Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Old Year is Almost Done!

The new year is almost upon us and I can't help but think back on the past year with mixed emotions. It has been a year of ups and downs. On the upside there was my trip to Quebec which renewed my love for this country and energized me to continue to work to preserve it for future generations. There was my introduction to professional baseball and the accompanying Chicken Dance that is done at every game. I love it! New friends and new relationships.
The downside has been my back and neck problem, the unstable economic situation, lack of affordable housing and the grave illness of a relative.

The thing that was lacking for me in 2008 was stability. I never felt that anything in my life was for sure. I wish I had spent more time playing and laughing and less time worrying. Life happens no matter how much you worry about it or try to manage it. No matter where I end up next year it will be where I am supposed to be that I am sure. The end of this year has seen me sadder, poorer and fatter, but it has also made me wiser.

I never make new year resolutions as I always believe that they just set you up for failure. However, I intend to eat more healthy and get more exercise. I also plan on enjoying life more and worrying less. To do that I want to spend more time doing what I love - hiking with Miss Lucy and taking photos.

I am grateful for all the new people who have passed through my life this year and all those that have stayed with me over the years. I am also grateful for my blogging friends. Many days your encouragement and cheerful comments left on my blog brought a smile to my face and gave me hope that someone in the world cared. Thank you so much for that. I hope that everyone of you have a healthy, happy new year.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Bye Bye Christmas 08!

This Christmas stockings that were hung by the chimney with care are now drying out on the heaters that everyone is burning night and day around the province in a vain attempt to keep warm.

This Christmas has to be the worst I have ever remembered for bad weather. Christmas eve, Christmas day and Boxing day saw me trudging through the snow to get the last of the shopping done, deliver gifts and have Christmas dinner.

Most of the holiday I took sky train which at the best of times is unreliable and right now is subject to closure without notice on an hourly basis. As I sit here bundled in my coat and new boots I thank god for these boots not to mention the person that purchased them for me as a gift only days before we got our first real dump of snow. These boots have been the only thing keeping me sane while walking Lucy and waiting shivering in the wet and cold for buses and sky trains.

All the bad weather aside - I did enjoy my Christmas with lots of nice gifts and kind words in greeting cards and e-mails from close friends. I gave thanks that all the people I am close to enjoyed their Christmas despite of the challenges many of them are facing this year.

I am saddened however, that while I celebrated what is supposed to be a season of good will and peace on earth, hundreds were killed or injured in senseless fighting in Gaza, car bombs continued to go off in Baghdad killing innocent civilians, three more Canadian soldiers were killed in Afghanistan and children in Canada, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, continue to go hungry in ever increasing numbers.

I hope that all of you have had a safe, happy and healthy Christmas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Winter Wonderland... or Hell?

Winter arrived with a vengeance this week. We have had about 35 - 40 cm of snow and if you don't have to leave the house it looks lovely. Unfortunately we were not that lucky. On Sunday while the storm raged and most people stayed off the roads we made an hour and a half long trek to take my daughter to the dentist and then on to visit a relative who is in a hospice near her dentists.
The snow did not let up most of the night and this morning it was almost impossible to get anywhere in the city. Most of us are not used to this kind of weather and here in lotus land our municipalities do not really have the capacity to deal with a major snow fall of this kind. Most of the time they only manage to clear the main roads and unlike eastern Canada we do not have the capacity to cart away the snow so we have piles of it taking up one lane of most roads. The side roads are almost impossible to get around on. Tonight while I have been typing this two vehicles have gotten stuck on the corner outside my house. My car is parked in Burnaby where I ended up getting caught by the storm and I doubt I will be getting it home till after Christmas making finishing up those Christmas shopping tasks almost impossible.

However not all is lost in the snow. These little birds were a delight to watch outside of my friends house today. They were busy fighting over the seeds the landlord had put in the bird feeder.

And the trees in the park look lovely in their winter whites.
It has quit snowing here this evening, but the temperature is expected to get to -7 tonight and more snow is expected Christmas eve and Christmas day.

I am hoping that the Grinch will not steal Christmas this year!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Brackendale - Winter Home of Eagles

A few weeks ago on a chilly, but clear day a friend knowing my passion for eagles drove me to Brackendale to view them at their wintering ground. I had heard a lot about this place and had even visited it last summer when I went to Whistler Village, but there was not a sign of an eagle then.

This time as we drove near the river you could see groups of them in the trees, but I was unprepared for the sight of so many white heads sitting in the trees on the other side of the river! It was quite amazing.
As we walked along the river's edge we could see several of them eating fish on the other side and at times making that high pitched call that is so unique to the eagle and always thrills me. Occasionally one would fly up the creek and to my delight two of them flew right over our heads!

While I was quite over awed by the amount of eagles in one place I was surprised to hear from a gentleman who visits every year that this was a poor turnout for the eagles so far this year. He told me that last year he was able to count over 900 in 40 minutes!

As the season for the eagles in this area is from November to February I am hoping that more show up and that I will get the opportunity to visit again.

I was not on my game this trip with taking pictures so there are not many and they are not great, but I hope you will enjoy them.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

It is All True!

Everyone who I know who does not live in the lower mainland keeps asking me if it really is THAT cold and snowy here.... in a word YES!

As I write this at 2:30 pm it has not risen above -8 here in Delta all day and it is expected to snow again! The radio announcer says up to 25cm over night. For those of you who are unable to translate the cm it is a about a foot of snow and he says that is a conservative estimate depending on where you live. Most years we get some snow, but not generally much till about January and even then we rarely get these cold temperatures over an extended period of time. The biggest problem is getting around the city. Most people here rarely have to drive in icy conditions and few have any idea of how to drive in it as a result traffic slows to a crawl. Adding to the misery is the fact that most municipalities do not put away much of a budget to handle these conditions so they try to skimp out on the sanding and salt to save money resulting in numerous fender benders. These conditions are not expected to let up until January 02/09!

In my house only Lucy likes the snow. She can hardly wait to get outside and play a rousing game of snow soccer. This year however, even Lucy has had problems with her feet in the extreme cold so she is being limited in the amount of time I take her out. For me the greatest problem is getting around in my beater of a car! I never know when I leave the house if I will be making it back any time soon.

All I want for Christmas is some warmer weather!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

There Must Be a Better Way!

I have begun to wonder who really likes Christmas. I read all these articles about how stressful the holiday is and how to survive the holiday and I really wonder why do we do this to ourselves every year?

If Christmas is such a wonderful time of the year why are there so many articles written on how to survive the holiday season and why do the hospital psychiatric wards put on extra staff to deal with the crisis a lot of people find themselves in?

Practicing Christians they will tell you that to not celebrate this holiday is to ignore the wondrous birth of Christ. However, biblical scholars all agree that the date of Christs birth remains a mystery and even if this was Christ's birthday would He really want us to celebrate it with the incredible consumerism and greed that this holiday has become? I think not!

I know that most people would say that this holiday is for children, but what are we teaching our children?
Do we really teach them to share with the children of families who do not have much by getting them to give a donation to a charity or collect food for the food banks, but then go out and buy extravagant gifts in large numbers for our children and load the Christmas dinner table with more food than many children will have in six months to eat? What have we taught them when we fill our stomachs to the bursting point and in many households end up throwing out large amounts of uneaten food?

This year I have had to struggle to get through everything. Not feeling well has kept me from doing some of the things I really like and made shopping a misery so I have cut back on everything. I find myself feeling guilty about this and then questioning why I feel that way. After all if this season is about giving and caring shouldn't that include caring for myself as well?

So I come back to my original question - Who really likes Christmas? Maybe some of you can answer that question for me.