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.

Monday, June 30, 2008

There's Gold In Them Thar Hills

Okay, well today we went to Fort Langley and Jane and I struck gold! Yes, we panned for gold and we found in total nine nuggets between us. Okay, they were tiny nuggets, but it was gold. LOL

We proclaimed to the world that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are the best police force in the world. It now has three new recruits.

Trapper Don got a bit carried away with a black bear and the beaver thought he better watch out for him. Trapper Don looks more vicious than that bear! And my back held out well enough to transport the beaver pelts by wheelbarrow to the trading post.

After a fun-filled and full day we left the fort and took a drive through the district of Langley. We stopped at a local seafood place in my village of Ladner and sated, waddled home to post this blog. Here we are leaving the fort (me, Don, Jane, and Cathy).

Friday, June 27, 2008

Saturday Photo Hunt - Bright

At first I thought of bright as the perception of dark or light, but then I thought of bright as being something with intelligence. Right away I thought of my 4-year-old grandson and how we've always noticed how bright he is. As soon as he was born, those little eyes were looking around everywhere as though he were thinking, "Wow! So this is life! Cool!" He met every milestone and some were met ahead of time and we've discovered that he's left-handed, like his Daddy.

My friend Josie did a post on left-handedness a while ago and you can read about it here. Basically, she found out that "left-handedness is dominated by the right side of the brain, the side that is associated with artistic function, " and that "left-handed people think differently than right-handed folks. Lefties think in an arc, or view the bigger picture, while right-handed people are more detail oriented."

I'm just so thrilled to be watching this little boy learn something new every day. One day not long ago when I arrived for a visit, he was playing with a caterpillar and he just had to tell me all about them and how they turn into butterflies. I thought that was pretty bright for a 4-year-old to understand that. Of course, he still thinks he's going to marry his sister when they grow up. lol

Here he is at age 3 1/2 (before the "big boy" haircut) when he learned to print his name.

And here he is (after the "big boy" haircut) showing me his pet caterpillar.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Double (and maybe triple) Trouble

The good news: My August 29th consultation with an orthopedic surgeon was bumped up to today.

The bad news: I definitely need surgery. It actually sounds a bit worse than I had expected. Although I was prepared for a spinal fusion, apparently I might need fusion in three locations.

*big sigh*

The next step: an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to check my entire spine to make sure that's "all" the surgeon needs to do. He asked me if I had any metal inside me, like a tiny speck of metal in my eye. Huh? I said, "No, that's a strange question but I guess you have your reasons for asking." He told me that an MRI is a huge magnet and it can do weird things to your eyes if there's any metal in them.

He put me on the "slate" right away and his secretary faxed the MRI requisition over to the hospital immediately. If I don't hear within 3 weeks, I'm to call her to expedite things. She also gave me all the paperwork to fill out so I'm ready to go in if they have a cancellation.

I have a feeling I'll get a cancellation and won't have to wait those lengthy months some people have to wait for a couple of reasons. First, my condition is serious and the surgeon said there is no question that I need the surgery or I won't be walking for much longer. Second, I have an "in." He's the friend of a friend. That always helps.

Oh, by the way, he's also quite yummy. lol

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

W is for Wooden Bridges

ABC Wednesday is up to the letter "W" today. I can't believe I started at the letter "B" and we're almost through the alphabet already! To see who else participated today, click on Mrs. Nesbitt's Place.

Early bridges were made of wood, especially where it was a plentiful resource. Wooden bridges tended to deteriorate rapidly from exposure to the elements, having a useful lifespan of only nine years, but around my area it seems that everywhere I look I see wooden bridges. They aren't usually long bridges, but rather in parks and on trails where they don't get a lot of traffic. I was particularly taken with the following bridge that I found near Andover, UK, when I went out geocaching with some friends. It was a beautiful sunny day, warm enough to just wear a sweater, but the angle of the sun proved it to be autumn. I love how the shadows are cast on the walkway of the bridge.

