Winter blues.

Ahhhh, winter.  The time of year that brings me the least inspiration, after Christmas that is.  It’s grey, cold and just miserable.  The lack of sun and warmth on my face is depressing and just blah.  I have decided to spend time looking for inspiration at the Jean Talon Market.   snapseed-11I was in search of colour and definitely found it.  Not quite as vibrant as I hoped for but colour, nonetheless.  Jean Talon market was what I needed. snapseed-8

Sometimes, all you really need is a new perspective on things. The morning trip to the market temporarily eased the pain of the last remaining weeks before spring.  I made some purchases and even bought a basket to carry my produce in, mimicking that summer time market feeling.

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snapseed-14After January, there is that long stretch to March-April when the weather warms up and things start to thaw and blossom. I say March-April because we just never know which month will bring on the thaw.   I can almost smell the spring flowers.  I already imagine the tulips and daffodils popping up through the frosted earth.  When the snow is gone, things seem much simpler.  No big and heavy clothing.  No scraping and warming up cars.  Everything is easier and more pleasant.

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I look forward to sitting on the dock, overlooking the lake and dangling my feet in the water watching a sunrise or sunset.   I imagine the loons in the distance calling for each other, and hearing the laughter and squeals from children jumping in the lake. I imagine campfires and s’mores and dancing fireflies all around. My partner and I BBQ in the winter sometimes, but somehow it lacks the enjoyment of a simple summer BBQ when you’re surrounded but mounds of cold snow.  I miss summer.

pexels-photo-55529I am lucky though as I will be making a brief get-a-way to Roatan, Honduras to recharge for a week.  I am counting the days to March 12.  A week in balmy temperatures and quality time with my partner that both he and I deserve.   Ahhhhh.  I can taste the rum and pineapples already.

christmas-beach-vacation-panorama-two-sun-loungers-santa-hats-beautiful-tropical-white-sand-perfect-63573575Soon, I’ll prepare the plans for my garden and yard.  This is the summer of building a compost and bat houses.  It’s been put on the discussion table as we sip wine in front of the fire-place. I know, it sounds just horrible. Wine, a crackling fireplace and puffy white snow surrounding our home.  I mean, how can you get tired of this? Well, I’m done with it.  Guess I’m more of a non snow person as I get older.

I think winter would be more appreciated if it weren’t so long and so cold.  Maybe its the time of year for reflection and planning for new things to come?  In the meantime, think I’ll make a rum and pineapple and prepare a hot stew with my colourful market produce.

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Slowly letting go

img_4922-1As I sit here and text my 15 year old son about how we want to celebrate his sister’s 18th birthday next week, I come to the realization that both my kids have grown up and no longer need me,  unless it’s for a ride.  They don’t even ask for money anymore.  They are tax paying citizens now. When did that happen?

Their father and I divorced 3 years ago, but he and I have a pretty solid relationship considering we call each other “the EX”……   Yes, we don’t always agree on things,  but for the most part we get along pretty great, so much so that my daughter thinks it’s weird. Sometimes planning birthdays, vacations or other things gets a little tricky as we still plan as a family, only now we’re two families instead of one.  Today and last nights texts were about who, how and where we will be celebrating her 18th. In the span of a 30 minute back and forth texting tango with my son, my mind wandered off and I remembered how when they were little, and all they wanted to do was hang with mom and dad. The excitement of being together on a weekend to pitch a ball or ride a bike has fallen to the way side.  I, their own mother have been replaced by a “buddy” or a “bestie”.  It’s odd now  when we trying planning things as they no longer submit to my schedule, but rather discuss options to best suit their needs and schedules, in a grown up manner, of course.  It’s rather comical as the roles have reversed.   Now I’m the excited one when we plan activities.  I’m giddy with anticipation of all the fun we will have.

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I am mom!!!  I birthed and raised them, nursed every scrape and scratch.  I sat up through vomit spells and bad dreams making it all better.  I read every Dr. Suess book over and over again with excitement, not just for them but for me as well. They loved when I acted out the characters.

We pitched indoor tents and had pretend camp fires.  Broken hearts were mended as were torn clothes.  I watched them sleep, felt their breath on my cheek. We sang songs and recited nursery rhymes countless times changing the words to suit our moods and silly themes.   My kids are the greatest gift I’ve ever received and the hardest one to share.

