Sunday, September 25, 2016

CELEBRATING THE HARVEST


I pulled out my mittens to walk Lulu this morning. The air is brisk and chilly. The early morning sky fading from deep royal blue into a lighter rich amaranth. This means my hands and feet will be everlastingly cold for at least the next 6 months! On the plus side, it is Harvest time and despite the drought we endured, our downtown market is rich in produce. 

So It's time to celebrate it! That and the fact that our Market is turning 200 years old. Sheldon and I went down to check out the party so be ye prepared for a bevy of pictures. In fact, as it is Autumn, I'm likely to be snap happy for the next couple of months. 


We are blessed to have such an abundance!



This cake, celebrating our Market, was longer than I could get in the frame 




Sheldon enjoying a pear and curry pizza



These tarts were beyond beautiful, but I resisted.



I got to pet a skunk AND a python. The python's name is Fluffy as appointed by a 4-year-old. Some people are REALLY good at naming pets!




There were lots of activities for the kids. This little train would have sent my son into a lather back in the day. Actually, it still might...I will have to ask him.


And of course there are pumpkins to carve!


Inspired by the market goodies, I made a meal of Turkey breast with roasted root vegetables: sweet potato, brussel sprouts and peppers and mushrooms. 


Today they are having a community meal down at the Market and that big ole cake will be devoured. We have so much in Canada and it's time to celebrate the Harvest.


Sunday, September 18, 2016

STORMY WEATHER


Let me tell you about last Saturday night. I was home alone as Sheldon was out and my Ballerina away for a modelling gig. Nothing better than puttering in the kitchen so I made a couple of soups (squash/pear and a sweet potato/red pepper) to store for those cold winter nights. I was listening to a great blues program on CBC when it began to be interrupted by an irritating high frequency sound. Then a man's voice came on warning us of dangerous weather and a possible tornado. He meant business! And indeed there was a storm brewing outside. 

I continued to putter but now the irritating high frequency sound was coming about every 10 minutes, interrupting my great blues program! This time it was a woman's voice warning of impending danger but she sounded more like your mom does when she says something like "now if you don't go to bed Santa won't come!". She was warning us alright, but her tone was cautious and warm, all at the same time. 

I took stock of my surroundings - where's the cats  (they are wisely in the basement where I plan to head should nature call). Lulu is none too worried but I will drag her down there with me. Water nearby, grab some soup I just made, flashlight, cell phone - CHECK.

I sat in the dark and watched an amazing light show outside, listened to the rain tap dancing on the cars, thunderous booms, and the wind whipping around. Nothing to disconcerting. 

But it was another story down in Prince Edward County- a mere 25 minute drive from me! A tornado did indeed make it's presence known. Fortunately no one was hurt. We went and checked out the damage the next day:

A deck skewered through by a tree branch


Trees snapped and splintered



Ironically, kayaks and boats were right where they had been left, but the tree was twisted and trashed. It would seem the tornado was not quite touching the ground!


This one was shaken, lifted and stirred!


We have had so little rain this summer and I think only about 3 thunderstorms. I was actually enjoying it in my little corner of the world. But still, stormy weather is not to be trifled with. Just ask the County folk!


Sunday, September 11, 2016

TIDINGS OF COMFORT AND JOY

You know, if I was smart, I would save this blog for closer to Christmas! But I've had a hectic week and "comfort" and "joy" are what I'm seeking out right now.

My calendar, much like yours, has gone September-psycho with events filling up all the spaces and overlapping. There are music lessons, group meetings, church meetings smushed in with work, housework and a wee bit of me time.

When I was little, I had a beige blanket with a silky edge that I would snuggle and rub as I sucked on my finger. It was a great comfort to me. I don't suck my finger anymore and blankey is tucked away, but I have Lulu's silky soft ears to caress and nuzzle



These fall under the "COMFORT" category

But, then, there are her eyelashes which she bats at me and gives me what I call "the soft look" when there is food nearby.

