Spring is Here

Hi friends,

I hope you are all doing well as the new week begins.

I had a pleasant surprise as the last week came to a close.  Debbie over at the blog She Graces Her Home in God's Grace touched me when she gifted me with a beautiful book and journal. It is perfect for me at this time because I've been thinking of journalling during my prayer time and this beautiful book and journal will get me going in the right direction. Take a wander over to Debbie's blog and you will see what a gracious woman she is.  The black, gray and white afghan the books are on is my latest project, a crocheted afghan. I think this will be my first make (not my last) of 2019.


I've been super busy trying to get everything organized for spring.

I know some people no longer believe in Spring cleaning. They say if you clean all through the year there is no need for Spring cleaning. I'm not sure I believe that because I do daily cleaning and larger clear outs and clean ups in between.  But I always find that come Spring I can see dirt, dust and grime that accumulates over months and as the light improves I can see things that need a good cleaning.  Plus I find that living in a smaller home one tends not to move things around too often because it is a lot of work.  So some things need a good spruce up every now and then.

This past week I've been washing down a number of things:

1) bathroom doors and walls
2) bathroom fixtures and installed new shower curtain
3) kitchen cabinets (outside only, insides will come later as time permits)
4) a few pieces of Royal Doulton china (Old Country Roses pattern).


I don't have a china cabinet, nor do I want one. These days my few pieces of china sit on a shelf atop the microwave.

It's also time to get the patio cleaned up and I've made a good start by

1) plucking all the dead growth and leaves
2) piling all the garbage in bags readying them  to take to the garbage room
3) washing all the garden gloves to make sure they are clean and ready for the gardening season (I probably should have done this last year. I had good intentions but never got to it.)
4) scrubbed down the large patio table and put up the patio umbrella(this is where I sit with family and friends)
5) scrubbed down the smaller, round patio table (this is where I do my planting).

Photo taken before I washed down the tables. The pavers need a good wash too.

Last year I purchased plastic table cloths from Dollarama for both patio tables. It helped to keep the tables clean of grit and grime. I know it's not that great for the environment to use all that plastic but it was labour saving for me and with some of my health challenges this is important.  I was going to wash and save the ones from last year but by the end of season they didn't look like they would last through a good wash.

I also made it to my new community allotment to clear out the debris and put in the fertilizer. I will return this week to see if there is any more fertilizer I can add before I plant.

The plot before cleaning.

I need to think about what I want to plant here at home and at the community allotment and see what I have on hand before making a trip to the stores for seeds, fertilizer and so forth.

This past week has been all about baking and cooking from scratch for make ahead meals. I've made home made bread and lots of lasagna for freezing ahead. Lasagna is something I seldom make but I felt like having some so I made enough to last awhile. It will help me during the busy week ahead to have something on hand to take out of the freezer and eat with a green salad.

Dough is rising.


I've finished a book that I received from a woman who also has a community garden plot. I found the book quite entertaining as it is an account of one woman's effort to grow food and raise animals for food while living in Oakland, California and the interesting and sometimes funny situations that arose.


I leave you with some signs of Spring in my part of the world.  Like many people, Spring is one of my favourite seasons





I'm hoping for more time to resume my posts about my recent travels abroad once I've finished the planting and gotten a few appointments out of the way. 
I have so many photos that it takes so much time to load them, decide which ones to use and then resize them before posting.


Enjoy your week

Sunset Over Alberta

This sunset was captured on the drive back from the recent trip to Grande Prairie. 
The photos were taken while driving west on Highway 16 from Edmonton to Jasper (a few photos of Edmonton City can be found here, and photos of the drive north to Grande Prairie can be found here).
 I think the location of these photos was near the town of Entwistle as we hadn't yet reached the town of Edson.


Joining up with


and 





Some Images of Edmonton, Alberta

These are some quickly captured images as we drove around downtown Edmonton looking for a particular bank (which we never did find despite the fact that both of us had seen one in the general area in previous days).

Hopefully you can make out the super moon in the centre of the photo.

Rogers Centre where big concerts and events occur.

Taken from the parkade at the Royal Alexandra Hospital. The hospital complex is huge.

Gas/petrol was 24 cents a litre less than in Vancouver.

A lovely church rooftop (I didn't get the name of the church).

A picturesque view of the city and N. Saskatchewan River looking east from St. Georges Crescent.



I did not have a chance to take a lot of photos but I hope you can see that Edmonton is a beautiful city.

