Darlene Foster's Blog

Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Two weeks ago we took a drive to Malaga on the Costa del Sol and drove up into the mountains to the small village of Sedelia. We encountered stunning scenery along the twisting road, a small church and a traffic jam, of goats!

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A typical traffic jam in the Andalusian mountains

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medieval bridge in the mountains

Medieval bridge in the mountains

Tiny church in the middle of nowhere

Tiny church in the middle of nowhere

We stayed in a lovely bed and breakfast with a stunning view and had dinner at a cosy restaurant in town. It was all very picturesque and a nice little get-away.

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A room with a view

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Restaurante Lurena, excellent food

The village of Sedilia

The village of Sedilia

Can´t get enough of these charming mountain villages

Can´t get enough of these charming mountain village streets

There was a reason for the trip though and that was to meet Dot, an eight-month-old Bodeguero. Dot came home with us and is now part of our family.

Dot didn´t make a sound on the five hour car ride to her new home.

Dot didn´t make a sound during the five-hour car ride to her new home.

Dot was quite shy at first as she lived in the mountains with an elderly man so was not used to people, traffic and houses. But she has settled in well and makes friends easily. (both the human kind and the canine kind)

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She loves going for walks and car rides! On the weekend we took her to a car show and she was very well-behaved.

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She makes friends everywhere we go. She loves to go for coffee with us and is a big hit at all the coffee shops.

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We took a drive in the car to a biker bar for tapas. Dot made friends with a boxer. (the canine type)

A Spanish biker bar.

A Spanish biker bar.

Making friends

Making friends

Relaxing on the terrace

Relaxing on the terrace

What do you think? Is she settling in and at home with us? Did we make a good choice?

In case you are wondering, she was already named Dot because of the large black dot on her back. I like to think it is from the delightful children´s book by Peter Reynolds, The Dot . You knew there had to be a literary reference!

 

Hugh’s Views and News challenged us to post a photo of something ‘Vintage.’

 

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I took a picture of this vintage photo given to me by my great aunt. It was taken in the early 1900s. On the back, in handwriting, it says, “The Old Maids,” a term used for unmarried women at the time. According to my aunt, these two women were my great grandfather’s cousins from North Dakota. There is also something written in German in faded ink, but I don’t know what it means. No one seems to know their names and those who did are long gone. I am intrigued by them and feel they have a story to tell. One day, I plan to write a story and give them names. Thanks for this challenge Hugh.

Check out Hugh’s Views and News and join the photo challenge fun.

At the beginning of this month we were blessed with a visit from home! My Aunt (mom’s sister) and her husband from Taber, Alberta and my cousin from Parksville, BC had been visiting my uncle’s relatives in Holland and took a side trip to Spain just to see us. We packed in as much as we could in four days. Since this was the first time for all of them to visit Spain, we tried to give them a good taste of our Spanish life. We ate churros, tapas, Spanish chocolate and paella, took a bus to an historic Roman/Carthaginian city, a boat trip around the bay of Cartagena, drove into the country, walked along the Mediterranean, enjoyed a family barbecue and attended a May Fiesta. My cousin couldn’t stop taking pictures.

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Happy to be with  family and show them around my corner of Spain

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Dinner at The Nautilus overlooking the Mediterranean. Every one enjoyed their meal and first view of the Med.

We had an enjoyable visit to the two thousand year old city of Cartagena. Evidence of its rich Carthaginian and Roman history is everywhere. Still considered an important naval base and shipyard, it is now also a stop for large cruise ships.We took a boat trip around the harbour to view the old walls of the fortress. The city has amazing architecture and a lovely pedestrian shopping area with many bronze sculptures waiting to be photographed. The bit of rain didn’t dampen our spirits as we explored this interesting place only forty minutes from were we live.

My cousin meeting a friendly sailor

My cousin meeting a friendly sailor

Aunt and Uncle making a freind

Aunt and Uncle making a friend

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Croissants filed with strawberries, bananas and chocolate. Yummy!

We stopped for lunch at a Valor Coffee Shop. Valor makes the best chocolate in Spain. You may recall my visit to the Valor Chocolate Factory last fall. Here is the post if you wish to know more. Our meal was delicious and included chocolate, of course! We finished with churros dipped in what else – chocolate, a Spanish tradition which they loved.

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My outgoing cousin soon made friends with Romans wandering the streets.

