I Like That

I Like That
See, hear, taste, touch and inhale the wonders of the world.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Packing a Bear Gerber

I LIKE THAT Frank gears up for hikes, no matter the destination. On the last day in December 2011, we bundled up for a winter hike on one of the Campbell River trails. I sported a wool toque, a puffy down-filled coat, gloves, running shoes, a scarf and a small backpack to hold my camera, water bottle, tissues and lip protector.

Frank wore his tam, a military-style camouflage jacket, wool kilt and socks, hiking boots, and his Gerber Bear Grylls fixed-blade knife with its attached high-shrill whistle.

We parked our vehicle on the driveway of the Elk River Timber trail, walked around the barrier and headed down the wide path. I was fascinated by the common views of bush and trees while at the same time an overturned tree or a narrow path leading to who knows where caught my eye and curiosity. It looked to me like hooligans loved the trail also because they had spray-painted their tags on whatever surface would take it.

It was a refreshing walk. The weather was cool enough to keep our pace brisk. I stopped once and awhile to take photos of bear tracks and dear tracks along side the bike and human prints on the soft trail surface.

After an hour we turned in our tracks and headed back to our van. Luckily the Gerber did not have to be pulled from its safety sheath.

Bear Gerber knife on hip

Hiking trail in Campbell River

Monday, December 19, 2011

Alligator Soup

I LIKE THAT Frank and I had brought along a translation book on our first excursion to China in 2005. We wanted to be certain that what we saw posted on a huge billboard hanging from a popular restaurant in the city of Yichang in Hubei province was what it boasted.

Yes, indeed, the specialty was alligator soup. We entered the establishment and were guided by an elegantly dressed young woman to a table near the large plate glass window that overlooked the courtyard. I ran my finger under some of the Chinese characters on the menu and said, “Bu e yu.” The waitress didn’t respond as I expected her to. I was looking for acknowledgement of my request, at least with a nod. I repeated the phrase. No response.

 Frank gave it a go with his pronunciation technique and still the young woman did not respond. Frank repeated the phrase.

“Yes, I know,” the server said. “What would you like?”

We smiled and laughed and became fast friends with Riya and later, her friend, Junior, which we learnt to pronounce properly as Julia. Riya explained that she was very nervous to speak English and did not trust her pronunciation. We assured her that it was lovely and that she was very patient for having allowed us to pronounce ‘no alligator’ in our version of Mandarin.

We spent our first year in China in this city of 1.4 million teaching English at a middle school. On our days off, we would meet with Riya and Julia to explore the city. We shared meals with them several times and it was a magnificent adventure every time.

Surrounded by food in China
Alligator - our Specialty

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Alias is a Lion

I LIKE THAT Grayson is such a tender soul. Frank and I drove to our grandson’s hometown for his birthday and took him out for lunch. We settled down with a savory sandwich each and sipped on chocolate milk. After our meal, Frank presented Grayson with a wrapped gift. He admired his name in big letters on the wrapping paper and spelled it out loud to his proud grandparents. He pulled at the clear tape, saw the box label inside and expressed his joy.

“Oh, Grandma and Grandpa, you got me a big box of Cheerios. I love Cheerios,” he said.

“There’s more to it. Look inside,” Frank said.

He pulled away more tape and tugged at the soft toy. He pulled out a colourful lion. We asked what he wanted to call the lion and he said, “Alias.”

Together we made a song about Alias.

♫ Alias is a lion, he likes to say roar, roar.
  Alias can be gruffy but he’s very, very stuffy.♫

We sang the little jingle all the way home to his birthday party where his family had prepared the house with colourful balloons. A well-crafted Spider Man cake was put before him and the gathering sang Happy Birthday.

“How old are you, Grayson,” someone said.

The smiling boy spread his fingers in one hand and said, “Five.”

I'm five!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

URAL Bikers Deliver Food

The URAL Bike group of Campbell River lit up their bikes and followed Santa on his ride to deliver food. Inspired by the work being done by 99.7 FM The River radio station, the group stapled posters to paper bags supplied by Save-on-Foods and delivered them door to door in their neighbourhood. The generous folks of Campbell River came through with a donation of over 228 kilograms in nonperishable goods. The bags were retrieved by the URAL bikers and delivered Tuesday evening to the Relief Truck parked in Mariner Square.

