Great Kitchen Party Competition in Kelowna: Taste the Talent

Canada’s Great Kitchen Party hits Kelowna November 15 — with all the ingredients for gastronomic dreams of foodies. You can experience the sights, scents, tastes and textures firsthand of an esteemed competition.

This regional qualifying match for the Canadian Culinary Championships to be held February 2020 in Ottawa, brings together some of the Okanagan’s most talented chefs:
• Brock Bowes, CrAsian Food Concepts
• Chris Braun, RauDZ Regional Table
• Andrea Callan, Red Fox Club at Indigenous World Winery
• James Holmes, Salt & Brick
• Kai Koroll, BLOCK ONE at 50th Parallel Estate Winery
• Jeff Van Geest, Miradoro at Tinhorn Creek
• Rob Walker, Big White Ski Resort

I am privileged to know all of these chefs and lucky enough to experience their culinary acumen on several occasions. I am confident that the bar is set so high by each of them individually of what they’ll bring to the table, it’ll be a privilege to see it unfold in person. To me, it beats being a couch potato watching competitions on television or online of chefs I may never get the opportunity to check out in their own restaurant environments.

If still available, an individual ticket ($300.00) is a splurge. Still, it’s less expensive than a Michelin-Star paired experience and showcases broader talent. Where else can you get front row seats to such a high level of competition and entertainment with access to the amazing cuisine and music all in support of great causes. In this event, the city unites “to provide Canadian youth the opportunity to be extraordinary in sport, music and food”.

Plus, it offers students in the Culinary program of Okanagan College an unparalleled opportunity to learn from of the country’s premier chefs.

Okanagan College culinary students assist at Canadian Culinary Championships

The toughest test for ticket holders will be which chef to root for most and how to pace consumption to truly taste the last dish as precisely as the first. Expect exquisitely conceived and executed elevated cuisine.

Another unique benefit of attending is the music with the opportunity to listen to such fabulous performers in an intimate setting. Musicians include the highly gifted roster of Jim Cuddy, Neil Osborne, Anne Lindsay, Devin Cuddy and Sam Polley.

Emcee for Kelowna is the Okanagan’s own outstanding athlete Kelsey Serwa. Co-Chairs are Daniel Bibby, Tracy Clark and Renee Wasylyk. Judy Burns is Honorary Co-Chair with Harry McWatters, who passed away suddenly this year and is sadly missed. No doubt his legacy will be highlighted at the event.

Harry McWatters was always on hand to support the Canadian Culinary Championships. Shown here with his partner Lisa Lalonde

For a tribute by David Lawrason, read https://www.winealign.com/articles/2019/07/25/in-fond-memory-of-harry-mcwatters/.

My own tribute can be found at https://gonzookanagan.com/harry-mcwatters-gonebeforehistime-not-before-his-time-winery/.

Based on the National Judging criteria, Kelowna judges: James Chatto, Chef Bernard Cassavant, Judy Burns, Jennifer Schell, Chef Mark Filatow and Chef Jeremy Lyupen will be rating each dish and beverage pairing. It’s always fun to see how your personal favourites compare to the judges’ decision.

Added to the excitement, are some exceptional auction opportunities such as exclusive trips.

Held in the beautiful conference facilities at Delta Hotels by Marriott Grand Okanagan Resort. For more information and access to purchase tickets or sponsorship, see https://greatkitchenparty.com/ca/cities/kelowna/

Last year’s Canadian Culinary Championships were held in Kelowna and you can check out my account of it here: https://gonzookanagan.com/best-chef-best-wine/

Presentations at culinary competitions are truly exquisite

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Help Sate Hunger at The Fork and Spoon Gala 2018 Kelowna

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A simple breakfast, many of us take for granted, is a luxury for some.

This Saturday, October 13, 2018, in Kelowna, I’m excited to attend as nine local chefs convene to cook at The Fork and Spoon Gala in support of the Central Okanagan Food Bank (COFB). Event organizer Cody Pollard of Fermented Dining was motivated to present this fundraising opportunity by his belief that no one should have to go hungry.

