Today was a Good Day -Photo Challenge

Today was not just a good day, but a great day! Since we drove out west to Calgary, Alberta we have been enjoying the scenery and fresh mountain air. On the weekends we have gone to Lake Louise, an hour and half drive from Calgary.  Lake Louise is known for its surreal blue green waters and snow capped mountain back drop. We have hiked up the trail starting at Lake Louise to Lake Agnes. It is a 3.4KM hike one way, up a trail surrounded by pine trees. The smell is heavenly and keeps you distracted as your muscles ache with the steep trail hike.

Half way up the trail is Mirror Lake. A small little still lake. At the top is Lake Agnes which falls over the edge creating a small water fall. The tea house is a welcome sight, after an hour and a half hike, to relax and take in the views before heading back down the trail. The tea house serves amazing teas, fresh homemade baked goods and soups. Today was a good day :)

Lake Louise

Lake Louise

Sunday we went for a walk along the Bow River which winds its way through Calgary. The weather was perfect with a comfortable temperature and blue skies with a few clouds. You could see the mountains in the distance. Everyone seemed to be out walking, biking, boating and running. We enjoyed the leisurely stroll along the river bank and through a park. Another good day.

View of Calgary, Bow River and Mountains in the distance. A few days later the view was muted with wild fire smoke and visibility went from 25+KM down to less than 8KM.

View of Calgary, Bow River and Mountains in the distance. A few days later the view was muted with wild fire smoke and visibility went from 25+KM down to less than 8KM.

Unfortunately we went from clear skies and clean air to a poor air quality. Smoldering fires burning in the US Northwest have drifted many miles North blanketing Calgary and many other parts of Western Canada. There is a smoke so thick it has caused prompts to stay indoors and close windows. Monday the sky looked similar to the ones we experienced in Shanghai. Dreary gray that blocked out the sun rays. Tuesday you could smell the smoke and it irritated your eyes. The aqi went from 8 to 239, which happened to be much higher than the 59 reading in Shanghai. In Canada the scale is different; a 10 point scale. The TV news reported today that readings from yesterday came in at 17! Yes 7 points over the max. This is not normal for this area and reports are saying this is the worse the city has experienced.  So many people have lost their homes and have been evacuated. At least we know the cause and it will be short lived, rain is in the forecast. Hopefully that will get things back under control before more damage is done. I do not mean to whine about the poor air, as some people have experienced great loss. I only made the comparison to our life in China. Well wishes and positive thoughts go to all those involved in the areas affected by the fires.

Today things are improving and soon we will be back to blue skies and ready for more great days.

Stay tuned…

Categories: Canada, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Canadian Crazy -Giant Marshmallows

Now back in Canada I cannot see the “Shanghai Sillies”, but driving the other day I saw a “Canadian Crazy”. From a distance it looked like a field of giant marshmallows.

Field of Giant Marshmallows

Field of Giant Marshmallows

Currently I am in Alberta, Canada a 3 day drive across country, from Southern Ontario. Stay tuned for some of our driving adventures.


Categories: Canada, Tourist in My Own Town, travel | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

Fab or Fake?

Being back home I stare at the blue skies and fluffy white clouds. I soak it all in like Frederick in the Leo Leoni books; saving it for later when it is only a memory. Even though we are not returning to Shanghai I find myself still mesmerized by the sky. The other day it looked so surreal… almost fake. I felt like Jim Carey in the movie where he didn’t know everything in his life was scripted and on a sound stage. I looked at the clouds and wondered if they were painted on a blue ceiling ;) Still they looked fabulous.

The clouds look painted on !

The clouds look painted on !

Today is bitter sweet. About the same time I write this we would be taking off on that long flight back to Shanghai. What adventures will I have this year?

Stay tuned…


Categories: Canada, Tourist in My Own Town | Tags: , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Close Up -WP Photo Challenge

Are you ready for your close up? Recently the Welland Canal Bridge in downtown Welland has been photo ready. After a very recent cosmetic facelift adding some fresh paint and bright lights it is looking good.

Welland Canal Bridge in Down Town Welland, ON Canada

Welland Canal Bridge in Down Town Welland, ON Canada

Welland is known for its iconic bridges, that used to raise and lower, to allow big ships to traverse the Welland Canal. The canal made the journey easier between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario which, is connected by the mighty Niagara Falls. A new canal bypasses many of these old bridges, so they have been left alone to decay or removed for new cement overpasses. Someone decided to spare this bridge downtown and preserve some of the area’s history.

