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, December 30, 2008

Holiday Fun

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I haven't had a chance to share with you about my wonderful Christmas. Christmas Eve started out with a candlelight service at my church, accompanied by the new man in my life. I introduced him to many of my friends there and one couple actually said to him, "You two look good together." Who'da thunk it? *big grin* We opened our gifts to each other and were delighted with them. I cooked a nice dinner for us as I felt it wasn't fair that he should cook and then have to go to work graveyard shift. Normally, he cooks (gourmet, I should add) and I'm just the queen awaiting service. lol
My son-in-law picked me up Christmas Day afternoon and I spent the rest of the day with my two daughters and son-in-law, along with his parents and the two grandchildren. What a wonderful time watching Noah open his gifts. He was even thrilled with his new pyjamas that I gave him - they're WallE pjs that he can wear while he watches his new WallE dvd. He also loved his new doctor kit and the board game Operation - he had to put on his new ID pin and went around checking us out to make sure we're all healthy. Eden loved her musical ball and her soft little barn with four animals that "talk" when you squeeze them. And she looked adorable in her Christmas outfit.

(left: Auntie Jaclyn plays with her niece and nephew)
(right: Jamie with her darling daughter)

Dinner was traditional with turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, pineapple rice salad and green salad with cranberries and nuts, plus a corn casserole. For dessert, my younger daughter made rum balls from scratch and served them with a bit of vanilla ice-cream. No one here likes Christmas pudding - far too heavy after a big meal. I enjoyed my annual Bailey's on ice before dinner and white wine with dinner. Oh - and we also wore our silly little paper crowns, too. Notice that Jason fell asleep after dinner with his still on.

On Boxing Day, L and I braved the blizzard and drove all the way to Horseshoe Bay to spend time with his best friends and watch the first Junior Hockey League championship game - Canada against *oh jeez, I don't remember!* Too much champagne that night! heh heh Then Saturday we met another of his best friends and wife for lunch - apparently I passed the test. The wife and I hit it off immediately! Then Sunday, L and I went shopping at Toys R Us for Noah's birthday present (he was a New Year's Day baby and is turning 5). After that, we went to a beautiful secluded spot along the river and watched the colours of the sky as the sun went behind the clouds and set. Unfortunately, neither of us had thought to bring our camera but we'll go back another time and get some good shots. And before heading home, we stopped at Speed's Neighbourhood Pub for a drink, sitting at a table overlooking the river with boats all lit up with Christmas lights - very romantic.
Back to reality Monday, and this weekend will be the last one for me to go out and have fun - at least for a while. The big day is next Tuesday, when I'll finally get the surgery to fix my lower spine. I'll be in the hospital for at least 4 days but as soon as I get home, I'll let you all know how much better I already feel - yeah right! heh heh Seriously, though, I can hardly wait until it's all over and on April 6 I'll be able to remove the brace. Life will begin again in earnest that day!

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year and may 2009 be the best ever!

ABC Wednesday - X is for eXtremely lucky in love

As you can tell, I haven't been online very much lately. That's because all my spare time is spent with my eX-boyfriend who is now my current boyfriend (and I use the term "boy" very loosely). When we were together all those years ago, we were really just kids, even though we were in our early to mid-20s, and we didn't know how to deal with difficulties or intrusions into our relationship. Now with the passage of time and having become mature in body, mind, and spirit, we find that we truly were meant to be together. That "je ne sais quoi" is still there and is even stronger than before. We don't worry about the fact that the hair may be whiter, the skin a bit saggy, and the eyesight weaker. We can see beyond that all the way to the heart and soul. Now that we've been given a second chance at love, we're going to make each day count. Every time we look into each other's eyes, we know how eXtremely lucky we are. As I took this photo, we joked about being at the crossroads of a new life together.
Thanks to Denise Nesbitt for hosting this weekly ABC Wednesday. As we approach the end of the alphabet for the third time, I am hoping that she'll continue to host it because it's fun and challenging to me to try to come up with something unique. Be sure to pop over to the special site for ABC Wednesday to see more photos and stories from people all over the world. You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

ABC Wednesday - W is for Wassail

Wassail is a hot, spiced punch associated with Christmas. While the beverage typically served as "wassail" at modern holiday feasts with a medieval theme most closely resembles mulled cider, historical wassail was completely different, more likely to be mulled beer or mead. Sugar, ale, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon would be placed in a bowl, heated, and topped with slices of toast as sops. This drink would be the equivalent to beer or wine in many of the more prominent and better-known cultures of today. People drank it at parties and it was the main ale of the day. "Come butler, come fill us a bowl of the best/... please god send our master a good cask of ale..." sang throughout the towns of the germanic nations, sending good luck to even one's own master in the new year.
For recipes, click here. I couldn't believe how many recipes there are on the internet but frankly, I still prefer my traditional dark rum and coke (with a twist of lime) on Christmas Eve.
So I'm raising my cup to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

