Saturday, February 27, 2010

olympic wrap-up....

We've been...we've seen...we've cheered...we've immersed ourselves in the excitement that was the 2010 Olympics. It will all be coming to an end soon...but it has been the experience of a lifetime. Hosting the Olympics has made us proud of our country...and has fostered goodwill between many nations...something which has been so special to be a part of.

Yesterday we made the trip out to the acclaimed Richmond Oval to watch long track speed skating. When we bid on these tickets nearly two years was as much about seeing the venue as watching the event.

The Richmond Oval is situated along the banks of the Fraser River...not far from the Vancouver International Airport. The glassed northern side of the building provides spectacular views of the river and the North Shore Mountains on a clear day. Yesterday was an umbrella day! I came with my new Olympic 2010 black umbrella...and I came home with NO umbrella. Umbrellas were not allowed inside the venue...and could be retrieved from security on exiting. It seemed someone wanted a souvenir...and they are now enjoying my umbrella.

Back to the oval....the roof of the building was designed in the shape of a heron's wing...though one would have to see it from the air to take it all in. The roof is one of the longest clear spans in North America...

...and includes one million board feet of B.C. pine-beetle kill wood linked together in a way to create a rippled effect. This one of a kind roof...and specifically the use of the pine beetle wood...resulted in the Oval receiving an award of excellence in architectural innovation by the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.

After the Olympics, the Richmond Oval will be converted to a multi-use sport facility that will include two Olympic-sized ice rinks...up to eight hardwood ball-sport courts...a gymnasium...a 200 meter track...a rubberized turf area...and a high performance centre for elite athletes. Think BIG! The speed-skating oval will be covered with removable flooring and could still be used for competition. It will be a lasting legacy of the Olympic games of 2010.

The specific event we had tickets for...was the team pursuit qualification finals...both men and women. Though I took many photos...of all the different teams...and they are all amazing skaters...I'll leave you with a few pic's of my favorite teams. Those were the ones dressed in red...of course!

These three went on to win the first ever men's medal in speed skating for Canada...and a gold at that. We watched both the men's quarter-final and semi-final heat...and the Canadian guys managed to break the standing Olympic record both times. They skated as speeds that are hard to imagine. I'm so glad they were able to go all the way today.

Then the girls had their fun to see some of Canada's top female skaters on the ice...all at one time. Kristina Groves, Christine Nesbitt, and Brittany Schussler...and our hero from the last Olympics...Cindy Klassen. Cindy did not skate in the heat we watched.

Canada was paired with Team USA...

...and ended the race 2/100ths of a second behind. Despite an amazing skate...their team pursuit dream ended with this race.

Though the stands were predominantly red....

...there was a large contingency of orange throughout the venue. Speed skating is a Dutch favorite...and Team Netherlands had an enthusiastic and noisy fan club. The Holland Heineken House is situated nearby...and is the home away from home for all Dutch athletes and fans. And guess how they get around?

Holland's national railway sent over 400 bikes to be used by athletes and officials of the Heineken House during the no cost. They are using the same mode of transportation to which they are accustomed back home...and many are trying out the new Richmond bike trail. They are easily spotted...they all wear orange!

While we were in the neighbourhood...we stopped by Richmond O-Zone...watched families skating on the outdoor ice rink...and did a quick tour of B.C. Street.

The Richmond City Hall is worth stopping by...

...just to see their display of floating red cranberries. Cranberries represent the largest agricultural crop of the area...and are a part of the 'paint the town red' campaign. In the park next door are the Olympic rings...also filled with floating cranberries...and a huge maple leaf of formed with a sea of cranberries.

Tomorrow will see the games come to a close...and we will be left with only memories...good ones.

The view from 'my front porch' will be very different for the next while...and will look more like the picture you see on my header today. I will be taking a blogging break for awhile...but when I return...I will be giving away a pair of the coveted red Olympic mittens. It seems hubby doesn't covet the ones that were intended for him. Leave me a comment...tell me what you enjoyed most of the winter games...and I'll have a draw once I'm back. Should your name be will be in good over three million pairs have been sold.

And if you don't really care to wear mittens...they work as foot warmers as well...I noticed!

I'll be missing you...

Friday, February 26, 2010

about town 2010...

This is not about athletes or venues...but about Olympic trivia...and some of the people behind the scenes...all part of the 2010 Winter Games celebration.

Kudos to the volunteers! I'm thinking it would be next to impossible to get lost in Vancouver during the games... they are giving directions at every corner along the way.

And they all have a smile...

