Sunday, December 21, 2014

Gearing Up For Christmas

A recent visitor to my home commented, "Boy, your house isn't very Christmas-y.  I would have thought as a primary teacher your house would be decorated to the nines."

Nope.  And this is why:

It is ALL CHRISTMAS ALL THE TIME in my classroom for the month of December.

 We decorate paper gingerbread men.

 We hang circle Santas from the ceiling.

 We write letters to Santa Claus with the help of our big buddies.

 We celebrate 'Holiday Hat (and beard) Day'.

 We concentrate very hard on colouring for our paper bag Santa puppets.

 We decorate the live Christmas tree I cut down in the forest.

 We construct and decorate graham wafer 'gingerbread houses'.

 We love to use glue and glitter and sequins on our art projects.

 We collect 927 toys and non-perishable food items for Community Christmas Care.

 We add lights to our Christmas art displays.

 We make Christmas swags to take home to our families.

 We send Christmas wishes for the world.

We dance and sing as snowmen in our Christmas concert.

I sit on the floor and sing along with my students as they perform for their families.

Christmas decorating at my house tends to be very simple.  A tree, a display of my children's photos with Santa and a little wooden creche.  That's it.

 Heading out into the woods with friends and a dog to find the un-perfect tree.

 Cramming into the van with the Christmas trees.

 Unwrapping boxes and boxes of my vintage Christmas balls.

Pretty bird.

Posing with the tree on Christmas Day, 1961.

I really enjoy Christmas experiences more than I do decorating my house.

 At the top of the Sea-to-Sky Gondola on a sunny winter day.

 Listening to my school's choir sing Christmas carols in the Summit Lodge.

Beautiful Howe Sound during a 4:00pm sunset.

And then there is this guy.  Always baking and cooking up a storm.

My favourite chef.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Culture Crawling In Fifteen Photos

We picked up a couple of kids and went on the East Side Culture Crawl yesterday.  We hadn't been for years.  The sun was shining.  We strolled the streets of Strathcona.  My, how that neighbourhood has changed.  And not changed.

Two of my favourite Ukrainian words are 'Perogy Lunch'.  As much as I love poking into artist's homes to view their works of art, I am also a huge fan of perogies!  Even better when they're eaten in the basement of the Ukrainian Hall on tables covered with red and white checkered oilcloths amidst happy strangers who are also like-minded gourmands.

The wait was long but totally worth it.

This photo does not do the meal any justice.  Believe me when I say it was DELICIOUS!

Understandably, the artists were not keen on people taking photos of their work.  What I found equally as interesting as their art were their living spaces.

The outdoor spaces rivalled the interiors of the art studios.  What a beautiful day to wander around East Vancouver.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Gifts From A Funeral

I attended a funeral yesterday.

A beautiful funeral.

A funeral that any of us would love to happen on our behalf when we die.

It was sad, it was poignant, it was profound.

The eulogies were delivered with grace and love.

In amongst the sadness and tears there were smiles and laughter.

And as is often the case, it took a funeral to reconnect us.

To remind us of what is important.

With people we shared shared big chunks of our lives with years ago.

Brackendale Elementary School days, Sparks, Brownies, Girl Guides, mountain biking.

Playdates, sleepovers, swimming in Granny and Grampy's backyard pool.

We recaptured that yesterday.

A reunion is planned for the upcoming Christmas holidays.

When all the birdies fly back to the nest.

All eleven of us together.  At our place.  With Joe's pizza taking centre stage.

These are the gifts from a funeral.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Mushrooms Make Life Marvellous

In the 1980s there was a television commercial that featured a local Vancouver chef bubbling, "Money's mushrooms make meals marvellous."  He brought mushrooms to the masses.  It was a real treat to eat mushrooms that didn't come out of a tin.  I remember my mom buying fresh button mushrooms only on very special occasions.  They certainly weren't an everyday occurrence when I was growing up.

Mushrooms have fascinated me for decades.  All mushrooms.  So colourful.  So dangerous.  So delicious.

Last autumn, our friend 'The Mushroom Whisperer' invited Joe and I to join him in the forest to hunt chanterelles.  We had such a wonderful time.  I could hardly wait for the rains to fall this season so we could go out again to Rick's secret spot.

There is something special about being in the west coast rainforest.  It is so quiet.  Everything, and I mean everything is blanketed in mosses.  It is magical.

I searched high and low for chanterelles.  I tromped over my fair share of rotten logs and under low-hanging tree branches this afternoon.  I found a few nice ones.

Of course, the mushroom whisperer founds scads of chanterelles.  Because that is what he does.  He is a natural.

Not only did he find scores of chanterelles, he also found his first ever cauliflower mushroom! 

When the chanterelles eluded me, I spent my time taking photos of other mushrooms on the forest floor.

There is something to be said for spending an afternoon with Mother Nature.  It made us happy.

Heading home with his haul.

Thank you Rick and Joanne for showing us another amazing day in the woods.  I can hardly wait to taste the fruits of our labour.  

Mushrooms (and friends) make meals (and life) marvellous.