Friday, September 30, 2011

The End of September Already

Another month has come and gone, only 3 months and we’ll be celebrating our first year of retirement. It has been really great so far and is only getting better as we adapt to the freedoms we now have. This September has had more beautiful days than I can recall – I think I had more swing afternoons than I did the rest of the summer! The days have started to blend into each other, each day similar to the last. Is this a good thing? I’m not sure yet.

Although the days seem a blur we still seem to manage many out of the ordinary work-a-day pastimes.

Wednesday we met up with friends Ruth and John for lunch. The food was great as you can see from the empty plates (restaurant in Kemptville called The Branch) but the company was even better. I haven’t seen Ruth for ages, maybe even close to a year (could it be?) so it was great to get a start on catching up. Hopefully we’ll get to finish that catch-up next week with a camping sleep-over. I had many visits with Ruth when I was sick all those years ago – they were a great mood enhancer and helped me a lot with my recovery – we always had so many laughs! I still feel grateful to her.


After the restaurant we drove over to pick up our dog meat order. 125 pounds of raw ground up meat, bone and organ, with a bit of fish added in for good measure. The food is frozen in blocks about the size of bricks – I bring them out of the freezer and into the fridge the night before so they are softened enough for supper the following night. The dogs LOVE their supper. The raw food, with no un-necessary additives like corn or other grains, helps to keep their teeth nice and clean, their poops firm and easy to pick up, and their coats glossy. It’s worth the extra bit of effort.

Once we got home and the food was loaded into the freezer we headed back out to pick up the camper. The new fridge was already installed! The service department at Ottawa Camping Trailers has really impressed us. Their service was punctual and professional. We will go there again (but hopefully not for a long time if you know what I mean!). As of today (Friday) the fridge seems to be working okay. I’ve gradually been putting the food back into it so that we can get a good test before heading out on our next trip.

Thursday was rainy in the morning but stopped for the afternoon. As soon as it stopped I was outside in the camper reloading all the stuff I had removed for its sleep over at the repair shop. Then I dragged out the camper’s fall decorations and gussied it up for colder weather – sheepskin on the chair seats, cosy burgundy blankets and pillows. You know, not so summery looking. I may be the only person in RVing land that does this, but it’s fun and actually I’m an interior decorator at heart. I probably get this gene from my mom who would also has an entire new set of “stuff” for each season and holiday.

20110930_camper-interior-fall_012 20110930_camper-interior-fall_008
20110930_camper-interior-fall_001I picked up some fabric for the trim of the quilt I’m making. I hope to finish it this winter. 20110930_camper-interior-fall_005
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After the camper was all re-decorated my friend Christina arrived for a cup of tea. So we grabbed the teapot and mugs and headed out to the camper for some good girl talk. It makes a great escape.

Thursday night I made a new recipe – Roasted Cauliflower with Tomatoes and Olives on Pasta. It was a typical Italian meal – easy! First I cut up and blanched the cauliflower, then patted it dry, tossed it with olive oil and laid it out on the roasting pan. Into the oven at 400 for about 1/2 hour. Meanwhile on the stove top I sautéed 4 cloves of garlic and some red pepperoncini in some olive oil, then poured in a can of tomatoes (smushed up). That reduced for a while. When the cauliflower was done it mixed into the sauce along with some chopped kalamata olives. Then I tossed the cooked pasta (spaghetti) and served with some grated parmesan. It was good – Carm gave it a 4.5 out of 5 so I guess it’s a re-do. Oh, and a bonus, it was pretty diet friendly using only 2 tablespoons of oil which could probably be reduced.

The dogs are all hairless since the poodles got their hair cut last week so they tend to jumble together in any sun spot that they can find. Kabira can curl herself into the most tiny ball you can imagine – which is something else for a 65 lb. dog!



If you just look for what's right - in others,
in relationships, in yourself and your journey -
you'll always find it.

Mike Dooley

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Officially Fall but Still Summer

We’ve had another lovely day here – warm enough for reading on the swing. I finished “The Fire Dwellers” by Margaret Laurence which was a most excellent read. I felt like reading it again right away! But instead I downloaded a somewhat trashy novel from the library – a bit of fluff for a warm day. The next novel after that is “The Edible Woman” which I read years ago – time for a re-read.


Yesterday was gloomy and grey but still warm. We headed into town to visit with Carm’s mom and run a few errands.


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What have the pleasures been? I have been forgetting to track them! However there are a few things that stick out.

