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, March 26, 2017

LIFE at LIGHT SPEED

Lately, I started thinking about girlfriends I've had over my lifetime, girlfriends that I never see or hear from anymore and girlfriends who are probably grandmothers like me now. It's true how, as you grow older, life flies by at a rate that seems to surpass the speed of light.

It seems like only yesterday that I was maid of honour to Di on her wedding day in October of 1970. She moved away and gradually the friendship dwindled away to the occasional email.  It doesn't seem that long ago that another friend shared the process of first pregnancies with me through the summer of 1976. We both had daughters and shared the first few years of their lives together. Now I don't even know where she lives

Then Margaret came into my life. She lived behind me across the fence and had three children roughly the same ages as my two. What a wonderful woman she was as she took care of my two when I was called in to substitute teach. She was a second mother to my little girls until I realised that I wanted to be the only mother they had, so quit working altogether. We kept in touch even when she moved to another community, but the friendship gradually faded away.

One Linda came into my life as a result of our both becoming single again and we hit it off. But over the years, I found her to be controlling, obsessive, and paranoid. Although I felt sorry for her and her circumstances, she was dragging me down, so I finally stopped all contact. Another Lynda was a co-worker and we'd make dinner for each other once in a while and share stories about our kids and our past marriages. When I moved on to go back to teaching, we stopped seeing each other so often.

My friend Kathy (with a K) was the first of my friends to die. That sounds so blunt - maybe I should say she "passed away" or "was called home to the Lord." But cancer ate away at her for almost 20 years and that insidious disease finally won the battle.

It's not as if I stopped liking these women or that they stopped liking me. I think that our lives change and evolve as our circumstances change. We make friends according to what's going on in our lives at the time. When we're newly married, we socialize with other newly marrieds. When we have children, our lives revolve around our children and so we meet other parents who are going through similar circumstances. School, soccer practise, dance recitals, skating and swimming lessons find parents sitting in the stands or on the sidelines and we get to talking. 

It's the same with people you work with, but when you leave your position for another job or to retire, you realize that the majority of these people, nice as they are, aren't true friends.  And if you are not married (like me) it's even harder to make new friends.  (Please don't suggest church, exercise classes, or clubs - been there, done that, and it doesn't help.)  I love to travel but it gets very expensive when you have to stay in a hotel on your own.  And the friends I do have either can't afford it or aren't interested in the same places I am. 

Anyway, over the years, I have developed friendships with some women who live halfway around the world from me, and I wish that I could see them more often.  Even though social media has become more and more common so that it's easy to "message" each other, stay in touch via Facebook, Skype, or face chat, it's still not the same, is it?  Where did the days go when we would drop over to the neighbour's or have the neighbour over for coffee or tea, go for a walk around the block with the kids, even go out to a movie or a meal with a girlfriend?  Since my friend Cathy (with a C) and I retired, she does a lot of volunteer work through her church and I continue to do tutoring. But we make a point of going out for breakfast at least once a month to catch up and it's great.

So, as the years fly by at light speed, as friends come and go, as we age, and as we gain or lose friends or family, I hope and pray that I will be able to continue to live fully and happily to the bitter end - alone or not. Anyone else feel this way?  And do men experience the same type of thing?

In the meantime, I will continue to dream of more life adventures until the day I leave this world!


Friday, March 17, 2017

K for KNIGHTS

Welcome to Round 20 of ABC Wednesday where, this week, we honour and celebrate the letter K as in kiss, kitchen, kneel, knife, kingdom, kindness, and knock.  This week, I'd like to tell you about Knights

The word Knight is a term to refer to a warrior or nobleman in former times or, in these days to refer to a person who has been given royal recognition. The roots of the word knight are connected to the Old English cniht, meaning boy, or German knecht, meaning servant.  During the Middle Ages, the term knight referred to a mounted and armoured soldier. Originally, knights were warriors on horse-back, but the title became increasingly connected to nobility and social status, most likely because of the cost of equipping oneself in the cavalry. Knighthood eventually became a formal title bestowed on those noblemen trained for active war duty.

In theory, knighthood could be bestowed on a man by any knight, but it was generally considered honourable to be dubbed knight by the hand of a monarch. By about the late 13th century, partly in conjunction with the focus on courtly behavior, a code of conduct and uniformity of dress for knights began to evolve. Knights were eligible to wear a white belt and golden spurs as signs of their status. Also, knights were also often required to swear allegiance to a liege lord.

