Friday, April 28, 2023

At the Community Garden ~ Skywatch Friday


These photos were taken a week or so ago. The day was overcast but warm enough as you can see by the people sitting on the lawn.  Since then we've had a mixed bag of weather and today was very hot. Tomorrow we are anticipating another hot day. The park was so crowded today in every area. People, including me, have been waiting for the warmer days.

I'm joining in with Skywatch Friday today. Enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Skywatch Friday ~ April 21, 2023

Hello friends and fellow bloggers,

Welcome to beautiful Vancouver, BC!

It continues to rain and be quite cool here but every now and then we have a break in the sky and the weather. I haven't been out for a specific time of capturing cherry blossoms due to the inclement weather and being otherwise busy. But I've been fortunate to get some decent photos on some of my errand days. I hope you enjoy them.


I'm also adding a few photos from a rainy day.

I've also been enjoying some reading. Some of the recent books of note include the following:

A fictional account, based on facts, of a governess to the late Queen and her sister Margaret.

The Valley of the Birdtail is a non-fictional account of a small Indian reservation and an adjacent town in the province of Saskatchewan, Canada. It's an extremely interesting and well done account of the situation of Indigenous people in Canada, some of the historical problems and injustices, race relations with the 'white' population and some of the current reconciliation issues and potential ways of relating to one another.  The book was co-authored by an Indigenous law professor and a non-Indigenous lawyer who was a former student of the professor.

Cottage by the Sea is an easy read by Christian author, Debbie Macomber who is a number 1 New York Times best-selling author. In this story, the protagonist, Annie Marlowe, goes to spend time at a cottage rented by her family for summer holiday when she was a teen. She goes there to get away from family tragedy and to seek healing.  She finds healing and more.

I'm currently reading the two books in the photo below, starting with The Summer I Met Jack. It's a great read so far. It's a fictional account of how a beautiful Polish refugee (Alicia Darr) met, dated, got engaged (and unengaged) to John F. Kennedy in the 1950s while he was a Senator. It's based on fact but obviously the author wasn't privy to all the intimate details of the relationship so it is fictionalized. Similar to the book above, In Royal Service to the Queen.

Last, but not least, I completed a wonderful book called, The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny, Canadian murder mystery writer extraordinaire. In this story, a stranger is murdered and found in the Three Pines bistro and antique shop. Olivier, owner of the bistro is immediately a suspect but the novel unfolds in a very intelligent way before the final conclusion is revealed. Chief Inspector Gamache begins the search for the murderer.  His investigation ultimately leads him across the continent from the Province of Quebec to the Province of British Columbia. There in the former Queen Charlotte Islands (now known as Haida Gwaii) we finally learn what the brutal telling is and it's connection to the world renowned painter, Emily Carr. Believe it or not, this is the first book I've read by Louise Penny. I tried last year to read one of her books and I wasn't able to dig into it before it needed to be returned to the library. I purchased a thrifted copy of The Brutal Telling and will gift it away to someone locally as I now do with most of the novels I buy.

I'm joining in with Skywatch Friday today. Have a wonderful weekend.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Music, Music, Music ~ Tuesday 4

How are you doing?  It's great to be back at Toni Taddeo's Tuesday 4.


Music is something most people truly enjoy but some find it annoying at times.   Some listen at home, some in cars, and music is played in restaurants, shops, you name it, music provides a background for many activities.

1.  What kind of music appeals to you?  What kind can you do without?  

I love all kinds of music but my favourites are Christian music, mostly hymns and contemporary gospel, folk music/world music, some rock n roll, traditional country music and classical music. At the end of the day, I have very eclectic tastes in not only music, but also in decor, in books and foods.

I don't like heavy metal or a lot of what passes today as popular music. So much of it is vulgar, filled with cursing, degrading to women and downright nasty. But if one is a bit open minded there are good selections of music in almost any genre. I don’t actually listen to music a lot because there are so many things to fill my time.  When I do listen, it is mostly worship music I like to listen to at home.

2.  Do you consider music an important part of life? Why or why not?

Music is an important part of my life.  Gospel music lifts me up and enriches me.

