11 December 2014

Winter Weather

A snowy reminder of summer lounging
A snowy reminder of summer lounging
(I'm back. Computer problems too late at night kept me from posting for a couple of days. I've added three posts tonight.)

It is another crazy winter that we are having. The dump of snow in September disoriented all of us and destroyed so many trees in our city. And then it all melted away and we enjoyed fall temperatures a short time only to have the temperatures plunge 30 degrees in November. For those of us who have lived in Calgary, we know there is no such thing as 'normal'.  Last year, the cold and snow began and we didn't seem to get a break for months on end. But here we are December 11th and the temperature is +11!

I get the immense pleasure of interviewing the new students as we prepare to start each term of study in our English as a Second Language program at Mount Royal University. I warn the new students in September to prepare right away for winter weather, knowing that one day they might wake up for class and find a blizzard happening. It came true much earlier than I expected for them this year, but I also tell them about the relief that a chinook can bring. I tell them to watch the western sky for the tell-tale cloud formations that form the chinook arch. I tell the Korean students to listen to the snow as it crunches underfoot. One of my favourite sounds. During the years I lived in Korea, it was a sound I missed. That along with the sound of leaves crunching. The humidity is so different there that those sounds don't really exist. At least, not where I spent my time.

I'm not a skier. I don't ice-skate. I really don't take advantage of the winter weather like my brother-in-law and nephew do. Like so many Calgarians do. But if I had to choose between winter and summer, I'd take winter every time.

Photo by John Brosz on Flickr (CC by

A fresh blanket of snow is beautiful. The winter light hitting the ice crystals can look magical. And I can stay indoors with a cup of cocoa and a book and a blanket and enjoy the winter weather. This chinook is great and I don't mind if it stays a while longer so we can enjoy the Nativity Pageant and visit Zoo lights and other outdoor festivities with a bit of comfort but I hope that by Christmas morning, there is a fresh layer of white snow covering the ground creating some of that magic again.

Here are a couple of 6 second Vine videos for the season. Click to play on a loop and click the audio in the top left of each video to hear the music.

The song for this post seems obvious.

Another version sung for Australian TV with Canada's own Michael Bubl√©. (featuring hockey and the RCMP). 


And a version that is just for fun!!!

10 December 2014


When I was serving a mission in Korea, we didn't have Christmas decorations for our apartment. Our solution was to cover the ceiling of our front entry area in snowflakes. It was fun to have others add to our snowflake collection through the season. I still think it is one of the prettiest and easiest ways to decorate a window or a beam.

There are a lot of ideas for decorating with snowflakes on Pinterest. So if you have some free time and want to get others involved, here are some patterns and ideas for you to try.

Click on the picture to go to some easy-to-do DIY ideas.
Here's a pretty mobile made with small snowflakes.

Click the picture to see the patterns for these snowflakes.
There are definitely more advanced than the snowflakes in my Korean apartment. 

Click the picture to see the patters for these snowflakes.
Lots more to try!

And here's the song for the day. (How many times can you say "falling" in a row?) This has had 86 million views. Really. Maybe every ESL class around the world has played it.

I prefer the snowflake reference in this song!

09 December 2014

Christmas Cards

Merry Christmas!

It seems like a lot of people have taken to Facebook to confess that they won't be sending out Christmas cards this year. My confession, and it won't be news to anyone, is that I have never sat down and written out and mailed Christmas cards. Oh, the good intentions are always there.
"This is the year that I will send something out," I tell myself.  I buy the cards. Sometimes I even fill them in and address them. But even at that point, my plan to write out a letter to accompany them - or insert a photo - all those typical year end "this is what our family accomplished and this is what we look like" type letters are where I stop. For many years, I fell back on the excuse, "when it isn't just me... then I'll do it". I didn't think I should be sending out Christmas cards until there was news that was worth sending. Or I didn't know how to write about myself that didn't sound boastful - I went here or I did that. It seems better for those letters to be about your children and your family than about yourself. So went the self talk that kept me from sending out even a card in the mail that said Merry Christmas. That isn't my default response anymore.  Now, it is time that typically gets in the way. The excuse that seems to trump all others.  I mean, here it is the second week of December, and there are no decorations to enjoy, no baking in the freezer, no shopping and wrapped gifts ready to distribute.