Closer to home and during my "walkabouts," I've discovered lots of other wooden bridges. Here we have a very long wooden bridge at Boundary Bay that goes over a swampy area filled with bulrushes. I always walk very carefully for fear of tripping and landing in the water!

Below is another one of my "haunts." It's located at Deas Island Park that runs along a tributary of the mighty Fraser River. I often walk through here admiring the views of the river through the thick trees. It was here that I caught my winning photo, "Autumn on the River" from last fall.

This wooden bridge is located at Bear Creek Park in the neighbouring city of Surrey. I took my grandson here for a day just after my granddaughter was born in March. We had a great time playing on the equipment and walking (him riding his little bike) around the trails. Here he is zooming over the bridge. We stayed here for a while as he "needed" to practise his mountain biking.

Finally, this is one of many wooden bridges you will find at Campbell Valley Regional Park in neighbouring Langley. I posted about my walk here a short time ago because I was amazed that I never knew it existed in all my life living here. The place is so green that you can't help but feel relaxed and calm while walking through giant cedars and firs, alpine meadows, and areas where the trees bend over the trail to create a canopy.

Wooden bridges are intriguing structures. Some are simply made with planks covering the ground while others are intricately constructed over smaller riverbeds or streams. My favourite ones are the ones found in mysterious and remote locations. I always wonder who else has discovered this spot.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Welsh Visitors Arriving Soon

*Be sure to click on the photos to enlarge - especially the one of Jane's Dad and his artwork.

I am so excited that my friends Jane and Don are arriving next Sunday from Wales. I met Jane through blogging several years ago, and we met up in person in November of 2006 when I travelled by train to Wales. We hit it off immediately - we're both dog people and she had three big dogs at the time. (One has since passed away.)

Jane picked me up at the train station in Cardiff and we went for a lovely lunch - I remember we both had Welsh rarebit, a savory sauce made from a mixture of cheese and various other ingredients and served hot over toasted bread. Then we put my overnight case in her car and went and did a bit of shopping. I bought a new purse and two pairs of earrings - one gold and one silver (not real...lol). After settling in at her place, she took me to dinner at The Priory, a wonderful old place in Caerleon, not far from her home in Newport. This is also where she took my picture with the "dentally challenged" tree stump.

The next morning, after Jane had brought me tea in bed, we took in the Roman Museum complete with Roman baths and the Roman Amphitheater. The rest of the day was spent at St. Fagan's, the Welsh Living History Museum. Now that was amazing! Even in the November grey, it was an incredible place that I'd love to revisit one day in better weather.

Here's Jane vamping with a Roman soldier at the Roman Museum. And I flirted with this one.

I also met Jane's parents, a lovely couple who obviously adore each other and Jane. Mr. "Jane" is an artist and he proudly posed in front of an amazing piece of art he'd done years before. They wanted me to be sure to come back some day in the daylight so they could show me their back garden complete with a train.

I sure hope I'll be able to show Jane and her new beau Don a good time while they're here with me. They will be staying a few days here first and then will go over to Vancouver Island for two weeks, then come back for more of a visit with me before heading home. I'm lining up friends to come for a barbecue before they head home along with day trips to Fort Langley, White Rock, Stanley Park, Grouse Mountain and the Skyride, and the University of BC's Museum of Antropology (to see the totem poles). We'll also go out for dinner at a few nice places - hopefully Presto Cucina (where Josie & I have been twice), the River House on the Fraser River, maybe BC's famous White Spot, and maybe a seafood place.

I'm so excited to see her and to meet Don! Stay tuned for updates on our reunion.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Around the World on Water

The theme for today's photo hunt is WATER and I wasn't sure quite how to approach it. While browsing through my photos, I realized that I have a lot of pictures with water in them. So, since I've done a bit of travelling over the past several years, I thought I'd show you some water from various places I've visited. I decided to show you some of the oceans and seas that I have seen over the years. Please click on the photos to enlarge them and see them better.

