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.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

K is for Knight

When I first retired from teaching in 2006, I took some time to travel. While in Wales, I met my friend Jane, who took me to see the Roman influence in Caerleon near her home in Newport. Almost two thousand years ago, the Roman Empire dominated the civilised world and in AD75 the second Augustun Legion spear-headed the final advance into South Wales and founded the Roman Fortress of Isca in Caerleon. Today, much of Caerleon's historic past can still be seen, and we saw it all - the Amphitheatre designed to seat six thousand spectators, the Legionary Barracks, Roman Baths and Museum. We also saw a few KNIGHTS, one being a bit rusty, some brightly dressed, and others not quite ... well, um *real*. Here are a couple:

We had a great time joking about how one day *our* knights-in-shining armour would come along and sweep us off our feet. Well, Jane's arrived not long after I returned home, and mine has come along now, too! So here are Jane and her knight when they came to visit last summer. I took them to Fort Langley where they dressed up as old-fashioned RCMP and posed in front of an historic mural. Also, here's "my" knight - I *know* you've all been wondering...

ABC Wednesday is brought to you courtesy of Mrs. Nesbitt. To see who else is participating, just click here and you can read all the ABCW posts from there.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

J is for JOCK

More humble thanks to David over at authorblog for recognizing this as Post of the Day.

During the last few years of her life, my mother would go back in her mind to her early days. She told me all about Jock, the only dog she'd ever had and the only one she'd ever loved. He was a black Scottish terrier and, considering the disdain Mom showed towards all other animals including other dogs, it was quite something to hear her go on about Jock.

When Christmas came around in the year 2000, I was sort of stumped as to what to get her for a gift. Mom had everything she needed and it seemed silly to buy her more ornaments, clothes, or bath products. I wanted to find something really original and special for her that year - I think because I knew her time was limited. She'd already been suffering from Alzheimers for some years already.

I must have wandered the malls (both indoor and outdoor), trendy little boutiques, department stores and Walmart, and every little "off-the-beaten-track" store I found. One day I arrived at a card shop and thought I'd pop in and get her a special Christmas card to go with whatever I'd end up finding. As I gazed around the shop, my eyes landed on a shelf where lo and behold I found her gift!

Sitting amongst a group of stuffed animals was a stuffed black Scottish terrier! Well, I just KNEW this was her Christmas present!

When I arrived home, I had second thoughts. Buying your mother a stuffed animal for Christmas? How silly! But then, I thought "No! She's going to love it!"

I found a tartan ribbon that I put around the little black dog's neck in honour of my Mom's Scottish heritage, put him in a box with tissue paper, wrapped him all up with colourful paper and took him over.
My mother was absolutely thrilled with him! So much so, that she named him Jock after the dog she'd had as a young girl. From that day on, he sat on the back of the sofa right where she'd sit every day and she would talk to him as though he were real.

When she passed away in 2002, Jock came to live with me. He now sits on the back of my sofa and every time I look at him, I remember my mother.

ABC Wednesday is brought to you courtesy of Mrs. Nesbitt. To see more participants' blogs, simply click here.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Pheasant Under Glass, Anyone?

Humble thanks (again) to David at authorblog for honouring this post as a POTD.

I grew up in a rural community just south of the city of Vancouver. Homes were interspersed among farmland and acreage where residents grew strawberries, raspberries, beans, and potatoes. In fact, my very first paying job was as a picker and I was thrilled one year at about age 10 when counting my savings at the end of the season I realised that I'd earned about $65.00! That was a lot of money in those days, especially for a kid.

There were many varieties of birds in the area and we often saw pheasants fly over and sometimes we even saw them wandering around the neighbouring fields. One day, we were minding our own business inside the house when suddenly we all heard a horrific crash in the vicinity of the front window. My father went outside to find that a pheasant had hit the picture window and broken its neck. Taking full advantage of the situation, my father brought the dead bird inside and proceeded to illustrate how to prepare a bird for cooking. Without going into details because some of it was a bit discomforting, I'll just say that we had the most delicious meal that night.

I was reminded of that incident today when I discovered a pheasant in my back yard ("garden" for my British friends). It was wandering around the fresh bark mulch that had been laid beneath the pine, fir, and hemlock trees at the side of the fence. Rushing upstairs to get my camera, I lost my slippers and went outside in bare feet to grab some shots (photographic) before it flew away.

But as I watched it and took pictures, it simply wandered back and forth looking upwards towards the top of the fence. I wondered if it was hurt or had been frightened by the mangy cat that constantly trespasses on my property. Finally, it went behind the largest tree trunk and lay down.