So there it is. You may yet receive a card from me in person, but that is the extent of it. Unless some kind of miracle happens, (and I believe in miracles - so one day, it may!) it probably won't be this year.

I should have no expectation of receiving a card in the mail from any of you. But I do receive them. And I love it. Getting something personal in the mail is a treat! So thank you truly if you have continued to include me in your Christmas card list despite my negligence. And maybe one day, I'll have my act together and send something to you in return!

In the meantime, here is the picture I would have used for my card. It is a tiny artwork by my great grandmother, Elezebeth Grace Mulholland Toone.  Merry Christmas to all of you!

Finally, here's one creative family's year end letter in the form of an adapted REM song.

08 December 2014

Christmases Past

Where is this? Is it the Puzey farm?
The post today is just some random photos from the Puzey family scans. And I have a lot of questions about them.

I have 12 other posts partially drafted but many are waiting for me to get my own Christmas decorating and other activities underway. I'm hoping to take care of the tree Wednesday. Here are a couple of pictures of trees but I'm not 100% sure about them. 

As for this first picture, I don't know where this linoleum and border stenciling was. I wonder if it was the Puzey house before the bookshelves were added. I really have no idea. 
Christmas at the Toone's

I love this picture of the the presents under the tree on a Christmas morning. Who was the dolly and the bassinet for? How about the tricycle? I think it is the Toone home because of the location of the piano but I can't be sure. 

Okay - this is the picture I have of Aunt Sandy with a tree. I don't know who the other two people are. Any idea?

Grandpa,me and Michael.
Grandpa Fred with his first two grandchildren.  I look positively bored in this one. Michael looks so sweet. This is our Brentwood home - with the Rocky Mountain mural on the wall. I remember that chair had very scratchy fabric. 

A family portrait. 1972?
Where were these two pictures taken? A church building but I can't tell. For some reason I think it was Claresholm but I don't really remember going there for Christmas dinners. 

I need a good caption for this one. Anyone?
Same corner as above. I took this one of my crazy cousins and sister. I thought this was an awesome skirt Janelle was wearing. Fun!

I was looking through some old photo albums tonight for a particular picture and I made another discovery I'll share in a future post. A mystery has been solved! 

Tonight, I had a lovely dinner this evening with my aunt and uncle, shared some family history stories and pictures from my recent trip to the UK.  I realized I never carry my camera anymore because it is too bulky and I don't use my camera phone because I typically have no room to take any photos with it. I am missing out on photo opportunities all around me. I was able to check out Aunt Sandy's advent calendar and discovered what the missing ornaments on my calendar ought to be.  A bird, two fish and another small tree. Hooray! I copied a template of the shape of these and will make them in felt and add them to my calendar. The meal was yummy, and it was very cozy sitting by the tree with the fireplace going. My fireplace DVD is a sad imitation. 

So today's musical interlude is actually a lengthy one.  It is TWO HOURS of Christmas classics accompanying a fireplace video.  Put this on full screen and maybe you will feel toasty warm as you enjoy the fire's digital glow. 

07 December 2014

Christmas Calendars

It isn't Christmas in my house without this calendar on the wall. (The picture isn't from this year because it doesn't have as many ornaments on it yet.) I wrote about this important tradition in a previous post.This calendar was made by my Grandma Puzey (no idea when but I don't remember a time we didn't have it) and I have always had some favourite ornaments that I look forward to adding to the tree every year. Maybe you can guess which ones. Can you see these: the Santa face, the candlestick, and the little tree?  The blue and white ornaments are fillers - until I can make some proper replacements for ones that went missing long ago.  

Other ways to mark the days that I remember using were burning a candle and reading scriptures or singing a carol or occasionally a store bought calendar with candies or pictures in windows. What do you use to count down the days?

Another way to count down is online. There are lots of websites, blogs, and pages of different popular culture that share new content daily in the lead up to Christmas. These are just a few.

Sherlockology (based on the BBC Sherlock series)

The Economist  - this one has one of the site's most popular infographic from the year each day

Project Britain  - Learn about Christmas traditions around the world.

Back in 2006, I was looking forward to once again following the advent calendar of Leslie Harpold. I had been counting down to Christmas with the aid of her very fun interactive calendars for a number of years (she started in 2001) and she was the first individual I consciously followed online that I had never met in person (as opposed to using the web to look up information from organizations or businesses).

