Here is my latest newsletter for those interested :)
Last weekend I went to Montréal to visit a friend from my swing dancing days in Calgary, and we went to the Botanical Gardens to see the lanterns. I’d already been 3-4 years prior and the display was still impressive to see. Given that it was the last day of the exhibit – and I suppose the fact it had rained a lot during the day – we could enjoy lots of space to meander at our own rhythm and take photos without other people in the background. Kind of nice for Montréal.
Then we looked at our entry tickets and noticed that “Insectarium” was also included in the fee. So we went over to check if it was open – the last time I was in the gardens with my sister & her husby it hadn’t been – and we had quite the introduction to the world of bugs.
Cases upon cases of bugs on pins, and several live displays of insects and arachnids of different shapes and sizes. Suffice to say I did not linger by the scorpions and spiders :P I was, however, quite impressed by the beauty and the intricacy found amongst the speicies of beetles, butterflies and other insects. I’d highly recommend a visit if you are in the area!
When I saw the size of some beetles, I was very glad to live in Canada. It’s one thing to look at a bug in a box on a pin, and another to see one the size of your hand walking across your floor or something. I suppose it’s the kind of situation where you’d either receive the grace or the courage necessary to deal with it haha.
Thanks for reading! À la prochaine :)
Last month I spent 8 days in Newfoundland in the northern most part near Gros Morne National Park and towards Saint Anthony’s. It was my first time in this province and I sincerely hope that it won’t be my last. I loved the rugged coastlines, the windswept trees, the combination of colours of water, grass, seaweed, rocks and sky. Not to forget the friendly and hospitable people I met and the slower pace of life.
From Montreal it’s a bit of a circuitous route to get to Deer Lake, NFLD, but at least you can get there by airplane in half a days travel. The place is a lot bigger than one might think. It takes over 4 hours from Deer Lake, which is already in the north, to drive “down north” to Saint Anthony’s and my ultimate destination, L’Anse aux Meadows. Got to love Canada ;)
I was mostly in NFLD to participate in a retreat for missionaries called M2M. A real gift! We were so warmly welcomed and spoiled by the generosity shown during the event, in time, energy, availability, activities. I was touched by the volunteers who gave of their time and resources, paying their own way to be there, to serve us, to pray with us, to ferry us around, and just to chat. We stayed in a hotel in Rocky Harbour right across from the ocean, in oceanview rooms and with our food tab at the restaurant – and a very decent one at that – being covered. To summarize, I slept pretty well, ate pretty well, explored pretty well and met some lovely people.
The town of Rocky Harbour is essentially surrounded by Gros Morne National Park, a beautiful park with some very intriguing geological features. (If you are interested, search for Tablelands) I did a couple of walks and visited several of the sites in the park, although not Gros Morne Mtn itself. As much as I would have liked to do the 16km hike, I learned it was mostly a scramble on loose rock at the top, and considering my back, the amount of H20 and snacks recommended, and my lack of a sherpa or a solid pair of hiking boots I opted out. Maybe another time :P
We got to go sea kayaking, on a boat tour of Bonne Bay, hiking in to the Western Brook Pond (essentially a fjord cut off from the ocean) and out to the lighthouse at Lobster Head point. Some people went golfing, others spent lots of time relaxing or just recharging. I liked to explore.
One of the best moments was our final dinner together, a tradition meal called “jiggs dinner” if I remember correctly. They used to cook all the veggies, potatoes and the meat, typically corned beef, in one pot – since they only had one pot – and that’s what we got served. We were informed that Ned the Newfie was on his way especially to see us, all the way from Saint Anthony’s, and I took the bait. Lo and behold, “he” arrived in his fishing clothes with his friend, Obama, who knew how to play a mean “ugly stick”…and the singing began. It was actually one of the volunteer couples who had led the singing during the morning devotions :p.
After the retreat I headed off on my own to L’Anse aux Meadows. A long drive but well worth the time. I would highly recommend visiting the Parks historic site and the Norstead village, and also passing through Saint Anthony’s to visit the Grenfell Historic Properties, where you learn much about the establishment of medical care and facilities along the northern coast of NFLD and in Labrador. I just fell in love with the scenery: little islands off the coast, hills with big cliffs right along the ocean, sub alpine vegetation, charming fishing villages. It probably helped to have decent weather, discover many wild berries (raspberries, strawberries, crowberries, partridgeberries, etc.) and meet some fun people. I even got invited to join some other guests at the B&B for a supper of roast moose. Mmm.
I was quite sad to leave, and I have a sneaking suspicion that this province has joined my list of places I’d like to return to one day!