I can clearly see that the camera lens is very dirty and I hope I can get it clean again.

 I've always liked my visits to Edmonton and the summer is especially nice with many activities around the city.
I'm hoping I'll have a chance to visit under better circumstances soon.

Sunday Reads

I haven't written about my reading goals for 2019. I'm keeping my goal very modest this year indeed. I only have 20 books as my target and I'm already behind, lol. I'll likely catch up and read more than the goal but keeping the goal on the lower end gives me permission to do other things.


I've completed three books to date and I highly recommend them all.





In the early 1900s, teenaged Sunja, the adored daughter of a crippled fisherman, falls for a wealthy stranger at the seashore near her home in Korea. He promises her the world, but when she discovers she is pregnant--and that her lover is married--she refuses to be bought. Instead, she accepts an offer of marriage from a gentle, sickly minister passing through on his way to Japan. But her decision to abandon her home, and to reject her son's powerful father, sets off a dramatic saga that will echo down through the generations.




Hospice nurses Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley share their intimate experiences with patients at the end of life, drawn from more than twenty years’ experience tending the terminally ill. 


 

Shadows Over an African Heart describes how a few dedicated professionals take on a corrupt government, a ruthless band of poachers and other opportunists to save Zimbabwe's elephants. These noble beasts are being abused in cruel tourist ride training centers; while elsewhere small calves are being ripped from their mothers in the bush and shipped to lives of solitude and neglect in Chinese zoos; and in Hwange National Park, entire herds of elephants are mysteriously dropping dead. It's up to the newly appointed ZimParks superintendent, Hector Kaminjolo, his rangers and environmentalists Piet and Jessica van Rooyen, to band together to put a stop to these cruel practices, investigate the slaughter, locate the perpetrators and bring them to justice in 2013 Zimbabwe, where greed and corruption fuels the quest for ivory. This novel is a sequel to the author's other popular novel, Shadows along the Zambezi, set in 2001.


I'm currently reading all the books below and will soon finish several of them.

I'm always interested in early history and how people moved goods over long distances.

A rags to riches story of one of Kenya's most successful & philanthropic businessmen.

One woman's story about how she developed urban gardens in unlikely places.
 
Written by an American missionary to Kenya.

Tell me what you're reading and whether you recommend any books for me to add to my list.


Update

Thank you everyone for your comments, thoughts, prayers and questions. This post will update on the recent information I shared here.

I made the journey from Vancouver to Grande Prairie, Alberta to attend the funeral of my cousin's son who was pallbearer at my late mother's funeral almost 2 years ago. He had been in hospital since around Christmas after finishing chemotherapy and radiation and passed away on March 8th, 2019 at the age of 46 years of age.

There were a great many people at the funeral and his work mates and friends were a big part of the funeral services which was nice.  I was able to visit briefly with so many relatives most of whom had travelled from various places in the northern parts of British Columbia and Alberta.

It took about 17 hours by car to drive to Grande Prairie from Vancouver (see the map for the route north which I'v marked in black ink).  My brother and I left last Thursday evening about 9 p.m. We arrived at our destination at approximately 2 p.m. the next day.  We lost an hour due to the time change. After the funeral, reception and cemetery service we drove about 5 hours southeast to Edmonton where we spent three days resting and visiting with one of our cousins.

While in Edmonton we found out an uncle is now suffering from dementia & has recently been admitted to a long term care facility.  We went to find him and had a lovely visit.  I  was surprised to find him very cheerful and talkative. I'm grateful we had such a nice visit as we do not know if we will have a chance to see him again before the inevitable occurs. His memory was fairly good while we were present.  He even remembered just how long he was in the facility (3 days) and that he'd been transferred from another institution.  The next day we were invited by another cousin to visit for a barbecue dinner. We actually saw him at the funeral but he is now home for the next half a year since work breaks up every year in Spring and recommences in the Fall.  After dinner and a brief visit with his family, we started the long 13 hour return journey home leaving at 7 p.m. and arriving home at 7 a.m. (8 a.m. in Alberta).

The black line on the map below shows our journey to Grande Prairie. The blue line shows our side journey to Edmonton and the portion back home to Vancouver. Most of the photos were taken through the car window so they are not the best.  But they will give you some idea of the geography and weather during the trip.  You can click on any photo to enlarge.


A photo taken as we pass through Jasper National Park.

Signage as we take short cut to Grande Prairie through Grande Cache.

