Friday, December 17, 2010

We'll miss you Panda

I fluff and straighten his pillow while he brushes his teeth.
He climbs into bed, automatically curling up his legs and grabbing his World Wildlife Fund adopted red panda stuffie.
I pull his blue and green striped comforter over his shoulders and tuck it under his chin, then lie down beside him.
We face each other.

How are you doing, I ask him.
Are you happy that Panda found a new home today.
Yah, he says with a smile. His eyes are closed and he is hugging his red panda tightly.
Yah, I say, me too.

I have photos to remember her by, he says, matter of factly.
That's true, you do. You have lots of photos.
He smiles.
Can you take one of the photos on the computer and blow it up for me like a poster so I can see her when I go to sleep every night, he asks.
Sure, I can do that.
He smiles again. His eyes are still closed and can't see my tears.

I love you.
I love you, too.

Somedays, like today, I truly believe there is nothing more important I do than give people photos that keep their memories alive. And here she is, still a sweetie, just a few months old:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

If you had a million dollars

Dear Mom,

When you win the lottery I give you full permission to surprise me by booking this entire boutique boat for me and my dive friends. I know I haven't put my SCUBA mask on in a while (really, the cold BC currents aren't so appealing any more) but I would have no problem diving off this Phinisi in Indonesia.

You can come, too, and just lounge around on deck and get spa treatments or hang in your room and watch movies or melt into your bed. I will join you for a waterfront cocktail once I'm out of the water and back on the Arenui.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

In Remembrance

Prior to going, I felt uncomfortable sharing my family story of why we were spending our summer holiday at battlefield sites in Europe. I felt uncomfortable talking about the collective inspiration found in civilization building computer games, poems read in assemblies every November in school, Battlefield 1942, Platoon, The Pacific, and Band of Brothers, to name just a few. (Nope, not all Bugs Bunny, Lego and the Game of Life at our house.) It's true, admitting an interest in war history is awkward, at least to me.

But nothing compares to being on the ground, at the battle site, feeling uncomfortable witnessing the ultimate discomfort of so many who experienced WWI and WWII first hand, and still rest there with or without graves. Or reading in museums about the over 5o million dead from WWII. It was extremely unsettling standing in In Flanders Fields Museum listening to the shearing sounds of bombs dropping from overhead. And walking around the 11,856 graves at Tyne Cot cemetery, the largest Commonwealth cemetery in the world. And reading the names of 54,389 missing soldiers, whose names are etched on the Menin Gate Memorial. And the medical bunker full of Canadian mementoes. And the emotional videos on personal stories from civilian survivors in Bastogne. And then there is Anne Frank's bedroom in Amsterdam. The list goes on.

Now, I share with you In Remembrance, a focus on WWI battle sites of the Ypres Salient:

A medical bunker at the site of where Major John McRae was believed to have written "In Flanders Fields" in 1915.

Essex Farm Cemetery, one of 160 within the Ypres Salient battle sites. I believe I heard someone say it took a team of five people seven days to keep the grass in order throughout all 160 sites.

St. Julian Monument marks where 18,000 Canadians on the British Front withstood the first German gas attacks in 1915. 2,000 fell and lied buried nearby. This day, locals were spraying weeds.

Tyne Cot Cemetery, with many visitors and their fallen tears keeping the grass green. One of the most emotional sites...

Common wooden crosses found throughout the Ypres Salient. Simple, yet says so much.

8:00pm every night since 1927 buglers sound the Last Post to commemorate those who gave their lives for Belgium's freedom. The Menin Gates name the 54,896 Commonwealth soldiers, including 6,983 Canadians, without known graves.

A pack of cards showing a propoganda wartime  poster.

In a trench, this one speaks for itself.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Top Shots: Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg

De Dutch fishing at Kinderdijk:

Paris playing at our lakeside picnic:

Tony loving his bike in the back alley:
Zeeland cows:  

Antwerp Dogs:
$5 worth of pralines from the Rubens market = one happy Kje: 

Afternoon of Eminence at Battle of Waterloo site. "I am standing where Napoleon stood!":
La Roche-en-Ardenne Castle:  

Mardasson Memorial at the Bastogne Historical Centre (Battle of the Bulge):

Luxembourg City gorgeous gardens view:

Kje thoroughly enjoying himself in the Charleroi Museum of Photography:
Ypres.... so much to remember. In Flanders Fields Museum. Listening to the Last Post and Reveille ceremony. Walking through trenches. Walking through rows of graves. 

