Monday, January 25, 2016


Sadly, my Mum passed away early Saturday morning. Thank you for your kind words in the previous post.

Audrey Jean 
Aug 1929 - Jan 2016

On the Empress of England, the ship that brought us across the Atlantic Ocean from England.

On the way to Williams Lake

Our apartment in Williams Lake

Sightseeing in the Cariboo

Her 82nd birthday in 2011, after having the stroke.

Christmas 2013, the last one she would spend at our house.

Rest in peace, Mum. 
 Say hello to Dad.  
Love and miss you both.

Friday, January 22, 2016

A Rainbow at the End of the Storm

It was a mixed up weather day today.  When I left home this morning, it was a torrential downpour.  As I headed west I could see it getting brighter, and by the time I reached South Surrey it had started to clear up. Later on the sun came out and the roads dried, and it was a nice drive home.  It took longer to clear up here, and the roads hadn't dried, but it was decent enough.  We took the dogs for a walk around the block about 3pm, and wouldn't you know it, that one leftover water filled cloud decided to dump on us as we were half way round.  By the time we were heading up the last little hill to home, the sun was coming out again.

And look, there must be a pot of gold in our back yard! The rainbow disappears behind our roof.

And the house kitty corner to us might have a pot of gold on their property too!

Maybe it is a good sign. 
 I spent a few hours today sat at my mother's bed side in the care home.  I got a phone call at 5:45 this morning to tell that she wasn't doing well.  She was in a lot of pain, had refused oral pain meds, so had, on the advice of the on-call doctor,  received a shot of morphine.  She was also receiving oxygen.  She seemed to recognize me, cracked one eye open and gave the smallest of nods when I told her I was there, but otherwise was not responsive.  We've had a couple of incidents in the past year that made us think her time was up.  She surprised us all.  This is worse.  
For the most part she seemed to be comfortable while I was there, got no better or worse. 
Only time will tell.

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Ass Backwards

Meredith and I are doing it all wrong.  We are entering runs before we've done any running training.  It was me that suggested we do a series of trail runs this winter, two of which happened before we had done hardly any training runs.  ( I started with a training clinic last Wednesday, and did a 'homework' run on Friday.)

  So last Sunday, on that dreary wet morning, we met at Campbell Valley Park and ran a 5K.  As in the previous race on New Years Day, we started near the back of the pack, because we knew we weren't going to be fast.  The rain was not heavy, sort of medium I guess.  It wasn't long before the group got held  up going down a steep, and quickly getting slippery, narrow trail.   And then before long we got off the wide gravel trail that was at the bottom of the hill, and onto one that was rougher and narrow, and yes, muddier.  So it was a bit slow going through there, but eventually we got out of the trees and onto a wider trail, and oh, there were a few wooden boardwalks too. Parts of it were quite nice, if you like mossy, damp West Coast rainforest scenery.  I tried to video the trail as we were running. Apparently when I thought the phone was videoing, it wasn't, and when I thought I turned it off, I actually turned it on.  So I had 23 minutes of the inside of my pocket, (black) complete with sound effects. At the end of the valley we had to climb up to the top of the hill again, that was a steep one, and there were even some steps at the very top. The second half of the race was better because people were more spread out, and it was relatively flat.  By this point I had found my stride and felt really good.  The 1 km and 2 km points are marked, and then they sneakily don't mark the 3 km.  You are starting to think, that surely another kilometre must have passed, where is that darn sign? and then all of a sudden you are at the 4 km mark.  Only one to go.  I felt really good, I wanted to pick up the pace a bit, but my running partner was a bit reluctant.  I slowly started to move ahead and she followed, we were able to pass a few people and we finished really strong, and I felt great. 

 You know that runner's high they talk about, well I was really feeling it on Sunday, and it even carried on to Monday, I felt that good.  I think part of it too was that on Saturday, I was having trouble with my back, with muscle contractions on the left side.  It started to get really bad about lunchtime.  I did put a heating pad on it and that helped.  In the afternoon we had to do a fair bit of driving, and I was all cramped up again when I got out of the car each time. I was feeling really disappointed because I knew in that condition, I wouldn't be able to run. Some of the time I could hardly walk.  That night before I went to bed I took some Ibuprofen and hoped for the best.  I told Meredith I was coming to cheer her on if I couldn't run myself.  I was quite pleased when I got up Sunday morning and my back felt good.  It did deteriorate a bit once I was up and moving around, but it didn't get any worse than that.  I was going to start the run, and if I had to pull out part way, well so be it.  In fact my back felt better after the run than it did before the race started.
We certainly weren't any world beaters time wise, but we ran the whole way, non-stop, and felt like we could do more at the end. Or at least I did.  The next run in the series is an 8K in Aldergrove Lake Park, that's on Feb 7.  The running clinic we will both be going to on this Wednesday is working towards us running the 10K Sun Run in the middle of April.  My 'bucket list' goal is to finish that in under an hour.  I have some work to do.

