Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Reunited and Happy in P.E.I.

It happened at last! After nearly 3 months separation from my husband Jim we are together again in Prince Edward Island. The above picture was taken in Victoria, B.C. during the week hubby's son got married, another very beautiful spot in this large country of Canada.

Jim's brother and wife arrived in Muskoka last week, spent two nights with me, then packed up their truck with a few of my boxes, suitcases and off we went at 6 a.m. to head out East. We stopped one night in Quebec to rest up for the last leg of the journey, about ten more hours driving, landing on the island about 7:30 p.m. It was so wonderful to see Jim again, he had been pacing up and down, wondering when we would arrive. We only unpacked our suitcases and left the rest for the next day.

I should have known Jim would get up early before anyone else and unpack the whole truck. His work ethic is amazing. He will work all day at his day job, beginning before 8 a.m., work until 6 p.m. or later, then have his supper. Once supper is over he drives up to our farmhouse and works on renovations for another 2 hours or more. His boss at work was so nice to give hubby Saturday off as I was arriving. So we had two full days to work on our Renos. It was wonderful to see the two fully finished rooms that Jim had worked so hard on to complete. I was thrilled with the paint colors having picked them out while living in Muskoka and not knowing if my choices were good.

I like to hold paint chips up against the walls to be painted in different light settings. I was especially pleased with the color I'd picked for my office, also in awe at how professional the windows looked all trimmed out. Jim is not a carpenter but his skills are improving all the time so that our house will look splendid when finished. It started out as an old farmhouse needing a complete renovation inside and when we get a bit discouraged with all the work facing us, I name off all the jobs we've already accomplished. That cheers us up.

On arrival here there was no snow to speak of, the grass was green. But today we woke up to a winter white landscape. Jim and I are living with his brother and wife. Life is made up of many changes so I find myself having to wrap my  head around the many differences one finds not living in ones own home. Some "wifely" duties do not change wherever you live, doing laundry, making lunches, cleaning our room and I want to do my share of other housework. My sister-in-law mentioned today that next week we'd have a day of Christmas cookie making. She is an amazing cook so I will have to watch my waist-line and get out for a walk everyday....once I get myself motivated and outside, it will become a habit I won't want to break.

Jim and I enjoyed a walk last Saturday across our fields and out into our woods, walking one trail we made together, then walking a trail Jim made while I wasn't here. It's so quiet in the woods in winter, such a pleasant place to explore. We found our creek running with clear, cold water that often dries up in the hot summer months. I can hardly wait to hang up all the bird houses we will be bringing out in March. Our house back in Muskoka sold quickly so we are moving here to the island with a large moving truck, the end of March. For the last three years our farmhouse here has seemed like our "summer place" which we visited, working nearly every waking hour to restore.

When we pack up all our household belongings in March, hoping they will all fit into the moving truck we will be saying good-bye to many family members and friends from many good years living in Muskoka. We will be waving good-bye to our 3 year old granddaughter, her mother and father, my sister and too many friends to mention. Yes, we are moving 3 provinces away, very large, long provinces that seem to go on forever when I'm tired. A two day drive which in New Brunswick includes a view for many, many miles of the Appalachian mountains. It seems like we are a long way from our loved ones but just imagine the anticipation of driving back along those same seemingly endless roads to see our dear ones at the other end. They will visit us and we will visit them.  I must keep this in my heart and mind, knowing our door will always be open to those who wish to visit us, to share in the joy of our beautiful property as we do in all weathers. Well, maybe not so much during black fly season!!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Rolling Down the Highway Again....


I'm counting down the days now until I roll down that highway to be reunited with my husband. It will be 13 weeks since he left Muskoka to start a new job in Prince Edward Island. I know the time has passed much quicker for him than me. He works 8 to 9 hours a day, half a day Saturdays and then spends a few hours each evening plus all day Sunday working on our farmhouse renovations.

I on the other hand have been packing boxes wishing I could jump into the biggest one and ship myself out East! Jim's brother and wife are heading my way via Ottawa where they will spend 3 or 4 days with their son and family. Once in Ottawa they are only about 4 hours away from me. After spending a couple of days here, we will load up their truck with my winter clothes plus any of my boxes they have room for. I am getting very excited to leave here although my friends and family have been fantastic.

Hubby's daughter has carried too many packed boxes to count out to the back shed for storing until March. My son has carried a lot of furniture back to the same shed which is now bulging at the seams. Friends have had me over for meals and taken me on errands. In fact I've eaten out so much I need to get on a treadmill! Thankfully my brother-in-law has one in his heated garage. I'll be using it daily.

I'm nearly finished writing up my Christmas cards..it's easier to think of doing them now that the yard is covered with snow. We don't have enough to shovel yet, unlike my daughter and siblings further south. They got bombarded by snow squalls today. But by the sounds of the weather here this week I won't be getting off scot free either. The temperatures here have been very chilling so I'm glad I'm not putting outside lights up this year. I do miss decorating outside and inside but no one will be here to see it. I couldn't resist  putting a few decorations around inside as my neighbours water my plants and my granddaughter is visiting me right up until I leave..I will miss our play times.

I bought all my husband's gifts but will do the rest of my Christmas shopping on the island. Love doing some last minute gift buying. We purchased our flooring this week for our bedroom there as it can't be sanded and saved like the other two upstairs rooms. My hubby did a fantastic job of  refinishing them. I'm excited to see these same two rooms painted with all the trim work done. He tells me he needs someone for clean up after him and I'll be glad to do it. I've missed him a lot.

This will be our very first Christmas on the island but not our first winter months. We were also out there in February and March of this year so know how hard the wind blows and pushes the snow up against the house in high drifts. I have experienced going out with snowshoes on a bright sunny day, stomping across the fields. Not only has the countdown started for my reunion with my hubby but our final move is just months away in March. This spring I will get to see all the tulip bulbs show off their party dresses that I planted in the fall. We will witness the first birds of spring.  As the birds find a spot to build a nest, I will be hopefully unpacking and feathering our new nest. Unpacking all our boxes, hauling in the furniture, the renovating finally done after close to four years. Newly painted walls, new shiny floors ready for  placing our furniture on and once my favorite chair is in place, I'm sitting down!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Journey Continues

There are two titles I could have used for this post, the second one being " the moving saga continues"..the above picture was taken last February when driving across the Confederation Bridge..I like to think of it as a stairway to heaven..It is such a gorgeous bridge which takes us to our favorite place, Prince Edward Island. It's a bit of a different story when you leave the island, there is a toll to pay and it seems to increase quite often.