Thanks for reading! À la prochaine!
Vancouver Island, one of my favourite places since I was a little kid. Maybe it’s the view of Mt. Aerosmith that we have or the perfect setting to watch the sunset, or the wild blackberries, or the tidal pools full of happy little crabs and the spectacular beaches. In any case, I was excited to spend a few days out at the cottage in August.
But I didn’t sit still, I wanted to drive out to Pacific Rim National Park, and to stop in Cathedral Grove, and swim at Qualicum Beach, etc. It was a treat!
I had a beautiful day on the west coast, sunny and relatively warm. The waves were big enough for the many amateur surfers to have a go and I managed to find a small spot between them to go jump in the waves. On the suggestion of my mom, I brought a partial wetsuit and so it was great fun. I visited both Wickannanish Beach and Long Beach. The drive is always exciting between Port Alberni and the coast, but I appreciated all the sharp corners more on the return trip. Downside of going by yourself is that you can’t admire the views when you have to keep your eyes on the road :P
Blackberries were in season, so I went berry picking. Got attacked by some of the sharp thorns and had a couple of run-ins with the wasps but all in all it was a success. Made a very delicious blackberry crumble pie with the goat’s butter my sister had left in the fridge – thanks sister :) – for my birthday.
On my last day I borrowed a snorkel from a neighbour and had a good time flippering around Middle Bay looking at the bottom. I admit that I get kind of freaked out being in water where you can’t see below – and being by myself. So I went with a flutter board and according to some of the neighbours, I have a “distinct” swimming style. Hahahaha.
While going to the beach on my birthday, I met a couple who immediately recognized me as my mom’s daughter. We chatted and upon hearing one of the other neighbours wish me a happy birthday, they asked what I was doing to celebrate. I’d just planned to have some grilled salmon and my pie by myself, and they invited me over to have a glass of wine beforehand. It was a great time. I met another couple, of whom the wife had grown up playing on the beach with my mom, and their daughter who also had the same age as me. I thought I’d be there for an hour and I stayed for three hours, finally insisting that I probably should go because I still had to clean up the cottage before the next morning. Incidentally I ate dinner around 10pm, went to bed after midnight, and had to get up quite early to leave by 7am for the airport. Worth it though :P
I was a bit stressed to make it on time for my flight, which fortunately, I did. Then I was thrilled by the little plane (a beech something or other) that we took to Vancouver. Only two rows of seats, the co-pilot was also our flight attendant, and I had to duck to get inside. We flew much lower to the water and the coast, which afforded some nice views. Too bad we couldn’t have these flying through the different mountain chains to Alberta. I understand it would be much less efficient time-wise but far more interesting than looking a clouds from above.
Thanks for reading! À la prochaine !
I just came back from a few weeks in the west, and a visit would not be complete without some time in the mountains. With my herniated disk last year I only able to visit the scenic Lake Louise, but this year I was blessed to do some hiking – and on three different occasions :)
Upper Kananaskis Lake
In theory, this was our ‘test’ hike and we were going to walk the 3.5km to the Point Campground and back. Once we arrived at the Point Campground, my back didn’t appear to be worse for wear and with the gorgeous day it was, we opted to go all the way around.
About 2/3 through the hike, we crossed a couple that looked familiar to me and it turned out to be the parents of a girl that I had danced with for many years at MWDA. A pleasant surprise to catch up with them and talk about our trips to New Zealand, as they had also recently travelled there.
Roughly 16kms later we finished our hike and I was feeling pretty tuckered out :P My 45 min-1 hour walks in Quebec weren’t comparable haha.
This time in the company of my good friend, L., and my parents, we were initially thinking of climbing to Helen Lake on the Icefields Parkway. However, the permanant presence of a bear in the area meant that the area was closed for hiking and so we set our sights on Burstall Pass instead.
Many other people set their sights on Burstall Pass too because the adjacent Chester Lake trail was also closed due to bears. We saw many many dogs and kids being carried in backpacks. No wonder really as the scenery was spectacular! Surprise to me that we could see Mt. Assiniboine from the pass.
My friend, L., kept saying that she wouldn’t come all the way to the pass in order to take it easy on her knees. She came up to the alpine meadow that precedes the final climb and was preparing to wait for us thereabouts. That day we kept playing leap-frog with a small group of ladies and when the 70+-year old mother passed L. making a comment to the effect that if she could make it, surely L. could, it gave L. the motivation necessary to make it all the way. As far as I know, she enjoyed the view and her knees didn’t make her pay for it too badly :p
I’d say this 17km hike with 750+metres in elevation gain was a good challenge for me, especially the part where we had to jump through a braided river system originating from a glacier that got deeper as the day got warmer. Or the horseflies that would bite you if you stayed still too long. :p
Located about 3.5 hours from Calgary just opposite the Colombia Icefields, this hike was rewarding quite quickly. For starters it wasn’t too steep – at least it didn’t feel so steep because you could admire the view as you climbed. And what a view :) There was a fair bit of haze in the air from the forest fires in BC but the morning light gave us some good photo opportunities.
