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, June 30, 2009

X is for Xavier

How many of you remember the Cabbage Patch Kids? They became popular in the 80's when my daughters were young. They each received their first Cabbage Patch doll when the older one was 7 1/2 and the younger one was 4.

The dolls were created by by Debbie Morehead and Xavier Roberts in 1978 and attracted the attention of toy manufacturer Coleco, who began mass-production in 1982. The Coleco Cabbage Patch Kids had large, round vinyl heads, (originally of a different, hard plastic), and soft fabric bodies, and were produced from 1982–1989. After Coleco went bankrupt, the Cabbage Patch Kids were later mass produced by other companies, including Hasbro, Mattel, Toys R Us, and currently Play Along.

My two daughters absolutely adored their Cabbage Patch Dolls and I can remember going to church craft fairs to buy clothing for their "babies." The younger daughter even had a Cabbage Patch ride-on car that looked a bit like a motorcycle.

Then Parker Brothers brought out a series of books about the Cabbage Patch Kids and I've kept two of them in my collection of children's books. One is entitled "The Great Escape" and the other is "Xavier's Fantastic Discovery." Obviously, the character in the second book is named after the creator of the Cabbage Patch Kids, Xavier Roberts. Click on his name to read a bit about him from Wikipedia. In the meantime, here's a photo of the cover of the book and two of its inside pages.
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Saturday, June 27, 2009

It's Official...

Now that all the important people in my life have been given the big news, I can announce it to the world.

Lorne and I are officially engaged - ring and all.

Yes, it's been 3 weeks since he popped the question, ring in hand, and I gave him a resounding "YES!" It happened when we went away to White Lake and had the "Big Chill" weekend with his buddies and their wives. He asked me over dinner (alone) and then we went and celebrated the rest of the night with the group, champagne and all.

I know the next question is "When's the wedding?"

The answer is 2010...late in the year. After all, there is no rush, is there? I'd love to have a late fall wedding, either late November or early December. But we haven't even discussed it seriously just yet.

So it will be a while before I get to wear the wedding band.

In the meantime we're happy and are continuing to build a life together.

One of my daughters has already chosen my wedding gown for me - simple yet elegant in cream lace. So the next year and a bit will be given over to daydreaming about and planning the big event, with the help of my daughters.
And thanks to "Clarice" for getting the ball rolling. Don't ask how 'cuz she won't tell. *wink*

Be sure to click on the photos to enlarge them. (Thank God my hair is growing!)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

W is for Westham Island

Westham Island is an island located near my little village of Ladner in British Columbia, Canada. It's accessible via the Westham Island Bridge, a partially single-lane, truss bridge.

Once over the bridge, you pass the Westham Island Rod and Gun Club, which was organized in 1925 by the farmers who lived on the island. "The objectives of the club were to conserve game birds, protect the property of its members, regulate shooting by nonresidents, and enforce the regulations of the Game Act. Regulation of gamebird hunting is largely done through the issuance of a limited number of permits. The club also contributed to the hiring of game wardens and stocking of gamebirds on the island."

The island is full of farms, one of the most famous of which is Bissett Farms. In 2003, the family opened a winery (Westham Island Estate Winery). In its first year, the winery won three medals in the Northwest Wines Summit in Oregon State and continues to this day to produce wines of the highest quality.

Continuing past the winery, the final destination on the island is the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary. This is the winter home of the Lesser Snow Goose and one of Canada's top bird-watching sites in the heart of the Fraser River estuary. It consists of 850 acres of managed wetlands, natural marshes and low dikes and is a place where people go during any season. Stroll through the sanctuary to view varieties of birds, enjoy the quiet rural scenery, take photographs or paint, and even climb the tower that overlooks the estuary and Vancouver Island in the distance.

In the month of November, the snow geese in flocks of 20,000 or more gather here on their migratory path south. Thousands of people from all over the Lower Mainland converge on the village of Ladner where buses take them out to the Island. The snow geese come all the way from Wrangel Island that lies in the Arctic Ocean, north of Siberia, and belongs to Russia. Most of these birds stay in the Skagit Estuary in the state of Washington, just south of BC until April when they return to Wrangel Island.

I've taken my children and grandchildren out to Westham Island many many times to see the ducks and geese. I even took my girls strawberry picking so we could make jam. (I'll never forget how hot it was that day!) Speaking of which, I should check and see if the "U-pick" farms are open yet.
From wine to Wrangel Island snow geese, there's lots to see and do on Westham Island. If you're ever in the neighbourhood, stop by and I'll take you there.