In the not too distant future we will be crossing that bridge with a large moving van with all our earthly possessions. All those possessions that I have been scrambling around packing. It feels like I've packed a hundred boxes with a hundred yet to go. Hubby Jim reminds me to  mark them well which I started out doing. Now all I want to do is see the end of it all, throw it into a box and close the lid! Who cares what's inside! I think I'm whining!

Jim is enjoying his new job on the island and it was 5 weeks last Saturday since he left our home here with a trailer full of boxes. He works steadily night after night at the house accomplishing quite a lot in my mind. The great news is that soon I will be joining him for the winter. His brother and wife who Jim lives with are going to Ottawa in November to visit their son and family. Then they will drive another four hours to visit me..they will load up the back of their truck with as many boxes as possible and take me back to the island with them for the winter. At this point I will list our house for sale. (Did I say I'm getting so excited to see hubby again!)

Our neighbours next door who always look after our house while we are away have volunteered to  keep our laneway clean of snow during the winter.  They take such good care of my plants also. Which is another huge dilemma for me. Our real estate agent wants all the horizontal surfaces cleared off except for perhaps one item..so what happens to my four violets? Violets will not bloom if they are not beside another violet. Two of them are blooming right now, a purple and a deep rose.

I have a huge jade plant beside my Christmas cactus which I imagine will start having white buds soon. It's gorgeous when in full bloom..If I leave the plants where they are, my neighbour does a wonderful job of watering them. I've never lost a plant under her care. If I move them to another girl friend's house they may not survive. When I mentioned her keeping some of them for me, she looked at me with horror.."I kill plants you know!"  So that option is out. Perhaps my step-daughter would take the Christmas cactus and enjoy it for the winter. My granddaughter could water it, she'd enjoy that.

Another problem has been solved. Jim has always done all the painting here which means I haven't painted a room for over twenty years. Another friend volunteered her husband to paint one room for me and he has agreed to do it this week. I am so grateful for all the help I get. My step-daughter comes nearly every weekend and moves boxes out into a shed for me plus started cleaning up her dad's workshop. Another bonus to her helping me is I get to play with my granddaughter for a few hours. I found my granddaughter at almost 3 yrs.old is perfect at packing books in boxes, even helped me carry them upstairs. Then she wants to help tape the box, that is a little more interesting.

It's becoming clearer day by day we have too much STUFF! This move may cure my desire for shopping except for food. The funny thing is my youngest sister is packing, renovating and preparing to move to Prince Edward Island around the same time as us. So we can sympathize with each other over all the hard work and messes this creates. Can't wait until the move is over, the boxes are unpacked and life is back to normal. Whatever normal might be.

Jim and I will be living 3 provinces away from most of our family. We will be just a walk away from his brother and wife. Jim's niece and her family live in Nova Scotia so often take the ferry over to the island. We will be a 2 hour drive away from my youngest sister, but an 18 hour drive away from other family members and friends. Flying is quicker so hopefully relatives and friends will fly into Moncton, NB or Charlottetown to take up residence for awhile in our spare room. There will be many adjustments to make I'm sure but gardening is gardening wherever I'll be. It's my joy and solace even when pulling out weeds. Jim will have his workshop like he has here and every afternoon we'll meet under our beautiful willow tree, share a cold drink and ask: "well, how's your day going so far?"

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Bittersweet Separation

It will be three weeks tomorrow that my husband Jim left for Prince Edward Island without me to start a new job. He is really enjoying living with his brother and wife plus using any extra time he has to work on our retirement home. Since he works full-time five days a week plus Saturday mornings, his free time is limited for house renos. He does manage to work a couple of hours most nights after work or go up early in the mornings. He was able to scrape all the window sills and repaint them.

Once the weather turns colder or there are rainy days, he works inside on the drywall. He thinks he will soon be ready to use primer on several of the upstairs rooms. I sure wish I could be out there  working along beside him. He sends me lots of pictures, some of the gorgeous sunsets seen out our  kitchen window.

So far I am managing on my own. Well I'm not entirely on my own as friends and family have pitched in to do what they can. Girlfriends often take me downtown to find empty boxes for packing and after we take care of all our numerous errands we find a nice place for lunch. My daughter calls encouraging me when I most need it and my son came last weekend with a friend. We moved all the packed boxes out into a back shed, plus many smaller pieces of furniture. They brought the couch from downstairs up and put it out at the road for free..A young man came along Sunday and got himself a great bargain, it's the best couch for having a nap on..My husband said he would miss it.

The big quandary is still when to list the house. It would be early spring before my husband could get time to drive up to rent a moving truck for the big exodus. Jim's son called me Monday to tell me he would be willing to fly in from British Columbia to help us move..also my brother-in-law just around the corner has offered to help..I'm keeping my fingers crossed the house will sell quickly.

I've had help with the lawn cutting, wish it would stop growing! We've just enjoyed a week with temperatures in the mid twenties, so the grass is going to need cutting at least once more. I've been weeding, trimming perennials, closing up the vegetable garden and collecting so many large leaf bags of yard waste. It is so fortunate that my neighbour takes his grass clippings to the town dump and takes all my garden waste too..his wife is good to bring me boxes for packing every week.

The daytime hours pass very quickly, I often forget to eat or drink, then wonder why I'm so thirsty! When my son was here he made sure I kept drinking water. I'm not used to cooking for one person, so lunch is never an issue but try harder to take a break and have some supper. Now the house is mostly decluttered and it's looking ready for showing, I've started to calm down (somewhat)..

I'm going out for supper tonight with a friend, another girlfriend is coming up Saturday to spend the night so we can take a cruise on a steamship Sunday. It's a great way to view the fall colors which are so beautiful now. We are supposed to get a lot of rain on Saturday and even more on Sunday which might bring down a lot of the leaves. Whatever happens, it will be a relaxing day.

After each job that gets done here, I see six more that need doing but as long as the weather holds I will keep plugging away. The inside of the house had to be my priority but since it's looking good, I can now concentrate more on the back yard. One of these days I have to tackle hubbies workshop, now that will be a new experience. It's not a place I went into often.

It came to mind last night that we will be able to enjoy our property three years earlier.  I realized one day I will look back on all these challenges I face here with a big smile. I survived it all, probably grew stronger as a person and it will feel like a dream..today I almost forgot it was Friday so must get the garbage and blue boxes out to the curb. My day dreams were over for the day!
There is a good chance I'll be joining hubby for the winter so looking forward to that. It can't come soon enough. Well off to pack some more boxes and maybe my suitcase too!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Surprises, Excitement and Uncertainty..

This photo was taken the second week of September this year. My hubby and I spent 6 weeks in Prince Edward Island renovating the inside of our farmhouse..nearly all the electrical got done and there is very little drywall left to do..hubby works so hard, he had no problem getting to sleep.

Before we left for home we had time to give the front of my garden shed one coat of white stain and I painted the doors and windows red. Since the little building has two doors, I'm contemplating using the left end of building for gardening tools etc., adding a wall and making sleeping quarters on the other end..it would take a lot of thought how best to accomplish this as the building has to be lifted to put a new foundation down..

I got the idea because my brother who is an artist can see himself staying in there.. this summer we dug in hydro wire close to the big barn, so one day the little shed will have electricity..there are great little chemical toilets now, plus we have installed hot and cold water taps outside on the back of the house..once we close in 3 sides around the taps, privacy is assured...

The surprise in my post comes from arriving home on a Wednesday and hubby getting a phone call on Friday that he has a job on the island...so I must quickly pack up all his clothes again, making sure he has his winter clothes and boots. He decides to leave Saturday morning so the rush was on. We are both excited tinged with a bittersweet feeling. I will now be living here alone, packing up our belongings, then calling a real estate agent to sell out house. Is October a good month to list or should we wait until the spring, another big decision.

That's where the uncertainty comes in, how I'll manage all the work here myself,  when to list, what might need changing or fixing etc. My husband always cut the lawn here, so one of my firsts this week was cutting our lawn..another first putting the Blue Boxes and garbage out Friday morning. It didn't take long to realize all the little and big things that were done for me week after week. Perhaps I was spoiled! The gardens, flower and vegetable used to be my domain but hubby even started participating more in the vegetable garden. He always did all the heavy lifting too.

I've started packing a lot of boxes, taking the ones I can manage outside and stacking them on top of a shelf in our carport while on a step ladder....so far I'm able to take out quite a few smaller boxes, but many are too heavy to lift..Thankfully my brother-in-law lives about a block away and is doing what he can to help. He takes me on errands and drops bags off for me at the Salvation Army store. I do not drive..this never really bothered me until now. But I can walk to stores near here and also downtown, been doing it for years..many friends have stepped up, offering their help which I really appreciate.

I've never stayed alone for more than two or three days at a time so more uncertainty as to how I will handle perhaps months of being on my own. Especially during the winter months. Another test. I realize "one day at a time" has to be my motto..Lots of people are alone and manage very well, so I'll be learning how to do new things and if I don't know how to do something will ask the neighbours..the neighbours on both sides of me are terrific, in fact the one couple look after out house when we are on the island.

Every night after dear hubby gets off  work at his new job, he goes right to the farmhouse to work. He is getting all the window sills painted and said they look great. He sends me beautiful pictures of the sunsets or sunrise. We are only an email or phone call away. We had a five year plan to move out there permanently and now it will happen two years earlier. That is so exciting, a great Birthday, Anniversary and Christmas present all rolled into one! My youngest sister is moving out to the island next year also, we are both thrilled to be seeing our dreams coming true.

On our property is a beautiful, amazing willow tree. That is where we relax for a cold drink or our lunch. Sometimes we just sit there and view our lovely property. There I feel so relaxed and calm. I have to be patient now, not knowing for sure what month the big move will take place.  The future holds much promise, spending our retirement together, just down the road from my hubby's brother and wife, also having a sister at the other end of the island....that's priceless.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Work and Play in Prince Edward Island

We are part way through our fourth week on the island of  P.E.I. We have been working very hard on the renovations of our farmhouse here but it hasn't been all hard work, we have taken the odd day off to play. My husband takes fewer days off than I do as he wants to accomplish so much on the inside of our farmhouse we are making liveable for our retirement home. There are some jobs I can help with and others I can't. Like doing any electrical work. So on those days I might go beachcombing or shopping in Charlottetown even just drive around sightseeing.

We were so fortunate a few weeks ago when my husband's niece and nephew were also here on the island with their families. The men of the families gave a whole day to help my husband with wiring in the house and so much was accomplished. His nephew even lowered the brand new kitchen window which had been installed so I could see our back yard better, being of short stature, I appreciated that very much.

When I first arrived I looked at my two large flowerbeds and all I saw were weeds that were waist high. So for the first two weeks off and on, all I did was dig up weeds. The ground here when not wet is very hard so it was quite the experience. The gardens look great now and hubby helped me dig up a third one, where we put my favorite arbour from home, plus the plants I brought with me this trip. He also helped me make a stone path through the arbour and now I can't wait to bring down more plants for all my flowerbeds. I did buy a few perennials this trip but as I have so many at home plus they need thinning out, I try and dig up quite a few each trip. What I've planted so far seem to be thriving.

On hubby's birthday this week he and I made a trail through our large woods, cutting down branches and hanging old buoys I found on several beaches here for trail markers. I need to paint them red or yellow at some point but even now they will help me find my way back out of the woods should I venture in by myself. It's so beautiful in there, so peaceful and calm. I need to find a book now to help me identify island plants and trees in the woods.

My husband's brother installed an above ground pool this year at their home where we are staying so we have enjoyed swimming many nights after a hard day's work. Sitting around the pool is a great relief after working with dusty drywall or digging in mulch around my gardens. We are nearing the end of our stay here, it will soon be time to leave, such a bittersweet time. We have enjoyed meeting people here plus had an enjoyable visit with my sister and hubby who are also moving here at the other end of the island from us.

We are hoping next year when we return to once more work on the house we can perhaps even sleep there as we have running water now, an older refrigerator that was left in the house, table and chairs etc. We would need to cook most of our meals on a b.b.q. outside which would be fun and we also have an outside shower. It wouldn't take hubby long to build a shower stall around that. Sounds like a great adventure just like all the other adventures we are having here. As the inside of the house takes shape and we soon prepare to leave our dear island for another year, we leave with precious memories, of all we and many, many other people have helped us to accomplish.

Over the coming long winter we will plan even more work projects, making lists of what we need to buy, what rooms need a few finishing touches, perhaps we will even be able to start painting bedrooms. Some days I can't believe how much hard work is involved in restoring an old farmhouse, then other days I can't believe how much has been done. One day it will be finished, ready for us to move in and welcome friends, family and neighbours to our beloved island home.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Plants Moving Out East to P.E.I.

One of my very favorite flowers in my front and back flowerbeds is the old fashioned hollyhock..I love the white ones out front this year..on the other side of our walkway a pink one is blooming and out back is a yellow one..the only trouble I have with them is that the groundhog family likes them too, eating them that is. He or his family eat the tender leaves so I feel very fortunate this year he left them alone for the most part. I took many photos of them especially close ups of a single bloom as I hope to paint a nice watercolor someday of all my hollyhocks..

We are heading out to Prince Edward Island in about a week and I have tagged some plants around the yard for my hubby to dig up and take with us. I have a 3 day holiday starting Tuesday with three friends I attended High School with so won't be here when hubby starts the digging. As he thought he might forget all I wanted dug up he told me to tag them with some yellow plastic tape. Now that will work fine if he walks all around the yard and finds all the taped plants..we have had several talks about what to dig up so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

I have tons of plants that could be dug up but there are some considerations to think of..we are still undertaking our renovations out East so we are not living out there permanently. We spend many weeks out there working hard on the interior of the house but the yard work like cutting the lawn most of the summer and snow shoveling in the winter is left to hubby's brother who lives just down the road. It would be remiss of me to dig up a lot of new flowerbeds as my brother-in-law would have to manoeuvre his big lawn tractor or smaller riding lawn mowers all around these new beds..hubby says he gets dizzy sometimes trying to cut grass around all my flowerbeds here in town..

But I feel if I dig up a nice straight flower bed up near the front ditch out East and just plant day lilies and iris in it for now, it won't interfere with the lawn cutting. I already have two large flower beds that were dug up out there last year but they are so large they are easy to mow around. I would dearly love to take buckets and buckets full of plants this trip but must be content with the few plants that I've marked. Rome wasn't built in a day. It just seems though I can save a ton of money by dividing my plants here, rather than buying new ones out East.

I have many, many hostas some of which have been moved out already. Those I can tuck under trees here and there, so as not to interfere with the lawn mowing..another consideration I have to think of is how big our new decks will be that we built later on so can't plant near the house as yet. I could perhaps plant some perennials out near my little barn but it has to be painted yet, so they might get trampled. I guess I'm being impatient and just want to do it NOW!

We are pulling a trailer just packed full of boxes, small pieces of furniture we don't need here, my bike, Jim's tools he wants to take and some of my gardening tools. Also we will be packing up the back of our truck with many boxes, many holding light fixtures that were given to us. How come my house doesn't look any different? You would think with all we are taking the house would look emptier but alas, it still holds way too much. We've certainly added many toys this past year for our dear 2 1/2 yr. old granddaughter. They are getting much use, especially the dolls, toy stroller and high chair.

There is so much to think of when going away for a month, lawn to be cut, garden watered, mail collected, indoor plants to be watered. Thankfully we have the best neighbours ever..one neighbour is looking after the lawn and garden and our other neighbour and her husband look after the inside and our mail..they are so great to send us regular emails that all is well with the house and we keep them updated on all our news too. Right now my husband is helping one neighbour with her front lawn. She dug the whole lawn up with a rotor tiller and is laying new sod. We all help each other.

I sure hope my plants travel well and we can keep them alive. The ones my step-son dug up last year and I planted last May are thriving I've been told so can't wait to se them. I'm sure they will also be surrounded by weeds so I'll have my work cut out for awhile. Hubby will be doing wiring on the main floor of the house and then start the drywalling. The upstairs is nearly finished, I may be able to start painting our bedroom this trip. It's lots of hard work but exciting to see more work completed on our retirement home. Imagine the day I look outside my windows and see my hollyhocks blooming and waving in the East Coast breezes...

Friday, July 5, 2013

Life Happens While You Are Making Plans

Plans we make can turn out well or fall apart at the seams. I decided that a family reunion would be just the ticket to introduce our new-found cousin Abby whom my brother and I reconnected with last year to my other two sisters. We aren't a huge family, there are five siblings but trying to juggle a date that everyone can attend proved difficult as usual.

My husband and I could hold a reunion almost any weekend all summer but it wasn't that easy for the rest of the family. My youngest sister Jane showing off her nice leg in the above photo is a teacher and once school is over heads to her vacation home in Prince Edward Island. So that meant having a reunion in June. That shouldn't be too difficult except my brother Gord and his wife Pat said the only weekend they had free in June, was the 22nd. Add to that my cousin's son was getting married June 30th it was iffy if she would want to come the weekend before his wedding. My other brother Kim emailed me that he was flying to Ireland for a month (lucky duck) and wasn't returning until.....you guessed it....June 22nd. So he certainly would not be able to attend.

Kim usually makes every other reunion, so hopefully if we hold a big reunion and birthday bash next year for some really special birthdays he will be able to attend. I hurriedly emailed everyone involved and cousin Abby said let's go for it! Knowing Gord could attend on the 22nd of June with his wife, I waited on Jane to say yes..all was well with her but a week later she said her partner could not attend as he had to head out to P.E.I. early for a job. Well that was disappointing but we'll forge ahead.

The next spoke in the wheel was several days later when my brother's wife had an upset with her elderly mother who ended up in the hospital. Now I really was in a tizzy, did I email everyone and cancel the get-together until the fall or keep on with it and a smaller group. I knew in the fall the weather would still be nice but cooler but also Jane who teaches would be extra busy getting herself and her class-room ready. Plus what guarantee did I have that everyone could juggle their schedules to come all at the same time.

