Thursday, November 19, 2020

Wayne and Margy's 2020-2021 Snowbird RV Adventure


Lazydays electric RV storage.
Wayne and I want to thank all of our readers who came along with us on our 2019-2020 Snowbird RV Adventure. It abruptly ended with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last spring. 

At the end of February we left our Sunseeker RV in powered storage at the Tucson Lazydays KOA Resort fully intending to return at the end of March to complete our trip. That never happened.
 
Then summer came with 100+ degree temperatures. We decided it was best to wait. We had reservations in place for this November. We debated long and hard about the safety of traveling at this time.

Our 25-foot Sunseeker Class C RV.

We decided RV travel was a form of self-isolation. We only need to shop for groceries once a week and won't interact with others in an unsafe manner. We wear our masks, social distance, use sanitizer and wash our hands just like at home. Now it's just our home on wheels.

We invite you to join us to safely explore Arizona. We've again planned our Snowbird RV Adventure in three parts.

Wayne at the wheel.
Part 1 - We left Bellingham on November 15. We flew Allegiant Airlines direct to Mesa, Arizona. The Tucson direct flight was no longer available. We rented a car and drove to our first destination, the Lazydays KOA Resort to pick up our RV waiting there for us in storage. For 36 days we will explore and camp our way around southern Arizona. In mid-December, we will put the RV back into storage and fly north to Bellingham for a Christmas winter break.

Part 2 - The second leg of our trip will start on January 31. We will fly south again to pick up our RV from Lazydays. We'll spend 29 days camping in the foothills east of Phoenix and visiting Tempe, Arizona. We usually attend women's college softball, but that may not be possible this year. In late February we'll put our RV back into storage once more at Lazydays fly to Bellingham for a second break.

Tucson Lazydays KOA Resort

Part 3 - The last segment of our adventure will start on March 28. After a short stay at Lazydays we will spend 29 days between the Phoenix and Tucson regions. Again, we might get to watch some women's softball either in person, or via television. In late April we'll put our RV in storage one last time at Lazydays and fly back to Bellingham for the last time. Our Sunseeker will spend the summer for a second time waiting for our return in November 2021.

When it's safe again to travel, we'll fly to Tucson to check on our RV For now it's safe in electric storage at the Tucson Lazydays KOA RV Resort. -- Wayne and Margy


Thanks for visiting part of my world this week. For more great posts from Our World Tuesday, click here.

Also blog shares called Through My Lens by Mersad and Wordless Wednesday by Natasha.

I'm also posting on Travel Tuesdays at Intelliblog and  Tuesdays with a Twist at Stone Cottage Adventures.

Stop by Sharon's Souvenirs for some travel trips and suggestions and a Wednesday linkup for My Corner of the World at Photographing New Zealand. -- Margy

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Book Review: "Indian Horse" by Richard Wagamese


The last book I reviewed, A Perfect Storm by Mike Martin, led me to this month's book. The main character in the Sgt. Windflower Mystery series is a Cree RCMP officer. He maintains traditional practices, and reads Embers: One Ojibway's Meditations by Richard Wagamese for solace and inspiration. After reviewing books by Wagamese, I selected Indian Horse to be my first.

Indian Horse is a novel about Saul Indian Horse, an Ojibway from Northern Ontario. He was raised by his grandmother in traditional ways, but at age eight he was forced to live at an Indian residential school.

Residential schools were funded by the Department of Indian Affairs and administered by churches. Their purpose was to expunge Indigenous ways and inculcate Canadian culture. Attendance for school age children was compulsory from 1894 until an unconscionable 1996 when the last closed. 

Not only were Indigenous children ripped from their families during formative years, they were subjected to physical, emotional and sexual abuses, and too many died from harsh conditions and torture. The result is generations of First Nation peoples alienated from their culture and language, lacking education, and experiencing post-traumatic syndrome and racism.

Indian Horse takes us through this dark period through the eyes of Saul. The book opens with him telling the reader that he has been told he needs to tell the stories to understand where he is from and where he is going. As his story unfolds, we can feel his joy and sadness, his success and failure, his anguish and emergence from a blocked out horrific experience. 

Canadians are going through a reconciliation process to "redress the legacy of residential schools." In 2008, then Prime Minister Harper issued an apology on behalf of the Canadian government. That same year the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established to hear testimony.  Their "Call to Action" was finally released in 2015.

A community traditional canoe carving reconciliation project.

Towns like Powell River across Canada brought Settlers (non-Indigenous Canadians) and First Nation members together to have hard conversations and to develop a better understanding of the ramifications of racial prejudice and subjugation. As a Settler in my native U.S.A. and my Canadian home I personally have a lot of work to do to reconcile my life of white privilege with systemic racism.

Indian Horse was the "People's Choice" Award of Canada Reads and First Nations Community Reads winner in 2012.  It's not an easy read, but the message is important especially now. I highly recommend Indian Horse and am looking forward to my next Richard Wagamese book.

Here's another book related to truth and reconciliation. Powell River is located on traditional land of the Tla'amin First Nation, a Coast Salish tribe. Written As I Remember It by elder Elsie Paul tells about this same period of time from a local perspective. 

Raised by her grandparents and hidden from authorities during fall sweeps, she was forced to attend the Sechelt Residential School at age ten. He memoir includes Tla'amin Nation history from oral traditions to the present as her people move away from Indian Act control to a self-governing nation. 

 Both books are available online including Amazon. -- Margy

There's the monthly Book Review Club for teen/young adult and adult fiction over at Barrie Summy's blog.

Check out Booknificent Thursdays at Mommynificent.com

Also shared with Your the Star at Stone Cottage Adventures and Book Review Linkup at Lovely Audio Books.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Book Review: "A Perfect Storm" by Mike Martin


It's book review time again. While Wayne and I have been enjoying our float cabin home on Powell Lake, we've had lots of time to relax and read both indoors and out.

There's nothing better than sitting in a chair on our sunny deck with a cool drink and a good book.

This month I'm reviewing A Perfect Storm, the newest book in the Sgt. Windflower Mystery series.


Mike Martin is a Canadian author originally from St. John's, Newfoundland, who now resides in Ottawa, Ontario. He's proof you can take a man off The Rock, but he can never leave it behind.

Just released in September 2020, A Perfect Storm is the ninth book in his light crime mystery series. You can read each one as a stand-alone, but I've enjoyed reading them all. The main characters remain in each book so the return reader has the advantage of knowing more of the backstory and how their lives evolve over time.

Mike uses several recurring themes in his books. Of course, there's the core plot of criminal activity in and around the small Newfoundland town of Grand Bank. Yes, it's a real town. Read more about it here. There's the thread of small town, family and RCMP life that ties solving crimes together. And there's the ongoing use of quotes from Shakespeare and other notable sources in dialogue to make a point. My favourite from this book was, "Happiness is what's inside your head, so be careful what you feed it."

And now for the book review: Sgt. Winston Windflower is the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commanding Officer of the Grand Bank RCMP Detachment. As much as we hate to admit it, small town life isn't immune to the perils of society: drugs, theft, racism, violence and murder. A powerful multinational white supremacist biker gang has set up a network in Grand Bank to take over the drug trade. Investigating a fatal automobile accident leads Sgt. Windflower and his officers to the larger crime and drug problem.  Solving it will take a community-wide recommitment to taking responsibility and helping one another.

Windflower is Cree from Northern Alberta and follows traditional practices. His Auntie Marie gives him guidance through visions and dreams. Even after her passing, her assistance guides him in his professional and personal life. We all could use help like this during difficult times.


Other reviews I've written for Mike Martin's Sgt. Windflower Mystery series:


A Tangled Web - Book 6 in the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series

A case about a missing five-year-old child quickly expands like the interconnected threads of a spider's web throughout the small community of Grand Bank, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. Follow the link to the review and pictures from the trips Wayne and I took to Newfoundland in 2009 and 2014.

Darkest Before the Dawn - Book 7 in the Windflower Mystery Series

A series of break-ins has the people of Grand Bank unnerved, then circumstances escalate and the situation quickly evolves into a murder mystery. Follow the link about to the review and a YouTube video and Google tour through the real Grand Bank.

Fire, Fog and Water - Book 8 in the Windflower Mystery Series

Running down the lookout trail Sgt. Windflower slides down a slope and into a frozen body wrapped in rug. The ensuring investigation links to a women injured during a hit-and-run, a house fire and the discovery of opioid drugs in an abandoned mobile home.

You can find out more about Mike Martin at:

Mike Martin on Crime Writers of Canada
Mike Martin on Twitter
Mike Martin's Author Page on Amazon
Mike Martin on !ndigo
Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series on Facebook
Mike Martin book reviews on the Crafty Gardener blog

A Perfect Storm is available in print and ebook formats. Online options include Amazon.com and Amazon.ca. -- Margy

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Goin' Home to Powell River, BC


Our Powell Lake float cabin home.
As the Mick Jagger and Rolling Stones lyrics go:
I'm goin' home, I'm goin' home
I'm goin' home, I'm goin' home
I'm goin' home, bome, bome ...
Home, bome, bome ...
Back home,
Yes, I am.
Alright!
I bid a short farewell to my loyal Margy Meanders readers. Time has come for Wayne and me to leave for our Powell River Canadian home. We've waited since March to make the move due to strict quarantine requirements. But now is the time since the Canadian quarantine requirement was extended to August 31.

Wayne and I drove to the Pacific Highway crossing in Blaine. Because we became Canadian citizens in 2018 and Powell River is our home, we were allowed to cross the US/Canada border that is closed to non-essential travel for US citizens and other foreign nationals.

BC Ferries recommended that everyone remain in their vehicles.

Rules are in flux right now because of the COVID-19 pandemic, so check with the Canadian Border Service Agency and US Customs and Border Protection before you try to go.

Back in our Hewscraft finally heading up the lake.

We'd hoped to wait until the quarantine requirement was lifted, but decided it was best to go now while there was still some summer left to enjoy our float cabin home up the lake. And there couldn't be a better place to isolate ourselves for the required 14-day quarantine period and beyond if needed.

First Narrows on Powell Lake means we are almost home.

