2016 Year in Review

December 31, 2016

Another year has come and gone with more than its fair share of both happiness and sorrow.

joyce-coulson_2010The year was off to a rough start with my mother’s funeral on January 2. It is hard to believe it’s been a year she’s been gone. On the September long weekend, we held a big family gathering to celebrate her life and bury her ashes.  She would have been so happy to see her kids, grandkids, great grandkids, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews enjoying a great visit. Thank you everyone who came out to bid her a final far

varadero_09_closeupWhile we were celebrating my mother’s life, my sister Laverne was in the hospital fighting for hers. Unfortunately, she lost the sudden and short fight and passed away on September 12. It’s a loss I still don’t quite believe and am still coming to grips with. Laverne and her husband Dennis had just retired and moved to Sandy Lake in August 2015. I am thankful to be living out here and able to spend that year with her.

 

 

Jacob 1 year old

Jacob 1 year old

 

The year, however, was not all sorrow. Our first grandchild, Jacob Peter, continues to be a wonderful blessing. We were happy to be in Kamloops in October to celebrate his first birthday with mom Kelsey and dad Matt. Amazing to watch how much they grow and develop in the first year. He’s no longer a baby but a little boy.

 

dec-2016_christmas-lightWe spent several weeks in June in BC, waiting for the arrival of our second grandchild who was in no hurry to make her entry into the world. Astrid Beam arrived safely on June 29 and instantly became the center of Christopher and Emily’s world.

 

november-2016_santa-claus-paradeAfter waiting so long to become grandparents, our blessings are overflowing. Kerry and Megan will be married in February, so Katie and Tyler will officially be joining our fast expanding family. 

 

September 2016 the Porter family (missing Matthew)

September 2016 the Porter family (missing Matthew)

 

 

We celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary this October and its mind boggling how our lives have evolved over the 38 years since we first met.

 

 

PV2016_Family picAs you can see family affairs kept us pretty busy in 2016; however, we did find time for a bit of travel. In February, we travelled to Bucerias, Mexico for some time in the sun and play time with Kelsey, Matt and Jacob and Kerry, Megan, Katie and Tyler.

 

Giants Causeway

Giant’s Causeway

 

 

 

In May, Ken and I toured Ireland and Scotland with an incredible group of people. We had unprecedented great weather and saw so many natural wonders and historic sites. What beautiful country and welcoming people.

 

 

 

houseeRetirement has been very busy for us, but we continue to make progress on our retirement home. Three and a half years of building and the first floor is close to completion. Major accomplishments for 2016 include a beautiful staircase to the second floor, cork  flooring on the main level, siding the outside of the house, a deck, balcony, foyer, vestibule, two main floor bedrooms, and the kitchen. The flooring was a major accomplishment and changed the house from a construction zone into a home, mainly because the scaffolding and tool collection in the middle of the living room had to go.

dec-28-2016_kitchen-completeWith the kitchen complete, we have just a few more main floor projects and then we can start finishing the second floor. 

With the house at a point where we have what we need to live, the building pace has slowed down leaving more time for recreation. While Ken did not play any baseball this summer (a very sad state of affairs for him), he did enjoy a number of golf games. And he still enjoys organizing group travel trips. In addition to his annual winter trip down south, he is also hoping to have a trip to England available for fall of 2017. 

I enjoy time for meditation, gardening and cooking. I am still giving plant based cooking lessons in Winnipeg and have a cooking blog ponderosacooks.wordpress.com. Check it out if you are looking for good vegan recipes. This year, I even had time to dust off the sewing machine and get a few projects done.  

photo by James Deng

photo by James Deng

Sox up a tree

Sox up a tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

And we both enjoy our furry companions, Sox and Hanna, who remind us to take a break and go for a walk twice a day.

We hope this year in review finds you and your family happy and in good health. Remember to enjoy each day as it comes and don’t worry about the past or future. Joy and sorrow are both part of life. Without the sorrow how could we appreciate the joy!

Wishing that 2017 brings you a year of peace, good health and happiness.

 

Sunset on the Ponderosa

Sunset on the Ponderosa

 

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A Complete Kitchen for Christmas

December 28, 2016

It has been a long time since my last post. We have been working on the kitchen and I was bound and determined that I would not post any pictures until the kitchen was 100% complete. Our goal was to have it finished by Christmas. And we almost made it, only a couple days late. At long last, the kitchen is complete and it was worth the wait.

dec-28-2016_kitchen-complete

The kitchen has been a work in progress since I retired two years ago, in January 2015. The journey has been amazing. Below is the layout of the kitchen.

kitchen layout

a15_Oct 25, 2014_stove completeAt first, I had the basics. The wood stove , a Kitchen Queen 480, was the first thing installed, providing us with a cookstove, hot water and heat for the house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Temporary kitchen setup January 2015

Temporary kitchen setup January 2015

Next Ken built me a temporary kitchen with shelving to store all my kitchen stuff, an island work area and a sink wash station. At first the sink had no plumbing. We used snow melted on the wood stove and two five gallon pails under the sink to collect the dirty water. Chop wood, haul water were our daily tasks. I remember how wonderful it was to have this temporary setup, however primitive it might seem. In the picture on the left, we did not even have electric lights yet, if you notice the candle chandelier hanging above the island. The open doorway on the right is the future pantry.

