Wednesday, August 16, 2017

a picnic basket

The raindrops splattered on the windshield less than 10 minutes after we were in the car. It was okay though: we were on our way home and we’d already had the picnic that had been planned months ago. As the weeks rolled by there were countless reasons we didn’t pack up the picnic basket and hit the road: afternoons often had rain in the forecast; Carm was golfing 3 days a week; visits to my brother were higher priority; Carm was visiting his mom. There were more reasons than could be counted.

Yesterday was forecast to be beautiful but I had woken up limp like a dirty dishcloth. I knew if we stayed home I would mope around all day so I took that chance that I’d perk up and we hit the road - finally that picnic would come to life. There was no fried chicken and potato salad in our basket, no, we had our usual lunch of hummus with pita and arugula. The previous night’s transgression at my mom’s had left Carm with higher blood pressure (we are guessing salt), and an uptick on the scale for both of us. We are determined to get into fighting fit shape.

It was about a 50 minute drive to our destination, but some of that was on a low speed road with beautiful homes and farms abutting the strip of asphalt. Old stone walls with stone houses hidden behind trees sparked wishful thinking (on my part anyway).

It was a beautiful day for a drive.

We reached our first destination and grabbed the picnic basket out of the car. An old white table cloth was thrown over the nearby table. Before eating we took a little walk along the lock and wondered if we’d be lucky enough to see a boat go through (we weren’t).

Lunch was eaten in the dapple shade of giant trees, sun glinting off the still canal waters. Lovely.

After lunch we drove to Merrickville, a little ‘boutique’ village not far from the locks. We wandered up and down the street, ducking into the odd shop to see their wares. Carm bought some spicy peanuts. Before we went back to the car we stopped at the locks in the village to see a boat go through. It was tall enough that they had to swing the bridge clear of the waterway. There wasn’t a clunk or a shudder as the road swung around - the mechanics were perfect.

And then we were back to the car, ready to make our way home. It was a lovely afternoon!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

that beautiful season

As I walked down the laneway, dogs on their leashes beside me, I was almost overcome by the perfection of the morning. The sun shone brightly with only a few fluffy white clouds on the horizon, the air was soft and warm, the fragrance of honey dripped from the goldenrod. Something else is flowering too, adding a depth to the sweetness in the air. Heavenly.

We completed our walk in bliss and once back in the house I rushed around getting the swing and back deck ready for a lazy day. Grace was equally anxious to get outside, muttering under her breath as we stepped out the door.

The last few days have been much like our other days, a mix of busy and remarkably lazy. I visited my brother on Tuesday, we went shopping on Wednesday (at least I think it was Wed, the days have been blurring together), we visited my brother-in-law on Friday, were lazy on Saturday. I’ve left off Carm’s exertion marathon of grass cutting.

I lamented the other day about not being shoppers and not having that activity to distract us. For one afternoon that was remedied: Wednesday I decided that we’d go to the mall in the hopes of finding one more top for the cruise - the summer stuff should be on sale. In the first store I found a nice, slightly dressy top that will be perfect. We tracked down a changing room and as I stared at the blinding white lump in the mirror I remembered my aversion to shopping… I stuck my head back into the sand and stepped outside the changeroom so Carm could make his proclamation. It was a buy.

I girded my loins (so to speak) and we continued our quest. Maybe we’d find another. In the second store I noticed a bright fuschia top hanging against one wall. The colour caught my eye so I grabbed my size and searched for the change room. Again we found the cash register and walked out of the store with a second bag.

Still we pressed on. I think Carm was on a roll and secretly hoping that we’d never have to come again if we made one more purchase. He was in luck - two more tops were bagged.

This is a big change for me as none of the tops are t-shirts, which is pretty much all I wear. I suppose I am starting to dress my age which totally freaks me out as I’ll be 55 in just over a month. Holy crap. But that’s a whole other topic…

I haven’t been getting on the treadmill but I do have an excuse. Since the hay was cut, I’ve been walking the dogs around the field several times a day. The exercise is good for all of us, plus it’s good mental stimulation for the dogs. Sometimes I walk them around on their leashes, mainly so I’m not standing calling them constantly as they find something else to investigate. It’s also good for them to remember leash walking as in less than a month we’ll be camping!

Sound fills the air. Cicadas are singing. Grace is chatting. Leaves are rustling.

At this exact second in time life is perfect.

Then followed that beautiful season... Summer....
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.”
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Monday, August 7, 2017

days dash by

I opened the door to September this morning: cool with a bright sparkling sky. I’m holding out hope for more swimming weather near the end of the week - I just bought a new pool noodle to try out!

Yesterday (Sunday), after some futzing around, which included some house cleaning, we decided that we’d like to have company for supper so gave a ring to Peter and Julie. As luck would have it they were free and joined us for a congenial evening. We met up with them not long ago at the Keg where we celebrated our shared anniversary together.


Some of the text below was written on Sunday afternoon, before we cleaned the house and got ready for spur of the moment company. The rest was written the day before that - it is all a jumble and I don’t expect you to read through it.

I wish we were shoppers, you know, the kind of people who are happy wandering around a mall with no goal. It would be good to have something to do when I want to get out of the house, but there is no particular destination. Going out for lunch would be nice, but we are on a serious weight loss program.

Today is cool and windy - a day we’d be happy with if it was October…

When I opened my file to start today’s blog I found a few paragraphs that I had started but never finished. I want to remember some of it so will look back into the past today.

Thursday was a whirlwind of visiting Graham, and then Carm’s mom who is in the hospital. She is safely out, back into the nursing home, and doing well. At 89 even the simplest ailments are serious.

I had started the day Thursday with two small pieces of grilled tofu and by 3pm was faint with hunger. Luckily (?) the hospital has a Tim Hortons so I was able to get a bagel with cream cheese. I should have passed, as not only eating in a hospital a little gross (all those germs - we passed one room that was being cleaned by people with hazmat suits on), but we left for home not long after so I could have saved the calories. Carm is now down 21 lbs, me? only 8…

Saturday we got the grooming table out and gave the poodles haircuts on their faces and bellies. And then everyone got a bath. There wasn’t much happiness in our house yesterday afternoon.

Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.”
~Norman Vincent Peale

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

summer's sweet sensation

I thought I’d stay on the swing and enjoy the light shower - I’d be protected overhead by a small canopy and there was no wind to drive the drops underneath. Then the thunder started and I figured that sitting on a metal swing, under a metal gazebo, would not be the smartest.

We are having another gorgeous day, until now (it’s 2:30pm). Clouds have moved in as forecast - boo hoo. (But wait an hour and the sun is in and out of the clouds.) But no matter the clouds hazing the sky, the air is fragranced by the nectar of so many wildflowers. I stand and breathe in deeply and a feeling of contentment descends.

I don’t know why, but today I am so tired I can barely move - I’ve been like that for a few weeks but today was the worst. Since we’ve drastically cut down salt, I’m wondering if my lithium levels are getting out of whack. The two are tightly bound. I guess I need to find a way to add a little bit of salt to what I’m eating while not increasing Carm’s intake.

I did drag myself into the car for a drive - Carm at the wheel. We picked up dog food in a village about 20 min away, driving down country back roads for a change of scenery. I love the beauty of a rural road with their ditches brimming with wild flowers, and newly cut hay fields stretching out on either side.

I’m making cajun black beans and rice in the instant pot tonight, and cauliflower and zucchini in the actifry. The black beans are cooking now - it is a bit of an experiment with cooking them partway from dry so I can finish them with the rice. We shall see. I’ve never had much luck cooking dried beans in the ancient past and had given up trying. Since we got the Instant Pot I’ve done romano and chickpeas with great success.

The luxury of all summer's sweet sensation is to be found when one lies at length in the warm, fragrant grass, soaked with sunshine, aware of regions of blossoming clover and of a high heaven filled with the hum of innumerous bees.”
~Harriet E. Prescott

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

lie sometimes on the grass under the trees

Grace crunches her dried pellets, a slight breeze ruffling her feathers. The pellets are a treat for her when she is outside - I think it must be like us eating a bowl of popcorn or other crunchy treat. Usually she eats people food.

It is a beautiful summer day with a bit more heat than we’ve been having. We had scheduled a picnic along the Rideau waterway for today, but decided to save it for a day that isn’t so hot. These sultry days are treasures for lazily reading (and writing!) on the swing, with an occasional dip into the pool. The pool liner is blue which makes the water look like an exotic sea set in a field of grass and wild flowers.

