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.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

O is for Ocean

If I asked you how many oceans there are in the world, what would you answer? Five?

And you could name them right? Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Arctic, Antarctic (also known as Southern)

Well, if you were in my 4th grade class when I was teaching about oceans, you would learn that all the oceans of the world flow into each other, thereby creating one ocean with five different bodies of water that are named as above.

Did you know that oceans cover about 70% of the Earth's surface and they contain roughly 97% of the Earth's water supply?

I really loved my Oceanography unit! The kids learned that the oceans of Earth serve many functions, especially affecting the weather and temperature. They learned how they moderate the Earth's temperature by absorbing incoming solar radiation (stored as heat energy). They also learned that the always-moving ocean currents distribute this heat energy around the globe by heating the land and air during winter and cooling it during summer.

I recall one activity we did whereby we created our own icebergs. We used zip-lock plastic bags and half filled them with blue-coloured water. We also made a mark with black felt at the water line. After a few days in the deep freezer, we brought them out to see if the water line had changed - it had. It seemed as though the water had expanded. Then we each dipped our iceberg in a huge vat of water to see what would happen. Did it sink? Did it float? How much of the iceberg was above the water line of the vat and how much was below? Using rulers, the kids measured and then we figured out the ratio of the visible iceberg to the invisible iceberg. Of course, that continued on to the story about the Titanic.

Another activity we did was when I divided the class into 5 groups, each group representing one of the oceans. Each group had a large tin foil pie plate into which they poured blue-coloured water. Then we added some oil, feathers, string, tooth picks and other small pieces of wood, bread bag tags, bits of clear plastic wrap, and other odds and sods of "garbage."

Then, I said to the groups, "Okay, now clean up your oceans!"

You should have seen those kids work like mad using all sorts of methods to get the oil and garbage out of their oceans.

It certainly proved a point.

And it was lots of fun, too.

I presented several videos about the oceans to the class and we also learned about the history of ocean exploration. It was one of my favourite Science units for many reasons, but one particular reason was that I took the class on a field trip to the Stanley Park Aquarium where they were treated to private viewings of the Beluga Whales.

ABC Wednesdays is brought to you courtesy of Mrs. Nesbitt and if you click here you can see other participants' posts.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Renos - Day 4

Click photos to enlarge and see details.

The bathroom floor is finished! Yay! But we have to wait until about the middle of next week to get everything else finished because the window won't arrive until then. While one worker did the grouting in the bathroom floor, the other one put up the backsplash tile in my kitchen. Looks so much better already!


Have you ever noticed that when one job is almost finished you realize that another job needs doing? Looking at the bathroom walls makes me see that they need to be painted and, if we're going to do that, we might as well do the bedroom as well. They have to match or at least coordinate, after all - don't they? So now I'll be looking at paint swatches and trying to decide on new decor. Hmm...what colour scheme???
Also, now I'm thinking I need a new kitchen counter top, but there's nothing at all wrong with the one I have - except the colour is wrong. Maybe I can get that special melamine paint and just simply paint it. It'd sure be a lot cheaper than having a new countertop installed!

Guess where I'm going to be tomorrow? Yep - at Benjamin Moore's.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

RENOS - Day 2 and Day 3

There was a lot of noise in my ensuite bathroom yesterday and today! Everything was being ripped out - tiles, flooring, window - and dragged out for passage to the dump. Last night, this is how things were left ~

Then today I left the men working while I went to see the doctor and the massage therapist. When I arrived home about noon, they had laid all the tiles for the floor and had everything ready for when the window arrives next week. Apparently, it's coming the USA and won't be in until next Wednesday. So tomorrow they're going to grout the floor, replace the toilet, board up the window on top of the plastic shield they've put in, and put in a new backsplash in my kitchen.

After that, all will be quiet on the home front until the window arrives and is installed. Then they can finish up the tiling around the tub. That can't be done yet because it all has to be precisely measured according to how the window fits. Makes sense to me. In the meantime, I hope I'll be able to use the room for makeup, etc. - just not the tub. The other bathroom is SO small and I'm SO spoiled!

