Saturday, March 31, 2012

What to Do?

1 pm and nothing to do... I can see why people get addicted to shopping. It is a sunny day but cool and windy, I feel like doing something, but what? It is too cold to go for a walk down at the St. Lawrence - I already got an earache just walking around the property. So what then? We could go for a drive, but where to? We could drive down to Morrisburg to the Basket Case for a club sandwich, but we do want to limit the off diet food. I'm not crazy about going shopping, plus the last thing we need is more stuff... I'm trying to organize and tidy all the stuff (junk) we do have. It's Saturday so museums and what not will be crowded. I'm just antsy! Oh, maybe I could clean the house... nah... skip that idea.

We are back from our outing now - we decided to take the truck for a drive to get gas, and maybe drive past one of Carm's old coworkers house, if we saw him outside we'd stop and say hello. We drove down some roads that we don't normally travel and there was something about the area that reminded me of riding when I was a kid. Maybe it was the little ravines, or perhaps the wide open fields. It could have been the colours. Whatever it was I was transported back to the winter and spring of 1975. My Mom had found this place called "Rainbow Ridge" in the small town of Grunthal, Manitoba, about an hour from Winnipeg. The old gentleman that owned the place lived in Winnipeg and went out there every Sunday with a load of kids in the back of his van. We'd have the day to ride and then he'd drive us home in time for supper. Oh what fun we had those Sundays. We'd all pile into the back of the van, sometimes with  his St. Bernard puppy, and with music playing on the radio (one of my time warp songs is "you are so beautiful, to me, can't you see..."). After the long drive we'd bundle up (it was in the winter) and run back to the field to get our ponies. Mine was a dark brown little pony named Fudge. We rode bareback so I was happy to have one where I wasn't so far from the ground when I fell. Some of the kids also had ponies, and some had bigger horses.

Once we caught them we'd brush and curry their coats till they shone. Then away we'd go. We'd ride over a wide creek and then up the side of a huge ravine. We'd have to hang onto their manes or we'd slide off their backs. At the top we'd all break into a gallop across the rolling field. From there we'd disburse into little groups - I wish I could remember the name of my friends (I went with some of them to Phantom of the Paradise). We'd hack around the countryside, sometimes on the roads, but often in fields and woods. At lunchtime we'd go back to the farm, down that same steep slope that we had gone up earlier - this wasn't my favourite part of the ride - it was hard to stay on! There was a building for us to warm up and eat our lunches in - we'd  be starving! The owner would have hotdogs and french fries that we could buy to augment our packed lunches.

Our afternoons would be more of the same. Races down the roads - my pony was fast for his size and sometimes even beat the big horses. I can close my eyes and recall that exhilarating feeling. We found an abandoned barn and dragged out bales of straw to be used for jumps. Fudge and I could jump two stacked - bareback! One of the girls was from Grunthal and introduced us to some boys from the area. My boyfriend was Jeff Broesky - I still have love letters from him (feel free to laugh, we were 12 or 13) - he wanted to be a figure skater.  He had a big golden palamino and would ride over in the morning to join us for the day. Oh - this is funny. One day a bunch of us decided to have a contest to see who could kiss the longest - so kiss we did - puckered lip to puckered lip, barely touching - I remember thinking "I could do this for a long time, but it's really boring."!  Isn't it funny the things we remember.

At the end of the day we'd groom our ponies and set them free for another week. Then we'd pile back into the van, sitting on the floor, exhausted from our day. The drive home was always pretty quiet.

Winter turned to spring and then one day we got there and my little pony was gone. In his place I'd be riding Dusty, a big pinto with the biggest withers you can imagine (remember we were riding bareback - ouch!). It turned out that the owner was selling his farm and moving to another location. He wouldn't be transporting us every weekend anymore, and some of our ponies would be sold. I begged and cried but had no luck with my parents, they wouldn't buy Fudge for me. Anyway, it was a really cool way to spend a winter, a dream come true in a way. If only when I finally got my own ponies I had the same braveness, instead of a chicken bone...

Back to now and our drive to Jim's... as luck would have it Jim was outside fixing the pasture fence by the road so we stopped for a little visit. As he and Carm caught up I looked across the wide brown fields and remembered... I felt a little melancholy. As we were driving back home Carm voice it well when he said "I wish we still had the horses". But there is a time for everything and that time isn't now.

Burnt Sugar Cake

This is Carm’s favourite cake so I make it for him every year for his birthday. Not more often than that though – between it and the icing there are 4 1/2 cups of sugar! That’s more sugar than we’d use in 2 years – Yikes! It’s a bit of a tricky cake to make, not only is it time consuming, but getting it out of the oven at the right time is a challenge for me. Yesterday I burnt the first one and had to start over…

Make sure to make the icing that goes with it. It is basically a caramel fudge – very, very yummy. It helps to have 2 people at the icing stage as when it sets, it sets FAST. It doesn’t leave you much time to work it. My cakes always come out looking a bit wreaky because of that, but I haven’t had one person complain once they’ve had a bite!

The recipe makes 2 layers, but instead of stacking them I iced them separately – one to go to my parents house for the birthday dinner, and the other for the freezer (for that day that we are absolutely dying for something sweet).

star5Burnt-Sugar Cake


1/2 cup Sugar
2/3 cup Boiling water
2 cups Cake flour sifted
3/4 teaspoon Baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking soda
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup Butter softened
1 cup Sugar
2 Eggs
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
2/3 cup Milk

1. Make caramel syrup: Melt 1/2 cup sugar in 8-inch heavy skillet over medium heat. Shake pan slightly as sugar melts and turns golden. Continue heating until it turns dark amber colour. Remove from heat.
2. Gradually add boiling water, stirring constantly. Return to heat; boil rapidly, uncovered, 10 minutes or until slightly thickened. Pour into 1 cup measure. Set aside to cool completely.
3. Preheat oven to 375F (350 in my oven). Grease well and flour two 8-inch round layer-cake pans. On waxed paper, sift flour with baking powder, salt and soda. Set aside.
4. In a large bowl, with electric mixer at medium speed, cream butter until soft. Gradually beat in sugar; continue beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
5. At medium speed, beat in cooled Caramel Syrup and vanilla. Then beat in flour mixture (in fourths) alternately with milk (in thirds), beginning and ending with flour mixture. Pour into prepared pans.
6. Bake at 25 to 30 minutes (20 to 25 minutes in my oven), or until top springs back when gently pressed with fingertip.
7. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely on wire racks.
8. Spread half of Caramel Frosting between layers. Spread rest on top, letting it run unevenly down side.

Notes: Oven temperature is too high. Cake burns at 25 min in our oven. Reduce heat to 350 and check at 20 min (usually takes about 25 min). Watch carefully as it is a bit tricky to not burn it. (Use paddle attachment and not whisk.)

star5[4]Burnt-Sugar Cake Caramel Frosting

Yields: Makes enough to frost tops of 2 (8 inch) cake layers


2 cups Light-brown sugar firmly packed
1/2 cup Butter
5 tablespoon Light cream
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon Baking powder

1. In medium saucepan, combine sugar, butter and cream; bring to boiling over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil gently, stirring, 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
2. Add vanilla and baking powder. With electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 5 minutes. When it is ready work fast!


Thursday, March 29, 2012

I Don't Want a Pickle

Where to start. We had a great last 2 days celebrating Carm's birthday. Personally, I did a lot of time travel - I've been doing lots of that lately. It started when we were walking through the market and passed a little store selling Vespa's and little motorcycles. I was immediately transported to a day in March or April in 1981 - I was in a little motorcycle shop in Stittsville with my boyfriend Steve. Bored, I started checking out the motorcycles for sale, and then... magic happened... I sat on one that was made for me - a Suzuki GN400.


The handlebars reached back perfectly to my hands, the seat fit perfectly, and my legs touched the floor perfectly. It was beautiful. I was in LOVE. We left the shop and carried on our way, but I just couldn't get that bike out of my mind. I was only 19 and pretty much broke - I had no money for a motorcycle! I was living on  my own in a tiny (teeny tiny) apartment, my parents lived in another city, plus I was pretty sure I couldn't hit them up for any money (nor would I have wanted to -  I was pretty independent).  It may have been the following weekend, or maybe it was a few weeks later, but one Sunday afternoon we were out for a walk in the Glebe and decided to deek into a motorcycle store... and there it was... sitting on the showroom floor as if it had been waiting for me. I  sat on it again and knew that I had to have it, somehow I'd have to find the money. Luckily for me Steve kindly volunteered to lend me the money (oh my I was going to be broke paying him back!), and we sat down with the salesman and made the deal!!!!

The next day I called my Dad at his office. "Guess what I got!"... "a cat?"... "a puppy?"... "no, something bigger!"... "a horse???"... "no, a MOTORCYCLE"!!!

"OH MY GOD - do you know where I just was? I was at a long term care facility and there were all these young men in wheelchairs. I asked why so many - MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENTS!".

Well, that didn't go particularly well, but he did agree to tell my mother. I guess my Mom said the "F" word and cried. My Mom never swears... she says fuddle, duddle and oh sugar. I guess they weren't too happy... I did however agree to take a Motorcycle Safety Course which I would strongly recommend to any new (or old) motorcycle rider).

When the day came to pick up my bike Steve borrowed his father's pickup truck and we brought it out to his parents farm on that (how I wonder?). Neither Steve nor myself had a licence so we had to have some place to practice so we could go and get one.  I don't remember what the requirements were or how I went about learning, but I did get my license. 

Oh how I remember the feeling of freedom racing (okay, not racing), down the roads. That bike felt like it was part of me. In those days there weren't too many girls riding - I remember many times pulling up for gas or to the convenience store, getting off the bike and taking off my helmet. My hair was longer, and blonde, and I was a slightly hot 19 year old (oh to be 19 again!). I caused quite a stir at times -  I liked that :-)

Anyway, back to my parents. The first time I drove the motorcycle down to the boat (about 2 hours away) my Dad had to try it out. They let me take my young brothers for a ride. They didn't freak out. In fact one time that summer, or maybe it was the next, they let me bring Olaf, my 6 year old (or maybe he was 7) brother, home with me… on the motorcycle… on a 2 hour drive....  Of course nothing went wrong, but seriously WHAT WERE THEY THINKING!

Oh well, I had that bike for 2 years... and then Steve and I broke up... and I was stuck with an expensive apartment that I couldn't afford... I couldn't afford the insurance... so I had to sell it. Oh SOB.  I don't have the urge to get another one now - but this time of year, when spring is in the air, I can't help but remember that feeling of freedom. I suppose it was a bit of a horse substitute for me at the time.

As a side note years later my Dad got his own motorcycle(s) (Harleys) and even my Mom got her motorcycle licence and her own bike! Both of my brothers also became riders.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

March 27... Carm's Birthday

We are sitting in a slightly dumpy little hotel in the Byward Market. The big ones (Westin, Chateau Laurier)  were either booked full or heinously expensive so we thought we'd try this one. It's okay but a bit sad and worn.

The day started out slowly, but we managed to get out of the house by 1pm. With just a few stops on our way to downtown for Costco stuff and lunch we made it to the hotel in time to drop off our bags and head to Chapters. Carm didn't find anything (well he did but he was too cheap to buy it - Too Big to Fail), but I got a Vegetarian cookbook. There are some interesting recipes to try.

Now we are waiting for Bruce & Tina to join us for a drink and then we'll head over to the Keg for our annual giant steak. Didn't I just mention a vegetarian cookbook? Oh well - we aren't turning vegan per say, but we are cutting meat back and most meals are vegan - more and more studies are coming out showing that red meat especially is just not that good for us.

It is strange not having Grace & the dogs around - we will certainly miss them tonight! We don't leave them very often.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


The last few days have returned to being March. It has been cold, damp and dreary. It is hard to believe just a few days ago we were in shorts and t-shirts!

imagesI had my mp3 player set to shuffle and was enjoying the selection of music it was choosing. Then a time travel song, a step way back into the past, 1974 to be exact - a song from "Phantom of the Paradise" (We'll remember you forever, Eddie). I was just 12 or 13 years old and starting to listen to music when my friends and I took the bus to downtown Winnipeg (one of the first movies without my parents, the other one that I remember was the Hindenburg).  I remember many many days spent in my bedroom with my friend, and a cassette of the soundtrack playing on my player and us dancing around singing to the music.  We must have played that album 100s of times...

I can close my eyes and picture my bedroom with it's wallpaper of huge orange and yellow flowers, the yellow shag carpet, my brown painted desk & dresser, and my bed on the floor with its orange bedspread. We'd turn the music up loud and sing along - I still know most of the words to most of the songs! "Little Eddie Middie, born in Jersey City, started singing when he was five, bump shew ady ady. Never knew his father, mother never bothered, to catch his last name, fast as he came...".

When I was looking for some youtube videos to include in the post (and there were so many I had a hard time choosing a favourite – I love them all!) I ran across a site that talked about how Winnipeg was the only city that the movie really took off! There are countless sites about the movie. Apparently in Winnipeg they still show it from time to time!

I think the music from that movie had such an impact on me because as a 12 or 13 year old I was just defining my own music interests, separate from my parents. Sadly the popular music of those years is pretty schlocky, but I still love it - it was "my" music. I still listen to the "classics" like  "Oh ho ho it's Magic You Know", by Pilot; and "Seasons in the Sun" by Terry Jacks - there, I've said it, I like really awful music...  Thankfully an older friend got me hooked on 10cc and 3 Dog night as well so I like good stuff too.

Laughter is the closest thing to the grace of God.
Karl Barth

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Quinoa & Black Bean Burger

I made this recipe last night and it was a big hit. The “burgers” were moist and tasty, while the avocado spread added some spice. Of course they weren’t like regular hamburgers, but I think there are a good substitute (but with none of the saturated fats!). I served it on whole wheat pita with cucumbers on the side. Since it makes 6 burgers we will be having them again tonight, this time with asparagus as a side. If I can get another ripe avocado I’ll make the spread again as well – it was really yummy.

Quinoa & Black Bean Burger with Spicy Avocado Spreadstar4

Yields: 6 Servings


For the black bean and quinoa burgers:
2 cups cooked quinoa (less than 1 cup dried)
2 cups black beans (Canned is fine as long as it is organic, no sodium. If you're
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cumin
2 cloves garlic minced
salt & pepper
olive oil
6 whole wheat pita or toasted whole grain buns for serving
For the smoky avocado spread:
1 ripe avocado
1 plum tomato seeds removed and diced.
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika (my paprika isn't a smoked one)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper or 1/2 tsp sirrachi (optional)
salt & pepper

While you are cooking your quinoa, combine the black beans, turmeric, cumin, and broth in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to low, cover partially, and simmer for 25-30 minutes (may require more time to reduce stock). Drain the beans (I didn't but there wasn't much liquid left - the patties weren't too wet).

In a large bowl combine the beans, garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mash the ingredients together, then add in the quinoa and combine. Adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Form the mixture into patties. Use a 1/2 cup measure for 6 good size patties. Transfer the patties to a plate, cover and refrigerate while you are preparing your avocado spread or until you are ready to use (they will keep for about 3-4 days).

For the avocado spread: In a bowl, mash the avocado until it is smooth. Add in the tomato, smoked paprika, red pepper or hot sauce (if using), season with salt and pepper and combine.

In a large non-stick frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the cakes (maybe 3-4 at a time depending on the size of your pan) turning over once it has browned (about 5-7 minutes per side).

Serve immediately on a pita or a toasted bun with the avocado spread.

Source (I’m now following this blog as it looks like she has some good vegan recipes):  - I have made a few changes which are reflected in the above post.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Excuse me for being repetitive here, but yesterday and today were more summer like days in March. Yesterday, high 27C, today high 24C. Yesterday we took a drive for ice cream and cheese curds. It felt strange to be leaving the house without a coat, let alone in shorts, t-shirt and sandals. We have 1 more day of this in the forecast then it is back to normal highs of 4C.  But we've had a taste of summer and that's a good thing.


