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.

Friday, November 30, 2007

It's Beginning to Look a Bit Like Christmas

Last night was my first Christmas function - a potluck with the ladies of my church. After a sumptuous feast of chicken, beef, mandarin orange salad, shortbread cookies and butter tarts, we waddled to the living room to sing carols. Between songs, we discussed our annual hamper drive for a home for abused women and children. It was a lot of fun and no one wanted to leave.

The evening got me in the spirit so I'm heading out to Canadian Tire to see if I can get some new LED lights to decorate my front door. Since I don't have a ladder (and am a bit scared of climbing up to do the top of the house, anyway) I think I'll stick to the door. Since living here, I haven't decorated any part of the exterior of the house and the neighbours probably think I'm either Jewish or a Scrooge.

So off I go...wish me luck that I'll be able to find the lights and do the door.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Truffle to fetch $221,000.00

First of all, what is a truffle? It is an underground form of mushroom that lives in the roots of specific trees. Truffles cannot be planted and suppliers rely on the fungus infecting the roots of oak trees to enable the delicacy to grow - a process which can take up to 15 years. For more specific information and recipes click here.

In today's paper, an article from Rome announced that a 1.5 kg (more than 3 pounds) truffle was found in the Italian countryside near the city of Pisa. Italian truffle hunter and trader, Cristiano Savini dug down 80 cm (almost 3 feet) by an oak tree to find this truffle, the largest unearthed in half a century. It took Savini, his father, and his dog Rocco more than an hour to get it out. They are donating the truffle to a charity auction in Macau where it is expected to fetch 150,000 euros or $221,000 Cdn.

I've only had the chocolate variety of truffles, but has anyone ever eaten the real thing? Maybe Welshcakes Limoncello?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Pig Farmer Trial Almost Over

Closing arguments are currently in process at the infamous trial of Robert Pickton, charged with killing and butchering 22 of Vancouver's 60+ missing women. Details of this trial have been published daily in the Vancouver Sun, but after a while, I stopped reading about it. It's just far too gruesome to absorb. But, jurors expect to be sequestered throughout the weekend to deliberate Pickton's guilt or innocence. Hopefully, it won't take them too long to come to a decision. It seems to me that he is overwhelmingly guilty and in his case, I'm sorry we no longer have the death penalty. People like him and Clifford Olsen (murderer and serial killer of children) shouldn't have the luxury of living out their lives in a penitentiary. I'm sure I could think of some type of lingering public torture (e.g. electrocution or burning at the stake) which might deter other evil beings from similar brutal acts towards women and children. However, we must be satisfied that he will never again set foot outside of prison walls - if he survives inside.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Rain or Snow?

The Reality of Snow

Would you prefer rain or snow for winter? I know that most of you will conjure up visions of fluffy white snow banks, skiing or snowboarding down luxurious white slopes, or going for a lovely trudge towing the kids behind you in their sled. What's the reality, though? Biting cold winds working their way under your hat or hood, frozen electrical wires threatening to slap your house dark, stamping your feet as you wait for the trolley bus that got stuck miles away because the wires froze up, trees falling, cars in ditches, and the heating bill soars. Shall I go on?

I much prefer to look at the snow-capped mountains to my north and pray that it stays there. If it rains here, it does tend to get rather dark - especially at this time of year - but I don't have to shovel it, I can easily drive to my appointments, the buses run on time, and the heating bill is reasonable.

Many people share the misconception that Vancouver is a rain-saturated city, where umbrellas are part of everyday life and the sun seldom peeks out. But the truth is, Vancouver enjoys one of the mildest climates in Canada. And all the rain Vancouver is supposed to get? Its precipitation is on par with New York and Quebec City. You can always tell a visitor - they carry an umbrella - hah! Locals just pull up their hoods if it's a bad day or else they just saunter around in and out of the stores, etc. On my way home today, the kids were getting out of school and nary an umbrella in sight.

I lived in Ottawa for about 3 years and I really did not understand all the fooferal of Vancouver's reputation. Well, the first rain in the province of Ontario enlightened me. Ottawa's rain was a driving force, coming down so hard you were drenched in less than 10 seconds. Vancouver's rain is gentle and you'd have to sit out in it for an hour to get wet.

What to do on a rainy Vancouver day? Here are some suggestions:

1. Spend the day with otters, octopi and other sea-dwelling creatures at the world-famous Vancouver Aquarium.

2. Partake in the sensory smorgasbord that is a movie at CN IMAX.

3. View masterpieces by Emily Carr and a world-class collection of other artists at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

4. Make learning fun with the interactive and fascinating exhibits at the Science World.

5. Wander the shops, boutiques and galleries of bustling Granville Island.

6. Discover the wonder and historical importance of native culture at the magnificent Museum of Anthropology. It's located on the campus of the University of British Columbia (my alma mater).