JOY

Food is always a comforting thing and we all have our favourites. My Mom gave me what she considered as the "perfect peach". She waited and watched until it was just right. Then she gave it to her daughter. 

I barely touched this photo - it truly was the perfect peach.


Inside and out! - COMFORT

My pets often bring me comfort and joy together. Sasha, my minuscule Russian Blue, curls herself up perfectly when she sits, like a little statue. I Love the way she tucks in her tail and anchors it with her little feet!

JOY!

Hey! How about some Popcorn?!


It's amazing how well this stuff goes with Red wine - COMFORT

My days for morning coffee outside in the garden will soon come to an end and I will move inside to the big comfy chair beside the fireplace. Yet, I have received much joy in my times of prayer and mediation as I gaze at what I call "the Golden Tree" in the next door neighbour's yard. It reminds me of warmth, solidness and time spent camping. 


It brings me JOY

There is a quote attributed to a number of people, including Plato that goes along this line:


"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a 

battle you know nothing about"


I may know of some of your battles, or I may not, but I know they are real, tangible and some are incredibly hard. 

I bring you tidings of Comfort and Joy - I hope you can search out some for yourself.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

SEPTEMBER YOU'RE A REAL PAGE TURNER


Driving home from the cottage I can't help but notice that the reigning queen in the fields is Goldenrod. Long tapering fringy yellow fingers giving us the royal wave as the car zips by. 

I have some in my garden by the fountain. I realize it is a weed but hey, it's yellow and I like it! And so do the bees, a win-win situation. 

It reminds me that we are at the end of summer and fall is on the way. September is a time for change, a time to turn the page. 

For children, it's the excitement of heading back to school, some for the first time, some for the last. Their routines will be guided by clanging school bells and opening or closing classroom doors. The roads will now be infused with big yellow buses and I will soon be interacting with the Crossing Guards I see along my bike route to work. 

The inherent sense of change is in all of us, probably because we grew up in that September back-to-school routine. But we also sense it around us with cooler temps and the sun nodding off to bed sooner. I'm getting to know the constellations again as I'm now back to walking Lulu in the dark more often than not!

My Mom's birthday is tomorrow. She will be 77; another year has past, another page turned. We spent the afternoon walking a local trail and hanging out at McDonald's, which is what she wanted to do!


We took a selfie together, me with my muppet face and Mom looking fab at 77. In every chapter of my life, she has been there and I'm grateful for that. 

Wherever you are, your book is also being written. Pages are forming into chapters with moments of joy and laughter, pain and sadness, the human experience. But for most of us, September is a real page turner. Let's read on and see what the next chapter holds. 



Sunday, August 28, 2016

THE COTTAGE LIFE

We returned from our family cottage time yesterday. Unlike days or yore, my children left of their own accord due to their own busy life schedules. In a few days, my son and his new bride are taking a long car trip to British Columbia, excited with making new lives there. An adventure for sure - but hard on Mom. I appreciated our precious short cottage time together and let's not talk about it. 

Cottage life means close quarters! For Lulu, it means one-on-one 24 hours a day. 


I'm trying to enjoy my morning coffee here but Lulu insisted on a belly rub so she got right up in my chair to make her point clear. 

It means lots of time to catch up on naps. Here is Lulu again to demonstrate:

My Fitbit tsk-tsked me on the minimal number of steps I was putting in but I was making up with lots of sleep. The cottage life is the only time my alarm is not set for 5:30 am. 

It means we play lots of games! My son in law, Dan, LOVES games and brought a cartload with him.

Just look at that face! Whose the Happy Boy!!

It means lots of good food, and sunshine.


SMILE!



It means lots of time to read. 


I finished one book, completely read another and got halfway through the third. My usual reading time involves a few minutes on my lunch break at work and about 10 before I completely conk out at bed.

But Cottage Life means so much more to me. 

It means I listen to the sounds of water slapping the rocks and of birds like the Peewee in the forest or the startling croak of a Blue Heron. 