Essentially at the start of the hike I noticed this sign for a red deck chair which awakened my curiousity. What were deck chairs doing next to signs that remind people not to use their bike on the trail? We actually walked a fair ways on the trail until we came across two red chairs facing the Icefields and so I had my picture taken with the scenery. Good thing too because the spot was very popular by the time we came back down the trail. An apparently there is a program with Parks Canada where there are many red chairs . (Since I’ll be going to NFLD next week, and to L’Anse aux Meadows, I’m hoping to get another picture haha :p )
We met some fun people along the way too: some young guys from the States on a road trip who took pictures /videos in scenic locations of themselves making slam-dunks on a mini basketball hoop, an energetic Boston Terrier just like our dog named Stewart, and a family with a rather rambunctious 6-year old boy who kept us company on the way down. Not to forget some wild ptarmigans, well camouflaged amongst the rocks!
Upon reaching the pass, we walked over to the ridge and the edge to have a better view of the glaciers. Then we followed part of the ridge upwards until that portion ended in a steep cliff. From there we found a spot somewhat out of the wind to eat our lunch. Which proved a bit challenging because the sheep liked that spot too and any place well-protected was covered in droppings!
Afterwards we walked to the toe of the glacier on the Icefields side of the valley. A little bit adventurous, as tecnically speaking, we weren’t supposed to walk past the tape and signs warning us of the danger of falling into a crevasse…we just went to the glacier’s edge though and the impressive run-off.
I must thank my Mom for the hiking poles and offering to be my sherpa on each of these hikes, which enabled me to go a lot farther than if I had to carry several litres off water, etc. myself. Hopefully next time I get the opportunity to hike in the Rockies, I’ll no longer be in need of a sherpa :P
Thanks for reading! À la prochaine!
Nothing like a little time spent with the family, particularly when you live far away :P
I had the pleasure of welcoming my sister and her husby for a brief visit on the Mother’s Day weekend. They were in Montréal for a second shot at the certification exam for physicists (Correct me if I am wrong please, sister) and decided to come up to Joliette for 1.5 days. This year’s visit was on much happier terms, as Mr. Bean was successful in passing his exam and we were all excited by the news!
I enjoyed introducing my sister to the Brûlerie du Roy for a coffee, and a relaxed morning brunch with my teammates and their kids. Complete with gluten-free waffles, eggs, bacon, potatoes and lots of fresh berries mmmm.
And I was so pleased to receive another jar of my mom’s homemade marmelade (my sister took me the biggest jar she could find :P) and the ligretto game! Now we’ll be able to play ligretto with 8 different people if we so wish.
This past weekend I drove out to Ontario to visit my mom’s cousin and her husband on the beautiful Lobourough Lake. After an initially cloudy day, the weather became warm, sunny and humid, altogether summer-like. Which we made the most of in taking many walks, going for a canoe ride and even swimming (gasp!). The water was surprisingly warm enough – at least in the first foot or so haha.
The canoe ride was particularly delightful because I got to admire the loons out on the lake, a baby beaver, and many many turtles sunning themselves on logs and swimming in the water. We hadn’t seen turtles on previous visits to the lake and it was a highlight to see so many at once. Not to mention the large wild turkey we encountered on our walk one morning. And by large I mean huge, like bigger than any turkey you’ll find in the store. It was kind of happy.
My visit would not be complete without a Downton Abbey Marathon. We not only finished season 5 but we watched several other movies, including “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Lemony Snicket’s A series of Unfortunate Events”. Perhaps not the best activity for stimulating one’s brain, but now I know who Groot is ;)
A shout out to my roommate’s fiancé for his help with my car. The sound system stopped working around the time when my sister came to visit, and I couldn’t quite figure out what was happening. Turns out that the culprit was likely a large suitcase being piled into the trunk on top of my tires and knocking the wires for the rear-speakers out of place. Instead of short-circuiting, the system would shut itself off. So the past two weeks have been rather quite in the car, including the 4.5 hour trip out to Lobourough Lake. Fortunately, future car rides will be more musical now that the problem has been solved.
Thanks for reading :) À la prochaine!
