Friday, April 21, 2017

does this spark joy?

I ignored the dust bunnies that were threatening to take over the house. I was busy with tidying/de-cluttering. I finished my clothes - 8 bags of thrift store and garbage. My closet is neat and tidy. Then I started with the rest of the house (remember, it’s by category of stuff): table cloths first, followed by Spike's toys, then the gargantuan task of tidying the pantry. I didn't get every nook and cranny, but now we can walk into it and even find things. Today I did placemats and napkins. Between the pantry and the placemat cupboard we have another bag of garbage, a heaping stack for recycle, and a giant bag for the thrift store. I think my tidying days are over for a while now though as we have to get cracking and paint the craft room in the basement.

It feels good to get the clutter under control and put order into some spaces. I go back to look and am pleased at the result. I'm sure most of you don't let things get so chaotic but I'm not good at getting rid of things so they stack up and burst through the cupboard doors.

I have managed to leave the house a few times during this flurry of activity. There was a trip to the accountant for tax season and lunch at Ikea. One day we went into town for something or other and had lunch at the Pho place. We've been to friends for visits and into the village with bags for the thrift store. The time is flying by and soon it will be time to pack our suitcases for our adventure.

"The best way to choose what to keep and what to throw away is to take each item in one’s hand and ask: “Does this spark joy?” If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it. This is not only the simplest but also the most accurate yardstick by which to judge.”   ~Marie Kondō

Friday, April 14, 2017

tidying up

No grey sky over our heads the last two days, instead a wondrous shade of powder blue lifted our spirits. It was warm too - today we walked around the field with no jackets, just a regular t-shirt. Marvelous. Carm fixed some fencing and then we brought the slides out on the camper. In previous years I would have quickly got to work vacuuming and preparing it for us to have supper there, but this afternoon I was totally out of energy. Maybe tomorrow.

My friend Christina dropped off a book called THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP: THE JAPANESE ART OF DECLUTTERING AND ORGANIZING. The first few chapters got me thinking, and the next ones got me doing. The basic premise is to keep only the things that 'spark joy' and to get rid of the rest. You are to do things by category, starting with clothing. I broke my clothing down further as it was too overwhelming to do otherwise. I brought all my 'around the house' t-shirts onto the bed and started. Does this give me joy? No - if in good shape to thrift store otherwise garbage. Pile after pile was sorted through and the bags started to pile up. How could I have had so many clothes? I had things that were at least 20 years old.

Everything is supposed to be folded and stood on edge in drawers. It makes sense as things get lost in large piles of stuff. So I folded and arranged. Dragged up an old dresser in place of some shelves. Nice neat rows of t-shirts are easy to see.

I'm almost done (just remembered two drawers of socks and such). I thought I'd feel really good about it but instead I am feeling overwhelmed at the rest of the house. Where to start? How long will it take? Will I be able to keep up the motivation.

Oh drat - just remembered that I have a bunch of clothes in the room with the drying rack. I sure hope I left room in all these neatly arranged storage areas.

All said and done though, it is a good book that bears reading again.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

coming to life

The grey sky is low over our heads today and weeping a mist of cold drizzle… The temp has barely reached 7C. It feels cold and I wish Carm was home to start a fire. Instead I dug out a fluffy blanket to drape over the sofa. It is one of the blankets that I used to use for the dogs in the camper so has a faint smell of dogs - not exactly Chanel no 5, but it will do.

Yesterday though! A taste of summer got us outside to wash Grace's cage and get the winter tires off the car. We even had a few minutes to get our hair cut. We both got good cuts, but I'm afraid our hair will be too grown out by the time we go on our trip (3 weeks!).

Despite the cold weather and the snow lying on the ground, tulips have pushed their way out of the earth and through the ice (which is almost all gone now).

Did you watch the golf this weekend? I didn't actually fall asleep (I read instead), and even watched some of it. It was a nail biter (if there is such a thing in golf).

We got our new freezer last Thursday. We went a few sizes up from what we had and let me tell you, we were glad we did. You can't fit nearly as much in an upright as you can in a chest. It is all loaded up though, with a little bit of space to spare. And wonder of wonders we can see at a glance what's in there. It is wonderful and I have to look at it at least once a day.

Sunday we had a lovely lunch with my family to celebrate Graham's 39th birthday. Spike went along for the visit - I made the mistake of telling him that we were "going to Gramma's house" so he stuck to me like glue until it was time to leave. There was no way I was going to forget him.

Speaking of dogs, the poodles got a long overdue haircut on Saturday. I was curious to see what Bella was going to look like without her puffiness as we had a visit to the vet earlier in the week and it seems that she had gained 4kg. I thought that was impossible and I think I'm right. She had gained a bit but isn't exactly rolling with fat. There must have been a calibration issue with the vet's scale. She's still on a diet though - they all are. Oh and me… well, I'm trying (see next paragraph).

I was starving on my last visit to Costco and when I passed the GIANT box of Captain Crunch with $2 off, my willpower disappeared and it jumped into the cart. I could hardly wait to get home; it had been years since I'd indulged this particular craving.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

rain warning

The grey sky is low over our heads today and weeping a drizzle of cold rain. Spring at its worst. The sky is pressing down on me, squeezing out any energy gained by a long night's sleep. In fact, the thought of retreating to bed and pulling the covers over my head is tempting. I'll wait and see how I feel after my second coffee.

I was reading a blog post from a year ago that talked about the sludge in my brain and that I was certain it was temporary… it seems that I was slightly wrong as I still don't seem to be sharp. I think it might be due to an increase in meds that happened a year ago so I'm trying to reduce back to pre levels. It might do the trick, if I can just get to sleep and avoid a cascade of other problems. It is all woven into a tight ball of yarn, but look out if the kitten gets ahold of it!

Sunday was a lovely day at home alone in the sun. But as the hours passed I started thinking about a burger from 'the Works'. I pounced on Carm as soon as he got home and luckily I caught him when he was hungry. A flurry of texts to Jo Ellen and we had a meeting time and place. Oh heavenly burger, you are so yum.

Yesterday we went for a drive, passing the abattoir in St. Albert. I wanted some bones for the dogs but they weren't supposed to be open. As luck would have it they were working overtime on some orders and passed me a huge bag of bones for $10 (a deal for them I'm sure). Bella went to work on hers right away, I tied Spike on the front deck and he chewed his, but Kabira tossed hers around her crate trying to bury it. Silly girl would have ended up with a nose like Spike so I just took it away from her. Maybe today she'll be more inclined to nosh.

The bones clean their teeth so well, but I'm afraid I was remiss on giving them for many months which allowed the tartar to build up. I scraped some of it with a dental pick and the rest has been cleaned up by the bones that I've been giving in the last few weeks. Their teeth aren't pearly white, but they are old dogs so I guess they are okay. A side effect is no bad doggy breath.

"Gentle Spring's around the corner,
     Waiting just to show her face
     And to bring us flowers and sunshine;
     Winter's almost run his race!
Be not, then, my friends, discouraged
     That there's cold and ice and sleet;
     For Springtime soon will be with us,
     And the flowers we will greet:
Daffodils, so bright and yellow,
     Hyacinths of varied hues,
     As they nod their heads, in gladness,
     Telling us they bring good news..."
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham

Saturday, April 1, 2017

the lion withered

We were spared the forecast snow yesterday, only getting a few centimeters, which was still enough to muck up the laneway to maximum muckiness. Oh Hurrah.

To brighten up our day yesterday we had Trudie & Leo over for soup and birthday cake. Trudie brought the soup she had simmering away and I contributed the soup that was bubbling in my crockpot - mixed together the results were rather fantastic. My curry soup was quite spicy and was toned down by Trudie's lentil vegetable soup.  The fireplace had been burning all afternoon and with the hot soup in our gullets we had to open the window for a while.

The new freezer is scheduled to be delivered on Thursday and with that in mind I wandered downstairs to see where the old one will hang out until the garage is rearranged/decluttered… oh dear. It is a mess down there and will require some work. I have a corner where I put things for the elusive 'garage sale' or trip to the thrift store, but sadly it has grown to epic proportions and is not easily shifted. When the snow is melted and the ground has hardened we'll bring the truck around and purge. In the meantime I filled a garbage bag with old VHS tapes and got discouraged. A cup of coffee later I started clearing another spot for the old freezer…

There is no getting around the fact that the delivery guys will have to go into the murky depths… my shame.

We teetered on the cusp of spring today. Cold rain was replaced by a thin cloud that let the sun tease through. The dogs were happy to get out for an explore this afternoon, but the little bugger (is that a swear word?) Spike disappeared twice. He wasn’t far, but he wasn’t where I wanted him either. All the smells being released from the melting snow is too much for the little tracker. He must be ½ beagle and not a purebred poodle at all.

In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.”
~ Aristotle

Friday, March 31, 2017

out like a lion

March is still roaring like a great, shaggy lion slightly past its prime. The winter weather continues to beat us down, but has been peppered with the odd sunny day, just to get our hopes up. But today we are bracing for another weather system that is bearing down on us. March 31 and there is still snow on the ground.

The ebb and flow of snow on the laneway has made this the muddiest spring in memory. We are in desperate need of more gravel but in the meantime the muck has seeped through what stone there is to make a dirty slurry. The house, especially the front hall with its black and white tiles, is carpeted with muddy footprints. Thank goodness we don't have white carpets!

I'm going to go back in time to Monday, the day the sugar plum fairies danced. After the sugar rush wound down, we met up with Bruce & Tina for the annual birthday supper. Bruce's birthday is on the same day as Carm's so we have a double celebration. We've done the Keg for several years and this year was no different. However we did try a different location… I went online to check out the menu and lo and behold the one in the market was closed for renovations! WTH! Good thing I checked as we easily made alternate plans. Supper, as expected, was a frenzy of meat eating which left me feeling full and guilty for a number of reasons.

Tuesday we were back in town to meet with our accountant and do some other running around. We were just starting our search for a new freezer (the one for people food is 27 years old and possibly starting to fail). Our old freezer was a chest style, and I'm sure you know what they are like with their never to be seen again depths. Who knows where the food actually goes when it ends up at the bottom but is lost unless you are really organized. I wonder if there is a secret door like in the 'Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe'. This time we are going for an upright - we'll at least be able to see the food that we are aging out ;-)

We saw one we liked which wetted our lips for more shopping. First online and then on Wednesday to our local store. Back home for some more online shopping before deciding Thursday to get the one at our local store. I think we are going too big (20cf) but better too much room than not enough. We'll move the old one out to the garage for the winter and run it with dog food in the hope we can save some electricity.

Thursday morning we went to the liquidation store. I saw a few things: bug spray for our trip, pack of underwear 1/2 price. And then… a goldish colour down puffy coat that even had a hood. I'd been wanting one for a couple of years as a liner to a few of my other jackets. But no. For some reason that baffles me I didn't buy it. It might have been Carm's comments about how many jackets I already have… I know I have a lot of jackets, but what is one more, especially at less than $30. It's been eating at me and if it wasn't snowing today I would go right back to the store, with the hope that it is still there.

Over the last few days I've clipped the poodles faces and feet. When they are brushed out they look like giant balls of fur with tiny little feet and pretty faces. Actually, Spike ruined his nose yesterday trying to bury his bone in the towel in his crate. I guess he wanted to save it for later, but in doing so has rubbed the top of his nose raw. I can hardly look at it. Poor wee thing. Kabira has done the same thing at times.


edit, later in the afternoon: Carm decided the roads were still good and that we should go to liquidation to see if the jacket was still there… it wasn't. I guess it wasn't meant to be but thank you to my honey for humouring me. We did pop into the Country kitchen for lunch as a consolation prize ;-)

"All shall be done, but it may be harder than you think.”
~C.S. Lewis

Monday, March 27, 2017

Happy Birthday cake

It's a mind-altering tradition that is celebrated each year on Carm's birthday. The sugary, fudge like icing is quickly distributed on the cake, if we aren't quick the icing hardens into an immovable shell. There is always a skim left in the pot and some on the beaters that we jostle for, trying to look like we are sharing but wanting to hog for ourselves. Our tongues dart out eager for the sweet confection. Hands shake as the sugar rush hits full-on.

Yes, burnt sugar cake makes a yearly appearance :-)

This past week has flown by. For part of it I convalesced on the sofa with a lingering cold - old movies and Pinterest posts about packing everything in a carryon and capsule wardrobes keeping me entertained. It wasn't a terrible cold but it left me wiped out for days. Then we had friends for supper and got together with friends for another supper, and might have gone to friends for supper, and a friend here for supper, oh and then we went to friends for dessert last night. We've been out to the city for doctor appointments and shopping. Lunch at IKEA a highlight - I never tire of Swedish meatballs with lingonberries.

I tried packing my suitcase to see if I could fit everything into a carryon bag - I couldn't. Shoes take up a lot of room. And maybe I have too many pants. How many do I need for 16 days?

The poodles are getting very puffy - I haven't decided if I should do them now and then again when we get back Mid May, or if I can let it slide and do them at the end of April and then not have to do them until after the Titanium rally in June. Lazy. I'll have to do their faces soon though so they don't look like abandoned dogs.

We've had snow, rain, freezing rain, and now more rain. The temperature is hovering just above zero and with the grey sky it feels like spring will never arrive. Carm even lit a fire on Friday - it is just that miserable.

“The Lion and the Unicorn were fighting for the crown:
The Lion beat the Unicorn all around the town.
Some gave them white bread, some gave them brown:
Some gave them plum-cake and drummed them out of town.”
~Lewis Carroll

Sunday, March 19, 2017

passing echos of winter

I'm sitting on the sofa cuddled up in the cardigan that Kirsten gave me and flannel poodle print pjs, a box of tissue by my side. I haven't had a cold for ages but it seems my immune system got run down. How, I'm not sure as I've certainly been 'resting up' for these last several weeks. Maybe that is the problem. Or proximity. Carm brought it home a week ago and suffered through the effects for several days.


I have been outside, briefly, to cut the dog's nails. I bloodied Bella twice, Spike once, and Kabira not at all although you wouldn't know it from the way she carried on - she yelps and screams even when I didn't have the nail cutter near her…

a little later in the day…

Just got back in the house from a sojourn on the front deck. I pulled one of the deck chairs into the sun and tipped my head back to soak in some rays. It was warm although I could feel the cool from the melting snowbank beside me. The red-wing Blackbirds were staking out their territories; their distinctive song ringing through the air. The tinkle of melting water played the accompaniment. The dogs stood on the partially melted laneway, seemingly in bliss.

“I hear the passing echoes of winter and feel the warming spring on my face.”
~Terri Guillemets

Thursday, March 16, 2017

make that a maple bacon donut

The snow came down yesterday sequestering us in a swirling storm. We had no fire burning but were warm just the same. Instead we cuddled on the couch and watched movies. Well, I watched 'Tangled', Disney's version of Rapunzel, while Carm slaved away outside snowblowing. I felt slightly guilty and tried to do a few things around the house… Then we watched a Humphrey Bogart/Lauren Bacall movie which was too complicated for a snowy day.

Today the sun is shining strongly. I was squinty eyed when we took the dogs out. Small patches on the laneway where a tiny circle of dark gravel is showing are starting to melt. The whole process has to start again as we got over 20cm of snow - it all has to go. Smooth and sparkling, the surface has a welcoming look - I want to dash right through and throw myself into the pillowy blanket, but at the same time want to preserve the pristine landscape. Drifts in places are hip deep, much too deep for dogs, who stick to our paths in the fathomless parts. An avalanche comes in the house with the poodles on every trip. With all this mopping my floors should be clean(ish). Once inside, Spike lies on the futon looking out the window with a slightly depressed demeanour. The dogs are all ready for spring and a return to running in the field. If only there was somewhere (without people speeding past us at 100km per hour), to go for a walk.


The poodles need a haircut but it seems cruel to shave them when it is still so cold. Maybe next week will be better.
I need a trip to the hairdresser too, but am trying to figure out the best timing so it is the right length for our trip (less than 50 days!). Do I get it done now and then again right before we go? Or do I wait for a few weeks and hope it grows slowly? It seems like too complicated a decision right now.

Since I've been back from NZ I've gotten so lazy…

By mid afternoon we were both antsy - too many days stuck at home - so we headed into the village for a maple bacon donut, fresh from the bakery. On our way we stopped to help pull a woman from the ditch. Blowing snow was causing drifting in some areas so she must have hit that spot going too fast. It was treacherous and dragged her off the road. I almost wore a lighter coat but at the last minute grabbed my down-filled parka - I was glad I did as with the wind it was mighty chilly out there.

A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
~Albert Einstein

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

snow... unceasing snow

It was/is a snow day today - hopefully this is the last storm. Tomorrow is supposed to be worse and then… maybe…. spring. Carm started a fire and I pulled Spike's loveseat away from the window and up beside the fireplace. With fluffy pillows and a cosy blanket over the seat it is a nice place to watch the snow swirl from the sky. It isn't coming down heavily but with a strong wind from the east it is coming down sideways. Kabira and Spike aren't keen to stay out very long, but Bella doesn't seem to mind. I wore my parka with a big hood every time I ventured outside. Brrrr. Brrrr. Brrrr.

I have all the doors into the great room closed which leaves the fire to warm a large, easy to heat rectangle (albeit with wall to wall windows - it would be nice to have heavy velvet drapes to pull against the cold, but that would make it dark in here so maybe the windows are best). The thermostat for the furnace is in this room so it isn't going on. The rest of the house is slowly getting colder but that's okay. Almost everything we need is in the warm part. It would have been a good day to have a soup simmering away in the crockpot.

I have a Disney movie and a bunch of episodes of Modern Family that I was saving for a day like this, but I haven't extracted myself from the loveseat so they'll have to wait.

All Heaven and Earth
Flowered white obliterate...
Snow...unceasing snow”
~Bashō Matsuo, Japanese Haiku

Monday, March 13, 2017

winter is coming

Two blue jays, resplendent in their jaunty chemise, sat in the tree above the bird feeder. Flit, one was down at the feeder. Whoosh and it was back in the tree. Hither and thither they flew, effortlessly and free. I thought how wonderful it would be to fly and wondered if I would be as clumsy in the air as I am on the ground. Would I have that feeling I'm about to fall as I jumped from branch to branch, or would wings give me the stability that I'm missing.

More and more birds have been flocking to the feeders. Ten, twenty, or even more Mourning Doves shuffle on the ground looking for spilled sunflower seed. A bunch of Red-wing Blackbirds gather on the tree branches - too many to easily count. Juncos, Chickadees, woodpeckers, Nuthatches, and other small birds flit into the feeder. A brilliant red Cardinal sometimes makes a visit. There is always something to see when I look out the kitchen window - one of these days I'm going to cut my finger off as I gawk out the window while I'm cutting something up.

