Thursday, April 30, 2009

what next?

It wasn't so long ago that I sat at a red light...behind a sassy little car...and realized I was being sent a message... ...right across the top of the license plate.

Now I'm not really sure what the message was...since I was too busy looking for my camera...and then the light turned green.

The scrolling digital licence plate frames are the new high tech version of yesterday's bumper stickers...and slightly easier to change on a whim, I would think. I'm hoping that the message for today will read, "Go...Canucks...Go!"

I was in the big city on the weekend...and had a bite to eat at a lovely new Cactus Club Restaurant. The food and service were great...but it's the restrooms that really made an impression! I thought I had walked into a showroom when I entered the ladies room...

...and on the door of the washroom stall was a flatscreen TV for my viewing pleasure. Well, I think it was more about the advertisements that were flashing across the screen than about keeping me entertained! It looks like they were trying to sell me a car...but I never bought in.

I don't know about you...but I'm OK without all the techno gadgets. Do we need televisions in restroom stalls...or flashing bumper stickers?

Do they still make blackboards and chalk? I kind of liked the good old ways.

Have a wonderful day...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

music and art in my backyard...

I'm not one to go to art shows...or world-class musical productions for the most part...but when the opportunity arises right in my back yard...I take it all in!

Out in the country...not far from our farm...a sculptor has been very busy over the past while. Last year...I took you over to see his eagles. Since then...he has completed a huge work of art which dwarfs the eagles...a Chinese Imperial water dragon.

Rather about 35 feet in length and 12 feet tall...and consisting of more than 12,000 individual pieces. This humungous work of art was unveiled at an open house over the I stopped by to take a peek. Oh's for sale for $10,000,000 (count those zeros)...but peeking and snapping photos are free!

I had another 'creative art experience' over the that I won't be forgetting anytime soon. It was a black-tie event that was not advertised to the public...a fundraiser for the Mennonite Educational Institute.

Ben Heppner performs at the most world's most celebrated venues...but on Saturday night he was part of an intimate concert at the Grand Ballroom of the Wall Centre in Vancouver. The concert was dubbed "Songs from the Heart"...and included performances by Vancouver Chamber Choir, Pacific Mennonite Children's Choir, MEI Chamber Singers, and Festival Orchestra. It was an evening of wonderful music...with the highlight being the world-renowned tenor...Ben Heppner.

He sang a few pieces in that he normally sings in the fifth hour of an opera performance...and a few traditional songs. The grand finale was the performance of How Great Thou Art...sung by Ben Heppner...together with the three choirs and orchestra. It was music that touched the soul!

I was thinking that a little art...and a little music...go a long way in brightening up the day!

Have a wonderful day...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

on this day...

On April 28, 2001 our daughter married the love of her life.

It was a commitment to face life together...and to look to God for wisdom in whatever situation would come along.

Time passes quickly...and eight years have brought about many changes.

Heidi and have stood together over these years...looking out for the interests of each other.

Those of us who supported you on your special day...are still standing by you...with love and prayer.

It has been said that marriage is not about gazing into each others eyes...but about gazing together into the future...of following your dreams as a team.

But I was thinking...if you feel like gazing into each others eyes over dinner tonight...why not bring Maelyn over here?

Happy eighth anniversay!

(...that would be your mother)

Monday, April 27, 2009

the professional driver comes of age!

Meet Gord...who we hope is having the time of his life today! We've known Gord forever...and I could share more than a few stories...but we still want to be friends when this day is over...and so I will keep it short.

Elmer (hubby) and Gord attended school together...and were both about equally fond of classrooms and text books! Most of their memories have absolutely nothing to do with studying...and a whole lot more to do with wheels. Early on, their adventures were on bicycles. Where the eastern hillsides are now being developed...they explored and found the shortest route down on two wheels. It wasn't long before they graduated to cars...and I still have fond memories of Gord's first car...a Corvaire. He was most generous about giving rides...and I'm sure my first visit to the A&W drive-in happened in that car. I also recall a MVA in downtown Abbotsford...involving that same Corvaire and Elmer's Pontiac. That one was a little hard to explain!

