Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Anniversary Number 14

Another day is nearly over but today was a special day, the Anniversary of the day my husband Jim and I met. It was at a singles dance at the Legion here in town where we danced the night away both hoping we'd meet again. Well we did meet again and again so here we are fourteen years later still going strong.

He loves coming home to me at night after a hard day at work and I love having him come through the door every night. Sometimes he will say something silly like: "hi Lucy, I'm home" to which I'll reply, "hi Desi, how was your day?" Sometimes I have a cold beer on the table for him with a glass at the ready.

Tonight he was bearing gifts and a card so special I don't know how he does it..He always picks the most sentimental, lovely verses in his cards for me and I've kept everyone that he's ever given me. I asked him tonight if he knows someone at the card company that writes up his cards for him while he dictates them! Some cards have brought me to tears.

My gift to him was a red set of Walkie Talkies that we can use out in the yard this summer but especially in our new place out in Prince Edward Island. I know I'm quite good at finding my way back from somewhere once I've been there once, but I'm not sure once I enter our 15 or more acres of woods I might always find my way back out..the walkie talkie is going with me..not my idea of fun being lost in the woods when it gets dark!

We went to Boston Pizza for nachos and cheese with a small Hawiian pizza on the side..we came away full to the extreme. We took a short drive around the neighborhood looking at the Christmas lights which we will continue next Sunday night. We also enjoyed a short horse drawn wagon ride last Sunday, another surprise for me.

To finish off the excellant evening Jim put Galaxie music on the tv and we finished off our little celebration the way we met, dancing around the living-room bringing back sweet memories of that night that was meant to be fourteen short years ago. Happy Anniversary Jimmy!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Claire is On the Move

Our precious ten month old granddaughter Claire is on the move. She is now crawling and pulling herself up on the furniture, giving herself the extra support to take a few steps. We witnessed this new exciting movement of hers last Sunday knowing she had reached yet another stepping stone in her young life.

Exciting is one word for it, another could be heart-stopping! I am a bit of a collector, well more than a bit...Whenever I venture into the Salvation Army or the Re Store outside of town, I often head right for the dishes and china section. If a bowl, plate or tiny china piece has a flower on it, a violet, daffodils, you name it, then I think I need it! So scattered around my tables are little, pretty breakables..now these all have to be hidden away or put up very high.

I also have a lot of indoor plants about eighteen at last count. The violets are up high and so far little hands can't reach them. But this past Sunday my one of two red clover plants lost a leaf to our little mover and shaker..

So being a loving, doting grandmother I follow her around, watching what her eyes will be attracted to and her fingers itching to investigate..she seems to enjoy books and I couldn't even begin to count how many I have. But I don't mind her pulling them all off the shelf, they are easily restacked later. Once she is walking I will have to rethink a lot more of each room's arrangement, we can keep up with her now, but what about when she starts to run?

As I started my Christmas decorating I had to think about each decoration and would it be safe for little busy hands if Claire decided she wanted to put it in her mouth. That is where nearly everything ends up. We took her little socks off so her feet could get a better grip on the floor when she pulled herself up to stand. While playing on the floor with her, I look down and there is her white sock hanging out of her mouth...the room pealed with my laughter, she's so adorable..

We are expecting a phone call any day now that her first tooth has broken through, another milestone. How often does my hubby say: : "I wish we lived closer!"..Yes, that would be fun alright. We would just love to babysit for a whole day. We think everything she does is precious of course, watching her take two tiny fingers to pick up a piece of muffin and feed herself. Blow bubbles when her mouth is full of avacado! She can do no wrong in our eyes.

I've just been thinking that with Christmas not that far off perhaps her mother and father would like a whole day to go Christmas shopping without having to push a stroller, maybe this is our chance to offer to babysit all day! A whole day for the memory books....Where's the phone?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Outsmarting the Smart Meter

Someday I may have to explain to my granddaughter Claire why Nanny Lannie only bakes on the weekends or after seven p.m. at night. Then I can tell her about the summer in 2010 when men trundled new contraptions called Smart Meters all over our town and replaced our old ones. I can also explain that around July of 2011 those Smart Meters went into effect by the Hydro One Company to regulate our hydro usuage. Sunddenly we must relearn how and when to use our electrical power so as not to add more cost to our bills.

Some changes came quickly, some more slowly. Did I remember to unplug the toaster this morning? Are the lamps in the spare bedroom unplugged as it isn't used regularly? The vacuuming should get done on the weekends but do I really want to do it then? Weekends are for quality time with hubby.

The laundry has to wait until the weekends, a dark load one day and a white load the next. If it's an emergency then it can be done after seven p.m. but then I'm folding up laundry later in the evening. After supper is my relaxing time, time to watch a movie or read a good book. The government is playing havoc with my down time!.

If I want to bake tarts, a pie or some brownies, then I try and do it also on the weekends. Not that we need desserts but if company is coming it's nice to have a treat after supper. It hasn't been a big change to start the dishwasher after 7 p.m., I had trained myself to start it around ten p.m. and since most of the time there is only the two of us for meals, we just run it twice a week.

Jim goes around behind me turning off lights, leaving me almost sitting in the dark! I'm not used to this. I'm a person who likes light, the more the better. We go around checking all the lamps making sure we've changed the old style light bulbs for the new longer lasting ones.

I was almost having anxiety attacks when the summer B.B.Q. season ended and I knew I'd have to start cooking suppers on the "electric" stove inside! Now I knew we didn't want to wait until after 7 p.m. to start eating so could I figure out a way to do it more economically? We had so many tomatoes over the summer I froze batches of spaghetti sauce, chili and bowls of tomato/meat sauce for soup. Once thawed the reheating of the above meals could be heated in the microwave. Perhaps turning the heat up higher on the stove would start things cooking sooner so I could turn the burners off quicker.

If we want a roast or chicken done in the oven, save them for the weekend. How economical will it be to do things in the slow cooker now when some recipes take anywhere form six to eight hours to simmer? I think I'm going dizzy!

We have adapted to the new rhythm of weekend laundry, it's now become a habit. The dishwasher in the evening was already a formed habit. The baking is getting a bit more settled in my mind, perhaps Saturday mornings would work for that.

The supper meals are still a bit of a mystery as to how to avoid long oven or stove top use, perhaps we could eat out more, there's an idea! Or have a night with sandwiches, Jim loves sandwiches. (his idea).

The government has got us in it's grip this winter as we must cook inside and we need to have the furnace going, at least those of us who don't heat with wood. I'm going to get out a few months hydro bills and compare the cost to see how we are doing.

Now don't get me going on the water bills!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Reason's to Organize, Organize, Organize!!

My family, especially my two adult children would say: "mother is somewhat of a packrat"...they are dismayed by how much "stuff" I have. They don't want to be responsible for going through it all when I'm gone..Having just done this at their father's house after he passed away in March of this year, has made them much more aware of how much they don't want to do it again at my place.

With Ontario being hit with so much rain this week and I'm sure we aren't alone in this, I've decided since I can't get out for my daily walk it would be a good time to tackle some organizing..Now I bought a great book on organizing but haven't been able to organize my time enough to read the whole book! Then I rip out articles on organizing from my many magazines. My son mentioned them this week, how I have hordes of magazines. But I'm not able to throw out any gardening magazines and I really love my Country Home Magazines or my Better Homes and Gardens. But I did manage to throw out quite a few other ones..

I feel good ripping out articles I want to keep and throwing them in a box to read later..when later is going to come hasn't been determined yet..so instead of having so many stacks of magazines, I now have a nice sized cardboard box full of torn out articles..makes sense, well maybe not...

I started by carting out armfuls of papers and folders from my office/junk room and started sorting, shredding and disposing...I made new file folders and now have more folders for gardening, hundreds and hundreds of recipes I'll probably never use and a new folder for ideas for our new place in P.E.I. That was an exciting folder to start. I have a whole file full of ideas for my office there which will also be my craft room..wonder if I can keep it as tidy as the pictures look?

Another reason for organizing is yes, to get rid of a lot of clutter but also make room for things that will have to be put up high out of reach once our nine month old granddaughter decides to start walking. I have a lot of indoor plants I hope she won't pull over and fragile things I don't want broken. It's either get very organized or spend every minute entertaining her so she won't be tempted to start dumping things on the floor..I love the part where I play with her all the time..but then who will get the meal?

I'm very excited about getting my office looking so good, people will not believe it's the same room! Even I won't believe it....that is going to take a lot of doing, so many things I don't know what to do with find there way in there..I ask myself, do I need it, just want it or love it! You guessed it, I love a LOT!! I have a girlfriend who goes shopping with me and can't believe how much stuff I just LOVE..

I am not a lean and mean type of person, I see apartments and houses in magazines that look so modern and organized with everything pared down. I think I could do that, but then who am I fooling..I LOVE my books, my magazines, my collections and feel warm and fuzzy when they are near me. I pointed to a corner chair in a house in another town years ago to a friend and said: "that is MY corner"...she looked around the living-room and said: "they all look like your corners" and yes, we are still best of friends..

I'm trying each month to send a large bag of "stuff" off to the Salvation Army..once one bag leaves the house, I start another one. I have started one this week. Wish me luck, that I can tear things out of my fingers, place them in the bag and not be tempted to look through it again. I'm going through my stacks of papers and file folders again today and maybe reward myself if I do a super good job..I've been craving a Snicker's Bar for a week now!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Girlfriend's Vacation

The glorious hollyhock's are out front of the Picton Harbour Inn, in Picton. Each summer four friend's who all went to highschool together, myself included decide on a new place to visit for three days.

Part of the excitement is trying to decide where to go each summer. Most places one or more of us have already visited but perhaps not for a long time. Our first trip we stayed in Stratford, On and took in a wonderful live musical at the Shakespearean Festival. We had been going to that festival since high school as it was usually a highlight of our school year. Also my closest friend Carroll and I tried to see at least two plays a year once we were married and started our familys. Now my daughter resides there and it's only about fifteen minutes away from St. Marys where I lived for twenty odd years.

We have vacationed in Port Dover, best fish and chips ever! We visited Niagara-On-The-Lake and shopped almost non-stop for two days. We traveled north to Wiarton and to another lake district of Bobcaygeon. This year we drove to Picton, a place I've never been to before. Our rooms overlooked a calm bay with many boats of various kinds tied up at docks. We enjoyed shopping in many lovely shops, the one shopping spree where I tried to hold myself back..with moving in a few years to Prince Edward Island I'm trying to downsize and not buy too much. Plus my closets are already full of clothes that I hardly ever wear. Being a gardener, I usually wear shorts and old t-shirts all week.

We usually find grand places to eat and we spend hours talking, laughing, catching up events of the past year. It is very special to still be friends with women you grew up with in a small town, went to public and high school with and still know where they live..in this day and age of people constantly moving and losing touch, we are fortunate indeed.

Picton, in Prince Edward County has a lot going for it, lots of winery's and it would be nice to return there and go on a wine tasting tour. In Bloomfield just a few minutes away is a wonderful live theatre in a big red barn. We saw Amelia, a musical with only 3 players, but they held the stage well..

It's such fun to explore new haunts or go back to familiar places that we find haven't changed all that much..We are all in different places in our lives, but we come together and catch up just as if we'd seen each other yesterday. During the year we also email to keep on top of any newsy, interesting things going on..

Once winter's grip relaxes and spring bulbs start emerging through the warming soil, we will have to get our thinking caps on and find a new, exciting place to explore or return to a town more familiar..Once we register at the hotel, unpack and hang up our clothes, it's usually "Happy Hour", time to relax, unwind so we can start making new memories to last a liftime.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Blue Pool

We are in the midst of a heat wave here in most parts of Ontario and the humidity is draining our strength and our good humor. Well it was until I got a really good nights sleep..Plus my husband and I are very, very grateful for small mercies, our blue pool.

Our neighbours next door have a lovely, long indoor pool, complete with curving slide and steps down into the shallow end. They are getting a lot of use out of their pool these days with grandchildren and adult children coming most days after their work day. Carl, our neighbour says the water in his pool is up to 93 degrees. They love it.

Not to brag or anything, but we have a pool too..not a big, lovely inground pool but a blue rubber pool that we have to put up every year around the 24th of May and take down before the frost hits. Usually around the end of of August or middle of September as our pool loses it's heat quite quickly. Although my husband has rigged up a network of hoses which rest on top of my gardening shed so the sun can heat the water running back and forth to the pool, once the temperature starts dropping in the evenings, so does the pool temperature.

This is our second blue pool, we purchased one from Sears when we first moved here nine years ago but the rubber ring around the top started losing air after five or six years and that was the end of that one. We purchased our second one the following summer, the same size and same make. It is fifteen feet across and we absolutely love it. We have found it's all we need in our small yard to cool us off when these heat spells hit. Many friends and family members have made good use of it during family reunions here.

It is our ticket to survival when the temperatures hit thirty and higher with humidity making us melt. This week I've been in on average three to four times a day and can feel my blood pressure going lower once I've been in a few seconds. The first thing my husband does on coming home from work each evening is change and dive into the pool. (one is not supposed to dive in these pools, but he manages a very shallow dive over the side!). The temperature is around 84 degrees now and we find it almost too warm.

We feel this pool is our life-saver on hot days when the radio and television announcers warn people to stay out of the sun, don't do any heavy work and drink lots and lots of fluids. It's like getting permission to laze around the house, read a book outside in between trips into the pool. That in itself is an exercise as I must find my sunglasses, a hat and a t-shirt to wear. I'm very protective of my back and getting sunburned there as my father died of melanoma cancer.

Also more years back than I care to remember my doctor told me as we age our skin gets thinner so since he knew I gardened all the time, he adviced me to wear long sleeved shirts while gardening. It was a pain trying to find thin, long-sleeved shirts but I managed. Now I only have to slather on suntan lotion on about two inches of skin between the rolled up cuffs on the shirts and the spot where my gardening gloves stop.

As we hear our neighbours grandchildren squeal with delight while swimming or playing next door, we have felt envious at times, we are after all human but we are more than pleased and grateful for our little blue pool. I longed for a pool for many, many years and even now after having two of them, somedays I can hardly believe I'm so lucky. As I lounge around in our little blue pool or do exercises that I learned several years back in aquafit classes in our town pool, I am ever so thankful and grateful that our yard contains our little treasure.

In the scheme of things it's not all that pretty or long or deep and every year it requires a lot of work to be set up and then emptied and cleaned before going back into it's box and getting stored away over the winter. They cannot be left outside in our winters. But we are rather attached to our little blue pool and since we are having another scorching day, I'm going outside to climb in....

Wednesday, June 22, 2011




Heals me

Seals me

Fills in the cracks

Left by everyday living.


Draws me in

To it's warmth and sunshine

Which is the balm

My heart is searching for.


Without it, my soul

Would be empty,

More lonely,

Not fulfilled.


The Hand Shake of Mother Earth

by Liane Good

Thursday, June 9, 2011


As Claire's father is an avid fisherman, I like to label the above picture: "the fish was this big Nanny, honest!" My husband Jim and I love having our granddaughter Claire come for a visit. She is now four months old. Her parents are doing a marvelous job of raising her, she is a happy, healthy little girl.

Claire's parents live only an hour away so we can see each other quite regularly, of course we have to share her with lots of other people too. My husband is usually the one to take the pictures when Claire comes for a visit but he is often in the pictures too, just beaming with delight at holding his first grandchild.

We are anticipating the day we can show Claire the fish pond and watch her run around our yard asking: "what's that Nanny, what does that do?" and even getting into our vegetable garden like her mother likes to do and pick fresh peas and beans to eat.

Claire loves to smile now and it only takes her mother's voice to bring on a huge grin, what a wonderful bonding is taking place between mother and daughter. Daddy is very helpful in taking care of his daughter too, he is looking forward someday to taking her fishing. Perhaps we can all go together and catch the "big one"...

Our neighbors next door have three grandchildren so have all the baby items and toys that one can imagine..We are able to borrow whatever we need when Claire visits so now have the use of a handy playpen. Now they make them with two levels, the higher level being a changing table, that sure is helpful.

We hope to get asked to babysit from time to time, hoping we remember what it was like when our own children were small babies. We find it hard to go shopping without dashing into the baby department to find a cute outfit for Claire. And I was able to persuade my husband to build a swing for her out in P.E.I., although it's much too big for her now.

We know there will be many changes ahead as Claire grows from month to month and year to year but we know we'll enjoy each and every moment we are blessed to spend with her. We wonder what her first word will be, when will her first tooth come in and how will her laughter sound?

As we treasure our times with her, holding her, rocking her to sleep and taking another hundred snapshots of our "little princess" we will look forward to the future when our little girl will run up to us with stories to tell and sit on our lap while we read books to her. "Once upon a time their was a little girl named Claire, who is much loved by her Nanny Lannie and Grandpa Jim...."

