About Me

My photo
Delta, British Columbia, Canada
I took very early retirement from teaching in '06 and did some traveling in Europe and the UK before settling down to do some private tutoring. As a voracious reader, I have many books waiting in line for me to read. Tell me I shouldn't read something, and I will. I'm a happy, optimistic person and I love to travel and through that believe that life can be a continuous learning experience. I'm looking forward to traveling more some day. I enjoy walking, cycling, water aerobics & and sports like tennis, volleyball, and fastpitch/baseball. I'm just getting into photography as a hobby and I'm enjoying learning all the bits and bobs of my digital camera. My family is everything to me and I'm delighted to be the mother of two girls and the Gramma of a boy and a girl. I may be a Gramma, but I'm at heart just a girl who wants to have fun.

Monday, September 29, 2008

ABC Wednesday - K is for Kitchen Stove





Here is the kitchen stove at London Heritage Farm in Richmond, BC, that I visited last July. If you missed my post about it, you can see a slide show and read about it here.



The house was built in the 1880s and ladies still bake scones and cookies here to serve in the dining room with their special blend of tea.



It was so cosy in the kitchen with all its aromas and shelves full of jams, jellies, and sauces.








This is the kitchen stove at the Murakami house at Britannia Heritage Shipyard park, built around 1885. You can still see it to this day at this incredible heritage site in Steveston, British Columbia. It's a much more modern version than the one at London Heritage Farm.
This was the home of boat builder Otokishi Murakami, his wife Asayo, and their family until they were evacuated in 1942 to a sugar beet farm in Manitoba. This was the time when all persons of Japanese decent were relocated to the interior of Canada because of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour.
When the house was restored in 1996, their son, George, rebuilt the traditional Japanese cedar bathtub. Their granddaughter, Linda Ohama, chronicled Asayo's life in her movie titled "Obaachan's Garden". The Murakami family helped replant the garden next to the house to commemorate Asayo's love of flowers. Asayo died in December 2002 at the age of 104.









And here is my kitchen stove, which is a far cry from the above two kitchen stoves. I don't have to chop wood to put inside it and it has lots of room for four large pots or pans. The controls are electronic, and the burners are underneath a ceramic top so I can also use it as extra counter space when it's not in use. The oven has regular and convection heating and above the stove is my ultra-modern built-in microwave.

Although the kitchen stoves of the 1880s and the 1940s have a great deal of character, I think I prefer my modern kitchen stove.

Mrs. Nesbitt is our hostess for ABC Wednesdays and if you'd like to contribute or even just view some of the participants' photos and stories, click here.

Oh, and if you'd like to see my Wordless Wednesday post, just click here.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Heritage of Ladner Village


Be sure to click on all the images to see them in a larger format.



Here is the new "Boot and Sombrero" restaurant that serves great Mexican food. It's okay, if you like Mexican food, but I preferred the restaurant that was there before. It was called "Uncle Herbert's Fish 'n Chips" and had a British theme. Inside are a couple of medium-sized rooms and several smaller rooms, each with a particular theme. All over the walls were photographs and memorabilia from the British monarchy and life in Britain. I miss old "Uncle Herbert's."

When I was the 1995 Census Commissioner for Ladner, I rented the upstairs area of this building to train my cenus representatives and administrative assistant. We were there for about a week and looked out of those actual windows over the main street of Ladner.








This is one of our First Nations people dressed in traditional garb. He is wearing a cloak embroidered with the image of the Orca and a hat woven out of cedar bark.


















This is one of the oldest houses still standing in the village, built in 1889. It has been well kept and renovated over the years to include all the modern conveniences.











Here's the old Ladner Village Hardware store. Whenever I go in, I just ask for help because it's so crammed full of everything you need, I don't know where to start looking. They're always helpful, though. One day this summer I went in and there was one of my former students working the front desk!






The sign - close up...



I like this shot because of the colours, and the shapes.





Below, on the right is the entrance to our local Museum. Yesterday, you could go in and visit the display, "1858 on the Delta" and figure out the mystery of the "Stagecoach Robbery."To the left of the door stand two totem poles, this one much taller than the other. I really like the top of this one with the eagle image.

























One of the many boats you'll see on the river. This one led the procession of the First Nations' longboat and many kayakers who took part in the water parade.












Finally, along the river you will see original fishing warehouses dating back at least one century.

