Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Equestrians and their gear!

Horse riding and barn fashion.

Our equestrian daughter was able to wear new riding boots purchased shortly ago, posted in another writing here. However with the temperatures hovering below freezing levels this past two weeks, her time within the barns has given her a serious need to avoid frostbite to her toes and feet, so we had to purchase another pair of warmer winter boots for both horse riding lessons and barn work to keep her from freezing. These new riding boots rise only just above the ankle rather than to the knee, something looking more like a hiking boot.

For riding a horse she wanted her pants covered so she recently invested in a pair of "chaps" worn around the lower leg, zipped up at the side and elastic slipped over the top of the boot, gently placed under its center underneath to hold it in place. They also assist in keeping her warmer.

While on a virtual shopping spree, she also opted for a helmet protector cover, to save her black suede from the dirt in the barns. This fancy-dancy helmet cover came today, along with the chaps, and she is in her element, completely enthralled with equestrian extremity fashions. Well, she is definitely becoming well stocked with the proper gear for the task, and we're pleased she has paying jobs to help pay for all the things she still hopes to acquire. *smile*

Protected roadways.

Road safety in winter weather.

Winter weather brings the fine art of the snow plough operators careening all around the city limits and country miles of roadways, so very different and such a superior system as well, compared to what we knew living in the west.

The huge trucks are much larger, and can perform multiple tasks at one time. We've observed them use a bucket to push snow to the edges of the road; subsequently a blower just behind the snow formations at the bucket end sucks up all of it into a huge blower system and blasts it all outward to ten or more feet off the shoulder sides of the roadways. We've seen joggers coming towards a main roadway and run backwards when noticing a snowplough coming. At first it looked funny to see them run, then we were able to see just how far that machine spit out the snow barely missing them quite a way away back down the street they originally came from.

Next an oscillating spreader system below the vehicle spreads salt, and a smaller spreader at the tail end offers a bit of sand, though we have seen more salt these days than sand on the roads. Although all the salt isn't good for the vehicle itself, I feel very confident driving around after a snow fall when I notice them around here, even in the countryside. That means the main roads are already clear and safe, so off I tootle to play taxi when necessary.

All the salt used here does amazing things for "instant" melting of those scary slick icy patches, offering sensible safety for all transportation traveling within the area. The other day I had a carwash to rid the vehicle of the salt powders, and then shortly later while traveling home again, this is what the van looked like once more.

Frozen shores

Ice Castles?

Driving towards the scenic route today, we were all amazed at the landscape changes surrounding out beachfront inland waters. The white sanded tropical shores from the warm summer days are now icy sculpted frozen glacier formations. Please click the photos to see enlarged views of these, as the photos don't do them true justice.

The white wrought iron shown in the forefront is actually the railing to a staircase leading to the sand below. It’s very beautiful and slowly but surely, each day’s plummeting temperatures sees this fast becoming filled with icy shapes, bulking together to make the shore appear farther out than it really is.

Beautiful isn’t it.


Bunny Love

He's grown quite a bit since we first purchased this little fellow and adopted him as our own. Actually "Floppy" belongs to this little gal, who loves him so much.

After having a little friend over last weekend, with the mother explaining to her how she used to bring her rabbit inside to play often, she decided today her bunny hadn't been privileged to see her bedroom, and be able to run around in there awhile, so she gathered him up, litter box and all (yes, he is self litter trained!), took him up to her bedroom and allowed him to dance about all over the hardwood floor. He does the cutest little dance when running around the barn every day during his playtime, often kicking his heels together and bouncing up and down.

This loving bunny adores our daughter, cuddling up under her chin when held against her. He's begun a bad habit though recently, nibbling at her coat detailing. Hmmmm....

Good Morning Starshine!

Good Morning!

Remember this song...

Good morning starshine
The earth says hello
You twinkle above us
We twinkle below

Good morning starshine
You lead us along
My love and me as we sing
Our early morning singing song

Well, this was a great sight to wake up to this morning, our coffee in hand as we sit and sip before the day hurries us forward. Believe it or not, both pictures shown just above and just below this writing were taken approximately two hours apart. One was taken from the main floor, the lower picture was snapped from an upper floor along with the picture at the very top. How lovely it is to rise to such uncluttered beauty, how beautiful the sight to behold!

Beautiful !

Ice rink under snow again! Shovel duty calls.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Birthday Memories...

Happy Birthday to our Dear Daughter!

For you Ashley!

Today is our daughter Ashley's birthday, and I received an email from her asking where my blog writing is today about her. Dear Darling Birthday Gal; The day is not yet over, there are plenty of hours left to celebrate your 21st birthday, right. Without further ado then, it's all prepared, so here's to you, my BELLA!