This is the last image Leslie ever posted on her website. She was 40 years old, single, living in New York  and posted her writing, images and favourite links on her website, www.harpold.com - which only exists now by means of using the wayback machine. She died in her home over complications from bronchitis. (Yes, Mom - I take it seriously when you are sick! - glad you are well now)

Each new day,  her advent calendar would include a happy Christmas memory, a holiday link and something special. It might be a game to make your web page snow. or a recipe for sugar plums. 
I have meant to do something similar ever since then and have gotten as far as an interactive calendar page with no content (instead of a tree, I used Christmas presents) but I've settled for writing blog posts this year. So today's post is not such a happy Christmas memory, but they are memories and ones that have stuck with me. 

I'll end the post with a song that Leslie shared as one of her "something specials". It is a song by Canadian Ron Sexsmith. And one that I can play on repeat. 

The lyrics are as follows:

Maybe this Christmas will mean something more
Maybe this year
Love will appear
Deeper than ever before
And maybe forgiveness will ask us to call
Someone we've loved
Someone we've lost
For reasons we can't quite recall
Maybe this Chistmas
Maybe there'll be an open door
Maybe the star that's shown before will shine once more

And maybe this Christmas will find us at last
In heavenly peace
Grieve for the least
For the love we've been shown in the past
Maybe this Christmas
Maybe this Christmas

06 December 2014

The Nutcracker

Lochlan and Sorcha post performance.

I attended the matinee performance of the Jeunesse Classique Ballet's production of The Nutcracker at the University of Calgary. I was there to see my niece and nephew perform. I was happy to see my very first production of the Nutcracker with them. Honestly, how I have lived in this city and until now had never seen A Christmas Carol (finally last year) and The Nutcracker I don't understand but I am happy to have started with this production.

Before the doors opened, there was an opportunity to shop for a nutcracker to take home or meet a costumed Nutcracker for pictures. I came home with a couple of new little friends but I'll save that for the end of the post.

Sorcha was the first ballerina to move - taking the role of the miniature Chinese doll in this performance. She looked great and did such a good job in all her dances. The cute factor was off the chart many times in the first act. The tiniest little dancers would come in and there were audible "aahs" from the audience. Lochlan was a party guest, escorting his dance partner in a couple of numbers and providing an audience on stage when the focus was on the children.

Now, although it was my first time to see this live, I have seen it many times in recordings and knew the music and numbers well. But those mice - live on stage and with my particular personal war with the ones that have again found a refuge in my basement, well, they were slightly unnerving. And when they were lurking behind the little soldier ballerinas, I imagined all the children would be going home with nightmares.

The sugar plum fairies, and all the different dolls were so fun to watch dance and the young girl who played Clara was amazing - such control!

The performance ended and Santa appeared from the back of the theatre to hand out candy canes to all the children.

It was a fun Christmas activity and if you have a chance, it is playing again next weekend at the Vertigo Theatre.

And coming home with me -- my attempt to make friends with the Mouse King.

(Or have a nutcracker near by to defend me).

To end this post, something more magical and better to end the evening on - The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Sweet dreams!

05 December 2014

Bing and Bowie

I'm too tired tonight to write a full post. I'll be better tomorrow. So instead, I share a picture of my tremendously cool Uncle David with my Great Grandmother  (no context for this picture - any help mom? My questions - where and when was this taken and what colour is that sweater?) and another favourite Christmas carol that we heard on the radio we had playing in the background at work today.

04 December 2014

Still, Still, Still

Christmas at the Richmond Road Diagnostic Centre

Today's post is a short one. If you live in Alberta (or in one of the other provinces in Canada participating) and you aren't already part of The Tomorrow Project, please consider it. I've completed the surveys over the years and was at the Richmond Road Diagnostic Centre today to give blood etc. for this long term cancer study. I know my family has been through this terrible disease too many times (even once is too much!). And it is so easy to participate in this - with a survey every couple of years and an optional study centre visit. They still need people who are willing to participate - just follow this link http://in4tomorrow.ca/  or call 1-877-919-9292 and join to participate by mail (and your survey will arrive in the mail) or by visiting a research centre. 

Here's what it says on the website. 

1 in 2 Albertans will get cancer and 1 in 4 will die from it. Being part of the Tomorrow Project now is a chance to make a difference in the future.