Says Pollard, “As a member of the Okanagan Chefs Association, I try to support as many initiatives as I can that ensure people have no need to choose between other expenses and food. We all need to eat to survive plus food is delicious. In this case, I decided to step up and plan a fun and creative event to directly align with the food bank’s mission.”

Nine talented chefs from around the Okanagan and the Okanagan Chefs Association have rallied around the cause to present nine courses with local wines, entertainment and a silent auction.

The special twist on this nine-course tasting menu is that our creative chefs can use only ingredients that the Food Bank currently has in the warehouse, drawing from these donations for inspiration.

While Food Banks strive to provide food that is fresh such as milk, eggs, bread, fruits and vegetables, we’ve all seen the stacks of macaroni-and-cheese boxes, peanut butter and soup tins in donation boxes in stores and offices. I’ve been fortunate enough to experience the cuisine of almost all of these gifted chefs so I can’t wait to see what they’ll cook for us within this challenge!

For more details and to purchase tickets with all proceeds benefitting COFB, click https://trellis.org/campaign/The%20Fork%20and%20Spoon%20Gala/5b6c8496414d544161c1153d (Price is $250 each or purchase a table of eight for $1,900.)

 

Learn more about the Central Okanagan Food Bank at Central Okanagan Food Bank which operates Kelowna and West Kelowna warehouses. You might be surprised, for instance, to learn that 33 per cent of clients are children under the age of 15. An incorporated society, registered charity, it is governed by an elected Board of Directors, and is a member of Food Banks Canada, Food Banks BC, the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Westside Board of Trade.

Join in the fun, if you can! If attending is not possible, please support your local food banks in whatever way you can manage.

#jointhefoodmovement

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7th Annual Barrel Bash celebrated at Da Silva Vineyards and Winery

After an eventful season that included the addition of the new brand Da Silva Vineyards and Winery to the successful Misconduct Wines on the Naramata Bench to mark its 10th Anniversary, owners Richard and Twylla da Silva welcomed guests to the 7th Annual Barrel Bash, Saturday, September 29.

Says Richard and Twylla, “We’ve unveiled this new brand to highlight our evolution, winemaking and family’s history. Our Da Silva label presents ultra-premium, small lot wines centered around the 11 diverse vineyards we manage.”

It reflects their belief that the geography of a grape’s growth is one of the most important factors in its resulting quality. Richard and Twylla are dedicated to creating wines that are reflective of the personalities of their vineyards, using low intervention winemaking techniques and extended cellar aging.

The da Silva family immigrated in 1955 to the Naramata Bench from Portugal arriving with a suitcase and a strong work ethic. Applying hard work and farming to make their way, the first family farm was purchased in 1959.

“Today, we continue the tradition with a deep-rooted connection and respect for the land”, says Richard da Silva, Proprietor and Vigneron of Da Silva Vineyards and Winery. “Twylla and I drew extensively from this heritage when creating our winery in 2008 and the evolution of our journey and wines are a testament to our long family lineage. Our journey has been a true discovery of place.”

Upon entering the winery, guests were greeted with a glass of sparkling wine – the lovely Narrative by Okanagan Crush Pad given that the da Silvas have yet to produce their own bubbly. After brief words of introduction, the party spilled into the dining room where beautifully decorated tables adorned with wine glasses and charcuterie awaited.

Chef Abul Adame of The Kitchen presented six delectable courses with an Italian theme paired with wines from Da Silva Vineyards and Winery including the inaugural release of 2012 Black Label Merlot.

Chef Abul Adame with the lady who inspired him into the kitchen — his Mom

Enrichening the evening was music by Violet Finch, a Vancouver trio, who were also willing to accept requests from the guests.

Vancouver musicians Violet Finch

During a break, the Violet Finch team sorted out requests

We sat at a table with two couples whose vineyards supplied Da Silva with grapes and truly enjoyed the conversation. One of vineyard owners had recently sold his property to the da Silvas and was delighted to see the legacy continue.