Anyway, this is how we've been left today ~ and I think the room is going to need painting next! *sigh*
Oh, and Nancy, yes my "ensuite" is the master bedroom bathroom.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

N is for Nationality


Canada (IPA: /ˈkænədə/) is a country occupying most of northern North America, extending from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west and northward into the Arctic Ocean. It is the world's second largest country by total area[7] and shares land borders with the United States to the south and northwest. (from Wikipedia)

So just what does it mean to be Canadian? Well, I'm not a lumberjack or a fur trader and I don't live in an igloo or eat blubber, or even own a dogsled. I have a Prime Minister instead of a President and the last letter of our alphabet is pronounced "ZED." I eat beaver tails in honour of our national animal - the beaver. (beaver tails = pastries covered in cinammon and sugar) Being Canadian also means:

1. You know that Canada has the largest French population in the world that never surrendered to Germany.
2. You know that the Hudson Bay Company once owned 1/11th of the Earth's surface.
3. You know who "The Rocket" is.
4. You dismiss all beers under 6% as "for children and the elderly."
5. You can eat more than one maple sugar candy without puking.
6. You know that Mounties don't always look like that.
7. You understand the sentence, "Could you please pass me a serviette? I just spilled my poutine".
8. You can drink legally while still a teenager.
9. You know what a "toque" is.
10. You drink pop, not soda.
Canada is now very much a multicultural society so it's pretty hard to really define a "Canadian." New Canadians come from almost every country in the world, especially from the Asia Pacific area. However, most foreigners like Canadians because of our gentle, kind attitudes that echo around the globe. Canada also has magnificent scenery that we all love to brag about. Here are the top 10 places to see in Canada and why:

10. Prince Edward Island - the earth is really red there and there are stunning cliffs along the Atlantic Ocean.

9. Ottawa, Ontario - I lived here for 3 years and can vouch that it's a great place to visit. It's our capital city where you can view the changing of the guard (Mounties) at Parliament Hill and in the winter, skate on Rideau Canal - the longest skating rink in the world.

8. Kelowna, British Columbia - warm in the summer and mild in the winter, the valley produces Canada's world famous B.C. apples and wine. The Okanagan Valley has a marina for avid boaters and many golf courses. Relaxing at the beach or sitting on the porch of a lakeside cottage is everyone's idea of the perfect destination. We're hoping to retire there one day.

7. Churchill, Manitoba - the polar bear capital of the world AND the beluga whale capital of the world because it's situated on Hudson Bay along with being one of the best places to catch a glimpse of an Aurora Borealis or Northern-Lights.

6. Vancouver, British Columbia - my home and the best climate in the entire country. You can enjoy the city's night life, ski at Whistler and go whale-watching along the coast. Camping, hiking, and boating are also just a few other things to do here.

5. Niagra Falls, Ontario - a popular place to get married, you can also see the falls from the USA side of the border.

4. Quebec City, Quebec - rich in French culture. The Old-City is contained in an stone wall that once protected the city from the British Navy. The City Fortress makes Quebec City one of the last walled cities in the world.

3. Montreal, Quebec - the world's second largest French speaking city (second only to Paris) some would compare it to France.

2. Banff, Alberta - With the guaranteed wildlife sightings of bears, elk, moose, deer, and mountain goats it's best to go in off-season. It's also home to the famous Banff Springs Hotel where you can take a dip in their outdoor hotsprings.

1. Lake Louise, Alberta - Deep in the Canadian Rockies, a large turquoise lake trickles from the thousands year old glacier in the distance.

So today N is for NATIONALITY and my nationality is CANADIAN ~ and I'm proud of it!
ABC Wednesday is brought to you courtesy of Mrs. Nesbitt's Place.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Renos - Day 1

Wow! The renovators were supposed to arrive at 9:30 a.m. but rang the bell at 8:15 a.m. so it was a mad scramble to get out of bed and decent so I could let them in! However, the tear out was completed by 12:30 p.m. and all the materials were delivered and are just waiting to be put in now. Here's a photo of what my ensuite looked like today after they left.

