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, 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

S is for SLAVERY MUSEUM

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.   

Monday, April 24, 2017

P is for PETS

Welcome to ABC Wednesday! Today we are celebrating the letter P as in peppermint, paste, pickles, pollywog, and plentyPlus, I'm sure many of you have pets or have had pets at some time in your lives.  Maybe it's a cat, maybe it's a dog, maybe it's a fish or a turtle or a lizard or some other weird creature. Maybe you have more than one or a combination of cat + dog or dog + fish or hamster + whatever.  Any way you look at it, though,owning a pet definitely can change your life.

When I was a child, we had Mitzi, a purebred boxer that my Dad totally loved!  And when I got married, the nesting instinct set in. However, only cats were allowed where we lived and I thought it would be a great new experience. 
Unfortunately, the cat wasn't such a great pet.  I gave her a beautiful name, Velvet, because that's just how she felt when I patted her.  Velvet was good when she was a kitten, but as she got older, she got really nasty. She would want to be on your lap but when she'd had enough, she'd turned and hiss and spit at you!  She lived about 12 years and that was the only cat I've ever owned.

So back to having dogs!  We got Cassie, a purebred boxer in the early 1980s when we thought our daughters were old enough to take part in caring for a pet.  She was so sweet, but sadly had a bad heart and we had to have her put down when she was only about a year old.  Even having her for that short amount of time didn't preclude terrible feelings of grief.  But...never fear...another pet came along about 9 months later!

Star was the best dog ever!  Another purebred boxer with such a gentle nature!  She let the girls dress her up in costumes, including sunglasses and hats and pajamas and anything else that came to hand. She flew in cargo when we all moved from Vancouver to Ottawa and back in the mid to late 1980s and did really well.  Below left is Star on top playing with her sister that our friends got at the same time.






She had a wonderful life, even outliving my husband who passed away in 1992. I got her a basket and she slept in my bedroom with me from then on. She started having some problems around 1997 when she was almost 12 years old and with extreme grief, we had to say good-bye.  I'm sure she'll be waiting at the Rainbow Bridge for me when I get there. 

But then along came Robbie, a purebred cocker spaniel who decided that he was going to be the Alpha of our pack!  Um...I don't think so!  I took him for professional training and worked really hard with him to obey.  But he turned vicious, biting a friend I ran into on the street, my son-in-law, and ME - twice!  When he was 3 years old, we had to say "sayonara" to Robbie. I couldn't take a chance on him around my grandchildren, who were small at that time.

Now I have the BEST pet of all - I know some of you have seen photos of Tegan, my very first purebred English Labrador.  Here she is a couple of days after bringing her home at 11 weeks, exploring the back yard.  She sat right away when I told her to and stayed!  Now that's smart!
Oh my goodness, I knew that Star was smart, but she seems kind of dumb now compared with Tegan!  She's 4 1/2 already, and I realized recently that she's the only pet that I've had that is all mine! I don't have to share her with anyone! We have completely bonded and she is like my child (but not to any excess - she is a dog, after all) and she has learned how to behave extremely well.  The only problem she has is that she is too smart for her own good.  She thinks she can do things against the rules and she'll get away with them.  For example, if she sees other people or dogs, she'll run to them to say "Hi" and won't come back! I also have to be careful that she is never allowed off leash unless it's an area that is completely fenced in.  Here is a typical pose asking me to play Frisbee with her.
Here is my girl - so pretty, sweet, smart, and my personal confidant.  We enjoy pleasant and peaceful evenings together after busy days of perennial Frisbee fun!  And when I gaze at her dozing at my feet or on her blankie on the sofa, I have a poignant feeling she will be my last pet.
To all pet lovers, may you have a perfectly pleasant week with your beloved pets.  Take lots of photos of them because life is so short and one day, those photos will be very precious to you.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

O is for OPTIMIST

Welcome to ABC Wednesday where today I'm honouring our local "rag" called the Optimist.  I know, you thought I was going to give you a definition or something...but no, there was something in our paper on March 24, 2017, that I've been saving for just this week!  And the entire post is an homage of sorts to our official administrator Roger, music aficionado that he is! 
Back in June, 1980, the legendary Chuck Berry performed in my little village of Ladner in British Columbia, Canada!  Ladner is sort of a bedroom community of Vancouver, BC, which most people know.  Chuck Berry passed away recently at the old age of 90, so the paper had a sort of retrospective of his time among us villagers.  There is even a YouTube video that I'm going to give you the URL for and you can see for yourselves that I'm not kidding you!
Now back in June of 1980, I was a young mother with a 3 1/2 year-old and a weeks-old baby.  I really wasn't up on current world events and certainly didn't have the energy to keep on top of even  our local news, either.  So this was big news to me when I read that Chuck Berry had been here for the grand opening of a local car dealership.

