Saturday, May 31, 2014

Livability

Livability is a bit of a catch phrase bandied about by any number of groups in an effort to try and increase or enhance how "livable" people perceive their village, town, city.

A myriad of factors play into how any one citizen defines what make their place livable.

A recent development in my City, the City of Richmond BC, has increased the livability of our city for many citizens.

For me personally it has increased my sense of wellness and connection and enjoyment of this place I call home even though I am not yet a frequent user of it.

I have changed the route I drive when coming home because it gives me joy to see this  new "thing".

I now drive home from the City centre down Railway Avenue so named because...well....once.....long ago (or before I moved here 16 years ago anyway) it was the route of the railway / tram.  Happily evidence of this still exists.

For many years once roads overtook rains and trams it was just an overgrown corridor running alongside the road almost the entire north/south of this Island City.  Huge brambly bushes, big open grassy areas ...... nothing to really see or use.  Some said it was an eyesore, messy.

A while ago big machinery moved in and started clearing this corridor.  And the chatter began.

What was happening?

Soon rough pathways seemed to be being laid down......block after block.

More chatter.

When asphalt was laid over the gravel paths there was a bit of an uprising........why pave in this natural area?

I waited.

Soon enough the whole plan emerged.

A bike / walk / run pathway from one end of Richmond to the other along the path of the old railway.



It was used immediately by all ages and stages of people on foot or on bikes, running, walking or walking the dog.  Serious exercisers and slow strollers.  Groups, families, individuals.

It has been delightful to see, no matter the time the of day, no matter the weather, our community is out there enjoying this new pathway.

Just a few weeks ago as Spring finally settled in, this pathway delighted once again as a field of wildflowers blossomed alongside the path.......oh what a sight!

Poppies bobbing in the breeze......I went over there one evening last week and added to the usual users were a handful of photographers reveling in the spectacle.




Beyond the incredible attention to detail of bridges and bus stops connecting to the path and lighting and preserving trees that were already there.....this touch of  "intentional"wild flower fields says something.




It says something about the people who planned and designed this space.

It signals a level of care and attention to what will draw folks out into the outdoors, what will delight the senses, what will grow and be delightful and not take thousands of dollars to keep up.

It was a splendid choice.

These things don't "just happen".

From the vision to buy the land, to the work to design and transform it, to the workers who built it, to those designating funds for it....... this citizen thanks you.

Thanks you for making this City more livable, more usable and more beautiful.

Here's to more parks, paths and poppies!


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Pink Roses

On the day Lindsay was born my Mom brought her pink roses.  

For the last 17 years she has brought, sent or organised for Lindsay to have a bouquet of pink roses on her birthday.

Its a beautiful tradition. (which I have not documented very well but here is a selection)









Monday, May 26, 2014

Strike out

Tomorrow is not the first strike we have lived through.

Likely not the last.

Much has been said on this topic by many more eloquent than I.

But hear this.

Tomorrow is NOT a holiday.

Tomorrow is not paid. By anyone.

In fact in addition to to being unpaid tomorrow the government has levied a 10% cut to teachers pay for every other day this week.  And maybe more.

Teachers would far rather be in their classrooms teaching.

But it is MORE than worth it to my family to lose the income.

We will take the hit.

Because enough is enough.

My children are in the over-crowded, under-funded system too.

All BC children deserve classrooms that accommodate them, enough books for all of them, enough of the teachers attention to learn.

I am frankly embarrassed that in Canada in 2014 we are standing up for something as basic as the right to education in acceptable conditions.

It is a disgrace.

 It's a spit in the face of democracy and our court system.

To all Educators walking the picket line this week and to all the CUPE workers supporting them and for parents and students who will walk with them or support them through social media campaigns and petitions - I thank you.

Change is coming.

Of that there is no doubt.

Let it be the change our children deserve.



Saturday, May 24, 2014

Sisters Down Under

My Mom is in Australia right now visiting her sisters and their families (my Dad is there too!).  

It's a long way to go to visit family.  

My mom is the eldest sister.  And  a great one.  Also the shortest sister but we don't mention that if we know whats good for us.

She loves her sisters.  She misses them.

As mothers day came closer I had an idea......for a gift for my Mom.....to share an intentional time with each of her sisters.  