MENU

1st course

Antipasti: Warm mixed olives, Toasted walnut and roasted garlic spread, Salami Loveto and Gorgonzola, Anchovies in citrus vinaigrette
Paired with 2015 Massacre Rosé

2nd course

Tomato velouté with basil coulis and toasted pine nuts
Paired with 2016 Misfit

3rd course

Mixed green salad with polpettine di Melanzane, duck confit with Amarena cherry gastrique
Paired with 2015 Pinot Noir

4th course

Capellini, mushrooms, sage brown butter with Grana Padano cheese
Paired with 2016 Chardonnay

5th course

Red wine slow braised beef, soft polenta and maple roasted squash
Paired with 2012 Black Label Merlot
*Inaugural Release*

6th course

Espresso Tiramisu
Paired with 2014 Inverno Icewine

Thanks and Salutes

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“Same same but” Better at Brodo Kitchen

I’m adapting that delightful phrase oft heard in Asia, “Same same but different” to describe the launch of the new menu at Penticton’s Brodo Kitchen. (It’s a saying that evolved as a basic way to tell foreigners that an item being sold is just as good as something with which they are familiar to a broader truth expressing how we share common human experiences throughout the world.)

Just shy of its five-year anniversary, Brodo Kitchen has tweaked its menu to refresh what’s available as regular offerings. From its opening in May 2013, Brodo Kitchen was an immediate success and local favourite. Consequently, Chef/Owner Paul Cecconi, wife Holly, Sous Chef Liam McNulty, and team, didn’t mess dramatically with the winning formula. Rather they’ve seized the opportunity after years of presenting daily specials to see what items tickle the taste buds of customers and to consider what are emerging trends in cuisine.

Owner/Chef Paul Cecconi introduces Brodo Kitchen’s revised menu

These observations are now honoured on the invigorated menu. Plus, popular options like being able to create your own Soup Flight of three of the day’s varieties remain.

It’s still the folksy approach we love posted on chalkboards above the order counter or on the bulletin of daily specials pasted on the cash register that I first wrote about in Savour Magazine in Fall/Winter 2013. You can link to that article, found on page 44, Savour Magazine Fall/Winter 2013, if you’d like to read more about Chef Cecconi’s culinary background.

Brodo Kitchen was included in an article called “Trash to Food Treasure” that I wrote for OpenRoad Driver Magazine. Read it on pages 26 to 30 of Volume 14, Issue 1 OpenRoad Driver.

On www.tastebrodo.com you can also learn more about the Brodo story, its menu, catering, and takeout as well as read the blog to get to know the team and latest accomplishments.

As you’d expect, there’s still a strong connection to comfort food and what can be sourced locally and what’s in season in the Okanagan. The motto of “simply fresh food” remains and “farm fresh” ingredients are purchased locally and from producers in the Okanagan or from around BC. All seafood is Ocean Wise ®. The new menu provides a few more vegetarian options and upon request, everything can be made gluten free.

What you might not expect are some delightful surprises emerging from the kitchen as Brodo’s contemporary spin on comfort food is enlivened with an international flair. Think Cubano sandwich, Soba noodle salad, Truffled mushroom and lentil soup.

On Chinese New Year’s, I was lucky to be included in an afternoon sneak preview which included small bowls and bites of the new items. Already I have some personal favourites such as the Spicy Tomato Meatball sandwich; Smoked Salmon ‘Nicoise’ salad or Pulled Chicken and Dumpling soup which I’ll be seeking regularly to jettison cravings.

The preview proved that you can’t go wrong whatever you select. Some items such as the Grilled Cheese sandwich represented a fine tuning of the previous one offered. If like me, you’re ready to shed tears for a couple of favourites no longer on the chalkboard, fear not: Brodo Kitchen plans to feature them periodically on its daily specials – more reasons to follow Brodo Kitchen on Facebook and @tastebrodo on Instagram.)

While the food reveals the touch of an accomplished and experienced team, the ambiance at Brodo Kitchen shows no snootiness. For those late to the fan club, you’ll find Brodo Kitchen at 483 Main Street, Penticton, BC. It’s open for lunch and dinner, Monday through Saturday, 11 am to 8 pm.

Step in the door and head to the counter on your left to peruse the chalkboard menu organized by Soups, Sandwiches, and Salads. Be sure to check out the daily specials bulletin and the glass cabinet for desserts of the day. Place your order, pay, and await your number to be called. If you’d like some water, just fill one of the mason jars on the side counter from the container beside them. That’s where you’ll find napkins and cutlery.

