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2004 A year for balance, art, and harmony



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Thursday, December 09, 2004

  Thursday, December 9, 2004

It is so hard to believe how this time has passed.

I now have a new home. Originally our desire to buy the new home was to have a space (extra) that was updated and ready to live in. We purchased (and sold our former house) within days of each other. The house is nice. However, due to my time-poverty, much of the unpacking is not yet complete. I do look forward to everything being moved in and our pictures up on our walls. Storage is still an issue, but that too will be solved in time.

I now am employed full-time. When I thought that I was working full-time last year, I quickly found out that I wasn't (full-time hours, but at part-time pay). Once the issues were all ironed out, I became a true full-timer. This semester I am wading into two classes of senior religion with my usual senior marketing. To add to the course-load is the development of a brand new course called "Planning 10". I am also excited by being allowed the chance to teach a specialized science program that will ready students for the provincial science exam in the new year. I am looking forward to the challenge. In the new year, when the marketing and science classes are complete, I am replacing these with two courses in grade 10 French, and two courses in grade 9 religion. I look forward to that time as well.

The extra-curricular this year once again took a great deal of my time, heart and emotion. I was working with the senior girls' volleyball team. They upset our rivals to win the Valley championships last month. Last week, we went off to Abbotsford to compete in the provincial championships where the girls played highs and lows to an eighth placing. I really enjoyed a lot of the work with the girls. However girls' sports have so many issues that are not always sport-solo related....whew, a break for now.

Alex is happy that I am home more now. He didn't mind hanging around the school, but even he enjoys seeing me from time to time at home. In October he and Jerry went East to a family wedding. Withing a couple of weeks I too had to fly East...for a funeral. It is such an odd feeling. I was so incredibly happy to be able to see my family...but at the expense of loosing one of our members. I will never look at family time the same way I am sure.

The winter has started to hit us. I hope this means that we will be actively involved in the season. We still enjoy our comforts, but the extra insulation we have acquired doesn't equal the need. We really want to do to decide which something that will be.

Well, I thought it would be important to get a hold of some of these things. Please write should you get the chance.

posted by wendy at 5:12 p.m.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

  It has been such a long time since I have been on here. Someone thought that maybe I had even been "kicked off", but I still maintain my site (sight?).

Now that I am back to working full time as a high school teacher, I have become very time poor. I was at the computer printing out student's work and thought that I would check out how the site was doing. There isn't a lot of change here, so I will try to update now and again. senior girls' basketball team won the 2004 city finals, valley finals, regional finals, and finally took the provincial title in March. The students raised so much money for breast cancer that there were many of us who were bald for sometime in October, November, etc. This year has been great working with youth again in subjects like senior Marketing, French, Humanities (Social Studies & English), Science and Learning Resource. I have used more of my school-learning this past year than in the past 20 years. It has really been invigorating.

Apart from the travel with the basketball team (many, many km and hours in busses, ferries and airplanes), I also went to Mexico with our school's Mexico Mission where we built 4 houses from scratch (really...from scratch...even the cement!!).

With the staff, we have done a great deal of professional development, hosting and duties. We are a small staff, so we keep very busy with our group of students and their many activities.

On the homefront, the boys have been fending well on their own. Sometimes I worry that they are fending too well. They are now active with tennis and baseball when they aren't off to chug a slushy or two (ouch Brain freeze!!). They love their TV and sports, so there is never a dull moment in their lives. My son is now into rock music. He listens to AC/DC none-stop and plays his own electric guitar every chance he gets.

He and I are off to the States in the near future. Mom is coming to see our new place for the first time. It will take her some time to get here, but it will be great to see her again. Then we are taking her home cross-country. I hope it goes better than those bad B-movies about family long distance field-trips.

The dog is still very much my best friend in the house. She and I share together every chance we get. She still holds to her routine even if mine changes around on her. She is the greatest...and my son loves to cuddle with her on her giant doggie bed. It is soooo cute.

Anyway, that is a bit of an ambiguous post for now. Hope to post again soon.

posted by wendy at 3:34 p.m.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

  These are a few of my favourite things....
Raindrops on roses
whiskers on kittens
snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes

but here's one of those you ever rent a movie, or buy a cd, not knowing much about it, and expecting even less...

