Friday, October 20, 2017

the balance of colossal forces

It seems strange to see the orange and black wings of a Monarch in late October, but every stroll along the field is accompanied by the splendor of butterflies. Not as many as early September, but I still see a dozen or more every walk.

We spent yesterday at doctors appointments and shopping for new dress shirts for Carm. He’s lost 35lbs so far and last year’s suit shirt billows on him. We found one, a light blue with little dots, and he also scored a funky new tie and metrosexual socks. Formal night here we come!

Before diet on our last day in Rome:

Same shirt today:

Today we got at it and finished unloading the camper and even got it winterized. I hate to use that term, winter shouldn’t be in the vocabulary just yet. In fact it seems like we are far from the white stuff as it is 20C with bright sun. A lovely day for something so depressing. Carm even cut some grass.

Of course now there are heaps of stuff at the bottom of the basement stairs, and still the odd thing on the table upstairs… I have to remind myself to breathe or anxiety starts to ride up. Mantra: It will all get tidied and before you know it next spring will be here and I’ll be moving everything back to its summer home…

Marvellous!" he repeated, looking up at me.
"Look! The beauty--but that is nothing--look at the accuracy, the harmony. And so fragile! And so strong! And so exact!
This is Nature--the balance of colossal forces. Every star is so--and every blade of grass stands so--and the mighty Kosmos il perfect equilibrium produces--this.
This wonder; this masterpiece of Nature--the great artist.”
~Joseph Conrad

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

unloading: day 2

Bin after bin of stuff from the camper is threatening to overwhelm the house. Unused canned goods, pasta that we bought on sale, spices and sauces, dried beans and rice… and that’s just the food. Extra dishes, dog food and treats, dvds, books, clothes, bathroom stuff, cleaners, and anything else that might freeze or we might need over the winter still has to come in.

The 8’ harvest table in the great room is stacked and I wonder where it will all go. I feel anxious and depressed at the mess. Not to mention exhausted. I have to rest between trips.

At least the weather is nice! It is sunny with just a bit of wind. We could actually use the gale force winds of yesterday to keep away those darn Asian beetles. I can hear them bumping against the windows and some sneak into the camper each time I open the door.

Eventually the orange beetles put an end to my chore: too many were whooshing in each time I opened the door.

Now to figure out supper. I had a giant stack of pancakes for brunch so should stick with celery!

“I tend not to trust people who live in very tidy houses. I know that on the surface there is nothing wrong with a person being well-ordered and disciplined. Nothing, except that it leaves the impression of that person having lived in the confines of a stark institution which, although he or she has long since left, remains within.” ~Jack Dee

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

an icy wind tore at my face

An icy wind tore at my face bringing tears to my eyes. It raked across my hands turning them red and then purple. Bella and Kabira strained at their leashes, but Spike was in no hurry. We had to take the short and then the long loop, almost getting back to the camper before he did his business. My temper was frayed.

Back at the camper, the fireplace, electric heater AND furnace struggled to warm it up. I pulled a blanket over my shoulders and wished I could dunk myself in the hot coffee… thoughts of being home in a hot bath twined their way into my conscious. I checked the weather. Winds 30km gusting to 50km were forecast for the day. Yuck. Cold I could handle, but wind as well? Not so much fun.

I turned to Carm, “should we go home today?”. It was one day early but suddenly being home seemed like a good idea. We pondered for a while, checked the weather again and made our decision: we’d cut our vacation short.

I just couldn’t bear the thought of all the in’s and out’s with the dogs, the wind battering me. The thought of a long walk with tall, creaky trees overhead did not appeal. Another cold walk in the morning just didn’t seem worth it. I suppose I am just worn out. I’ve been exhausted this whole trip but made myself carry on with everything, somehow dredging the strength from somewhere within... the maelstrom did me in.

So here I am, not so cosy at home. You see we turn the furnace off when we are away so the house is cold - nose running cold, Kabira shivering and getting her outfit on cold. The wind still wails.

And that hot bath? Well, eventually there was enough hot water made so that I could have a good soak.

Camping is over for the year and you might imagine that I’m crying about the onset of winter. But no. This year (as last year), we have a cruise in the Caribbean to look forward to, so I don’t feel despair or depression, not with just 43 days till the next adventure.

And now, my poor old woman, why are you crying so bitterly? It is autumn. The leaves are falling from the trees like burning tears- the wind howls. Why must you mimic them?”
~Mervyn Peake

Monday, October 16, 2017

a bracing tang in the air

My hands are stiff from the cold. The forecast is for the temp to drop below zero tonight so we were outside filling our water tank and stowing the hose. Instead of being directly connected to the park taps, we’ll ‘run off the tank’ for the rest of our trip.

This afternoon we made a quick trip to the local RV parts store and a detour to Canadian Tire, Giant Tiger, and the grocery store. We needed a light bulb from the RV shop which thankfully they had. It took us over 15 minutes to get it changed - a little reminder of why I don’t tend to keep the lights on unless necessary!

I forgot to talk about the weather yesterday: the high was 26C with a humidex of 31C. That doesn’t factor in the wind chill (it was super windy, as in hold tight to the door or it will slam). It was a shirtsleeves day, but not a day to sit outside, at least not for us. We are fair weather outdoor sitters…

As the evening wore on the wind whipped and whirled and battered. The trailer rocked and rattled, wind whistling through every crack. It was a cold front moving in and boy did it move.

From the high of 26C yesterday, we are at 7C today. Brrrr. The wind isn’t as crazy but is still brisk. We held off our walk till late afternoon in the hopes the sun would make an appearance… as we unloaded the dogs from the truck the sun sliced through the clouds. It wasn’t warming but did raise our spirits. The brisk air had the dogs tugging at their leashes, eager to explore.

It was one of those days you sometimes get latish in the autumn when the sun beams, the birds toot, and there is a bracing tang in the air that sends the blood beetling briskly through the veins.”
~P.G. Wodehouse

Sunday, October 15, 2017

how many poodles?

Within sight of our trailer: 10 dogs…  In the park I’ve counted 5 standard poodles and 5 german shepherds (and maybe 1 more of each). Lots of little dogs dotted around, 1 or more goldens, and at least one boxer add to the mix. It’s no wonder that Spike’s mind is being blown. He is Reactive (with a capital R), to other dogs, especially ones that are running around loose or lunging at the end of a chain. We’ve made progress on the ones that are sitting quietly and can pass a small dog on the road with a minor amount of excitement (and lots of treats). But this weekend a walk through the campground part of the park would ratchet up his excitement a notch with each dog passed. I’m glad the weekend is over and most of them are going home…

I should note that we rarely see another standard poodle, let alone 5 others in the same place!

Yesterday was cloudy but warm. We walked the dogs down at the end of the island then drove into Morrisburg to split a club sandwich. The rest of the day was a typical camping day: reading, short walks with one or the other dogs to practice distractions, cooking supper, more reading, a few extra short walks to get my 250 steps in, and on it went. I’d like to say it was a peaceful easy feeling day but it wasn’t. I had a few times of near panic attacks, not helped by all the dogs.

This afternoon we watched a line of campers take their turn through the dump station (that’s where you empty your tanks of all the yuckies), and then skirted the puddles on a walk to the first group camping area. We were happy to get off the mucky roads, although it was too late for mucky pooches. The wind threatened to blow the hair off my head. We were standing under some ancient and battered old trees enjoying the view over the water when out of the corner of my consciousness,  the squeaking of old wood against old wood altered us to the folly of our location so we beetled out of there. Of course our camper is nestled among some other huge trees and the wind is whipping off the lake…

By the time we got back to the villetta there were hardly any campers left and only a few scattered dogs. My anxiety levels eased and I felt myself returning to peaceful easy feeling.

A cup of tea (and wouldn’t a ginger nut go well) turned out to be a fine way to finish off the afternoon.

There is something in the nature of tea that leads us into a world of quiet contemplation of life.”
~Lin Yutang

Friday, October 13, 2017

pleasure in the walk

I could eat an unctuous burger right now but I’m not. I’m going to be virtuous and have a Smoky Black-eyed Pea burger instead. No greasy patty (but oh my that would be good) - we will have a glob of caramelized onions for that dripping out of the bun experience. Except we won’t have a bun, we’ll have it in a pita.

The weather has been a mixed bag. Yesterday was glorious and we went for a long walk into camp D. Late afternoon Carm made the decision to drive into Ottawa for a wake instead of waiting for today (which would have burnt the whole day). It was lots of driving for him again (why are all these things at the other end of the city?), but he was safely back not long past 9pm, just in time for a warming Pasta Fagioli soup.

Today we walked from the villetta all the way down to camp A. From there we skirted the St. Lawrence (climbing over some big rocks on the way), and on into camp B where the new campsites are. We walked back to camp down the road. The sun shone and my fleece jacket ended up tied around my waist like a weirdly shaped skirt.

