Long Distance Grammom

I just returned from British Columbia where I took my daughter Nellie and two teenage granddaughters, 14.5 year old Kalia and 12.5 year old Livi. We spent time on my son’s farm on the Sunshine Coast getting to know my two baby granddaughters, 2 month old Clare and almost 2 year old Elsie.

 

3Elsie,ClareWM

Clare and Elsie

Nellie, Kalia, and Livi had never met Clare and Elsie before but I had spent time with them recently when Clare was only a few weeks old. We had a grand time playing with Elsie and holding Clare.

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Kalia, Livi, & Clare

 

Kalia, Livi, and Nellie also helped with some farm chores like feeding the goats, chickens, and rabbits as well as helping Rob install some gate posts. We picked cherries at a neighbour’s farm too and enjoyed them fresh and in a homemade pie. And of course we went to the beach every day looking for driftwood and beach glass!

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Elsie, Kalia, Livi, & Nellie on the beach

It wasn’t easy saying good-bye.

Kalia and Livi (and my other 4 grandchildren) live near me so I’ve seen them often for their entire lives. We’ve spent birthdays, Thanksgivings, and Christmases together and sleepovers in between. It’s taking some getting used to being a long-distance Grammom.

Email, Facebook, and Skype have all helped me feel like I’m participating in Elsie and Clare’s lives. Pictures are a big help too. But nothing is better than holding your grandchild in your arms and watching them sleep or smelling their sweet new-baby smell or reading the same stories 10 times in a row. I feel like their Gramma when I’m with them.

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Grammom and Elsie on the beach

 

I’m grateful that I’ve been able to travel across the country to spend time with them even though it’s only been a couple of times a year.

As my wee granddaughters grow, I hope to be able to visit them as often as possible and stay in touch through the latest technology.

……. because I love them as only a Grammom can.

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Rob and his girls

 

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Visiting Vancouver Island

I spent last week on the west coast visiting my sister Betty, my son Robin/D-I-L Nici, and other family.  I love it when I have the opportunity to share time with my family in one of the most beautiful places in Canada.  Betty and I had a week full of adventures – and a pot of barley soup to eat – after I arrived late Sunday night!

We started off by visiting my cousin Jacklyn, her daughter Melody, and her mom Kathy.  It had been a long time since I’d seen Kathy so it was a real treat.   My niece Brodie, a talented singer, also dropped in for a quick hello too.

Robin and I Beachcombing @ Powell River, B.C.

Robin and I Beachcombing @ Powell River, B.C.

The next day Betty and I were off on the ferry to go across the Strait of Georgia between Vancouver Island and the mainland of British Columbia.  Waiting for us was my son Robin and later my daughter-in-law Nici and their german sheppard puppy Gerda, who was actually the size of a miniature pony!   We had an awesome time!  Robin drove us up to the little town of Lund which is SO picturesque – it’s actually Mile One of a highway that will take you all the way down the west coast to South America’s Chile, 15,202 kms.  We had lunch on the patio at Nancy’s Bakery overlooking the small harbour and the ocean dotted with gulf islands.  Afterwards we went back to the farm to check on the goats and chickens.  I even learned to milk a goat!

I milked a goat!

I milked a goat!

Robin spoiled us with delicious homemade dinners and desserts using veggies from their own garden and milk from their goats.  I’m proud to say he’s an awesome cook!  In the evenings, we enjoyed watching videos on the computer of our Family Frolics – 20 years of videotaping of family life now stored on my external hard drive.  We also spent hours beachcombing, looking for beach glass and unique shells which I’ll make into Christmas tree decorations for our tree this year.  Finally, all too soon, it was time to catch the ferry back to the Island and leave Powell River behind.   A small pod of Orca whales graced us with their presence as if they were bidding us goodbye.

Rob's pumpkin pie made with fresh goat's milk, fresh eggs, and garden pumpkins

Rob’s pumpkin pie made with fresh goat’s milk, fresh eggs, and garden pumpkins

Next, we drove down to Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia, picking up Betty’s granddaughter along the way to bring her down to her daddy Curt for halloween.  Betty and I stayed at our favourite hotel, The Mayfair, where the rooms are clean and affordable.   We spent a relaxing evening on our computers, each one of us propped up in our individual beds, watching more Family Frolics videos and laughing hysterically until the wee hours of the morning.  We leisurely drove back up Island, stopping along the way at a few new thrift stores and lunch in Ladysmith.  Once back at Betty’s ‘cave’ a few hours later, we got in our comfy clothes and ‘chillaxed’ for the evening since I was leaving very early the next morning.  A week sure flies by way too fast and now I was on my way back to Vancouver to catch another flight to the Yukon/Northern B.C., the land of the midnight sun.