Choose, too, from a nice selection of beverages such as local wine, craft beer, apple juice, Backyard Beans coffee roasted in Summerland, and Brodo’s own bone broth and homemade seasonal fruit drinks.

#bcwine such as CedarCreek Estate

While you’re waiting, check out the coolers for take-home soups, broth and other items; and see the shelves above the water counter for pickles and preserves you can buy.

The restaurant’s atmosphere exudes an appreciation for community and while the team doesn’t brag about it much, you’ll find them involved in many local initiatives. Once a month, Brodo’s hosts Soup Sisters/Broth Brothers Penticton where folks pay to participate in soup-making for the women’s shelter with the bonus of growing friendships and indulging in a bowl of that beautiful soup along with a glass of local wine.

Additionally, Chef Cecconi volunteered at Outma Sqilx’w Cultural School located on the Penticton Indian Band Reserve, as part of the Okanagan Chefs Association program, Chefs in the Classroom, last spring. Not only has he signed on again, he’s convinced his Sous Chef McNulty to join the team of volunteers.

Be sure to check out the new menu soon at Brodo Kitchen. I’m sure you’ll be ecstatic like me to find it “same same but better”.

Bonus on Chinese New Year’s Menu Launch – Lucky and Tasty!

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Front Row to Canada’s Sexiest Cuisine: Canadian Culinary Championships

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You can seize the opportunity to observe the top chefs from across Canada vying for the coveted Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals of the Canadian Culinary Championships next week in Kelowna. I can’t resist the adrenalin.

Limited tickets are still available to the culmination of a year of competitions in which these chefs placed first in their rigorous regional challenge to earn the right to put their culinary skills on the line. If you are passionate about food, it’s a privilege you won’t want to miss.

Said Wolfgang Puck, “Cooking is like painting or writing a song. Just as there are only so many notes or colors, there are only so many flavors – it’s how you combine them that sets you apart.”

Following strict guidelines in three unique competitions, these chefs will draw upon their creativity, expertise, speed, and stamina to climb to the podium much like our talented Canadian Olympians. In fact, the net proceeds from the Canadian Culinary Championships are given to the Canadian Olympic Foundations which supports athletes and high-performance programs such as Own The Podium. To date nearly $12 million has been raised.

The late, great Chef Paul Bocuse said, “It is our duty to give meaning to the life of future generations by sharing our knowledge and experience; by teaching an appreciation of work well done and a respect for nature, the source of all life; by encouraging the young to venture off the beaten path and avoid complacency by challenging their emotions.”

We watch our athletes rise to the call in the Olympics, and in support of them, at the Canadian Culinary Championships, we can witness great chefs at peak performance. Each year I attend I am blown away by the ingenuity and skill of the competing chefs and their teams.

And as Julia Child observed, “People who love to eat are always the best people,” so it’s a joyful and fun event in which to participate.

Tickets can be purchased separately for the Friday and Saturday evening events. To witness the Black Box competition, you need to purchase the inclusive event pass.

EVENT DETAILS:

Mystery Wine Pairing – Competition I
Date: Friday, February 2, 2018
Time: 6 pm: Reception followed by sampling each Chef’s dish paired with the mystery wine
Venue: Delta Grand Okanagan Resort
Fee: $145
Parking: $24 in hotel Parkade, $32 for Valet
Dress: Smart Casual
Chefs are given a mystery bottle of wine and are challenged to create a dish with
local ingredients that best complement the mysterious vintage, in a set amount of
time and with a set budget.
Guests have the pleasure of sampling these creations on the opening night of
the competition, in a stand-up cocktail reception format. During the event, guests
taste the mystery wine and play ‘judge’ as they vote on the ‘People’s Choice Award’ for
the best food and wine pairing.
In addition, five ‘Gold Medal Pints’ finalists (selected from 50 craft beers from across
Canada) will be featured and the bronze, silver and gold medal winning beers will be
announced! A silent auction of rare wines and other experiences is featured.
Food and wine included.
Please note the evening is a stand-up reception format. Food and wine included.