Designed to discover more about what causes cancer, the Tomorrow Project is the largest research study ever undertaken in Alberta. The Tomorrow Project will look for connections between cancer and lifestyle, environment and inherited (genetic) factors.

We need 50,000 Albertans between the ages of 35-69, who have never had cancer to join this study. To join, we need you to answer questions about health and lifestyle and consider visiting a Study Centre.

Every person can make a difference in finding out why some people get cancer and others do not.

And the musical selection for today is one of my favourites.

03 December 2014

Being Festive

Wreath decorating at #mru bookstore. Silent auction with $ for students Season of Caring wish tree.

Today and tomorrow at Mount Royal University, you can see the decorated wreaths set up in front of the Bookstore. They have been decorated by individuals or departments in the University and a silent auction is held to raise money for the student association's Season of Caring Wish Tree.  You can also bid on the best wreath. Some have a theme - such as the wreath on the lower left covered with different polished rocks, geodes, etc, and one not shown with small portraits of rescued moon bears (flip the portrait over and you can see the terrible conditions they were saved from). The wreaths made a very festive display on the campus main street.

It reminded me I haven't even put up my wreath on my front door yet and that would only take a few minutes to do (I even know where it is!) so my door will be seasonally fashionable tonight.

Speaking of being fashionable and festive, how about this Christmas classic from 1973! (Another one from across the pond.)

Oh and one more if we are being truly fashionable in the 70s!

My cousins - Mike and Kelly - yes that is Donny and Marie
 (I may have shared this picture before but it is just too good not to share again.)
That is the tree from my childhood home. How do I know for sure? Because of the amazing styrofoam-ball-and-toothpick-covered-in-silver-glitter orbs hanging from the ceiling around the tree.  They must have made quite a glittery mess but I remember them well. Was it a craft she did at Relief Society? Or some brainstorm she had on her own? I don't know (I'm sure she will tell us). And I'm sure we used them multiple years so they must have had to be stored away from year to year.

I also know this picture is at my house because those glass ornaments on our tree then are the same ones I still use on my tree! A lot have not survived but many did and I love how they sparkle when the lights reflect off of them.

I'm throwing this post together a bit haphazardly because I'm off to see the Corner Gas movie. It may not be a very Christmasy thing to do tonight but it feels festive.

02 December 2014

A Very Retro Christmas

My mom decorating the tree with her youngest sister, DaVeeda. 

Isn't this a great picture. I wish there were more pictures like this. I had forgotten about the metal light reflectors. When Mom sees this, she can share more about what decorations were put on the tree. I'd love to hear about the decorations she had in her family home.

And from 1955 - the classic "Never do a Tango with an Eskimo" sung by the English singer, Alma Cogan. I was listening to a YouTube video of two British girls (women) playing a Christmas "Name that Tune" with a 10 second clip. I hadn't heard about half of the songs they played but found a few new favourites in the mix. This is just the first one I'll share.  If you are going to play this clip, adjust your speakers - the first few notes will wake up your neighbours!

For some fantastic vintage and retro Christmas decor, check out my cousin's Instagram feed. She has an amazing sense of style and her photos are so much fun. I love the way she has decorated her home for the holidays.

A photo posted by @cgedlaman on

I haven't had a chance to decorate yet, so I'll just have to enjoy the lights outside and everyone else's photos for now. I love the few vintage decorations I have, but I have some pretty new ones too. I'm anxious to get at it!

01 December 2014

A Very Dickens Christmas

Image from the Calgary Herald

December 1 - a look at Christmas past (by one year).

One of the ways I wanted to celebrate Christmas last year was to enjoy as many versions of "A Christmas Carol" as I could. I'm a native Calgarian but somehow in the past 27 years that Theatre Calgary had staged this Christmas class, I had never attended. I inevitably left it too late and couldn't find 3 seats together on any night, any where but then I remembered that the University of Calgary alumni association buys a block of tickets that I was able to take advantage of and secure my seat. Buying this way also included a pre-performance reception with a Q&A with a couple of actors from the cast.

Loose Moose

I followed this up with another Calgary classic, A Christmoose Carol performed by the Loose Moose Theatre Company.  Same story but a very different take on it. This one had a "1950s" television approach and was frequently interrupted by a few words from the sponsors. Super fun!

