Friday, December 25, 2009

Finding the Light

Today is Christmas Day 2009! Merry Christmas everyone and God's blessings to you all!

In a place of honour, sitting in the middle of our dining room table is this little Christmas candle holder I inherited from my Grandmother many years ago. It is very 1950s, made of porcelain and seen better days. There are three wise man around where you place a candle. When I first received it there used to be a star attached to a chain that you would slip onto the candle in the middle.

The funny thing is the wise men are not looking at the star - they are all looking (and heading) in three different directions. This is always a big joke to us. Whoever made this ornament simply missed the significance that the wise men were looking and following the star.

May you all find the Light of Jesus this season! If you can't seem to find it try turning around....maybe you are just heading in the wrong direction!

Friday, December 18, 2009


Tradition - the word itself evokes and number of reactions: stiff, appropriate, expected, warm, reliable, comforting. Tradition is right and tradition is wrong. Somewhere in the middle, like justice and mercy - there is a balance I'm always searching for.
I once had a conversation with an older women about how important tradition is to my kids. They want the same things we did last year at Christmas to happen this year. They want a Kindersurprise - it's tradition. They want Christmas cereal - it's tradition or to open one present on Christmas Eve. She replied, and this was a startling revelation, "well that's the way you raised them - tradition is important to them because that is what you taught them." I did not realize this. What if every Christmas, I had mixed things up and said "Let's do something completely different this year!" I wonder what kind of children I would then have raised. Too late - the job is done and I'm just being retrospective.
When we remove traditions it's like pulling the rug out and you lose your sense of boundary. Suddenly you have to search around for the new boundary. Is that such a bad thing? Probably not - they say you should try something new all the time.
But tradition truly has it's place - the warm comforting reliable sense it brings. It binds us together and is part of what family is about. I know at Christmas time I can rely on the the firemen pulling out the old firetruck and decorating it with a thousand lights that flash and bling at the firehall. I know there will be Turtles to eat and my Dad's cholesterol-killing Scottish Eggs. I know there will be Christmas music playing in the malls and the pathetic string of paper stars connected with straws I made when I was in Grade 1 will be at the back of our Christmas tree. Jesus himself encouraged us to continue the tradition of taking the bread and wine until His return - "do this in remembrance of me" but He also was seriously turned off with the traditions deeply set in the religious leaders.
So we are back to the balance of tradition. Not too far to the left and not too far to the right.
I hope you can find it yourself -for you and yours.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Guests Have Arrived!

There was a knock on my door the other day. So I opened it. There she was - Winter. She just "arrived" with very little notice. At first she brought me a beautiful landscape with intricately etched trees and branches contrasted against a baby blue sky. It was beautiful and I took pictures and thanked her for it.

But she is a petulant guest and before I knew it she wanted to party, raise a rumpus and make some noise. So she brought the whole region to a stop with her tantrum. Snow days for all the children, impossible driving conditions, snow, rain, freezing rain, the whole gamut.

And, if that was not enough, she invited a good friend of hers, the North Wind. Down plunged the temperatures, the lock on our front door whistles a mournful cry as it is buffered with an icy blast. Even Frodo my fur-lined feline who loves outdoors spends as little time as possible out there and whisks back in like a silver gray bullet when I open the door. The trees clack and clatter and the windows shake. I will be glad when she tires of his company and he goes back home for a while. Except for very brief moments, I'm cold all the time and socks, slippers and blankets are my constant companions.

Yes, winter has arrived in Canada. We have about 4 months together ahead of us so we had best make the most of it!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Good Day

It's a good day for this house cat. I woke up early, as I always do with the assurance that my house is full and all is well. Last night my daughter came home from University. So there she is sleeping in her bed, my son is sleeping in his, hubby is tucked away as is the cats and Amelia.
At this stage in life, when everyone is going in every direction it is a wonderful feeling to have your whole family in one place, safe and sound.
I know these moments will be few and far between. My children are grown up and making their own lives with their own plans. This is how it should be and I'm proud of them. It is not right or healthy for me to try to keep them all to myself.
But I do love having them around. I miss their presence and their spirit when they are away.
So I cherish these short-lived moments now when the we are all together, this single unit cell that will soon begin to multiply and grow into their own unique families.
Never forget that each phase in life has it's joys and value. Even those crazy times when you have little ones under your feet, never a moment to yourself, always a nose to wipe or a face to clean.
I'm enjoying my freedom and independence again. I'm enjoying the fact that my laundry has dropped to less than half what it used to be. If I want to head out the door I can without considering the problem of finding a babysitter. And I'm enjoying, right now, having the whole family together. It's a good day.

Friday, November 27, 2009

That Rollercoaster Feeling

Can you feel it starting to build? I can. That Rollercoaster is edging its way to the, click, click on the track. The pull of gravity pushing me into my seat. In a very short time we will be right on the top for a second of weightlessness and then - WOOSH! Here we go.....Christmas parties, christmas shopping, christmas baking, christmas wrapping, christmas concerts, christmas kids stuff....look out here comes a corner! WOOSH Christmas family times, Christmas tree decorating, Christmas movies and shows, Buy a new Christmas outfit, Christmas PJs and chintzy Christmas sweaters.