DELTA POLICE PIPE BAND

video

This is the little parade led by the Delta Police Pipe Band followed by the Mayor (in green) and the local First Nations band Chief. They had just welcomed the Ladner Brothers ashore. The local First Nations band brought them down the Fraser River in their "Eagle Spirit" longboat.

Klondike Kate's "Girls"

video

KONDIKE KATE & THE OLD GEEZER

videoHere she is! Kondike Kate teasing one of the ol' geezers from my village. Enjoy!

More to come, too, so keep checking back.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

RIVERMANIA

I've been having such a great time today and am just stopping for a few minutes to tell you about Rivermania. It's a symbolic trip down the mighty Fraser River, the cradle of British Columbia and Peoples along the river as the creators of the history and culture of BC. River communities, and Delta as the end of the river, have been hosting major local celebrations and festivals spotlighting their unique character. The "trip" started on Aug. 24th in Prince George (about 500 miles north of us here) and arrived today in my village of Ladner. You can see it's a perfect day for the festivities, 18C with barely a breeze. Look at the reflections in the water here at the wharf where we waited for the First Nations to arrive in their longboat.


Cathy and I have lived in this area for over 30 years now so we thought we should check out this particular celebration. It's BC's 150th birthday this year and the anniversary of the first settlers in the area - the Ladner family in 1858. We decided not to attend the free pancake breakfast but were on hand for the reenactment of the Ladner Brothers being guided into the slough by Tsawwassen's First Nations "Eagle Spirit" canoe. We followed the parade, led by the Delta Police Pipe Band into the center of the village to listen as our Mayor and the band's Chief welcomed the Ladners.







We saw "Yukon Dan" illustrate how to pan for gold by separating minerals with magnets to find fool's gold or strike the real thing. We also admired his collection of artifacts and jewellry that he had on display. We checked out the clam chowder cook-off contest and got hungry smelling the soups as they slowly simmered to perfection.









Klondike Kate was on hand with her "girls" to entertain us all. It was hilarious to see her flirting with all the old coots and she even had some of them dress up in flaming red longjohns and crazy wigs and hats to do the can can with her.

I got a couple of good videos that I'll try to post later. I positioned myself in front of the Delta Police Pipe Band and slowly moved out of the way as they reached me and passed me by. I also got a few great videos of Klondike Kate performing. She was fabulous. (David, did you see her performance when you were up in the Yukon?)


Oh, and we also took a horse and buggy ride around Ladner Village and learned a lot more about where we've lived all these years. Here we are on the buggy - a lady kindly took our photo (we never seem to get in a photo together) because I took hers with her two little ones.

And here are a couple of photos of the horses. I just love Clydesdales - they are SO big but also SO gentle. These two had beautiful colouring and were impatient to get going.

For now I hope you enjoy these few photos as I prepare for the evening festivities - the final Ladner Market of the season. It's the first evening market (named "Moonlight Market") they've held and I want to see if I can find some Christmas gifts before Cathy and I find a comfy spot somewhere to have dinner. The market consists of 144 artisans and 22 local merchants and we will be entertained with live music by the rock & roll band Tyme Machine and blues band Grey Notes. Apparently, local restaurants are going to be providing special themed Rivermania menus. I'm getting hungry already!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Saturday Photo Hunters - VIEW

It's the weekend again already and today's theme is "View." Gee, of all the photos I have of views it took me a while to decide which one to use. I happen to like this shot I took back in early November, 2006, when in Segesta, Sicily. We trudged up a hill (you can see the path we trod in the photo) to view this Grecian temple and later took a bus up the side of the mountain to view the amphitheater and other ancient sites. From that vantage point I could see the Sicilian landscape and the highway snaking away into the distance. Stunning! But then on the way back down the hill, I managed to get this shot of the temple from above (with the bus bumping its way down). It doesn't show the immensity of its size, so I've added a smaller shot that shows a friend sitting by one of the pillars. Be sure to click on the photos to see them in a larger format.














Halloween Give-Away from Kate

Kate over at Chronicles of a Country Girl is having a Halloween Give-Away and she says, and I quote, "...if you pimp this contest on your blog, I'll give you two entries to double your chances of winning! "

Well, Heck, I'm not above pimping to win a prize! I know, I know, Halloween already? But she'll need time to send ME my winning gift so I get it before Halloween. Har Har!

