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Picture of Nigel and Judy's farmhouse
Picture of Ruth petting the Doberman Pinscher

Julian, the Doberman Pinscher with Ruth

The BIG Doberman

I had never seen a Doberman Pinscher before up close until yesterday — and this one was the size of a small pony.  Before we’d arrived, this dog was, apparently, upstairs sleeping on the queen bed, when we arrived in time for lunch at the farmhouse that belonged to Nigel and Judy Palmer.

The dog’s name is Julian. He is fine with strangers — as long as its owners are at home.  Heaven forbid you enter the house if no one is home.  I rather think that the dog would take you out in no time!

Our hosts are long time friends of Ruth. They’ve known each other ever since Nigel went to the Veterinarian College in Guelph, Ontario with Ruth’s late husband, Otto. They live in the countryside, about 40 minutes away from Owen Sound, and their farm have animals other than just Julian. They keep horses — including two Belgians, 25 head of cattle, and every year they have a new batch of free-range chickens.

The Farmhouse

Picture of Nigel and Judy's farmhouse

Nigel and Judy’s farmhouse

The main part of the farmhouse was built long ago — with walls that are 2-feet thick. The Palmers, after buying the farm, later added an addition to the house, made with some of their very own own maple trees from off their property.  The workmanship of the woodwork was very impressive, with a vaulted ceiling some 20′ high, but somehow the architecture was soft and pleasing to the eye. Many log-style houses look garish to me, but not the Palmers’! Their farmhouse had a cosy feeling.

There was another couple asked to lunch, Clive and Carol Guy, who have another veterinarian connection. Clive and Otto co-wrote some of veterinarian textbooks when they were younger.

The Palmers and the Guys somehow got the dates mixed up for the luncheon and the Guys arrived on Monday instead of Tuesday!  That wasn’t a problem for the Palmers, and it was rather a good thing: after all, it gave them an extra 24 hours to reminisce!

The dining area table was set, with a wonderful combination of old and new dishes and cutlery.  The view from the windows of the rolling pastureland made for a beautiful setting, and although we were invited for lunch, this was dinner — big time. Coq au Vin, rice, cole slaw, beet pickles — and cheese bread from the local Metro Grocers (yum!).  As for desert, well this is rather funny — I’d been talking about rhubarb just the day before and thinking about making rhubarb and strawberry crisp. Lo and behold, for dessert we had rhubarb cream pie.  Luckily for me, Judy cut the pie into small pieces and there was enough for me to have seconds!

We heard many stories over lunch and each couple told of how they met their spouses.  Of course, the guys rendition was a little different than the gals!

Hopefully our paths will cross again.

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Lay's Maui Onion Potato Chips
Bag of Lay's potato chips

Lay’s Kettle Cooked Maui Onion flavoured potato chips

If I had died at 75 (I wrote that because it rhymes!) you could have been able to say, “She never ate potato chips!” Not that you would say that, it’s quite an unusual statement, but I’m just trying to underscore the fact that I was never a big chip fan.

When I was a teenager, we didn’t have potato chips at home, but we had a treat made from mashed potatos called lefse. Lefse is a kind of flat-bread that’s cooked like a crepe. We ate lefse with butter on when it was cooled to room temperature, and everyone loved it. Even though my parents were both from Sweden, lefse is better known in Norway. My guess is because they both came from villages close to the Norwegian border and that’s why lefse made it into our kitchen!

In any event, we didn’t have potato chips growing up — and even when my kids were young, we didn’t have them in the house very often. If we did, it would be accompanied by a dip made with sour cream and onion soup mix, but that was extraordinary. Chips simply weren’t often on the grocery list.

Something changed, though, when I was 78. That’s when I discovered Lay’s Kettle Cooked Maui Onion potato chips at Lin’s Fresh Market – a grocery store in Hurricane, Utah.

I was looking at the different flavours of kettle chips one day in at Lin’s, which is the grocery store I most love shopping at when I go down to the States to spend a month or two away from Canada’s winter, with some of the best golfing anywhere.  I knew my friends liked potato chips, so I thought I would get  the Maui Onion flavour for them to try. I’ve been to Maui, and loved that the most of the Hawaiian Islands I’ve visited, so I picked that kind mostly for the name.

Turns out, my friends absolutely loved them, with ooh’s and oh’s and wow’s and great’s — so I tried one with my drink. And that was it.

I was hooked. I don’t know what it is about these chips, but they are really CRISP and have a sweet onion flavour they are SO GOOD.

The thing is, you can’t find these chips just anywhere — even in stores that sell Lay’s potato chips.  Their distribution across the USA is dependant on the local demand, so whenever I’m on a road trip, I always make a pit stop to check out the local grocery store to see if I can find them.