When I want to enliven my physical being, I listen to some rock n roll and dance in my chair as I work on the computer. When I want to relax and enjoy some moments, I listen to any of the other music I like but mostly folk music and world music, and less often to country music and rock n roll.

Music in general is important to society. It brings people together in a good way or a bad way. It depends on the music, the lyrics, the beats. Music has a very powerful effect on people, for good or for bad. I know music can be used therapeutically with the elderly or the suffering and that’s a good thing.

3. What's on the radio as you drive or what is on at home and do you find music in restaurants and shops soothing or off putting?   

I don't tend to listen to the radio at home much. Now and then I’ll listen to a local news program or try to tune into a Christian radio station.  But when I'm on a road trip I listen to whatever my fellow travellers listen want to hear.  Usually they have a personal playlist. I don't mind music in restaurants and shops. In fact when I go to buy groceries, I will often dance in the aisles if no one is around, lol. I'm sure they get a laugh if anyone is watching the video cams.

4. Would you tell us some of your favorite songs and singers please?

I have so many gospel musicians I like:  Don Moen, The Goodmans, The Isaacs, The Hoppers, Charity Gayle, Chris Tomlin, Tara Smith, Darlene Zschech, Tasha Cobbs, Sinach (Nigeria), Emmy Kosgei (Kenya-Nigeria), Soweto Gospel Choir (South Africa),and many others. 

In the folk world my favs are: Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Buffy Ste. Marie, Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Carly Simon, Paul Simon, Johnny Clegg  (South Africa). Though it probably isn't technically correct, I classify World Music as Folk Music and I love a lot of World musicians.  I especially like the music of many groups and individual artists. Examples include: Tinariwen, Ali Farka Toure, Sona Jobarteh, Fatoumata Diawara, Mdou Moctar, Bombino and many others. I often research the artists that come to town and though I don't usually go to their concerts I'll check out their music on You Tube videos.

Most of these World artists are men and women from many different countries in Africa and they are all absolutely incredible. Finding them and listening to them here and there, makes me feel a kinship with people all around the world and gives me joy to know that they are passionate about their music.  I like some oldies but goodies in rock n roll.  Too many to count really. I seldom listen but I do enjoy from time to time: Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Eagles and many others I can’t remember off the top of my head because I so seldom listen. When I do want to listen to some rock n roll, I simply google “70s hits” and rediscover the music of the decade and other decades. 

I almost forgot that I also like a lot of country music artists. I had to come back here and update the post when I realized that.  But again I so seldom listen. I mostly get to hear the artists on award shows when they perform. I enjoy the country performers of old and newer artists who perform the old style: Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, Emmy Lou Harris, Alan Jackson, Chris Stapleton, Maren Morris to name a few. I saw Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard and Alan Jackson in concert over the years and they were all incredible. Oh my, I almost forgot too that I also love classical music. I find it very relaxing.  I usually listen when I go to the symphony or opera but I haven't been for a long time. I enjoy Mozart best in terms of classical pieces and Giuseppe Verdi for the opera music. I will often listen to classical music on You Tube, especially in the Fall and around the Christmas season.

I close with two videos of my favourite gospel singers from the African continent. I hope you enjoy them.

Sinach sings WayMaker

Emmy Kosgei sings in her Kalenjin language

Be blessed.

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Skywatch Friday ~ April 14, 2023

Hello friends and fellows bloggers,

I hope you've had a great week!

Those of you who've been following my blog know that we've had a long winter and a cold Spring so far with lots of rain. It is still a bit too cool for the norm but the sun is beginning to shine more frequently and I think from here on out we are well on our way to warmer, sunnier weather.

The photos which follow were taken on Easter Sunday on my way to church. I'd been hoping to get some cherry blossom photos during days of sunshine but if I don't get out in the next few days there may not be anything to photograph! Cherry blossoms are so fleeting.  I did manage to get some pictures of cherry blossoms and magnolias in bloom. Hopefully I can get more on a sunny day.

I'm joining in with Skywatch Friday. Thank you for stopping by!

Friday, April 7, 2023

Tuesday 4 ~ Your Town

Friday, April 7, 2023

Your Town

Hello!  This is Toni Taddeo's Tuesday 4 where we ask just 4 questions each week in an effort to get you blogging, thinking and learning about others.

