Tuesday, December 27, 2016

ice queen

We kept power all day and night yesterday, so it was with a big sigh of relief that I pulled the plug on the bathtubs. Another power outage dodged. With freezing rain coming down all day we were housebound for Boxing Day: no family dinners, no outings to the shopping malls, no friends coming over to share our dinner.

Getting the dogs outside was fraught with peril, anytime they dashed out they all wiped out and turned around to skitter back to the house. Finally by 9pm the temperature had edged up above freezing, so, in the pouring rain, Carm chopped at the ice on the front deck and steps down to ground level. He had to take each dog on a leash away from the house so they would take care of business - there was no way they were going out into the rain willingly.

This morning much of the ice had melted, except for the thick sheet that covers the laneway. Thank goodness for my icers. They have metal grips on them and strap to my boots. I keep a pair of them permanently deployed on an old pair of boots.

Cooking onions and garlic fragrance the air. Supper will be a mushroom onion soup with lentils and red rice.  

We got an email this afternoon telling us that we can start booking our excursions for our Mediterranean trip - that is sure to banish some of these winter blues. And it is less than 3 weeks till my trip to New Zealand!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Merry Christmas

The little tree twinkles bravely against the window frosted with freezing rain. I'm twinkling bravely too. Christmas has changed, as it probably has for you. With the passing years, family growing and shrinking, moving and returning, Christmas changes. For some people it is for the better, however, it doesn't seem better to me. This year was the first that there was no Christmas morning at my parent's house - I'm not gonna lie and say that this was joyous. It does show me that we have to work hard at making new traditions - I have a few ideas.

On Christmas Day Carm and I spent the afternoon at his sister's house with Maria, Jack and their sons & wives and our three grand nephews. It was fun. When we got home we recovered from all the feasting and finally by 7 felt ready for our bottle of champagne and a few nibbles, while we watched 'Sound of Music'. We should have gotten home earlier so we could have gone to Montreal for a couple of hours, but with the dogs it didn't seem possible.

Today Environment Canada is calling for heavy freezing rain so we are stuck at home again. The planned trip to Montreal has been cancelled and instead we filled buckets, bathtubs and bins with water in case the power goes out. The 1998 ice storm is always in our mind when freezing rain is in the forecast. Nine days without electricity makes one a little nervous for a repeat. At this exact moment it is pouring.

We did have a lovely Christmas Eve dinner with my parents and brother Graham. It was a very adult time with no kids to leap around with. We all grow up, even when we don't want to!

I flung open the curtains in the bedroom Thursday and was greeted with a winter scene straight from a Christmas Card. The trees, including the ones right outside the window, were piled with snow. I should have gotten out to get a few photos but was too lazy. It wasn't just the tree branches that were covered with snow. Oh no, the decks and laneway had several cm piled on as well. It was warm and even inched above freezing which made the snow heavy, perfect for snowmen.

It didn't take me long to get the deck cleared though - I've got a method now. At least for when there isn't a foot of snow - that will require a different approach.
Friday night we snuggled up on the sofa to watch 'Rudolph the red-nosed Reindeer', a tradition that goes back several years. We've seen this 1965 production for years and it never fails to delight. I like it better than 'Charlie Brown Christmas' (but the music rocks - I have the soundtrack).

Well, I feel better now that I've gotten all that off my chest, so, with a smile on my face and love in my heart, I wish you all a Merry Christmas :-)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

all aglow

Christmas has half heartedly stuck its nose into the house. Yesterday, our little artificial tree, still decorated from last year, was carried triumphantly upstairs by Carm. I eased the dust shroud from its shoulders and plugged in the lights. 'Lights all aglow', a token nod to Christmas. I've been so lethargic these last few weeks that I can't get the house clean, let alone anoint it with baubles that will also have to be dusted and eventually put away. I usually delight in setting the scene, but this year I'm not sure where my energy has gone.

Today the sun is shining strongly and the temperatures have warmed to zero, or possibly just above. Droplets of melting snow can be heard tinkling down the rain spouts like a pied piper calling me outside. My fleece pj bottoms clung to my legs (that's the problem with fleece, it is too darn static), my heavy green farm boots bunching them around my knees as I stepped outside the door, the first of many forays. Coat, hat, boots, coat, hat, boots, every time I stepped outside it was the same thing - precisely the problem with winter.

I wish there was somewhere to walk the dogs, but alas, the field is socked in with snow tall enough to tip into my high boots, and with a crust a few inches down it was too hard for Spike to break through. I guess if he really wanted to he might have put more effort, but since I wasn't forcing the issue we both gave up and stuck to the laneway. Kabira took one look at what we were trying to do and fled to the front steps. Bella was game as always.

On one of my trips out, I took some old peanuts and spread them on the ground for the squirrel. It turns out the crows have a taste for Onion Garlic peanuts from Picard's as well. A battle raged across the dazzling snow. The squirrel was the aggressor: he wasn't for sharing.

The sun shone and even if it was low on the horizon it was a welcome sight. It even graced the walls of my bathroom while I luxuriated in a late afternoon bubble bath. The golden light ignited a few minutes of 'peaceful easy feeling'.

Yesterday we made our first reservations for next years camping. Hurrah, there will be a Titanium Reunion of sorts after all. It will come hot on the heels of our trip to the Mediterranean. Life is rough ;-)

"Nature has many scenes to exhibit, and constantly draws a curtain over this part or that. She is constantly repainting the landscape and all surfaces, dressing up some scene for our entertainment. Lately we had a leafy wilderness; now bare twigs begin to prevail, and soon she will surprise us with a mantle of snow. Some green she thinks so good for our eyes that, like blue, she never banishes it entirely from our eyes, but has created evergreens." ~Henry David Thoreau,

Monday, December 19, 2016

the heavens wear a look of a more exalted simplicity

In the wake of Saturday's snowstorm were freezing temperatures, and, of course, heaps of snow. The wind was swirling an icy dance when we went out yesterday afternoon: Carm with the snowblower and me with a shovel. I pulled my coat hood more tightly over my head and got to work. Front step, check. I laboured over the back deck. I was tucked out of the wind, but the snow was piled high with a crispy layer of ice to keep my shovel from slipping easily.

I would have liked to quit, but the sound of the snowblower in the front guilted me on. I could hardly winge out and let Carm finish, that would hardly be fair after he did the whole laneway. I got mad when I realized I wasn't wearing my fitbit. Then the sun came out, luring me to the end of the deck where a narrow blaze of sun sparkled. The low sun cast a pink light over the snow in the field. It was beautiful. I quickly got back to work so that I could get my camera and capture this beauty on 'film'. I was reminded that winter isn't just dark and cold. It is also diamonds in the snow, and beautiful light, and the sight of soft snowbanks. I remembered to straighten my back so I could look up and see the spruce trees iced with white fondant. I suddenly saw the tracks of a lone rabbit. I've been in such a funk that I had forgotten to take notice and find pleasure in Nature's beauty.

There have been other pleasures to brighten my days. Spike is still getting the drops in his eyes and he is so good about it my heart melts. We put a mat on the table that I lift him onto so us old folks don't have to crouch down. I tell Spike that it is time to get his eyes done, and he comes from wherever he is sleeping to be lifted onto the table. He stands quietly while each eye is pried open and a precious drop is medicine is dropped in. He gets a treat and then I lift him back down. He does all this without trying to hide, nor a whimper or a winge.

Are you all enjoying one of the seasons tastiest offerings? I'm on my second carton of eggnog, a special one made with milk and cream and other real ingredients. No milk-by-products for this nog. It is rich and delicious and terribly fattening. I do a partial re-enactment of happy hour on the ship, but instead of two drinks, I make do with one.

"He who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in winter.... In winter the stars seem to have rekindled their fires, the moon achieves a fuller triumph, and the heavens wear a look of a more exalted simplicity." ~John Burroughs

Saturday, December 17, 2016

an ordeal getting food

When we got home I told the dogs that they better appreciate the ordeal that we had gone through to get their meat. There weren't even ruts in the snow to follow on our way to the pickup place - either the snowplows had done other routes, or hadn't come out at all. Our 40 minute drive took 60 minutes.

Normally we wouldn't have poked our heads out on a day like this, but there is no other option for the dog meat. The 'guy' delivers to a drop off place 70km from here and only once a month. We get to the location and everyone lines up waiting for him to arrive. The bad weather slowed him down too so we had to wait in the freezing cold for 1/2 hour. When it is our turn we give him our money and get our bags of frozen meat bricks. We try to load the freezer so that we don't have to go every month.

You learn a few things standing in the cold like that. I learned that my new boots suck at keeping my feet warm. The sole is way too thin - maybe an insole will help. My blundstones have always kept my feet warm even though they aren't lined at all. It must be the sturdy rubber sole. Sadly the bottom of my current pair is crumbling so I used a (not so) proper winter boot.

It took ages to get warm: hot cocolate, jammie pants, fluffy blanket and finally a hot bath with a side of not so great movie. Still, what better afternoon to cocoon at home.

Friday, December 16, 2016

bundled up against the chill

This morning (and still), the edges of the windows were gilded with ice topped with a frosty glaze. Yes, it is cold out - there is no denying winter's imminent arrival when the temperature is stuck at -18, colder when you factor in wind chill. The dogs dash out and are back inside in an instant. No playing and hunting that squirrel that lives behind the camper.

The birds are huddling against the bird feeder and the little red squirrel scurries on the ground collecting the fallen seed, his fur fluffed up and tail curled over his back like a shawl.

We haven't been doing anything exciting lately. We were out for Chinese food with Trudie & Leo on Sunday and of course they came back to our place for a longer visit. Monday was spent with my head figuratively under the covers - I haven't been feeling so great the last week or so and tend to cocoon if my resolve to fight it wavers. I couldn't even be bothered to even do the things that I know will keep my mind healthy. Maybe it was winter stopping me. Cold, blowing snow will do that to a person.

Tuesday was dr. appointment day. My dr. is only working a few mornings a week as she is recovering from Guillain-Barre syndrome, which put her in the hospital for two weeks. Scary that something so devastating can come out of the blue. We stopped at Costco afterwards where I picked up a bathing suit which is one size too small… not very encouraging (eat more cookies, it will feel better).

Wednesday we went into town again. This time to visit Carm's mom (who still remembers who I am), and some shopping. I tried on 'the dress' that I've been obsessing over for a month - it made me look like a frumpy box. I was so disappointed… visions of Carm and I floating on the dance floor during our Mediterranean cruise were dashed…(drink some eggnog/ sans liquor, it will feel better).

Thursday Christina came over so that I could help her find a flight to Zurich. We found something, but there are lots of combinations that are totally ridiculous with hours of layover in crazy airports.

Today I am bundled up against the chill and wondering what I could do to shake off this funk. Pulling the covers over my head is only acceptable for a few days but now it is time to take action. or not.

… a little while later…

I was thankful for my warm down coat when we went into the village for a few things. On our way to the hardware store we passed the pharmacy which offered free flu shots. I don't get them every year, but since I'm going away in Jan I didn't want to take a chance, so I got jabbed. Then we went to the grocery store so I could look at the eggnog. I picked some up at the corner store the other day that is said to be the best around - it is excellent with an impressive ingredient list (milk and cream are the first two ingredients), but is expensive. The grocery store brands were about a buck cheaper but had ingredient lists that read like a chemistry experiment. I'll luxuriate in milk and cream… yum… almost addictive… really fattening… I'll burn it off on the hills of Wellington.

Back from our errands, I've changed into fluffy pajama bottoms and am cuddled under a blanket with a steaming cup of tea with lemon and honey.  Carm is on the computer looking for cruises for next winter.

Some say squirrels are rats with tails, and so they may be
But in my eyes, they are creatures both wild and free
I smile as I see two of them race up and down a tree”

Sunday, December 11, 2016

new adventures

The after motion has abated, but the glow of excitement has been rekindled. Why? Friday we got together with Jo Ellen and Don to book a Mediterranean cruise for the spring! We are both super excited about this - Carm will finally visit Italy. We also visit Spain, France, Greece and Turkey (today Turkey is cancelled and some other Greek islands are added).

It has taken me several days to recuperate from the Caribbean; I wonder how long it will take for the next trip? Or the one after that? I have to figure out a way to get a little more rest, including some quiet time by myself. I love all the socializing, but it wears me out.

Spike started squinting Friday afternoon and it was quickly clear that he has another eye infection. The first was last May but we didn't have any antibiotics left so it was another trip to the vet. Dr. Shackleton gave him a thorough examination and sent Spike home with a little bottle of eye drops. I wished that my doctor gave the same service. I expect that it has something to do with payment (how much does a human doctor get for a visit like this?).

I must remember to visit the vet clinic before our next trip and give them the go ahead for a certain amount on our account, just in case something happens. It doesn't need to be a catastrophic event to require a trip to the vet: eye infection or impacted anal glands require a visit as well.

The laundry from our trip is done, and much of it is refolded and packed in either my suitcase for NZ or the suitcase for the Med. Crazy I know, but this way we'll keep a set of clothes in new condition, and not slightly worn out and faded. Plus, why put everything away just to get it out a few weeks later? There are a few things I won't be bringing with me to NZ (formal dress being one of them), and a few extras for wearing around Kirsten's farm. It is just slightly over 1 month until I leave.

Last night we attended Laurie & Kevin's annual neighborhood Christmas party. She had her house beautifully decorated, setting the stage for a wonderful evening. I enjoy everyone's company so much and wonder why we don't see them more often.

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
~Marcel Proust

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Home sweet home

We have been back (safe and sound) since late Sunday night, or more accurately early Sunday morning. Pat had stayed the night so we were assured that if something delayed our arrival all the feathered and furred ones would be okay.

Sunday was a long day. We were both awake long before the 6:30am alarm and after showers made our way up to the breakfast buffet. A bite of quiche, some smoked fish, and a few slices of melon started our day. It was disembarkation day… return to home day… vacation over day.

The ship was well organized for getting 3600 people off and onto waiting busses. We had booked a tour for the morning as our flight wasn't scheduled to leave until almost 8pm. The tour guide was interesting, giving us history of the everglades and all the environmental f__ups that had happened over the years. Our first stop was for a boat tour of the everglades and a show featuring some big gators. We had a good time.

Next stop was a botanical garden with some native and exotic inhabitants. All the birds and animals were rescued from unfortunate circumstances. First we boarded a trolley for a ride through the extensive property. Then we wandered around the rest of the gardens until it was time to go. We zipped through the gift shop (hurrah for me no stopping - memories of my trip with Dad to Jordan flashed in my head - there wasn't a shop we passed that we didn't find something wonderful), shared a giant slice of key lime pie then boarded the bus (which had wifi).

That was it, the holiday was over and we were dropped at the airport for a 6 hour wait. It was a long time with not much to see. We ate mediocre pizza and surfed the internet. Everyone was too tired for much else. At least I was.

So there we are: 8 nights of adventure for 2 homebodies. Would we do it again? YOU BET! Next time somewhere more exotic, like the Mediterranean. And maybe a few nights longer.

General thoughts:

It was nice feeling confident that the pets were in good hands and I hope Pat had a good enough time that she’ll do it again. The dogs were sleeping in her bed and Grace was letting Pat scratch her head so I guess we weren’t missed all that much.

I gained 1 pound, and should have walked more. We enjoyed the company of Jo Ellen and Don and would cruise with them again. I need to take a bit more time where it is quiet - I'm an introvert and never got the chance to recharge and started getting cranky.

We mostly ate at the buffet: the food was good and convenient. We went to one formal night - I was too tired for the second one - it was fun to get dressed up. I'd eat at the dining room one more time. We had a meal at specialty dining - I'd eat there earlier in the cruise as I think we'd appreciate it more. Happy hour was a good idea.

I liked the location of our stateroom even though it was just above the theatre - it was also one flight down to the piazza where all the bars and entertainment were. A balcony is a mandatory feature. We did lots of stairs. The buffet was on the 16th Lido deck which was too many flights to walk up.

Entertainment was excellent. The production shows were very professional. The comedian was okay. The impersonator made me laugh - I might have enjoyed that show the most.

Internet was expensive at $1 a minute, but I managed to post a few blog entries quickly. The buses in Dominican Republic and Ft. Lauderdale had wifi. We found wifi at a bar in St. Thomas.

I saw a bracelet that I really liked  but didn't buy it. It has been gnawing on my brain since. Note to self: sometimes it is okay to be a bit extravagant. Other souvenirs were from street vendors. I didn't buy anything with 'Princess' on it.

Our excursions were interesting. Some focused on taking us to shops, while others showed us the scenery and had some interesting highlights. One tour had 4 rum tastings before noon :-o  Antigua had a rum punch. Hummm… those were the tours we liked the most - which had nothing to do with the rum. We saw lots of stray and loose dogs. The tours are a bit of a blur now as they were similar. St Thomas had an open air bus which hurtled up and down and around the hairpin steep roads. Carm was in the seat nearest the edge and says he was terrified.

Either my camera or the memory card screwed up, leaving me with fewer photos than I took. I should have brought my big camera after all.

Talking to so many different people was fun. Everyone was friendly and seemed to be having a good time. Several times the conversation turned to politics - not Carm's doing!!! People are concerned about what the future holds for their country.

I felt that I was suspended in a bubble cut off from reality. Time seemed to move randomly. It took a while to get used to feeling so disconnected - I'm not sure if I liked it.

We had fun!

I still have after motion!

And I woke up to snow the morning after we got home :-(

Friday, December 2, 2016

Port day 3: Antigua

Yesterday’s stop at Antiga was lovely, after we finally got on the bus. A long line up faced us, probably no longer than the other days, but the sun was shining strongly and I was maybe a bit grumpy from being kept up late as Carm watched ‘Spectre’ on the rooms TV. Well, eventually we got on the bus and started our tour.

