Darlene Foster's Blog

Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Myself and my good friends, Jayne and Shannon, were recently invited to spend a weekend with my daughter and her partner on Mudge Island.  It takes two ferries and a small boat to get to her island, but it’s worth it. I’ve written about my daughter and her island previously here. It was a wonderful weekend, with much visiting, eating and wine consumption in their cosy, comfortable home.  We feasted on fresh crab caught the day before by our host, salad made with fresh greens from the garden and steamed kale (also from the garden) . Everyone brought food and we took turns making meals and snacks. We balanced the eating with long walks and fresh air. The island, green with moss at this time of the year, is great for walks and has many picturesque spots to visit. The sea lions kept us company with their barking.


Mudge Island in the spring

One walk took us to Dodd’s Narrows were we watched sea lions, all the way from California, swim past in the swirling waters, happy to fill up  on herring. Such a lovely spot to sit and take in nature.

Dodd's Narrows

Dodd’s Narrows

Dodd's Narrows

Dodd’s Narrows

Another trip took us to Link Island, a small island that can be reached at low tide, linked to Mudge.  We enjoyed collecting seashells, exploring  the island and catching some sun on the rocks. Not warm enough to sun tan yet.

Link Island

Link Island

Comet, their amiable yellow lab, loved every minute. She was happy to go for long walks and explore with us.

Comet exploring Link Island

Comet exploring Link Island


View from Link Island to Mudge

Unique rock formations on Link Island

Unique rock formations on Link Island


Enjoying the sun on Link Island

Barnsworth, the 19 year old cat, enjoys looking at himself in the mirror when he's not sleeping

Barnsworth, the 19 year old cat, enjoys looking at himself in the mirror when he’s not sleeping, which is most of the time

The outhouse, clean and comfortable

The outhouse that sits among the trees, is clean and comfortable


What is under the outhouse??

But what is under the outhouse??

Mudge buddies

Mudge buddies

Our gracious hosts

Our gracious hosts

One last drink at the Skol pub on Gabriola before catching the ferry back to reality.

One last drink at the Skol pub on Gabriola Island before catching the ferry back to reality.

Yet another fabulous get-away. I’ve been having the best spring haven’t I? Soon I’m off to Taos, New Mexico to spend time with a special aunt. I’ll report back later.

I don’t like the idea of getting older. In fact I fight it tooth and nail. On the other hand, I also realize it is a privilege denied to many and am thankful I am able to continue to enjoy this wonderful life. On Friday I turned a year older, like it or not.

I was greeted in the morning with a lovely card and a bouquet of tulips, my favourite flowers, from my DH


At work, the participants in my workshop, after learning it was my birthday, made me a sweet card. I was touched.


At the end of the day I was surprised with a delicious birthday cake from my co-workers.




Photo by Jean François Filion

The next day, DH booked us into The River Rock Casino Resort for an over night stay. This luxury hotel is only a thirty minute drive from our house but it felt like we were in Las Vegas.


The well designed lobby contains waterfalls, totem poles  and even a friendly bear. We don’t gamble but the casino on site created a lively and exciting atmosphere. A theatre featuring many interesting and well known musicians is also part of the resort. A great place for people watching while sipping a caramel rockachino and nibbling on a white chocolate and cranberry sconce. Sorry, but I was too busy relaxing to take pictures of the food.


Our suite was spacious enough for a party and overlooked the marina. A package of yummy chocolate macaroons was delivered to the room in honour of my birthday. The overnight stay included a relaxation massage. While I enjoyed my much needed massage at the Absolute spa, DH made use of the fitness centre over looking the pool area.


The number of restaurants to choose from for our dinner, made it hard to decide. I had a Mojito and a fabulous spiced pear salad with goat cheese and grilled prawns at The Curve which was perfect. DH was happy with his butter chicken and on tap beer. The best thing was a compliment on my hair cut by the young waiter!

After a fabulous sleep on the oh so comfy bed, we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at the buffet with many tasty choices before heading back home. We didn’t travel far but what a nice get-away to celebrate another year of living.