Hubby and I decided to go ahead as we had laid in extra food, the freezer was full and I had spent many days (weeks) doing a huge spring cleaning even rearranged furniture etc., to make my guests as comfortable as possible. Abby would have the spare room, Jane would use the couch downstairs and my other sister Dale would put up my brother. Now if the weather co-operates all would be well..

I was so hoping we could eat outside in the gazebo and my husband brought home an extra awning from work in case of rain. Hubby spent a lot of time sanding wooden lawn chairs, repainting them, repainting my metal patio set bright red, along with painting my window boxes matching red. I planted them with bright, cheerful flowers and they didn't disappoint. My large flowering hanging baskets out front full of pansies smiled away, even the peonies were at their best.

I find when having company now that I'm older, I need to be very prepared ahead of time. All the food that will fit into the refrig. I like to have ready before people step through the door..how nice to be able to visit along with everyone else instead of being tied to the kitchen. Being a bit of a fearful cook, not good at "flying by the seat of my pants' where preparing meals are concerned, I had it all in order when the first guests started arriving Friday. Reunions usually start Friday and people leave Sunday. The weather did co-operate, hubby and brother Gord did go in the pool, we ladies like it a bit warmer so we did a little shopping instead.

All in all the weekend was a great success even though we were small in numbers. We missed our sister-in-law very much, also our brother Kim and Jane's partner. Next year there are several "big" birthdays, one being mine..I want a huge celebration and my hubby warned me already he doesn't want me lifting a finger. Perhaps it will mean traveling down to where my two brothers and sister live but I have a feeling it will end up being here again so perhaps we can eat out for a few meals. This just seems like the best place for celebrations, a big yard, large deck, gazebo and small blue pool that we put up each May.

We can make all the plans we can think of, cross the t's, dot the i's and hope for the best. But life happens while we are making plans, it just keeps moving on. People plan trips, people get sick, or our children or grandchildren might need us suddenly. So we must tread lightly, whisper softly as we make our plans, keeping our fingers crossed that one day out of 365 might work for five siblings and their families to all come together and celebrate US...

In the above picture cousin Abby is in a dress, then we three sisters, Jane, myself and Dale. We laughed, we ate, we shopped, we looked at photo albums, we talked of the past and best of all we reconnected with one another, looking forward eagerly to our next shared family get-together. Perhaps we will be a small group again but I'm secretly hoping for a huge, big bang-up affair because soon two of us are moving out of province. Now that will really take some planning!!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Learning My Gardening Mistakes the HARD Way

Today was a sunny June day but with a very cool wind. We have been getting quite a bit of rain so I thought I'd pull some weeds..I found they came out easily. I keep all my plastic bags that I buy Triple Mix, Top Soil and Container Mix in, then put my weeds in them..every week or so hubby takes all the bags to the town dump..some weeks I fill a lot of bags..

I try and have a plan as I get distracted very easily. If I leave the spot I'm working on and see weeds somewhere else, off I go and might not get back to my original spot..it's getting worse as I get older and hubby often teases me about keeping on track. I eventually get everything done I want to do but it's certainly not in a straight line from A to B...

I started working around our fish pond this afternoon and as Iooked to the left or right in our lawn I saw weeds that needed pulling..well they aren't actually weeds but these plants don't belong in our lawn. Both these offenders are mistakes I made in my early gardening days which are still following me..

One of my friends once said she hated forget-me-nots..she felt they were just an unwanted weed. I tended to disagree with her, both hubby and I loved the tiny blue flowers in the spring..so as the few I  had spread, I'd thin them out and transplant them in some flower beds as a border. Then I found some white ones and cherished them so spread them about also..now for the past 6 or 7 years I've been digging them out of the lawn each summer! I think they are still lovely but they will never stay where they are put and are very prolific..

As I dug up an overabundance of violets that grew at one end of the fish pond I thought of how much I love the three shades of violets I grow outside, deep purple, white and a deep rose..but then agonized over what a nuisance they are..talk about producing rapidly and they too are all over the lawn. Even when most weeds pull out easily in damp soil, violets have a good sized bulb and root which nearly always has to be dug out..so I was very aggressive in removing at least half of them around the pond..in reality I should really remove them all. But they are so lovely in the spring.

Another spring plant that doubles and triples itself is the iris. I am a huge fan of iris so just dig up and split them over time, adding them to different flower beds around the yard. I can see they need splitting badly again but my neighbour's daughter who has started gardening with a vengence will take any extra plants I have. She lives out in the country and each year just keeps adding to her gardens. She told me one day she wants her gardens to look like mine...mine took twelve years or more to get where they are now..I know she looks forward to how my plants are so thick, it's hard to see the weeds! But there comes a point when some thinning out is required. Mulching helps to hide a lot of gardening sins also..

I've decided this year I'm not such a big fan of annuals as I used to be. Some summers are so hot I'm constantly trying to remember where they all are so I can water them 2 or 3 times a day..I have so many different perennials now that something is nearly always blooming so I didn't put annuals in two planters I usually hang over the front deck railings. Maybe I'm just getting plain lazy. I never thought I'd ever say this but maybe I have too many flowerbeds. Perhaps rethinking the back yard is in order, turning some areas back into lawn.

I've found with my 2 year old granddaughter coming most weekends throughout the summer that no gardening gets done. I'd much rather play with her anyways..  So that leaves five week days but with housework and friends inviting me out for a coffee or going uptown to do errands, I don't always get to spend as much time as I need outdoors gardening. It is a real joy for me to garden, I don't regret a minute spent in my gardens..now all the weeds in my lawn that is another story...

I told hubby today in areas we just reseeded in our lawn that the weeds are very thick..and I believe the weeds are coming from the top soil we buy. Sometimes we see a sale on top soil for a dollar a bag and I've decided it's no deal after all..I'm trying to convince hubby that where we planted the new grass seed is where the weeds are the thickest..so no more cheap soil, it's the more expensive triple mix from now on..

