Thursday, March 31, 2011

More Osculation Please

Today's word of the day is osculate (AHSS-kyuh-layt verb : kiss). A while back I made a resolution to incorporate more hugs and kisses with Carm everyday. I did well for a while but now the osculation has dwindled to pre-resolution levels. It is time to renew that resolution and take a few minutes out of my day, each and every day, to incorporate this good practice.

Last night we had Mexican Black Bean Soup with some cucumber on the side. It was tasty and there were even some leftovers to enjoy with our giant salad at lunch today. (Recipe here).
the fixings for last nights supper
the finished product - thick and hearty

My pleasure's today: waking up a bit early to the sounds of birds singing (although this was somewhat ruined because it was a bad dream that woke me up) ; eating a tasty fruit salad for my dessert - the mango was perfectly ripe ; cutting and then sewing together all the little squares for a throw (see photos).

next step - backing & trim

And here is one thing that was NOT a pleasure today: chasing down the dogs when they wouldn't come when called - some days I'd like an e-collar for Mr. Naughty as today he gave me the equivalent of the puppy finger and took off in the opposite direction. ZAP!


Today is a free day for the 31 Day Challenge. In other words I can write about whatever I want. It is easier to have a pre-assigned topic than having to come up with one myself! I feel discombobulated from a bad dream last night so it's been difficult to find a topic that isn't morose. Today is the last day of the challenge so I'd like to write about something meaningful, yet I can't seem to get my mind and feelings away from this dream. It has affected me such that tears are pricking against my eyes.

The dream was about not being good at something and having someone else be much better at it than me. And then they got on my case about it, shouting at me that I should have done better. At the end of the dream I just went into a room and locked the door behind me. This has perhaps been the way I deal with issues that are too emotional for me and may in fact be the root of some of the mental distress that can cause a bout of depression. It is time to start facing the difficult things head on and not shut myself away from them.

Do you ever have dreams that make you think about yourself and how you deal with the world? Or that cause insight and change?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Close Proximity

More sewing today got me another cushion finished as well as the tablecloth. Next on the agenda a quilted throw with the same two fabrics, plus two others. I'm not exactly sure how I'm going to do this as I've never done any quilting, but since it's just for the camper I don't mind too much if it doesn't turn out perfectly - it will be a learning experience.

Today's word of the day is proximity (prahk-SIM-uh-tee noun : the quality or state of being proximate : closeness). With the camper in such close proximity (the laneway beside the house), and the weather turning warmer, I think it is almost time for the first driveway camp of the year. Even if we just have our supper out there it will give us a taste of what's to come. It is warm enough also to get the slide out to start a spring-cleaning. But I'll wait until I've gotten more sewing done so that I can re-decorate at the same time! I love re-decorating.

The fixings for last night's supper. We also had some leftover lentils and chickpeas.
The daily aim is for 1lb of raw vegetables and
1lb of cooked vegetables plus fruits and legumes.
It's a lot of food to eat in one day!

The Accidental BuddhistMy pleasures today: listening to "The Accidental Buddhist" while walking on the treadmill. I've been doing a bit of reading Buddhism, primarily for the meditations. I think there is a lot there that can help me to manage mania's and hopefully nip them in the bud. Likewise for depression. Being mindful seems like a good way to live, Buddhist or not ; sitting outside on the front porch in just a t-shirt, no coat, basking in the sun.


31 Day Challenge is "your spouse or significant other".

Carm is my rock. Sure, sometimes I don't always appreciate all of his qualities, but I'm not perfect either - or perhaps it's MY non-perfection that finds faults in him... I think I have to explore Buddhism a bit more to find that all-encompassing compassion. All that said, we have a great marriage and are able to spend all our waking hours together and still be happy with each other. Even after three months of retirement!

One of Carm's greatest qualities is his ability to move on with something once it has been decided upon. For example, when we got our first horse there were weeks/months of arguing and discussions before it was decided that I could go ahead and get one. As soon as that decision was made he became fully involved with the horses and was never once non-supportive. We put a lot of effort into keeping horses, building the barn ourselves, doing all the daily chores, fencing, haying, etc. He was with me every step of the way. This is not the only example of this quality, I could name numerous examples.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Basket of Fruit

We headed into the city again today, this time for Doctors appointments and meetings with accountants - tax season you know. We made a quick stop at Ikea and then stopped for a visit with Carm's parents. It was a busy day but we got a lot accomplished.