“It was so much fun we think we’ll expand our drive to more neighbourhoods next year,” said Dianna, one of the delivery team members.

Santa loves his URAL bike with sidecar

Sunday, November 27, 2011


An open-minded group of listeners and presenters gathered at the library in Campbell River, BC, Canada to celebrate three readings from the book “The Moment I Knew”. The moment the door closed to the hustle and bustle sounds of book seekers was the moment we knew that we had settled in a safe environment and could share moments in our lives that had caused us to pause and contemplate life.

Anne Nikolic read How Detachment Changes Everything by Susan Black and asked, “Does this story resonate with you in any way and, if so, how or why?” The conversation took off and was shared by the attendees. The topic discussion lasted a full fifteen minutes and then the timekeeper shook the little bell to announce the end of that session and the beginning of the next. Susan Black read Birthday Wish by Noelle Sterne and asked the group what moment in their lives stood out for them. Each person shared their moment while the rest of us sat listening, humbled by their candid contribution. Judy Hollywood read Complete Unknowns and Rolling Stones by Elizabeth Willse. We contributed our feelings of searching for our place in this world. The discussion was lively and revealing.

The energy exchanged at this most passionate gathering is something that I look forward to again. The Moment I Knew Reflections from Women on Life’s Defining Moments has more stories in it – one is bound to resonate with any reader.

Thank you to Sugati Publications for the Reflections from Women series.

The Moment We Knew

Friends gather for book promotion

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My Heart Caught Up With Me

I LIKE THAT Frank finally got himself a family doctor. Last month he woke up with a half-moon shape blocking his vision in one eye. He could see over the obstruction but it was very annoying. We went to the emergency department at the Campbell River hospital.

“I wonder if it has anything to do with the detached retina thing a few years ago?” Frank said.
“Hmmm, I wonder,” I said.

According to the emergency doctor it had nothing to do with a detached retina and everything to do with high blood pressure. He made arrangements for Frank to see an ophthalmologist right away. The specialist told Frank that he had suffered a burst blood vessel in his eye and was lucky that it was a small one because a rupture of a larger vessel would have caused him to be brain dead or blind. Frank remained stoic at the news. I took his cue and stayed as calm as I could.

Follow up appointments of blood work resulted in Frank being diagnosed with high blood pressure and an enlarged heart.

“Your heart has been leaking blood all these years and has caused your heart to pump harder than it should and so it is enlarged as a result,” the doctor said.

Frank is now taking Quinapril http://www.medicinenet.com/quinapril/article.htm and a baby Aspirin once a day.

“I guess my heart has caught up to my age,” Frank said. “Boy, turning sixty-nine has been a kicker.”

I could sense his sadness and disappointment that he could no longer ignore his leaky heart valve and succumb to taking a prescribed drug. His leaky heart valve had been detected in him when he was a young man, but the doctor at the time told him not to worry about it. He never did. And now, we both take care.

My heart caught up with me.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Pride and Remembrance

IT WAS A COLD AND STORMY MORNING. The citizens of Campbell River braved the elements to witness the annual march of our war veterans, respecting those who have passed and those who are involved in keeping the peace these days.

Frank and I stood in a doorway across from Spirit Square in the downtown core, and joined in the pride and remembrance of the people who gave up so much for our freedom. We chanted O’ Canada together without a lead singer and clapped our mitten-covered hands as the Parade Marshall directed his obedient followers in a sure-footed stomp along the roadway. It was a humbling scene of young and old men and women dedicated to our right to safety, free speech and orderly conduct.

Everyone was invited to gather at the Royal Canadian Legion afterwards to be served a free lunch. God bless the Ladies Auxiliary and their humble dedication to service. The Campbell River Legion Pipe Band made themselves known by circling the tables and blasting their tunes. Ah, the bagpipes.

Until next year…

Celebration of Remembrance Day
Pumped with pride

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Eyes Have It

I LIKE THAT Cynthia L. Pauwels is still so infatuated with her husband’s eyes. At a young age their eyes met and he took control of her heart and maintained his loving embrace throughout their thirty-five year marriage to present day.

