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.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

What a Wonderful World

Yesterday my friend L picked me up at noon for our day's outing. We headed for Lynn Canyon deep in the North Shore mountains. When the park officially opened in 1912 it was only 12 acres in size, but now there are 617 acres of hiking trails. We crossed the suspension bridge (scary!) and followed the Baden Powell trail through second growth forest in a drizzling rain. Most of the oldest trees are 80 to 100 years old and you can see evidence of logging in many large stumps, complete with springboard notches. (see photo at right) Cliff jumping is popular with Lynn Valley youth in the summer. The series of Stargate SG-1 and Atlantis both use the area for filming.

Over the suspension bridge we continued through the forest and along the boardwalk. But it wasn't long before we were wending our way through tree roots and pine needles that were strewn in the path. Finally, we reached a steep set of stairs that wound down to a viewing area to the twin falls. Because it was very wet, the stairs were quite slick so I had to be very careful not to fall. L was very kind and made sure I was okay. We continued on to another bridge, this one a regular solid one, and I took a few shots of the rapids far below. Because of the rain, I was holding an umbrella in one hand and my camera in the other. So my photos aren't very clear, but I still think you can get an idea of what this rainforest is like. (photo below)

The view was wonderful and L pointed out the spot where even he would leap from cliff to cliff in the "old days." We continued on to another bridge, this one a regular solid one, and I took a few shots of the rapids far below.

L had totally forgotten about all the stairs and was really worried when suddenly we were faced with the steep climb back up. But we made it, both of us a bit puffed from the exertion.

Part 2 of our afternoon's excursion was a drive over to Horseshoe Bay to meet his best friend and wife. Wonderful people and very happy to meet me. We chatted over wine and admired the view over the bay where the ferries go in and out to the Gulf Islands.

On the way home, we were listening to one of L's cd's and Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" came on. I couldn't help but think that it truly is a wonderful world when one can reconnect with a lost love and realise that things just might (and probably will) work out this time around.

Well, I know you're all just dying for details, but all I will say is that we had a lovely dinner at my place and spent the evening snuggling by the fire getting to know each other again. Both of us admitted that we're scared to death because it's been so long since we've been with anyone, let alone each other. So, we're going to take things slowly - but we both know this is "right." This afternoon he called to thank me for a wonderful evening and said he'd cook for me next Friday night. *sigh* What a wonderful world.

Friday, November 28, 2008


So as you probably surmised from my previous post, I have reconnected with my old former fiance. As things do happen, we ended up going our separate ways, but now are starting to date again after spending four hours together last Saturday catching up. We've talked on the phone this week for hours, too, and that's why there has been no time for blogging.
Tomorrow, we're going on a photo safari up the mountain to Lynn Valley to see the waterfall. One problem - it's going to be raining and I have no rain gear. But he said he has extra Gortex jackets and will bring one for me to wear. Now he's 6'3" and I'm 5'7" so I'm sure I'll have to fold the sleeves up several times so as not to drag them in the mud. L very kindly inquired as to whether I could walk that far since I told him I have to have back surgery in January. I figure it's a good way to get a back rub outta him later. Right?
Anyway, in anticipation of him coming back for dinner afterwards, I've cleaned the house from top to bottom - dusting, swiffering, vacuuming (hoovering for my Brit friends), polished mirrors, cleaned the toilets and sinks, cleaned up my office in case we want to upload our photos, baked cookies, shopped for chipotle citrus marinated chicken breasts and have all the vegies ready to roast. I even bought him some beer that is cooling nicely in the fridge. All the candle holders have new tealites in them and there's a log in the fireplace just waiting to be lit.
This dating business is hard work and I'm wondering if it's worth it. Well, no I do think it's worth it. How do I know? Because I've had butterflies in my tummy all week waiting for Saturday to come. Wish us luck and stay tuned.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Young Love Reunited

Apparently, researchers say that the rekindling of young love after many years apart is the key to long-lasting wedded bliss. People who rekindled youthful romances at least five years after they had split up had a 76% chance of staying together, compared with a 40% chance of successful marriage in the rest of the population. The study is the first done on people reunited with a lost lover after years apart.