But back to the ice cream and curds. You know that feeling you get when everything is right with the world? I had that yesterday afternoon while eating our treats, outside, in the shade. Life seemed especially good at that moment. I always get that same feeling when we have finished setting up our camp and are sitting down with a snack and cold beer. It is in those moments when I remember why we go camping, with all the hassle of getting ready. It is so worth it for those few moments of almost euphoria. Maybe they are more precious to me now that I'm all medicated up. I used to get them all the time, especially in the summer, but now they are few and far between. That's one of the trade offs I guess.

Today hasn't been such a great day. I had a horrible headache last night that kept me awake, so today I've been groggy and exhausted. After moping around the house doing not much of anything I finally just headed back to bed - it's what I should have done right off as that extra 2 hours have left me in a better place. Sometimes I just have to give in to my body...



1. the feeling of heat on your skin when stepping out of a cold grocery store into the heat
2. squeaky cheese curds, salty and chewy
3. tulips already starting to poke their noses out of the soil
4. tiny green buds on the trees
5. perfectly ripe, juicy, fragrant pear


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What A Wonderful World With David Attenborough -- BBC One

I have to share this video – it’s “our” song “narrated” by David Attenborough and set to beautiful shots of nature. I’ll have to be honest and say it put a few tears in my eyes…

Patio Lanterns

It was another record breaking day today - 24C. I was watching the birds flying around establishing their territories, finding mates and other spring time behaviours – I wonder if they know this weather is an aberration?

To celebrate the first day of spring and the unseasonably warm weather we headed into town and met friends Bruce & Tina for lunch in the market. On a PATIO. Outside! We started off at a table in the shade - it was comfortable but we wanted to be in the sun so we asked to move. Once we were in the sunny location it wasn't long before we were wishing we had stayed in the shade. Who would have thunk it? Too hot in March? As soon as we were finished our meal we snuck back over to the shade to order our dessert. Tina and I had our hearts set on sharing a chocolate peanut butter cup pie (it sounded soooo good), unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) they were all out - drat.


On our way home we stopped at a little Asian grocery store for a few things. I never tire of poking around the shelves looking at all the strange ingredients. They had big meaty pork neck  bones for $0.88lb so we picked up some of those for the dogs. We also got them some dried anchovies (no salt) that they love as treats - and probably healthier for them than hotdogs!

As we were at the cash a bunch of African looking men came up behind us -  they had tripe, some other gross white stuff, heart, and some ugly chunk of meat and bone, as well as a bottle of hot sauce and soy sauce. I'm guessing that it was their turn to make supper but I gotta tell you - yuck. Years ago, BC (before Carm) I dated a Trinidadian man. At the first hint of hot weather he would go to the grocery store and bring home all kinds of meat to bbq. Thankfully nothing gross, just chicken parts, steak, and pork. We'd have these big feasts of meat - I guess there might have been vegetables, but I don't remember any. More likely oranges, mangos and other such fruit. He had this hot sauce that was out of this world HOT! I couldn't eat it, it was just that hot, but he would have it with the oranges. We had a lot of fun - oh to be 21 again!

Whoosh - back to today from that long trek down memory lane - how did I even get there? Oh yeah, the men in the grocery store... Well, anyway, as soon as we got home and into our home clothes we headed out for a walk with the dogs. They were so happy to get outside and run around. I think they felt good with their hair cuts and baths. Even Kabira was panting and happy looking. She's not happy unless she's about to ignite from the heat.





1. waking up to another sunny day
2. strawberry smoothies with just a touch of ice cream
3. eating lunch with friends on a patio
4. getting home to the country after being in the busy, stinky city
5. hearing Grace whistle through the open windows

Dear Lord, I'm so grateful I'm still loved.
Vivien Leigh

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Inaugural Hotdog

Spring is now official in our books - we've had our inaugural hotdog. Grilled on the BBQ with toasted bun, ketchup and mustard - and eaten on the back deck. It is pretty early for such activities but today was 24C! Another hot day. Poor polar bears :-(

1. getting the poodles clipped and bathed. Best of all the bathing was done outside (with warm water of course). Of course with all this "attention" they cringe whenever they see me coming.
2. glass of chocolate milk paired with the first hotdog of the season. Better than beer.
3. chopping a beautiful red pepper
4.gorgeous yellow lemon zest
5. birdsong through open windows

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Ticks Already

Last night just before I went to bed I found a little tick on the bathroom floor. Kabira had just run in from outside so I guess it fell off her. We caught it on a piece of damp tissue and trapped it in a ziplock bag. It is still running around inside looking for a way out. I wanted to keep it for a bit so that I could get a good ident on the web today. I gave the dogs a quick check over, but the tick was so small I would be lucky (or is that unlucky) to find one on them. Fast forward to today - after our walk this morning I found something small crawling around on Spike but squished it too much to identify it.

