Tuesday, October 2, 2012

So a Man Steps Into an Elevator ... Day 1

... and this is what he was greeted with (he graciously took the picture for us!):

This year I want to start off with some pictures. They will tell far more eloquently than I the wonderful, magical experience it was to celebrate my birthday and my sisters in Vancouver. It is truly the event of my dreams for this year.

Orchids waiting to welcome them to Vancouver at 7:30 in the morning ...

View from our room at the Westin Bayshore - the reservations agent very kindly gave us rooms side by side with a connecting door ...

Breakfast surprise

A tour through Stanley Park on a horse-drawn trolley, and then a short walk along the sea wall

Afternoon tea at the Hotel Vancouver

The view outside from our table,
reminding us that home is
where we are.
An invitation to the evening's festivities ...

After leaving the Hotel we stopped to look at the fountain and admire the outside of the Vancouver Art Gallery ...

And then we went back to the hotel where some people went swimming, someone else went for a walk, and I went for a nap!

We gathered together once again with literally nine minutes to spare before Granville Island's market closed for the evening. Breaking into three teams of two, we flew to appointed areas and purchased fruit, vegetables, milk, pate, bread, and cookies for dessert ...

... a picnic by the sea!

That evening, after the sun had set, we walked from our hotel room to Canada place and saw the Olympic torch, watching it with remembered pride as it changed colour. (Sorry - no one sent me her pictures on this so I can't share the beauty and the joyfulness of the evening ...)

The next morning three of us started our morning with a walk in Stanley Park:

... while the other three went to the first sitting for pedicures in the Bayshore's Vida Spa. We who had walked earlier met them there. It was like the aestheticians were matched specifically to each of us.

The finished result:

Our soles thoroughly pampered, we went upstairs to dress for the pivotal event of our two days: luncheon in the garden at Umberto's Il Giardino. Here we are in the parking lot of the Westin, where a woman driving a passing car stopped and asked if we would like our picture taken!

We had a wonderful lunch. The food was, of course, spectacular; but the conversation was even more delectable, reaching out to each of us and gently pulling us into the swirl of ideas, experiences, hopes, fears, joys and sorrows that we shared with each other in a place of complete safety and love..

Umberto himself stopped by and got his picture taken with each of us!

Checking out the ladies room ...

After lunch we returned to the hotel to change and then fulfilled a wish that had been lurking in my brain for a couple of years: to visit the Dr Sun Yat-Sen secret garden in the heart of China Town. Who better than with my sisters?

The entrance to the Scholar's Room.
We all wished Dad could be here!

The contrast in textures of the rough and smooth pebbles intricately woven into delicate patterns intrigued both Deb and Bronwyn, leading to a time of meditation on the rough coexisting with smooth, and how the rough places shall be made smooth in that day ...

BA was captured strolling down one of the long, cool corridors that connected the courtyard.

Six cups of tea - double blessing and knowledge!

Our inner beings, which had been somewhat exposed as we shared with each other at lunch, were soothed and ministered to, and we emerged from the brief interlude tranquil and refreshed.

When we walked out of the walled garden someone spied this sign:

It reminded us of the line from the charming film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: "Everything will be all right in the end. If it's not all right, it's not the end ..."

A quick fish-and-chips dinner followed:

... and then we rushed down to board a shuttle boat for a private little sunset cruise to wind down our day.

Moonlight dancing with the waves

I had thought that was the last event of the evening; I had thought that we were going to retire to our rooms and eat our dessert of Diva cupcakes - my birthday cake for the occasion! - from Cupcakes; but as we entered the room, there was a sudden fireworks display over the water. (Of course, my sisters told me they had arranged this just for me ...)

The last thing on the agenda was Saturday morning, where we had one more taste of "Mama's Muesili" at the Westin's spectacular brunch.

After we had eaten my sisters gave me a little thank you tribute: each one of them took a letter of my name and spoke words that started with that letter. It was overwhelming and beautiful and if I die before all of them, I want them to repeat it as my eulogy!

On the plane home I reflected on this time together. Everything went according to plan. Everything was far more wonderful than I had envisioned. And I realized that it was so because we were all together and we had experienced greater beauty, greater strength, greater power, when each of us joined forces to cause the whole to emerge, greater than the sum of its parts.

I guess that's the point of this post that might seem a little self-indulgent (really, were all those pictures necessary?!).