And it was not just the nostalgia of ageing that made people look for their first love. Older couples attributed their success to having re-found their soulmates and to increased maturity. Researchers found the most common reason for the initial romance breaking up was parental disapproval, accounting for 25% of cases.

One professor said, "The couples' first love had endured throughout their many years apart, and in the case of widows and widowers, often through very happy intervening marriages. However, given the high rate of extramarital affairs, married people should be cautioned not to contact a lost love."

I think there just might be something in this. Because I'm feeling 35 years younger these days!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Robin's Retirement

Last night I attended my sister's surprise retirement party. Although she's been on disability for the past 8 years because of a heart problem, her two sons organized a spectacular party for her at one of Vancouver's premier spots, the Sequoia Grill in Stanley Park. Sheltered amidst giant cedars and overlooking Burrard Inlet, this is a favourite for locals and tourists alike. As a matter of fact, nephew #2 was married on the lawns overlooking the water before we retired to the Conservatory for the reception. Last night, the party was at the opposite end to the Conservatory, in another idyllic area, complete with roaring fireplace, magnificent chandeliers, and a half-glass ceiling with windows overlooking a garden thick with palm trees and hydrangeas. The perfect venue for this surprise party.

Everyone was there early, ready to yell "Surprise!" when she entered, on the pretext that her son and daughter-in-law were taking her to dinner before attending a charity function. She truly had no idea what was going on and the look on her face was priceless when she realised what was happening. I don't know who started, but suddenly we all burst into song "For She's a Jolly Good Fellow," ending with applause.
Overwhelmed though she was, Robin graciously went around the room greeting each guest so it was quite a while before we settled down to a dinner of medium-rare steak, whipped potatoes, and asparagus spears. It didn't matter, though, because we were all having a wonderful time drinking wine, Caesars, spirits - whatever we wanted from the full bar provided by my nephews. Dessert was the most phenomenal cake that was decorated with a hospital bed, complete with patient, syringes, stethoscope, and other sundry nursing equipment. And standing tall on the cake was a photo of Robin on the night of her graduation from Vancouver General Hospital's School of Nursing in 1965. Robin received her Registered Nurses Diploma then and her career was spent mostly at this same hospital. After graduation, she went on to further education to become a specialist in the operating rooms. She was well known at VGH as she was on transplant teams and assisted during many difficult and dangerous surguries.
For the past 8 years, Robin has been on disability because of a bad heart (cardiomyopathy) and it was a very frightening and difficult time when she had to start taking medication for it. They caused a lot of side effects that were finally overcome after several years. Then when this problem seemed to be, well if not cured then at least controlled, she found out she had breast cancer and had to have a mastectomy in April of 2006. She's having the final touch-up on her reconstruction in January. So she's been through some pretty hard times over the past several years.

Usually, when one retires, the "office" arranges a party of sorts, everyone celebrates and the retiree goes on with life. Robin hasn't worked at the hospital for 8 years, so her sons got on the phone and called up all her friends, most of whom she worked with and/or have become their "Aunties." After dinner, several special friends spoke about how they knew Robin and related some funny and some touching stories. Gifts were given and received with laughs, grins, and hugs - and a few tears. In honour of my sister, who gave over 40 years towards the care of the people of our fair province, here are some photos from last night's extravaganza.

Schmoozing and boozing!

With sons Graeme (left) and Aaron.

Cake and flowers! You HAVE to enlarge this to see the detail on the cake!

89-year-old former colleague presents Robin with her "biggie" prezzie, an amythest bracelet. She got to choose from three different styles.

Barb giving everyone a chuckle.

Di really got everyone going with her speech!

My D#2 came but D#1 was so disappointed that both her little ones came down sick so she had to stay home with them. Daddy works the late shift.