20120317_tick_001doesn’t it give you the heebie-jeebies just to look at these photos! 20120317_tick_003

Needless to say I spent a good part of my night awake with my skin crawling. And when I did fall asleep I was quickly awakened by nightmares of ticks on me. At one point my shouting to turn on the lights woke me up! So now here we are... do I get the drops for the dogs, which will kill the tick once they bite. But since they can walk around their host for up to 4 hours before biting (and in that time may fall off onto me) what good is that? One website mentioned tick collars. Do they work? Are they dangerous for the dogs? Or perhaps the risk of Lyme disease offsets any risk? Or maybe my peace of mind (and not having my sleep patterns disrupted) make it well worth the risk? Or do we do both?

Did everyone celebrate St. Patrick's Day with a pint of Guinness? We didn't... but the bubbles we had came out of a green bottle - does that count?

1. being "here" back from the grey abyss - there are pleasures to be had again
2. bouquet of yellow tulips brought over by a friend. They are like yellow sunshine in my house
3. bare tree branches against a moonlit sky
4. being outside early in the morning and listening to the cacophony of sound - all the bird song was almost deafening
5. sharing a bottle of bubbles with Carm, along with a little piece of steak and some perfectly grilled zucchini
6. windows open – it’s 24C (75F) in March!!!!
7. sitting outside in the sun with Grace. She was smiling in that special way that parrots have

“My dog is usually pleased with what I do, because she is not infected with the concept of what I “should” be doing.” — Lonzo Idolswine


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Went to Bed in March, Woke up in May

At least that's how it seemed when I checked the weather forecast. Unbelievable. Who here doesn't believe in global warming?


In all things of nature there is something of the marvellous.

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Grey Pall

20120312_snow-path_001It has been another rough batch of days but I think I'm on the road to being back to "normal" (whatever that is). There were a few rough days when I couldn't socialize, as well as a few just blah days.  Unfortunately I ended up cancelling a get together with friends that we haven't seen for ages. I'm lucky though that they were very understanding and we'll just reschedule for another time.


So with all these days spent dragging around the house we haven't done much that is fun. We took a drive to Giant Tiger so that I could get some new farm boots, and stopped at a new shwarma place in the village for supper. We took a drive to pickup another 100lbs of meat for the dogs. I also spent the day with my Mom looking at venues for their 50th wedding anniversary party, and a trip into Ikea. But all of this was done under a grey pall - even the sun didn't come out to brighten my mood. Or if it did I didn't notice it.


We have had several days of grey drizzle. Somehow that is worse than a grey snowy day, I guess the snow adds a certain amount of brightness. After last nights rain, the snow is mostly all gone, what little is left is mostly just our packed down path. And bits on north facing slopes. The forecast had been for temps in the low teens, but it hasn't worked out that way. I find it difficult to get myself outside for a walk in this weather.


Surely though there have been some pleasures? a visit with Christina who came bearing a loaf of homemade bread ; listening to the return of the geese, and seeing flocks of them dot the sky ; spending some time with my Mom ; receiving a beautiful bouquet of yellow tulips from my friend Christina - there's nothing like flowers to brighten up a grey day.

I hope the sun comes back soon.


Endure the present, and watch for better things.

Love is the ultimate expression of the will to live.
Tom Wolfe

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Stop Already

That crazy "Freak Out" song that I posted about yesterday is on an endless loop in my brain. Talk about an ear worm. And I really have to stop reading Time magazine before bed. Last night I read a terrible article about Kim Jong Il and some of the heinous things he did. One particular event stuck in my head - the images are still refusing to leave. I won't repeat what it was here for a few reasons) - 1) writing it down will stick it even more in my mind; and 2) I don't want to pollute your mind either.  Often when I hear or see terrible things my mind fixates on them, I imagine what it would have been like, what if it had been me, how terrifying it would have been, would they have died quickly... well, you get the picture. This is why I avoid violent movies too. Too much brain fodder. It likes to ruminate...

Disney is more my speed so today I was singing Lavender Blue, Dilly Dilly trying to erase the images in my head. It was a strange juxtaposition.

version 1:


version 2:


I've been surfing around the net looking for interesting blogs about bipolar. Much of what I've found doesn’t interest me, but there are a few that catch me. Yesterday I found one that seemed really interesting - I liked the writing style and enjoyed reading posts from the past - and then I realised that there have been no posts since last September. What happened to the guy? Did he get bored and just stop or did something happen to him. It is sort of upsetting, I just got to know him and then he disappeared. People with blogs should be forced to let people know if they are just going to stop blogging. Two years ago when I was first starting to read the blog world I started reading one by a couple that were full-timers. They seemed interesting and so I read some of the archived posts. Then the next day there was a post from their daughter to say that both Bill & Margie had been killed while out on a walk. It was upsetting. I didn't know them but yet from reading their blog I sort of did. At least we knew what had happened, they hadn't just disappeared.

Pleasures? really orange oranges ; hot buttery popcorn ; bubbles with leftovers ; having the house to myself for a few hours ; Carm coming home again late in the afternoon, in time for a walk outside to enjoy the spring like day.


Freak Out

I’ve had this “Freak Out” song going through my head all day – talk about a brain worm! You’ll see how it got there later in the post…

The other day Trudie & Leo called to see if we wanted to go to the Bierstube restaurant (Rudy's) for supper on Friday night. It is a good 45 minute drive and after the last time with all the ice on the road we were hesitant about going. But the forecast was good so we agreed. The four of us drove down in Leo's car, it was still light and was a nice drive. We saw tons of deer. The food was good as always (schnitzel) and of course the company was congenial. Then it was time to go. OH NO! As soon as we could see outside we saw that there was a BLIZZARD. Those of you who know me know that I am somewhat, well, how can I say this...Freaked Out by driving in the snow. And there was snow. It was coming down sideways and thick. The roads were completely obliterated and impossible to see. I was in the backseat, and if I chewed my nails I would have been doing so. Thankfully, Leo is not a racing car driver -  I don't think he got over 60km - it was a long, long drive home (almost 1 1/2 hours). It was a "Phew, we made it" kind of night. No more trips to Rudy's till snow season is over!

Today we are all snow covered again, but I don't think it will last past a day. We'll get some melting today - it is just around 0C and very sunny - but the rest will take its absence in the following days. In fact, when I checked the forecast I was surprised to see a forecast we would be happy with if we were fall camping. Temps will be in the low to mid teens all week.
It was nice enough to tempt me into taking my tea out to the front deck this afternoon. With the sun shining so strongly it was almost pleasant, but there was a bit of breeze that made sitting out in a tshirt just a tad cold. But I sat there for a few minutes and enjoyed the symphony of melting water.I love our property but I've got to say there is a certain amount of anxiety that comes with having a river and a creek on the land. Especially one that surges with powerful currents when the season is right. I don't know what I would have done if we had children - the creek would be such a temptation, especially this time of year, but it is a temptation with lots of danger attached. I live in fear that one of the dogs will be swept away and freak out at them if they venture near the shore. In fact this afternoon I had Spike on a leash to make sure he stayed away - and I still managed to worry and awfulize about it.

Pleasures: 1. getting home after a long, snowy drive - we made it ; 2. tender crisp schnitzel ; 3. sun shining so brightly off the snow that I got tears in my eyes ; 4. listening to the snow melt - the tinkling sounds of water down the drain spouts and off the roof created a symphony of sounds; 5. getting a good nights sleep

Aaahh Freak out!
Le Freak, C'est Chic
Freak out!
Aaahh Freak out!
Le Freak, C'est Chic
Freak out!
Aaahh Freak out!
Le Freak, C'est Chic
Freak out!
Aaahh Freak out!
Le Freak, C'est Chic
Freak out!

Have you heard about the new dance craze?
Listen to us, I'm sure you'll be amazed
Big fun to be had by everyone
It's up to you, It surely can be done
Young and old are doing it, I'm told
Just one try, and you too will be sold
It's called Le Freak! They're doing it night and day
Allow us, we'll show you the way


Friday, March 9, 2012

Honk if You Are Canadian

There's lots of honking down by the creek! I looked out of the window this morning to see some dark things along the shore - I wondered if they were bits of ice left over from the flood so got out my binoculars. Sure enough - Canada Geese. They've only been gone since mid December, so what is that? 2 1/2 months? Ontario is quickly becoming a snowbird location. It's not as warm as yesterday (it was 10C), but is just barely above 0C. The snow is still melting.


I'm really noticing how much longer the days are - we are eating our supper later and later each night since I don't seem to get going on making it until dark. This weekend the time changes over, so suppers are going to be even later. Perhaps I'll have to set an alarm!

Merikay asked me how I made my lentils. The timing doesn't always work out but here's my microwave instructions:
   1 cup lentils (picked over & rinsed)
   2 cups hot water or broth
   1/2 teaspoon of salt and whatever other seasonings you want

   Microwave on high for 4 minutes, then 35 minutes on medium high. The cooking time will vary based on the wattage of your microwave, as well as the type of lentils that you have. I've been using Eston lentils which seem to take a bit longer to cook.  Sometimes I'll add a cup of brown rice and double the water so that I have leftovers for another night. I think I've read somewhere that lentils + brown rice are a complete protein.


I got another cupboard organized today - this one was easier than the pantry - much smaller, and just glassware. I got rid of enough stuff that I could rearrange my glass serving platters, etc so that they are now easier to get to. Several jars got tossed cause I couldn't find lids - including a cute bear jar (boo hoo). A whole pile of Medalia d'oro coffee cans got stuck in the basement. They are an attractive red and green so I don't want to throw them out - "Hoarders" anyone? It is a good thing that before I started all this upstairs reorg that I did some in the basement... cause... there are now piles of stuff at the bottom of the stairs... again... I have a hard time just throwing out... (fyi - Carm is worse). I think one of the lures of going full-time in the camper was that we'd just have to get rid of pretty near everything and then we'd be free of all this stuff. Oh, BUT, I don't think I want to be rid of it!


Today we started copying some of my horsey videos over onto dvd. I think it's a big gyp that some of them are copy protected so we can't transfer them. It's not like I'm making copies to give away, but I'll be damned if I'll pay to buy them again. So I guess I'm the loser here. I have scads of Disney videos, and while I haven't tried them yet, its a pretty good bet that they are copy protected too. This is the problem with technology and what I worry about with my photos. Someday the technology will have changed enough that I can no longer use them. That's one of the reasons I'm putting together some digital scrapbooks that I'll print. I'm still old enough to want HARD-COPY.

(while I was writing some of this Bella was lying beside me snoring to beat the band!)

My pleasures today:

1. seeing the Canada Geese in the creek - already!
2. organizing another cupboard - seeing all the glass jars neatly arranged- so orderly
3. listening to Bella softly snore beside me
4. walking around the field and seeing more and more bare grass
5. waking up in the morning and seeing blue sky through the window

There is always music amongst the trees and in the garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. unknown

Thursday, March 8, 2012

We Knew it Had to be Ours

When I looked out the window this morning I could see that the creek was in flood. You might wonder if we are worried especially given the new reports of flooding in Australia. But we aren't - our land floods every year, and we actually bought it during a flood.