After making all that pesto yesterday I felt that it was only fair to invite Trudie & Leo over for supper. Half of what we ate came from their garden: new potatoes, zucchini (done in the actifry), the pesto that was slathered on the pasta. Oh to be able to have a summer meal in the winter with vegetables fresh from the garden!

I made hard-boiled eggs in the Instant Pot today - wow. Easy to peel and perfectly done - yolks were creamy but firm. No guessing, just 5-5-5 (five minutes at high pressure, 5 minutes natural release, then 5 minutes in icy water.) I may have been imagining it, but these were especially delicious.

I do wonder how I cooked before the Instant Pot and Actifry!

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the blue sky, is by no means waste of time.”

~John Lubbock

Monday, July 31, 2017

summer freshness of newly picked basil

Ring… ring… huh? what? I opened my eyes and made a grab for the phone. I was not fully awake when I heard Trudie’s voice at the other end of the line - I was supposed to go to her place on Saturday to pick basil. It was now Monday… Oh dear. “Could I come now?”. I staggered out of bed into the bathroom. The visage in the mirror was barely recognizable: bed head was out of control. A few splashes of water and it was somewhat flattened.

No coffee for me, instead I headed directly out the door and into the truck. It isn’t far to Trudie’s, maybe a km or two (she’s our neighbor on one side) so I barely had time to wake up.

I should mention that Trudie has the energy of a manic person and I’m pretty sure she has never had a bleary moment, so I sucked it up and pretended I was bright and chipper.

I received instruction on how she wanted the basil picked and got to work. The ‘trug’ that I had brought to put everything in was full to the brim with the summer freshness of newly picked basil. I could almost taste the pesto.

A pile of freshly picked garlic was wrapped into a bag and away I went home. There was work to do.

First a swim though ;-) and that cup of coffee.

I picked through the giant bin of basil and soon I had a mountain of leaves with a tower of stems beside it. Carm peeled a bunch of garlic, then the food processor got to work chopping the basil and spinning it with garlic. I don’t put the cheese in until I’m using it as many times I just want basil and garlic.

I think I did four full bowls in the food processor before I had several baggies and two small containers ready to freeze. I kept some aside to use tonight (fresh zucchini from Trudie’s garden in the actifry and tossed with pesto - my mouth is watering just thinking about it.)

It is a summer day again today - hot with a little cool in the shade. This morning was cloudless, but some are moving in this afternoon. Yesterday was nice too and Graham came out for a visit. We sat on the swing enjoying an afternoon in the country.

Four years ago today we had already been in Medicine Hat for a day. I was happy to re-read the blog entries for that day - a little reminder of how wonderful that trip was. We’ve had a few fantastic trips in the last few years and I would be hard pressed to choose a favorite, but if I had to, I think it would be our Alberta adventure. Almost everything about that trip was a journey home to the happiest times of my youth. So many memories were revisited and relived. The west is my heart’s true home.

I was merely looking at the prairie as a human being, savouring it for its beauty which engaged all the senses and brought with it a feeling of well-being, contentment and often even joy.”
~Sharon Butala - The Perfection of the Morning

Saturday, July 29, 2017

I'm content

“Don’t touch it!”, she said, too late to save herself. We were doing our daily round of the hay field and the newly formed Norwegian Spruce cones hung tantalizingly over the fence. I couldn’t help but reach my hand to cup this marvel of nature. That was before I noticed the spruce gum dripping.

A good scrub with hot water and dish soap got rid of most of the sticky residue.

The sun is shining, and while it isn’t hot, it is a lovely day. Not a baking, languid one to be spent by the pool, but a regular summer day.

Yesterday was nice too. Carm golfed and when he got home I drove into the city to see brother Graham. We had a nice lunch of sushi and good conversation.

For supper we went to Trudie & Leo’s and sat outside in her lovely garden, mosquitoes held at bay by some special lanterns. We had bbq meat - a treat for us as we’ve been all beans & legumes for the last few weeks - and lots of veggies and fruit, so all was not lost ;-)

I had the urge to get out of the house, and maybe in the past we would have gone out for lunch, today we made the trip to Liquidation with no noshing at the Greek diner. I had seen some glass chargers (big plates for the table) when we were there last time but took the time to sleep on it. They were still there so today we checked them over and loaded a bunch into my cart. Now I’ll have to plan a dinner party to break them in (or not).

With healthy eating comes lots and lots of time in the kitchen. I’m on a roll now and hope that continues. Carm has been pitching in cutting and chopping so that’s a big help. It doesn’t seem like quite as big a chore when we are shoulder to shoulder at the cutting board.

It's easy to impress me. I don't need a fancy party to be happy. Just good friends, good food, and good laughs. I'm happy. I'm satisfied. I'm content.”
~Maria Sharapova

Thursday, July 27, 2017

beans, beans, the musical fruit

Black-eyed peas are cooking in the Instant Pot. I’ll make bean burgers to save in the freezer. A quick meal, even one that can be served to friends, will be at the ready. Yesterday I cooked chickpeas in the IP - 2 cups of dried expands into a full container of hummus (once I add all the good stuff).

Yesterday was my monthly psyc dr. appointment. I’m sad to say that I have only two more appointments left with Dr. N before she retires. She’s been a voice of reason for me for 6 ½ years and I’ll miss her.

The weather has still been overcast and cool. The sun might shine for an hour or two first thing in the morning, but the remainder of the days have been dismal. What a summer :-(  I can count on one hand the number of swing days.

Since the Instant Pot, I’ve gone on a dry bean marathon which is good… except… the beans take up so much room and have turned my pantry into a chaotic mess. A trip to the store netted us a few containers so I can unbag the beans, and while this little corner of the pantry is good, I have the detritus from where I put them to sort out. I think I’ll have to start from ground zero and empty the pantry so I can start from fresh, and maybe get rid of some of the stuff I don’t use as much.

I don’t have the energy for that. Maybe if I ate a DQ blizzard I’d be able to tackle Mount Ever-so-full, but I’ve given up on those naughty calories, at least for the moment.

Maybe the cat has fallen into the stew, or the lettuce has frozen, or the cake has collapsed. Eh bien, tant pis. Usually one's cooking is better than one thinks it is. And if the food is truly vile, then the cook must simply grit her teeth and bear it with a smile, and learn from her mistakes.”
~Julia Child

Monday, July 24, 2017

the old man is snoring

And now for something completely different… it is pouring cats and dogs and has been since before sunrise. Huge thunderstorms have rocked the house, rain is coming down in sheets, and the swale in the field is a torrent of water.

The saturated ground cannot absorb any more moisture. I expect that the creek will flood.

I don’t know where the saying ‘raining cats and dogs’ came from. On a rainy day my dogs can sleep remarkably late compared to a sunny day when they HAVE to go outside asap, and even then, they must be pushed out the door. There is no lingering outside, checking out the smells around the barn, nor is there any venturing out to the field. No, it is a mad dash to get back to the house where they huddle against the door waiting for us to let them back inside.

Mine are not ‘outside’ dogs, tied to a chain all day. They know only comfort and ease. In fact, they are all asleep on cushions as I type this.

The sound of the rain on the windows was lulling me, no, luring me back to bed. Snuggling under the covers with a book seems like a really good idea. It still might happen, but I did motivate myself to get on the treadmill – no huge achievement though, it was only for 14 minutes (3/4 mile). Still, it’s better than nothing.

129 days till we are sailing in the Caribbean again. Which means that Christmas is just a few days more.

I’ve been drinking gallons of mint tea made from freshly picked leaves from the garden. It’s good hot, warm or cold.  It is delightful! I think I must transplant some into a pot for inside this winter.

“I went to bed and woke in the middle of the night thinking I heard someone cry, thinking I myself was weeping, and I felt my face and it was dry.
Then I looked at the window and thought: Why, yes, it's just the rain, the rain, always the rain, and turned over, sadder still, and fumbled about for my dripping sleep and tried to slip it back on.”
~Ray Bradbury

Sunday, July 23, 2017

frustrates the intellect

Just hit the dam% ball! Yes, we are watching the British Open and Jordan Spieth has hit a bad drive, declared an unplayable lie and is futzing around trying to find a place to drop… omg - I can’t believe I know all that. I guess stuff rubbed off on me after 30 years of watching golf.

The rain is holding off… fingers crossed because it is overcast and cold.

Venison is not vegan but gosh it was tasty. We had supper at Trudie & Leo’s and since Leo is an intrepid hunter we ate some of his prey. You might think that I’d be anti hunting with my love for animals, but actually, I feel that an animal that has lived a natural life and is suddenly killed is more humane than one raised for meat in a feedlot and then trucked to the killer’s.

