Monday, 26 December 2011

Christmas Day

Once again, we were blessed with a very special Christmas Day surrounded by family, dogs, cats, thoughtful and delightful gifts, and a bounty of food and wine. Thanks to everyone who helped and played their part: from Great Grannie who made the best Christmas pudding and rum sauce ever, to Mer & Dustin for hosting in their lovely home, to Jenn & Warren for playing with 3 year olds and cuddling baby Maisie, to Brian and Jane for buying and bringing Mr. Turkey. 

After traditional breakfast of eggs benedict, broiled tomatoes and kippers, we settled into the in mayhem of presents - the kind of mayhem that only two three year olds can bring! Followed by a lazy day of snacking and visiting, and then an early dinner.  I was home with Nana (Great Grannie) for an early night of reading and resting. 

Boxing Day will be chilling with Merry and kids, lunch with an old friend, and then overnight cat-sitting of my own cats!  Really looking forward to a quiet evening with Whittington and LizzyBetty, turkey sandwich and bubble & squeek, accompanied by a cheap bottle of red wine. And two lovely greys draped over me as I watch old movies :-)

The pictures say it all . . . 

'Chubby Cheeks' at Christmas Eve dinner at the Spaghetti Factory

Christmas Eve Dinner

The tree and all the presents - a bit out of focus, but the only one I have.

Great Grannie, Jane and Jenn

The table set for dinner, with Christmas Village set up in the background

Owyn shouts with delight when he opens his train from Grandpa

Owyn, Lizzie and Warren are into the train

Maisie loves the wrapping paper - she often was chewing it.

What would Christmas morning be without a cat in a box?

Lizzie in her new coat and boots from Dadddy (she is wearing her new bathing suit underneath)

Owyn and his Dad putting the train together

Owyn is not sure about sharing his train with his cousin . . . .

. . .  who has now taken over the train with her bag of chips :-)

Great Grannie with Maggie on her lap

Lizzie and Daddy chilling

Warren playing with the 3 year olds in the garden

Maisie with her Auntie Jenn

My favourite picture: Lizzie in Chritmas dress, Jamaica T, goggle on her head, hockey sweater in one hand, cousin Owyn on dog leash in the other. Owyn was happy being the dog and she was happy leading him around. We are showing this picture on her wedding day.

Christmas Dinner

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas Is Coming

It is Christmas Eve, my favourite day of the year! I arrived safely and happily in Vancouver early on December 17th after 21 hours of flying and waiting in airports: Kingston-Toronto-Edmonton-Vancouver.  Yes, Edmonton, where I spent 5 1/2 hours in the airport from 1 am to 6:30 am.  That's the route you get when you book on points. It was wonderful to arrive at YVR and have Lizzie, 3 1/2, running across the arrivals area screaming "Nana, Nana, Nana!" - there were definitely some tears on my part. 

Have been very busy with family and friends, flitting between staying at Jenn and Warren's in Coquitlam and my Mum's in Abbotsford.  Have been eating all my favourite foods, baking butter tarts and mince tarts, shopping for gifts and groceries, and watching Christmas movies.  Using Mum's car and reminding myself to drive on the right side of the road!  Weather is cold and crisp at night, but now looks like we are going to have a rainy Christmas with no snow.

Family dinner tonight, watch A Christmas Carol (the original B&W with Alistair Sim, of course), then to Meredith & Dustin's for Christmas Day.  I will be making the traditional family breakfast of eggs benedict, broiled tomatoes and kippers. My daughters now take charge of the dinner, leaving me more time to play with grandkids. 

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas with family and friends. 

Some pre-Christmas pictures . . . .  will post again post-Christmas . . . 

Back in Canada for Christmas!

Bedecked in boots, coat, scarf, toque and mitts.  Ah, to be cold again :-)

Auntie Jenn with Maisie enjoying the beautiful decorations at the garden centre in Coquitlam.

Auntie Jenn with Maisie and Owyn, waiting to ride Thomas the Train at the garden centre.  A lovely afternoon outing.

Maisie and Lizzie having fun in the bath. Owyn and Maisie spent the night, with Maisie sleeping with me.  Fun to see the cousins all together.

Daddy's little girl.

Another family tradition: riding the Christmas Train in Stanley Park and seeing all the lights

Jenkins Family


On the 23rd we took all the kids to the Vancouver Aquarium.  We were the first people in the door and there was hardly anyone there. I think we might have started another tradition. We had several galleries all to ourselves. 

Auntie Jenn and Maisie looking up at the turtles in the large tropical tank.

Lizzie snacking as she watches the belugas

Lizzie dressed as a dolphin in the children's play area


Lizzie ad Owyn playing dolphins and going "meep, meep" - too funny

Lizzie, Auntie Jenn and Maisie watching my favourite, the otters.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

International Volunteer Day

In recognition of International Volunteer Day, the Council for Voluntary Social Services/National Volunteer Centre hosted its sixth annual "Day of Care" for the homeless in downtown Kingston.