(You might also like to take a look at a post I did last summer when I took my Welsh visitors to Westham Island. Just click here.)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Why We Love Children

A friend emailed me these and I thought y'all might like to have a chuckle or ten. Enjoy:
1. A nursery school pupil told his teacher he'd found a cat, but it was dead. 'How do you know that the cat was dead?' she asked her pupil.
'Because I pissed in its ear and it didn't move,' answered the child innocently.
'You did WHAT?' the teacher exclaimed in surprise.
'You know,' explained the boy, 'I leaned over and went 'Pssst' and it didn't move'

2. A small boy is sent to bed by his father.

Five minutes later.....'Da-ad....' 'What?'
'I'm thirsty. Can you bring a drink of water?'
"No, You had your chance. Lights out.'
Five minutes later: 'Da-aaaad.....'
'I'm THIRSTY. Can I have a drink of water??'
' I told you NO! If you ask again, I'll have to smack you!!'
Five minutes later......'Daaaa-aaaad.....'
'When you come in to smack me, can you bring a drink of water?'

3. An exasperated mother, whose son was always getting into mischief, finally asked him 'How do you expect to get into Heaven?'
The boy thought it over and said, 'Well, I'll run in and out and in and out and keep slamming the door until St. Peter says, 'For Heaven's sake, Dylan, come in or stay out!''

4. One summer evening during a violent thunderstorm a mother was tucking her son into bed. She was about to turn off the light when he asked with a tremor in his voice, 'Mummy, will you sleep with me tonight?'
The mother smiled and gave him a reassuring hug. 'I can't dear,' she said. 'I have to sleep in Daddy's room.'
A long silence was broken at last by his shaky little voice: 'The big sissy.'

5. It was that time, during the Sunday morning service, for the children's sermon. All the children were invited to come forward. One little girl was wearing a particularly pretty dress and, as she sat down, the minister leaned over and said, 'That is a very pretty dress. The little girl replied, directly into the minister's clip-on microphone, 'Yes, and my Mum says it's a bitch to iron.'

6. When I was six months pregnant with my third child, my three year old came into the room when I was just getting ready to get into the shower.
She said, 'Mummy, you are getting fat!'
I replied, 'Yes, honey, remember Mummy has a baby growing in her tummy.'
'I know,' she replied, but what's growing in your bum?'

7.. A little boy was doing his math homework.He said to himself, 'Two plus five, that son of a bitch is seven. Three plus six, that son of a bitch is nine....'
His mother heard what he was saying and gasped, 'What are you doing?'
The little boy answered, 'I'm doing my math homework, Mum.'
'And this is how your teacher taught you to do it?' the mother asked 'Yes,' he answered.
Infuriated, the mother asked the teacher the next day, 'What are you teaching my son in math?'
The teacher replied, 'Right now, we are learning addition.'
The mother asked, 'And are you teaching them to say two plus two, that son of a bitch is four?'
After the teacher stopped laughing, she answered, 'What I taught them was, two plus two, THE SUM OF WHICH, is four.'

8. One day the first grade teacher was reading the story of Chicken Little to her class. She came to the part of the story where Chicken Little tried to warn the farmer. She read, '... and so Chicken Little went up to the farmer and said, 'The sky is falling, the sky is falling!'
The teacher paused then asked the class, 'And what do you think that farmer said?'
One little girl raised her hand and said, 'I think he said: 'Holy Shit! A talking chicken!''
The teacher was unable to teach for the next 10 minutes.

9. A certain little girl, when asked her name, would reply, I'm Mr. Sugarbrown's daughter.' Her mother told her this was wrong, she must say, 'I'm Jane Sugarbrown.'
The Vicar spoke to her in Sunday School, and said, 'Aren't you Mr. Sugarbrown's daughter?'
She replied, 'I thought I was, but mother says I'm not.'

10. A little girl asked her mother, 'Can I go outside and play with the boys?'
Her mother replied, 'No, you can't play with the boys, they're too rough.'
The little girl thought about it for a few moments and asked, If I can find a smooth one, can I play with him?'

11. A little girl goes to the barber shop with her father. She stands next to the barber chair, while her dad gets his hair cut, eating a snack cake.
The barber says to her, 'Sweetheart, you're gonna get hair on your muffin..'
She says, 'Yes, I know, and I'm gonna get boobs too.'

