Hike to Quarry Rock

One of the big advantages of living in (or visiting) North Vancouver is the fact that you’re only minutes away from a wide array of beautiful backcountry hiking trails. Our grandsons didn’t have school today due to a teacher professional development day and though it poured rain overnight this morning’s weather looked suitable for an outdoor adventure.

Quarry Rock is a large rocky outcrop overlooking Indian Arm at scenic Deep Cove. Clouds hung low over the cove as we set off on our hike.

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The 3.8 km round trip trail, which is also part of the easternmost section of the much longer Baden Powell Trail, begins with a long stair climb that quickly informed me that after a long winter, during which the treadmill in our basement mostly gathered dust, my legs and my cardiac conditioning are somewhat out of shape. It didn’t help that in my eagerness to get out and onto the trail, I’d forgotten to have my morning cup of tea! Fortunately, the fresh air, the enthusiasm of our young hiking partners, and the wonderful smell of the damp forest were invigorating.

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The overall elevation gain on this trail is approximately 100 metres, but there are lots of ups and downs along the way. In addition to many flights of wooden steps, boardwalks and small bridges, much of the trail is a maze of tree roots.

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The terrain is typical of North Shore hikes with the trail wending it’s way through densely wooded areas of Douglas fir and hemlock. Morning mist hung in the trees as we set off, but before long the sun began to peek through and we soon started removing layers of clothing.

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Along the trail, many small creeks filled with spring runoff from the mountains tumble down the hillside in their rush to reach the ocean.

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Eventually the trail climbed up onto solid rock and we walked out onto the bluff where the views were spectacular.

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This trail is clearly a popular one. Even on a cool Monday morning, there were lots of hikers out and when we reached Quarry Rock, it was so crowded with people that it was difficult to get good unobstructed photos!

 

Pretty in plaid

logoThere are a few classic prints that never seem to go out of style. Though their popularity may wax and wane, they are a safe bet in a modern woman’s wardrobe season after season. Stripes, florals, animal prints, polka dots and plaids are timeless.

 

Last time I volunteered at our local thrift store I came home with this basic black and white flannel shirt, a steal at just $3 and oh so comfortable!

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I’m especially impressed with this hidden feature that eliminates the possibility of gaping at the bust line.

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Though the look may be a bit too matchy matchy, for the purpose of this post I also donned another recent purchase, my new rubber boots!

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I’ve been eying cute patterned boots every spring for the past few years, but my plain old navy blue ones, purchased more than four decades ago when I first visited my in-laws’ farm, refused to wear out and since I usually only use them for camping, investing in another pair seemed wasteful. This year, however, the old rubber finally deteriorated and a split up the back of one of the boots sent me shopping for a new pair! Considering how long I might have them, what could be better than a timeless pattern like plaid?

Given that the weather forecast is calling for lots of rain while we’re here in Vancouver, I’m glad I brought them with me. Whether it’s checking out the creek that runs through our son’s backyard or going on adventures in the forest with our grandsons, I’m probably going to need them.

All weather packing

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logoThe geese are back, the gophers have come out of hibernation and tulip sprouts are peeking through the soil in my flower beds. It must be spring, right? Then why is there snow in the forecast? Because I live in Canada, of course!

I’m envious of those who live in warmer climes, the lucky ones who have already done their seasonal wardrobe switch, putting away winter wear and bringing out shorts and sandals. I had to laugh when I saw this on Facebook the other day because it’s all too true!

Spring in Canada

My dilemma right now is how to pack for our upcoming trip to Vancouver. The coast can be beautiful at this time of year with sunshine, daffodils and a profusion of cherry blossoms OR it can be chilly and damp. The forecast seems to indicate a bit of both.

The answer, of course, is layers. There will be at least 3 camisoles in my suitcase; black, white and khaki. They take up almost no room and make a good base layer providing extra warmth when days are cool. They can be worn under almost anything. I’ll pack tops that can be worn alone or layered with one of the camis and/or a light sweater.

Pants are trickier. I don’t go anywhere without jeans, but I’ll definitely throw in a couple of pairs of capris in case the weather is warm enough. Since we’ll be spending most of our time visiting family, I won’t need anything too dressy, but I’ll take a basic pair of black dress pants that could be worn to church or out to dinner.

When it comes to outerwear, layers are once again the key. I’ll take a light waterproof, windproof jacket and a fleece hoodie that can be worn individually or doubled up on colder days. A tiny pair of knit gloves tucked into a pocket, a scarf and a compact foldable umbrella will take me on outdoor adventures with my grandsons on even the rainiest days.

As far as footwear is concerned, I’m glad that we’re driving not flying. Since I can’t decide if I’ll need sandals, sneakers, casual flats, dress shoes or rubber boots, I may just take them all!

He made the thorns

Now that we’re into the holiest week of the Christian calendar, we’re surrounded by the popular images of the season, coloured eggs, bunnies and chicks, but the events of that first Easter week were anything but pretty and pastel.

On Sunday, our pastor used Maker of the Universe by master guitarist, Phil Keaggy, as part of his morning message. Do take a moment to click on the link and watch the video. I can’t get its haunting message out of my mind.

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His holy fingers made the bough, 
Which grew the thorns that crowned His brow.

Not only did God create the thorn bush with its razor-sharp barbs, but He made and even yearned for a relationship with the soldier who thought to shape it into a cruel crown and ram it onto the head of our Lord.