And finally, a standing ovation for all these nurses.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Life Speed

Have you ever laid in bed late at night unable to sleep and your mind starts to wander? Well, of course you have! So you'll understand the process I went through last night after eating a tad bit too much chocolate. The body was highly caffeinated and caused a whirlwind of memories to flood into my already overactive mind.

I started thinking about girlfriends I've had over my lifetime, girlfriends that I never see anymore, girlfriends I never hear from anymore, girlfriends I never see or hear from at Christmas anymore, girlfriends who are probably grandmothers like me now...

It's true how, as you grow older, the seasons fly by at a rate that seems to surpass the speed of light. It seems like only yesterday that I was maid of honour to Di on her wedding day in October of 1970. She moved away to Winnipeg, then to Red Deer, and finally to Fredericton and the friendship has dwindled away to the occasional email.

It doesn't seem that long ago that another friend shared the process of first pregnancies with me through the summer of 1976. We both had daughters and shared the first few years of their lives together. Now I don't even know where she lives.

Then Margaret came into my life. She lived behind me across the fence and had three children roughly the same ages as my two. What a wonderful woman she was as she took care of my two when I was called in to substitute teach. She was a second mother to my little girls until I realised that I wanted to be the only mother they had, so quit working altogether. We kept in touch even when she moved to another community, but the friendship gradually faded away.
Colleen accepted me into her home when another acquaintance invited me to their weekly Bible study. After lots of coffee visits, we became quite close, and she and her husband were the ones I called when my husband was found dead early one August morning in 1992. Our children are all grown up now and her life revolves around her husband and other activities.

One friend named Linda came into my life as a result of our both becoming single again and we hit it off. But over the years, I found her to be controling, obsessive, and paranoid. Although I felt sorry for her and her circumstances, she was dragging me down, so I finally stopped all contact.
Another Linda was a co-worker and we'd make dinner for each other once in a while and share stories about our kids and our past marriages. When I moved on to go back to teaching, we stopped seeing each other so often.

My friend Kathy (with a K) is the first of my friends to die. That sounds so blunt - maybe I should say she "passed away" or "was called home to the Lord." But cancer ate away at her for almost 20 years and that insidious disease won the battle.

It's not as if I stopped liking these women or that they stopped liking me. I think our lives change and evolve as our circumstances change. We make friends according to what's going on in our lives at the time. When we're newly married, we socialize with other newly marrieds. When we have children, our lives revolve around our children and so we meet other parents who are going through similar circumstances. School, soccer practise, dance recitals, skating and swimming lessons find parents sitting in the stands or on the sidelines and we get to talking.

Friendships come and go as our children grow, and we move along with them until one day they've moved along right out of the house. We become grandparents and talk to others about the grandchildren. Gone are the Jane Fonda days of "feel the burn!" We have to find new activities that suit our aging bodies, activities like gentle fit, water aerobics, and walking.

Tomorrow my grandchildren will be getting married and having their own children. I must admit that I look forward to that time and pray God that I experience it in relatively good health, both in body and mind.

And then in light speed, I'll see that golden glow and my parents, my husband, Kathy, and others will welcome me to my new home.

And a new life will begin.

Life speed............with Cathy, Josie, Jane, Suzanne, Eileen, Irene, Joan, 2 Wendys, 3 Marions, Ruth, and all you blogger girlfriends that I hereby dub "Blogette Buddies."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