Welland Bridge at Night

Welland Bridge at Night

In nearby Port Colborne and St Catharines some of the bridges and locks system are still in use today. Watching the ships slowly be raised and lowered is something not to be missed if you are ever in the area.

Close up of Welland Canal Bridge

Close up of Welland Canal Bridge

Stay tuned and check out Word Press for more close ups.


Categories: Canada, Tourist in My Own Town, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Half & Half -WP photo challenge

Driving a few hours north of Toronto, to fetch our luggage a co-worker so helpfully brought back for us, I couldn’t help to stop and capture this photo with blue sky and yellow fields. Not a tall building in site… The other HALF or opposite in comparison with the Shanghai skyline I usually view; correction have viewed.

This week WP asked us to show half and half. Horizontally half this photo is sky and fields and vertically tree and field/sky. Half is blue and the other half yellow.

Half and Half -blue and yellow; sky and field

Half and Half -blue and yellow; sky and field

Stay tuned…

Categories: Canada, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Symbols: WP Photo Challenge

Chinese language uses symbols, not western recognisable letters and shapes, to communicate meaning in written contexts. The thickness and order in the strokes is just as important as the symbols themselves. In the new modern technological age Pin Yin has been introduced, a way to use a western letters and phonics to spell out words to make it easier for computers and smartphones to communicate. A debate has arisen if the old style character writing will slowly fade away. Chinese Characters have adapted before, as they used to be more representational of the items and words they represent.

Living in China for 5 years made it hard to communicate verbally and written was even more difficult. However, those characters will forever be a symbol to communicate and a memory for our time living in Shanghai. That chapter has just closed and a new one is on the horizon. I am still raw with emotion as we have been back about 1 week. Let me share some symbols of that journey.

My watch with the more traditional characters to symbolise numbers 1-12. In the centre is the character lǎoshī  showing ‘teacher’.

What time is it?

What time is it?

My name on a pendant written in Chinese Characters.

Hand Carved Chinese Pendant - can you read my name????

Hand Carved Chinese Pendant – can you read my name????

Simple things can hold a lot of meaning that cannot be put into words. It may mean something to a group of people, an individual or culture. Check out Word Press for more examples.

Stay tuned….


Categories: China, Culture, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

As one door closes a new one will open: WP

How fitting this week’s photo challenge from WP is DOORS. I love taking photos of doors, but with us leaving China I decided to use the ordinary everyday doors to our apartment. Very soon we will lock the door for the last time.

As one door closes a new one will open.

This is very literal for us as we will leave in a few short days. We will leave Shanghai ‘forever’ as our expat life comes to an end. After 5 years living and working abroad it has been a mix of emotions. Leaving friends and familiar places we love is hard. Going home to family, fresh air and a slower pace also has its advantages. A few tears have been shed, but the one thing I will be sure to miss is the people. The friends I have made -good friends.

As I said in my leaving speech…

The time must come for us all to leave

now I am heading home

We spent 5 years in China

and Asia we did roam.

I taught Year 3 and Year 1

and learned a few things too.

Like Ni Hao, dizchan, itchyzhoh

er, are, san just to name a few.

My time here was well spent

busy with plans and such.

My Chinese language learning,

as you can see — not so much.            CTB :D 2015

So my doors look at my building entrance and our apartment door that has been decorated by a previous tenant with the Chinese symbols.

Building 23 entrance

Building 23 entrance


apartment door

apartment door

Stay tuned….




Categories: Canada, China, Uncategorized, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Muse: Shanghai Skyline

When we first arrived, a fellow teacher looked out the windows in our building facing the Lujiazui area, and admired the Shanghai skyline. With a sigh they said “One day I won’t get to see this everyday.” That really stuck with me. I made a point to daily look out the windows, outside our door, near the elevators. I saw the skyline change and grow over 5 years. At night it sparkled in colour and in day it sometimes reflected the light. I saw it with blue sky, at sunset with beautiful hues and become invisible in rain, smog and pollution. Now we are down to days and soon it will only be a memory. WordPress asked to show our muse and over the last 5 years mine has been the Shanghai skyline. I must have hundreds of pictures of it, mostly from the same vantage point. A bitter-sweet ending to our time in Shanghai; what a fitting theme. Enjoy the slide show, of 16 photos, with some of my favourite photos of my muse. A tribute to a city I have called home for the last 5 years.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

What will my new muse be? Stay tuned….

Categories: China, Photography, teaching overseas, Tourist in My Own Town, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , | 11 Comments

Ever Get the Feeling….?

Do you ever think “things happen for a reason?” Do you ever get the feeling “the universe is trying to tell me something?” Well that has been my pondering this last week.