It has been reasonably quiet here which just one trip to town in the last several days. We went for new sheets and visited Canada Computers and a thrift shop. I didn't buy anything, but was sorely tempted by the plush apricot poodle purse in the thrift store. It looked just like Spike.

Trudie & Leo came for supper last night so we sat up visiting until the clock showed late, but our internal clocks said it was still early. Yes, daylight savings time is here and my circadian rhythm is all akimbo again. But it didn't get dark till almost 7:30! I love the change in light, but I do like having supper in the dark - candles show up so much better.

Carm is coming down with a cold and a snowstorm is on its way… hurrah (not), winter is not over yet.

"Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature -- the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
~Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

Thursday, March 9, 2017

her couriers fill the air

A single bell rang out its song, the feathered musician adept at playing her purple toy. A dog clacked over the floor to get to the futon. Then, silence. The deafing silence that is only heard when a person is absent. Carm isn't particularly noisy, but my brain must be accustomed to the sound of him - I wonder if he experienced the same thing when I was in NZ for a month.

Carm was in town helping his mom get settled into her new home. We moved her and some of her belongings yesterday. I think it will work out well as everyone speaks Italian. Apparently she's already having animated conversations with some of the other residents. Alzheimer's has caused her to lose much of her English, so her previous home, predominantly English, was isolating.

My pleasure today was luxuriating in a hot bath with the sun streaming in the window, the zebra stripe shadow of the blinds playing across the wall. The strains of my favorite music coloured the air. As I lay back I could see the blue, blue sky through the slats of the window and the grey skeleton of a tree that will soon be resplendent in green.

Later, outside with the dogs, I could hear the honk of a flock of Canada Geese looking for someplace to land, familiar sounds of spring on its way. Much of the snow is melted away, but there are still patches of treacherous ice and most of the grassy areas still have a few inches left. All three dog noses were glued to the ground, snuffling the scents that are emerging as the snow melts away. Spike ran at top speed wherever he went.

"Oh, Spring is surely coming,
Her couriers fill the air;
Each morn are new arrivals,
Each night her ways prepare;
I scent her fragrant garments,
Her foot is on the stair."
~John Burroughs

Sunday, March 5, 2017

i need glasses

A flock of redwing blackbirds has been hanging out at the birdfeeder for the last few days. This is the earliest that I've seen them and with this cold snap (-20s) they are probably regretting their decision to come north. The forecast is calling for more seasonal temperatures in the next few days, so hopefully they'll make it through. In the meantime we'll keep heaping the sunflower seeds on the platform.

Last night was Erik's 13th birthday celebration. It started off at the arena where we all cheered him on in his hockey game. It was a loud a raucous time - not our family which is pretty subdued, but all the other moms, dads, and grandparents hooted and hollered and rang their giant bells. Not the ideal place for the sound sensitive.

After the game we had supper at Mom & Dad's. Mom cooked steaks while Erik sauteed up his signature shrimp dish. Very yum and perhaps the beginnings of a master chef. Olaf was visiting which is always nice.

Friday Carm got a call that there is a bed for his mom at an Italian nursing home, so we met up with his sister Maria to check it out. It is a big room and she'll even be able to bring a bit of her furniture along. It is a relief for the whole family that she'll be somewhere with proper care.

On our way home we stopped at Marks clothing store so I could look at jeans. No luck and with an average price of $50 getting two pairs seemed super expensive. At the last minute we decided on a trip to liquidation (which was 40 min from where we were) to look at what they had. I don't often find anything but luck was on my side and I came home with 4 pairs for $35. Last night my outfit was mostly stuff from liquidation: $7.50 grey jeans, $15 grey nubby sweater, $5 t-shirt. I wasn't exactly a designer fashion plate, but I think I looked okay.

Today (Sunday) is a gorgeous day, cold but oh so sunny. We couldn't stay in the house and needed to take the truck 'out for a run' so off we went with no destination in mind, until we thought of the flea market - it is open on Sunday and is a cheap diversion… though not so cheap today.

Over the last year I've noticed the flea market cleaning up. The junk is not so junky and the vendors are displaying their wares in a more attractive manner which has raised the prices. Today a set of delicate glasses (8 water glasses and 10 smaller ones)  caught both our eyes. They are made from a golden glass which shimmers giving a lovely effect - we both thought they would look great with my gold chargers and white linens. We walked around the rest of the aisles and then after a brief discussion went back to negotiate. We were happy with the deal of $25 for all 18 glasses.

On the drive home my mind flitted over my cupboards and wondered where on earth I was going to put these new treasures. We could leave them packed away in a box, only to be unearthed at the right occasion but I wanted to get a few ready for more regular use. Once we got home we got to work. Carm washed & dried while I rearranged and threw out making room for 6 of each size. The rest are safely packed in a box. If we ever get the craft room done I'll designate a cupboard for extras.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

baggins

The sun is shining but the temperature has dropped back below zero. It is -10C, -20C with the windchill, but where the sun is shining the snow is melting, especially if there is something dark nearby. Spring seems near.

Monday we helped our friend Dave buy a computer and then went to Capital City Luggage to look at their day bags. They had a huge selection and we each chose a 'pacsafe' bag with lots of security features on it. I didn't have all the stuff that I would normally carry, but they have a 7 day return policy.

As soon as we got home I loaded up my bag - everything fit… but… I didn't really like mine. Carm's is good and holds all the stuff that it will have to cart around, but mine… well, I just didn't like it… it had a big flap over the front which was bulky and  unwieldy. Tuesday I had stuff in and out of that bag a hundred times. I walked around the house with the bag slung over my shoulder. I looked at it. I took everything out and looked at it again. rinse and repeat… in the end I decided I wanted to look at the bags again and see if there was something that I liked better.

Today we visited the store and I looked around some more. It turns out that the little brother to Carm's bag will do the trick. It is slightly too small and will be cramped with my jacket, a water bottle, my big camera and a few other odds and sods, but that's okay. With both bags available we'll be able to handle any situation.

So complicated just to get what amounts to a purse but since Carm read yesterday that Barcelona and Rome are two of the top pick-pocket spots it seems prudent to take precautions.

The people at the family owned and operated Capital City Luggage were helpful and pleasant - we will shop there again. In fact after our lunch (see below) we went back so I could buy a scarf that will nicely dress up some t-shirts that I have. Plus the wrap around ones are easy to pull a bit over my head if needed for getting into churches.

At lunch we stopped at Art-is-in, a place we'd seen on the Food Channel. I had the deep fried pickle sandwich which was amazing. Carm had a ham sandwich that he also enjoyed. I wondered if I might get sick of the pickle flavour as I like them but aren’t made for them. No worries, it could have even used a few more. Hot pickles, who knew.

We made our first camping reservations yesterday. We've decided to just camp in the fall (aside from the Titanium Rally in June) and stay home again this summer. We can always change our minds and go last minute if we are going stir crazy.
Last night we had a lovely dinner with Trudie & Leo and Monday night Dave was over so I'm keeping up with my plan of staying busy to banish winter blues. So far it seems to be working.

"And there is quite a different sort of conversation around a fire than there is in the shadow of a beech tree.... [F]our dry logs have in them all the circumstance necessary to a conversation of four or five hours, with chestnuts on the plate and a jug of wine between the legs. Yes, let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius."
~Pietro Aretino, translated from Italian

Sunday, February 26, 2017

first geese

A huge flock of Snow Geese lifted in the air in the distance. A flock of Canada Geese looked for food in an old corn field. Spring? It is far too early, but today's strong sunshine brought a hint of what might be. The sun lured us out of the house and into the car this afternoon. A drive through the countryside seemed like a good plan, one that is good for both of us.

Friday, Saturday, Sunday: what have I done? Not a heck of a lot. I've watched the original Disney movie 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' - that made for a pleasant afternoon. We've picked up 320 lbs of meat for the dogs - it is nice knowing that we are supplied for a few months. While there we met a woman who breeds Bengal cats - slightly tempted to get a kitten but then a reality check reminds me that I don't want a cat and all the hassle that goes with it (namely litter box, scratchy nails and hair everywhere).

I feel like I am closer to being back to 'normal' (whatever that is). Although with golf on the TV I am mighty tempted to have a nap…


No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.”

~Hal Borland

“Oh, listen. Listen!' A sound like a big crowd a good way off, excited and shouting, getting closer. We stand up and scan the empty sky. Suddenly there they are (the geese), a wavering V headed directly over the hilltop, quite low, beating southward down the central flyway and talking as they pass. We stay quiet suspending our human conversation until their garulity fades and their wavering lines are invisible in the sky.
They have passed over us like an eraser over a blackboard, wiping away whatever was there before they came.”
~Wallace Stegner

Thursday, February 23, 2017

the wind has followed me back to Canada

The wind whipped at our cheeks as Christina and I strode down the road this afternoon. We went north today as there are more windbreaks than the wide open expanses along the south route. Still, even with the shelter, my cheeks are red and burning and I have a bit of an earache. It was a bit like being back at Kirsten's but colder. Not much colder though - it topped off at 10C today. The gloom was heavy this morning but just as we started our walk a patch of sky cleared and the sun shone through.

I've been getting up at a more decent hour this week but my oh my it is a struggle. I've made very few inroads with regard to jet lag. I feel that I'm up against the 18 hour difference between our time zones, rather than the 6 hour plus one day change in time. I will keep at it. The lack of sleep is starting to affect my mood too - a whisper of anxiety and depression dogs my day. I'm working really hard on managing my thoughts and doing everything I can think of to help myself.

To help with my struggle we are going out and about during the day. Even just going for a drive in the country is a good diversion. Staying away from home in the afternoon when a nap seems so lovely has been very helpful. We've been having company at night too: Trudie & Leo for supper on Sunday, Jo Ellen and Don for supper on Monday, Pat for drinks on Tuesday. We've stopped the trend - I've run out of things to cook - but should keep it up.

As a diversion after my walk this afternoon I re-read my blog posts for my first trip to NZ (in 2013). It seems I had a good time that trip too ;-)  And also a long period of readjustment when I got home. Perhaps I have to cut myself a little slack.

"I have the choice of being constantly active and happy or introspectively passive and sad. Or I can go mad by ricocheting in between.”
~Sylvia Plath

Monday, February 20, 2017

celebrating birthdays

I'm still having trouble switching to this time zone. Getting up in the morning is monstrously hard; at bedtime sometimes I can fall asleep at a proper time while others have me craving something to eat and a late night. Luckily there is no rush and maybe it is easier on my system to take my time adjusting.

Saturday night we had a lovely supper at my parents. It was a large gathering with Olaf, Tammy and Freya; Kari & Trevor; Ed, Lynn and Ben, some longtime motorcycle friends. Dad had two good parties this year. Friday I whipped together a burnt sugar cake to crown the festivities.

Sunday we drove into town to visit Carm's mom. She still remembers me and asks about Mom and Dad as well. While there we got a phone call from Trudie & Leo: they were home from their trip south but were locked out of their house. We dashed off to rescue them. Of course we invited them for supper so Trudie didn't have to cook after a long trip home.



Trudie brought back some treasures, on of which is a little leather backpack or pannier for Spike to carry his treats in. It is beyond cute, but I'm not sure that Spike thought it was a good birthday gift as he's not crazy about stuff around his middle.


Hi there. It's Spike again. I see Laura forgot to tell you that it's my birthday, and that I'm 9. Nine seems like a big number but since I'm still the baby in the house it must not be that. When Laura gave me a kiss and a hug I felt like she might cry because I'm getting so old. She kept kissing me all day and telling me what a good boy I am. Of course she right, but she's just being silly saying it over and over. I did like it a bit though as I missed her so much when she was away visiting my other side of the world cousins. My friend Trudie brought me a present but I don't really like it. Everyone says it is really cute so maybe I'll put up with wearing it. It is a leather bag that fits over my back. Trudie says it can carry my treats so I guess that's okay.

Friday, February 17, 2017

unchanged

Gosh, I'm still dragging myself around, staying up late and getting up equally late. The transition back to this time zone is harder than when I went there. Perhaps I pushed myself to get switched around - lots of activities and excitement made it easier. Back home it is quiet with not much to do except for a trip to liquidation yesterday and some baking today. I suppose there is no rush.

It is a beautiful day: sunny, -2C, and hardly a breath of wind. I walked up and down the laneway, taking photos of the dogs against the brilliant white backdrop and wished that Carm had snowblowed me a path all around the field (which is a totally ridiculous wish as that would be at least 500 m. I thought of the lovely days in Wellington and remembered the nights the wind buffeted the caravan so much I could hardly sleep. I pulled on the wool/cashmere sweater that Kirsten gave me and was warm.

While I was gone my wonderful kitchen time died. It was a three timer unit from Williams Sonoma that I really loved. Carm ordered a replacement which seems like it should be the same thing but it keeps fubaring on me which is a really big drag as when you having a timer going, having it zero out is aggravating (to say the least). I NEED to rely on it! Prepare for some overcooked food :-(


The dogs have mostly settled back to me being home. They do follow me a bit more than usual and when I got home from yesterday's outing Kabira put her head in my lap and cried and cried. She's the most sensitive of the pack. Spike shows up beneath my feet at odd times, perhaps checking that I'm still here. Bella checks too, but not as much as the other two - she's more Carm's dog.

I like today’s quote but wonder if I, myself, have altered. Or have I wasted the opportunity for change and come back the same as I was when I left? I’ll have to think about this. Does a trip away change you? I think if I had gone somewhere like India or China or other place where the culture is so different from ours and where many people have so little I would not be the same when I returned. As it is, New Zealand is very much like Canada and I wasn’t challenged in any way.

There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.”

~Nelson Mandela

Thursday, February 16, 2017

the long journey home

I was going to write a whole post about my journey home, but somehow it no longer seems interesting or something I want to remember (on edit: it seems I wrote about it anyway). It was a series of long flights punctuated by long periods in departure lounges. Except Vancouver, there I had to run all the way from arrival gate to departure gate and was second last on the plane…

My alarm had been set for 3:15 but my internal clock woke me up 5 minutes earlier, and an hour before that, and an hour before that… you get the idea, it was a sleepless night. Once up I did a few last minute things (like get out of my pjs and into travel clothes). A little earlier than scheduled Kirsten and I crawled into the car and made our way in the dark to the airport. I got checked in (with help) leaving Kirsten and I plenty of time for a slice of cake and a coffee. We couldn't sit there forever though and the time came for the last goodbye. I tried not to think about it, or say too much that would make me cry and after a long hug finally turned and walked through security.

What would have I said if I had better control of my tear ducts? Of course "I love you", "I'll miss you", "I like to spend time with you", "thanks for giving me such a lovely time and making me feel so much like I was part of the family" …  you get the idea…

I boarded the Air NZ flight to Sydney and sat belted into my seat feeling the plane being buffeted even on the ground. I could see things fluttering and flapping and wondered what the takeoff might be like. Kirsten had assured me that takeoff in the wind was easier than landing, so I held onto that thought as we took flight.

Still, the flight was uneventful and I arrived in Sydney. As we circled the city I could see the Sydney Opera House below me - exciting! I had a four hour wait in Sydney before squeezing into my next seat. It would be my captor for the next 14+ hours. It was hard, narrow and very confining. Luckily I was sitting next to a nice couple and we all managed to pass the time. I tried to sleep for a while but my back was killing me and I couldn't get comfortable at all. The plane was pretty empty with many sets of seats with one one or two people, rather than the three that was in my set. No stretching out for me.

I was pretty glad when we landed but then had to rush through customs and then security to reach the departure gate. I seemed to have gotten slow people in front of me every time. I ran the rest of the way after security. It seems that my flight was at the farthest gate :-0

I made it on though and belted myself in for another 5 hours of constraint. This time I was so exhausted that I slept. I didn't ask my neighbor if I snored, but honestly I couldn't give a rats a$$ if I had as I was knackered and feeling like a bag of dirt.

We made it on time to Ottawa and I prepared to finally see my honey after missing him for 1 month. I was home, or at least almost home - we still had a stop to make before I'd really be home and the world around me would stop moving.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

the last few days of my trip

Where did I leave off? I think it was with fish & chips on Thursday night which leaves 3 full days of my time in New Zealand left to tell.

Friday Kirsten and I drove Shenna to work for noon, stopping at Zealandia on our way home to look for that scarf I thought I wanted. It wasn't there but was at another gift shop so I was out of luck, which was just as well as I got my current scarf stuck on some velcro on my travel bag which made a pull. I was glad it wasn't an expensive wool scarf. The rest of the day is lost (looking at my last post I see that Kirsten and I had lunch before heading back home).


Saturday we were up early for a horse show. Kirsten drove the float expertly through the curving roads of their road, through the busy, narrow roads of Wellington until we got to the highway. Then it was highway until we exited onto more curvy roads and finally onto the 'high crash area' road that led to the horse show. We got parked in a big, grassy field and unloaded the horses for their day of jumping. We had a lovely day. It was a beautiful, sunscreen slathery day, perhaps the nicest since I'd been there. Nissa did well and got one ribbon.


When we got home I walked with Shenna and her horse James to the arena down the road only to find out that James was lame. Poor Shenna has had the worst luck with lameness. Her other horse Nimo is on stall rest for 6 months…

After the walk I dragged my suitcases into the caravan so that I could start packing. I was going home. How was I going to fit everything and would I meet the weight limits? My bag had shrunk and my pile of belongings had expanded.

I don't remember what we did the rest of the day, I can't even remember what we had for supper.

Sunday morning (after a bit of a sleep in) I found Shenna already making the batter for crepes. She was making us a special last day breakfast. Heaps of strawberries, whipped cream and maple syrup topped the delicate crepes. It was over all too soon. I finished my packing and weighing and shifting of things from one bag to another, then Kirsten and I left Nissa to hold down the fort and drove Shenna to work.

We dropped Shenna off and as we walked up to the car Kirsten noticed a very flat tire. Oh bother. Unfortunately the tire pump hadn't made its way back into the truck but luckily some ladies that drove up had one to lend. Pump pump pump - our legs got a good workout. Thank goodness for the internet as Kirsten was able to source a tire place that was open on a Sunday and luckily it wasn't too far away.

Two nails, with a third nestling and ready to push through, caused all this excitement. Luckily the tire guys were able to fix it and get us on our way within an hour.

We stopped at Moore Wilson's, a grocery and dry goods store, for some supplies for supper. We were going to have nibbles with a bottle of champagne.


When Shenna got home from work we settled into our supper of meats, New Zealand cheeses, and other delectable treats, then finished our evening with a game of cards. Time for bed. Kirsten and I had to leave the house at 3:45am the next morning and didn't want to wake the girls so I said my goodbyes before disappearing out into the caravan. I made it quick and tried not to cry too hard. It is always hard and seems to be the only time we say how much we mean to each other (note to self: don't leave these things to the last minute).

It was cloudy and gusty all day which matched my mood.

Remember me and smile, for it's better to forget than to remember me and cry.”
― Dr. Seuss

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

returned from Middle Earth

Twenty four hours almost to the minute since I touched down back home from my visit in Middle Earth. My head is still fuzzy, partially from the 29 hours of travel, partially from the change in time zones, and partially from a day and a half of missed meds (which might be the worst effect of all).

Carm was waiting for me at the airport, all smiles and hugs :-)  We got my bag then dropped off at Mom & Dad's to say happy birthday to dad. We stayed long enough to greet some of his party goers then headed home. The dogs were estatic and I made sure to call Spike over for a special greeting. It was nice to walk into my own house, Carm had even given it a good clean (floors washed too!). It was oddly strange to be here, Kirsten's house in NZ had become home for me as well. And everyone there my family, not a far away family faint around the edges but a day to day one, firm and real and within reach. Even in a month I hadn't had my fill of them.

Carm, who had never seemed far away - we had twice daily phone conversations - and I had a quiet evening. I barely made it to 9pm and I was dead asleep in my own bed.

I still have lots more to post about my last few days in NZ, including our adventure with a flat tire, and some about my journey home. It will have to wait till tomorrow when my brain has had more of a chance to sort itself out.

"What is that feeling when you're driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? - it's the too-huge world vaulting us, and it's good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.” 
~Jack Kerouac

Friday, February 10, 2017

fish and chips

Yesterday did not end at the gardens. No, we spent a bit of time here in the afternoon enjoying the beautiful day then Kirsten and I drove back into the city to pick up Nissa from school. We scooted back here (as much as you can scoot when traversing the Macara road), giving Nissa an hour or so at home before the girls were whisked back into the city for dance.


Whew!


While the girls were at dance, Kirsten and I did a bit of shopping before settling back in at the dance studio. Just before class was over Kirsten ordered up some fish and chips for us to pick up on our way home.


We had a ‘newspaper’ of chips spread out between us with a corner for our fish. It didn’t take long for our weary selves to gobble up the feast.

Today was a putzing around morning until we had to take Shenna to school (along the Takora gorge road again). On our way back home Kirsten and I stopped at a few shops then had lunch at the Karori cafe (lamb and korma pie). It was a nice treat.


Hay for the horses then nap time for me. Well, not a nap but a quiet visit over the phone with Carm. Every day I get a little more tired - I’m now at the point of near collapse (or at least it feels that way).

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Botanical Gardens and a few other days

The days are whizzing by - just 3 more full days until I board the plane for home - the day I arrive home shows up in the 7 day forecast. Suddenly time has started going faster and there doesn’t seem like enough time to do everything or get my fill of everyone.

This morning I got up early and went into town with Kirsten when she drove Nissa to school and Shenna to a picnic. Once everyone was dropped off we parked the car beside the Botanical Garden and got walking. The gardens are beautiful with flowering plants and greenery. We first walked to the rose garden, had a coffee and bagel at the cafe, then toured the begonia greenhouse. All lovely.



The sun was out and our sweaters were off as we walked up and down the hidden paths in the garden (it seemed to be more up than down), enjoying the natural surroundings that were punctuated with giant banks of hydrangeas. We got to the car just as Shenna finished her picnic.



The gardens were quite busy with people from the Princess cruise boat that was in the harbour. Funny to see the blue and maroon cards swinging on lanyards around people’s necks.

The previous few days were cloudy, windy and cold. Not very nice weather for doing much other than hanging around the house in sweaters.

The cold night on Monday prompted Shenna to make a Pavlova - a yummy floaty dream of meringue.



It was a busy day yesterday we did get some Dim Sum and I hit up the souvenir store. Later in the day Kirsten and I walked along Oriental Parade road, admiring the harbour while we waited for Shenna and Nissa to have their dance classes.

One of the days I helped Kirsten with some fencing - the wind was gusting and I thought I might be blown over as I balanced on the edge of the hill. I didn’t though.

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, February 5, 2017

windy day

MONDAY

6 FEB

Low cloud, occasional drizzle becoming persistent this evening. Strong northwesterlies, gradually rising to gale gusting 100 km/h in exposed places this evening.

It is an indoor sort of day although Kirsten and the girls have been out intermittently with horse stuff. I've joined them a few times and then retreated to the house or my room in the caravan. No shorts today.

Sunday pursuits

It was sunny again today! (with the ever present wind flailing).

After a slow start (for me - gosh there are days that I stay in bed late), we drove to a little 9 hole golf course that is for sale down the road. The real estate agent took us for a tramp around the course which was lovely. Huge, beautiful trees that I don’t know the name of, towered above us while flax and other bushes grew closer to the ground. Kirsten and I could imagine the girls galloping through the picturesque open fields.


I say picturesque, but as a golf course it was no great hell. It was more like pasture land, albeit lush with short grass filled in with clover, but I can’t imagine Carm wanting to do more than one round here.

After we had done our tour, the flat part anyway, Kirsten and I went down the Takarau gorge road to pick up Shenna. I must have been asleep the first time we drove down it as I hadn’t remembered what an amusement park ride it was. The pictures give a bit of an idea but don’t convey the anxious moments going around the one lane curves. In many places each car has to carefully inch off the road before they can pass each other.


We made it in one piece (there and back!) and did manage to pick up Shenna. Once home everyone got on with jobs and we whiled away the afternoon doing our own pursuits.


I should note that I wore a tank top and got a tiny bit of colour while we walked the course. I think the good weather is meant to be over now though - we shall see if we get good enough weather to see the botanical gardens next week. In my conversation with Carm today I reminded him that there is only one more weekend and then I’ll be home - time has gone quickly here.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

sunny day at the beach

We’ve had two days of sun! It hasn’t been exactly hot as the wind has been uncharacteristically high (heavy sarcasm). But never mind, it has been lovely to see the blue sky.


Yesterday afternoon I went with Kirsten as she did her run-about: first to pick up Shenna from her new job at a tack store; secondly to pick up Nissa from school; and visit a grocery store. It was a fun trip that required a certain amount of gum to avoid getting carsick. Pretty much any trip away from home requires two sticks - one there and one back.