I asked one of my neighbours if she knew what the new weed was I was fining in my lawn and hers...she had no idea but said at least it's green! At one time we had the greatest, thickest green lawn, I was so proud of it..but year after year with the moles doing their thing over the winter, the grubs and the hot, dry summers, it's getting harder and harder to repair...our neighbour is trying hard to repair his lawn too and after buying a whole truck load of triple mix and working so hard for days to repair  and reseed it,  said this is his last year to do it..too much work, next year if need be he will buy sod..sounds like a great idea to me too..

I love my two sand cherry bushes but they don't like our harsh winters..I dug one up last year and two more will have to be dug up this summer..another gardening mistake. But that is how we gardeners learn by testing limits and also doing the tried and true thing. Each year brings mistakes but also many glorious victories. After all it's gives me so much pleasure to hear hubby say: " I'm going outside for awhile to wander around and survey the estate!"

Thursday, May 9, 2013

All You Need is Water...

Summer weather is here, spring was very short, it's almost like we have only three seasons now, winter, summer and fall..We've had several weeks now of sunny, hot days with temperatures between 23 and 26 degrees. My spring flowers are emerging from the ground so quickly that I almost need to walk around my whole yard every day or I'll miss something. Hyacinths have the most wonderful smell, their fragrance follows me as I walk down our laneway to the mailbox across the street. Tulips are showing off their varigated colors  and the daffodils will soon be showing off their lovely yellow coats..

Summer brings with it weeks and weeks of yard work, raking leaves off flower beds, digging up the garden, taking tiny sprouts that were started a month ago, outside into the mini plastic greenhouse my hubby put together. Strangely enough by this weekend the weather is going to get much cooler again and they are predicting minus two one evening next week..so I'll have to haul all those seedlings back inside. Plus I sometimes rush the season and buy a few annuals much too early. I've planted some pansies in two hanging baskets and a box of marigolds to cheer me. The pansies can handle the cold temperatures, but I'll have to cover the marigolds with some plastic pots. I did get my peas and snow peas planted yesterday so no worries about them.

Another sight of summer is yard sales. I used to go to as many as I could cram into each weekend, but knowing we are moving in a few years to Prince Edward Island, it's time I started getting rid of some of my own things instead of adding more to the mix. But my husband did stop for one last week at the Montessori School a few blocks away in case we could find some new toys for our granddaughter Claire. We found a pink tricycle and some story books for her. She can reach the pedals but at only 2 years old isn't quite sure how to keep pedaling..It's much more fun when Nanny just pushes her all over the back yard..not so great on my back tho..

I also purchased her a doll stroller which she seems to love pushing around the yard and of course Grampy involves her in feeding the fish in our backyard pond. But after her visit this past Saturday for a few hours and again on Monday I've realized all she needs to be happy and content is two big buckets filled with water. With her little metal teapot and half a dozen plastic containers that I save for her, she will spend hours quietly filling all her containers, pouring water from one to another and even washing the socks on her dolly I keep here. And of course once the socks were washed, what better than to dump dolly head first into the bucket!

Claire loves to tease her Nanny, so we have lots of laughs which we both enjoy. We play tea party outside as well as inside and she "always" remembers we have her favorite small gingerbread cookies and fish crackers along with our pretend tea..It will keep us busy this summer making sure she doesn't climb into the fish pond, but with her own pool hopefully she'll understand which is hers and what belongs to the fish.

We enjoyed two wonderful weeks without the black flies but they are here now so we will have to spray ourselves or stay inside our screened gazebo when eating outside. Now when I garden I'll have to wear a hat which I spray with bug spray, wear long sleeved blouses and old jeans which I also spray. Somehow they always find a place to bite, especially behind one's ears..I really don't enjoy it when they fly around my eyes. Thankfully when it get's really hot they usually disappear into the grass.

I'm so grateful for the rain we had last night, we have had to repair a lot of our lawn front and backyard from the damage moles do over the winter. Plus the heat wave last summer didn't help. We can see new grass starting to grow and we are hoping to have nice thick green grass once again. Since we pay for water usage it gets too expensive to water regularly so we depend on a good rain now and then. Plus we have two rain barrels collecting water and big wash tubs under the eave troughs. And it wouldn't surprise me someday to see our little granddaughter sitting in one of those wash tubs, happily puddling away..because to put a smile on her face, all you need is water!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Oh Spring...Where Art Thou?

It doesn't matter where I go when downtown these days, everyone asks the same question...where is spring? We are all tired of winter. The snow had melted to the point that I could start seeing the outline of my flowers beds and the not so nice damage the moles had done to our front lawn. I still couldn't see our vegetable garden though as the snow was still too deep. We've had a lot of rain so the snow was disappearing bit by bit..that is until Thursday night. Mother Nature decided to throw in an ice storm, then ice pellets for the rest of the day. Now my yard is all white again and it's most discouraging..

Thankfully we didn't get hit as hard as some areas a little south of here. Telephone poles were snapped in half, large trees lost limbs or were knocked over. Many thousands of people lost hydro but we were fortunate, our hydro stayed on except for a few minutes near morning. We are now dealing with thick, wet slush to walk or drive in. My husband keeps saying: spring has to come sometime, this can't last forever. What I want to have is a "definite date" when it might arrive..like maybe a week from today! Some winters just seem more discouraging than others and we long for the sight of a tulip or daffodil poking up..

We are starting seeds inside like we do most years but starting more than usual. As I write this big white snowflakes are falling outside. More than ever I need to get my hands in the starter soil and get dozens of little peat pots ready for seeds of all kinds. I think I'll start at least 6 containers of hollyhocks one of my favorite flowers and hope fervently our resident groundhog doesn't eat all the leaves off them like he usually does..I'll probably have to surround the new shoots once planted outside with some type of chicken wire..He moved in under my hubby's shed because so many trees were removed across the street to make a parking lot..but I wish he hadn't chosen MY yard..he has quite the appetite.

My step-daughter is excited about starting some seeds this year inside so Claire our dear two year old granddaughter can see how seeds grow. I have purchased some children's gardening gloves so she can help her Nanny plant vegetable seeds in the garden this year. They can't plant very much as their house as their dog will eat nearly anything. I plan on hauling out my big pots this year so they can plant them here as they visit quite often plus I can easily water them...we don't have a dog and so far the groundhog hasn't come up onto our deck.

