Monday, December 31, 2012

2013 A Brand New Year


In a few hours, it will be a brand new year, new adventures, new happenings and in many ways life will remain the same. We will continue living in Muskoka for a few more years plus continue traveling back and forth to Prince Edward Island to work on our house renovations. Thinking back on how much we have accomplished already, I think we've made real headway.

When I think ahead to what we still have left to do, I sometimes think: " are we crazy?" to take on such a huge project. Then I calm down again by remembering we are taking our time, year by year.  Taking it one step at a time with family volunteering to help whenever they can. Jim's son Ryan has offered his help again on our trip out this fall for three weeks. We also may get out in February and March for a few weeks and he has offered to fly out then too..we are always grateful for the help.

Something else that I hope remains the same but will also change is regular visits from our precious granddaughter Claire who will turn two years old the end of January. What will change is her growing up, speaking more and more, little personality changes plus her growing towards more and more independence..Her newest adorable trait when we visit is to seek me out immediately I sit down and say: "come, come"..when I ask where we are going the answer is always: "play toys". As a loving grandmother what could be better than having play time with a willing grandchild.

Something new that was added to my life last year was an exercise program and a line dancing class. I am hoping that these two programs will again be added to the new year. Also more visits with my cousin Abby who I found this year, then start plans for a family reunion here so more of my family can be introduced to her. Finding a time my four siblings and spouses can all meet on the same weekend can be difficult..Usually a day has to be set, then hope for the best.

Must make new gardening plans for this spring and summer. More plants will be dug up to be transported to P.E.I. Last year many were transplanted and I will be anxious to see how they came along over the winter. If summers continue to be as hot and dry as last year, then I must search out more hot weather plants that can thrive on less rain and watering. I am yearning for some big changes in my gardens this year but don't want to spend a fortune either.

My sister's son who had the bad motorcycle accident in July, will be returning home to a new apartment at the end of January, walking with a walker and also using a wheelchair. He has come a long way after several operations, his spirits are good and I'm sure he is anxious to get back home among his family and friends, to continue his healing and live once again with his teen-age son.

My husband and I are going to a New Year's Eve Dance at the Legion here in town again this year with two other couples hoping to dance up a storm. Maybe I can even use some of my new line dancing steps! It is starting to snow here so the New Year may start out with us getting out the snow shovels. We have been out for a few winter walks admiring the Christmas lights but I need to get into my walking schedule again, making sure I'm walking three or four times a week. That should be my first New Year's resolution. The older I get the colder winter feels!

I would like to wish everyone a very Happy, Healthy wonderful New Year. There will be new foods to try, new books to read, great movies to watch and new gardening adventures. There will be weddings to attend for some families, new babies to welcome in others, trips to plan, new memories for the memory books.

 My husband offered to paint the living-room if I can decide on a new paint color. We repainted the bathroom and the kitchen this year. Picking colors for those two rooms was so easy. I'm stuck when it comes to the living-room, it's such a quandry. So I'll be off to the paint store in the New Year and here's hoping just the exact right shade jumps out at me, I like light colors..then that might mean new curtains. Looks like the New Year might start out with one of my favorite hobbies...Shopping!                 Happy New Year Everyone.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

I Found a Cousin, Sister...Friend

It all started with a brother's blog who is in between myself (glasses) and my new-found Cousin Abby on the left. She saw a picture of our great-great grandmother on my brother's blog, emailed him and the rest is history. My brother Gord then sent her email address to his four siblings and Abby and I started emailing each other.

I imagine the last time I ever saw Abby she was around 3 or 4 years old. Now I can hardly give our ages away but that was a "long" time ago for me..When we exchanged emails, we had an instant connection and it started getting quite spooky how much we found we had in common.

Her father is my mother's youngest brother. Both my parents are now deceased but I can imagine my mother especially rejoicing up in Heaven over Abby and I meeting in person this past Saturday. It turns out she only lives 3 hours drive away. So my brother who also emails Abby started making arrangements to meet her. My  hubby and I left Muskoka Saturday and he left London with his wife Pat and away we all went. We took many old photographs with us to share with our cousin and she brought along many with her. After all we have over forty years of life apart to catch up on..

We missed each others weddings, the birth of our children, all their school years and birthdays. Abby lived for a few years out on the East coast and her mother is buried out there. So once my husband and I are settled in our retirement home in Prince Edward Island or perhaps even before that we will look up her mother's buriel place and place flowers on her grave site.

We couldn't wipe the smiles off our faces yesterday as we tried to catch up on so many missed years and events. I feel like my cousin and I are kindred spirits. I kept wanting to lean over and give her another hug.  My brother and his wife asked me if I would recognize Abby when I saw her and I said: Oh yes, I sure will"..During one of my wash room breaks, Abby entered the restaurant..As I came out of the washroom I happened to look to my right and wow, there she was. I rushed over and grabbed her in a bear hug..Instant recognition.

