Tuesday, September 30, 2014

WYL #24 Golden Years


The poster sized calendar hung prominently on my drab office wall, black X's blocking off all but the remaining working days. On my computer a 'days to go' message flashed every morning. No one needed to ask if I was looking forward to retirement.

I did feel some angst about leaving - this had been my life for almost 30 years, so much of myself was wrapped up in the computer systems and data in them. My core beliefs about managing data were mirrored in the work that I had done and there was no one that cared as passionately about the job than me. In some ways it felt like I was leaving a loved one. On the other hand, I couldn't leave soon enough. Thirty years of struggling to get people to do the right thing had taken its toll. It was time.

It was the day after Christmas and you could have fired a cannon down the halls. I wasn't keen on a public tearful goodbye and had chosen the day carefully. That morning I ran around from place to place getting sign offs and handing in equipment. Each stop felt surreal - I didn't believe it was finally happening, surely someone was going to jump out to say it was all a joke. Finally, a quiet lunch with my boss and I was out of there, carrying the last of my possessions in a box. Walking down the hallway to the elevator, my feelings swung between euphoria and a sadness at seeing that part of my life end. I'd been there for almost 30 years and overall it had been good. At the end of the hall I turned around to look back, thinking that if I never saw those drab beige walls again I would be happy.

The pleasures of a life not dictated by frustrated clients and broken software weren't long in coming. Waking up when I woke up was nirvana. No more 5am alarm clock to brashly start my day. Drab beige walls were replaced by windows bright with winter sun. Snow storms were enjoyed from the comfort of my sofa, with a hot beverage in hand, and a fire roaring in the fireplace, and not on icy roads in rush hour traffic. I wasn't frazzled.

Like a road untravelled, the future lay before me. I could do anything I wanted or nothing at all. I did both.  I had started a blog the month before retiring and this was one of my new daily activities. It was hard work at first, and a good substitute to all those hours at the office. I may have retired from my job, but I was still addicted to my computer, only now I was doing what I wanted!

Summer arrived with new pleasures. We had purchased our camper a few years earlier, but now it no longer sat lonely in the laneway week after week, instead we dragged it around from place to place, enjoying new scenery, enjoying our freedom.

As the months wore on I started to feel a need for a new goal, something that would engage my mind and imagination. Crafts aren't my thing (although I wish they were) and camping can only take up so much time. I have my blog, but it is limited in scope. My new hobby became improving our health and fitness. I spent hours on the internet looking for vegan recipes, and even more time at the kitchen chopping board.

Now and again I look back with regret at dreams that had to be given up, ones that would have come to fruition in my retirement years, but I only allow myself a few moments of reflection, before turning my thoughts back to what might be, instead of what can no longer be. The possibilities are endless.


We too can begin a new life, one that brings satisfaction and enrichment, whether this is by singing, dancing, running through the waves, walking barefoot on the grass or making love under the stars. Perhaps your dreams are greater than this, or perhaps more conservative, but whatever they are, Beltane is a wonderful time for expressing who you truly are. ~ Carole Carlton

Monday, September 29, 2014


Our big exciting Saturday night had us cuddled up on the couch watching the final show from last season of Dr. Who. Carm had rummaged through the pvr and by a stroke of good luck it was there. As the music started, for a moment I was whisked away to our house in Kanata. I was in my late teens, and my little brothers would have just finished watching some silly children's program (all I can remember is that there was a forest). Cue the Dr. Who music… I would only watch if I was supremely bored, it was so hokey and silly. Fast forward to now - no longer hokey, and some pretty good stories (including the horrifying Stone Angels).

Since we were primed for meeting the new Doctor, we viewed the first episode this evening. It will take a while to get used to the new doctor, but I think I'm going to like him.

The fitbit has encouraged me to get out walking a bit more, although maybe it just got me out the first time, and after that I've rediscovered the peace and feeling of wellbeing that I get as I walk down my trail.

Sunday night Jo Ellen and Don came for supper - after our conversation about influential people, we got on the internet to look up our mentor's phone number - we were going to "drunk dial" him (not drunk, but you know what I mean). I'm sure I don't have to tell you that we were very disappointed when there was no answer! How would you feel if someone that worked for you called out of the blue to say what a good influence you had been? I think it would be okay, although surprising.

