My throne awaited me on the North Saskatchewan River

July 1 – 3, 2016

Last weekend my husband Tom and I along with 12 other members of the Bow Waters Canoe Club went on a 3-day canoeing and camping trip along a section of the North Saskatchewan River, located northwest of Calgary and near the border of Alberta and British Colombia. This section is considered to be a premiere white water experience, with Class II+ rapids, mountain views and is very popular with Albertans.

Our convoy with 6 tandem canoes and 2 solo kayaks and one small entertaining dog started the trip near Nordegg, departing a bit later than expected which meant time-wise we couldn’t paddle as long as we had planned to that day. After paddling 16 km, we found a lovely campsite on the river where we pitched our tents. We cooked and ate our meals under Peter’s large group tent, had some good laughs/discussions around the campfire and swatted lots of nasty black ants off our feet.

The next morning we all awoke early and were ready to leave at 9 am – our trip coordinator, Evan was confident that this is a record departure time for the club! It was a beautiful sunny day – not too hot, nor too cold. The water was shimmering green and so clear you could see to the bottom in many places. A stuborn elk refused to budge from the middle of the river so Peter had to blow his whistle to get the elk to move. We paddled though some squirrely water and lots of big frothy white waves. We navigated around a few boulders and through several low water areas. It was quite an enjoyable day but we paddled 60 km to make up the deficit from the day before. My shoulders ached, but I consider this feat quite the achievement for me – a novice paddler – so I am pretty proud of myself and I didn’t even complain too much. I like to believe all the zumba and toning that I’ve been doing since January helped make the paddling a bit easier!

Near the end of our 2nd day we did experience a brief rain storm but luckily it ended fairly soon. We stopped for the night near a section of rapids called Devil’s Elbow.

It was a lovely campsite, without any discernable ants (because they were all at the other campsite!) and best of all I discovered a green throne!

I was so happy to learn about this camper’s convenience. These modern day out-house type conveniences (without the house) have been placed around different Alberta rivers courtesy of Paddling Alberta (Thank you so much!). Such luxury! And it was surrounded by scented wild flowers like delphiniums and tiger lilies



SoI had a beautiful view to entertain me while relaxing.

Our last day was a bit more leisurely. Before we departed camp, several paddlers in our group had fun surfing the Devil’s Elbow rapids. All of us rode several wild rapids throughout the day, but according to Tom they are not are fierce as they once were – the river’s features have changed somewhat. But it was still a thrill to ride through them.

During the course of the weekend we paddled past 100+ different people in various water craft including canoes, kayaks, rafts and a few jet boats. We even came across a small group of young men standing/floating on their homemade raft – like something out of Gilligan’s Island and well equipped with alcoholic beverages – it was some kind of platform structure with only a table in the centre which meant these guys could only stand. Which reminds me – I laughed when we passed a fellow in a yellow sea kayak, who had a small wooden barrel approx. the size of a milk jug – strapped to his boat right behind his back. I asked him what he had in there and he cheerfully replied Rum of course! Hopefully it was well attached as I’m sure he would be upset to lose it in the rapids!

After padding 30 km, we reached the takeout in Rocky Mountain House around 2pm on Sunday, said our goodbyes to everyone with Kayaker Joseph mostly benefiting from all the lady hugs. Apparently not exhausted yet, Tom and I made a brief visit to the Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site where I learnt all about the great British explorer David Thompson who mapped great swathes of Canada in the early 1800’s plus I found a few geocaches at the site. To finish the day, we enjoyed some burgers at the Burger Baron and made our way home via the back roads.

Overall the weather was almost perfect, the views stupendous and the company entertaining. We had a pretty fab Canada Day weekend running the North Saskatchewan River.

(See more photos that Tom captured)


How I prevented a death in the family

(Photo credits: courtesy of our photographer Maiya Chan)

This Easter, I married a sweet man named Tom at a beautiful home in Victoria BC, which we rented from VRBO.com. (btw -if you interested in my opinion of the VRBO home – scroll to the bottom of the vrbo page link or click “reviews”)  

We wanted to convene and celebrate with a three-day party so our families, whom had never met each other – could get to know each other. Food, of course, was integral to the festivities and it was a family affair! Wine making ensued courtesy of Tom’s nephew Nathan. Tom’s niece Kristina planned and catered our scrumptious wedding reception meal. Tom’s sisters all had a stake in the wedding food preparation as well. Additionally, Tom and I planned 4 additional meals for our guests – and purchased at least 7 dozen eggs, 6 loafs of bread,  boxes of fruit, a ton of bacon and much more – all so we would have food to cook & eat each morning of the weekend for the approx 20+ people staying in the home.