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The nails that pierced His hands were mined
In secret places He designed.

On the third day of creation, God created the land and the metals hidden within knowing  all the good and evil ways that man would put them to use; knowing that someday His body would be pierced with spikes formed from those very metals.

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He made the forest whence there sprung
The tree on which His body hung.

He didn’t have to do it! He didn’t have to let them nail Him to the cross. He could have walked away, just like He did three years earlier when an angry crowd in his hometown of Nazareth threatened to throw him off a cliff. (Luke 4:16-30)

This time He didn’t walk away. He let them crown Him with a crown of thorns and hammer nails through His wrists and His feet and He did it for me! He did it to take the punishment that should have been mine. He knew that I would let Him down, but He did it anyway.  He let them lay His body in a cold, dark tomb, and there He lay for three long days. Thankfully, though, that wasn’t the end of the story. As the old hymn says

Up from the grave he arose; 
with a mighty triumph o’er his foes; 
he arose a victor from the dark domain, 
and he lives forever, with his saints to reign. 
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose! 

And that is the wonder of Easter! Hallelujah!

Retirement dressing

logoIt’s hard to believe that it’s been almost ten years since Richard and I walked out of our respective classrooms and entered a new phase of life called retirement! That meant I no longer needed a working wardrobe. I spent most of my career teaching elementary school, so my workwear wasn’t as formal as some women’s, but I was a professional and it was important to dress like one. Now I no longer needed to, so what should I wear?

To me, retirement meant a new and exciting life was opening up in front of me. I didn’t feel old and I certainly didn’t want to look frumpy! I didn’t need a working wardrobe, but I wasn’t happy to spend the rest of my life wearing the shapeless t-shirts and sweatshirts that I’d once worn during my out of school hours. I began to take a greater interest in fashion and now I would call my retirement style dressy casual.

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Yesterday, we were reminded that age is creeping up on us. We’ve been fortunate to be able to stay on the excellent Alberta teacher’s benefit plan for the first ten years of our retirement, but next fall I turn 65, the magic age at which we must transfer to the retired teacher’s plan. That’s why we were in Edmonton yesterday to meet with a representative of the retired teacher’s association. Here’s what I chose to wear:

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It was the first day this spring that it was warm enough to be out and about without a jacket. A light sweater in pink, one of this season’s most popular colours, was a perfect topper for the Cleo Top from cabi’s last season. Worn with dark wash jeans from Old Navy, this is what retirement wear looks like to me.

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Facebook blessing

I’ve been known to rant about Facebook, but sometimes it’s a wonderful blessing! Yesterday was such a day.

I was sitting in the vehicle at a gas station while Richard filled the tank when I decided to check Facebook on my cell phone. I immediately noticed that I had a friend request. I’ve recently received (and deleted) a few of those from creepy men I’ve never met, so I assumed that this was just another one of those. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I’m sure my heart skipped a beat when I saw the name of one of our sponsored children in Haiti!

We have been sponsoring Marie through an organization called New Missions since she was nine years old. Today, she is a lovely young woman of 22 with one year of high school left to complete and a dream of pursuing nurse’s training. Over the years, we’ve enjoyed exchanging letters with her, but never in my wildest dreams did it cross my mind that we might become Facebook friends!

I immediately accepted her request and we began a conversation that continued on and off throughout the rest of the day and again this morning. Her English, learned at school, is weak and my Haitian Creole is non-existent, so communication is slow and sometimes confusing, but we’re talking without the aid of a translator! What joy!

Marie, who lost her own mother shortly before we started sponsoring her and her father a few years later, has been calling me ‘mother’ in our conversation. That and her Facebook profile picture of the latest letter and photo that she received from us melt my heart.

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For the past few years, we’ve been hoping that when Marie finishes high school and begins her nurses training through the New Missions program, we’ll be able to continue sponsoring her, but even if we can’t, now that we’re Facebook friends we won’t lose touch with her. What a blessing!

For just $33 a month, child sponsorship through New Missions provides a child in Haiti or the Dominican Republic with quality education, a daily hot lunch which for some is their primary meal of the day, and medical care. New Missions also provides a number of community development initiatives including clean water, vocational training and local employment, all vital in this poorest part of the western hemisphere.

New looks

logoHave you ever noticed that adding a new basic to your wardrobe can breathe fresh life into older pieces?

I’ve only purchased one item from this season’s cabi collection, the Indulgence Tank. With it’s wide ponte waistband and two floaty layers of lightweight polyester creating a beautiful blouson effect, this pure white sleeveless top will go with practically everything.

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Here I’m wearing it with a short navy cardigan that hadn’t been out of my closet all winter. Purchased at Uniqlo shortly after my arrival in China in early 2013, it was once a wardrobe staple, but I’d grown somewhat tired of it. When I paired it with the Indulgence Tank, however, it felt almost new again.

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In these photos, you’re seeing me with more hair than usual. I normally have my hair cut every six weeks, but it’s now been almost nine weeks since I last visited my hairdresser. That’s because I’m trying to decide whether or not it’s time for a longer style. Some days, like the one pictured here, I’ve been playing around with its natural curl instead of straightening it. Regardless of what I decide, I know that it needs a good trim to give it shape, but what do you think? Cut it short again or let it grow? I really want your opinion!

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