The late night left me craving bacon and eggs, so we drove into the village for a treat. It reminded me of those first years at work - we'd go down to the basement of our office tower to Hemingways for coffee every morning. Some would just have coffee, a few would have toast, and the rest of us would have the bacon and eggs. It was cheap, and I didn't have much money - for just a couple of bucks I'd have a meal that would last me past lunch - but boy, it sure wasn't a healthy way to eat every day. After all those hundreds of plates you would think I'd be sick of it - but no!

Milestone worth remembering (for me!): septic tank pumped out today. It should be good until 2024 - WTF!!! 2024! What an impossible date.

I managed to snag a bit more time on the swing. Dried leaves fell down on me as if the trees were weeping brown tears, lamenting the disappearance of the sun. The earth is slowly going to sleep - if I stare and let my mind go almost blank I can feel the trees around me storing their life force into their roots, readying themselves to come to life next spring.

Yup. And I always will be. But times change, and so must I... we all change. When you think about it, we are all different people, all through our lives and that's okay, that's good! You've gotta keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be. I will not forget one line of this, not one day. I swear. I will always remember when the Doctor was me. ~Dr. Who (Matt Smith, just before he changes)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

How full of light and color

The road into the city was bordered with trees cloaked in splendid attire. Red was the predominant colour and the leaves glowed as if lit from within. I was intoxicated with the display. Of course I had not brought my camera, and am unlikely to get the light at just that perfect angle again.

We were making a special trip to the city for two reasons: 1) I was getting a fitbit; and 2) we were going to have Vietnamese noodles for supper!

The noodles were scrumptious as always - I've tried to analyse the flavouring so that I could duplicate it at home, but have never even come close. Drat cause I'd make it all the time - it is my favourite meal.


I'm wearing the fitbit now - the idea is to wear it 24/7 (hummm… I'm having thoughts of George Orwell - maybe this is a plot to get us used to wearing some permanent tracking device - we know where you are) - it fits lightly around my wrist and I can hardly feel that I'm wearing it. It is a huge black slash on my arm though! I'm HOPING that by tracking my steps I'll get just a bit more active. Has it helped today? Perhaps - I did make it around the field twice, and did a tiny bit of yard work.

Sleep patterns can also be tracked. With a few taps you tell it that you are going to bed and it records your movement to deduce if you are awake/asleep, and if your sleep is calm or fitful. Last night I just slept 7 hours, I was up out of bed a few times (I tend to get up and wander around), and I had a fitful sleep. How useful is this data? A trend might help me decide if I need extra meds. We shall see…

A dark shadow quickly passed over me and I looked up to see a Red-tailed Hawk circling overhead. It was flying low enough for me to make out its reddish tail and soft white underside. It circled me a few times before moving off to more fruitful hunting grounds.


I hadn't been out in the field since the hay was cut in July - clover and other grasses have grown knee high, making it tough to traverse. I'll wear my big, green, winter farm boots and get busy walking. With those heavy boots it won’t take long to tramp down a path.

The dogs were ecstatic, running as best they could through the tangled grass. By the time we were done 1 circuit, Spike was dragging behind - he had to work much harder, and it was hot out.


I love the soft autumn colours although it is strange to see them during a hot summer day. Yup - today got up to 26C - a summer day. Warm enough to keep the nasty beetles flying about!


How beautiful the leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days. ~John Burroughs 

Friday, September 26, 2014

WYL #23 Influential People

The following is what I read out at last weeks Writing Group. I did have to screw up a bit of courage to read aloud what I had written…


We all have had people throughout our lives that have influenced us, sometimes for the good, and unfortunately sometimes for the worse. Long ago I chose celebrate the good and as much as possible exclude the bad. I have been lucky, there has been much to celebrate.

The support and guidance from my parents, with their lessons on honesty, integrity, kindness, and humour, forged my core beliefs. While I have been influenced by many, without the foundation that I received from my parents, I may not have succeeded in so much. The same goes for my husband, Carm. He has been an influence in my life, and more importantly he has been a supporter of everything that I dream to do. He has stood beside me through many happy times, and has offered his helping hand when things were bad. Without the influence of these important people in my life I would not have achieved what I have done.


