Saturday, March 31, 2018

March 2018

Has spring arrived...or is it still winter?  In March it is often hard to know.

The snow on all the surrounding peaks makes for beautiful photos at this time of the year. Those are cranberry fields just down the road from our case you were wondering.

And next to that...a field of pyramid cedars for the nursery.  And the red barn...that always looks great with Mt. Cheam in the background. Since I walk this same route often, I have many photos of this scene...from every season of the year.

The Easter bunny has been hanging around our yard all winter.  He sits in the bushes and watches me through the window when I work in the office.  I'm hoping he moves along after Easter...before I plant a garden.

Lucy was a sweet cricket in the spring concert at her school.  They put on an excellent program to a packed out crowd.

After Lucy's concert we said our farewells to Pauline, who was returning to Switzerland after spending the past six months living with Tim and Heidi and the girls. It was so nice to get to know her this past while.  She will be be missed...especially by two girls who have become quite attached to her.

Ranen played twice at the 71st annual Chilliwack Lions Music and Dance Festival...a month-long performing arts extravaganza with more than 3,800 participants from across the southern end of the province.  It is always a pleasure to hear her play her violin. 

On a day that truly felt like spring...

...we walked the trails of Cheam Wetlands Park just before sundown.

The trumpeter swans arrived on the they do most evenings.

It is such a tranquil spot so close to home.

Why do we not visit there more often?

We always enjoy the view from Dad and Marge's eighth floor condo...but this spectacular rainbow was a rare treat.

Though the last few weeks have felt more like winter than spring...I have proof that we have already had lunch on the patio.  That was a few weeks back!

The first blooms of the year are always a treat. The daffodils are just beginning to bloom...and the tulips will be right behind.

Emme and Spencer were on a missions trip to an orphanage in Mexico with a group of youth from our church during spring break. The orphanage happens to be Children's Haven International in Reynosa...the same orphanage where my sister worked for over three decades.  It sounds like it was a wonderful experience for them!   We scheduled our annual spring break wiener roast for the night after their we could hear all about it.

The weather didn't really co-operate but we managed to cook our food in the great outdoors...and moved the party into the garage.

A little cold...a little rain...and a lot of wind...all made for a memorable wiener roast.

The boys did the dishes!

And the girls have been busy in the kitchen.  Maggie and Lucy came for their annual 'peeps-in-a-nest party'. 

Emme fried up a big batch of Rollkuchen while I rolled and cut the dough.  Now that she is a pro...I know who I can call on for help next time!

And that was just a wee peek into what March looked like in my corner of the world.

Today the sun was shining and the pink magnolia is in its glory.  I love spring and the beauty of the season...and especially Easter.  Because He lives, we have hope beyond this life!

Blessings to you and yours this Easter!


Monday, March 5, 2018

February ~ gone but not forgotten

February seemed to fly by.  But is rather a short month, after all! We left home with our RV early in the month and returned in time to flip the calendar to March.  It was a different kind of getaway for us... the first time ever that we have travelled with our motorhome in winter. It was also the first time we have ever spent more than one or two nights in one spot.  And the first time that we have ever joined snowbirds at a resort.  We tried it out for a few weeks...while many of the others spend the entire winter camped out in the desert. 

Though we worried a little about driving the RV south in the winter, the weather was great for our trek down.  

Mt. Shasta is always a welcome sight in northern California.

Once we reached California, we took the more scenic highway 99 on the drive down...and stayed at a campground along the way.  We went for a brisk walk to stretch our legs before bedtime. It was dark and we walked the deserted sidewalks of Fresno. One second I was upright...the next I was face-down on the concrete.

And just like that, I had a black eye. And that is how I began our vacation...sporting a black eye and explaining over and over how it had happened. (A portion of the old sidewalk had shifted and my flip-flop clad foot caught the 6” rise. ) Thankfully, black eyes are not too serious and disappear quite quickly. 

We have stayed in the Palm Springs area quite a few times over the years...usually for about a week and always in a condo. This time we joined friends at Sky Valley Resort in Desert Hot Springs.  Our little RV became our home there for several weeks. With sunshine and warm temperatures, most of our waking hours were spent out and about.

I brought a book to the pool most days...though I found that I did more visiting and less reading  than I had planned on.  By chance, we met cousins who were staying at the our resort and had a cousin reunion of sorts in the desert.  One night we met up with friends from our youth who we had not seen in over four decades; we had a wonderful time re-connecting and enjoyed a delicious dinner at their table. We played pickleball for the first time.  And we enjoyed the warm mineral pools...right from the hotspring.  And then there was the Mennonite potluck night, where the food was fabulous and the speaker 'so-so'. (Anyone who knows me, knows that getting behind a mic is not my favorite thing to do.  But, I was asked to share the 'Mennonite Girls Can Cook' story...and so I did!) 

