Monday, December 27, 2010

I Have A Dream, A Five Year Dream

A one year dream does not seem like a long time to keep alive. Everyone knows how fast a year goes by, the older we get, the faster it goes by, like a blink of an eye. A five year dream on the other hand might sound like a very long time and I don't want to wish my life away. So the plans that I have for that dream to come true will be broken up into a year a time. Perhaps even a summer at a time. Our three weeks holidays each year.

My dream as does my husband's dream involves the property and buildings we purchased in Prince Edward Island this past November. In the photo above blissfully running through one of our fields are the two children of my husband's niece from Nova Scotia. Their mother is probably inside the farmhouse at the time, wandering from room to room making plans in her head as to what should go where..her children without a care in the world are having a delightful time running, jumping, falling down and getting back up again to do it all over again.

As I was fortunate enough to be in P.E.I. for three weeks in November I spent many hours at our new place, planning, dreaming, renovation by knocking down walls and later drawing diagram after diagram of room plans, trying to decided what would be best where. Not all of my time was concentrated however on the inside of the house but I also walked the perimeter of the front and back yard thinking where a good spot might be for the vegetable garden, where we will dig in our fish pond from here, planning my iris bed, where masses of daylilies would look good etc. My eye went to the very large field to the left of the house and in my mind's eye I saw a very large, grassed and treed park.

The field is presently planted in winter rye and will be planted with potatoes in the spring, by a farmer down the road we are allowing to use all our fields for potoates. After all we need to keep the fields plowed so the spruce trees wouldn't take over. We have lots of woods and trees on our 35 acres so we really don't need more spruce. Our land is bordered on three sides by trees, blueberry bushes, wild roses, the odd apple tree and it will be my delight to walk around our land in the spring and discover even more species of trees. Being thrilled by the fact different varities of birds will make their homes in them especially after I put up many bird houses that my brother will make for me.

As I looked at the field I could see new trees growing there, red maple, sugar maples, plus many of the types of trees I'd love to plant here in Muskoka but have no room for in our smaller yard. Considering our yard is small I do have forsythia, varigated dogwood, a dwarf lilac, three boxwood, nesting spruce, a red maple and sugar maple plus a mountain ash, several bayberry bushes and an old crabapple tree that was here when we moved here. So you can imagine how many varities I will want to plant where I have lots and lots of room to play with.

My brother-in-law who has lived on the island for at least ten years now and has more acreage than we have likes to keep telling me how long it will take to cut the lawn on such a large portion of land. But I tend not to get discouraged, as I dream big and bold. An important part of that dream is finding a big old tractor with lots of miles left on it to cut the grass around all those many wonderous trees, dappling the grass in the sunshine.

Those delightful children running through that field that sunny but cool day cemented in my mind that I was on the right track. They ran from one side of the field to the other, where they were stopped by our border of trees. They laughed, giggled and played so carefree and happy. Would that I could give that joy to many more children, let them roam and run, resting on little benches my husband will make nestled under the shade of a growing, handsome tree. Under the watchful eyes of parents who might be resting on our porch or deck, whatever we decide to build on that side of the house, or perhaps walking with ease across the dappled lawns themselves. Even better perhaps running along with their children or chasing them here and there among the trees. This is the vision I see with clarity on these cold winter days here in Muskoka. Hoping against hope five years with be just enough time to watch this dream turn into a reality.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Starving for Color and Other Stuff

It's such early days of winter to be tired of snow already or at least the whiteness of it everywhere. I know underneath all the snow blanketing our yard are tiny shoots and roots that will weave their way up through the wet, dark soil in the spring but I need to see some colour now. So I viewed some of my photos of spring and summer flowers. It was a much needed lift.

The house inside is full of colour and sparkle this time of year but as gardening and especially planting flowers is such a pleasure of mine it's hard to wait until the frozen earth let's go it's chilly, frigid fingers so we gardeners can get our hands dirty again. This is a good time of year to read up on all the new gardening books that I don't have time to read in the summer however so I'll be sorting through those.

I do have a lot of house plants which need my tender care but the violets aren't blooming right now, just the red leafed shamrock is giving me some blooms. I love my jade plant but alas it doesn't flower either. My deep rose Christmas cactus went bust this year but my new white one from last year is blooming away and I'd love another pink one but where to put it? There just isn't enough room for all the plants I'd like to keep inside.

As the snow falls outside again today and the wind howls around the trees in the evenings I try and keep busy by knitting or doing some crochet work. Trouble is I have more than one project on the go. So I'm making a vow to myself that I will finish up all "unfinished" work before tackling yet another project. On the go I have an afghan I'm crocheting for our couch, a lovely cotton throw I'm knitting and knitting those cotton dishcloths for Christmas gifts. I learned to crochet when I was twelve, my Nana taught me so I'm better at that than knitting. I want to learn to be a better knitter so have a friend who is willing to help me over the tough spots. But she nearly gave up last night. (wait until I ask her to teach me to knit socks!).

I was trying to tackle for the first time knitting on an extra stitch each row making the dish cloths. For some reason my brain wouldn't compute doing it after watching my friend. I tore it out time after time, she finally laughed, walked away and said she just couldn't watch anymore! One thing about me, I'm stubborn. I don't like to fail. I ripped it out again after she left for home and voila, it worked! I have one nearly finished. I find it so much nicer while watching tv to have something in my hands to do. It gives me something to look at when someone is getting murdered or falling off a cliff or something. I usuually just ask my husband what happens after the screaming subsides. Even better is trying not to watch those kind of shows at bedtime. Thankfully there are lots of Christmas shows and movies this time of year if I can find one I haven't seen a hundred times.

Most winters I get out for walks three or four times a week but this year when I open the door and the cold draft hits me, I tend to shut the door again and hibernate inside. It's not like I don't have a lot to keep me busy..I'm also tackling making the curtains for our bedroom I promised my husband a few ....... I won't say how long ago I promised but he had a look of amazement on his face when I said I was doing that next. I also have a crocheted tea cosy that only needs the flowers sewn on to be finished and a scarf I knit which needs the pockets I also knit sewn on..Perhaps I'll feel much better after I finish all these odds and ends before tackling yet another new project like crocheting some rag rugs. Now where did I put that material?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Our 13th Anniversary on December 13th, 2010

Today is our 13th Anniversary and it falls on Monday, December the 13th. I'm at home alone while my husband is at work. We had snow all day yesterday, that wet, heavy snow that bends the branches down and makes driving so dangerous, slipping and sliding along the hiways and biways. So today is a good day to stay inside and bake.

My husband's favorite dessert is chocolate cake. Many evenings after he compliments me on the supper I prepared he will mention that what would make it perfect would be the chocolate cake waiting in the kitchen. Of course there is no chocolate cake waiting in the kitchen but tonight there will be. As we both don't need to eat a lot of cake or any other dessert for that matter I usually divide the batter into two pans and freeze one. Having a dessert hidden away in the freezer comes in so handy at times.

This coming Wednesday, we head up to Parry Sound so my husband can have an operation on his left knee. The surgeon is going to scrape the inside of his knee (the meniscus) and hopefully the pain my husband endures will be no more. If this operation doesn't work then he will probably face a knee replacement down the road. We are certainly putting our hopes into Wednesday's procedure. Many days I've seen him limp along, not giving up from anything he wants to do but suffering in the process.

From the night we met at a single's dance at the Legion here in town he has done all in his power to look after me. To do the hard slugging for all my gardening projects, to make me wonderful benches or blanket boxes or bathroom cabinets in his workshop. He seems to have the knack of anticipating my needs before they are spoken of. I do not drive so he has to drive me to appointments when he can or else I walk. He takes me shopping and we've devised a way to make it less painful for him as he hates shopping. He drops me off and comes back in an hour or two or three, however long I deem to need that day.

As I think back on our relationship that involves a blended family, my two adult children and his two adult children who were teenagers when we met, it has not always been easy. There have been some royal battles but the end result was that we solved them and came out on the other side. Sometimes blasting away at each other in anger, we just couldn't resolve much, so we would resort to writing notes or in my case "letters" (I'm long winded). We could read calmly what the other was feeling and trying to say which really helped. Sometimes it's a long and winding road to get to a better place in a relationship and I think we have achieved that.

I have a girlfriend that I met when we were three years old. We go back a LONG way. She once told me: "I've heard you laugh before, but I've never heard you laugh like you do since you met Jim". My laughter is full of joy, the kind that bubbles up and spills over. I'm happy to say we can still make each other laugh. Sometimes the teasing I can do without, but he gets such a kick out of it and his laughter seems endless. Love is so much about anticipating each other's needs, trying to meet those needs, trying to make each other happy. Love is an action.

For thirteen years as often as we could we have kept Friday night as date night. The one night of the week that is set aside for us, when we try and give each other our full attention and I still feel special that night having my husband all to myself. Sometimes we are joined by other couples and we go dancing. There is no place I'd rather be than dancing with my honey as that is how we met. Dancing even while there was no music to dance to, just the music we heard in our own heads. Life can be like a dance, sometimes all jumpy and jarring, sometimes slow and graceful, sometimes just standing in one spot holding each other and moving silently to the beat of our own hearts.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


A Poem I Wrote In Memory of My Nana, My Mother's Mother Who Half Raised Me.

"And Sometimes You Hold on to the Memory of Love"

Love is not a tangible thing you grasp, like an apple on a tree.

Love is illusive, like vapor, twists and turns,

Caressing our cheek, perchance causing a tear to fall,

Like dew drops on a summer morning.

I don't remember her uttering words of love

It was her actions of unconditional caring.

I absorbed her love like osmosis,

Letting the tendrils of her affection wrap me.

Her hands were worn, wrinkled, but strong.

Her silvery grey hair was always curled.

Her dresses were homemade, a pattern she created.

Her wealth was her unlimited love.

My memories of her weave in and out of my life.

Warming my heart with the richness of remembered devotion.

Death cannot sever the threads of our attachment,

At birth our blood melded us together, never to be severed.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Before Picture

I received a request for a "before" picture of the farmhouse after getting a lovely compliment on the new "cranberry" colored metal roof. I stood beside the apple trees to take this view and I'm rather fond of it. I'm so homesick for the old place even though the downstairs rooms bear no resemblance to how it looked upon purchase. Tearing down inside walls makes it feel more like a log cabin inside now.

We change the photo on our computer screen every couple of days and you can be sure we have lots to choose from. I came home with 500 new photos on my camera. May can't come soon enough so we can go back and do more renovations. Our spirits are so willing and we are thinking of even more ways to cut corners so the money in the "Cranberry Cottage" jar will increase. So far we've giving up the movie channels for the winter, a savings of forty dollars a month. I'm a real movie buff so that hasn't been easy but now I'm watching shows I probably would never have watched before, one of which I enjoy a lot, Nate Berkus. Can never get enough decorating ideas.

Also watching that reality show about turning your home into a restaurant for a night. They must have nerves of steel. Just making a meal for three or four extra people puts me into a tail spin. I like to entertain, it's just the food part that sets my nerves on edge. Will it be good enough, will there BE enough and why did those darn butter tarts burn? Meals I've prepared for hubby and I over and over can suddenly turn into a disaster when a girlfriend who drives three hours to visit us appears. Where's the logic in that?

Okay I diverse, back to saving money. As you can see my thoughts ramble a lot these days, you should see me in action around the house, I give "puttering" a whole new dimension. I digress, another way I've come up with to save money is "give up beer". Not that I drink a lot, my hubby buys me a twelve pack and it lasts me two weeks or more. I like a single bottle of beer in the summer when it's so hot, it's so refreshing but in the winter, cold drinks don't do it for me. I'm already shivering inside thinking of going outside into the white, wild north. Here in Muskoka, we are in the North Country. Perhaps it's not going to be a huge savings but it's what I came up with yesterday.

To make myself get out for walks in the winter to keep the momentum going for a bit of exercise I bribe myself with a hot cup of Earl Grey tea when I get home. There is something so comforting about coming home, divesting oneself of scarf, hat, boots, coat and heavy mitts to head into the kitchen and plug in the kettle. I'm not a huge cookie fan, although I do have some favorites one being a gingerbread cookie that only comes to stores this time of year, all sprinked with red crunchy sugar. Any cookie that is good for dipping in tea, gets bonus points.

I have stopped buying new or gently used clothes and am making some Christmas gifts. My two adult children always get a cheque as venturing into the dangerous territory of trying to figure out what they might want is too risky. Buying clothes for them has been out of the question for years now. If I ask them what they want and they say they need a new toaster or kettle, that I can manage. Hubby and I will not exchange this year, after all a new place in P.E.I. is quite a gift. Although, he has worn the toe out of his mocassins. I will relent there.

As hubby read the weather report on the computer today he told me of snow warnings for our area and it had started already. So the snowblower might have to come out of hibernation tonight. Perhaps that will help put me in the Christmas mode but it will take a lot this year. I'm thinking of not decorating the downstairs or putting a tree up down there like usual. I saw a great idea in a magazine I might try for upstairs, decorating my 22" Rosemary plant with white paper doves I make myself. I have one foot in Muskoka and one foot back on the island.

Must run now, want to clip some dried, dead looking hydrangea blooms for decorating my front window box. They look rather nice up against the pine boughs I placed there. Drat, that means dragging out boots, winter coat, mitts etc. Well I guess I'd better get used to it. When I first moved here I told people: "it isn't the North Pole, but you can see it from here!"

Monday, November 22, 2010

Prince Edward Island

I have just returned from spending three weeks in Prince Edward Island. It is fast becoming our "home away from home". I had a very special purpose for going there this November, my husband and I have just purchased a 70 year old farmhouse on a 35 acre property.

We sure are excited and perhaps a bit overwhelmed. We have our work cut out for us for the next five years. My husband is a little over five years away from retirement so we will spend our three weeks vacation each spring on the island demolishing most of the inside of the house, insulating, putting in new wiring and on and on it will go. Thankfully my husband's brother and wife live just 15 minutes down the road so we can "camp" at their place while our house is under renovations. They are also helping us with what I call "demolition derby", taking down old drywall and shoveling it all into a rented dumpster out front.