...and sometimes even a joke. Now if I could only remember what it was!

No matter what country they may come from...

...they wear their colours proudly.

We had a little wait to be seated in a restaurant...but passed the time away chatting with this couple from Cologne, Germany. They spoke English perfectly...but we had to try out our pathetic German on them...just for fun! They were having the time of their life...and vowed to one day return to Canada.

Next to Canadian seemed the Russian Olympic gear is the most popular. Russia will be hosting the next winter Olympics...and so they are in Vancouver in full force...checking it all out...and promoting their upcoming games.

Oh...and trying out the hotdogs as well!

There has been a little controversy about the seems some are not that fond of the green bouquets that the athletes are receiving. I...on the other hand...quite like them! And I really like the story behind them. They are made of green hypericum berries, green spider mums and leatherleaf fern, monkey grass and aspidstra leaves....hand-tied with a simple royal blue ribbon.

The bouquets come from Just Beginnings Flowers in Surrey, British Columbia. Their entry was chosen from 58 contending florists. June Strandberg, the bouquet designer and owner of Just Beginnings, teaches floristry to women who have left prison, are recovering from addiction, or have been victims of violence. She believes it is her work with these correctional programs that secured the Olympic contract.

For the Vancouver Olympics the florists made 1,800 be presented to the medal-winning athletes in the Olympics and Paralympics. The flowers were chosen to represent British Columbia and Canada (are all flowers that are grown here), and are intended as keepsakes for the athletes.

And the entertainment at every corner is amazing. I have no idea where this band hailed from...but they kept us entertained while we waited to enter our venue on Sunday. The Sardis high school drum band...from our community...was chosen to play at Whistler during the games...and have been a huge hit. We have seen their story on television several times now...and they have invitations pouring in from far and wide. What an opportunity of a lifetime for these students.

And then there are the zamboni machines. The ones we saw did a fine job...with no meltdowns! It's not until the ice-cleaning machines malfunction that one realizes how important they are to the games.

Today we are off to the new Richmond speed skating oval...with tickets in hand. I'm looking forward to seeing the venue...since a good family friend was very involved in it's design.

He also designed the kiosk that stands in front of Canada Place...the welcome centre.

The games are nearing an end...the red mittens will soon be packed away...

...and all the buses on the road will soon be heading back to Wisconsin...or wherever their journey began. But today...we will enjoy!

Have a wonderful day...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

somethings burnin'...

With the spring weather of the recent past...
the grands thought a wiener roast might be a good idea.

And so we made plans...and they came.

Just a wee cooking fire...out in the country...on a Saturday night.

What joy!

Ranen thought a wiener roast required dressing like a princess.

And so she did!

Do you remember wiener roasts from your childhood?

I do...and I think they will as well.

Those are good memories.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

a date to celebrate...

It is Friday night...a mild almost spring evening in the valley. Friends stop by to pick us up...we are on our way out for supper. There is much to talk we are going on a Hawaiian vacation together in a week or two...and there are plans to make. Two country blocks from home...all talk and planning came to an abrupt end.

The last words I hear are..."Look out. He's not stopping!" And he never!

That was at this very intersection...fifteen years ago today. A truck hit us broadside...the driver later claiming he had not seen the stop sign. Life as we knew it changed at that instant. The car we were riding in came to rest in the field...and all was deathly quiet...for a moment. I thought maybe we were going to be OK. But then I looked over at my hubby...and I knew he was not OK. I can't even describe the happenings of that marathon evening...but hubby was critically injured and transferred to the intensive care spinal cord unit of Vancouver General Hospital by ambulance. The family was notified. Our oldest son was studying at UBC in Vancouver and met the incoming ambulance at the hospital. Son #2 had left for a weekend with friends in Calgary that afternoon...and when he arrived, he got the message that he needed to return home immediately...and so he began the 10 hour drive back. Our daughter was performing in her high school drama that week...and two of her aunts met her after that evening's performance to give her the news. Whether or not he would survive...or ever walk again...were questions we had no answers for that night.

One thing I knew...the cows still needed to be milked twice a day...and I had no idea what was happening in the barn. There were arrangements that needed to be made...before 5 o'clock the next morning. Our fourteen-year old neighbour...who milked for us on occasion...was my hero!

Sometime in the wee hours of the morning...we learned that hubby had a blow-out fracture in his lower spine...and head injuries. There was no quick cure for either. Jeremy arrived home from Calgary the next day...quit his job...and has been farming ever since.

