Monday, December 29, 2008

2008 in Review from Photos

This is a small representation of my world from photographs taken throughout 2008.


Mount Pakenham


In early 2008 we took several day trips to Mount Pakenham, a modest ski hill about 20 minutes from home. Andrew loves skiing, and he took to the hills like he was born wearing skis (sounds hurtin). On this particular day it was sunny, clear sky, and had the perfect snow conditions.

Andrew enrolled in some ski lessons like last season, which prepared him for the annual week- long ski trip in February to Quebec.

Toronto, Ontario

I always wanted to experience life in medieval times not as a wench, but as a lady. Being wench in any time period would not be fun.

We enjoyed a porthole into what it might have been like at the Medieval Times Dinner in Toronto. The show was entertaining, didn't liked eating with my hands though, seemed barbarian. http://www.torontoplace.com/attractions/medieval.htm

Andrew and his friend Aritz seemed to enjoy the battles as boys always do.

The main reason for the trip to Toronto was to attend a workshop for children with landmark Education. The landmark Forum for Young People (ages 8-12)
http://www.landmarkeducation.com/landmark_forum_for_young_people.jsp
The power to invent new possibilities; courage to face challenges; and freedom to create, grow, and be fully expressed.
At the end of the course, time will convey how the course continues to apply in everyday. Only Andrew can answer if the course empowered him to created new possibilities in leadership. I think it may have...

Before leaving Toronto we made sure to dine with hubby's sister Pearl and Richard at the Beaches. We don't see them often enough, but it is always good to enjoy a meal together now and then.



Catching Up ...It is always wonderful to have family visit. This time it was my brother Max who paid us a brief visit in February on his way up to Sudbury, Ontario, to help this cousin who was undergoing a medical procedure. But not before he demonstrated a few good wrestling holds to Andrew.

Hubby coincidentally ran into his good friend Rupert in Whitehorse, Yukon outside in the parking lot of the hotel. Neither had any idea the other was there and staying at the same hotel.

On his way home, Alan stopped in Vancouver for a brief visit with three gorgeous girls. These beauties came to visit us in August.

Visiting with a friend is bitter sweet when you know they are leaving. We often put off visiting because we are too busy, opting instead to email. It took one of us leaving to finally visit. I so enjoyed my visit with Marlene before she left Ottawa. She did not head to South America where she normally goes (especially in the winter) when she leaves Ottawa, but she packed up her warm underwear and headed to Saskatchewan to study at the University. Crazy girl (not for being a student, but for moving to Saskatchewan).


The summer surprise was visiting with a friend I have not seen for years. I kidnapped Dennis from our mutual friend's wedding last summer and took him home with us. It was wonderful to catch up. Dennis is waiting to hear if he is going to be appointed to the bench. Maybe this year, Dennis!

Many More visitors dropped in to cool off from the summer's heat.


The snow was too deep this year for the Easter bunny, so the hunt was on in the house.
Really, this was in April in Canada. How do we stand it?


Andrew enjoyed time with a school classmate before he went back to China. Patrick accompanied Andrew to his tournament, and Andrew got his blue belt in tae kwon do at his club, Winning Circle. It was great for Andrew to have a cheering section.

http://www.winningcircle.com/WC3/Martial_Arts/Martial_Arts_Main.HTML

Mother's Day


On Mother's day, I was invited to the gazebo (boy's hangout). The men in my life prepared a wonderful brunch fit for a queen. There was tea, bagels, smoked salmon, cheese, fruit, cheesecake, punch, all so delicious. When someone prepares food for you it never fails to please the pallet.

I enjoyed this day because it was relaxing to not be in a crowed impersonal restaurant where we are all herded in and quickly out for the next sitting. Instead, I got to enjoy a leisurely brunch by the river with the men in my life.

Birthdays!


In June Hubby celebrated another Birthday!





I went to Edmonton at the end of September to a birthday party, my brother-in-law, Ron celebrated his 60th!





Andrew turned 11, and partied at a bowling alley in November because we would be in Australia on December 1st where he would celebrate again!









We went to an amazing Brazilian (Churrascaria style) restaurant in Melbourne, Australia with my niece and her sons for my birthday. So why is my cake in front of hubby?

It was great entertainment for the boys, and the food kept coming and coming until we all could not eat one more bite. I of course left room for my desert (What's a birthday without cake?).





Art Show


Andrew teasing his friend Graeme at their Art show.

The wedding of the Summer! (blogged in August)

Awww, summer weddings in its warmth we eagerly bask, inhaling its tender, sweet, fragrance as we frolic lazily among the soft rose petals gleefully unaware of what the future holds. We the guest gladly cheek kissing, hand grabbing, raising our glasses saluting the bride and groom with best intentions. Overwhelmed with spirited emotions of the wedded couple, grinning ear to ear, caught up in the moment.