The reason I went out was to finalize the purchase and decide what color of red metal I wanted for the new roof. There are various shades of red to chose from and I was anxious to get the darkest shade I could find. My husband and I feel it turned out well. The reason for the RED roof is that we found wild cranberries growing on our front lawn so we decided to call our new home Cranberry Cottage. We also are fortunate to have wild blueberries growing alongside the property and many apples trees dotting our landscape. One such tree bears yellow transparent apples, of which I'd not heard of before or tasted.

Many wild rose bushes also abound, the rose hips are very red and beautiful at this time of year. I shall try my hand at rose hip tea sometime. It will be so thrilling to return in May, walk our property, explore the out buildings, a wooden garage, big barn, little barn (mine) and even an old outhouse to be later converted into a gardening shed. Our next problem to solve among many is what color to paint the house and out buildings. White would remain an option, also grey of which there are so many shades and a blue/grey that I've become very fond of.

There will be many priorities inside the house over the next years that will come before painting the outside so we have lots of time to discuss that. It's a joy to walk the property and enoy the white birch trees, the spruce, willow, red maple and chestnut trees, plus tamarack and many which we haven't identified yet. Another thing we are looking forward to is identifying all the birds around the property. As we sit on our small side deck having a break now and then from the hard work, I'm sure we will release of sigh of joy and gratitude that we were able to purchase our retirement home, take part in the tearing down and restoring of our little place for the time when friends and family can come for a visit.

During my three week stay I was able to start in on the tearing down of walls, the kitchen cupboards and plan where new electrical plugs should go. We have had an estimate on new windows so much planning has to go into what kind of windows we want where. It is easy to start feeling overwhelmed with so many jobs facing us but my brother-in-law calms me down when he says: "one step at a time, just one step at a time". I must remember Rome wasn't built in a day so over the next five years we will endeavor to take that "one step at a time", keeping in mind the sense of accomplishment we'll feel when we reach the finish line.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

In Rainy Prince Edward Island

It's a rainy Sunday, following a rainy Friday and Saturday. I am staying at my sister and brother-in-laws house on the island and looking forward to a dry day. We have been doing some shopping in Charlottown for two days, what better to do when it rains, right? They have a huge Value Village Store in the city which we frequented twice. The second time I was there I figured I should look for a rain jacket as I kept borrowing my sister-in-laws.

I was able to find a nice red one, very light with a much needed hood and as I was looking it all over for stains or little holes I saw a navy tag near the side seam. I looked closely at the tag and it said: "Prince Edward Island", how great is that! I tried other jackets on, some of which also fit but resisted the temptation to buy more than one, also resisted the red purse sister-in-law Caron showed me but bowed to temptation on a pair of six dollar jeans that fit like a glove and a white blouse. Like to have at least two white blouses in good shape to wear downtown with jeans or other slacks. My doctor told me many years ago to wear long sleeves even in summer as my skin is getting thinner..yikes!

I am not posting a picture yet, but when I return home I will post a picture of the reason I am on the island. I guess I'll just wait and post the reason at that time too..Family members already know but I'm sure they will enjoy the new picture which may adorn our Christmas Cards this year. Hubby is back home keeping the home fires burning, working hard and I sure do miss him. I hope to join him again in another couple of weeks. Flying alone again will be easier this time as it will be my third time but I'll still be very grateful when the wheels hit the tarmac. I going now to listen to the weather report, please let them say this rain is going to end!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Frugal and Free..That's For Me

I try to go for a walk either for a half hour or an hour everyday that it's not raining. Usually I go by myself but on occasion a friend will join me. Some days when it's cold and windy it takes more persuasion with myself to get out the door but I usually win the argument with myself. I use my mother as my example as she used to try and get out most days for a walk even in the winter. It might have been only to go around the block but out she went. I think of mom in her seventies bundling up with a hat and scarves to brave the cold. I argue with myself: "if mom could do it, you can do it." She has passed on these many years now but she still inspires me in so many ways.

As I walk at this time of year I'm looking for branches that the wind has blown off trees or areas where the men from the town have been trimming branches on pine trees, spruce or fir trees. I try and wear an old coat as the branches can still be oozing that gummy, sticky substance that is impossible to get off clothes. That old coat also comes in handy when I'm doing my outside decorating for winter.

The reason I am looking for these branches is that I drag them home much to my husband's amusement to use for decorating my window boxes around the house, also in my old coal skuttle that I decorate out front and hanging baskets at each side of the carport. Hubby will usually drive me out to the country at some point if I can't find enough in town and to look for stems on a bush I've found covered with red berries that survive our cold winters. They go mushy inside the house however.

My hubby used to be somewhat embarrassed to know his wife was lugging branches from all over town home to decorate the ouside of the house but when I informed him how much that would cost at stores I think he saw the light! I used to feel people stared at me somewhat askance from time to time, seeing this very mature women dragging branches along the sidewalk but sometimes other women will ask what I'm doing. When I tell them some will say: "what a good idea, I should do that" you see I might have started a trend.