We drove through the town and out into the countryside, up and over the hills to the other side of the island. The dwellings ranged from poor bungalows to upscale mansions. There was hardly any garbage (unlike Porta Plata in the DR). There were fruit trees of ever variety. And loose dogs walking around (fewer that DR, and many wore collars).

After winding our way through the country side we came to the top of a large hill with the scant remains of a fort. The views were tremendous.

Back in the bus we zoomed down the hill to the remains of Nelson’s harbour. Huge sailboats and motor boats were lined up on the dock. We toured through the old buildings, had a rum drink (part of the tour), and boarded the bus.

Back at our port we tottered around looking at the shops, then mounted some steps to a small bar with free wifi. We had a local beer (2 for $5), checked our email, and posted on facebook. We are back on the boat now for 2 sea days so internet will be limited.

Today is hot with a mix of sun and cloud and high humidity. We might spend some time on the balcony, but to be honest I could just have a nap.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Port day 2: St. Thomas

Port day 2: St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands

We were late to port this morning, wind and a late departure yesterday (people late back to boat) slowed the schedule down 2 hours. Lucky for us we had chosen a 1pm excursion so weren’t effected by the change.

Carm went up to the top to watch us come into port while Jo Ellen, Don and I watched from the comfort of our balcony. The air was warm and humid which nicely distracted us from thoughts of the impending December 1st with Christmas soon to follow.

A sort of light lunch was enjoyed at the buffet (I had some sort of sandwich and Carm had a Reuben) then it was off to our excursion.

The open air bus drove around like crazy, from one lookout to the next, each festooned with all sorts of touristy gift stands. The heat and humidity had us sweating like crazy, but you didn’t hear a word of complaint from any of us Canadians: we were happy to be out of the snow. It was a fun day (but not as much fun as yesterday), but I can’t say the excursion was wonderful. I suppose there just isn’t that much to see.

The bus dropped us off at the shops at the end of the pier and we made our way slowly back to the ship, stopping at a few shops looking for a pandora (like) charm for my braclet. I found one for $5. We almost got talked into a $200 bracelet, but I was strong. It was pretty though and I’ll probably regret not going for the ½ price deal.

We met up with Jo Ellen and Don on our balcony and enjoyed the view while we sipped wine. Can’t think of a nicer way to spend some time, especially on Nov 30th!

Supper, balcony, wander around downstairs, a great show (musical impersonator), drinks in the Piazza, back to balcony to watch the cast off, and here we are. Ready to do the fastest internet post - at $1 per minute there is no lingering!

1st port day: Amber Cove, DR

First port stop: Amber Cove,  Dominican Republic

I’m behind a day, I was so exhausted after a long day that I fell into bed and slept through ‘Batman vs Superman’.

The alarm clock had rung at 6am (yes, me, 6am) and we rushed out to see the docking. Oh my, this is going to be a this and that with not much interesting post. We saw the ship pull into port then grabbed breakfast at the buffet. We couldn’t dilly dally as we had to be at the exursion meeting spot at 8:10. As it turns out, we should have gotten there earlier as we were near the back of the bus, which required much waiting to get in and out at every stop.

The guide was informative, giving all sorts of information about the DR, but unfortunately I don’t remember a thing. Oh, the bus had wifi which is why I was able to do a quick post on FB and to touch base with Pat.

The first stop was the rum factory… two tastings later and we were on the bus for the next stop. The little shop (probably the guides friends or family) had lots of pretty larimar jewlery and I  got sucked into a necklace. We were treated to some kind of rum, wine and honey brew that was lovely and packed a punch. We were ready for the next spot.

The home of the man who liberated DR from the Spanish was interesting and full of history. I’m afraid I tend to tune out after a while and don’t remember a thing (did the 3 rum drinks have anything to do with this?) There was a tasting of coconut rum at the end of this tour. Please know that they aren’t pouring you a big shot, but only a sip or two!

Unfortunately it started raining when we got to the gardens of some person or other. I didn’t get any photos but there were some amazing orchids. We had a traditional DR lunch here, on the second story underneath some clear panels. It felt like we were in the tree tops and defineatly not at home.

We made it to a the ruins of a fort. We looked around a bit, but unfortunately I wiped out on the stairs going down from a tower and didn’t much feel like looking at anything else. While we were there we picked up another necklace of larimar.

Back at the ship we visited in Jo Ellen and Don’s cabin for a bit then went to the buffet for an early supper. Apparently the buffet has everything that is on the dining room menu, but we get to choose an assortment. Eating in the dining room was nice, but it is more convienient to go when we want.

We went early to the theater so that we could grab some good seats and was entertained by another great show. It is amazing that the dancers can do their thing on the rocking stage. We had a pretty good swell last night so the boat was rocking and rolling. I wondered if I might get nausous but was thankful not to.

And there we have it, a busy day with lots to see and do. The weather was so so: mostly cloudy with some showers. Where is the Caribbean blue sky?

oh, my tablet is not reading the card from my camera so no photos until we get home.


I feel like I am suspended in a void  where neither time nor space exist. I feel disconnect from everything. We spent much of yesterday (Monday), inside due to the wind, and even though we tried to find windows, the expanse of water around us made me feel like I was in a Dr. Who episode.

Not to say we didn’t have a lovely day - we did. Our morning was seperate from Jo Ellen and Don as we are later risers, so Carm and I had breakfast at the buffet alone. Not really alone as we were sitting next to Julie and Dave from St Louis. After a pleasent conversation, which did nip into politics (not Carm’s doing!), we wandered around the ship, checking out the exercise deck and doing some laps, Carm shot some hoops. Back down into the guts of the ship we stumbled on Don and Jo Ellen. They had snagged comfy sofas next to a window.

The day passed much like that, highlighted by a relax at Happy Hour, followed by a nap in our cabin. That brought us to the time to get dressed up in our fancy clothes for formal night. Carm looked dashing in his new suit, and I accompanied him in a well worn dress, and sporting cleavage.

We met up with Jo Ellen & Don downstairs in the Piazza to watch the champagne fountain. Waiters were circulating with glasses of champagne which I happily accepted. I’m sure my steps were weaving due to the rolling seas.

At our reservation time we were escorted into the restaurant to a table for two. As we were about to sit down Carm and I both said “oh, I was hoping we’d be sitting with other people”, at which point the two men beside us said “so were we”. We had a congenial evening, with just a quick deek into politics (again, not Carm’s doing).

And so it went. A lovely dinner in beautiful surroundings, excellent food and nice company. But wait, the day wasn’t over yet, the theatre was yet to come :-)  

You’ll have to excuse my blathering, it has been a long day and I’ll write about that tomorrow.

Monday, November 28, 2016

the love boat

It was a day of hurry up and wait. It started early (for us), with an alarm at 8am so that Carm could go to book our shuttle to the cruise port. I loitered in the shower until I finally made it out to meet everyone for breakfast.

Then the first wait… 2 hours till the shuttle and no where to go. We’d already walked the area the night before and it was no great hell - lots of traffic at high speeds. Instead of a walk we sat on a bench outside, visiting with the hotel employee that arranges the transportation. He was a nice chap from Colombia.

The shuttle came… and went… only two seats left and we were four. Wait, wait, wait for the next one to arrive. Finally we were on our way. Palm trees were everywhere. It was so strange to see such different fauna.

A maze of checking in, security, and who knows what else waiting in line and then we were walking the gangplank into the ship! I felt a welling of excitement: we were here.

We found our stateroom and unpacked while we waited for muster, an emergency drill. After that we walked around the ship, trying to get our bearings. I feel certain that I will never know where I am: port, starboard, fore, aft, I was all turned around.

We met up with Jo Ellen and Don to watch the cast off and then since all of us were starving since breakfast had been hours before we went in search of food. It was too early to wait for the dining room, and too late for lunch, so we sidled up to the buffet and enjoyed the blue hair supper looking out over the ocean and watching Ft. Lauderdale disappear.

More walking around, a comedy show at the theatre (with some dancing girls first), then a quiet visit with Jo Ellen and Don with ‘Love Boat’ showing in the background.

The wind blew like crazy outside and it was none too warm.

I fell into bed exhausted and was rocked to sleep by the gentle sway of our transit through the ocean.

It is ½ way throught the next day (today), but I’ll do this later.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

getting there

After a morning of futzing around the house we decided to leave a bit early for Mom & Dad’s. It was a step closer to being on our way and that made me calm down a tiny (tiny) bit. I told the pets that it would just be 8 sleeps so hopefully they got the feeling that we’d be back soon.

A quick hug for Pat and we were out the door.

Mom & Dad were home and Erik & Juliette arrived as we pulled into the laneway so it was nice to catch up with everyone, even if it was only for half an hour or so.

Our luggage was shlepped over to Mom’s van (and counted twice), then we were on our way to the airport. We said our goodbye’s and wheeled our luggage inside. The check in machine gave us some trouble, so we ended up at the end of a longish, slowish line to get our boarding passes and check our one suitcase. That was the first line up, second was security. We bumbled our jackets, cases, purses and shoes through the scanner then moved to US Customs. The custom guy was ½ Italian so Carm and he exchanged a few words of solidarity.

A wait at the gate - longer than expected as the boarding was late, and now here we are: 34,000 ft and at the moment of writing this not far from Augusta, Georgia (home of the Masters golf tournament.

Bumpy air.

Time to put the tablet to bed until the hotel.

Sunday morning: just finished breakfast and now there are a few hours to kill until the shuttle to the ship. I’ll use part of it to finish this update, and the rest of the time looking at palm trees. Sweet.

The bed was comfortable but I hardly slept a wink - between thinking (worrying) about the pets, and worrying that the alarm wasn’t going off it was a restless night. Hopefully once on the boat I’ll settle down.

It is strange to be away from home. Even when we are on a camping trip we have our home with us, like a giant turtle, or the giant snail in ‘Dr. Doolittle’. I never could find the name of that pink mollusk. I wonder if I need another coffee?

Friday, November 25, 2016

expectation of happiness

We are almost ready to go… tomorrow I just have to throw Carm’s new suit into the suitcase, grab all the chargers (5!), kiss the dogs and Grace good-bye, then we’ll be out the door and off into the wild blue yonder.

I’m pretty excited. This is like no vacation we’ve ever had, an adventure in eating and seeing new places, and spending time with friends. Seven nights of pampering will be a treat.

Pat, the pet sitter, came over yesterday afternoon to spend two nights while we are at home. This is giving everyone time to get to know each other. Spike is settling down but has periods of weirdness (he just spent 5min on my lap shaking). He seems to know that something is up. He’s too smart/sensitive for his own good. Strangely, Kabira is the one acting most normally.

We’ve had a few good meals together, including last night’s evening with Trudie & Leo.

“..that sanguine expectation of happiness which is happiness itself”
~Jane Austen

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

harsh and cold

The snow has stopped, leaving a white blanket on the ground - I wonder if it will stay or maybe we'll have a green Christmas like last year. The sky is grey, but a bit of light reflects off the snow making the gloom slightly less depressing, although the light is harsh and cold.

I've been spending a lot of time on facebook these last few weeks. I thought that when the election was done the outrageous posts would stop. I feel an obsessive need to know what is happening as the bigotry and hatred comes into mainstream America. And Canada. People who have been quietly racist have come out of the woodwork. I feel saddened and stressed that the US will go backwards with human rights and equality. It seems like I'm in a bad dream and I can't wake up. The cruise will be a good break from the constant deluge…

I will admit to lazing around the last few days. Quiet puttering to move us towards the weekend and having the house ready for Pat. So far no racing around from here to there, spinning in place as I try to do too many things at the same time… that is sure to come on Thursday and Friday.

Huge mugs of tea keep me going. Earl Grey, Chocolate Mint, Spicy Chai, Lemon Thriller, all keep me feeling warm and comforted. But oh, a couple of hot buttered toast with New Zealand honey would cap off the comfort. I'm trying to keep away from bread, all calories really, to get ready for an eating extravaganza. At the end of it all I have to fit back into the same clothes as many of them are going to NZ with me. Assuming an earthquake doesn't swallow up the runways in Wellington.

I still haven't found those pink headphones.

A trip to the grocery store was a short diversion. I don't normally go with Carm but I needed my fix of crack… crack maple bacon popcorn that is. That stuff is wickedly addictive.

"November--with uncanny witchery in its changed trees. With murky red sunsets flaming in smoky crimson behind the westering hills. With dear days when the austere woods were beautiful and gracious in a dignified serenity of folded hands and closed eyes--days full of a fine, pale sunshine that sifted through the late, leafless gold of the juniper-trees and glimmered among the grey beeches, lighting up evergreen banks of moss and washing the colonnades of the pines. Days with a high-sprung sky of flawless turquoise. Days when an exquisite melancholy seemed to hang over the landscape and dream about the lake. But days, too, of the wild blackness of great autumn storms, followed by dank, wet, streaming nights when there was witch-laughter in the pines and fitful moans among the mainland trees. What cared they? Old Tom had built his roof well, and his chimney drew.”
~L.M. Montgomery

Sunday, November 20, 2016

a call to arms, chubby arms

Tick tock goes the clock… slowly, slowly inching towards next Saturday. I've been daydreaming on pinterest, every piece of advice has been noted, the location of bars and restaurants have been memorized, I'm ready to go. Yesterday we did a trial pack and weigh so we could figure out which suitcases and/or carry-ons we need. Everything fits and we are well under the weight restrictions. Two carry-ons would do the trick if we didn't have dress-up clothes.  Fuss and fidget.

Today is a day for doing not much of anything other than drink tea and stare out the window at the white stuff coming down. It was already falling when I woke up, but wasn't sticking around. Slowly, as the day has moved on, a white layer is icing the trees and ground. It is the inevitable abominable that comes with living someplace where it gets cold.

Yesterday we joined Trudie & Leo, and their friends Dave & Wendy, at a local theatre for a live production of 'Calendar Girls'. Carm and I both enjoyed it immensely. The ladies were brave for their peeps of nudity. I'll admit to tearing up a few times during the production - it was sweet and sad at times. I don't know if I'd have the nerve for standing naked, even for a minute, and even behind some well placed props. I am influenced by a good measure of self criticism and bad body image. I should work on that (and not just by starving myself).

Most women that I know are terribly critical about their bodies, but men seem not to care about their pot bellies and sagging bottoms. We've been brain-washed into believing in the unattainable.  Do you ever pass a mirror and say yuck, I'm too fat, or whatever? It is time to stop.

I did venture out this afternoon for a little bit. The dogs ran around for a minute, then Kabira retreated to the front deck, shivering and shaking. The rest of us did the short loop around the field - I had my hood pulled tight around my head. The poodles ran, almost naked, through the driving snow. When we were done, I didn't have to ask Spike twice to come back inside. Sometimes he is a little bug…. devil and is slow to respond.

"Step Away from the Mean Girls…
…and say bye-bye to feeling bad about your looks.
Are you ready to stop colluding with a culture that makes so many of us feel physically inadequate? Say goodbye to your inner critic, and take this pledge to be kinder to yourself and others.

This is a call to arms. A call to be gentle, to be forgiving, to be generous with yourself. The next time you look into the mirror, try to let go of the story line that says you're too fat or too sallow, too ashy or too old, your eyes are too small or your nose too big; just look into the mirror and see your face. When the criticism drops away, what you will see then is just you, without judgment, and that is the first step toward transforming your experience of the world.”
~Oprah Winfrey

Thursday, November 17, 2016

toward the November sky

The sun has hidden itself behind the clouds for the majority of time these last few days. I've been making sure to do things on my 'what to do if I'm feeling blue' list and it has been working. It's past mid November and I'm feeling fine.

Sunday we got our act together for a trip into the city for some grocery shopping at a store we rarely get to, a stop at PetSmart to replenish Grace's supply of pellets, and finally to drive the long, long way home. It was a nice outing and lucky for me, the sun shone. Kirsten and the girls were on my mind as we drove. Early in the morning I'd be awakened by some text messages from her, letting us know there had been an earthquake and that they were alright.

Monday was poodle day. Snip snip, buzz buzz, and they were naked and cold. I really did a number with my scissors when I trimmed their head and ears. Wowzers, Spike looks like a dork. Thankfully hair grows back…

Tuesday we cleaned the house a bit to get ready for Pat's visit. 'Pat the pet sitter' came over to see how Grace is fed, but also for a visit and beer tasting. Spike was nervous at first (we think he associates Pat with us going away), but settled down as the evening wore on. Pat offered to come here to stay for 2 nights before we go. This is fantastic as we will all feel confident, and the dogs will start to think she's part of the family.

Wednesday I went with Trudie to Morrisburg to get my haircut (again). I wasn't thrilled with my last cut which was just a few weeks ago, so I decided to join Trudie and get my hair done by the lady who I know always does a good job (she did). After the cut we poked around the area, checking out the local thrift stores. I snagged a beautiful red jacket. It is a deep, rich red that I couldn't pass up, and at $6.00 it was a great find.

Today I putzed around the house in the morning and then we went out for a drive to run some errands. I try to get out every few days as I think that helps my mood stay good, plus I wanted to wear my new coat ;-)  I had in my mind that I wanted us to get two new toilet seats… fun eh! First though, we stopped at the bakery for apple fritters.

"The wild gander leads his flock through the cool night,
Ya-honk!  he says, and sounds it down to me like an invitation:
The pert may suppose it meaningless, but I listen closer,
I find its purpose and place up there toward the November sky."
~Walt Whitman

Saturday, November 12, 2016

the leaves dead are driven

It is one of those lovely afternoons when Carm is visiting his mom, leaving me to the peace of the house. Not that I don’t like him around. I've got some Leonard Cohen playing and Grace is whistling along. She doesn't seem to think it is dirge music, but I have to disagree with her. I'm waiting for one of my favorites to come on: 'Joan of Arc' never fails to make me weep but the poetry is so beautiful that I listen to it over and over again.