Hmmm....what to do? Because of the overgrowth of trees and the claustrophobic nature of the fence along with the fear of the cats, I had no idea how the pheasant was going to get out of my yard. I could have opened the gate in hopes that it would wander out to the front. But then there was the chance it could get hit by a car.

So I phoned the local Humane Society which sent an animal welfare officer to my house. A lovely young woman, she was concerned that the pheasant could be hurt and wasn't able to fly. She thought she'd catch it and take it to Westham Island where it would be safe - that's where the bird sanctuary is located and hunting is forbidden.

However, as soon as she moved towards it, the pheasant flapped its wings and jumped over the fence, landing two lots over. We both assumed that it could fly if it wanted to, so just decided to let it get itself out of the neighbourhood.

I do wonder, however, if it would have tasted as good as the one my Dad cooked.

To read more about pheasants in my area, just click here.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Welcome Spring!

We welcomed Spring today in the rain!
But, I just had to do something to herald the day, so I changed the colour of my page to pink in honour of the Japanese cherry trees that will soon be in bloom and decided to put up a post about Spring. We had such a dismal winter this year, and last summer was not so great, either. Therefore, I have to believe that it's going to be a beautiful Spring and Summer this year.
First of all, my sweetie has started in the garden! Most of the area that was covered in bark mulch has been cleared and new mulch has been laid. Also, a brand new barbecue has been put together and is just waiting for the motorized rotisserie to be installed. The ribs have been purchased for the first outdoor meal of the season and we're simply waiting for a bit of sun and warmth to drag all the patio furniture out of the shed. We are both so sick of the grey, dismal weather and are anxiously awaiting the arrival of blue skies!

We're also looking forward to going on hikes around the area to develop our photographic skills. There are so many places to go around here - the beaches, the regional parks, the mountains, the city's varied touristy locations, etc. And the first weekend in June, we're heading to the interior of BC to White Lake where "The Big Chill" weekend is being held this year. Each year around this time, my sweetie and all his friends and their wives get together for their annual reunion. It'll be my first time in a few decades to see them all together again, although I did know them back in the day. Apparently, the guys all go fishing for rainbow trout while the gals do their own thing. I'm looking forward to exploring the area with my camera and drinking lots of wine, and then watching the guys bbq their catch of the day as they weave and wobble from all the beer they drank in the boats. Should be lots of fun!

Aha! The weather man was right! Although it's windy and the rain is still coming down, the sky is lightening up bringing with it some sunny skies later this afternoon. Please God, may the blue skies and sunny weather stay!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

ABC Wednesday - I is for Ice Rink

Humble thanks to David over at authorblog for recognizing this as Post of the Day.

Kerrisdale Arena had long been the spot where my sisters and I had ice-skated since our early teens. Before we received real figure skates for Christmas one year, we'd rent our skates and wobble around trying to look like Barbara Ann Scott or whoever was the current Olympic champion.
In 1969, I had just turned 22 years old and my girlfriends and I would faithfully show up every Tuesday and Friday night for "Adults Only" skating.
One night I was wearing a cherry red sweater with tight pants and, with my long flowing dark hair, caught the eye of a certain hockey player. We ended up dating for over three years and even talked of getting married one day. However, as things happen, we drifted apart and each married someone else. Neither of our marriages were good ones - he got divorced, I was widowed.
Fast forward 40 years and guess who's together again? And this time we ARE getting married! Not sure when yet. But who would have ever guessed that after all these years, we still (or maybe it's "again") love each other?
And it all started in an ice rink.
I have to add that both my daughters took figure skating lessons and one of the older one's first competitions was at Kerrisdale Arena. I'll never forget how sweet she looked (at age 8) in the dark blue lace skating dress I made for her as she skated to music from "The Nutcracker." I'll never forget the lump of emotion and pride I felt throughout her performance. Now If I can only find the old tape made of that performance and have it put on a DVD.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Beyond the Bloom

My sweetie and I have now moved beyond the first stage of love to the stage where we can say "You stink!"
No, seriously!
This morning, when L climbed into bed after a long and cold graveyard shift, he said, "What did you have for dinner last night?"
Cuddling up provocatively and snuggling closer, I responded, "The leftover vegies you made the other night with a bit of rice."
"Well," he said, "you stink of garlic!"
He then went off to sleep, with me feeling very offended, until suddenly I recoiled against something that struck my nasal passages!
He farted!
And farted again and again!
Pillow pressed against my nose as I staggered out of the room, I decided to do some research into farts. Why is it that women seem to be able to hold their farts in until they’re in the bathroom or alone but men take such excessive pride in their ability to not only create a thunderous noise but also a noxious odour?