Mother Nature always provides me with all the free greenery I need each November. As I also love using grapevine branches to wrap around my little picket fence or around the front deck I've been seen dragging long brances of that home too. But Mother Nature being who she is, has provided me with lots of grapevine now right across the street from my house. I think we are kindred spirits.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Not Enough Hours In A Day

There will not be enough hours in a day next week. I will have to make lists of things to do and check them off as each chore gets done. If all goes well and my husband gets me the airline ticket he found online last week, I'll be flying out to Prince Edward Island again. I know, what a hassle, but someone has to do it. That means my husband will be here alone after work each day and on weekends so I should prepare some extra meals and desserts for him, although my brother-in-law's girlfriend has already promised to make him a pecan pie. That makes me worry about my return ticket! If he delays getting me one, he might end up having lots of pecan pies!

The list will have to include lots of cleaning chores, keeping the laundry done, making yet another trip to the bank, maybe two trips and making sure the house is really tidy before I leave because it sure won't be when I return. When I returned from my last little four day trip away I returned to the most fragant smells coming from the kitchen. Dear hubby had an appetizing stew in the slow-cooker. The reason? If he made me a delicious meal perhaps I wouldn't notice how messy the house was. As if! But it did dull the pain of doing extra cleaning the following week.

I will need to make lists of things hubby needs to do while I'm away too, like watering all the plants I have, last count we had fifteen not counting the herb Rosemary I brought in for the winter. I think I read somewhere it takes fourteen or fifteen plants in your home to keep the air quality healthy. I also need to transplant two violets from a large pot and a spider plant. Did I say I would be very busy?

As I pack for my trip away not knowing how long I'll stay will be a quandry. I tend to always overpack but I want it keep it down to one suitcase. Since I'll be staying with family on the island I can keep my clothes laundered and wear the same things over and over..Boring! That brings me to another problem. My clothes are lasting too long, they are not wearing out and I'm so tired of some of them. Especially some of my sweat-shirts which having a long winter here means we wear them over and over. But I'm on my "not buying anything unless in dire need" so those boring sweat-shirts stay.

Speaking of not buying anything I will force myself to stay away from one of my favorite yearly shopping sprees held here at the Anglican Church in town each October. The Ten Thousand Villages sale event is a wonderful feast for the eyes and a terror on the pocket book. I usually buy bracelets, earrings, maybe a flower pot or lovely basket. Then food items for my son for Christmas and numberous other gifts for family members. Since my son still has coffee left over from last Christmas he and my daughter will get their usual Christmas cash and a book or two instead. This year is leaning towards a real book giving Christmas.

This upcoming Friday night will be my last "party" night in town for awhile, we have tickets to a Halloween Dance and Dinner at the Legion with friends. The big dilemna will be what to wear but I have several ideas swirling around my tired brain. A gypsy costume would be easy, well, okay, that's my only idea so far! This will probably be my last post for awhile on this blog and as I have no return date who knows when I'll be able to write again. Also when I return it will probably be to lots of snow, a real shock to the system as everything is still green here with lots of various flowers still blooming. I'll be in a fluster once I return as Christmas will be fast approaching but let's hope once I enter the house I'm greeted by a wonderful smell of something enticing simmering in the crockpot..oh heck, that signals another messy house.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I Feel I Passed the Test

Last week I spent a very pleasant four days away in Port Perry. Three High School friends and myself spent an enjoyable time shopping, eating and gabbing. We try and get together at least once a year in different locations, trying to find places some of us have never visited. Since one of my friends lives in Port Perry she invited us to stay over at her place.

Now the town of Port Perry can boast of some really interesting stores to browse and shop in, as well as great restaurants. I determined ahead of time how much money I might need for meals knowing there would be occasions we'd eat out. Then I added a few dollars more for an item I wanted to purchase that was under five dollars. Remembering my promise to be thrifty this year I added an extra twenty dollars but hoped very much to bring money home to put in the "Savings" jar. It's a large, old canning jar which will take some time to fill.

As we walked from store to store on Thursday my only purchase was the dish cloth from the Swedish Store that I just love. They soak up water like a sponge. I use them so much I had to throw one out last week, so wanted to replace it. The ladies I was with weren't in a big buying mood either so that helped. We had a tasty supper that night at a Fish and Chip restaurant, but all our other meals that day were eaten at my friend's house. Savings!

Friday as planned after breakfast we drove over to Bobcaygeon where there are some truly awesome clothing stores. I clutched my purse tightly to my side, muttering: "remember your goals, don't fall into a trap and buy clothes you don't need!"..One part of a large store there sells shoes and I love shoes. But I resisted by spending very little time in there while being happy for my friend who did purchase a pair. The clothing section is divided into three sections, the special occasion clothes didn't tempt me as I don't have occasion to wear them much but the last section with jackets, sweaters, new winter coats and blouses was enticing. But I walked away once more.

