Archive for February 2013

Thursday, February 28, 2013

In Sickness and in Health

Junior and Cinderella

Early in January 2011 Junior wed the woman of his dreams.  They had a whirlwind romance that culminated in a big party which we threw together for them at the greenhouse.   It was like living a fairytale with a happily ever after ending.

Cinderella and Junior ended up settling down, getting a puppy and now they commute 5 minutes to the greenhouse every day where they keep us old people (aka: thinking about retirement some day soon kind of old people) busy with new business ventures and acquisitions.

However, we knew that Cinderella had some impending health issues that were quite serious.  It turns out she was born with a few things wonky on the inside including plugged bile ducts and cysts in the liver.  By the time she was 17, she required surgery to deal with all the funkiness which caused some serious discomfort.

Unfortunately, the original surgery did not completely fix all the problems so a second surgery was scheduled for this week.  Knowing that she would soon be incapacitated for a while, Junior decided to take her on a quick business-slash-holiday trip to Texas and Louisiana.

Only rental car available?

They ended up driving 1000's of kilometres to first order some plants we need for this coming spring season.

Then, after securing all the palms required, they raced back to another greenhouse in Texas to check out a second hand cucumber grading machine.  There's not a lot of those around and we need one soon for our own production.  Junior wanted to see it in action before making a purchase.  Buying something sight un-seen is never a really comfortable way of doing business.  The equipment passed the test.  We are now the proud owners of more machinery that requires constant maintenance.  Woohoo!

Once all the negotiations were transacted, Cinderella went shopping.

Shoe shopping, that is.

When I received this picture of red pumps I put in an order for a pair as well.  Unfortunately Junior convinced her that he didn't want his MOM wearing the same shoes as his WIFE. 

Why not?  What's wrong with that son?!


After scouring the outlet malls, they went for one final fling at a Texan BBQ House.

Junior sent me this picture and excitedly shared his latest business idea.  He wants to start a chain of BBQ restaurants just like this one but with a Canadian twist.  Every item will include Maple Syrup in some form or fashion.  Maple syrup BBQ sauce, Maple syrup sausages, Maple syrup chipotle mayo, etc.

I say we'd better jump on that fast before someone else steals our idea!

Cinderella was worried that it would be a very long time before she could feast on a meal rich in red meat and hot sauce so she decided to indulge in a big way.

That should tide her over for at least a month, in my opinion!

So, the big day finally arrived and our brave little soldier was wheeled off into surgery.  The hours ticked by.  What was supposed to simply be a quick removal of old scar tissue turned out to be an entire  bile duct reconstruction combined with the removal of a length of intestines!

The doctor was kind enough to use some visuals on the white board in her room to explain the process.

The stomach is on the right and the liver is on the left.  The problem blockage area is represented by all the scribbling below the liver.  Simple enough, wouldn't you say?  Don't know why it takes 10 years of University to be able to become a surgeon.  Looks as easy as pie.

However, the surgery was quite a bit more invasive than we had expected.

When we got to visit the next night, she was hooked up to all sorts of monitors and such.  Her blood pressure was low.  Her breathing was very shallow.  Her oxygen level was low.  Her pain was not under control.

In a nut shell, she scared us just a little.

We went home and prayed.

I think there must have been a lot of praying going on because when I arrived there the next morning, she was as chipper as ever

and dutifully performing her breathing exercises.

The name of the game is to get all 3 balls in the air.  Nothing like a fun little challenge to help you while away the hours of boredom that come with hospitalization.

Considering all the tubes poking in her.....

and the machines whirring and beeping while monitoring her vital signs....

she is one courageous gal.  18 staples and a 12" gash across the abdomen later, she is still as smiley as ever!

Pictured here is her new dancing partner,  Mr. I. V. Pole.  He is a great help when sashaying down the hallways and responds effortlessly to your every movement.  Just don't forget to plug him back in after your Viennese waltz to the bathroom is over because his batteries will run down and alarms will go off in the Nurse's station.

If all goes according to plan, she hopes to return home by Saturday.  I am sure she is going to miss the amazing view from her private toilet......

and the tasty hospital food that everyone raves about......

but there is a special someone back at home who is really, really missing her.

He can't stand another moment without her.

The loneliness is unbearable.

His misery is palpable.

Winston misses Cinderella terribly!  Get well soon.

One a more serious note, we appreciate your prayers for healing.  Please continue to lift this young family up to the Lord in prayer, pleading for healing and strength in this difficult time.

Isaiah 40:

But they that wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Championship Game - A Tale Of Two Families

This past Tuesday a momentous Championship Hockey game was played between the Chiefs and the Bandits in a small, cold ice rink in down town Abbotsford.  In just 3 short 12 minute periods, the Chiefs slaughtered the Bandits 4 to 1.  Goal after goal slipped through the gloves of the net minder to ensure a landslide victory and the inevitable hoisting of the trophy in glorious victory.

Little did anyone know, this game never would have been if it wasn't for 2 very different families living 2 very different lives.  This is a story about 2 sisters who were as different as night and day and yet the same in a lot of ways.

Let me introduce you to my sister Lisa and her family.

3 girls and 3 boys were born into her family.  They were avid hockey fans from day one, due to their mom and dad's diligent tutelage in the art of Canada's favorite sport.  Each of the boys started hockey the day they were old enough to slap on skates and wear a jersey.  Street hockey, floor hockey, ice hockey, it didn't matter.  As long as there was a stick and a puck involved, the kids were busy honing their skills every minute of the day.

Then there was me and my family.

3 girls and 2 boys were born to us.  Each of my kids were very close in age to my sister's kids.  However we chose a much different path, a path that required similar dedication to honing skills and mastering tecnique.  Orchestra, Chamber group and Solo lessons took up every waking moment of the day.  Starting at the tender age of 5, each of them lifted the tool of their trade and began the long road to perfection.

But one day my sister decided that enough was enough.  She was not going to let me, her baby sister,  deprive my boys of the joy of the roughest contact sport out there.  Something had to be done to right the wrong I was inflicting on her nephews.  But what could she possibly do to turn the tide of my firm belief that pursuits which required 3" thick protective padding were not a good idea? 

She did what any loving Aunt would do.  She started sending her boys stinky old hockey equipment hand-me-downs home with Anderson Cooper!

Anderson didn't mind the fact that the helmets were 5 times too large and the Jerseys wore like an Oscar worthy evening gown.  It was hockey equipment and that was all that mattered.  He wore it around the yard all that summer until heat exhaustion took over.

The next step in her plan to save my boys from utter shame and embarrasment was an offer to enroll them in a league with her boys.  She picked them up and brought them to the rink and home again like clock work.  Never a word of complaint did my sister ever voice aloud.  Never did she wag her finger at me to say "Shame on you for not bringing your boys to hockey!".  She bore her burden quietly and happily.

That is why THIS moment was just so special.

 Two cousins celebrating  a victory together, one raised with a violin in his hand and the other with a hockey stick.  It was a moment I never imagined possible.  But my SISTER believed.

Look at my boy now.

 With the help of his 3 hockey playing cousins, he managed to win the Championship game!

James, my sister's oldest son, was the one who finally convinced Junior to try his luck with hockey at the ripe old age of 20.  Even though my oldest son had never played on the ice in his life, his oldest cousin was anxious to get him into a set of blades.

Both Junior and James managed to sink the puck with grace and flair for the Championship game.

Cousin Tim is the enforcer of the team.

He's big and burly and.......

most likely to be found sitting out a few minutes of precious game time in the penalty box.

Cousin Matt is the guy with speed, power and accuracy.

Unfortunately for me, I can't tell which one of these guys is which so I just have to hope that he is somewhere in this picture.

3 brothers and a cousin, all on the same team.  3 brothers and a cousin playing to win.  3 brothers and a cousin drinking out of a dirty old trophy....

that can't be sanitary, can it?!

My sister has taught me that a mother never should coddle her sons.

She taught me that if you keep your boys from doing dangerous things like strap on some thin padding and skate around a frozen pond with a thin wooden stick, they will never get the chance to be injured in battle.

She taught me that your boy is not a man until he has shed blood, most likely his own, on the icy battle field, he is not a REAL man.

I am so thankful to my sister for ensuring that my boys did not become pansies.

My boys only SELL pansies.

Thanks Aunty Lisa!  You are the BEST aunty a boy could ever have.

Just for the record, here are a few more pictures of the momentous occasion.

Cousin Timothy accepting the trophy

The Team

Junior's posse shares in the victory

Junior gloating over his victory with a conquered opponent


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Northwest Flower and Garden Show - The Greenhouse Diaries Edition

Bob Bowling Rustics

That's it.

I have had enough.

I packed my bag and hit the road.

Please forward all my mail to this adorable little shack conveniently situated inside the Seattle Convention Centre where I have taken up permanent residence.

What a shame that it will be dismantled in the next few days.

Yes, my friends, sad but true, the Northwest Flower and Garden Show will soon just be a distant memory.  All the beautiful display gardens will be torn down.

The Hobbit House Garden - photo credits Rosa Veldkamp

The beautiful treasures in the Vintage Market will be packed up in boxes like unclaimed puppies at the pound.

Vintage weigh scale - photo credits Rosa Veldkamp
Exhausted exhibitors will drag the remnants of their beautiful booths home with a light heart.  It's all over for another year.

Amy McKoy from Today's Country Farm and Frills

I can't believe that I didn't buy these beautiful boots from Amy because now they are gone.

Photo Credits - Rosa Veldkamp

But, there was just so much beautiful stuff to choose from.

Photo Credits - Rosa Veldkamp

I became disoriented.

Photo Credits - Rosa Veldkamp
I may have blacked out, what with all the vintage va va va voom that was available for purchase.

Photo Credits - Rosa Veldkamp

I did manage to keep my wits about me for a moment when I saw some perfectly weathered old suitcases that will make unique planter displays in Milner Village Garden this spring.  I got them for such a great price that I felt like I should make a run for the exit before someone realized how valuable they really are.

Actually, I feel I was not on the top of my game yesterday due to the fact that my Little Angel, my sister Rosa and I were up till all hours of the night making some adorable t-shirts to promote THIS BLOG!

 Seeing as my daughter is an extraordinary graphic design artist who majored in marketing, she was in charge of the t-shirt's design.

Actually, in reality she didn't trust my fashion sense and was worried about what sort of crazy costume I would make her wear on my behalf.  My fashion sensibilities are just a little too loud for her taste, most days.

This was one project she felt could not be left in my hands.

Didn't they turn out ADORABLE?!

She found the original idea somewhere on Pinterest.  

What did we do before PINTEREST existed ladies?! 

This t-shirt transformation party ended up lasting into the wee hours of the night.  Then, the next morning we needed to leave my place at 6 AM just to be in Seattle by 9 AM.

I didn't bother to do my hair.  I don't function well that early in the morning.

We went with a group of 5 ladies in total.  My 2 Darvonda design team girls and our newest Milner Village Gardens Retail Manager were the youngest in our bunch.

Us older ladies tried to rent a wheelchair when we arrived but there was not a single one on the premises.  Seeing as Rosa is recuperating from a significant surgery, we had to take it slow.  At first I thought it was because she is still convalescing but in reality, it was more a matter of how many PHOTOS she was taking!

As you can tell by the photo I took of her taking photos, it was a good thing she did.  My pictures are all out of focus.


My posse made a very striking bunch on the show floor, don't you think?

We were easy to spot in a crowd, which was very handy indeed.  Every time Rosa would lag behind checking out all the plants while the rest of us tended to get distracted.

We just couldn't help ourselves.

There was just so much fun stuff to see and do!

Thanks to this young fella at the Dubarry of Ireland booth, I went home with a fabulous new jacket.

How could I not, with all of these pretty ladies coaching me into making such a smart purchase?!

Now, of course we lost Rosa in all the excitement.  Was she back in the Vintage Market?

Nope.  Not here.

Not here either.

I KNOW she must have been here because this bike was too stunning not to stop and take a picture!

We finally found her sitting on a chair, hoping we would pass by.

The convention centre was a very busy place so we had to fight for a table in one of the solarium's for lunch.

Bananas, muffins, cheese and some pop was all it took to get us re-energized for more inspiration gathering.

I really loved this giant chicken.  I am quite sure we need this out front at the Retail store!

The ideas were endless......

and so was the photography!

The creative juices were flowing, just as I had hoped.  Our trip was a smashing success going by the enthusiastic response from everyone.  Yup, we are now ready to tackle SPRING 2013!

Go team, go!

And, just in case you hadn't noticed yet, Wee Three was with us as well.  He/she was quite happy to just tag along.

Can't wait till we get to meet in person some time this summer.  I think I will design you a little t-shirt too.  Your mother will really appreciate it.  She likes my style.

Just a reminder to enter my FREE FLOWER GIVEAWAY this week.  You need some roses.  I can tell.