The Grand Finale – Competition III
Date: Saturday, February 3, 2018
Time: 6:30 pm
Venue: Delta Grand Okanagan Resort
Fee: $285
Parking: $24 in hotel Parkade, $32 for Valet
Dress: Cocktail

The Competition (stand up reception format)
6:30 pm Sample each Chef’s dish and their paired beverage and an opportunity to meet all attending Olympic athletes
The Celebration (seated, please refer to table number on your ticket)
8:15 pm Dessert created by Executive Pastry Chef Arthur Chen
MC: Olympic Gold Medalist in Ski Cross, Ashleigh McIvor
Entertainment: Canadian Classic Rock Band 54-40
Live auction of once-in-a-lifetime experiences
Crowning of Canada’s Best Chef for 2018!

Event Pass for all three competitions: $490

Tickets must be purchased in advance. For complete details on all of the competitions, competing chefs, judges, sponsorship partners, and to buy your tickets before they sell out, visit https://goldmedalplates.com/home/culinary-championships/

Moments from 2017 Competitions

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So many menus, so little time

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With the return of DINE AROUND THOMPSON OKANAGAN presented by the Wines of British Columbia January 17 to February 4, 2018, members of The British Columbia Restaurant and Foodservices Association (BCRFA) are presenting another exciting array of menus.

You’ll find tasting menus featured, generally three courses, for $15, $25, $35 and $45 with suggested BC VQA wine pairings, BC Craft Beer pairings or spirits and cocktail pairings. Says Christina Ferreira, event coordinator, “More than 8,000 people are expected to take in the festival with some 50 participating restaurants from Kamloops to Penticton.”

Half the fun is checking out www.dinearound.ca to learn which restaurants are committed to the action and to preview their Dine Around menus online. This festival inspires owners and chefs to show the capability of their kitchens, so reservations are highly recommended.

“This festival is great for restaurants as we help promote their businesses during what has been traditionally a slow time of year,” comments Ian Tostenson, President/CEO BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association. “Consumers also appreciate it as they have the opportunity to sip, savour and save with these delicious three course menus for such incredible prices. Many residents take the opportunity to get out and try restaurants that they may not have ever been to or don’t visit often enough, it’s a win win for the consumer and our member restaurants.”

Ferreira adds, “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to promote the Wines of British Columbia during the Dine Around Thompson Okanagan Festival. This is an excellent opportunity for local restaurants, wineries and breweries to focus locally and showcase how well BC VQA wines, BC Craft Beer and Craft Spirits pair with our local foods.”

I’ve been perusing the many delectable menus in restaurants in Kelowna, West Kelowna, Lake Country, Peachland, Penticton, Summerland, Vernon, and Kamloops, and keen to try out a few.

I did have a sneak-a-peek at the Dine Around Launch held last week at Okanagan College. It’s worth the trek to Kelowna from Penticton just to see the range of options available. At the launch, some 300 people enjoyed an evening featuring delicacies from 15 restaurants and 20 wineries.

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As if the special menus weren’t incentive enough for the community to visit participating restaurants during Dine Around, The BCRFA is added a contest you can enter to win $250 in restaurant gift cards by requesting a ballot entry form, completing and leaving at the restaurant. There are also chances to win throughout the festival by winning $25 gift cards from participating restaurants by using social media; to enter, the community is encouraged to take a photo of your food and wine, spirit or beer pairing and then tag the restaurant you are visiting along with #dinearound2018 and post to twitter, Facebook or Instagram to be automatically entered, winners will be selected at random throughout the festival and there are more than twenty chances to win through social media.

To follow the festival, you can like the page on facebook.com/sipsavoursave follow @bctastesbetter on twitter and Instagram and follow the hashtag #dinearound2018

Now which restaurants to choose this year?

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Winter Solstice: Brighter Days are Coming

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It’s Winter Solstice so, for me at least, there’s hope in the air. As the hours of sunlight each day progress toward Spring, my recollections through the Christmas season promise golden moments in the new year.

 
I count myself as lucky and live a good life although I wouldn’t be straight with you, if I didn’t mention there’s been a melancholy brushing up against my world.

 
The realization in November it was 25 years ago since we said goodbye to my Dad hit hard. Today, as I write this, my dear friend Jennifer Cockrall-King is delivering a talk about her Dad (Terrence Cockrall, Q.C.) at his Memorial Service and Prayers in Edmonton. My husband Mark and I are there in heart with her and her family. We had the privilege of reading the text of her presentation. In her usual fashion, she is humble about the talented piece of writing in this time of deep sadness.