My suggestion? Enjoy the ride! Throw your hands up if you dare and give thanks for the Saviour's birth. Enjoy the highs and lows and watch out for those quick corners that find you exhausted and stressed.
Suddenly, ride's over. You are left grateful and full of life. Can you feel it starting to build?

Saturday, November 21, 2009


I have never been a big fan of the month of November, regardless of the fact this is the month is was born in. November is cold, rainy, gray. It is close enough to Christmas to start to make you stress about all you have to do but not close enough to start to get excited about the festivities.
But, lately, especially this year, I have a change of heart towards dreary November. In Ontario we have had gorgeous weather with very little rain. And because of that I have had the time to appreciate November's charms.
The evening and morning skies are painted with the most delicate pastels like baby pinks, peaches and yellows. They seem fragile like a bath bubble and translucent. Gone are all those vibrant oranges and reds from the fall leaves, now shaken off by the wind and scooped off everyone's lawns. Left behind to enhance November's tentative colours are the black brown limbs of trees; etchings in contrast. I'm naturally drawn to this contrast and many of my photos try to capture it - light against dark together. I love black and white photography for that very reason.
November is a good reason to begin layering up in warm sweaters and wrapping blankets around you while you watch a movie. It's a good reason to enjoy hot chocolate laced with a little something to warm your tummy. Comfort food like grilled cheese and hearty soups are on the menu. The harvest moon seems to puff up twice it's size and takes on a life of it's own.
Duncan Sheik wrote a haunting beautiful ballad called "November" that seems to capture it's somewhat melancholy mood.
Soon the Christmas season will start in earnest and our attention will be turned elsewhere. I hope wherever you are your November has been a good one. Take a deep breath of the frosty air, look up at the beautiful sky or snuggle in for a long winter's nap.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Treasure Lost

I had a Birthday in the last week and one of the things I did was meet a coworker for lunch. We were born on the same day, in the same year at the same hospital - seems we were nursey mates! We were definitely not mixed up at birth as I'm a dead ringer for my mother and she looks a lot like hers. But I digress.....For lunch we had Chinese food and upon opening our "shared" fortune cookie this is what we found "A treasure lost will be found within the month." This would have been entirely accurate for me had I opened it a year ago on my birthday for it was a year ago just before my birthday that my car took an unplanned holiday away. This story has been told before, but not to my blogger friends so here goes!
It was last year right after Halloween that we decided to meet our daughter Randi and a friend of hers in Toronto to spend the day together. As she is in school on the other side of TO, this was a good place to meet in the middle and, well, I was missing her. So we packed up a couple bags of left over Halloween candy and met at her friend's place in Mississauga.
The plan was to leave the car in a parking lot and take the subway to downtown Toronto - which is exactly what we did. We had a lovely time and as it was getting late in the day we hopped back on the subway for the 45 minute return ride. Upon arriving we headed back to where the car was parked in the lot but, funny enough, seems the car was not where we thought we had parked it. So we walked around the parking lot, again, and again. Went back inside the subway building and at this point my husband knows where he parked it and he KNOWS it is stolen. I, on the other hand am in denial. Back out to the parking lot we go again to walk around and around. Reality is finally setting in. The car is not here. I'm shocked! This is a 10-year-old car with nothing fancy about it. It was locked when we left it. How could someone just get in and get it started and drive away without a key???
We call the police and advise them of the crime - there is little they can do. This is Toronto and cars are stolen every hour, every day. We call the insurance company and again, nothing they can do. So we say goodbye to our daughter and her friend Heather and get back on the subway to make our way back downtown to catch a train home. At this point I'm beginning to cry. My poor car - all alone with some strange people doing who knows what to it and going who knows where. Not to mention all my favourite CDs in the car and all that candy!!!
When we arrive in Belleville some very nice lady (an angel, I'm sure) drove us home from the train station. We began to get a clear picture from the police. Seems our type of car is very easy to break into and starts with very little effort. Did not know that. Also, very likely it is in pieces by now and will never be found again on this earth.
The insurance company advised us there was a waiting period before we could begin looking at a claim and consider buying another car. I spent the next couple of weeks biking to work or hitching rides. My husband on the other hand was now having visions of a nice new car....bright shiny with all the bells and whistles. He is getting very excited about this prospect.
Then, out of the blue, about three weeks later we get a call from the Toronto police. They had found our car parked a few blocks away from where we had left it along with about 4 other stolen cars. Yes, it was in once piece. A little dirty perhaps but all there.
The old girl was returned to Belleville, washed and buffed and returned to us. Everything was still in the car - my CDs and all our odds and sodds. The only thing missing was the candy! This 10-year old car now has a very extensive alarm system on it.
The moral of the story is this: always remember to ask God's blessing on your journey - complete with his angels about the car. I'm pretty sure those angels stuck with the car and harrassed whoever took it until they let her go. Also, be prepared that husbands will begin to dream of newer fancier models and don't like it when such dreams are pulled out from beneath them. My treasure lost was returned - within the month.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Christmas Shopping