A knight was to follow a strict set of rules of conduct. These were the knightly virtues. However, original knights had few of these qualities because the church deemed knights too bloodthirsty and unruly. The church then intervened and began stressing the importance of virtues until the church became an integrated part of knighthood and chivalry. The virtues included:
  • Mercy (Towards the poor and oppressed. They were supposed to be harsh with evil-doers.)
  • Humility
  • Honor
  • Sacrifice
  • Fear of God
  • Faithfulness
  • Courage
  • Utmost graciousness and courtesy to ladies
When in Wales last summer, I visited Chepstow Castle, the oldest surviving post-Roman stone fortification in Britain, where I found a replica of a knight on horseback prepared to do battle.  The knight carried a sword and shield with the image of the Welsh dragon on it.  And it was made of straw! 
Imagine hoards of Norman warriors coming on horseback across those fields ready to cross the River Wye and scale the cliffs to conquer the castle and its environs!

Now, those of you who read my posts probably know by now that I love history, especially anything to do with my ancestry (English, Welsh, Scottish).  However, one of my daughters and her husband have gone one step further and are members of the Society for Creative Anachronism.  This is an international organization dedicated to researching and re-creating the arts and skills of pre-17th-century Europe. It consists of 20 kingdoms with over 30,000 members residing in countries around the world. Members, dressed in clothing of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, attend events which feature tournaments, royal courts, feasts, dancing, and various classes & workshops.

In fact, my son-in-law is becoming quite the artisan by creating leather armour not only for himself, but also for other members.  He makes every kind of armour that can be made from leather for from the neck down as well as purses, pouches, belts, and accessories. He has also given classes in making armour of all kinds and participates in the actual "battles" after many hours of practise.  He has worked his way to becoming a "Lord," which is the first of a slew of titles. Currently, he is known as Lord Ewen Mac Dughglas of Lions Gate. My daughter is Lady Eva de Lille, but not because of her association with her husband.  She attained the title of "Lady" through her own achievements by volunteering for behind the scenes and helping to organize events.  She finds hundreds of small ways to help others at all the practises and events she attends plus she and her husband run a kitchen and do the cooking and serving at events.

Here are a couple of really quick You-Tube videos SIL said I could show of a couple of practises.  He is in the red outfit in the first one.  Apparently, if you get hit in the leg, you must kneel, if you get hit in the arm, you have to forego using it, and if you get hit in the head or body, you're dead!
Hope you enjoyed this post.  I know I learned a lot more about knights and my daughter's and son-in-law's association with the Society for Creative Anachronism just by writing it.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Jane Austen

Welcome to the world of J as in jam, juggernaut, jumpsuit, jack-in-the-box, jaunty, and my two dearest British friends Jane and Jill.  Last year while in England, I had the pleasure of visiting the Jane Austen Museum in Chawton, Hampshire, and learned more about her as a person.  In Wikipedia, it states that "Jane Austen was an English novelist known primarily for her six major novels, which interpret, critique and comment upon the British landed gentry at the end of the 18th century. Austen's plots often explore the dependence of women on marriage in the pursuit of favourable social standing and economic security."

Jane published most of her mature work while living in the lovely village of Chawton only a few miles from her birthplace, Steventon.  She was born December 16, 1775, and died July 18, 1817.  Most people are aware of her major works that, to this day, are read worldwide - books like "Sense and Sensibility," "Pride and Prejudice," "Mansfield Park," "Emma," "Persuasion," and "Northanger Abbey." 

In 1997, I visited England for the first time and my hostess took me to Blickling Hall where the movie "Sense and Sensibility" had been filmed.  It was while wandering the gardens there that I had an overwhelming feeling that I belonged there - in the country of England.  I've since returned many times and always feel that I should have been born there, even though my grandparents felt the urge to immigrate to the "new world " of Canada.
Last year, 2016, I was so pleased to visit the museum which had been Jane's home and where she wrote many, if not most, of her books.  It was almost eerie to wander inside the house, peeking into rooms where she had not only written, but had taken her meals and where she had slept. I wanted to try out her bed, but thought it wouldn't be very genteel to do so.  Instead I took a photo but it didn't turn out well. Here are a few of my photos from that day.
Outside, at the back of the house were several outbuildings where there was an antique donkey cart, which probably took Jane and her family to friends or relatives to visit. Also, there was an old brick oven and cooking area where the hired help would prepare their meals.
The best part of my visit, though, was the gardens! Like all English country gardens, they took my breath away.  I sat on a bench where Jane might have sat contemplating how her characters would develop while she breathed in the gentle English breezes.
After my own private contemplations, I began to wander around taking photos of various flowers and plants.  I was in my glory and my hosts finally came looking for me. All they were concerned about was that I was enjoying my visit.