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I’m at the point now where I sometimes feel like the family pet that’s left behind when everyone is out having fun. I think most of us have been there.  You leave the house and your pet sits at the window watching you drive off.  Briefly you look back at the house where your pet sits and pines over you leaving.  You’re filled with regret for not bringing it along, but then the excitement of your day surpasses your emotions for it, and  you’re no longer thinking about your pet but rather the adventure ahead.  This is how I feel at times.  The lonely stare as my kids disappear in the distance.  Then I run off and  forage through the pantry to find something to eat while no one is looking.

I guess that’s life and I’m not the only parent that feels this way. I have embraced old and new hobbies to fill my time, and welcome any and all excitement.  It’s great to let them go knowing that I’ve taught them what I could, and I know they value the time we do spend together.  I’ve taken a back seat in their lives now and that’s ok.  Their life is theirs to live to the fullest and I love watching them do it.  I’m just the back seat driver mom now, unless they need a ride somewhere.  I’ve accepted that I know the time will come where they fly the coop.  I love them with all my heart, but I’ve always maintained that they were never mine to keep.

 

 

 

I’m with the men on this one.

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Oh boy, I think this will ruffle some feathers but we are all entitled to our opinions and I have one too.

I have to admit that lately I feel bad for the position my male counterparts have been put in, and I wonder if I am partially to blame as well?  Why?  Because I am a woman.   Let’s face it, with all these allegations and accusations of rape, sexual misconduct and harassment these past few months, men have been stripped of their ability to be men around women. It seems that any encounter that isolates a man and woman could possibly be the downfall of a his career and personal life.  They are dropping like flies.

The women who have come forward these past few months, and who have shared their experiences are incredibly brave, and their accusers should be punished to the full extent of the law, if proven guilty of the acts and accusations.  I am not taking anything away from the rape charges and sexual advances, and there is no denying that rape removes ever ounce of a woman’s self-worth.  That being said, I am sexually harassed on a regular basis, but I also know that sometimes actions and words can be misconstrued on both sides.   It’s not just the men who flirt and make comments, women are quite capable as well, and yet it always comes down to the man’s actions in the end.  As if she was never there and had nothing to do with it.   I do enjoy a little fun banter as long as the opposite sex understands that it’s not an invitation.  That has to be understood on both sides, not just the man’s.  Anything beyond that needs to be addressed and stopped in its tracks to prevent unwanted verbal comments or physical advances.

My big beef with the past events that have been brought to light is the fact that all these women waited years to come forward and confront their accused,  up to 20 years and more for some.  My other beef is that most of these women had the opportunity to leave the situation they were in, and rather freely, I might add.   In my opinion, if a man asks me if he can pleasure himself in front of me, I guarantee you that I am leaving and not sticking around, unless of course, I find it somewhat flattering.  No job is worth being degraded for anyone’s sexual pleasure and it should not be considered flattery.

I feel the lines of communication between men and women have changed drastically and for the worse, and I am saddened by it. All the good men of the world can no longer be themselves when alone with a woman that is not his partner/wife.   I feel that the odd encounter between a man and woman can become a situation that has men question those few minutes and wonder if he is safe from accusation.   Women have been given a power that I am not proud of.  We have been given a power that now keeps men on constant guard and concern and all these men from the past are now subject to a witch hunt.  Men are being held at more than an arm’s length and viewed as potential accusers becuase that’s what seems to be expected now.   Again, I’m not saying that the  accused should not be punished for their acts, but I hope that they are accussed for actual proven facts and no just allegations that can’t be proven because of he said, she said”.

I hope men and woman can again function in an environment where we are all equal and not considred less than or entilted because of our sex, but rather be free to communicate without fear of being accused or suspected.  I hope that this is not the way women take over the world.

Killing time.

Passing the day while walking around my home town.  Montreal shops were closed, but it still allowed for nice photos. A trinket shop offering up some lovely images.

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snapseed-3Penguin making a quick get-a-way. This is what I would like to do right now.  Get away from the cold and head south.

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snapseed-2Mmmmm……..Joe Beef.

snapseed-5Warming up with a little something other than hot chocolate.  Some times you need a shot of liquor to heat up the blood flow.

