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