Every morning we went for a long walk...usually in the desert around the resort.

We walked past the solar collection panels.  Solar energy is easy to produce when the sun always shines.

It was very tempting to pick ripe citrus from the branches that hung over the fence, right in our path.   We bought several bags of fresh oranges while we were there....and are still enjoying now that we are back home.

From 'rock gardens'... a pig jet trails in the sky, there was always something new and interesting on our morning walk.

Breakfast was on our little patio every morning.

We went for a few longer hikes while we were there.  Our friend who was been wintering in Desert Hot Springs for the past decade, knows all the good trails in the area and was willing to have us tag along.  Gord and Elmer have been friends since they were kids...and are still good friends today.  Thanks Gord, for being our hiking guide.

We really enjoyed the Canyon View Trail at the Whitewater Preserve...where we hiked for a short distance along the Pacific Crest Trail (a wilderness trail that starts at the Mexican border and ends in Manning Park, British Columbia).

Let me share another part of our California adventure...the part that did not involve camping.
When our twin granddaughters turned 16, we said we would take them on a little getaway sometime soon.  We decided to invite them to join us in Southern California on the long weekend in February.  We rented a car for the 2.5 hour drive to San Diego, checked into our unit near the airport and then went plenty early to await their arrival. 

They had a good laugh about the tour guide awaiting them... holding up a sign with their names.  The gal at the info desk thought it was a hoot, and gladly helped me make the sign.

W have good memories of our visit to this same zoo with our children many decades ago..and looked forward to our time there with our granddaughters.  We weren’t disappointed... and I don’t think they were either!

Lions, koala, elephants and gorillas.  The beautiful flamingos put on a great show for us.

Good memories!

We spent some time at Balboa Park... adjacent to the zoo and celebrating its 150th birthday this year. The park is home to sixteen museums, and many historic buildings erected for the pan American games in 1915...and great street entertainment.  We joined the crowd watching the magician, careful to stand with the backbenchers, so as not to get picked on.  The magician somehow picked Spencer out of the crowd and recruited her as his assistant. If you know Spencer, you know she would NEVER have volunteered.  But she was a good sport!  

Later, we took in a show by a dance troupe.  They needed a few recruits for their final act.  Their first pick? Spencer, in her red ‘Team Canada’ hoody.  They would be leaping over her, but they knew it would not be a problem if they never quite completed their leap and landed on her head, since Canadians have free health care (so they had heard). Thankfully, all went as planned and we never had to test her travel medical plan.

On day two we took the hop-on hop-off trolley tour of San Diego.  We began and ended our day at Old Towne, hopped off at the waterfront for a bit and spent a few hours at Coronado Island.

We had lunch there, walked along the beach...

 ...and checked out the historic Coronado Hotel.

This exotic tree is over 100 years old, and was a backdrop in 'Some Like it Hot'...a Marilyn Monroe movie filmed at the Hotel Del Coronado in 1958. 

Day 3 ~ We visited La Jolla, a seaside community within San Diego.  My friend Jill grew up there and gave me some great suggestions as to what to see and do there.  We visited the aquarium in the morning, and passed right by the house that Jill once called home.  Parking at the beach in La Jolla is not an easy matter. However, someone decided to give up their prime spot just as we happened by, and we were happy to take their place. 

Though locals aren’t that thrilled with the sea lions that have taken up residence on the beaches of La Jolla, tourists come from far and wide to see them. 

 I think that spending time with the sea lions of La Jolla was a highlight of the weekend for the girls.

We cooked dinner at our condo every night, and as soon as the table was cleared we pulled out the games.  It was always Emme and Spencer versus Grammy and Grandpa...whatever the game.  I’m sure it was all luck, but the girls' team always won gold.  Even when grandpa cheated.

When the weekend was over, we dropped the girls off at the airport, and waved at them as they disappeared through their gate. We had such a good time together and hope we can make memories of a similar kind with all our grands over the years.

As the short month of February neared the end, so did our time in the sun and the sand of southern California.  We timed our trip home to miss the snow in the mountain passes, though there was plenty beside the road that had fallen the previous day.  

We passed through the forests of Coachella Valley...

...and the farmlands near Bakersfield.  The orchards of California were all in full bloom and it was a lovely drive.

We had planned to be home by early on Wednesday.  But we had not planned on spending a few hours beside the busy I5 just north of Seattle. A blowout was something I had never experienced before....and hopefully never again. We managed to get safely onto the shoulder and discovered that we needed two new rear tires.  I am so thankful for the truck driver who slowed down to let us off the highway, the passerby who stopped and told us who to call, the Les Schwartz team in Marysville who came to the rescue and the DOT Emergency Response Team assisted.  All’s well that ends well! 

And on the home front, it is still winter but I am looking forward to having the daffodils bloom soon!  It is good to be home again.