But it was during the pre-wedding dinner planning stage where I averted a death in the family.

Tom’s parents generously offered to host our Get-to-know-you party. Initially Stella and Gus proposed to prepare and serve fresh lobster that Tom’s brother, Greg would obtain, crate and bring from Halifax. Everyone loved this wonderful plan! Um … all except for me, because I’m deathly allergic to fish, seafood – generally anything that swims or floats in water. Do you recall the movie “Hitch” with Will Smith?


Yep, that’s me, just by touching fish. However, I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. So I suggested if the lobster was cooked and shelled offsite, served cold and…

...if our guests were really, really careful not to touch anything that I might touch and washed their hands obsessively after the meal – only then –  might my death be evaded.

Well, I’m pretty sure eating lobster is a very tactile experience (not that I really know since I’ve never eaten it!) with lobster juice flying everywhere. So Stella wisely revised her plans because she felt strongly that the bride must survive at least long enough to make sure her son got married – after all this could be his last chance at finding a catch like me! No pun intended….okay I lied – the fishy joke was intended.

Anyway, Plan B became beef tenderloin, which I happen to love! All afternoon on the day of the dinner, Tom’s brother lovingly basted the beef on the BBQ. And omg it was scrumptious. Melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness. Once I sampled those succulent slices of beef, I promptly ignored the other dishes (sorry Stella!) – they were just side decorations in my mind. All I wanted to do was savour the beef and eat more of it. Of course I couldn’t gorge myself, after all – I did have to fit into my wedding dress the next day. So I managed to resist and leave some meat for our guests.

Here is a recipe from the magazine Canadian Living which promises inspiring ideas for everyday living. This recipe is close to what Greg used to cook our beef dinner.

Other sites which have some great beef recipes or general information about beef:

Sending Lucifer Back to Hell

I have liver cancer.

It’s probably a pronoun and should be capitalized but I don’t want to give it that kind of stature.

Hubby Tom said it could be cathartic to write about my battle. So here I go. This is about me, mostly anyway.

I named my tumor Lucifer. I want to send Lucifer back to hell.

How did I get liver cancer? It’s a huge mystery to everyone. Maybe my diabetes (type2) caused it? My GP doctor doesn’t think so. I fell in March on my right hip and caused a few stitches in my noggin. Maybe the fall rattled around a few lonely cancer cells so they started hanging out together and bonded.

All I can tell you is that I would be the least likely person you know to get liver cancer. I could envision breast cancer like my mom struggled with 15 years ago and she is still healthy and feisty at 88. Or colon cancer, which my Father lost his battle with when he was 62. And omg – My paternal grandmother lived until she was 108!

I digress…what can cause liver cancer…. alcohol of course is one way. But I have barely drunk much alcohol in my life. (I had glass of white wine in Nov, a couple of glasses of wine in July and some fancy drink while in Guatemala back in January.) I’m not against it. I just never liked how it can make you feel if you drink too much. Plus I would rather spend money on other things. I never felt the urge to use it to loosen me up. I’m pretty loose and not very inhibited. In my early 20’s I went bar hopping every weekend with my best friend Gui – not to drink but to dance! We danced and danced until our thighs ached and our ears rang. I was quite the cheap date! Lol

Of course you can get liver cancer from Hepatitis, and dirty needles from illicit drugs or tattoos. Nope not me. Hates tattoos. Never even tried Marijuana – although I might need some soon.

Lucifer is ginormous. It takes up 50% of my liver. It’s so unusual the doctors can’t seem to diagnose the type of liver cancer I have. They know it’s a primary cancer. It started in my liver not from other source. So that good news. I don’t have any cancer or legions anywhere else. As far as the test results show it hasn’t metastasized….but who knows. It’s so unusual, the specialists at the Foothills Hospital spend an entire morning discussing my case. Liver specialists, radiologists, technicians, nurses, etc. I was impressed. Not sure they came to any conclusion though.

So today is a pivotal day. After a month of getting 3 rounds of blood work (10 tubes at a time!!!), a CT scan, MRI and really fancy special ultrasounds with lots of crying and trying to be patient…I finally get to see a Hepatologist– a liver cancer specialist. This doctor –Stephen Congly will tell me what he is going to do to Lucifer. I hope.

BWCC poster

I enjoy paddling with Tom so it was a easy decision to join the Bow Waters Canoe Club in 2014. Then last fall I was recruited to join their board and since then, I’ve been busy helping with the club’s marketing efforts. Here is image of poster I recently created to be used at different events. My next project is redesigning the BWCC logo!

BWCC poster pic_April 2016