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Beans, Beans, the Musical Fruit

I'm sure you've all heard that old schoolyard rhyme:

Beans, beans the musical fruit
The more you eat the more you toot.
The more you eat, the better you feel
So eat your beans with every meal.
So when "Sweetie" decided to make homemade pork and beans today, I got a little concerned. The results of dining on this delectable dish can be embarrassing in more ways than one. Besides, who makes pork and beans anyway? Doesn't it come in a can?

However, I was emphatically assured that if you soak the beans overnight and then cook them slowly all day, it might reduce the possibility of gastric explosions. You also need to eat them with a combination of other foods and chew them well.

I must say the kitchen smells absolutely yummy and I can hardly wait for dinner time. I'm also making a green salad and warming up a day-old leftover baguette. We'll follow that with some frozen vanilla yogurt and papaya extract tablets.

Wish me luck - that I personally won't be embarrassed and that I won't have to suffer the effects from someone else.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary...

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row.

I'm so thrilled with my new "gardener"! Not only does he mow the lawns, but also he loves to make up pots of flowers to brighten the exterior of the house. So far we have 8 fuschias in pots hanging from the patio overhang, 2 large pots of pink cosmos and yellow daisies, and 5 different tomato plants in the back yard. He bought 2 soaker hoses and wound them through the back gardens so that all the plants and flowers get a good drink every other day or so (we're on water restrictions here now). He also fixed my other two hoses that had leaks in them.

In the front, he put together 5 pots of osteospermum (2 purple, 1 pale yellow) and pink daisy-like flowers. The two white osteospermum that weren't doing very well are now replanted in the front garden to see if they'll perk up. Along with those, we have giant marigolds that are going crazy with glee whenever they get a drink of water mixed with "Miracle Grow." My contribution was buying a hanging planter for the front door.

Here are a couple of tiger lilies (cuttings were given to me by a girlfriend last year) and they look amazing!

My "gardener" tied up my climbing rose and it's blooming lovely now! I've tried for 5 years to get that rose to bloom, but suddenly it's gone crazy - must be in love. I think it's in competition with the tomatoes he planted at the sunny side of the house because they're also growing like crazy - we'll be eating a lot of salads and sandwiches this summer and probably giving lots away, too.

Not only does my "gardener" do all the outside gardening for me, he also buys me the most beautiful bouquets of flowers all the time. (See previous posts) I think he deserves to have a little R & R outside in the sun - I'll take him a beer, if he doesn't already have one.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

V is for Van Morrison

Known as "Van the Man" by his fans, Morrison started his professional career when, as a young teenager in the late 1950s, he played a variety of instruments, including the guitar, harmonica, keyboards, and saxophone, in a range of Irish showbands who covered the popular hits of the day, before rising to prominence in the mid-1960s as the lead singer of the gritty Northern Irish R&B band Them with whom he recorded the garage band classic, "Gloria". His solo career began under the pop-hit oriented guidance of Bert Berns with the release of the hit single "Brown Eyed Girl" in 1967. After Berns' death, Warner Bros. Records bought out his contract and allowed him several sessions to record Astral Weeks in 1968. Even though this album would gradually garner high praise, it was initially poorly received; however, the next one, Moondance, established Morrison as a major artist, and throughout the 1970s he built on his reputation with a series of critically acclaimed albums and live performances. Morrison continues to record and tour, producing albums and live performances that sell well and are generally warmly received; sometimes collaborating with other artists, such as Georgie Fame and The Chieftains. In 2008 he performed Astral Weeks live for the first time since 1968. (from Wikipedia)

You can read more about Van Morrison here when he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. I can remember dancing to Van Morrison's hits back in the mid to late 60s when I was attending university. My favourites were "Gloria" and "Brown-Eyed Girl." But I'd forgotten all about him until my sweetie brought over one particular CD that has become one of our favourites. It was produced in 1998 and is entitled "Van Morrison * Poetic Champions Compose." I think we'll probably have one of the songs on this album for our first dance when we eventually get married - it's called "Someone Like You." For a taste of Van Morrison singing this song, click here and go to the top right of the page:

I've been searching a long time
For someone exactly like you
I've been travelling all around the world
Waiting for you to come through.

Someone like you makes it
All worth while
Someone like you keeps
Me satisfied.
Someone exactlyLike you.

