About Me

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

Monday, May 29, 2017

USA and US

The USA has been quite the topic of conversation these days as it and its new President have been in the news a lot.  Now I have friends and family who are Americans and I love them dearly plus I've met many Americans during my travels.  Everyone is always pleasant and fun to hang out with.  However, we do have some differences in history, mannerisms, culture, and outlook on life. I was checking online the other day about what information people in the USA might find amusing about Canada and came upon a good site.  Here are a few tidbits.

1.  Our president is called a Prime Minister.  Currently, it's Justin Trudeau of the Liberal Party, which is sort of like your Democratic Party.
2.  The Queen of England is not our national leader. She's just a figurehead and somebody to put on our money with the birds. (Some Royalists in Canada will have something different to say about his, but they're a minority.)

3.  Our states are called Provinces. We even have three Territories.
4.  In the War of 1812, we kicked your butts. (*hee hee*) The reason why your White House is white is because we set fire to it and it was whitewashed to hide the damage (for propaganda  purposes). Some Americans will say that THEY won the war. However, to win, a party must reach their objective. Your objective was to take over British North America (what Canada was called then), our goal was to stop you. You don't have any more northern territory along the Canada/US border than you did before 1812. So who won? (Alaska doesn't count, you BOUGHT that state from Russia.)

5.  We do not find the term "Canuck" derogatory, like Americans find "Yank" derogatory. It apparently originated during World War One. Your soldiers were call "doughboys" and ours were called "Johnny Canucks". I think the British coined the term, but I'm not sure. Our Vancouver hockey team is called the Canucks!
6.  We are not "just like Americans"; we have our own national identity, we just haven't figured out what it is, yet. Someone once said that, "Canadians are unarmed Americans with health care." That pretty much sums it up, I guess. We are internationally (but unofficially) known as the "World's Most Polite Nation."
7.  Not every Canadian speaks French. In fact, Canada is the only country where speaking French is not cool. This is the only "French" Canadians like!
8.  Even if an "American" team wins the Stanley Cup (the "World Series" of hockey) it doesn't matter to us, because all your best players are Canadian.
9.  On the other hand, if a "Canadian" team wins the World Series we ignore the fact that all our baseball players are American.
10. We have no right to keep and bear arms. So leave your guns home if you're visiting, otherwise they'll be confiscated at the border. We have very strict gun laws, and fully automatic weapons are pretty much illegal. It almost takes an Act of God to get a licence to own a pistol. (This may be a contributing factor as to why we only have about 600 homicides a year, nation-wide.)

11. That movie you thought was filmed in New York, or Seattle, or Chicago, or Los Angeles -- may have just been filmed in Vancouver, Montreal or Toronto.  Check out this link - you just may be surprised.  http://www.flightnetwork.com/blog/20-movies-probably-didnt-know-filmed-canada/

12. We own the North Pole, and therefore Santa Claus is Canadian. The internationally recognized mailing address for jolly old St. Nick is:
Santa Claus
North Pole
Canada HOH OHO

This was certainly meant to be amusing, so I hope you had a few laughs and didn't take UMBRAGE at any of it. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

T is for TULIPS

This week on ABC Wednesday, we celebrate and honour the letter T as in today, tomorrow, tomatoes, thunder, tantalize, tangy, tipple, tent, teacher and tutor (me!).  And since it's springtime, not that you'd know it in my region as it's still raining a lot, I thought I'd bring you a few photographs of my favourite flower - the TULIP!

We'll start off with a neighbour's garden (where I used to live) and I took this photo from my driveway looking towards the tremendously beautiful tulip garden. I so wished I could have grown such a beautiful display!
As mentioned, we've had such a wet spring after a horrendous winter with snow that is so rare here, but I do have some shots of tulips covered in raindrops and a group of three yellow ones that were flopped down on the step in the courtyard.

Here are some shots from my second wedding (which was lovely but the marriage didn't last). At least I have these beautiful shots. First, my bouquet at home in a vase and the cake topper.