Besides the reno guys working, we also drove into Richmond to get two new tires for the Blazer, got the lawns mowed, the car washed, all the junk dragged out to the end of the driveway for tomorrow's Spring Clean-Up Day (well, "HE" did all that), and I had a 3-hour nap. Yes, I was a bit knackered after last night's dancing in the family room. Although I was quite stiff and couldn't quite keep up, it was fun as it'd been a long, long time since I've tried to do those kind of moves!

Anyway, off to bed as I need to be up early for Reno, Day 2.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Renovations Begin

Ever since I moved into my home almost 6 years ago, I've been wanting to renovate my ensuite bathroom. However, there were always more pressing things on which I needed to spend my hard-earned dollars.


Last week, I discovered that when I was taking a shower, water was leaking through the window and running down the side of the house.

Thankfully, I'd already been looking at tile for the tub surround and the floor for quite a while. I'd scoured many home reno stores, specialty tile stores, magazines, and catalogues. So I knew pretty much what I wanted.

So last Monday, I popped into another tile store in a neighbouring 'burb and found exactly the tile I wanted. The owner had someone he usually recommends to do the labour and just as he was getting the man's card, in he walked! So I met him, chatted with him, and had a really good feel about him. After all, the owner of the tile store has his reputation on the line if he doesn't recommend someone good. The tiler and his son (they've been in business over 30 years) came over the next day and took a good look at what was needed and he came back the very next day with a very well-written estimate which includes a new window, too.

The reno begins tomorrow (Monday)...

This is my first time experiencing a home renovation and I've heard both good and bad. I'm hoping that the end result will be worth all the dust, dirt, noise, hassle, and money.

Wish me luck! Oh, and here are a few "before" shots! You can see why I need to do something about the bathroom. Click to enlarge.

I'll try to keep you up to date on the activities going on by taking some photos every evening after the workers leave. I'll be happy when this is all over with. *sigh*

Thursday, April 16, 2009

La Conner Tulip Festival

We're hoping to spend a day in La Conner, Washington, this month because of its annual Tulip Festival. I've only been to the town once (not during the festival) and recall it as being very quaint and "artsy." Here is a bit of history of the town taken from here:

Situated on the delta near the mouth of the Skagit River, La Conner was founded in the early 1860's and is Skagit County's oldest community. First settled by non-natives just after the Civil War, our early settlers included many with names recognizable today such as Alexander Underwood, Michael Sullivan, Sam Calhoun and A.G. Tillinghast. In 1869, John Conner purchased the trading post built by John Hayes, another early settler, on the west side of the Swinomish Slough and established a post office. In 1869, all the Town plus 70 acres was deeded to John Conner for $500! To honor his wife, Louisa A. Conner, the Town's original name of Swinomish was changed to La Conner in 1870. La Conner was briefly the county seat before Mount Vernon.
The early settlers diked hundreds of acres of land, creating farmland which would surpass per-acre yields around the globe. La Conner soon became a popular farm community and a hub for steamers carrying passengers and freight from Seattle. By the turn of the century, La Conner's population had reached 1,000. La Conner was a thriving community due, in large measure, to its proximity to the water. Logging and fishing prospered until the depression. Artists settled in the area, in the 1940's, enjoying the unique light and inspiration from nature. Renowned artists include Morris Graves, Guy Anderson, Richard Gilkey and Clayton James. Some artists were leaders of the Northwest School of Art. In the 1970's, tourists discovered the area along with folks seeking the peace and quiet of an old fashioned town.
Today, La Conner is a balance of people who work and live here, including the Swinomish Tribal Community, Shelter Bay residents from across the Channel, fishermen, farmers, artists, and carpenters - a diverse mix of cultures and educational backgrounds. If you need a place to relax and browse through interesting shops and art galleries, if you want to watch the waterfront or enjoy fine restaurants, inns and bed & breakfasts, then come to La Conner. You can also enjoy natural beauty and wildlife such as bird watching. La Conner is wintering grounds for swans and Canadian geese. The fertile farmlands continue to produce food and seed crops and, of course, our annual Tulip festival is celebrated around the world.