Maybe we can discuss the town  you live in.  It might be nice to find out more about where you live and why you live there. Sometimes we just fall into a place and other times we choose. 

Michelle Byrne painting
1. What are the good points to living in your town? Could you interest us in moving there?

There are many great things about my city. I think top of the list is the spectacular scenery,  but there is also a good variety of arts and entertainment, public services and transport and lots of parks and touristy places nearby to visit if you can get there and have the time, money or interest.

Most people love it here though I've noticed young people from China think it's very boring. Our city is very small compared to most of the cities in China. If you come from Europe and prefer old, historic buildings, you might be disappointed here because we don't have much of that. I've talked to many visitors to Canada over the years and they are always in awe of our nature, wide open spaces (outside of the city) and wildlife. 

The things we really have going for us are spectacular scenery, lots of green space, walkability and relatively good public transit (at least in the big cities). Unfortunately there are several things making this city and much of Canada not very good places at the moment though I understand nany if these issues are geing experienced in other cities worldwide: the high rate of homelessness and opioid addiction which results in rising crime rates, lack of affordable housing whether for rent or for purchase,  lack of inter-city public transportation and the very high cost of living in general. The recent runaway inflation being experienced around the world has exacerbated many of these issues. I wouldn't advise people to move here unless they already have a place to live. A visit is good but do be prepared for the expense. Though I suppose if you come from Europe our deals may be more affordable to you due to the higher value of the Euro. You will get almost one and a half dollars for 1 Euro right now.

See here and here if you missed some of my recent scenic posts for an idea of what you're missing if you've never visited.

2.  Are the things you need convenient to your home? (shopping, library, schools, entertainment?)

I am very deliberate about where I live so I end up paying more for housing due to living right in the city. For years I didn't have a car and I was always concerned about the time it takes to get to work and whether I could even get to work with a car if unforeseen things were to happen (accidents, storms and so on). Living in the city and closer to things doesn't mean there won't be unforeseen things happening, but it does cut down on some of the lost time that might be involved. I digress. To answer the question, 'yes', I live close to everything. In fact, I can walk to most places I want or need. There is a school or several in the neighbourhood if you have young children, there are several grocery supermarkets within a short walk, there is a library and several gyms and community centres, churches, 
banks, salons, boutique clothing stores, thrift stores, restaurants and so on. I have to go a bit further for entertainment (plays, movies, art exhibitions and sporting events) and usually catch the bus or a friend who lives further away will pick me up so we arrive at the venue  together. 

3.  Did you choose your town or did you just end up there? 

I chose my city for educational advancement. Back in the day, there were not as many accredited universities  (there are many colleges which are more accessible) and you pretty well had to move to a large city for them. One of the cities is on Vancouver Island; the other two are in the Greater Vancouver area. These days there are more universities to choose from. Government realized people need higher education with lower costs and greater accessibility. Also, not everyone wants to live in a larger city like Vancouver and some like people don't want to live on an island, large or small. I stayed in the city due to work opportunities. There simply wasn't, and still aren't, a lot of career opportunities in my field (public policy) in most smaller cities outside of the few large cities we have in the province or in the country.  I also wanted to be reasonably close to my late mom and late sister so I could visit them more frequently.  Otherwise I probably would have pursued opportunities outside of Canada.

4.   Is your town known for any special foods, activities, places or people? 

One of the things I loved about Vancouver when I first arrived is all of the multicultural festivals that occurred. Almost every known immigrant group had a special few days where one could attend to enjoy the sights, music and displays and food. Most of these events were held outdoors and were free except for the food/s.  There are still many festivals.  In fact, many new ones have started up but the old ones have kind of died off or they have changed and they aren't quite as much fun anymore. Maybe it is just me being older and having already experienced these things. I now prefer to go and see the floral displays at botanical gardens or attend a garden show in the park. Besides these activities we are also known for the place people come to go on a cruise up the coast, travel up to Whistler to go skiing (many celebrities come here for that) or as a jump off point to go fishing off the coast or whale watching. I haven't gone on a whale watching tour. I prefer to see them unexpectedly when I'm taking a ferry to the big island or sometimes a pod of whales will even come into the inner harbour and stay a few days.

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Skywatch Friday ~ April 7, 2023

Hello friends and fellow bloggers,

This is a series of photos depicting the weather and skies in Vancouver, Canada at the moment. It has been quite rainy and cold for most days this month and it looks to continue.

I'm hoping that the weather will warm up so I can get out and take better photos of the cherry blossoms. I'm amazed at how they bloom despite the cold.  They give a lot of enjoyment on otherwise dreary days.

 Joining up with Skywatch Friday. Thank you for stopping by and have a blessed Easter.🙏🙏🙏

Monday, April 3, 2023

Tuesday 4 - Coffee Time

Coffee Time

Welcome to Toni Taddeo's Tuesday 4.

How about a bit of coffee questions this week?   Or, if you drink tea ow anything else, adjust the questions to suit you.

1.  What is your favorite tea or coffee? (KIND or Brand)

My favourite coffee to make at home is Maxwell House regular strength. Years ago I used buy my beans, grind them and home and make coffee in a French press.  My favourite beans were Swiss Wash (decaf) and Guatemala Antigua. I found these two were just the right strength and the Swiss Wash was actually quite nice for a decaf because the Swiss Wash process preserved the coffee flavour.  I no longer have a French press to make coffee but may get one in the future.  A while back, I also purchased a Nespresso Machine (as in the photo below) and like to use that now and then especially with the frother though I haven't settled on the right coffee blend and the pods can be very expensive. If I have just the right blend of coffee and use a French press or the Nespresso machine, I typically will have only one cup of coffee.  It is enough. I guess it must be more concentrated than other coffees.

As for tea, I usually enjoy Rooibos tea (which is decaf) made in tea bag form by Lipton or purchased loose in some health stores. Lately, I've started drinking sage tea at night and sometimes in the morning too for health benefits. Apparently it's supposed to be good at fighting inflammation and reducing blood glucose levels among other things. Rooibos tea also has similar health benefits.

2.  Do you prefer your coffee in the morning, afternoon or evening?

I have a cup of coffee when I rise and usually one or two more during the day. One in the afternoon and if I go out alone or with a friend, I'll also have one in early evening.  When I'm alone, I use this time to enjoy reading a book.

3.  Do you meet friends for coffee in a café or restaurant? Often or not?

Yes, meeting a friend for coffee is one of my favourite ways to visit with a friend. I'm not fussy as to what kind of restaurant.  With my female friends they usually like to go to a quaint and interesting tea or coffee shop. With my male friends, Starbucks or McDonalds is fine. When I'm alone I usually go to McDonald's where I can enjoy a coffee and read undisturbed.  Unless it's Friday night. McDonald's at that time of week is usually hopping with young people and they make too much noise for me to relax and enjoy a book. How often I meet friends depends on my schedule. I will usually book these meetups several in a row over a few weeks and then go for a while without meeting.

4. Do you have a night time regimen before you go to bed, and how about your first thing in the morning routine?   Does it include a hot drink to relax in the evening or coffee to get you going in the morning?  Does it help to start and end the day right?

Yes, my morning routine consists of waking slowly and having a water, medicine and coffee before I have my shower and begin the day. My days can vary a lot but I always begin with slowly waking. In the evening after cooking and cleaning up afterwards, I usually make a hot rooibos tea to stay warm in winter and relax over reading a book.  In summer I'll have a cold beverage of some kind usually one without too much sugar and this is when I might have some kind of supplement or herbal tea as well. This is also when I meditate and pray more meaningfully because it is quiet and peaceful at this time of the day. Both the morning and evening routines help me start and end the day right.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, April 1, 2023

The Beginning of the Cherry Blossoms

 Hi friends,

We are moving in to my favourite time of year when the cherry blossoms 🌸 appear. In another few days they should be in full bloom. 

It started raining yesterday but hopefully the sun will return and I can spend a day going out to enjoy and take photos of the blossoms.

A Trip to the Garden

Hello friends and fellow bloggers, I finally made it to the community garden plot the other day. It was over due for some weeding. It was al...