I haven't just been sitting and listening though, I've been on a quest. A never-ending quest, one that I started a few months ago. I started looking for the red box my phone came in a few months ago. I looked high and low for this distinctive package. Up and down and it seemed like I looked in every nook and cranny. I knew it was in the house somewhere - there hasn't been a box that has passed the threshold that has been thrown out. I drove myself crazy to no avail.

A few weeks ago I started looking for a pair of pink headphones. They weren't with the others. They weren't in the box of wires, chargers and what not that go into the camper. They are not to be found. I've looked all over the house, in every drawer and cupboard that I can think of… multiple times. I've wracked my brain till I got a headache. I've tried just letting it come to me. Nope. I've started looking inside pots and all sorts of places that are not logical. Guess what I found. The red box. It was in a dresser, at the back of a drawer with a paper on top of it.  I feel like I'm going insane. I probably put it somewhere during a manic phase and therefore have no real memory. But I've looked everywhere, except where it is.

My other anguish today is that my tablet is acting funny. Not funny 'ha ha' but funny sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I use this darn thing everyday. I NEED it. Asus has not made an upgrade. Google has something similar but it is mega pricey. I don't know what I'd do if it crapped out.

If only I could send Spike on a ‘find it’ task…

“O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being.
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing."
~Percy Bysshe Shelley

Friday, November 11, 2016


I stood silent, one hand resting on the shelf in front of me, steadying myself against the wash of emotion. It was silent, or should have been - some people took a while to catch on that we were having a moment of silence, their voices harsh against my ears. As the last notes of the 'Last Post' died on the air I looked around. It took a few moments to reconnect with my space, the tall shelves loaded with goods seemed out of place and strange.

We were in Liquidation Warehouse, not the best place to respect our fallen soldiers, but since I had to have blood work done we were in the area. We usually watch the ceremony at the War Memorial on TV, that's the closest I've been for a long time. Not out of lack of respect or care, it just works out that way.

Back at home, Facebook came alive with posts about the American election, but also of Leonard Cohen who passed away a few days ago. His music, poetry really, filled our home and those tears from this morning were no longer held back instead they ran down my cheeks and made the back of my throat hurt. His music is emotional at the best of times, but today is a perfect storm than rages in salty teardrops.

I'm sitting on the sofa with my legs curled beside me, the sun is beaming in through the west window. It is high enough to be blocked by the top edge of the window. It feels warm. The music has stopped playing and a pile of kleenex sits on the coffee table ready for the garbage. I have a cup of lemon thriller tea cooling. I think how lucky I am.

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic 'til I'm gathered safely in
Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love...”

~Leonard Cohen

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

second autumn

We had a brief reprieve from November weather - the last few days have been sunny and warm. Today it was over 17C with a strongly shining sun.

Are you watching the US election tonight? We have some snacks ready as if it were the Super Bowl. Will it be as exciting? I hope not… Watching the pregame show, the surrogates are sure that Donald will win. My stomach dropped at the possibility. Got any investments? Tonight will be a yay or a nay.

Sunday morning we were up early (not really, but with the change from daylight savings time the hands of the clock were earlier than I'd been used to). With the 'early' rise we decided to have brunch at Winchelsea, a specialized restaurant that generally only serves brunch on Sunday. With eggs benedict and waffles on the menu I was happy - both my favs on one plate! Hurrah.

After brunch we drove down to the Bird Sanctuary to learn about the new winter camping. There were only two campers there, but I suppose that is a start. They have to get the word out for all the other camping zealots. It was a beautiful day for a drive.

On the way home, Carm dropped me off at Trudie's so I could help her go through some garage sale boxes from the Acapulco - there was lots of junk, but I am sorry to say that I brought a few things home. All in all we got through the boxes quickly so I was hope in time to have a rest before going back later for supper.

Monday we drove into the city again (gosh there have been a lot of shopping trips), this time to look for new shoes for Carm. He has a nice pair of tan shoes but they look horrible with dark pants… so… we were on the hunt for black shoes that are comfortable and can pass in a pinch with a suit. Luckily we only had to go to two shoe stores to find what we were looking for. He's got some dancing shoes now! My honey will cut quite a swath.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

glory terrestrial

Where have I been and where am I going? I'm not really sure about either. Through the blur of the last week (or is it even longer), I can pick out a few highlights, but otherwise the days have been steadily marching to darkness. Tonight is the switch to daylight savings time where the darkness will come in the late afternoon. Blah.

Last Saturday night we got dressed up - me, not Carm - and drove to the Acapulco for a Halloween supper. I couldn't think of a good costume and finally settled on a lumberjack, but in honour of Monty Python I added a big string of pearls. I don't think anyone got it except Carm.  I stuck with my regular hair and couldn't even bother to dye it pink. I suppose lumberjacks, even Monty Python ones, don't have pink hair.

Like last year, Glenn was there with his karaoke setup. There wasn't a big crowd at the restaurant so it seemed a bit pathetic despite his best efforts. Karaoke is one of those things: 'when it is good it is very very good, but when it is bad it is horrid'. Not to say that it was horrid because it wasn't.

Later in the evening the music got rocking luring people out onto the bit of floor that had been cleared of tables. I waved my axe (cardboard!) around and grooved. Neighbors Vashek and Marie kicked up their heels which is really good as Vashek has Parkinson's and doesn't move around very well. The music seemed to flow through his nervous system and gave him long lost vigour, at least temporarily. Music is primal.

We left early as we had to be at the Greek Orthodox church early Sunday morning for our friend Jim's mother's memorial service. We got there a bit late and stood in the vestibule waiting for a good time to deek into the church. As we waited hordes of people came in to buy candles and other stuff I didn't understand - there was much commerce going on back there.

We eventually found our moment and snuck into a pew. I am always interested to see the decorations of different churches and faiths. The church was well decorated with stained glass, carved wood and much artwork. A feast for the eyes. Which was a good thing as the service went on for ages - it might have been 1 1/2 hours… Interestingly the entire service was sung in Greek. The chanting flowed through my limbs, relaxing them for the first half hour, then my attention span wavered. I did say to Carm after that if he could sit through this, he could surely sit through a showing of 'Les Miserables' with me. It is in English, and there is more action in Les Mis too.

Monday (I think), we went to Costco to look for new pants. Carm picked up a few pairs of black dockers, and I got a stack of jeans to try on (the problem with Costco is that there is no changing room to try things on so you basically have to buy everything you want to try and return it later). In the end we each ended up with a pair that fit.

A few days later - I can't remember which one - we went into town to the shopping centre to get our new pants hemmed. While waiting we strolled into the Bay to see about a new sport coat for Carm. The sales were good and we found a really nice one. Before we were finished we were swept up by the salesman and Carm had a pair of matching pants and a nice shirt to go with it. Carm wasn't the only one to score - I got two nice summer tops on a terrific sale. It was an expensive day!

With a new suit it seems obvious that we have to pack for a formal night on the cruise! We hadn't planned on it but I think it will be fun. I have a nice dress, although I was mightily tempted to try on one at the Bay, but even with the sale it was over $300! I don't think so! I'm not a dress person but this one really caught my eye and I still think about it. It rates with my coral sequin dress that doesn't fit at the moment (I double checked).

"But there is always a November space after the leaves have fallen when she felt it was almost indecent to intrude on the woods…for their glory terrestrial had departed and their glory celestial of spirit and purity and whiteness had not yet come upon them.”
~L.M. Montgomery

Sunday, October 23, 2016

now I lay me down to sleep

I dug out a pair of sheepskin lined UGG boots to wear in the camper yesterday. It was cold out - maybe 4C - and raining, but I couldn't let that keep me in the house. I had a lot of winter preparations to get underway. A tower of large plastic bins sat ready just inside the camper door. I got to work, laying them out the length of the camper. Food, favorite cooking utensils (including the microwave/stovetop/oven dish, clothes and a multitude of other odds and ends made their way into the waiting vessels. Some stuff got unpacked, but much of it will live in bins for the winter, ready for spring.

I didn't take things into the house, I left that for Carm to do today (when it wasn't raining), but it still took me a couple of hours, with trips into the house to warm up. Raindrops fell like melting icicles as I made the dash for a warm tea. Once my pants were soaked I gave up, knowing it was an easy race to the end for today.

I'm happy to say it is all done. The sun came out, but the wind still blows, a chilly reminder of what is to come. The camper is ready for bed now, a long winter’s sleep: the water lines have been blown out and filled with non-toxic antifreeze; everything is in the house; and Carm unhooked the PVR and modem. Oh sure, there is going to be the odd thing I forgot, but the slides will be open until just before the snow flies giving me a chance to dash in and get the missing item.

We had lively discussions last night when Trudie & Leo dropped by (with an apple pie I might add). American politics is on everyone's lips these days - the end of the election will leave us with much less to talk about (at least I hope so, if you know what I mean!).

I guess with camping over - I did shout out some swear words to the pets that it would be SEVEN Fing MONTHS till we next camp!!! They looked at me, puzzled at the outburst and not really understanding I word I said, except maybe 'camp'. Oh, where was I going with this… with camping over we'll focus on our next adventure, a cruise to the Caribbean.

