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Monday, 30 December 2013

Happy New Year

 Andre Rieu and bagpipes - Auld Lang Syne

The last of the season

An evening at Butchart Gardens and wonderland of lights ( The 12 Days Of Christmas)

This has become a season tradition and we've gone with family and/or friends before or after Christmas . It's one of the most beautiful gardens in the world and pure magic at Christmas.

It's a fond farewell to a most amazing year. We took an amazing trip to our roots and visited cousins and friends, - and my more ethereal photo greeting cards began to sell. There have been changes in our families, challenges and heartaches, yet we prevail.
What can I aim for in the new year? more mindfulness, letting go of expectations, better relationships and my biggie  of less procrastination.  The list is long and as my Zen habits prompts, maybe one challenge a month might be more easily doable.
Namu myoho renge kyo -and just breathe!!

Blessings to all and happy Hogmanay to my Scots cousins. Bhliain nua sásta  to our Ireland and Bliadhna Mhath Ùr  to the wild highland hearts. 
Buon Capodanno a Caterina e Roberto e tutti in bella Italia and ευτυχισμένο το νέο έτος  to my Nick!!

 the sunken garden

Jewelled tree

the tunnel in the slumbering rose garden

gate to the Italian Garden

the snail garden

The night garden- the opening looks onto the lagoon where you get a glimpse here of the 5 Golden Rings

                                                        one of the nine lords(frogs) a leaping

outdoor ice skating with hundreds of kids

some wild highland hearts and one Irish hooligan send us a greeting

Tamra calls these "the creepy puppets"

Friday, 27 December 2013

A Few Season Bites

Close Encounters at the Mayfair Mall on Boxing Day
This is actually the ceiling design at the Food Court but looks like a space ship about to swallow up all the greedy Boxing Day Sale shoppers or those ungrateful souls who are taking back unwanted gifts etc etc.
This ship would carry them off to Santa's "Work House" (a little bit of Dickensonian allusion ) which is a small snowy planet  a little outside and to the left of Rigel, - part of  the Winter Hexagon of the night sky. Once there they would have to make gifts with their own hands and imaginations in Santa's sweat shop for a whole year or until they find the true spirit of giving in their hearts.
I have no idea why I wandered into this Mecca like pilgrimage on Dec 26.  I actually got a touch of vertigo as I was swept along in  a circular wave around the Mall reminding me of those devoted who swirl around the Ka'aba except that this was not a spiritual quest and of a decidedly more mundane and less noble nature.  I finally got the bedsheets I wanted after standing in line for 1/2 hour and then headed exhausted and confused outside to Starbucks for respite. But alas, the lineup for a life giving jolt of dark roasted caffeine went right around the corner, so in a daze I  managed to drag myself to the bus stop and homeward to my eventual collapse - but with a nice espresso and  eggnog with a dash of rum on the couch - much better than Starbuck's!!
" A small matter to make these silly folk so full of gratitude"
Every year I watch "A Christmas Carol" on Christmas Eve - the best one- with Alastair Sim! I have a collection of Christmas movies that are a must, including "A Christmas Story"  and Disney's "Narnia" and the "Polar Express."  The all time fave though has to be "A Christmas Carol". I still weep at the ending. I am so old to remember singing aloud carols and my parents and friends dancing in the rec room. - Oh, the days before computer games and uncensored television ( and we had a time limit on how much we could watch!)
Fire truck toy run in View Royal Christmas Eve

 a few happy and grateful celebraters at Christmas

                                                                                                  Merry Christmas Darth Vader

Come over to the dark side, we have chocolate chip cookies

Thursday, 19 December 2013

a poignant season and Christmas Past

"Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it" 

the jeweled tree at  Butchart Gardens

This last week has been full of memories, as my mother's birthday and then my brother's came and went. There is a deep sadness and longing for the ghosts of Christmas past.  I still feel and remember the anticipation, the hope, the magic, the baby Jesus, and our family

our little drummer boy
I've had this angel sitting on my mantel ever since my father died some years ago. It always reminds me of him as he so loved Christmas. His eyes would light up like a child's when he stood back from decorating the tree while the sounds of a Yuletide Pavarotti played.   Our house was never dull and on Christmas day it was aglow with a spirit of generosity and good cheer, - and arguments too as no one could ever agree on anything including who was going to make the coffee or drive to Mass.  During the day the house filled up with family and visiting friends and the smell of mom's great cooking. I still remember opening cherished picture books under our tree,  my sister opening her box to find the frilly dress of her dreams, my brothers with their trucks and trains, our grandparents sitting smiling on the couch calling out each of our names as they handed out the gifts while dad immediately crumpled all the wrappings up to burn in the fireplace (a little Christmas OCD!!).