I wrote them this letter:


Hello Dear Ones:

I thought it would be fun for you to use this rare opportunity of being together to both reminisce and make some new memories.  Seeing as this was a Mother’s Day gift to my Mom I have a few instructions (don’t act shocked that the eldest daughter of the eldest daughter is giving directions J):

1.     You have $50 to play with – plan a date! Dinner, coffee and pastries, pedicures….

2.     You each have two cards each – on one you get to write a favourite childhood memory of each other. On the other, a few words about what your sister means to you….an appreciation of one another.

3.     Exchange them now or mail them to one another – just don’t forget to do it!

4.     I need photo’s ladies…..so take some selfies together (is it a selfie if there is more than one person?) …… some ideas:
a.     Back to back
b.     Ninja
c.      Side by side on a bench
d.     Take a real close up of your hands
Save these and send them to me.  Feel free to post to FB or Instagram too.  
My Mom is cool like that.

5.     Have so much fun……enjoy each other.

6.     I love you both!
I   I put the $, the letter, a photo or two, the appreciation cards and a couple of sister jokes in each envelope. 

    My Mom was delighted.

    And today I got photos of the two adventures.  I am so touched with the adventures they chose - both referenced their Mom, my Granny Carter (Norah - whose birthday was May 18th) who we all miss.

  My Mom and her youngest sister Shirley went to a Koala sanctuary and then out to tea at one of my Grans favourite spots.
      





  My Mom and her other sister Jenny went to Norah's Head Lighthouse and then out for lunch.
    




  My heart is so grateful for these special moments they have had together.  

      Cherished times.  

      They are 3 incredible women, wonderful role models, mothers, two are grandma's ..... 

      Carter Chicks Rock! 

       I don't see ninja photos yet through ladies - get on that ok....... xoxo

  From all accounts my parents are having a wonderful time in great sunny warm weather.  

      Here is my Dad in one of his happy places.


     Love and miss you all.

Friday, May 23, 2014

10 minutes

I know this is my blog.

Chronicling my life mostly for my family's reading horror pleasure.

But there is only so much gloominess anyone other than Eeyore can take.

I think it is safe to say that right now life is a tad on the tough side.

I am not going to bore either of us with the litany of less than stellar moments this week has dished.

When the alarm went off this morning my brain said "Get up" but my body "Who are you kidding?"

The sore throat-turned-cold-cough-probably-legionnaires-disease had robbed me of just enough sleep to make me a partial zombie and slightly fearful for those around me should I attempt to be in the public.

So I dozed through the morning between various phone calls and emails.  Don't get me started on the ridiculous conversation with the car insurance person who need "my husband" to verify if she can speak to me about the claim, that happened to me, on my vehicle, that I called in yesterday.  I may have been "short" with her.

The rain stopped pouring.  I got up. Showered. Emerged downstairs around noon to bouncy brown puppy.


I am going to chronicle the last 10 minutes of my life

1:50pm

Decide to make coffee.

Realise the coffee maker needs cleaning.  Clean it, espresso machine, kettle, dishwasher and half the stove before my mucus filled brain remembered I wanted needed coffee.

Open coffee canister.

NO COFFEE.

Text Allan asking whereabouts of coffee and threatening to jump off bridge if we are out.

Allan hasn't answered yet.

Find enough residual beans in the grinder to eke out one miserable cup.

Try to contain my rage.

Decide to have eggo waffle and nutella for lunch.  Don't judge me.

First nutella bottle is empty.

Lucky for some teens who reside here there is another jar.

Decide to sit in the sun outside and not noticing small puddle at the back of chair seat - I sit in it.

While muttering I go back into the kitchen to get a dishtowel to wipe the chair, returning to see the dog licking the nutella.

On my waffle.

Make another waffle.

Dog delivers slimy blue ball into my lap. Ewww.

Dog needs training of how to say sorry in a more appropriate way.

While contemplating next move the doorbell rings.

Open door to earnest young man touting religion I am not interested in.

He leaves without too much of a fuss.

Walk into the bathroom to get a tissue for the streaming nose.

No tissues.

As I get a roll of TP I catch site of my nutella streaked face in the mirror.

(Now my new strategy for dealing with religion touters is to keep nutella at the door).

Wipe face and leave bathroom - except for my baby toe which stays behind.

Bad word.

There you have it.  

Take the last 10 minutes and times them 500 and you have an approximation of my week.

Off to take a nap.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

'Tis the Season

of the .... Back Yard BBQ.......

Just to prove my point from my previous post- after a lovely day it started to spit rain just as we sat down to our BBQ.....but like true Canadians we toughed it out and although fleece blankets were employed we did manage to eat outside....... on the May Long weekend.

And today is sunny but breezy....it's like Canada was offended by my post and it letting me have it.