Remember when...Trivia time for 1986

  • Major nuclear accident at Soviet Union’s Chernobyl power station upsets the world on April 26th.
  • Fernando Marcos flees the Philippines after leading for over 20 years, his wife Imelda Marcos was known for her shoe scandal.
  • Haley’s Comet zoomed around our earth on April 10th.
  • Montreal defeats Calgary 4-1 to take the Stanley cup.
  • Nintendo games are introduced in the United States (argh! And… Kids have been cross-eyed ever since too!
  • Record of the year, “We are the world
  • Academy motion picture winner – “Out of Africa
  • Multi billionaire Opray Winfrey hits television stations with her show.

Ah yes!

The New Year was unfolding in a peculiar manner, firstly with having my hubby in the hospital with bronchial pneumonia, released merely several days before our daughter was born on January 29th - late! The week after hubby entered the hospital, so too did our son, remaining for one week with severe bronchitis. He required an oxygen tent much of the time. My poor son cried at seven years old when they placed him into a crib, when a bed wasn’t available for him, and then I wondered when I might be delivering this child happily tucked away within me, perhaps all by myself on another floor somewhere.

Another little girl Daddy can spoil!

January 28th, 1986Space Shuttle Challenger Explodes

This is the very day I had a doctor’s appointment at 9:40am to coax out- yet again, another bambino who was laying sunny side up, and loving it more in utero than wishing to enter the big wide world, and those awaiting her birth. Ten days overdue, I sat in our family doctor’s waiting room when the news interrupted regular radio broadcasts with an emergency announcement of this tragedy. OH NO! I certainly did not wish to have my baby born on this day, an event that upset the entire scientific world, and one horrific accident to which Ronald Reagan gave an immediate consolation offering to the families involved. How sad it was, as we were following the teacher shooting up into space to teach elementary children from the galaxies beyond the earth.

Our daughter refused to be born anyway, the doctor's nudge never helped. It was evident however the next day she would be forced out of her cocoon, as our doctor felt it was time to meet her. At long last, a harder induction took place and she was finally ushered into the world at 3:50AM, the same time her older sister had been born, with a very tired but thrilled set of parents whispering sweet nothings in her ear, holding her close and cuddling her tightly. Our fresh from heaven baby daughter had sandy brown colored hair with a strawberry blond tone, something eventually to become her trademark; our red haired firecracker! (inside joke)

Just me and my baby firecracker!

This little gal had arms all around begging me to have a turn to cuddle close with her. Someone was always offering love and sloppy kisses all over her cheeks. Her older sister was pleased to have another girl in the house, along with her two brothers. Hubby and I were youth group leaders at the time, so this new baby went everywhere with her parents and had many other hands waving for a turn too, always someone wanting to hold and coo along with her, this happy baby with a great disposition.

1986 – The year of Vancouver’s World Exposition, otherwise known as EXPO 86 (click on the name and remember it well) It was a great year to remember the birth of a child! And it was this child and her older siblings who accompanied me most often to see, learn and enjoy the huge variety of events at hand, during our many treks to the Expo site.

At a mere nine weeks of age, I stood at the front of the line, near the front doors of the Orpheum Theatre, with many media personnel across on the other side of the walkway gearing up for the event at hand. Remember when Princess Diana and Prince Charles made their Vancouver debut as a married couple, formally opening up Expo 86? They walked directly in front of us, Charles obviously annoyed with the attention given to his wife by both media and crowds gathered around them, instead of the focus clearly wanting to remain on himself. I remember him for being a snotty sort, her for being sweet and fresh, missing her baby, but there I was with mine near her. She glanced my way, noticed my baby in my arms and said "Hello" to me.

I’ll never forget seeing Kiri Te Kanawa waiting inside ready to meet them both. We have a book from Expo 86, with me, hubby, our parish priest, and our dear daughter baby noted within its covers, photographed during this occasion and also appearing on the nightly news.

The photo above shows me in the upper left top corner, wearing the yellow v-neck sweather holding our baby daughter, then seven weeks old, hubby next to me in the blue jacket taking pictures for me.

January 29, 1986 was Wednesday and the old lovely saying stands true;

Wednesday's child is loving and giving.

Happy and content!

This child grew up happy and secure with so many older siblings loving her to bits, and always very happy and content with her own lot in life. Having older brothers and a sister active and busy with mommy's taxi service taking them to and fro, she was forced to become my buddy tag along over all those years. Just as her older sister became a great help for me with the younger ones, so too did this daughter become one for her younger four siblings later on when she became older.