Text messages from both of the kids, a phone call from Mom and another from my younger brother. Cards from all over the world and 140 messages on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn; I was sure feeling the love.

I guess getting older is not so bad after all.

Jesse - Darlene Foster

GS 2 and I have reviewed a book together and are featured on Mother Daughter Book Reviews blogsite today.


Check out what he said and what I said about the book Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix.

Among the Hidden

This was a fun project to do together, even though we live in different provinces.

Let us know what you think of our review.

I have loved visiting museums for as long as I can remember. As a young person, I would rather go to a museum than play sports or hang out with friends. My aunt and I would often spend entire days at the Medicine Hat Museum which  at that time was a log cabin filled with items from the past. We liked to pretend we were living in the pioneer days. The original museum has been moved a couple of times since then and is now housed in the Esplanade Arts and Heritage Centre. Last summer, my grandson and I stopped in to view the displays. I was pleased he shared my excitement of museums. The displays were well put together with some of the original items  still showcased as well as many other artefacts. Here are a few samples.

Items from the original log cabin museum

Items from the original log cabin museum

Toys from the past

Toys from the past

The cowboy lifestyle

Representing the cowboy lifestyle

A dressmaker's dummy

A dressmaker’s dummy

A note left by a frustrated homesteader

A note left by a frustrated homesteader

We also visited The Pioneer Village located on the Medicine Hat Exhibition and Stampede grounds. A collection of heritage buildings from the surrounding area which includes a general store, a church, a fire hall. a school and a blacksmith shop.

A typical prairie general store built in 1924

A typical prairie general store 

Items for sale in the general store. Look at those prices!

Items for sale in the general store. Look at those prices!

How many miles has this trunk travelled?

How many miles has this trunk travelled?



Grandson by a prairie church built in 1924

Grandson by a prairie church built in 1924

It was a fun visit exploring the past with a young person. I’m so pleased that communities realize the importance of preserving a way of life that is no longer.

Do you enjoy visiting museums and heritage buildings?










Just before Christmas we lost a family treasure. My Great Aunt Barbara Reimann walked this earth for 95 full years. She was an amazing woman who inspired so many of us. She did not always have an easy life but she did not let that stop her. Her youthful vigour stayed with her until the end.

She was born Barbara Hoffman, the 10th child of a hardworking immigrant German family from Russia; my maternal grandmother’s younger sister.   The last of her generation, she survived 6 brothers and 6 sisters. A loving mother to four children, she doted on her nine grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren. She was also dearly loved by numerous cousins, nieces and nephews. The incredible thing was that she remembered everyone’s name as well as their spouse and children’s names.

Great Aunt Barbara with my Granddaughter and Grandson-inlaw

Great Aunt Barbara with my Granddaughter and Grandson-in-law

Aunt Barbara was the stalwart head of our large family; without her we feel somewhat leaderless. With her, there were six generations alive in my immediate family.

She was determined, bold, fearless and committed. Nothing stopped her. She learned to swim at age 75, travelled to Australia and New Zealand to celebrate her 85th birthday and drove her own car until she was 93. She made the wedding fruit cake for my mom and for me and  my daughter used the same recipe for her wedding fruit ckae. She loved to cook, bake, quilt, sew, knit and crochet things for others. She always had something on the go. Everyone owns at least one fabulous afghan, sweater, quilt or tablecloth made by Aunt Barbara.

She loved to spend time with her many friends and family members sharing a cup of tea, (although she only drank hot water with lemon) telling stories or playing games. She was a champion scrabble player. She kept active bowling and floor curling up to the last year.  She celebrated her 95th birthday with a huge party. She had a walker but seldom used it.

A principled woman of strong faith, Aunt Barbara spoke her mind, was always ready to listen and to give out her sage advice. Even if she disapproved of your actions, you still knew she loved you. She handed out big, warm, hugs indiscriminately.

She was one in a million and I was so fortunate to have had her in my life.

Rest in peace Aunt Barbara. You are flying with the angles now and no doubt making sure they fly in formation. We love you.

Mom and Aunt Barbara, best pals

Mom and Aunt Barbara, best pals


I have written about my wonderful potter daughter here before. She doesn’t live very far from me but since her home is on a small gulf island, it requires  two ferries and a boat to get to her place. Total driving, waiting and sailing time is about 5 hours one way. I don’t get to visit her often but when I do it is always worth it. This recent weekend between Christmas and New Year I made the trip and had so much fun. It’s always an adventure but once there, it is so relaxing, away from the constant busyness of my life. She always makes sure I am well fed and comfortable. I’m not allowed to lift a finger. Here are a few pictures of the weekend.

Daughter with 18 year old grandcat Barnsworth

Daughter with 18 year old grandcat Barnsworth

Cookbook Christmas gift that matches her kitchen

Cookbook Christmas gift that matches her kitchen

Daughter at home on her island

Daughter at home on her island

Pottery studio

The pottery studio where she creates


Pottery from recent firing

Pottery from recent firing

Awesome pottery

More awesome pottery

I am so lucky, my daughter has created a safe haven for me to escape to any time.  Spending time with her is always a treat. Great conversations, time to reflect and lots of love.

A walk on her property

Going for a walk on her property

Where do you go to escape?


I have  many wonderful memories of Christmas growing up. It doesn’t surprise me that many of them have to do with my grandma. She had many grandchildren but always made sure I got something special under the tree. She gave me my first stamp album, books I treasured and even my first Elvis Presley album! Christmas dinners at grandma’s place was special.  Her small house brimmed over with aunts, uncles and cousins. The meal would be delicious with special treats we only got at Christmas time. Grandma provided these treasured memories that always return at this time of the year.  I don’t think I ever told her how much they meant to me.

My 4 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren live in another province so I don’t see them as often as I would like. I’ve only spent a few Christmases with them over the years. Every year I enjoy choosing gifts for all of them, carefully wrapping them and packaging them up to send off in the mail. I like picking out a number of small items instead of one big gift for each. I know kids like lots of gifts to open. There is always a book or two for each child of course (and not always mine!) I admit I have always felt it wasn’t quite enough. I felt guilty not being with them and cooking a big meal for them like my grandma used to do.

Then I got this Facebook message from my second granddaughter, herself a mother of a  3 1/2 year old:

We received the box In the mail! Funny, a few days ago I was looking back on Christmas as a kid, and remembering the grandma Darlene boxes that would come in the mail. And how special and magical it felt to have gotten all those packages for us from you!!! Felt like there was a hundred! Haha! Then boom there’s one on my door step for Devin. Law of Attraction at my door. You made that a very rememberable, special memory for us girls. Something traditional. Thank you. Can’t wait to see what special things you found for Devin. xoxoxo love you!

Later I got a message from her older sister, a mother of a 6 year old.

We got the parcel! I always loved getting those parcels. XO

Then I realized that in my crazy, busy, whirlwind life, I was still making Christmas memories as a grandmother too!

Second granddaughter reading to her daughter and niece

Second granddaughter reading to her daughter and niece

Early Christmas with the grandsons 2011

Early Christmas with the grandsons 2011


Grandsons, granddaughter and great granddaughter early Christmas 2012

Grandsons, granddaughter and great granddaughter, early Christmas 2012

First great granddaughter happy with her gift

First great granddaughter happy with her gift


The best gifts I have ever received are my grandchildren and great grandchildren. Those of you with grandchildren and those of you without, I hope you are making special Christmas memories for the young ones in your life.

Surely, two of the most satisfying experiences in life must be those of being a grandchild or a grandparent. ~Donald A. Norberg

My mom was born December 25th, 1928. Yes, she was a Christmas baby. When we were growing up, Dad  made sure we celebrated her birthday as well as Christmas that day. There would always be a Christmas gift under the tree for mom and a separate birthday gift. We always had a cake and candles included in all the festivities. When I learned to bake, I would secretly make her a cake myself and bring it out of hiding at one point to surprise her.  It’s true she worked hard preparing a traditional Christmas meal and ensuring our Christmas was perfect, but she was always made to feel special on her day. She tells me she never felt cheated by having a Christmas birthday and no one ever forgot her birthday!