No problemo Canadude...... scare me with the sun..... I can take it.

But I digress.

Sometimes the several month of BBQ weather we have (for some of us that is any day there isn't 2 feet of snow on the actual BBQ) the rounds of chicken, steak, hamburgers, hotdogs (not us) etc can get ..... well... boring.

Last night we tapped our inner German and for the second time we had a sausage and beer fest BBQ.

Ingredients:

Outdoor dining no matter the weather.


Sausages - now we did get ours at whole foods (organic, no filler, happy sausages) also not cheap but more than fed 4 of us for $22.  We got 2 each of chicken chorizo, pork apple sage, pork bratwurst and beef garlic.  Once cooked I chopped them into chunks and everyone had what they wanted.


Good mustard - a variety to try and to pair with the different sausages.


Spaetzel - On a whim I decided to cook Spaetzel having tried it in Frankfurt earlier this year and enjoyed it. Its a noodley thing you boil and then pan fry the cooked noodles in butter and nutmeg.  It was good but could have used the mushroom gravy it is most often served with.



German beer - our local liquor store offered a few German and Belgian beers - I love Hofbrau - perfect with the meal.


Grilled Veggies with garlic. lemon, thyme butter - because......well..... just because.


I somehow missed any photos of the rustic pear crostata Allan and Lindsay made!!  More Italian than German but delightful.  With vanilla ice cream.

We finished out the night with an chewy ciabatta and three small cuts of cheese (gouda, aged cheddar and goat) served with Port.



There you go - I am sure Pinterest has a bazillion better ideas but I am not on Pinterest......Happy Grilling!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

May Long Weekend Myth

The May long weekend myth is one that has been perpetrated by Canadians on thousands of newcomers for decades.....maybe centuries.

The myth goes something like this: 
" Do not fear the winter for May will come and on the long weekend in May named Victoria Day for our esteemed Queen (?) summer will begin".

It further goes on to suggest that: 
"May long weekend all campgrounds will open, shuttered cottages will be opened and you may officially wear white clothing."

As newcomers having arrived in the dead of winter we clung to the myth. 

We looked deep into the eyes of the Canadians telling us of this glorious weekend and we believed.

And the first Victoria Day long weekend arrived and we were ready.  

With thousands others we spent interminable hours in ferry line ups to get to an island.

We fought valiantly with the mob for a piece of damp, cold earth in a wooded camp ground.


We pitched the tent alongside students about to graduate high school who brought nothing but beer and instant noodles and ghetto blaster to shatter the peace.

And then the rain started.  

As is always does.

And before you think that year was some sort of anomaly.  

Fear not.  

For in the 20 years of May Long weekends I have enjoyed survived it has rained far more than not.

However that was the last time we ever camped on the May Long Weekend - we may be newbies but we catch on quick.  

Our only solace that weekend after enduring late night drunkenness and raccoon stealing the custard kiss cookies I made, was that the raccoon also ate all the instant noodles of our neighbours who seemed stunned at this turn of event when they surfaced around noon.  Luckily they still had beer.

So as the clouds gather on the horizon this May long weekend and the weather forecast is for precipitation.  I send out my thoughts to those poor suckers in tents across the land, shivering and cold.

May-long-weekend-as-start-of-summer is a myth people.....

And let me tell you something folks.  You can go two ways with the "Myth of the May Long weekend".

1) Believe "them" and be depressed that this IS actually summer
or
2) Ignore "them", embrace the changeable spring weather (not in a tent) and hold on for the July 1 long weekend and try again.

Good Luck

Happy Victoria Day Long Weekend!



Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Note to myself

Take back the week

the day, the hour the moment......

Take it back.

Or rather resolve not to let it get away with your head, your heart, your peace

Ever again.

Say no to the sense of dread.

Square your shoulders and face "it"

Say no to the "one more thing".

Say no to the "But I have to, I should, I must"

Don't be discouraged by what had already "gone down"

The words already misspoken

The hours wasted

Resolve to do better.

In the next moment, hour, day week, month, year.

Don't ride the spiral of guilt and worry.

Embrace the moments as they are gifted to you.

Gifted.  Not certain.  Undeserved.

Not random......

And laugh..... at least smile.

Don't solve the problem, just take the next step.

Be curious and focus.

Focus on the details.....of the world....the chirp of a bird, the form of a cloud, the ripple on the water....

Calm yourself.

Find the joy.

Love.

Love abundantly and extravagantly and deeply.

And allow yourself to be loved.

Breathe.