“Please wear a poppy,” the lady said,
And held one forth, but I shook my head.
Then I stopped and watched as she offered them there,
And her face was old and lined with care;

But beneath the scars the years had made
There remained a smile that refused to fade.
A boy came whistling down the street,
Bouncing along on care-free feet.

His smile was full of joy and fun,
“Lady,” said he, “may I have one?”
When she’d pinned it on, he turned to say;
“Why do we wear a poppy today?”

The lady smiled in her wistful way
And answered; “This is Remembrance Day.
And the poppy there is a symbol for
The gallant men who died in war.

And because they did, you and I are free –
That’s why we wear a poppy, you see.
I had a boy about your size,
With golden hair and big blue eyes.

He loved to play and jump and shout,
Free as a bird, he would race about.
As the years went by, he learned and grew,
And became a man – as you will, too.

He was fine and strong, with a boyish smile,
But he’d seemed with us such a little while
When war broke out and he went away.
I still remember his face that day.

When he smiled at me and said, ‘Goodbye,
I’ll be back soon, Mum, please don’t cry.’
But the war went on and he had to stay,
And all I could do was wait and pray.

His letters told of the awful fight
(I can see it still in my dreams at night),
With the tanks and guns and cruel barbed wire,
And the mines and bullets, the bombs and fire.

Till at last, at last, the war was won –
And that’s why we wear a poppy, son.”
The small boy turned as if to go,
Then said, “Thanks, lady, I’m glad to know.

That sure did sound like an awful fight
But your son – did he come back all right?”
A tear rolled down each faded cheek;
She shook her head, but didn’t speak

I slunk away in a sort of shame,
And if you were me, you’d have done the same:

For our thanks, in giving, if oft delayed,
Though our freedom was bought – and thousands paid!
And so, when we see a poppy worn,
Let us reflect on the burden borne
By those who gave their very all
When asked to answer their country’s call
That we at home in peace might live.
Then wear a poppy! Remember – and Give!

Don Crawford

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The Telus World Ski and Snowboarding festival, which is in its 15th year, marks the Winter season coming to a close. My 27th birthday has come and gone, the Olympics arrived and then left,  the Paralympics happened in a heartbeat, my snowboarding season ended early with me out injured and now it’s the slow season again here in Whistler, BC.

The local restaurants put on special deals to entice people to dine out. That’s if they decide not to close. The 2009 / 2010 seasonal workers migrate to their next destination…whether that’s to Australia or New Zealand to continue their season, whether it’s back to work in the ‘real’ world or to continue with their studies at school. Each person has their own story to tell. Some will stay on for the amazing Summer months in Whistler and then continue with the epic life of a ski bum.

Spring rolls around, the slopes are turning from pristine white to a murky green. The skunk cabbage is appearing, marking the awakening of the bears out of hibernation. The weather doesn’t seem to know what it wants to do rain one minute, sunshine the next.

As cirumstance would have it, my days in this province are numbered. It’s onwards and upwards to the next chapter. I will miss this amazing province and the sensational 12 months I have had here.

It’s shoulder season in Whistler. That’s what they call it when the tourist’s stop visiting and business slows down. Restaurant’s put on meal deals to entice people to spend money. Fine Dining establishements where you could never afford to eact suddenly become affordable.

Ironically, there are more jobs being advertised now than I have seen since my arrival in Whistler at the start of May. Perhaps the mindset is to train everyone up to be coherent by the Winter season. The mountain opens at the end of November, which should be when things start to pick up again. Seasonaires should start arriving soon, looking for work and a place to live. I hope my job is secure because from what I’ve heard, finding work in this town can be tough and accommodation even harder!

Early bird season passes are cheaper than they have been in a decade. Priced at $1099, rumour has it that they are worried that hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics will put of visitors to Whistler. This is despite the fact that only 10% of the terrain will be closed over February and March. The mountain is so vast that who would really notice 10% being out of use…unless you were insitent on using those particular runs.