Once we got back to camp we dragged our chairs over to Paul and Sandra’s campfire for a lovely afternoon visit. The clouds raced in with some whipping winds and suddenly it was yuck. Time for a hot shower :-)

Her pleasure in the walk must arise from the exercise and the day, from the view of the last smiles of the year upon the tawny leaves and withered hedges, and from repeating to herself some few of the thousand poetical descriptions extant of autumn--that season of peculiar and inexhaustible influence on the mind of taste and tenderness--that season which has drawn from every poet worthy of being read some attempt at description, or some lines of feeling.”
~Jane Austen

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

afternoons spent cosy

Yesterday I opened my eyes to a grey day. The clouds hung close to the ground obscuring the view over the river. Regardless, and having no choice anyway, I took the dogs out for a little walk. I was surprised to find it was warm and that I could keep my jacket unzipped.

We barely had time for a cup of coffee before the dogs were locked in the bedroom with some 70s music to drown out any outdoor sounds. Carm and I piled into the truck for the drive to the blood-letting place - not even vacation saved us from this unpleasant activity. Still, it was over quickly and after a quick stop for groceries we were on our way back to camp.

As if they were waiting for us to return, the clouds dissipated and the glorious sun made an appearance. It was divine and one of those special days made to treasure, more precious as it might be the last shirt-sleeve day before winter’s icy grip.

Carm got the laundry going and we dashed off to take the dogs for a walk. We got as far as the first group camping area before Carm left us to meander back while he raced back to the laundry.

Once back, we sat outside, basking in the warmth. The dogs were attached to their anchors and flaked out in the sunshine. The anchors are working out really well - I think I was some kind of genius to come up with such an innovative idea ;-) Carm was the hero and finished the laundry, making the trip back and forth to the machines several times. He must have gotten in lots of steps!

It was beautiful and worth every drop of rain that fell on us Monday.

Unfortunately a hoard of Asian (stinky vampire) beetles was released by the heat. They started bumping into our heads and soon the side of the camper was covered and dozens made their way inside. Carm got the central vac going and with the long hose sucked up every last one.

Today is less beautiful. The temp is hovering around 10C - the fireplace is flickering and the furnace occasionally comes on. We drove to the new part of the campground and went for a long walk with the dogs. There is one new site in particular that we might try for next June. Once back to camp we cuddled up to big mugs of hot tea.

Later I’m going to make us a curried butternut squash soup that will rosy up our day and warm our tummies.

These long, lazy days of camping are a balm to my mood. Peaceful Easy Feeling is my anthem. There is something calming about long walks in Nature and afternoons spent cosy in the camper with music playing. I feel enormously lucky to have these moments and hope that I can recall them later.

“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual. It is surprising how contented one can be with nothing definite - only a sense of existence. Well, anything for variety. I am ready to try this for the next ten thousand years, and exhaust it. How sweet to think of! my extremities well charred, and my intellectual part too, so that there is no danger of worm or rot for a long while. My breath is sweet to me. O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches. No run on my bank can drain it, for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.”
― Henry David Thoreau

Monday, October 9, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving Nate

Cosy. We are freshly showered and in dry clothes, the fireplace is flickering, and the oven is sending out tantalizing whiffs of roast beef. The brussels sprouts have added to the atmosphere, the yorkshire pudding batter is coming back to room temperature and the mashed potatoes are ready to be microwaved. A bottle of bubbles is cooling in the fridge.

I woke up this morning to the sound of pouring rain on the roof - ugh - rolled over and went back to sleep until almost 10am. I had to drag the dogs out of the door as the remnants of hurricane Nate was still coming down at a furious rate…

Normally a rainy day is just an excuse to stay inside and read, but today was moving day so we had no choice but to get soaked. Carm was out in a tshirt but I was smart and wore a raincoat. Did I say raincoat? Right. More like a rain sponge. Needless to say we were both soaked to the skin by the time we got underway.

Lucky for us the rain let up when we got to our new digs so we were able to set up without getting more soaked (was that even possible?). And that brings us to now - cosy and warm with a delicious supper in the oven. Lots to be thankful for.

a little while later - our tummies are full, the leftovers are packed into the fridge and the dishes are done. Time to settle into a movie or other mindless TV (please no more CNN)...

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

sweet flower of love

My weary head is resting against the cushion propped up at the end of the sofa. I’m tired but happy.

Carm left me to play golf on Friday so I had a quiet day of house-keeping and rest in prep for my Mom’s visit. She arrived late Friday afternoon with plenty of time to visit while we waited for Carm to get home so we could go to the Acapulco for supper. We wanted to treat Mom to the great food and hospitality of our ‘local’. I think she enjoyed the whole experience.

Saturday morning Carm left to play cards, leaving Mom and I for a 24 hour extravaganza of visiting. We had a great time with lots of walks, healthy meals (I subjected Mom to a vegan supper with under-cooked brussels sprouts), laughter, and serious conversations. It was lovely.

Sunday morning we lost power, so skipped out to McDonald's for coffee and breakfast (thanks Mom). Then we headed over to the giant flea market to poke around for a bit. Carm met up with us there.

We left Mom at the flea market and came back to camp just in time for the power to be restored. That second cup of coffee was just what the doctor ordered, though it didn’t do the job of really waking me up.

The roads are wet from the overnight rain so I’ve been keeping to the grass and the pine needle covered roads. Everything else is a mucky mess. There are lots of dogs here so every walk is a training opportunity for Spike. He is, and will probably always be, a work in progress. He gets so worked up with other dogs - it drives me crazy.

Mama was my greatest teacher, a teacher of compassion, love and fearlessness. If love is sweet as a flower, then my mother is that sweet flower of love. “
~Stevie Wonder

Friday, October 6, 2017

lucky to be here

The RV repair guy was at our door before 9am this morning, with a truck full of tools and parts. Methodically he cleaned and tested the furnace parts until it was fairly clear the board was the problem. He had a new one swapped out in a jiffy - the furnace worked! We can stay!

The rest of the day was sombre… we cleaned ourselves up and then took off on a road trip to Carm’s cousin’s wake. Tommy passed away during a botched up surgery at just 58 years old, leaving behind a wife, kids and three close brothers. Everyone was in shock.

It was a long day.

That was yesterday. Today it’s grey and slightly cool, a good day for cuddling inside with the fireplace flickering. Carm, however, is out on the fairway bashing a small ball around. He’s with a friend he hasn’t seen for ages so that’s the fun part.

I’ve been cleaning, napping, and resisting pancakes while he’s been gone. I’ve taken the dogs out a few times but find myself too exhausted to go very far.

This afternoon I’ve been watching trailers roll in. Thanksgiving is a big weekend here so it will likely fill up. I just hope there aren’t too many dogs as Spike has gone bezerk this year. I don’t know what to do with him: punitive actions don’t work and actually even worsen the problem. In the past I’d be able to get his attention and reward for that, but this year his excitement level is through the roof… I had hoped that with age this problem would go away…

The people that just came in next to us put their trailer in the site backwards, which means their door is facing our door - they’ll be right in our face whenever we are outside. But the good news is, maybe they’ll be nice and we’ll share a campfire (their picnic table is now 20 or 30 feet from our fire pit).

Stop complaining!!!! I’m darn lucky to be here enjoying this beautiful park!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Priscilla Queen of the Road

It took me a minute to realize the sound of talking was coming right outside the camper. A peek through the window revealed a lady talking to Grace. I thought she was from the motorhome across the way from us. I put down my tablet and went outside to say hello.

Priscilla (as I was to find out a few minutes later) was obviously an animal lover and had lots of questions about Grace, and then the dogs. Her own little dog, a Tibetan spaniel, is 16 and starting to slow down. We smiled and laughed with each other for a while, the conversation warm and cheerful.

As the conversation moved forward I noticed a lack of ‘we’ in her conversation and was finally rude enough to ask. Yes, she was travelling on her own. I took a good hard look at her and tried to figure out how old she is. I wasn’t sure but figured late 70s, early 80s. I was impressed. It is so rare that we meet a woman travelling on their own, but one who walks with a cane - I’m inspired.

She eventually took her leave and we could see her on a stool washing the huge front window on her RV. Gosh.

The weather has taken a turn: clouds obscure the sun and have been spitting a bit of rain at us, not full-fledged rain… yet.

“I don't believe in aging. I believe in forever altering one's aspect to the sun. ”
~Virginia Woolf

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

idle days continue

squint… the sun is shining off the screen and nearly blinding me. But I’m not complaining - it’s another t-shirt day. This one even more precious after seeing photos from Medicine Hat yesterday. They had snow. As long as this nice weather continues I can continue to believe that winter will never come and that we are trapped in perpetual summer.

Carm has made a new friend and is off golfing this afternoon: Can Johnny come out to play? I planned on using the time to clean windows, wash floors, scrub bathroom and generally get this place spic n span. Instead I had a nap and made pancakes. I did take the dogs out for a short walk; after yesterday’s marathon day they were dragging behind me. Come to think of it, I wasn’t exactly zooming myself…

We had the news on for much of the day yesterday, stunned by the reports of the shooting in Las Vegas. My cousin was there but she and her friends had moved away from the stage to get some cheesecake - wow, what luck to have a sweet tooth.

All in all, it was a never-to-be-forgotten summer — one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going — one of those summers which, in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends and delightful doing, come as near to perfection as anything can come in this world.”
~L.M. Montgomery

Monday, October 2, 2017

salty dog

It is shirt-sleeve weather here again and the riff from ‘Peaceful easy feeling’ runs through my mind on an everlasting loop. Not an unwanted earworm but a joyous chorus.

Sunday we drove back home and then into the city to celebrate an early Thanksgiving with my family. Olaf and Tammy came from Montreal (with darling Freya of course), and Graham was there with Juliette and Erik. There was much to give thanks for, not the least of which was the delicious turkey dinner. Yowsers that turkey was good - I almost stuffed it under my shirt when we left with the hope that no one would notice. Mom brined it overnight and my salt starved cells rejoiced. The gravy was mouth puckering salty which tasted like ambrosia. We’ve basically cut salt out of our diet so anything with even a grain of salt tastes salty - I think my body needed it as I slathered everything with the brown sauce. Yum.

We left Mom’s while the sun hung above the horizon with the hopes of getting back to camp before dark. We just barely made it, and as it happens we passed two herds of deer on our way…

Once back at the villetta we fed the beasts then settled on the sofa to watch a few programs about food from Italy (note to self, watching food programs while dieting is not a good idea). One of the programs was about Amalfi which is one of the places we visited on our trip this summer.

The big question now centres around dinner: do we have pre-made chili that’s in the freezer, or an Italian styled pasta dish. Right now I’m starving so I vote for both.

We’ve dragged the dogs on the long walk twice now. Tongues were lolling and feet were dragging by the time we got back but they did it. It is reasonably warm today which didn’t help their stamina (or mine for that matter).

A bit of excitement here… the furnace isn’t working :-0  not ideal when nighttime temps drop below 10C. Carm went to a nearby RV repair place and got the name of a guy that has the know how and the parts to fix it. Plus he’ll come here. Appointment is for Thursday morning so our fingers are crossed for some warm nights.

I went out to get my 250 steps and passed right through a gobble of turkeys. The closest one was less than 50’ away. Of course I hadn’t brought my camera…

Carm is bereft - his two golfing compatriots are out of the country for a few weeks, possibly till the end of the season. So much for his three day a week habit.

Why must people kneel down to pray? If I really wanted to pray I’ll tell you what I'd do. I'd go out into a great big field all alone or in the deep, deep woods and I'd look up into the sky—up—up—up—into that lovely blue sky that looks as if there was no end to its blueness. And then I'd just feel a prayer.”
~L.M. Montgomery

Saturday, September 30, 2017

back to camp

Bump, bump, bump… it was Friday and we were on the road again with camper in tow. It was an uneventful trip and the setup to transform an empty site into our home for the next 10 days was easy. We have the process pretty much down pat.

As usual, the dogs cottoned on to the fact we were going camping and waited by the door until it was time to leave. Grace knew too and tried to squeeze out the cage door when I opened it to get her dish.

After our usual beverage we moved inside, with the fireplace going. It is a far cry from the blistering heat of our last trip here. In fact, I had to pull on a sweater and definitely have long pants on too.

Carm thinks we saw juvenile Golden Eagles on our way here. Also on the way here, the instant pot bounced out of the cupboard and the venting knob fell off. Thankfully it didn’t break and we’ve done a test to make sure we put it back on properly. It’s actually cooking supper tonight: a cabbage, sweet potato soup from the freezer. I dump the mostly frozen soup into the pot, add ¼ cup of red lentils for some extra protein, and a bit of extra water, start it and leave it.

Speaking of instant pot… a new 8qt version arrived in the mail today. It is huge and will require that I do some reorg of the pantry. The plan is to have big cooking days every few weeks. Carm can help with the vegetable prepping and then we can do two different kinds of soup with lots of servings for the freezer. There are days when I’m too tired/lazy/time pressed to cook and we’ve turned to take out and other unhealthy choices. With soups in the freezer there will be no excuses.

The best lack all conviction
While the worst are full of passionate intensity”
~W.B. Yeats

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

the last dip

Today is the 27th of September and we were in the pool! Good thing we went in when we did too as the rain is sheeting down with a rumble of thunder accompanying it. It has been weeks since the last rainfall so this is a good thing, but it is accompanied by a cold front so our time of mid summer heat is over.

There aren’t as many butterflies in the field and the balance of species has shifted from mostly Painted Ladies to an abundance of Monarchs. It is still a lovely experience to be surrounded by a swirl of colourful wings.

Flowers in bloom now.

Photo of Carm and his brother Anthony, (the father of the bride), that I forgot to post the other day. The family resemblance is strong. I really fell down on taking photos that day - there should have been one of Carm and I, one with all his siblings, and maybe even one of the bride and groom :-0

Carm had to get his suit pants taken in 3 or 4 inches, and needs a new shirt as it billowed on him. Thirty pounds for him, not so many for me...

Sunday, September 24, 2017

love and hope and certainty

Humidex: 39C (that’s about 102F)! It is September 24th and the only way we can stand to be outside is to be freshly cold from a swim. Inch by inch I slip into the water, cold slowing my progress, then with a final jump I’m in up to my chin. It’s almost unbearably cold at first, but then, as my skin numbs, it becomes delightfully refreshing… for a few minutes anyway.

Despite the hot weather, the pool has only gotten up to 74F - if it was summer with these temps we’d be well into the 80s. But we are rejoicing that we can swim at all.

The geese have started coming - it is very strange to hear their honking while we are limp with the heat.

Despite the wilting heat I’ve dragged the dogs out to the field a few times. I can’t resist walking along the fairytale path with purple flowers brushing my legs and hundreds of butterflies filling the skies. For a few minutes I am transported into a scene from Bambi or Cinderella and I’m singing in a sweet voice and dancing, my rags being transformed into a silver gown.

Yesterday we attended our niece Grace’s wedding. It was a lovely ceremony in a park with a large stone pavilion to keep the beating sun off our backs. The bride and groom were backlit by a view out over the Ottawa River. So lovely.

After the ceremony we went to Carm’s sisters for a sandwich and for me to change into my silvery ensemble. Bracelets glittered on my arms, and the dress itself had a waistband of glitz. My shoes glinted in the sunlight. I sparkled. I love bling and this outfit was fully compliant. I should have been dancing with the butterflies.

The reception was in an old horticulture building on the fairgrounds. It has been renovated with beautiful tall ceilings and windows along one wall. No air conditioning though. It was a great party with a tasty meal, and lots of speeches leading up to a night of sweaty dancing.

The bride glowed with love and hope and certainty of her future. I could see from the long glances and lingering touches that this love had rubbed off on other couples, ones that have been married a long time. Even us.

“Butterflies are self propelled flowers.”
~Robert A. Heinlein

Thursday, September 21, 2017

flitting around in the sky

We are home after a wonderful camp. The weather was fantastic - better than any stretch this summer. I saw on the news the other day that that this has been the longest stretch without precipitation in over a year.

And guess what… we went SWIMMING when we got home. Carm took the cover off the pool and re-installed the ladder, then, with a bit of a shudder I dunked myself in the refreshing water. Imagine! Sept 21 and swimming.

Headlamps are a great invention. I strap one onto my head every night (when we are camping), to take the dogs out before bed. The only problem is that you have a bright light right over your face and all manner of flying insects are attracted. Even some with monstrous long legs and drooling mandibles. Yuck.

I’d been walking the dogs in short spurts to help boost their fitness and I think it was helping a bit. Spike was showing signs that he wanted to continue further, while the other two were not dragging as much. Bella is going crazy for the squirrels again. We haven’t tried for our ‘regular’ super long walk yet though - it is still too hot for that, maybe when we are camping in October.

We treated ourselves to ½ a Basket Case club sandwich Tuesday - it was delicious. We didn’t feel too guilty with just having half, but all these ‘treats’ are stalling the weight loss… I knew it would happen as it is just too easy to be in holiday mode in the villetta.

Oh! This afternoon the dogs and I walked along the little path at the edge of the hayfield. The clover had grown some more and was in full bloom. Some other purple flowers were decorating the fence line. But the most fantastic thing were the 100s of butterflies that flitted among the flowers. A thousand wings flashed beautiful colours in the sunshine. Painted Ladies, bright yellow butterflies, and some that looked like Monarchs all bumped elbows with the buzzing bees. It was magical.

I love it when we are camping but love it at home too.

I dreamed I was a butterfly, flitting around in the sky; then I awoke. Now I wonder: Am I a man who dreamt of being a butterfly, or am I a butterfly dreaming that I am a man?”