Last week, we rented "Vanilla Sky". Now, I don't care for Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz is ok, but all the hype with Tom Cruz turned me off....we had to watch it tonight as it is due back to the renter's tomorrow.....and guess what????....I LOVED IT !!!!!

I could watch this movie again and again.

And the music....look out stores....I'm so there tomorrow.....

Don't take my word for it though. I don't know if it would be a film you would like. But, if you do rent the movie, and fall so in love with me and let me know. I could almost get into "groupy" mode with this one....teehee

posted by wendy at 12:54 a.m.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

  Bald can be Beautiful?

Well, it is October again. That means, for me, it is Run for the Cure time again.

Three weeks ago, tomorrow, after a morning prayer and staff meeting I asked that if any staff members would like to support me in my endeavour, I would once again be participating in Run for the Cure. I told of my story about last year's goal and the achievement (thanks totally to the support of many of your who are reading now) of raising over $2,000 for the run resulting in the shaving and donation of all of my hair.

Upon leaving the meeting, one of the staff members said, "Hey, why not get the students involved?"
"Sure," I said...and the whole thing grew once again from there.

That morning at the school-wide morning assembly, I told my story once again. This time, I was in front of the whole student body. That day, I started up the sign-up sheet. Day one, 10 two, 20 students, day three 40 students, and the list grew and grew. Next there were waivers to sign, parent signitures to get, addresses and names to fill in on registration forms and donation forms alike. Two enthusiastic and bubbling teens came to me with an idea. Would you support us if we were to change the challenge to include the principal and other staff shaving heads if we reach certain goals along the way? Of course, I immediately directed them to the principal.

Teens can be so enthusiastic and endearing. By week end, there were several staff members enlisted with hair shaving goals at the $200 mark, $300 mark and so on along our "donation thermometer". Mr. D (one of 3 Mr D's in the school) offered to have his head and all facial hair shaven when the school reached the $1,000 mark. The principal's goal....$1,200. Who knew, that with such a short week last week (Thur and Fri were PD days), those goals would be reached and surpassed. Several brows started to sweat, but the program had taken on a life of its own by then.

While at the PD day the news of the newly graduated students, and brother of two attending students had just been rushed to hospital and started on emergent cancer therapy. A massive tumour was found lodged in his chest. It was full of benign and cancer cells. I put my hair on the line at $3,500, while other staff filled in at $2,000, $2,500 and $3,000 a piece. By Wednesday, all of the teachers had their goal points met. There was only Mr. K and myself left. Thursday, Mr. K's goal was met. Friday morning, before classes began, the final donations were due.

Friday passed by like a bad dream. I had made wrong decision after wrong decision. I ran around trying to get everything in order for the dismissal time and the onslaught of team members scrambling for their running kits and shirts later that day. Another lot of donations had arrived after I had returned back to the school having stood in line at the bank for over an hour earlier in the day. I had one more lesson to teach, the photocopier was blobbing out my copies...I had a project and major assignment to introduce....then the bell rang. The predicted clamour arrived. There were questions and more problems. Then, I had to run to the bank...only one more half hour was left before the bank would be closed and our final team score could be tallied. I showed up at the closest CIBC...4:04. I rushed out of the van door, coins falling between my fingers as I held onto the last bits of donations. An then...

"Power problems?" "bank closed?" "other branch?" Downtown!!!??" Downtown was a Friday traffic jam and a pay parking lot away (not to mention the fact that the van was running on fumes). Yes, by the grace of God and the power of my van engine...I was able to get in line just as the gates were being closed across the entrance of the downtown branch. The final balance was in...(at least I hoped). Back at the school, I read over forms, filled in errors, calculated totals, totalled calculations....and guess I am going to be bald too.

Tomorrow is the day. The students had raised $4,001.49!!!! I was at school that night again until well after 10:30 p.m. I fell home only to find out that Jerry had lost at his tennis tournament in the finals and while racing off to see a Father/Son hockey game at Skyreach, he had been sided by a new driver truck driver. Oh, I was so happy to see where the day had ended at school, but by that point I was glad that the day had in fact ended.

Yesterday was a day of final balances needed to be done up at the Run for the Cure office. Final arrangements needed to be made for the next day. Final purchases and items to organize.

This morning I woke up amazed that it was actually the day. Today was the run.

It is all past now. The students were great. The staff that also participated were perfectly positive. The TV and I once again converged....this time as spokeperson for the school team. I knew I was loosing my hair on Monday, but seeing the many pink shirts (any breast cancer survivor was given a free pink Run shirt), the artist's busts on the breast cancer patients, the hair covers of many, many women and the support of so many wonderful people, I could only feel pride for our team.

We won the school challenge. As a team we were presented with a wonderful award plaque (like last year's corporate challenge that we won under the name and a huge pennant. I was presented with a very, very special gift (a handmade silver and crystal bracelet) made by a breast cancer survivor/artist/team coordinator. I was also made spokesperson for the Run for the Cure (ugh....). However, the best experience was that I was there to see so many wonderful women's (and men's) smiling faces. We achieved a lot as a group in a mere three weeks. Can you imagine what this team will achieve a mere 13 years from now. Maybe we won't have to run for this cure anymore. Imagine...a world without cancer....these kids, I think they learned today that with a lot of work and a definite goal, they can do anything!!

posted by wendy at 8:04 p.m.

Friday, August 22, 2003

  "Smokey the Bear" give us a hug!!

Well, the fire is still out of control. Last night I stayed up until very late into the evening watching the details on the local news and the internet. For most of the night, our cable was on and off (some channels were completely gone for many hours while others were able to continue....thank you cable fairy...I was able to see the final wonderful results of "The 4th Amazing Race".....

That last couple of sentences is what life is like here. We are living in a very scary and significant event. It wasn't started by terrorists and there is no one to blame. We are having to deal with positive thinking and faith to know that all will be ok. However, the air is as smokey as it is ominous. There is a sort of "calm for for the storm" feeling. Horrible events are happening and we can see the effects (or lack of sight) but everyone is still trying to maintain "normalcy". The streets are filled with tourists and cars (what do Asian tourists find to photograph?). The school staff have been coming and going although some people were evacuated just last night. People are still out doing the same jobs and chores we would be doing if the sky were as blue as it is on the other side of the smoke. We try to not think of the events that are literally "in our face". However, unlike the other scares of this past year or two, there is no one to be angry with, there is no one to fear and somehow, that makes it sort of ok? Even the calm with which the evacuated people have been handling their fears and losses is such a strength to the rest of the community. Everyone is trying to pitch in with help in whatever way possible. We are amazed too at the amount of wonderful help we are receiving from fire fighters her from all over the two nations.

For those who are trying to get the perspective of our level of danger in this... Well, we are thankful that we didn't purchase in the areas that we had considered before our Westside purchase. The neighbourhoods effected were lovely, filled with trees, a good deal of room between the houses and all within a short walking distance of the Kettle Valley Railway system trails and the wonderfully untouched park of Okanagan Mountain. We are not in danger of that fire here on the opposite side of the lake. Aubin, who lives about 30 km north of the actual city of Kelowna is also not in danger of that fire either. Of all of us, I suppose I am having the most difficulty due to my lung problems and the smoke. There is not a lot I can do except keep taking the extra meds, not get too stressed and be at the school, rest when my body says to and be alert. Jerry and Xdr have both been inside this week. Jerry's office is air conditioned. Xdr has been taking part in a science camp that has done all of their camp inside the university. Their outdoor solar energy and eco labs were moved into the university to take into account the air quality.

The fire did take over many houses last night. There are a huge number of people who were on evacuation alert that were actually evacuated last night. The fire is licking at those houses right now. The evacuation alert area is extended to within a km of my school (the Mission Creek). Due to the topography and urban sprawl between the creek and the rest of the city, I don't think (this is logic speaking...not knowledge and experience) even this beast could get beyond the Creek area.

The fear for the rest of us (Yamashitas and Dorions) is only in the weather forcast. Tonight and tomorrow there are to be electric storms (with a chance of precip being only about 30%...that translates into 0% here due to experience). Having lived here now, we understand the randomness and high chance of another fire starting. This whole area is at the highest level of fire alert (level high at setting 6). Simply a smoldering cigerette ash or a poorly maintained dirt bike could start a huge fire within seconds. We are nestled in the woods. If we did have a fire start near us, it would not be good for us...but the fire isn't here and we may get through this next storm fine. Aubin's community would be about at the same risk as our own. The only additional redeeming feature where he lives is that there are many farms with extensive irrigation already in place to keep the ground cool and moist. There has been no rain for over 60 days. Not only the trees are dry, but there are many cm of dry material along the ground that allow embers to find good feeding ground. As I said though....we are really only threatened with fire ourselves should a new fire begin in our regions. We would not be at risk of loosing either of our places due to the fire at the south end of town.

We are worried for the family farm. The water source for the orchards is the Mission Creek that runs along the back length of the acreage. The fire is heading in that direction, but we will keep you as well informed as we can on that development.

So, for the first time, we have compiled a list of things we would grab if we received the "you have 30 minutes to leave" warning. Each of us has a list of items to get and we are all aware of what we will need to grab first, second and so on. The practice has really allowed us to reflect and realize that the "things" can be replaced....the most important things will be with us....each other. We haven't put the items together in a package by the door as we are not, at this time, in direct danger.

Please pray for all of those throughout B.C., Alberta and Washington State who are experiencing losses due to fires. Pray for our guidance and strength so that we can do everything possible to help in whatever way possible. And pray in thanksgiving, as we are, that we have been able to experience one of God's greatest gifts....nature...and we look forward to the changes and experiences that will come.

Big Bear Hugs to all!!

posted by wendy at 12:31 p.m.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

  "She'll be riding Wild Fire"...

I know if I really tried to figure it out, I would be able to remember the year the song titled "Wild Fire" came out. However, I associate the song with my youth. Horses were a source of quiet strength and beauty for me. They were part of the cast of characters I was reading about as I waded deeper into my repertoire of historic fiction and horse stories. I was crossing the west of Canada by station wagon, windows open to the western air, AM radio changing between CBC and a local western radio station, edging my brothers farther away from me as my body was growing and now even more aware of their intrusion on my space, as the miles (yes, miles) raced ever so slowly across the prairies. This was a family camping trip. A summer excursion through Canada's history, geography and sociology and my first attempt at seeing what made up the western part of our country and culture.

The prairies extended for miles. In my daydreams, I could see me sitting on my favourite palomino racing across the prairies. Holding fast to the horse with my knees and calves I could imagine the feel of the great expansion of the horse's lungs pushing against the insides of my legs. My arms cast out to my sides drinking in the warmth of the sun so that even my sides could be warmed by its glow and cooled with the passing breezes. The sound only of the slight tred of hooves whisping across fresh grasses. Each step releasing strong aromas of sage and dew-licked clover into the crisp western air. The song "Wild Fire" released into my mind repeating chorus after chorus like an echo from a far off siren.

Now the sirens are harsh and real and wake us in fear in the night. Like the young wild palomino of my dreams, this "Wild Fire" is rushing and searing across the sage and clover. The wind is rushing past and the beast's lungs continue to take in more air gaining strength with each breath. The sound thunders through the hills. Its own heat, not that of the sun, warms the beast, encouraging it to thunder forward. This wild fire is real and it is happening here.

Saturday, the day of Jerry's youngest cousin's wedding, the rumours started to spread. Weeks before, the clouds in the sky of smoke had been in the valley signaling the first fires south of the valley, then north. The media kept us informed that the flames were licking other communities, other mountains, other houses. With sadness we listened as we heard of brave people attempting to calm the beasts. The battle went to the air as bombs of retardent and water were fed to the flames in the hopes of choking the beast. Much of the news told of the attempts that were not working although, we were told all would be looking better soon.

Jerry came home. Those clouds outside. Those clouds of smoke outside. Those clouds of smoke outside...are ours. Our wild fire.

The first reports revealed that two fires started that morning from lighning (lightning????..we haven't had a drop of precipitation for 59 days now....where was the lighning from???). Confirmation of the ignition and existence of two fires was lead by the next fact, the location and extent of the fire. Two to three hectares of fire were started by lightning at Okanagan Mountain Park, off Rattlesnake Island. Quickly we shifted through our books trying to find the acreage equivalent of a hectare to now really understand what that meant. One hectare is roughly equivalent to 2.5 acres. So a couple of hectares...that can't be wild.

That night, Aubin confirmed the worse. He had seen the blazes. People were crawling to greater heights wanting to see the flames. Maybe we needed to confirm that this really was happening. Maybe we needed to be a witness of this event. Afterall, in the east, the cities had been plunged into a pit of darkness. This would be our event for the next couple of days....right?

Monday's papers showed the beast. Today, Wednesday, I am having a great deal of trouble breathing. The wild fire itself is eating up a park that is at the south-eastern edge of Kelowna (locally known as "the mission" area). The beast can be seen at night from our side of the lake. Yesterday, the sun was red. It was absolutely horrific. I have never seen the sun as a fire ball in the sky. Choked by the smoke the house has needed to be closed up. It is warm and it will be hot within the next couple of hours. Evacuations and evacuation alerts have been sent out to over 2,000 homes as of this morning.

This morning I read the latest report. The beast is getting larger. It is now 6300 hectares huge. Don't worry about pulling out your calculators...that is approximately 15,750 acres. I remember growing up and thinking my grandparents owned nearly a "ranch" with their 200 something acres. That would be nearly 79 Wilker farms huge!!!

I can't imagine what the people are going through. How do you decide what to take with you to the evac centres? What do you keep behind knowing that maybe you may not use or see these memories again? How do you stay calm and focused? When do you really know when it is the last possible time to let that all be left behind? I am tired of just reading about what is happening. Today I will find out what I can do to help. I will have to leave my home though too today to find a shelter where I can breath so that I can slow down my heart and get my head thinking about what we can do to help these other. Yet, ironically?, unfortunately?, symobolicly the song keeps echoing in my head, "She'll be riding Wild Fire". Yes, now I know, I am not only in the West, I am part of this experience and life which is of the West.

posted by wendy at 9:57 a.m.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

  It is "semi"-official!!!

I received the call today. I was offered, and accepted, my new job. I am going to be one of the teachers at Immaculata Regional High School.

At this time, it looks like I will be teaching junior French (mais oui), junior(?) History and Geography, and senior Marketing. I was a bit surprised by the French position. However, every time I go for a job, I am asked to teach French. The school is introducing a new program next I will be a newbie with the rest of the French staff (2 male teachers). The marketing course scares me a bit...but only a bit. I have always wanted to teach History (grade 8 = ancient civilizations up to, and including middle ages; i.e. Mayan, Japanese, Chinese, Europe, explorers, etal; grade 9 = first nations Canada and North America; grade 10 = Canada to confederation....oh, I was made for those classes), Geography = mapping skills, physical characteristics and human geography ... teehee, another one of my passions.

So I am very, very happy. Thank you everyone for the prayers and crossed parts.

I have cuts on my fingers but I am starting to think I may indeed get my art project done for Granny's birthday party.

Yesterday the shelving unit was finally mantled. I have cleaned up all of the paint splatters, cleaned the shelves and even started to get the clothes back in. I guess now that we won't have so many stacks of things on the floors, I may have to start cleaning the floors again.

Tonight Jerry and I solved the problem of the giggling china cabinet. A couple of weeks ago, with Aubin, we hauled the china cabinet from the dining room into the living room. We hoped the cabinet would settle better in the livingroom. In fact, the monster started to jiggle even worse than when it was in the dining room. Each pass-by meant that china clancked together and the whole unit seemed near to toppling. After watching Jon Eakes, I found out how we would have to fortify the floor. It was going to involve taking down the ceiling of the garage and doing some construction work. I was going to go at it (but with "Jim's" number at "Handyman Helper" nearby). In the meantime, we shimmed up the bottom of the cabinet, diapered the middle (you'd have to see my drawings to understand that part) and the unit sits fairly still. Hopefully when it is fully loaded again, we will not experience any further problems. Ok, maybe start crossing your parts for me again.

Now all I have to do is get Jerry's father's day gift, figure out what we are doing Friday through to my last day here on Tuesday, finish the art project, go through my book collection and purge some inventory for Barb and Brian, clean the house, pick strawberries at the farm, clean and freeze said strawberries, maybe make a strawberry pie or other dessert item, get some meals figured out for the boys (while I am gone...or else they will survive on that "other" Wendy's while I am away), do laundry and its other necessities, pack, clean up, etc, etc, etc. The librarian at the school has been wanting me to help with her inventory as well...oh yes, I better do that before I leave. Oh, and I need to get a teacher gift....well, I better get at these things now.

Again, thanks for your help. I'll need those prayers again once mid-August begins. If I remember, that is when the nightmares start about the class that gets bigger and bigger, while I try to keep my falling teeth in my mouth, and cover my bare naked figure just before the superintendent drops in for an unannounced inspection and the parents come at me with various weapons announcing their faith in their child and disgust with me....or something like that!!!

posted by wendy at 9:08 p.m.


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