Not that I have to mention it but Christmas is fast approaching. That means all you big kids are beginning to consider what to buy other big kids and little kids for Christmas.
I had given it some thought and for this year and I decided I would try to buy on a more local basis. When I mean local I mean stuff made in Canada, being Canadian and all. I had no idea how difficult this would be. It seems everything is made in China!
Nearly every piece of clothing I pick up "made in China". Every litte kitchen do-dad or piece of plastic "made in China." Toys, stuffed animals, games "made in China." One would think they are just raking in the bucks albeit in small amounts as this stuff is inexpensive. So one has to ask - why is 90% of everything we go to buy cheap and made in China? I even spotted a Roots (clearly Canadian) sweater and upon checking the label - you guessed it "made in China".
There are some things I can guarantee you can buy Canadian without too much difficulty: maple syrup, cheese, local native goods such as moccasins.
I've decided to expand my goal to include Canada and United States. Today I will be going to an art and craft show called "The Maker's Hands". I'm pretty sure it will be mostly "Made in China" free and perhaps I can pick up a gift or two without blowing the bank up.
This is a bit of a challenge and I know there will be a gift or two under the tree compliments of China but with all the focus on local products and our economy I'm willing to give it a go.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Many Hats We Wear

It will be Halloween in about 3 days which got me thinking of the many different things I have transformed into on Oct. 31.

For the longest time - seemed like years, I was a skunk. I still remember the fur tail made stiffly with wire and the white strip down the back.

I was a clown once and of course a vampire.

One of my favourites was the back end of a horse - no kidding. My sister was the front and we would get into position with me at the back underneath the sheet at each house. Then to speed up the process of getting to the next house we would separate and run to the next house. Back to the back I would go and under the sheet for the next Trick or Treat! I don't remember getting a lot of candy that year......

One year my girlfriend and I went as "Electro Woman and Dina Girl" (1970 something, I was Dina Girl). At one house we stopped at a rather drunk fella opened the door and slurred ya gotta do a chtrick....

So we sang the intro for the show with great flourish. He was pretty impressed!

See video.....I think I could still pull it off...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Time for the Ice Scraper

It seems since the son got his license he has really taken over my car. I never see it anymore and that means I am STILL riding my bike. I'm not good with cold weather (not enough insulation on the bones) and my extremities in particular are always cold but as I have to get to work somehow, the bike will have to do.
So the other morning there is a definite chill in the air and I can see my breath as I take Amelia for her morning walk (in the dark, under the stars). Taking note of this I dress appropriately for my ride to work.
Extra sweater -check
Mittens - check
Ear warmers underneath my helmet - check.
Ice scraper....
Ice scraper, I hear you ask?? Aren't those for Canadian car windshields on winter mornings so you can see where you are going? You would be right but as everyone was scraping their windshields I was scraping the seat of my bike. Not that the frost would make it difficult for me to see but, well, it would have made for an uncomfortable bike ride you understand. So I scraped away and off I went.
I biked down a hill and the cold air brought tears to my eyes and took my breath away. I biked underneath trees dropping golden snowflakes all around me. I did my best to keep my hands warm and failed. I was very tempted to bike through the leaves all piled up along the curb of the road like kids waiting for the Christmas Parade but I thought better of it as I was not sure what was underneath all those colours and hitting a big stick with a curb on one side and cars zipping by you very close to the other would not be a good idea.
It's a whole new experience biking in the fall. My sister - bless her heart, will bike all year long, straight through the winter. I should add she will be turning 50 next year. I salute you Heather, ice scraper raised high.

Friday, October 16, 2009

I think that Tree is Smiling...

Some people would call me a tree hugger and they could be right, although I'm not sure exactly what the definition of a tree hugger is. But I am someone who loves trees - they calm me down, they keep me cool on a hot summer day, they whisper in the summer, rustle in the fall and clack in the winter.

Trees seem to have personalities to me. For example Maple Trees are like moms - they always are welcoming with branches low enough, inviting every child around to hop on up and snuggle into the crook of a branch. You will often find a big swing attached to them! Whereas Oak trees are like beautiful, estranged ladies. They have lofty branches, looking way down at us and elegant leaves. Pines and cedars are a race of their own - never changing, solid fellows that can take the weight of the winter snow easily (can you hear them singing "hi ho, hi ho"??). And then there are birches and willows, elms and sumacs.

I was out for a visit to "The County" last week and happened to snap a shot of a tree elf - no really I did (see picture). He's peeking out at me quite suprised thinking I couldn't see him - but I did.