ABC Wednesday - Rash and Reflections

As some of my regular readers will remember, I've been ravaged since late summer with a rash that has rendered regions of my body unattractive. I won't repulse you with any photos of it but rather will simply tell the story.
The rash seemed random in that it started with large red areas under one arm, one inner knee, and one hip. It's red, round, and raised in some areas, but remarkably not itchy. I never felt run-down or rotten, health-wise, so didn't go to the doctor about it at first. But when smaller red spots started appearing and it began to spread around one side, I rallied myself and reached out to my doctor to reveal the repellent sight to him. I was relying on him to rectify the riddle of the rash. He was very receptive and his first attack to remedy my problem was to have me relinquish some meds I'd been taking for years. Didn't work. He next reasoned I should try a regimen of prednisone. You might recall my P is for Prednisone post. Well, the rash did begin to fade but never disappeared. As I have eased off on the dosage, it appears to be coming back a bit.
So today I saw my GP again and he has rewarded me with a name for this revolting rash. After ruling out various ailments, I'm relieved to say that it's a viral thing called Pityriasis Rosea, a common and non-contagious skin condition. Apparently, it usually affects adolescents and young adults and is extremely rare to affect anyone over the age of 60. Now aren't I the lucky one! It's also supposed to run its course in two to four weeks and it's usually completely gone in six to fourteen weeks. Occasionally, it can last for many many months. Again, aren't I the lucky random recipient!
So, the doctor's recommendation is to let it run its course and eventually, the redness will reduce and recede. I'm resigned now to wait for my body to right itself. I still have a rocky road ahead with my back surgery looming in January, but I just have to reconcile myself to remain patient over the next several months. The result, hopefully, will be a healthier and more robust body that will carry me through to a ripe old age. I'm going to be shopping for a new tennis racket next summer.

On now to something totally unrelated. I love photographs of reflections so will share with you a few of my favourite shots. Much better to leave off with beautiful images. Be sure to click on them to see them full size.
Top left is the Deas Slough last fall. The rest were taken within the last week. Top right is the Bathgate marina on the Sunshine Coast at the Skookumchuck Narrows.
Bottom left is also at Bathgate marina and bottom right is Canoe Pass, a float home area on the south arm of the Fraser River just outside my village of Ladner.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sunshine Coast Adventure - Part 5

Be sure to click on the photos to enlarge them and see the details.

The last place I'd like to tell you about is Smuggler Cove on the coast near Sechelt. The origin of the name is subject to much speculation. One theory holds that the bay was used by one Larry "Pig Iron" Kelly to pick up Chinese labourers to be smuggled into the United States after the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Another story is that the concealed cove was used as a transhipment location for the smuggling of bootleg liquor, produced on neighbouring Texada Island, into the US during the prohibition era. Given the cove's proximity to Secret Cove, one can easily believe that there might be some connection to either or both of these stories.

We first stopped at the provincial park and began a walk through the forest. However, after emerging through the heavily wooded area and over the boardwalk, we decided that it wasn't the right time to do such a trek. It was getting a bit late in the afternoon and we didn't want to be caught there in the dark. The boardwalk bridged a very cold and wet marsh and had a railing on only one side. So we turned back and headed to the actual cove.

Here is a photo of Smuggler Cove. You can see why it would have made a great place to smuggle either Chinese workers or bootleg liquor.

Our last morning on the Sunshine Coast dawned miserably dark and rainy. So after a leisurely breakfast of giant muffins and coffee next door to our "inn," we packed up to head home. However, I first wanted to walk out on the pier at Davis Bay to get some photos of those cheeky seagulls who seemed to live there. There must have been hundreds of them, lined up on the ledge of the pier. As I walked towards them, they'd one by one fly off and go over to some pilings at the side of the pier and wait there until I left. I took a video as I approached the seagulls, but it won't upload. Maybe another day. In the meantime, if you ever get the chance, I highly recommend you take a trip over to British Columbia's famous Sunshine Coast. I hope you enjoyed this virtual tour that I've given you over the past few days.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunshine Coast Adventure - Part 4

As usual, be sure to click on the images to enlarge and see the detail.
On the way back to the main highway after stopping at Skookumchuck Narrows, we passed a birch tree that had a sign tacked to it. Again, it was a "Cathy, stop the car! There's a shot!" moment. The sign read "Moccassin Valley and I hopped out to take a couple of shots. I looked around and noticed it was a beautiful location with thick moss growing on a lot of the tree branches and a little river flowing along through the forest. It was very overgrown, but I did manage to make my way through the fallen leaves and bits of bark and logs to take a few more pictures. A bit further on was a small waterfall and I'm sure it was natural, not man-made. It's amazing to me what you can see when you stop at the side of a road and take a few steps into the woods. Here are a few of the shots I got that day.