With the addition of the kiwi (which is in the
fridge), this should last us 3 or 4 days.
See the starfruit beside the cantalope -
it's huge!
Today's word of the day is wraith (RAYTH noun 1a : the exact likeness of a living person seen usually just before death as an apparition b : ghost, specter ; 2: an insubstantial form or semblance : shadow ; 3: a barely visible gaseous or vaporous column). She looked like a wraith walking in the dusk in her grey dress. Her wild grey hair flew in the wind and her dress whipped around her legs. Grief had faded the life from her eyes. As she walked away from the house the darkness swallowed her up leaving just a wraithlike shadow. Okay, okay - I know it's lame but I couldn't come up with anything else...

My pleasures today: taking a drive into town ; visiting with Carm's mom and dad ; eating a crispy apple for lunch ; finding a little fruit basket at the Salvation Army - it will be perfect for the overflow. These days we have two double layer fruit dishes as well as a big single layer one. It is hard to find space for so much fruit!

Last night's supper before being cooked. Healthy eh!

Last night's supper served on cooked lentils. Minus the mixed green salad, cucumber,
and stawberry/pear dessert.
Usually we'll have more vegetables than this though - I was feeling lazy.
this morning's breakfast - 1/2 mango, 1/2 some fruit that I can't
remember the name of, 1 kiwi and 1 banana.
Sometimes I have a few walnuts or almonds as well


31 Day Challenge is "your dream vacation".

A long trip to Italy. I'd love to see all the antiquities and also the beautiful countryside. We watch a tv show called "Magnifica Italia" which showcases the country beautifully. I'd love for Carm to see the villages in Calabria that his parents grew up in - his roots. I want to enjoy the wonderful food and wine. So much to experience!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Happy Birthday Carm

I'm a little behind in my postings as we've been busy celebrating Carm's ## birthday.

Saturday afternoon we headed into the city for our annual night out in celebration of Carm's birthday. First we stopped at Fabricland to pick up just a bit more of the cricket fabric, and then we headed to the Chateau Laurier to check in and get settled into our room. The Chateau is the grand dame of Ottawa hotels, one of the early CP hotels. It has beautiful old architecture and grand public spaces. Once we got settled we put our coats back on and headed into the market to look around and then find some takeout sandwiches for our lunch. The place we have historically gotten them seems to be in new hands and had no sandwiches, so we headed elsewhere (almost as good, but not quite), picked up a few cold beers and headed back to our room.

Tina and Bruce met us in our room and then we headed out to the Keg for a much waited for steak dinner - oh my gosh - talk about feeling stuffed! We aren't used to eating such huge meaty meals! After supper we picked up coffees and headed back to our room for, you guessed it, burnt sugar cake.

Sunday morning Carm's morning dawned cold and windy but after a quick swim we bundled up and headed over to Zak's diner. We'll probably find somewhere else next year as the quality seems to have diminished. Plus the prices have increased. Almost $10.00 for bacon, eggs and toast! Outrageous!

view of Parliament Hill from our room
I won't mention just how much we missed the pets though. I think that we would have headed home after supper if we hadn't spent $$ on a hotel room! But we had Karen looking after them so knew they'd be okay even if we werent ;-)

Today's word of the day is farouche (fuh-ROOSH adjective 1: unruly or disorderly : wild ; 2: marked by shyness and lack of social graces). The farouche crowd waiting for a place at the bar at the Keg made the wait seem like longer.

My pleasures today: getting one pillow sewn together.

Some crazy colours - bright and cheery for the camper

31 Day Challenge for March 26th is "the best gift youve ever received".

Puffy, the kitten that I got for my fourth birthday. For an animal crazed little girl a kitten was possibly the best gift I could get, baring a puppy.

31 Day Challenge for March 27th is "your favorite meals or recipes"
Roast beef (prime rib) with yorkshire pudding. Or maybe it's just Yorkshire pudding as it goes well with steak too. Definitely off the diet as it's main ingredient is fat, but since we have a prime rib in the freezer once we are down our next 15lbs I'll treat myself again.