This year, since it was a milestone year, we made her party a month early so that all of us could be there. She still lives in Medicine Hat, Alberta, the community she has lived in all her life. One brother drove down from Edmonton, days before flying out to Thailand where he lives for part of the year. My other brother came from Calgary, and my husband and I flew in from Vancouver. We rented a party room in the retirement home she now resides in and posted an announcement in the local paper. It was a wonderful event as over 100 friends and relatives dropped in to wish her a Happy Birthday. Her sister from Arizona made the trip as well. Mom  glowed with happiness.


Mom with her kids

Mom with her kids

Mom with her remaining sibblings

Mom with her brother and sisters

It was a lot of work, especially organizing it long distance, but I’m so glad we did it. Everyone pitched in and helped of course. When we took mom up to her room after the party she looked through the guest book and all her cards and commented that she never knew she had so many friends. My beautiful mom is so well loved and we are blessed to have her.

She will still get calls on Christmas day from near and far as we never forget our Christmas Mom!

Float plane that took me to see my daughter

Float plane that took me to see my daughter

I spent a fabulous day with my daughter this Thanksgiving weekend. I caught a float plane from Vancouver and twenty minutes later landed on Gabriola Island. This is a trip that usually takes me over four hours by car and two ferries. My daughter picked me up and took me to visit some of the artists participating in the annual Gabriola Studio Tour. I was happy with the choices as each artist had something unique to show. Here is a sampling.

We were always made to feel welcome every place we visited.

We were always made to feel welcome every place we visited.

We stopped in to chat with Dianna Bonder, an award-winning children’s author and illustrator. Her whimsical paintings and myriad of published books were enjoyable to look at.  A couple of little people will be getting her books for Christmas.



A visit to Joy Olsen’s studio was another treat. Joy creates fun, nature inspired sculptural ceramics. Another perfect Christmas gift was purchased before we left.



A visit to Ted Johnson’s Delfin Designs studio brought out the child in us. HIs wonderful woodwork and trees with doors in them are delightful.


Knock. Knock. May I come in?

Knock. Knock. May I come in?

We visited many other talented artists as well, although it was impossible to visit all 41 studios on the tour. It  was so great to spend time with my potter daughter, Marcelle Glock, and her community of artist friends and acquaintances.  I was also treated to a wonderful lunch at Mad Rona’s coffee bar. It was hard to choose but eventually I decided on a Kiwi Panini which consisted of Albacore tuna, feta cheese and a roasted garlic/artichoke spread. So yummy!

Daughter and friend

Daughter and friend

It was a perfect day. The sun shone, the trees on the island were dressed in glorious fall colours, I met very interesting people and most of all I got to spend time with my sweetie. As I flew back home later that evening, I felt extremely thankful for the day, my family and my life.

I hope you had a thankful weekend as well.

I have blooged about my potter daughter here before:


Another interesting day trip my grandson and I took was to Red Rock Coulee, 56 kilometers (35 miles) south-west of Medicine Hat, Alberta. This little known area is a wonder to behold. Large, perfectly round, red boulders are scattered around a 324 hectar (800 acre) prairie landscape. Some of these boulders are up to 2.5 metres (8 feet) in diameter and are among the largest of these in the world. It is virtually in the middle on nowhere and we had the place to ourselves. It was like being on another planet!


DSC03749      DSC03743



Research tells me these boulders were formed in prehistoric seas that once covered this area.  Sand, calcite and iron oxide collected around a nucleus formed by shells, leaves or bones and grew as the circulating waters deposited more layers. The reddish colour comes from iron oxide. And I thought they were the result of a meteor shower!




This is a great place to hike among the stones and, if you like climbing like my grandson does, there’s plenty of opportunities to do that. The only wildlife we saw were the resident mosquitoes. We were glad we brought bug spray.  It was a wonderful day trip and a perfect place for those of us with vivid imaginations. The day ended with an ice cream treat when we returned to the real world.

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