Linda and Betty

Linda and Betty

Shoreline Naturalization

I’ve lived along the shores of the Rideau River for almost 35 years.  I’m grateful that nature has shared it with me and others.  This river and the canal system that’s part of it, is a National Historic Site, Canadian Heritage River, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site because it remains the most extensive, well preserved and significant example of a continuous working canal/river in North America.  Most sections of the river remain in their natural state, even rugged wilderness, while other areas support farms, homes, small towns, two big cities, and historic lock stations.

Our local conservation association is helping waterfront homeowners to restore their shoreline to a natural state to encourage a more positive ecosystem for flora and fauna through their Shoreline Naturalization Program.  I first heard about this program a few years ago and even talked to someone at the local Ecofair last year.   I read up on it and even found the guidebook On the Living Edge Handbook: Your Handbook to Waterfront Living at last fall’s book fair.  I believe I already follow sustainable waterfront living, as mentioned in the book, like using clean recycled 45 gallon plastic drums (we were told they used to hold Coca-cola syrup) for our docks. But I was also guilty of a few things like making a beach 33 years ago with trucks of sand for the kids to play in.  In the last few years, I’ve let the cattails and natural plants grow back in along the beach.

Siberian Iris among the cattails

Siberian Iris among the cattails

This spring, I contacted the conservation authority to say that I was interested.  I was too late for this spring’s projects but I had an on-site shoreline consultation about my vision.   Luckily, I agreed to receive the ‘surplus stock’ from this years’ plantings:  a variety of 106 native trees and bushes including White Pine; Red Maple; Sugar Maple; White Birch; Bur Oak; Tamarack; Cedar; Sweet Gale; and Pagoda Dogwood.  They came as bare-rooted seedlings from 12-36” (less than a meter) tall.  I planted them in 3 days.

Most of the tree seedlings were planted along the sides of the property – sugar maples closer to the house for easier accessibility for tapping in the spring when there might still be snow on the ground.  The lower growing bushes, Sweet Gale and Pagoda Dogwood, were planted down along the river and up along the sides.  I’ve saved a few for my ditch project.

Daisy

Daisy

Along with these plantings, I’m practicing natural management of my grass cutting along the river.  I’ve left a wavy swath 5-15 feet wide along the river’s edge this year with a path to the dock.  I’m so thrilled that I have my own wee meadow!  There are all kinds of native plants already growing like Daisies, Siberian Iris, native Irises, ferns, Joe Pye Weed, orange Daylillies, and wild Morning Glories.  I’ve transplanted some ostrich ferns and other plants that love wet areas.  I also have some Rue Meadow growing prolifically on the path by my pond that I’m going to transplant down by the river.  Yesterday I noticed places where snapping turtles have probably laid their eggs.  And I think we have a resident muskrat under the old dock.

I’m looking forward to watching nature do her thing down by the river.

"Flags" wild Iris

“Flags” wild Iris

Down Home

 

Down home ~ the mere thought of those words brings a warm and fuzzy feeling to my heart. Down home is where my ancestors have lived, some for 2,500 years in the area (native Micmac on my Grandmother’s side) while others arrived in Canada from a few hundred years ago. It’s where I have some of the most cherished memories of my life, spending many summers as a child on my Grandparents farm and bringing my own children for visits.

1967 Down Home

1967 Down Home painting

 

I recently travelled down home, a.k.a. New Carlisle, Quebec on the Gaspe coast, with my two sisters Betty and Faye. It was a trip of a lifetime – actually the first time the 3 of us have gone down together at the same time, ever: no parents, no children, no ‘significant others’, just the three of us.
We took two days to drive down to the Gaspesie stopping overnight in Riviere du Loup where we rented a lovely 2 bedroom cottage overlooking the St. Lawrence River.

Riviere du Loup sunset

Riviere du Loup sunset

The next day we drove the old highway 132 which we took back in the day before there was a super highway – it was absolutely beautiful and worth not rushing to get ‘home’. Along the way, we stopped at the old ‘wishing well’ which still houses the spring that we always visited as kids on the old road through the Matepedia Valley.  We had reserved a room down home at the Maison Blanche that had a little kitchenette in it to help us prepare simple meals and snacks. After settling in, we ventured down to The Green, a park on Chaleur Bay. The boardwalk was impressive, the park was in great shape, and the cantine was still open. Every time we went out of our hotel room, we drove down to The Green to see if anyone was there – and there usually was someone we knew………… and were related to!

