Thursday, February 14, 2019

Down Under and Home Again

It has been quiet here on my front porch for good reason. I have been ‘down under’ for the past while.



When I was still in my teens my parents took their first overseas trip, and that was to Australia.  They came home with tales of their adventure and a sheep skin that I still have. (Oh, and photos in the form of slides.  Many reels!)  I hoped that one day I would have the opportunity to visit the country as well, and some 47 years later it happened!

We flew Vancouver to Sydney direct, a 15 hour flight that wasn’t nearly as bad as I had feared. A little reading, a little movie watching, a little eating, a little snoozing. Repeat.  And again.  All on Air Canada economy class.  We lost a day on the way to Australia and found it in the return home.  Funny how that works.



We spent the first week on an ‘Australian Outback Tour’...which took us to Cairns, the Great  Barrier Reef, Alice Springs and Ayers Rock.  It was summer ‘down under’ and we now know what 43C feels like.  The seven hottest places in the world were all in Australia while we were there!





Once back in Sydney, we boarded a cruise ship for s 12-day cruise around New Zealand. We visited ports-of-call on both the North and South Island...


...Fiordland National Park where we viewed wildlife, waterfalls and glacier-carved fiords from our deck.

The cruise ended back in Sydney where it began.  We decided to stay one more week and spend some time on the Gold Coast. 


It is always the people we connect with along the way that make the journey memorable. We got to know many wonderful folk who were on the outback tour with us...mostly from the USA and UK.  Though we will likely never meet again, we are left with great memories.

And then there were the friends we traveled with. 


We have traveled with Dave and Janet since 1973, when we went on a missions trip together to Guadeloupe and Haiti.  Since that time we have have visited many places together...including Africa, London, Paris, Iceland, China, Israel, Hawaii and California.    Our friendship has survived business ventures, building projects, raising our families, school carpools, and all those many trips we have taken together.  They are forever friends and so easy to travel with.
I have a niece living in Brisbane, and our plan was to meet up with her at the end of our travels.  Unfortunately, she has not been well for some time and our planned rendezvous did not happen.  What a disappointment for us all!  My heart goes out to her as she deals with debilitating back issues and chronic pain.


We were however able to connect with a few other folks along the way.  Karen and Carla grew up in our community, picked raspberries for us in their teens and also played ball on a ladies ball team with me.  How could it be that both sisters married Aussies and have made their home in Sydney?  Karen invited us all for dinner one night; Carla and her family were there as well.  It was so nice to see them again, and meet their families. We won't soon forget our eel-fishing adventure in the creek next to their place that afternoon...or the lovely evening around the table.


In  Auckland, we met up with Sandy who was my next-door neighbour as a kid.  She moved to New Zealand when she got married and we lost touch until last year.  When she heard we would be in her part of the world, she volunteered to be our tour guide in Auckland. 



What a fabulous time we had with her and Ian. 


We arrived home yesterday to the aftermath of a winter storm. The first order of business after leaving the airport, was to dealing with a flat tire a mile or so down the road.  Thankfully we were back on the road before long.  The sun was shining and the storm had just passed through, but things had not been so calm earlier on.  Cars and trucks were strewn along the median of the freeway.

 
Not everyone got where they were going!  We were thankful to be home safe and sound once more.  We found our way in through the garage, and today we shoveled a path to the front door.  


I'll be sharing a few 'tales from the trail' as I unpack my photos.


 
Thanks for stopping by!
 




Tuesday, January 15, 2019

January ~ mid-month edition

It's a new year...
and though only a few weeks have passed by so much has happened.


It has been very mild (and wet)...
and the snow has stayed up on the mountains.


The bald eagles have settled in the neighbourhood for the winter.
I counted twenty-eight perched in the grove beside the road one day as I walked.
(My i-phone zoom is not quite up to 'counting eagles'.)


This one is perched at the top of a tree next to 'my front porch' today...
enjoying the view and the sunshine.


Family arrived from Iowa, Texas and  Manitoba...
and we gathered around one table or another last week.


Stories were told...


...and re-told.


We met for the last time in the 'party room' of  Garden Park Tower...
Dad and Marge's home for the past six and a half years.


While they were all here...
Marge passed away peacefully.

She is now walking, running and rejoicing in heaven...
with her loving Saviour.

She suffered a major stroke several months ago and shared with me that she wished she could have 'gone home' then.
She was looking forward to walking again...
and running...
and playing softball.
  
She would pitch again, just like she once did. 
I said I would play first base...
just like I once did.
One day we will do that!

She was a loving wife and best friend to my dad for the last 18 years...
and we treasure all the good memories. 

She was a loyal Blue Jays and Canucks fan...
 Rook champion...
his travelling companion and good listener. 
She will be missed.



My sister Kathy brought me a Christmas gift when she was here last week...
a beautifully handcrafted table runner.

The message spelled out so clearly is not only for Christmas but for all year long.


“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”~ Romans 15:13 

Monday, December 31, 2018

December Remembered

We are about to turn the page to 2019.  
Can another year really be over already?
I am so thankful for the many blessings of the year gone by


 For now, let me highlight a few happenings of the past month.


We began the Christmas season with a MGCC celebration hosted by Terry and Lovella. 

As you can tell...it was most special!
  
Fabulous food, beautiful decor...
along with the warmth and laughter of good friends...
 made it a most memorable evening. 


Earlier this month, we took in the Christmas Market in Vancouver (under umbrellas)...
had dinner on the waterfront and enjoyed a lovely concert at the Orpheum theatre with friends. 


Another evening...another Christmas celebration.  
Our small group was invited for dinner...
and our hosts went out of their way to make it special!


There were school concerts...
(Lucy sang her heart out!)


...and Christmas violin recitals.


Then there was the 'Irish Christmas' community concert...
 featuring a youth orchestra and an Irish dance school.


We took Maggie, Ranen and Lucy...
who enjoyed both the concert and the snacks after!


December was a busy month.
We moved dad from his apartment to a suite in a retirement community in Chilliwack.
His cooking days are over!
He can now sit down at the table and be served.


He's quite content in his new little suite...
 reclining in his chair and watching re-runs from yesteryear.

And then...
there was Christmas.

We took dad along to the Christmas Eve service and to our place for an evening of food, fun and games.



In the morning...
the family came for brunch.


And after...
gift opening fun!

What used to be so chaotic...
was really calm and quiet this year.

They are all growing up!


These three had worked up a special Christmas surprise for us.


Late afternoon on Christmas Day...
we went for a walk on the trails at Cheam Wetlands.
It was a lovely finale to Christmas Day 2018!


We had  December weather that was 'for the birds'!

They quite liked it...
and so did we.

We had the warmest December in years...
with lots of rain and sunshine...
and no snow (to speak of).
I enjoy watching the little birds through the kitchen window...


...but clouds of ducks settling in on the fields are not a welcome sight!
We encourage them to move on. :)


As the last day of of the year draws to a close...
the sun is shining on snow-capped peaks...
and the skies are blue.

What will tomorrow bring?

We do not know what lies ahead...
we can count on God's faithfulness!

Happy New Year!