Monday, September 18, 2017


I tossed and turned all night thinking that I wanted to get up early Sunday so as to not miss a minute of my first day of Freedom 55. By the time morning came I was bleary eyed and dizzy from lack of sleep. Fitbit said 3 hours and it felt like it was right. Dooh - what a fine start to the day.

My first walk with the dogs was unremarkable, except that it was one of those perfect mornings with the sun just burning through the fog and not a breath of breeze. It seemed like the whole campground was in a deep slumber, even the pesky squirrels.

Once back at camp I dug out the day old Upper Canada bread and hove off a thick slice that I transformed from dry bread into eggy french toast. I would have preferred pancakes, but french toast is easy, plus I need to save room for the rest of the day's meals.

Hot cup of coffee and then we were ready for outing number 1: the flea market. Right away I found what I was looking for. Two small glass serving dishes that would fit in the toaster oven, perfect for a mound of potatoes out of the actifry. I'm using serving dishes more than I used to as some of the actifry meals are multi stage. I paid an astounding $5 for both (not each).

We returned back to the camper for another coffee, and another walking of the dogs. Then we were out the door for Upper Canada Village where we were meeting Trudie & Leo and Vashek & Marie for lunch. We had plenty of time to walk around the village fair before meeting up for our meal. I had Welsh Rarebit with mushrooms and cheddar cheese on thick UCV bread. Yum.

We returned back to the camper for another walking of the dogs and a nap for me. Later in the afternoon the big tree at the side of our site was casting the most delicious shade. I pulled my chair over and enjoyed the view of the water. Before long we fed the animals, then we were out the door for the Acapulco restaurant for supper. Trudie & Leo were already there and had decorated the table with birthday decor. The rest of the evening was spent talking and eating, talking and eating. Alicia (owner) brought over a tray of shrimp appetizers, then I had schnitzel, then birthday cake… I'm up a few pounds today.

I haven't mentioned that we were blessed with hot sun all day, as nice as any summer day we had this year.

The rest of my family was in Montreal, celebrating Olaf's birthday. We didn't feel we could go, especially with the heat. Neither leaving the dogs for several hours in the camper, nor bringing them with us in the truck, seemed like good ideas. We'll catch up with everyone some other day.

All in all it was a perfect day to turn 55.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

evening twilight fades

Fog hung like a shroud, obscuring the details of the landscape. It was early and only one lonely guy was stirring. I crunched along the gravel lane giving the dogs opportunity to stop when needed. Aside from my footsteps, there was a hush: no birds sang or crickets chirped. If I wasn’t so tired it would have been beautiful.

Speaking of beautiful the last few days have been glorious and today is shaping up to be the same. It has been hot with skies so clear they look unreal. This week of Indian Summer (can we still say that?) has been a blessing after such a crappy summer.

Did I write about Wednesday? Carm played golf and I played house in our little villetta. Thursday we did some shopping in the nearby town and then went to Upper Canada Village for a walk around. It was pleasantly quiet as we strolled up and down the dirt roads. The vegetable gardens are past their peak but we still got glimpses of goodness. We skipped having lunch there, instead coming back to camp for our healthy, low-cal meal. We had a good day eating wise (although the scale didn’t agree).

Friday Carm was up at the crack of dawn to meet his golfing friends at a far-away course. My treat was a visit from my Mom. We had a lovely day together (as we always do), and before you knew it Carm was back from the far reaches of golfdom and Mom was taking her leave. We couldn’t convince her to let us treat her to a supper at the Acapulco. The idea was in our heads though so we broke the diet (in a major way). It was the best schnitzel ever. We had fun visiting with Alicia after we’d finished eating and I joined her in the traditional tequila and lime. A slice of lime has never tasted better :-0

My heart is breaking though and occasional tears make tracks on my cheeks. The dogs are not the dogs they used to be. Even last year they were able to make it for an hour walk. This year even 15 or 20 minutes is too much for them, of course it’s been hot which doesn’t help. They aren’t even dragging me off my feet when a cheeky squirrel makes itself known. Spike has slowed down too. It is sad when the future seems much closer than you want it to.

“For age is opportunity no less
Than youth itself, though in another dress,
And as the evening twilight fades away
The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.”
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

each golden day

The music is playing over the camper’s surround sound system, except some of the speakers aren’t working - either they weren’t set up right, or the blueray is not setup to recognize them, or perhaps the music from my phone isn’t configured right. It doesn’t matter: there is music (I wanna get lost in your rock and roll and drift away…)

My duster has been flying over every surface. A summer of inactivity followed by a bumpy ride to the campground which shook every dead insect and bit of dirt from the top of the slides has left us pretty dirty. For those not familiar with slides, they stick out (with their roofs) when we are parked, but come inside when we are driving so the roof is inside spewing detrus.

We haven’t been here for a year so it was a bit of homecoming. The pets were excited to be going camping - even Grace didn’t waste a second coming out of her cage to get into the carrier for the ride here.  

I wonder what the dogs think when we get going on a trip. Do they think we are going to Alberta again and that they’ll spend days in the backseat? Do they wish for that adventure? Or are they happy to go somewhere close and familiar? I suppose I might ask myself the same questions.

It’s been so long since I last wrote that I can’t remember much of what we did, and certainly not in chronological order.

Oh, here’s my song: the Eagles ‘Peaceful Easy Feeling’. It’s a song about a relationship so all the words don’t jive, but I love the refrain. Peaceful easy feeling accurately describes those good moments of contentment that I treasure. They are sometimes elusive so I’m sure to make note of them when it happens. PEF is a feeling that I try to memorize so that I can reproduce it when I need to. Haven’t gotten that good yet but I keep trying.

Okay, back to the last week. Sunday, after a busy day of getting ready for camping, we took Pat to Sol de Acapulco for her birthday supper. Trudie & Leo were there too so it was a bit of a celebration with decorations and cake. Pat seemed to have a good time.

Saturday we went to the Russell Fair for the Craft Beer fest. We tried a few different kinds and tasted some that we’ll track down in the future. We met up with Pat and two of her friends so we sat with them. A young man came up to Carm at one point and introduced himself. He was the son of someone Carm worked with for decades. It was nice to see him and his 2 year old son, but sad to know that Leo had passed away 2 years ago from smoking related illness. He never got to see his grandkids...

Monday was a whirlwind day with haircuts and then a trip to the city to look for tummy tucking underwear for me and a grocery run to Costco. The camper fridge is full of healthy vegetables.

Now, here we are, in our usual spot that gets full on sun, living in our villetta with sun across the board on the weather forecast for the next week. It’s showing a high of 29C for my birthday :-) Wowzers!

Each golden day was cherished to the full, for one had the feeling that each must be the last. Tomorrow it would be winter.”
~Elizabeth Enright

Friday, September 8, 2017


My tablet didn’t charge again last night so I’m sitting here in slight frustration using my wablet with it’s ant sized print. I’m not even using google tasks as a few weeks ago I found out a bunch of my lists had been corrupted. Since the only new factor is this darn wablet I’m being extra careful.

I had lost some lists early in the spring (after I first got this?) and carefully rebuilt them as we got ready for the Titanium rally in June. Guess what – they were all blanked out. I could have cried. I’m rebuilding them again (only on my tablet) but don’t have the same heart for it. I just hope the stuff we REALLY need gets onboard…

The weather has been autumnal, not at all like Texas and Florida with their hurricanes and 4’ of rain, but still not what I’d hoped. The pool is away for sure. I wonder a bit if I even want to go camping – being stuck in the rain trying to walk the dogs is no great hell.

We scored some lovely red peppers for a fantastic price the other day. Stupidly I just bought 4. I roasted them this morning and tucked them into the freezer so they are ready for roasted vegetable wraps.

I had forgotten my aversion for roasting peppers but as soon as I was peeling them it all came rushing back. It started years ago, Sept 11 2001 to be exact. We had been sent home early from work due to our proximity to Parliament Hill. Carm was away so I was all alone listening to reports of the devastation. I was distraught and felt so alone. Outside, the sun shone with not a cloud in the eerily empty sky; it seemed quieter than usual – maybe everyone was home with their families and not out on the roads. Inside, the TV was glued onto CNN.

Unfortunately I had some red peppers and I’m sure you can see where this is going. I stood at the kitchen counter freaked out and tears running down my face, peeling these charred bits of skin, while reports of people burning to death blared from the TV. I should have turned the TV off, but couldn’t. I was so drawn in to the horror that I couldn’t turn my head away.

Well,enough of that. This week we have devastation from Nature to occupy our thoughts.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

horsing around

Gloomy would be today’s word of the day. Light is barely able to escape from the thick grey cloud. It’s cold too, and even drizzling a bit - too wet to do our little walks in the field.