The border crossing was smooth and our BC Ferries connections worked perfectly even without reservations. We left the Bellingham condo (which has been our Washington residence for self-isolation) at 8:12 am after loading the last of the groceries to make it through the quarantine period, and arrived at our cabin deck at 6:15 pm. That's a little longer than normal to make the 260 kilometre (162 mile) trip because we built in extra time for border paperwork and early ferry terminal arrivals.

There's no place like home!

While we are up here in Powell River, there will be little content to share on Margy Meanders. But never fear, we will be back in Bellingham and the States by late September if pandemic conditions allow.

In the meantime, come visit us on the Powell River Books blog for Canadian and off-the-grid stories.

Living through the COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on everyone worldwide. Wayne and I hope you and your family are doing as well as possible during these difficult times. -- Margy

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Exploring Bellingham: Window Hummingbird Feeder


Our condo balcony with a window hummingbird feeder.
In addition to our daily exercise walks, park visits and grocery shopping, Wayne and I are spending a lot of time indoors these days. Probably the same as you.

I miss my garden and visiting critters back home at the float cabin on Powell Lake.

To bring a bit of nature into our living space, I bought a geranium to tend and a hummingbird feeder to watch.


Because our cityfolk condo in Bellingham is on the third floor, I didn't want a hanging feeder that would drip. I researched online and found a model that could sit on a flat surface. I ordered one ffrom Fred Meyer for parking lot pickup. Unfortunately, it wasn't available.

The ant moat with suction cups is on the left, and the feeder insert on the right.

Then I discovered window feeders. The railing around our condo's balcony has a glass insert, so I chose the Juegoal Window Hummingbird Feeder that shipped direct from Amazon.

It's hard to get a closeup with my iPhone through the window.
It comes with an ant moat that attaches to the glass with two suction cups. The feeder lifts out for easy cleaning. I leave it in place to fill to prevent sugar water spills. I haven't needed to fill the ant moat with water, but back home up the lake it was a necessity.

Almost immediately, a hummingbird came to the feeder. Maybe my geranium with bright pink flowers enticed him (or her) all the way up to the third floor.

I've only seen one hummingbird, but he faithfully comes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Sitting on the built-in perch enjoying sips of sugar water.

He must be keeping the ready supply of food a secret, unlike what happened back home. Here's a video of a hummingbird feeding frenzy at the float cabin.


Do you have bird feeders? What kinds of birds visit your home?

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Quarantine Cuisine: Oven Baked BBQ Pork Ribs


BBQ ribs on the grill back home at the float cabin.
We really miss the BBQ grill up at the float cabin. Practically every night, Wayne would cook meat or fish on the grill to go with the sides I made in the cabin kitchen.

In the beginning of our stay here at the Bellingham condo, our meals were varied. Now, after eating in for four months, our menus have become repetitive. I saw in the Fred Meyer flyer that spareribs were on sale. I decided to try cooking them in the oven instead.

I decided to follow BBQ Oven-Baked Ribs by Makinze Gore at Delish. I used the directions to prepare and cook the ribs. I didn't use the BBQ sauce portion. Instead I used my favourite commercial Sweet Baby Ray's Original BBQ Sauce. It's like a taste of home.

Click here to see the complete recipe. My modifications are in italics.

Oven Baked BBQ Pork Ribs

Ingredients:

A dry rub adds flavour.
2 pound baby back ribs
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (I omitted)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions:

Bake covered first.
Rinse the ribs under cold water, pat dry, then peel off the tough “silverskin” membrane over the bones if the butcher hasn't already done so. Use a paring knife to loosen the edge and pull.

In a bowl, stir together the ingredients for a dry rub. I omitted the brown sugar. Massage the mixture into both sides of the ribs. Let the ribs rest for an hour or more to absorb the flavours.


Baste with BBQ sauce rib side first.
Place the ribs on a prepared baking sheet. Cover with foil. I used my large roasting pan with its rack and lid. 

Preheat the oven to 300° and bake the ribs meaty side up low and slow until very tender, about 2 hours. I added a small amount of water to the pan to create moist steam during cooking.

Prepare your BBQ sauce unless you use a commercial variety like I did.

Broil after basting one more time.
After one hour, turn the ribs over bone side up and continue to bake covered.

After two hours remove the cover, brush BBQ sauce over the bone side. Return to the oven and bake uncovered at 350° for an additional 15 minutes.

Turn the ribs to meaty side up and brush with BBQ sauce. Return to the oven and bake uncovered at 350° for an additional 15 minutes.

Turn the oven to broil. Brush the meaty side one more time with BBQ sauce. 

Ready to eat to celebrate an indoor Canada Day 2020.

Broil until the sauce starts to caramelize, 2 to 4 minutes. Watch carefully so it doesn't burn.


Happy Canada Day to all my Canadian friends.
The combination of low and slow cooking and broiling at the end makes the ribs almost like they came off the BBQ grill. Mine turned out great, minus the grill marks.

BBQ ribs were a great way for us to celebrate an indoor Canada Day on July 1. If you are in the States, why not try them for the 4th of July.

What did you fix for your holiday celebration? - Margy