We still have snow snow and more snow! It's snowing as I write this and the roads are absolutely treacherous now. But Friday afternoon was so sunny and beautiful that we went for a walk along the river, boots crunching in the frozen snow. No one else was around and it was almost eerie being able to hear our own footsteps. We saw tracks from rabbits and birds and some other animal that had dragged its tail in the snow. The light was beautiful with the setting sun peeking through the trees to create magnificent reflections in icy spots.
Back in the cosy warmth of my place, I was treated like a princess with gifts of flowers, champagne, bubble bath, and a scrumptious dinner of shrimp and clam sauce over spaghetti accompanied by a tasty merlot. Oh yes, for an added treat I received a giant bottle of window washer fluid and a special type of antifreeze for the gas in my car.
The roads were clear on Saturday, so I headed up the mountain to my sister's for our annual pre-Christmas luncheon. She's the real cook of the family and always treats us to some special homemade soup. This year it was chock full of vegies and clams. Also provided were pate, smoked salmon spread, a variety of specialty crackers and a fabulous sourdough from Cobbs Bakery. Dessert was her own baking - "from scratch" lemon squares and brownies. I was so full I didn't make my mother's famous mac & cheese for L and me until 9:00 pm that night.
Now I'm waiting for a call from my daughter who accidently cut off the tip of her finger just after L left to go to work. I skidded and slid my way over to her place and took her to Emergency at the local hospital - an absolute zoo tonight! There were already two trauma cases (heart attacks) being taken care of and the waiting room was packed! So...here I wait and pray that I'll be able to get her home at whatever time she calls.
It's a winter wonderland out there and it can be fun and romantic but also a very dangerous place to be out in a car. Enjoy the photos (click to enlarge) and please send some good vibes for my daughter. Thanks!
Update: Daughter isn't in pain anymore but she's having to be very careful not to bump her finger on anything. And my road is being plowed so I can get my car out. I'll have to be very careful driving, though!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Iced Lotusland

The city of Vancouver is nicknamed "Lotusland" because of its remarkable beauty and its remarkable weather patterns that keep the city and the surrounding areas very temperate. It seldoms goes below 8 or 9 degrees Celsius or in the 40s Fahrenheit.
However, *sigh,* we are currently experiencing extremely unusual weather in that it's very cold (below zero C) and it's been snowing since around midnight last night. It snowed last Saturday and that snow had not had a chance to dissipate so this snowfall is on top of that. I phoned the school early this morning to check if it was open - it was, so I gingerly made my way over - but their Christmas concert this evening will probably be cancelled. Weather reports predict it's going to continue to snow until Friday when the sun will shine for two days before another snowfall on Sunday. But our two days of sunshine will be in the minus 17C range and if it's windy, it'll feel more like in the minus 20-30C range. Yikes!

I know that lots of people like snow for Christmas, but when it snows in Vancouver everything stops. People stay home instead of driving to work. The transit system slows down to a crawl and schools close. Snow brings an inordinate amount of stress to workers, parents who need to find alternate daycare for their kids, and seniors who can't get out for groceries. I hate going out in it for fear of falling and making things even worse for my poor back (which is SO looking forward to getting fixed in less 3 weeks).

Ah well, I'll stay inside and look out at the pure white of the neighbourhood. I'll make myself some hot chocolate, put on some music, and read my book. Then I'll snuggle down in my flannel sheets and try to dream of a warm beach somewhere.

Here are a few shots of my neighbourhood and garden. I must say I think the heather looks rather pretty peeking out from under the fallen snow. (Click to enlarge)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

ABC Wednesday - V is for Virgin Mary

I think it's appropriate at this time of year to point out the true meaning of Christmas. These days, we're living in a world where Christmas is about the tree, Santa Claus, gifts, and the turkey dinner. However, Christmas is not about the tree, Santa Claus, gifts, and the turkey dinner.

Through immaculate conception, a baby was born to the Virgin Mary. His name was Jesus.

CHRISTmas...celebrating the birth of God's son to the Virgin Mary.
Jesus is the reason for the season.

Above right is a photo I took through a jeweler's window in Taormina, Sicily, back in 2006 when I was visiting there. (Click to enlarge) It was the most beautiful nativity I'd ever seen and just had to capture it with my camera.
When my older daughter was 2 years old, I bought a little nativity scene at the old Woodward's store in downtown Vancouver. (Anyone in Canada remember Woodward's?) It cost $26.00 and I was afraid to tell my husband how expensive it was. I'd always lift my daughters up to see the baby Jesus every night before they went to bed and made sure that they understood that Christmas was a birthday party for Jesus.
Of course, Santa did come to our house and always left lovely gifts for everyone under our beautifully decorated tree. And we always have a great turkey dinner, too. I hope that however you celebrate the CHRISTmas season you will all have a wonderful and memorable time.