It means my time is measured by the sky: how long before the sun peeks out from behind a cloud as I watch it slowly light up the trees around the lake until I bask in its warmth. 

It means swimming, swimming swimming.

It means I can spend as much time as I want with my morning coffee, meditating and praying. If I know you, I've probably prayed for you this week!

The Cottage Life for me is slow down, relax, read, eat, sleep, connect. 

One week a year, 7 days out of 365 (give or take) I'm fortunate to enjoy cottage life. 

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program!





Monday, August 22, 2016

LIVING IN TWO WORLDS


The last two days have been contrasting ones for me! This is our week at the cottage but I, unfortunately, did not get the full week off. 

That means I left my husband, my kids, their spouses and my dog at the cottage while I did the 2 1/2 hour trip back to Belleville so I could work the next couple days. It is like living in two totally different worlds.

Sheldon and I arrived at the cottage on Saturday and first on my list was a swim. Afterwards, I did not brush my hair, just ran my fingers through it to dry.  To add to the new hairdo, Sunday dawned grey, wet and damp. The outcome was a total frizzy mess. 

Yesterday, I watched the grey waves jump up to meet the grey sky. I drank my coffee laced with Baileys like some sort of hippie: with wild frizzy hair and bra-less. I walked Lulu along the dirt cottage road looking at nothing but layers of green, brown and grey. I listened to the sound of the wind in the woods and on the water and the loons crying. I hung out in a tiny cramped cottage surrounded by my family.

Today I got up and washed, blow dried and straightened my hair into submission. I put on make up, heels, a skirt and my bra. I looked at a parking lot full of glinting metal and monitor screens. I now am alone, save for my couple of cats, in a house that seems large and empty. Talk about yin and yang!

After work tomorrow I will make the 2 1/2 hour trip back to the cottage and enjoy the rest of the week with my family at the cottage. I'm going back to that other world of water and wood and leaving the car infested, pavement thick one behind. 

I'll tell you all about it when I get back!













Saturday, August 13, 2016

I OPENED A NEW RESTAURANT

I opened a new restaurant in my back yard last night. Actually Sheldon and I prepared it last night for the grand opening this morning. 

It is a flashy affair with an elegant hook to swing from and a shiny copper roof and perches but initially it did not cause much of a stir in the neighbourhood.


My old birdhouse came with the house, where we have now lived  for 12 years. After that length of time it was starting to malfunction. The other morning I got up to see a raccoon shuffling about underneath it. As I stepped outside (careful to keep Lulu in!) it rambled off. But what did I see sitting right inside the bird feeder mowing down on the birdseed?


It was not a bird, I can tell you that! Pretty dang adorable but I am not buying birdseed for him. 

Eventually my new restaurant started to draw some attention. 


You can always count on the curious chickadee to be the first one at the table. 

Soon I had more customers. 


A sparrow and white breasted nuthatch!

I love the art of cooking and feeding, the whole process of it and the joy and sustenance it provides. 

We have been going to the market each weekend. Everything is so fresh right now I want to take advantage of the amazing flavours at my fingertips. 

Tonight, not to be outdone by the new restaurant in my backyard, I created a dish of roasted vegetables with salmon.


Here is the recipe, should you want to give it a try!

I made a marinade of salt, pepper, garlic powder and whatever seasoning I had on hand with some olive oil. I mixed that up and put in red pepper, sweet potato, and mushroom. Once they were well oiled I roasted the pepper and potatoes at 380 degrees for about half hour on a parchment lined pan (I added the mushrooms near the end). 

The fresh market corn was husked and boiled and I just used a knife to scrape off the kernels. 

The salmon was marinaded in a maple syrup glaze and pan fried in lemon infused olive oil. NEVER overcook salmon!! 

Then I put the veggies and salmon on a bed of spring greens and sprinkled the corn on top.  I used a beautiful balsamic vinegar for a dressing but you don't really need one.

Top that off with some fresh Ciabatta and local County Cider and the birds and raccoons will be quite envious. 


Bon appetite!!