31 Day Challenge for March 28th is "if someone gave you $1,000 to spend on YOURSELF, what would you buy?".

I'm a big sucker for stuff for the house. So I'd probably buy some large, low dinner bowls, a quilt for the bed, some other fabrics to just have for projects someday, I'd save a bit of it for new clothes for when I'm finished dieting, and then I'd get a pedicure!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Dizzy from Sugar

The Mother TongueToday's word of the day is nonplus (nahn-PLUS verb : to cause to be at a loss as to what to say, think, or do : perplex). This is one of those funny words where when you take away the prefix (non) you are left with a word that is not the opposite meaning. You don't say "I was plussed" when you have plenty to say on a subject. But you would say "I am rarely nonplussed about this subject". There are a lot of words like this, such as discombobulate - there is no such word as combobulate. Isn't language funny! I'm half-way through reading Bill Bryson's "The Mother Tongue" which is a fun investigation of our language and how it has evolved.

step 1: make burnt sugar
My pleasures today: making Burnt Sugar cake for Carm's birthday - yes it is a special kind of cake that has no white flour, nor does it have tons of butter and sugar - it is really just broccoli and fits perfectly on the diet. Well, okay - not. But for a birthday celebration we are getting special dispensation. In fact the whole weekend is going to be a feast - then it's back to the grindstone and strict for the next 15 pounds! Okay, now we'll talk about the REAL PLEASURE from today - licking spoons and beaters and bowls, tasting the baked cake, eating the bits of icing that "fell off". This icing is AMAZING - it is basically burnt sugar fudge - yes, fudge. It is SO yummy that we beat each other to get to the mixing bowl first. Seriously, we don't do that and I try to share even though it only seems right that the cook - the one who did ALL THE WORK - should get first dibs! Now I'm dizzy from sugar overload ;-)

fresh out of the oven. No photo of finished cakes,
they were quickly wrapped and put away out of
harms reach.

Figuring out what the seam binding will look like on the tablecloth.
I just love the colours together and the sweet patterns,
daisys and grasshoppers, will be perfect on the camper.

31 Day Challenge is "something you are looking forward to".

Up until the end of December I was looking forward to retirement - oh how I was looking forward to retirement - I was so looking forward to retirement (sense a theme here!). Now that retirement is here I am enjoying each and every moment, savoring each and every moment, loving each and every moment. So what am I looking forward to now? Summer vacation (okay okay I know everyday is vacation, but I mean drive away from the house summer vacation). We have 3 weeks booked at Presquile, our favorite provincial park. Our site is right on the water with beautiful water access and swimming right from our site. It is a beautiful park with lovely water views and lots of walking trails for us to enjoy. Last year we ate like kings (okay - pigs), and yet with all the walking didn't gain a pound. Now that's a vacation!

this is what I'm looking forward to
looking back from the water's edge
check out our fence!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Little House on the Prairie

This morning, after finding a great deal on a room at the Chateau Laurier we headed into Ottawa, first destination - Fabricland. Carm dropped me off and I had half an hour to myself looking for the right fabrics. I found a lovely blue one with pretty daisy's and a funky green one with little grasshoppers. The three fabrics that I have now for redoing the camper cushions and also a tablecloth should look bright and cheery. I can't wait to get started.

After Fabricland we headed off for a little cheat on the diet - Pho, Vietnamese soup. So delicious and not a horrible fatty cheat that a shwarma would have been! We can almost feel virtuous.

Then we headed to St. Laurent Fruit and Vegetables to stock up on a few necessities. They had the largest star fruit that I've ever seen so of course I had to get one of those too. It's not quite ripe yet though so no photos. They also had these pretty little eggplants that looked like jewels and there were others that were perfectly purple and shiny. Too bad Carm can't eat eggplant :-(

Today's word of the day is unknown again! They must be having trouble with their website.

My pleasures today: looking at all the beautiful fabrics at Fabricland ; even better than looking, finding a few that will be great on the camper ; tasty soup ; an outing on a sunny day ; finding lots of fresh produce at the store ; getting a room booked at the Chateau!


31 Day Challenge is "your favorite book or author".

The Complete Little House Nine-Book SetMy favorite series of books is the "Little House on the Prairie" books by Laura Ingles Wilder. They are charming children's books about pioneer times. I've given sets to my nieces who all love them. I re-read them again a few years ago and enjoyed them just as much as the first time I read them.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Puppy Visit

4 week old miniature puppy
We had a visit today from Dawn, Spike's breeder. She brought with her two litters of puppies along with their mothers. Curry, a toy with one tiny male puppy, and Princess a miniature with a male and a female puppy. The puppies are just four weeks so not running and playing yet but you could see that they were curious about their surroundings. So sweet. All puppies have new homes waiting for them, including two lucky little girls who have been waiting two years for a puppy of their own. Every time we have a visit with Dawn puppy fever starts again. Spring is a particularly hard time of year for me and this spring will be no different. Her silver miniature, Olivia, is expecting puppies any day now - maybe the birth will fall on Carm's birthday and we'll just HAVE to get one. A pretty female would fit in nicely and be a great playmate for Spike - I already have a name picked out...

