Sunday, May 31, 2009

Fun with Nature #8

An incredibly beautiful not without reminders
though of the mighty power of roaring winds

On this beautiful day of Pentecost Sunday, it is the formal ending to the Easter season, also the day when we celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles. We woke this morning to roaring winds and trees swaying mightily, leaves whipping in the air dancing an angry dance, so much noisier than one could even try to imagine. On this great feast day we are also reminded of the gentle breezy wind rushing through that upper room so long ago.

In years past we have usually embraced a family tradition to celebrate with all new kites or other wind devices to remind us of this special day. This year it would appear as though we dropped the ball on this tradition but it is undeniable the presence of the abnormally windy day cannot do nothing more than be a wonderful reminder, with grand swishing sounds of the dense forest out yonder alerting us to the presence of Mr. Wind, a mighty weather element to bring the focus back to this purpose of this great feast day. Another element in that upper room so long ago was fire present overhead of each person present, another reminder to bring out your candles and allow for "Holy Spirit reminders" with flickering light in your midst as you continue on with your day. Blessings to all our family and friends this day!

On another topic altogether... our "Fun with Nature" topic;

Living in the country has its perks; acreage elbow room, nature discoveries around every corner, new experiences for city slickers (us) and even the odd awaiting adventure to send our adrenaline bursting to new heights (like the three foot long snake creeping around the front of our property recently).

Last night, as we were on our way home from picking up our oldest daughter from her airport arrival, we were alerted with a telephone call from home relaying information of "something new in our midst". As our dogs persisted in alarming barking renditions, both of them at once, all at home were alerted to explore what could be making them so upset.

Looking out the windows to the driveway area, there was no sign of a visitor there. Walking back into the kitchen, something "big, black and furry" caught our older son's eye just behind our trampoline.

Bear Necessities

A black bear was loitering there, taking in the barking dogs, quietly pondering his next move. Our son's immediate response was to hop out to the small deck and scream and shout his head off. The bear was started into action and darted quickly towards the back of the property. In a moment he had completely disappeared.

Are you kidding? A black bear resting on his haunches was twelve feet from the back of our back deck? On all four legs he was a bit higher than our trampoline sitting nearby? That's a big bear! What to do?

Near our trampoline is where our bear friend was spotted
(yes we are building a larger deck and this present
one will be moved to another area requiring one)

Once we arrived home, we were most cautious about our surroundings before opening our vehicle doors, the large garage door, and knowing we would be there for a bit to hoist up and carry our daughter's luggage into the house.

In our telephone pages we weren't able to locate a telephone number for a wildlife conservation officer, so with a bit of frustration we opted to contact the provincial police for assistance instead. Well, there is no wildlife conservation office in this province, rather a natural resource black bear hotline number instead. Black bears are tracked in this province and if ours should return to the area again and we were to feel threatened in any way by it hanging around our property, we were alerted to the order with which we deal with the situation. We found both the police officer and bear alert line operators extremely helpful, though I felt completely BUMMED by the end of it all, especially when we were told natural resource food for the bears wasn't in bloom yet (berries), and to take immediate action and remove all bird feeding stations on our property just in case they might be attracted to them and return for a little dessert. In fact, the suggestions went further by saying we should keep them down until the end of the summer.

With flash lights in hand and our loudest barking dog on a leash, three of us made our way out the back into the black of night near the now densely filled bushy tree areas where the bird feeders hung on their hooks. The younger children remained indoors, very fearful for our safety and held flashlights from the deck to assist with lighting our way to where the two bird feeding spots were located. The day before we had just purchased two new feeders and were thrilled with the newest birdie singsong we woke up to the morning. Perhaps it was an attraction, and perhaps not. Sure we don't want a bear here as a frequent visitor but on the other hand, the officers said the perimeter fencing wouldn't stop them from climbing up and checking food sources if they dared find reason to do so.

No birdies = a whole host of more bugs. Darn! Just when the vast amounts of mosquito population seemed to become more manageable and tolerable, today it's with great sadness to note our sweet birdie visitors just don't seem to be in our area any longer. "Vanished" would be a good term to use just now, which is a very sad thing for all of us living here. Sure we don't want a bear around here but if you have ever had experience with this yourself, is there such a thing as a "bear proof" bird seed out there?