We got back on the highway and decided that we'd follow the signs to one of the next villages along the way. We ended up in a place called Madeira Park. Winding our way through the village, we ended up at the marina. What an incredible place! It was sunny and warm so we wandered around, me taking photos of everything! There's a carved wooden statue there of Portuguese Joe Silvey - a saloon keeper, whaler and pioneer of seine fishing. He was quite the character and many of his descendants still live in the area.

Madeira Park is the main shopping centre for the Pender Harbour region, with banks, a large supermarket, Government liquor store, pharmacy, hardware, and several smaller shops. I found this little tidbit quite amusing - directly across the water, off Beaver Island, is Whiskey Slough, once a favourite anchorage for bachelor fishermen of Scottish extraction! Hmm....should I check it out? lol

After wandering around the marina, we ended up back in the village where we found a great little cafe with home-baked goodies. We each chose a muffin and something to drink and sat in the adjacent area that had art all over the walls. I really loved one particular artist's works and I should have written his name down, but of course now I've forgotten it. Duh! We looked at the art and other crafts, including jewellry but didn't buy anything.

School was just getting out when we left Madeira Park and back on the highway, we thought we'd check out Halfmoon Bay. With my navigating, we found the sign that led off the highway to this residential area and drove along Redroofs Road. This is a beautiful community where gentle bays and coves provide protected harbours for marine traffic and pristine wooded shores encourage people to explore. We ended up finally at Smuggler's Cove and I'll tell you about it next time in Part 5. I'll leave you today with images of Madeira Park's marina.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sunshine Coast Adventure - Part 3

Thanks to David at authorblog for considering this worthy of POTD.
Be sure to click on the photos to enlarge and see more detail.

As I mentioned in Part 2, Monday morning dawned sunny and warm, so after breakfast at "Pebbles" and a short photo op along the beach there in Sechelt, we headed up to the tip of the lower Sunshine Coast. Just before Earl's Cove, where you catch the ferry to the Upper Sunshine Coast where Powell River is located, we turned east and headed towards the Skookumchuck Narrows. This body of water forms the entrance to the Sechelt Inlet. This area is famous because each day billions of gallons of water travel through the narrows, causing tidal currents at Sechelt Rapids to range rom 1 to 17 knots as they enter and leave the deep Inlet. Because the tidal patterns keep the water moving at virtually all times in the narrows area, this attracts a plethora of interesting sea life. Kayaakers also surf these rapids but it's very dangerous.
We saw the sign indicating the hiking path towards the rapids, but we continued a bit further on to the settlement of Bathgate. Entering the village general store, we inquired as to the length of the hike and when we heard it was an hour each way, we decided to bypass the hike. (My back isn't good enough for that type of trek yet.)
However, we wandered around the area a bit taking lots of photos of the boats and water. It was a gorgeous sunny day and we didn't even need a jacket.

This is part of the marina. See how still the water is.

Looking a bit to the right of the above photo, I spied the orange reflection of that one bush. Upon uploading the photo, I noticed more reflections - the boats, the hut, and the bridge along with other trees and bushes.

Looking off in the other direction from the wharf where we were standing, we could see the hills across the inlet and more boats moored on a floating wharf in the middle of the water.

This is my favourite shot from Skookumchuck Narrows. I love how the boats look so peaceful on this warm, sunny day with their masts reflecting on the calm waters.

Next stop is Madeira Park - stay tuned.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Defender of Faith

Happy Birthday to Prince Charles who turns 60 today. I can remember as a little girl wishing I could meet him one day and marry him. I mean, let's face it, what little girl wouldn't want to be a princess? Well, I'm sure he's a very nice man, all things considered, but I'm just as happy not to have ever met him. However, I do find the royal family interesting fodder and have followed all of them throughout my life.