Tried to take a walk in the field tonight but the mosquitoes drove us inside.

Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated; it satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening - and it is without a doubt the greatest game mankind has ever invented.” ~Arnold Palmer

Saturday, July 22, 2017

blossom in my heart

That thunderstorm that I wrote about a few days ago never came so now we’ve had a few days (3?) with no rain. The hay was cut yesterday and now lays in the field, flat and shriveling. Our fingers are crossed for a few more nice days.

Soon we’ll have our field back and there will be no excuses for not going for a walk.

Carm golfed again yesterday, and I putzed around the house getting the odd thing done. It seems I can fill my time with a whole lotta nothing to show for it. I did get some of the cooking done for supper though.

We had Cathey, a friend of Carm’s from early days of university, over for supper last night. They’ve kept in touch all these years and we manage to get together a few times a year. Cathey is sometimes a strict vegan so can be a challenge to make something. I generally cook vegan(ish), but am not adverse to using chicken broth, worcestershire sauce and other taboo ingredients. We are cutting way back on salt and added fats as well which makes for some tricky cooking.

I’m out on the swing with the dogs. In the past I wouldn’t normally relax with them loose, Spike would be sure to disappear on some game trail or another. It’s a sign he’s getting older now though - he went for a totter around the grass and was back up on the deck before I could call him. It’s nice that he’s so good but horrible that he’s getting old.

Scrap that thought about Spike. He and Bella just raced off to the barn where the critters are :-( … back from chasing them down from the middle of the hay field. Grrrr... The poodles do like to track things down.

A trip to the utility room in the basement last night revealed a watery stream snaking its way across the floor. We followed the track to the water pipes and spied a leak. Droplets of water dripped onto the floor in some sort of slow motion water torture. Luckily there is a shut off valve for that section of pipe. No air conditioning until we track down a plumber, but we’ll survive - it’s not been horribly hot.

Oh! Four years ago today we left on our epic journey to Alberta.

And when you crush an apple with your teeth, say to it in your heart:
Your seeds shall live in my body,
And the buds of your tomorrow shall blossom in my heart,
And your fragrance shall be my breath,
And together we shall rejoice through all the seasons.”
~Kahlil Gibran

Thursday, July 20, 2017

eyes turned skyward

Mid afternoon: inside, watching black clouds gather, severe thunderstorms in the forecast.

Carm has already gotten a patch of grass cut, pressure washed Grace’s cage, threw a load of dog stuff into the laundry, and washed the car and truck. Some of it before I was even out of bed. Me? I got a pot of beans cooked and then transformed it into delicious, healthy hummus. Oh, and I scrubbed the area that Grace’s cage sits in. And I did do a few steps on the treadmill - one day closer to creating a new habit.

Driving the back way to Jo Ellen and Don’s last night with my earworm on my mind, I thought of the trips we used to take when I was a child. Unlike other people who took road trips, we often flew to our destination. My view out the window wasn’t of ditches and fields. Well, that isn’t exactly true - I did see fields, just from above, and the whole thing at once, a flat patch of colour on the ground. Roads formed a grid across the earth. Farms and houses were just tiny toys. I still like the birds-eye-view and fight for the window seat when travelling by air.

I never tire of the view from the ground though. I love to see the landscape flash by the window. I savoured every moment of our 2013 trek across Canada to Alberta and don’t recall ever being bored of the changing landscape.

Maybe it’s time for a road trip!

Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”
~Leonardo da Vinci

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

makes the world go round

Cloudy… rain in forecast… so much for the 3 days of no rain they forecast yesterday. So far in July there have been 5 days without rain. Last year was the opposite - we prayed for rain as we watched the vegetation turn brown.

I sorted the bottom shelf of the kitchen cupboard I did yesterday and the utensil drawer. A grocery sized bag of garbage and recycle later I was done. I will admit to opening the doors for a peek every now and then. And to be honest, even though you’ll think I’m crazy, I still get pleasure when I open my clothing drawers (I did them in April and am keeping up with the exacting folding methods). All my t-shirts, underwear, and shorts are lined up like soldiers, easy to see and easy to pick out. Oh, so tidy.

I still have way too much stuff.

Carm went golfing again today. He’s burning off calories like crazy and he’s changed his eating habits. I’m also making healthy meals so he is melting in front of my eyes. His shorts needed to be cinched up with a belt or they’d be beyond his knees. I’m so proud of him but wish I could be motivated to get on the treadmill and burn some calories as well.

Maybe for 5 minutes as a start.

a little while later… did 10 minutes which isn’t anything to cheer about but if you knew how tired I’ve been since the Med trip you’d understand.

I was listening to my massive collection of sappy 70s music when I was reminded of an earworm. I’ve had ‘Candy man’ (Sammy Davis Jr.) as an earworm a number of times but one time in particular always comes to mind. It is a bit of a time warp, taking me into the back seat of a little one engine airplane going somewhere that I can’t remember. I’m sitting behind my dad and he’s wearing headphones (maybe yellow), my Mom is in the co-pilot seat navigating. Kirsten sits beside me. I don’t recall looking out the window and have the feeling that we were flying through clouds. I sang that song to myself over and over that day hopefully under my breath, but perhaps louder driving everyone else in the plane crazy.

Oh oh. Earworm here we are again. (the Candy man can cause he mixes it with love and makes the world go round..) AAAACCCKKKK!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

food and cheer and song

We celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary on Saturday. As is our usual custom, we wrote sappy notes to each other and looked at our wedding photos. At the back of the album are a few photos of us with our three dogs and two cats from around the time that we got married. I am shocked to realize how long ago it was that these animals were with us. I think of having an Irish Wolfhound as something that happened not that long ago, but I was wrong. I think it was 1996 when Max left us.

We’ve always had dogs in sets of three: Chetta, Ranger & Max; Pan, Grizzle & Titan; and this last group, Bella, Kabira & Spike. That’s a lot of dogs.

We finished our celebration with supper at the Keg with Peter and Julie. They were married on the same day that we were, just ½ hour before us. We told the staff at the Keg and they treated us to a dessert. I wonder if they believed us? We also go to the Keg on Carm’s birthday with Bruce and Tina. Bruce & Carm share the same birthday, but not on the same year.

Sunday we did a quick trip into the city to visit my parents.

Yesterday we got haircuts. It was a reasonably nice day and I’d like to say that it didn’t rain Sunday night… but… it did.

Trudie & Leo came by for an easy soup supper Monday night. I’m starting to get the hang of the instant pot, but I was working from two recipes again yesterday so may have flubbed a few things. As soon as I’m in the mood I’ll re-write into one so that I know better what I’m doing.

Today (Tuesday) is hot as heck. Carm is away for the day doing car maintenance stuff, while I lollygag around the house. Actually I got busy and went through all my mixing and serving bowls - I have stacks of them - and cleared out a bunch to go to the thrift shop. Then I tackled the two (yes t w o) cupboards with plastic containers. There are heaps for recycle. My cupboards look tidy, and only mildly overstuffed :-0 I did wimp out on one of the shelves (non plastic related) so will have to face that pile of junk still. It felt good to move forward for a change.

Now (2:30pm), I’m on the swing, sipping some Earl Grey tea. The air feels soft and warm, like a caress from a cashmere sweater. I’m just a stone's throw from the pool so once I get hot enough I can splash in the cool water. Summer bliss. There hasn’t been enough swing time this summer and it is already past mid July.

Now again (after supper), I’m on the sofa, watching the news. Weather forecast is calling for 3 days in a row with no rain! We are nicely full after a vegan supper cooked in the actifry and the instant pot. I could have used the stove and microwave but it’s more fun using my new appliances.

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
J.R.R. Tolkien

Friday, July 14, 2017

the notebook

It is pouring rain… again… for the umptheeth day in a row.

I can’t say that it has affected my day much, aside from the fact that I’m not writing this from the swing.

I made a double batch of hummus this morning - double because we are going through heaps on our lunchtime pita with hummus and arugula. I didn’t use canned beans but instead used dried and cooked them for ages in the instant pot so they were nice and creamy. Of course I can’t remember how long I gave them but I think it was around 35 minutes (gotta remember to take notes next time).

I sorted through a couple of shoeboxes of pet stuff that I had on the counter and in the appliance cupboard. There was a giant pile of stuff to throw out and I was able to consolidate into one metal shoebox which looks tidy on the counter. It freed up space in the cupboard so that I can see my extra spices better.

The tidying that I did in the kitchen a few months ago was timely. I had space in the pantry for the actifry, I moved the bread maker (which we haven’t used for a few years) into another space in the pantry. The instant pot and blender/food processor fit into the appliance cupboard. The cupboards have power outlets in them so I just have to open the door, pull out the appliance and cook away. I love my kitchen.