  • eating delicious sandwich from a little hole in the wall Italian food store – yum. And the bread is just so gosh darn good, chewy and crusty – the best. We were so hungry and the sandwiches were just so tempting that we ate them in the car.
  • sipping (guzzling?) bubbles – we picked up a new one by Wolfe Blass at Vintages yesterday – it was really very good.
  • laying on the swing reading – could it really have been nice enough in late September for some swing time?
  • tomato salads – our menu items have been pretty limited these days as we just can’t get enough of the tomato salads and we know the frost will soon be here.
  • drinking an icy cold beer with Carm and Peter when they got back from a day of golf.
  • having the day all to myself.
  • here’s what’s not a pleasure though – constant hot flashes!!!! What is up with that and when will they be over? I hardly know what to wear. Nothing or warm sweaters?

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.
Albert Camus

Thursday, September 22, 2011

International Plowing Match - 2011

Wednesday was another beautiful day so we decided to put our chores on hold and head off to the International Plowing Match which is being held in our area this year. It was an easy 50 minute drive away from home. Next year it’s about 8 hours drive away.


For those people that travel from far away to enjoy this event there is RV parking for about 1800! All with electricity. They deliver fresh water throughout the event and also provide pumping services. The RVers also get their own entertainment in the evenings (but you’d better like country music…).

Signs directed us to the parking area where people on the ground guided us to the next available parking spot. Then we were loaded into empty hay wagons for the ride to the grounds.


The general grounds were about 1km x 1km square, divided up by roads. It was packed with things to see – who knew there were so many tractor brands! And several companies with solar arrays and even a few windmills. There were sauna manufacturers, chain saw makers, septic tank makers, camper distributers, tents with educational displays, tents with sheep, tents with cows, tents with horses, tents with antique tools and farm implements, there was pretty much everything having to do with farming. There were tents with music dotted around the grounds. Oh yeah – and bad food which we absolutely required to energize us through our day.


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There was a Super Dog/Horse event which was fun to watch. The dog with the world record in high jump was there – a pretty Ibizan hound. And the dogs did barrel racing against some serious quarter horses zipping around the barrels. The dogs won! Then they did a pole bending race, dogs in the weave poles, horses with their bending poles. I think the dogs won this one too – they were fast! The horses were pretty darn impressive as well – however did the riders stay glued to the horses backs the way they did?

Carm found lots of people to talk to about all kinds of things so he was happy (and I stood around listening to blah blah about heating units and solar arrays, septic tanks and chain saws to name just a few)! In the morning when we were deciding to go he wondered if all there would be to see would be the plowing… he wasn’t really sure he wanted to go until I assured him there would be a lot of things to see… and I really had no idea just how many things that would be!

One of the amazing things we saw was a giant quilt (36 metres long and 3.5 metres high) called the “Quilt of Belonging”. There is a block for all the First Peoples in Canada and one for every nation of the world. I hope they find a worthy permanent home. Check out the website for more information.


And can you believe that we went to a Plowing Match and didn’t even get to see the plowing! There was just so much to see and do that we ran out of time. Maybe we’ll have to go next year!


Hair Cuts Again!

Can you believe that it was poodle clipping time again? I’m glad that I can console myself that I’m doing so much less vacuuming than I would if I had a coated breed…

These were from yesterday – I wonder if they’ll run faster now with less weight of hair?


Bid me to love, and I will give a loving heart to thee.
Robert Herrick

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Birthday Memories

It’s my “last” birthday… well, hopefully not my actual last one but my last birthday that increments - at least for a few years – I suppose it would be too much to still be 49 when I’m reaching 59! This one is not too traumatic, after all I’m still in my 40s. The next one though… we shall see.

I remember as a child being so excited about my birthday. My mom always (and still does) makes us feel so special. When we were young she always held a party for us and still bakes us a special cake. My cake has almost always been angel food cake.

box1_col1_34I do remember one year – I think I was three – that it was a girl shaped cake covered with coconut. I never was a fan of coconut, I think even then. But how could I not be excited about a cake made specially for me!





box1_col1_35For that third birthday I got a red pedal car. It was like a racing car and I drove that thing all over the place. It got passed down to my sister and brother but eventually some guy that was fixing the roof sat in it and broke it (grrrr – what an idiot).




For my fourth birthday I got a little ginger kitten which I named Puffy. I loved the feeling of her curled up against my legs when I was sleeping. She got hit by a car when I was 12 – man how I cried. I missed her so much. I still can’t listen to Peter, Paul and Mary’s “Puff the Magic Dragon” without crying.

box2_col4_24For my seventh birthday I got a big blue bicycle – my parents still have it. No training wheels so there were a few skinned knees but then whoosh the bike was like an extension of my body – an imaginary horse.

When I turned 14 I got a new bike – a blue 10 speed that I decorated with florescent tape. I drove that thing everywhere but now it sits unused in the rafters of our garage.

I suppose those were the most memorable birthday gifts – no puppies or kittens or horses (the usual thing I asked for – well, I did get a horse for my 40th birthday, but it was of the statuary kind).

As an adult my birthdays are usually low key – I’m not one for big parties, although we always get together with my family at some point to celebrate both my birthday and my brother’s. The actual day seems less important as adult life intrudes, but I do like to celebrate with a bottle of bubbles – a tradition that I learned from my girlfriend Cynthia.

Really a birthday shouldn’t be about me, but should instead be a thanks to my mother for bringing me into the world and being such a great mom to boot!


Four Days of Camping

We haven’t had any luck with our turbo stick the last few days – every time we checked it is roaming into the US ($$$).


Woke up to the sound of rain and a chill in the air. Time for fluffy socks and warm sweaters, not to mention long pants. It just rained for a while and I was able to take the dogs out for their potty without getting soaked – muddy yes… needless to say no walk on the mucky road.

On our walk this morning we met some people with a Titanium (same brand of camper as ourselves). There is a fellowship among Ti owners. Tony and Carol have a 26e31 which has two slides in the living area – it seemed very spacious and gave room for a great sized kitchen. We invited them to come over to our place for coffees after supper. It was a very nice visit which ended with the exchange of emails. Maybe we’ll be lucky enough to meet up with them at a Ti rally next year.


Burr… it was cold this morning and by 11 am was only up to 52F. There were some sunny breaks but with the wind it just wasn’t tempting to go outside. We even wimped out on our morning walk figuring we could wait till it warmed up a bit, and hopefully the wind also died down. By early afternoon Grace was outside in a bundled up cage and we were gone for our walk. We even got to read a bit outside.


Saturday – my birthday

What a totally gorgeous day it was today. A tiny bit cool if in the shade but hot in the sun! A perfect day to celebrate my birthday.

The day started with our regular coffee then hour walk with the dogs. After that Carm made us pancakes, bacon & eggs, then time for some relaxation in the sun. Eventually the neighbour's music drove us into the truck and out for a drive.

We went west towards Iroquois and tracked down the Harkness Family Cemetery which is where my great, great grandfather is buried. It is a tiny little cemetery in an out of the way place, very quaint.


After the cemetery it was south to the Iroquois locks for a pogo and an ice cream (how much junk food can be eaten in one day?). Tonight it will either be steak or just crusty bread with olives and cheese and OF COURSE bubbles!




Home again. Boo hoo! We would have loved to stay another day or two – the weather was perfect but Carm scheduled a dentist appointment for Monday. Note to selves – don’t schedule appointments early in the week after camping!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Upper Canada Village

Yesterday just after I posted my blog post we got a call from our neighbours wondering if we wanted to meet them at Upper Canada Village. Sure thing! The weather was perfect for an afternoon visit.

Upper Canada Village was developed using buildings that were moved because of the St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project that was undertaken in the 1950s. It is meant to represent life in Upper Canada in the 1800s. Many of the buildings have character actors that are in period costume, busy at tasks representing life of that time. They even have programs for children so that they can be involved in village life. The characters give a commentary and answer questions about what life was like. That, combined with the beautiful setting make for an interesting and delightful few hours. I highly recommend a visit if you are in the area.

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We had a wonderful afternoon wandering through the buildings, looking at the gardens and admiring the farm animals (there were even some piglets in a pasture). The wagons with Canadian Horses trotting through the village gave additional charm. It was such a beautiful afternoon with just a few picturesque clouds in the sky. By visiting in the late afternoon we missed the busloads of school children and tourists making for a more leisurely visit. Okay, I know I’m gushing but it was just so darn nice out, and the setting is so lovely…

Before we left we made sure to visit the store to purchase a few loaves of bread made in the village bakery using flour ground at the mill. We rushed back to the camper to cut a few thick slices and slathered them with butter, strawberry jam and cheddar cheese that was also made at the village. Ummm, ummmm good! I think we’ll drop back in before we head home for a few bags of the whole wheat flour.

Upper Canada Village

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Lazy Days


We are soaking up the last warm rays of summer sunshine as the forecast for the next few days calls for cooling temperatures. We have enjoyed several beautiful days in a row, although today the winds were gusty and blustery with some cloud cover. Luckily for Grace she has been able to be outside pretty much the entire day every day we’ve been here.

The park is deserted with only a few campers. Instead of making the dogs quieter though, they bark at any passers-by. Spike had to wear his “special” collar (aka bark collar) for a bit yesterday, but he knows what he’s wearing it for so the tends to be better after having had it on for a few minutes.

It was a bit cool in the afternoon when the clouds rolled in. Kabira was happy to wear her sweatshirt for a while.

Pleasures – everything about camping ; the beautiful sun ; butter tarts! ; getting a great lined windbreaker jacket, with a hood, for $7.00 at the local consignment shop. It’s got a patch on it from Yellowstone, so now I look like a traveller.