We were told the worst thing to have in a country forest setting were hummingbird feeders for their sweet liquid. Think - honey and bears and that would make perfect sense.

We had had a bright orange oriole feeder hanging until moving it to allow for another thistle feeder addition on its hook instead. The oriole feeder was placed on top of our huge generator box for the time being and yesterday morning while the dogs were playing with their ball, one of them bounced up and the glass feeder smashed against the house, spilling the contents on the ground. Perhaps the smell wafted through the air alerting a hungry bear to its aroma, perhaps not. There will definitely be no more oriole feeders hanging around our property in the future though, no not ever.

Open to any suggestions out there from wise bear experiences you may have had....but until next time, another nature loving experience rests in our heads as we sleep at night and "think" we may hear bear grunting out yonder behind our home. :-) Our dogs will not be able to run freely for a while, just in case they become tempted to hunt out that new scent they were so unaware of until now and flee for good.

Hello! He came to visit through the window

Meanwhile I had to leave my computer momentarily to capture another sighting our daughter called us all to witness. A little critter friend was hanging around the basement window, pouches filled with some tasty treat, taking refuge from the windy day no doubt.

Make me smile!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wordless Wednesday #2 :-)

Speaking of someone new in the neighborhood....

3 new ponies have arrived at the barn!
Names are Peanut, Timbit, and Teaco

Ahhhhh, oh yes...It is a beautiful day in our neighborhood as the girls are always eager to get up to see the horses and now the ponies too.

Definitely a beautiful day in our neighborhood....

Wordless Wednesday

Beautiful day in the neighborhood

Typical days in our neighborhood consist of construction noises and plenty of trucks across the street as our new neighbor's soon to be home becomes complete. They are scheduled to move in this weekend, although their original date was in February.

Further up our road, more new home construction sounds fill the air and usually wake us early in the morning since daylight comes earlier now.

We are sure filled with gratitude since the well drilling machinery left our area two weeks ago, at least until it returns with another new home's beginning in progress.

We didn't appreciate the well drilling pounding because it echoed so loudly and began to chase our birdies away. The high decibel pitch resounded throughout our home with big boom-boom pinging bouncing from wall to wall. Try concentrating on anything with that in your head day to day. Hooey!

The past week has seen an explosion of leaves on all of our trees surrounding our home, and it seems we are now cocooned into our building envelope and tucked away quite nicely from the road.

Remember Mr. Rogers
? We loved him here, especially his 1600 episode opening song celebratory chorus - "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood" (... won't you be, please won't you neighbor - sorry got carried away...LOL) If you'd like to listen to the tune for nostalgia sake, here is the LINK to do so.

We remember you this day MR. ROGERS as we embark on the threshold of obtaining yet another new neighbor in our own neighborhood this weekend...

It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor.
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?...

It's a neighborly day in this beauty wood,
A neighborly day for a beauty.
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?...

I've always wanted to have a neighbor just like you.
I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.

So, let's make the most of this beautiful day.
Since we're together we might as well say:
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won't you be my neighbor?
Won't you please,
Won't you please?
Please won't you be my neighbor?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Fun with Nature #7

Our forest-like property continues to provide great explorations for everyone here. With the taller bramble of prickly scratchy thorns taking over a vast majority of the attempted rookie trail making, our efforts will soon require a better quality of machine to forge forth and really get them created for future nature walks.

New to us was a strange tri-leafed plant, who knew what until we found yellow flowers further along our trails.

Searching our handy wildflower identification book, we found out this was a "Trout Lily", also known as a yellow snowdrop, or yellow fawn lily. It looks like there are six petals but in fact there are only three split to look like six.

Wild Trout Lily

Just as the wild white trillium won't regrow once its picked due to the way the seeds are spread by ants, so too is this lovely flower's seeds dispersed the same way.

I was pleased to find out it is also a perenial, so it will regrow year after year upon our forest floor.
Meanwhile, there are little things each day to capture the attention of two little ones, be it critters, creatures, insects, possibilities or just one very slithery slimy green snake with an orange stripe down the center of his back who caused night time dreamy walks this past week.
I just love when something new inspires a few moments of childlike fun and this week this is what we found...