7. Feed your inner shopaholic at any of Vancouver's malls, from Downtown's Pacific Centre to the 470 shops and services at Metropolis at Metrotown in nearby Burnaby.

8. Take advantage of the glass-domed Bloedel Conservatory and marvel at this tropical paradise high atop Queen Elizabeth Park.

9. Put on a slicker and enjoy a brisk walk through Stanley Park. The rainforest canopy provides ample coverage from the rain.

10. Go shopping and celebrity hunting on Robson Street.

Anyway, the point is you probably wouldn't be able to get to any of these places if it snows in Vancouver. The streets are a slushy or slippery mess and you'd take your life in your hands to go out anywhere but your local grocery store when you absolutely have to - and you'd be slipping and sliding all the way there, too.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


At not quite 4 years of age, my grandson's photo has landed in a local newspaper. Noah attends StrongStart, an early learning program for preschool-aged children. He goes with his daycare provider and her young son who's about the same age as Noah. It's not an alternative to daycare because parents or caregivers must accompany the children and are expected to participate in the various activities. The goal of the program is to prepare children for success in kindergarten. Early childhood educators lead the activities which include arts and crafts, music, and story time.
Some of the other parents who now attend with their children had previously been isolated because of their lack of English, but by coming to Strong Start they can develop relationships with other parents and their children are exposed to Canadian culture along with learning the English language. This particular program quickly caught on and at the present time, there are 55 StrongStart programs in British Columbia with new ones starting up all the time. Noah is a very active little boy and particularly loves the music and dance and playing with the other children. He's learning to take turns and to share, manners are reinforced along with healthy eating choices for snack times, and he's actually learning other languages, too. Anyway, that's him in the photo (not very clear because I scanned it from the newspaper) with his arms stretched up and looking at the photographer. I bet he asked to see the picture right away - he loves to have his picture taken! :D If you click on the picture you can see it better.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Eight is Enough

Welshcakes Limoncello and jmb have both posted this meme. I actually did it after reading Welshcakes' and she urged me to post it when I emailed her to show how much we have in common. Since I have nothing of great interest to post right now, I guess I'll post my eight. Oh, and no one is tagged!

8 things I’m passionate about:

my children and grandchildren
learning Romance languages
good friends
rudeness and arrogance really turn me off.

8 things to do before I die:

Return to Great Britain, France, and Italy and travel to more European countries
go on a safari in Kenya or South Africa
meet some of the blogging buddies I've made
see the Pyramids
finish writing my book and see it published
pay off my credit line
get another dog
fall in love again with a good man who is kind and rich (if only!)

8 things I say often:

I’m bored.
This, too, shall pass.
Can Gramma have a hug?
Shit, Shit, Shit.
Give Noah a kiss from me.
I really have to get back to my book.
Have a nice day.
I’m bored.

8 books I’ve read recently:

not a book, but never miss the daily Vancouver Sun newspaper
The Way the Crow Flies, by Ann-Marie MacDonald
Suite Française, by Irene Némirovsky
East of Eden, by John Steinbeck
The Almost Moon, by Alice Sebold
The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman (currently reading the 2nd of his series of 3 called "The Subtle Knife" and will finish with "The Amber Spyglass")
I will read any novels that take place around World War II - one I really loved was "Charlotte Grey" by Sebastian Falkes

8 songs I could listen to over and over:

The Prayer, Andrea Boccelli & Celine Dion (yes, Josie, I know!)
Memories, Barbra Streisand
My Girl, The Temptations (takes me back to my first love)
Believe in You, Amanda Marshall (this could be my anthem to my younger daughter)
You Were There, from the movie Simon Birch sung by Babyface
Unforgettable, the version with both Nat King and Natalie Cole
What a Wonderful World, Louis Armstrong
Anything by Julio Iglesias and Il Divo

8 qualities I look for in a best friend:

humour – make me laugh
trustworthy – I want to know I can tell you my deepest thoughts and secrets in confidence
intelligent - enough to have a decent conversation and not just gossipy stuff
kind - enough to offer to bring chicken soup when I’m all alone and sick with a cold or flu
be able to view things from various perspectives but honour my perspective even if you don’t understand or approve of it
be interested in ME and my life
inquisitive – have a desire to learn something new every day
be willing to share a room with me on a trip and bring your own earplugs

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Tudors

This 10-part series currently seen on CBC TV at 9:00 pm Tuesdays is fantastic! I understand it's also shown on Showtime in the USA. If you haven't had a chance to see it, you absolutely MUST! Click on this link to view all parts to date. Liberties are taken with character names, relationships, physical appearance, and the timing of events, but they don't take away from the dramatic tension.