 

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We also found some Roman ruins including an amphitheatre. An excellent day filled with history, architecture, the sea and chocolate!! My aunt purchased a spoon for her collection and my uncle a hat with Spain on it. Everyone returned happy.

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Another day we took a drive into the country, through traditional Spanish villages, past lemon and orange groves and the occasional flock of sheep. A trip to Spain would not be complete without trying the tradition of tapas, so that’s what we had for lunch.  The quests enjoyed the wide selection of small tasty treats. Something for everyone. That evening we had a barbecue at our place with my in-laws. A nice family gathering which included my home made paella and my mother-in-law’s trifle.

Aunt Peggy at the tapas bar.

Aunt Peggy at the tapas bar.

Their visit coincided with the Torrevieja May Fiesta, called Feria de Sevillanas. We were able to take them to enjoy this very popular fiesta featuring the traditions of Andalucia. My Canadian visitors were delighted to see women of all ages dressed in colourful, flamenco dresses and white mantillas. We strolled through the marquees and fun fair, watched paella being made and enjoyed the parade of dancers, Andalusian horses, riders and horse drawn carriages. My cousin sampled her first sangria with lunch on the esplanade.

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All ages get in the spirit of the fiesta

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My Aunt will return with a report to mom that all is well with me and my new life. She kept saying, “This is so wonderful, I’m so glad we came.” I am so glad they came as well!!

Breakfast at my home in Spain. Love my family!

Breakfast at my home in Spain. Love my family!

Finca Lo Reig

Finca Lo Reig

We were recently invited for lunch to the home of a distant relative of mine. Beth was born in Canada, married a handsome Spanish doctor and moved to Spain over forty years ago. They live in a three hundred year old home, owned by Vince’s family since 1941, when his grandfather purchased it. The house sits on an olive farm, or finca, and contains the original olive press which was operational up until the early 1970s. The living quarters have been modernized but much of it is still the original. There are many nooks and crannies filled with historical objects. It’s like living in a museum. In the kitchen is the original clay oven which Beth uses occasionally to make delicious roast lamb and potatoes.

Original clay oven in the kitchen

Original clay oven in the kitchen

Clay oven outside

Clay oven from the outside

Earthenware jugs, used to store olive oil, hide in one small room along with the metal measuring cup and funnel used to fill containers brought by customers. In another room, off the living area, the three hundred year old press sits as if waiting for the horse to walk around and around dragging the mill stone once again. The bags used to bring the olives in from the fields are still there as well.

Olive oil jugs

Olive oil containers

Measuring cup and funnel

Measuring cup and funnel

300 year old olive press

300 year old olive press

In the yard sits an old pony cart. Vince recalls riding into Alicante on that very cart with his father. A trip that takes about ten minutes by car now, took an hour and a half each way then.

Pony cart

Pony cart

The ground floor, now the main living area, was where the animals were once kept. The family lived on the second and third floors. When renovating the house before moving into it fifteen years ago, they discovered a well in what is now the sitting room. It is still there but covered over. It may make a good wine cellar one day.

Sitting room with original tiles on the wall. A well is under the corner cabinet.

Sitting room with original tiles on the wall. A well is under the corner cabinet.

The wood beamed ceiling

The wood beamed ceiling and chandelier

The attached goat house is also filled with interesting items including an old Spanish saddle.

corral and goat house

Corral and goat house

Spanish saddle

Spanish saddle

I love the windowsills. Do you see Don Quixote hiding there?

I love the windowsills. Do you see Don Quixote hiding there?

Vince gave us a great tour of the house and property and was proud to share his heritage. We were treated to a fabulous meal in front of the original fireplace. I couldn’t help thinking about all the meals that had been shared in this house over the years. I’m sure the same warm hospitality we experienced has been extended to many over the centuries. I was so happy to know I have family here in Spain!

Family in Spain

Family in Spain

This will be our second Christmas in Spain. Last year our boxes hadn´t arrived so we decided not to decorate the place we were renting. (The first time in my life I didn´t decorate for Christmas) This year we have our own place and hubby cleverly packed some Christmas lights in his boxes. He went all out and decorated the terrace and even the palm tree. Ours is the only place on the block decorated and the neighbours love it!

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We bought a small artificial Christmas tree (another first). I then realized I didn´t pack any ornaments. They went to our daughter´s place so they are in good hands. So I picked up a few things at the local dollar store and decorated it. I think it looks cheerful and makes the place very cosy.