I was planning a gap year before entering university but had no job lined up and there weren't any interesting possibilities. My friend June and I sat at her kitchen table discussing my future. We were so engrossed in our discussion that we hadn't noticed Mr. Jenkins, Junes' father, come into the kitchen. He listened to our conversation as he poured himself a coffee, and then joined us at the table. He asked me a few questions then offered me temporary job on a contract to document master files that he had with the Department of Science and Technology. I had no idea what a master file was and didn't know how to type, but I jumped at the chance, not knowing that this decision would lead to a 30 year career in the IT business.

The first day of work was overwhelming; I remember a giant sheaf of computer paper with columns of words and numbers that made no sense to me - the elusive master files were buried in all that data. I had no idea what a computer was all about, let alone how to identify the files which somehow made up a 'system'. There was so much to learn but Mr. Jenkins and the other people on the project showed me the ropes.

Partway through the contract, Jack Drawbridge, the government manager of the project, was in my office with an offer. If I were to take a typing class he would hire me on a more permanent contract. I took the challenge, fumbling my way through an evening course for beginner typists. Every time my fingers fly over the keyboard I am grateful for that push.

Not only did Jack influence my career path, he would often drop by my office for discussions on computing theories. We'd sit on uncomfortable desk chairs, sometimes with a coffee beside us, and always with pen and paper for Jack to illustrate his theories. I don't think he could talk without a pen in his hands! There were rarely any arguments as he had easily convinced me from the beginning of the wisdom of his theories. I passionately believed the same things and based my whole career on working towards those exalted (if not impossible) goals.

Jo Ellen Welsford had also sat with Jack and was no less influenced by him than I. As my former boss, she rates highly in the list of influential people in my life. She not only influenced me in my career by having a strong work ethic, she was also a supportive and encouraging mentor that believed in my abilities. When I became ill and could no longer work to the levels that I had been working at, she did not turn her back on me. She encouraged me to keep going, even when it was hard, and pushed me so that I never gave up even when it seemed impossible to carry on. She helped give me a sense of purpose and the feeling that life was worth living.

Others who have influenced me include Karen Pryor, author of "Don't Shoot the Dog", a book about operant conditioning and positive re-enforcement. She changed the way I deal with not just animals, but also people. In the same vein, Pat Parelli gave me new ideas on how to relate to my horses and influenced the way I look at the world. My friend Pat Wolfe encouraged me to pursue my dream of breeding horses. His expertise in bloodlines and confirmation moulded my eye. It was my friend Ruth who influenced me during my parrot breeding years. She was a sounding board for husbandry questions, an uncritical ear when I got out of breeding, and now a good friend.


In 2004 things started to go wrong. Sitting in a large blue armchair, head in my hands, I listened to Dr. Becks pronouncement. I had bipolar disorder. It sounded like his voice was coming from far away as I processed this news. This was a life sentence, how could it be happening to me and would I survive it? Looking up, I tried to focus on his words and wished that Carm was with me as I knew I wouldn't remember anything.

In the first months after diagnosis, I railed against the injustice. It wasn't fair and I couldn't accept it. My illness and the drugs used to treat it had dulled my mind - I was used to using my mind to solve problems, I defined myself by my intellect, but now it had deserted me. Who was I now? I was scared that I wasn't me anymore. Over time the medications started working and I was able to function somewhat. Family, friends and my doctor helped me to discover that there was more to me than my intellect and that this was not the end, but the beginning of a new chapter.

Dr. Beck saw me weekly for years and most profoundly influenced my recovery. Visiting his office once a week and plunking myself down in the big, blue armchair became a comforting routine. I knew that I could lay bare my troubles, and that he wouldn't just pat me on my back with a 'there, there', but would help me to find my way. When my will to get better wavered, he pushed and prodded, and sometimes made me mad enough to do it just to spite him. Electrodes sometimes stuck to my forehead and in my hair as we used bio-feedback therapy to try to train my brain to feel better. We discussed the effects that food, sleep and social rhythms have on mental health. Not relying solely on medication, he used whatever therapy he had access to in the quest to bring me back to the land of the living. He convinced me that I had it in myself to get better, and taught me habits that I could use to stay well. Without his influence I might not be sitting here.

After six months at home, I started back to work two days per week. There were many times that I sat at my desk overwhelmed by the complexity of what I was supposed to do. Simple tasks took hours longer but thankfully co-workers picked up some of my workload and sheltered me from difficult clients.  Pep talks from co-workers reminded me to keep trying.

Those that helped me through those dark early days allowed me to become the person I am today. Without their help, I may have remained sick and without hope. It is these people that have influenced me the most..


Many dreams were dashed at the beginning of my illness, leaving me feeling rudderless and without direction for several years. Since retiring at the beginning of 2011, I've spent a few years working on my wellness, but needed to find something more concrete to focus my attention and efforts on. I started a blog as a way to exercise my mind and as a forum for practicing writing - writing was hard for me and I wanted to improve. Two years ago, by chance, I picked up a book of short stories by Alice Munro. Since then, I've read and re-read her writings, savouring her way with words, being inspired by her, wanting to be better able to express my thoughts. The passage of time is changing "I can't" into "I'll try".  Now, instead of passing my days in an aimless state, I'm writing, or thinking about writing, with Alice Munro as my inspiration. I have direction. My long term goals have not materialized in my thoughts just yet, but for now I will practice.

And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.

~Sylvia Plath

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Ladybug, Ladybug, Fly Away Home

Swarms of voracious ladybug imposters cover the trailer and all the doors into the house. While they are the subject of nursery rhymes, they should instead have stories told about them by the Grimm brothers. Envision a sweet little red bug with friendly black spots, and gaping jaws with dripping saliva. They make it impossible to spend anytime outside, and since they have enveloped the camper, packing for the next trip is fraught with peril. Last year we spent a few days vacuuming hundreds up from inside the camper - I hope to avoid that this year…

This morning I backed our giant truck into the nearly empty lot of the library, trying twice to get it between the lines. They hadn't laid out the spots for a vehicle as wide as the giant truck so it just barely fit. My little carry bag had my tablet as well as a written out copy of the writing assignment. It was writing club today!

I entered the library with a bit of trepidation - after making such personal revelations last week I wondered if I'd feel the effects. I try to ignore and fight stigma, but I know it exists.

We sat in the back corner of the library, chairs arranged in a loose circle. A copy of "Parrots for Dummies" jumps out at me from the shelf to my left, its yellow cover screaming out for further investigation.  Some sat on hard backed chairs, while others had gotten there early enough to snag big, comfy armchairs with little tables built in. I was one of the comfy ones - I did feel slightly guilty at being a newcomer and snagging a chair. After some initial chit chat we started reading our stories about the 'Golden Years'. Some had written about retirement, while others wrote about grandchildren and the activities they are doing now. I wrote about retiring. My hands were sweaty, and my voice shook a bit as I read my story (to be posted at a later date) - hopefully reading aloud to a group will become easier as each week passes. I suspect it will.

After the meeting, I sidled up to Heather and asked her if she would like to meet for coffee sometime. Better still, we'd go out for lunch today! As we stood around talking with a few other people, I felt like I was becoming part of the group. It felt good. I hadn't felt any stigma from anyone, quite the contrary - I felt welcomed - any everyone laughed at my jokes!

We drove through the village, slaloming around manhole covers, and other mid-construction impediments, till we got to George's, our local eatery. Over coffee and soup we yakked and yakked, getting to know each other. I'm loving this writing group thing!

Yesterday started a string of days that promise to be the nicest days of September, and wouldn't you know it, we had to come home. I did check to see if there had been any cancellations on our site, but no such luck. Still, if you have to tear down to come home, it is much more pleasant to do it in the sun!

As soon as we got home we got ourselves cleaned up and headed into town. Carm visited his mom, while I dropped in on my brother. A busy day for sure, but it was excellent to reconnect with family. There was a tapestry of color along the highway. Brilliant reds predominated.

We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect. ~Anaïs Nin

Monday, September 22, 2014

Mexican Independence Day

A family group of musicians played Mexican folk music, and authentic Mexican food was on the menu at Sol d'Acolpoco Saturday night. Alicia was celebrating Mexican Independence day at the restaurant and everyone was in on it. The waitresses wore colourful costumes made by Alicia's mother and sister. Once our meal was finished the music started in earnest and dancers spun across the floor. The only thing missing was a Mariachi band!

Sunday we had hoped for Deirdre & Chris to visit, but the prospect of being stuck in the camper all day in the pouring rain may have put them off! There was the occasional burst of blue through the clouds - I took my opportunity then to take the dogs for a walk, staying off the muddy roads except to cross them. There are some lovely grassy areas under a high canopy of trees that made for a nice walk… except for all the squirrels.