One Christmas eve night Toto the dog ripped open all the presents looking for dog treats which she knew were there somewhere but instead found a box of chocolates and we woke up to a mess of Christmas wrapping and vomit  and her hiding behind the couch looking so miserable and ashamed.

Every year Mom made what she called the "wife saver" breakfast, put together the night before with a hodge podge of ingredients similar to Scottish "stovies" or hash but with eggs included in the mixture. So after Mass we ate, and then the treats were laid out and we ate again and ate all day long. It was a raucous time with the mix of Celtic and Latin temperaments and I won't deny that many got into their cups as well.
But something was special there as even after we had grown and moved out we all came home every Christmas for years as though we never left.

In later years I watched my own daughter in squealing delight, pull the wrappings off a Barbie doll house with a battery run elevator!!!  This year I go to her place for Christmas dinner.

How many Christmases are we given?  We never know who will be lost but also who we will gain.  Children grow and have children of their own. We celebrate in different locations now as ordained by our own life's circumstance. We can drift apart and come together as in a dance. 
In the  blink of an eye filled with the sparkle and light of this magical and holy season we enter a new year.  May this angel and the baby Jesus hold in the warm light those who are loved and missed this Christmas, father and mother, grandparents, all-  and our  dear brother who made us beautiful stained glass birds one year and gave Dad (as one fisherman to another) a fish mounted on a plaque that sang "Take me to the River" which gave us all a good laugh.   God bless us everyone

a very old clip from the family movies-Dean was a wee baby and Vicki got her dress.

More Christmas Past
I'll be home for Christmas if only in my dreams-A Tribute

Our house on the hill

With great sadness I heard that
our once lovely old home beside the University lands is no longer standing.  The neighbourhood has grown over the past  years and fell prey to rezoning. It is now upgraded and modernized into an upscale urban community, in other words in just a few short years, almost unrecognizable. One more lesson of the changeability of this life and to seize each moment fully as it is given us,  and  then also to be able to let it go. (the harder of the two)

A melody of yesterday remains playing in our hearts as mom waves a welcome to all through the frosty kitchen window and we with hearts of Noel are walking up the road to step through that front door again!!
"Yes, the news­pa­pers were right: snow was gen­eral all over Ire­land. It was falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, fur­ther west­wards, softly falling into the dark muti­nous Shan­non waves. It was falling too upon every part of the lonely church­yard where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and head­stones, on the spears of the lit­tle gate, on the bar­ren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the uni­verse and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the liv­ing and the dead."-  James Joyce

Dean lighting candles before the Grace- ten or more people would eventually sit down to dinner

Blessings on the dear old house and on us all and to those
                   still cherished and remembered in the book of life, we will
meet again

and now to embrace it all, joy and sadness together and go and make a proper cup of tea!! (Pema Chodron)


Tuesday, 17 December 2013

An absolutely silly and wonderful season

the ridiculous
with my little garden buddy "Indy" the adventurous earthworm

and the sublime
the winter path


by CybeleMoon

Wishing you a magical Christmas
( I said he'd be back)

and more of the same from last year

Sunday, 8 December 2013


a little phantasmagorical at the Uptown Centre

One magic night of many
The Royal Theatre which opened in 1913, Victoria's first cultural venue,
it has been home to concerts, operas and plays and later, movies,
but is now live performance only.
This is my first Christmas event this year. 

I remembered what a magical delight the ballet Nutcracker really is.  The Alberta Ballet put on a spectacular performance last night and it totally swept me away as live performances often do. In spite of the incredible special effects of modern film (which I love) there is a special electrifying energy that  flows between audience and players at a live performance. Whether it is the soaring sounds of opera or symphony, the driving rhythms of Rock  or the liberating motion of dancing bodies you find it takes a little longer to come back to earth after being beamed up into that other world of  mystery and art, story and passion, caught in the living currents of breath and body, sight and sound, time and space.

Downtown in the freezing cold

Yates Street


We  grab a bite to eat and warm up at

The Bay Centre Gallery

and then head around the corner to the theatre where we meet a timid mouse.

and a big thanks to Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Victoria  who gave lots of children and young people the chance to attend and to go back stage and try on costumes and meet the performers.

including  our dear "Tittlemouse." who ?
Hint: she doesn't like cheese!

click on photo to see more Nutcracker Video by the Alberta Ballet-
a visual treat

Nutcracker video

Thursday, 5 December 2013

First Snow!!

This is my favourite season both filled with hope, light and magic and also the sadness that accompanies memories of past joys and camaraderie. This is a season that renews itself with it's symbols of rebirth, salvation and grace and we must constantly reinvent ourselves also.

My favourite path of the heart with a first dusting of snow

                                                                                                     Snow berries in the park

Across the cove

and finally the warmth of  hearth and home