Unfortunately, sometimes this picture is fractured. Beneath the illusion of blissful happiness was an emotional eruption in the wait, and in the New Year it bubbled like champagne to the surface with terrible consequences.

This is a very intriguing surreal story. Although brief, it was filled with seductiveness, forbiddings, mysticism, and secrets . However interesting, its secrets will remain untold by me.





New Wheels

In the fall I decided to help the cause of GM and buy a new GM. I really like this SRX, and believe me I am totally aware that suvs are not PC. But if you live in the country you must have a dependable four wheel drive car. At least it is not a hummer, right?

It has a GPS, which I've named Sabrina. She is the quintessential Buddhist. Sometimes when I program her to give me directions I don't always take her advice. She tries to get me back to the original direction, trying several times before calmly recalculating based on the rout I've taken. Never using harsh words always patiently, gently, redirecting me to my destination until we've reach it, and ends by saying in that perfect tone "You have arrived at your destination".

I aspire to be just like Sabrina, but alas, I am but human.

Australia

The trip of the year was to Melbourne, Australia. Mixing business with pleasure what a wonderful combination. Can't wait to go back. It was a success, standing room only!



Tuesday, December 23, 2008

T'is the Season to be Jolly - or is It

Melancholy and sadness can be around us during the holiday season. This season in particular has a way of bubbling to the surface and amplifying emotions. Particularly those emotions like loneliness, sadness and helplessness. If you are alone, you feel more lonely. If you are poor, you feel everything is beyond your price. If you are elderly, sick and alone you feel more isolated. If you loss someone during the year, the holidays without them can be unbearable.

At this time of the year my mind goes to these unfortunate people in our society. I sometimes feel guilty (Catholic influence) that I am blessed with a good life. Those who are away from family, the homeless, those in ill health, the alcohol and drug dependent, and the incarcerated are the most vulnerable at this time of the year. No doubt they may be feeling vulnerable now more than any other time of the year. They are someone's children, brother, sister , or parent. Perhaps if the season was not so commercialized, then maybe they would not feel as abandoned by their family or society. But everywhere you look you are reminded that its the season to be jolly, and everyone is shopping even if they can't afford it. The commercialization of the holidays increases stress on everyone.

This year embrace the spirit of giving and receiving gifts by being more mindful and thoughtful during this season. Approaching the season in the spirit of giving rather than as an obligation, or expecting gifts in return.

My most precious childhood memory of Christmas in Fort Chipewyan was when my siblings came home for the holidays. Our house although quite small could always accommodate another person. People would talk about their year, which always sounded so exciting to be off living and working away from home. Laughter, crying, and music filled the living room. Listening to 630 CHED count down the top hits of the year was a tradition in our home.  There was lots of hugs, teasing, and general merriment burst through the house. Christmas at home included many family members around and the chaos that ensues with that many people in being in close quarters. I wouldn't change it for anything in the world.

It really is not about the gifts for me, it is about spending time with family. Although we were poor, we always received a gift, sometimes I don't know how my mom did it.  I recall a special gift one year from one of my brothers, it was a Jungle Book album. I was thrilled that he remembered I liked the movie.

Christmas to me is about being with family, enjoying visitors, and, well the food. Freshly baked goods, roastings, and candy filled the house. Nothing was more important than the Christmas dinner with all of its trimmings, thanks in large part to my sister Dora. The cakes, cookies, and chocolates, yummmmmy! Walking to church for midnight mass was always exciting, the reflection of the moon light on the snow made it  sparkle like tiny diamonds creating a magical feeling.  I treasure these memories in Doghead.

Childhood Christmas memories are magical and precious. However, I think sometimes it is those memories which we measure our current situation. If it does not measure up, it leads to unhappiness and disenchantment during the holidays. Particularly for those who find themselves in unfortunate circumstances. Therefore, if it is all about the gifts for you, take a moment and imagine not having family and being alone during Christmas. Perhaps this reflection will open your heart. Now more than anytime of the year, if you see a homeless person on your way to shop for gifts, don't ignore them. Offer them coffee or spare change with love and kindness.

Meanwhile, I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to visit some family members before Christmas, and to have talked with my mama who is so happy to be in her new home. I am grateful to have my health, a wonderful family, and friends who year round surprise me with acts of kindness and Love. And to those family members with whom I will not be with this Christmas, I am thinking of you with a special gratitude in my heart.


Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Occupied to the Rescue

It might be the result of the economy because we are not having as many book donations as last year for Andrew's books. www.andrewsbooks.ca

To the rescue Occupied Shop; http://www.yelp.ca/biz/occupied-vancouver This adorable chic gift store is collecting book donations for Andrew's Books, if you are in historic Gastown, Vancouver, BC drop in do a little shopping, and drop off a children's book between ages 7 -15 for Andrew's books.