Apparently, the crowd was made up of young and old, including a lot of kids.  A fellow by the name of Gary Schoen commented that "it was a bit strange seeing somebody like that outside the confines of a club. But, the whole idea of him playing outside, doing a free show was what really got us going there to be able to see someone like that, a legend."  The Optimist reported after the concert that the show had attracted 5,000 people and that a police spokesperson said the crowd was well-behaved.

Well, we ARE Canadians, after all, and live in a small community!

Chuck Berry passed away at his home in Missouri on Saturday, March 18, 2017. He had been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, and "after Elvis Presley, only he had more influence on the formation and development of rock and roll," states the organization's website.

So there you go, Roger!  I almost met a legend 37 years ago and only found out about it recently.  The video is 27 minutes long and the first song is instrumental but he sings in the second song and that's as far as I went.  Enjoy!  Go here!
By the way, ROGER, (and everyone else) you might be interested in reading some of the comments under the video from locals and even from the fellow who recorded it. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

N is for NARRATION

I was feeling nostalgic this week, so went wandering through my Pedalogue archives.  I found something I'd written a long time ago and it made me laugh out loud.  So I thought I'd share it this week to honour the letter N as in Narration.  It is almost the same, but with a few added "N" words to fit this week's theme. Hope it gives you a laugh.

Once upon a time there was a cactus named Willy. He lived in a nursery with lots of other plants, and his best friends were Biff and Happy. One day they were packed into a truck and taken to the local grocery store where they proudly preened themselves in front of all the lovely ladies who came by looking for house plants.

One day an old lady came by and took note of the three of them. After a great deal of checking out all the other plants, she finally decided to take Willy, Biff, and Happy.

"Whooee!" yelped Willie. "We've got a new home!"

"Yeah, and we'll all be together forever," answered Biff. "I want the window seat!"

Happy budged him saying, "Nope! I get it this time. You got to be by the window when we came to the store in the truck."

The three of them kept spiking at each other all the way along the grocery store conveyer belt. The clerk put them in the same bag and all the way home in the old lady's car, Willy got the top spot. Biff and Happy got  bit nauseated from the motion of the car.

"Ooh! Gulp!" they kept yelling.

The old lady put each of them in their very own special nubby pot and placed them together on a table where they could see the TV.

"Cool," said Willy. "I love watching TV."

Every week, the old lady came and gave them all a nice long drink of cool water. And when she did, Willy, Biff, and Happy stood up tall and proud.

But after a few months, the old lady seemed to forget about the three friends.

"I'm thirsty," said Biff.

"So am I," said Happy.

"Me, too," said Willy.

One day Biff thought he needed a nap but, suddenly, he just fainted. He just lay down all wilty.

The next day Happy fainted. He lay down all wilty, too.

The day after that, Willy just couldn't take it anymore, and he started to feel rather droopy.

But suddenly, the old lady remembered about them and arrived to give them a big long drink of that lovely cool water.

"Glug, glug, glug," went Willy, Biff, and Happy.

But Biff and Happy couldn't take all that water. It was just too much.

"We're drowning!" they cried out.

And down they went. First Biff. Then Happy.

The next morning found Willy all alone. His best friends were gone. They lay there all wilty and wet. And when the old lady noticed after a few days, she took them away leaving Willy to stand up tall and proud as the last surviving friend. But too much had happened that made him sad. Willy missed his friends so much.

Even though the nice old lady gave Willy some water every once in a while, Willy just started to get sadder and sadder. He started to wilt. First, he felt his tippy top tip curl under a bit. Then, he started to feel weaker in the middle. Willy slowly started to bend. Finally, Willy just couldn't hold himself up anymore, so he let himself fall all the way down onto his dry dirt bed.

"Biff! Happy! I miss you!" he rasped.

And so it came to pass that Willy joined his best friends Biff and Happy in that great big desert in the sky.

The End. (Based on my own non-green thumb experience.)

Can anyone guess the allusion to a certain play?