Saturday, December 31, 2011

My friends the Shepherds

I love reading this story freshly each year. This year I also borrowed a whole collection of illustrated childrens Christmas books from the local library. The lady serving me asked if I had a child. I shook my head and sheepishly asked "Am I still allowed to borrow this many?" Thank goodness she answered yes. My favourite people in the story are the Shepherds.

As always, my plans for hand made cards to be posted a month in advance and extraordinary-recycled-home-made-and-baked-ingeneous-gifts never seem to work out quite as (or anywhere near how) I hope or envision in the months preceding. I had also (theoretically) planned to take a break from technology over Advent but that was easier said than done. Until our internet connection failed that is, and our landlord went on vacation to Fiji for a month. Not having internet over Christmas made us feel really disconnected from family and friends in Australia but really wasn't the end of the world. Here are a few photos of Christmas in our home.

Looking back through photographs of the year it truly has been an incredible time of exploring Vancouver and Canada beyond. Making new friends, starting a new job, a new college for Josh, a new church, moving home a few times... There have been lots of firsts. I have had the 4 seasons I so hoped to find, and I have learnt about many other seasons of life. We've also missed out on many births back home and the joy and pain of ordinary life. We think and dream about Brisbane often.We look forward to returning. But for now, we love our home here.

We're grateful to so many people who allowed us to leave, welcomed us, befriended us, taught us, lead us, made us laugh and cry and prayed with and for us. We're learning more about each other and growing in commitment to our wonderful Saviour. Goodbye 2011. Hello 2012.

The photos above in order:
(housemate) Matthew with our Christmas tree and advent candles with a wreath made from herbs
the view driving home from school on my last day
stained glass cookies - also Matt's handiwork
bare trees outside
all 5 advent candles alight on Christmas eve (project for 2012 - make beeswax candles...)
frosty rooftops
local quinces from which I made quince paste... which was a lot of effort and not that impressive :(
making real egg-nog - delish!
evergreen boughs above the windows
our real tree - a Grand Fir
and our full house after morning prayer one December morning NB: not all these people live here all the time but all have at some point over the last month.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The last of fall

It feels like summer was late arriving in Vancouver, but hung on tightly in September  with a last glorious burst at the end there. Then fall happened all of a sudden. On the 17th of November we had the first snow (snow on the mountains doesn't quite count). At my school it snowed at home time. What a thrill! A lovely thin white dusting of snow. It looked like they had received some new electronics in heaven and the polystyrene packaging was being (carelessly, though undeniably beautifully) thrown down to Earth in the frenzied excitement of the angels. I need to add this type of snow to my other technical drawings. (A few days later we had even more snow - this time it was shaved ice style.) Perhaps there will be a thesis in this work one day... Anyhow, to keep the colour lasting a little longer, here is some more of this magnificent time they call fall (it's always been autumn to me) as we welcome in Winter and the Advent season.
This last image is the view out our kitchen window. A few windy days was the only difference between the first and last picture. One upside to the bare branches is a better view of the city and mountains.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Laundromat sketches

Ok so only the top one was actually from the laundromat this Saturday but I found the others in my sketchbook from over the summer. The "Washing Well" as it's called down the road (as we don't have a laundry facility at our new place) fluctuates in my mind from being a really novel and exciting local hang-out, to a massive drag (lugging 2 large baskets down our slippery stairs (landing flat on my bum), walking in the pouring rain etc... you get the idea). I'm going to make a point of enjoying this time though. Cup of tea, sea salt chocolate and a sketchbook should help...!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Granulated white sugar snow

sparkles-on-twigI love the way untouched snow sparkles in the sunlight. Like finely granulated white sugar. sparkles-in-focus
Last Sunday we visited Cypress Mountain to collect our ski/snow-board passes and to see the first snow of the winter. We walked a trail I had been on with my school kids a month or so earlier. Now the track was icy and the lake was frozen over. The yew trees are beginning to bow under the delightful burden of snow. It's still fall in the city, but winter has arrived in the mountains! As we've been dedicating our Sunday Sabbaths to ceasing from work and study, resting and celebration, Sunday is also our day to explore creation. This Sunday we hope to get back on our snowboards again - Yipee.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


the mustardy house on the right is ours
this is the view from the balcony off our bedroom
This is my first Fall. In Brisbane, back home, what we call Autumn is a lovely season of cooling down for the winter but there aren't a great deal of noticeable changes. Trees don't lose their leaves. So, I love seeing changes around Vancouver as the trees tell us it is time to get ready for the shorter days, the cold and the rain. I think it's beautiful that even in a busy city, the trees are still so connected to the cycles of life on this Earth that we can't avoid the messages they tell us.

Kicking and crunching leaves is something I do with the enthusiasm of a child. I've never had to rake leaves off the pavement before so thankfully our neighbour Annie is friendly and helpful (and patient) and has lent me their rake and some technique training for filling bags. Through Sunday afternoon leaf raking I was also able to meet our neighbours from 2 doors down who have lived in this neighbourhood (same house) for 63 years. I hope to hear their stories some day. I'm saving the leaves in garbage bags for our compost throughout the year.

One afternoon recently when admiring colourful* leaves I had the realisation* that the more they change colour, the more they fall and thus loose their colour and before long the branches will be completely bare - for many long winter months. People do get a little sad about the winter here, and I was really feeling for those naked branches until I saw the first new snow on the mountains driving to work last week. I was cured of any winter sadness. The trees will be beautiful, are beautiful, even in their bareness. I love the change of seasons, there is something to be loved about all of the different times of year.

*I think it's great that Canadians and Australians share many spellings, where Americans don't.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I love school

This 'gift' I received from a cute little boy today just made my heart sing. I love being back at school and in the classroom with children again. My grade 2's are just gorgeous. And I love learning WITH them.

My Canadian experience is certainly all the more richer for being back at school. I get a bit choked up every assembly when I sing the Canadian anthem. And last week we did an investigation into why trees loose their leaves - fascinating.

I love the crafts we make and the terrible jokes they tell on Tuesdays at sharing time. I love it when they sound words out themselves and come up with beautiful new spellings that communicate EXACTLY what they meant them too.

Monday, October 10, 2011


Last night we had a thanksgiving dinner in our home. Our (Josh and myself's) first Thanksgiving and hopefully not our last! It was fun to all pitch in. Steve made a beautiful roast turkey and some yam mash, Matt made delicous stock and stuffing from scratch, Josh whipped up a gravy (using said stock and delicious juices) and I tried my hand at a cranberry and jalapeno sauce and some potatoes. Jen arrived back from a big weekend away in New Orleans (gifts in hand!) to a warm house wafting of home-baked joy. Someone read this poem which was perfect for the occasion.

We give You thanks
for You sustain us
with real food
and real drink.
You nourish us with friends
as real as food
with joy as clear as water
with love as good as this meal.
This is enough.
We do not ask for more.
This is more than enough
reason to bless Your name Forever.
Make us always mindful of those
who do not have enough food
and friendship
water and love and joy.
Give them enough
that they too may be thankful

Mary Jo Leddy from Radical Gratitude


Some other photos from Thanksgiving long weekend (Canadian date is about a month earlier than the US). The bean photos are of Steve roasting coffee !! on our (currently messy) back deck. Imagine that, home-roasted coffee! Oh and the pictures at the top are my first fall experiences captured. Have I ever mentioned I love the seasons?!