Luna was my training buddy on Friday.  I have the leash fastened to a belt around my waist.  She is pretty good, she only tried to trip me up once!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Frugal Friday

Wednesday was my big shopping trip.  I was just out of dog food, and the butcher shop had said they wouldn't have any of the frozen blocks ready until Wednesday.   So Wednesday morning, off I went. Since I had to go 2/3 of the way into town to get the dog food, I might as well go the rest of the way and get some groceries.  And since my route took me past two thrift stores, I might as well stop in and see if there was anything I couldn't live without.  I only spent about $5 total at the two stores.  This is the 'coolest' thing I found.  It was hanging on the end of a display and caught my eye,  and from a distance it made me think of chain mail.  Just like a pack rat, (or is that a magpie?) I'm attracted to things bright and shiny,

 Anyway, I walked over to check it out, knowing that I never really go anywhere that would require a cute shiny little purse like that. was only a dollar, and then I realized just how cool it was.  It was made out of pull tabs, the ones on the top of beer or pop cans. I did a rough count at one point, and a very rough guess would be around 600 of those little things.

Some one had even put a lining in it and a zipper across the top.  

The strap was really flexible and the whole thing was very sturdy.  I honestly couldn't get over it!  Why had no-one else recognized the uniqueness of that little purse!  And ... it was only $1.  Less than the price of a cup of coffee.  This is the bottom.

That reminded me of another little purse I picked up quite a while ago.  I think it was only $1 as well.   Maybe if I was wearing a flapper dress, this would be the purse to have?  Once again I couldn't resist.  All those shiny sequins...

I can keep all the shininess together.  The flapper purse will fit inside the other one.  Maybe one day I'll go to something that calls for a shiny little purse.  And then I won't be able to decide which one I should use:)

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Looking for Dinner?

I was up at the top of the apple tree, getting a bit of pruning in.  I happened to glance to the north, and there was a Bald Eagle sitting about 70 ft. up a cottonwood tree, which is right next to the north chicken coop.

Looks to me like it's eyeing up dinner

I got out of the apple tree, went and got the camera and tried to get closer to get a better picture.  I only had a 5x zoom on the camera.  The eagle was too high, and all I ended up doing was scaring it off.

It ended up landing at the top of the fir tree right next to the house. 
The smart chickens were hiding in the sheep barn or under this cotoneaster bush.

A few, not so smart ones, were still cleaning up under the bird feeder.  That feeder has only been up a couple of weeks, and already the chickens have made a bare patch underneath it.  The rooster, who is usually the first one to shout 'danger, danger!' was out there too. Maybe he's slacking at his job in his old age.  

 In the meantime the eagle flew back to the other cottonwood by the chicken coop.
I walked up another field trying for a better picture angle.

Once again it flew off.

This time for parts north.  Hopefully it found dinner that way.

A lovely sunny, mild day today. 
Loving that blue sky:)

Friday, January 8, 2016

Frugal Friday

 My favourite thrift store prices it's items with a different coloured tag each week.  There are four colours, red, blue, yellow and green.  For example, if items placed out this week were blue, the blue items would stay at full price for two weeks, then the third week they would be half price, and the fourth week they would be 50 cents.  So it's kind of fun to go in on a Monday morning and get first pick of the fifty cent items. Every week a different colour tag is 50 cents, it is the colour that was half price the week before.  This rotation keeps going all year.  I think if things don't sell at 50 cents, they go back to full price the next week.  Often the 50 cent clothes are all put on one rack, which is really handy.  I wonder if they do something with the 50 cent clothes that don't sell.  They might have to, or they would run out of room.  