After the Corvaire, came the Camaro, a GTO, The Judge, and soon I lost count. The cars came and went...but in Gord's life it was always about driving. During the day he drove vehicles with many wheels...and many gears...and at night he had his cars.

Soon we were married...and Gord was in the wedding party...always the true friend. He came over often...and our kids called him Uncle Gord from the get-go. Many years passed, and Gord decided that maybe there was more to life than cars and trucks...and he found his soulmate. They settled down in our neighbourhood...and we have remained good friends through these many years. Gord comes to the farm often...and is always there if we need a helping hand (or a professional driver)...and our granddaughters called him 'Gerd' from the time they began to talk.

We have travelled to many places together (Guadeloupe and Haiti, Scotch Creek, the Sunshine Coast, the Olympic Peninsula, the Oregon Coast, and the Gulf name a few) and have many good memories of our times together. Gord has been a true friend...through the ups and downs of life.

Today he turns sixty! He must be planning a very quiet celebration...since we have not heard a thing about it. But just to be sure that the occasion does not go by un-noticed...feel free to send Gord your best wishes.

Gord...wishing you many blessings today and in all the miles that lie ahead!

Happy sixtieth!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

draw near...

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
James 4:8

My dad has been in the hospital for some time now...and all of last week he was in isolation. What that meant was that we couldn't get near him without donning masks and gloves. I took Ryder along with me one day...and he thought it was all quite humorous...wearing a costume to see great-grandpa. His amusement soon wore off...and the mask and gloves were discarded. We all figured out that it isn't much fun visiting through protective gear. It's really hard to converse...and you feel quite stand-offish.

I was reminded that God also wants a relationship with us...without all the stuff that gets in the way. I'm all in favour of throwing off the mask...and the gloves...and drawing close to our Maker. It's what He wants.


Friday, April 24, 2009

tulip mania...

Just before the sun set last night, we took a short drive through the countryside to a flower farm out in Rosedale. For the most part, the farm specializes in calla lilies, which are grown in the greenhouse. But this week they are specializing in tulips...

...with all proceeds going to the B.C. Cancer Foundation and the Chilliwack Hospice Society. The fundraiser is the project of a father and his two children who lost their wife and mother last May to cancer. We picked a nice bouquet...which may be brightening up a hospital room soon...and we enjoyed our tiptoe through the tulips.

Next week I may be taking a drive a little further east...where the tulips fields should be in full bloom.

Tulips of the Valley is a 35-acre tulip to the public for two-weeks for self-guided tours. (The photo is from my visit last season.)

And if I have not yet had my fill of tulips...I could always drive south across the border and check out the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. Enjoy the season...and it's blooms!

Have a wonderful weekend...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

cookbooks and jewels...

Not one for vacation souvenirs are usually something useful! And what could be more useful...than a cookbook? Not to mention the hours of perusing pleasure it provides? On the final day of our Caribbean was mentioned that there were cookbooks available for purchase...which included many of the menu items we had been enjoying all week. Well, of course I wanted one...especially if it meant I could be eating that keylime pie at home!

The waiter brought me the cookbook...and asked if I would like to have the executive chef autograph my copy? Why of course! So he took the book back to be autographed...along with the receipt.

I was a little disappointed when I saw the autograph... ...but since Elmer paid for the is addressed to him. He...who has never cooked a thing that would require a has a cookbook in his name. Oh well, I'll get over it!

There are many yummy dishes that I plan to try...but I skipped right over to the dessert section and whipped up the key lime pie.

It's really very simple to prepare...and if you want to check out the recipe, I posted it right here today. I also tried out my new lemon zester that I picked up in Texas...and was quite pleased with my vacation treasures.