First up is Plymouth Harbour, England. I took this shot from across the water (English Channel) looking back towards the Citadel and you can see the lighthouse to its left. We had a wonderful time in Plymouth, walking from the Hoe district all around the Citadel, visited the world-famous Aquarium, and took the boat across to a great pub for dinner.

Next is a view of Lerici, the city across from the Cinque Terre in Italy, and shows a bit of the Mediterranean Sea. The time I spent there was amazing and remains one of my favourite spots in all of this incredible country. We took the boat across this part of the Med to see several towns built on the side of the cliffs and we also strolled the Via del Amore, a pathway built on the side of the mountain overlooking the sea.

I captured this view of Siracusa harbour (Sicily) the morning we left to drive up to Taormina where we saw Mount Etna. I wish I hadn't been so sick because what I did see of this city and its beautiful harbour has made me long to return. This is another part of the Mediterranean Sea.

And you really need to see my own Centennial beach, where I go at all times of the year to stroll, take photos, look for ducks and wild bunnies, and sit on a log to contemplate the beauty of my own backyard. We have the mountains, the ocean, all sorts of bird life, peace and quiet when we feel the need but lots of activities to do when we want that. The beach looks out onto Boundary Bay, which in turn flows into the Strait of Georgia that is part of the Pacific Ocean.
Did you know that the planet's seven oceans are actually just one huge ocean? Look on any world map - they all join up together and it was man who gave the separate areas their names. I have dipped my toes in the Pacific Ocean from here at home as well as in Hawaii, the Atlantic Ocean (on Prince Edward Island in Canada and at Biarritz in France), and the Mediterranean Sea. I've crossed the English Channel and waded in its waters at Bournemouth, England. Twice I've travelled the North Pacific Ocean up to Alaska and back - I wouldn't want to dip my toes in the water there, though. I still would like to see the Caribbean Sea and the Indian Ocean one day.
To view more photos of water, click here to see other participants' entries.

My Little Gardener

I had a surprise visit from D#1 and my two little munchkins this morning! It was such a pleasant surprise as I usually go to their place due to the baby's schedule. I got lots of smiles and coos from Eden and she was wide-eyed looking around at the trees and listening to the birds.

Noah tried out "his" new bed in "his" room (the guest room that I've painted). I bought a new double bed so he can stay overnight once in a while and his sister can sleep with him when she's old enough to stay over, too. He was quite delighted with the bed, which he tried out by bouncing on it a few times and lying down to make sure it was comfy enough. He likes the view from the window and the pictures I chose to decorate the walls.

Then we sat on the patio for our visit but it wasn't long when Noah wanted to know if he could dig in the garden. Naturally, I said "YES! Of course you can!" You see, I figure if I can get him trained early enough to know weeds from flowers, he can come and do my weeding for me when he's a bit older. LOL Anyway, he got busy digging but then asked if I had any gloves. A bit surprised by that, I got out the gardening gloves, put them on him and off he went again. He had a toy police car and the toy tractor from the farm I keep here for him to play with and eventually, he brought the whole farm outside, too.
I caught him in the garden with my camera and just had to share. He looks so small among the plants and he was so busy he didn't even notice me taking his picture. I just love getting candid shots of him. He politely asked if he could take the car and the tractor home with him so he could play with them at his house, so I say "Sure," and also gave him the little farmer that sits on the tractor. As they pulled out of the driveway, I saw his little arms waving good-bye while he hung on tightly to those little toys.

They all made my day and I'll have the memory forever.
Click to enlarge the photos. Yes, they WILL enlarge this time!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sixth Foot a Hoax

Since August 2007, six feet have washed ashore in British Columbia. Five of the six feet were left feet and one was found near my own little village of Ladner. Click on the map to enlarge & find Vancouver. Below Vancouver you'll see Richmond and below that is my village of Ladner. You can see why I'm a bit creeped out about all this, being so close to home.