A few months ago, one Monday morning I was in there, and found this particle board book case for 50 cents.  Ugly, but I had a plan in mind.  It was the perfect size for an awkward spot in Meredith's entry to her condo. I could fix it up for her birthday at the end of November.  Nope, didn't happen, so then thought I would do it as a Christmas present.  That procrastination sickness really hit me hard just before Christmas, and I didn't even start on the bookcase until Christmas Eve afternoon.  I should have sanded the darn thing, but I just didn't want to do it.  So I thought that primer would work over the fake wood, but it didn't have a lot of sticking power.  That really kind of put me off.  Should I sand it all off and start over? Should, but didn't want to, so kept going.   I had some cute legs that I'd picked up for really cheap at either a thrift store or garage sale, so I screwed those on the base.  I scrounged around and managed to find a bit of trim to put around the bottom to change up the look.  And then I got kind of fed up with it, and ran out of time, and it didn't get finished for Christmas.  I showed it to Meredith and told her I'd finish it eventually.  So I slapped a few more coats of paint on and sanded and waxed it, and dropped it off at her place today while she was at work.

It fits perfectly under one of the 'windows' in the wall between the kitchen and the hall, and is shallow enough to not steal a lot of hall space.  I grabbed a few things off other shelves and quickly 'staged' it for the photo op. 
Putting little legs on furniture makes all the difference don't you think?

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Get that Stick!

Because we have had quite a bit of freezing weather, the ground is frozen, and the trail through our back bush has a lot of frost heave in spots.  The ground collapses under your feet which makes it next to impossible for Calli to traverse.  If she was a younger dog she could probably muscle her way through it, but at pushing 16, it stops her in her tracks.  Instead we've been walking around the block in the morning, and then not taking Calli in the afternoon, and doing the bush run then.  Jake seems to be bored with our walks, he's plodding along like an old man.

After a miserable day on Tuesday, cold rain, frozen ground and socked in conditions, it was a pleasure to see the sun shining yesterday morning.  We decided to change it up a bit and go down to the dyke.  This time I made sure I took the camera.  One of the previous times there were a couple of eagles doing aerobatics, but all I could capture with my phone, was this.

And probably the reason the eagles were hanging around was this.  Nathan Creek is a salmon spawning stream, and in the late Fall and early Winter we have to deal with dead salmon.   

 Well actually we don't have to deal with it if we remember to keep our eyes on the dogs.  I said as much as we started off on the walk.  'Keep an eye on Luna.' Of course a leash would take care of that, but this walk is all about fun for the dogs.  And immediately after I voiced that thought, it was forgotten.  Somewhere along the way Luna had disappeared.  I called and she appeared up the bank, licking her lips, and with something gross and white smeared half way up her right shoulder.  No doubt had found the remains of a dead frozen salmon, and rolled in it.  On a positive note, it didn't really seem to stink...much.  I got her to roll in the grass, but that wasn't helping.  The only other option was to get her in the creek.  The dogs 'think' they want to fetch sticks out of the creek, but in reality the water is too cold this time of the year.  It would have been colder than the ocean water I went in on New Years Day.  And sticks were hard to come by.  I wanted to get Luna in just enough to wash the goop off her side.  I faked her out with rocks, water logged twigs, and managed to her deep enough into the water to wash off the goop.  And when she couldn't find the pathetic piece of vegetation I had tossed in, she decided that a little stream clearing was the solution.  

Jake wasn't really into getting too wet, but he did want a stick.  He went off to find his own.

We park on a road that intersects the dyke.  Nestled between the road and the dyke is an old house buried in the trees.  Actually those green trees are a massive grove of bamboo.  You can just see a bit of the roof above that ladder.  The house must be so dark inside.  An old fellow lives there, he has seemed old forever, and for a while we thought he was gone.  But the garden, and he had a wonderfully tidy and neat vegetable garden, continued to be planted.  Maybe not as tidy as it used to be, but still better than mine.  We don't walk down there as often now, so less chance of seeing anyone, and maybe now he isn't there anymore, but the garden was planted in 2015.  I'll be watching this spring.

Probably before the dyke was put in, there was a bridge crossing the creek from the house to the land on the other side, which now has just gone wild.

Not an eagle to be seen this trip, but a hawk passed over the dogs and Larry as they were heading back to the car.  As we were driving off, I spotted this great blue heron standing in the field.  It flew farther away from the road as we stopped, but still close enough for a decent shot.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Starting the New Year with a Bang!

New Years Eve was pretty well a non event here.  We even went to bed before midnight.  The alarm was set for seven the next morning, and I needed some decent sleep.  Of course the disadvantage of using your phone for an alarm is that if someone sends you a Happy New Years text just after midnight, the phone wakes you up.  And then a moment later you are reminded that Larry's phone has been set up to beep every two minutes, for 20 minutes.  I heard at least 6 of those beeps....Larry didn't hear one.  