Jewels may not be exactly practical...but they are a wonderful keepsake. A blue topaz sailboat...a mystic topaz necklace...and a pendant containing several kinds of amber stones are my souvenirs of our time in the Caribbean.

But just to set the record straight...the very best souvenirs are the memories that were made...time spent with family in a tropical paradise. One of these days I may just post a picture of the souvenir we brought back for dad...who was unable to join us on our family vacation due to illness. He is still in hospital...and our hopes of a speedy recovery are just not materializing.

That's it for today...have a good one!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

out on the trail....

We had the most glorious spring day yesterday...with temperatures reaching record highs. There is much gardening to be done (as in...pulling weeds and digging edges)...and it was the perfect day for doing just that.

If you look at our yard from far enough away you don't actually see the weeds...or the shaggy edges...but when hubby tells me the weeds are beginning to go to seed...I get the message. I reasoned that if I spent the morning working hard out there...I could take the afternoon off and go for a wee bit of a climb.

We parked at the base of the mountain...and walked the trail just as we did last week. We have a routine...

which includes stairs...many of them! Oh yes...and at the top of the stairs we need to do a plank.

Trust me...a simple hike can include all kinds of things I hadn't counted on! Who needs a personal trainer if you go hiking with Marg?

We carried on up the trail...where forest meets subdivision......and quite enjoyed the colours of spring.

It wasn't long and we came upon the second set of stairs...

...101 this time. After discovering we would need a few more hours if we wanted to make it to the top of the mountain...we decided that we would leave that challenge for next time!

As you can see...we weren't exactly in the woods. At the rate the houses are being built on the mountain...there will be more roofs next week.

We weren't the only ones out on the trail yesterday! We met up with a few others......who were out on the campaign trail.

We have a provincial election coming up in a few weeks... ...and one politician was busy putting up signs. Since he happens to be Marg's representative in Victoria...she gave him a little encouragement...before we carried on our way. It seems there is already concern about the date of the provincial election...May 12th. It is quite possible that the Vancouver Canucks may be playing hockey that night...and since British Columbia residents feel quite strongly about supporting their local team...they may just forget about voting. Hockey and politics just don't seem to mix!

Speaking of which...the Vancouver Canucks are going to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. That's for real!

I'm back on the trail this morning...bright and early. I'm off to Abbotsford to visit my dad in the hospital...and pick up farm equipment parts enroute.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

quite a card...

I like to have a supply of cards on that I'm not running around last minute...searching for that perfect card. I keep a box of cards...filed by occasion...all ready to go. My card stock got quite a boost over Christmas...when I received a very special gift from my sister. We have a tradition of making gifts for each other...but as the years roll by...we run a little short on ideas. She came up with a great one...and I so appreciate it!

Kathy is the maker of beautiful cards...and we are often the recipient. This time...I received an entire box of her trademark cards...some for every occasion.

Over the weekend...I was reminded that I needed to send a card to a friend who needs a little encouragement. Off I went to my 'card storehouse' to find the perfect one.

And here's the thing...where it would normally say "Hallmark" on the is blank. The recipient has no idea that my sister spent hours making the card...and likely thinks I am the crafty one. My attempts at making cards have mostly involved gluing a photo onto card stock.

Let me introduce you to another gal who is quite the cardmaker...

...that would be my cousin, Nancy, who lives in Calgary. (Sorry, Nancy...I know the picture wasn't taken yesterday!) Nancy was flowergirl at my sister's wedding a very long time ago...and so I just pulled a photo from the archives. If you check out her blog...Nancy Drew~Scrappin' will be sure to find some of her favorite card creations. If you are into card making...there's an endless supply of ideas over there.

As for me...I will count on others to be so crafty. I'm off to play with pictures on Shutterfly!

Have a great day...

Monday, April 20, 2009

daddy sang bass...