Sail 2010 in Amsterdam:

Rembrandt. Van Gogh. I am tired of museums:
Solemn memories from Anne Frank Huis, photos of kittens from KattenKabinet cat museum: 

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol & British Airways, home away from home:

Stayokay Cube Houses

Very, very cool hostel in Rotterdam. It's true, Rotterdam is an outdoor museum of architecture. ( I love this picture of the boys... natural.)

Dear Red Bike

It's been almost two months since we last saw each other, and I wanted you to know that I really miss you and think about you all the time! Really. I miss your strong pedals and your grippy bars and your shiny red coat. I miss your kickstand, too. And your lock. I really miss your lock, cause it was just so cool and I wish all the time I still had you and your lock with me. I miss locking you up by the church in Middleburg (you know the one) before we headed to the flea market and found that basket of Smurfs and even though I didn't buy any I still wish I had. I miss Papa Smurf. I miss your speed and agility as we rode by cows and "mini-campings" and cute country homes. And the way you turned me when we soared on the blue path right by the turn to the green path and we had to backtrack. You know, you really kicked my ass that day - for the entire 38 kilometres...well, okay, perhaps just the last 18 - and the memory of it still hurts.

p.s. I hope your bell isn't rusty yet.

I like Kinderdijk!

Nothing better than a day at a UNESCO world heritage site with a digital SLR and an empty memory stick. Here are a few of my favourites from our walk along the pathways that connect the nineteen windmills at Kinderdijk.

(Okay, so this first one is actually from Zaanse Schans windmill village, not Kinderdijk, but it's my favourite so I had to add it.)

(Okay, now you are in Kinderdijk, honest...)

Cougars, Bears, Oh My!

I seem to recall writing a post about this a few years ago, but I can't find it. It was one of Kje's first weeks of school in Victoria. I asked him about his day and he mentioned digging for worms in the dirt pile, catching snakes and a salamander in the snake pit,crawling through blackberry bushes to the cougar pit  (sorry if you have heard this story before & I'm boring you) and then getting stung by a bee after he put his hand in a bush too close to the hive. It was then I knew Victoria was the right place for us.

A school with snakes, salamanders, bees, blackberry bushes and cougars was better than a school with needles, broken glass, homes for the homeless and used condoms.

So... guess what Kje said about school today? He was going to play on the rock pile (you know, the one with the mosquito pools) and his Principal told him he had to go inside immediately as a bear was spotted on the rock pile this morning. Yep, a real live bear.

So, I said, what happened to the bear?

Nothing, he said, they just let it do its own thing.

Hmmmm...... just another day on the island.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ryan and Nikole in turquoise and red

Nothing better than a good ole fashioned family wedding. Throw in a little Branson Missouri, a BBQ or two, and some teeny tiny frogs and you have the makings of memories. There are some people in life you know will never reach their full potential of happiness until they find their true love to gush over. I am so deeply, truly happy for my cousin Ryan who has finally found his Nikole.

My Mom, My Aunt and her stylish friend Nancy all looking like mid-western belles:

Best man (imported from California) and Groom (imported from Maui):

Father of the Bride and Pastor du jour:

Um... just look at those eyes... need I say more?

The famous shot that made it to Facebook profile status:

The smile that won my cousin's heart:

Self Portrait

They say that at some point every photographer takes their camera in hand (or perhaps on tripod) and creates a series of photos of themselves. To be honest, I haven't done that. But... I do love this photo that Paris took of me, which is one of a series he did for his photography club. (I added the effects.) I read a photo essay / article this summer (I think) about Meryl Streep and the photo she loves of herself was the one the publicist didn't want printed. It was too real, with real wrinkles and laugh lines and real blemishes and no makeup. I think that's why I love this photo, too. No smile, no style. This is me on any Sunday morning.

Baguette Bistro Bro

Look! My brother is in Look. The local Burnaby magazine, that is. Just click on page 9. But look, I know the heading says "Gourmet Brunch at Home" but don't listen to that nonsense. You have to head to Chez Meme Baguette Bistro to truly experience the "breakfast creation that's a definite gastro-delight" live in person. And that way, you can meet my sister-in-law Isabelle. A few photos to whet your bon appetit: