Darlene Foster's Blog

Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

I’ve been away from blogging for a bit as I took a quick trip back to Canada to visit friends and family in two provinces. I managed to see as many people as I could in a short time. There were many lunches, dinners and coffees/teas with good friends, including a fabulous Easter lunch at my former place of employment. I spent Easter weekend with family in Alberta and was treated to snow Easter morning, which I wasn’t prepared for. But watching my great granddaughter hunt for Easter eggs made up for the bad weather.

Here are a few pictures of my visit.

Spending time with Mom was precious

Spending time with Mom was precious

Easter bunny time

Easter bunny time with a cutie

Mom with a great great granddaughter

Mom with a great great granddaughter

Lunch with my son and rapidly growing up grandson

Lunch with my son and rapidly growing up grandson

Any day spent with my daughter is a special day

Any day spent with my daughter is a special day


The west coast was so beautiful with all the spring flowers and blossoms




Quite a contrast to my three days in Alberta.


Never mind, it was a good trip and I was so happy I went. I enjoy my new life but miss the special people from Canada.

I’m now over my jet lag and happy to be back in Spain with my hubby as we start moving into our own home. More about that later.

DSCN1145 (2)

My first birthday in Spain was spent at La Herradura, a lovey authentic Spanish restaurant in a small place called Los Montesinos. I was treated to lunch by hubby and his parents.  And a real treat it was as the food was excellent, the service superb and the ambiance amazing. I love places with history. La Herradura, which means The Horseshoe, is steeped in history. Built in 1880, it was originally used as an inn for weary travellers traveling through by train. It was later lived in by farmers, eventually abandoned and left to deteriorate. Restoration began in 1997 and completed in 1999 respecting the age and history of this unique building. It still has the old bread oven, the cribs were horses were kept, and pens for the pigs and chickens. Goats would have been kept in what is now the main restaurant. The place is a mini museum with many nooks and crannies revealing all sorts of interesting items, including tools used on the premises throughout the years.


I couldn´t wait to enter these doors!!


Entertainment is provided some evenings





The restaurant has a warm friendly feeling as if visiting a family home. The food was excellent. We shared a lovely salad full of fresh produce and a round toasted loaf of bread. I had sweet red peppers stuffed with cheese and crab meat on a creamy chive sauce for a starter and Basque hake covered with a yummy ragout of fresh vegetables as a main course. For my birthday dessert I enjoyed a crème caramel cake.  Everything was done to perfection, very flavourful and well presented. Our wonderful Spanish hosts were delighted whenever I commented on my pleasure with the food. The rest of the party were happy with their meals as well.


Basque Hake


Crème Caramel cake, so yummy

Crème Caramel cake, so yummy

The outside grounds were also interesting.



DSCN1154A birthday to remember!

the day started with champagne with the folks.

The day started by sharing champagne with the folks on their patio.

We have been experiencing a phenomenal fall here on the west coast of Canada. There seems to be no end to the sunshine, and I have been making the most of it. Since I have cut my hours down to half time at work, it means more beach reading time for me!


A fun event every year for me is The Mennonite Fair. I work for Mennonite Central Committee in their Employment Services Division and volunteer at the annual fall fair which is a huge fund raiser for MCC. I love the atmosphere; everyone working hard toward the same goal with such compassion. It is the best example of team work I have ever encountered, and I’m grateful to be part of it.

Amazing quilts hand made

Amazing quilts hand made by the Mennonite women




I bought a hand made rag rug for my house in Spain

And then there was the food! I stocked up on German baking to take home and lined up for a feast of vereniki (growing up we called them perogies but they are the same thing and soooo good) All a wonderful reminder of my German – Canadian childhood. I returned home with my many purchases, full and happy.



Next stop, a visit to my daughter on her island in the sun. It takes two ferries and a small boat to get me there but it’s worth it.

Leaving Nanaimo Harbour

Leaving Nanaimo Harbour

Approaching Gabriola Island

Approaching Gabriola Island

The boat dock to take me over to Mudge Island in the background

The boat dock to take me over to Mudge Island in the background

My daughter and I attended a excellent talk by Gabriola artist Sheila Norgate called “I never met a blank canvas I didn’t like”. It was enlightening and motivating for both of us. We chatted, barbequed a huge salmon, I watched her water her lovely garden, spent hours on the beach, chatted and ate some more. I always feel so well rested after spending a few days with my daughter on Mudge Island.

Daughter's kiwi patch

Daughter’s kiwi patch

garden scarecrow, wearing one of my old skirts

Garden scarecrow, wearing one of my old skirts

a sink full of parsley

A sink full of parsley

Enjoying one of many Mudge Island beaches

Enjoying one of many Mudge Island beaches

A mermaid at the beach

A mermaid at the beach

My sleeping buddy "Gordon Lightfoot"

My sleeping buddy “Gordon Lightfoot”

An iced tea and a vege wrap at the Skol Pub before heading back to my real life

An ice tea and a vege wrap at the pub before heading back to my life in the city

I am so lucky to be able to enjoy this sunshine, work for a great organization and spend time with my daughter in such a picturesque setting. How is your September so far?