It was a long and painful road to recovery. After a few weeks in hospital...he was released to my a body cast. I was terrified. Nursing was never one of my aspirations...and I'm not much of a nurse. He wasn't always the best patient either! Those days, weeks and months are rather a blur...and included rounds of appointments with specialists and therapists and insurance company representatives...and keeping the farm going. It was many months before we went out for dinner...and when we did, he could not sit through a whole meal. It was summer before he drove again...and only then that he realized the repercussions of heads injuries. He had no idea how to get from Point A to Point B...a route he had driven many times. But slowly life returned to normal...a new normal.

That all happened fifteen years ago today! We never went out for dinner that night...we never went on our Hawaiian vacation for many years...we never went anywhere for a very long time. I shed tears on occasion...and felt sorry for both of us...and cried out to God to be my strength. He always heard...and answered in ways I can't even begin to recount. Friends and neighbours offered their help...and somehow we kept things going on the farm. Hubby is doing just fine...deciding long ago that he would rather work out on the farm than do those ridiculous exercises he was supposed to do. He lives life one day at a time...knowing each day is a gift from God.

February 24, 1995 is a date I would sooner forget...but it needs to be remembered. Today is the fifteenth anniversary of 'the intersection that put us on a new course'...and so we mark the occasion. We will have a special an important hockey game...and be thankful for all the moments we have shared over these years.

There have been mountain-top experiences...and some really tough times...and many ordinary everyday moments of life...and I am so thankful that we have been able to share them. And for that reason...this is a date to celebrate!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

it's her day!

The year was 1950...the date was February 23
...when Bill and Helen welcomed their firstborn into their family.

Beverley Helen only child for two years...

...and then my big sister.

We had a lot of good times together back in the day.

We dressed the same (not that we were given any option!)...
had tea parties and built forts...
and shared neighbourhood friends.

We shared a bedroom...and later a car...and lots of laughs.
We milked cows together...picked berries...and read books late into the night.

She was my artist when I needed one...
my seamstress in my teen years...
and my hair stylist (though there wasn't much stylin' happening in the sixties!)
Then came the seventies...and we went our separate ways.

She graduated from nursing...

...and moved to faraway Texas to pursue her career.

Bev...through all these years you have always been just a phone call or a flight away.
I have been to Texas on occasion...
you have been home regularly.

Ten years ago today...
we (your favorite four sisters) showed up at your doorstep unannounced...
and gave you the shock of your life.

We spent the weekend at South Padre Island...
helping you celebrate your 50th birthday...
and made memories to last a lifetime.
(Do you remember that? Smile.)
What fun we had!

For the record...we won't be coming tonight...
to help you celebrate your 60th...
much as we would like to.

But I'm sending you my best wishes for a very happy birthday.

With her boys ~ Len, Bev, Ricky

I'll leave you with a photo taken at Whistler last summer...
somehow appropriate for a birthday celebration during the Olympics of 2010!

May the journey ahead hold many good things...
may you be given the wisdom to meet every challenge that you face...
and may you continue to put your trust in God.

Happy Birthday!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Olympic stars on ice...

While most people that I knew were gathered around the big screen watching the Canada vs. USA hockey game...

...we were at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver taking in the ice-dance figure skating event. We were definitely in the right was a wonderful evening!

And having the Canadian duo of Virtue and Moir take the top spot nearly brought down the house...and also took a little of the 'ouch' from the outcome of last night's hockey game. We will be watching them tonight...and hoping they come through with a gold for Canada.

Coming in second...were Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the USA.

Placing third were Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabilin...the number one ranked pair from Russia. They put on a nice show...though I wasn't that fond of their costumes or the music they skated to.

Poirier and Crone of Canada.

Christina and William Beier of Germany.

A brother and sister duo representing Japan...Chris and Cathy Reed.

From China... Huang and Seng.

Skating for Great Britain...Penny Coombes and Nicholas Buckland.

Skating for Russia.

Placing fifth in ice dance...and representing Italy.

Crowd favorites...from the USA...Samuelson and Bates.

I so enjoyed this young couple from Russia...she is only nineteen and he is twenty.

Skating for Great American country muisic...were brother and sister Sinead and John Kerr. They placed eighth last night.

Representing France...

...and Israel. By the time I uploaded my pic's...I had a hard time putting names or countries with some of the I'll leave them nameless until I've done my research!

They all did a fabulous job....and we had a most enjoyable three and a half hours!

It was fun watching them as their scores were announced. All their training and hard work...compressed into a few numbers. And they were all such good sports!

We arrived over the period of a few hours...under clear blue skies. We all left at once...under the cover of darkness. And we were all smiling!