An arched tree to swing from of course, such a kid thing to do...

...and when the nature adventure was complete for the allotted time, two very happy children shouted; "Mom can we stay out here for a while?"

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fun with Nature #6

Fun with Nature studies continue...

As soon as our youngest daughter found her pink butterfly net amongst the garden tools set aside by the movers in our cold storage room, she set out to use it and succeeded in no time at all to catch herself a lovely winged creature - aka butterfly.

Bouncing up and down at her great luck, she proceeded to fetch her bug/butterfly netted container to observe it more closely.

There is a saying you know.

If you give a child a new watercolor paint set and a new journal with luxuriously thick pages for painting on, forget the sketching for her, she was being an "artist" while her colorful dipped brush swished to and fro on her page.

A wonderful way to inspire artistry with
new paints and sketch books for all.

The wild white trillium she found was
the start of even more nature journaling

She named her butterfly "Spirit"

What does a new paint set and sketch book do for you?

I know for our daughter it soon became page after page of new artistic subject ideas, and within no time at all, an entire portfolio of great masterpieces were at her fingertips, gifts to loved ones and colorful fun in the process.

and then...when she wasn't looking, her brother
grabbed her brush and began to paint on her drawing

Artistry fun is fabulous to observe in young folk, but - tap, tap, tap - back to finding out what sort of butterfly this is, and sketching more of your nature finds, rather than painting random things. (see my grin?)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Come birdies. Come eat the mosquitoes!

What fun to have mature trees on this property

After a rainstorm last Saturday, it seems as though hundreds of mosquitoes have hatched outside and some have decided to move inside our home, or surely around every possible entry way.

Our many bird feeders, feed storage and all the shepherd hooks were not available for such a long time, that is until now. They HAD to come out, they just did!

After being eaten alive the past two nights while we were sleeping, it's time to get serious about these blood suckers and the very fact there have been many west nile virus cases near to our area.

I'll be on the hunt for night time netting for over the beds so we don't have to spend many more sleepless nights waking to buzzing noises near our ears. Sleep deprivation isn't fun at all. We are tired, and itchy, and feeling prisoner in our home with all the attacks outside today. How silly this is, but we know the secret to surviving such things around here. Uh-huh we sure do!

Landscaping is not complete but they are up just the same

The Mosquito

Familiar whine in my ear
You settle on my forearm
Prepare to pierce my skin with your proboscis
I raise my hand to strike

What if I let you complete the cycle?
You might feed the songbird
Who cheers my day.

Your larvae might feed the minnow
Who feeds the fingerling
Who feeds the pike
Who feeds me.

You might be a meal for the brown bat
Whose guano fertilizes
Tomatoes for my salad.

But not today.

~ Deborah Fronteiria

Two helpful tips today to rid your homes of mosquitoes;
  • 1 - Attract multitudes of birds to your yard by offering nesting boxes, bird feeders or certain gardening plants.
  • 2 - Do what locals here do. Fill up a spray bottle with half water and half LISTERINE. You heard that right. Listerine! Did you think it was for your mouth? Not so. All the horse farms locally use this mix to spray on their horses, their clothing for trail riding and more. Suggestions have come to us from many assorted local folk, so we will soon be off to Costco to purchase a giant sized bottle for trying it out.
Half of our bird feeders are out, though they will have to be moved soon for the landscaping equipment to do their duty. And then, just like that hundreds of mosquitoes swarmed around us and bit our flesh to bits.

Wish our local birdies will come to eat them soon...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

She's doing "Just Fine" everyone

Bringing my mother in law home with me for a visit has allowed her to see first hand what our new home and community is like for us. My hubby and her have shared moments in the kitchen, though both have promised not to overdo it in there.

During the afternoon, she was awarded an extra special award from the small ziplock baggie of stickers I promptly forgot to leave behind in the west for my grandchildren. Happily she wore her sticker all day long, and thought it very cute to keep adhered to her sweater

She was CAUGHT being GOOD! :-)

Together my hubby and his mother both slowly puttered and through their efforts we were able to indulge in the BEST dish of Indonesian Bahmi this past Sunday evenings, so incredibly zesty with freshly ground ginger and hot spicy with chopped fresh red peppers. Ooh-la-la
Never fear all in the west, Grandma is doing "just fine" over the east.

Dearly beloved; Your mother is in town

Mother's Day Weekend Surprises for All

At long last, here is "Part 2" of my quick turnaround trip to the west coast....

**"Where in the world" was I is located HERE

** Part 1 of my trip can be found HERE

What a greeting soon after my arrival into the Vancouver airport

A friend I hadn’t seen in some time was awaiting my arrival for an afternoon visit, and a late lunch spread fitting for royalty was on the table. Not that I have any connection to royalty of course...snicker. It was the first time we had ever been able to visit without any children present, complete with plenty of heartfelt sharing, stolen moments I render high on the top of my list just as all my moments turned out while in the area for the few days. Thank you to Katarina for your incredible hospitality and for blessing me so much!

Blossoms were everywhere,

taking my breath away at the beauty of it all

Since the last visit, three of our adult children had acquired new abodes, new places for me to find (!) and visit them in, and consequently new dreams were unfolding for them and their families. Little ones were awaiting Nana’s visit and our biggies were awaiting their mama’s hugs. This is what happens when children grow up. They spread out and it becomes a whirlwind to meet, greet and come together. Stretched at times, fatigue reigns here and there, though nothing of course a hot strong cup of java wouldn’t cure within a short amount of time. The comfort of a night’s sleep during this trip often became my treasured end to a long day, especially when my brain didn’t connect with western time zones as opposed to eastern ones I am now used to.

Mornings came early, somewhere before 5am. And even my silly cell phone didn’t co-operate by shifting time zones automatically for me upon my arrival onto Vancouver’s terrra ferma. This new cell phone is the only one that has ever NOT done that for me! Crazy! Used as an alarm clock to meet a loved one for an early morning breakfast, rather than sounding its piercing signal for me at 6:45am as directed, it rang at 3:45am instead. Awake I was sunk...and so the story continued. Thank you Herta Yawn, yawn, yawn..I loved every second spent with you.

Have you ever just wished for a few more hours every day to get more done? I learned my days were longer out west. Longer due to time shifting zone changes my body refused to allow into my life, so sleep was a delightful thing for me at the end of my very, long, long days. The term, “crash” became a given for me, just the way it was to allow stolen moments with all those special folks in our lives. Not all actually, there are naturally always some disappointments.

Hockey: It runs in the family for this is how these two met! We were blessed with more photos for our family's future "sports room" here.

Our oldest son and wife invited me to stay with them in their new home, actually they even insisted, and both played host to their roving mother. I am so grateful I have older children who don’t mind me around (giggle), and actually enjoy time well spent with me if possible during my crazy and hectic schedules during such business trips to their area. As well both sets of our parents have been more than gracious at the way we tend to surprise them and create a flurry of feathers fluttering around with little notice to them either. This is just the way things seem to happen at times, out of our control, which is whenever business trips such as these ones require immediate action.

Proud oldest daughter at her own daughter's Mother's day tea

As time passes, noticeable changes in ones we love are visible immediately. Our sons are involved in renovations in their new homes, and our daughter recently painted the entire interior of her home. Without any bias of course, all our four older grown adults have turned out to be outstanding citizens, simply fabulous young adults with spouses equally special. Truly!

Lovely news; another new grandbabe on the way

Thank you to all of you for making time to spent it with me while I was there, to invite me to be with you no matter where it ended up being in the end. Loved every moment spent with you! And our very precious grandchildren have blessed our lives for the past ten years during times when we were yet with our own newborn babies still remaining in our own quiver. Hugs and kisses to them please!

So great to see my grand-daughters this day!

Thanks for inviting me girls!

During this trip it was an honor to hear and bear witness to three of four speech/public speaking commitments our older grandchildren were involved in. I was in awe of the selections chosen to render excellent presentations to their audiences, even if a couple were only to their Nana in between stage countdowns. I had plans to film them all, but only caught one live. He was so sweet and appeased his Nana’s request to perform for me while standing in their family’s living room.

Nana, take my picture okay?
She was recovering from her long speech practice in front of me

And, I still can’t get over what an incredible memory one grand-daughter had when reciting with tremendous expression the entire chapter 9 of the book called; “The Borrowers”. Wow! I was even able to attend the Mother’s Day Tea at the private school where two of our grand-daughters attend, and never before have I been so entranced with the expression on one sweet cherub face.

Wow, my Nana is here to watch me perform

The many faces of my sweet grandbabe while reciting her poem;

Good Job!

I became smitten and grabbed my camera to shoot all those fun expressions, so happy I did too. Thank you for inviting me along!

She played with her baby and tried to feed her

What fun I had trying to tap into the boundless energy of a few sweet and delightful youngsters wanting one more, just one more tickle, lap cuddle, little chat or kissy faced hug from their Nana. Awwww, so cute!

She was trying to wear out her Nana, already extra tired

from longer hours in my day (wink) Loved the snuggles though, so wonderful.

On no worries to the big kids, they had equal time from their mother, at least I tried to zoom around and offer it with little notice to my trip, even if it was only spilled onto them after my arrival was really real (!) and I was truly there in their presence. Tee hee... Schedules don’t always jive at the best of times. I wanted no pressure on them all just because “mom was in town”; rather I prefer to work around their timing. Somehow it usually works for us, and often there are one-on-one possibilities to render sharing moments of the heart.

Blossoms were everywhere

Business before me, I had to spend the better part of a couple days tending to it, surrounded with thoughtful scheduling to prioritize loved ones. A quick meet for coffee or a meal was the best I could offer without feeling torn and worn. There was much on my mind with much to tend to and make decisions on while I was over there, so anything personal offered me a flip to the tense moments of the business requiring attention. With my husband at the helm at home, together he and I formed conference cell phone times and continued forming strategies while making serious plan A and plan B types of decisions so that when I would return home, there would be no further signatures, glitches or dropping the ball of responsibilities. One son was instrumental in assisting his mother when necessary, we so appreciate him for his help the past few months.

Spending time on the other end of our vast country during “Mother’s day” weekend felt strange at first, being away from the younger children still living at home was weird for me and for them. Ask my husband and he will agree, weird to have me missing for the first time in 32 years on this Hallmark weekend. They survived well being in the midst of their chef daddy. Oh yes, they were all just very fine without me there.

Moreover, my little sneaky act of sneaking into my parent’s church and surprising them turned out fabulous! I tiptoed up to where they were sitting in their pew and leaned over to slip a kiss on my father’s cheek (he was on the outside), and then watched the look on their faces as I leaned inward to do the same to my mother and wish her a Happy Mother’s Day. There ended up not being room for me in their pew, so I slipped in to the one in front, the one where my young grandchildren were sitting and soon three of them were vying for a position next to their nana. Little hands softly moved across my lap on either side until both of my own hands were clasped by another. The ornate side altar was loaded with floral stems in honor of the month of May, and after mass it was adorable to watch the two older children try to light votive candles and pray for their Grandpa over here.

Sending prayers to heaven for their grandfather here in the east

On the spur of the moment some of the older ones gathered and together we shared a lovely Mother’s Day brunch.

He was thrilled with the new book Nana brought to them all about the birds in B.C.

It was quite fun to catch one younger grand-daughter’s birthday party, however brief I was able to stay. I will always remember the look on her face once she spotted me parking outside the doorway.

Ten sweet little toes

And speaking of “looks”...I will also never forget arriving at our son’s home and while I was rustling to find something in the trunk of my car, two little grandchildren ran like the wind towards me with arms outstretched calling my name. So cute!

Sadly our youngest grandchild didn’t remember me and wasn’t too keen on me moving closer to her, but I’m happy to report she did in fact warm up to me eventually. Whew.

Our youngest grandbabe didn't recognize her Nana, sniff

Vancouver Canuck hockey games filled radio airwaves, not to mention residential television screens and ice hockey fever was everywhere one went. I felt right at home amongst the nutty happenings, strange but true.

One evening I had the opportunity to drop in and surprise a dear friend and her family, but wasn’t able to notify her of my pending arrival due to my cell phone battery dying and having no hook up along with me. After I knocked on the door, I asked the two teens opening the door if that was the party place for watching the Vancouver Canuck game in action. Thanks Karen and family for a fun cheery visit with walloping hoots in my midst upon each goal.