I recently flew to Medicine Hat, Alberta to visit my mom in the hospital and to see my son and his family. My thirteen year old grandson returned with me to spend a couple of weeks on the west coast. Although his older brother and sisters have spent time with us, it was his very first visit. It’s been fun to watch him experience many firsts. It is his first time away from his parents and his first trip outside of Alberta. You can imagine how excited he was to fly on an airplane for the first time.

Waiting at the Medicine Hat airport

Waiting at the Medicine Hat airport


First time on an air plane

First time on an airplane


First time at a beach

First time at a beach


Helping Gramma sell books

Helping Gramma sell books at Fort Langley


Visiting Science World

Visiting Science World


Look what I built with Keva at Science World!

Look what I built with Keva at Science World!

 Making feathered friends at the Bird Sanctuary

Making feathered friends at the Reifel Bird Sanctuary



Fish and Chips with the grandparents

Fish and Chips with the grandparents in Steveston Village


Trying things on at the Maritime Museum

Trying things on at the Maritime Museum

I delivered him to his aunt’s place which took a two hour ride on a large ferry, a twenty minute ride on a smaller ferry and a ten minute small motor boat ride to get there. For a prairie boy who has never seen the ocean before, this was quite an adventure.

First time on a ferry

First time on a ferry

Finding a huge pencil on Mudge Island

Finding a huge pencil on Gabriola Island

Finding a 1000 piece puzzle at the Book Nook with his aunty

Finding a 1000 piece puzzle at the Book Nook with his aunty

Aunt and nephew on her island; good buddies

Aunt and nephew on her island; good buddies

Last report from my daughter is that he went crabbing with his uncle, sampled crab for the first time and loved it! His adventure continues.

Do you remember the first time you went some place without your parents or tried something new?

In honour of Father’s Day I would like to share an article I wrote as a guest blogger on Karen Sanderson’s blog two years ago.

Cowboy Wisdom, By Darlene Foster


My Dad was a cowboy. Not the Hollywood type, but a real cowboy – a man who tended cattle. A hard-working man of integrity, loyalty and determination, he almost always wore his signature cowboy hat and boots, jeans and western shirt.  He lived the code of the cowboy where a man’s word was a man’s word and you never broke a promise once made. He believed you should do what has to be done without complaint, take pride in your work and always finish what you start. He was a man of principle; tough but fair. I learned so much from him.

His education included grade seven. Responsibilities on his father’s farm in the spring and fall took him out of school, which put him behind.  By the time he turned fifteen he didn’t bother going back to school being so much older than the rest of the class. In spite of his limited schooling, he was the smartest man I have ever known.  A curious man, Dad believed in continuous learning.  His gift of the gab enabled him to start a conversation with almost anyone and he always came away wiser. “You can learn at least one thing from everyone you meet,” became a lesson I never forgot.

Dad read the newspapers and kept up to date on current events, but his busy schedule didn’t permit him to read much else.  At age seventy-five, he finally retired and moved into the city. His love of the outdoors and fresh air, took him on walks to the local library on a regular basis.  Once there, he chose about half a dozen books on a subject he had always wanted to learn more about.  He took the books home, read them front to back and returned with a new subject in mind.  At seventy-five he educated himself and expanded his world. I found this to be most admirable.

There wasn’t much I couldn’t discuss with him.  He taught me the art of conversation, negotiation and debate; valuable lessons that have served me well over the years.  He served as my confidant, financial advisor, political guru, mentor, and he was my hero.  He always had time to listen to my woes and to provide encouraging words.  I didn’t make many major decisions without discussing with him first.  But he wouldn’t tell me what to do; he just helped me look at all sides of the situation.  He encouraged me to be an independent thinker, creative problem solver and not to always look for the easy way.  He claimed, “You make your own luck in this world.” I believe that to be true for the most part, but I sure was lucky to get him for a Dad. His confidence in me and my abilities enabled me to reach higher and not give up on my dreams.

Always a perfect gentleman, he could also swear a blue streak if the occasion called for it.  Like the time he hit his thumb with a hammer while fixing a piece of farm machinery.  He forgot I was in hearing distance.

Life wasn’t always easy for a cowboy but Dad’s amazing sense of humour and positive attitude got him through the tough times.  He loved a good practical joke and April Fool’s was his favourite day.  I can still see the twinkle in his eyes when he knew he got one over on us.  He didn’t mind laughing at himself as well. There were many times he would tell a story and have everyone in stitches.  From him, I learned the value of a good laugh and how to look on the bright side.  He often said, “It could always be worse.”

A tough cowboy on the surface, he was really a big softy.  Dad always found the best in everyone, was a helpful neighbour and a good friend to many.  His love for his animals was evident as was his unfailing devotion to his family.  A generous, loving father, grandfather and great-grandfather, he made an impact on everyone. When I see traits of him in my children and grandchildren, I am comforted knowing his legacy lives on.

Dad and his family 1995

Dad and his family 1995

It’s been seven years since we lost Dad.  There isn’t a day I don’t think of him, quote him or seek his advice.  He was a true cowboy to the last.

Happy Father’s Dad!


Mom & Dad a few years ago

Mom & Dad 

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.

click to purchase

click to purchase

Click to purchase

click to purshase

Join me on Twitter

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 3,477 other followers




click to read review

Super Sweet Award


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,477 other followers