A Christmoose Carol  (img from the Calgary Sun)


The fun now continued at home with some DVD classics. Blackadder's Christmas Carol is a backwards telling of the tale in which a very very good man who is constantly being taken advantage of is visited by the ghost who shows him the opposite ways but thinks how much better off his life would be if he were to be selfish instead of charitable. Okay - maybe not the right message for Christmas but so funny.  And he doesn't realize that his change of heart has cost him greater rewards in the end.

He refuses to go to the door and has his servant Baldrick send away the person knocking, thinking it to be another person begging for a hand out, knowing of his typically charitable nature. But it was really Queen Victoria!

What would the Queen be doing here?

She come to visit you to reward you
for being the nicest man in England
by giving you 50,000 pounds
and the title ofBaron Blackadder.
It couldn't have been the Queen
because when she visits people,
she leaves her Royal Seal.
- What? Like this one?
- Yes, just like that...

I also watched Mickey's Christmas Carol, the Muppets' Christmas Carol (love this one too!), and managed to get through most of  Disney's 2009 movie with Jim Carrey.

So if you are inspired to revisit this classic for yourself, here is a dramatization of the original story in full. Curl up with a cup of cocoa and warm throw and listen to the tale of Mr. Scrooge and his evening visitors.  http://www.mormonchannel.org/a-christmas-carol

Here's a musical selection for the season! Silver Bells


And here is a Christmas photo of the day:

Miss Madi at Zoo lights. Super cute, right? I love Christmas lights - it is that time of the year!

Come back every day as I count down to Christmas! 25 sleeps to go!

28 June 2014

The Trip part 4

We all traveled down to Ottawa together on the Thursday so that I could fly back home on Saturday.

We were treated to the hospitality of two wonderful families. I stayed with the Branch President's family and Dad and Tina stayed around the corner at the home of the former Branch President. I have met so many great people on this trip and their kindness and hospitality was truly appreciated.

President and Sister Brulé - my great hosts

Elder and Sister Rhodes with Brother Brent Conway (former Branch President),
my travel agent to get to Val d'Or and our Friday night tour guide
We arrived in Ottawa Thursday night and went straight to the Canadian Museum of Nature. On Thursday nights, museums are free, except for the special exhibit that we paid for and the main reason for going to this museum. 

The Canadian Museum of Nature, "The Castle" built in 1910 in the Tudor Gothic style. This was once the former home of the Museum of Civilization, The National Gallery of Art and even Parliament after the fire in 1916. (Picture from Tina)
I had seen posters everywhere for the exhibit "Creatures of Light, Nature's Bioluminescence" with a great image of a jelly fish. I had seen a fantastic jelly fish tank down at Epcot in Orlando and when I saw that the exhibit included live specimens, it sounded like a good choice. The poster and my expectations were not realized - sure the mushrooms that glowed were pretty cool but the live species were a few plants and a couple of teeny tiny fish with a little glowing light. No jelly fish! (unless you count the fake plastic creations displayed in the room). 

So not what I thought it would be but I loved the minerals section (took lots of blurry pictures there - more camera issues) and the birds and animals were displayed well although stuffed and the zoo is a much better way to see these. Oh well. 
Canadian Museum of Nature - including the skeleton of a blue whale - 19.8 metres
Saturday morning we enjoyed a yummy breakfast with the Brule family before heading down to Parliament Hill for a tour. The skies were grey and we had to pull out the umbrellas once or twice. We picked up our tour tickets and walked around the grounds until it was time to go inside.

Monument to Queen Victoria on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee.
It was first displayed at the Universal Exposition in Paris in 1900.

Statue of Lester B. Pearson, Canada's 14th Prime Minister and
recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to create the United Nations peace-keeping force.

The guide to the Hill tells visitors to rub his left shoe for luck. When I told Dad, he promptly put his own foot up on the plinth and rubbed his shoe. "I make my own luck." 
We had a tour guide from Alberta who took us in at the Peace Tower and through the Centre Block. I enjoyed seeing where the home of our Federal Government, where debates are held and decisions are made. Now I want to go back someday and watch from the gallery. But with the renovations (a 30 year project), when the West Block is completed, this building will be closed for its turn for renovations. I'm glad I had this chance to visit.

