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.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

X is for eXtending one's vocabulary

Only three more weeks until ABC Wednesday becomes a new and improved way of reaching the realms of the world.  Melody takes over as Administrator with two assistants and a team made up of former ABCW team members plus some new ones.  Our eXcitement builds with anticipation to see how things work out.  But in the meantime, do continue to post as we'd love to see a push of contributions rather than a dismal dying out. 

The letter X is always a difficult week to find a word to fit and having looked through most of my posts, I noticed that 1 out of 2 posts seems to be Xmas.  This time I decided to try to improve my own vocabulary and thus improve yours as well.  So here are my new X words.

XANTHROCHROID refers to the phenotype of persons who are fair-complexioned and light-haired.  A phenotype is the set of observable characteristics of an individual resulting from the interaction of its genotype with the environment.  Both of my daughters fit into the category, being blonde-haired, blue-eyed, with fair complexions.  However, they've coloured their hair so much throughout their lives that heaven only knows what their "natural" colour is now!  The first shot is when we lived in Ottawa and visited Upper Canada Village on the St. Lawrence River (1987) and the second is when we went to Cape Cod and saw President John F. Kennedy's memorial there (1988).
XHOSA are a Bantu people native to the Cape of Good Hope Province in South Africa. Xhosa peoples were well established by the time of the Dutch arrival in the mid-7th century, and occupied much of eastern South Africa from the Fish River to land inhabited by Zulu-speakers south of the modern city of Durban.


XEBEC, also spelled zebec, was a Mediterranean sailing ship that was used mostly for trading. It would have a long overhanging bowsprit and aft-set mizzen mast. It can also refer to a small, fast vessel of the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries, used almost exclusively in the Mediterranean Sea.

XESTURGY is the process of polishing stones.

XOANON  is a statue made of wood, primitive in nature, that is covered in gold and ivory.
So there you have it - I hope you've improved your vocabulary somewhat.  I know I have as I'd never heard any of those words before.  Thanks to our eXtra special administrator, the eXuberant Roger and the eXtremely wonderful group of assistants.  Also thanks to the eXceptional imagination of Denise Nesbitt, the creator of ABC Wednesday 10 years ago!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

W is for WALES

This week we honour the letter W as in welcome, wharf, wedding, whip, wrestle, and west.  Following last week's post about views of England, I'm showing you a tiny bit of Wales, the country of some of my ancestors.  This small part of the United Kingdom is bordered on the east by England, on the north and west by the Irish Sea, and on the south by the Bristol Channel. It has over 1600 miles of coastline with many of the most beautiful beaches in the entire kingdom; also, it is largely mountainous with Mount Snowdon its highest peak.  In the map below, you can see just how small the country is - the black line on the right is the border with England and you can see just how close Dublin (Ireland) is .
My connection with Wales is most recently through my paternal grandmother, whose ancestors came over from Ireland to the northwestern part - called Anglesey.  They then moved east and ended up in Llandudno, one of the most beautiful cities in the country.  It retains a Victorian appearance in its architecture but is completely modern now.  Also, it boasts a pier that is almost 2,300 feet long, the longest in Wales and 5th longest in all of England and Wales. Click here for more information.

Wales has three national symbols - the leek, the daffodil, and the harp. 

The Leek

According to legend on the eve of the battle against the Saxons St David advised the Britons to wear leeks in their caps so as to easily distinguish friend from foe. This helped to secure a great victory. Today Welsh people around the world wear leeks on St David's Day. It is also a surviving tradition that soldiers in the Welsh regiments eat a raw leek on St David's Day.


The Daffodil

The Welsh for leek (the original national emblem) is Cenhinen, while the Welsh for daffodil is Cenhinen Pedr. Over the years they became confused until the daffodil was adopted as a second emblem of Wales.

The Harp

The harp is regarded as the national instrument of Wales. By the end of the 18th century, the triple harp - so called because it had three rows of strings - was widely known as the Welsh harp on account of its popularity in Wales. The harp has been used through the ages as an accompaniment to folk-singing and dancing and as a solo instrument. HRH Prince Charles appoints a Welsh Royal Harpist on a scholarship programme annually. Past Royal harpists include Catrin Finch.

When I was a little girl, my Nana Jones gave me a doll dressed in the national costume of Wales.  I don't still have it, but I did take a photo of a Welsh lady from Conwy (town next to Llandudno where Nana grew up) as she was standing next to the smallest house in Great Britain. The ladies certainly have a very distinctive hat!
For such a small country, Wales has a lot to offer tourists.  There are castles, abbeys, ancient ruins, rocky coastlines and beautiful beaches, green that never seems to end, modern cities like Cardiff (the capital with its Millennium Stadium and a new waterfront area), older cities like Newport that was built by the Normans and boasts the Celtic Manor Resort, a modern golf, spa, and leisure resort where the 2010 Ryder Cup and the 2014 NATO summit were held.  There are so many ancient towns scattered throughout the green grass and forests where King Henry VIII used to hunt deer (right near my friend Jane's place).  Wales also boasts about past and present famous folk like Dylan Thomas (poet), Tom Jones (singer), Sir Anthony Hopkins (actor), Richard Burton (actor), Roald Dahl (writer), Catherine Zeta-Jones (actress). 

I've put together a very short presentation of some of my photos of areas in Wales that I've visited. This is just a taste and I hope it encourages you to consider putting it on your bucket list.  The music I chose this week is "Eternal Pride" which I thought apt as I have eternal pride in my heritage. Now turn up your sound and enjoy the show!
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow


Monday, June 05, 2017

V is for VIEWS

Welcome to ABC Wednesday where this week we celebrate the letter V as in victory, vehement, velocity, vacuum, vehicle, vote, vixen, and vocabulary!

This week, I thought I'd bring you a few views from my trip to England last year.  I know that every country has its own spectacular vistas, especially my country of Canada.  However, there is something about England that just draws me there.  Maybe it's my ancestry and the fact that the first time I stepped on British soil in 1997, I had a strong sense that I was "home." 

I didn't put any words on the photos because it took away from the actual view.  Instead, I'll just give you a little run-down of what you will see.

There are photos of a grand palace, Blenheim Palace (in Oxfordshire) and Winston Churchill's  palatial home (in Kent) with a view looking out and down the hill from the upper balcony there.

There is a "stylized" photo overlooking Albert Dock (in Liverpool), a shot of the grand entrance to the Beatles Museum, and a couple of shots looking UP at Liverpool's Eye, from which I took the photo of Albert Dock.  Also, there is a shot of the new statues of the Beatles in front of the Mersey Ferry Dock.

There are shots looking up at British chimneys, Chimney Banks in North Yorkshire, and up at the colossal cliff in Staithes, North Yorkshire, where you can see the seagulls flying overhead.

There are views of ancient bridges, churches, abbeys, and castles and their ruins.  See out over the rooftops of the ancient city of Richmond, homes nestled in the surrounding hills, and towers rising high above the forests. 

High on the hill where you'll find Whitby Abbey, you can see for miles over the town and the beach off the North Sea. 

See sheep roaming the moors and dales, and a view of York Minster through the trees, as well as a view of countryside and river as I sped by on the train.

Here is an illustration comparing the size of the entirety of the United Kingdom compared to the size of my province of British Columbia.  I have seen about half of BC and quite a bit of the rest of Canada except for Nova Scotia and Newfoundland/Labrador.  It truly is a vast and spectacular country, but maybe I have the "grass is greener" mentality - even though I feel so "at home" in England, Scotland, and Wales.  For W week, I will show you some wonderful views of that part of Great Britain!
Turn up your sound, make it full-screen, and enjoy!
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow





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

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.