Saturday, December 31, 2022

A December to Remember

And just like that, December has come to an end and we close the book on 2022.
Before we move on to the new year, let me just re-cap the happenings of December. 

We began the month with snow...
had three snow storms come and go...
and are ending 2022 with rain and balmy temperatures.

For the past many years we have had a MGCC Christmas party...
for those who live close enough to attend.
This year there were seven of us and our spouses.
It was so good to have Ellen join us again...
after a few years of 'pandemic separation'!
We missed Betty, Char and Kathy.

I hosted the first MGCC Christmas dinner ten years ago...
so it was fitting to have it at our home again.

I prepared the main course and the rest brought salad, appies and dessert.
I need not have cooked a main course at all.
We could have made a meal of the appetizers!

It has been a real joy to share this friendship through these many years.
Who knows what the next ten years will hold?

After dinner the guys went upstairs for a  crokinole tournament...
just like they did ten years ago.
We had a gift exchange and enjoyed each others company.
It is always so good way begin the Christmas season with these friends.

After a few years of gathering restrictions,
it was good to have all the Christmas concerts back this year.

At the beginning of December we took in the Christmas production of the Pacific Mennonite Children's Choir and Abbotsford Youth Orchestra.

It was a great from beginning to end...
but the finale was amazing, featuring Ranen on the fiddle and Irish dancing.

(click to watch)
We had good reason to be proud of her. 

The following weekend she played in the symphony orchestra at the performance of Handel's Messiah at Central Heights church in Abbotsford before a sold-out crowd. It was a fantastic performance...all three hours of it!

We so enjoyed all the in-person Christmas events this year, including Brian Doerksen's 'Heart of Christmas' concert!

Our church sponsored a Christmas event for women...
and I was asked to prepare a Christmas grazing table.
My first impulse was to decline...
since it was not something I had ever done.
But with the help of my good friend Marg...
we made it happen. 
It was quite fun to put together!

We ignored the front sidewalk for several days while the snow was still blowing...
but dug out a path for Christmas.

It is rare for snow to blanket the ground evenly over here.
As it falls the wind whips it up into drifts.

While our temperature was still at -9C (15F)...
the rains began and covered everything with a sheet of ice.
As December comes to an end, most of our snow has washed away.

Christmas Eve, 2022.
Family gathered.

They all went home for a few hours and came back for brunch on Christmas Day.
Brunch is the same every single year...
and even those who don't care for 'Christmas Morning Lifesaver' don't want to change the menu.
Breakfast casserole, fruit salad, fresh rolls and cinnamon buns.

And then...
gift opening.

It seemed so much more peaceful this year...
with no one in a hurry to leave.

What happened to all the impatient grands and the chaos of yesteryear?

Maggie adores cousin Ryder...
and gifted him a box of cookies she had painstakingly decorated.

And after the gifts... and games.

We played 'Codenames'...
a fun game for teams.

Christmas Day was not all 'comfort and joy'.
We received sad news that morning that our longtime friend Mel had just passed away.
For him it was joy...
he spent his first Christmas in heaven.
For those left behind...
there was sadness that day.

We have both known Mel since our youth and shared many experiences over the years... 
more recently were in a small group together.
He will be missed! 

Tomorrow marks the beginning of a new year.

I don't know what lies ahead...
but I do know that I can count on God's faithfulness!

Happy New Year!


Wednesday, November 30, 2022

November ~ come and gone

Why does it seem like this was a very short month?
Time hurries on!

We spent the first week of this month down south...
and came home to lush green lawns and fields.

After five months of drought, the long-awaited rain arrived.

But we also had plenty of sunshine and blue skies this month...
and fresh snow on the mountains nearby!

On November 10th these two turned 21!

Emme and Spencer made me a Grammy all those years ago.
I could never have anticipated what a joy that role would bring!

I will forever treasure the memories of all the time we have spent together...
reading books, watching movies, hiking, picnics, sleepovers, camping trips, and road trips.

Here's hoping I'm around to share many more of life's special moments with them.

I had a milestone birthday at the beginning of the year.
As did my friend, Marg.