The latest episode was on last night and as usual, I was absolutely hypnotized by Jonathan Rhys Meyers' portrayal of King Henry VIII. The actor was on The View today and it was so strange to see him as a normal young man. He's Irish by birth and at the young age of only 30, has already developed a huge portfolio of work. Currently, he can be seen in theatres starring in August Rush with Kerri Russell and has been in Mission Impossible III and Bend It Like Beckham. He's also starred in a lot of British television mini-series and movies portraying such characters as Elvis and Alexander the Great. Click here to see his extensive filmography.

Just last week, Josie posted her list of sexiest men alive and at the time, I really couldn't think of anyone special. Well, this young man IS sexy with the most alluring eyes imaginable. As a young (and slim) Henry VIII, he absolutely makes this "twice his age" woman swoon with desire. Unfortunately, his mother (age 50) passed away yesterday after a short illness and he has had a problem with alcohol because of his home country's hard-drinking pub culture. From what I've seen of him so far, this young actor has a very promising career ahead of him.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Lost Love Found

I was working on my book and using Google one day last week when I came upon a name from the past. Of course I clicked on it and lo and behold there was my first true love! I read his website (business) and looked at a couple of recent photos of him. It just swept me right back to our first meeting at the start of our 3rd year at university. Immediately, I wanted to email him to reconnect, but now I'm having doubts.

There's an excellent article from the magazine Psychology Today (here) called "Lost Love: Guess Who's Back." It states, "old flames still smolder, especially when they're early love affairs, which leave a particularly vivid mark in our minds. Reawakening such a romance can be an incendiary experience, intensely passionate and dangerous to trifle with." However, neither of us is married, so as it also states in this article, "for those free to pursue a lost-and-found love without hurting others, the rewards can be intense."

So why would I want to reconnect? I do know that he never married or had any children and now runs a lucrative business as a wilderness guide. I would never want to live permanently where he lives, and he would never want to live where I live. However, he does come to the city once in a while, and he lives in an idyllic location that could help inspire my writing and photography. So visiting back and forth would be perfect. I really don't want to get married again, but having a dalliance might be fun. And it would be exciting to see if there's still a spark there. I have a brief, very light and friendly email ready and waiting for me to hit "Send." Well? Your thoughts?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Rainy Day

oil on canvas by Gustave Caillebotte, c. 1876–77
in the Art Institute of Chicago

The Rainy Day
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the moldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the moldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast
And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some r ain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

It's a typical rainy November day here in the Vancouver area and instead of falling into despondancy, I decided to dream of the future sunny days ahead. And remember that this season is as necessary to our lives as is spring, summer, and winter.

Christmas is just around the corner, believe it or not, and I'm really looking forward to having both my girls, my SIL, and grandson for dinner. We will also rejoice in the fact that next year we'll have another child in our midst as D#1 is expecting in early March.

Something else I can be thankful about is that my mortgage will be paid off soon and I'll be in a better position to start saving for all the traveling I want to do. I can hardly wait to go back to England, Wales, and parts of the USA to visit friends as well as do more touring in France and Italy.

Last week, a friend from high school came from New Brunswick for a visit. It was great to see her and she's planning on returning some time in January. And another friend from Arizona, who wasn't able to make it up this past summer for a visit, is planning on coming next summer.
So although the trees may be bare and the streets full of puddles, I will not allow all the grey to seep into my brain. I will think yellow for sunshine, blue for clear skies, red for warmth, and green for new life to come.
And D#2 just phoned and invited me over for coffee this afternoon. My first "real" invitation to her new home - what a delightful afternoon we will have!

How are you all feeling today?

Sunday, November 11, 2007


I absolutely HATE sweating! Unfortunately, in my drive to get to my goal weight, tone up my muscles, and become more heart healthy, I have to sweat. It's my body's way of cooling itself off from the extra heat that comes from my hardworking muscles. (What muscles?) Okay, so for a long long time I've been walking. Because of my bad back, I'm pretty limited in my activities - walking, swimming, cycling. I've walked around my neighbourhood to the point that I know almost every crack in the sidewalks AND I've even driven to places so I can walk in new surroundings. I'm getting bored walking aimlessly trying to work up a sweat. I've also done water aerobics but prefer that in the summer as I like to drive straight home afterwards to shower and do hair/makeup, etc.
So, the colder weather has prompted me to go to the local gym. I checked it out last week to see what equipment it has and today I actually went and used the recumbent exercise bike and the treadmill. For my first time there, I think I did quite well. Okay, I only did 20 minutes on the bike and 10 minutes on the treadmill, but I DID work up a sweat - ICK!
The view from the gym is lovely as it looks out on a grassy lawn area with mature trees that are now shedding their colourful leaves. There are the obligatory TVs there but I prefered to look at the *ss of the man running on the treadmill in front of me. He was already there when I arrived and was still there when I left. *sigh*
Tomorrow I'll go again and hopefully do 20 minutes on the bike and 20 minutes on the treadmill. Have to work up gradually, you know.