Oh, I’m just babbling. I’m a little bit bored and don’t know where the day is going.

… a little while later…

I’ve just had a ride on the “you can’t get there from here” rollercoaster. What fun. I am just about ready to give up on technology. The “opportunity”? Installing MS Streets and Trips onto my wablet. Install - check. Run - skid to a stop. I need a product key and for the life of me I can’t find what I did with it. I can’t read it on the PC where it is already installed. It isn’t in any file on my laptop. It doesn’t seem to be in my Outlook email. I can’t believe it but it seems that I stored it NOWHERE!!!

… more time has passed…

HOLD THE BOAT! I found it! I have a little spiral bound notebook that I keep notes in. Almost anytime I write something down, or at least I used to. I got out of the habit a year or two ago, but since I never throw anything out it was still on my desk. I skimmed though it and on a page all by itself was the word ‘Streets’ followed by the key.

I found some good recipes too :-)

Thursday, July 13, 2017


I checked my watch for the third time. I had gotten to the cafe early (really early) as I didn’t want to be late and I tried to be patient as the clock slowly ticked to the meeting time. Right on time I saw two light coloured heads round the corner and appear in the doorway: Diane and Mary.

I haven’t seen either of them for months so it was a great pleasure to catch up on everyone’s news. I wondered why I hadn’t made more of an effort to get together. That’s my fault. It is sometimes difficult to overcome inertia. For every action there is an equal but opposite reaction that keeps me in place.

I had barely backed the truck down the laneway when Carm returned from golf. We quickly decided on a trip to Bulk Barn for some spices. The smoked paprika was 1/10th the grocery store price so I got enough for a big jar. I’ve never used the SP but many of the recipes that I’ve been making lately call for it.

Now I’m back home and getting ready for dinner guests (Jo Ellen and Don). When I’m in cooking mode, like I have been for the past few weeks, it is easy to have company, especially if they don’t mind that the house is a bit of a wreck or that they are served vegan fare.

… the next day (Thursday)...

Note to self - don’t make a new recipe in a new appliance if you have company. There were a few times that I stood immobile looking at the two recipes while I tried to figure out what to do next. Everything took way longer than I estimated and we didn’t eat until nearly 7pm. The soup, which was a mash up of two recipes, turned out really well. There could have been more beans (1 cup dry soaked overnight), and less pasta for more of a fagioli soup. I also made zucchini and mushrooms in the actifry.

I’m reading the rules for Mahjong, over and over again, as I’m sitting with a group of friends this afternoon to see if I’m a fit. It is super complicated and I may not be smart enough.

… later in the day Thursday…

I’m home from Mahjong and my head is slightly fuzzy and I have a faint headache. It is reminiscent of my first days with my wablet. Nicole gave me a great introduction and was a patient teacher. So much to learn! I sat at the table watching for the first two games, but for the last one I was left on my own and what a mashup that was. But I survived, had fun visiting everyone, and even exercised the old noggin a bit. :-)

Then you must teach my daughter this same lesson. How to lose your innocence but not your hope. How to laugh forever.”
Amy Tam, The Joy Luck Club

Monday, July 10, 2017

all the days with rain

I’ve read to chapter 3 in my re-read of ‘Writing Tools’. I am inspired to write, but since I haven’t been doing much other than cook and lie around, there isn’t much to write about.

Outside the kitchen window a red-wing blackbird flashed its red and yellow epaulettes as it took flight. This morning a pair of flickers foraged in the grass. They are big birds, bigger than a robin, and their spotted feathers blend with fallen leaves for perfect camouflage. A pair of robins has a nest outside the bedroom window, their chicks just barely tall enough to see out of the nest. I keep the curtains closed so we don’t disturb them.

So much life.

It is murky in the living room where I’m sitting. It’s like being deep in the forest, accentuated by leafy trees pressing against the windows. Not even a flicker of sunlight squeezes its way out of the clouds. A few drops of rain that turn into a downpour are a poor substitute for golden rays. I wish for sun as the gloom is weighing me down, leaving me feeling like Eeyore as I struggle against the impulse to go back to bed (drink coffee instead).

(note to self: I cooked the green beans and mushrooms in the Actifry last night but made the mistake of cooking the beans too long. I need to remember to cook the mushrooms for 7 minutes, then add the green beans for another 7 minutes. There is no better way to cook mushrooms.)

It’s pouring rain now. Again. Not a day has gone by without some precipitation. The farmers are going crazy about getting the hay off the fields. Ours is still standing - I’d like it gone so I can start walking in the field again… We need 3 full days without rain.

Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark.” ~Rabindranath Tagore

Sunday, July 9, 2017


I walked down the laneway to open the gate for Carm, my head in the clouds, oblivious. “LAURA LOOK AT THIS” (caps on purpose). I rushed back up to the house urged on by the urgency in his voice. It was a ssssnake. A garter snake about 45cm long. A snake that disappeared into the garage as I skidded to a stop.  A plethora of junk leaning against the wall hid it from sight as it slithered into the darkness. Carm started rattling some of the detritus and soon we saw its head appear back at the door, followed by the rest of it. It undulated along the outside of the garage and disappeared under the deck.

I’ve been seeing lots of snakes this summer, mostly small ones too small to eat mice.

Pat the pet sitter came for supper last night. Grace was happy to see her, as were the big dogs, but one little brown dog seems to associate her with us leaving so for part of the night he hid out in our bedroom.

Today has been a grab bag of weather, cool with some sun and intermittent showers. I took Grace out to the deck for a shower au natural but she wasn’t impressed.

We were examining a big hole with two entrances. The burrow sloped into the ground at a gentle angle, so that we could see where the two corridors united, and the floor was dusty from use, like a little highway over which much travel went. I was walking backward, in a crouching position, when I heard Antonia scream. She was standing opposite me, pointing behind me and shouting something in Bohemian. I whirled around, and there, on one of those dry gravel beds, was the biggest snake I had ever seen. He was sunning himself, after the cold night, and he must have been asleep when Antonia screamed. When I turned, he was lying in loose waves, like a letter "W". He twitched and began to coil slowly. He was not merely a big snake, I thought - he was a circus monstrosity. His abominable muscularity, his loathsome, fluid motion, somehow made me sick. He was as thick as my leg, and looked as if millstones couldn't crush the disgusting vitality out of him. He lifted his hideous little head , and rattled. I didn't run because I didn't think of it - if my back had been against a stone wall I couldn't have felt more cornered. I saw his coils tighten - now he would spring, spring his length, I remembered. I ran up and drove at his head with my spade, struck him fairly across the neck, and in a minute he was all about my feet in wavy loops. I struck now from hate. Antonia, barefooted as she was, ran up behind me. Even after I had pounded his ugly head flat, his body kept on coiling and winding, doubling and falling back on itself. I walked away and turned my back. I felt seasick.”
~Willa Cather

Saturday, July 8, 2017


whack… grumble grumble… whack

my phone is my writing pad this afternoon as I sit on a worn chair at the golf driving range. I am practicing a two thumb typing with limited success and not much speed. Practice makes perfect though (ha ha).

a few drops of rain splattered on my screen - the clouds are bunching together, squeezing a bit of water out and blocking the beautiful sky. There is still the odd bit of sun that peeks out to remind us that it is summer.

I went for a swim before we left, I think there were fewer clouds at home. There was no swimming (by me) when we got back home. Sitting around at the driving range, and walking the aisles of the grocery store did not warm me up enough for a dip.

Even though we rarely buy meat, we always look in the sale bin at the grocery store. Today we scored chicken legs with backs attached for $0.99 lb. The dogs will feast tonight!

Last night we joined friends at the Acapulco restaurant for supper. Marie had her brother and his wife visiting from Czech Republic, and along with her husband Vashek and Trudie & Leo we made a raucous bunch. I had the delicious but waistline unfriendly shrimp.

The actifry is busy roasting up some chickpeas for snacking. I read a post by someone who hated her actifry but had only used it once. I thought she was crazy.

I’ll end this post with a walk down the laneway. Apple trees crowd the lane, branches heavy with rapidly growing apples. It’s going to be a bumper crop this year. I close my eyes to imagine a dish of hot apples and cinnamon.  

On the other side of the grey gravel, a tangled bed of cultivated flowers mixes wildly with Nature’s intruders. Their fragrance combines into a heady sweetness, the kind that I want to capture in a bottle to uncork in the white stillness of winter.