Thank you owner Miss Jen!

Through the eyes of a child - Drover, Sarah and Nullah

I saw this movie while in Melbourne, Australia in December, and Nallah is the reason I saw it twice! It would not surprise me if he were awarded an oscar for best supporting actor. Bravo!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

In an exotic land looking for Adventure (3)

Today, we visited the Melbourne Museum. We started with the rain forest,which was small but delightful, and then we saw Dinosaurs 3D at the Imax. It was incredible!

We went to see the Aboriginal display; http://museumvictoria.com.au/I-am-the-land-the-land-is-me This was truly the most powerful thought provoking exhibition I have seen. In particular, the section on the stolen generation (where aboriginal children were taken away from their families by the hundreds). Half way through the exhibit I had to stop because what I was seeing impacted me emotionally. I could feel the grief, oh, the grief.

Even my son, Andrew, looked so sad with his head in his hands as he sat on the bench beside the statue depicting two children being taken away from their parents. The juxtaposition of seeing Andrew beside the children and reading the words from the mother who lost her girls, was so powerful. Even now as I recall that moment I feel tremendous grief.

I asked Andrew what he thought, he replied softly "How old were they when they were taken away?" and "Why?" I could find no adequate response to those questions, all I said was, it should not have happened.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

In an exotic land looking for Adventure (2)

I LOVE Australia, if only it was closer to the rest of the world, I would come visit all the time. Meanwhile, I am grateful at least, that in this life I am fortunate to have walked on this land four times. What is the magic that sings me to Australia?

A friend from Canada who lived in Melbourne suggested we visit William Ricketts Sanctuary. We set off in early afternoon after Alan made us scrumptious salmon omelets. What a great idea it was to rent a apartment for our stay here, our home away from home. Anyway we had a beautiful scenic drive to the Dandenongs arriving to what looked like a magical land with ferny walls along the highway.

The website describes William Ricketts Sanctuary as a place of beauty and tranquility, due both to the natural setting and the mystical sculptures half hidden among ferns along the pathways. It is a place for quiet reflection and for contemplation of the essence of the vision of William Ricketts. Many travel across the world to visit this place time and time again. But I would not know that because when we arrived it was closed the note said "closed because of the weather", which was puzzling because it was a perfect blue sky day.

However, all was not lost. A long the way we stopped at the best tea store in the world, Tea Leaves! Tea Leaves has over 300 teas and herbs and much more. And if you know me, you might think I was in tea heaven and you would be correct. www.tealeaves.com.au

And while I was in tea heaven, this is what I missed in another part of Australia my friend Carol wrote me about her own Magnificent Life..."We had a wonderful day and I was gifted with the most beautiful silk wall hanging that incorporates my ProsperArty vision, by my good buddy Pilawuk." Check her blog to see http://carolom.wordpress.com

She goes on to say "Sal made his special chocolate mousse and Gemma made a lime and lemon tart, I made peanut crisp cookies. Where were you!...I put the choccy mouse to one side for you!!.;-)"

I was so close but yet not close enough, I thought of going, but could not get hold of my niece to see if she was enroute to Melbourne. It all sounds so yummmmmmmy!

Monday, December 1, 2008

In an exotic land looking for Adventure (1)

I've been in Melbourne for little over a day now and frankly this time I have not adjusted well to the international time difference. Again this morning at 2 am I am wide awake when I ought to be sleeping. But really it is so exciting to be here, it is so familiar and yet there is so much I have yet to experience.

When I arrived in Sydney, and then Melbourne, the airports are like any other in Canada or the US. I could have been anywhere,but for one big difference the intercom kept repeating what seemed to be a hundred times, last call for flights leaving, calling patiently for straggling travelers to get to their gate. Each time the intercom blared "this is the last call". Then proceed to call out again, and again, a few seconds later for the same flights.

We spent the first day in Melbourne at the aquarium to see the funny penguins and other exotic aquatic life (http://www.theage.com.au/national/frosty-reception-for-melbourne-aquariums-penguin).

In the afternoon, Alan skillfully drove downtown and then to a mall away from the downtown core because it was too crazy trying to find parking with all the one ways and closed streets. The Mall was a good idea, because being this was a Monday, the mall fortunately was not very busy. After some shopping, it was pleasant to sit with my tea, and people watch.

Lucky Andrew got to call our day because it was his 11th birthday. He got to see, eat, drink anything he wanted the whole day (within reason) .

I saw what looked like slushy drinks, and he said he would like some. We went up to order, and I noticed it was alcohol drinks. Nope, he did not get that! All in all I think he had a pretty good birthday!

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