I'm glad it is a sunny day today as it helps to keep a positive mood. So far this fall I've been lucky enough to have steady moods. I will do what I can to keep this up.

"The breath of autumn had already passed along the foliage, and a coming death had spread over its hues golden, brown and crimson—a strange gaiety of decay, which, with all its beauty, carries an idea of sadness into one's heart." ~T.H.E., "The German's Daughter," 1840

Friday, October 21, 2016

settling in

As luck would have it, our camping summer ended on exactly the right day. Wednesday morning was bright and sunny with only a hint of wind, and while it seemed that it might be a good idea to extend our visit by another day, the weather forecast told us otherwise. So, we packed up our villetta for the last time this year and made the trek home. We got the basics unloaded with plans to 'get to it' with more impulsion the next day…

Thursday was not so nice. A light rain fell all day discouraging us from getting busy. I did do a rearrange of the camper closet, purging a few things in the process. I unloaded the extra clothes that I had brought on board (and there were a few tall stacks - whatever was I thinking). Some clothes live on board all year so they stayed in place. I think I only brought in 4 loads of stuff. Incorporating everything into the house was challenging, and I'm left with closets bursting. The hard integrate is yet to come: food, books, dvds, coffee maker, etc. etc. etc. still to come in. Much of it will be stored in bins, ready to deploy next spring, but it is always a challenge to find places to store them.

Today (Friday), it is raining harder. Not much will migrate to the house today, unless the rain lets up a bit, but I guess that's okay.

Making the transition from villetta to house can be challenging, depending on how long we've been away. The longer we've lived in the confines of the camper, the harder it is to adjust. Our simple living quarters are somehow soothing. A large house full of too much stuff and too many projects can be overwhelming, sending the peaceful easy feeling scurrying away. There is always one thing to soothe the transition though - my lovely bathtub - about the only thing I miss about our house. A hot bath with bubbles up to my chin is a welcome pastime. Oh, that and not having to walk the dogs first thing in the morning. (I've indulged in two long sleep-ins since we've been home). And there is the fact that I can use water with impunity. On the camper we are limited to 49 gallons of grey (sinks, we use the campground showers) till we dump (moving the camper to the dump station  - giant pita) which means stretching out every dishpan for maximum use. The longer sofa in the house is nice too - I can curl my legs without forcing Carm against the arm on his side.

I guess there are things to love about both homes!

After all," Anne had said to Marilla once, "I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.”
~L.M. Montgomery,

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

last camping day for 2016

The yellow brick road was paved with gold and brown leaves, with the odd red highlight. Skipping down this fragrant path the leaves swirled around my feet, energized by the gale force winds that blew from the south. We were out for our walk in just t-shirts, the temp said 26C but the wind was gusting to 60 kph - hang onto your hats!

We took the easy way for a walk today: a drive to group camping area A, then a walk around and around on the grassy fields. We didn't want to go far as there were thunderstorms in the forecast so we wussed out and drove.

It is our last full day of camping for 2016 and I'm trying not to think about it. Actually though, I have a few things to look forward to this winter: a cruise to the Caribbean at the end of November, and then a month long trip to NZ Jan/Feb. By the time I'm back it will be time to plan out next summer's camping trips. I don't want to wish the winter away, but spending it somewhere warm is a good thing :-)

Yesterday, while the roast was cooking, it fell over from its tall position so that it was leaning on the edge of my roasting pan… resulting in a large dirty spot that won't come clean the regular way. Does anyone have any suggestions for cleaning the oven?

The wind continued to rise as the afternoon wore on. I think I can see some rain on the horizon so we'll be closing the door soon. Our last day had the makings of an historical one with these temps but the wind was winters tendrils slashing through the heat.

Monday, October 17, 2016

let us be greatful

Playing house in the camper, where nothing is pressing and even the cleaning is small and easy to do is a fun way to spend  a cloudy, cool October day (or any day for that matter). My little vacuum whips around in no time, and the floors get a quick wipe with dampened paper towels. My little fake fireplace flickers and the satellite reels off some ancient tunes from the 70s. I dance around on the hardwood floor. Today is special though - after years of not using the little propane oven it is on duty. I have a playhouse sized prime rib which will be just big enough for two. The yorkshire batter is ready. Fake mashed potatoes and canned green beans will round out the meal.

I just checked on the oven temp and got a face full of cooking meat smell. Is there anything that smells so good as a cooking roast beef? Especially for this mostly vegan eater. (at least I say mostly, these days it is occasionally vegan, more in my mind than practice). Oh my, I can hardly wait for supper!

It was supposed to be sunny today, but Mother Nature didn't cooperate. But that's okay. This morning we had our first pooptastophe since we started camping 9 years ago. It was a perfect storm: camper forcing us off the road, dogs desperate to poo, me picking it up, camper stopped beside us and a barking dog stuck its head out the window. Well, the bag in my hand got scraped by Spike's leash and wham, yuck. Luckily I didn't notice some of it until we got back to camp or I would have been freaking out the whole way. Good work for the jet setting on the hose…

But back to supper.

… later… roast is out of the oven resting while the yorkshire cooks. I can’t even begin to describe how good it smells in here :-)

… later still… ummmmm.

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
~Marcel Proust

Sunday, October 16, 2016

I'm so glad

Yesterday was a nice day - UNDERSTATEMENT! Talk about an amazing October 15 day. We left to go home for a pool checkout and to grab the fixings for a prime rib supper (I'll try out the oven again). The dogs got a bit of time off leash which they seemed to enjoy. When we got back to camp, the sky had totally cleared letting the sun shine down on us. As the afternoon wore on the temperature crept up to 18C making my cheeks burn red. Oh how heavenly. Why is it that sunny autumn days seem so much nicer than a summer one? Each one is more precious than the last.

We used to quit camping on the Thanksgiving weekend but discovered the Bird Sanctuary, which closes near the end of October, a few years back. We realize now that we missed what are perhaps the nicest days of the year. Sometimes the nights drop down to near freezing, but with the fireplace and our propane furnace we all stay toasty. Even the cold, rainy days are to be treasured as we cuddle up in the cosy  warmth of the villetta.

On my way back from the shower this afternoon I saw someone waving - who do I know… oh! My friend Christina and her husband Hans are camped next to us. A special treat :-)

This morning the wind was blowing so hard the bedroom vent fan was spinning. But it hadn't started raining yet so I was able to walk the dogs before the heavens released a downpour. It was warm though - I regretted my decision for a long sleeve top and windbreaker. Lots of dogs here this weekend so it is a bit of a mine field walking with Mr. Naughty. He is 'reactive' to other dogs and is more of a challenge than I really care for. Every dog we pass is a training opportunity… sigh.

As the morning passed there was an exodus of campers - from 100% full to a smattering of campers in a swoosh. Poor non-retired people!

After the rain this afternoon, we drove to the apple group area for a grassy walk. It doesn't take much precip to induce a slurry of muck on the roads -  walking the dogs through that becomes a reason for us all to have a bath - skip that and use the truck to get us somewhere nice  :-)

"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
~L.M. Montgomery

Friday, October 14, 2016

the most fortunate

A keen wind howled, rattling the camper door, but we were warm inside our cosy villetta. The fireplace flickered (okay, it is only an electric one), and the smell of apple crisp wafted through the air. The crisp was baking in the propane stove, a good test of the appliance. At 9pm I zipped up my windbreaker to take the dogs out. We weaved around the potholes filled with water, sticking to the mucky road as we did the circuit. The trip into the cold (at least it was no longer raining) made the camper feel more like a cosy berth and I hunkered down in a pile of blankets to watch a bit of TV.

When my program ended Coronation Street came on. I've never really watched it before, but before very many minutes had passed I found myself becoming addicted. That takes some skill in writing! I may have to watch it again with a mind to technique.

Today the clouds were sparse and the sun was strong. It was cool though: 13C. It was a good morning for breakfast out, and an even better day for a long walk. We walked all the way to the tip of Morrison Island, discovering a section of the old highway 2. There is something about a nice day in October that is special. The sky is bluer and the leaves are like so many orange, yellow and red flower petals.

The most fortunate are those who have a wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder and even ecstasy.”
~Abraham H. Maslow

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

how many laps?

The words 'a haircut on your face' send the poodles searching for cover. It is the most despised part of a hair cut, and sadly for Bella and Spike, they get their faces done once or twice between full cuts. Today they were assaulted by the clippers, a long overdue torture. Now they don't look like abandoned dogs.

I do get out for a 20 to 30 minute walk first thing in the morning, so was familiar with the microclimate of the island. I was still inside at 11:30am with the sun tempting me outside, except the wind was blustery. It seemed perfectly reasonable to snuggle inside with the sun shining through the window onto my back. Eventually I budged from my comfy roost to stick my nose outside again. The sun had done its work on the cool breeze, warming it up enough to lure me into a chair outside. This site has a fantastic view of the water so I enjoyed watching a few ships pass.