It is the perfect day for filling the house with the spicy smell of cooking chili. I made two batches: a spicy soup, and the other slightly thicker with some room for rice later on. I had to make the latter as Grace loves the chili rice that was last week's fubar so this time I made it runny on purpose. It was a happy accident. I forgot the mushrooms on both versions though. I should write down my recipe and tape it eye level beside my instant pot…

The shelf in the freezer dedicated to pre-made meals is full - there is lots on hand for those lazy or busy days when cooking isn’t a priority.

Yesterday was a whole ‘nother matter. It was sunny and the perfect temperature for an outting to Upper Canada Village Horse Weekend Fair. We got there around 2:30 as Carm visited his mom first, but we had plenty of time to see lots of horsey displays. I'll be honest though, it wasn’t a joy filled afternoon, even though it was so lovely. I yearned for the days when I had my own ponies to play with. I miss them and often dream about them and have to remind myself that I had my turn at living my dream and now it is time for other dreams. I haven’t figured out what they are yet :-(

Upper Canada Village is always charming and we were lucky enough to get 2 free tickets so we’ll visit again before the end of the season.

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.”
~Joyce Kilmer

Saturday, September 2, 2017

silver sliders

Brrrr… it has been cold here the last few days. Bunches of trees along the highway to the city have bright red foliage - it’s too soon! My swinging days may be over, certainly the swing and swim days are gone for another year. What happened? How did summer pass so quickly. It wasn’t the greatest summer weather wise - only one day over 30C and lots of days with rain.

It was our second summer at home with no camping. I thought our camping days were coming to a close, but I realize after a summer at home that I still love spending time in my villetta. Carm enjoyed being home as he got to golf 3 days per week.

My little walks around the edge of the hayfield have been lovely in the cooler weather - there is something in the air, a sort of crispness or freshness that has added a spring to my step. The dogs seem to feel it too. I thought there was something wrong with Spike a few weeks ago. He had no energy or spunk. When we first started our little walks I’d sometimes have to drag him on a leash to get him to finish, he’d lag so far behind and would be low and panting when we reached the final slope. Well, after a few weeks of regular walks he is now running ahead and prancing around. So either he was out of shape from a winter of inactivity, or perhaps depressed. Regardless, the little walks seem to do us all good.

I spent friday with my Mom shopping for shoes and other silvery accessories. Wait, I have to backtrack one more day to Thursday when Carm suffered through dress shopping (he was actually great help with 0 griping). I wanted something new for the wedding that is coming up and to multitask as formal cruise wear. It only took an hour to find the right one, a silver grey fancy number.

So, back to the shoes… you probably remember that shoes are a difficult buy for me (understatement) and yesterday was no exception. For starters, there are not a ton of silver or black sparkly shoes to chose from especially when I don’t want 4” heels. The first pair I tried on were silver flats. Yikes… no more than three steps and I was in agony. Nix that. Look around some more… nothing. Next store - see one pair that is cute but darn, not my size. My mom headed back to the clearance section and saw a pair of nice silver wedges. Tried them on and only minor pain (I fully expect to have some pain, it is the price to pay for beauty). They were a perfect match to the dress. Yippee! All in less than an hour! Next we were on the hunt for a clutch purse. Found that in the second place we looked - perfect match to shoe, right down to silver band detail, and $14 on sale. Done :-)

Mom and I had plenty of time to have a nice lunch and even did a bit of extra shopping as well.

I had a fantastic time with Mom and it left me wondering why I don’t make the effort to get into town more often.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

jeweled balm for the battered spirit

The sun beat down on my back as I sat on the step filing my nails. It felt good. I raised my eyes and looked towards the trees that skirt the far side of the pond and marveled at the crispness of each leaf. Above them, the sky was the kind of blue that you see in the fall, when the air isn’t languid and soft with humidity. All the moisture now lay in the grass, a thick layer of dew that fell in the night. The dogs got their legs wet, and my pink crocs did nothing to keep the water away from my feet when we did our little toodle around the edge of the field this morning.

Thoughts of winter flash in my brain - unwelcome and quickly pushed away.

It was haircut and bath day for the dogs yesterday. They showed a certain amount of dismay when Carm hauled out the grooming table as they know full well what is coming. They were good though and cooperated well. Now they are sleek and hairless until their coats grow in, which will take less time than one would hope…

Sunday I attended my niece, Grace’s, wedding shower. I hitched a ride with my sister-in-law Tammy as it was way out on the far side of town. It was a lovely shower and I was so glad that I went. As an added bonus we stayed for supper at Frank & Tammy’s, something that we rarely do. The thing about families is that often get-togethers are all or nothing events, and with 4 siblings and their families it gets to be overwhelming.

I’m good with 2 or 4 guests at a time, after that I start to panic. I never know what to cook for big crowds. I think it is easier when a hunk of meat is at the center of the menu, but since I try to keep plant-based it gets trickier.

Of course I say plant-based, but what do I have in the instant pot? Eggs. We’ll be giving those up as soon as golf is over. I like to send Carm with a snack for the 9th hole and an egg, apple and walnuts seem to keep him fueled.

See this site for some eye opening facts about eggs:

All that being said about eggs, I love a hard-boiled egg just barely cooled. And the instant pot makes them gosh-darn easy to peel ;-)

Summer is the time when one sheds one’s tensions with one’s clothes, and the right kind of day is jeweled balm for the battered spirit. A few of those days and you can become drunk with the belief that all’s right with the world.”

~Ada Louise Huxtable

Saturday, August 26, 2017

common everyday life

Fall has surely arrived. I made a go with the swing (after pre-made a bunch of lunches and suppers), but when the sun skirted behind the clouds I felt a definite chill. I was tempted to bring out a blanket for the cool bits.

It is almost 4pm and I’m inside now watching golf… it is the CP Women's Open which is being played in Ottawa. We have a runner in the race too which makes it as exciting as a game of golf can be (yawn). Too bad that she played earlier in the day before the cameras arrived.

Remember that chili the other day… well… it came out totally runny, more like soup than chili. I was going to drain it but then at the last minute thought of adding rice and cooking it for another 7 minutes. So I divided all but one supper’s worth into containers and added the rice. Fire up the IP and voila. The result was great!

I put one container in the freezer for camping. My plan is to have a few meals in the bag so to speak for our trip so that we keep with the weight loss.

I decided to spice things up a little yesterday and made a trip to Dollarama for some spice jars. The camper cache hadn’t had a good go through for ages but  now they are in matching bottles and filled with fresh herbs and spices. I’ll be motivated to cook when we are out :-)

Just look how exciting my life is. I’ve become obsessed with cooking and finding recipes, but not much else is going on.

a little while later… soup is done and packaged up. Four suppers for fridge/freezer. When it is time to eat: add to instant pot, add mushrooms, frozen veg, and uncooked pasta. Seven minutes on high pressure and supper is ready. (note to self: that’s 7 minutes after it comes up to pressure which might be 20 min if frozen.)

“As the years pass, I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common, everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful. They are the things that fill our lives with comfort and our hearts with gladness -- just the pure air to breathe and the strength to breath it; just warmth and shelter and home folks; just plain food that gives us strength; the bright sunshine on a cold day; and a cool breeze when the day is warm.”
― Laura Ingalls Wilder

Thursday, August 24, 2017

its been chili

Four o’clock. It’s two pm now so I have two hours until I have to start the chili… two hours to work up the energy to get chopping and slicing. The beans have soaked and are ready to go, but the red and green peppers, and onions sit on the kitchen counter, taunting me with their wholeness. The knife still has to do its work there. I haven’t made a chili for a few years and can’t recall the potion of spices required to make a tasty meal but how hard can it be?

Monday was possibly the last day of summer. I lazed around on the back deck, taking it easy on the swing, and dipping in the pool when I got too hot. I was glad that I luxuriated and didn’t spend my day in the basement sorting, or equally as bad, in the city.

It has been sunny but cool for the last few days (or was there a day of rain in there?). Nights have started dipping below 10C, so that might be it for the pool until next year. We don’t have a heater, instead we rely on Mother Nature to keep it warm which usually works out okay. This year she’s favoring and earlier move to autumn.

Yesterday I had breakfast with Diane and Mary. It was a treat to see them :-) although meeting at the bakery was a challenge for me: unctuous apple fritters, delectable donuts, marvelous pastries… well, you get the idea. I stuck with a bagel & cream cheese which wasn’t the best, but was a nice treat.

Four o’clock already and the chili has started to cook. As usual, I put too much stuff in to be able to fit everything that I wanted. Can of diced tomatoes - nix. Mushrooms - nix. So, I’ll do what I’ve been doing with the soup: cook the base, divide into meal portions, then when it is time to make the meal add the missing ingredients and fire up the instant pot. I’ve been thinking of getting the bigger pot, but figure I’d be in the same boat, just with more meal portions. A second pot? Maybe. Better planning? Perhaps.

Monday, August 21, 2017

these beautiful days

A week has passed since I last wrote. It wasn’t a hectic time, but somehow there was never the time or energy to put my fingers on the keyboard.

