Thursday, April 14, 2011

James Loutit 1930-2011

Hello again:

People don't know what to say to a person who experiences the loss of two parents so closely in time. However, friends and family who knew Mom and Dad so well knew instinctively that Dad without Mom was like skiing without snow.

Dad was born in Vancouver and was a true westcoaster. He embraced the lifestyle and spent many of his teenage years hiking up Grouse Mountain and skiing down. Living in Point Grey, this involved taking the streetcar to the ferry, riding the ferry, transferring to a street car, and then hiking up the mountain. He would stay in the Tyee ski cabin on the hill and on a good day, get in 4-5 runs. Now that is what I call passion! In fact, passion is one of the words I would consider when thinking about Dad.

He pursued his interests with passion. Of course, his life-long passion was Mom, and he always wanted her to feel safe and secure.

Dad was an accomplished athlete throughout life. In high school, he played basketball, where his team competed and won several championship games, including Provincial High School Title. As a Tyee ski racer, he competed and placed in many races. Dad continued playing sports during his University years, where he received his degree in Commerce at UBC.

After marrying Mom in 1955, they moved to Toronto, where he began his life-long career in the lumber business. His competitiveness shined with Cooper-Widman and after a few years, and one child, Christie, he was transferred with the company to Edmonton.

Along with thriving in business there, Dad competed with the Eskimo Ski Club, the businessman's volleyball league and played competitive handball. In 1964, with one more child in tow, me, they were transferred to Vancouver. In West Vancouver, they build their dream home.

Dad joined the Semour Golf club and took up golf with a passion. In the winter, he re-connected with the Grouse Mountain Tyee Ski Club, and coached in the Nancy Greene Ski League. He developed and re-kindled many friends through skiing, as well, he installed a love of competing and for the outdoors with his children.

Once Jamie arrived, his family was complete and we settled int a great life of skiing, holidays in the Okanogan, fishing trips and swimming at the beach. Dad sent time with each of us, encouraging us to pursue our own passions and supporting our decisions throughout life.

He was tough when he needed to be, and was proud and full of praise when it was warranted, as well, he like to tease us, even though it sometimes went a bit too far, he always meant well.

Retirement for Dad meant starting his own lumber business in Qualicum, but also balancing his lifestyle by living on a golf course and playing golf at least 4 times a week. His work allowed him to keep in touch with his industry friends and augment his income to allow Mom and him to travel during non-gof months.

His slower pace in life allowed time to see his grandchildren grow and develop and he took pleasure in following their academic and athletic pursuits.

After a massive stroke in 2007, Dad had an amazing recovery, which we all knew was due to his inner strength. One of the first things he told me when he could speak again was that he wanted to live to make sure that Mom would be looked after.

He never complained about his stroke and the fact that he would never swing a club again, and he settled into the routine at the Gardens Care Home. Mom and Dad enjoyed the great entertainment, happy hours, and the gardening club during his time there. He continued to be an avid reader and golf/hockey watcher. Last summer, he discovered that he could drive his wheelchair all the way home, and he did so every sunny day. Unless Mom was on the golf course that day, then, he would show up there! Mom was so pleased to see him, and they had a great time with this. He put on more miles on that wheelchair last summer than I did on my motorcycle!

The last few months, Dad was not well, and he seemed to have lost the twinkle in his blue eyes when Mom was diagnosed with cancer.

We know his is in a much better pace now, either trying to talk Mom down a black diamond ski run, or teeing off in a couples tournament where here are no sand traps or water hazards.

Big Jim, we love you and miss you.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Edie Loutit 1930-2011