We all know Johnny Cash could really hit those low notes...and I still love to listen to him sing some of those oldie/goldies. But here's what you likely didn't know...I have my own 'Johnny'. Yup...he can reach those low notes as well! I just don't hear him singing nearly as often as in years gone by.

Some of my earliest memories of my hubby go back to the church choir that we once sang in. He sang tenor back in those days...and a good tenor at that. After high school graduation...he went away to school one winter...and discovered he was actually a bass. I'll never forget when he returned...and showed up at choir practise with full intentions of singing bass. Our choir director asked him to please sit with the tenors...but he replied it was bass or nothing. He held his ground...and has been singing bass ever since.

Here's a quartet pic I found in the files from some 37 years ago (hubby on the right)...

...and the funny thing is that same quartet is still called on to sing every so often. (The original baritone's son now sings in his place...and the first tenor has been replaced as well.) They jokingly call themselves the 'funeral quartet'...since they mostly sing at funerals!

Last night, however, they were asked to sing at a non-funeral event......and jumped at the opportunity.

If you look will may even find two guys that bear a slight resemblance to two on the top photo (extreme left...and extreme right).

The crowd was most enthusiastic...and some wondered if they'd be putting out an album soon! (Did I tell you most everyone there was over 50...and well beyond?)

Choirs and quartets seem to be a thing of the past...but it's good to hear the OLD quartet blending their voices once in awhile. I like hearing 'daddy sing bass'...well, I guess he's grandpa now!

Daddy sang bass, mama sang tenor
Me and little brother would join right in there
Singin’ seems to help a troubled soul
One of these days and it won’t be long
I’ll re- join them in a song
I’m gonna join the family circle at the throne.

It's Monday...have a good one!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

brightening my corner...

The Lord has done great things for us...
and we are filled with joy.
Psalm 126:3 NIV

It wasn't all sunshine and blue skies this week. I made many drives through our valley on grey days...but there was always one bright spot along the way. I'm glad they chose a location right next to the freeway as a commercial daffodil operation. There's nothing like a splash of yellow to lighten up the picture!

My dad is still in hospital...feeling somewhat better...but still awaiting the results of many tests. And so I continue to drive that stretch of road...and thank God for every good thing He has given me to enjoy.


Friday, April 17, 2009

public-private partnership...why not?

Our community was one of the last to get a large sports complex...and then a new civic centre...and both were finally built through a public-private partnership. It seems like the perfect solution to me...the community gets the facility without leaving the taxpayer holding the entire bill.

Last year the first public-private acute care hospital was built in British Columbia. The Abbotsford Regional Hospital is largest and most visible partnership of it's kind in the province. The hospital is the size of thirteen football fields...and has a helicopter landing pad for transporting the injured. It opened it's doors last August...on schedule and on budget...and although there seemed to be a lot of controversy surrounding the public-private connection initially...I have heard little or nothing about it since it went into operation.

I've had plenty of chances to get acquainted with the new facilities this past week...since my dad was admitted with complications from pneumonia just before Easter. I figured out right from the get-go that a map would be a good thing. I have no idea how the staff find their way around! Knowing that his room number is 3020 is not good enough...there are lots of those, it seems. Which wing was I looking for?

The hospital is light and airy...and immediately upon entering, I found myself in this huge atrium. It somehow doesn't have the clinical feel and smell that one assoicates with hospitals.

In smelled rather like Starbucks...and for good reason!

I reasoned that room 3020 must be on the third floor...and so I took the stairs (I was thinking it felt rather like the cruise ship...and so adhered to my 'no elevator' policy!). I found room 3020...but was apparently on the wrong ward. Several football fields later...I found another 3020...

...and there was Dad. He was so grateful for his unending supply of oxygen...the easier it was to tell stories. And Marge was at his bedside...listening!