Cousin Maureen and Murray

Cousin Maureen and Murray

Our relatives were SO generous and thoughtful by inviting us for lunches and dinners! Of course, we had to visit Maureen and Murray Sinclair first. My cousin Maureen and her sisters Carolyn and Verna were especially close to us girls – when we were growing up, they came to visit us by train many times or we went down home and hung out with them every single day. Maureen and Murray even stayed with us for a time when they came up to Hamilton to live for a while. Maureen’s great home cooking was the perfect lunch after travelling for a few days. She even took care of the painting from my Grandparents’ farm that I did in 1967 for them – after the farm was sold, Maureen looked after the painting and to returned it to me this year.
My cousin Dale and her husband Dave also had us over for a scrumptious lunch one day after taking us on a tour of the renovated homestead (a.k.a. Mom’s). After my Grandmother and uncles died, they purchased the family farm and renovated the old house – it’s truly beautiful. I especially love that they reused the original banister post that I used to lovingly hug when I was a child – it’s my favourite part of the whole house. I’m pleased that the homestead has become a working farm again with a huge garden, pigs, and chickens.

Up home at "Moms"

Up home at “Moms”

My Auntie Mary had us over for supper twice – once for a ‘boiled dinner’ and another time for her famous scallops and fish. Oh my goodness, it was delicious. Then she took us back the four miles to the old homestead site where my Grandmother was raised and told us stories of the incredibly hard life they lived back in the early 1900’s on their amazing farm. Even a family friend, Dolly, had us over for a delicious cod fish dinner.
A trip down home wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Perce Rock. We three sisters went down to Perce for lunch, an hour and a half drive each way through majestic scenery along the coast.

Perce Rock

Perce Rock

We discovered that the town of New Carlisle still pretty well shuts down after supper. But we also realized that the Tim Horton’s in the next town of Paspebiac is the place to go if you want to see anyone! We were sitting there on Saturday evening when a gentleman and his wife came up to us and asked “are you Dave’s girls?”. Incredibly, he had seen our picture of lunch at Maureen’s on her Facebook page. This man, John, had known my father when he was very young – in fact, my Dad lived with his family before he joined the army in 1939! John told us all kinds of stories about my Dad and his family – we never knew anything about my Dad’s youth.

Window Dad broke 1930s

Window Dad broke 1930s

My Dad once told John that he used to rock him in his cradle. It was a real pleasure to meet John and Anne. They even took us to John’s parents’ old homestead and showed us around – describing antics my Dad used to do like doing a flip and touching the kitchen ceiling with his feet or showing us the dormer storm window that my Dad broke and fixed one year, still in it’s original condition fixed with putty.  John showed us the now vacant lot where the house my Dad was born in used to stand.  We found out that my Dad didn’t always live by the railroad tracks as we had thought; they first lived on Craig Street (go figure) right behind John’s farm. I felt comforted knowing that my Dad spent some of his childhood in a loving family home helping on the farm in return for room and board in a home where he was really wanted. It was fascinating! And a real highlight of our trip.

Beach

Beach

We left already planning our next trip down home in two years for our Auntie Alberta’s 90th birthday celebration.

 

 

 

Tribute to Chris

On this day six years ago, Sunday March 2nd, 2008, our beloved Chris passed from this world.  This year, my tribute to Chris is in the form of photos over the years.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so please enjoy:

Our backyard wedding

Our backyard wedding

“I do” – our backyard wedding with friends and family.

vacation

vacation

Holidays at Perce Rock, Gaspe Quebec.

Newborn Nellie

Newborn Nellie

Chris was a gentle, loving soul.

Building the playhouse

Building the playhouse

Chris was able to build or fix anything.

Waterskiing in April

Water skiing in April

He was always happy to fulfill dreams like taking Robin water skiing as soon as the ice melted on the river in April…….. brrrr.

Teaching Melvin to skate

Teaching Melvin to skate

He had tons of patience.  He worked hard to make a skating rink on the river for everyone to enjoy.

Building our Garage

Building our Garage

Chris was always eager to teach the kids to build or renovate.