We picnicked again, this time after a visit with Carm’s mom. We stopped at a  beach along the Ottawa river and spread out our tablecloth. Pita spread with hummus and jammed with arugula were repeats on the menu, along with bright red cherry tomatoes.  A summer delight. There was a kiosk selling beer and burgers, but we were good.

That was Thursday. What did we do Friday? Can’t remember much except that I made a giant pasta fagioli soup to have on Saturday with guests. Don’t you feel that soups and stews are always better the second day? Saturday I just had to add 4 servings back to the instant pot, add a bunch of vegetables, the pasta, and set the timer for 5 minutes. Voila!

The instant pot makes soups a breeze. I saute the onions and celery right in the pot, then add my spices, dried beans, and any vegetables that I want to over-cook. Turn it on and leave it to do its work. The beans get soft and make a thick broth and the flavours have a chance to meld under the pressure.

We had Jim and Cathey over for supper Saturday. We ate the soup to start and then since Cathey was curious about it, I put the actifry to work and brought out dish after dish of roasted vegetables to nibble on. We had sweet potatoes, regular baby potatoes, green beans, zucchini, mushrooms, and maybe something else that I’m forgetting. We didn’t even leave the table all night.

Sunday we helped my mom get her new bedroom set put together. Carm and Graham huffed and puffed the old mattress and box spring downstairs and the new one upstairs. The headboard and footboards had to come up the stairs. It was heavy work and I’m glad Graham was there to help. And of course Carm is my muscle man.

My mind keeps going to Barcelona and all the people that lost their lives or loved ones, or were injured by the insanity. We were there just a few months ago - one of the clips shows the shop where I bought coasters - it was all bashed in. I know I shouldn’t dwell on it and that the odds of something happening are slim… but...

Now, it is a beautiful sunny day (albeit windy), and I am writing this on the swing. I might go for a swim soon. There are fewer days left of summer than we’ve already had so each day seems more precious than the last.

Then followed that beautiful season... Summer....
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.”
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

a picnic basket

The raindrops splattered on the windshield less than 10 minutes after we were in the car. It was okay though: we were on our way home and we’d already had the picnic that had been planned months ago. As the weeks rolled by there were countless reasons we didn’t pack up the picnic basket and hit the road: afternoons often had rain in the forecast; Carm was golfing 3 days a week; visits to my brother were higher priority; Carm was visiting his mom. There were more reasons than could be counted.

Yesterday was forecast to be beautiful but I had woken up limp like a dirty dishcloth. I knew if we stayed home I would mope around all day so I took that chance that I’d perk up and we hit the road - finally that picnic would come to life. There was no fried chicken and potato salad in our basket, no, we had our usual lunch of hummus with pita and arugula. The previous night’s transgression at my mom’s had left Carm with higher blood pressure (we are guessing salt), and an uptick on the scale for both of us. We are determined to get into fighting fit shape.

It was about a 50 minute drive to our destination, but some of that was on a low speed road with beautiful homes and farms abutting the strip of asphalt. Old stone walls with stone houses hidden behind trees sparked wishful thinking (on my part anyway).

It was a beautiful day for a drive.

We reached our first destination and grabbed the picnic basket out of the car. An old white table cloth was thrown over the nearby table. Before eating we took a little walk along the lock and wondered if we’d be lucky enough to see a boat go through (we weren’t).

Lunch was eaten in the dapple shade of giant trees, sun glinting off the still canal waters. Lovely.

After lunch we drove to Merrickville, a little ‘boutique’ village not far from the locks. We wandered up and down the street, ducking into the odd shop to see their wares. Carm bought some spicy peanuts. Before we went back to the car we stopped at the locks in the village to see a boat go through. It was tall enough that they had to swing the bridge clear of the waterway. There wasn’t a clunk or a shudder as the road swung around - the mechanics were perfect.

And then we were back to the car, ready to make our way home. It was a lovely afternoon!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

that beautiful season

As I walked down the laneway, dogs on their leashes beside me, I was almost overcome by the perfection of the morning. The sun shone brightly with only a few fluffy white clouds on the horizon, the air was soft and warm, the fragrance of honey dripped from the goldenrod. Something else is flowering too, adding a depth to the sweetness in the air. Heavenly.

We completed our walk in bliss and once back in the house I rushed around getting the swing and back deck ready for a lazy day. Grace was equally anxious to get outside, muttering under her breath as we stepped out the door.

The last few days have been much like our other days, a mix of busy and remarkably lazy. I visited my brother on Tuesday, we went shopping on Wednesday (at least I think it was Wed, the days have been blurring together), we visited my brother-in-law on Friday, were lazy on Saturday. I’ve left off Carm’s exertion marathon of grass cutting.

I lamented the other day about not being shoppers and not having that activity to distract us. For one afternoon that was remedied: Wednesday I decided that we’d go to the mall in the hopes of finding one more top for the cruise - the summer stuff should be on sale. In the first store I found a nice, slightly dressy top that will be perfect. We tracked down a changing room and as I stared at the blinding white lump in the mirror I remembered my aversion to shopping… I stuck my head back into the sand and stepped outside the changeroom so Carm could make his proclamation. It was a buy.

I girded my loins (so to speak) and we continued our quest. Maybe we’d find another. In the second store I noticed a bright fuschia top hanging against one wall. The colour caught my eye so I grabbed my size and searched for the change room. Again we found the cash register and walked out of the store with a second bag.

Still we pressed on. I think Carm was on a roll and secretly hoping that we’d never have to come again if we made one more purchase. He was in luck - two more tops were bagged.

This is a big change for me as none of the tops are t-shirts, which is pretty much all I wear. I suppose I am starting to dress my age which totally freaks me out as I’ll be 55 in just over a month. Holy crap. But that’s a whole other topic…

I haven’t been getting on the treadmill but I do have an excuse. Since the hay was cut, I’ve been walking the dogs around the field several times a day. The exercise is good for all of us, plus it’s good mental stimulation for the dogs. Sometimes I walk them around on their leashes, mainly so I’m not standing calling them constantly as they find something else to investigate. It’s also good for them to remember leash walking as in less than a month we’ll be camping!

Sound fills the air. Cicadas are singing. Grace is chatting. Leaves are rustling.

At this exact second in time life is perfect.

Then followed that beautiful season... Summer....
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.”
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Monday, August 7, 2017

days dash by

I opened the door to September this morning: cool with a bright sparkling sky. I’m holding out hope for more swimming weather near the end of the week - I just bought a new pool noodle to try out!

Yesterday (Sunday), after some futzing around, which included some house cleaning, we decided that we’d like to have company for supper so gave a ring to Peter and Julie. As luck would have it they were free and joined us for a congenial evening. We met up with them not long ago at the Keg where we celebrated our shared anniversary together.


Some of the text below was written on Sunday afternoon, before we cleaned the house and got ready for spur of the moment company. The rest was written the day before that - it is all a jumble and I don’t expect you to read through it.

I wish we were shoppers, you know, the kind of people who are happy wandering around a mall with no goal. It would be good to have something to do when I want to get out of the house, but there is no particular destination. Going out for lunch would be nice, but we are on a serious weight loss program.

Today is cool and windy - a day we’d be happy with if it was October…

When I opened my file to start today’s blog I found a few paragraphs that I had started but never finished. I want to remember some of it so will look back into the past today.

Thursday was a whirlwind of visiting Graham, and then Carm’s mom who is in the hospital. She is safely out, back into the nursing home, and doing well. At 89 even the simplest ailments are serious.

I had started the day Thursday with two small pieces of grilled tofu and by 3pm was faint with hunger. Luckily (?) the hospital has a Tim Hortons so I was able to get a bagel with cream cheese. I should have passed, as not only eating in a hospital a little gross (all those germs - we passed one room that was being cleaned by people with hazmat suits on), but we left for home not long after so I could have saved the calories. Carm is now down 21 lbs, me? only 8…

Saturday we got the grooming table out and gave the poodles haircuts on their faces and bellies. And then everyone got a bath. There wasn’t much happiness in our house yesterday afternoon.

Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.”
~Norman Vincent Peale

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

summer's sweet sensation

I thought I’d stay on the swing and enjoy the light shower - I’d be protected overhead by a small canopy and there was no wind to drive the drops underneath. Then the thunder started and I figured that sitting on a metal swing, under a metal gazebo, would not be the smartest.

We are having another gorgeous day, until now (it’s 2:30pm). Clouds have moved in as forecast - boo hoo. (But wait an hour and the sun is in and out of the clouds.) But no matter the clouds hazing the sky, the air is fragranced by the nectar of so many wildflowers. I stand and breathe in deeply and a feeling of contentment descends.

I don’t know why, but today I am so tired I can barely move - I’ve been like that for a few weeks but today was the worst. Since we’ve drastically cut down salt, I’m wondering if my lithium levels are getting out of whack. The two are tightly bound. I guess I need to find a way to add a little bit of salt to what I’m eating while not increasing Carm’s intake.

