Grouse Mountain: Let’s go for a Ride!

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I volunteered to be a driver for my son’s 2nd grade field trip last week to the North Shore for a gondola ride up to the top of Grouse Mountain. It was a beautiful day to be up at the top with views stretching as far as Vancouver Island. Watremark_DSC_1363

While the kids were on their guided tour, I had some time to kill. So my camera and I took a nature walk. Here’s a taste of the sights from a top Grouse Mountain.

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“Art flourishes where there is a sense of adventure.” -Alfred North Whitehead

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On the Banks of Heron Lake

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Watremark_DSC_9722VanDusen Botanical Gardens in Vancouver is more than just an ordinary garden. It’s an oasis in the middle of the city. A place where life slows down a little. To be enjoyed at a more reasonable pace.

On a recent mid day visit to the garden for tea, we came across this local resident hanging out along the aptly named Heron Lake. We enjoyed her beauty from a distance. As we made our way around the lake, she remained. Stoic, nonplussed by all of our commotion. Watremark_DSC_9690Watremark_DSC_9745Watremark_DSC_9748And like that, the reason became clear. It was her lunch time too.Watremark_DSC_9754Watremark_DSC_9757Watremark_DSC_9763Just another day in the garden…

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The 2015 Port Coquitlam May Day Parade: Everything is Awesome!

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Watremark_DSC_8944The May Day parade in Port Coquitlam is a family tradition. While most years we walk in the parade, this year my kids opted to sit curbside. Better to collect candy they tell me.

With all the sights and sounds (And smells, sunscreen anyone?) of a community in celebration, they weren’t just collecting candies, they were collecting memories.Watremark_DSC_9073

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Watremark_DSC_8999Watremark_DSC_9144Watremark_DSC_9247As the PoCo-ism goes: half the city is in the parade, while the other half cheers from the sidelines. One of the many reasons Port Coquitlam is one of the best places to raise a family.  I’m sure you can spot a few more awesome reasons in these images. #ProudPoCoMomma

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Happy Earth Day!

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Tulips of the Valley: A Garden Getaway

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Watremark_DSC_5179Tulip Fields are where Gardeners Go to Breathe

Packed full of wonder and amazement, as if a rainbow stopped to lay down and take a rest. And why wouldn’t one? Look around the landscape of any tulip farm and the reasoning seems clear. These are some of the most tremendous valleys any rainbow of tulips could possibly think to call home.

Who wouldn’t want to stay and play?

Watremark_DSC_5291Tulips of the Valley Festival

Held in Agassiz B.C. for 2 short weeks in April, my daughter and I decided to spend our Easter Monday relaxing and doing some much needed Mother/Daughter bonding. A trip to see tulips seemed ideal. Wanting to make the most of our day, we got up early and started on our adventure out into the valley.

Just past Harrison Hot Springs, the road to the tulip fields is easy driving taking under 2 hours (traffic dependent). Having left home just after 730am, we made excellent time and managed to be some of the first people to see the fields on that busy holiday Monday.

Watremark_DSC_5182We had arrived!
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Sleep in at You’re Own Risk

Having arrived so early we avoided the parking issues and road delays that often come during this peak tourist time in the valley. Reports from the Agassiz Tulip Festival, Seabird Island FB page in the week before our visit, had lots of talk of traffic problems, road closures and long waits for buses. All of this was avoidable by simply leaving early. We had no line, we had no wait and we had our pick of seats on the bus with tulips as far as the eye could see. What more could a couple gardeners on the loose want?

Morning has it’s own rewards. Less people means more room to move, day dream and frolic in the tulips. Besides, early morning brings the best light for all those dreamy tulip field shots and silly girl road trip selfies that we *had* to take.

It was so peaceful. We really had the run of the place. Just me, the kid and a few other shutterbugs patrolled the fields. Every face and every lens reflected the awe and beauty of the tulips.

Watremark_DSC_5311Watremark_DSC_5252Watremark_DSC_5317Watremark_DSC_5273While the festival is small (having only opened in 2006), this family owned operations packs a colourful punch! When you take note of the scenic views, the lack of border delays, the easy drive to Vancouver and even easier proximity to the Harrison Hot Springs Resort, the Tulips of the Valley festival was just the short reprieve from reality that we both needed. 

A garden getaway in our own backyard.

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Just a Little Reminder

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One Month 'Till Spring!With one month to go until spring we’ve already started planning this summers garden. Seeds have been cluttering my desk for weeks, begging to get started. Well today’s the day! I’ve been pulling muffin trays and assorted plastic containers out of the recycling throughout the winter, so we have more than enough containers to start these seeds off right. With the kids home from school on a Pro-D day we’re going to spend the afternoon  filling those containers with seed starter soil while we sow the first seeds of this years garden.

