The boys and I are on Spring Break and we decided to visit my mother-in-law and stay with her at her cabin in the mountains and go skiing at the local hill.   My husband couldn’t go up with us because he was working so the boys and I were on our own.   We haven’t skied in a year and a half and it felt good being back up on the mountain top breathing in the good mountain air.  It was an interesting experience to watch the boys as they are constantly changing as they get older.  Matthew, my youngest, was always a fearless skier.  He has been scaring the crap out of me since he’s been five years old – no regard for fear just goes.  Brendan on the other hand was always a little timid and very cautious skier.  This trip proved to be different, Matthew was a little nervous and Brendan just took off.  We had fun and even though the boys can go now ski on their own we all skied together.  Thought I would have lots of time in the evening to finish reading the book I’m reading but I was so tired every night  after a day of skiing I was in bed early and sleeping.  Amazing what mountain air and down time can do for your sleep! We left the cabin yesterday morning by 9:00 am as Matthew was playing in a hockey tournament at 2:00 in the afternoon.  Typical me as I was packing up I was making  a  mental checklist in my head as to what I was going to do when I got home.  I gathered we would be home by 11:30 am and I would get some laundry done, get everything unpacked and away, finish dusting the house, go to my son’s hockey game, get dinner, and back out for another hockey game that evening.  The thing with planning is that you think you can control everything until something big comes along and you realize you have absolutely no control over your planning and for that matter your destiny!  As I said we left the cabin at 9:00 am, stopped at the local station for gas and started down the highway.  It snowed heavily the night before but the roads were good and seemed clear.  Just a few kilometres down the road I noticed the highway was compact snow but everything felt good and I didn’t think much of it.  I had slowed down to at least 40 kilometres under the speed limit just to be cautious because of the compact snow, you never know.  We were heading around a corner when this feeling came over me.  I’m not sure how to explain it because it was like a voice in my head told me that everything would be ok but something bad was going to happen.  Just then either my tire on the driver’s side hit something or I hit ice I’m not sure but the car started to swerve left into the oncoming lane.  I released the gas and made sure I didn’t touch the brakes as I tried to gently guide the car away from the oncoming traffic lane.  The car then started gliding to the right and then veered to the left again.  I was very calm and each time the car veered in a different direction I went with the flow and gently guided the car back.  The car seemed to be straightening out and I remember thinking, “all is ok” when all of a sudden it veered to the right, hit the snow bank and flipped up and over.  The car ended up lying on its side, the driver’s side, with the front of the car facing the highway and we were trapped.  I quickly checked to see if the kids were all right and they were fine.  Matthew’s eyes were as big as saucers but he was ok.  I didn’t want to freak them out but sitting at the bottom of the car looking up into the sky I couldn’t tell where we were, I figured we were off the road but I wasn’t sure.  I also wasn’t sure if behind us was a big drop down a ridge.  Brendan started kicking the door and saying mom we can’t get out.  I was still very calm and I turned off the car, unlocked the door and calmly told Brendan to undo his seat belt, carefully drop out of his seat and stand on the ridge of my chair, push open the door and look outside to see where we were sitting.  Are we on the road? Is there a big drop behind us?   He  pushed the door open, looked out and said we are off the road.   I thought thank God because all I need is for us to survive this wreck only to be hit by an oncoming car.  We all got out and I took a look around and saw that there was not a big drop behind us but there was a slope and a water filled ditch, we landed in the perfect spot.   I then checked on the boys again and Matthew was shaking from head to toe and I asked him if he was cold, he said “no mom I’m very scared.”  Brendan who insists on wearing shorts everywhere we go and just before we left I told him that he should be wearing something warmer as you never know if we get stuck because of car failure or an accident.  Spoken like a true mom here he was in his shorts, sweat top and van runners standing in knee deep snow.  Also spoken like a true mother I said “I told you to put on warmer clothes.”  I saw that  a trucker had gone by us and was in the process of backing down the hill to assist us.  Just then a woman drove by going the opposite direction and said she would put a call in to get us assistance.  The trucker by this point couldn’t back the truck up anymore and started  walking down the hill to get to us.  The woman picked him up and drove him down.  God was with me, I knew for sure, because  I had warning, I knew we were going to have an accident and as the car was sliding something or somebody kept telling me to be calm and all would be well. Even as the car was flipping over I was calm and I was sure all would be well.  There were hardly any cars on the highway and somehow two very nice people were there within minutes of the crash helping me.  We were five kilometres from the ski resort so the woman drove us to the resort and from there I was able to call a tow truck and get something to eat while we were waiting.  My mother-in-law came to meet us and spoken like a true mother she barked at me ” I told you not to leave the cabin early, I told you to leave later, do you know how bloody lucky you are?”  Of course she had just driven by the accident and saw the car lying on its side and she was upset.  My mother-in-law doesn’t show emotion very often and when she yells at me in tense situations I know it’s her way of showing how scared and how much she loves us.  I just gave her a hug and said “I know Nonna you were right, for now on I’m always listening to you!”  The tow truck driver came in a very big truck and we all got to ride to the scene of the accident and watch the car pulled out of the embankment.  Interesting as I’m not sure how the car ended up driver’s side down and the front of the car facing the highway because the direction we were driving it made more sense for the car to land on the opposite side and facing the opposite direction.  Matthew was sitting in the back passenger side and I noticed when the car was pulled upright – the back driver’s side window was blown out.  If we landed on the opposite side Matthew would have taken most of the blunt force.    The tow truck driver drove us all the way to Hope where we met Drew at Tim Horton’s,  ate lunch and counted our blessings.  I didn’t get my housework done, nor did Matthew make his afternoon game but we were able to make his 8:00 pm game where he played the best I’ve seen him play scoring two goals and several assists.  The car – well it’s trashed and I don’t care.  The car can be replaced, my family can’t.  As much as I know you can’t control life and that God has other plans – I speak like a true human as I will most likely continue to plan my days and my life only to be re-directed at any given moment.  I thank God for his direction yesterday and for the angel and angels he sent my way.