I used to be able to find them going north through Montana, but not anymore.  I’ve checked out several grocery stores in Sun City, AZ and in La Quinta, CA — and none were to be found.  Last year, I was back to Hurricane in April and the first time I was shopping there, there were no Lay’s Maui Onions Potato Chips on the shelves. But lucky me, the next week they were there in abundance!  I have talked to several Lay’s re-stockers and some of them have never even heard of the Maui Onion flavour.

When I come back to Canada (and so far there are no Maui Onion chips in this country from what I’ve found), my car will always have several bags of my favourite flavour of potato chips — if I can find them.

Lay’s does have a snack finder on their website. All you need to do is select you product type (Kettle Chips), the flavour (Maui Onion) and put in your zip code. They even give you an option to buy online, but what I really need as a road tripper is a Maui Onion Finder App so I can see at a glance where I can track them down where ever I am.

Do you have a favourite chip or snack? Share it with me. I’d love to hear from you!

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Peter and Verna

My dad, Peter – who loved to wear a hat – and my oldest sister, Verna

My dad, Peter Stone, was an avid baseball fan.  He was 2 when his family immigrated to the US from Sweden, and 15 when his family re-immigrated to Canada, so, of course, he had played baseball growing up!  There were seven boys in his family, and every single one of them would rather be playing baseball than doing pretty much anything else. They used to say the Stones could field their own team!  

My dad’s twin brother, Paul, lived just 1/2 a mile from us, and we had a major rivalry when it came to The World Series.  Our family cheered for the National League and Paul’s family cheered for the American League.  Some of my 9 brothers and sisters were fans of the St. Louis Cardinals, but I was always a fan of the Dodgers. Back then, they were called the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Always a Dodger Fan

When I was young and it was baseball season, the entire family would be glued to the RADIO in the living room, listening to the play-by-play of the games. Long before television — and even longer before the sports broadcasters used visuals to help explain the game, we would create graphs of our own, to follow all nine innings (and sometimes more!) in a scribbler. Someone would be designated the scorekeeper, tracking the runners, the hits and the outs.  For those of us children still in school, mysterious ailments would inevitably arise, forcing us to stay home when our team made it to the final series.

After I became an adult and the World Series was televised, all of us found it nearly unbelievable that we were finally able to see our favourite players in person!  Although we’d get the newspaper – The Regina Leader-Post – with its pictures of players and coaches, seeing them on television was like a dream come true and, somehow, it made us love them even more.

Breaking my heart

Loving a team meant swelling with pride when they did well, and living with disappointment when they did not. As a 16-year-old, I first experienced heartache, because of the Dodgers. They led the league by 13 games in August, but lost in a three game series to the New York Giants for the pennant. The Giants, of course, later moved to San Francisco, where they still are.

In ’52, they played with my heart again, this time preventing those nasty Giants from having back-to-back pennant wins, winning the pennant.  That team had some high-powered batters, the likes of Gil Hodges, Jackie Robinson and Duke Snider. Other players I remember were Pee Wee Rese, Billy Cox, Roy Campanella and Carl Erskine. Despite all that batting power, the pennant was all they could muster, as they then lost the World Series to the New York Yankees.

Nineteen fifty-three was another heartbreak year, although the Dodgers’ roster was pretty much the same as it had been in 1952. They posted a winning season of 105-49 but lost the World Series 4 games to 2 and, like the year before, to those damn Yankees.

In 1957, the team moved to Los Angeles where it has continued its history as the Los Angeles Dodgers. Even though there was a romantic attachment to Brooklyn – a part of the greatest city of all, New York City, the Dodgers no longer having “Brooklyn” in front of their name, wasn’t all that disappointing to me. I rather thought their move to L.A. might be better for me — since L.A. is much closer to home and with the greater proximity, I felt my chances of ever being able to see them play in person had just increased.

The great betrayal

No, the change of location didn’t bother me very much. What my greatest disappointment was with baseball, and I don’t know when this started, was when players started being traded, and no longer stayed on the same team forever, like they used to back in the 40’s and 50’s. When a player was traded to another team, it felt like a knife had sliced through my heart. A trade, to me, was the great betrayal.


Dodgers' Training Camp

Maureen at the Dodgers’ training camp in 2015 next to the statue of Tommy Lasorda .

Back in Sun City, after the road trip to La Quinta, I had the opportunity to go to the Camelback Ranch, in Glendale, Arizona to watch the L.A. Dodgers in spring training. It’s a state-of-the-art facility that both the Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox use. I was there with my youngest daughter and her family. We stood and watched as the pitchers ran laps around the complex before starting their practice; we sat and watched as the coaches and the pitchers went through their routines.  On leaving the field, the pitching coach gave a baseball to my granddaughter, Lily. He picked her out as she had a pink cast on her leg because of a broken her ankle, which was a very nice gesture.

If the creek don’t rise

Unfortunately, I’ve not made it to a Dodgers game yet, but it is certainly on my bucket list. And, if the creek don’t rise…someday I will go!

 

 

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