Anyway, she does have a great blog, so go on over and introduce yourself and tell her I sent ya.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Death of a Succulent

Once upon a time there was a cactus named Willy. He lived in a nursery with lots of other plants, but his best friends were Biff and Happy. One day they were packed into a truck and taken to the local grocery store where they proudly preened themselves in front of all the lovely ladies who came by looking for house plants.

One day an old lady came by and looked the three of them over. After a great deal of checking out all the other plants, she finally decided to take Willy, Biff, and Happy.

"Whooee!" yelped Willie. "We've got a new home!"

"Yeah, and we'll all be together forever," answered Biff. "I want the window seat!"

Happy budged him saying, "Nope! I get it this time. You got to be by the window when we came here in the truck."

The three of them kept spiking at each other all the way along the grocery store conveyer belt. The clerk put them in the same bag and all the way home in the ugly old lady's car, Willy got the top spot. Biff and Happy weren't very happy with the situation.

"Ouch! Ouch!" they kept yelling.

The old lady put each of them in their very own special pot and placed them together on a table where they could see the TV.

"Cool," said Willy. "I love watching TV."

Every week, the old lady came and gave them all a nice long drink of cool water. And when she did, Willy, Biff, and Happy stood up tall and proud.

But after a few months, the old lady seemed to forget about the three friends.

"I'm thirsty," said Biff.

"So am I," said Happy.

"Me, too," said Willy.
One day Biff fainted. He just lay down all wilty.

The next day Happy fainted. He lay down all wilty, too.

The day after that, Willy just couldn't take it anymore and he started to feel rather droopy.

But suddenly, the old lady remembered about them and came to give them a big long drink of that lovely cool water.

"Glug, glug, glug," went Willy, Biff, and Happy.

But Biff and Happy couldn't take all that water. It was just too much.

"We're drowning!" they cried out.
And down they went. First Biff. Then Happy.

The next morning found Willy all alone. His best friends were gone. They lay there all wilty and wet. And when the old lady noticed after a few days, she took them away leaving Willy to stand up tall and proud as the last surviving friend.

Willy had seen a play on TV. His favourite one was "Death of a Salesman" and it was the story of a man who just couldn't take life anymore. Too much had happened that made him sad. Willy felt like that, too, missing his friends so much.

Even though the old lady gave Willy some water every once in a while, Willy just started to get sadder and sadder.

He started to wilt. First, he felt his tippy top tip curl under a bit. Then, he started to feel weaker in the middle. Willy slowly started to bend. Finally, Willy just couldn't hold himself up anymore, so he let himself fall all the way down onto his dry dirt bed.
"Biff! Happy! I miss you!" he rasped.

And so it came to pass that Willy joined his best friends Biff and Happy in that great big desert in the sky.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

ABC Wednesday - J is for Jack Jones

Did you know that "Jack Jones" is a Cockney rhyming slang for saying that you are on your own?

Q: "Who are you with?"
A: "I'm on my Jack Jones man - nuttin' going on."
OR
A: "I was sat there on my Jack Jones, like a right
billy no mates" (another British slang for being abandoned by friends.)

Jack Jones is also a famous American singer, born in 1938, who has been acclaimed by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme, and Tony Bennett. When I was a kid, Jack Jones was very well known and my Dad would often joke about how "he" was famous.
That's because my Dad was Jack Jones. (not the singer, though.)
My Dad wasn't famous for his singing, but he was famous in his own way. When he was only 11 years old, he started playing soccer. He was actually kicked out of the Salvation Army because he chose to play soccer on Sundays instead of going to church. But he didn't care then.
Dad became so famous in Vancouver that he was inducted into the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame in 1986. He had not only been an athlete that the Vancouver Sun would frequently write about during his time playing the sport, but also he went on to be a linesman, referee, and Commissioner of Soccer for the province. In the early 40's, anyone who knew anything about sports knew who Jack Jones was.
Dad had a good life, marrying my mother in 1943 a month after turning 22 years old. He then went on to serve in the RCAF during WW2 as a pilot and flight instructor. After the war, he returned to settle down to family life and worked until retirement for the telephone company. He loved his family and had three daughters (of whom I'm the middle one), four grandchildren (2 boys and 2 girls), and one great-grandson (my daughter's son). During his life he loved to play golf and watch hockey, travel, and play bridge with lots of their friends.
He passed away September 21st of last year, so as the letter J came up for this week, I thought I'd post a few photos of my own personal famous Jack Jones.