Still the baby here.

Now happily playing the role of the big sister!

Like a blink of an eye, this companion buddy of mine grew up and moved out of our home, and like the others before her, she left a gap with the lack of her presence surrounding us all from day to day. She's all grown up now, certainly a beautiful and lovely young lady, who is currently preparing for her upcoming marriage to "Fiancee Mike" later on this summer. I teased her on the telephone today, she is now officially an adult.

So without further ado, your eastern family sends our love and best wishes to you, this day, your very Happy Birthday today, our dear daughter! Blow out a candle from us tonight at your birthday dinner and remember your roots even though distance comes between us on occasions such as this one!

Happy Birthday

May the sun always shine on you and may you turn towards the sun to allow it to kiss your face.

Love you lots!

Weather forecast - SNOW!

Appearing by morning....more snow!

Only yesterday this stairwell and walkway were cleared!

Just when the task appears to be done, more snow removal is in the forecast today after another white blanket dusted the earthy during the night. The weather forecast is also calling for an approximate depth of another foot of the stuff, beginning this evening. So, with shovels in hand, off we will go very shortly to clear what has already accumulated before the next round appears. At least the sun it shining and making our spirits bright!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Heave Ho!

"Many hands make light work"

The joys of the elements of winter usually accompany diligent efforts to keep areas safe around the home. Having no other choice, all hands have been on deck, tools in hand, pushing, moving, heaving, and clearing walkways, stairwells, decks, and parts of the driveway.

Not a well loved task, the face says it all.

Photos were being snapped by hubby as we all pitched in outdoors by the noon hour today. Sometimes I want to give him photography lessons, but he blamed this one on me for moving. (smile)

Thinking of the famous painting entitled; "American Gothic" shown HERE, we giggled at the prospect of having our own picture taken during the task. This then, is our very own personalized "funny" sure to rock the artworld when hubby paints us on his canvas...hee hee

Work in progress!

Snacking goodness.

Snacking goodness!

It's become a new favorite within this home, all are hooked on the stuff! Better this than something not worthwhile or nutritious to consume, so due to the huge expense of purchashing plentiful amounts to keep everyone content, I learned how to make my own.

  • 2 cans of garbanzo beans, drained
  • the juice of one lemon
  • 4-5 gloves of garlic minced,or several great shakes of the garlic powder
  • splash of vinegar
  • salt to taste

I threw all ingredients in a food processor to whirl around into a nice yellow mush, and voila, it was ready.

Guaranteed to be well loved!

Now the organic food delivery service will also include canned garbanzo beans regularly. What a great snack filled with protein. Use either assorted crackers, or a vegetable platter for dipping. Over time, all will be hooked! The boys are the worst, always depleting my stash in the refrigerator.

Snow forts and battle grounds.


As is a tradition in our family, when a snowfall is deep and pliable enough, the children always get a brainy idea to “create” things in it. The natural instinct to make and through an array of snowballs at others usually grows accompanies the longing desire to make snow forts for continued battles throughout the day.

Big brother makes an exciting fortress .

Back in the west, our children found natural forming hills and tree groves to make their forts, or one older son used to bring out a rather large, clear Rubbermaid container to make giant Lego bricks, stacked up for a realistic battle wall. Since he was much older, he could lift the heavy-laden bins and keep up the endurance to assist his younger siblings in such fine creations.

The beginning....of something grand.

Last week I was able to snap but a few photos of the four children out in back, making such a snow fort. Rather than use smaller containers to fill up and hoist into position, someone decided my two laundry baskets would suffice. Little did they realize how heavy these would become over time, though they did manage to create a large circular shaped fort, two baskets tall. One by one, the work began to appear overwhelming to the younger ones, and a few slowly trickled away to do other things. This is what they ended up with....this time!

Laundry baskets serve a new purpose!

As I sit and glance outside to see the snow fort today, a smile comes across my face to see its present shape, a little distorted compared to its original building date, something resembling a “stone hedge” of sorts. However, it’s still there, ready to use at a moments notice for battle games once more.

Stopping along the way to do battle.

These days, their manmade ice rink has become an all encompassing, and very absorbing distraction, giving their all to maintaining it for usage abilities. They have decided they’re tired of the continued snowfalls, likely due to all the work they are challenged with afterwards. With energy levels depleted by nightfall, they fall into a deep slumber once hitting their pillows!

Snowfall overnight


No driveway, no walkways, shovel duty prevails.