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Renovation P.E.I. in May 2011

My husband, brother-in-law Dave and myself have just returned from our first of many renovation projects in P.E.I. We left May 7th and returned to Muskoka Sunday May 29th. Going down and back we drove straight through with the two men taking turns driving. We arrived at Confederation Bridge rather tired but once we drove into the parking lot of the Cambridge Hall which was holding a Mother's Day breakfast we perked up. We were seated quickly and had fabulous choices on the menu. After a huge, delicious breakfast and numerous cups of coffee we were ready to explore our property and farmhouse.

We purchased our retirement home last November knowing we would have to work long and hard to restore the house and buildings. First priority was the farmhouse. It took four of us a whole week, as now hubby's brother was added to the mix, to completely gut the house. We had not considered removing the brick chimney outside and inside the house but with so much rain that week Dave noticed it was leaking. It was so cold for most of our 3 weeks on the island I wasn't out of my red winter coat very often.

Hubby climbed a ladder one very cold windy day and started knocking down the brick chimney outside. Thankfully he was tied off to the front deck railings. I was too scared to watch at first but as the morning wore on, managed to take a few pictures of Jim on the roof. I was so relieved when his feet hit terra firma again.

Before long our first dumpster at the house since November was full. It was fun watching the old dumpster loaded and taken away and a new one let off. It was dropped beside the house this time, instead of out front, in order to drop debris from the second storey windows. This worked well. Frank, my brother-n-law who lives on the island had emailed me to say it would be all hard work, no time off to go beachcombing! (I think he was kidding!) But it was very hard work and long, long days. I could easily get a job on the island pulling out nails..I'm well qualified. (my right wrist still isn't healed).

I would make breakfast for Jim and Dave, do laundry most mornings, then get picked up by one of them and work eight to ten hours at the farmhouse. Most mornings we got up at six a.m., started at seven and quit around five or five-thirty p.m. I forgot six a.m. Atlantic time is five a.m. back home! By the time we all ate scrumptious meals at my sister-in-laws house each night, had our tea and put our feet up, I was too exhausted to talk much. I was known to fall asleep in my chair and hubby passed out on the couch more than once..If only we were twenty years younger!!

We accomplished a lot, tore out all the dry wall in a two storey house, tore down a brick chimney outside and inside the house. Insulated the attic by blowing it in, insulated all the upstairs and downstairs with pink bats, covered some walls with plastic and two of the men did a lot of the wiring. We got in a new 200 amp. service plus a new hydro pole out front which was exciting to watch, althought they didn't put it where I'd have liked it to be..some choices were out of our hands.

We watched the farmer down the road dig up our fields so he can plant potatoes this year. I love the red soil, it just touches my soul. I discovered two wonderful rhubarb patches behind my little barn. Caron, my sister-in-law helped me clean out my little double barn one afternoon since the dumpster was still there. We also cleaned out hubby's barn and garage. Two discoveries which surprised us, coal in a corner of my barn and wooden eave troughs on the house..

I trimmed apple trees and hauled so many branches to the burn pile. Frank brought up his chain saw one day and trimmed the two Willows, Chestnut tree etc. He will be cutting our grass while we are gone and needs to get close to the trees without getting knocked out! We did run out of time to do the burning however and I had gotten a permit. the same day I paid our taxes for the first time.. Hubby and his brother cut the grass twice and to put my stamp on the place, I planted a dozen pansies around the hydrangea bush.

Jim made a swing for our granddaughter Claire and the three men made two new barn doors. I'm sure I'm forgetting some of the work we accomplished but it was amazing what we labored at. I made morning snacks each day for our break and a huge jug of tea. It was very welcome on such cold days. We began to think the sun did not shine on the island..

I ran out of jobs once the wiring started so did manage a trip into Charlottetown, two days beachcombing and a morning trip with Dave so he could sketch a lighthouse. We traveled one day to the East End of the island, climbed to the top of the lighthouse there, another bitterly cold, windy day. Thankfully the Tea Room was open and once outside again saw a lovely red fox. We saw at least three while there.

Caron, whose 93 year old mother has been visiting for several months joined us on a trip to see the Lavender at the Five Sister's Lavender Farm at Kelly's Cross. Back home I can now enjoy Lavender/Vanilla Tea and Lavender Jelly. Last Monday during my shopping spree buying annuals for my window boxes I gave in and bought four more lavender plants..Where they will go nobody knows!

The sun did shine several times which brought out the black flies, such is life. The three weeks went by in a blur and next thing I knew we were packing up to go home. I usually cry when I leave the island, as it's like leaving "home", where my heart resides but this time I kept myself under control. I knew next year I'd be back for more work, more fun, more laughter and more reno projects. And the year after that and the year after that until I can stay there for weeks at a time in our own restored Cranberry Cottage.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Our Working Holiday

I've waited all winter for this coming Saturday. The day our holidays begin. Our plans seem to change from moment to moment but one thing remains the same, our destination. We are heading to our "other" home in Prince Edward Island, the place I call the Farm. I have held back my excitement knowing there was still lots of work to be done here, as spring brings more outside work than the mind can sometimes comprehend.

But like that saying "How would you eat an elephant?" "Why one bite at a time!", the outside work gets done if a person (me) can focus..As I watched my husband on Saturday, the one warm, sunny day we had all week wander from point A to point B, I asked him if he was doing the "Lannie" thing..which is begin one job and then start five other ones..he said no, he was just in the "zone"...Men can be so focused they hardly see anything else..how fortunate for them..except I find it lonely when he is in the zone, he doesn't even see me sometimes!

We are starting to make piles! Piles of clothes to take, piles of tools and piles of food..this is the hard part, what type of clothes does one take to work inside for 3 weeks after a really wet, damp April? Will May on the island be warm, wet or cool? My sister-in-law said to cover all the bases and since I ALWAYS overpack, I am making a stack of things to take, then weed it out..I can always wash clothes while there I tell myself, and myself still says..TAKE LOTS!!