All of the feet have been found inside running shoes, buoyant because of their thick, air-filled soles. Police have released few details, but the first four showed signs of disarticulation, which means the foot separated naturally from the leg, not through severing that would prompt speculation of foul play.

The story has generated worldwide interest and has been picked up by CNN (Larry King was discussing it this evening), the BBC, Fox News, the Associated Press, and others. Although the police have not released much information, many are hypothesizing that the feet are from victims that were illegal stowaways thrown overboard at sea. Others are suggesting they are the result of organized crime or that they are from the four victims of a light airplane crash off the BC coast more than three years ago. Ocean current experts suggest that the location of the finds suggest that the feet all could have been washed down the mighty Fraser River. Forensic pathologists are hard at work to find some DNA that might lead to the source of this mystery.
With all of this going on, the coroners office announced today that the latest foot was actually an animal's skeletonized paw stuffed into a sock and shoe, packed with dried seaweed. Of course everyone agrees that this type of hoax is reprehensible and disrespectful to families of missing persons. Hopefully, the mystery of the feet will be solved very soon. Your thoughts?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

ABC Wednesday - V is for VanDusen Gardens

ABC Wednesday is brought to you by Mrs. Nesbitt place. Pop over to see other participants' entries for today's letter "V" ...
Within a stone’s throw of downtown Vancouver lies the former Shaughnessy Golf course (once used by the city’s elite), now transformed into a world-class botanical garden. The majestic evergreens throughout the site pre-date the garden, and the gardens have evolved around them. Paved pathways lead to wonderful plant groups including hollies (the largest collection in Canada), bamboos, magnolias, rhododendrons and azaleas which, in late spring, attracts visitors from all over. You’ll find various theme gardens within Van Dusen’s 55-acres, including large formal and informal perennial borders, a children’s garden, rose and lakeside gardens. Its newest addition, the Canadian Heritage Garden, features many plants that were once used to clothe, feed and house the first natives to inhabit this area.

Van Dusen also has one of North America’s three Elizabethan Hedge Mazes - you may want to bring bread crumbs to find your way out - and its rolling lawns often play host to events such as the British Antique Car Show. The restaurant’s a destination eatery in and of itself. (from here)

The VanDusen Botanical Gardens is a paradise of delight for those who enjoy strolling through gardens. On May 30, my sisters and I took our mother's best friend Lucy for lunch at the Shaugnessy Restaurant there. My mother and Lucy grew up together, remaining best friends until Mom passed away in 2002. Lucy has had a tough life, always working while raising her only daughter by herself after she divorced her first husband. She was a woman well ahead of her time and would not suffer fools gladly. She eventually remarried but is now widowed and her only daughter will have nothing to do with her. For my sisters and me, Lucy is a connection to our mother and we happily keep in touch with her, taking her for birthday lunches and having her for dinner at Thanksgiving, Christmas, or other occasions. She is always elegantly dressed and coiffed and can teach anyone Emily Post's rules of etiquette. She plays bridge on a regular basis and has a mind like a steel trap. What a wonderful woman she is, and I hope we will have the honour and privilege of being there for her for many years to come.

Since we all love the restaurant at VanDusen Gardens and it's a central location for us , we got together for Lucy's 89th birthday. We didn't go through the gardens that day, but I did take a few photos when we were leaving. I know a lot of people are amazed when I say we have palm trees here in Vancouver, but it's true. They are of a hardy variety, but still... The following are at the entrance to the gardens.

Here is a shot of the entrance to the gardens and a closeup of the totem pole that's on the right.

And this "Princess Tree," which is native to China, was in full bloom the day we were there and gracefully draped the entrance on the left.