The story “Powerful Eyes of Love” in the book The Moment I Knew is a contrast of past ghosts and a hazel-grey-eyed ghost buster.

“The eyes are the windows of the soul”, said by Cicero years ago, brings a romantic sense to my mind. I make a special effort to look into a person’s eyes when I’m speaking to him or her. Some people have smiling eyes that seek to meet your soul. Others have downcast eyes and choose not to reveal themselves. A number of people have a twinkle in their eyes and bring a smile to my face.

When was the last time you looked into someone’s eyes?

The Eyes Have It

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

"One Punch" Packs a Punch

One Punch, Lisa Ford, pg. 66 

Ms. Lisa Ford, one of the thirty authors of the book The Moment I Knew, let me know that the punch she received really hurt her. Her descriptive writing style put me in the vehicle with her and her son. I could feel the electrified tension between the two of them, then - Pow! She got hit in the arm. It took my breath away.

It was a shocking and deliberate incident. Her son’s action was the moment I knew I would have retaliated right then and there. However, Lisa’s gracious patience suppresses her immediate reaction to the punch. Later, her survival instinct kicked in and she remedied the situation in her own way.

“It only took one punch.”   Sugati Publications Rocks!

Sources: Hans Toby, fotosearch

Friday, October 21, 2011

My First Baha'i Funeral

On October 21, 2011, for the first time in my life I stood in a cemetery beside a coffin before it was set into the ground. It was the first time I attended a Baha’i funeral. It was the first time I heard the Baha’i obligatory prayer for a funeral, Prayer for the Dead. It was not however, the first time I had cried for a deceased acquaintance.

The ceremony for Arlene Beverly Shimeld was conducted with dignity and respect attended by her family and her friends. I imagined her body wrapped in a traditional shroud of silk or cotton, and on her finger perhaps there was a ring bearing the inscription "I came forth from God, and return unto Him, detached from all save Him, holding fast to His Name, the Merciful, the Compassionate", but I couldn’t be sure. The wooden coffin was closed, draped with a narrow cloth of sophisticated patterns and garnished with a flower arrangement.

I stared past the casket at the groomed grounds and watched leaves flip and fall to the earth. My thoughts formed the sentence, “October is a good month to die.” The change of season offered up strong winds, rich fall foliage and people wrapping themselves and each other in their arms. I felt tears in my eyes and assigned them to happiness. I was glad to be in the presence of God and to be there to wish Arlene a safe journey the Abha Kingdom. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Moment I Knew

THE MOMENT I KNEW that I had made one of the best decisions of my life was when my story, “How Detachment Changes Everything”, appeared in print among twenty-nine published and first-time women authors. I was humbled to have my work included with tales that have expressed personal revelations about reflections on love, relationships, pregnancy and children, family and lessons learned, family influence, faith and culture, loss, self-discovery, and on life and the human condition.

On Thursday, September 22, 2011, two extraordinary things were laid in my hands. A dear friend took mine in hers and told me that she had been diagnosed with a dramatic heart condition and the specialist told her that she had five years to live. Our eyes searched each other’s souls to find a place where we could console our hurt. I said I was sorry to hear about her heartbreaking condition and she told me that she was sorry to have had to tell me about it. Shock set in. I led my friend to a comfortable chair and asked her to tell me all about her condition. She spoke in her normal tone as though she had prepared herself for her story’s release. I nodded slowly at first and then felt my body rocking back and forth as though her message was more than my brain could handle. I smiled at her to reassure her that it would be all right. But it was false hope, because I have no say in her length of stay in our material world.

Our concentration was interrupted by our husbands’ voices as they returned through the apartment door from having toured the building. Frank, my husband, was caring a sealed package and handed it me. I looked over at my quiet friend and said, “This is my book. My essay is in this book.”

I reached over and touched her hand and she understood that I wanted her permission to open it, to end our heart-condition conversation. She nodded and I acted immediately.

I laughed and whimpered a bit at the same time. I was thrilled with excitement at seeing my essay on page sixty-three, but at the same time felt restrained by the depth of sorrow I saw in my sweet friend’s eyes.

The interruption was the excuse our friends needed to set in motion their leaving for home. We hugged each other and said, “I love you.” After I watched their car drive away I sat and read the book, The Moment I Knew – Reflections From Women on Life’s Defining Moments.

Susan writes for the love of it.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Picking Up Trash Has Its Rewards

“What? You’re getting an award for picking up trash?” Frank said.
“Yes. I guess picking up garbage has its rewards,” I said.

I had just put the telephone receiver back in its cradle and made the announcement to my husband. I told him that Ms. Martin, the Environmental Coordinator for the City of Campbell River said that I had been nominated for a Stewardship Award and asked if I would accept it?

“Oh! That’s wonderful. But why me?” I said.
“Mr. Stewart from Dogwood Operations nominated you,” she said.

I have yet to meet Mr. Stewart face-to-face, but I’ve talked with him several times on the phone. We talked about the condition of the sidewalks and boulevards in Campbell River and how more garbage cans might entice people to toss their trash into them if they were handier. I told him that I was going to clean up the city of Campbell River one block at a time and asked how he could help.

“I can give you a few trash pickers. Would that help you and your Clean Living volunteers?” he said.

Indeed it does help along with the latex gloves and garbage bags donated by Mr. Adams, a City Councillor. Back in April 2011, I initiated the removal of rubbish from the boulevards and sidewalks of Campbell River, one block at a time and called the project Clean Living. Since then, I have adopted a 350-metre section of the city between 4th Avenue and 2nd Avenue on Dogwood Street. Each month, I gather with friends and pick up rubbish. We chat and laugh and know that we are being of service to the community and to God.

The Waste Reduction Award was a kind gift offered by the City of Campbell River and it humbles me to know that the Clean Living group of volunteers is recognized for its dedication to life itself. 

Clean Living volunteers

Clean Living volunteers

Service itself is the reward

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Give Peace a Chance

I Like That September 21st is recognized as the International Day of Peace. We all need peace in our lives. I especially love a peaceful sleep where I finally succumb to an unconscious state and enjoy dreams presented to me in waves containing subtle messages. In the morning, I take the time to sit on a chair in my bedroom with my feet planted on the floor and mediate by focusing on my breath. I breathe in and out until I am in the moment and awake.

I enjoy the peaceful sensation that greets me every morning when I look into my husband’s eyes and accept his gentle kiss on my lips and his bear hug afterwards. I thank him every morning for his tender treatment of me.

Peace comes over me when I gaze on photographs of my son. We have an interesting and compelling relationship that is held together by my unconditional love for him. I am also filled with tranquility when I get to visit with my grandson or speak with him on the phone.

I am at peace when I am preparing a meal for Frank and I. Sipping on soup and munching on a turkey and cheese wrap fills me with satisfaction. I am also mindful of tidying up afterward and take great pleasure in washing the dishes in the sink. I’ve learned to calm myself down by practicing meditation, which puts me in the moment. I am grateful for the privilege of attending a mindfulness class once a week at the local hospital.

“All we are saying is give peace a chance.” – John Lennon

At peace with my son and grandson

At peace with my husband and surrounded by nature.
(flower photos by Hans Toby)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

World’s Largest Bunnock

We travelled gravel roads, secondary highways and fast-moving freeways during our holiday in August 2011. The roadways led to points of interest, restaurants or picnic areas, landscapes or museums to explore, roadside pullouts or a motel to rest.

Frank had fashioned our 1986 Classic Toyota van to use as our accommodations and a storage unit. He covered the wooden sleeping bunk with carpet and on that laid our blow-up mattress. Each evening we climbed into the back of the van, slipped into our sleeping bags, laid our heads on pillows and gratified ourselves with sleep.

In the morning, we sipped coffee prepared on a pullout table at the back of the van, sat in lawn chairs and chomped on fruit. Each day we purposefully travelled the back roads so we could meet small-town folks along the way. A thirty-two foot structure, which is situated at the junction of highway 13 and highway 14, caught our attention and we drove to it so that we could talk to the young lady held captive by the structure. She told us she spends her summer days in the tourist booth at the base of the replica of an anklebone of a horse. Down the hill is Macklin, a border town between Alberta and Saskatchewan renowned as the Bunnock Capital of the World!

“What’s this structure supposed to be?” I said.

“It represents the game, Bunnock, which translates from Russian into bone. The Russian Germans first introduced the game to Canada. It was adopted from the game played in Siberia. You play it like horseshoes. Your team stacks its fifty-two bones on level ground at one end of a 10-meter runway while the other team does the same at its end. Then the teams toss their bones to try to knock down each other’s bones. The team with the most bones left standing is the winner,” she said.

I nodded and pictured the participants flinging bones from one end of a straightaway to another. We had arrived several days past the scheduled August long-weekend world championship event and so did not witness the bone-tossing game.

We drove away from Macklin happy to have learnt about the game call Bunnock. I've put a link below.

An Eye Catcher
-source Macklin poster

A Bunnock Tosser
- source Macklin poster
Welcome to Macklin

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Frank the Fiddler

I LIKE THAT Frank plays the violin and wanted to up his skill to that of a fiddle player. Frank the Fiddler has a ring to it. On August 11 we arrived at Windy Acres, seven kilometers west of Saskatoon and joined the collection of recreational vehicles parked on John Arcand’s property. John is the champion of this annual fiddle festival and welcomes all his guests personally. His lovely wife, Vicky, orchestrates all the events and is a kind person to talk with.
Frank parked our Classic Van beside a group of proud-to-be-Metis’ and we listened to the history between European settlers in Canada and the First Nations Peoples. We enjoyed the variety of gentle people at the festival and were proud of the young Canadians who attended the event simply to play the fiddle. For four days we attended all-day grandstand events including competitions among the new fiddlers and the seasoned regulars. The upbeat sounds coming from the many tents were a pleasure to my ears. The distinguishable scent of perogies and sausage filled the concession and we filled our bellies with a generous portion served by the upbeat volunteers.
On our last evening at the John Arcand Fiddle Fest we participated in a old-time dance. Frank has square-dancing experience and he guided me around the wooden floor. My smile went out to everyone and I knew I was in a truly happy place. 
Frank the Fiddler

Susan and Frank learn finger weaving

Entertainment everywhere you look

Classic Van on Windy Acres

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Thompson Nicola Baha'i Summer School

I LIKE THAT we took the time to drop in on Ms. Marge Mitchell who lives in Barrier, BC. Unfortunately, she was not home but fortunately her daughter-in-law was there to tell us that Marge was attending the Thompson Nicola Baha’i Summer School at the ski resort in Clearwater. We decided that we would join friends at the event.
            The moment we arrived we picked up energy of friendliness and welcome. There were tents and recreational vehicles parked on the property and we placed our camping van among them. We entered the ski chalet and joined sixty-five others to listen to Judith and Michael Bopp share their topic on freedom from prejudice. Another speaker was David Bowe, who reminded us of participating in all Baha’i activities. There was uplifting news from Iran and John Sargent presented a video on Huququ’llah.
            Throughout the days, Frank and I mingled and met up with old friends and made new ones. I attended an art workshop hosted by Marge Mitchell while Frank attended a sing-a-long under a separate big top tent. We gathered for food and were entertained in the evening with a children’s sing-a-long, a youth play and adult singers, Frank among them.
            If you want to be refreshed in the summer, plan to attend the next Thompson Nicola Baha’i Summer School in August 2012.  www.bahaischools.org

“Knowledge is as wings to man’s life, and a ladder for his ascent.” Baha’u’llah

A gathering of spirits at a Baha'i school

Everyone is welcome to attend a Baha'i school

Friday, July 29, 2011

Mark Your Calendar

I LIKE THAT Friday, August 26 is Women’s Equality Day! Two extraordinary events will be happening that day. Women will be celebrated and my essay How Detachment Changes Everything will be launched with other stories in the book titled:
            My story was chosen among a league of female authors from around the world to be published by Sugati Publications. I’m a storywriter and a storyteller. I began writing when I was twelve years old to help unravel my feelings about my place in this world. My book, THE LITTLE RED BOOK TEACHING ESL IN CHINA, was published in 2008. My husband, Frank, provided the sketches. My story, Cowboys and Indians, won second prize at the 2010 Powell River Writer’s Conference. Currently, I am seeking a publisher for my finished manuscript. For that accomplishment I will be using a pseudonym.
            My stories come from my life so far. I’ve become more mindful of the things going on around me and have published a number of stories on this blog, I LIKE THAT. I’ve included some links that might be of interest to you.
            I will continue to update you on the publication extravaganza planned for the launch of The Moment I Knew.
Reflections From Women Book Launch Information
The Little Red Book Teaching ESL in China

I am a Writer

I am a Traveller

I am a Sister

Saturday, July 23, 2011

What's Camping?

“What’s camping, Grandpa?” Grayson said.
“It’s being in the great outdoors and peeing in the bush, swatting bugs and cooking food outside and sitting in your tent when it rains,” Grandpa said.
“I peed on a tree before,” Grayson said.
“Well then, you’ll love camping,” Grandpa said.
            We picked up our four-year-old grandson and drove to China Creek Marina and Campground. We were thrilled to be the mentors for his first-time-ever camping experience. Frank had outfitted our 1986 Classic Toyota van with a platform in the back so that Grayson and I could sleep comfortably. He had also packed our tent so that he could sprawl out for our one-night camping expedition.
            When we arrived at China Creek we were disappointed at the sign – No Fires Permitted – posted throughout the property.
            “What’s camping without a fire?” Frank said.
When I told him later that day that I’d forgotten to bring along coffee for brewing the next morning, his comment was the same.
            “What’s camping without coffee?”
            Frank volunteered to unload the van while I took Grayson on a trek along the ocean shore and through the campsite trails. We explored rocks entangled in tree trunks, picked up rocks on the shore and tossed them into the ocean, and counted all the numbers posted on the trees to identify tent and recreational vehicle sites. When we arrived back to our Site 32, Frank was preparing the gas burning stove and choosing food items for our supper. We munched on cucumbers, salad, fruit, and turkey wieners wrapped cozily in buns slathered with relish and mustard.
A friendly squirrel came to visit and made several attempts to snatch Grayson’s granola bar that he had left on the picnic table. We were entertained for quite some time by the little critter and after he hid himself in his nest, we went to the playground.
            As evening approached, we changed into bedding clothes and snuggled in for the night. The next day was filled with more exploring, kite flying and cheering as Frank tossed his spectacular knife into tree stumps.
            “Grandma, let’s do this when Grandpa gets it right,” Grayson said.
He tossed his arms into the air and shouted, hooray!
            Camping is having fun.

Grayson and Grandma sing a camping song

Grayson and Grandpa fly a kite

Camping is fun!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Martyrdom of the Bab

I LIKE THAT friends gathered on July 9th, on Quadra Island, to commemorate the martyrdom of the Bab. Our gracious hosts, Gwen, Michelle and Ben and their children, had prepared a groomed setting outdoors for us to sit in comfort. First, we ate a meal together. Next, we helped young Laura, sing a song in praise of the gathering. We shared prayers and listened to a clear explanation of the events that led to the tragic execution of the Bab. To have gathered in such a calm setting for such a respect-filled event was a great pleasure for us all.
            The journey to Quadra Island was an adventure also. It was the first time Frank and I had been on the ten-minute-ride ferry. We climbed the narrow stairway to topside and took in the wondrous panoramic view. The ship pulled away from the dock leaving a swirl of water in its wake. Our arrival at Quadra Island was smooth and we easily walked the eight hundred metres to our destination on Green Street.
            If you want to know more about the martyrdom of the Bab, you can visit a presentation on YouTube.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXoQ6EtTSbg

