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.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Art of Racing in the Rain

I have just finished reading the most wonderful book by the Seattle author, Garth Stein. I'm a sucker for dogs so the idea of a book written from the perspective of a much-beloved dog on the brink of death intrigued me. Also, I probably would never have known about the book had it not been because one of my students had to read it for Grade 8 Literature and was having some trouble getting through it and doing his assignment. So thanks, A.......!

It only took me two days to read the book but I probably would have spent more time absorbing all the detail if I hadn't needed to finish it by Saturday. I think I might go back and reread it another time even though I could hardly see the last several pages for the tears running down my face.

Here is a link to a synopsis of the story and if you scroll down a bit, be sure to watch the two videos included. Neither video is very long. One is about Enzo (the dog) talking about his belief that he will be reincarnated as a man, and the other is the author discussing how he got the idea for his novel. Both videos are really worth a look and the book very much worth the read. No point in my telling you anymore, so go on over and have a look for yourself.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a children's book written by British author Roald Dahl and was published in 1964. It's the story of Charlie Bucket, a little boy with no money but a good heart who dreams of being able to buy candy just like any other child. Charlie wins one of the five "Golden Tickets" to visit the mysterious chocolate factory owned by Willy Wonka and run by his crew of mysterious Oompa Loompas. Charlie takes his Grandpa Joe as his guest and once behind the factory gates, he joins the other winners on a journey to discover that a kind heart is more valuable than a sweet tooth.

I read this book years ago while taking a Children's Literature course at university and then made sure my children got a chance to read it, along with seeing the 1971 movie starring Gene Wilder, retitled "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factor." The movie was remade in 2005 starring Johnny Depp, but I must say I prefer the original. I loved the music in the movie as it really brought it alive.
So just who or what are Oompa Loompas? Well, they come from Loompaland, which is a region of Loompa, a small isolated island in the Pacific Ocean. They were preyed upon by the Whangdoodles, Hornswogglers, and Snozzwangers so Willy Wonka invited them to work at his factory to get away from their predators. They tend to speak in rhyme and are mischievous, love practical jokes and singing. As each bad child makes his or her exit, they sing moralising songs accompanied by a drum beat. To me, they just make the story! The music in the 1971 and the 2005 movie versions are different, but I love the earlier movie's music better. Scroll down to get a taste of it - can't figure out why it won't sit right below here, but it's worth a listen.

Our thanks to creator/producer/director/hostess Denise Nesbitt and her team of Oompa Loompas for keeping the fun Ongoing.

Monday, October 18, 2010

N is for Nothing

I have nothing today. I even looked through the crossword puzzle dictionary and there were lots of N-words. But nothing has come to me that I want to write about. I thought of the word "nature" and thought I could put up some photos of my garden or the neighbourhood or the changing colours of the leaves. But my mind said, "No!" Not today.

I've been through a helluva couple of weeks, most nights not even being able to sleep without a little prescriptive assistance. No, I don't do narcotics....just a half a tranquilizer. After about an hour or so, it starts to kick in and I can relax.

It's not that I'm sad, but I'm not happy either. I feel nothing. I keep myself busy by going to aquacizes at the pool, talking to friends, and preparing for my students. I enjoy watching some things on TV at night but then I get bored so I read.

I have no right to complain. After all, I own my home and car and have money put aside. My daughters are happy in their lives and my grandchildren are healthy. I have social plans for Thursday breakfast and a pedicure in the afternoon. I'm having massage therapy Friday morning and getting my hair done Friday afternoon. And I'm going to a dinner party on Saturday. There is always something to do.

But I feel nothing right now. Nuts! I wonder how long this will last.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Haunted: (1) to inhabit, visit, or appear to in the form of a ghost or other supernatural being or (2) to come to the mind of continually or obsess over

What with Halloween just around the corner, you might think I'm losing my mind, thinking that my house has recently been inhabited by ghosts and goblins. Well, that is not the case.
I have just finished reading the sensational book by Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, and I'm haunted by her depth of vision and wisdom at such a young age.
In 1942 and only 13 years old, Anne and her family along with 4 other Jews, went into hiding in Amsterdam. Over the course of the next two years, Anne wrote a diary of her experiences in the "Secret Annexe," the top floors of an old office building. They all were cut off from the outside world and faced hunger, boredom, the constant cruelties of living in confined quarters with no privacy and the ever-present danger of discovery and death at the hands of the Nazis.
In her introduction to the book, Eleanor Roosevelt writes that she was made "shockingly aware of war's greatest evil - the degradation of the human spirit."
What astonished me was that Anne's accounting of day to day life in hiding shows how rapidly she matured in only two years at a time of life that is so difficult for every young girl. She shows great warmth and wit with a high degree of intelligence and great sensitivity to others in her diary. The most profound part for me was when she wrote on Thursday, July 6, 1944 (less than a month before German soldiers broke down the doors of the Secret Annexe and dragged these eight innocent people to Gestapo headquarters in Amsterdam) the following:
People who have a religion should be glad, for not everyone has the gift of believing in heavenly things. You don't necessarily even have to be afraid of punishment after death; purgatory, hell, and heaven are things that a lot of people can't accept, but still a religion, it doesn't matter which, keeps a person on the right path. It isn't the fear of God but the upholding of one's own honor and conscience. How noble and good everyone could be if, every evening before they fall asleep, they were able to recall to their minds the events of the whole day and consider exactly what had been good and bad. Then, without realizing it, you try to improve yourself at the start of each new day...Whoever doesn't know it must learn and find by experience that: "A quiet conscience makes one strong!"
Anne died in the Belsen camp in 1945 and her old school friend recounts their reunion there. "...I saw her beyond the barbed wire. She was in rags. I saw her emaciated, sunken face in the darkness. Her eyes were very large. We cried and cried, for now there was only the barbed wire between us..." Another survivor recalled that "Anne, who was already sick at the time, was not informed of her sister's death, but after a few days she sensed it, and soon afterwards she died, peacefully, feeling that nothing bad was happening to her."
She never saw her 16th birthday.
I wonder what Anne would have accomplished in her life had she lived. She wrote many times that she wanted to become a writer and to go on living even after her death. And her dream came true, albeit in a horrifying way.
Author Ernst Schnabel wrote, "out of the millions that were silenced, this voice no louder than a child's whisper...It has outlasted the shouts of the murderers and has soared above the voices of time."