Tour of Parliament Hill, Centre Block
Top Left (clockwise) The Senate Chamber, The Centennial Flame in front of the Peace Tower and Centre Block,
the main door to the House of Commons, Coronation portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, The House of Commons,
Hallway leading to the Parliamentary Library
After touring inside, we completed our walk around the grounds. Such gorgeous lilacs and views of the Ottawa River and buildings nearby. Dad and Tina tried out the whispering wall and it really works! It was good to see the familiar set of sculptures of the women of "The Famous Five" that has its twin standing in downtown Calgary in Olympic Plaza.

Pictures from the grounds.
From top left (clockwise) Exterior of the Parliamentary Library, The Alexandra Bridge across the Ottawa River,
Notre Dame Cathedral, National Gallery of Canada, Statue of  William Lyon Mackenzie King,
Two of the Famous Five (Henrietta Muir Edwards and Louise McKinney),
Queen Elizabeth II, Robert Baldwin and Sir Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine
on top of a whispering wall

Friday night - we met Brent Conway for dinner and then got a guided tour from one end of Ottawa to another. We drove around the area by Rideau Hall, out to the Canadian Tire Centre, home of the Ottawa Senators, along the canal and around Dow's Lake, and finished up at Hog's Back Falls Park.  
View of the Ottawa River and Gatineau Shore from Rockcliffe Lookout, built in 1924
Hog Back Falls Park

Saturday morning was time for us to say our goodbyes. It was good to know that it was just for a short time and that I would see them again back in Alberta this summer. (update: approximately Aug 5)

We enjoyed pancakes at the Conway's home and we made a plan for me to get to the airport but still do some final sightseeing before my late afternoon flight. We drove down to the Byward Market area and parted ways. I headed over to the Notre Dame Cathedral to check out the inside. A beautiful building. 

Notre Dame Cathedral - a 170 year old basilica and a National Historic Site of Canada

After the Cathedral, I took a tour of the Royal Canadian Mint. It seemed fitting after my time in the Valley of Gold to finish my tour holding a 24 K bar of gold (under watch of a guard that did not allow a photo with him in the background).

"Lift a 24 K gold Bar, cast right here at the Royal Canadian Mint.
The bar weighs approximately 28 pounds."

And then my final walk through the market, finishing up with lunch at Wang's Noodle House.

Ottawa, Byward Market
Byward Market stall

Ottawa, Byward Market
Lunch in Byward Market - Wang's Noodle House

It was time to make my way to my meeting point with Genvieve - my ride to the airport and holder of my luggage. I'm glad we planned to meet outside of downtown - with the traffic all shut down from the road race on the weekend, I was happy to be traveling against all the cars trying to get to the city center. And glad to be heading home after being on the road for three weeks.

26 June 2014

The Trip part 3

Val d'Or
Elder and Sister Rhodes with Val d'Or behind them (Taken up on the Rotary Tower)

It was so nice to see Dad and Tina. They met me at the bus and after meeting the  missionaries next door, visiting and getting settled we headed to bed to be up for church in the morning.

Val d'Or
My room for the week

Val d'Or
The view from the apartment before church
Packing up for Sunday meetings

I woke up in Quebec. My high school french was not going to cut it so I had to use the translation headphones during Sacrament meeting. I attended the English Sunday School class and then I sat with Cindy, another non-francophone, in Relief Society,  following along in the English manual and scriptures and trying to keep pace with the class. I remembered spending the greater part of my mission doing this in Korea. Despite not having a high council speaker this Sunday, the branch met for soup and sandwiches after the meeting.

Primary painted Prayer Rocks, Lunch after meetings, Dad doing dishes - his way, I'm sure
Monday was Victoria Day - not the biggest celebration in Canada but maybe especially so in Quebec. So while some businesses were closed and people enjoyed a day off, we went on a walkabout on the main thoroughfare - 3rd Avenue, Val d'Or.  I was familiar with the area all ready because of my virtual tours using Google street view, so it was fun to see it in person. Up and down the avenue, businesses had set up front sidewalk cafe seating by adding boardwalk extensions into the parking spots. Clever idea if the parking isn't essential.

Val d'Or
This is the front door of the church (meeting rooms and offices on the 2nd floor) on 3rd Avenue.

Third Avenue, Val d'Or
Monday night was Men's Night. We dropped off Dad and went to visit with Josette. Loved her home and garden. She has a very welcoming place and it was a great visit.


Men's Night - we arrived in time for the end of the game and snacks. 
Tuesday included some shopping:

This is obviously a favourite spot considering all the great deals on items now in their apartment. Dad was looking at silk ties and leather belts. Tina found a next to new spring green jacket that looked great on her. I resisted but browsed the books, art and knick knacks.

