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Haikuesday — Is it Back?

30 Jan

So… it’s been months since I have participated in writing a haiku on a Tuesday. Is Haikuesday still a thing?

Today was a gorgeous wintry day in the Lower Mainland — no rain and a mix of sun and cloud. A perfect day for a tramp around Serpentine Fen. And excellent inspiration for a bit of poetry.

January sky
Leafless trees bleak in grey light
The soaring hawk shrieks


The Velveteen Daughter — A Review

6 Jan

The Velveteen Daughter Cover

The Velveteen Daughter is beautifully written novel based on the true story of Margery Williams Bianco, author of The Velveteen Rabbit, the beloved children’s book, her husband, Francesco and their brilliant daughter, Pamela —who was a child art prodigy.

Alternating between Margery and Pamela’s voice, Laurel Davis Huber’s debut novel fascinates readers with a glimpse of the dynamic and innovative creativity of the art movement in 1920s Europe and America, while exploring issues of love and madness, art and creativity, family and motherhood.

Huber paints a vivid portrait of the colourful, chaotic, and bohemian life of artists in New York and Italy and introduces readers to literary and artistic people such as Pablo Picasso, Eugene O’Neill and Richard (Diccon) Hughes, that are friends or relatives of the Biancos.

This well-researched narrative takes place over the course of a few days, but through flashbacks and imagination, we experience the emotional cycles of Pamela’s manic highs and devastating lows from both mother and daughter’s eyes throughout nearly 45 years. Ms. Huber draws a compelling portrait of Margery and Pamela’s relationship— she writes the Biancos’ story with a poignancy that is smooth and easy — the blending of fact and fiction perfectly balanced.

The central theme of The Velveteen Rabbit — what it means to be real and to be loved — is evident throughout The Velveteen Daughter as we witness Pamela’s struggle to find confidence in her self and to be loved for who she is. We see Margery’s worry and love for her daughter never wavering.

I adored The Velveteen Rabbit when I was a child and I still have warm memories of reading the book — and I loved The Velveteen Daughter as well. It is an introspective journey drawn through Margery and Pamela’s memories — an easy to read and captivating work. Laurel Davis Huber brings Pamela Bianco out of the forgotten annals of history with bold strokes that paint a bittersweet and haunting story bringing recognition of Pamela’s genius and contribution to the art world.

A story that had to be written… and read.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

There’s a New Park in Town

5 Nov

Come Out and Play! — an excerpt from a piece I wrote for Surrey604.

This past Saturday was the scene of a fun-filled day in the park at the official Grand Opening of Forsyth Park in the heart of Surrey.

Forsyth Park is the first of ten new parks that are planned for the City Centre area, it features a playground, two off-leash areas one for large dogs and one for small dogs, walkways, and picnic spaces.

The park also includes a Nature Play area that was funded by the TD Bank Group with a $500,000 gift to commemorate Canada’s 150th birthday and is part of the TD Group’s “Common Ground Project”, one of 150 such projects across the country.

Around 11:00 am on October 28, families, kids, and neighbours began to arrive at the new park. They were greeted by various musical artists from singers with guitars to a wandering trio with clarinet, guitar and bass horn. The sun warmed the crowd as the joyous laughter of children rang through the park. A line-up was forming where Railway Catering was setting up the barbeque. It was worth the wait — the burgers were amazing!

Read the entire article here on Surrey604

Dust Off Your Bowling Shoes!

22 Sep

This installment of the continuing series about the community in City Central features Dell Lanes and Lounge —the place for bowling fun in the historic Whalley area since 1959. The entire article is posted here.

As the door swings open to the entrance of Dell Lanes and Lounge, the thunder of bowling balls rumbling down the alley assails the senses. The unmistakeable crash of falling pins herald a strike amid cheers from the sidelines. The cacophony brings back a nostalgic feeling. How long has it been since I have been in a bowling alley?

Dell Lanes has been in operation in Surrey for 58 years, providing the community with the ages old entertainment of five-pin bowling. (Factoid: Thomas Ryan invented 5 pin bowling in Toronto in 1909, in response to complaints of his customers that the ten-pin ball was too heavy and the game was too slow. Five pin bowling is only played in Canada! — Bowl Ontario 5 Pin.)

The Dell Lanes bowling alley has been owned by the Cooper family since 2002 and today, is managed by a family member, Kayla Cooper. “I basically grew up here,” she grins “I have pictures of me as a toddler happily playing around the lanes. I first started working as a pin chaser when I was 16 and worked my way through the ranks from the kitchen to finally, manager.”

Bowling has had its surges in popularity over the years and Kayla says that today the sport is most popular with families, kids and college students looking for something fun to do that won’t break the bank.

Read the entire article on Surrey604,com

Still Walking Around Whalley’s Corner

8 Sep

In this next excerpt from the continuing series, Meet Me at Whalley’s Corner — I write about Whalley Optical Centre — taking care of the community’s eyewear needs for nearly 4 decades. Read the entire article and see more photos here.

Whalley Optical

When you walk into Whalley Optical Centre, on 107th and King George Boulevard, in the historic town centre of Whalley, it feels like any other optical store. Rows of glasses frames line the walls and fill the display cases on the floor. Posters of models wearing designer “specs” hang on the walls. Then, Lutz Sprecher, owner and licensed optician, walks out of the back room and you know that this store different. “This is an ‘old school’ optical establishment.” Lutz says with a glimmer of pride in his eyes.

“We have our own lab where we grind lenses to fit into frames as well as carry out eyewear repairs, something that you don’t find in optical stores these days.” He adds, “We offer old fashioned service we take the time to talk to our customers, we listen to them so that we can fulfill their needs and make sure they leave thrilled with their new glasses.”

Whalley Optical Centre was opened by Sprecher’s father in 1978, back in the days when the area was Surrey’s business hub. There were four banks and retail stores all around, until Surrey Place Mall (now named Central City mall) opened and the businesses moved closer to 104th. “I was schooled in opticianry by my dad, who was an optician trained in Germany and I started working in the shop part-time.”

Read the entire article on Surrey604,com


Last weekend of the summer…

3 Sep

A fun-filled blog post by my favourite black lab!

Emma's blog

…or so says Humom – I think every weekend is a summer weekend. Walking, chasing the ball, hoping for tasty treats… all summer all the time.

Here are just a few of the things I’ve done recently.

Today I walked with my pack: Sage and Magic, Willa and Shadow, Tucker, Bo, me of course, Dakota, and Bailey:


Tonight I shared a crab dinner with Lue, the wasps, and the humans (the humans ate all the crab – selfish! So sad!):

Here I am teaching humom how to run an agility course – I think she’s coming along pretty well:

I’ve also been doing nose work – well I always do nose work, but here humom has me searching an abandoned trailer:

Nose work search

And lots of naps…


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Wednesday Wisdom — or How to Prepare Corn the Easy Peasy Way

23 Aug

Oh, hello there! How is your summer going? The weather out here on the West Coast has been gorgeous — sunny and hot. I’m reveling in this season — going for walks in the early morning when the air is cool and fresh, reading a lot, eating ice cream, exploring our parks and beaches and generally enjoying these lazy summer days! It’s heavenly!

Beach photo

A walk on the beach at Deep Cove

Not only are my days feeling a bit lazy, I find I’m also in summer mode in the evenings, often getting lost in cyberspace after dinner. Seriously. I just discovered Wallander on Netflix and I have been binge-watching the entire series — only two episodes left! I have to admit [with a sheepish grin] that I have several more TV things lined up — like Marvel’s The Defenders, House of Cards, Sense8. And…we just discovered Amazon Prime — hello, Man in the High Castle! Of course, I’m still getting hopelessly distracted by all the pretty things on Pinterest. Phew! – maybe someone should put some sort of lock on my laptop — I may be getting out of control!!