Ferry journey to Quadra Island

Quadra Island Ferry

Quadra Island

Collection of sun lovers

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Brown's Bay Bike Trip

 I LIKE THAT we take excursions with our Russian URAL bike to explore our neighbourhood. On this day we headed out to Brown’s Bay, north of Campbell River, to have a picnic and fly our kites. We were met with a cozy place to unpack my red school bag and feast on fresh fruit and sandwiches but not enough space to fly our kites. No matter. A friendly seal paddled around the area and made eye contact with us. Boats were moored at the dock and fishers took to the water.
          On our way back to Highway 19A, a steep gravel road caught our attention. Frank motioned for us to take it and I responded with thumbs up. The URAL bike is meant to handle this type of trail especially when it’s kicked into two-wheel drive. Frank revved the motor and swooped up the road. The forty-degree grade was a challenge for the URAL and it felt like riding a bronking stallion. The thirteen kilometre excursion at that vertical wasn’t something I wanted to do further, so I tapped on Frank’s right leg, made a time-out motion with my hands and he stopped the bike. I climbed out of the sidecar and looked around at the scene.
           “Oh, wow! What’s all that?” I said.
          There were all kinds of things strewn on the gravel road behind us. As we walked closer we realized that our trunk had unlatched and all the contents had fallen out. Frank walked the eighty metres to gather our belongings. We packed the trunk, locked it securely and headed back down the trail.
          Our need to travel down hidden roads brought us to the Brown’s Bay 100 marker and we turned onto the overgrown, narrow road. We rode for two hundred metres and were stopped abruptly by logs lying across the path. We turned the bike around and headed on our way. We stopped one more time at the Ripple Rock Trail and went on a hike. I’ll tell you about that adventure another time.

Brown's Bay Picnic Area

Discovery Creek Excursion

Brown's Bay 100 Excursion

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Chronic Liver Disease

I LIKE THAT my doctor is thorough and sent me to have an ultra-sound based on an irregular blood reading. Later that month, she directed me to an appointment with a liver specialist.
            “You’ve got Chronic Liver Disease as a result of a fatty liver,” the specialist said.
            I was shocked and scared but stayed focused as he explained what it meant.
            “It’s likely that you’ve had non-alcoholic fatty liver disease for sometime. Your liver changes when fat is deposited in it and also, in some cases, the liver resists insulin. You also have type 2 diabetes which is being controlled somewhat by your metformin medication. But what’s most critical is that you must lose another fourteen pounds in order to stabilize your liver and prevent further damage. Your liver is being overworked and is in the process of progressive destruction and regeneration. You need to pay close attention,” he said.
            I sat in silence trying to picture my liver in its place protected by my ribcage. I had an image in my mind of a large shriveled mushroom cap.
The specialist had more to say.
            “You must exercise more. Change it up. Get a bike, walk more, go to the pool more often. Lose weight.”
            I am ready to step it up by adding walking on those four days that I don’t go to the pool and floor exercise program at the Strathcona Community Centre. I’m a ‘Chronic’ and now need to be a fitness buff. Here are my current statistics:
Weight: 170 pounds
Chest: 40”
Waist: 40”
Umbilicus: 38”
Hips: 42.5”

Prayers for health.

Susan learns about her liver

Friday, June 24, 2011

Chronics Continue Pool Action

I LIKE THAT the Chronics 4A team gets to perform exercise routines in the Strathcona Gardens pool twice a week. Our upbeat team of male and female athletes prepare by exchanging their street clothes for various styles of swim trunks and bathing suits. Most of us snap a floatation belt around our waist and walk into the pool down a stablized staircase. Others prefer not to wear the buoyancy device and cannon ball into the pool.
            Our personal trainer takes attendance and steps right into the role of show and tell. We begin by pushing the water with our hands and marching. We build on this routine until we turn left and jog from the shallow end of the pool to the deep end. Bobbing around, we match stroke for stroke with the instructor as we perform various motions with our bodies underwater. We move quickly and then slow down. There is some pleasant chatter amongst the attendees and the utmost patience from the teacher. We are all there to perform to the best of our ability and work toward weight loss, stamina, balance and having fun.

Get ready to exercise!

Poolside view of Chronics 4A

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Susan's Scented Apple Crumble

Serves 4 to 6

6 apples
6 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
2 teaspoons butter

4 teaspoons butter
½ cup brown sugar
¼  cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup wheat germ
½ cup rolled oats

Peel and slice apples into greased baking dish. Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over apples. Dot with two teaspoons of the butter. Blend the remaining four teaspoons of butter into brown sugar. Mix and add flour, wheat germ and rolled oats. Spoon mixture over apples. Bake covered at 350F for 15mins. Uncover and bake until crust is golden and apples are tender (approx. 35 minutes.)