Off to home and soon bed.  Another long week ahead. Wish I had more time for the things I love.

Bonne année

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As I sit here in the  -42 frigid Canadian temperatures, I truly look forward to the upcoming year.  2017 was a great year with wonderful stories and fond memories, but I always like adding a number to the new year and seeing if things will be the same or different and how things will change either for good or bad.  I find the new year is always a crap shoot.  Win or lose, just deal with it.  The new year is a growing opportunity even though we don’t always look forward to the unknown challenges ahead.  Growth is good for the soul and teaches the young and old.

I look forward to seeing my children grow this year but also my relationship with my partner of almost 3 years. We’ve been through some tough times, yet we always come out on the other side of the storm.  He and I both have strong opinions, but we compliment each other in our own way.  We like to discover new places together and share a love for photography.  He has shown me how to capture and appreciate the beauty of life through a lens.  Even though time doesn’t stand still, photography captures moments in time allowing you to relive them when feeling nostalgic.

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I love Christmas as it’s not so much about enjoying the company of family and friends, but it’s also a time of reflection, relaxation, love and peace.  It’s about sleeping in and random outings.  Coffee and reading in bed before running out.

I enjoy the morning drive to my daughter’s new job and hearing about her day on the ride home.  The same goes for my 15-year-old son who just started a job too.  He loves counting his tips at the end of the evening and talking about the customers he’s had.

Not taking anything away from my partner, but my kids are the two most important people in my life. Their youth keeps me in check and keeps me young.  They let me see things in a different light and still keep my imagination young and fun. Their eyes are my future.  Their enthusiasm and dreams help me reach mine through their bright out look and innocent view on life.  I have enough daily stress, why not enjoy seeing things through the eyes of our youth and find our way back to our dreams.

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The count to the new year is on and 3 days away.  This year my partner and I decided to stay home and just be us.  No friends, family or running around.  Just us.  Couple appreciation time.    My kids will be with their dad and his girlfriend (who I think is amazing) and they’ll all be ringing in the new year together.  As for us two, well we’ll be sharing some sparkly champagne and good food while reminiscing about the year we leave behind.

I wish everyone the very best in the new year.  I wish you all love, happiness and great challenges ahead.

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Ahhhhh, Paris.

Our flight from Hamburg to Paris via Eurowings  was just over an hour.  We arrived at  Charles de Gaulle airport  and took the Metro right into Paris.  The travel time was about 20 mins but honestly, I wasn’t really paying attention to the time. I was more interested in the sites.   Less than 48 hours in Paris.  GO!!!!!

First stop:  Le Louvre.  A strange building and although I’m not an art connoisseur, I guess this is a pretty interesting landmark.  A triangular glass structure, and the museum that holds some of the worlds most famous pieces of art.  Mona Lisa’s painting resides here amongst other famous ones.

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Place de la Concorde , this structure can hold its own and I rather like it. Not as tall or spectacular as the Eiffel Tower but it is the site where some interesting people were guillotined.  “Let them eat cake”, said Marie-Antoinette. She and Louis XVI, to name a few were guillotined right there.  A grim fact, but interesting nonetheless.

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We walked the streets and the whole time I thought to myself, I need to come back.  48 hours is just not enough time.  There were so many photos I wanted to take.  I wanted more than just the tourist trap photos.  I wanted to capture the people, the city and just take it all in on my own time.  Unfortunately, the clock was on.

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There was photographer eye candy on every corner.  I could have taken picture after picture .  Everything was so impressive.   IMG_2446The people were just as interesting.  They appear to come off as rather rude but they were not.  Despite what I’ve heard about Parisians, it was not the case.  They have an “I don’t care about you” attitude but every one I talked to was more than friendly, helpful and courteous. I was pleasantly surprised and will correct people when they say “Paris folk are rude”.  No more than anywhere else.  It’s just a different vibe.

Notre Dame.   Quite a beautiful church.  I kept looking for Quasimodo to ring the church bells, but no such luck.  This was a place of celebration.  There were street performers, couples walking and holding hands, and others just sitting and enjoying the view.  Notre Dame is surrounded by tiny streets all providing delicious treats, Bistros and beautiful restaurants.  Everything within a short walking distance.