Stormy days met us and then the sun popped out afterwards

As per Vancouver weather, rain clouds visited often but the sun did shine to allow for springtime moments. I was in awe of how much more ahead the vegetation blossomed, and it took my breath away soon after landing to note the ever present pink cherry blossom trees in spectacular form dipping archways over roads and driveways, spilling pink confetti-like petals on whatever lay underneath its blooms. Beautiful!

Beautiful blossoms spill everywhere

At one point the rental car I was driving had been parked underneath of two and as I left the area, I felt like a new bride with all the petals flying off the car, leaving a trail behind me.

Lifelong friendships reunite to celebrate together

It was perfect timing to attend one of my childhood friend’s 50th birthday party surprise. She gave me great honor long ago by accepting my invitation to be one of my bridesmaids. Never would I have wanted to miss out on this opportunity to celebrate with her for anything.

Happy 50th dear friend

Three sisters in a row

I grew up just one block away from her family, most of whom were also present and what a hoot we had that night together talking over “the good ole days” when riding on one another’s handle bars was in vogue, and laughter filled the room with our fun reminiscing. How I loved being present with this incredibly warm and loving family once again. Even though it had been quite some time since all were in the same room, it was as if time and space were never a factor. Hugs and kisses greeted me at every turn, such a great memory I will always keep close to my heart. Happy Birthday to you my "BFFL" (grin) and the rookie “red-hat” stage to come.

Now graduated to a "red hat".

It was lovely to spend time with my parents, however brief during an impromptu dinner at their home, with my daughter joining in the visit at the last minute when she found out I would be going there. It has been a few weeks since she had seen them so visiting with both myself and them was a great privilege for her. Thanks mom and dad for the dinner.

A special and impromptu dinner evening with my parents and daughter

Gathering together with whoever was available was interesting, as much of the time I had older ones who just wanted to “hang out” with their mother so they were able to come along to a few of my spontaneous visits, which of course was just very fine with me and I loved the fact they weren’t coy or lacked desire to join me in the first place.

She came almost everywhere to "hang out" as much as possible with me while I was over there

Even this lovely all-grown-up former neighbor (we first

met when she was 2 yrs old) wanted to come to see me

I felt honoured they all didn’t mind spending extra time with me, never dreaded having me near, in fact some mentioned not having me long enough, but shall we say, this seems to be the way the tide has turned these days while living in another area of the country.

"Tracy Cakes" in Fort Langley, quaint and sweet for high tea

My mother’s love of taking tea was something I wished to bless her with, and though she wasn’t feeling well enough to join the rest of the family for brunch on mother’s day, I was able to pick her up and treat her and my daughter to high tea nearby at a quaint and delightful eatery. I loved the quiet calm during out teatime even though rain threatened to ruin it all initially. And to top it all off, this was my last day in the area, sun was sorely welcomed by the end of the afternoon believe me.

Mom and daughter in law having high tea together

After a brief rest and more time with my daughter in law, it was time to pack up my bags and head further out into the Fraser Valley. This was BC’s election day and my mother in law was working her booth, awaiting the end of her shift because I would be picking her up to bring her back home with me after we two would spend the night at a hotel nearby the airport for our early morning flight. She was so eager to travel to have a visit with us, to see our new home and to spend time with her son. And I was the perfect candidate to assist her at the airport and beyond.

It was a godsend to have her along because with the requested airport assistance we marveled over how we were chauffeured around the airport in golf carts and offered a myriad of privileges including; priority check-in, priority baggage check, front of the line security passage and early boarding. Spending time in the Maple Leaf Lounge in the airport with guest passes offered to us, we were quite relaxed after our breakfast and morning coffee, and were equally pleased to have a smooth flight soaring amongst super sunny skies.

Rested, we waited for our flight

Overall, this was the fastest paced trip anyone could hope for, one initially almost not taken with the timing at home, but everything I had encountered even with such short notice was incredibly beautiful, and I will treasure every single moment I was able to spend time with all of you over there. Thank you again to my son and his wife for I was very comfortable while “crashing” in your new home with you.

Finally, though I wasn’t able to see all my loved ones and/or treasured lifelong bosom buddies, I will be sure to give more notice (if possible) the next time I’m on west coast grounds.