I did drag myself into the car for a drive - Carm at the wheel. We picked up dog food in a village about 20 min away, driving down country back roads for a change of scenery. I love the beauty of a rural road with their ditches brimming with wild flowers, and newly cut hay fields stretching out on either side.

I’m making cajun black beans and rice in the instant pot tonight, and cauliflower and zucchini in the actifry. The black beans are cooking now - it is a bit of an experiment with cooking them partway from dry so I can finish them with the rice. We shall see. I’ve never had much luck cooking dried beans in the ancient past and had given up trying. Since we got the Instant Pot I’ve done romano and chickpeas with great success.

The luxury of all summer's sweet sensation is to be found when one lies at length in the warm, fragrant grass, soaked with sunshine, aware of regions of blossoming clover and of a high heaven filled with the hum of innumerous bees.”
~Harriet E. Prescott

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

lie sometimes on the grass under the trees

Grace crunches her dried pellets, a slight breeze ruffling her feathers. The pellets are a treat for her when she is outside - I think it must be like us eating a bowl of popcorn or other crunchy treat. Usually she eats people food.

It is a beautiful summer day with a bit more heat than we’ve been having. We had scheduled a picnic along the Rideau waterway for today, but decided to save it for a day that isn’t so hot. These sultry days are treasures for lazily reading (and writing!) on the swing, with an occasional dip into the pool. The pool liner is blue which makes the water look like an exotic sea set in a field of grass and wild flowers.

After making all that pesto yesterday I felt that it was only fair to invite Trudie & Leo over for supper. Half of what we ate came from their garden: new potatoes, zucchini (done in the actifry), the pesto that was slathered on the pasta. Oh to be able to have a summer meal in the winter with vegetables fresh from the garden!

I made hard-boiled eggs in the Instant Pot today - wow. Easy to peel and perfectly done - yolks were creamy but firm. No guessing, just 5-5-5 (five minutes at high pressure, 5 minutes natural release, then 5 minutes in icy water.) I may have been imagining it, but these were especially delicious.

I do wonder how I cooked before the Instant Pot and Actifry!

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the blue sky, is by no means waste of time.”

~John Lubbock

Monday, July 31, 2017

summer freshness of newly picked basil

Ring… ring… huh? what? I opened my eyes and made a grab for the phone. I was not fully awake when I heard Trudie’s voice at the other end of the line - I was supposed to go to her place on Saturday to pick basil. It was now Monday… Oh dear. “Could I come now?”. I staggered out of bed into the bathroom. The visage in the mirror was barely recognizable: bed head was out of control. A few splashes of water and it was somewhat flattened.

No coffee for me, instead I headed directly out the door and into the truck. It isn’t far to Trudie’s, maybe a km or two (she’s our neighbor on one side) so I barely had time to wake up.

I should mention that Trudie has the energy of a manic person and I’m pretty sure she has never had a bleary moment, so I sucked it up and pretended I was bright and chipper.

I received instruction on how she wanted the basil picked and got to work. The ‘trug’ that I had brought to put everything in was full to the brim with the summer freshness of newly picked basil. I could almost taste the pesto.

A pile of freshly picked garlic was wrapped into a bag and away I went home. There was work to do.

First a swim though ;-) and that cup of coffee.

I picked through the giant bin of basil and soon I had a mountain of leaves with a tower of stems beside it. Carm peeled a bunch of garlic, then the food processor got to work chopping the basil and spinning it with garlic. I don’t put the cheese in until I’m using it as many times I just want basil and garlic.

I think I did four full bowls in the food processor before I had several baggies and two small containers ready to freeze. I kept some aside to use tonight (fresh zucchini from Trudie’s garden in the actifry and tossed with pesto - my mouth is watering just thinking about it.)

It is a summer day again today - hot with a little cool in the shade. This morning was cloudless, but some are moving in this afternoon. Yesterday was nice too and Graham came out for a visit. We sat on the swing enjoying an afternoon in the country.

Four years ago today we had already been in Medicine Hat for a day. I was happy to re-read the blog entries for that day - a little reminder of how wonderful that trip was. We’ve had a few fantastic trips in the last few years and I would be hard pressed to choose a favorite, but if I had to, I think it would be our Alberta adventure. Almost everything about that trip was a journey home to the happiest times of my youth. So many memories were revisited and relived. The west is my heart’s true home.

I was merely looking at the prairie as a human being, savouring it for its beauty which engaged all the senses and brought with it a feeling of well-being, contentment and often even joy.”
~Sharon Butala - The Perfection of the Morning

Saturday, July 29, 2017

I'm content

“Don’t touch it!”, she said, too late to save herself. We were doing our daily round of the hay field and the newly formed Norwegian Spruce cones hung tantalizingly over the fence. I couldn’t help but reach my hand to cup this marvel of nature. That was before I noticed the spruce gum dripping.

A good scrub with hot water and dish soap got rid of most of the sticky residue.

The sun is shining, and while it isn’t hot, it is a lovely day. Not a baking, languid one to be spent by the pool, but a regular summer day.

Yesterday was nice too. Carm golfed and when he got home I drove into the city to see brother Graham. We had a nice lunch of sushi and good conversation.

For supper we went to Trudie & Leo’s and sat outside in her lovely garden, mosquitoes held at bay by some special lanterns. We had bbq meat - a treat for us as we’ve been all beans & legumes for the last few weeks - and lots of veggies and fruit, so all was not lost ;-)

I had the urge to get out of the house, and maybe in the past we would have gone out for lunch, today we made the trip to Liquidation with no noshing at the Greek diner. I had seen some glass chargers (big plates for the table) when we were there last time but took the time to sleep on it. They were still there so today we checked them over and loaded a bunch into my cart. Now I’ll have to plan a dinner party to break them in (or not).

With healthy eating comes lots and lots of time in the kitchen. I’m on a roll now and hope that continues. Carm has been pitching in cutting and chopping so that’s a big help. It doesn’t seem like quite as big a chore when we are shoulder to shoulder at the cutting board.

It's easy to impress me. I don't need a fancy party to be happy. Just good friends, good food, and good laughs. I'm happy. I'm satisfied. I'm content.”
~Maria Sharapova

Thursday, July 27, 2017

beans, beans, the musical fruit

Black-eyed peas are cooking in the Instant Pot. I’ll make bean burgers to save in the freezer. A quick meal, even one that can be served to friends, will be at the ready. Yesterday I cooked chickpeas in the IP - 2 cups of dried expands into a full container of hummus (once I add all the good stuff).

Yesterday was my monthly psyc dr. appointment. I’m sad to say that I have only two more appointments left with Dr. N before she retires. She’s been a voice of reason for me for 6 ½ years and I’ll miss her.

The weather has still been overcast and cool. The sun might shine for an hour or two first thing in the morning, but the remainder of the days have been dismal. What a summer :-(  I can count on one hand the number of swing days.

Since the Instant Pot, I’ve gone on a dry bean marathon which is good… except… the beans take up so much room and have turned my pantry into a chaotic mess. A trip to the store netted us a few containers so I can unbag the beans, and while this little corner of the pantry is good, I have the detritus from where I put them to sort out. I think I’ll have to start from ground zero and empty the pantry so I can start from fresh, and maybe get rid of some of the stuff I don’t use as much.

I don’t have the energy for that. Maybe if I ate a DQ blizzard I’d be able to tackle Mount Ever-so-full, but I’ve given up on those naughty calories, at least for the moment.

Maybe the cat has fallen into the stew, or the lettuce has frozen, or the cake has collapsed. Eh bien, tant pis. Usually one's cooking is better than one thinks it is. And if the food is truly vile, then the cook must simply grit her teeth and bear it with a smile, and learn from her mistakes.”
~Julia Child

Monday, July 24, 2017

the old man is snoring

And now for something completely different… it is pouring cats and dogs and has been since before sunrise. Huge thunderstorms have rocked the house, rain is coming down in sheets, and the swale in the field is a torrent of water.

The saturated ground cannot absorb any more moisture. I expect that the creek will flood.

I don’t know where the saying ‘raining cats and dogs’ came from. On a rainy day my dogs can sleep remarkably late compared to a sunny day when they HAVE to go outside asap, and even then, they must be pushed out the door. There is no lingering outside, checking out the smells around the barn, nor is there any venturing out to the field. No, it is a mad dash to get back to the house where they huddle against the door waiting for us to let them back inside.

Mine are not ‘outside’ dogs, tied to a chain all day. They know only comfort and ease. In fact, they are all asleep on cushions as I type this.

The sound of the rain on the windows was lulling me, no, luring me back to bed. Snuggling under the covers with a book seems like a really good idea. It still might happen, but I did motivate myself to get on the treadmill – no huge achievement though, it was only for 14 minutes (3/4 mile). Still, it’s better than nothing.

129 days till we are sailing in the Caribbean again. Which means that Christmas is just a few days more.