It’s another beautiful day, almost too warm to sit in the sun and thankfully it’s not as windy as yesterday. We have been so lucky so far with the weather – fingers are crossed that it keeps up.

Pleasures – another nice morning for our long walk and the dogs walked so nicely on their leashes ; bacon and tomato sandwiches (they would have been much better with mayo though) ;

Time to figure out which of the several books on my e-reader that I’m going to read next. I just finished “A Prairie Home Companion” which was a cute little read (and clarified a few things from the movie that I didn’t really get. Now it’s time to delve into my collection of old books.

Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher.
William Wordsworth

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Makes me High

Yes, John Denver again. I know it’s the height of dorkiness to admit liking his music, but there – I’ve said it. Right now Sunshine on My Shoulders is playing, it’s a beautiful day and we are out camping. I feel a little high or at least pretty darn good.


There have been a few times this summer when I’ve wondered if maybe I’m sick of camping and ready to give it up. Then I go camping again and realize that nothing could be farther from the truth. I feel so relaxed and content. Maybe it’s the walking, or the beautiful surroundings, or maybe it’s the to-do list that has been parked for a while. No matter – the result is good. Our usual tradition for first night of camping is a beer and snacks as soon as we set up and I always feel so content and happy – I’ve always attributed it to the beer, but here it is mid afternoon, no booze in sight, and I have that same feeling. It’s the closest to the heady feelings of mania that I used to experience.

The new sun shade is great – if a bit fussy to get threaded into the awning groove. Today, with temps at around 22C it provides just the right amount of shade while still letting some warming sun through. So we’ve been sitting in it’s dappled shade, drinking lemon water (zest and juice of 1 lemon into glasses of ice and cold water), reading, writing my blog and listening to some ancient music (Gordon Lightfoot is playing now).


The dogs have been on high alert most of the day as the squirrels run about collecting their nuts and battling for the prime storage sites.

I forgot to mention that I got the most amazing birthday gift from myself! Finally on Thursday the mailman delivered the printed book of the first 6 months of my blog! It’s on nice glossy paper, the photos are good (but a little small) and there, in print, is all my months of babble. What a terrific keepsake of the first days of retirement. I can imagine sitting down with it 10 or 20 years from now…

Remember, happiness doesn't depend upon who you are or what you have, it depends solely upon what you think.
Dale Carnegie

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fridges and Fleas

Here we are, Saturday afternoon, sitting at the picnic table at Riverside Cedar campground. The weather is perfect and sunny, so sunny in fact that we put up our new sunshade. We thought that it could be rolled up in the awning but the instructions say not to – bummer – it is a bit awkward getting it threaded into the awning groove. Maybe it will get easier with use.


The camper went in on Wednesday (as scheduled) for fridge replacement. We picked it up the next day, brought it home and loaded up to be ready to hit the road on Friday. Well… it’s not working so well and we can’t figure out why. As per instructions from the RV place we have been moving the sensor – it’s gotten a bit colder but not as cold as it should – I wonder how much that has to do with the bazillion times we’ve opened the fridge to test the temp.

Thursday I had a few itchy spots – little bug bites that I thought might be spider bites? Friday morning I woke up with tons more bites, maybe as many as 40 or 50 (ewwwww) – “I wonder if we have fleas”? Looked on Spike and sure enough some flea dirt and even one flea. Yuck yuck yuck. Off to the vet for some spot on treatment but first baths for the dogs. We might have them in check (hope, hope, hope) but we won’t know till we are back at home. In the meantime my skin is crawling and every little itch feels like a flea (I haven’t actually seen one on myself). We don’t know where they came from… not that it really matters.

I think this is our third year of being here at Riverside for a week during this time period. The park is practically empty, even on a Saturday. Upper Canada Village is not too busy. The weather has always cooperated, and it is a good way to spend my birthday week!

The first birthday week treat was had today – the most amazing butter tarts from a little bakery in the nearby town. So, so good. She has trouble keeping them in stock (we got the last two) and I’m not at all surprised (although a bit – it’s just a  little town). On our way to the bakery we saw signs for a new dog park that opened. Of course we had to track it down even though we didn’t have the dogs with us – it is a nice little fenced area - we will certainly make the trip with the dogs during the week (we’ll have to get more butter tarts too). It’s not as nice as the one in Kingston that we found – it was awesome – but will do for stretching their legs.

Our dogs are not experienced dog park attendees though. Spike can be a bit aggressive if he feels overwhelmed or threatened. Kabira is unsure of other dogs and will just stand behind me. Bella though will play after a few minutes. If we go early in the day perhaps we’ll have it to ourselves.

People become really quite remarkable when they start thinking that they can do things. When they believe in themselves they have the first secret of success.
Norman Vincent Peale