We continue to have snow falling daily, at times steadily all day long. The expanse of whiteness creates an internal peace, allowing for life to slow down its pace, if only for a moment. The fireplace warms our bodies, the glow of the candles around the room offers a lofty scent, the hot chocolate or something hot to sip, warms our bellies. Laughter fills the air as we observe the children’s imagination, watching them from the windows. We also continue to marvel over how light and lovely the snow appears crispy white, not an icy hard crunch as the west often offered, and such beautiful bright skies continue to be blessing our days with beauty.

This morning we woke to another snowfall overnight, almost ten inches of the stuff. The entire property was a white coated field of beauty, none of the walking paths visible anymore from yesterdays' romping. The driveway was too deep to get the van rolling out, and just as we were admiring the sun glistening and reflecting its rays off the wintry sheen, a huge snowplough drove by and blew another foot of snow banking it up against the end of the driveway, where it met the road.

Making new paths to walk in.

My favorite resource for weather reporting has been the weather network forecasting online. Each day we seek updates, and frequently throughout the day it appears to be correct at any given hour. Today the forecast is for continued “light flurries” all day long, lasting until tomorrow around lunchtime.

The sun today is incredible! As it appears we are truly snowbound for the most part, we sit with a coffee in hand watching people on snowmobiles and cross-country skis in the farmer’s fields to the north and south of us. An ATV suddenly appears to pick up a younger, tired out skier to take him home, and the rest of the family continue to make tracks around the fields, headed for the golf course down the road for some mogul fun.

These horses love to frolick in the freshly fallen snow.

The horses next door are out to their fields daily, bales of hay thrown around for them to forage for beforehand, and with the recent snowfalls they are likened to little children in a candy store, frolicking together and kicking up the snow, obviously enjoying it very much. This is the barn out daughter has been hired to assist in mucking the stalls and feeding other assorted animals on the premises, her little sister usually tagging along to groom the horses at the fence with her brush tote in hand. The continued experiences for the children are wonderful, and now the neighbor wants to have her brother bring his horse up in the spring for our daughters to ride daily next door. Wouldn’t that be just grand?

Dogs roam and love their snow runs.

Our dogs get quite a workout running in the deep snow, deeper than their backs and bellies lately, and two days ago, one of them ran right into the middle of a four feet snowdrift, rolling around and loving it to bits! Can you possibly guess which dog that could have been? They too have yet to experience the white fluffy snow suddenly appearing in their dog pen, eating it, searching for icy bits to chew, forming “nests” to huddle in, and then covering themselves with snow to make a burrow for them to keep warm. It’s quite cute to watch them outside late at night, often preferring the cooler temperatures outdoors instead of being in the barn with the heater on and toasty warm.

A chair resides in one corner of the ice rink.

As I type up the writing for today, I had to smile at the obvious most important thing the children decided upon this day – to remain diligent in shoveling out their ice arena in the back of the property, so the ice remains uncovered and exposed for more freezing, as the temperatures are to plummet to -16 again later today. At present the ice is clear, a chair rests in one corner for those requiring a seat to lace up their skates on, the garage push broom seems to be a permanent fixture, and two happy little people are now gliding across the ice.

Anytime is hockey time!

Now to get the shovels back and get out clearing the walkways and stairs around the house, then hope our phantom neighbor with a tractor appears for us again. *smile*

Smart thinking having clear lights,
as they will remain up yearlong!


But all that snow has to be shoveled off now!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Of snow squalls and white knuckles.

Of snow squalls and other snowy scares…

Yesterday both hubby and I had to drive to a city over an hour away for his specialist appointment. We were feeling a bit of anxiety as it had snowed through the night and looked quite icy outside. Knowing though this would be our planned agenda this day, the appointment itself too important to cancel.

What we left before heading on the journey ahead.

Before preparing for the drive, I sat at the computer to check the weather network website, typing in all the locations along the way for current snow warnings and possible delays throughout the hourly forecasted times during our journey. All appeared to be clear sailing, so off we headed at the appointed time.

As we traveled, we began to notice changes in weather patterns. Around the half way point, straight ahead before us, it appeared we were headed into visibility issues, perhaps even a dreaded snow squall. Alarmed at first, we continued straight into the eye of a small snow squall, necessitating the need to keep in the right slower lane most of the way through it, as the snow mounted and the wind began to gust, small drifts appearing along the freeway road ahead. Large semi trucks were mixed in with the flow of regular traffic, so I intentionally slowed down my pace, allowing one to pass me, then I kept behind him for the rest of the journey, following in his exact tracks and happy to be doing so.

Caution; Clouds ahead.

Whoa, unexpected snow is falling!