Some stretches of the road you can see miles ahead and it's flat.

Then you come to this view of the mountains.

It was early morning through here between 6-7 a.m.



On the outskirts of Grande Prairie the land flattens and you find a lot of this kind of equipment since it's oil and farming country.

Entering the City of Grande Prairie. In my view it isn't a very pretty city but has had tremendous growth over the last few decades.

A rather nice looking college and city library.

 ~~~~

While we were in the north the weather warmed up considerably. 
When we got back to Vancouver the weather was even warmer with near summer temperatures.
However the forecast for the next while is a bit of rain. 
I need to get out in the garden as this year I have an allotment in addition to my balcony garden which means twice the work for me.  Hopefully I'll be able to grow a lot of vegetables to eat over the summer.

 
Now that I'm home again I'm also hoping to resume my travel photos from my recent travels to Paris and Nairobi. 
I may also do one more post from my most recent trip to share a few more photos of the area.
Joining in with Skywatch Friday

and

wishing you all a wonderful weekend.

Blogging Interrupted

πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™ Hi everyone, I lost my cousin Vince to cancer last night. He fought a good fight. May he #RIP and may his family be comforted. He stared death in the face and chose to go out in a positive way. He was an inspiration to many and to those who cared for him in hospital too. May we all be as brave and as gracious when our time comes. Vince's dad just passed a few months earlier of the same cancer. Praying for his mom and brother left behind and for the funeral arrangements and the people who will travel on winter roads to attend funeral services.πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™


πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™ Also praying for my friend Eunice currently battling for her life in Kenyan hospital. She has been ill for a number of years and was starting to show encouraging improvements. Recently she fell off boda boda (motorcycle taxi) and her health has been incredibly set back. Undergoing MRI and then we wait and see. Kindly pray for all needs to be met, wisdom for caregivers and healing of the body and strength for her family. πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™




I will resume blogging at the right time. 

Thank you for your understanding.

A Tourist goes to Versailles Palace

I wondered whether it would be cold in Paris in January and whether the cold might hinder my tourist plans.
Before leaving I googled the weather trends in Paris and learned that the expected temperatures were not so cold. In fact, the temperatures were even a few degrees warmer than where I live. Nonetheless one can never be too sure and I wanted to make sure to be warm enough without packing a lot of heavy clothing. In the end I packed some walking shoes which I wore on the plane, some socks, a few long sleeved pullovers, a few pair of trousers, hat, gloves, scarf and a medium weight jacket with hood.  It was just what I needed for the weather we experienced and in the end I didn't wear all the tops I took with me. In my last post here, I mentioned that the hotel I booked was across the street from a laundromat and I made sure to do laundry the day before travelling to Kenya. That way everything in the suitcase would be fresh even though I didn't plan on wearing the same things while in Kenya.

We weren't going to be in Paris long and we quickly determined that we also wanted to take at least one day for a day trip outside of Paris. I suggested Versailles Palace and my nephew was in agreement. He researched the metro and train route and off we went. The fare was much less than taking an escorted tour to Versailles. We also booked our tickets on line. My nephew did all that and all I had to do was tag along. Thank goodness for millennials who operate on smart phones so easily and seemingly with no issues. Whenever I try to do the same it seems like I hit a technical stumbling block of one kind or another no matter how hard I try.

The trip to Versailles was very straightforward. The hard part for me was going up and down stairs at the various stations. In some places one has to go down several levels. This was very difficult for me and I had to really take my time due to my knee issues. Fortunately I had the foresight to take my accelerator walking poles with me and I made sure to take them to Versailles. I had no way of knowing just how much walking I was going to do on the palace grounds and just how useful my poles would become.

It was a drizzling, overcast day the day we travelled to Versailles but we were both excited nonetheless. I was also pleased that we had found our way on the transit system with ease and there were no mishaps along the way. I didn't take any photos during our journey as my hands were full.  The metro and trains were also very full and I didn't want any issues with theft while on the public transit. Unfortunately I was also feeling rather poorly that day and very tired though I had a full night's sleep.  I thought it was jet-lag. I didn't realize until much later that I somehow contracted a very bad cold and flu which would be with me for more than half of my journey abroad.