I am excited for the snow season. Perhaps a little treapadacious about letting go of my Summer, which seems to have flown by…I cannot imagine this place in the snow – I am excited none the less! I just need to make it through the rainy season first.

Being an optimist I am often let down by things when they don’t go the way I thought they would. For example, when I arrange to meet up with an old friend who didn’t show up last time and then they don’t appear again; I can’t help but be let down, I absolutely thought they would make it this time.

However, being accustomed to being let down means I can appreciate the things I can rely on and I thought I would share them with you.

Hunter wellies: They look good, they fit like a glove and they last year after year.

Diamond earing studs: Dress em up or dress em down, they look good with any outfit. Being a gift from my parents for graduating, they remind me of my Mum and Dad while I wear them.

Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream: Applying it as a lip gloss or to soothe sun kissed skin, whatever’s in this wonder cream – it never disappoints.

My other half: Reliable, gorgeous, best cuddles ever, amazing cook, my confidante, creative, sexy and athletic – I can’t imagine life without him.

Tazo Chai Lattes: Warm tasty goodness.

Hand warmers: Having reynauds, these bad boys ensure my hands stay a healthy rosy colour instead of a deathly white / blue.

Calvin Klein PJs: Trusty and comfortable, they last a long time and are comforting to slide into.

Skype: I can keep in touch with family across the world and it feels like I am in the same room as them.

BBC Good Food Website: Can’t find a recipe, the good food website never fails to dissapoint and their recipes are relatively easy too.

What’s in your list of things you heart to rely on?

I joke about life in Whistler being like living in a bubble. I go down to Vancouver every 6 weeks to avoid getting valley fever, but everytime I am anxious to get back to my Whistler bubble. I can live in my own wee world here. Living adventures everyday. I love it.

Nothing bad ever happens here and when it does, being a tourist town, it doesn’t get reported or sensationalised. The other day my bubble was burst. I was sitting beside a lake while someone drowned in front of me, I sat in the sun completely unaware, reading my book. It wasn’t until the police turned up combing the lake and recovered the body the next morning that I realised the fragility of my bubble.

I just read a post on the Thought Herders blog which made me cry. Not that I want to upset you, but I think the content is worth reading. Life goes on, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take the time out of our days to remember and to recognise those who are no longer with us, whether we knew them or not.

Here in Whistler they have what is called Whistler2o2o whose vision is:

“Whistler will be the premier mountain resort community
– as we move toward sustainability”

I think the way I have worded that first sentence says it all. THEY rather than WE. The brains behind the Whistler2020 iniative have had difficulty getting the 20 something’s involved, I can’t help wondering why? What can we do to be involved?

So I checked out the Whistler2o2o website and the first thing that sprung to mind was corporate jargon; it sent me into a daze. I spent years studying business at University and while I understand the way it’s written I cannot help but switching off when I read about ‘ effective collaboration’, ‘being implemented by the community’, task force participation‘, ‘strategic business and community benefits to prioritizing sustainability’ the list goes on…

To communicate with your audience effectively how about speaking their language?  Sustainability: What does it mean and why should I care? If we’re talking about creating a vision that makes Whistler a premier mountain resort community while moving towards sustainability – what benefits does it hold for us 20 somethings if Whistler is a premier mountain resort? To me it makes me think expensive; if we’re the leading resort then places can afford to increase their prices! Cost of living is already high in this town.

Can a resort town, reliant on tourism ever really be truly sustainable? If so, how do us 20 something’s get involved in making it so and how to we encourage our peers to care?

I do a lot of research online. If I fancy dining out at a new restaurant that I have seen, I will check out what people are saying about it on forums, trip advisor etc. However, I always wonder how much of the full picture can you really get by the info you read.

There has to be a reason why people post reviews. It can be that someone has enjoyed their experience so much that they feel compelled enough to share it with others. It could be quite the contrary…that their experience was so horrendous they feel the need to warn people away from a certain establishment. Whatever their motivation for the review, I think it’s important to remember that we as individuals have different rationale and certainly different perceived expectations.