P.S. That's me but I snagged the photos from the Internet.

Susan loves apple crumble

Monday, June 13, 2011

Baffled in Bolivia

I LIKE THAT I have enough experience with international travel that I could help this explorer. He asked:
Would someone please explain to me why the Bolivian Government HOLDS your passport during the entire Residency Application process? Doing such a thing while remaining in a foreign country is disconcerting as it is hardwired into me to NEVER relinquish my passport for obvious personal security reasons. Is this standard worldwide when applying for residency?

The Bolivian government holds your passport during the entire Residency application process and beyond because it is a corrupt system. It is not common practice anywhere else in the world where my husband and I have travelled and worked to hold your passport beyond two weeks. We have travelled to China, India, Nepal, and Bolivia. So far, only Bolivia acts this way.
You should be disconcerted and approach the organization that contracted you to work in Bolivia immediately to have them pay the officials to stamp your passport with a Temporary Resident Visa. It is illegal for you to work in Bolivia without a Resident Visa. You are not at fault. The organization that contracted you should be looking after this matter for you within a proper time frame.
Your passport is not your private property. It belongs to the government of  your country. You are simply the keeper of that document and are responsible for its whereabouts at all times. Indeed, it is troubling, restrictive and dangerous for you not to have your passport in your possession.
If you are not getting a quick response from the organization you are contracted with, we recommend that you contact your country’s embassy or consulate. This is what we had to do in order for our passports to be returned to us in Bolivia. Dutifully, we handed over our passports to the director of Cambrian College Bolivia along with six hundred bolivianos each so that she could hire a handler to have our passports stamped with a Resident Visa. Without our being aware, the director arranged for our passports to be driven over the border by her handler into Argentina! The director’s plan was to have the handler give up our passports to the official at the Bolivian entrance booth and have the officer stamp it with another Visitor Visa. However, the Bolivian government official refused to stamp our passport again. When we first arrived in Bolivia we were issued a three-month visitor visa stamp on our passport. The school director’s first attempt to get us a Resident Visa failed so she resorted to corrupt behaviour.
Her ridiculous and illegal ploy was meant to extend our stay in Bolivia as visitors. A visitor status on your passport does not authorize you to work legally.
Two months and twenty-seven days later, three days before we would have been considered illegal in Bolivia, we had to resort to threatening to bring the Canadian consulate representative with us to get our passports back from Cambridge College Bolivia. Surprisingly, when my husband and I arrived at her office the passports were on her desk, but without Residency authorization or even a second Visitor Visa. The director’s next desperate attempt was to have us take our passports on a thirteen-hour bus trip from Santa Cruz de la Sierra to an Argentinean border town, cross into Argentina and then back again into Bolivia so that we could have our passports stamped with another Visitor Visa. We refused this outrageous idea and escaped her corruption with our passports in hand.
Do not wait until you are desperate. Get this passport matter settled immediately or you will be in Bolivia illegally and subject to arrest.

Bolivia! Bolivia!

Susan and Frank in Bolivia

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sayward 63

I LIKE THAT we live 63 kilometres from the village of Sayward. It’s a precious little wonderland north of Campbell River on Highway 19A. We jump on the URAL bike and motor up the road on sunny days. The wind blows around the windshield, pushes against my cheeks and turns them red. The scent from the trees along the side of the road penetrates my nose and mingles gently with fragrances of flowers and dirt. At the forty-one kilometre marker we are stopped by a road construction crew and my nostrils are bombarded with the stench of tar. A little further up the road we encounter a large group of bikers heading in the opposite direction. Each driver greets Frank with a victory sign, a slight hand wave or a thumbs-up gesture. There’s a unique camaraderie amongst bikers.
We turn right at the Sayward Junction, rattle over the one-way bridge, and cruise to the Kelsey Bay Wharf. The panoramic view of the surrounding mountains is breathtaking and the dark blue ocean water is calming. We sit with our friends on comfortable lawn chairs and appreciate the wonders of the Village of Sayward. 

Our bike excursion to Sayward

The fun is in the journey

Kelsey Bay Wharf