About Me

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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.

Friday, April 27, 2007

For the love of reading

Reading is my favourite pastime and periodically, I go through my bookshelves to see which one I'd like to read again. As I was browsing my shelves today, I thought it would be nice to share some of my very favourite books that I am willing to lend out, but definitely want back.

First comes W.O. Mitchell's Who Has Seen the Wind, written in 1947. When I finished it, I believed it to be the most poetic story I'd ever read. I remember sighing and reveling in the memory of the words that had flowed across the pages to bring me the story of a boy named Brian and the prairie wind (God). Mitchell brings images of the realities of birth, hunger, eternity, and death in this story of a boy's struggle to understand what defeats mature and educated men. It is the story of the ultimate meaning of the cycle of life. The book ends with:

The wind turns in silent frenzy upon itself, whirling into a smoking funnel, breathing up top soil and tumbleweed skeletons to carry them on its spinning way over the prairie, out and out to the far line of the sky.

If you are not familiar with W.O. Mitchell, you must check out this book. Mitchell was born in 1914 in Weyburn, Saskatchewan, but moved to California and then Florida after suffering from tuberculosis. He received his B.A. (1942) from the University of Alberta and began teaching while publishing short stories. Mitchell then became fiction editor of Maclean's in Toronto until 1951. After that, he moved to Alberta, writing and teaching. He became director of creative writing at the Banff School of Fine Arts from 1975 to 1986 and also taught at the University of Windsor. He died in Calgary, Alberta, in 1998.

It would be wonderful if you would share your thoughts, feelings, and learning experience after reading this remarkable novel.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Story of the Sad Sadness

I've been feeling depressed and fearful for a few weeks now. Since the beginning of the year, I've been overwhelmed by family medical problems, the loss of my dog, and unexpected bills. I worry all the time about what's going to happen and can't get past my fear. However, the other day, I was browsing the blogs and came upon a site that I used to visit often. It's Sandy's place at http://imwaitingincanada.blogspot.com/ . She had posted the following story and after reading through it, I realized that God had taken me there for a reason. I hope it's as helpful to others as it was for me.

Once upon a time there was a little woman who walked along the dusty field-path. She was quite old yet her steps were light and springy and her smile had the fresh glow of a carefree girl. She stopped at a cowered figure and looked down. She couldn’t recognize much.
The being that sat in the dirt on the path seemed to be almost bodiless. She reminded her of a grey flannel blanket with human shape.
The little woman bent a little forward and asked: ”Who are you?” Two almost lifeless tired eyes looked up towards her. “Me? I am the Sadness”, whispered the voice haltingly and softly, almost too soft to hear.
“Oh, the Sadness!” said the woman pleased as if she would greet an old friend.
“You know me?” asked the Sadness mistrusting.
“Of course I know you! You accompanied me every once in a while over and over again on parts of my path.”
“Yes, but…” said the Sadness suspiciously, “why don’t you run away from me? Aren’t you afraid?”
“Why should I run from you, my dear? You know very well yourself that you catch on with everybody who tries to get away from you. But, what I wanted to ask you: “Why do you look so discouraged?”
“I am … sad”, replied the grey figure with broken voice.
The little woman sat down at her side. “So, you are sad”, she said and nodded with understanding. “Tell me what bothers you.”
The Sadness sighed deeply. Was there really someone who would like to listen to her this time? How often did she wish for that to happen.
“You know”, she started hesitantly and very astonished, “it’s just that nobody actually likes me. It is my destiny to visit humans for a while but when I show up they are scared of me. They are afraid of me and try to avoid me like the plague.”
The Sadness swallowed some tears. “They invented phrases that they try to ban me with. They say things like: “Nonsense, I can’t be sad. Life is always bright and fun.” And their fake smiles give them stomach cramps and they have a hard time breathing. They say: “Praise is what makes us tough,” and then they end up with heartache. They say, “One just has to put it all together and suck it up!” and then they feel all kinds of aches and pains in their shoulders and their backs. They say: “Only weak people cry!” and the banked up tears almost make their heads burst. Or they try to numb themselves with alcohol or drugs so that they don’t have to feel me.”
“Oh yes”, confirmed the old woman, “I’ve met people like that before.”
The Sadness turned even sadder… “But all I want is to help humans. When I am very close to them they can face themselves. I help them build a nest to cuddle up in to take care of their wounds. Somebody who is sad has very thin skin. Old sorrows surface again like a bad healed wound and that can hurt a lot. But who is able to face their grief and sorrow and cries? All the uncried tears can truly make their wounds heal. People don’t want me to help them though. Instead they put on a flashy smile on top of their scars. Or they put on a heavy shield of bitterness”.
The Sadness was silent now. Her crying at first was weak, then it became stronger and finally it was very desperate.
The little, old woman hugged her, caressed the shaky bundle and thought to herself how soft and gentle Sadness felt. “Cry, Sadness, let your tears flow”, she whispered full of love, “Rest so that you can gather your strength back. From now on you shall not wander all by yourself. I will join you so that discouragement and despair can’t take over anymore.”
The Sadness quit crying. She looked her new companion straight in the eyes: “But, but who are you?”
“Me?” said the old lady with a smile on her face und then she laughed again like a carefree young girl.
“I am HOPE.”

I have to believe there is light at the end of the tunnel, that fear of the unknown will just cripple me. I just have to let go and let God.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


How many of you remember lying back on the grass in the summertime and gazing up at the clouds? What did you see? Did you let your imagination go wild and watch the circus animals marching into town, sea creatures, bunny rabbits, and characters from fairy tales?
I was driving home this radiant spring evening just as the sun was smoothly sliding towards the east. I allowed my imagination to emerge, and I observed the shapes that the fluffy clouds took. First, I saw one of the three blind mice, probably fleeing the old lady with the carving knife. Then, I saw Nemo! Well, it was either Nemo or an orca with an underbite. Next came the Easter bunny, all fluffy and white hopping down the bunny trail. To my left, I noticed the big bad wolf, looking a bit grey from fright and tail flowing out behind him, running away from the lumberjack. Finally, an Air Canada jumbo jet, carrying a full load of tourists, headed south towards the warm sandy shores of Mexico.
What a wonderful drive. Sigh...

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Beach at Boundary Bay

This is me today at Bear Creek Park before I went down to the beach on my own.

It was a beautiful day at Centennial Beach today. There were signs of spring all over and I had a blast taking photos until my battery died. In the midst of the sand and reeds stood this lone tree, just beginning to bloom.
These are tiny little flowers blooming in the middle of the sand.

I call this piece of driftwood art "The Ark 2007." These two young menstarted building it around 2:00 pm and it was 5:00 when I ran into them. They wanted me to take their picture as they were so proud of their accomplishment. They deserved a beer or two for their hard work.

This one I call "Senior Moment." This is true beauty in my mind.

These teens were having fun sitting around a firepit and I caught them unawares as they were putting out the fire. They looked like really nice young guys. I felt so sorry for the child who left this beachball behind. It looked so lost and lonely waiting for its owner to retrieve it.

And now, some Driftwood Art.

"Cave" complete with "furniture"



And now some wild life:

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Leslie and Josie's Excellent Spring Adventure

Feel free to click on photos to enlarge.
Today was one of the most beautiful days we've had in a long long time. Josie and I had planned on going over to Dundarave Beach to walk along the seawall. First, we went for lunch at a wonderful restaurant called Beaches. We were very lucky to get a window seat overlooking the beautiful garden just off the outdoor patio and the ocean.
After a scrumptious lunch of warm goat cheese encrusted in walnuts salad and dessert of rhubarb crumble, we ambled outside and took lots of photos of each other. Josie will post her own photos, but here are a few of mine. These red tulips were in full bloom just outside the restaurant and we couldn't NOT take a shot of them.
Also, these bright pink tulips were closer to the seawall and I couldn't resist taking a shot of them with the bench in the background.

Some of you didn't believe us when we told you we have palm trees in Vancouver. Well, we took some shots to prove it to you.

The magnolias were almost in full bloom, so naturally we had to get some shots.

Then when we were leaving, we spotted this huge tree, and Josie insisted on taking my photo.

Oh yes, and me with the ocean and Lion's Gate Bridge in the background.

Saturday, April 07, 2007


For those of you who've read my previous post, you'll remember my cute little cocker spaniel and the problems we've been having with his desire to be the boss.

Unfortunately, last night with no provocation, he lunged at me not once but twice and got my hand in his mouth. I ended up in emergency having my hand x-rayed to see if he'd broken any bones.
The pain from a dog bite is inexplicable. Although Robbie didn't break the skin, my hand immediately swelled up and turned blue. I had to clench my teeth against the throbbing pain that welled up and down my arm and into my finger tips.
What causes a sweet little puppy to turn evil like this? We have had several dogs in the past and loved them deeply. At 8-weeks of age, we were thrilled to bring Robbie home and to make him a member of the family.
We thought we did things right. We fed him only the best food, took him for professional training and grooming, bought him toys and played with him, took him for daily walks, etc. Maybe it was inbred and just his true nature that finally emerged as he became an adult dog.
I am heartsick, but he is now toast. May he rest in peace.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Devil or Angel?

Well, the dog just got a reprieve, thanks to daughter #2.

Robbie is 3 1/2 years old and really really cute. But when he was around 18 months old, he decided he wanted to be the boss. No way, Jose, I thought and promptly took him for training with a local, well-known and reputable professional.

Six weeks later, we carried on at home with what we'd learned. He was okay - for a while.

Then, last fall he decided again that he was going to be the boss. He started showing aggressive behaviours again, and I started wondering if I should find him a new home.

I was away for almost 2 months, but when I came home I began (again!) to seriously make him aware that I am the Alpha of the family - not him. We go for almost daily walks that are a constant struggle. He lunges at other people and dogs and pulls at the leash for at least half the time we're out. One time I ran into a friend who put her (thankfully gloved) hand down to pat him and he nipped her! I was horrified! and extremely humiliated!

He barks when we leave, he barks when people walk past the house, he barks when people come to the door. He never stops until they go away.

Last night, I sat down to watch TV and Robbie hopped up on the couch without being invited. I said, "Down." He sat there. I said, "Down!" again. He just sat there. After repeating it again and again, he begrudgingly got down so I could put the blanket on the couch. Then I said, "Okay," and he hopped up.
I went to stroke his back when it happened. He turned and put his face in mine and bared his teeth, growling loudly! I had to turn my face aside, but managed to keep my cool as I stated (hopefully sounding matter-of-fact) "Get down." I repeated it several times before he finally did get down, growling all the while.

That's it, I thought. Tomorrow will be his last meal. However, as stated above, Daughter #2 felt it was inhumane and we need to try harder with him.

After a visit to the vet to clear him of any physical ailments and to discuss possible alternatives, we have decided to contact the trainer we had before to see if she can help.

In the meantime, he is not allowed up on any furniture and will get fed when we decide it's time. If he doesn't eat within 1/2 hour, his food is removed and he gets no more until the next feeding time. He doesn't get anymore treats, either.

If we can manage to control his desire to be "alpha," I will then attempt (with trainer's help) to find him a new home. Otherwise, no matter how cute he is, he's toast.