When arriving at our destination, vast amounts of snow seemed to suddenly fall from the sky, and within minutes, roads were white and speeds slowed to a crawl. Happily I kept a snail's pace, believe me, though the snow wasn’t packed or slippery as is typical in the west, rather nice and fluffy, very lovely to watch before me as the windshield piled up with the white stuff and the need to turn the windshiled wipers became evident.

Vast amounts of snow fell in a short time period.

Onward ho then, we arrived in the city a wee bit early, stopping for a nice hot “cuppa” something, oh - yummy yum! Nestled warm inside the coffee shop, we sipped our hot drinks and warmed our bellies, before continuing outside towards to keep our appointed time slot. Camera in hand, I snapped a few pictures, one of our “barista” who made our personalized drink requests before us.

Our barista at the coffee shop, a neat gal!

She had served us several times before, a neat gal who had many dreams for her future already planned, sharing them with us previously. My hubby is sporting a beard now, one he hasn’t been afforded to grow before in his profession of work, however with the snow falling and the wintry chill, it seemed fitting to have one at this time. And besides, I rather like it on him too!

Hubby is now sporting a beard!

Outside again, we both estimated the fallen snow to have reached proportionate heights of 6 inches at least within our half hour inside sipping our drinks. We began to marvel over the sudden changes to the weather again, watching the sky brightening, and as usual, the sun was in its full glory once out of the office.

Funny sight, all front doors a different color.
(Click to see a better view.)

Heading home after the appointment,
the sun was lovely, the sky clear!

Our journey home was most pleasant, salt trucks already zooming around also clearing most roadways, streets were clear and the sun was superb within vision. It felt like a lovely spring day, but my van thermometer read -12 degrees and getting colder.

Click the photo above to note the
thermometer reading of -12 degrees.

Approximately 25 minutes from our home, we noticed the skies darkening, with strange clouds falling low ahead of us. Turning on the weather report, the news was blaring to announce the freeway ahead was closed due to a 30-vehicle pile up, so we prepared our route home from that turnpike. Good thing for radios for sure! We had heard of severe “snow squalls” before, not personally driving in the center of them however, though the ending of this journey proved to be a most frightful and white knuckle experience to the point where we hope it never happens to us again! My photos included here hardly convey the true story, the very worst experiences didn't see the camera in either of our hands, for sure! But, you can get the idea with these...

Freeway closed ahead and still 25 minutes to our home!

Off the highway, many vehicles were attempting to travel down single lanes, with semi trucks traffic blending into the traffic, stretching out for miles ahead, and behind us. Luckily I had a large semi truck in front of me to follow, making great tracks down into the depths of snow, packing it all just right to drive upon. When the sudden gusts of ferocious wind accompanying the snow squall itself began to sway our vehicle, we wondered how strong it really was, bracing ourselves for the dreaded finale of our chosen route home. At any time, another vehicle could hit us, without visibility from blowing snow. SCARY!

Visibility getting worse.

WHITE Knuckles!!!!
Waiting too for the big snow winds
to gust again for zero visibilty!

It was very difficult to navigate the vehicle in such weather, not having the ability to see the traffic going in the opposite directions in the lane next to us, let alone able to see the red tail lights, nor most of the shape of the large truck in front of us, though I kept my white knuckles on the wheel and knew if I stopped, I could cause a huge traffic jam, or worse yet, a fatal accident I would be guilty of creating. It was so frightening for me, though my Betsy van held tight to the roadway, pulling us forward with its front wheel drive abilities. I felt confidant but had to force myself to keep calm at least three times, when the visibility was almost nothing, and I felt as though no road was even before me, let alone other vehicles. It was the worst experience of my life so far, no kidding.

EVEN whiter knuckles!

Finally at home, we noted our driveway had been gently cleared with a tractor, a neighbor’s tractor, though we never knew whose. This simple gesture was so appreciated and it allowed us to drive down to the garage door, without having the inconvenience of being stopped by the large accumulations of drifting snow piles, some up to four feet in places in the yard. Once in the warmth of our home, I felt as though I’d been transported into another world, still watching the incredible winds outside with flying snow mixed in them, having driven in glorious sunshine just a little while before entering this weather.

Ferocious winds blew our little tree in the foreground.

I felt a desperate need to unwind, knees weak, and obviously shaken up to my very core, never having experienced something such as this before, let alone drive in the eye of the storm like this itself.

Within a short while, I stood amazed, as I glanced out the window, watching larger white clouds passing by in a quick pace, and then the brightness of the sun began to appear. One would have to blink to realize this had been all experienced in all the same day, but it was the final sunset appearing at dusk, the crested moon above the beauty of color underneath, when I shook my head and then headed straight for bed!