Ahem, well, that’s enough about my procrastinating ways… I really wanted to tell you about this great hack I stumbled across on Pinterest. It is THE easiest way to deal with corn on the cob that I have ever seen! It seemed crazy simple — I couldn’t wait to try it — I LOVE fresh corn in the summer, but I hate the husking.

The instructions for this tip are straightforward: cut the stalk end of the cob off, put the ear on a microwave safe plate and zap it for 2 or 3 minutes. Then grab the cob by the uncut end and squeeze. Voilà, the steamed cob should slide right out of the husk — no fuss, no muss.  I was curious to find out if this little trick would work — I crossed my fingers and pressed “nuke”.

It works!

No struggling to pull off tightly bound leaves, no painstakingly stripping away fine corn silk, no mess to clean up afterward. Yowza! If you haven’t tried this yet, do it — you will be amazed!

Ear of Corn

Corn cob ready to go into the microwave


Corn on the Cob

After 2 minutes, I’m squeezing the corn out of the husk – it’s hot, so I’m wearing an oven mitt!


Check out the hack from America’s Test Kitchen’s YouTube channel for a detailed description of the process:


Meet Me at Whalley’s Corner — Part III

9 Aug

In part three of the continuing series, Meet Me at Whalley’s Corner — this excerpt is from an article introducing Manis Restaurant  — that I wrote for Surrey604 Magazine. Read the entire article and see more photos here.

Wendy, from Manis Restaurant

Manis Restaurant is a relative newcomer to the Surrey dining scene, having opened their doors three years ago in the middle of the historic community of Whalley in City Centre, just steps away from Whalley’s Corner.

A fresh dining experience for local diners seeking something different, Manis offers a unique menu best described as Pan Asian. The focus is on dishes from Southeast Asia ranging from the authentic plates of Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand to various tastes from India. Diners can expect traditional dishes along side original fusion dishes that blend time-honoured recipes with new, trendier concoctions.

Manis is a family-owned eatery tucked into a trendy mixed-use building on Whalley Boulevard. Wendy Lee, a family member who manages the floor, warmly greets every customer as they walk in the door — her sunny disposition instantly creating a welcoming mood. The restaurant is intimate and cozy with a minimalist, but warm décor. The main floor offers seating for 26 with additional room for 16 on the mezzanine level.

Read the rest at

Fire — A Haiku

8 Aug

My thoughts are with the many firefighters — professional and volunteer — who are battling the hundreds of fires raging in BC at this moment. I am holding in my heart, the evacuees, the wildlife, the people living in the surrounding communities and the burning trees in the blazing forests. I continue to send my hopes for their safety, comfort, solace and most of all — rain.

Forests raging flames
fierce inferno’s blazing light
treacherous beauty

Burning forest image

Meet Me at Whalley’s Corner — Part II

30 Jul

Part 2 — an excerpt from an article — part two of a series that spotlights businesses and individuals located in the historic Whalley District in Surrey, BC — that I wrote for Surrey604 Magazine. Read the entire article and see more photos here.

In this installment, meet Dean Camfferman, owner of Surrey Natural Foods. This health food store has been open in the same location for 45 years.

Surrey Natural Foods

Dean Camfferman and his son Dan

As you enter Surrey Natural Foods, you are enveloped by a pleasant mix of scents — spices, essential oils and natural soaps blending with the earthy aroma of grains and yeasts. You are likely to be welcomed into the shop by Scout, the official greeter — he is the sweetest dog you will ever meet!

The store is filled with shelves of natural and organic flours, teas, dried foods, and health products along with natural beauty and grooming products.

This locally owned shop has been serving the community of Whalley since 1972 — offering customers bulk products, essential oils, groceries, supplements, tinctures and more. Dean, the current owner, is a dedicated proponent of the natural food and health movement and is happy to help people learn about the benefits of embracing this lifestyle.

Read the rest on Surrey604,com

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