I could not believe the size of his room...and was thinking it must have been intended for several patients...but that is not the case. Nearly all rooms in the new hospital are private...with very large washrooms. This is the modern trend...not only for patient comfort...but to control and contain contagious diseases, such as SARS. He thinks he is in a five-star hotel...being waited on hand and foot. And having a full line-up of sports channels on the screen right in front of almost more than he could have hoped for. Spending time in the hospital becomes bearable if you can have the Blue Jays and the Canucks there with you!

After six weeks of struggling with seems dad is on the mend once again. We hope he will be well enough to return home soon...but until then, he will enjoy his care and lodging and our newest and best hospital. I think I'm all in favour of public-private partnerships!

Have a great weekend...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ports of Call

Our seven day Texaribbean cruise had three ports of call along the way. Not only did we vacation at a five-star floating resort...we got to wake up with a different view every morning.

Our first stop was Cozumel...where many took the opportunity to book a shore excursion to the Mayan ruins. Since we had been to the ruins previously, we decided to have a beach day.

It included snorkeling...but my snorkel gear stayed beside the chaise lounge for the day...since the murky waters didn't look too conducive to viewing fish. But the view from the shore was quite lovely...

...we watched kayaks and sailboats

...and parasailers.

The following morning I awoke in Georgetown, Grand Cayman. Now this was a little piece of paradise!

We went ashore by tender boat and took a short sight-seeing tour...before settling in at Seven Mile Beach for the remainder of the day. Grand Cayman is all about banks...and beaches! Many of the banks had most familiar Scotiabank, Royal Bank of Canada and HSBC. With a population of less than 40,000 people...the 250 banks should serve the population quite nicely. My nephew (who remained behind in Winnipeg) had requested that rather than bringing him back a souvenir, my sister should open a Grand Cayman bank account for him. She hopes he'll settle for the wad of Grand Cayman Island currency she brought back on his behalf.

Our island tour included a stop at Hell....

...which is the site of a group of weird limestone rock formations. It looks rather bleak...and is about half the size of a football field.

The little post office here is the perfect place from which to mail postcards back home. Who could we think of that would get a kick out of receiving a postcard from Hell? Why...Pastor Ron, of course. We'll see if he ever gets it...since I knew the address...but not the postal code.

Seven Mile beach was absolutely perfect.

We had turquoise waters...white sand...and the beach to ourselves.

I'd go back to Grand Cayman anytime!

Our last port of call was Montego Bay, Jamaica. We decided to take a shore excursion which took the better part of the day...and gave us a good tour of Jamaica. Let's just say, I won't be promoting any vacations to Jamaica from what I observed.

The highlight of our daytrip was our visit to Dunn River Falls. We knew that we were to come prepared to get wet...but I had full intentions of taking my camera with me. At the very last moment, we realized our hike was not on a path alongside the falls...but UP the actual waterfall. I quickly rented a locker where I could leave my camera and wallet...

...and joined the group hiking up the falls. What a fun time we had!

It was a rather wet two-hour coach ride back to the cruise ship!
We never saw any local coffee shops to speak of...but this is how coffee is distributed in Jamaica.

I could have bought a sack or two...right out of the back seat of the dealer's vehicle...but wasn't sure how Canada Customs would handle my purchase.

Blue Mountain coffee has developed a reputation that has made it one of the most expensive and sought-after coffees in the world.

This was rather what the local markets looked like in Jamaica...complete with graffiti and interesting signage.

"When in as the Jamaicans do!" I think that may be a little off-base...but my souvenir from Jamaica was a head of braids. I had no intentions of having my hair braided...and still have not quite figured out how I landed up in the chair and came out with braids. These people are forceful! The consolation was that it was just the front that was braided...and with all my hair...they were all but hidden.

They braids came home with me...and my granddaughters were amused.

We left the Jamaican flag flying in the distance...and so ended our visit to three Caribbean islands.

We are left with many wonderful memories... the sun sets on the Baerg Family Cruise 2009!

Have a wonderful day...