Tuesday, August 30, 2016

there shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart

Blades of dried grass scratched at my legs as I walked the familiar path around the hay field. The scent of honey hung heavy in the air. Clouds obscured the sun but the grey ceiling didn't impede my good mood. I brushed past some small white daisies with puffy yellow middles and thought they were the source of the wondrous smells, but they seemed too small and there weren't nearly enough of them to have such an impact. A grasshopper bounce off my knee.  I rounded the corner straight into a stand of golden rod. Ah ha! That was the source of the honey scent. I might have know this before, but I had forgotten, letting me make the miraculous discovery again.

We are still swimming, despite the cold nights which bring the water temp down. Today the water was 74F which cooled me down quickly after my time on the treadmill. There isn't much time spent floating around on a pool noodle when your legs are turning blue. Good though!

Do you ever have those antsy days when you want to do something (that doesn't include housework, or at least not much of it)? So many activities involve eating, and shopping was out of the question (I feel broke after the suitcases and 2 new pairs of shoes). Then we came up with a great idea! Invite Jo Ellen and Don over for bacon and tomato sandwiches - that way I control the healthiness of the food, and we get to catch up with friends. As luck would have it, they were available. We all enjoyed what remained of the afternoon on the swing, well, Jo Ellen and I did, the boys had to make due with hard chairs.

It was the perfect evening for eating outside so we ferried plates piled high with sandwiches and piping hot corn on the cob, and gathered around the table on the deck. But wait - can you call a tower of garden fresh tomatoes, strips of crisp bacon, and a slather of mayonnaise on toasted rye bread a sandwich? Technically yes, but oh they were good. So much for my plan of moderation - I man-handled two dripping sandwiches into my mouth.

Oh, and Don brought an apple crumble pie for dessert. Diet was totally out the window!

"There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart." ~Celia Thaxter

Saturday, August 27, 2016

her fading green glory

Standing at the top of the road to summer I could see the days wind around the calendar like golden stones on Dorothy's yellow brick road. I had to flip the page twice to see the end, which was not the Emerald City but a Russet and Orange blaze before winter. It seemed like an eternity would pass. Now the last few days till September countdown and I wonder where the time went.

Our summer started off with the Titanium Rally in Niagara Falls. Soon after that we were entertaining Merikay and Craig, full-timers from the states. Shenna's arrival from NZ was next, and the week following that Kirsten and Nissa arrived. Days of family fun preceded at tearful goodbye. Which was followed by a tearful hello when they returned for Kenda's funeral. Another tearful goodbye. Bruce & Tina here for a night, a night at Ruth & John's cottage, and numerous other dinners and events that don't immediately come to mind brings us to today: one of the last few golden bricks until the calendar rolls over to September.

It is 30C but there is an underlying cool breeze. It FEELS different from a 30C day in July. Maybe it is the light which is more golden, or the 'hey, how could there be a cold wind when the thermometer reads 30", or maybe it is all in my head because I know that it is August 27.

I got some new luggage! I won't be able to use the larger suitcase as it is too big for the Virgin Australia leg, so I have the mid-sized one laid out on the table with a trial set of clothes in it. I will have to be a bit careful with what I pack, but I should squeeze all my stuff in. There is also a matching carry on that meets the size criteria with room to spare. Carm jokes that I'll pack and repack dozens of times, but I'm pretty sure it will only be 1/2 dozen - not including this trial of course.

I'm determined to be able to climb the hills with Kirsten and the girls this January when I'm in NZ, and I wouldn't mind fitting into a few of the things I took with me last time so the treadmill has become my friend again. When I've been too tired or some other such excuse, I recall the Olympic athletes and their physical exertions. Surely I can make my tiny treadmill effort. I not only can - I WILL. I think the biggest part of turning diet and exercise around is mental so I'm going to focus on a good attitude.

Breaking away from healthy eating, last week we went with Trudie & Leo to visit a new brewery in a nearby town. It's in a spacious converted fire hall, which gives it a loud echo. We got a sampler which gave us a taste of 4 different beers. Each one was good, but our favorites were two IPAs. Supper was 1/2 a panini with a salad - they don't have a full on kitchen, just a counter with a few griddlers. Next time I might chose the platter w cheese & meats (although that is so far from vegan as to be ridiculous).

I had another break away at Trudie & Leo's when we were included for dinner and to meet other friends of theirs. It was a lovely evening and we were able to enjoy it outside in the garden.