I don't know much about shipping on the St. Lawrence and wonder if the boats require a special pilot for parts of it. There are three set of locks and numerous narrow channels to navigate. I hope that Chuck has some info to share.

This afternoon my tummy rumbled and my tastebuds clamored for a bagel with cream cheese. Closest location of a Tim Hortons is 15 minutes away. That didn't stop us, plus there was some shopping that Carm wanted to do. Lunch, Canadian Tire, Giant Tiger, and finally an RV shop for lap seal.

Back at the camp Carm got changed into grubbies and climbed the rickety ladder to the roof. With great care he fortified the areas that might let water into the villetta. We had a long discussion this morning about how much we love our villetta - plenty of reason to take steps to protect it from harm.

Our afternoon walk was lovely. The sun shone and the woods sheltered us from the wind. A million scents tantalized the dogs, glueing their noses to the ground. We did make it to the group area with all the lovely apple trees and found a few windfalls. Today's apple was hot from the sun, bringing forth the essence of the apple.

My mood has dropped over the last few days. From week after week of 'peaceful easy feeling', I'm now just okay. I wouldn't go as far as saying 'blah' - just flat and a bit irritable. I'm not sure if it is because camping is almost over (less than a week to go), or if I'm sick of camping and just want to go home. Most likely it is just the normal rhythm of my moods. I looked back to Octobers in the past and see a similar trend. Time to pin a photo of our cruise ship onto my wall…

"Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.”
~W.T. Purkiser

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

my thanksgiving is perpetual

My cheeks are as red as the leaves on the tree across the lane from us. I believe it got up to 18C, a nice day almost anytime of the year, but mid October: spectacular. Red and yellow leaves contrasted with the deep blue sky - could it be any bluer? We  moved to the Bird Sanctuary yesterday as Riverside closed for the season. We aren't ready to pack it in yet! This campground is the only one left open this time of year.

It is small, but has several group camping areas down a quiet road. Since the group areas aren't open anymore we almost have the place to ourselves. Aside from the deer, squirrels and other wildlife that lurks in the bushes. Yesterday we walked to the place with the nice apple trees. The bottom branches were picked clean but there were a few ground falls that were in perfect condition. Oh my. A cold, crisp apple can't be beat.

I have to backtrack just a day or two to Sunday when we made the 1 1/2 hour drive to my brother Olaf's place. His wife Tammy, and her mother Sharon had cooked for days. Tammy had set up a few tables so there were seats for all 20 of us - what a crowd! We had a fantastic time and left with full bellies. The dogs weren't maybe as happy - they had spent the afternoon locked in the truck with not even a speck of turkey to tide them over. They did get out for a couple of short walks, unfortunately, new places are always very exciting and result in horrible behavior on the leash. Talk about getting dragged around :-(

I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual. It is surprising how contented one can be with nothing definite - only a sense of existence. Well, anything for variety. I am ready to try this for the next ten thousand years, and exhaust it. How sweet to think of! my extremities well charred, and my intellectual part too, so that there is no danger of worm or rot for a long while. My breath is sweet to me. O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches. No run on my bank can drain it, for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.”
― Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, October 8, 2016

is summer over?

Cold rain. After several days of summer-like weather (yesterday's high was 25C) it is only fair to be villetta bound. We have the 'fireplace' flickering, I have a blanket around my shoulders, and we are watching Trump's crash on CNN.

Yesterday Carm went into town to play in the annual bridge tournament. He and Bruce have been partners for years, and with their brilliant minds and experience they still manage to win their section and place 3rd overall even though they might not play at all during the year.

In mid afternoon my mom came to stay with me for the night. It is an annual thing, just like the bridge. With no interruptions we have a very lovely visit. Yesterday we sweltered in the hot sun (not complaining!) and strolled through some of the campground (getting our steps in). The sun shone in a reasonable replication of July.

3:30pm… just got back in from taking the dogs out. We stuck to the grass along the non-campsite areas. Thick, wet grass was a better bet than the mucky roads. Dogs are used to going to the 'field' for their business so are confused when I give them the go-ahead in other areas but they get the idea if they are desperate enough. It isn't really raining at the moment, but drops are shaking down from the tall pine and maple trees.

"The music in my heart I bore
Long after it was heard no more.”
~William Wordsworth

Thursday, October 6, 2016

the birds lingered

We had a wonderful evening out at the Sol d’Acapulco (the German/Mexican place that we so often visit). I had the Jagerschnitzel which is a schnitzel (what else) covered in a mushroom gravy with red cabbage and spaetzle on the side. It is one of my favorite dishes there. I ate the whole thing though, and that, paired with chocolate birthday cake (Vashek), left me with a stomach ache well into the night. Totally self inflicted but oh, the infliction was good!

Tendrils of fog snuck over the road in places as we drove back to camp. I was glad it wasn't any later as I'm sure the fog got worse.

I really don't mean to be repetitive, but it is another amazing Indian Summer day. Hot and not a cloud in the sky. I sat outside with my big floppy sun hat shading my face and boiled. Finally put down the awning when it seemed that it would make some shade - it was perfect: head and upper torso in shade, bottom of legs and feet in the sun.

I was remarking to Carm this morning, as we were in and out of shops in Morrisburg, that I feel remarkably calm these days. I think it is the camping: no big to-do list, a small easy to clean abode, regular walks. I am diligent about keeping home stuff out of my head. Life is simplified leaving me with no real worries. It is a constant 'peaceful easy feeling' sort of time.

We skipped our really long walk today, giving the old dogs a day of rest. They've been dragging their feet the last couple of days. The warmth combined with being out of shape is taking their toll on them. The advantage of their weariness is that they don't drag me (as forcefully) to the squirrels who seem to be out to taunt them.

"Each day the sun shone, the birds lingered, though the trees were turning, purely out of habit, and their rose and yellow and rust looked strange and beautiful above the brilliant green grass.”
~Elizabeth Enright

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

lazy day of summer

The stars glittered in the dark night sky. With each exhale a cloud of fog obscured my vision for a moment and then the milky way would reappear filling me with wonder.  I may complain about it sometimes, but the forced outings with the dogs reveal all sorts of wonders that my lazy self would not otherwise see.

I just discovered that one of the tops I bought at the thrift store is brand-new, tags still on. Original retail price: $29.50. Sale price $3.00. I love bargains like this!

It is another wonderful day. Sun is shining, a few puffy white clouds in the sky, warm (no, make that hot). Giant bees buzz around our herb gardens. A little grasshopper suns itself on the arm of the chair next to me. The awning is out, gently luffing in the breeze. It is a lazy day, aside from a 20 min walk, then a 45 min walk, and another shorter one with Spike to practice on the Flexi lead. A trip to the shower was the centre point of my day.

You may sometimes notice that the tense changes all over the place as you read through a post. It is generally because I write a bit in present tense, go on to do other things in my day, come back to present tense again. Sometimes I go back and fix the first bit up into past tense, but often I leave it. Stream of consciousness is my style :-o

"Each golden day was cherished to the full, for one had the feeling that each must be the last. Tomorrow it would be winter.”   ~Elizabeth Enright

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

soleful (not a typo)

Glorious is the word that best describes the day (I've checked my thesaurus to make sure). The sky is a brilliant azure blue with not a cloud to mar its grand expanse. The sun shines down into my eyes, almost blinding me with the intensity of the  light. I shade my eyes with a cupped hand. The trees are still green but are frosted with a golden hue. Some have a few red leaves highlighted in the rays of the sun.

My early morning walk was lovely. It was cool, with a heavy dew on the long grass which soaked my boots.  The sun shone brilliantly.  I had gotten up in the middle of the night and turned off the 'fireplace'… 58F proved to me that I had been mistaken in thinking it was too warm overnight. I must have been having one heck of a hot flash.

A tea, a coffee and a bit of toast filled me up for our later walk. I started off with a windbreaker, but could easily have gone without. By the end of the walk it was pulled down from my shoulders.

While we sipped our coffee before the walk we watched a few programs on 'mega cruise ships'. Fueling the excitement.

Some time in the sun set my stomach churning. How could I be so hungry when I'd already had an apple for lunch? Well… I didn't have to say 'club sandwich at the Basket Case' twice. Unfortunately my weak moments are usually pounced on as opportunities by Carm. I had wanted to lose weight on this camping trip but wonder if that is realistic. Maybe I could go with not gaining and consider that a win.

I've already worn 4 different pairs of shoes today. Shoe storage in the camper is a big deal. Why four you wonder? Blundstones in the early morning. The heavy dew soaked these short brown leather boots. Crocks for a walk around the block with Spike to practice the Flexi leash. Hiking shoes for our long walk - boots were still too wet. Sandals for our trip into town - yes! it was warm enough. Believe it or not, I don't have a shoe fetish, just like the right sole for the job.

"He had become enveloped in the Indian Summer of the Soul.”   ~O. Henry

Sunday, October 2, 2016

hema what?