I close my eyes (just for a moment or I’m sure to trip) and breathe in the smell of summer. Everything green and blooming create wonders for all the senses. The sterility of winter seems so far away.

Friday, July 7, 2017

chained to the stove (or actifry, or instant pot)

I stare blankly at the page, willing inspiration to take control and whirr my fingers over the keyboard, creating lovely prose as each key is struck. Instead, a dull, grey haze seems to have been drawn across my eyes.

Could it be my glasses? I’ve had to go back to an older pair for reading books and screens. They are great for close-up work, but distance is another matter and things are blurry. Perhaps my brain has been blurred as well.


My new Instant Pot and Actifry have been put to good use this week. I’ve been cooking and cooking, some for immediate consumption, but some for stashing in the freezer for a quick meal. I made two kinds of bean burgers on Wednesday: lentil and black-eyed pea. I served the lentil ones with roasted potatoes and green beans to Trudie & Leo the other night. They are confirmed meat eaters but didn’t complain about the vegan menu, although they may have politely choked back the burgers.

As soon as Carm came in the house on Wednesday and announced that they were home, I was on the phone to invite them for supper. A month is a long time to be away and we did miss them.

Carm has been dieting (hence all the cooking…) and has lost well over 10 pounds so far. Me? I’ve lost 1 - where is the fairness in that!!!! Granted, he has been golfing and cutting the grass almost daily while I’ve been chained to the counter cooking, hardly moving at all.


Thursday I went to Kari’s house to pick up Meryl, my step-grandmother, for lunch. She graciously ate the lukewarm lentil soup that I served up (note to self: keep warm setting on instant pot does not keep things hot, just warm). BTW - the instant pot did a great job on the soup and it was hands free enough for me to leave it for ½ hour while I picked up Meryl.

Friday Carm  played golf again…

“There is a comfort in the strength of love; 'Twill make a thing endurable, which else would overset the brain, or break the heart.”
William Wordsworth

Monday, July 3, 2017


A week has flown by in a flurry of doing both nothing and everything. It has been a perfect mixture of alone and crowds.

Last Thursday Bjorn and Ingeborg joined us for another night of tall tales and laughter. They are such a lovely couple to be with – I think if they lived closer we’d be very good friends. Their English is amazing, which is good as our Norwegian is non existent.Tusen tukk (many thanks), and a drinking song is about the limit of my vocabulary.



Friday it was raining (again) so instead of Upper Canada Village (which is a primarily outdoor activity), we drove down to the locks at Iroquois and waited for a big ‘Laker’ to come. We had to  be patient though… and I’m afraid we wasted too much time there. By the time the giant ship had made its way through we were starving for lunch and went to the Basket Case for our favorite club sandwich. We certainly didn’t show Ingeborg and Bjorn the beauty of our area which means they’ll have to come back for a better look ;-)

After lunch we raced home in time to get some meatballs into the crockpot and get changed to go to Mom & Dad’s for their party.

My aunt Kari had all her family visiting from Western Canada so it was a wonderful treat to meet up with them again. Some I’ve seen recently but it has been decades since I’ve seen Linda who was closest to my age. I used to trail after her when we visited my grandfather. I’m sure I was a big pest.

Canada Day was hot on the heels of those festivities, and I’m half ashamed to say that we didn’t venture down to Parliament Hill. Instead we waited for Olaf & Tammy to arrive from Montreal and we all went to the local village activities. It was much more kid friendly than the crush on the  hill and Freya had fun dancing to the band and splashing in puddles.


Olaf & family stayed with us for the night which was a special treat. We haven’t had a one on one visit with them since they arrived from NZ 1 1/2 years ago. Olaf is still my baby brother (I was 14 when he was born) and I’m always shocked to see him all grown up!

The dogs are not used to kids – I could probably count on one hand the number of times they’ve been around them, but they were wonderful with their human cousin. Bella was a sweetheart and followed Freya around the whole visit. She wore feathers in her hair and lay with Freya on a fort of pillows. The two of them were precious.


By now the calendar had rolled over to Sunday, July 2nd, the date for Kari & Trevor’s huge party. There was swimming, a band, a whole roasted pig, and lots of visiting with friends and family. We had such a good time. Mom & Dad and Bjorn & Ingeborg were there so we took our final opportunity to visit. It was with pang of sadness that I waved goodbye when they all left as the Norwegians are starting on the rest of their trip today and are on their way to Western Canada.


Today, well, Carm played golf early in the morning and I stayed snoring in bed for a few more hours. It is finally sunny, and I don’t even think rain is in the forecast. Someone told Carm that it has rained for 18 days in a row. We’ve given our out of country visitors the wrong impression about summer in eastern Canada. It is usually sunny and hot – Honestly!

Monday, June 26, 2017

cleave to gentle things

Our Norwegian guests packed up and left Saturday morning, leaving Carm and I feeling a little deflated and antsy. Luckily they’ll stay with us again for a few days at the end of the week.

The restless energy got us out of the house to the grocery store on a quest to find a large glass jar with a tight fitting lid - limoncello was on my mind and I had a recipe picked out. Once home, I washed two lemons and suspended them in cheesecloth over some vodka. It will sit like this for at least 40 days, at which point I’ll add the zest from two more lemons and some simple syrup to soak for 15 minutes, then it will be strained, bottled, and put in the freezer. I can hardly wait although I don’t hold out much hope that it will be as good as what we brought back from Italy.

Back at the store: we found the jar quickly which left us still at loose ends. Carm convinced me that Liquidation would be a good destination. I protested saying that I’d be sure to buy something (I always do)... sure enough, a cute pair of faded skinny jeans for $12, plus some pretty ‘lounge’ pants for $5 found their way into my cart.

Sunday I finished going through the Europe photos to select out 48 to include in the little album that I have. Well - that was an impossible task. Narrowing down to 48 would mean I’d have to exclude some of my Sagrada Familia photos, amoung others. I ended up starting over with 96 as my goal. Once I had a good subset I sent them on their way to Costco for their $0.10 print special.

I took a break at one point to make a snack - using the actifry of course. The ‘Deep fried’ dill pickles were easy to make and super yummy.

You might wonder with all this actifrying going on if we are ballooning into even greater dimensions. Actually, we are both losing weight :-)

I used it again last night to make a stir fry of red pepper and asparagus with asian sauce. YUM. It is so easy to use and I love how it cooks things - it didn’t steam the asparagus into soggy green things, but roasted them to perfection. Tonight I’m making mushroom gnocchi and am debating if I’ll try making it in my new, favorite toy.

It has been a beautiful day today and I’ve spent the last hour or two out on the swing. It is cool and would easily pass for September - socks have been on my mind. Not long ago, a ‘Great Crested Flycatcher’ landed near me - I’ve never seen one before and had to run for my book.

Be mild, and cleave to gentle things,
thy glory and thy happiness be there.”
~William Wordsworth

Saturday, June 24, 2017

fetter (cousins)

Carm and I were out and about yesterday (Friday): getting the temp sensor on the car fixed; breakfast of eggs Benedict; return shoes (yes, again); pickup clipper blades from sharpening; groceries; LCBO; … and  on it goes. Unexpectedly Carm’s phone rang (on the car’s bluetooth system) - it was my Mom - my dad was not feeling well and Bjorn & Ingeborg were on their way from Quebec City, due to arrive in an hour and half - could we call them and have them stay at our house for the night?

Of course!!!

So we dashed to Costco (our last planned stop anyway) and stocked up on some groceries for company and raced home, hoping that our house wasn’t too messy/dirty. Once home I dashed through the house, picking up and tidying, did a quick wipe of the guest bath and we were ready. Thankfully Carm had done a really good vacuum the day before.

The dogs started barking - they are here.

I didn’t realize it at the time but Ingeborg is afraid of dogs. I would have locked them in the bedroom but instead let them rudely mob our guests. Bella quickly wormed her way under Ingeborg’s hand, assuring her that our pack means no harm. Bjorn took a photo of her with the three dogs this morning to send to their kids thinking that they wouldn’t believe their eyes.

We had a lovely afternoon of visiting, sharing a bottle of bubbles, and then a leisurely supper (hello actifry potatoes!), followed by a congenial evening. I should mention that they are from Norway but speak excellent English. Communication was no problem and we managed a few laughs :-)

After supper Bjorn dashed into ‘their’ room and came back carrying a giant box - what the heck? Could that have been in their suitcase? To our delight it was a grill for making lefse - they obviously remember our trials with giant batches of lefse at Christmas. With this we may be inclined to make it more often. We just have to figure out how to make the electricity work.

Our busy day and their time change sent us to bed early.