I guess it is true - I am a tree hugger, lover of trees, whatever. I need them around me, rustling, laughing, clacking and whispering. Scripture says the "the trees of the fields will clap their hands." So, you see. I'm not crazy after all!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Old Habits Die Hard

One of the hardest things I have ever had to personally conquer is/was smoking. I had my first cigarette at the age of 14. Coughed, hacked and felt terribly nauseous. The second one, well I was hooked. By the time I was 18 I was up to nearly two packs a day! Yikes!!
But, I had a new lease on life at the age of 20 (that being a personal invitation from Jesus to start all things new with a fresh batch of mercies each morning), and with that extra booster of strength and power I began to kick that habit. I had my last cigarette somewhere around the age of 22 - actually it was only half a cigarette. I am very happy to say the shackles have been removed. BUT I know danger when I see it and it would seem I am a smokeaholic - meaning cigarette smoke still smells pretty good to me and I had better stay clear of them because one of them would probably send me back on the road to two packs a day. I am definitely not someone who can "take it or leave it". I'm all in.
Which, sadly, leads me to my Frumpy Sweater. You know, the one I was supposed to dispose of some time ago. The one always covered in cat hair and toothpaste dribble down the front with holes in the pockets etc. etc. Yes, I admit it, I'm wearing it as we type. But, I want you to know, I've tried, really tried, to let the old girl go. I bought one sweater to replace it but it was so cute I wanted to keep it nice. Besides every time I picked up Frodo the cat he would get his claws stuck in this sweater and it would take at least two people to extricate us. Then, I bought another sweater; pockets, comfortable and Frodo Friendly. I threw it in the wash and lo and behold it shrunk! So here I am, still wearing old Frumpy.
It took me quite a few years to kick cigarettes - may take me a while to shed this sweater. Old habits die hard ya know.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

October's Beauty

It's October in Ontario and truly one of the most beautiful times of the year to be here. The trees take centre stage and show off their gorgeous colours, the fields dress in coats of muted tones - gold, burnt umbre, purple and yellow, and there is just enough coolness in the air to help you sleep at night. I should mention the incredible abundance of produce. It is a real treat to the senses walking through the local market: bright orange pumpkins, peppers in all shapes and sizes, squash, potatoes, apples, apples and more apples, tomatoes and frothy stands of mums!

In a week's time we will be celebrating Thanksgiving here, and we reallyhave so much to be thankful for. You should come visit! There is always lots of food on the table and at least two pies for dessert!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


We all have our little fetishes, that's for sure....I certainly do. Let's take my extreme case of homesickness. It strikes me every time I leave home (surprise, surprise). Let me try and explain it.
I'm on vacation, enjoying myself, learning new things, seeing new sights when suddenly it hits. That lump in my throat, that longing in my soul. Tears can even come to my eyes. I want to be home....NOW. Once the family was on a two week vacation on the East coast. We woke up in the morning at a beautiful Bed and Breakfast in Charlottetown PEI and I said.."I want to go home." But in my soul it is more like "I want to BE home Now, or I HAVE to be home Now." So my long suffering husband packs us up and we drive straight home 22 hours on the road.
It's not that I can't handle not being home, but believe me, I have to fight the longing almost like an anxiety. I'm good for a couple of days, even a week but I dare not think what more than 2 weeks away from home would do to me.
This is a bit of a problem because I do want to travel and see some of the world, Lord willing. Perhaps if I bite off travelling in 2-week increments I will be OK.
When I do get home, oh how I love to walk through room to room, smell everything and look at everything that is near and dear to me. And then there is sleeping in my own bed, the piece-de-resistance!
I empathize with all those little 7 years olds at their first sleepovers at a friend's house, all the young adults leaving home for the first time, all the elderly who can no longer live safely in their own home.
To all the homebodies and housecats out there, I feel your pain.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Back to the Bike

Here we are! Picking up speed as we move into the middle of September. Amazingly, we have had the BEST weather in the last two weeks since,oh, I dunno.... let's say May 2006. Good thing to because I am taking my bike more than ever back and forth to work. As the son is now a driver more often than not I am handing over those car keys as I look up into the big choco-ball brown eyes.
So I thought, as I pumped my way through town this past week, I would consider the pluses and minuses of riding a bike. Here is a somewhat inexhaustive list:
1) Great for the environment
2) Great for my heart/health
3) Much more tactile than sitting in a car
4) I can smell everything (plus or minus)
5) I seem to think more clearly (plus or minus)
6) It gets easier the more I do it
7) They say you never forget how - a great comfort when dementia start to slip in
8) It only takes me about 5 minutes longer in a car (I am getting better!)
9) It's wonderful, especially in the morning
10)Makes me feel 15 again (please read my book for more info)

1) Not for pansys
2) You MUST be on your toes or you will be smucked/crushed and mangled by
a) big bossy diesel trucks
b) kids chatting on their cell phones
c) Little old men wearing hats
3) I can smell everything (plus or minus)
4) I seem to think more clearly (plus or minus)
5) At the end of the day, when the wind has picked up and blowing me back towards work and I have NO Energy - I do not want to bike all the way home
6) Sometimes I actually get sweaty!
7) The funky helmet ruins my hairdo before I even get to work
8) Can't pick up milk/fruit/dog food/bottle of wine on the way home unless I want to stuff it in my knapsack and carry on my back - which I don't want to do.

