his feet to the boards, but the body seems to remember:  up he went!  

Ah sweet summer!

Thank you Dave!






Thursday, July 18, 2013

Alex and the garden

Ah sweet summer vacation!

Alex keeps looking for jobs, so he got one:  pull all the weeds out of the 'garden' (they were about waist high), then mix up the bags of compost, manure and peat moss to get the soil looking a bit healthier.

and then?  Plant some stuff!

Here is the 'Before' and 'After'


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Waiting for the showers

wondering when the rain will come
What a hot muggy day! 

You wouldn't have been able to tell from sky, which was distinctly cloud filled.

Nonetheless, it was a hot one. 

no rain, but the beginnings of some pink in the grey
I took a walk in the evening down to Arbutus Cove (where the tide was high). 

On the way back, my pace slowed down... trying to make sure I didn't trip over my feet since i couldn't keep my eyes off the skies (hmmm...nice rhyme there!)

And then as the evening wore on, there was that brief moment when those clouds picked up a bit of colour.

It was beautiful!


Monday, July 1, 2013

Canada Day - Bike Ride



a stairway of clouds?

paths over salmon-bearing creeks
It was the Canada Day Bike Ride Torture-fest.  Alex lucked out:  he left early to hang out with his friends for the day.  Duncan was not so lucky... trapped by his parent into 'a nice little bike-ride'.  Well... we left at 11am, and got home at something like 6pm.  It was a full day! 

Duncan was a bit less than pleased to be setting out, but he held up.  The first photo was from our first rest stop after an uphill climb around Pkols (formerly "Mount Doug", now claiming back its original indigenous name).  Duncan is pointing out that the clouds in the sky look pretty much like a ladder, or staircase to the heavens.
 
bridge over not-so-troubled-waters

I gotta say... the bike trails in this town really are stellar.  Hard to believe the variety of places one can cycle through.  At times, it is the middle of the city, and then you are suddenly on a gravel path by farm fields, or passing a lake, or in the the middle of the woods, or driving along the ocean.  It was a pretty amazing trip.


Duncan wondering why anyone gave Rebecca a camera!
Cool moment in the woods on the Colquitz River Trail
Stopping for a drink (Pkols Mountain/aka Mount Doug) in the distance



Biking along the ocean

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Duncan's Saxophone Recital

Duncan waiting for his turn...
Today was Duncan's first saxophone recital!  It was held at his teacher's house (Andrew Greenwood).  Andrew (who teaches sax) and one of his friends (who teaches piano) had decided to hold a joint recital for their students.  What an adventure.  To say Duncan was not looking forward to it would be an understatment. 

And yet...

Perserverance!


Duncan and Andrew playing "Boulevard of Broken Dreams
Duncan was great!   He played "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" by Greenday (click here, if you are of a generation that does not know the song).  He has the "play along CD version" so he had a rockin' accompaniment in the background.  His teachers Andrew played along side Duncan so we got twice the musical 'thickness.'   Sweet.....   and then we headed off to DQ for a celebatory blizzard.  I had to take a quick photo at the lights just before the DQ: it is a beautiful day, and the mountains looked great there in the background! (for those of you not from Victoria, those mountains are in the US, and there is water between us and them... nice view!) 

Mountains in the distance (with the ocean between us)