Today I enjoy the cicadas - there is one in the tree that abuts the deck. Its competitors are in the trees surrounding the house. It is the quintessential sound of August.

"Whilst August yet wears her golden crown,
    Ripening fields lush- bright with promise;
Summer waxes long, then wanes, quietly passing
    Her fading green glory on to riotous Autumn."
~Michelle L. Thieme, August's Crown

Monday, August 22, 2016

a day at the lake

I've been away from my keyboard for a couple of days and for very good reasons :-)  After almost a year, we finally got together with Ruth and John for a wonderful day and night at their lakeside home. It was sweltering for some, namely Carm and John who were out on the links, while Ruth and I were comfortable on the porch. A breeze from the lake refreshed us (well… and so did some of the refreshments). I kept a light sweater on for most of the day.

The boys returned triumphant from their golf game, recounting every stroke and divot. They were hot and sweaty so we all struggled into our suits and stumbled over the rocks on the shore to get into the lake. Ahhh. What is it about swimming that is so wonderful? even if there was a bit of seaweed thrashing me as it rode on the waves that threatened to splash into my mouth

Grace had a fine time outside visiting with her cousins Cato & Bailey. The dogs stayed home with Pat for their first overnight with her.

Ruth made us a fine supper, (my measly contribution was a tomato salad), and we lingered into the night. Finally the fluffy white pillow on my assigned bed called to me so loudly that I succumbed.

We left after breakfast and got home 1 1/2 hours later - the standard time from door to door. We had a brief relax and then drove into the city so I could visit my brother, Olaf, and Carm could see his mother. Quick visits all around and we were driving in the rain to come back home. But our day wasn't over yet.

Pat, the pet sitter, came by to pick up the money I had forgotten to leave her. She had left us two beer from a local craft brewery so we had a taste testing together. It was great to get to know her better. Spike spent part of the visit glued to my feet and panting hard. I guess he thought we were going away again. We'll have to have her over here a few times before our next outing so the dogs get used to the idea that we don't always go away when Pat visits.

I can't believe I didn't take any photos. I've got to make myself carry my 'big' camera around as it is easier to set down and take a timer photo with all of us in the shot.

"Friendship ... is born at the moment when one man says to another
'What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .'”   ~C.S. Lewis

Monday, August 15, 2016

golden crown

Yesterday morning the air was fresh with the scent of freshly washed grass. It had warmed up tremendously from Saturday, causing the moisture to rise from the earth, making the air soft to the touch. It was still slightly cool, but the promise of a warmer day was in the air. This was a far cry from the dusty smell of dormant grass that has hung in the air for weeks.

Today September is in the air. The sky is dotted with fluffy dumplings floating on its blue surface. The air is warm with an underlying hint of cool, as if winter has sent a tendril down from the North. It isn't a languid day where I am limp in the humidity, but one of calm enjoyment. There is something about the clear late August and September air that I love. The cicadas and crickets hum, a reminder that summer is still here.

It was warm enough to dip into the pool after my sweaty time on the treadmill this afternoon. The water has dropped from a comfortable 82F to a refreshing 75F. It didn't take long for my limbs to cool down. I floated on my back, eyes squinted shut against the bright sun. Ahhh. This is the life.

We watched the men's 100m race last night. Usain Bolt is impressive. At almost 6'5" and roiling with muscles he is a treat for the eyes. It was nice to see the young Canadian earn a Bronze.

(Note to self: we got haircuts today - a close inspection of the cut bits showed a 50% divide between grey and gold)

“Whilst August yet wears her golden crown,
   Ripening fields lush- bright with promise;
Summer waxes long, then wanes, quietly passing
   Her fading green glory on to riotous Autumn."
~Michelle L. Thieme, August's Crown

Saturday, August 13, 2016

rain, finally rain

The rain is coming down in a steady drizzle today - the farmers must be rejoicing as the crops were on the verge of failure. We have puddles! Or at least we did while it was raining.

I need to start getting back into writing. Sure, I've been doing my blog (sporadically and not at all for 2 weeks), but I need to expand my mind into other topics. It was March when I last felt creative and enthused. The time has now passed for hoping that the malaise would just go away - it is now time to work at it, despite what my brain offers. Tomorrow (it's always tomorrow isn't it), I plan to start back with my 10 minute free form write whatever is in my head but don't stop no matter what. The keys must keep clicking. Hopefully that will clear the cobwebs.