When I add them all up there are more pluses than minuses. If you haven't ridden a bike lately, pull the old girl out, pump up the tires and give'r a go. I would love to take part in a carfree day with nothing but bikes/people on the road. Here is a blog spot about just such a thing:
PS - check out the video and the dude riding the "conference bike". He is wearing a T-shirt that says "Maybe partying will help". Love that T-shirt dude, love that T-shirt!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Saying Goodbye/Saying Hello

So this past week has been a busy one. We drove our daughter Randi back to University, a good 3 hour drive smack through the middle of Toronto. This is the beginning of her fourth year so I should be getting better at this goodbye thing. I am, really, I am. But still there is that motherly angst when I drive out and leaver her, alone, by herself, in a strange city. Everything in me says "Don't leave your child there alone! What are you doing?? Your job is to look after her, protect her!" But, the fact is she's a grown woman now and my job is not to look after and protect her anymore. And I know that in my mind anyway, just have to move it on down to my heart!
Back at our house things just don't quite feel the same and I miss her presence, but I will get used to it and she will be back for Thanksgiving.
But then half way through this week something happened - a surprise. I come home from work and who should walk in the door but Randi! It seems she hitched a ride to Toronto with friends and from there her boyfriend brought her back home. She doesn't start classes until next week and since she had nothing else to do in St Catharines, back she came.
So in one week I said goodbye and then hello and as of today, it will be goodbye again. I think I hear a Beatles song in there somewhere.....

Friday, August 28, 2009

Kissed by a Bee

I'm back!!! From holidays, that is - all tanned from the sun and pudgy from the food. I had a wonderful time with family and friends and stored away many happy memories.

Which leads me into today's post. There are some moments in my life that I will never forget. Like old photographs that I review often they stay firmly imprinted in the front of my memory box. I know I have a lifetime of moments stored up there somewhere in my brain but many are dusty photograph books that are only opened occasionally and show up when triggered by something else. While others, well, they seem to always be in the forefront. Like the time I was kissed by a bee.....

It was the summer before I started high school and my girlfriend and I were scoping out the grounds at Trenton High, getting a lay of the land as it were. Around the perimeter was this nice long row of bushes which for some reason seemed like a good place to explore. So in we went crouching and crawling, inching our way along when the next thing we know we are in the midst of bee city and they are none too pleased to have us show up. Much stinging pursued including a big kisser on my lip. It immediately began to swell up (one side only) and amused my mother to no end.

There are random moments that I still see clearly and I have no idea why. I have a very clear memory of being in front of our house in Picton sitting on my bike on a hot summer day. Gino Vanelli is playing "You Gotta Move" on a radio somewhere. I'm about 11 years old.

There are other moments so life changing you will never forget. I remember the last time I saw my sister alive. She had been fighting for her life against cancer and I had promised myself I would never cry in front of her, which I was able to keep, until the very last time. There she was, once a beautiful young woman of 25, now all misshapen and deformed from the ravages of the disease and giving me this sad, pathetically heroic smile, trying to make me feel everything was all right. I was not all right and neither was she and I cried. She passed away the next day.

I clearly remember the amazing moments of giving birth. All this pain and chaos, people yelling at me to Push! Push! And then, suddenly, there is no more pain, stillness and quiet and this precious little being in my arms, looking at me with those slate gray eyes.

Somehow all these moments, good, bad and random make up part of me, who I am and who I have been molded into. In all respects I have thus far been blessed with a wonderful life. Who knows how many more memories and moments I have waiting to be stored ahead.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Vacation Time!!

I started my vacation today and I have SOOOOO much to do, I don'thave time to blog....there is something wrong with this picture. What about the dusty term known as "relaxing" and "taking it easy"? Isn't that what vacation is all about??
Well it is, but if you are a wife and mother vacation time probably starts with a lot of planning/coordinating/packing/organizing and that's the stage I'm in right now. Oh, I'm sure there is some relaxing and taking it easy time in there but not until I'm about half way through the vacation.
I'm off and running, pulling an Amy, diving in head first or as my Grandma used to say "quick like a bunny" and "pitter patter let's get atter!"

Friday, August 7, 2009

My Frumpy Sweater

Good Morning Everyone (it's morning for me anyway). Here I am, at the computer. There's Amelia(dog) sleeping in her chair snoring ever so ladylike, chirruping birds and the sound of the wind coming through the window and me, wearing my track pants and shirt and my frumpy sweater. Frumpy sweater you say? What is a frumpy sweater? Well, let me tell you....

A frumpy sweater is one is wear, oh pretty much from the moment I walk in the door after work until bedtime and it's right back on my back first thing in the morning. It's burgundyish, only has two of its original eight button left, two pockets but they have holes in them because Amelia, as a puppy, thought those always prevalent used tissues inside the pockets were as good as digging for gold and she chewed her way through to them; has paint smears on the back because I was wearing it whilst repainting a room (I'm always wearing it) and backed up into a wall, usually has toothpaste dribbled down the front and is covered in cat/dog hair. I know what you are thinking....ewwww....get rid of that frumpy sweater. And you would be right - I should get right of it. My children eye me suspisciously wondering if perhaps Alzheimer's is setting in. They suggest quite strongly it's time for a new sweater. My husband says nothing - he probably knows better. But here's the problem - it's so comfortable, and I'm so comfortable in it. No pretensions, no double checks in the mirror, always waiting for me, warm and fuzzy and hair-covered. It is a habit I can't quite get rid of. I'm sure there was life before my frumpy sweater about 10 years ago, but I can't remember it.
Now here is a faith analogy - If we can just believe there is something new and even better waiting around the corner - that is where the faith comes in. Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (according to Hebrews). I just need to chuck this ole sweater and believe in faith there is a new one on the way, even though I can't see it!
So why do I hold on to Frumpy? Well, again, because I'm so comfortable in it, so familiar with it, so used to it. Life without frumpy sweater is an unknown.
But I will tell you what - I will step out in faith and dispose of Frumpy. There is a new one on the way, one Mr. Rogers (who always put a sweater on when he walked in the door) would approve of. Besides, I know that will make my daughter very happy. Here's to taking chances, walking in faith, and being certain of what I can't see!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

