Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Three Years Ago Today...

Three years ago today (a Saturday) a major shift happened in our lives!

Terry and I became grandparents!

Here is our granddaughter, the first time Terry and I met her, three years ago...

A year later, (two years ago) so much had changed!

The following year, (last year) brought even more changes...

It has been a thrilling journey... watching her grow...

Every age and stage has been wonderful to watch.

This year... she's more grown up...

She and her parents visited on Easter weekend. Now she explains what she is doing and expresses what she wants...

Here she is, "playing cards" with her uncle...

And here she is shuffling around in her father's old slippers...

She's so much fun - and we had such a good time together! In fact, before their visit, I had been feeling lethargic...

(Is this the new norm? Is this old age? I had been wondering...)

But being with her energized me! Hanging out with an almost-three-year old must be the tonic my body needed!

Monday, April 29, 2019

First Spring Yard Work

I have a perennial garden, so I do very little planting or transplanting...

But I keep busy... The first task of spring is to rake up the flattened leaves and debris that have been lying under the snow all winter.

We end up with dozens of garbage bins full!

Terry and I divide up the task - I do the flower beds, while he does the grass!

I have to rush to get the raking done before spring flowers begin to bloom!

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Flooding in Our Part of Ontario

Ontario has lots of lakes and rivers, and this spring - as in 2017 - water is running high.

Melting snow - lots of it - and spring rains are causing rivers to overflow their banks.

Yesterday we saw the reality of it, as we drove near Carleton Place (half an hour - by car -southwest of Ottawa).

I wonder if those buildings that are partly submerged - or those only a few feet from rising water - are summer homes...

I hope so. I wouldn't want to be living this close to rising water!

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Fun "Fact"?

Stay clear of the palm tree, a Maui tour guide told us... You don't want to be hit by a coconut!

Can they hurt you if they hit you on the head? my son asked, looking up...

Then down on the ground where a coconut lay.

More people are killed by coconuts than by sharks, the guide replied...

Hmmm. I wonder if that's true, ...It certainly does sound plausible... Or is it a local joke played on tourists?!

Friday, April 26, 2019

Chickens... and Other Birds in Maui

Thinking back on my recent Maui vacation... The early morning sound of chirping birds was one of the things I loved about Hawaii, which is home to many kinds of birds, most of which we don't see in Canada. Soon we'll be opening windows and hearing chirping birds here, too..

I enjoyed the birds... But I was surprised to see so many chickens!

On our first day on Maui - at the brewery tour - we saw a chicken hunting for scraps at the brewery's outdoor patio restaurant.

What is this barnyard chicken doing here in the brewery? I wondered. Is it their mascot?! 

No, I was told. Chickens wander about freely in many parts of Maui. If they come onto your property, you can kill them and eat them, but if they're on public property, they're protected.

Later, as we walked along a shady sidewalk, we noticed more chickens... (They are hard to see in the camouflaging shade...)


Would they attack if we approached them? I wondered...

But they ran quickly in and out of the bushes. We never did get very close.

Then we noticed this poster...

Was it a reminder that chickens in the wild are protected in Hawaii?!

I didn't notice any chickens in the area where we were staying - an area that had previously been farm land where sugar cane was grown.

But we did see other birds...

Like this striped bird on the beach walk...

And this egret (which reminds me of our local herons) exploring a hotel garden...

And this one - making himself at home on a hotel lounge chair.

Perched on the chair, he reminds me of egrets we saw sitting on the backs of large black cows on our tour around the island. I wonder if those cattle egrets are the same breed - just found in a different location.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Snow Mountain

One of the big chores of winter is clearing snow from parking lots.

It's expensive to haul away, so in some places, snow is simply pushed into a large pile, which eventually becomes a kind of snow mountain.

This one is next to the college parking lot in our neighborhood...

It's as tall as a two-story house, and a lot wider...

I wonder how long it will take to eventually melt away!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

House on the Move...

I'm enjoying walking outdoors again, now that the snow is gone...

On a recent walk around our neighborhood, I noticed a house that had been lifted off its foundation. It looked ready to be moved away.

A few years ago, several houses on our street had been taken away and sold. It wasn't long before larger houses were built in their place.

There is a housing shortage in our region, so I guess it's still a viable thing to do.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Last Week: Snow

Last week we still had snow on our street...

It always surprises me to see snow in April!

I don't know why...

North-facing front yards, surrounded by trees - had a lot more than we did...

For some reason - in my mind - snow should end in March...

(Is that simply wishful thinking?!)

I don't know - but it is definitely embedded in my concept of seasons!

Fortunately, this week the snow is ALL GONE!! Hopefully spring has arrived at last!

Monday, April 22, 2019

First Flower of the Season!

A week ago, Terry and I were still preoccupied with melting snow in our yard....

Then, suddenly, the snow was gone... It must have melted in last week's rain...

And yesterday I happened to notice the first flower of spring in our yard... a hellebore.

One of my neighbors told me about these flowers a few years ago, so I bought some. According to my google search, they are found in European woods in late winter...

They're easy to miss amid the dead leaves of my unraked flower bed. I'm glad I saw it!

I'd like to plant a few more early spring flowers... This is the season I really appreciate outdoor blooms the most! They make me feel that winter is really over!