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The History of Riga Speaks Through the Streets

During the Olympics I was intrigued by the Latvia hockey team as they came out of nowhere and gave the Canadians a run for their money. I couldn’t help but notice the haunting image painted on the mask of Latvia’s goalie. I did a little research of my own and found out that the image represented Latvia’s freedom statue and the many men who died for Latvia’s freedom. It was the only image Latvia’s goalie wanted on his mask. Obviously proud of their freedom and fiercely determined to remain free. I don’t reblog often but I love these pictures and I find Latvia’s history interesting.


Speedy Split Pea Soup With Bacon (or ham)

Art by Mary-Anna Fricano Welch

Art by
Mary-Anna Fricano Welch

I haven’t had split pea soup since my mother made it while we lived in Quebec – have to give this a try – courtesy of  P.E.A.C.E

Makes 6 generous servings (or lots to freeze) and is ready in about an hour.

1 package bacon, chopped (or 1-2 cups diced cooked ham)
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, washed and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled sliced thinly
2 cups dried split peas
8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
Salt and pepper
2 cups of frozen peas
1 tablespoon of any vinegar

Place bacon in a large soup pot over a medium high heat. When the bacon is brown and crispy drain away the fat, leaving about 2 Tbsp in the pot (alternately, first cook veg in a bit of EVOO and add thawed cooked ham when adding dried peas, stock and seasonings). Add onion, carrots, celery and garlic to the pot and sauté for a few minutes. Add the dried peas, stock, bay leaves, rosemary and salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and continue cooking until the soup is thick and the peas are completely soft. Stir in frozen peas and stir to heat through. Stir in the vinegar and add salt and pepper to taste. (recipe sourceGina’s Note: The bright pop of flavor from the fresh/frozen green peas adds a real freshness and depth to this dish, and the vinegar (I use red wine vinegar) simply highlights all the flavours already there. You won’t actually taste vinegar, it’s simply doing its magic of heightening flavors.



We bought these two cuties a few years ago – unfortunately the white one died.  I’ve never owned a guinea pig before and wasn’t all that excited to own one.  There is more to these little rodents than meets the eye.  They are cute, loveable, smart, loyal and fun.  Listed below are a few things I’ve learned from our guinea pigs by watching their behaviour.   I’m not exaggerating  about the behaviour – they have exhibited all of these behaviours.

  1. Be happy and really show it  jump up and down and squeal in delight over anything that makes you happy.
  2. Eat, eat and eat some more – eat everything you want – just graze all day – small helpings all day.
  3. Eat only good fresh food, turn your nose up to anything that has been packaged in plastic and eat only fresh food.
  4. Talk, talk gibberish all the time – even if they don’t understand you, keep staring at them and keep talking.
  5. Keep your self neat and clean – groom and groom some more.
  6. Never go to the bathroom in the same place where you eat.
  7. If something or somebody makes you unhappy show it by showing your teeth – better yet bite them.
  8. If somebody tries to take your house   – hold your stance even if it means death.
  9. Accept cuddles all day long – especially nose rubs.
  10. Be loyal to your friends and family and never leave your loved one’s side at their deathbed.



I took this picture in Manning Park.  We were camping in the park and walking to our fishing hole.  As we came around a corner we were faced with a sea of daisies.  The boys and Drew walked straight to the edge of the lake and started fishing without much fanfare.   I walked through the field of daisies and took pictures for an hour.  Men just don’t appreciate some of the finer things in life!

“Daisies are like sunshine to the ground”

Drew Barrymore


In light of Russia walking in and taking over the Ukraine and all the other places in the world where war is constant, we here in North America take for granted that our children can go to bed in peace and walk the streets without  fear of bombs,violence and bloodshed.  This blog is dedicated to moments that make me smile but I, as a mother, can’t be ignorant of what so many children in the world go through and pretend that because my children  are presently safe that this is okay.  Watch and share because it’s important that all children of this world live in peace.