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No introduction required.Untitled Design-6  The Eiffel Tower. The visit of a lifetime finally came true. My whole life I’ve dreamt that one day I’d see it in person.   This is such a spectacular structure and I was certainly impressed by it.  I saw it by day and by night and both visits were different in their own way.  The day visit to me seemed more of an excursion, a must see in Paris.  A glass of champagne at the top, and a breath-taking view.  It was interesting to walk around the summit and search for all the other places we’d walked earlier that day, only much smaller. The wait was no more than 1.5 hours all the way to the top, including the security check, ticket purchase and line up to the top.  They had several elevators going at the same time which seemed to speed things up.  All things considered, The Eiffel Tower was fairly priced and not once, did I feel pressured or rushed

We went back to see the tower at night, and that’s when the magic happens.  The tower is even more beautiful lit up.  Every 30 mins the twinkling lights come on and it’s breathtaking.  I don’t think it matters if you’re alone, with a lover or friend but the tower emits some sort of spell that romantacizes the whole experience.  A glass of champagne at the summit at night is an experience in itself.  Sipping on my flute of champagne, I wondered how many marriage proposals have happened up there over all those years. Ahhh………l’amour.

Paris, is definitely going to be a return trip but at a more leisurely pace.  The time we had was to short  to absorb everything.   A good tip:  good walking shoes.  They are a must.  The metro service is great and you’re definitely able to get around by foot to everything.  It’s not about the fashion when walking there, it’s about comfort. Wear good shoes!

Back to Hamburg and then back to Canada.  I was lucky to hear that Montreal still hadn’t had any snow.

 

 

 

 

A whirlwind of travel.

 

IMG_2271The trip:  Canada-Germany-France-Germany-Canada.  My itinerary: NONE!   The gift of time, personal space, solitude and a nice glass of Pinot Grigio to get me started while waiting for my flight out of Pierre-Elliot-Trudeau Airport, in Montreal.  This wasn’t just a trip to Europe, but rather a trip to reconnect with my family, friends, my roots and explore the culture I know so well.  More of a refresher course, I guess.  I’ve always kept up and maintained as many of my German traditions and cultural habits as best I could in my Canadian life, but living it in its actual environment drives it home.

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My walks along the streets of Hamburg were just like when I was a kid.  The sights, the sounds and smells seemed engrained into everything around since my last visit. As if it was all preserved just for me, for my return. The weather didn’t participate much, but it did not phase me one bit.  In my heart it was always sunny.

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I walked, bicycled and looked at buildings and structures that have more stories to tell than most of us have stories combined.  Hamburg Rathaus , Hamburg’s city hall has been here since 1897 replacing the previous one that burned down in a devastating fire. A beautiful structure that represents the strength of its city and people.

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Deichstraße, the oldest street in Hamburg dating back to the 14th century.  It survived the great fire of 1842 and I’m glad it did.  What a remarkable little spot.  Quaint, lovely, and appealing to the eye.  This little street speaks volumes, telling tales of the ongoings of its past.  The fine details, the smallness that surrounds Deichstraße magically transports you into fairytale.

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Hamburg is not just about buildings and history, but much more than that.  It’s about the people.  It’s about the food.  Combined, they make Hamburg what it is. The Hamburg folk have a way about them.  They are very honest and direct but at the same, very jovial.  They love their city and it shows.  They are proud of their city’s history and take pride in continuing a lot of old-time traditions and ways that were observed going back many generations.  Probably, one of my favourite places that does so, and most entertaining Sunday mornings is the fish market.  This place is open Sunday mornings only for a few hours but it’s the busiest, most popular place in town.  It’s been around since 1894 and I swear it hasn’t changed. The vendors, the beer, the dancing, buzzing with people looking for a deal.  Women and men filling their woven baskets and bags with fruits, veggies from local farmers, and fresh fish caught over night. Everything in one spot and only until 10:00 am.  After that, the place is deserted.  Like nothing ever happened.

Lebkuchen was always a favourite treat as a kid and still is today. I brought back quite a few for my loved ones in Montreal.  What a sweet way of making some one’s day with a love note on a cookie……..YUM!

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And who doesn’t feel a little relief when they see those popular golden arches?  This clock let’s you know the restaurant name, location, AND  time…….brillant.