Have you been watching the Olympics? We watch an hour or two every night but the coverage is awful - I think all the good sports happen during the day and they don't think to rebroadcast. We did catch a bit of the trampoline last night. Wow. Those girls can do things that seem totally impossible. I've been on a trampoline and it wasn't pretty. I did jump slightly off the surface a few times and could tell that it would be fun if I hadn't have been born with such a big chicken bone. It was nice to see Canada win the Gold.

The dogs have been quiet today - they know it is raining and don't rush to the door everytime we touch the doorknob. Our pooches are usually pretty quiet though - they've long past the age of playing in the house (something that Bella and Kabira were never encouraged to do), and they have the sleeping habits of cats, or maybe they are always bored.

I was listening to music this afternoon and 'Wildfire' started playing. I always loved this song and it seems that I sang along without listening to what the words actually said. I knew that the woman died looking for her horse, but didn't clue into the man waiting to die so that he could join her. The song was sad enough to start! No need for artificial tears for me this afternoon. Is it just me or do other people cry at stupid things?

"By the dark of the moon I planted
But there came an early snow
There's been a hoot owl howlin' by my window now
For six nights in a row
She's coming for me I know
And on Wildfire we're both gonna go

We'll be riding Wildfire
She ran calling Wildfire
She ran calling Wildfire"

Friday, August 12, 2016


This summer has been dry and cloudless… until last night when we gathered with friends to watch the Perseids meteor shower. It was supposed to be the best display in years, and may well have been for those people lucky enough to be flying over the ceiling of clouds.

Bruce & Tina had come earlier in the day so that we could visit and float in the pool, one way to enjoy a day that crept up to 34C (40C humidex). We bobbed in the water, relaxing in the cool water; we made a whirlpool by running around the edge, pushing the water until it carried our floating bodies in a rush of water.

For supper we enjoyed some produce from their garden and things gleaned from supermarket shelves. Sausages cooked on our rarely used bbq rounded off the meal. As soon as supper was done and we had cleaned up, we jumped back in the pool, this time with noodles. A lazy evening floating passed the time until dusk. With some time left to go until the main event we retreated to the house so Bruce & Tina could watch Bill Clinton's speech from the convention.

Meanwhile, the clouds socked in.

I made the last of my seat reservations today and yes, each airline knew about me, so I feel pretty confident about my cheapOair booking! I got my tickets for an incredible price, I mean INCREDIBLE! I had a little blip of mega excitement for a moment today :-)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

I'm going!

Yesterday I sat for several minutes with my fingers poised over my keyboard - clicky click and it was done: flights were booked. At least I hope it it's booked. After the fact (and this is so unlike us not to investigate everything ahead of time), we read some reviews of the company I booked from. Oh oh. It doesn't sound good - some people didn't even get on their flights and were scammed. I guess you could say that we were freaking out a bit… and were trying to figure out a way to ensure I am set for NZ.

Today I got busy with the internet and I'm now pretty sure my flights are confirmed. I'll check again in a few weeks, and then again a few weeks before my January departure. Now I can get excited! Whoa there…  I have 5 months to pack so hopefully I won't drive myself crazy (like I did last time).

Yesterday and today have continued on being hot and dry. I just looked at the temp (it's afternoon right now) and it was 34C, not counting the humidity. Yowzers! Carm is out golfing - I hope they rented a cart.

Since the 5th of July we've had 18 days over 30C.

Later… no they didn't rent a cart and Carm had heat stroke. It's not the first time but his memory is short, even though I incessantly remind. Instead of sympathy I just felt exasperated… actually no, I felt angry. When will he learn that it is dangerous.

Monday, August 8, 2016

should I stay or should I go now

I sit here with fingers poised over my keyboard - should I nab this great flight to NZ or should I wait another year? This January my niece Shenna will be home, next year she'll be off to university and probably working a job during her summer holidays, so Jan 2017 might be the last with both girls at home. 'Should I stay or should I go now' says the song by 'The Clash'… my dilema exactly.

And then there is the guilt over leaving Carm on his own for month. He's a good sport about it and says 'book it', but I can't help feeling angst about leaving him.

Fingers are still poised.

Yesterday and today have been rest days. I was so exhausted that I slept past 11am yesterday. I wasn't much more energetic today.