As our luncheon at Umberto's wound down, I had presented each one of us with a little souvenir of our time together. It was a charm bracelet, and all the bracelets were almost identical in the charms they contained: There was a maple leaf charm for Dad and a shamrock for Mum; and then each of us had a charm that represented how we identified ourself or what we aspired to. The only difference was that each bracelet also contained a bead in our favourite colour. The bracelet itself was fashioned out of a leather cord. One charm floating alone on its champagne-coloured strand would have been lost. A couple would have been sweet but nothing out of the ordinary. All nine charms together looked dramatic, and they were a reminder to us that together we are strong and together we can tackle and conquer our weaknesses if we all work together and love each other.

Ecclesiastes chapter 4 and verse 12 says this: "And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A threefold cord is not quickly torn apart."

We Ironside women are a sixfold cord. I am so thankful, at this start of Thanksgiving month, that you gave me your time and your trust for this weekend. I am so thankful that I am part of the cord.


  1. What a coincidence that another, much older, Karyn had her decorated birthday plate served to you!

    1. The same spelling and everything! What are the odds?!

  2. Not too many pictures or self indulged. It gave a clear picture of love and community. SO much so I had tears because of the pure beauty it was. You are so blessed and you also bless others. Happy birthday! You are a wonderful soul to our community and your hope becomes a beacon to many mothers struggling, couples coping and families celebrating togetherness. What a stunning birthday! One I hope to aspire to one day- to have sister friends who love me that much and to bestow gifts of love on them. What a privilege. This was my favourite post of yours ever because it showed love so blatantly in the joy and routine of a few days. Thanks for sharing your beautiful life and day!

    1. Thank you so much. Your words mean a great deal to me. This one was a hard one to write because I still feel so much pure joy around the weekend, and sometimes it's easier to write about pain than about joy. I appreciate your taking the time to bless me further!

  3. How Fun!!!! I have something for you? I could chase you down to get it to you...or I could just get your box number :) 604-220-9590.

    1. Well, that's easy: If you chase me down, I would get to see you, so I vote for that one!

  4. ...I don't know where that question mark came from...

    1. That's why they're question marks; I personally think it's perfect.

  5. You ladies are soooo cooool...simply loved going through it all...you are so blessed to have wonderful and lovely sisters like them Karyn...

    1. That is very true Zeba. I can do without a lot of stuff, but I would be nothing without my sisters!

  6. Karyn, you didn't mention, of course, that the weekend was pure gift to all of us from you! Every idea, every nuance - from shell-shaped dishes for the beach picnic, to hats at the Italian terraced luncheon, to sailing into the sunset on an ocean that, somewhere, meets the Indian Ocean and so touches our very depths ... every single thing, tasted, touched, tangible or not ... was imagined, initiated, instigated and bountifully bestowed by you. We were simply grateful recipients ... and the thing I discovered is that gratitude for what is given in love makes every moment utterly magical! Thank you - forever!

  7. Precious Memories! Oh what fun we had! Thanks again, sweet Karyn! xoxo

  8. Karyn, as I read this account I found my heart being deeply stirred and my emotions so warmed. I am almost at a loss for words. I think it might be the longing I feel inside, which is one I think most of us can understand, to be so completely loved and accepted by another that she would go to all of this planning and preparing for an experience that will likely never be forgotten.

    God has given you such a rare gift, Karyn. The ideas that come to you and the things you share with others are seldom experienced by most of us. You ARE one of those people in my life by whom I feel totally loved and accepted. In keeping with the theme of being thankful, I want to thank YOU for sharing yourself and your time with me. Each time we get together, whether for an hour or a day, is very special to me and always will be. God knows our needs and to our weakness is no stranger. And He so often sees to it that my momentary need is met and my weaknesses, felt more often than they should be, seem to fade away when we are together. As the tears wash my face, I say, thank you and I love you so much.

    Written from a grateful heart.

  9. What a beautiful time, every detail dreamed, planned and brought to fruition by you. An adventure into the unknown that we could trust to you, because one can trust love, and you have a heart that is abundant in love. I am ever more conscious of the treasure of the interlaced cord.
    Thank you!

  10. Dear Karyn, you look so beautifully radiant in the pictures. Like a young woman celebrating her 25th birthday. We are so privileged to know you as our friend. We are great fans of your thoughtful ideas put into words and the many pictures that bring them to life. Glad you had a special weekend with your sisters. Love from India, Sarah and Chloe.


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