The pitter patter of rain of the roof kept the dogs asleep till past 8:30 am, and even then they weren't keen to do their morning ablutions. But the day must start sometime so I pulled on my clothes, including jeans, which was a mistake (more on that later). With leashes attached to collars we all tumbled out the door. No rain, just wet, slightly mucky roads. We stayed as much as we could on the grass (my boots are now drying out before they get another coat of dubbin) and made it to the field without much difficulty.

Trudge trudge. Bella stopped to poo. I dug into my pocket for the bags I stuffed there this morning. And came up with bags that started falling apart in my hands. Oh.

Luckily, I am ever the boy scout and am prepared for whatever may happen. A roll of bags dangled from my belt loop. Inside my coat was another pouch with 2 rolls of bags. Be Prepared!

Last night we cozied up to a flickering fire with Bern and Sue. We met them here last fall and started a conversation. We ended up sharing a fire. We were pleased when we pulled in Friday to see their trailer. I felt we made a connection and hope to extend it.

There is something so primitive about sitting around a fire, it touches the deepest part of me. I can imagine our ancestors hunched over a piece of meat roasting in the flames, maybe with a fiery club ready to scare off hungry wolves. Safety in the glow.

This morning we went to the flea market - Carm wanted sausages. We walked the aisles inside the rambling building, looking for bargains, plus I was hoping to find a necklace to wear on our trip. We both commented that it didn't seem as junky as usual - maybe our eyes are getting practiced at seeing past the detritus to the odd good thing. It didn't help me though, I came out empty handed. I did see a necklace that I liked a lot, but we weren't sure hematite would be a good material. Does anyone have experience with it?

Back to the jeans. The wet grass soaked the bottom foot of my pants which left me with a pair of capris to wear out to the flea market. Picture pants halfway down my calf with wool socks and blundstones (short boots). Quite the fashionista! I’ve always been a bit unconventional :-)

a few hours later and we are back from the flea market. A few queries on google alleviated our concerns about the hematite. So I snagged a hematite that looks like black pearls, and a pendant made from opalite. The stall had a wall of pendants made from various semi-precious stones… I could have chosen a dozen!

October is Nature's funeral month. Nature glories in death more than in life. The month of departure is more beautiful than the month of coming—October than May. Every green thing loves to die in bright colors.” ~Henry Ward Beecher (1813–1887)

Saturday, October 1, 2016

making a list not checking it twice

Lists… I love them and have tons of checklists: trip to NZ, cruise, and of course camping (I have a few of these). Very handy, unless you don't bother to look at them.

We settled into our spot yesterday and by the end of a day had a list a mile long of things I forgot. Important things like Bella's medicine and my fitbit charger. Luckily it's not TOO far to drive back to collect these things and luckier still Carm hasn't once given me heck or complained about having to go back home.

I don't have much of an excuse for being so disorganized on leaving day. We had gone out for supper with friends and they had come back to our place for a late night. Why did I stay up so far into the night - I know better. To make matters worse I forgot to take my bedtime medications and historically this has fubared me tremendously. I wasn't sick to my stomach like I sometimes am when I forget, but my thinking was cloudy. All self-inflicted and more reason to check the list… I can even check things off on my phone.

It isn't a cold day but the sun is shielded by a thick layer of grey cloud. It is very dreary in the camper even though we have large windows on two sides and a smaller one on the third. I've dragged all my stuff outside to write this. It is ever so slightly brighter, but unfortunately the glare on my screen makes it almost impossible to see. Ever the tourist, Spike is outside with me, attached to his anchor, and watching the activity in the campground (barely any at all except for a few squirrels leaping around collecting their stash of nuts.) I have a sweater on but don't need a blanket wrapped around me. Grace is even outside, chatting away like a Chatty Cathy  ('where's Spike' she says).

Did you have a 'Chatty Cathy' when you were growing up? I got one for a birthday or Christmas, I don't remember which. She was interesting but I remember her more clearly lying on my dad's workbench waiting to be fixed. Honestly though, I wasn't a doll person at all, I much preferred stuffed dogs, cats, and monkeys.

A few hours later, after a couple cups of tea and a long walk, I'm sitting inside finishing this off. The tick of the clock is loud, all the living things in the camper are silently asleep. Sometimes I hear laughing from the camper next door. Very pleasant and relaxing. Life is good.

"Anne reveled in the world of color about her.

"Oh, Marilla," she exclaimed one Saturday morning, coming dancing in with her arms full of gorgeous boughs, "I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn't it? Look at these maple branches. Don't they give you a thrill--several thrills?”
~L.M. Montgomery

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

flying harbingers

I spied a small flock of geese circling a field the other day - a rogue group coming early to get the best seats. This morning there were more flying harbingers of winter - the honking could be heard inside the house as periodic flocks passed overhead. Sigh.

The hand of oncoming winter has started to paint the leaves yellow, orange, and red. The colour of the light is special this time of year. Tinged with gold it casts a warm light over everything.

This afternoon I paced the house - hungry for more than some celery, a burger featured heavily in my thoughts. I couldn't shake it. I succumbed to my wanton desire and we drove to St. Albert. Juicy and thick with a skyscraper's worth of fries satiated me. So much for the diet. I'm not having fantastic success losing weight - too many lapses in willpower. My new scale is discouraging too… it weighs 2 lbs heavier than my old one… so when I look at it it seems I haven't made progress in weeks :-(

"Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love — that makes life and nature harmonize. The birds are consulting about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground, that one’s very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air, while they give us a scent that is a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit. Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns." ~George Eliot

Monday, September 26, 2016

there, here, and soon to be there again

The days have slipped away, each melding into the next in a blur of motion and somnolence. We had 4 incredible days of camping last week. The temperatures were well into the mid 20s, one of the days reaching to 28C. The glorious days of mid September fortify us for the oncoming winter.

The leaves were barely tinged with colour when we left the campground last Thursday, but looking back at previous year's blog posts for this time of year reminded me that often a riot of colour highlights our drive. Could it be the summer-like weather that we've been having is tricking Autumn?

It was with mixed feelings that I started unloading the essentials from the camper - we are only home for a week so everything will have to be shleped back into the beast. Why didn't I just book the extra days so we'd stay put at camp.

We have made full use of our time back home: Carm's visited his mom a few times, he's cut the grass, and I've started re-provisioning for our next outing. Note to self: more warm clothes.

We also went clothes shopping, and to be honest neither of us could remember the last time we bought clothes other than Costco, liquidation or some thrift shop. Yes, we actually went into a clothing store and spent more than $5.00 for a t-shirt. We got some new things for the cruise, and my things will double up for my trip to NZ. My stuff was all grey and black - I think I'll have to dig out some pink or red for a bright pop on the open seas.

Aside from puttering around the house I have immersed myself in Pinterest. There seems to be an unending number of articles on what to pack, what the food is like. I may be driving myself crazy (something that I excel at).

(p.s. are you watching the American Presidential Debate tonight?)

The sun declined, and we both fell into twilight silence. Night, which in autumn seems to fall from the sky at once, it comes so quickly, chilled us, and we rolled ourselves in our cloaks…” ~Jules Barbey d’Aurevilly

Monday, September 19, 2016

busy birthday weekend

I'm sitting here in a few minutes of quiet, just the ticking of the clock and a train whistle in the distance. After a busy weekend with family and friends it is time for a rest.

a little while later…

My eyes are squinted against the bright sun and my skin prickles with a light sheen of sweat. It may be past mid September, but the sun is at high summer wattage.

Back to my fun and busy birthday weekend.

It started Friday late afternoon when my mom arrived at her rented cottage just across the lagoon from us. She joined us for the evening after she got settled in her temporary home. We talked way past my bedtime.

Saturday Mom went home to pick up my dad. After a late walk with the dogs we hung around the front gate waiting for them, and for my brother Olaf, his wife Tammy, and their 4 year old daughter Freya to arrive at the campground. A mixup in directions meant Olaf didn't arrive till later than expected so we gave up waiting and went back to the camper.

We had hardly gotten settled back at camp when Trudie & Leo showed up laden with presents, wine and a giant cheese tray. Not long after that everyone else showed up at our camper so we all jumbled in taking every seat and standing surface. Nine people is a big load on the camper - it felt like a party.

Everyone left in pairs, leaving us with Tammy, Freya, and Olaf for a visit which is lovely as we so rarely get to see them except in a crowd.  They left at Grace & the dogs supper time so we quickly fed the beasts then joined everyone over at the cabins. It was pitch dark by the time my other brother, Graham and his kids arrived to make the gathering complete (as complete as it could be without Kirsten's family).

(You’ll have to indulge this auntie while I recount a few cute 4 year old comments: Freya asked Tammy why the cabins didn’t have a second floor. Tammy replied that they were little cottages and didn’t need the second floor. Freya responded with ‘oh, you mean a bungalow’.  After lunch on Sunday Freya tracked my mom down to tell her ‘thank you for the lovely lunch’. Cute)

Sunday was much the same: visits at our camper and visits at the cabin. The day went quickly and before we knew it everyone was hitting the road to home. Mom stayed an extra night for a bit of R&R. We were going to the Acapulco for supper but Mom turned us down in favour for an evening by herself.

A night out with friends capped off a fun filled birthday weekend :-)