As we approached yet another clothing store, I saw outside in a box strong plastic hangers for sale, eight for a loonie. I need hangers, what a bargain. Inside the store I spied a rack with a sign "twenty dollars"..upon looking closer I saw turtle and mock neck sweaters in nearly every shade. I quickly thought of my wardrobe back home and realized I was short a black mock neck sweater so bought one in my size. Purchase number two or three if you count the hangers.

We visited another couple of stores there, then drove over to Fenlon Falls. We entered another favorite store there, then stopped for lunch. This was our second meal I had to pay for. I looked into my wallet and saw money to spare. Money to take home and put in the jar. I was beaming. All in all with the temptation all around me for most of the weekend I felt that I passed the test quite well. On our way home we stopped in Bala at the Cranberry Festival and I bought a couple of jars of goodies for Christmas gifts. Never too early to start shopping for bargains.

When I realize all the things I have in my home and clothes that I already have to wear perhaps it wasn't so hard to resist all the temptation around me but it's early days yet on being thrifty. But for now I feel encouraged by last weekend and my ability to keep a tight rein on my wallet. As I poke around the house looking for things for next spring's yard sale I wince at times considering the things I bought that I didn't need, but fell under it's spell..A hard lesson learned.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Another Winter is Approaching

Every morning now the grass is white with frost. September is such a beautiful month with the maple's wearing their coat of many colors but as October is approaching the half way mark we are reminded of what November will bring and it's usually snowing mid-November or before.

September and October are such bittersweet months, the joy of all the fall colors while we scramble to ready the garden and flower beds for winter. Everything in the yard has to be put away, lawn chairs stacked, b.b.q. covered with a tarp and all the pots put away in the garden shed. As I go for walks, the air is much cooler, brisk with the promise of colder days yet to come. Several times I've worn gloves while walking and always a scarf to keep my neck warm.

Winter is the time for resting inside, curling up with good books, puzzles, games of Scrabble with hubby, hot chocolate, popcorn and watching movies. But as we looked for ways to be more frugal I got the bright idea of getting rid of the movie channels for the winter. They were gone before nine p.m. last night. What a shock. No more Turner Classic treat each night after cleaning up the kitchen after supper. My husband reminded me not to whine too much as it was my idea, sometimes I think I should keep quiet..

When the snow arrives our colorful world turns into a more black and white world as we can really get dumped on. I heard my husband warming up the snow blower the other day to make sure it worked well..As I envisioned a winter watching my favorite old black and white movies which are now no more, I'll have to invent other ways to entertain myself. Perhaps drag out the sewing machine and start new projects. Set up a jigsaw puzzle on the table or even get back into writing some old fashioned letters on real paper with a real pen instead of emailing everyone. What a great lift to get a letter in the mail instead of a bill!

I can see myself trading DVD's with friends in order not to feel too depressed about losing the movie channel, but who knows it might open up a whole new world for me, one papered with entertaining more, playing games of cards with friends, cross country skiing, wondering what I ever saw before in being an "after supper couch potato"....

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Starting a New Trend at Our House, Being Frugal

I will be encouraging my dear husband to join the "Let's Be Frugal" train, me being the engine that gets up the steam to get us rolling. Let's hope we both enjoy the ride and it becomes a healthy habit. We have a wonderful reason for trying to do this, our dream of retiring on Prince Edward Island.

Now I'm a born shopper, as soon as I could walk I was looking into cupboards and secret hideaway places especially at my nana's looking for treasure. I started working when I entered High School, earning a pittance but it was more than my allowance from my parents. Once I started seeing the power of money, spending it had me in it's spell. A girlfriend bought me a small wooden shopping bag years ago with "Born to Shop" written on it..She knew me!

When I traveled to England with my mother in 1989, everyone on the bus tour was asking me to show off my purchases, they soon learned "I knew how to shop!" I love nothing better than showing off my stuff, my family often teases me, "oh no, it's show and tell time!" It's in my blood, what can I say?"

But after reading my brother's blog and my sister's blog about being more frugal and trying to decide whether we need a thing or just want it, the idea has caught on. I too will learn to ask myself these questions before buying another "thing" and try to weed out of my house many possessions that were bought on a whim. Many of my girlfriends look at everything before shopping, then make a choice. Not me, I buy as I go, loving nearly everything I see..Those days will now be over. One special friend always asks me when we go shopping: "do you need it and where will you put it?" I think she is on to something. She can help be my conscience.