 Here is a shot of a planter full of beautiful tulips last spring in front of the local library.
These last two shots are of tulips that I discovered on my tour of our courtyard.  Gorgeous!

Wishing everyone a tremendously happy week with warm temperatures and time to admire your tulips and other spring flowers. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017


This week I would like to tell you about the Slavery Museum in Liverpool, UK.  I visited it in 2012 when I went to the Merseyside Maritime Museum on Albert Dock near the hotel where I was staying.  I had no idea this museum was in the same building, but when I had finished looking at everything from models of the Lusitania and other famous ships, including WW2 submarines and life under the sea, to artifacts from the Titanic, I discovered the International Slavery Museum.  That is what I remember most about that day!

A bit of background first, though, about what caused me to recall that particular day when I saw with my own two eyes real photographs and exhibits of how slaves were:  1) captured 2) transported 3)habituated 4) chained 5) witness statements 6) statements by people like Desmond Tutu, Gloria Steinem and Frederick Douglass 8) quotes from old spirituals - and more.  A few years ago, I read the novel "The Book of Negroes" by Canadian author Lawrence Hill. Then, a couple of weeks ago, I watched the movie based on this novel for the second time.  Also, currently showing on TV is Canadian author Margaret Atwood's book "The Handmaid's Tale" that shows how, in the future, women become even more enslaved as a reaction to the women's liberation movement. 

So, my own memories of a memorial to all who had been enslaved in the past and two novels based on the reality and the possible recurrence of such a situation in the future made me think it might be time to bring it to light in this forum.  Slavery of any human being is absolutely repugnant to me and it shames me to think that my ancestors (British) "could" have been involved in it by trapping men, women, and children from the west coast of Africa and transporting them in such hideous conditions to work for the white people in America.
There were some gruesome sights in the Slavery Museum, like a Ku Klux Klan outfit and a statue of a man being hung.
There was also a diagram of how the slaves were packed into the cargo hold of ships to maximize the number of bodies that could be delivered to wealthy landowners.  Can you imagine the inhumanity of forcing a person to be chained in one position for the duration of the trip!  They ended up lying in their body wastes which caused illness and death.
Some potential "slaves" had enough courage to fight the hunters both in Africa and in America and would happily die rather than become a slave.
But some didn't manage to escape and ended up the "property" of landowners.  They still weren't safe, though, because at any time and at any whim of their "owner" they could be sold or killed.
 If they made it alive to America, they were purchased like an animal and forced to work in the fields under sorely difficult situations.  Below is a photo of a model of how they lived far off from the landowner's home - in huts and under the blazing sun.
One extraordinary sculpture in the museum was of chains - chains - and more chains!  I took a couple of photos and this is a close-up of part of it.  The chains were so entwined, it would be impossible to untangle them.  This was the plight of the slaves!
As I was reading the inscriptions on a wall the other side of another statue, I happened to look behind me and this is what I noticed.
See the look on this man's face?  Is he remembering stories from his ancestors about how they came to live in England?  Or is he an American stunned at how his family ended up as slaves?  Is he praying and thanking God for a man like Martin Luther King, who died fighting white America for equal rights for all people no matter what race, creed or other religion?  What would you think and feel if it were reversed?  What if men from Africa or Asia came with ships, rounded up all the white Europeans and took them back to their countries as slaves?  The whole thing sickens me!

I truly don't believe my ancestors had anything to do with slavery because the first ones to immigrate were co-owners of the Mayflower.  They settled in what was then Nova Scotia in the 1600s and ended up in the 1920s travelling west to resettle in Vancouver.  I do hope, though, that they may have been "shepherds" as part of the "Underground Railroad" that helped slaves escape across the border to what they considered to be the "Promised Land." 
My other ancestors didn't come to Canada until the 1800s to work on the railway and ended up in western Canada or travelled south to the United States.  No matter that, though, because slavery is still in existence today.
This brings me back to Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel "The Handmaid's Tale" where she looks into the future to find women - only women - subjugated by men.  I won't tell you what happens in the story, but the last chapter (and I'm not betraying anything here with this) takes place in June of 2195 - more than 200 years after Atwood began writing it.  Will human beings ever learn???