With red island dirt in mind, I'm taking lots of old clothes which can be tossed out afterwards if they can't be revived with washing. Also as my husbnd will be working down in the basement, old jeans and the color black comes to mind..perhaps lighter colors for myself as I might be knocking down drywall and covered in white dust. I have a white baseball cap ready to wear.

The good news that we learned this week is that our brother-in-law here in town has offered to come with us to lessen the work load for my husband and his brother on the island..of course this will really work in my favor too. I might get an afternoon off now to go beachcombing with my sister-in-law who lives down the road from our farmhouse. I knew I was going to find it difficult to work while she went to the beach without me, well tears dry after awhile but after mixed with drywall dust wouldn't they turn to cement on my cheeks?

I must get to work now and focus, focus on what must be done to hasten our departure this coming weekend..make lists, that's what I'll do and strike off one thing at a time..first on the list..stay good-bye and I will tell you all about our adventures when we return.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Moving Our Fish

When we moved to our present home in Muskoka the backyard was like an empty artist's canvas. The previous owner had two young daughters and there was a sandbox in the center of the backyard. The structure had a roof and corner posts which didn't look all that stable. So upon tearing down the structure I got to thinking that spot would be perfect for a pond.

My hubby had already turned over the earth for several perennial beds as I'd brought some plants with me from our previous apartment. We were fortunate there to have had a small garden so I dug up some plants from it. Our new backyard was empty of plants so I could design away. Well, my gardening plans usually run to buy what I like and find a spot for it.

Hubby went along with the pond idea and he started digging. He said he could get his hands on a black barrel which he proceeded to cut in half lengthwise. Sunk into the soil, it became our first pond. I arranged all the rocks around it and started planting. After several years we felt we needed to have a larger pond so bought a ready made plastic one from our nearby Home Depot Store. One fine summer day dear hubby and his son dug up the space for the new pond insert.

This meant I had to rearrange all the rocks and rethink my planting. Actually the planting and rethinking is ongoing as all gardeners know. We have had some adventures with the pond, some great, some not so great. We have had wonderful resident frogs that have put on some great shows for us, especially the one dear frog attracted romantically to a plastic frog I bought..alas, the romance waned when Mr. Frog found out his mate wasn't real..

On the sadder side of things a beautiful Blue Heron decided to clean out our pond one day while I was away and I think even breakfasted on my dear resident frogs..We replaced all our goldfish and Koi but were not so lucky with the frogs. We get one or two now but we had more in summers past and enjoyed them so much.

We hope very much to have a similar sized pond in the front yard of our property in P.E.I. where I can keep an eye on it when around. I hope to take down some rocks from here as there is so much beauty in our Muskoka rock. Transporting the fish will be somewhat of a challenge if they survive this summer and proceeding summers from the Blue Heron.

We thought it such a lark when it appeared one hot summer's day on the neighbor's roof. Then later in the afternoon we ran to grab camera's as it landed on hubby's workshop roof. Then the penny dropped and Jim realized it was after our fish. We ran a rope around some posts hoping he would fear getting tangled up in it, but alas he was smarter than us.

We heard that same summer Blue Herons cleaned out a lot of ponds in a neighboring town, went right down the block, having lunch at each one..and I know P.E.I. has more Blue Herons than we do here. Therefore something will have to be done to protect our fish, or we will be making a lot of trips to the Pet Store.

I know about the term Survival of the Fittest but if I get my hands on a Blue Heron trying to snack on my "fish family" he may be lacking a few tail feathers. Do they even have tail feathers?

Monday, April 11, 2011

I Have To Learn to Drive A Tractor

I will not only have to learn to drive a tractor but a riding lawn mower and maybe even a truck! In the above picture I'm getting a lesson on my brother-in-law Frank's tractor around the perimeter of his house. He is not in the picture but I'm sure he is close by yelling instructions at me. It was fun at the time but should I get on it again this coming May, I wouldn't remember a thing.

Being the proud owners of 35 acres, much of it soon to be planted in potatoes this year, there is still a lot of grass to mow. For the next five years until we permanently move down to P.E.I., Frank is going to have to cut our grass along with his own. We will cut our grass and help him with his each time we go down for holidays. My husband Jim has always enjoyed visiting his brother and finding out what all the odd jobs are that need doing.

They work so well together and really enjoy each other's company. I only got really stressed out one summer on the island when my husband was feeding tree branches into a wood chipper they had rented and the branch swung back and caught Jim in the face. It cut his nose and just about his lip where his mustache covers the left-over scar. Men never want to go to a doctor and always say they never need stitches..I tried my hardest to persuade him to get stitches but lost the argument. So he wears the badges of honor to this day.

I've never had my permanent driver's license even after having many lessons over the years and getting my beginners license. There are times in year's past that I wish I did drive but I still never persisted. So it's a big event for me to learn to drive a lawn mower or tractor. I'll start small and work my way up. Possibly within the next five years we will be on the look out for a good used tractor. Frank has a Kubota which he cuts grass with and uses for snow plowing but in the back of my mind I'm thinking of an old John Deere. Time will tell what turns up. I"m sure hubby will make the ultimate decision.

It's just four weeks away until our trip out East to start working on our farmhouse. Friends are giving advice as to what color to paint the house, put on shutters or window boxes, perhaps add on a wrap around porch and yes, all these ideas are wonderful but are a little off in the future yet. We will be concentrating on the inside this trip down. My carpentry skills will improve I'm sure and hope I don't come home with a fat thumb. My husband Jim is getting so excited about our adventure, but also apprehensive about all that has to be accomplished in three short weeks.