It was held in St. William Grant Park, which is the centre of The Parade and the downtown core: the place where all the buses finish their routes to "town"; the place where all the markets are located; the place that is awash with hawkers (higglers), street people and all sadness of humanity that you could imagine trying to stay alive on the streets. 

The day provided meals, clothing, hygiene bags (tissue, toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, wash cloth), eye exams, blood pressure and blood sugar testing, HIV/AIDS testing, mental health counseling, and hair cuts and manicures.  We had planned to have physicians for general health checks, but they did not arrive - we must confirm this for next year as there was a huge demand for all the medical services. 

It was certainly chaotic at times, particularly when the clothing station opened; and also when the lunches arrived on Jamaica time - two hours late!  People had been lining up for two hours for the food for two hours, fortunately in the shade of the trees.

The Day of Care takes a lot of organization, many volunteers, donated goods, and financial support to buy the things we cannot receive by donation.  Thank you to everyone who supported the event and made it a successful day. 

Jamaica's finest, the Jamaican Constabulary Force, were there to help

Registration desk - that's Alex in the white shirt, a fellow CUSO volunteer; and Eileen in yellow from the Hellshire Kiwanis; and Ann-Marie in the blue shirt.  The ladies from the Kiwanis were incredibly helpful and hardworking - they even gave me a ride home! And Alex is moving back to Canada on Tuesday - thanks and well wishes to you, Alex!

One of our customers

The girls from St. John's Ambulance doing blood pressure checks

Two ladies enjoy the attention of the day

Three ladies enjoying their mid-morning soup and patties, thanks to the generosity of Juicie Patties

A customer, carrying his belongings on his back

Volunteers sorting and preparing the clothing distribution

Trying to manage the crowd awaiting the clothing

The lads from the Boys Brigade organized and were central at the clothing station

The "Bashy Bus" from Children First, who provided the HIV/AIDs testing, hair cuts, and manicures

The United Way of Jamaica was a major supporter - thank you!

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Goat's Head Soup on the Beach

It is not even December and I have been to my first Christmas party. The Jamaica Hash House Harriers (JH3) had a change of venue and time this year and opted for an afternoon party on the beach at The Boardwalk near Fort Clarence. A good time had by all!

A few hours of sunning, swimming, dancing and drinking beer and rum - yes, that is together and it is called a "steel bottom".  One does not want to have too many of those and remain vertical. And just when you are hungry they serve "Goat Water", which is the local term for Goat's Head Soup. Nothing like a hot, steaming, cup of Goat's Head Soup on a hot day. Very delicious, though one might be prudent to leave the grisly bits with hair attached in the bottom of the cup. This was followed by the tasty meal of curried goat (there are a lot of goats here), rice, and some kind of chicken (a meal is not a meal in Jamaica without some kind of chicken). Erin found some onions in the line, but I missed them so she shared hers with me - very good. 

As the sun went down, I suspect some were off to an after party that may have continued to dawn. My continuing-to-dawn days are over, so Sats and I were very pleased to hitch a ride back to Kingston with fellow hasher, Louise. 

The story is in the pictures . . . 

My new JH3 Christmas shirt - I always take the pictures, so am never in them!

More shirt

Some managed to hitch rides to the beach, but Sats and I were relegated to the bus. Took bus from New Kingstonn, 15 minute walk from homes, then changed at The Parade (downtown bus terminal area) to #1 to Hellshire. This is The Parade on a Saturday morning..

Hustle and bustle of The Parade

Amid the hustle and bustle, a beautiful church and beacon

The Parade is awash with hawkers (locally known as 'higglers'). These little girls sat with their Grandma who was selling penny candy, etc. It is a long day for them and a very hard life.  I bought some peanuts from their Grandma

Waiting for the bus

The Jamaican Urban Transit Corporation (JUTC) has an excellent, advanced bus system. Buses are new, air conditioned, clean and the drivers are exceptionally helpful - if you are not at the stop, just wave your hand and they will stop for you! This is where Sats and I got the #1 to Hellshire, stopping at Fort Clarence for the party at The Boardwalk

The Boardwalk

The Boardwalk - note Erin, already dancing it up,  on the far right. She got there early and I think well into the party before we arrived

Samar and Erin enjoying the 'soca' music. This is all new to me.

Proof that the JH3 really is a drinking club with a running problem. Except no running today; just a lot of standing in the ocean with suitable libation

The Boardwalk bar and restaurant

Beach at The Boardwalk

Sats and Erin in serious conversation

Kim, Maree (president of the Canadian Women's Club - CWC), and Del

Samar with her JH3 Christmas T.

Boats at The Boardwalk

These boats are not derelict. They are active fishing boats.

The girls serving Goat's Head Soup and other delicacies