I’ve been drinking gallons of mint tea made from freshly picked leaves from the garden. It’s good hot, warm or cold.  It is delightful! I think I must transplant some into a pot for inside this winter.

“I went to bed and woke in the middle of the night thinking I heard someone cry, thinking I myself was weeping, and I felt my face and it was dry.
Then I looked at the window and thought: Why, yes, it's just the rain, the rain, always the rain, and turned over, sadder still, and fumbled about for my dripping sleep and tried to slip it back on.”
~Ray Bradbury

Sunday, July 23, 2017

frustrates the intellect

Just hit the dam% ball! Yes, we are watching the British Open and Jordan Spieth has hit a bad drive, declared an unplayable lie and is futzing around trying to find a place to drop… omg - I can’t believe I know all that. I guess stuff rubbed off on me after 30 years of watching golf.

The rain is holding off… fingers crossed because it is overcast and cold.

Venison is not vegan but gosh it was tasty. We had supper at Trudie & Leo’s and since Leo is an intrepid hunter we ate some of his prey. You might think that I’d be anti hunting with my love for animals, but actually, I feel that an animal that has lived a natural life and is suddenly killed is more humane than one raised for meat in a feedlot and then trucked to the killer’s.

Tried to take a walk in the field tonight but the mosquitoes drove us inside.

Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated; it satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening - and it is without a doubt the greatest game mankind has ever invented.” ~Arnold Palmer

Saturday, July 22, 2017

blossom in my heart

That thunderstorm that I wrote about a few days ago never came so now we’ve had a few days (3?) with no rain. The hay was cut yesterday and now lays in the field, flat and shriveling. Our fingers are crossed for a few more nice days.

Soon we’ll have our field back and there will be no excuses for not going for a walk.

Carm golfed again yesterday, and I putzed around the house getting the odd thing done. It seems I can fill my time with a whole lotta nothing to show for it. I did get some of the cooking done for supper though.

We had Cathey, a friend of Carm’s from early days of university, over for supper last night. They’ve kept in touch all these years and we manage to get together a few times a year. Cathey is sometimes a strict vegan so can be a challenge to make something. I generally cook vegan(ish), but am not adverse to using chicken broth, worcestershire sauce and other taboo ingredients. We are cutting way back on salt and added fats as well which makes for some tricky cooking.

I’m out on the swing with the dogs. In the past I wouldn’t normally relax with them loose, Spike would be sure to disappear on some game trail or another. It’s a sign he’s getting older now though - he went for a totter around the grass and was back up on the deck before I could call him. It’s nice that he’s so good but horrible that he’s getting old.

Scrap that thought about Spike. He and Bella just raced off to the barn where the critters are :-( … back from chasing them down from the middle of the hay field. Grrrr... The poodles do like to track things down.

A trip to the utility room in the basement last night revealed a watery stream snaking its way across the floor. We followed the track to the water pipes and spied a leak. Droplets of water dripped onto the floor in some sort of slow motion water torture. Luckily there is a shut off valve for that section of pipe. No air conditioning until we track down a plumber, but we’ll survive - it’s not been horribly hot.

Oh! Four years ago today we left on our epic journey to Alberta.

And when you crush an apple with your teeth, say to it in your heart:
Your seeds shall live in my body,
And the buds of your tomorrow shall blossom in my heart,
And your fragrance shall be my breath,
And together we shall rejoice through all the seasons.”
~Kahlil Gibran

Thursday, July 20, 2017

eyes turned skyward

Mid afternoon: inside, watching black clouds gather, severe thunderstorms in the forecast.

Carm has already gotten a patch of grass cut, pressure washed Grace’s cage, threw a load of dog stuff into the laundry, and washed the car and truck. Some of it before I was even out of bed. Me? I got a pot of beans cooked and then transformed it into delicious, healthy hummus. Oh, and I scrubbed the area that Grace’s cage sits in. And I did do a few steps on the treadmill - one day closer to creating a new habit.

Driving the back way to Jo Ellen and Don’s last night with my earworm on my mind, I thought of the trips we used to take when I was a child. Unlike other people who took road trips, we often flew to our destination. My view out the window wasn’t of ditches and fields. Well, that isn’t exactly true - I did see fields, just from above, and the whole thing at once, a flat patch of colour on the ground. Roads formed a grid across the earth. Farms and houses were just tiny toys. I still like the birds-eye-view and fight for the window seat when travelling by air.

I never tire of the view from the ground though. I love to see the landscape flash by the window. I savoured every moment of our 2013 trek across Canada to Alberta and don’t recall ever being bored of the changing landscape.

Maybe it’s time for a road trip!

Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”
~Leonardo da Vinci

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

makes the world go round

Cloudy… rain in forecast… so much for the 3 days of no rain they forecast yesterday. So far in July there have been 5 days without rain. Last year was the opposite - we prayed for rain as we watched the vegetation turn brown.

I sorted the bottom shelf of the kitchen cupboard I did yesterday and the utensil drawer. A grocery sized bag of garbage and recycle later I was done. I will admit to opening the doors for a peek every now and then. And to be honest, even though you’ll think I’m crazy, I still get pleasure when I open my clothing drawers (I did them in April and am keeping up with the exacting folding methods). All my t-shirts, underwear, and shorts are lined up like soldiers, easy to see and easy to pick out. Oh, so tidy.

I still have way too much stuff.

Carm went golfing again today. He’s burning off calories like crazy and he’s changed his eating habits. I’m also making healthy meals so he is melting in front of my eyes. His shorts needed to be cinched up with a belt or they’d be beyond his knees. I’m so proud of him but wish I could be motivated to get on the treadmill and burn some calories as well.

Maybe for 5 minutes as a start.

a little while later… did 10 minutes which isn’t anything to cheer about but if you knew how tired I’ve been since the Med trip you’d understand.

I was listening to my massive collection of sappy 70s music when I was reminded of an earworm. I’ve had ‘Candy man’ (Sammy Davis Jr.) as an earworm a number of times but one time in particular always comes to mind. It is a bit of a time warp, taking me into the back seat of a little one engine airplane going somewhere that I can’t remember. I’m sitting behind my dad and he’s wearing headphones (maybe yellow), my Mom is in the co-pilot seat navigating. Kirsten sits beside me. I don’t recall looking out the window and have the feeling that we were flying through clouds. I sang that song to myself over and over that day hopefully under my breath, but perhaps louder driving everyone else in the plane crazy.

Oh oh. Earworm here we are again. (the Candy man can cause he mixes it with love and makes the world go round..) AAAACCCKKKK!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

food and cheer and song

We celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary on Saturday. As is our usual custom, we wrote sappy notes to each other and looked at our wedding photos. At the back of the album are a few photos of us with our three dogs and two cats from around the time that we got married. I am shocked to realize how long ago it was that these animals were with us. I think of having an Irish Wolfhound as something that happened not that long ago, but I was wrong. I think it was 1996 when Max left us.

We’ve always had dogs in sets of three: Chetta, Ranger & Max; Pan, Grizzle & Titan; and this last group, Bella, Kabira & Spike. That’s a lot of dogs.

We finished our celebration with supper at the Keg with Peter and Julie. They were married on the same day that we were, just ½ hour before us. We told the staff at the Keg and they treated us to a dessert. I wonder if they believed us? We also go to the Keg on Carm’s birthday with Bruce and Tina. Bruce & Carm share the same birthday, but not on the same year.

Sunday we did a quick trip into the city to visit my parents.

Yesterday we got haircuts. It was a reasonably nice day and I’d like to say that it didn’t rain Sunday night… but… it did.

Trudie & Leo came by for an easy soup supper Monday night. I’m starting to get the hang of the instant pot, but I was working from two recipes again yesterday so may have flubbed a few things. As soon as I’m in the mood I’ll re-write into one so that I know better what I’m doing.

Today (Tuesday) is hot as heck. Carm is away for the day doing car maintenance stuff, while I lollygag around the house. Actually I got busy and went through all my mixing and serving bowls - I have stacks of them - and cleared out a bunch to go to the thrift shop. Then I tackled the two (yes t w o) cupboards with plastic containers. There are heaps for recycle. My cupboards look tidy, and only mildly overstuffed :-0 I did wimp out on one of the shelves (non plastic related) so will have to face that pile of junk still. It felt good to move forward for a change.

Now (2:30pm), I’m on the swing, sipping some Earl Grey tea. The air feels soft and warm, like a caress from a cashmere sweater. I’m just a stone's throw from the pool so once I get hot enough I can splash in the cool water. Summer bliss. There hasn’t been enough swing time this summer and it is already past mid July.

Now again (after supper), I’m on the sofa, watching the news. Weather forecast is calling for 3 days in a row with no rain! We are nicely full after a vegan supper cooked in the actifry and the instant pot. I could have used the stove and microwave but it’s more fun using my new appliances.

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
J.R.R. Tolkien