Carm got up in plenty of time to make sure they had coffee and we sat around having breakfast until it was time for them to leave to see my parents. They’ll be back again in a week (or sooner if we are lucky).

Lets travel back a day to Thursday afternoon: I just spent 15 minutes looking for Grace’s spare food dish ring that I had STASHED somewhere on the camper. I searched all the cupboards and hiding places before I found it with the DVDs between her cage and the TV. Logical right? I read a bit of an article that talked about forgetting and how we aren’t meant to remember everything. Yeah, I get that, but why the heck can’t I remember things like this rather than all the words to ‘Muskrat Love’. Seriously.

I’ve cooked a few more things with the Actifry. Last night supper was a mix of peppers, mushrooms and broccoli that I served with pasta with tomato sauce. Easy, no stirring for me, and totally delicious. Today I tried some tofu which turned out better than the griddler, and played around some more with caramelized onions. It’s getting there but I think I need more water to steam the onion a bit before I add the balsamic vinegar. Still - pretty darn tasty and it raises a hotdog to a ‘whole nother level’. Tonight I roasted some potatoes which turned out better than I could have dreamed,  and tossed that with roasted pepper, onion, and mushroom. So far the experimentation is going well but soon I’ll start cooking some regular food too ;-)

The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time.”
~Friedrich Nietzsche

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

in any weather

With a quiet groan I rolled over to look at the clock. 12:30 am: summer. I thought of getting up and going outside to do a celebratory dance, but rolled over, turning my back on the clock, and went back to sleep. It could wait until morning.

I didn’t actually dance, instead I buried my nose in what is left of the peonies. We’ve had rain on and off the last few days and it has battered the lovelies. Petals lie in heaps. If only there was something that I could do with them. I thought of floating them in my bath but the idea of ants is off-putting. Plus I figure fishing them all out at the end would seriously put a damper on the mood.


I’m out on the swing, at least for now. The hot weather has broken, leaving us with wind chill. It is a mix of sun and cloud – I wouldn’t mind being in the sun but the swing is firmly set in the shade.


I’m in reorg mode (a bit) – what should I do with my wedding dress? It was cleaned and then stored in a special box so should be in good shape, but I can’t see any of my family wanting to wear it (it isn’t heirloom quality). I’ve scoured the internet looking for consignment shops with no luck. Should I just send it to Salvation Army?


“In any weather, at any hour of the day or night, I have been anxious to improve the nick of time, and notch it on my stick too; to stand on the meeting of two eternities, the past and the future, which is precisely the present moment; to toe that line.”
~Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

hovering in hot air

After the visit to the cemetery where Carm’s dad resides we hit up Costco for a few things. After much deliberation and surfing the web for recipes, we forked out for an Actifry. At the rally people had raved about the thing, and I figured if it would encourage me to cook more vegetables it might be worth the hefty price tag.

The first night I did chicken wings. We were both pleased at the result. They were perhaps the best wings EVER. The crispy outside and moist meat made us want to gobble more than the 4 each that I had cooked. I also tried some mushrooms and they were awesome as well.

For lunch on Tuesday I sliced up some onion and tossed it in with a tsp of oil. They turned out ‘okay’ but not how I wanted. I’ll have to do some experimenting. It would be great to figure out a recipe for caramelized onions.

Tuesday night we had wings again, and as a side sweet potato fries. Yum. Carm thought they were at least as good as the ones at the Works, and with less than a tablespoon of olive oil they are more waist friendly.

Wednesday is the last of the wings, some sweet potato fries, and roasted brussels sprouts. More experimentation! The brussels sprouts turned out great, although next time I’ll up the time a minute or two from the recommended 15 min.

I won’t normally cook 3 dishes at a time as each thing takes ages but since I’m experimenting we’ll drag the cooking out for over an hour.

Recipe suggestions are welcome ;-)

There has also been some shoe shopping going on. The pain and suffering for Carm is unbelieveable. Not to mention my difficulty in finding shoes that feel good. I’ve already returned a pair of red converse - really cute but the trial wear around the house wasn’t successful. Now I’ve got a pair of Bob’s to try (a subset of Sketchers). It’s a good way to get me on the treadmill for a lap!

Life as a consumer is filled with ups and downs.

There is no spectacle on earth more appealing than that of a beautiful woman in the act of cooking dinner for someone she loves.”
~Thomas Wolfe

Sunday, June 18, 2017

family and love

I clipped the poodles last Thursday and I’ll have to admit that it was a butcher job. I don’t know if something is wrong with my ‘30’ blades but I slashed both Bella and Spike’s feet a few times. My hands were bloody with my mistake. Thankfully they didn’t seem to notice… me though? I felt sick. Carm thought I had the shakes really bad, but I’m going to blame it on the blades - surely they are dull or something.

Do you watch ‘Anthony Bourdain, Parts Unknown’? It is always an interesting show with a combination of food, culture, and political climate. The last show we watched was about the Antarctic. The researchers there are studying the ice, and coincidently I read an article about the same thing yesterday. Apparently the ice is melting at a much faster rate than predicted. Not good news for coastal cities where the water is expected to rise by 10’ by 2100. That’s only 80 years from now.

Yesterday we dropped by my parents for a short visit. It was Mom’s birthday last Wednesday and of course Father’s Day today. I am so lucky to have both my parents living so close.

The day before I had mentioned to Spike that we’d be seeing Grandma and Papa. As usual he perked his ears up and looked around. Fast forward to Saturday afternoon when I was putting on some lipstick. Spike saw and started crying and jumping around. I told him he couldn’t come but his excitement didn’t wane. He was waiting by the door when it was time to leave. Normally it is not such a big deal when we go out. Did he remember the comment about Grandma or did he hear me talking on the phone with her earlier in the day?

The most important thing in the world is family and love.”

~John Wooden

Friday, June 16, 2017

from there to here

You might be wondering how I got from there to here. I’m still a bit tired, but my mood is good and I was even able to get the big job of poodle haircuts done. It isn’t easy but I’ve learned a few tricks over the years

Sometimes all I need are several days of quiet rest. It always helps to let myself off the hook. I allow myself to take some time off and stop the cycle of self loathing and blame for not getting things done. I give myself permission to sleep in and be lazy. It’s what my brain needs sometimes!

The other important thing is to remember to enjoy the idle pleasures in life. I can’t be negative when I’m enjoying the sound of the wind ruffling the leaves in the trees. Who can be depressed when feeling the heavy blossom of a peony? Every minute that I can be mindful is a minute of not being depressed.

Taking the right medications can make all the difference in the world. I think sometimes that I would be lost without help for fixing the chemical imbalance in my brain.

Contact with family and friends always helps, if even for a moment.

Sometimes it is hard work, and sometimes my mood is too deep for anything to help but even at my darkest moment something keeps me from giving up.

This afternoon I even had a few of what I call ‘Peaceful Easy Feeling’  moments (or pef for short).

And when at last you find someone to whom you feel you can pour out your soul, you stop in shock at the words you utter— they are so rusty, so ugly, so meaningless and feeble from being kept in the small cramped dark inside you so long.”
Sylvia Plath

Thursday, June 15, 2017

breezy harp

The swing is rocking me gently as I listen to the sounds of Nature and man. Dump trucks roar down Groves, 400 and onto our road, surrounding me with rumble. The thunder of engines tries to overwhelm the sound of the wind in the trees. ‘Who can see the wind’? I can today. It blusters through the leaves, rattling them in a frenzied dance.

Still, wind aside, I am outside on the swing, my favorite spot in the summer (it’s even better than sitting under the awning in a dusty campsite). Life seems good here.

Last night my trip outside was accompanied by tiny fireflies, stars in the grass mirroring those in the velvet sky.


The peonies burst into bloom sometime between last night and this afternoon. I grabbed my camera to take some photos before the rain. Every year I take tons of photos in the vain hope that I’ll actually be able to capture one and hold and smell and feel it it forever. I’d like a divan with pillows of voluptuous peonies to rest on, their cool petals a balm to my sun-soaked skin.



The mods to the deck by the pool were completed on Tuesday. Carm did a good job of getting it done with my limited ability to help. Still, I did hold boards being sawed and passed the right tools. The whole deck needs to be redone, boards and all. It would be good to have a designer to finish the look, but we’d rather spend the money on a trip to Italy, so it will have to do for now. We don’t mind that it doesn’t have railings and such – it is a better view to the rest of our property without them.

Grace is out here with me, wind ruffling her feathers. I don’t think it is her favorite thing but she makes the best of it. Perhaps, like myself, she enjoys her swing in the sunshine. She’s started making the strange sounds that she heard from Mark last week. She’s  been quieter than usual and I think she misses being camping.