Age 19

RCAF during WW2, age 23

Banff 1953 (age 32)

At my wedding reception 1973 (age 52)

With my mother in Spain circa 1976 (age 55)

Snuggling with Jamie circa 1985 (age 64)

Hugging Jaclyn circa 1989 (age 67)

With great-grandson Noah 2004 (age 83)

Jack Jones

(January 18, 1921 - September 21, 2007)

Have a great week everyone and if you'd like to see more ABCW contributions, go to http://wednesdayabc.blogspot.com/ and read about how you, too, can participate.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Chasing Chestnuts

As I was walking my usual route this morning, I happened to look up and across the street and spied an interesting looking tree. I guess I've seen this tree thousands of times but obviously not at this particular time of year. At first it appeared to be laden with little green apples, but upon approaching, I noticed they were chestnut husks. I was so impressed I just had to stop and take a few shots.
Now I often see chestnuts on the streets and sidewalks around here and have always taken them for granted. And one wintery evening several years ago, I tasted some roasted chestnuts at Van Dusen Gardens while admiring their annual Christmas light show. They were delicious, but very very rich. So seeing all these chestnut husks hanging heavily on this tree got me wondering about chestnut trees, so I did a bit of digging. I found the following information about chestnuts here.

Probably one of the first foods eaten by man, the chestnut dates back to prehistoric times. The chestnut tree, Castanea sativa, was first introduced to Europe via Greece.
The majority of the chestnut trees currently found in America are of native European stock, but Native Americans feasted on America's own variety, Castanea dentata, long before European immigrants introduced their stock to America.
In 1904, diseased Asian chestnut trees planted on Long Island, New York carried a fungus hitchiker that nearly devasted the American chestnut population, leaving only a few groves in California and the Pacific Northwest to escape the blight.
Today, most of the chestnut food crop is imported from Japan, China, Spain, and Italy. Chestnuts are known as marrons in France and some parts of Europe. These starchy nuts are given to the poor as a symbol of sustenance on the Feast of Saint Martin and are also traditionally eaten on Saint Simon's Day in Tuscany.
Legend has it that the Greek army survived on their stores of chestnuts during their retreat from Asia Minor in 401-399 B.C.
Chestnuts contain twice as much starch as potatoes. It is no wonder they are still an important food crop in China, Japan, and southern Europe where they are often ground into a meal for breadmaking, thus giving rise to the nickname of "bread tree."
Chestnut timber resembles its cousin, the oak, in both color and texture and is highly-valued. Also known for its tanning properties, the trees can live up to five hundred years and usually do not begin to produce fruit until they are forty years old.

It's hard to believe that this tree in my neighbourhood is over forty years old, but according to my research it has to be. As I got closer to the tree to try to get a macro shot, the wind kept blowing the branches around. The husks looked very soft and fluffy, so I tried to grab the branch to keep it still. Ouch! They're very very sharp and spiky! Apparently, these husks (or burrs) can hold up to three chestnuts so I think I'm going to keep a closer eye on this tree so that I can gather them when they fall. The tree is on public property so there should be no problem taking them. Then I'm going to find out how to roast them.
It's hardly even fall, but I'm already looking ahead to Christmas and roasting chestnuts over an open fire. Hmmm, I just had my chimney cleaned, too. All I need is a cast iron pan.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

New Beginnings

It's the first day of fall and the first anniversary of my Dad's "new life." Yes, it's this time of year (for me at least) when I feel life is beginning again. I guess it goes back to when I was a little girl and looked forward to school. And as a teacher, it was always the beginning of a new school year from a different perspective. It was also on this day last year that my Dad took his final breath on this earth and began his new life in heaven. He was reunited with my Mom whom he loved more than anyone else in his life from the time he was only 21 years old. They almost made it to 60 years together and now they will have eternity.