And if you are ever in England and are a Jane Austen fan, I'd highly recommend a visit to the museum.  There is a lovely pub  called The Greyfriars immediately across the street where you can get a nice lunch either before or after your visit.   Here's a photo of it:
Hope you enjoyed a virtual visit to the Jane Austen Museum and may you have a jolly week!

Sunday, March 05, 2017

I is for ICE FLOES Over Greenland

Welcome to ABC Wednesday, Round 20, Letter I as in ice-cream, igloos, icicles, iditerod, idioms, and illuminating

Notice that 4 out of 6 of my examples above refer to ice and did you know that the 2017 Iditerod is starting in Fairbanks, Alaska instead of Anchorage because of the lack of snow in Anchorage!  They have sent it all down here to Vancouver, British Columbia, where we've had THE worst winter EVER with so much snow that it's sometimes been difficult for me to get out in the car. And today as I write this, (March 5th) I woke up to another dump of this incessant white stuff!  No one can remember us ever getting snow in December, let alone March!

So with that in mind, I decided to show you some photos that I took from the airplane as I flew over Greenland last summer on my way home from my immensely memorable trip to the United Kingdom. I used my new Canon SX720HS camera with 40X telephoto lens and I think the shots are incredible. When the pilot announced we were approaching Greenland, I got into position at the very back of the plane (where I was sitting) and started focusing.  If you click on the first photo, you can see them in full screen and will see much more detail.  We start with a few shots of some clouds and then possibly some land.
This next one looks like waterfalls, but they're clouds.
Could that actually be land?
Then, for sure there was land!




 Notice the wing tip at the upper left corner!
These last two (above and below) are of ICE FLOES! 
I was so excited to get decent shots of this intercontinental area of the world.  And thrilled to share them with you all.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

H is for HAMLET


How many of you groan at the thought of Shakespeare's play "Hamlet"?  How many had to read and study it in high school?  Anyone ever seen it on the stage or any of the movie versions?  What are your thoughts?

I am currently finishing up "Hamlet" with a student I tutor and have to say that up to now, I've never been a fan of the play.  However, every time I have to help a student with it, I learn a little bit more.  I think I've finally figured out the point that Shakespeare was trying to make through this story of a Danish prince.

For those of you unfamiliar with the plot, Hamlet's father was King of Denmark and murdered by his brother Claudius, who then married his sister-in-law Gertrude.  The play follows young Hamlet as he professes to seek revenge on his uncle while at the same time, trying to love his mother as before, even though he feels she has committed the ultimate sin.

I have previously found the character of Hamlet to be frustrating because he talks a great talk but never acts on his words!  I still don't "like" the story that much, but at least this "go-round"  I finally "got it." Hamlet starts off in grief and is very depressed because his father, the King, has died.  The play works its way through Hamlet's desire to avenge his death when he finds out the truth of who and why he was murdered. 

It takes a long time, in my mind, to show how Hamlet evolves from being a "thinker" who never acts on his determinations to a "thinker" who realizes that one's life and death are in the hands of fate.

There are some words of wisdom in "Hamlet," a few of which I present here:
But he dies.  It seems like everyone dies.  As in all Shakespeare's tragedies.  My student is doing an artistic rendition (collage) to illustrate the progress of Hamlet's character through the play.  It was one option out of several, most of which were literary essays.  I convinced her this would be a lot easier and a welcome change from writing the obligatory essay!  She agreed and I think she will do well.

Thanks goodness my other grade 12 students are doing "Othello," which I find much more fun - even though it is a tragedy, too.  What might be your favourite Shakespearean play?

Monday, February 20, 2017

G is for GREAT ORME


Last week, I took you to North Yorkshire and St. Stephen's Church in Fylingdales.  This week, we are going west to northern Wales to the Great OrmeGeographically, it's a prominent limestone headland next to the town of Llandudno and juts out into the Irish Sea. Llandudno was a must-see for me as my paternal grandmother was born there and I was not disappointed. However, it was a stretch for me to imagine her life there in the late 1800s and early 1900s as the city is so modern, albeit with its Victorian architecture everywhere, and vibrant with tourists as it is a seaside resort town. The Great Orme overlooks the city and you can even see Liverpool's solar wind turbines from there! Here is an aerial view of the Great Orme that I found through Mr. Google. Llandudno is behind the promontory.
Parts of the Great Orme are managed as nature reserves and about half is used for farmland, mostly goat and sheep grazing.  Humans began mining for copper as far back as the Bronze Age and after these mines were abandoned, the Romans reopened the workings.  In 1692, copper mining resumed and kept going until the end of the 19th century. In the 20th century, the mines were once again reopened, and the Bronze Age mine workings are now a fee-paying attraction for the public to experience. I didn't see this attraction, but rather went to the official visiting center where there was a fascinating hands-on history exhibit that transitioned into a lighthouse area and flora and fauna exhibits, for which the Great Orme is famous.