I expect to have great fun this weekend as I babysit overnight for the very first time so my step-daughter and her husband can have a night away for their anniversary. I babysit Claire quite often but just for a few hours at a time. We have so much fun together, "play toys" are the first words out of her mouth on arrival. We  have tea parties or she also loves being read to, often the same book each visit. We have quiet times too, coloring or putting Winnie the Poo stickers in a little book. Her and I have Winnie in common, I've been collecting Winnie story books for the last few years and even have a Winnie Teddy Bear. Claire also loves Mickey Mouse and Minnie so we have a few story books of them around too..

My husband teases me that I can't go shopping even in a grocery store without buying something for our granddaughter. It's always been hard for me to pass up a sale..a real bargain. There seem to be so many bargains right now too..Our Zellars store closed the end of March so there were sales galore week after week. I like to keep pyjamas, extra socks and a couple of outfits for her to wear in case we are outside and she gets all wet or dirty..I like to put the clothes I purchased on her if we play outside, then her mother can take her home in the clean clothes she arrived in. Our wee Claire is a good helper. She loves to help Nanny load the clothes dryer and then turn it on.

She helps me wash potatoes now for the meal and throw all the peelings into the compost bucket. Well some miss the bucket on purpose because once a child becomes two, their little minds are thinking of a lot of ways to do the complete "opposite" of what you want them to do. My poor old brain doesn't work as fast as it once did when my own children were two, so she gets around me probably more than she should..I think it's almost impossible NOT to spoil a grandchild..

Last summer she picked a lot of my flower heads off in order to present her mummy with something pretty. This year I'll be able to show her how we cut flower stems to make an arrangement and put them in a vase in water. Unless she is running around the yard, with her big brown eyes sparkling with mischief, trying to outrun her Nanny. I can hardly wait for all the fun outside this summer but first today's snowfall must stop, all the snow must melt and Mother Nature present us with Spring, Glorious Spring!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Good Grief..

Monday of this week started off badly, very badly..I had my coffee all ready to drink, it was just perfect, just the right amount of sugar and cream. I'd enjoyed two sips of it before my hand knocked it off the side table in the living-room...A lot of it went on the floor but a good part of it went into a large wicker basket beside me which was full of crochet and knitting books plus many balls of wool, much of it cotton yarn..For a moment I was almost too stunned to move. What do I do first!

I also had about six knit wool squares on top that my granddaughter uses to wrap up her dolls and other toys. They took the biggest brunt of hot coffee..I dragged them off, dripping wet coffee across the floor and threw them into my washing machine. I ended up having to soak five balls of wool in cold water and am still in the process of drying them out..I've had to unwind each ball over the back of a chair, let it sit overnight to dry, then rewind the balls of yarn..Two balls were a thicker yarn I intended to make into a poncho for my granddaughter Claire, they are quite large and will take a lot of work to unwind and dry. Two of the crochet books were brand new, hadn't even used them yet..all have dried well, but have the distinction now of brown marks..woe is me..

Not the way to start off my week. On a another bitter-sweet note our town and another town twenty minutes away are losing our Zellars Stores the end of March. So big sales are on right now making it worth while to look around. I was delighted to purchase a tension rod for our shower in P.E.I. for half price, also two curtains rods half price for the spare room and craft room there. At an earlier foray into the store I purchased my new shower curtain for our farmhouse on the island. A bit flowery perhaps for my husband but he likes to say: "if you are happy, then I'm happy"..

Hubby nabbed some corner brackets for shelving and large hooks for his barn on sale and he is hoping some of the metal shelving will later be sitting outside the store to be taken away free! Time will tell..We both found a nice pair of running shoes half price for the spring and of course I couldn't leave the store without purchasing an outfit for two year old Claire.

Changing topics, I've a confession to make... I'm a "late bloomer"..or perhaps another way of putting it, it takes me years to try new things other people take for granted. Two weeks ago I purchased my very first mango. My sister-in-law in P.E.I. often makes a wonderful fruit salad for breakfast. It includes cut up mango, pineapple, strawberries and bananas. It is delicious and I ate a lot of an orange fruit before I learned it was a Mango. Today I cut one up along with a pineapple and added some strawberries. What a wonderful breakfast. I even ventured to try some Mango all on it's own and liked it! Only took me fifty plus years to do that..

Another funny confession is that I've never eaten a "tuna melt". Wouldn't know how to make one, have seen one other person eat one and probably will not indulge..I've never eaten a Big Mac and only eat a cheeseburger if the person making it, forgets I don't want cheese on my burger..I have friends who swoon over bread pudding or custard but please don't offer it to me..but I do enjoy tapioca pudding. And one of my favorite salads my husband also loves involves  romaine lettuce, red onion, strawberries, poppy seeds and a dressing that I make myself from a recipe from a friend.

We all have such different tastes which is good, there is such a huge variety of foods out there to chose from which brings me to a promise I'm trying to make to myself: "stop buying junk food!" It does take so much longer to prepare fresh foods, the cleaning involed, cutting, chopping but in the end so much healthier for us..I mean who can only eat ONE potato chip, peanut, sweet or salty snack?..I'll only survive staying away from these sweet or salty snacks if I don't purchase them..Hubby would really miss his pretzels so it might take me longer to leave them off the grocery list..

I'm trying hard to get back into my routines since returning from three weeks doing renovations out in P.E.I., so got out for my first walk yesterday. Heard my first chickadees chirping away and our bird feeder was crowded with them this morning. I counted six birds on the maple tree out back and four on the feeder. Wonder where they go all winter, then suddenly show up at the first signs of nice weather. We still have tons of snow everywhere but the sun has been shining this week and Sunday looks like a plus 7 day with rain. I'll take it.

I'm starting a book on square foot gardening even though it will be near the end of April before I may even see my garden but hope springs eternal. I plan to cram a lot more into my garden this year in order to share the abundance with my daughter-in-law who is very interested in feeding our dear Claire the freshest vegetables possible. I have lots of gardening pots to put into use on the deck, some for flowers and others suitable for veggies. All the new magazines are showing glorious gardens right now which is getting me excited to start gardening in May. I plan to let Claire plant some seeds this year to try and get her interested in gardening. She visits her Nanny and Grampy a lot over the summer months so she will have fun watching her plants grow. Now if I can just keep Mr. Groundhog and the brown rabbits out the garden, we will be all set....