It's actually turning out to be exciting to think of ways to cut corners and save money. Don't believe for a second that I won't have a melt down at one point and my friends will have to tie me down from shopping at all the stores in town. But I will set in stone in the forefront of my brain, our future goal of buying a property in dear beloved P.E.I. and keep away from downtown plus sort out my possessions for a spring yard sale and that should keep me very, very busy. You haven't seen my house!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Holiday on the Island

My husband and I have just recently returned from a holiday on Prince Edward Island. It is our favorite vacation spot. His brother and wife live there and as of August of this year, my youngest sister Jane has purchased a property there. It is bitter-sweet for her as she has to work for another four years before retiring but she can spend her precious summer vacations there. Being a teacher that means two whole months on the island if she choses.

I have spent many vacations on the island now plus helped our relatives move there almost ten years ago. They moved in the winter which that year was not unlike our winters here in Muskoka. Now their winters seem milder and shorter which I envy. We have vacationed there in August and September often being able to go swimming in early September. We enjoy exploring beautiful spots from the East tip to the Western tip taking hundreds of pictures especially of lighthouses, beaches and quaint white churches. The East end of the island where Jim's brother lives is more flat, whereas the West end has lots of high rolling hills and valleys.

There have been times I've left the island to return home with tears of sadness rolling down my cheeks as I feel I'm leaving "home"..The island is in my blood, tugging at my heart, the Altantic provinces seem to call me like a siren's call. It may well be the water, the waves pounding on rocks and beaches. I feel calm when I'm near water, it soothes me.

My son and I once spent a whole day at Peggy's Cove in Nova Scotia, I never wanted to leave. The Cabot Trail was another experience I'll never forget, the beauty of the fall colors in October was jaw dropping. How wonderful it was to share it with my son on a holiday together.

It is always with regret that I leave behind the island with the friendliest of people, the harbours, rivers, red sand beaches where my sister-in-law and I go beach combing whenever possible. I often find myself looking at the photos I've taken reliving the precious moments over again. There are places that speak and call to us more than others, even houses I find I walk by invoke memories of home or a feeling of comfort and familiarity. Prince Edward Island has crept into my very bones. It keeps pulling me back so my thoughts never stray very far from the place I hope to call home one day. Fortunate we are when we find that one spot that tugs at our heart and mind beyond all others, lulls us into the peace and contentment we crave. I've found mine.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


We share our yard with dapper little black and white Chickadees

Or perchance they make allowances for us.

They are so industrious, so constant in search of food.

One stays on guard while their mate goes foraging.

The eggs are ever guarded from foreign marauders.

They keep their nest spotless, even removing their waste.

Soon little squeaky chirps fill the spring air.

How we wish we could see the wee balls of fluff.

As we delight in the parents brisk activity,

We are impressed by their family parity and devotion.

Humans could learn from these pillars of parenthood,

Who warn off feathered prey twice their size.

The wee hatchlings are safely sheltered,

Nurtured to enter the world when ready.

Nature can be a wonderful teacher,

Stay safe little ones, stay safe.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

High School Reunion

This past weekend, June 4th, 5th and 6th I had a trip down memory lane. Not only did I visit the town where I was born and raised but attended probably my last High School reunion. It was a blast from the past. The weather held out, it rained in the evenings when most of the events were over. My girlfriend and I spent two nights with a friend in Woodstock while we attended our reunion in Norwich, ON.

How wonderful it was to reconnect with former classmates from the two public schools I attended in Burgessville and Norwich as well as the High School. We shared memories as did others in the room, the noise level was very high but then so was the peals of laughter surrounding us all. Many hugs and handshakes were shared amongst old pals. We enjoyed a Pub Night at the Legion in town on Friday night, a tour of the old High School on Saturday looking at memorabilia displayed for the event. We peered at name tags as we walked the hall, some friends from the past being more recognizable than others.

Saturday night my friends and I attended the dinner/dance, the room was packed with eager and joyful partygoers all there to get reacquainted with former classmates. The food was excellant, the party was a huge success. All who attended will go home with many fond memories of three days of renewing friendships, exchanging addresses and being so grateful for an event that brought us all together once again.

After a Sunday morning breakfast back at the Legion my friend and I visited family gravesites, spending a few quite moments with our departed loved ones and leaving flower tributes behind. We had a wonderful visit later with my daughter who was utterly surprised to see us, then headed off home, happy and contented, our heads buzzing with memories from a weekend we'll never forget.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Gardening and Water Resources

My husband and I diligently stuck to our plan of finishing the vegetable garden on May 24th weekend. The peas and snow peas are already up and looking healthy but my first planting of lettuce didn't produce so it was replanted. We will probably be overrun with tomatoes come fall if old "Mr. Frost" doesn't come too early. He often arrives mid-September here in Muskoka.

We enjoyed yellow tomatoes last year and a new Heirloom purple tomato that I haven't been able to find yet this year. I always plant one cherry tomato plant and get enough for the whole neighborhood.