Van Dusen Gardens hosts an annual garden show every June and I have attended a few times, especially to see friends who participate. In May, when I was there recently, the rhododendrons were in full bloom and I saw many colours and varieties surrounding the parking area just on the outside of the gardens. Every December, the garden hosts its Festival of Lights which is absolutely incredible. I remember walking around one bitter cold winter evening and stopping to get some roasted chestnuts. With Christmas music softly enhancing the evening air, we strolled through the entire garden taking in the sights with awe. For an idea of what it's like, click here to see a youtube presentation of the 2007 festival. It's well worth a look, especially from halfway through to the end where you'll see part of the light and music show.

The VanDusen Botanical Gardens is a place to visit over and over again, at least four times a year to see it in its seasonal glory. If I have visitors this summer and/or in the fall, I'll definitely take them for a walk through some of the garden's 55 acres.
If you're interested, read yesterday's post on Campbell Valley Regional Park for another example for the letter V. It's a verdant valley so it also fits with the letter of the day.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Campbell Valley Regional Park

Green, the colour of the forest, calms and relaxes. It also has a healing effect and is said to relieve depression and anxiety.

I had the most amazing day today - in the most awesome and sublime green environment of the Campbell Valley Regional Park, about a half hour's drive from my place. I'd heard of this place but hadn't yet visited it . After today's outing, I'll be going back to do more exploring.
Even the sign for the place was green. After parking the car in what I hoped would continue to be a shady spot, we found the entrance to the trail that we'd decided to do today. It's one of the shorter trails and with my bad back acting up lately, we thought that would be the best one to try. So off we went along the Little River Loop Trail, a 2.3 km easy walk that would take us through areas that made me think of Louisianna bayous, the California redwood forest, and alpine meadows full of blue lupine, white daisies, buttercups, and wild roses.
This place is HUGE with both a north and south entrance. In some areas horses are allowed and there is an off-leash area for dogs, too. Our walk was very quiet and we didn't meet anyone else until we were almost back at our starting point. It took about 45 minutes to do the 2.3 km but I was always stopping to take photos. Everywhere I looked I saw art. There is nothing more beautiful than nature and I just kept snapping away until D#2 began to tease me. But I didn't care. I thought of all of my blogging buddies and buddettes and how you'd enjoy seeing the photos. So here are just some of the many shots I got today. I hope you enjoy them and are tempted even more to come visit my little corner of Beautiful British Columbia.
The beginning of the trail.

Walking beneath a canopy of trees.

Giant ferns! Bigger than me!

This gives you an idea of the size of most of the trees!

D#2 walking ahead of me on the trail.

There were a lot of trees like this with moss hanging from them.

A little forest glade that we came upon.

I saw several enormous tree stumps; the one of the left is obviously a red cedar and I think the other one is, too. Just older. I don't think I could have managed to climb on top of them because they were that big. However, I could have crawled under the one on the right but I hesitated because of what might have been living there.

Periodically, we came upon these little wooden bridges that I guess go over the Little River. However, right now the river must be dry because there was no sign of it.

When I looked up.......waaaaaay up (like the Friendly Giant used to say)....this is what I saw.

When we were walking through the forested part of the trail, we came upon lots of buttercups and these wild flowers at the left. I'm not sure what they are, but they were pretty.

Eventually, we came out of the forest and discovered we were in an area that looked exactly like an alpine meadow. For as far as we could see, it was absolutely full of blue lupine, white daisies, and dark pink wild roses. I must say I thought it was stunning.

Then again, we found ourselves again in a forested area with thick canopies and wild raspberries just ripening on the vines.

Do you remember that creepy scene in "The Wizard of Oz" when the trees came alive? Well, this tree reminded me of those trees so I just had to take a photo. I almost felt like saying "Hi" to it.

What an awesome afternoon in a location so near to my own home! This is a place where I know I'll return over and over again, especially in the autumn when the deciduous trees will turn brilliant colours and the sun will cast long shadows through the park's statuesque trees. For now, I'll leave you with this shot of the sun trying to get through the high canopy to reach the floor below. I hope you've enjoyed your virtual tour along the Little River Loop Trail at Campbell Valley Regional Park and you're calm and relaxed from all the green.