Starting a few weeks ago, I began to reflect on this coming fall and what the next season will bring. Given that my herniated disk is slowly improving and the other resulting compensations and tensions disappearing – though the rate of improvement is entirely out of my control – I’ve been questioning how much dance I’ll be able to partake in, and how much dance I could actually teach. My limited mobility has made me feel like I haven’t been able to offer as much as I would like to to my students in terms of material and clearly demonstrating movements. And I have doubted my ability to transmit what I’ve learned, what I know and my passion for this art. Sometimes I want nothing more to do with it, but fortunately, that’s only when I’m in an “extreme” black and white mood.
It’s almost five years since I moved to Québec to work with YWAM/King’s Kids and I realised it’s been a year or two since I’ve had a clear word of confirmation for where I am and my calling. So last week when one of YWAM’s pioneering members came to Joliette to speak with the PCYM school (eventually I will write another newsletter and can explain more :p), I seized the opportunity to ask for prayer for clarity.
Now, I’m not saying that I’ve received a 5-step plan laying out the next two years or something (haha), but in the last few days, I’ve been encouraged by some “clin d’oeil de Dieu”. As an aside, if anyone has a suggestion how to translate this expression appropriately in English in this context, I would be appreciative. :)
Sunday was the year-end show for the recreational dance programs with some of the local municipalities. I was proud of my students – even though the younger group totally blanked out on the stage because they walked out and put themselves into the spacing for the other choreography – and especially impressed with the older group. At the end of the show, one of the student’s gave me a flower, and some others wanted pictures with me. This in contrast to last year’s show where practically all the students disappeared without so much as a “thank you”. I was pleasantly surprised and touched by these gestures.
Then, even some of the parents wanted to thank me. They’ve seen an improvement in their kids’ dancing since I started teaching them and told me the choreographies were great. Another encouragement for me.
Tonight I taught dance at the studio in Joliette. The group of pre-teens had prepared a poster and a card for me that everyone wrote in, with words like “thanks for all that you do for us”, “you’re a good teacher”, “you’re the best”…and here I was thinking that I was second-rate ;)
Perhaps the beginning of a confirmation? In any case, my heart is full and certainly leaning towards continuing…à suivre!
Thanks for reading! À la prochaine!
I invited some girlfriends over last Saturday night for a sushi night and to celebrate my birthday ( better late than never :p). I haven’t ever made sushi myself but two of my friends are experienced sushi makers so we were pretty successful for a first attempt together ! Now I just have to work on my technique and perhaps become more courageous in terms of what fillings or sauces I’d use ;)
Since I love to bake, I made an angel food cake for dessert with pear compote. We’d eaten our fill of sushi though it didn’t keep us from finishing off the whole cake!
My friends are really sweet and surprised me with roses, one for each person with a card sharing a quality that they appreciate. Made me feel pretty loved :) thanks to those lovely ladies who came!
We finished off the evening playing some games – phase 10 and “mow” where you make herds of cows but don’t want to collect the flies because the more flies you have, the worse you lose haha.
I have lots of sushi-making supplies left over so I’m tempted to make more sushi soon.
Thanks for reading! À la prochaine!
Since my mobility is somewhat reduced and I spend more time at home – and not necessarily sitting around – I’ve been more adventurous in my cooking of late.
I tried out a German recipe for spätzle on a couple of occasions; it’s a recipe I acquired when I was living in Freiburg on exchange. Instead of using spelt flour, I mixed some gluten-free flours together and was pleasantly surprised with the result. Of course you really can’t go wrong with home-made pasta covered with ham and melted cheese ;)
One night I have a craving for pizza but with no tortillas on hand or pre-made crusts, I decided to try out a polenta crust. Delicious! So I’ve made it at least one other time since first attempting the recipe.
We’ve entered the season of Lent and I couldn’t pass up on my tradition of making Shrove Tuesday pancakes. I didn’t want to eat alone so I shared the joy with my friends’ and their kids (=6 hungry people !). Took me about 2 hours to prepare enough pancakes for everyone and only 25 minutes to devour them all :P Definitely worth it all the same.
Around Valentine’s Day we had a Chinese fondue at church and I made an orange almond cake as my contribution to the dessert table. Super addictive and very filling! It looked pretty fancy all covered in icing sugar…
I’ve developped a slight affection for waffles these days, in particular a vegan waffle recipe from the minimalist baker. I love adding extras like mashed banana or cinnamon to the batter, and eating an egg on top sunny-side up :) Don’t have any photos but I would give my recommendations if you’ve got a waffle iron at home.
Well that’s all for now. Thanks for reading!
À la prochaine!