If I'm going to NZ, I have to get on the treadmill every day and get myself in shape for the hills. Last time they ran me ragged, and I was already a tiny bit fit (fitter than now, that's for darn sure).

It is another hot day here in drought land. The grass is totally dried up, its brown blades crisp. Even some of the trees are starting to look limp. I can't remember a summer with more hot days - we are grateful for the pool and air conditioning. It has been a perfect summer to be home and not baking in the hot sun beside the camper. It's too bad we couldn't book Presquile (but just as well with the extended visit by Kirsten), and I'm really glad we didn't book Riverside instead. We've spent many days enjoying our place and pool - the first time in 8 years that we've spent so much time at home!

Fingers still poised I notice a tiny American flag near the top. Drat! No wonder the price was good, it was in US dollars…

After supper (tomato sandwiches) we had a visit with Trudie & Leo, comfortable and low key. A swim ended my day. Summer is good.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

a flurry of activity

Late Wednesday, July 27th,  Kirsten and girls arrived back in Canada for another week and a half. Kirsten's sister-in-law Kenda had passed away a few days earlier so they were back for her funeral and to help get the gears in motion to settle her estate. Of course I was there to see them first thing Thursday morning and spent every possible minute with them during the time they were in Canada. I slept at my parents, where Kirsten was staying, several nights to extend the visiting time. Carm was good natured and kept all the beasts fed and happy.

Saturday Kirsten's husband Shawn arrived from where he was working in LA. He and Carm went to a movie that afternoon - a little interlude from reality. Sunday was a day for serious phone calls, but everyone did manage to come out to our place for a swim on the holiday Monday. I think everyone enjoyed the short break from the grief of funeral arrangements.

During all this to and fro, the car got assaulted by a big rock, smashing a crack into the windshield. Tuesday I stayed close to home so we could get it fixed.

Wednesday and Thursday Kirsten and I spent time together at Kenda's, sorting through her things and arranging paperwork. It is sad to see a vibrant life sift down to a few important papers and heirloom jewelry that is difficult to find. The process got me thinking about my own estate and home. What do I have that is important or valuable? Would someone be able to find them among all the stuff that clutters my house? Maybe I need a document with photos of the heirlooms and a map of where to find everything.

Here's a question to you: do you have a will and if so, does someone know where to find it?

Finally the day came for Kenda's funeral. It was a scorching hot day. Everyone's tear ducts were on a hair trigger. She was so young, and in these sad occasions one can never get away from the thoughts of 'what if it was my sister or other family member'. The tears come more easily.

The funeral was at Beechwood Cemetery which is a beautiful location. The chapel has a soaring ceiling with thick wooden beams supporting it. Natural stone walls compliment the giant boulder that grows out of the floor.  But I'm jumping ahead of myself a bit. First was the visitation where we met some old friends and got to admire the mounties in their red serge. We got there at the start of the 2 hour visitation in case Kirsten needed some emotional support. Although I don't know how much support I was…

The ceremony was lovely. Friends spoke about her, followed by Shawn. There wasn't a dry eye in the place as Shawn struggled his way through the eulogy. The service over, next came the internment. Four RCMP in their red serge lifted the urn and carried it out to the hearse, where two mounted police stood, their black mounts swishing their tails in the heat. It was very moving. Kenda served time on the RCMP Musical Ride and I think she would have been pleased at the equine accompaniment. As she was laid to rest, a bugle and bagpipes rang out across the rows of headstones.

I spent the night Friday, and Saturday morning I went with Kirsten and Shenna to Kenda's where Shawn and his aunt Gloria had spent the night. A few final decisions about things to take back to NZ had to be made… it was the last day before Kirsten and the girls would be on their way back home. Back at Mom & Dad's, Olaf, Tammy and Freya were waiting for us. Once we could get everyone organized, we gathered on the staircase for some family photos  - we hadn't all been together for a photo for years and years - the photo that hung on the wall was over 12 years old, and there had been much growing, and even a few additions since then.

A final gathering around the table (Tammy had brought the lunch from Montreal to be heated up), and then it was time for Kirsten, Shawn and the girls to go to another family gathering . It was a farewell for me and I clung to everyone tightly. I'm not ashamed to say that I shed a few tears.

“I hope it is true that a man can die and yet not only live in others but give them life, and not only life, but that great consciousness of life.”

~Jack Kerouac