I know this has been a heavy subject this week, so if you've read all of this and need to take a break to mull the topic over or even do a bit of research on your own, please let me know that you hope to come back and leave a message about your feelings.  Any time!  After all, it's taken me 5 years to get around to writing about the Slavery Museum.

Monday, May 08, 2017

R is for RHYTHM and RHYME

A couple of weeks ago, one of my Grade 12 students had to write a slam poem with a lot of criteria involved.  First, it had to have a particular rhythm and rhyme.  Also, she had to incorporate literary devices like simile, metaphor, allusion, onomatopoeia, alliteration, and more. Then, she had to perform it in front of her classmates.  I'll find out on Wednesday how it went.  We worked on it for two weeks - her topic was racism.

As a result of working on this piece of poetry with my student, I got to wondering if I could actually write something like it.  Perhaps you'd like to see the result but please do not copy it as a friend of mine has told me it's good enough for the New Yorker magazine and is checking to see how to get it published.  For those who know me or my past, you might recognize the theme. Hah!  It's called "you". Let me know what you think.

user, abuser,

con man and fraud,

charmer, disarmer,

cat not declawed.

beer bottles in cases,

white wine and red,

and vodka in places

where you could be fed.

words from your lips

or silence instead

or traces of spirits

say thunder will spread.

like lightning words fall

without any thought and

come to appall

and show me your hand.

but I never fear

and I do not pause

there may be a tear

but out come my claws.

now you have dared

to treat me wrong

you showed that you cared

naught for a song.

now you have left

and I in relief

am slightly bereft

but get on with the grief.

Two years later

I find myself glad

I am not a hater

Just still a bit sad.

I could point a finger

and say it was you

but I made a mistake

by believing in you.

red flags ignored

all was a sham

there’s the door

don’t let it slam.

too late for I’m sorry

I might have said fine

but never again

will I call you mine.

I now make my life

into what it should be

without any strife

I can be me.

I’ve turned a page

am happy to say

I’m not in your cage

And I won’t play.

now you have to pay

for your lying and cheating

and boozing, abusing.

Yes, you have to pay.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Q is for QUINOA

This week on ABC Wednesday, we're celebrating the letter Q and when I started thinking about this particular letter, I thought "What the heck am I going to write about this week? I've already done words like queen, quaint, quirky, quiet, questions, quit, quiz, quotations, and Quesnel ( a town in British Columbia).  Some of these words I've even done more than once!  So I needed something original and I came up with QUINOA

First of all, what IS quinoa?  It is pronounced KEEN-WAH in case you're unfamiliar with the word.  I had to look it up and apparently it's an annual flowering plant grown for its edible seeds and is related to beetroot and spinach.  My first introduction to it was through my daughter who suggested I try a particular salad that she likes.  My first reaction to this was from Dr. Seuss's book "I Don't Like Green Eggs and Ham!"  However, it actually tasted quite good! These are quinoa seeds:
Since my first introduction to quinoa salads, I've tried several different types from the deli counter at the local Save-On grocery story.  One that I quite like and have had many times is a Mexican one with black beans.  Another one has lemon in it so it has a bit of a bite and another has chickpeas in it.  With the variety of spices added, a quinoa salad is the perfect side dish to pretty much any meal.  And they're easy to bring to a potluck, too!  Here are a few different quinoa salads and if you've never tried any, go to your local deli counter and simply ask for a taste of what they have.  Then you can decide if you like it before buying it or attempting to make your own.

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

Lemon Cilantro Chickpea Quinoa Salad

Chickpea Kale Quinoa Salad
Go on - give it a try!  Don't be like me and think "I don't like green eggs and ham!"  You never know!  You just might like it - like I did.