Rather than banging a hammer knocking down drywall I'd much rather be outside pulling weeds and starting the design for my future flower beds. I'd love to transport many perennials from here this spring but our truck will only hold so much on the trip down and hubby has a list a mile long. Patience is a virtue so my desire to start my new gardens will have to be on hold for another year. Unless I see some great sales on plants on the trip down and I can get hubby to stop..naw, it will never happen...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spring, I Need You and Other Updates

The above picture is of our property on Prince Edward Island, my brother-in-law Frank is sitting in a field of winter rye I believe..the house and barns can be seen in the background. The new red roof isn't on the house in this picture. When I view this serene view I think of spring, of buds bursting forth on trees and bushes I haven't all explored yet, delights awaiting me this coming May.

We will soon be driving to the island for the first of many working holidays where I will take my breaks exploring the tree lines or back woods. If I get out of hearing, maybe I can extend my exploring but that wouldn't be fair to hubby would it?

I saw my first snow drops this week in a lovely, small town called St. Marys, where I used to make my home. That was Tuesday of this week, but Wednesay morning they had once again become buried in freezing rain, then a fresh snowfall..well, my spirits were lifted even for that short glimpse of them. Winter hit us once again with all her fury, freezing ice pellets, freezing rain, driving winds and raging snow. It's enough to make a grown woman cry.

On that note I was in St. Marys to support my children during a ceremony of celebration for their father's life. His life ended peacefully and quickly after a 3 week illness. My children made me so proud in how they arranged the service, handled many of the sad details and bravely soldiered on..Perhaps I saw them in a new light, as the strong adults they've become. Wise, caring, giving, compassionate adults who though they will often encounter the hardships of life will come out on top. Even though their father and I have not been together for nearly fifteen years, they included me in many of the arrangements and my being there with them was cathartic, as we embraced the memories of the good years together as a family.

On a lighter note, my dear sister-in-law Pat is on the mend, in fact she may even get home this week around the 25th of March. What a celebration that will be after such a long stay in the hospital. That is another reason I want spring to burst forth with warmth and sunshine so Pat can enjoy the outdoors.

I renewed many former friendships will visiting St. Marys which gladdened my heart and bodes well for the future. As time passes we lose touch with people we care about, so to exchange email addresses and with promises of future visits a new chapter begins. I believe strongly that my two adult children will heal over time this loss of a parent with dignity and courage. Perhaps they will grow even closer as brother and sister during the course of duties that awaits them, as they live in different cities.

My heart is encouraged as I see the chickadees already starting to nest in our backyard birdhouses, the snow in our yard slowly but surely melt a little each week, that spring will be around "some" corner and a healing will come to the earth as well as family and friends who have need of new beginnings with a renewed strength of heart.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Our Angel is Sick

When my brother Gordon got married many years ago an angel entered our family. Her name is Pat. There are some people who are so kind, so generous, so good natured and loving we wonder where they hide their wings. Pat is one of those people.

My brother and his wife have two grown sons, their oldest just turned forty this month. They are blessed with four grandchildren and Pat is a loving, doting grandmother. I've known Pat now for a over forty years and we've never shared a cross word. She has never been anything but encouraging and helpful to everyone she meets.

On occasion I have held family reunions here at my home and who is always in the kitchen helping me wash or dry dishes, get the food ready..Pat of course. When she and my brother come up a couple of times a year, she brings lots of food and treats and a lovely hostess gift for me.

This week I heard from my brother by email that Pat had to be taken to the hospital because of a bad case of pneumonia and our whole family is very concerned. How we hate to see our dear angel suffering as she is, each cough causing her pain. All the while she is suffering she is concerned about her own mother who also had to be hospitalized for 12 hrs. with the flu.

I look for emails each morning and evening from my brother to read updates on dear Pat's health. I'd like to think she has now turned a corner after five days in hospital and she will soon be back to perfect health and be able to return home. We don't often hear of Pat being sick, not down and out like she is now so it took us by surprise and reminded us just how special she is to us all.

Do we tell people often enough how much we appreciate and love them? Probably not. With all the new technology we have now we don't even phone each other much anymore, we just blast off an email or text message. My daughter has been calling me more this week, she too is dealing with her father who was hospitalized with pneumonia and has come to the age where he now must give up his home to enter a nursing home. Big changes ahead.

My son and I spent nearly an hour on the computer this week typing messages back and forth on MSN which suited the purpose I guess but how much nicer to have heard each other's voices, to have that more personal touch. This week I've been on the phone to a great many people and except for the fact I couldn't see them, they could have been in the next room. We can hear gladness in a person's voice, sadness or discouragement over the phone. Even a personal letter that we recive in the mail box has something to highly recommend it.

This brings me back to Pat who always picks the most beautiful birthday cards, taylor made for the person who is receiving it. Long messages written on all the white space on the card in her lovley handwriting, making the card extra special, a treasure to keep. I am many miles and hours away from my sister-in-law but she is on my mind very much. I wish only the best for her, for improvements each day, less pain and a better appetite. Some families are so blessed by the people who marry into them. Such is the case with our dear Pat, she has graced our family with her special ways, her peaceful, sweet, generous nature. Yes, I think of her as she is on my mind and in my heart always.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Turning Sixty

There are just some things we can't stop and having birthday's is one of them. Time marches on, sometimes too slowly like when waiting for our first grandchild to be born, or too quickly when said grandchild starts to grow.

This year my dear husband turns sixty! It's hard to believe how fast the years have gone by. I'd like to put the brakes on for awhile and slow down time. We have a lot ahead of us, renovating our farmhouse in Prince Edward Island so we will need to be strong and healthy. It's so easy to start thinking: "If only".. If only we could have purchased our dream place on the island twenty years ago, or if only we could have met twenty-five years ago instead of fourteen. If only we could win the lottery!! Yes, there are a lot of "if only's" to think upon but we are where we are meant to be, as it was all the events prior to this time that set the stage for where we are now. Get's confusing doesn't it?