 
December 9, 2016, my brother-in-law’s Mom (Ida Kearns) passed away at age 93 on what would’ve been my Mom’s birthday had she not died in 2008. For me and my siblings, Sandee and Barry, she was the last of our surviving parents. If that doesn’t touch your mortality, I’m not sure what would.

 
How long Mom and Ida lived on after their dearly loved spouses was also a reminder that life goes on. We were so proud of both these strong ladies on moving forward from such loss.

 
My Dad had always been healthy and strong beyond normal standards. He had survived World War II despite on four occasions having his tank hit sustaining no personal injuries. On one of those occasions he was blown right out of the tank to be the sole survivor. To his death, his teeth were almost perfect save for a couple of cavities related to shrapnel hitting him during the War.

 
While it was after us kids had grown up and urged him to share stories, we learned of other significant incidents where luck seemed on his side. Once, he came upon a field of mushrooms, which he always loved, and was so thrilled to have a change in the army rations, he wandered randomly happily gathering up all he could find. Just hours later without any new enemy activity, a group of allies were taken out by landmines buried in that same field. Another time, he got caught behind enemy lines and hid first in a grain field. Then local friendlies, at great personal risk, stowed him away for a few days until it was safe enough for him to creep back to his side. The Canadian Army had advised his parents he had died and quickly had to telegraph them with the good news he was alive.

 
In civilian life, he defied death, too. When he underwent emergency surgery in Calgary for a ruptured appendix, the surgeon discovered he had ruptured previously. His body had formed his own protective sac around it preventing the infection from draining into his abdominal cavity. Somewhere in medical journals, this amazing fact is documented. Because of Dad’s steadfast health, my parents knew exactly that the earlier rupture had happened when we lived in Fort Churchill, Manitoba in the sixties. They recalled Dad had a brutal stomach ache, however, refused to go to the hospital. The only doctor in town at that moment was known to be a morphine addict and there was no way Dad would trust him.

 
In the end it was Dad’s hard work that changed his luck. He died from Mesothelioma, industrial-based cancer from asbestos exposure. Some folks would be extremely bitter about that. Not Dad. If his family would be taken care of, he could resign himself to the fate, saying who knew at the time there’d be such consequences. Oh, he demonstrated hope and put up a good fight. Then, died graciously surrounded by love.

 
Here I share a Luck was a favored companion, written about Dad by Brian Brennan in his Calgary Herald column Tribute: People Who Made a Difference.Buchanan_Lloyd_Luck_CalgaryHerald

 

That year as we celebrated Mom’s birthday, December 9 without him and dreaded the arrival of Christmas, their wedding anniversary on December 26 and New Year’s and beyond in his absence, I sent out the Christmas message shown below.Christmas at the Crossroads

 

We Do Move Forward
In examining my melancholy, I accept some of it’s related to a coming of age and changing of seasons. The departure of old things making way for the new. Some of it extends beyond me to people I care about. A friend whose marriage ended, a nephew-in-law who lost a sister far too young to die, a girlfriend’s whose husband died from cancer, friends sandwiched between aging parents and needy adult children, other friends experiencing career challenges and so goes the list.

 
Tearing at my heart is my husband’s growing desire to move away from this acreage that I love so much. In the stressful final years of my fulltime working days, creating this home on this view property was my talisman that kept me going. Now, having actualized that dream where we live comfortably within a wildlife corridor whose occupants give me so much joy, I am reluctant to let go.

 
Then I remember my Mom and how awesome she was every time my Dad said it was time to move again. For the love of him, she would pack up our family, start the dialogue about the wonderful experiences ahead, and then fill us with love for our new home. It was magical, and reminds me of the strength in giving our happiness freedom from one place or time or thing.

 
As the poet William Wordsworth so eloquently put it in Intimations of Immortality:
“What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind”
Read the whole poem here, www.bartleby.com/145/ww331.html

 
For now, forgive me if I over post on social media, all the splendour in which I’m immersed. I’ll “be in the moment” until the new journey unfolds.

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