Since my back was feeling - well - not "too" bad this afternoon, I decided to go for a walk around the block on a little photo safari. It was warm (18C/65F) with just a touch of a breeze so off I went to practise macros and just generally see what I could see. So in honour of my Dad and the first day of fall (at least on this hemisphere), here's a bit of what I captured through the lens. Be sure to click on the photos to see them in their larger glory!















































































As you can see, there's still lots of colour around. The trees are just hinting at turning their brilliant reds, yellows, and oranges, but it's still mostly green here. I hope everyone had a lovely weekend, whether it's the first day of fall or the first day of spring for our southern hemisphere friends.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Keeping Up With The Joneses


Pete McMartin, a regular columnist of the Vancouver Sun, has a thought-provoking commentary today. What with the recent economic disaster in the United States, we Canadians have also been touched by fear that our own economy might collapse. So far, so good.

But...

How many Canadians have huge mortgages, lines of credit, and credit-card debt due to home renovations, new cars, flat-screen TVs and all the up-to-the-minute toys and gadgets for themselves and their children?

Apparently, 25% of Canadians save no money at all and 20% of RRSP holders are cashing them in to pay for daily living expenses. (for my USA friends, RRSPs are registered retirement savings plans)

In an Ipsos-Reid poll done in May, it shows that 78% of those polled don't have enough money to cover emergency expenses for three months. What happens to these people if they suddenly lose their job or are faced with a serious illness or injury? It appears that 65% of these people consider their line of credit to be their emergency backup.

So as Pete McMartin puts it, "we've become a society of spendthrifts..."

But why?

One theory is that we have let our greed get the better of us. Financial institutions and marketing companies use that greed to get us to borrow more, spend more, and live the high life on money we don't have.

A personal example: I wanted to do a few renovations on my house. I need about $35,000 so went to my bank to see what they could do for me. Not only did they approve the $35,000 but also gave me a credit line up to $100,000. How many of you would be able to resist that?

We Canadians are a lot like our neighbours to the south. We, also, are willing to allow ourselves to be caught up in the throes of greed and a desire to keep up with the Joneses.

So when we hear about the greed on Wall Street (or in Toronto), are they "really" and totally to blame for the ruination of the economy?

I like how Pete states it at the end of his column: "Wall Street and all its permutations may have financed our glass houses - with their granite kitchen countertops and flat-screen TVs and new cars in the garage - but we willingly lived in them." Your thoughts?

Friday, September 19, 2008

La Via Italiana


All photos will enlarge if you click on them.








I have no idea why, but I was quite surprised that the Italian highways are so good. They are smooth, wide, and have great signage with lots of time to prepare to stop for gas (petrol) or a quick coffee. I took this photo of the car Umberto was driving with four of our group from the SUV in which the other six of us squeezed together.






However, when we reached the actual city of Rome, we had to maneuver the narrow cobblestone roads of the inner parts of the city. Our hotel was right beside the Pantheon and cars, buses, trucks, motorcycles, and other modes of transportation juggled amongst the many pedestrians. We were warned that in Italy the pedestrian does NOT have the right of way so it's every man or woman for him/herself.
This boy and his Dad had set themselves up right in the middle of all this furor. As the Dad played his guitar, the boy played his accordian and sang at the top of his lungs, "O Solo Mio." He was utterly fantastico!




One of the other modes of transportation in this area was horse and carriage. Several waited to be hired when the tourists exited the Pantheon. That's my hotel there in the background on the left - L'Albergo del Senato, rated 6th out of 1199 hotels in Rome. Great start for the trip!












While waiting to get into the Vatican, my roomie took my picture "pretending" to climb on this Italian motorcycle, parked right on the sidewalk. We were hoping a good-looking Italiano would come and offer to take us for a ride. At least, I was!












Again, the highways were fantastico and they took us to Florence where again we saw lots of cobbled streets.


Just as we rounded the corner into the Piazza della Signorina, a parade came by with flag bearers.....














...and drummers, all dressed in colourful garb.












As we wandered the streets looking for the Accademia where we would find "David," we came upon a street artist doing a chalk drawing of the Mona Lisa. You can see the type of tile this part of the street is made with.






Three weeks later, we found ourselves in Sicily. From the top of a mountain in Segesta (well, I'd call it a big hill since I live in the middle of the Coastal Range in BC), I got this shot of the highway snaking through the Sicilian hills.
All in all, I wouldn't hesitate to drive a car in Italy by myself. The roads are great, the scenery is spectacular, and the people are very helpful if you need a bit of direction.
For more Photo Hunt participants, go to tnchick's site and feel free to join in. The more the merrier!