Entertainment in Val d'Or - Thrift store shopping
We stopped in at the mall as well. I found a new t-shirt (my luggage included more formal clothing than I wanted to wear - especially in the humidity in Ottawa. After the mall, we picked up some groceries and I learned about the availability of some new sweet treats - I've never heard of sugar or maple syrup pie before. So I bought the maple syrup pie to take home. Yum - especially warmed up!

Val d'Or
Sweet treats in Quebec
I was also called to action to teach English class that night. The topic was already chosen for me and I didn't have a good sense of how comfortable everyone was with their English but we worked it out - I always know after what I would have done differently but it was fun. I made puffed wheat squares for the snack afterwards.

English Class - Working with partners

English Class - sharing Puffed Wheat squares after the lesson
Gold was discovered in this area back in 1923 and Val d'Or (which means Valley of Gold) is surrounded by mines. Copper, zinc and lead are also important resources in the area. On Wednesday, after walking up the Rotary Tower and taking pictures of Val d'Or,  we drove over to an area of Val d'Or called "The City of Gold". It is the mining village of Bourlamaque, and the Lamaque mine, closed in 1985 when the supply of gold was exhausted. It is now used for mining training and was declared a National Historic Site in 2012.

The Historic Mining Village of Bourlamaque

Val d'Or
Lamaque Mine (taken from the Rotary Tower)
We also drove a half hour out to visit the nearby town of Malartic a hub of mining in the region since 1923. In 2008, Osisko Mining found an untapped reservoir of gold under the town and is now the largest open pit gold mine in Canada. While I was there, this mine was setting records in gold production with a value of $72 million recovered. The mine has a viewing platform that is opened for visitors when blasting isn't taking place. I enjoyed watching the gigantic equipment at work. You can see more pictures of this area on Elder and Sister Rhodes' blog here.

Osisko Gold Mine
Before we went out to dinner, Tina and I stopped in to visit Madame Gabrysz, landlady for their apartment. She was delightful to visit - a real treasure and graciously took me on a quick tour of her home.  I could have spent more time visiting with her. She has quite a rich history and an creative and artistic sensibility. I took some pictures but more didn't turn out than did. I am still learning about my camera - inside close shots are not its strong point - it does much better with outdoor landscape shots and zooming.  But here are a few - more are here, including a photograph of her with Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

Val d'Or
This is a great photo of Madame, one that she is quite pleased with. 

Val d'Or
This room has items of significance from WWII. (She put her hair down for me - gorgeous)

Val d'Or
The mannequins are adorned with furs, scarves, jewelry, hold instruments and have Barbie dolls perched on their shoulders. Whimsical and so much fun to see the kitsch mixed in with items of real value - gorgeous Inuit sculptures, paintings, etc.  
Her artistic creations are whimsical and so much fun, you will see the kitsch mixed in with items of real value - gorgeous Inuit sculptures, paintings, etc.   Madame Gabrysz is featured in a French documentary about her and the priest from the local Ukrainian church, The Cossack and the Gypsy.  Here's the trailer.

Our final meal in Val d'Or was poutine - what else would you eat in Quebec?

I am so glad I was able to come to Val d'Or and share in this missionary experience. Dad and Tina are happy and making a real difference in people's lives - they are loved and they love the people right back. I know they will be sad to leave but it will be great to have them back home again.

Elder Thia and Elder Luggo- saying hello

Val d'Or
Elder Luggo and Elder Thia - saying goodbye
My visit in Val d'Or wouldn't have been the same without the Elders next door. 
They greeted me my first night and bid me farewell before I left. 

And in between, we had fun sending messages using the communication method of a clothesline that extended from our balcony to theirs. The interesting accessories when they came to say goodbye was referencing a picture that had been delivered earlier. 

It all started when we noticed the message "Hello Lovely Neighbors!"  

Messages to the Missionaries - using the clothesline delivery system

Val d'Or
The Elders ready to teach the people of Val d'Or
We left Val d'Or Thursday to head down to Ottawa for some final sightseeing before I returned to Calgary. We stopped at the Chutes du Lac Roland as we headed south. 

Chutes du Lac Roland

The three of us on a roadside break at the falls
My trip is not over yet - a few more days left to tour Ottawa. More in the next post!

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