As you know we are preparing to leave China. I have decided NOT to renew my contract. With that comes new adventure, but also new challenges. It has been an emotional time too. Top that off with a very busy school, who decided that this year we would have MORE events and place them right in the worst time… student assessment and report writing. With that I am trying to organise, give away and sell things. Pack, sort and do odds and ends with paper work for leaving. Then feeling guilty when friends ask us out. Things have been crazy.

This past week we had just finished an assessment that day when I got an email that we need to review this assessment and all the others (which thankfully were completed already). This needed to take place hopefully by Friday and this was Wednesday! I quickly marked the 5 pages of math and recorded the marks. I jumped up from the sofa and ran right into the coffee table! OUCH!!!! Ok I have stubbed my little toe and it hurts. I have broken my little toe before and it hurts. This was 10 times worse! OUCH!!!!

Turns out it is broken. Yup clean break on the third bone close to the joint. Bad place to break it, since that is the part of your foot that moves when you walk. Good news it is a clean break and a little bit further it would have been a larger bone and I would be immobile.

After I accidently kicked the coffee table I broke my toe. My toes were swollen and purple. A few days later the brusing has spread into my foot.

After I accidentally kicked the coffee table I broke my toe. My toes were swollen and purple. A few days later the bruising has spread into my foot.

Suggestion stay off my feet for 10-14 days. Ya right and use my magic wand to pack and sort my classroom? If I was returning in August I could have had someone pack it for me and worry about the stuff later. I had to go in and sort it myself and find my personal things since we are leaving. The kids have been great and like to pack, so that has helped. My hubby came in with me on the weekend and he reached up high and got all the wall displays down and packed some things too.

Wow what a year… my last year in China will be a memorable one. I am thinking this is China’s good-bye or telling me to leave ;) Maybe it is the universe’s way to say slow down. When things are going so fast I need to stop and take my time. Hard lesson to learn, the work still needs to get done. Well this way I am forced to ask for more help. 3 more days with kids and 1 with just staff. I can do it.

Stay tuned…



Categories: Chinese Adventures, teaching overseas | Tags: , , , , | 37 Comments

Repatriation Emotions

It has been a few weeks since I posted. I have been buried in a forever growing “To Do” list. The end of the school year is coming fast, like a runaway train without any brakes. This year all the major events came at the end of the year right in the middle of assessments and report writing. Add packing and moving to quickly increase your stress level. My work is busy, to put it kindly, so I was smart and asked to extend my stay a week after school ends. I could worry about the majority of packing after all the school stuff was taken care of. Well as Murphy’s Law would have it Murphy threw a monkey wrench in those plans. Another teacher is not able to stay at their apartment and needs to move; you guessed it into ours. They wanted to physically move things at the end of May and I said NO WAY! Right in the middle of reports I couldn’t clear out our spare room and have all of our packing things spread all over the rest of the living space. At least the spare room I can avoid and close the door.

Them needing to move has been an added stress that could have been easily avoided. But remember this is China and HR and they don’t think about life and people, they think about what looks good on paper. My weekends have been spent between home and school sorting, packing, selling and giving away. Time is ticking down and I am afraid soon it will explode with jobs left undone. Outwardly I am not showing stress, but inside my body is worried. It will get done, somehow it always does. The unfortunate expense is the enjoyment of the last few weeks in exploring a city we are about to leave forever.

The sun is setting on our Shanghai life

The sun is setting on our Shanghai life

Next weekend is a 3 day holiday and for months our little group planned an outing to a nice quiet city outside of Shanghai. Spending time with friends we are about to leave, exploring and relaxing was all well needed and deserved. However, we are all feeling the stresses and it was decided to cancel the trip and go out for the day in Shanghai. Allowing time at home for those import “To Do” list jobs. Part of me was disappointed, but secretly I was relieved.

Lots of emotions are happening right now, I feel almost bi-polar. I am looking forward to home, but something is tugging on me about Shanghai. The list of reasons to come home outweigh the list to stay, but I think I will mourn the city that was my home for 5 years.

I feel like Frederick from Leo Leoni’s book where I need to soak in all the colours, words and feelings so during those lonely times I can close my eyes and feel I am still here. It saddens me that we are too busy to get out and travel around to do this, so I must settle for the little day to day experiences.

I get a lump in my throat as I think this is the last time for…. These thoughts come more and more lately. June is finally here and those months have melted away into weeks. School is only days.

Life in China has changed me. Will I fit back into life back home or will I be that one piece of the puzzle that just doesn’t work?

Categories: Canada, China, Chinese Adventures, teaching overseas | Tags: , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

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