Once the pantry was complete, we were able to move our fridge into the house. The fridge is housed in the pantry. The pantry serves double duty. It holds all my dry goods and by opening the window in it we can turn it into a cold room in the winter so that fridge does not need to run much.

Once the plumbing was hooked up to the sink and lighting installed, I had everything I needed – hot and cold running water, drains and no more slop pails to empty, a wonderful stove and a fridge. What more could a girl want? 

New Stove Hearth Completed

New Stove Hearth Completed

In May 2016, we removed the Kitchen Queen woodstove and redid the flooring under it, changing from black granite to a cream colored porcelain tile that does not show the dust and dirt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Backsplash

Backsplash

kitchen after floor

Slowly more and more cupboards, drawers and finishing touches have been added.

The cork flooring, installed this summer, made a huge difference in the look of the kitchen. Bye bye plywood floors. The cork is warm and cushiony on the feet and easy to keep.

The last couple months have been consumed with kitchen construction.  Everything was made from scratch. The doors and drawer fronts were made from rough cut birch that Ken planed and fashioned.  He has become quite a drawer expert, with 24 drawers in the kitchen. The drawers were made from birch plywood and are designed to handle a heavy load. In addition to the mountain of drawers, the kitchen had 13 cupboard doors to be made as well.

Kitchen cupboards complete

Kitchen cupboards complete, just finishing touches left

In the last couple of weeks I have been having fun unpacking my kitchen stuff that has been in storage since we moved out of our home in Winnipeg. I have room for everything in my new kitchen, and even have one drawer left empty – for now. It’s amazing to have all this storage space.

 

 

 

 

 

Kitchen highlights:

 

Island drawers

Island drawers

The island has a beautiful birch butcher block top and nine large drawers for storage. And on the other side, the butcher block top overhangs a foot to create a seating area.

dec-28-2016_island-seating

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo by James Deng

photo by James Deng

Above the island hangs my pots and pans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

dec-28-2016_north-walldec-28-2016_sink-shelfI love the shelves along the window and the ledge along the top of the cupboards. A perfect place to display some of my Mom’s platter collection.

 

 

dec-28-2016_larder-opendec-28-2016_larderThe pull out larder is a great storage space. Its a Lee Valley model that we were lucky enough to pick up on Kijiji for a song. I love the handle Ken made for the door. He scoured the bushes looking for the perfect branch. Mother Nature’s artwork.dec-28-2016_larder-handle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

dec-28-2016_baking-sheet-cupboardKen made good use of a narrow cupboard space by creating the perfect vertical storage space for my baking sheets, trays, muffin tins and rolling pins.

 

 

 

 

 

dec-28-2016_cutlery-drawerI have the most fabulous cutlery drawer, with 9 cubbies for cutlery and serving utensils.

 

 

 

 

dec-28-2016_broom-storageAfter designing the kitchen we realized we had no spot for a broom closet. Since I don’t have need for a whole cupboard for cleaning supplies (I use Shaklee’s Basic H for all my cleaning), we decided to make use of the small space beside the back door. My nice red broom and mops are hung on the wall, and the rest of my cleaning supplies go under the kitchen sink.

 

 

 

dec-28-2016_spice-drawersI use two of the drawers for my spices, and yes, I have a lot of them, 62 to be exact. All organized alphabetically and easy to access.

It’s been a long slow process, two years from start to finish, to complete the kitchen. But it is definitely the kitchen of my dreams. A place for everything and everything in its place. Lots of counter space and everything easily accessible. And an island seating area so everyone can gather round in the kitchen to work or chat by the fire.

We may have missed our December 25 deadline, but it is 100% complete by Ukrainian Christmas (January 7).

 

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Visiting Astrid

October 21, 2016

Although both our kids, Kelsey and Christopher, live across the country from us, we very lucky that they live within four hours of each other. So when we visit one, we can usually visit both of them. While visiting Jacob to celebrate his first birthday, we also stopped in for a visit with Astrid, who is now almost four months old.

Astrid 3 months old

Astrid 3 months old

She is a very sweet little girl, so happy and content. She has just started smiling and loves when you sing to her. She is beginning to find her voice and jabbers away happily. We had a wonderful time visiting with Christopher and Emily and playing with Astrid.