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Christmas in Spain is not the crazy commercial event it is in North America. The malls are decorated for Christmas but are very quiet with tons of parking spaces and no line ups at the tills. It didn´t seem right. I wanted to scream, “What is wrong with you people? Don´t you know it is only two weeks before Christmas??” Then I remembered, that is why we moved here. So we joined the others and relaxed over a cafe con leche.

Brass band by a coffee shop

Brass band by a coffee shop

Carol singing in the mall.

Carol singing in the mall.

There are many Christmas Fayres, brass bands playing around town and carol sings. Most events are in support of a charity. We attended a fun Christmas Fayre in a small town square last weekend and watched our wonderful eight-year-old friend, Ana Lucia, dance.

Before the performance

Before the performance

Dancing n the town square

Dancing n the town square

She was also part of the Nativity scene that assembled as a talented man sang “When A Child is Born.” It was very moving and made me feel full of the Christmas spirit.

The Nativity scene made up of children

The Nativity scene made up of children

Guess what part of the Nativity Ana Lucia was

With my favourite sheep from the nativity scene

Our young friend came for a visit with her parents to see the Christmas lights, the tree and sample some Christmas baking. She sends a Christmas greeting to my family and friends in Canada and all over the world! It just isn´t Christmas without kids and I´m so happy we have Ana Lucia in our lives. She is bi-lingual and helps me with my Spanish too.

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A special visitor

A special visitor

I Skyped with my soon to be 87 year-old mom last week from her room at the retirement home. My brother set it up for her and my lovely granddaughter arranged it. My grandson and great granddaughter were there as well. My son stopped in for a surprise visit and we had a Skype party. It was great to see Mom so happy. The next evening my granddaughter and great granddaughter attended the Christmas dinner with mom at the home. Mom had a great time, as you can see, and enjoyed a glass of wine.

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Mom with her great granddaughter and great great granddaughter.

Mom with her great granddaughter and great great granddaughter.

I am enjoying Christmas on both sides of the Atlantic. There is so much joy in my life my heart is bursting.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas full of Joy and Peace!!

Gabriola Island is a wonderful place to visit and since my daughter lives on a nearby island, I have had many opportunities to spend time on this peaceful paradise. On one occasion we visited an alpaca farm, much to my delight. I love camels and llamas; and alpacas are also part of the family of camelids. I was surprised to find that these creatures are so unique and loveable, with individual personalities. Here are a few pictures from my visit to these delightful creatures prized for their fine wool.

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What´s not to love about this guy!

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Getting a kiss from an alpaca

Getting a kiss from an alpaca

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The wee ones

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Daughter, her partner and his daughter. Love my family!

Daughter, her partner and his daughter at the alpaca farm . Love my family!

Children who love animals volunteer at the farm and are happy to show you around. You can purchase lovely alpaca hand made items in the shop.To learn more about Paradise Island Alpacas here is the website:

http://paradiseislandalpacas.weebly.com/

and here is a great video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPPW0_cJXRw

Have you been to a farm with unique animals?

 

I don´t consider myself a poet. I have far to much respect for poets to include myself as one of them. But I once composed a poem about my dear grandmother, although not that good, conveys how I felt about her. A cousin found it in a family history book and sent it to me recently. I thought I would share it.

Grandmother

I feel her blood running through my veins

I see her in my dreams

In my daughter´s determination

She often comes to mind

when I am baking

I still feel her soft warm hugs

Hear her reassuring words

Letting me know I am loved

I feel her frustrations

Dreams that didn´t work out

The power of her love for her family

The lack of love for herself

Her confusion enters my mind

Her craziness stirs my soul

We lost so much when she left us

She left us with so much

Darlene Foster, 1999

 

My grandmother, Lydia (Hoffman) Mehrer, was born in 1910 and passed away in 1978 at only 68 years old. I loved her so much and miss her everyday.

A picture of her and my grandfather shortly after they married in 1928. Grandpa kept this picture in his wallet for years. I have a copy hanging in my office above my computer to keep me going.

Gramma & Grampa Mehrer

Grandma and Grandpa with their  six children taken in 1950. My mom is standing next to Grandma.

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I was the first of  her 32 grandchildren.  She was a wonderful grandmother who loved us unconditionally and made us all feel special. I consider myself blessed to have had her in my life.

Page in the family history book

Page in the family history book


Amanda in Arabia

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Amanda in Spain

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Amanda in England

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Amanda in Alberta

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Pig on Trial

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