We're hoping to be able to walk in fields of tulips and take lots and lots of photographs, not only of the flowers but also of the countryside and the town itself. I hope the weather holds so that we'll get a nice sunny day. Stay tuned for reports and photos of our outing.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

M is for Magnolia

Every Spring since I've lived here, I've admired the magnolia tree across the street. And every year I tell myself to get over there and take some photos of it. Well, I finally did today since I remembered that it's "M" day for ABC Wednesday (hosted by Denise Nesbitt over at mrsnesbittsplace). I thought it might be interesting to look up "magnolia" on Wikipedia and I can't believe how much I learned about a flower/tree that seems so ordinary.

Magnolia is an ancient genus. Having evolved before bees appeared, the flowers developed to encourage pollination by beetles. As a result, the carpels of Magnolia flowers are tough, to avoid damage by eating and crawling beetles. Fossilised specimens of M. acuminata have been found dating to 20 million years ago, and of plants identifiably belonging to the Magnoliaceae dating to 95 million years ago. Another primitive aspect of Magnolias is their lack of distinct sepals or petals. . .
The bark from M. officinalis has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine, where it is known as hou po (厚朴). In Japan, kōboku, M. obovata has been used in a similar manner. The aromatic bark contains magnolol and honokiol, two polyphenolic compounds that have demonstrated anti-anxiety and anti-angiogenic properties. Magnolia bark also has been shown to reduce allergic and asthmatic reactions.

Magnolia has attracted the interest of the dental research community because magnolia bark extract inhibits many of the bacteria responsible for caries and periodontal disease. In addition, the constituent magnolol interferes with the action of glucosyltransferase, an enzyme needed for the formation of bacterial plaque. (from Wikipedia)

Since the bark of the magnolia tree is used as an alternative for anxiety disorders, reduces allergies and asthma attacks, and keeps your teeth free from bacterial plaque I just might go and ask if I might harvest some of my neighbour's bark. Imagine the money I'd save on drugs! lol

Or plant my own magnolia tree.

I'm sure enjoying these sunny days but wish it'd warm up just a wee bit more. Enjoy the photos and if you wish, click to enlarge.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Day Off

It's amazing how much one can get done on a day off if you put your mind to it. So far, we've gone into the city and ordered "him" a suit, extra pair of pants, and two shirts for work (all paid for by employer); got an estimate on two new back tires for "his" car (a great price, btw); and looked at tile for the bathroom tub surround and floor and arranged for the tiler to come over tomorrow to give us an estimate. We came home, had a nice lunch, and while he went out to work on fixing one of his headlights (condensation inside) and waxing the roof of the car, I put a couple of ads on Craig's List. And because it's a stat holiday here, I don't have any students! Yay!
Oh yeah, on Saturday Josie and I went over to West Vancouver for lunch and a bit of shopping. We drove home through the western half of Stanley Park and stopped at Ferguson Point for a photo op. It was a good day and we really appreciated all the cherry blossoms, but I realised just how tired I was when I got home with that "I can't get enough air" feeling. I guess the old bod is still recuperating and I continue to have to take it easy even if the mind is willing. *sigh* Enjoy the photos and click to enlarge.

Top left: Me at Ferguson Point
Top right: Ships in the harbour at English Bay
Bottom left: Tide was out at Ferguson Point
Bottom right: Peeking through the wild rose bushes at West Vancouver to the north

Friday, April 10, 2009

A good Friday

Today is Good Friday and lots of Christians go to church to commemorate the death of Jesus Christ on the cross at Golgotha. For me, it is the most depressing day of the year as I prefer to commemorate Jesus' resurrection instead.
But it has been a good Friday so far for me because I met my two sisters for lunch to celebrate one sister's birthday. We went to a place called The River House, which is situated along the banks of the Fraser River near my home. I've been there many times with friends and family and never get tired of it. It's nice in the winter because there is a lovely warm fireplace to keep you cosy. And it's great in the summer because you can sit out on the patio overlooking the marina and boats that are moored there. Also, you often see rowers practising on the riverat all times of the year.
Anyway, it was pleasant, as usual, and after saying our "good-byes," I wandered to the water's edge and took a few shots that I'd like to share with you. It's beautiful here at any time of the year, but it will be even more so in a few more weeks when the trees turn green and the water reflects the sky blue.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