Years ago I was on the quest for a farm. I wanted horses SO BADLY! I wanted an acreage, I wanted land. We looked at countless homes but none of them were what we wanted. Most of the acreages had old, run-down houses, and there was no way that Carm wanted to go that route. So we kept our eye open for vacant land as well. One day I saw an ad for 28 acres that flooded in the spring - I mentioned it to Carm but he wanted no part of it. Our house at the time was on very low land, and every spring the sump-pump went for weeks - he wanted out of that basement flooding trap. But if you know me you'll know that I can be PERSISTENT. Annoyingly so I'm sure. Finally Carm gave into the pressure and we took a drive to see.

As soon as we set eyes on the place we knew it had to be ours. You see, a few years earlier we had been driving around and pulled the car over to look at a pretty piece of land with a creek snaking through it and a river on one side. It was so pretty. There was a for sale sign on it, but when we called it had already been sold. We weren't in a place financially that we could have bought it anyway. But when we were finally able to start shopping this piece of land was always what we had in mind - nothing that we saw measured up. And now here we were, standing on it, with the for sale ad in our hands. It was spring and the creek was in full flood  but we could see that 1/2 the acreage was high and dry. No worries about a wet basement here - there was drainage. The land wasn't flat, it was contoured. After one last stop on the little bridge to watch the ducks swimming in the creek we were on our way to the real estate office. Bad news though, there was already an offer in on it. So we made a full price offer and went home to chew our nails. Later that night we got the phone call - they had accepted our offer.  It was ours.

I can remember how excited we were, we couldn't keep away. In the year before we built our house we had picnics here in the summer, we snowshoed in the winter, we planted 1000s of trees in the spring. I remember one evening we had come for a picnic with the dogs. We hiked from the top corner of the hayfield over to "homestead" hill and had a lovely evening. On the way back to the car Chetta (one of our dogs) was skunked! Yikes - a 20 minute drive with a skunked dog in the car.  The first summer we put a picnic table over on a plateau just below homestead hill. When we were snowshoeing that next winter we'd stop there and have a hot chocolate. The next spring we had a particularly bad flood and the picnic table was gone. We were impressed by the power of our little creek!

I can’t even begin to put into words what having this land means to me. When I walk on it I feel the strength of Nature fortifying my soul. A mindful awareness connects me directly to the Earth. There is something so spiritual about being in touch with Nature, be it feeling its hard earth beneath my feet or looking up and seeing the stars at night.

Today there was no ice jam like there often is in the spring, just high water. Our walk in the lower pond paddock takes us along the creek for a bit, but is high enough to be out of the flood waters. We are careful to keep the dogs close to us and away from the water because we know the power of the current. And today we remembered the day we made it ours.

  After that trip to the past I tackled the pantry. More organizing. It doesn't look much better, and the pile of stuff to take down to the basement is bigger.




I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.
John Burroughs

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Fe Fi PHO Fum!

Oh my gosh - I think I might have a sunburn. Not really, but it was that nice out today. Temps reached a high of 12C which is over 53F - wowzers! And it is only March 7th. Carm decided he wanted a Playbook so into town we went. First stop Costco where aside from groceries Carm got some shirts and shorts - me? I got a little organizing shelf for in the pantry. Then onto Dollarama where I scored a few more plastic bins to sort things into.

We broke up the shopping with a stop at a little DIVE called Pho May. Carm had the Pho and I had noodles with 3 kinds of bbq meats. Oh My Goodness it was GOOD! That has to be one of my mostest favourite meals. If there was one in our village I'd be there everyday. As it turns out we have to drive all the way into the big city - boo hoo.

Finally it was Carm's turn to get his TOY! He razzed me when I got my transformer (prun) that it was just an expensive toy... blah blah... as it turns out I use it for far more than playing games. Writing my blog counts as productive doesn't it? That's why I've christened it my prun(e) - productivity unit extraordinaire! His will just be a playbook ;-)

So - who got the best treats today? It was certainly Carm's turn!

Now back to the lovely day - I was outside in just a long sleeve top, no coat. I stuck my coat on to go for a little walk in the lower pond paddock - I need a place for dog treats and my camera, but no hat or mitts. My coat was open and I was still too hot! The snow had the texture that could only be had on a day like today – I can’t figure out how to explain it, but it was soft, but not fluffy. A bit granular, but still soft.

Carm washed the car while I was gone and then we sat with "lemonade" (water with a dash of lemon juice) on the front deck. Shirtsleeves in the sun. Oh hurrah - spring is on its way.

Do you watch Dr. Oz? Last night he had a program about anorexia. I was crying for those women - what a terrible, terrible affliction. The brain is such a fragile vessel. We were talking about it in the car this morning - Carm was having trouble understanding how someone could get to that place, but I pointed out to him that it wasn't that much different from my dark thoughts when depressed. My brain sometimes misfires or the wiring goes wrong so how hard is it to think that their wiring has gone bad too. The amazing thing though is that with the right help this wiring can be fixed. Did you know that there are proana sites on the web to ENCOURAGE people to do this to themselves. They "help" people to become anorexic. Shouldn't there be a law against that? But I guess that's what free speech is all about... (hey - don't get me wrong I'm all for free speech).