We have so much to be grateful for, we now have our retirement place to dream about and plan for, we have our first grandchild, baby Claire and we only live an hour's drive away from her. My husband has two healthy, grown adult children, as do I. We have hobbies that we enjoy, a warm house to live in, plenty of clothes to wear and food to eat. Friends to go dancing with on Friday nights and with computers and email, we are well connected with family living many miles away.

My husband doesn't want a birthday bash, but I have other ideas. It won't be a huge event as we have a small house but in August the weather is usually wonderful so we can eat and mingle outside. It just seems like such a special day that I can't let it pass without some hoopla...and making his favorite chocolate cake for the occasion.

I couldn't begin to write about all the adventures my hubby has packed into nearly sixty years already but being a prolific reader with a fondness for science fiction I can put into print he wouldn't be disappointed if he was ever "beamed up"..but I've told him over and over I'm not going with him..nor would I appreciate him looking me up if he comes back! He likes to tease me when we are out walking at night by saying "beam me up Scottie, beam me up!"..it's at that point I walk quickly over to the other side of the road..I'm not taking any chances!!

All kidding aside, how lovely to have spent nearly fourteen years together and to look forward to celebrating this milestone together this August. I look forward to many more special occasions and celebrations together as we travel down the laneway of life together, perhaps him on one side of the road and me on the other :)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Our Nine Month Wait Is Over

My husband and I are very excited. We are nearly floating off the ground with happiness. We have just become grandparents for the very first time. We have an addition to our family, a beautiful new baby girl. My husband's daughter and her husband who were married in Cuba last year, another exciting event and a trip we very much enjoyed presented us with our wee treasure this past Monday in late afternoon. That tremendous news put a sparkle into our dreary winter day.

It's been a long time since I've held such a precious bundle in my arms. I have two nephews who live quite a few miles from us that have had babies in recent years but I wasn't able to hold them after birth. My neighbours next door have had three new grandchildren and I've watched envious at times, the fun they have had with their new babies also now growing up and running around. So when my husband decided we would venture down to the hospital an hour's drive from our home that very same evening it didn't take me long to get organized.

I had to turn off the stove where I was cooking potatoes and turnips for supper. Have him carve up one of the two chickens I had just finished roasting and delve into making sandwiches. I even made a couple for the new father as we had talked to him on his cell phone and he was quite pleased to know food was on it's way. We drove as quickly as was safe and arrived at the hospital around seven-thirty p.m. Up we went in the elevator to the fourth floor and pushed the buzzer to be let into the maternity area. Down the winding hall we walked, getting more excited by the minute. Which room was hers?

We heard some babies weak little cries but our baby was sleeping soundly. What a beauty she is. Such a lovely pink complexion, the tiniest eye lashes laying on rosy cheeks, even a lovely head of hair. Maybe not enough for a bow yet, but it will grow..I thought as I saw her for the first time of the miracle of life, how as I did over forty years ago carry a baby for nine months, then this wonder, this miracle appears with ten fingers and ten toes all so perfect.

I thought of the word "swaddling" as I saw how our little princess was all wrapped up like a package in white cotton blankets. Underneath all that wrapping was a pink outfit, the color suiting her perfectly. She yawned, she blew a few bubbles, once we thought we were in for a sympathy cry as the babies around her were stretching their lungs, but our dear one just twisted up her face a bit and blithely slept on.

What a treat to hold her close to my chest, kiss her tiny head and wonder at all the great times that lay ahead. How we will grin and giggle over her every expression, taking picture after picture, filling an album before she reaches her first birthday. I've already pictured her in my mind feeding the fish in our pond. We are waiting on a name, several have been mentioned as we are also anxious to see her open her eyes and let us see another side of her personality.

Wonderous times lay ahead, being a grandparent is a joy I didn't know I'd get to experience and now that it's here I know what my friends were talking about when they said: "you'll just love it, there's nothing like it!" My husband is so looking forward to the day we can have her here for a whole day, just to ourselves. Today the snow is swirling down, the wind is howling, making the snow fly around in blizzard conditions. But I'm inside, warm and comfortable, dreaming of this new blessing which has grown our family. Anticipating the moment I can kiss those little hands and hold her once again, perhaps telling her stories of my garden and letting her know I won't get upset if she picks all the heads off my tulips so she can give "mommy" a pretty bouquet next spring. Lots of fun and adventures ahead, we can hardly wait!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Our Very Own Woods and Magical Stream

I'm a towny, always have been except for a few years living in a very small village as a young child. I'm used to being able to walk downtown whenever I need to for a shopping fix. I'm also now able to walk to a coffee shop, Wal-Mart and Home Depot due to the land being available at our end of town. It usually takes me twenty-five minutes to walk to the bridge over the river downtown and from there I can access my doctor's office, dentist's office and my optometrist all within another ten minutes or so. I have even ventured on occasion to walk all the way to our Zellars Store at the opposite end of town but it's a feat I don't tackle anymore. There are many hills in this town, some very steep and if I can avoid them I do.

This past weekend the temperature here has been minus 26 degrees with the wind chill making it feel like -37. Since I find that way too cold to go walking outside I have set up a jigsaw puzzle to challenge me. Actually I'm on my third one, they all involved flowers of some description. These flower puzzles made me think of spring and spring made me think of May, the month we hope to return to Prince Edward Island to start our renovating process on our over seventy year farmhouse.

Thinking of our farmhouse put me in mind of our wonderful property. To some it might look like just a bunch of fields bordered by trees. In the spring the fields will be planted in potatoes but to an old towny like me it looks like paradise. To think my husband and I own all those fields and the long, deep woods behind them is so exciting to me. Last year along with my sister-in-law and her husband we grabbed a pair of long handled loppers, a small axe and headed into the woods. Several of the first dozen trees had a yellow plastic ribbon tied around them so we figured that's the trail to follow. It was tough going after awhile. It was very dense with small trees trying to reach towards the light of the sun, dead trees, old logs plus branches reaching out to halt our progress.