It's Camping, not Glamping

Our family loves to go camping and we have been doing so yearly for the past 20+ years. This year we headed to Algonquin Park, near Barron Canyon. Now we need to clarify what we mean by camping. Camping means you pack up your gear, you put the canoe on your car and you head to the nearest lake. After paddling for a while to the other side you put the gear on your back and the canoe on your head and you traverse the woods, carefully avoiding all nasty tree roots and pointy sharp rocks. Then you put all gear back in the canoe and schloop, schloop schloop your way to the other side. Eventually you will end up at a campsite where there are no cars, no radios, certainly no phones or showers or running hot water and no bathrooms. Well, there is a bathroom, but it is a box with a lid in the middle of the woods aka "the magic treasure box." Anyway, it's peaceful, quiet and the waterfront views are amazing. Glamping (glamour camping) is the other kind wherein you drive your car in and set up camp. We found a beautiful campsite complete with a pre-made stone couch, a luxury indeed.
We spent one day hiking/canoeing to a spot where there is a beautiful waterfall (High Falls) and a naturally made waterslide. It's rather odd to be out in the middle of the Canadian wilderness where there is no way to get to unless you hike/canoe or fly in and there are people everywhere hanging out at this waterslide having a ball. I attempted this slide in my 20s and again took it on in my 40s - maybe I will come back again in another 20 years. It was a first for the kids and they loved it!
On our travels we ran into a variety of wildlife: a very friendly fox who met us at the gate, some big hairy spiders in an outhouse which caused me great anxiety as I don't do well with spiders. Also, while Randi was washing up the dishes in the lake it would seem the frying pan caught the interest of a very big turtle. It came right up to us and popped his/her head out. Now I know turtles breathe very slowly, in and out, like divers, but it is kinda water-snuffly. We also met Mr. Bunny at the Magic Treasure Box and a menagerie of chipmunks and birds. I fell asleep listening to a bullfrog carrying on across the lake and the Loons crying and sighing in the distance.
I know our family vacations times will soon be coming to an end. Camping trips like these I will cherish and remember forever.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Confessions of a Cerealaholic

I have a confession to make....actually I could make several, like I have a bad habit of not closing cupboard doors behind me, but there is one I need to get off my chest. I'm a Cerealaholic.

There, I said it, now everyone one knows.

I grew up in a family of 6 (two parents, 4 kids). My parents did not have an abundance of money to spend on raising 4 kids so in the morning cereal consisted of a big box of Corn Flakes or Rice Krispies and often those bland but hugely economical and extremely large bags of puffed wheat. I didn't really care, I ate it all. I did not know Breakfast is the most important meal of the day (which it is), nor could I understand those people who said "I just can't eat anything in the morning." When I got up in the morning it was directly to the cereal cupboard, whereupon I would grab whatever box was up there and probably leave the cupboard door open. Sometimes on cold winter days my Dad would make us hot Oatmeal, Red River or my favorite, Cream of Wheat. When we visited grandparents in Kalamazoo Michigan they would buy us Kix Cereal, something we could not, and still can't, get in Canada. I still remember one drive home in the back of the VW Van with kids running amok as we did not have to wear seatbelts in the 70s and eating a box of Corn Flakes dry, stuffing handfuls into my mouth and crunch, crunch, crunching away.

Then there are those decadent sugary cereals. We were never allowed them as kids. I suspect because they were expensive and 4 kids could wolf down a box in one sitting. But, oh, how I longed for Cracker Jack or Frosted Flakes (They'rrrrre Great) and my all time fave, Cap'n Crunch! I Love, love love Cap'n Crunch. Nevermind the bad spelling, nevermind the fact it contains 13grams of sugar and 230 mg of salt and no fiber to speak of; in my mid40s, I still adore Cap'n Crunch.

Old ingrained habits die hard so once I had children of my own I would also buy the economical, big boxes of Corn Flakes or Rice Krispies and would pass by those heavily laden sugar cereals. I wanted to set a good example for my own kids you see. But at Christmas time I would buy each of them a box of the most sugary cereal, wrap it up and put it under the tree. They make for a cheap Christmas present you know. My kids are now 18 and 21 and they still insist on their box of cereal under the tree.

But now, I buy a box of Cap'n Crunch even when it isn't Christmas, just because I love it so. In fact, I just polished off a couple of boxes this week (they were on sale). I can't help it, I'm a Cerealaholic.