Today's word of the day is billion (BILL-yun noun - 1: the number 1,000,000,000 : a thousand million b British, old-fashioned : the number 1,000,000,000,000 : a million million ; 2: a very large number). Do you think its related to the word Bazillion? As in - I asked him a bazillion times to stop drumming his fingers. Or maybe if I had a millon dollars re: Bare Naked Ladies ? Can we account for inflation and change it to a billion dollars?

My pleasures today: seeing cute little puppies - too young to be playing around but sweet none the less.


31 Day Challenge is "How you came up with the name of your blog."

I was just over a month away from retirement and I wasn't really sure how that was going to go (ha ha). I wanted to make sure that I pursue and enjoy the pleasures that were upcoming. At the same time my brother Olaf and his wife Tammy gave me a book called "The Book of Idle Pleasures" and right away I knew what the name of my blog was going to be.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

1996 Centennial Western Stock Growers Association Cattle Drive

I'm finally back up and about after spending yesterday in bed with a stomach ache. Two days of missed blog entries, I wonder if that's going to start being a trend? I can't imagine spending a lot of time at it when we are camping, but who knows, maybe the habit is well entrenched. In just a month the earliest campground to open in the area has it's opening day - that's right - just a month! I'm not sure if we'll go the first day, but will try to get a night or two the following week (weather permitting of course - it is still a bit iffy that time of year). The campground is a small KOA, with not much walking available, but there is a really nice walk about 10 minutes drive away on the Gallup Canal which parallels the St. Lawrence seaway.

walking along the Gallup Canal
what can be seen of one of the many sunken
boats along the canal

I thought this Inspiration Peak a good quote to remember. It can be applied to how we train our pets as well, although they prefer to see their spirit of approval come in bite size chunks.
I have yet to find anyone, however exalted their station, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval than under a spirit of criticism.
Charles M. Schwab, 1862-1939
American Steel Magnate
Today's word of the day is vespertine (VESS-per-tyne adjective - 1: of, relating to, or occurring in the evening ; 2: active, flowering, or flourishing in the evening). I missed seeing the moon as it made it's grand vespertine entrance. The sky was clear the evening of the giant full moon but I had forgotten about it and went to bed early, before it's evening unveiling. I miss a lot of celestial events because of my early bedtime.

My pleasures today are all ones that I experience on a daily basis. It is good to keep being thankful for the small things in life: a good cup of coffee ; the water in the tub reflecting the sun ; the beautiful land that I live on ; sun shining into the house ; the birds overhead ; the song of summer birds returning here to nest ; the satisfaction of completing a little job ; the love of my husband ; and the list goes on.


I missed two challenges, one for the 20th: Your biggest insecurity ; and the other for the 21st: Something you love about yourself. My biggest insecurity is probably my weight. I know it's shallow, and I hate being affected by the fashion industry, but there you have it. The crazy thing is that when I was much younger I looked great, hot even, but was sure I was too fat... I agonized over it... The other challenge missed is something you love about yourself - that could be my sense of humor, no, I think it would be my ability to see both sides of an argument or issue.

31 Day Challenge for March 22nd is "your favorite holiday".

Helena and I near the end of the
drive - civilization
It was a very sad day to see
Medicine Hat emerge in the distance.
Hands down, without question, the 1996 Centennial Western Stock Growers Association Cattle Drive. I can't imagine another vacation coming even close. The cattle drive took place in Southern Alberta, starting on the property just south of my great-grandparents homestead. The trip was a voyage back in time to explore my roots and experience the landscape that my ancestors lived in. We were 1500 riders, riding four days riding through CFB Suffield also known as the British Block. CFB Suffield is a huge unpopulated area used by the military for tank practice. There was so much space that the 1500 riders dispersed such that it seemed there wasn't even another soul around. We didn't see a home or even a road till the last of those four days.
The meals were catered with filling breakfasts, a bagged lunch to carry with us on the horses and of course a beef supper. There were trucks that carried our gear from camp spot to camp spot. Everything was well organized and professionally done (the group of people who organized it were a bunch of ranching folks with no experience in these things - they did a marvelous job). I went with my friend Deirdre, and Helena, the woman I bought my first two horses from.