Man, I hate sweating!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

November Sun

Today dawned lovely and sunny, so my friend and I decided to take a walk along the dyke just before sunset and then go for dinner. I caught the sun peeking from behind the clouds that had started to move in for the next rain.

Then, suddenly, the air was full of squawking. Canada geese were doing a practise run for their soon-to-be departure for southern climes. There must have been hundreds of them in formation and making such a racket! Well, just a little excitement on a fairly nice autumn afternoon.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Never ending story

Enjoy the music and video and then read the following post.


Today I was thinking that I had nothing to share with anyone. I kept thinking about the word "NOTHING" and suddenly, I remembered a wonderful old movie that I enjoy watching over and over again. So I thought I’d share with you the story of…

"The Neverending Story" is a
1984 film adaptation of the German fantasy novel by Michael Ende. Music for the movie was composed by Klaus Doldinger of the German jazz group Passport. The theme song to the American version of the film was composed by Giorgio Moroder with lyrics by Keith Forsey, and performed by Limahl, lead singer of Kajagoogoo. This song, along with other "techno-pop" treatments to the soundtrack are not present in the German version of the film, which features Doldinger's orchestra-only score exclusively. (from Wikipedia)

The story concerns a boy named Bastian who has no friends and is always being bullied by a group of other boys. But Bastian has a passion: reading. He loves to read adventure books. One day, in an old bookstore, he finds a strange book called "The Neverending Story". When he starts to read the book, he finds a world with lots of creatures and a boy that has a mission. And he finds that he is a part of the story. He also becomes confused when he learns that he has been chosen by the Childlike Empress to save the world of Fantasia...

In the book that Bastian reads, the main character is Atreyu, a boy who lives in the Grassy Plains of Fantasia. He has been chosen by the Childlike Empress to save the land of Fantasia. Without any weapon, he goes alone on a long, dangerous, and sometimes sad journey to find a cure for the sick Empress and to stop the deadly Nothing, which is sweeping the land. The Nothing is a force that devastates and engulfs Fantasia and represents the despair of humans who have stopped believing in their dreams. Its servant is Gmork, a huge wolf who has as his mission to kill the only one who can stop this destructive force and save Fantasia, Atreyu.

The childlike Empress rules all of Fantasia. Unlike any Queen, she doesn't need any army or bodyguards. That's because the existence of Fantasia depends on her health and life. Unfortunately, she becomes very sick, and there is a mysterious link to her illness and the Nothing. There's just a small hope that she will recover her health and save the Land of Fantasia. Atreyu is her hope. He will have to find a cure to save her. To help Atreyu, she give away something that represents her, an amulet called the AURYN. Atreyu wears this amulet in order to protect himself from the Nothing.

The saddest place in Fantasia is the "swamps of sadness." When you are in the swamps, if sadness reaches your heart and soul, you will not be able to get out of mud... until you die. Atreyu’s beloved horse, Artax, dies in the swamps.

After saving Atreyu from Swamps of Sadness, Falkor becomes Atreyu's new best friend and partner to save the Childlike Empress. He is a luck dragon without any kind of wings, but he can fly swiftly. He can also swim. He tells Atreyu that nothing is impossible. Many other characters help and hinder Atreyu in his quest, but his mission is ultimately successful.

I love this movie and have shown it to many of my Grade 4 students over the years. Because it’s an older movie, most of the kids had never seen it before and were mesmerised by the story, the special effects, and the music as well as the underlying theme of evil. The movie is exciting even for adults because they can relate to the story on a higher level. If you’ve never seen it before, I highly recommend it. The music itself is worth watching the movie. If you have seen it, what did you think of it?

See the following link for details about the story and its characters.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Lite Combo

Well, after almost 2 years of working at losing weight (almost 50 lbs so far), I realized I need to step up the exercise to get my metabolism working even harder. However, with my bad back it's hard to find something that works. I'm tired of doing brisk walks around my neighbourhood, lovely though it is, and it seems ridiculous to drive somewhere just to go walking. So I checked out the local community fitness classes and found something called "Lite Combo." It's a mix of step aerobics, mat work, and strength training.