Do you have a nativity scene that you display every Christmas? I'd love to hear about your special traditions for this season.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Coming Up for Air

I just had a glorious weekend and I know now L's a keeper. He cooks, cleans up as he goes, gives great back rubs, and holds me up when we're out walking in the snow. Friday night, after a Christmas concert, I was treated to homemade Italian spaghetti sauce over spaghetti with a fresh baguette to dip in the extra sauce. L put all the leftover sauce (five large containers) in the freezer for me to use when I come home from the hospital and totally cleaned the kitchen for me.
Saturday we took a drive down to Centennial Beach, mainly to go for a brisk walk, but it was SO cold and windy that we ended up driving around Tsawwassen and Ladner looking at the sights. Then we had an early dinner at a local Japanese restaurant where L got me to try raw tuna! I didn't want to disappoint, so I tasted it, but frankly it tasted like nothing to me. I didn't care for the texture so I don't think I'd order it for myself. I did enjoy the raw salmon, though. After dinner, we watched a movie, "Black Book," that I'd already seen but just knew he's like - he did. It started to snow while we were watching the movie, so we decided to go for a walk in the snow - so romantic - to check out the Christmas lights on a neighbouring street. When we came back, we watched 2 episodes of Boston Legal from Season 2. L had not followed the show when it was on TV, so is now renting all the episodes. He roars with laughter at Denny Crane.
So then today, he took me out for Chinese food and I sampled "hot and sour soup" which was something new to me - it sure would clear the sinuses if you had a bad cold! Also, after our beef and vegetables in black bean sauce, we had fun reading our fortunes to each other, adding "in bed" at the end of the fortune. No late night tonight as L has to be at work by 10 pm but there's always next weekend.

Who says there's no romance after age 60?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

ABC Wednesday - U is for Unforgettable

To understand why this song means so much to me, you have to read the previous few posts. It is unbelieveable to me that an unforgettable romance can become fresh and new again - and perhaps even better.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

There's nothing sexier than a man in the kitchen...

I've heard it said that the way to a man's heart is through his stomache. However, I can guarantee that it's also one of the best way to a woman's heart. Friday night, after the movie "Australia," (which, by the way I thoroughly enjoyed) we came back to my place and L cooked dinner for us. Oh my gosh! It was so much fun to just sit back with my glass of Shiraz and watch him go at it. He was having a lot of fun, too, guaranteeing that I was going to go out of my mind after tasting it all. All I had to do was set the table ( I threw two place mats on the table and a knife and fork each and we carried our wine glasses in when dinner was served.)
So what was so good? Well, saliva is building up just from the memory! We had rack of lamb - done in his own, made-from-scratch marinade. He did roasted potatoes with some sort of whatsit drizzled on top (oh yes, extra virgin olive oil) and spices, and asparagus sauteed in the frying pan with butter, freshly chopped garlic and ginger and a drizzle of lemon juice. He also made a great salad, but we didn't even get to that.
L loves to cook and watches all the cooking shows, including "Restaurant Makeover" on TV. I think that's just perfect as I hate to cook but love all the home renovations and interior design shows. Naturally, I showed him my appreciation for the movie and dinner and told him he's welcome to cook for me any time.
He did remind me, though, that I made my mother's recipe for homemade macaroni and cheese for him years ago, and he'd love it if I made it for him again. So I guess it's my turn next.
Oh, L cleaned everything up, too.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Life is Good

It's a beautiful sunny day and I've put up a few Christmas decorations and started to wrap parcels. Tomorrow evening I have a date to see "Australia" and go to dinner afterwards with my old/new fiance. Life has not been this good for a long time, so I'm simply savouring every moment. Right now I'm happy. Life is good.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

ABC Wednesday - T is for Tractors, Totems, Trees, and Tugboats

To start off today, I'm bringing you T is for tractors, both old and new. On the left, is an antique tractor I found at the side of the road along an old farm road and on the right is a newer version that was on display during Rivermania last summer. (click to enlarge) Ladner was created as a fishing village but then developed as a center for farming as well.

You'll also see totem poles in Ladner. There are a few outside of the village's museum in honour of the First Nations people of the area. For thousands of years First Nations people lived along the Fraser River, turning to the sea and the river for salmon and shellfish, the mainstay of their diet.

Finally, T is for trees and tugboats because fishing and forestry are two major industries in this area on the western coast of Canada.