I've been travellin' a hard road
Lookin' for someone exactly like you
I've been carryin' my heavy load
Waiting for the light to come
Shining through.

Someone like you makes it
All worth while
Someone like you keeps
Me satisfied.
Someone exactlyLike you.

I've been doin' some soul searching
To find out where you're at
I've been up and down the highway
In all kinds of foreign lands

Someone like you... [etc.]

I've been all around the world
Marching to the beat of a different
But just lately I have
The best is yet to come.

Someone like you... [etc.]

Friday, June 12, 2009

Lilies for a Lucky Lady

I consider myself to be very lucky these days. Lucky to have a wonderful caring man who loves me so much he never hesitates to bring me flowers for no particular occasion or reason other than to show me he loves me.
As I write this, he's outside watering all the plants, flowers, and the lawn that he just mowed. That's after he worked hard all day and watched the last hockey game of the season before even eating any supper.
Of course, he enjoys doing these things but all the same, I love watching him putter around making things nice for me.
How can I possibly show him how much I appreciate and love him back?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Big Chill Weekend - White Lake, BC

Click on the photos to see them in all their glory!

Nine years ago, six friends who used to play hockey together on the old Burnaby Grizzlies team got together for a "Big Chill" weekend (remember the movie?). Some of these guys had moved away and as a result, hadn't seen each other for many years. Some of them weren't even talking to each other due to some old spat. But they all realized that because they were all getting on in age, they should let bygones be bygones and reunite their friendships. The Big Chill Weekend was born.

This year, I was included with the other wives and we all had a great time at White Lake in the Shuswap area of British Columbia. The guys went fishing one day and everyone played golf (and I use the term "played" very loosely) another day.

On the last evening, they had a ceremony of sorts where prizes were presented. My sweetie won the prize for "the shortest drive" and we all had a great laugh about that. (He whiffed the ball and it just went plop in front of the tee!) Someone else won a putter that had been made for the occasion - it was a real hit! And the biggest prize, the Rusty Skate Award, was presented in absentia to the sixth member of the group because he's gone through a terrible ordeal these past few months and almost died. As a result, he couldn't be with us this year.

While the guys were fishing, the girls went out on a pontoon boat with Captain Al (he doesn't like to fish) for two relaxing hours floating around on the lake. We found the guys in their boats and took a few photos of them, but they yelled at us to go away because we were scaring the fish. And Al took a photo of four of us "girls" at the front of the boat.
There is so much wildlife at White Lake and the ducks are so tame, they'll follow you everywhere, even allowing the ducklings to come close. We also saw lots of turtles, loons, otters, and all sorts of birds. I got lots of nature photos, and another day, I'll show you more of them. All in all, we had a great few days at White Lake before going to Peachland with Al & Heather for another 2 days. In the meantime, I better get back to the laundry, housework, and garden here. Now "that's" another post!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

T is for "The Thorn Birds"

"The Thorn Birds," the 1977 best-selling novel by Australian author Colleen McCullough, is one of my favourite books of all time. In 1983, it was adapted as a TV mini-series and I was glued to the set for 10 hours between March 27 and 30. The story focuses on the Cleary family and spans the years 1915 to 1969 on Drogheda, a fictional sheep station in the Australian outback. The epic drama has it all - romance, tragedy, forbidden love, sex, and transcendence. It starred Richard Chamberlain as the young Catholic priest who was banished to the outback because of an act of disobedience and Rachel Ward as the lone Cleary daughter who fell in love with him.

Something of interest - While winning the 1983 Golden Globe award for Best MiniSeries, The Thorn Birds was not without its controversy. The subject matter--a priest breaking his vow of celibacy--was contestable enough, but the fact that ABC chose to broadcast the program beginning on Palm Sunday and running through Holy Week, raised the ire of the United States Catholic Conference. In response, McDonald's Corporation initially requested that its franchisees not advertise during the broadcasts. In the end, however, the company simply advised its franchisees to advertise only before Father Ralph and Meggie consummated their relationship.

Back in 1983, I thought that the mini-series was well done, if at times overly dramatic. However, you might be interested in reading Germaine Greer's take on the novel as she describes it thus in 2007 after rereading it: It would probably be over the top to denounce The Thorn Birds as a sneakily racist and sectarian book, but it is definitely contrived and insidious. I guess 32 years after the book was published, one might see her point. I must get my copy out and read it again.
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