Off I went early this morning to see if I could keep up. Having done a bit of step aerobics a few years ago, I found this workout to be a bit easier for me. I get so mixed up and am so uncoordinated with the choreography, but I think I managed okay today. Right now I'm starting to feel a teensy bit stiff, but I think this class might just help. The only thing is, right now I'm starving! And it's earlier than usual for dinner, but I just have to go now and EAT. So um .... you'll have to excuse me. I'll try not to scarf down the contents of the entire fridge.

Sunday, November 04, 2007


It was a gloriously beautiful autumn day here, so when original plans fell through, I decided to pick up my camera and head out to Deas Island. The island (in the mouth of the Fraser River) was named after its first settler, a black freeman and tinsmith, John Sullivan Deas. In 1873, "Billy" Deas claimed the island and built a cannery, wharf, and dykes. For 3 years the cannery produced more cases of salmon than any other on the river. The cannery changed hands, burned down, and was rebuilt several times. Eventually, it ceased production when the sockeye stocks declined drastically after the Fraser River was blocked by the railway slide at Hell's Gate in 1923. Many families fished the river with small gillnetters and made their homes along the shores of Deas Island. Most of the families were of Greek origin and they stayed on the island until the early 1950's.

There are three heritage buildings that give the island a "turn of the century" feel and recall the settlement history of Delta. The Inverholme Schoolhouse was built in 1909 and is one of the last one-room schoolhouses in the area. Burvilla, a Queen Anne style residence, was built in 1905-06 and belonged to the Burr family of Delta. The Delta Agricultural Hall was officially opened in 1899 and was moved to the island from Ladner in 1989, now serving as a park maintenance building with public space for exhibits and special events in front.

There are over 5 km of trails on Deas Island, all of which are flat and easy to walk. The trails pass through cottonwood and alder forest sporting spectacular views of the river. I think I did about 2 km today and was not the least bit tired; rather I felt invigorated. So, as Josie shares the special places in the city, allow me to share with you an area that is a simple 1/2 hour drive south of where she lives.

This is Burvilla, a Queen Anne style of home built in 1905-06.

I began my hike by taking Tinmaker's Walk.

Along the way, I came to a little bridge so I took this photo of the reflections in the water.

Peeking through the trees to the Fraser River.

The colours were spectacular today, especially the bright yellow treetops glistening in the late afternoon sunshine.
Here I was trying to catch a huge fat duck that was floating aimlessly in a small marshy area.

From another angle, I managed to catch this shot.

More colour, this time purple leaves.

A single rower was practising on the river.

Then along came a whole team of rowers. I could hear them barking orders at each other.

Here is the boardwalk, covered in autumn leaves, leading to a lookout tower.

I hope you enjoyed this little tour of a beautiful spot here in the lower mainland area of Vancouver, BC. Of course I took LOTS more photos, but how many pictures of trees do you want to look at? This is just a taste of what you'll see when you come for a visit. I'd be more than happy to act as tour guide.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Teens Assault Police

On the front page of our local "rag" today is an article about how a Halloween bash turned violent.

Apparently, police were called by a neighbour when a party of teenagers became too noisy. When the police arrived, they found that the teens were drinking and smoking pot. The teens became confrontational (imagine!) so the police arrested one male teen but had to struggle to get him under control. Then three teenage girls (ages 15 to 17) kicked the officer in the ribs several times and he/she later ended up having to go to the hospital for x-rays. All the police in attendance were then swarmed by the teens and back up units had to be called in. Four of the teens were finally arrested (1 male and 3 females) but were released into the custody of their parents until their court date.

I don't know about you feel, but I firmly think that the parents should be charged with contributing to the delinquency of minors and anything else the police can legally throw at them. How is it that kids these days have such disrespect towards the police or any other authority that they think they can just do as they please with no regard for anyone else? First, they disrupt the neighbourhood with their noise, then they break the law by drinking and doing drugs, and when they are faced with police officers trying to maintain peace, they think they can just physically attack them without any thought of retribution.

Where were the parents that night? If they were home and knew what was going on, they need to pay the price as well.

A noisy party for teenagers on Halloween night may not sound like a big deal. But it seems there was no parental supervision and these kids physically attacked police officers. Throw the book at both the teens and the parents. Perhaps a night or two in a jail cell will smarten them up. If they get away with their impudence this time, who knows what will happen not far down the road?

With all that's going on in the "big city" (Vancouver) lately with gang wars breaking out and mass murders/attempted murder happening even in the so-called "good" areas of town, we cannot let down our guard for one minute. This rampant disrespect of society's laws must stop - now!