Although Prince Charles has always had a reputation for being dull and boring, I think he probably has a good heart and has done his best to serve his country and the Commonwealth through his charity work. He's also become better looking as he got older.

It has come to light recently that he would like to change the monarch's present title of "Defender of the Faith" to "Defender of Faith." A small, seemingly insignificant change since the reign of Henry VIII when the pope bestowed on him the title for his early support for Roman Catholicism. Prince Charles hopes that this change in title will symbolise Britain's multicultural society and his desire to embrace all religions. Changes to the 1953 Royal Titles Act would be required before the prince could fulfill his wish.

The prince's birthday today recognises that he is the longest monarch-in-waiting. There is always speculation on when Charles will become king, but the Queen, now 82, took an oath to be reign until her death. While she has informally indicated that she plans to keep the job for life, she has given her son a strong personal endorsement indicating her confidence in his ability to serve the people.

And even if Charles never makes it to the throne, he can look back on his life and know that he was defined by his charity work. So Happy Birthday, Charlie, and long may you live.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sunshine Coast Adventure - Part 2

When we left Gibsons on Sunday afternoon, we drove directly to our "Inn" to check in. To be honest, we weren't impressed because the two-bedroom "suite" with kitchenette we'd booked had no microwave or kettle and the teapot was grungy! There was less than half a roll of toilet paper in the bathroom (which I must say was spotless) but only one tiny bottle of Pantene (you know the kind that has shampoo & conditioner in one). *sigh* But, we checked out the beds and they were great albeit with only one thin blanket so I pumped up the thermostat to warm the room. The view from our balcony was lovely, though, and we decided we'd make do.

We then decided to head up towards Porpoise Bay, an area inland from the coast. It was a nice drive and we pulled into the Porpoise Bay Provincial Park to check it out. I walked through the picnic area that was full of tables including some covered areas and headed out to the beach. What a marvelous view! I can imagine it in the summer full of families having a grand time. Be sure to click on all the photos to enlarge them.

Back in Sechelt, we drove to the beach downtown. We walked along the pier there (photo at left) and I spied a massive contraption out in the water with what looked like pipes going to the mainland and disappearing under the road. It then reappeared up the side of the mountains. Upon inquiries and research on the net since coming home, I discovered the following information about LeHigh's connection to the current Oakland Bay Bridge project in San Francisco.

It has been almost three years since Lehigh Pacific's Construction Aggregates Ltd.- Sechelt operation started supplying quality aggregates to this project's supplier in California. To date, the loading facility at Sechelt has loaded 61 ocean going ships, the largest of which carry approximately 70,000 M tonnes. They are called Panamax class ships because, at up to 115 feet wide, they are the largest ship capable of navigating through the Panama Canal. Suppliers have done an excellent job of marketing the aggregate coming from Sechelt. One example of this success is the Skyway section of the multi-billion dollar San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge project. The Skyway section is a precast segmental bridge almost 2 miles (3.2 km) long, which is part of the new East Span. The Skyway section will require the highest strength concrete ever used by CalTrans. Due to the massive foundations, the concrete has to perform to tight control restrictions related to heat released during the curing of the concrete.

The sand from the Sechelt area is a hot commodity for Hawaiian golf courses, California beaches, and around the world where other building projects require this particularly special aggregate. Later on, as we were driving around, we found the entrance to LeHigh and I took this shot.

On Monday morning we awoke to brilliant sunshine and headed into town for brunch. After a hearty breakfast of pancakes looking directly out onto the sunny beach, I headed outside to take some photos. The trees were naked of their summer clothing but the sun glistened through the branches creating intricate designs. The benches lining the beach were empty of tourists, but I just thought this made for more natural and unhindered photos.

This is the beach right outside "Pebbles," the restaurant where we had brunch at the Driftwood Inn in Sechelt. I think we might stay there next time we go over. The following two photos are looking left and right just above the beach line.

We turned away from this stunning view to drive all the way to Egmont to see the Skookumchuk Narrows. That will be Part 3, so stay tuned.