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Winter On The Island


It's hard to believe there was green grass on the day of our arrival as it has done nothing but snow since that day..It is snowing as I write this, heavy, wet snow..Yesterday morning when my sister-in-law and I went snowshoeing at the back of her property there was well over a foot of snow..The sun was so enticing Monday we just had to tie on the snowshoes and go out through her woods, slogging through the light but deep snow. It was so gorgeous in the woods I snapped over seventy pictures!

We were out over an hour having to pause from time to time and rest. The one forging the trail had a heavy go of it, so we took turns taking the lead. It was a great work out...
My sister-in-law has a way of making winter fly by, she signs up for a lot of courses. I thankfully am able to join her during my stay here. Monday's we take a rug braiding class and that has been on my bucket list for many years. The teacher is so patient and gentle, a lovely lady who has taught me how to turn a corner in braiding, then how to stitch the beginning of my rug together. The needle is very different from regular sewing needles and the cord is so heavy I must wear old leather gloves when stitching, so as not to cut my fingers..We must pull the thread very tight as we go so I've been very thankful for the loan of Caron's gloves..Hubby surprised me today with my own braiding rack, just like Caron's..He built it while we were at our class with his brother's help.

On Tuesday we attend an acrylic painting class and on Wednesday's a watercolor painting class. There are card games at the local hall two nights a week and Tuesday night's a yoga class..I attended it one year when visiting here but haven't attended this year as yet. My sister-in-law also takes a quilting course Thursday mornings. I'm not taking that as I won't be here long enough to finish a quilt, plus you must take your own portable sewing machine along..

We just returned from a pancake and sausage supper at a little church just down the road and I was surprised at the turnout on such a nasty night. The snow is wet and heavy, making the roads very slushy and slippery. There are a multitude of church suppers during the year, once we move here I may not have to cook every night! Lobster suppers, roast beef suppers and around Christmas time, one turkey supper after another....It's always a great way to meet people in the neighborhoods as well.

I'm finding people here so welcoming and friendly, always asking me if I'll be back to the classes I'm taking..makes it hard to leave and go back home. The renovations are going well at the farmhouse also. So much more wiring is done and drywall is going up. More windows have been ordered so that leaves only 3 more to be replaced in the fall. What a celebration when we have every window replaced with new ones..

The plumber is coming this week or next to get the well up and running, so we will have running water in one sink and our newly purchased toilet will be hooked up. That is something we are really looking forward to. Renovating an old farmhouse takes a lot of work and effort, but each time we work on it we see such advancements. I'm starting to be able to visualize where my furniture will go once it is all finished and so many relatives and friends are asking about our spare room! Since we were blessed to find such a lovely property, we will be doubly blessed to share it with family and friends..Just bring a paint brush and a hammer!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Ways and Means, Tractors and Ladders..

Last May during our three weeks holidays and renovations at our old farmhouse in Prince Edward Island, we decided to clean out the top of my little barn..it was full of old straw and we wanted to empty it out through the old boarded up window..so Jim's brother lifted him up in the front loader of his tractor. It worked great. We did have ladders around but I suppose this seemed more adventurous.

In each of our three outer buildings, my little barn, hubby's much larger barn and even the garage there are two stories. So in each building is an old homemade wooden ladder to reach these second floors..I wouldn't get rid of these old ladders from by-gone years for anything, they are still very useable and a piece of history from the farm. We also found a very heavy wooden ladder hanging under the rafters in hubby's barn, painted red, in excellant condition. We have used it several times especially when it came time to take down the old eave troughs off the house..

Today my husband is up on a ladder once again but we are home in Muskoka, not out on the island. We are doing small renovations here to brighten things up. Last year we repainted the upstairs bathroom. Then my husband built a couple of new shelves for the room giving it a whole new look.

A few months ago we tackled the kitchen. I was not enjoying the bright yellow walls anymore, probably because yellow has never been a favorite wall color for me. When we bought this house the kitchen walls were almost a navy blue. So we really needed to brighten it up. Greens are a favorite of mine as the living room/dining room have been green for many years. So out I went and found a great green. We also put in a new floor to finish off the kitchen..

Of all the rooms in our house I've never had a lot of indecision about a new color except for the living/dining room. I'm not a beige person, nor white except for bathrooms nor deep, dark colors. Our rooms are not overly large so I feel pastels seem a better choice for a more open, larger feel. For the past two or three years I've brought home paint chips not finding anything that suited me.

My husband said we should look for paint on sale this past weekend so we headed off to a couple of stores. Once again I brought home a couple of paint chips and a folder from Beauti-Tone Paint..there were many folders on a rack and this one was entitled "Relaxing"..inside were pictures of rooms painted various colors and on one page a color was termed "calm"..wow, that's just what I need! I had come to the conclusion last year that perhaps grey would be the only color that might suit the living room. Who knew there were so many greys. On dull days with no sunshine the wrong kind of grey could make the room appear gloomy..so knowing this I had to be so careful what I chose.

I was prepared to wait until my girlfriend arrived on the weekend to get her opinion of one of my two choices, then the weather kept her from coming. So I got brave,  jumped in and told my husband to buy 2 gallons of what I hoped would be the "right" choice..He has completed over half the room now and it sure is a real change from the green. It's a very light color and we are going to like it quite well I believe. We are certainly committed now..In fact I want to make sure I don't lose the color folder as I might like the color in the living room of our farmhouse, once we get the new drywall up.

I certainly hope once I have to pick paint colors for all the rooms in our retirement home on the island, I won't be full of indecision. Two rooms are already decided on as I purchased new bedspreads for our bedroom and the spare bedroom, matching paint chips to them when I purchased them. My sister-in-law told me today over the phone that grey is the new "in" color this year so that cheered me up, knowing my choice is popular  at least for this year.

It's not a lot of fun having the rooms in such disarray, all the furniture pushed into the centre making space  to get at the walls, but a good way to look at all this mess could be that my spring cleaning will be done early. What is going to be harder to face is telling hubby that now we have a new wall color we should consider new curtains!