My pleasures today are pretty obvious: being outside in spring like weather ; lunch ; the texture of the snow ; dogs playing in the snow ; sitting on the front step with a glass of lemonade.

Our greatest glory is not in never failing but in rising up every time we fail
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Take Control of Your Destiny


This is another long post about bipolar so feel free to skip on by it if your aren’t interested!

Usually when people are diagnosed with an illness they want to know what they can do to help themselves. It was no different with me - after the initial shock I wanted to know what things I could do to minimize the hold of bipolar. Luckily I had a doctor who was all about treating people with more than just medications. Dr. Beck showed me many different things that I could do to minimize the effects of my illness. Sure, there will always be times when depression or mania push their way through my defences, but at least I could push back. Here is a list of my strategies, maybe they can work for you:

1. medication compliance

This is perhaps the most important one. It seems self evident, but there are times when it seems that they just aren't worth it (they are). The side effects of these medications vary from weight gain (who needs that!), brain fog, cogitative problems, tremors, dizziness, fatigue, high blood sugar, kidney damage... and the list goes on.  Oh I almost forgot - fatal rash. And then there are the times when I'm pretty sure I don't have bipolar at all - I must have been misdiagnosed... ha. Then I remember back to a few times when I was really bad - the deep depression, the times when I couldn't sleep for days on end, instead spending my nights organizing, online shopping, and other activities. Yes, there is no doubt about it - I need to keep taking those meds!

2. sleep

Going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day, as well as getting enough sleep is VERY important. I have found that mismanaging this aspect of my life can tip me over into hypo-mania (which is almost always followed by some depressed days). I think one of the reasons that I have been so well since retiring is my ability to successfully manage this - I almost always get enough sleep. During my working days I'd go to bed by 7:30 (yes, you read that right) because I had to be up at 5am and that still wasn't enough sleep (I seem to do best with 10 hours). Then on the weekends if we were out with family or friends and I got to bed later than 7:30 (as if!) I'd run the risk of being messed up. Even being asleep by 9:30 was a 2 hour shift. People didn't always understand this and I felt stupid for leaving so early. Now that I'm not working I go to bed later because I get up later which means I can have a more normal social life!

3. omega 3's, vitamin b's & d's

Here's an easy one to do - studies have shown that omega3's, especially those from fish sources have a big effect on mental health (not to mention the heart heath benefits). Vitamin D as well as the Vitamin B's have been shown to be beneficial as well.

4. exercise

This is a toughie. But it is really important. Sometimes I don't do it though...

5. manage stress

This can be easier said than done. I try to keep my schedule simple with a lot of down time in between commitments. As soon as I start rushing around from one event to the next my mood spirals up and hypo-mania arrives. When I was first diagnosed I worked full time, bred parrots, and bred horses. Talk about rushing around. I had to rethink this. With the support of my doctor I reduced my work week to 4 days, I rehomed the parrots (keeping Grace of course), and then the horses. These were some of the hardest things I've ever had to do, and many tears were shed (and still do) - I was giving up some much loved animals, and my dreams. But despite that I know it was the best thing for me.

6. spend time in nature

This is easy for me because I have nature at my doorstep. I also know that it is very important for mental state. I combine time outside with exercise by going for a brisk walk in the morning and early evening. Going outside to feel the sun and wind, and to see the trees and stars helps me to feel connected to nature. If I am mindful (see next section) I feel a calming presence and feel connected to the earth. Some people get a similar benefit from gardening but as much as I love looking at beautiful gardens I just can't get interested in creating one.

7. meditation and mindfulness and noting the pleasures in life

Meditation helps to clear my mind. This is a good thing, especially when my mind is spinning out of control. Both depression and hypo-mania involve out of control, unhealthy thoughts so practicing mediating is good (even if some times I can't slow my thoughts at all).

Being mindful (to me), means living in the moment. Again, the brain can't run every which way if I am being mindful. When  I am living in the moment the small things are noticed and appreciated. Simple things like the way the sun dapples through the leaves, the taste of a freshly cut pineapple, the cool feel of a spring rain. Noticing and even journaling these things reminds me that life is good. Living in the moment also means that I am not living in my head.

8. cognitive thinking

By being aware of my thoughts I can interrupt unhealthy thought patterns. We are a product of what we think - for the good or for worse. Practice self-affirmations and study cognitive thinking books. I have to be careful not to think myself into a depression!

Some other thing you can do: social attachments (keep in contact with friends, get out and see people, notice and connect with the people around you, including store clerks, the delivery man); good nutrition; avoid too much sugar (although a little treat of sugar can boost my depressed mood!)


I'll  be the first to admit that all of these efforts don't always work (as evidenced by the last few weeks) to stop a mood swing, but I suspect that they do dampen the severity of it.

If you've made it this far it is a miracle cause I sure went on and on! But I just want to show people (maybe someone reading this is at the beginning of their journey to wellness) that there are things you can do to take (some) control of your destiny - don't just give up! If you want more information about managing mental health I highly recommend the book "Spontaneous Happiness" by Dr. Andrew Weil. It is a compendium of bits and pieces I have learnt over the years. I think it is a book that everyone, mental illness or not, can benefit from.

Pink Glitter Swirl-(SHOLT)

“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon-instead of enjoying the roses blooming outside our windows today.”Dale Carnegie