Friday, July 17, 2009

A Sense of Place

Everyone longs for a sense of belonging, that they are with people who understand them and they are adding value to this earth. But I also need a strong sense of place. If you are wondering what I mean by that, don't feel bad, so am I; Let me try and explain.
I'm acutely aware of my surroundings - not only what it looks like but what it smells like, and what if feels like. Like most human beings I'm attracted to beauty and balance and I love a home with these attributes. When I'm watching a movie I will be just as interested in the setting as I am in the plot and characters. I love the different smells in my house - cookies baking, warm summer dusty smell, coffee. I love little vignettes and attempt to set them up here and there. Yet all this will fall flat if the vibe in the house is off. Consider when you walk into a room and there is an underlying sense of tension and anxiety versus a room filled with peace.
I believe I inherited this from my mother. When Sheldon and I were moving into our first house, an Old Victorian, she wanted to see it, empty, before we moved in. She just wanted to walk through the old girl and take her all in, get her sense of place and history before we started to put our own stamp on it.
This sense of place sometimes haunts me. For nearly 20 years after the fact I would dream about the house I lived in as a teenager. I would walk through every single room, right through the basement and up the back stairs. Every inch of that house seemed to be embedded in my memory and was wont to leave. I would sit on the old water radiator in the living room and look out the window or perch on the stone step on the front porch. It was quite exasperating after a while and has only been the last 5 years or so that the house on Shuter Street is finally fading into the distance!
So this leads me to a conversation with God - one I bring up every now and then. Why, God, do you have me working in an office of cubicles with very few windows and those that are available are sealed shut? I have an about sending me to see some of the wonders you created - how about Italy or the somewhere in the mountains? You know how much I would appreciate them!! God has not seen fit to open up these opportunities (yet) but I can still enjoy the beauty and sense of place wherever I am. I can try to add beauty and provide a peaceful haven to my surroundings. And, if I don't get to see the wonders of the world, I suspect heaven is going to knock my socks off!

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Worst Critic

Tell me if this sounds is a typical start to my day. I'm heading somewhere and get out the door, probably into the car when I realize I've forgotten my lunch/keys/something. "Oh!! You idiot!" I mumble to myself under my breath and I berate poor self as I head back into the house to find whatever I'm missing.
I don't know about you but I probably critic in this fashion least twice a week. I've forgotten something or misplaced an item or generally did not arrange my schedule well or made a bad judgement error "You big dummy!" or maybe something worse is running through my head.
We can be pretty tough on ourselves. Our own worst critic. But why don't we in the same equal value praise ourselves when we figure something out or pull off a whole arrangement smoothly. Why don't we say to selves "Oh, how clever of you!" and "My aren't you a genius!" Believe me, I don't have those types of conversations. But we do, on a daily basis, get things right. We even have moments of brilliance!
Years ago, we had a monster dog named Sam. Sam was a 135 lb golden lab built something like a football player. He weighed more than I did and well, if Sam wanted to go somewhere or do something far be it from me to try and stop him. One morning I was foolishly walking Sam on a leash down the street. I could see coming towards us, another dog and owner out for a walk. This was a problem. I knew Sam was going to probably go running to either meet or eat the dog coming closer and there was nothing I could do about it. I could cross the street but that would not stop Sam. Mere cars meant nothing to him (he was once run over by a truck - I mean right over his back side. He rolled over got up and headed into the house). Then the lightbulb went off, a moment of brilliance! There was a signpost beside me. I wrapped Sam's leash around a couple of times, pulled it taut and held on tight. Now I had leveridge! The other dog and owner had crossed the street (a wise move) but as they came closer Sam barked and barked, lunging for all his might. I held on and voila - I had done the impossible.
Now I'm not suggesting you begin preening your ego, but let's go a little easy - acknowledge the things we do right, even those flashes of genius and lay off calling ourselves idiots or dummys or whatever when we mess up.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Summer Reading

It is as clear to me as if it was yesterday. The thrill of learning how to read. The wonder I felt when those words in the Dr. Seuss books flowed together and made funny, funky rhyming sounds in my head. Once I mastered the ABC's I was hooked and soon moved on to devouring whatever the country school library had to offer. So off I went on every adventure with Nancy Drew and then overseas for a wild ride with the Black Stallion on a deserted island. I have a few favourites from childhood: "When Marnie Was There" sticks in my head and I'm still looking for that book. "White Summer" was a story about a young girl who moves to the country - I read that one a few times. When I was about 8 or 9 my father would sit the 4 of us down in a circle (my two other sisters and one brother) and read Lord of the Rings to us. I re-read them when I was a teenager and then again in my 30s. In fact in my lifetime we have had one cat named Gandalf and two cats named Frodo! I still have a love for a good fantasy filled with mythical creatures and faeries, dwarves and magic in the woods.
But the days of having the time to read, read, read for hours and hours and hours seem to be as elusive as Tinker Bell as we get older - except in the summer, when I'm on holidays. Let the summer reading begin.
I'm all for self-help and books to increase my knowledge or encourage spiritual growth but in the summer bring on the pure enjoyment of a good story. I want to find myself immersed in a magical land where characters and creatures of all kinds invade my life until I look up and find I'm actually in a tent with sunlight flickering on the nylon or in a car speeding down a highway. I love classics too, like Jane Austen and C.S. Lewis, George Eliot or Wilkie Collins.
I wish you all a warm sunny summer (especially if you live in a climate where winter pervades half the year), and lots of time to read. Stretch out in a hammock, lie down on a damp, sandy towel on the beach or let someone else do the driving and read the hours away! Read what you like but my personal suggestion is leave the indepth, self-help, how-to books for another time and immerse yourself in a tale filled with mystery, and magic, wonder and excitement.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Freedom of a 5-year-old