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Happy Easter!

To all who read this blog...

May the blessings of Easter...

... and spring...

be yours!

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Giving Up Something for Lent...

From time to time, I consider giving up something I enjoy for the 40 days of Lent, like some of my friends do... But (time to confess!) - I have never succeeded! (Am I totally undisciplined?!)

This year I decided to give up computer games. They're such a waste of time!

There are two computer games that I play regularly: Solitaire, the card game on the left, and Patchwork (which may have been inspired by quilting but isn't a "quilting game"!)

I had no trouble giving up Patchwork - but before long I was back to playing my regular half dozen games of Solitaire before bedtime.

Is the game that addictive?! Or does it take my mind off everything else and prepare me to fall asleep?

Whatever the reason, I'd still like to give it up!

Friday, April 19, 2019

Snorkeling and Surfing

Just as I arrived in Maui with a list of things I wanted to do, my son had plans of his own as well. Between the two of us, our days were packed!

One of my son's goals was to try surfing. He signed up for a group surfing lesson... 

I went along to watch - but tried to stay out of the way. 

The class was held at a large public park in Kihei.


When the instructor led the group over to a shady tree to go over surfing basics, I looked around, noticing that the park also had beach volleyball nets.

Before long, my son's group headed into the water... where there were so many surfers that I immediately lost track of where he was.

The gentle waves in the area made this a very popular spot!

Fortunately the surfing school sends a photographer out with every class, so students can purchase photos of themselves in action!

The second thing my son wanted to do was go snorkeling...

When I was his age, I had snorkeled in coral reefs in the Red Sea... and I can't even swim.

All you need to be able to do is float on your stomach.

Just get mask and a tube to blow through, I told him. Then go into the water and look down. Float along and watch. The sights will be amazing.

He purchased a simple snorkel kit and set out.
The beach walk near our hotel passed many good snorkeling areas... 

His first time out, he floated out a little farther than planned. Suddenly he noticed that the fish around him were rushing away - fleeing.

He turned his head to see a large turtle swimming by - more quickly than he expected.

He thought no more of it until the turtle passed him again, this time about two feet away...

Time to head back to shore!!

Enough excitement for one day!

(Maybe it's time to think about getting a cheap underwater camera - if there is such a thing!)

He went out snorkeling another time, again - without any turtle adventures!

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Remembering My Grandmother, Olga Sell

My mother's mother was born on April 18, 1895, in Fedorovka, Ukraine - about 64 miles north-west of Kiev, the Ukrainian capital. On February 15, 1914, at the age of 19, she married my mother's father, Theodor Guhl. Unfortunately, he died of typhus a few years later (at the age of 31), leaving her with three young children and a farm to manage. Eventually one of her late husband's relatives came to her aid - and eventually became her second husband!

On November 23, 1923, she married Hugo Bartz, her late husband's cousin. They went on to have eight more children, the first born in the Ukraine - the rest, in Canada.

Here is a picture of the family taken in the 1940's in Alberta.

Why did they immigrate to Canada?

After the Russian Revolution, in 1918, all the farmland in the Ukraine and in Russia was being taken over by Stalin, the Russian dictator. Realizing that they were about to lose everything, and risked being sent to forced labor camps in Siberia, my mother's parents, like many in their predicament, applied to immigrate to Canada. They arrived in December, 1928, a few weeks before Stalin's government closed the doors on immigration. They were lucky to have escaped. This family photo shows them in the late 1930's.

They lived in Edmonton for many years, but eventually my grandfather decided to move to a warmer place for health reasons. They relocated to Kelowna, BC, in 1955, where my grandfather opened a window and door business. Soon their second-youngest son, Ron, joined them.

Their house was next door to the carpentry shop.

This photo shows them at the 1960 wedding of Ron to Evelyn in Kelowna.

My grandmother died several years later, on November 26, 1966, in Kelowna, after having several strokes. She was 71 years old when she died.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Beach Walking

The hotel my son and I stayed in was several blocks from the beach...

Most days we would walk towards the beach and head for the paved beach walk...

Located between large sea-front hotels and the beach, the sidewalk is a public place.

It passes a wedding chapel for those who come to Maui to get married.

Walking along, we could see other smaller Hawaiian islands in the distance.

Such a relaxing place to be!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Maui Brewery Tour

It was our first day in Hawaii - a 6-hour difference in time zones. We had arrived around midnight, 4 am back home in Ottawa...

My body was tired...

A day to relax?

Traveling with our older son, I quickly realized how similar to Terry he is: Whenever Terry and I travel anywhere and I want to just relax for a day, Terry invariably says: We can relax at home... I'm here to do things!

So off we go!

Our son was the same: How about doing a brewery tour... That won't be too tiring...

So off we went!

We were both impressed by the operation, which had grown, in a few years, from a small craft brewery attached to a pub to this large and growing establishment.

Solar panels on the roofs provided 70% of their electrical needs. Their aim was to be 100% off the grid by the end of this year.

Everywhere we went in Maui, we were impressed by the push for energy self-sufficiency, with solar panels and wind mills.

We were told that the goal in Maui is to be completely energy self-sufficient by the year 2045.