Our hubbies had made arrangements a year in advance to have Rosemary Siemens & Eli Bennett serenade us for the occasion...
but the pandemic got in the way and the party was cancelled.

On November 11th Rosemary and Eli put on a concert at church...
and caught us by surprise when they ended the evening with a birthday medley for the two of us
...for a birthday long forgotten.

A memorable Remembrance Day it was!

Earlier this month, Ranen took part in the western Canada Irish Dance Competition in Victoria. 

She finished well and qualified for the World Irish Dance Championships to take place in Montreal in spring. 

We have never been to Montreal.
I think we may have a good excuse to go!

We have had the most beautiful sunsets this month.

After a few good windstorms (including power outages) ...
the trees have lost their leaves.

As I write this post...

...we have a winter wonderland out there.

it's also beginning to look a bit like Christmas!

Wishing you all a wonderful advent season...
as you prepare your hearts and your homes. 

“I want a Christmas that whispers ‘Jesus’.” ~ Ann Voskamp

Saturday, November 19, 2022

A Desert Getaway to Remember

Since our desert retreat had its beginning in October and its end in November...
it will get a post of its own.

During these past few years when travel was not a simple thing,
our family suggested we all go to Palm Springs 'once the pandemic was over'.

So we made tentative plans for the end of October,
though we never expected that all 18 would be able to participate.

They did!

For one whole week our kids and grands were all there with us...
...enjoying time together in the sun.


..hikes in the desert

...or competing to take that top prize.

It was a fun week for the cousins...
something they had looked forward to for a long time.

It was not all play though! 
Ranen practiced her violin every day, had an online dance class one morning as well as a chemistry exam. And she flew home early to play in the Abbotsford Youth Orchestra's fall performance. 

Visiting the Indio Night Market with a group of eighteen was a lot of fun!
Some found treasures.

We all enjoyed the yummy churros.

Do these four not look like sisters?

We had group dinners on a large patio.

One night the adults enjoyed dinner at the Cheesecake Factory...
while the grands most of the grands had a free-for-all back at the resort.
The oldest two grands have switched camps. 

We celebrated Micah's 13th birthday in true Mexican tradition...

...with a pinata.

The week together was wonderful...
such a blessing!


After the family left for home...
we spent some time with friends.
Dave and Janet were staying at the same resort...
so we shared some meals, outings, games and lots of laughs.

We hiked the Indian Canyons...
met up with Anneliese and Herb for dinner one night and with Gord and Esther another night.

Before we knew it, our time in the desert was over.
A good time!

Monday, October 31, 2022

October ~ Memories and Moments

as seen through a smoky lens for most of the month.

We had 8mm of rain from July 1st and on into October...
when we would normally have 278mm.  

The wildfire situation was dire...
and we breathed smoke most days.

We were advised to stay indoors...
but the fishermen along the Vedder River never got the memo.

The water levels were at all-time low but apparently the fishing was great!

The last crop of grass came in off the fields.

Micah had a 'professional day'...
and came to help out on the farm.

The petunias were still thriving in mid-October...
but the calendar told me it was time to replace them with winter pansies.

As long as it still feels like summer...
ice-cream is a good idea!

We have a new ice-cream shop in town.

We checked it out with some of the grands.
We'll be back!

And then there was Thanksgiving 2022...
where my camera got left behind.

We gathered around the table at Tim and Heidi's this year...
thankful for the blessings of the past year and the turkey dinner we could share.

We spent Sunday afternoons on our bikes.

The Poco Trail was new to us...
a 25-30 km loop through Port Coquitlam.

Much of it follows the Pitt River...

...and then on through Colony Farms Regional Park.

It is an urban green space within city limits...
though Elmer sees it as a bit of a wasteland since it was once productive farmland.

Poco Trail.
It’s flat, off road, and scenic…
the perfect combo for a sunny Sunday afternoon in October.

'I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.' ~ said Anne with an 'e'.

I agree!

And as the sun sets on the month of October...
you may just find us watching the sun set behind the palm trees instead of the old oak tree.