After yesterday's high of 18C, today's 8C is a bit of a shock. And with the wind it is a stereotypical fall day…

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Fifty Two Candles

The sun was shining brightly when my parents and brother Graham drove up with lunch on Friday. It had been cold overnight, hovering around zero, and it wasn't forecast to get very warm throughout the day, so I had put out blankets to wrap ourselves with.  There wasn't much wind and not a cloud in the sky - we were even able to take off our sweaters by mid afternoon.

We ate lunch and visited in the sunshine. Graham and I went for a walk through the woods and along the waters edge. We found tracks from two giant turtles that we either going into or out of the water, we couldn't tell which. A Blue Heron squawked at us when we disturbed it from its roost, its great grey wings carrying it to the sky like an ancient tryadactal.

When we got back to the campsite I saw that a beautiful birthday cake had been set out on the table: angel food cake with pretty flowers arranged about it. I've had angel food for my birthday for I can't count how many years. Mom quickly took some photos so that I could gather up the flowers and dash out of the site - the wasps were starting to swarm. I don't think it was the flowers they were after though - I think it was my Dad they wanted as they continued to buzz him for the rest of the afternoon.

I even got to open a big bag of presents - pretty etched glasses from my Mom & Dad. I felt spoiled!

By 4:30 they were on their way back home, and we settled in for a quiet evening. By the time supper was over it was too late to watch much of a movie, although we did watch part of a Marlene Dietrich flic.

A warm front came through overnight, along with strong winds - maybe not so strong as Presqu'ile though. The sun peeks out from between the clouds every so often, teasing us with the prospect of another beautiful day.

You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them. ~Desmond Tutu

Thursday, September 18, 2014


My hands shook as I opened up my tablet and selected the file. It was my turn and I was nervous. Everyone else had already taken their turn, reading their stories about the important people in their life and each had been interesting. With a gulp I started reading. The first part was easy, it was about my parents, Carm, and the people influenced my career. My speech started to slow… was I getting to the next part, the part that revealed me. I took a deep breath and continued. It was bound to come out sooner or later - after all this was a class about writing a memoir.

I couldn't write about the influential people in my life without including the people who saved me when I became ill, so i forged on. I didn't dare look up. There wasn't a sound other than my wavering voice - I wondered if they were in a stunned silence. It took a few, long moments after I stopped reading for anyone to say anything, but gradually discussion started and questions were asked, one lady had a bipolar brother, someone else knew somebody that was. I felt suddenly that I hadn't made a mistake. As the group broke up a few even make a point to tell me how brave they thought I was, and welcome to the group. Whew!

My 52nd birthday was spent as my birthdays are often spent. Just a quiet day with Carm and I. I slept in, we went to the golf course for breakfast, I walked the dogs, we had a steak dinner, and I was to bed early. Nothing spectacular, although if I had thought about it, I would have brought some sparklers from home!

We watched a Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart movie yesterday afternoon - "To Have and Have Not". It was their first movie together and when they first fell in love - you could feel the heat between them. I have a later one recorded - it will be interesting to see if the same sizzle is present.

It is mostly sunny but cool here today. I sat outside with a blanket around my shoulders to draw across me when the sun took a trip behind the clouds. The dogs are being driven berserk by the squirrels running everywhere. Bella stares intently out the windows for hours.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Friends Visiting our Camp

No rain, but cold for our trip down to Riverside on Sunday. We are glad for our little fireplace and furnace. It is cozy in here. It isn't raining, and there is only a little bit of wind, so we'll be okay. We'll just cuddle under blankets and read. Or watch movies. Too cold for Grace to go outside though. She knows it is cold out and doesn't make too much fuss about staying inside.

The dogs got their rabies shots on Saturday and I think it turned Spike into an energizer bunny. He jumped and hopped and wizzed around all day yesterday, as if he were on speed. Or maybe he was just cold having had a really short hair cut a few days ago. He watched out the window of the truck for our whole 45 minute drive here - I think he recognized the scenery. Then he did his whole repertoire of tricks while we were standing talking to some other campers. By Monday morning the effects had worn off and he was cuddled against my leg sleeping. Little devil.

(there are 20 or 30 Canada Geese and a dozen huge gulls surrounding the camper giving Grace something to look at!)

Bella has been glued to the window intently watching the scurry of black squirrels racing around collecting acorns for the long winter ahead. I'd love to turn her loose to have some fun!