Story time with Gido

Story time with Gido

Hanging out with Baba

Hanging out with Baba

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tummy time

Tummy time

Floor time

Floor time

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going for a walk

Going for a walk

 

 

 

 

Astrid telling us stories

Astrid telling us stories

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emily Christopher and Astrid October 2016

Emily Christopher and Astrid October 2016

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Jacob’s 1st Birthday

October 21, 2016

Jacob 1 year old

Jacob 1 year old

We are back from celebrating our first grandchild, Jacob’s birthday. It is unbelievable how much a child changes over the course of the first year. In one year he learned to smile, vocalize and walk. You can almost see the wheels turning in his head as he learns more and more each day.

Jacob 4 days old

Jacob 4 days old

Jacob 1 year old

Jacob 1 year old

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had a great visit with Kelsey, Matt and Matt’s family. But most of all, we had so much fun playing with Jacob.

Jacob 1 year_Playing in the leaves

Jacob 1 year_Playing in the leaves

Pumpkin sitting

Pumpkin sitting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eating Spagetti

Eating Spaghetti

Dancing Sailor Boy

Dancing Sailor Boy

Fun at the park October 19 2016

Fun at the park October 19 2016

Birthday Cake

Birthday Cake

In the tunnel at the park

In the tunnel at the park

Kelsey's decorations

Kelsey’s decorations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going for a walk

Going for a walk

Swing time with Gido

Swing time with Gido

 

 

Matt Jacob and Kelsey

Matt Jacob and Kelsey

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35th Wedding Anniversary

October 7, 2016

38 years ago on October 7, I was back home from university for the Thanksgiving weekend when a long haired hippie with torn jeans introduced himself to me at the local pub. He thought that I had been making eyes at him all evening; however, what he didn’t realize was that I was just staring at empty space. I had just lost my glasses and was blind as a bat. I couldn’t recognize the people across the table from me, much less make eye contact with the cute guy across the room. Non-the-less, a friendship was formed.

1981_San Francisco

1981_San Francisco

This guy was different from any guy I’d ever dated. We talked about everything – religion, politics, nutrition, organic farming, the environment, everything. He opened my eyes to a whole new world I didn’t know existed. We fell in love and three years later, to the date, we got married.

October 7, 1981

October 7, 1981

He was a single parent of a 4 year old, Kerry and so we had an instant family.

1982 Porter Family

1982 Porter Family

Two years later, in 1983, Christopher was born.

1983 Porter Family

1983 Porter Family

In 1986, Kelsey completed our family. (Apparently a family with 3 kids has not time for family pictures. I can’t find one with all 5 of us from when Kelsey was a baby.)

1986_Ken and Darlene with baby Kelsey at her christening

1986_Ken and Darlene with baby Kelsey at her christening

Over the years we traveled, had many adventures and had lots of fun together.

Christmas 1994

Christmas 1994

1999_Porters on European adventure

1999_Porters on European adventure

2003_Porters in Cuba

2003_Porters in Cuba

2005_Porters at Derek's Wedding

2005_Porters at Derek’s Wedding

2019 Panama Cruise

2010 Panama Cruise

2012 at Christopher and Emily's Wedding

2012 at Christopher and Emily’s Wedding

And our family grew, from the 5 of us to 12.

September 2016 the Porter family (missing Matthew)

September 2016 the Porter family (missing Matthew)

In 1997, Ken and I embarked on our grand adventure – building an off-grid home in the bush. Over the years we cleared a road and built a small cabin, bath-house, log summer kitchen, workshop, garage and finally a house.

1997 Scouting the property for the house site

1997 Scouting the property for the house site

1999 clearing the house site

1999 clearing the house site

2006 Modern American Gothic in from of shop and solar panels

2006 Modern American Gothic in front of shop and solar panels

In 2012, Ken retired and left the big city to start building the house. For 3 years, I visited on weekends. In 2015, I retired and joined Ken in the bush. Together we plan, design, measure, hammer, drywall, paint, and construct all kinds of things. We are a good team.

2015 On the front veranda of the house

2015 On the front veranda of the house

Over the years we have changed and grown. But some things don’t change. He is still my best friend and we still talk about everything, especially politics, religion/spirituality, nutrition, organic farming, and the environment.