20170615_703Spike here, I want Laura to take me camping again. It is boring, boring, boring here. All the grass in the field is too high to walk in – Laura reminded me that it was hay and would be cut soon so we’d have somewhere to walk, but for now there is just the boring laneway. I don’t know when we’ll go – Laura said we have to wait till our cousins from Norway visit. She says that I’ll like them and that one of them admired me quite a bit when we were on our Alberta adventure. I guess that will be okay.  bye for now.

Every string of nature's breezy harp is touched to answer thy sighs. The green oak and cedar—the dark pine, the yellow and silvery-barked willow—each majestic old tree; hath its own peculiar tone and whisper for thine ear. ~Elizabeth J. Eames

Monday, June 12, 2017

I love life

It’s been hot. The kind of hot that exhausts. Or maybe it’s not the heat that is exhausting me but instead is the extra meds that I’ve been having to take. They make my limbs feel leaden and turn my brain into stodge.

I was doing so well and now this little (temporary I hope) blip. Maybe all the fun days have caught up with me and so I need a little break. Anxiety is tightening my muscles leaving a sickly trail. I ruminate about getting the trailer into the driveway and think that I never want to camp again. I don’t want to do anything - almost can’t do anything - but try anyway which makes me irritable and mad. I don’t want to get out of bed, but do eventually.

Spike makes me smile as he looks at me expectantly. Do I want him to bring me socks? Or maybe a tissue? Or perhaps I’m going to take them outside. He’s so innocent (well, he is a little rascal so not totally), and ernest.

We (meaning mostly Carm), built a bit of deck yesterday, in the heat. I helped where I could, handing tools, carrying wood, and holding boards being cut, but didn’t have the heart/energy for full participation. Carm did the rest.

Later this afternoon I’m in bed, back curled against… what? Reality? the world? I think about how I had planned my life. Thoughts of mares heavy with foal, udders tight with ready to flow milk. I’d test the milk as it would tell me when to start night time foal watch. Foals still wet from the uterus lean against me, finding their strength from me. Later, mares and foals frolicking down by the creek. Soft noses nuzzle. I miss that… tears come easily at the loss.

I don’t normally indulge myself, keeping instead to positive affirmations and living life as it is now, but sometimes they leak through the barrier.

I have to remind myself that this will pass and I’ll again be full of energy and life. Another day or two of rest, and perhaps a trip to DQ for a Skor Blizzard will get the world back right.

The locust trees near the house are in flower - their heady aroma competes with the irises delightful perfume.

Can you understand? Someone, somewhere, can you understand me a little, love me a little? For all my despair, for all my ideals, for all that - I love life. But it is hard, and I have so much - so very much to learn.”
~Sylvia Plath

Saturday, June 10, 2017

19 years

Grace deserves special mention today as it is her 19th birthday. She happily spent the afternoon outside watching the robins feed their young. We haven’t decided exactly what to have for supper tonight but it will be something that she likes. No cake though.

idle pleasures

The irises are in the midst of their bloom. They are beautiful to look at, but perhaps they are more beautiful to smell. I keep going out the front door to bathe in the sweet fragrance. The sweetness has merged with the smell of freshly cut grass which draws me out over and over.

You can guess that Carm has spent several hours over the last two days tackling the hayfield that is our lawn. This is the time of year that Nature’s boundless energy is more apparent. It is a miracle to me that grass and trees, not to mention vegetables and herbs, get their life from the brown dirt. The trees have stretched out their branches even farther than last year and will need clippers, a saw, and perhaps a chainsaw, to keep them from engulfing us.

Carm swam - first time this year - we need to do some deck modifications and get a new pool ladder to make it guest ready though, so Carm went into town for some lumber.

I’m on the swing - first time this year - and am being serenaded by the rustling of the wind in the trees (it’s own secret language), and birdsong. Red-winged blackbirds call out in the field and a robin calls to her chicks from a nearby tree. A small flock of Canada Geese just passed overhead.

Through the long winter I had forgotten about my little piece of paradise. Our visitors the other day never got a chance to experience our domain, and perhaps the worn out deck and uncut grass were a distraction.

We talked about how my blog got its name, talking about the small daily pleasures that I try to notice and find joy in.

Friday, June 9, 2017

rally is over but the fun continued

I think I left off on Wednesday afternoon (oh yes, it was a beautiful day and I was just about to make mojitos for a bunch of people). Several of us sat at our place, sipping our summer drinks and chatting about trips and other adventures. We didn’t linger into the evening though as the farewell dinner was that night.

We drove into Gananoque to Maple Leaf, a Czech restaurant with schnitzel on the menu. We sat with a few people we hadn’t visited with much which was great. Doug & Sue are full-timers and Jane & Paul might as well be as they are gone so much. We spent lots of time with Andy & Edna and consider them to be good friends. Everyone is an ardent traveller, some taking 3 or more trips a year. We’ll have to catch up!

After supper it was back to camp for the final fire. It was a good turnout and the circle was large. All things come to an end though and before I knew it the time for bed had come.

We were up early for leaving day which was a good thing. There was much to do to break camp plus we had friends that were following us home. Mark & Marilyn were ready much before us, but they waited patiently for us to lead the way.

It’s funny how a drive that doesn’t normally seem that long can seem like forever when looking through the eyes of what you think someone else might see. KM after KM of trees and bush line the highway, and wide fields of brown dirt (the crops are very slow this year) line the side roads. The green is overwhelming. Black & white dairy cows add some colour to the landscape.

Then came the laneway… it was our first time in this year and it took us a few tries to get lined up right but we made it without any (loud) yelling. Then it was Mark’s turn. He took direction well, especially since it was coming from many different places… and got through the gate with no yelling. His big rig and truck took up a good length of our laneway.

Lunch, some CNN to catch up on the Comey testimony, and lots of good conversation completed the afternoon. Mark was a professor of Entomology at the University of Guelph and as luck would have it I had a carcass of a ‘tick’ that I’ve found crawling up the walls. He got out his eyepiece so he could have a look. Hurray! They are not ticks but are ‘pseudo scorpions’. I was so relieved.

Supper, more conversation, and a walk down the road filled the evening.

This morning they left for the long drive home. We hope they will come back again soon. At the beginning of the rally they both proclaimed that they are not animal people, and certainly not dog people. Hummm? I’m not so sure. Kabira loved Mark and would go to him for a pets (which is totally out of character for her), and Bella got long pets from Marilyn. Grace was thrilled by all the attention she received from Mark. I feel certain she will be singing some of his song.

Now comes the hard work: grass cutting for Carm, emptying the trailer for me (and maybe a nap). It seems so long ago that I was loading up for the trip, and yet how could the rally be over so quickly. This was the best rally yet for us, I think because we became closer friends with some people.

I wish I had a photo of all of us to attach, but alas :-(

I don't make friends based on how big their pockets are or how well connected they are; rather I make friends based on how positive their minds are. It is hard to end up with a very complicated lifestyle if you are always surrounded by positive minded individuals.”
~Edmond Mbiaka

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

despite the rain

It is mid afternoon and I’m sitting outside in the shade watching Carm wash the camper. There isn’t a cloud in the sky, which is a turnaround from yesterday when all it did was rain and rain and rain. I’m waiting for the clock to tic to 3 to make some mojitos for Edna. The dogs and I have already been for our afternoon walk.

So far it has been quiet, with just us enjoying the day. That will change soon!

Yesterday the dogs slept in but they still needed to go out. They don’t like the rain, and I was too lazy to put on their slickers (and where or where is my slicker hat?), so we didn’t have productive outings. If only they knew that we wouldn’t have had to go out the extra three times they might have made more of an effort, instead of cringing against the raindrops.

Carm and I relaxed with the pitter patter of rain on the ceiling. It was good to have the chance to re-charge. Later in the day Marilyn called to invite us over to show our Med cruise photos, which we did. Time flew by and it was time to leave for Costco and better still RAXX for fish & chips. Mark drove (again) and we met up with Andy & Edna. We had hoped that other rally goers would have come but I guess they were put off by the infernal rain.

The fish was crispy and tender, and the tarter sauce was homemade.

Back home Mark & Marilyn came back for their fix of CNN. I think I’ve mentioned before how often conversations turn to the political situation in the US.

Despite the rain it was a good day.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017


Yesterday was a full day with no time for writing. We had a great time visiting with everyone (well, not everyone, not many people were outside as it was grey with the shadow of rain overhead all day).