But the charm of the woods was the lovely, deep moss covering the forest floor, hearing the birds sing and finding all sorts of different mushrooms, none of which we knew. One particular mushroom has the reddest top I've ever seen. It was so beautiful. Jim's brother placed it on a tree branch so we could get a good photo of it. We knew from the deeds of the property that there were several streams on the property. Plus the owner had told us as a small child she fell into one. We tramped through the dense woods for nearly two miles it seemed, ducking here, dodging there to escape a branch in the head. One small clearing made me exclaim with joy as there were stately maples growing there. Some small enough I hope to dig up and transplant later.

When we finally reached what we thought should be a stream it seemed to be dried up, no water was flowing but the moss was very spongy and wet. We trekked on, up hill and down dale and finally found the most magical little stream I've seen in a long time. I was beside myself with joy. Bouncing around with delight at this narrow little stream with clear, sparkling water flowing ever so bravely on. I suppose to some it wouldn't look like much, but I have a vision of fairies dancing there in the sunlight when no one is around. I envisioned cleaning up the stream, pulling out soggy logs and branches, clearing vegetation away near the edge and even putting little benches here and there to sit on someday.

There will be so little time to go exploring in the woods over the next few years as we renovate the house and barns but hopefully we can set aside one day each summer to go exploring. Even the fact I caught my right foot under a log and fell headfirst on the soft, cushiony moss, really hurting my foot and ankle won't deter me from searching out treasures in the woods again. I was limping for several weeks and lucky I didn't break my ankle so instead of looking UP next time I will try and look for twisting roots or old logs that want to trip me up.

I shall feel like Anne of Green Gables or the Girl of the Limberlost when entering my dear woods. Loving, admiring every tree and bush. Listening for the birds and marveling at Mother Nature's bounty and goodness to a towny part of the year and a bonafide "country girl" the few weeks we get to spend on the island until we retire there permanently.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

One of Mother's Greatest Gifts To Me

My Mother was a very talented woman. She was a writer or author as she had many stories published during her "writing" years. I inherited a small bit of her writing talent as I'm now writing my Memoirs and leading a group at our town library who are writing theirs.

Edith, my mother was also in my opinion a very talented artist. Her medium of choice was watercolours. When she passed on, all of her five children inherited at least three or more of her framed or unframed paintings. Mine hold pride of place in my guest room, living-room and bedroom. I had also hoped to inherit some of her talent for doing watercolors, having purchased many books on the subject. I have taken lessons on occasion to learn better the technique but finding the time seems to allude me. I am not the best organizer of my time.

Something I did inherit from my mother was her love of puttering. A whole day can pass by with me wondering at the end of it what on earth I accomplished. I was in every room of the house and opened drawers and put things here and there but what the heck, I had fun.

If I had to mention the one gift that my mother passed on to me that I perhaps treasure above all others, besides the love of flowers, birds, quilts, photos, magazines, love of old movies etc., it would be the love of reading. It started because she read to me as a child when we lived in a huge, rambling yellow brick house in the village of Burgessville. A salesman came to the door one day who was selling children's books. Those books were called "Uncle Arthur's Bedtime Stories". Mother ended up buying the whole series I expect, the salesmen back then were very persistant. They were numerous too and often came to the door, something I'm not sorry to see has changed over the years. She was so overcome one day by a pushy salesman, I had to run down to the C0-0p building where which my father managed to tell him to come home quickly so he could tell this man to leave our premises. Which he promptly did.

Mother started reading to me story after story from these bedtime books. Having a vivid imagination even at a tender age I could place myself in these stories most of which had a moral. Did mother have a motive for reading certain stories to me? Perhaps. There were black and white pictures in those books which I would look upon for hours also. Our village was very small, there were two garages across from each other and two general stores. The one store though had a magic place upstairs at the back. We would walk along a narrow sidewalk and open a door and climb up many, many stairs. At the top was a long, narrow room but it was filled with treasure. It was a very small but exciting library. Imagine a person a small as me could borrow books, read them and then take them back for more! Life couldn't get any better.

Then as I grew older and got an allowance I discovered comic books. Not just any comic books but big, thick Historical comic books and then romantic ones or just plain funny ones. I had a friend who lived five miles away in Norwich and her and her brother had boxes of them out in their front porch under the couch. I had struck gold! I was allowed to take some home, then after reading them bring them back. The library in Norwich was also a treasure-trove where I met Lucy Maud Montgomery and fell in love with Anne of Green Gables. You wouldn't want to know how many of her books I have on my book shelves. Then I fell in love later on with an author I'm now rereading Gene Stratton-Porter who wrote Freckles, Laddie and my favorite book of all time "Girl of the Limberlost". (well actually I have hundreds of favorite books).

Often at the library there were books which became torn, faded and too old to keep on the shelves. It was our family's good fortune that mother just happened to be the librarian. One day she brought me my most treasured book, a faded old ragged copy of "Girl of the Limberlost". I was transported into another world, a world so filled with nature as I didn't want to leave it. I think my gardening gene must have been formed into a little bud that day, later to burst forth into an all out explosion of activity each spring and summer. If I were to admit to addictions, they would be reading and gardening.

I realized today I don't have all of Gene Stratton-Porter's books so the hunt will now be on to try and find those treasures written back in the 1900's if at all possible. I have written down all the titles I can find and who printed them. Now I will hunt in dusty little book stores whenever I find myself in towns where such a thing exists. Perhaps I'll email some of literary book hunters in the family to be on the look-out as they live in a bigger city where a treasure-trove of book stores must exist. I hope as I sit each morning enjoying my coffee inside in winter or outside on my back deck in the summer reading away for an hour before starting my puttering, that mother is looking down on me, smiling and reminiscing about all the glorious books she read, knowing my time is well spent.