"Grace sat in her cage staring at me with her beady eyes. She wanted something and I suspect it was my toast. I could see the wind moving the leaves in the trees outside her window. It didn't look warm. She must have been a bit cold as one of her feet was pulled tight into the ruffled feathers. If it weren't for her greediness about my toast I would have said she was content."

Ruth arrived Monday at lunchtime. Who ho! Our annual girls night :-)  Carm stayed for lunch then headed home for the night. He is pretty good natured when I kick him out. He would find our discussions about feelings and life too much to bear! Needless to say, Ruth and I had a great time (maybe a bit too great…).

Tuesday, Ruth left first thing in the morning. Carm dropped in on his way to golf (to drop off the internet). I didn't do much other than make myself presentable before Carm and his friend John were back from golf. I was too lazy to make supper, so we headed over to Sol d'Acolpolco for giant schnitzels. When it came time to pay, both Carm's and my credit cards were declined!!! WTF.

Twenty minutes on hold at a payphone on Wednesday let us know that MBNA had just CANCELLED all credit cards due to the Home Depot data security breech. No notice. No new cards mailed out. No doubt they have left 1000s of people in the lurch. To say we are not happy with them is an understatement.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Mad Dogs in the Rain

Rain. Cold rain. Furnace and sweaters kept us warm during the day on Saturday, except when we dashed out between the raindrops to load stuff into the camper. It is hardly camping weather, but tomorrow and the rest of the week is supposed to be better - my fingers are crossed.

Early in the afternoon we forced the dogs outside and into the truck for a trip to the vet. The annual rabies clinic was the happening thing this afternoon and we joined the show. Three dogs (two big and one very excited) take a lot of room in a line up that is squeezing into the small foyer of a vet clinic. Luckily I had stuffed my pockets with bits of dried hotdogs. The dogs were good for the 10 minutes wait - I still had a cache of treats left at the end. The lady in front of us had a miniature daschund that barked and she had it on a long flexi-lead… seriously. She let the dog go all the way behind the reception counter. I wonder how she thinks that that is okay? I wonder if she knows that people and dogs have had serious lacerations from those things? Fine for the great outdoors, not so good in a constricted area with multiple dogs and people milling about!

With a blanket around my shoulders, and my tablet on my lap, I sat on the sofa writing about the important and influential people in my life. I chose to focus on a few of the more influential ones, otherwise the chapter would turn into a book. I've been that blessed. This exercise has identified two major turning points in my life where the people around me have made a difference. The start of my career was one point. Being diagnosed with bipolar disorder was another turning point, and the people who influenced me then may have saved my life. Writing about their influence reminded me of how astoundingly lucky I am. An army of friends, family and co-workers have also helped me be who I am today. 

I think it was a worthwhile exercise, and I encourage you all to do the same thing. Next week, at the writing group, I'll be reading my page out loud (gulp), and then maybe I'll post it here.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Write Your Life

Thursday I joined a writing group at the local library. A facilitator leads the group to help with the process of writing a memoir. Writing a memoir is not my raison’etre but is a good exercise and as good a weekly writing prompt as any. Having a group of people to share the process is exciting and will surely keep me motivated.

The first exercise is to list 25-50 important people in your life – “those that have had significant influence on your life even if it was for a brief time”. Aside from the obvious family members I am having difficulty thinking of people for my list. Do your memories go far enough back to identify the people that were pivotal in your life? Rather than an exercise in writing, this one is proving to be one of reflection – how did I get “here”. What life changing decisions did I make and who helped me make them?

Speaking of important people in my life, last night we met up with Jo Ellen and Don for a sounder of swine – ribs that is, pig’s ribs. Gosh they were good, but the image of the truck that we saw on the 401 was at the back of my mind. Two floors of tightly packed pigs, their scared eyes peering out from between the slats almost made me give up bacon and ribs. It is easier to eat meat when you don’t look it in the eye as it makes its way to be slaughtered.

Today is the first day where it definitely feels like autumn. It is cool (10C), and while it was sunny at the beginning of the day, now it is cloudy and grey. There is a smell and feeling about the air that is September. I can’t pinpoint what makes up the essence – perhaps slightly turning leaves and blue asters colour more than the landscape.

I spent the morning loading up the caravan for our next camp – we are hoping for a warmer fall than summer!