It’s been a while since I’ve thought about Ron, but for some reason I’ve been thinking about my dear friend quite a bit lately.  The friendship that Ron and I shared was unlikely.  Ron was twice my age, married with teenage children, he was from a foreign country and wise beyond my years.  I was a single young woman, working to pay my keep and essentially had no responsibilities except what I was going to eat that day and meeting my friends for movies, dinner and whatever my heart desired.  When I first started working at the school I’m still employed with, I started out as the receptionist and Ron walked into the office to pick up a car for one of our staff members.  Ron had two girls attending the school and he was a mechanic with his own shop.  All the staff members went to him with their automobile mechanical problems.  He fixed everyone’s car.  I would see him at least three mornings a week as he dropped his girls off at the school and picked-up someone’s car to fix.  I was driving an old Datsun 210 at the time and I asked him if he would tune up my car. Always obliging and sporting a beautiful smile, he took my car for a tune-up and the friendship began.

After his girls graduated from the school he would ask me to pick him up in the mornings to drive him to the school so he could pickup staff members  cars and then I would drive him home at the end of the day.  This commute several times a week led to many great conversations, which led to dinner invitations to him, his wife and two girls to my mother’s place where all of us would laugh and talk for hours.  Ron was from Trinidad and he talked faster than I could listen at times but he always made me laugh.  When he left Trinidad he went to England and it was England where he told me of his first experience with snow.  He said he was walking down the street and all of a sudden this white stuff was coming down from the sky and as he looked up to the sky, he saw big flakes and he caught his breath as the snow landed on the skin of his cheeks and then melted seconds later from the sheer heat of his body.   He stood in the middle of the street with his hands and his tongue out to catch the most glorious feeling he had ever felt.  He said he was giddy as he was running from one side of the street to the other.  I could picture him with his big boyish grin running from one side of the street to the other laughing as he caught the glorious snowflakes with his tongue.

Ron was such a bright light, a light filled with wonderment and joy.  To this day I’ve never met a spirit like him, he was a joy to be around.  The cultural difference between us was never mentioned and I never really thought about it until one morning on the way to work, he mentioned that his daughter had applied for a job and that she didn’t get it.  He was disappointed and he felt she didn’t get the job because she was black!  I was shocked because Ron never pulled that card before and being me I told him that I was surprised to hear him say that and did he really believe that she didn’t get the job because of the colour of her skin.  He said “of course it’s true Johanne, you wouldn’t understand.”  I asked a few more questions about the job she was applying for and it became very obvious that she was not qualified for the job and I mentioned it to him.  I said “Ron it doesn’t sound like your daughter had the qualifications for this particular job, I bet that has more to do with it than the colour of her skin.”  Ron mumbled a bit and said “no it’s because she’s black.”  I said “come on Ron you don’t really believe that, there are times when minorities get the job because of their minority.”  “I really think she didn’t get the job because she’s not qualified, end of story.”  The rest of the car ride was very quiet and I felt like I had spoken out of turn and lost a friendship, after all what did I know about this subject, I am very white and never really thought about what it’s like to be a different colour, a minority.   I don’t have that kind of history and I couldn’t help but think how arrogant I sounded.  However, after asking Ron a few questions about the job his daughter was applying for I really didn’t think she was qualified for the job and I would like to believe that’s why she didn’t get it.

We left the conversation in the car that day and never re-visited the subject and I’m glad to say that our friendship didn’t suffer.  One day while Ron was waiting for a staff member’s car, our office manager was talking to him.  The two of them had a great sense of humour and they use to carry on and make us all laugh.  This particular day there was a five-year old boy sitting in our office area waiting for his mommy as she was seeing one of her older son’s teachers.  This little boy was watching Ron and the office manager as they joked away and all of a sudden he got off of his chair and walked over to the two of them and loudly exclaimed,  “are you two brother and sister?”  Everyone stopped dead to stare at this little boy as Ron was a Trinidadian and the office manager was this short little red-haired greek beauty, painfully obvious that they were not brother or sister, yet this little boy wanted to know if they were related.  Finally after a few seconds of silence, Ron said “do you see any difference between us sweety.”  The little boy stared for a a few minutes and then he crossed his arms and stared some more and finally he said “yes I do see a difference, your hair is a different colour.”  That’s the world we should all live in, that little five-year old’s world, a world where we don’t see colour of skin, a world where we only see spirits and the light shining between them.

Ron continued to be one of my best friends for many years.  His daughters did a reading at my wedding and my husband often laughs when remembers the first time  he met Ron.  My husband and I were engaged and when Drew met my brothers – both of them said to him “are you sure you know what you’re getting into?”  Yet when Drew met Ron, he said to Drew, “you better be good to that girl or you’re going to have to answer to me buddy.”  Ron’s light went out several years ago. He was diagnosed with a brain tumour and only lasted  a few weeks.  I miss our friendship but it was one of those friendships that came into my life for a lifetime not a season, he was the real deal friend.  A friendship that enriched my life and there were no strings attached.  A friendship that came about despite age, culture and family differences.  A friendship for a lifetime and beyond.

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