We had mailed photos back and forth of childhood pictures of ourselves and siblings as well as photos in email so we had a good idea of what each other looked like. But there is nothing like meeting in person. The day went by all too fast so I'm planning on a family reunion this summer for as many as my four other siblings who can make it here. Abby will be our guest of honour.

Abby has three sisters, all grown, some with families of their own. Seeing photos of my cousins all grown up, of their sons or daughters is wonderful. It's so bittersweet to know where everyone now lives, but to realize we missed out on years and years of each other's lives. But not to have met at all would have been worse. And all because our cousin found a picture she recognized on a blog, of our 104 year old great-great grandmother, who was blind but could still sew by hand and would rock away the hours in a day in her beloved wicker rocking chair..

We do not know what life will hand us. Some days it is lemons, sour and bitter. Other days it is cherries, so rosy red and sweet. Saturday is a memory not to be forgotten. Another memoir to write for the three binders I am putting together, one for myself and each of my two children. Now I can add an amazing new chapter of how long lost cousins separated by provinces, towns and cities for far too many years, found each other..who are now rejoicing in a new found friendship that will last for the rest of our lives, no matter where we find ourselves..It is like coming home at last.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

It's The Little Things That Are Important

Christmas is just a couple of weeks away, the rush and crush has started, so in order to calm down and not get caught up in the frenzy, I started thinking of the "little" things that count..Like enjoying my morning coffee..I so look forward to the first piping hot cup of coffee each morning, it may be the only coffee I have all day or perhaps if I'm out shopping I'll indulge in another one but it's always that "first" one of the day I'm thirsting for.

Playing with my granddaughter Claire who will turn two at the end of January is one of my pleasures in life that can be as easy as playing hide and go seek behind the trees across the street. Or playing Ring Around the Rosie when she found a stake pounded into the ground just her height so she could walk around it over and over grinning and laughing while I sang the song..I made up a new version as it had rained the night before making the ground instead of saying "we all fall down" I sang, "we all look around!" She loved the new version and then we set off to run through the puddles!

Sending out dozens of Christmas cards is another simple pleasure at least for me. Typing up a news letter to send off in the cards to people I don't see all year. Writing a personal message in each card takes me quite a long time actually, but I really enjoy doing it. I don't receive as many cards back because many people these days are giving up sending cards, perhaps for lack of time or cost of stamps. But I shall carry on until I can't afford to do it.

Going for a drive after supper one evening with my hubby looking at all the lights and Christmas decorations that people have put up. We do this every year, it's a tradition and I point out to him extra special delights and exclaim with wonder over all the sights. It's the same with fireworks each year, I get so excited, like it's the first time I've ever seen them! We need to keep some of our inner child alive...

Baking some goodies that for some reason we don't bake but once a year at Christmas time. Perhaps favorite recipes handed down from a grandmother to a mother and now in our possession. When my parents were alive and all my siblings, spouses and children gathered at their home we would all take food especially desserts. I used to have to hide the mincemeat tarts and peanut butter balls as they were favorites and none would be left for supper brother walked in, took off his coat and headed for the kitchen to see where I had hid them that year!

Homemade gifts, gifts from the heart and hands of the maker. When we siblings used to get together in our younger years, we'd draw names among the five of us. For several years the rule was to make the gift. Those were fun years, coming up with a well-thought out gift, always thinking of the person as we would crochet, knit, draw or hot glue-gun something inventive. My one sister made me a gorgeous wreath one year after walking around her home-town gathering up all sizes of pine cones.

I remember all the hard work that went into making her a foot stool, I found a crochet pattern for a turtle and it was quite the undertaking..Those years are long gone, we don't exchange anyore, nor do we all get together because of the distance and family committements but the memories are still there.

This year is very exciting for hubby and I, we are celebrating 15 years of being together in December and we are invited to stay overnight Christmas Eve with our granddaughter and her parents an hour's drive away so we can watch her open her gifts the next morning. I will get to watch a child's glee and excitement as she rips paper off gift after gift, hardly knowing what is going on this second Christmas in her young life. Not aware of what joy and pleasure she is giving to her grand-parents, more memories to store up and relive, over and over.

Christmas can be so busy, so hectic and expensive if we let it get out of control. Even when I often have my shopping finished, I get caught up in "just one more little thing" for people on my list.  As I look through all the flyers in today's newspapers I must turn a blind eye and remind myself.."Your shopping is ALL done!"

I usually decorate to the ninth degree at Christmas as I love the glitter and varied decorations I've been collecting for years but with my granddaughter visiting many weekends I kept in mind that keeping it simple and uncluttered is better. Which makes it easier to keep clean and tidy. So I've had to change a bit this year, remembering it's the little things that are important...I don't need "every" decoration out of the box...

As Christmas approaches and another New Year is just around the corner, hubby and I wish everyone reading this a wonderful Christmas filled with treasured memories and a very Happy and Healthy New Year..If you have a fresh new blanket of snow remember one of life's simple pleasures is laying down in the snow and making a snow angel. Can't wait to show Claire how to do that and I can hear her giggling already!