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