For example, pick a hotel you’ve stayed at on Trip Advisor. If you read the middle of the road comments / reviews you’ll probably find the review pretty reasonable. Reviews that are particularly negative or particularly positive are the ones to be watch. It’s worth trying to evaluate people’s standards in these instances by checking out what their other reviews say. That way you can gauge if they go through life with a glass half empty or half full (some people are only happy when they have something to moan about), before taking their review at face value and essentially basing your decision on what they have written. I’m always wary when I read a review by someone who has never reviewed anywhere else. In my opinion they have either a personal connection with the establishment or a personal vendetta.

All in all, I think way too much credit is given to online reviews. It’s almost as if people are happy for someone else to do thinking for them. Burly Bob from the Bahamas says that parking is over charged at the hotel so it must be true…Jane1234 from Johannesburg wrote that the staff were over bearing, therefore we should avoid that one! Make up your own mind people. Take onboard what Bob and Jane have to say (along with a huge pinch of salt), it has some authenticity and you took the time to research it, so obviously the past experience of others is of value to you; but ultimately take responsibility for your own decisions…that way when you get there to find the friendly hotel staff have actually offered you complementary parking you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

The fresh berry season is here. I have been relishing picking my own Strawberries and Raspberries in the fields of North Arm Farm and McEwans Farm in Pemberton. With that, I’ve been looking for some good recipes.

I didn’t need to search far. ‘Fresh and Local; Straight from Canadian farms to your table’ by Craig Flinn (an award winning Chef in Halifax, Nova Scotia) has been in my recipe book collection since Feb when my lover bought me a copy for my birthday. There are some of the most mouthwatering recipes ‘Upside down Rhubarb Cake with Strawberry Sauce’ and ‘Wildberry Napolean with White Chocolate Mousse’. Anything I have made from these recipes has tasted divine, however the recipes themselves are not straightforward.

I have had a keen interest in cooking since age 16 when I worked as a Commis Chef for a small coffee shop in a 5 star hotel. However I am no pro in chefing terms and I like my recipes spet out to me in laymend terms. Unfortunately Chef Flynn’s recipes assumes both an understanding of cooking terminology such as batter reaching the “ribbon stage” and also a fully equipped kitchen as the recipes instruct the use of ‘an electric stand up mixer’, a ‘blender’, a ‘candy thermometer’ or a ‘food processor’…unfortunately luxuries I am living without.

Despite this; a considerable amount of patience and elbow grease can lead to the creation of some of these amazing recipes.

Another weekend has passed. My final weekend of housekeeping is over. I got a full time position which I start tomorrow. To say I am stoked would be an understatement. No more unemployment insurance, whoop whoop!!

My housekeeping work was a great experience. We worked in groups to clean. The team worked involved was fantastic when you had a good team leader and everyone pulled their weight. It was brutal when you had a slacker leading the team which lead to decreased productivity and frustration.

I cleaned every room as though I would like to see it if I was staying in it myself. I set high standards for myself to ensure the place was as clean as possible. Our days were made easier by the simple things in life. The guests stripping the beds before they left, the garbage being disposed of, the dishwasher being turned on with the dirty dishes cleaned for our arrival and when unopened food items were left in the fridge it was a huge bonus!

My pet peeves included cleaning shit from toilets in places I still don’t understand how you could get faeces. Cleaning up the bars of soap from the bathroom and people who clip their nails then leave them lying around. The final thing that was more than a pet peeve, but rather something that really pissed me off, was people’s attitudes toward housekeepers. Although the vast majority of people are pleasant, I found there were a few who acted as though cleaning staff are some sort of sub-species, or worse still, too appauling to consider acknowledging. I wonder what makes these people feel so superior. In many ways I feel sorry for them because I can’t imagine having such a shit outlook on life.

I always have put the dirty towels in once place and made sure my garbage was all tidied away, but in future I know I’ll be even more considerate and will certainly strip the beds for those that have to tidy up after my vacation.