With spring just around the corner, we’ll be dreaming of tomatoes and leafy greens.

What are you planning on growing in this years garden?

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Winter Photo Sessions: High Heels & Sunshine

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Watremark_DSC_9201I had the opportunity to work with a gorgeous, bright and energetic friend recently on a collection of photographs for her portfolio. Weather in the Lower Mainland can be a little hit or miss in the winter, but undaunted by Mother Nature’s finest we waited out the rain, and sure enough a beautiful sunny day followed close behind. Watremark_JZ MosaicI think you can agree, it was worth the wait.Watremark_DSC_9316

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All the Bling Bling of the Season

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I’ve been taking down my Christmas lights this week. While I like to make the house sparkle through Christmas, there’s something quite wonderful about this late winter clean up. Subtle changes are evident in the garden as I strip away the layers of lights. The slight change in the soil, the emergence of some of the early season growers breaking soil.  Whispered promises of what’s to come.

It’s been a multi day process.

I can only imagine how long it takes them to take down all those lights at VanDusen Gardens. With over 1 million lights to detangle. Phewph, they best be serving up the hot chocolate for those dedicated volunteers.

Watremark_Make a WishSo as the magic is packed up for the season, here’s one last look at the always delightful Festival of Lights.

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Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

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With the Paris attacks in the news over the last week. I’ve been struggling with mixed feelings. The loss of life during the Charlie Hebdo and market attacks was devastating. Radicals, extremists and fear mongers shattered our fragile sense of security as our airwaves became saturated with paranoia and mistrust.  The Charlie Hebdo attacks came as a body blow to freedom of expression.

Watremark_Watremark_Watremark_Watremark_DSC_8249But even free speech has its limits. As a member of the media, a writer and a freelance photographer I understand how difficult it is to walk this line. But just because we can say it, doesn’t mean we should. I feel that Charlie Hebdo crossed a line in their depictions of the Prophet Mohamed. It was unnecessary, inflammatory and frankly racist. Now during the painful and emotional clean up of a tragedy, they seek to show the terrorists the strength of their pen by publishing yet another depiction of Mohamed on their front cover.

With over 3 million copies flying off the shelves, … sigh. Where do we go from here?

I choose to take comfort in the words of the wise:

“I think both freedom of religion and freedom of expression are both fundamental human rights,” he said, adding that he was talking specifically about the Paris killings.

“Everyone has not only the freedom and the right but the obligation to say what he thinks for the common good … we have the right to have this freedom openly without offending,” he said.

To illustrate his point, he turned to an aide and said: “It is true that you must not react violently, but although we are good friends if (he) says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch, it’s normal.”

-Pope Francis

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To the writers at Charlie Hebdo I plead, stop this terrible circle of hate. Do not use the faith of many as a sword against the terrorists. Do not allow them to use you in this way. The power of your pen can and should invoke change and understanding. Stop these mean spirited attacks on the Muslim community. For they are not your enemy.

I am not Charlie, but I am human. Let’s stop the hate.

Watremark_DSC_8240Will I purchase a copy of Charlie Hebdo this week?

No.

But I will continue to defend free speech, even when I don’t like it. Every.Single.Time.


I’ll leave you with  the wise words of Rick Mercer and my favorite cartoon penned after the attacks by artist Lucille Clerc.

lucilleclerc-charliePeace.

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You, Me & 2015

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Watremark_DSC_79872015 brings with it a banner of changes here at the Dandelion Wrangler. Updates to the site will be taking place throughout January, welcoming in the new year with a fresh look. Much has changed since my humble garden blogs inception and updates are needed to keep up with the ever changing reality of family life and work schedules.

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As deep as my love of the garden is, finding steady work in photography over the last few years has left me less time to focus on flowers. Instead my lens found brilliant joy capturing your smiling faces and momentous events. It brings me even greater pleasure to continue to help you plan for and share in those treasured moments as we move into a new year.

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No. This didn’t just turn into one of *those* photography blogs.

Fear not plant nerds, 2015 will continue to find me knee deep in the soil. Along with my volunteerism with the Vancouver Master Gardeners and other local projects,  I will continue to share my passion for plants as I work to share stories and projects from home, my Colony Farm plots and other gardens I have my hands into.

Watremark_DSC_7862 I live and breathe the soil. Dirty jeans are my favorite uniform and tomatoes are my just reward and I will not stop trying to spread that joy.

Salsa for everyone!!!

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What you can expect.

Stunning photography, fun filled adventures (Alaska this summer!) and new gardens waiting to be explored as I follow my lens down the rabbit hole.

Watremark_DSC_7936Happy 2015!

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