The adventure continues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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September Long Weekend Family Celebration

September 3, 2016

sep-2016_peter-and-joyce-gravestoneBefore my mother, Joyce Coulson, passed away in December, she requested that we wait until the weather was warmer to bury her ashes. On September 3, 2016, she was buried beside her husband, my dad Peter Coulson, who passed away on September 24, 1986, 30 years ago. It was a bitter sweet affair. Most of her family – over 50 children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, siblings, nieces and nephews where able to come for the celebration and we had a great time visiting and reconnecting with each other. However, Laverne was in the hospital at the time, and the get together was just not the same without her.

sep-2016_porter-family

The Porter crew was out, with the exception of son-in-law Matt, and so the house was full of kids, toys, dogs, laughter and fun. It was great having the cork floors in, especially since grandson Jacob was in full crawling mode. This definitely is a house built for family and I hope it gets lots of family use.

lots of room to play on the living room floor

lots of room to play on the living room floor

Party in the kitchen

Party in the kitchen

Astrid (2 mths) and Jacob (10 mths)

Astrid (2 mths) and Jacob (10 mths)

Astrid and Hanna

Astrid and Hanna

Gido playing blocks with Jacob

Gido playing blocks with Jacob

Tyler and Jacob playing lego

Tyler and Jacob playing lego

Singalong in the Sunroom

Singalong in the Sunroom

Katie making cinnamon buns

Katie making cinnamon buns

The Moms

The Moms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When my kids were young, they spent their summers at my Mom’s house on the farm with their cousins. They formed lasting friendships and spent lots of quality time with their grandmother. I hope my grandkids can spend lots of time with us at the Ponderosa.

Baba's Grandkids

Baba’s Grandkids

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Weiner

September 21, 2016

It is with a great deal of sadness that I post the obituary for my dear sister Laverne, aka Weiner. She was a one of a kind and I will miss her dearly.

Weiner cod fishing Newfoundland August 2016

Weiner cod fishing Newfoundland August 2016

Laverne Christine Lewandoski (nee Coulson) passed away in the early morning of September 12, 2016 at the St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg. She was predeceased by her parents Peter and Joyce (Luhowy) Coulson.

2010_Laverne and Dennis on Panama Cruise

2010_Laverne and Dennis on Panama Cruise

Laverne is survived by her husband of 30 years, Dennis Lewandoski,  her brother Glenn Coulson, and sisters Darlene Porter, Sheila Klimchuk and Sheryl Dadey.  Laverne was Auntie Weiner to numerous nieces and nephews.

Glenn, Mom (Joyce) with Sheila on lap. Darlene, Dad (Peter) with Sheryl on lap, Laverne 1966

Glenn, Mom (Joyce) with Sheila on lap. Darlene, Dad (Peter) with Sheryl on lap, Laverne 1966

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 1960_Mom and Dad with baby Laverne, big sister Darlene and big brother Glenn

May 1960_Mom and Dad with baby Laverne, big sister Darlene and big brother Glenn

Laverne was born in Shoal Lake, Manitoba on May 5, 1960, middle child to Peter and Joyce Coulson. She graduated from Erickson Collegiate in 1978. Laverne worked in Winnipeg at the University of Manitoba, Manitoba Hydro and Angus Reid.  On February 29, 1984 Laverne moved to Fort McMurray, Alberta. She started work with the City of Fort McMurray Department of Parks and Recreation before transferring to the RCMP as a civilian shift clerk for “C” Watch, where she worked for 18 years.

Later she joined the Tim Horton’s crew. Laverne loved her job there and had her own fan club of customers. In October 2013, Laverne was recognized for her outstanding customer service and was awarded Fort McMurray’s Tourism Gold Star Award.

She retired in 2015, and along with her husband Dennis, returned to their roots in Sandy Lake, Manitoba.

Varadero 2009

Varadero 2009

Laverne and Dennis loved to travel and enjoyed many trips all over the world, some of their favourite spots included Greece, Costa Rica, Israel, Egypt, Panama, Istanbul , and Las Vegas. They recently returned from a two week tour of Newfoundland where they celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary.

 

 

 

 

Laverne loved to get on her Harley and ride, she often said it was the best way to relieve stress.  Laverne made many miles on what her Baba Mary Luhowy called that nice” Big Black Horse”!  For many years Laverne and Dennis participated in the Ft.McMurray  Couples Motorcycle Poker Run where Laverne gained the respect of the seasoned bikers for her ability to handle her own Electra Glide Standard, complete with a Thunder Header…She loved running with the High Milers, and they loved riding with her, because, Laverne never left home without her smile.

Laverne loved her family dearly.  Weiner adored her many nieces and nephews as demonstrated by her love for buying toys, the “noisier the better”!

 

Darlene and Sheryl with their noisy Weiner Christmas toys_2016

Darlene and Sheryl with their noisy Weiner Christmas toys_2016

August 2016

August 2016

As many of you know, you would hear Laverne’s laughter long before you saw her. And when you did see her, it was like a ray of sunshine walked into the room.

She may be gone but she will never be forgotten. Rest in peace little sister.

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