Because I have loved life,
I shall have no sorrow to die. Emily Burr
Mom truly loved her life, and she believed she was blessed with so much happiness throughout it.
She was born and raised in Vancouver and graduated from McGee High School, where she retained many long term friendships. Of course, the most significant meeting was the love of her life, Dad. They were in each other's grade one class, and started dating on and off since grade nine. A true love story.
She graduated from UBC and enjoyed her time there as a Sorority member of Kappa Kappa Gamma. From the photos and stories there, it's a wonder they even got any school work done!
After graduation, she became an Orthopedic technologist and worked at VGH and at Seattle Orthopedic Hospital.
Mom and Dad were married in 1955, and moved to Toronto, where Mom worked at a doctor's office until Christie was born. Dad was then transferred to Edmonton, where they expanded the family by one more daughter, me. They made good friends in Edmonton, but as true Westcoasters, were thrilled to transfer one more time to their home city- Vancouver.
After building their dream home in West Vancouver, the family grew by one more, Dad's namesake, James, better known as Jamie.
Mom and Dad were a great twosome, and always presented a united front when encouraging us along our paths. They were also the best of friends, participating together in badminton, skiing, bridge golf and sharing a passion for gardening.
Along with her dear school friends, Mom developed strong and enduring friendships with ski buddies, golf pals, and bridge mates. She had a great sense of humor and love to host and attend parties. We all have great memories of her annual Christmas Eve parties she hosted for our Aunts, Uncles, cousins and later their children - a highlight that showcased her supreme organizational and culinary skills.
Mom and Dad made a point of going out every Saturday night for date night, as well, then booked a week ski holiday with their close friends every year, where they took the time to relax and rejuvenate. There were so many photos of the great times they shared on and off the ski hill.
Golf was another passion for Mom, and she played her last game in October 2010. She had a great attitude towards the game, and we have heard from many of her fellow golfers how much her presence will be missed on the links.
Once thing that Christie, Jamie and I really cherish is memories of Mom and Dad's queen sized bed. It was a place where we would go as children when we had a bad dream, or just wanted the safety and comfort of being close to our parents. It was also a place where we celebrated birthdays! We would all climb in bed in the morning and the presents would magically appear from under the bed, and would be opened while surrounded by the whole family. In later years, whenever Christie or me would come to Qualicum to visit, we would always grab a cup of coffee and slip into bed with Mom to talk, or to share the paper. From Calgary, I would often grab a coffee on a weekend morning and call Mom from my bed to hers, just to chat. As Nana's grandchildren arrived, the bed was also a place for them to cuddle and watch T.V. The best place in the world to be.
Seventeen years ago, Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Sh took the news with her regular aplomb, and chose aggressive treatment, fully supported by Dad, and chose not to focus on the negatives of the unfairness of this disease, as well, not wanting to worry her children.
Mom and Dad moved to Qualicum in 1995 and embraced the Island life, enjoying golf, bridge and the gardening scene, while making new friends and encouraging old ones to move from the mainland. Mom was involved in Senior buttons at both Eaglecrest and Pheasant Glen, and she really enjoyed it, as it gave her an opportunity to meet even more women who shared her passion for golf - or was it passion for socializing?
Whether it was a trip south or taking the kids to the beach, Mom embraced these events and holidays with zest.
After Dad's stroke three years ago, she became active at the Gardens Care Home where he lives now and ran the Green Thumb Club. Dad also proudly offered up her recipe for ribs at the men's lunch club, where it quickly became a favorite meal for the group. She made the best of her sudden separation from Dad, filling her lonely hours with projects around the house, such as painting, and became interested in trying out new recipes to keep her mealtimes interesting. We are all thankful for her wonderful neighbours who kept an eye on her and made her feel safe at night, when she missed Dad the most. Having Jamie close by to assist with the household chores also gave her comfort and company.
All of her grandchildren considered Nana and Papa's house a home away from home and it brought great joy to her to have them around as much as they were.
Mom always put her husband, her children and here grandchildren first, and her acceptance of the seriousness of her illness not only helped us through our grief, but showed us that she was satisfied with her life, and we were all comforted by her actions and attitude.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Best Laid Plans

Sometimes, life throws us curveballs. This is one of those times for us. We have had some bad news from home and will be returning to Canada to be with Nance's family.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Impressive French Cyclists!
I couldn't resist a photo
Shop 'til you drop

Brent makes a deal! Cocoa Leaves.

Blessing of the day

Monument for the Independence of Argentina

Brent had dinner with his brother

Tropic of Capricorn
Cactus Wood

Pre-Colombian Ruins

We were up relatively early and drove north up the valley to the town of Humachuaca. We passed by many small farms, but mostly dry county, and the farms must get their water by wells, as a fellow we spoke to at one of the stores couldn't remember the last time it rained in town. Maybe 8 months ago? There were lots of big cacti, obviously thriving. They do cut the cacti down, but only after they are dead, as the wood of a live cacti becomes very fragile if you cut it, and the dead cacti produces a beautiful, lightweight wood. Cacti live 200 to 300 years, so they have to be patient to get the wood.
The main attraction in the town of Humachuca is the San Fransisco Solano Church, where at noon, the statue of San Fransisco pops out of the clock tower and gives his blessing. (like a Coo Coo Clock) The locals certainly know where to find the touristas at noon, as just before he popped out of the clock, we were inundated with people selling jewelery, hats, key chains, and cocoa leaves. Brent "connected" with a cocoa leaf pusher, a little old lady who sold him two bags for $1.50. We popped a couple of small bundled up handfulls in our cheeks to test it out, as it is supposed to be good for altitude sickness, and I felt a wee bit affected by it, but was it just in my head? Brent said instead of altitude sickness, maybe it was better for attitude sickness...