Here are some interesting and hilarious facts about farts:
1. The odor of farts comes from small amounts of hydrogen sulphide gas and other gases that contain sulphur and nitrogen. Foods such as cauliflower, meat, and eggs are notorious for creating smelly farts, but bean farts actually don’t smell. (Yeah? I doubt that as I’ve already been warned about not ever serving him beans!)
2. Fart noise is not generated by the flapping of the butt cheeks, but by vibrations of the anal opening.
3. On average, a person produces about half a litre of fart gas a day, in about 14 farts. Try recording how often and how bad your farts smell.
4. The smell of a fart takes about 13 to 20 seconds to travel to one’s nose. Smaller, enclosed areas (like a bed!) limits the amount of dilution of the smell (it eventually condenses as green slime on the walls) so appears to be stronger than outside on a windy day. How many of you women have had the lovely experience of having your head shoved under the blankets by your mate as they howl with laughter while you’re actually gagging and struggling not to throw up?
5. A gentleman is likely to fart the most first thing in the morning while in the bathroom. This is known as "morning thunder" and if the gentleman gets good resonance, it can be heard throughout the house.
6. Women fart just as much as men, but men take more pride in it. And the smell can be just as bad for either sex.
7. Emperor Claudius legalized farting at banquets because there was widespread belief that a person could be poisoned or could catch a disease by holding in farts. However, it won’t hurt you unless it backs up so much you get a stomachache. How many of you ladies can remember holding it all in until your date leaves, only to expel it loudly with profound relief?
8. It is possible to ignite farts! Why? Because they contain hydrogen and methane, both flammable gases. Farts burn with a blue or yellow flame, but it is highly dangerous to attempt to ignite them. The flame could back up into your colon or your clothes could catch on fire.
10 ways to cover up a fart:
1. Wear "Fartypants" underwear, specially designed to absorb the odour.
2. Blame the dog or cat.
3. Complain about the local pulp and paper mill or the sod farm that uses chicken manure.
4. Act oblivious.
5. Glance quickly at the person standing beside you.
6. Cough loudly.
7. Move your chair so it makes a sound on the floor.
8. In a public toilet, use the "buff muff" strategy, which is to use a handful of loose toilet paper and hold it to your butt hole so it muffles the sound.
9. Proudly proclaim the fart as your own grand accomplishment.
10.Issue a challenge to others to outdo your fart.
I was trying to find a good cartoon to go with this post, but I couldn't decide which one to use. Just google "cartoons about farting" and you will absolutely die laughing.

Friday, March 13, 2009

ABC Wednesday - H is for Herriot, James

Again, I'm late doing my ABC Wednesday post but perhaps you'll forgive me when you read about James Herriot, famous veterinarian and author. (see photo at left) One of the greatest writers of our time, James Alfred Wight, Herriot being his pen name, wrote about his experiences as a country veterinarian in England. His stories have touched millions of people. Born in 1916 in England, Herriot passed away from cancer in 1995. From 1978 to 1990, the television show "All Creatures Great and Small" kept viewers glued to their TV sets. What fan can forget Clancy, Joe Mulligan's dog, a cross between an "Airedale and a donkey"? The huge dog had a case of "womitting" and James, Siegfried, and Tristan were all scared of the big dog. And who could ever forget Mrs. Pumphrey and her adored Tricki Woo with his unique symptoms of flop-bott and crackerdog? I inherited the set of four books written by Herriot about his life and times working in the Yorkshire Dales of northern England from my parents. I've enjoyed every moment savouring the author's delightful tales of his adventures with the colourful characters he met during his years in Yorkshire. If you haven't had the chance to read Herriot's books, I urge you to do so - you will not be disappointed.

Below is a photo of Christopher Timothy, actor, who portrayed James Herriot in the television series.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

ABC Wednesday - G is for Garden

Sorry to be so late in posting for ABC Wednesday but there just doesn't seem to be enough hours in the days lately. I have several new students that I tutor and by the time I teach all of them for an hour each and fill in my information sheets for what we did, I've already put in 150% time for each and every one.
However, while I've been doing my work, my sweetie has discovered my garden and has been having a blast figuring out how to improve it. Spring has not yet sprung here, and we hear there might even be another blast of snow on the weekend. But that hasn't stopped my sweetie as he's already raked up the garden and the lawn and put all the garbage in bags. And he's started to spread bark mulch in some areas. There is a lot to do still, but he's in his glory! Here are a few photos of my garden - before the work began. Hopefully, I'll be able to show you the after shots in a few months.
The side garden, all raked and ready to have the bark mulch put down.

My weeping birch looks a very strange greyish colour right now.

The back garden along the fence is looking pretty scraggy right now.

This is right beside the patio and shows the part along the back of the house.

Finally, the front is looking pretty sparce except for the brilliant purple heather.