Reaching Versailles by train is the cheapest option. From Paris, the total cost of a round trip to Versailles is 7,1€ per person all included. The mΓ©tro and RER have common ticketing. Just go to your nearest mΓ©tro station, and buy your tickets to Versailles-ChΓ’teau – Rive Gauche. In fact when we purchased our tickets there were a few options. One could purchase from a ticket agent (with added bonus of being able to ask questions first) or purchase from a machine. I remember that the agent gave us a different stop (I cannot recall the name) to the one I gave above (picked from a website). When we got off at the stop we were across the street from a few coffee shops and we stopped to get our first cup at the Starbucks, the well known American coffee outlet. We then had to walk about 10 minutes (perhaps less) at a leisurely pace to get to the parking lot beyond which is the entrance of the palace.

As you approach the parking lot you can see the palace beyond it.  The tower in the middle which is draped with some kind of printed, beautiful covering is where the Royal Chapel is located. It is undergoing some much needed renovations to the roof and other areas.


The Palace of Versailles was declared the official royal residence in 1682 and the official residence of the court of France on May 6, 1682.  It was abandoned after the death of Louis XIV in 1715, however in 1722 it was returned to its status as royal residence.  The palace is one of the most visited historic sites in the world and receives over 10 millions visitors per year.

Land costs around $5,000 (£4k) per square meter in the town of Versailles, so the value of the palace's land alone is $40.7 billion (£33.39bn). The building itself and contents are likely to worth another $10 billion (£8.2bn), so Versailles could in all likelihood be valued at $50.7 billion (£41.59bn). (FAQ Versailles Palace 2016. References are in American dollars and British Pounds).


My nephew doesn't like his picture taken (nor do I like mine taken) but I managed to capture a few for his memory book including this one of him in the parking lot.

The photo below was taken as we walked up to the gate of the Palace. We were supposed to enter on Side A which turned out to be on the left side as we entered the main gate. Many others were lined up at Gate B. If I recall correctly this was the line for the people who signed up for guided tours. Our admission included audio guides. Security check was straightforward and I was let through with my walking poles with no questions asked. However as I made my way through the palace I was stopped more than once by various security officials and questioned about my poles. Thankfully they didn't raise a fuss when they realized I needed them for walking.

  


There is no way I can do justice to describing the palace and everything in it. I will simply show you the splendour through the photographs and some of the details that caught our eyes as we made our way through the palace. There is just so much to look at. I was mainly interested in the private areas of the palace, that is where the King would sleep or do his work and I will try to highlight those areas when I get to them (hopefully I will remember them).  Overall my nephew and I both thoroughly enjoyed seeing the grandiosity of the palace. It is nothing like I've ever seen before.

I was very happy to discover that we were visiting the palace during a special exhibition. I found this description from a Press Release
For the first time the Palace of Versailles is devoting
a major exhibition to Louis-Philippe, who turned the
former royal residence into a museum open to all and
dedicated “to all the glories of France”.
It is an important moment for the Palace in which the
former royal residence and the historic galleries created
by Louis-Philippe will henceforth cohabit in the South
and North wings The exhibition focuses on the king’s
direct involvement in the project, his interest in history
and his desire to tell the nation’s story in order to
reconcile the French with themselves and make his reign
part of that story.
In a wider sense, the exhibition invites the public to
discover 19th-century Versailles. Part of the decoration
of the Africa rooms, commissioned by Louis-Philippe,
will be revealed. Visitors will be able to discover the
Gallery of Battles, the Crusades Room, the Estates
General Room, the Coronation Chamber and the 1792
room, the last two having been specially restored for
the occasion. One of the statue galleries will be restored
to how it was in 1837. The theatre scenery produced
for the inauguration of the Historical Galleries will also
be erected on the stage of the Royal Opera House.
Finally, in the Grand Trianon, the royal family’s private
apartments, fitted out for the king’s use when he came
to oversee progress with the works to the Palace, will be
restored and refurnished.
Versailles, 7 September 2018
Press Release

These are some of the beautiful paintings that were part of the special exhibit. I believe the room with the huge paintings is called the Africa Room. I tried to temporarily place my poles out of sight under the table but I was quickly and sternly prevented from doing so by the security officials even when I offered an explanation. In retrospect I suppose what I was doing did look like a security concern and these days one cannot be too careful.


This next photo gives a good idea of the sheer size of the paintings. They literally dwarf the people who are there to view them.










This post is quite long so I will end here. More inside the palace and on the palace grounds in the next post.

Our World Tuesday

Update

 Hello friends, This is a quick update on my friend Ernest in Kenya. In my last post I shared that he had to be admitted to hospital due to ...