You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. ~C. S. Lewis

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


After posting to my blog on Saturday I fired up the mapping software for some fantasy routing. With a stop on Lake Ontario before heading to the Titanium Rally in Niagara Falls next summer we could potentially dip our toes in all but one Great lake next summer. We would traverse Ontario orchards, the bare skeleton of the shield, vast expanses of prairies, and jutting mountains if we follow the route that I laid out. It is too early to cast in stone or even do more than flirt with the idea.

One of these years, we'll spend our fall mapping out a trip to the southern U.S.. But not yet as we have family commitments here that make such a long trip unfeasible. An escape from winter does sound like a dream though!


On Sunday I joined up with my Mom & Dad and brother Graham for an excursion to where my great(7) grandparents settled when they emigrated from Scotland in the early 1800s.  My mom was able to get in touch with the current owners, who generously offered a tour. The 100 acre farm lies in an area in Ontario that is not farm friendly. Outcroppings of rock punctuated the farm's fields. Still more stone showed itself in the wide, low fences that embraced each clearing - proof of two centuries of picking the stones grown in the thin soil. Pockets of dense woods remained as a reminder of what once was. Looking at the beautiful farm we could only imagine the strained muscles, blisters, and sheer force of will that it took to carve out the wilderness.


The owners were kind enough to let me bring a little stone from the foundation that once housed my ancestors. It is on my mantle as a reminder of what will power can do.

When I have time to do more research, I'd like to write a semi-factual post about what their lives must have been like. I'll post the rest of the photos then.



Monday afternoon I went over to Christina’s house so that I could admire her garden and go for a walk in the beautiful countryside. Christina and her family are dairy farmers so know what hard work is all about.




Tuesday was a day for appointments and shopping – a total waste of a beautiful September day. Wednesday the poodles got hair cuts, and everyone got a bath. They weren't thrilled with the beauty treatments, but resigned themselves to the torture. This time I didn't make the mistake of turning the ceiling fan on!

A bang head on the wall headache tormented me the rest of the day. I don't get them often, but boy, when I do they are wicked.


Land lasts longer than blood or love. It is not like a river. ~Annick Smith

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Squadrons of Dragonflies

With dragonflies darting like high performance helicopters, against a sky streaked with indigo and washed pink, we savoured the last of our supper. The day had been perfect – hot and sunny with the breeze gently caressing us. It started out slowly: coffee and books were enjoyed under the shade of the awning. A lunch reminiscent of my childhood - hotdogs and chocolate milk - was gobbled down just in time for our first guests to arrive.


Bill and Brenda were the first to come that afternoon. The sun was still high in the sky, heating up our skin till it craved the cooling waters. Dianne and John were next to arrive, chairs in hand. We caught up with them for a bit, then Brenda and I splashed into the water and bobbed in her noodle chairs. The water was perfect with just enough wave to lull us into total relaxation, and cool enough to refresh.


Before we were pruned, we made our way to shore and scrambled up the little cliff. Once in our yard, I noticed that all the chairs were filled and by the time my eyes refocused, Uncle Ken and Marilyn were getting up to greet us. They had come by to surprise us with the makings for supper. We had already planned to join forces with Bill and Brenda for supper, but of course we had room for two more. I dashed into the camper, water dripping down my legs, to dig another steak out of the freezer (yes, carnivores for one night).



After our feast, we waddled over to Bill & Brenda’s campsite for a fire. No marshmallows for me though – I was stuffed from the cornucopia of food at supper. By 9pm I my head was nodding and my eyelids drooping, so headed back to our place knowing that there’d be no sleep in for me the next day. Uncle Ken & Marilyn took their leave as well.

UK & M surprised me with bag full of Marilyn’s artwork. I’ll be sure to find a few patches of wall at home to display them – it will be a trick as I don’t have much paint showing – most walls are windows!

The mammoth task of packing up greeted us on Friday morning… As it turns out we got ourselves organized much faster than anticipated, leaving time for a last swim! Bill and Brenda joined us in the crashing waves. Walking back to shore with the waves shoving against my legs, propelling me back to land, I felt a choking in my throat – we were going home and I didn’t want to leave my watery prairie…

Tearful goodbyes were made and we were on our way home.