I had a bumper crop of turnip last year so we planted them again and tried parsnips for the second time around..they didn't get very large last year. I tried brussel sprouts last year but the growing season was just too short for them to mature to a good size..they were tiny and tasty but I'm not planting them again. We moved our good-sized black composter into the garden last week to get more sun, the maple tree we planted seven years ago has matured to the point it was shading our composter too much.

We hope to harvest green peppers my husband started inside in the early spring from seeds from a pepper we bought and ate. He enjoys doing this, I'd much rather just buy a mature plant.

We planted carrots, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, turnips, green and yellow beans, peas, snow peas and a few potatoes in a garden that isn't very large. We are able to share our produce with others and there is nothing I like better than picking my own lettuce and onions for a fresh salad.
To my dispair I'm not good at growing radishes but have fairly good luck with most everything else we plant.

The flowers in the yard are looking glorious, pansies everywhere, yellow iris, purple ones in various shades, bright orange poppies, lupins and phlox have reseeded this year to the point of nearly taking over, but the butterflies seem to love them. Last year we hardly saw any butterflies but they are numerous this year. We have hummingbirds flitting here and there, gold finches, robins and my favorite, the chickadees making nests and rushing around feeding their offspring. It's a glorious start to summer.

With our garden and many flower beds we have two large rain barrels and two tin washtubs collecting water. I try and remember to scrub vegetables over a big bowl as well as save all rinse water to use on plants. When my husband cleans the pond filter using the garden hose he tries to clean the filters over a small bush or plants, thus serving two purposes. If he cleans them over a pail the water is used on plants. Every drop of water is precious so we try very hard not to waste any. We were so grateful for rain this week, the soil in the flower beds was like powder so the rain barrels should now be refilled. I know the birds enjoyed the showers, they sang their delight as soon as it started.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Be Brave

I belong to two writing groups. We meet the first and Third Saturdays of the month. The first group is writing their memoirs. The second group writes poetry or short stories, often given assignments by our instructor. My newest assignment was to write a "postcard" story containing only 250 words. Our ending should be ironic, quirky or end up with a twist..Here is my effort.

Be Brave

It's not like me to be afraid. Well, okay, I don't like snakes much but I don't think I'd stand and scream like I did as a child. Now I'd give them a wide berth, maybe even cross the street.

When as a child on my way to school a few small garter snakes would creep out on the sidewalk, screaming was a great way to get my mother's attention. She came running with a corn broom after hearing "snakes, snakes" and whisk them promptly into the ditch from whence they came.

Now being an adult I try not to be afraid, but the munching was nerve wracking. I really didn't want to turn my back on it. I could scare it off but some people had told me they could get aggressive when threatened. He was only a couple of feet tall and here I am a little over five feet, surely no contest.

Waving my hands and yelling as loud as possible trying not to disturb the neighbors', I ran across the back yard, clapping my hands now to make lots of noise. He hunched over his lunch even more, wondering why he couldn't eat in peace. He considered my foliage his banquet table. How can a grown woman be afraid of a ground-hog? He soon lumbered off to one of the holes he had dug, one under my husband's workshop and one under my garden shed. I wonder how much a stick of dynamite costs?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010



Four perfect blue eggs nestled in twigs

Warmed and nurtured with maternal care.

Mother serene as she shelters her offspring

Father guards the nest from all who would stare.

Built inside our carport, on top of a light

Outside the door we use day and night.

We disturb mom and dad with our comings and goings

Soon we detour out the back door to let sleeping birds lie.

My son ever curious climbs a ladder to behold

Three wee balls of fluff, harboring one last blue egg.

I worry like crazy as if they were my own babies

Long skinny necks crane above the nest begging.

Tiny perfect veined heads rear up at each sound

Mouths expand as wide as they’ll spread.

One bird escapes the nest, now outward bound

Where did it go, what will it catch?

Leaving town for a few days away

Our return is greeted by a nest empty and hollow.

Would that I had wings, my little family I’d follow.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Spring Walk

I enjoy going for a walk when not busy gardening. Went for a half hour walk today and a few snow flakes fluttered around me. After just returning from a week's holidays in Cuba, I'm finding the weather here a bit chilly to say the least. While walking I took in all the tulips in bloom, daffodils and grape hyacinths. I hope the birds soon start building nests in our back yard, we provide quite a few bird houses and have a small pond stocked with gold fish and koi. The birds enjoy bathing in the pond and give us much enjoyment. Most of the vegetable garden is turned over and Sunday we began planting peas, snow peas, carrots and parsnips. It's such a short growing season here, we try and get a jump start. Here's hoping the weather warms up soon.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Spring Gardening

Earth Warming

Tender shoots unfurling

Hands uncoil

From winter’s dormancy

Heart vibrating

Eager fingers flexing

To Plunge

Beneath earth’s surface

Dirty fingernails

Soil covered knees

Gardening tools

Smiling she sighs

Her joy

Thanking Mother Nature