One note of interest is that a herd of about 200 Kashmir goats has roamed the headlands of the Great Orme since the Shah of Persia presented a pair to Queen Victoria just after her coronation 1837.  All the goats that roam here today are descended from these two goats by artificial contraception.  Also, the Royal Welsh Regiment of the British Army  is permitted by the British Monarch to choose an animal from the herd to be a regimental goat (if it passes selection, it is given the honorary rank of lance corporal). 

We took the official Great Orme Tramway to the summit and spent a long time looking around.  We saw the visitor center, the gardens at the back, wandered across the grassy slopes to the edge of the cliffs (thank goodness there was a fence!), took lots of great photos, and then thought we'd take a gander in the Summit Complex.  There, we got a bite to eat with the obligatory tea, grooved with a statue of a famous Welsh boxer, and took in the gleaming bar! When we walked outside into the glorious sunshine, the wind almost took us off our feet.  So we took a selfie looking very Welsh and pale and wind-blown, but I'm sharing it because we are acting goofy and not looking at ALL glamorous!

When we arrived in Llandudno earlier, we got lost looking for the Great Orme.  We ended up pulling over at the edge of the Irish Sea and beside a great cliff.  While Jane checked her map, I hopped out to take some photos.  Little did we know that the cliff WAS the Great Orme; we just needed to find where to park the car and find the entrance to the Tramway to take us up. And what an adventure it was!  See the Smilebox slideshow and turn up your music for some ambience.  Most of the photos are mine, but I think it's pretty obvious which ones aren't (like aerial views!)
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow


Monday, February 13, 2017

F is for FYLINGDALES

Welcome to ABC Wednesday!  This week, we honour the letter F as in film, fancy, farmer, flamboyant, and fervour.  I'm going to continue my travel log by telling you about a fascinating area  I visited in North Yorkshire, England.  FYLINGDALES is a parish in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park that includes the village of Robin Hood's Bay and Fyling Hall School.

One afternoon, after exploring Whitby Abbey, Jill's Mom suddenly thought we should drive out to the moors to show me an old church perched on a small knoll with its cemetery that is visited by local sheep to keep the grass down.  The first church was founded in the 11th century but in 1870, the building was replaced because it was in poor condition, being both dark and too small.  As of 1986, it is in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.

I took many photos inside this fascinating church and Jill and her Mom told me the story of the Maidens' Garlands.  The heartbreaking display is of garlands made out of strips of cloth that women wound into "crowns" at the funeral procession of young, single and chaste girls who had passed away, never to experience the joys of womanhood and motherhood.
Outside, sheep were grazing among the grave stones and across the narrow lane, cows contentedly munched away.  Gazing into the distance and down the hill I could see Robin Hood's Bay with its red roofs, a beautiful, small fishing village right by the seaside.  It has a "tradition of smuggling, and there is reputed to be a network of subterranean passageways linking the houses. During the late 18th century smuggling was rife on the Yorkshire coast. Vessels from the continent brought contraband which was distributed by contacts on land and the operations were financed by syndicates who made profits without the risks taken by the seamen and the villagers. Tea, gin, rum, brandy and tobacco were among the contraband smuggled into Yorkshire from the Netherlands and France to avoid the duty."

As it was a spur of the moment idea to take me here, it's fascinating that it ended up to be one of my favourite spots to see.This is a shot I found on Google and I like it because it shows the church and its cemetery on the hillside on a beautiful summer day.  You can see my shots on the slideshow which is, as usual, accompanied by music to set the mood.  I hope you enjoy it.  This post is dedicated to Jill and her Mom with greatest thanks for taking me there.
With fervent thanks to the entire team of ABC Wednesday, beginning with the flaxen-haired Denise Nesbitt, our creator, and the fabled Roger, our administrator.  Also, thanks to the faithful team who assist in visiting each and every contributor and to Melody, a familiar ABCW member who has agreed to take on the formidable task of being the new administrator beginning with the next Round (21).
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow