Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a wonderful holiday season, however you celebrate it.

The tree is trimmed, the house is decorated, now I’m waiting for the spirit of Christmas to arrive. I don’t care about presents, I just want to be with my family and am looking forward to having our youngest son at home. And hoping we can spend some cyber time with our eldest son and his family. We’ll be going to our brown-eyed boy’s new house for dinner to celebrate with him and our daughter-in-law, along with some of her family.

This will be our first Christmas without Mom, and her absence will be felt by so many. We still miss her every day, but during the holidays her loss is more poignant. She’ll be with us in our hearts and in our thoughts.

As I look towards the New Year, I wish all the best for everyone. May it be a great year, full of love, and laughter, and good health. I don’t want to be greedy, so I won’t say “May all our wishes come true”, but how about – most of our wishes. I’m confident a few of mine will! Happy New Year!

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The Quest For Thanksgiving Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian family and friends!

It’s my tradition on Thanksgiving Day to reaffirm all I’m most grateful for. The past year has been another difficult one, both personally and on a worldwide scale, making me dig a little deeper to find gratitude.

The new year couldn’t have started worse. I spent the night of New Year’s Eve alone in hospice, watching my mom breathe, afraid if I closed my eyes for a moment she might slip away. Two weeks later, I once again sat alone, watching while Mom took her last breath. As heart wrenching and sad as this was, I hope she felt my love and knew she wasn’t alone. She’s left a big hole in my life, and I continue to think about her every single day, but I’m grateful her suffering is finally over.

Barely two weeks later, Hubby and I cruised around Cuba. I didn’t know how I’d be able to set aside my sorrow and enjoy this trip we’d been looking forward to for many months. But I did. I really enjoyed it and found the peace and relaxation I badly needed. So I’m grateful for that. And I’m grateful we got to learn about another country and explore its beauty.

In April, a vitreous hemorrhage in my right eye turned my world upside down. Two surgeries later, my eye still has no functional vision. I’ve lost a lot because of this, but I’m grateful my situation isn’t worse. I’m grateful the surgeons were able to save my eye. I’m grateful I still have some vision and, even if I’m currently struggling, I will adapt to this new reality.

And I’m very grateful I have a loving and supportive husband. He’s been a constant through all of this, doing whatever he can to make my life easier.

I’m thankful for the gift of my children – my three boys and two daughters-in-law. Although I wish I saw or heard from them more often, I’m thankful they’re all healthy and happy and busy in thriving careers. I’m thankful I have two gorgeous, bright, affectionate little grandsons – and I’m especially thankful they came to visit me, not once, but twice, this year!

I’m grateful to spend this Thanksgiving weekend with my firstborn son and his family. Both my son and his wife were born on Thanksgiving Day, two years and two days apart, so it’s an extra special time for us.

And I can’t forget my tiniest blessing. I’m thankful to have had Roxy in my life for another year. The old girl is very fragile and depends on me for all her needs, but that’s okay because I love her to bits and will treasure every moment I have left with her.

I’m grateful to have found a new home for my first two novels. Show No Weakness was released through Roane Publishing last April, and It’s Complicated will be released in December. It’s wonderful to have those book-babies back out in the world.

So, once again, I’m thankful I have reasons to be thankful. I hope you do, too. Happy Thanksgiving!

Stepping Away…

Thank you for stopping by my blog. Monday Musings is currently on hiatus while I tend to other projects. I’ve left links below to some of my more popular topics in case you’d like to browse. I promise most of them include gorgeous photos.

Or you can pop over to my bookshelf or excerpts if you want more information on my books.

I’ll see you all in a few months. Happy reading!

Link to:  My experience with torn and detached retinas

Link to:  Cruising around historic Cuba

Sunday Funday Adventures – Exploring the Okanagan

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Link to:  Beautiful beaches and hiking trails on Vancouver Island

Link to:  Monkeys and more at Sandos Caracol and Riviera Maya

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Link to:  Fun in Palm Desert and San Diego, California

Steamboats on the Old Man River, trolley cars and beignets…Adventures in New Orleans

Icebergs and rowhouses…Exploring Nova Scotia and Newfoundland

Favourite Furry Pets – And a few not so furry ones, too

 

An Ode to My Hubby on His Birthday

Happy Birthday, sweetheart. I wish we could celebrate this milestone birthday the way you deserve. Please accept a rain check to do something as special as you are, as soon as I’m able.

I’m not a poet, so none of this rhymes, but I mean every word.

Thank you for rushing me to Vancouver on such short notice after putting in a full day at work.

Thank you for battling Vancouver’s crazy traffic to take me to all my appointments without losing your cool…too much. 🙂

Thank you for taking such good care of Roxy and me. You might get a tad bossy at times (just a little bit), but I know you always have my best interests at heart.

Thank you for blowing a week of vacation to stay home and nursemaid me. It couldn’t have been very exciting, but I really appreciate it. I don’t know what I would’ve done without you.

Thank you for doing all the laundry (and other housework). Just because I tend to refold things and reorganize where you’ve put the towels doesn’t mean you’re not doing a great job.

While I’m not sure what the future holds for me, I do know you’ll be there by my side, bolstering me and encouraging me, no matter what happens. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your unwavering support. It means the world to me—and so do you.

I love you!

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend to all my Canadian Friends and Family!

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It’s been another tough year, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to write about Thanksgiving gratitude. Then I read over my past Thanksgiving posts and changed my mind. Because they’re just as relevant today as when I first wrote them, I’ve incorporated some of my thoughts from those posts into this one.

Thanksgiving is a time to spend with loved ones and, if we’re lucky, eat really yummy food. It’s also a time to give thanks for life’s blessings. Compared to so many places in the world, here in Canada, we have much to be grateful for. Thanksgiving will always hold a special place in my heart because I became a mother for the first time on Thanksgiving Day. There’s little in my life I’m more thankful for than the gift of my children.

As I look back at the past year, I see so much sadness, tragedy and anxiety, both personally and in the world, in general. I struggle to find gratitude, so instead I have to accept that sometimes bad things happen to good people for no comprehendible reason. Good things happen as well, and this is where I must seek gratefulness. Even though it’s sometimes hard to find life’s joy, it’s there, hidden in many little things, and I give thanks for that.

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I’m thankful my physical health continues to improve. I’m stronger and leaner and in less pain than I’ve been in a long time.

I’m thankful Hubby and I have had many Sunday Funday adventures this year, having great fun while exploring our beautiful outdoors.

Despite not getting to go to Alberta this year to celebrate Thanksgiving and his birthday with my oldest son and his family, I’m thankful to have family to share Thanksgiving with, and that Hubby once again cooked a delicious turkey dinner for us.

I’m thankful I’ve seen my kids more often this year, and that we were all able to spend a day together for the first time in three years.

I’m thankful I have two gorgeous, bright, healthy, affectionate little grandsons who love me very much, as I love them. And I’m especially thankful they came to visit me, not once, but twice, this year!

I’m thankful Hubby and I are able to look forward to the winter vacation we just booked.

I’m thankful that my aged little Roxy is still with us, and despite the health scare she just gave me, I’m thankful she’s slowly getting better and isn’t in too much pain.

Although I wish my mom didn’t have to take cancer treatments, I’m so thankful she isn’t experiencing many bad side effects.

I’m thankful that, although we’re far from wealthy, we don’t really want for much.

I’m thankful I have reasons to be thankful.

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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I hope you too can find much to be thankful for in your lives.

Sunday Funday Wrap-up

On a Sunday Funday in the middle of July, Hubby and I set out to explore Kathleen Lake. Access to the trail is off Knox Mountain Road, and we intended to drive to the top of Knox Mountain, then walk the short distance down the road to the trailhead. What we didn’t know is that on Sundays the road is closed to vehicle traffic until noon. So we hiked up the Apex Trail to the first lookout, then took the road up.

An elevation change of eighty metres is listed on the entrance sign, and we found the trail easy, without any real steep sections.

1 Kathleen Lake Trail 2 Kathleen Lake Trail

We got a peek or two at Kathleen Lake along the first part of the trail.

3. Kathleen Lake Trail

As we climbed higher, the small lake came into view.

4 Kathleen Lake Trail

At that point, we branched off onto the Glenmore Ridge Trail. It appears to have been an old service road and vehicle tracks serve as the trail, which is lined with a multitude of Inuksuk.

6. Glenmore Ridge Trail 7. Glenmore Ridge Trail

Some of the Inuksuk are quite large and elaborate.

8. Glenmore Ridge Trail 9. Glenmore Ridge Trail

I found this little notebook inside an Inuksuk and wrote a short greeting in it. What a lovely idea.

10. Glenmore Ridge Trail

Our lunchbreak view of Dilworth Mountain and the Glenmore Valley. Even a glimpse of the lake in the opposite direction.

11 View from Glenmore Ridge Trail

5 Glenmore Ridge Trail

Hello up there.

12 Glenmore Ridge Trail

Back on the Kathleen Lake Trail, we followed another old service road. Very unusual to see green foliage in the middle of July. There’s usually little green to be seen midsummer in the Okanagan.

13 Kathleen Lake Trail 15 Kathleen Lake Trail 21 Kathleen Lake Trail

The upper lookout on Knox Mountain is visible in the centre top of this photo.

14 Kathleen Lake Trail

Kathleen Lake from a better vantage point.

16 Kathleen Lake Trail

Such a look of concentration on my face as I inch my way down the precipitous slope to the lake. After my tumbles on Okanagan Mountain, I’ve grown a tad cautious going downhill.

17 Kathleen Lake Trail

The small lake was lush and green and peaceful. Well worth the trudge down and back up the steep incline.

18 Kathleen Lake Trail

Way back when Hubby and I were first together, I once explained to him while on a road trip that I was so blind, I couldn’t tell a bear from a stump. Over the years, he’s teased me many times: “Look, there’s a bear!…No, it’s just a stump.”

Maybe this time, I’m right. Look – there’s a bear! (Dead centre)

19 Look, there's a bear, Kathleen Lake Trail

Oh, no…it’s just a stump.