This was a magical experience for many people. Every night there was a stage for participants to share their experiences. Old ranchers remembered what the open ranges were like, young cowboys wrote poetry about their prairie mistress, musicians wrote songs extolling the beauty of the wild open spaces. I talked to farmers, ranchers and even real cowboys and everyone was wrapped up in the magic of the prairie. I think that the prairie, unlike any other landscape, affects people on a visceral level - the barren wildness evokes strong emotional responses.

As we rode across the open expanses of grassy prairie you could imagine what it was like for settlers in the early days. I have always loved the prairies more than words can tell. The sights and smells of the grass and sage bring a welling of emotion. It really is where I'm meant to be (not in Eastern Ontario with its dairy farms and cornfields.) Four days riding through this landscape was, well, incredible. The last day we rode through Medicine Hat, through downtown and on to the fair grounds. It was an exciting but bitter-sweet ending to the best holiday ever. It is hard for me to even write about it without feeling a yearning combined with a sadness for what is being missed. It is a sure way to bring tears to my eyes.

This is my favorite photo of me. Unfortunately the colour has altered
from being in a frame for too long. I hope I can find the negative.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Dream Worlds

some dogs know how to relax!
Today's word of the day is Kafkaesque (kahf-kuh-ESK adjective : of, relating to, or suggestive of Franz Kafka or his writings; especially : having a nightmarishly complex, bizarre, or illogical quality). Yeah - okay... although you could certainly call a lot of my dreams Kafkaesque... they are often bizzare and violent. I can still remember one nightmare I had when I was a little girl - a neighbor was trying to poison me with Campbell's Alphabet soup that she had poisoned. There was also a part in an airplane cargo hold with someone trying to push me out. Pretty good for a little girl of 7 or 8 years old! I didn't even know planes had cargo holds then. I still have crazy dreams, often with someone trying to kill me - weird eh!

My pleasures today: starting on a smaller crochet project - one that will actually get finished in a few days, unlike the giant project of the throw that I'm also making. Today's project will just be a pillow - for the camper! 'Cause it's getting close to camping time :-)


31 Day Challenge is "a skill you'd like to learn".

Easy - anything artsy or crafty. I'd love to be able to quilt, crochet, sew other than a straight line, draw, paint, wood-work. Well, you get the drift!

Can you guess what Carm is doing?

Friday, March 18, 2011

What are You Afraid Of?

no snow on the laneway today!
Today's word of the day is expatriate (ek-SPAY-tree-ut noun : a person who lives in a foreign country; also : a person who has renounced his or her native country). My sister and one of my brothers are both expatriate's living in New Zealand. Shawn, Kirsten's husband, and Olaf, my brother, work for Weta Digital, the company that did the computer graphics for movies like Lord of the Rings, King Kong, and of course Avatar. This is a dream job for both of them, however we sure miss them - New Zealand is a long way away and expensive to travel to/from so we don't see them very often. Thank goodness that long distance is cheap now.

My pleasures today: thinking that Carm was going out for the afternoon but him ending up staying home - is that a pleasure? you guess! Actually it worked out well as in exchange for hemming a few pairs of his pants, he ripped apart a pillow cover that I'm going to add piping to - that's a long thankless task ; going outside although that was also not so pleasureable as the wind was HOWLING - it was hard to take photos as it was making my eyes tear.


31 Day Challenge is "something you are afraid of".

Spike getting hit by a car. He can get under the gate to the road but has hopefully learned he's not to do so. He hasn't for over a year and a half, but still I worry. There's also one spot way down, about 700 feet, at the other end of the hayfield, where the snow drifts up against the fence, almost covering it. He went over onto the road there last winter when we were walking that way - I freaked out at him, I was so scared. Yesterday a cyclist went by going towards that end and both Bella and Spike took off at top speed after him. Of course they didn't hear me calling and they ended up right at that spot. I could see Spike moving towards the fence line but I shouted at the top of my lungs and luckily he stopped and came back to me... He's independent and not averse to exploring on his own.

me with new kitten Puff
My fear is partially based on seeing my cat Puff get hit by a car right in front of me. I was 12 and it was possibly the most traumatizing moment of my life. I had gotten Puff for my fourth birthday - she was a treasured friend.