We got home safely and just in time as it is a rainy day today. The dripping of water off the trees matches the tears in my heart, but already they are drying as I look to the future and what delights it might hold.  We have a few more camps left this autumn, and then the long cold winter to plan for next summer.


Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.

~Dr. Seuss

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Seventeen Flowers

On our walk the other day we counted 17 different kinds of wildflowers. Some would call them weeds, but not me. Did you know that a stand of Goldenrod smells like a pot of honey?

Here are some photos with Uncle Ken and Marilyn:




Last day - tomorrow morning we make the trip back home. I have mixed feelings: on one hand I'd like to stay here forever; on the other hand, getting up at 6:30 or 7:00 to walk the dogs is getting old. I'd love a proper sleep-in!

It seems so long ago that we were back home and rushing about. We feel like we've actually had a summer too.


Yesterday was a gorgeous day - our second last full day here. We read and relaxed all day. Brenda and Bill came over around 2:30 for a swim, and before you knew it the time had come to go our separate ways to make supper. It is supposed to be even nicer today - the plan is much the same as yesterday's except today we'll do a joint supper with Brenda and Bill.


I stopped reading the book that I had been reading (I won't say which one in case it is one of your favourites!). It was horribly written, so choppy and repetitive. It was tedious. I didn't feel that I was improving myself. I've switched over to Carol Shields' "Larry's Party". The first paragraph told me that I'd made the 'write' decision. I think it is better to read 'how to do it' rather than 'what not to do'!

I've hardly written anything these past weeks – lazy I guess. I installed a writing prompt app the other day - today it inspired me to write something about mornings when I worked. My Aunt Kristine has suggested some ideas for getting past this block and I plan to try them. She has also been helping me with improving one of the stories that is underway and has given me some fantastic feedback. She's so positive and encouraging. I do have one piece of fluff that I want to proof a few more times before I post it. Who knew that writing would be come a hobby for me, but if I think about it, writing a blog post almost every day for close to four years set me on the path!

The Queen Anne’s lace that was in full bloom when we got here is now shrivelled up…


For the two of us, home isn't a place. It is a person. And we are finally home. ~Stephanie Perkins

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Racing By

The days are starting to race by now - just a few more full days left and then we'll be home. We've starting thinking about what we'll do next summer and are torn between a few extended camps here, or maybe another trip out west. We'll savour the decision making process.

The weather has been mostly good the past few days. Sunday morning we had some rain, but then it cleared into a glorious afternoon. Monday was also cloudy to start, but then cleared into a beautiful day. Both days were warm and somewhat muggy. Tuesday started off sunny, but a thick fog and low clouds descended on us. I've been trying to dry some clothes outside, but I think they are getting wetter!

Just past 9am on Sunday there was a knock on the RV - it was John from next door with a hose all stretched out to fill our fresh water tank. Carm rushed out and gave him a hand, and before I knew it they were lost in conversation. After they got the hoses put away, Carm disappeared into their camper. I putzed around our place: I read, vacuumed, washed the floor, showered, read a bit more, and still Carm wasn't back, so I traipsed next door to make sure he wasn't over staying his welcome. He and John were deep in conversation about math theory or some such scintillating topic - Dianne seemed happy when I invited her over to our place for some tea! The men ended up back at our place after an hour or two and we spent more time talking. It was around 2pm when they left! A lovely way to spend the day.

Dianne is quite afraid of dogs, but it wasn't long before she had Bella and Spike by her side for pets, Kabira even gave her a gentle sniff. I was happy that our pups made her feel welcome. Speaking of which - Monday afternoon another Titanium moved into the site next to us. Carm struck up a conversation - the guy was having trouble with his stairs so Carm sent him over to see ours. Kabira and Bella barked and barked at him. I had a hard time calming them down, and had to hold Kabira who was growling. That is not like her at all! Such a different welcome than the one they gave Dianne.

Monday night we had the pleasure of being treated to supper by my Uncle Ken and his girlfriend Marilyn. We had a lovely time with them - they are both full of stories that they love to share. We went to 'the Boathouse' which had all you can eat fish on Monday's. It was good fish with a light batter, but OMG - I was so full! We've had more fish and chips than we'd have in 2 years at home. And enough fatty food to last a lifetime. Holidays are a pretty good excuse!

Thankfully, all that fat did fuel me on an hour walk this morning. It was hot and muggy, even at 7am - I had to go for a swim when I got back.