20 No, it's only a stump, Kathleen Lake Trail

Well, it could’ve been a bear. We were definitely in bear country. And although we didn’t come across any actual bears, I finally got my first deer sighting on Knox Mountain.

22 My 1st deer sighting on Knox Mtn

The following Sunday, we hiked up to the Rose Valley Reservoir on the Westside, one of my most and least liked hikes of the season. I loved how well-marked this regional park’s trails are. There’s even a clean porta-potty at the trailhead.

We started off on the Bunchgrass Trail, a short .6 kms and rated moderate.

23 Bunchgrass Trail, Rose Valley Regional Park

Bunchgrass meets up with Yellow Bell Loop, which is 3.1 kms and also rated moderate. A small pond borders the start of the trail.

24 Yellow Bell Loop, Rose Valley Regional Park

Tiny, tantalizing peeks of the lake promised better views to come.

25 Yellow Bell Loop, Rose Valley Regional Park 26- Yellow Bell Loop, Rose Valley Regional Park

Benches are placed at viewpoints along the trails, offering a chance for a breather and to take in the beauty.

27. Yellow Bell Loop, Rose Valley Regional Park

Kelowna waterfront and Dilworth Mountain in foreground.

28 Kelowna waterfront & Dilworth Mtn

WR Bennett Bridge and Kelowna city

29 Okanagan Lake from Rose Valley Regional Park

Knox Mountain (where we were the prior weekend)

30 Knox Mtn

Okanagan Lake, looking north

31 Knox Mtn & looking north

Mere steps further were views of Okanagan Lake from the Westside.

33 Okanagan Lake & Westside

City of West Kelowna, with Mount Boucherie (I’ve climbed that!) to the right and Okanagan Mountain (I’ve climbed that too!) across the lake.

34 Westside & Mount Boucherie

The Forest Loop branches off from Yellow Bell. This is an easy 2 km trail.

35 Forest Loop, Rose Valley Regional Park 36 Forest Loop, Rose Valley Regional Park

Next comes Bitterroot Loop, 2.8 kms and probably the most challenging and definitely the most interesting. The trail circles the top of the mountain, and at times is barely discernible, as the following photos attest.

37. Barely discernible trail, Bitterroot Loop, Rose Valley Regional Park 38. Barely discernible trail, Bitterroot Loop, Rose Valley Regional Park 39. Barely discernible trail, Bitterroot Loop, Rose Valley Regional Park

We took a break on this rock to soak in the view.

40. Bitterroot Loop, Rose Valley Regional Park

Close-up of Kelowna waterfront and Okanagan Lake.

43 Kelowna waterfront & Okanagan Lake

WR Bennett Bridge and Kelowna General Hospital.

42. WR Bennett Bridge & KGH

Vista view lunchbreak.

44 Lunchtime, Bitterroot Loop, Rose Valley Regional Park

Off we go again.

46 Bitterroot Loop, Rose Valley Regional Park

Rose Valley Summit, Bitterroot Loop.

48 Summit, Bitterroot Loop, Rose Valley Regional Park

Great view looking north from the summit.

49 Summit, Bitterroot Loop, Rose Valley Regional Park

Rose Valley Reservoir, a lovely oasis of water on the top of a mountain.

51 Rose Valley Reservoir 52 Rose Valley Reservoir 53 Rose Valley Reservoir

Another bench for our viewing and relaxing pleasure.

54 Rose Valley Reservoir

I made myself a little dizzy, going out on this bluff to check how steeply the trail drops off.

55. Bitterroot Loop, Rose Valley Regional Park

It’s steep.

56 Bitterroot Loop, Rose Valley Regional Park

The reason I’d earlier said this hike was one of my least favourite is because, although there aren’t any steep inclines, the entire hike is steadily uphill, with few flat sections. That wasn’t a problem, but steadily uphill also means steadily downhill. Not only have I grown leery of descents, they’re extremely hard on my feet. By the time we reached the bottom, my Morton’s Neuroma was screaming, making every step an agony, and my two big toenails had partially lifted from their beds – owie painful.

57 Bitterroot Loop, Rose Valley Regional Park 58 Bitterroot Loop, Rose Valley Regional Park 59 Yellow Bell Loop, Rose Valley Regional Park

We took advantage of the last bench on the trail to rest my feet and enjoy one final view of the lake. Total distance walked, about nine and three-quarter’s kms. And yeah, I’d do it again, with different footwear.

60 Last viewpoint, Yellow Bell Loop, Rose Valley Regional Park

We had company on our last Sunday Funday in July. My eldest son and his family came to visit from Alberta, making this Grammy very happy. We spent a gloriously sunny evening at Waterfront Park.

61 Waterfront park 62. Waterfront park 65 Waterfront park 66 Waterfront park

Even the dogs came along. And we won’t mention that Sukie, the lab, fell into the lagoon when she went for a drink. 😉

63 Waterfront park 64 Waterfront park

Fantastic panoramic shot my daughter-in-law took.

67 Waterfront park

And that’s a wrap-up of our Sunday Fundays…at least for now. Go to first Sunday Funday post here.