On Wednesday morning one of 'those' links had popped up on Facebook. You know, the ones that are somehow related to something that you have looked at earlier.  Anyway, it was a link from a local running shoe store for a series of runs. The first one was at 10 am  Jan 1 at Crescent Park in South Surrey.  Appropriately called the Resolution Run.  You had the option of doing 4 or 8 kilometres.  Since both Meredith and I plan on doing the 10 km SunRun again this year, I thought it might be fun to do.  I sent the link to Meredith.  She said my idea of fun was different to her's, but she'd look at the link after work.  So when I asked her that evening what she thought, she said she was game. Okay then!  That was Part A accomplished.  Now to mention Part B.  I just casually mentioned that after the run, we could head over to White Rock, just a few miles away, and join in with the Polar Bear Swim at noon.  Doing a Polar Bear swim has been on my bucket list.  It's not on Meredith's.  But once again I was shocked when she said she was game.  She said she'd stop by the dollar store after work on NYE and see about getting a few things. Costumes were recommended!

So Friday morning just before 7, I changed the alarm to go at 7:30.  I was awake, but I didn't want to get up at 7. I hate getting up when it is still dark, and the early riser I used to be seems to have taken a leave of absence.  Meredith came over about 8:45 and I grabbed the last few things I needed.  Running, then 'swimming' then going to visit my mother afterwards required far too many clothes.

Here we are at Crescent Park at 10, getting instructions on the course.  The sun is halfway up the other side of the trees, it is below freezing, the ground is hard and there is heavy frost on the field.

We had chosen the 4km (2.5 mi) option, since I hadn't done any run training since the middle of 2013, and Meredith since April of 2015.  We started at the very back of the pack, we didn't want to get in the way of the serious looking runners in there.  We were running on trails, some which were quite wide, and other smaller ones that could only handle single file.  There were a few bottlenecks when the trail went from wide to skinny, but it was all in good fun so no one cared if they had to stop, or run in place or wait.  We had decided at the start we would run until we needed a break, and then we would walk for a while.  In fact we started passing walkers, and I was just so proud of us that we were able to run the whole way, and even had a bit left at the end for a sprint to the finish line. I'm sure the Total BS class that Meredith has been doing, and the 6 or 8 Zumba classes I've been to, as well as the 45 lbs or so between us that have been lost, had a lot to do with it.
Here we are at the end.  Headbands and gloves off, and jackets open, and all warm and sweaty.

We availed ourselves of the free refreshments, but figured we'd better get heading to Part B.

Loads of people were walking towards the pier.  We had to park way off in the distance.  That's the old train station by the fence behind the tracks.  It's now a museum, and way back, my dad used to teach pottery classes there.

Costumes on , and ready to go

At noon there was a countdown and everyone charged into the water.  David and Larry had shown up to watch.  David was trying to video us but there were so many people in the way it's pointless to show the video here. That's a train going by in the background, and lots of people were stood on Marine Drive at the top of the picture.  Meredith took her waterproof camera in with us, and there is a tiny bit of video of me getting wet, but after she sent it to me I can't figure out how to do anything with it.  Anyway, we ran in together until it was too deep to run any more and then just flopped in and got every thing wet but our heads. The air temperature was around the freezing mark, or just above, and the water temperature was a few degrees above that.  It cold, very cold, but not the heart stopping, lung crushing, instant extremity freezing cold that I thought it might be. 
This is after we got out.  

And then I found out that there was no decent video of us in the water, so we waded back in for a shot.  By this point Meredith's feet and my legs were feeling pretty numb.

The white rock of White Rock.  Our stuff was just in front of it, and it made a nice wind block/heat reflecting wall to stand in front of.

After it was all over, heading back to the car.  There was still quite a crowd hanging out.  At least we just had to walk on the flat.  Larry and David had parked way up the hill, so they got a workout.

We stopped in some washrooms on the way back to the car and got the wet clothes off.  With all those people thrashing around in the water, the silt and debris got stirred up.  The water was quite black and kind of gross.  Even though my leggings were skin tight, that black silt still got up underneath them. Yuk.
Would I do it again?
Maybe.....but if I did I think I'd move a bit further down the beach from the main crowd.  Although not being in that mad pack of splashing screaming people, you wouldn't be carried along by the momentum of it all, and that would probably make it harder to throw yourself in.
Note to self: If you go in with clothes on, it's kind of like a wet t-shirt contest.  Black is a good colour.

Just found this photo from the Peach Arch News (White Rock newspaper) online.  Meredith and I are right behind the two bare chested guys on the right.

Hardy souls brave the ocean chill to ring in 2016 at White Rock

All the very best to everyone in 2016!