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IMG_2338For me, if we’re talking about old-time favourites, it’s all about the Curry Wurst.  It’s what I’ve dreamt about the most leading up to my trip and it’s what I ate and savoured the most.  The memories that this sausage brought back for me was worth the 20 year wait.

I was lucky to have been invited to a friend’s house for lunch and was asked what meal she could prepare that I haven’t had in a long time.  Only one came to mind.  It was one that my mother made so well.  Birnen, Bohnen und Speck mit Kartoffeln.  Translation:  Pears, beans and back bacon with potatoes.  They have to be boiled potatoes, nothing else.  WOW, what a treat that was.  My friend nailed it.  Home sweet home, I thought.

This was one of the best trips I’ve ever had.  Not just because I returned home for a quick visit, but because I got to experience a lot of different things while I was here. We did so much.

The trip back home to Canada was bittersweet.  I wanted to stay in Germany longer but my family and work were calling.  As much as I missed my loved ones in Montreal, Hamburg will always be that special place where no matter what, it’ll always feel like I never left and I’ll pick up right where I left off.

 

Up, up and away!!!!

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Europe bound.   Heading back home to Hamburg, Germany with a quick get-a-way to Paris, France.  This is a trip I’ve been waiting for most of my life.  Well, the Hamburg part only the last 20 years,  but Paris, all my life.

Born in Hamburg  I’m not a stranger to this lovely place, however, I have not returned in 20 years, so I’m quite anxious to see family, and friends. I’m curious as to how it’s changed too.   I am looking forward to Schmalz Brot, Currywurst and Heringsalat, just to name a few.

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By chance, I’ve rekindled a friendship with a girl who’s parents and mine were very close for many years back in our youth. Our families would visit each other regularly both here in Canada and back home in Hamburg.  Whenever I flew to Hamburg for Christmas or school holidays I’d always see my friend Melanie and we would have the best of times together.  A few times she came to Canada and stayed for a quick visit with us.  Not sure what happened, but our parents parted ways for some “grown up” reasons and I never saw her again. Thank’s to Facebook , that all changed and we found each other again.  It had been more than 30 years since we last spoke but she managed to find a way to come to Canada for a visit 2 years ago, and the joy was overwhelming.  We just started up again where we left off, never missing a beat in conversation and fun.

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So, this time it’s my turn.  I’m climbing on board a jet plane tomorrow and heading home.  I grew up in Canada.  I was 3 when my parents immigrated here but my heart is still in Hamburg.  I spent so much time back there in my youth and early 20’s that it seems like I never left. All my family was there and to me, it was the only place where I truly felt like I belonged and sometimes I still do today.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Canada and my little home town.   I’ve built an amazing life here and my roots are deeply planted.  I love my family and friends and the life I’ve built here but,  Hamburg will always be my first, true love.

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Melanie and I have planned so many outings. The excitement begins as soon as I step foot onto Hamburg soil.  3 days in Hamburg, then off to Paris for 2,  then back to Hamburg for 3 days before returning to Canada.

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The excitement of this trip is killing me for all the right reasons.  My bags were pretty much all packed a week ago and now I’m just waiting for the time to pass to head out the door and fly.

I am so blessed with this opportunity and intend to make each minute of my visit count. Looking forward to posting and sharing my adventures with you.

 

 

 

 

 

New beginnings.

horse photoJust over 2 weeks ago, my daughter Sam and her horse Leo moved upwards and onwards to a new barn.  They left for a barn that works with a special group of people. Autistic and handicapped kids.  Here, Sam works as the barn hand and eventually towards certification to work with the kids as well.  I on the other hand, have signed up for volunteering.  Volunteers with horse experience are a little harder to come by so, why not?

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Leo, her Appaloosa was a slaughter bound horse.  He was 14 years old and had less than minimum training when the two bonded.  She has ground trained him to do tricks and to be a patient friend to her and she to him. They have both come a long way and following the natural horsemanship training method seems to be the right fit and the only one we both follow.  Their bond and training is based on trust and an unbreakable partnership.

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Enfants en équilibre is a place where kids with special needs can be around horses as though they were their own.  They get to feed, groom and ride the horses along with the   close supervision and help of the trainers and their volunteers.

I invite you to visit their their site and see the wonderful work that co-founders Joannie and Devon have created.

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