Today we went on a picnic to the Kapiti coast. It was about an hour drive from home, through some valleys and finally along the coast. We stopped at a lovely park where we had a picnic steps away from the beach. We were up and away from most of the wind and enjoyed our meal of pasta salad, breads, and the most amazing chocolate milk.



The path to the beach was just on the other side of the washrooms (where I almost got locked in!), and then down a sandy path. The waves were crashing and the wind roaring so there was nobody swimming, but the sign on the map said swimming is possible. Shawn wisely made us walk into the wind first - the grains of sand beat against our legs, stinging us. The sand was covered with beautiful shells - I stuck to my resolve though and didn’t pick up even one to bring home.

Eventually we’d had enough bluster and turned back. There is something about wind at your back being better than leaning into it.



It was a lovely day. It is just over a week till I’ll be heading home.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

quiet, rainy days

There was unhappiness around here on Wednesday… the day before Nissa’s first day back to school after summer holidays. It didn’t help that it was a windy, drizzly day unsuited to outdoor activities. No pony time to distract from the woes.

We all hung around in the morning, sipping our coffee and eating toast. The grey sky did not motivate us into action. In the afternoon Kirsten and I headed into town to run some errands. We wound our way up and down and around the hills - I never knew which direction we were headed as the switchbacks had me all turned around. By this time the weather had worsened, I felt certain that a hurricane was upon us!

One of our stops was a plumbing store that had all sorts of lovely fixtures at ridiculous prices. Building supplies are much more expensive here. Another stop was at a huge building supply store, much like Home Depot. Prices varied with some being comparable to ours, while others were crazy.

At the grocery store we picked up Nissa’s favorite supper, and I got a bottle of Pinot Noir to try with dinner tonight - it is from Martinborough, which is where we drove around the other day - I’m hoping it will be a good one to bring home for Carm to cellar.

After supper we all played cards (hearts) - lots of laughs especially when I tried to ‘take control’, but gave it away when I played my queen of spades. I am a terrible card player as I have no poker face and giggle when confronted.


Today everyone is out and about, leaving me home alone for my first ‘chill’ time since I got here. I miss the hustle and bustle of the family but am also enjoying a quiet time. I feel very much at home as the 3 dogs jump up occasionally to bark wildly at the window.

I just might have a nap.

It is raining out and the wind is due to pick up this afternoon. Another forecast calls for the rain to stop and the skies to clear. Don’t like the weather? Wait 5 minutes and it might change, or get worse. Last night was actually calm so I slept well.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

wine tasting

Up up up and down down down over the Rimutaka Hills to end up in the Wairarapa, wine growing country the other side of the hills from Wellington. The clouds were kissing the hood of the car as we passed over the highest part of the ‘hills’ and the wind threatened to blow us off the hill, but Kirsten kept her head straight and got us safely to the other side.



We stopped at the Poppies winery, just outside of Martinborough as it had the highest rating for lunch. The decor was simple, with white plaster walls and long dark wood tables. Kirsten, Shenna, Shawn and myself stood up at the bar for our 6 wine tasting (don’t worry, they were little tastes that left the driver in fine shape for the yet undisclosed adventure we were about to have.) There were 6 wines to taste: rose, sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, pinot noir, riesling, and an aged riesling sweet wine. I especially liked the white riesling with citrus overtones, and the pinot noir. Nissa enjoyed a bottle of lemon lime bitters with her  lunch while the rest of us (except Kirsten) each had a glass of vino. I had a glass of the pinot noir. After the tasting we sat down to share a platter of food that included bits of roast pork, roast beef marinated in some wine, olives, Spanish quiche, tapenade, hummus, artichoke hearts, dolmades, and other things that I can’t remember.




After taking photos of the vineyard we piled into the car and took a wrong turn. What they say about seeing things that we wouldn’t have seen is so true. The scenery was spectacular as the road wound and narrowed and wound and narrowed some more until we felt we might be in hillbilly land and were certainly far from where we were meant to be. Kirsten did a U-ewey and we were heading back from whence we came. Ah, there’s the road. We did a quick stop in Greytown to walk the main street and get an icecream and then it was back over the hill and home.


We were all quiet as Kirsten drove us back over the hill. The wind was gusting and it seemed that we might be tossed into the abyss and lost forever. Thankfully, especially since there is so much ‘exciting’ driving, Kirsten is a good driver and does her best not to freak me out.


We started the day with a lovely breakfast of waffles and sausages made by Shenna with Nissa giving a hand. Fortifying, and no wonder my t-shirts are starting to look like sausage casings…



Saturday, January 28, 2017

Jumping around

Ponies, ponies everywhere as is often the case but Saturday was exceptional. We girls got up at the crack of dawn, downed an eggy breakfast (eggs donated by Kirsten's free-range flock), then loaded Nissa's two ponies onto the float (the NZ word for horse trailer). Kirsten expertly drove us down the narrow roads until we reached the "highway" north towards our destination.

Driving from her place to Karori is a feat without a float. Once we got into the city we had to traverse some narrow streets with cars conveniently parked on both sides of the road, necessitating cars from both directions to drive outside their lane. I didn't gasp out loud, but… under my breath I might have.


After just over an hour we reached our destination, a few grassy fields with jumps set up and lined with floats and ponies everywhere: tied to floats, walking around, cantering around practice fields. The excitement was palpable. The girls unloaded Babe and Navaho and got them tacked up and ready for the first practice round. It didn't initially go well, with lookie loos over each jump, but the second time around Nissa was like a pro.

The class started and it was a go. Nissa rode each pony to a fifth place ribbon, which was an accomplishment as the 'circuit' ponies were also competing. (a circuit pony is one that is ridden in almost every competition around, trying to get points for some prize - Nissa only competes a few times a year, so being in the standing with the experienced riders is something.)

We had to wait around for the next class and enjoyed watching horses and ponies jump their rounds. Finally it was Nissa's turn to careen over a set of high jumps. I watched with my heart in my throat but she got through the jumper round with no faults.

With all the jumping over we packed up and drove home. Kirsten and I had a little rest while the girls did more horsey things. When Shenna was ready for her ride Kirsten and I put on our walking shoes and walked down the road with her. Once back at the house we got busy getting supper ready. Kirsten made some dumplings - our late nod to Chinese New Year. It was late by the time we ate, but it was worth the wait.

My eye started twitching partway through the evening, a sure sign that I was over tired. Time for bed.