Christine and Peter were leaving so I kept an eye out the window and dashed out before they left. Andy and Edna came over and so did Mark and Marilyn. We decided that no matter what we’d book our same sites for next year, even if the rally wasn’t going on. After C&P pulled away Marilyn came up with the idea of getting together for supper. The rest of us jumped on the idea and I offered up our camper for the venue. We all had something to bring so the work was shared.

We parted ways for only a bit. We were going shopping to the outlet mall with M&M - even Carm agreed to come which is amazing as he is not a keen shopper! He was having too much fun with everyone and didn’t want to be left out.

As it turns out, shopping was fun and even productive. I wanted a light windbreaker/rain shell that wasn’t black and found a lovely pink one that I totally love. It has a hood and will roll into a tiny ball. Carm got a bright blue golf shirt, perfect for picking him out in a crowd. M&M found what they were looking for too. There were plenty of laughs along the way.

By the time we got back to the camper there was only 1 ½ hours to walk the dogs, clean the trailer, and get ready for 6 of us for supper. Since it was cold and threatening rain we ate inside. Yes… six people to eat in our little villetta… and yes it can be done and even with a bit of room to spare. Two people sat at the dining table, two people on the sofa with the lift up coffee table, and two people on hard chairs sharing a small patio table. We could have fit two more in a pinch.

Six pm and there was a counter full of dishes and a living room full of people: Andy & Edna, Mark & Marilyn, and Carm & I, and of course Grace. The dogs were locked in the bedroom so they wouldn’t be under foot.

Once we were finished supper we reluctantly headed outside to the campfire - people were already bringing their chairs. It is at Andy & Edna’s so there was no way out for them. I’ll be honest and say that I was pretty knackered by that point and was glad when Marilyn and I slipped away to watch some CNN. (yes, you aren’t hallucinating we were catching up on Trump news!)

Whew! What a FANTASTIC day we had!

The rain is coming down hard this morning, hard enough to lull the dogs into sleeping in. They aren’t crazy about getting rained on so I had to drag them out for a short walk. I’ll wait until the rain lets up before we go on a proper walk.

A trip to Costco might be in our future today and for sure Fish & Chip night at RAXX.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

grey and cold outside but warm in my heart

The dogs and I saw a coyote on our afternoon walk into the ‘back 40’ wilderness area. I was daydreaming when I saw Kabira alert to something and looked up just in time to see it running off. It wasn’t too far from the camper and it ran down a path that I had thought to take one day… maybe not… or at least not until Carm is with me.

I really do love this park. It is so green and has so many ‘rough’ areas away from campers that it is easy to walk the dogs. So far we’ve only done the back loop, but if I wanted a longer walk we could stroll among the seasonal camp roads. There is another hike that takes us to a rocky outcrop overlooking a lake that we’ve never taken but will this trip.

It is dark and dreary inside and equally dark and dreary outside. Splatters of rain occasional dampen the ground. So far (it’s almost 3 pm) I’ve only been outside visiting with people twice. One of those times I sat with Christine and Peter until I was frozen. The fireplace has been going all day.

The TV has also been on for much of the day :-(  More politics. It has been very interesting over the last few days how many conversations turn to the American situation. I haven’t heard any conflict except over what is the most effective focus for the media to take. In the past there has been no political talk - now it’s on everyone’s mind.

… supper time …

Our guests just left. Earlier I saw Bill and Margaret walking by and dashed out to invite them in for a visit. Later Peter and Christine were back from their motorcycle ride so I dragged them over as well. We had lively conversations (that didn’t get too political) which brightened up the afternoon. Many of the rally folk went out to a play and dinner so it was nice to find some company!

… 11:30 pm …

Just in from the campfire. It started late in the evening as it was threatening to rain earlier. We were lucky as the raindrops seem to have missed us. Editor is still there. Yawn.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

a beautiful day

We slept in till almost 8 am today! I was able to convince Spike to go back to sleep at 6:30 and quickly got back to sleep myself. After last night’s late to-bed I was happy for the extra zzz’s.

When the dogs and I finally got going, we stepped outside to a blazing blue sky with nary a cloud. It was cool with a bit of wind, but with the sun it seemed like the nicest day of the year. I managed to do the loop without getting tangled once - the dogs are less excited but still very happy to get out for a walk. We didn’t pass another dog though, that would have ‘complicated’ things! We did pass a couple that called us over to their camper so they could admire the beasts, and another one that admired them from a distance. Even in their dotage they attract attention.

later in the day… actually it is 10:15 pm…

It would be harder to design a more perfect day. The weather was perfect: sunny and warm without being hot (a few sunburns around though). We had a slow start to the day but as soon as it was warm enough I brought Grace outside and ensconced myself into a chair. A bevy of people stopped by to chat. Soon we had Christine & Peter, Andy & Edna, and Mark & Marilyn settled into chairs.

It was so beautiful out.

One of us, (I think it was Christine), thought we should try to pull together a pot luck for tonight. Carm went off to let others know and we disbursed to make our plans. Carm headed off to Costco with Mark & Marilyn, while I held down the fort. I did, but from across the lane at Andy & Edna’s site.

More sun.

At 5 pm we got together to pull picnic tables together for the gathering. We had a good turnout with 26 in the end. A few joined us later for dessert, and a few more again at the campfire.

It was a grand ole time.

One couple brought venison and wild boar which was a big hit with everyone. They also showed up at the campfire with popcorn popped in their special popper.

The dogs have spent lots of time outside, gone for a few good walks, and watched the supper fun from the camper window. It has been great having all the events down at our end of the park - very easy to dash to the camper to take care of things.

But now… I can hardly keep my eyes open and feel slightly shamed that I’ve written this quick post and not even read it over again.

Friday, June 2, 2017

wrapped up

It was 6:45 am and I was standing on a gravel road with leashes wrapped around my legs. Why the heck did I think having 3 dogs would be a good idea. At that time and place I could have done with none.

They (Spike) usually sleep in until well past 8 am when we are home, but in the trailer his eyes fly open before the rooster has finished his cock-a-doodle-do. And yes, there are roosters here, but thankfully they don’t hang out at this end of the campground. Once awake there is no getting him back asleep so I dragged myself out of bed and got dressed for a walk. I figure getting them out and ‘businessed’ means I can go back to bed. And that’s what I did. Once we got the leashes all figured out.

It was a lazy day with some visiting in the lane and a trip to Kingston for a few supplies. Once back we visited outside with whom ever was passing by. The time flew by and it was time to go to the clubhouse for the Greek supper.

Then it was time for a campfire (across the ‘road’ at Andy & Edna’s). Christine, Marilyn and I did some camper comparisons, traipsing around the campground into each others trailers. It was fun to see different layouts and how they work for everyone.

The weather was variable and cold but thankfully it didn’t rain. Not nice for sitting around outside though. Getting together with people took a concerted effort.

I’m back in the camper from the campfire - lots of people are still there having fun, but I’m exhausted. This is a hastily written post, and with my editor outside there are bound to be some oddities.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

First day of 2017 Titanium Rally

We were up before the dogs this morning and getting cracking with our day.  By 9 am the dogs were crying and running to the door every time we turned around. How did they KNOW? We were careful not to talk about camping or car rides or any other things that get them going. By 9:45 we were out the door to hitch. The dogs ran to the truck, milling around until I let them in. Grace jumped onto my hand with unusual fervor and went into her little carrier with barely a ruffled feather. It was time to go and everyone was keen.

We hitched carefully (after 6 months we were out of practice and so much can go wrong), and were out of the laneway by 10:06 - a mere six minutes after desired departure time.

My lists did their duty - so far there is nothing that I’ve forgotten. I had a bit of a scare last night when I tried to update one of them on my wablet… the uncheck and clear completed buttons were too close and suddenly my list was empty. My heart sunk - it had taken me ages to get this list and with over 100 entries it seemed unlikely that I’d be able to re-enter it… but, before I totally lost my head I did a quick google search and if I pressed this button and then that one my entries would be returned. It worked and now I’ve done an export as a backup.

Anyway, it was an easy 2 hour drive from home with little traffic on the 401. We felt lucky to be the ones that didn’t have far to go. Check-in was easy, getting set-up and at home was a breeze. I took the dogs for a quick walk and then it was time for a light lunch.

There is a mix of sun and cloud with cold, gusty winds that keep me in a sweater. We’ve been in and out of the camper for short walks and wanders down the camp road to greet people coming in. It’s fun to be here but am reminded of how cliquey it can be…

I’ve been running around letting people know that a group of us are going to RAXX for $7.99 ribs - we’ve been looking forward to this for ages!

11:30 pm and we are back from supper and our evening guests have left - whew!