After we were blessed by SF, we climbed the stairs up to the monument that was built to honor the fighters of the War of Independence.

On the way back, we stopped at the Tropic of Capricorn, which is the most southerly latitude which the sun can appear directly overhead at noon. This event occurs during the December Solstice. (in case you have forgotten your Geography from high school)

Last stop is a small town, called Tilcara to see a partially reconstructed pre-Colombian fort, which is hailed as one of the most complex ruins in Argentina.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Travelling with Brenty

As some of you may know, Brent loves his cars. He looks after them and takes pride in their spotlessness. So, he was cautiously happy when we received a brand new car from Hertz. Not a ding on it and even the wheels were shiny, and 0 km's on the odometer. The first mistake was made by the navigator, who admittedly would rather look at the scenery than the map and the road signs. She took us off the main highway over to a gravel road, which, augh, got dust on the car. The next day, another navigational nightmare took us onto the salt flats via a very rough, thick with light, red dust road. The next two hours were spent worrying (not by the navigator) as to how the dust was going to be removed. Once we made it back to the hotel room, the navigator's washcloth was "borrowed" along with a jug of water, and the car was scrubbed and rinsed until all of the dirt was removed. The next day, we were parking in a narrow, cobblestone street in a small town, when Brent (the worry wart) decided that the side mirror needed to be tucked into the car to avoid another car sideswiping it, except that the mirror wasn't built for this, and snapped off in his hand! Not a word from the navigator, while Brent pressed the mirror back in, and spent the rest of the day worrying it would fall off. Luckily, it stayed in place until we returned the car!

Colors and Salt Flats

Hike out of Purmamarca

Drive to the salt flats

Peak of the drive. 4,170 metres

Wild Alpacha

Go Flames Go

Wild Burros

Right where I want him.

The next morning, we were up fairly early to do a hike behind the town, as the mountain color's are best in the morning, and it was going to be a warm day, without a cloud in the sky.

I couldn't stop taking photos- red, green, beige, lavender, rust, brown, and teal were the 7 colors we counted.

After lunch, we hopped in our speedy Ford and headed up a long, windy pass to see the Salt Flats. The temperature varied from 24 C to 10 C at the peak, as it was a climb up to 4,170 metres. We stopped for a photo opportunity, but both of us felt dizzy from the lack of oxygen and the quick assent, so we were glad to make a fast decent to the salt flats. We have seen so many photos of salt flats, we were anxious to get there and followed the guide book to take the first gravel road off and then drive along to the flats. It was really dusty on the road, and by the time we got to the salt flats (they always look closer than they actually are!) the car was covered in fine, red dust. Along the way, we say wild Alpacha, and wild burrows. We headed back to the highway, only to discover that we only needed to drive another 1/2 km to an easy entrance onto the flats, situated by a restaurant that is no longer in use, but was totally built out of salt, even the tables. Apparently, they can't operate due to lack of water.

On the drive back, we were stopped to take photos, and four bikers went by on old classic bikes. We could hear them chugging up the pass from a long ways away. We both sighed and wished we had access to our bikes as the ride would have been very very very very fun!

Road Trip November 12-15


We booked a car and drove north to a small town called Purmamarca, and at a population of 200, we really felt that we had journeyed off the beaten track. The town is famous for its views of the Hills of Seven Colors. We arrived during siesta time, so everything was shut down, so we decided to get a room and join in the siesta.

The town is quite touristy, and if you love to shop for Bolivian treasures, this is the place to do it. After dinner, we were wandering around town and heard some music blasting, so we went to explore. There was a community fundraiser going on, so we paid our pesos and joined in. There were games and prizes for the kids and adults alike, along with Gaucho entertainment. (drums, guitars and violins) The funniest game I watched was the ring toss for pop or wine, or bottles of booze. No matter the age, if a 10 year old looped a bottle of wine, that's what they got! Drinking isn't a big deal here, and there is very little of it practiced with the local population. Kids were running around, dodging the dogs, grandparents, parents and babies. Everyone was having a great time, including us!