Playing pool in Garage

Playing pool in Garage

He even finished our garage into a play room for Saturday night hockey, pool, darts, and cards.

Chris and Kristi

Chris and Kristi

Even though he was big and strong, he never dismissed affection.

Collecting shells

Collecting shells

He would spend hours and hours doing the simple things like collecting shells and beach glass on long walks along the beach down home.

Fancy Restaurant

Fancy Restaurant

Always fun

Underwater

Underwater

and playful

"Santa"

“Santa”

and giving.

Grampie with Kalia & Livi

Grampie with Kalia & Livi

And he was proud to be a Grampie.

Chris and Yukon

Chris and Yukon

Chris loved his dog – the only one he ever had.

Chris

Chris

We will always remember Chris

Beautiful British Columbia

I am out on the west coast of Canada in beautiful British Columbia!  I arrived in Vancouver a few days ago to begin my visit with my 3 grown sons Robin, Taylor, and Marty and their “significant others”.

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Gardens

We started off the day with a visit to the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Gardens that I’d dreamed of visiting ever since Marty went there 5 years ago while living in Vancouver   (http://vancouverchinesegarden.com/ ).   This amazing garden, surrounded by a stone wall similar to the Forbidden City I guess, is located in downtown Vancouver and takes up about a city block.  It’s absolutely free to get in and once inside, you are transported to another world of giant bamboos, stone bridges and pathways, trees, ponds and plenty of large Koi, turtles, frogs, and birds.  It was a great respite from the summer heat that finally invaded Vancouver.

Rob and Marty holding A Gunnera Manicata leaf

Next we went over to the Queen Elizabeth Park   http://vancouver.ca/parks/parks/queenelizabeth/  to walk about the quarry gardens – don’t my kids know just what I love!!  We ended up at the Bloedel Conservatory where we had a breathtaking view of the city.  You cannot believe the variety of plants there including the gigantic Gunnera Manicata or giant rhubarb and hundreds of trees and plants – again FREE.  We celebrated the day with a tasty barbeque and Greek salad, all lovingly made by Jeannette.

Shannon Falls

The next day, we set out on a road trip for Whistler, home of the 2010 Winter Olympics.  The ‘Sea-to-Sky Highway’ took us along the Howe Sound inlet up to Squamish.  This fiord-like waterway became a beautiful green from the glacial waters which drained into it from the mountains.  Of course, my kids knew just where all the awesome spots to stop were:  our first destination was the incredible ShannonFalls where a majestic waterfall poured out of a mountaintop and gracefully crashed into the rocks below where we were standing.  The cool mist felt really refreshing on the unusually hot 28 degree celsius day.  After a quick pit stop in Squamish for a caffeine boost (not me) at Starbucks, we went on up the highway towards Whistler.  I was quite disillusioned to see all the big city giant corporate ‘fast food’ places in this previously peaceful ‘out of the way’ town of Squamish.  One of the drawbacks of the Olympics I guess…..

Brandywine Falls River Gorge

Up the road a ways, we turned off to stop at BrandywineFalls.  This time, we walked along the mossy forest path to the top of the falls and walked abit further along to watch the water cascading down to the gorge and on towards the ocean in the distance through mountain valleys.  A B S O L U T E L Y     A M A Z I N G !!!

Whistler

Soon, we arrived in Whistler, the little town that morphed into a tourist attraction itself for the Winter Olympics in 2010.  After a pita lunch, my son pointed out the main ski hills of Blackcomb and Whistler, the ‘Head to Head’ gondola ride, and some pricy accommodations.  We headed back to Vancouver, a 2 hour drive, and stopped along the way at a few viewing areas and a mountain called “The Barrier  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Barrier ”   –  many millions of years ago, a volcano erupted, the lava flowed, formed a dam for a lake, then the glacier melted leaving this precipitous cliff of unstable rock debris which can landslide down at any time with catastrophic consequences.  We watched some rock land-sliding as we stood there watching, so our visit was short!!

After arriving back in Vancouver, Robin cooked a delicious roast chicken supper with a side of potatoes, carrots, and onions topped with Mom’s gravy.  Then we took this supper to the beach to enjoy while we watched the kayakers, sailboats, swimmers, and paddle-surfers as the sun set over the ocean.   AAAHHHH……. What a life – it was pretty sweet.

Supper on the Beach

So now I’m waiting for the BC Ferry at HorseshoeBay, Vancouver to go to Vancouver Island to see my sisters for more adventures!

To be continued………

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