I am haunted.

Monday, October 11, 2010


I was really looking forward to spending the rest of my life with Lorne. We had planned on getting married this past September, but had to postpone everything due to his chemotherapy. At least that's what we told everyone. In actual fact, things started to fall apart a long time ago and came to a head in March.

I'm not going to go into details, but the man of my dreams turned out not to be as magnificent as I'd remembered him to be. I will be magnanimous towards him and admit that I, too, perhaps was not the maiden that he'd remembered, either.

As we got to know each other more deeply on a much more mature level, we both realized that life experiences had changed us and we began to have misgivings about a future together. After my husband's death in 1992, I had major resposibilities towards my children and had to work to maintain them through their teenage years and beyond. I had to become markedly self-disciplined, organized, and maternal. On the other hand, he had absolutely no experience or understanding of what it meant to be a married mate. We clashed on so many issues that it became impossible to continue our relationship. In essence, we were enormously mismatched.

He is now living elsewhere and will finish up his chemo without my direct support, although I do wish him well in the mending process. We might eventually be able to maintain a social relationship, but in actual fact, I think we will most likely go our separate ways.

I mourn the loss of the dream with him a second time in my life. Maybe God gave us the chance to come to the realization that we were not meant to be. But now I must move forward, marvelling in the joy I have with family, friends, and fulfilling work with my students. I'm also excited about planning my next trip - a cruise to Alaska next May with Daughter #2 and hopefully, an extended trip to the United Kingdom next summer or fall.

Monday, October 04, 2010

The Letter L, Brought to You by Leslie

Last Friday, October first, I spent a lovely morning sipping a Starbucks' Americano Misto (light, extra hot) and nibbling on homemade muffins with my friend who's going through chemo. After lunch and doing all my crossword puzzles, I decided it was too lovely a day to stay inside. So off I went, camera in hand again, for a lively stroll around the neighbourhood. This time, I took a slightly different route and kept the letter "L" in mind as I perused possible photographic possibilities. (Gee, maybe this should be for the week of the letter P...) But, I digress. Lots of things popped out at me (oops, there I go again with the letter P...) and I had a great time. I've put the photos together in a little slide show for you all and hope you have as lovely a time watching as I had doing it.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Pigging Out on Pumpkin Pie

Next weekend is our Canadian Thanksgiving, which has some similarities and differences to the American one. However, it is celebrated earlier - on the 2nd Monday of October, as declared by Parliament in 1957, to give thanks to God for the bountiful harvest.

The history of Thanksgiving in Canada goes back to an English explorer, Martin Frobisher, who had been trying to find a northern passage to the Orient. Although he didn't succeed, he did establish a settlement in Northern America. In 1578, he held a formal ceremony in what is now Newfoundland to celebrate surviving the long journey. This is considered the first Canadian Thanksgiving.

Then during the American Revolution, a lot of Americans who stayed loyal to England moved to Canada and brought many of their customs and traditions of the American Thanksgiving. One such similarity is the pumpkin pie, the standard dessert at every Canadian table. And the biggest difference between the American and Canadian Thanksgivings is that there are no pilgrims associated with the Canadian one.

In Canada, it's a national holiday, but not at all a religious one. Its roots and European heritage lie in something considerably more pagan. Original festivities date back 2,000 years to Celtic priests, the druids, who celebrated a harvest festival. Once the harvest had been safely stored, the Celts prayed for their sun god in the battle with darkness and the cold of winter. And this harvest season marked the end of the Celtic calendar year.

Not many Canadians concern themselves with the old paganism, but rather spend the holiday with family and friends. The traditional meal is roast turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce, white or sweet potatoes (mashed with brown sugar and butter), fall vegetables like brussel sprouts, turnips, or carrots and the phenomenal pumpkin pie! Dinner can be on any day of the long weekend, but most eat it on Sunday so they have a day to recover before heading back to work.

I'm not sure what I'm doing this year as my birthday always falls right before the long weekend. Thus, there are always several get-togethers with family and friends to celebrate it. We often combine the two. Regardless, pumpkin pie is always better than birthday cake!

Happy Thanksgiving, Canada!