L is for Lilacs

After all our complaining about the long, cold and wet winter it's finally Spring! The weather has warmed up during the day to the mid-teens Celsius (low 60s F) and everywhere I look I see the flowers and trees starting to bloom. Soon the lilacs will be out in full force and I'm so looking forward to photographing them again this year. I wish I had a lilac bush, but they take so long to grow and to yield their beautiful scented flowers. I guess I'll just have to satisfy myself with long walks in the neighbourhood to admire those in other people's gardens. Here are a few shots I took last year on my rounds.
ABC Wednesday is brought to you by Mrs. Nesbitt and you are welcome to peruse the posts of other participants by clicking here.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Listen to Old People

There was a fascinating article in the Vancouver Sun today, written by Susan Schwartz, about why we should listen to old people. It reminded me of the many times my mother and I would talk about life, love, her youth and the mistakes she made, and where I'd be in life when I got older. I'd hang on every word because I could "see" her as a 17-year-old being told by her father that since she was finished high school, she had to get a job. Now you must understand that my mother had been raised in a family where money was not an issue and getting a job was a foreign notion to her. But she did get on with the provincial telephone company and that was how she eventually met my father.

In the article by Susan Schwartz, she writes that "some lament never having asked their elders, while they had the chance, about lessons life had taught them." I will forever treasure those moments with my mother, especially the moments when, stricken with Alzheimers Disease, she'd go way back into her memory bank and bring forth some words of wisdom. Once, my mother told me that I was impatient and she quoted this saying: "Patience is a virtue possessed by few women and no men." She also told me that I tend to be an intolerant person and that I must learn to accept people and situations as they are. Finally, she told me not to analyze everything so much, but to just enjoy life.

The physical and emotional scars of my life encourage me to take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way. Playwright Edward Albee said that wisdom is a matter of perspective. "Maybe it's finally being able to figure out what you should be worrying about and what you shouldn't be worrying about."

My mother admitted to me that she had failed in some aspects of her life and now that I'm, shall we say "mature," I can now admit to having failed in some aspects of my life, too. But that said, I've never forgotten those three things my mother said to me. I try very hard to be patient, tolerant, and to fully enjoy my life and what it brings to me.

And today, after weeks of miserable weather, I took my first solo walk without my brace in the sunshine - and saw some daffodils.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Shopping post-surgery

PS: Today (Saturday) I bought a skirt and a jacket!
It's great to find I wear a smaller size...maybe that
operation WAS worth it? Um...no!

I finally did it today! I went shopping for clothes. Because I thought my surgery was going to be in the fall, I didn't buy anything new and struggled through that season with old things. Then, of course, there was no need to get anything new after the surgery since all I could wear werebaggy things on top of the bulky brace. But now, with the surgeon's okay, I don't have to wear the brace anymore, unless my back is really sore - but I can put up with a bit of discomfort so I don't have to wear it.
The day dawned sunny so it felt like Spring. But before showering, I tried on the three bathing suits I own to see if any of them fit. Believe me, it is one scary experience to look in the mirror at your blotchy white self with no makeup on and sporting morning hair wearing a swimsuit. I tossed the two larger sized ones and kept the smallest of the three, but I can't say that I really like it that much. I suppose it'll do for the water aerobics I'll get into next month, since you're pretty much invisible from the neck down when you're in the pool.
So off I went to Reitman's about 10 minutes from my place. I chose a few tops to try on and then went and asked for help with slacks. I'm so hard to fit in pants because I have a petite rise but long legs. The ladies were fantastic and brought me so many to try on in various sizes, since I had no idea what size I am now after losing some weight. Turned out I wear a smaller size on the bottom than I thought! Yay! Unfortunately, the boobs didn't get any smaller so that means the tops are pretty much the same size as before. Not Yay!
Anyway, I came away with two pairs of slacks (black and grey) and two tops (one dressy and one for everyday), plus a gorgeous Spring trenchcoat in a lovely taupe shade. By that time, I was starting to get shaky and feeling a bit warmish. But I'll definitely go back to try on some jeans and capris and maybe even a sundress or two (that is if we ever get any warm weather!).
Now I'm off to give the slacks and the coat a bit of a press. I'm starting to feel human again now that I have something new to wear.