• Sky Mountain Golf Course, Hurricane, UT

  • Maureen O’Shea at Torrey Pines

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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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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Ruth and Mo's selfie at the airport

Ruth and Mo at the Toronto airport

Maureen (my mom) got on the plane from Calgary to Toronto at 5:30 a.m. on Monday morning — the start of the trip to Ontario. A few hours later, she’d landed at the Lester B. Pearson Airport, and Ruth was there, in her Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight. That’s the car they’ll be using for the upcoming road trip. Off they went to Ruth’s cottage, just over two hours away.

Staging the Cottage

The cottage is for sale, and Ruth and Mo will be busy getting it into sales shape, making it into, as my friend Nancy used to say, “the prettiest cottage in the area!” The staging will begin in earnest today, uncluttering furniture, moving some onto the porch and perhaps garage selling the excess, but that’s still not decided. The cottage is being sold turn-key, I believe, so everything included, still, the staging needs to be right to get the buyers interested!

I got a Magic Jack call from Maureen yesterday afternoon. I know many people who use Magic Jacks to make VoIP (Voice Over Internet) calls — but you do need to have an Internet connection to make them, so she called me from the local libray. Later, we switched to Facetime — she has an iPad and I have a MacBook Air, and Facetime is an easy way for people using Apple products to communicate with each other. She sent me some pictures she’s taken to upload them to the blog.

Ontario countryside

The Ontario countryside – Photo by Maureen O’Shea

Maureen said she and Ruth had had a wonderful lunch at the home of friends of Ruth’s and her dearly departed husband — but I’ll let her tell the story. However, the scenery is beautiful, as Ontario is, and I’ll share one of Maureen’s pictures with you so you can see it too.

Notre Dame Hounds and Wilcox, Saskatchewan

It was a quick chat for a couple of reasons. I’d published a story on Monday on The Hockey Writers about the Four Hounds in the Stanley Cup Finals – these are four boys who all went to school and played hockey at Notre Dame College in Wilcox, Saskatchewan, a school where my dad, Doc, my sister Bridget and I all attended — and my mom had volunteered for several years on their Alumni Board, so we have a lot of interest in the school. Since the Chicago Blackhawks won, and Hound Brad Richards had played such a great role in that last game, I’d spent part of the morning on the phone with 74-year-old Terry O’Malley — 3 time Canadian ice-hockey Olympian (one time bronze medal winner) and former Notre Dame Hounds‘ coach, about his memories of Richards as a Bantam AAA and Junior A player. And then, because he had a fishing story for me — about lobster fishing with Richards’ parents, Glen and Delight, and he mentioned a dear friend of my mom and dad’s, John Weisshaar, I had to give the Weisshaars a call. They live in Ontario now, and Johnny, a farmer, school bus driver, coach and team manager from Wilcox, can tell the stories and has a great memory for a guy in his 8th decade. I spoke to his wife Roseline for quite a while too..I’d visited them two summers ago, and I miss them, especially since they’re some of the handful of people left who were good friends with my dad. Roseline, who has had Multiple Sclerosis since 1958, has never let her disease stand in her way of being Roseline. That’s probably why they were chosen the Godparents for my younger sister, Lisa: great character and a great character!

I find it hard to believe that people like John and Roseline are getting older. In my mind’s eye, they’re still super active and in their 50’s. But not any more, now that’s me. Roseline tells me, “Colleen, it’s hard to get old.”

My mom was only at the library for half an hour and soon, Ruth was back from running errands and off they went again. Maureen has some stories in the pipeline which I know you’re going to love to read and hopefully we’ll get them published this week!

Happy Birthday to Deborah

Today is my cousin, Deborah Rowbotham’s, birthday. Deborah will certainly enter into this blog from time to time, she’s one of my mom’s favourite road trip and golf partners. Happy Birthday, Debba Dear. Have a great day on the golf course (I know that’s what she’s got planned!) The picture of Deborah on the left (doesn’t she look great?) was taken after she and Maureen participated in the Huntsman World Senior Games in the golf category last year — but, as usual, that’s a story better left for Maureen to tell than me. It’s Deborah’s “Bus Pass” day, as my dad used to say, the day that seniors everywhere used to wait for to get reduced travel rates on public transportation. If, as my mom says, 78 is the new 65, then Deborah, you’re probably turning 50 today! Hooray!!!

And One More Thing…

You can follow my mom on Twitter — she’s @sevenpars (the day she shot 7 pars was a proud moment). She’s getting more and more followers, but her biggest follow so far this week is UK publication, Lady Golfer Magazine! Check them out. She only has 20 Twitter followers so far, so I’m impressed. Well done, Maureen, and Lady Golfer Magazine, my mom is certainly your target audience! Kudos to you too!

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