It's amazing what you can pick up on as you bike to, the other day as I was biking to work there was this little girl on the sidewalk. She wore a long pretty flowered skirt and a T-shirt. Just as I was going by she stopped, went up on her toes, came down and with one arm gracefully extended and the other crooked in beside made a low, elegant sweeping bow to the sun, or trees or God above, I'm not really sure as there was no one in front of her or nearby for that matter.
Now, if I was walking along and suddenly stopped to do a low sweeping bow for no reason or, maybe a twirl in mid step, what would people think? It's like if you tear down the street full tilt when you are 10 or maybe even 12 it is quite acceptable but once you hit about 15 and you tear down the street full tilt, people generally suspect you are either a) stealing something or b) running away from something you shouldn't have done. There is great freedom in childhood: you can skip down the street (try doing that when you are in your 40s), you can run, if you want to, or sing at the top of your lungs.
Again, the other day as I was biking to work I came across a couple. They were well dressed, in their mid 30s and just heading down the sidewalk in an indepth conversation. Nothing wrong with that - but they were also both pushing little scooters. They pushed along, one foot swinging to push and keep the momentum going while the other stayed stationery on the scooters all the while just having a nice morning chat. They showed no self-consciousness to their actions which made me think - "sure, why not ride scooters to work, who cares how old you are or what you are wearing?" But it did look, well odd to me; Biking sure, roller blading even, but scooters?
As we get older we are molded into norms and society's comfortable rules. We become self-conscious of our actions and how we look to others. Oh, the freedom to be 5 again!
Last week on Father's Day the family when paint balling. I want you to know I was fully covered - coveralls, gloves, head gear. But there was one spot I was not. So, as I was walking back to my team after a game I was shot by a team mate (friendly fire) at close range (about 10 feet) right in the throat. If I may make a suggestion, tell your kids to wear turtle necks, or something. The girls at work, most of whom are nurses, scolded me telling me I could have crushed my larynx or damaged my voice box. After a little while of having difficulty breathing I came out all right and continued the game. But what I was left with was a huge wound to my neck and looked like a really big hickey! Talk about self-conscious!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Bull Dog Tenacity

Today is a bit of a milestone for the Crowders. Today is Adrian's Prom - yes my baby is graduating Grade 12 and the Big Grand Finale is tonight. Basically, I have to face the fact that my kids are, well, grown up. I've held on, I've run the race, the finish line is in sight. We will soon be moving into a new era - one that involves a new focus toward couplehood and less on parenthood.
I was reading Cheryl's blog on Habits and would like to think one of my more positive ones is perserverance. During World War II Churchill put it this way "We shall never surrender!" In the 70s some groovy person made a poster with a kitten dangling by it's front paws with "Hang In there Baby!" on the bottom. God, always the story teller, writes in Scripture in Luke 18:3 about a bull-dog tenacious widow who crys for Justice over and over again until the Judge finally gives her his attention.
Early in the morning, as I'm discussing life with Jesus and the best made plans of mice and Cyndi, there is my cat Frodo, at the front door looking at me, to the door, to me, to the door. Then he starts with his Purr/meow that kinds of comes out "purrrreowll?" over and over again. So even though I'm in deep discussion with the God of Heaven, even though I'm talking with the one through whom I live and move and have my being, the One who holds my very life breath in His hands, I will get up, put Jesus on hold, and let the cat out. Why - because Frodo will not give up - he will keep harping at me to open that door until I simply can't think straight and focus.
The moral of the story is of course to keep praying, keep believing, and perservere. The other option is to stop praying, stop believing and give up - and where's the fun in that? "Never Surrender!"

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Power of Senses!

I planted a new rosebush this year and what a beauty it is - even better it has this wonderful peachy scent. My peonies are also opening up this week and their heady perfume hits you when you walk out the front door. I love using all my senses, they are a gift that makes life all that more wonderful.
A few years ago I was in a rather nasty boating accident. It went something like this "Boy they are coming up pretty fast behind us" followed by "I don't think they are going to Stop!" and ended with "Oh My Gosh there's a boat on top of me!!" With the protection of God above and Sid Molenaar who happened to be in front of me and helped to ramp the boat overtop and not directly into me (thanks again Sid!) I came away with nothing but a bang on my head. The only lasing effects is, well, my sense of smell is kind of wonky. It still works but in a weird way. I can't really explain it except that smells seem to get stuck in my head and will stick with me for days. This is lovely if it's a lovely smell - not so nice when it's an icky smell.
As I was biking to work the other day a delivery truck full of fresh bread happened to throw open the back door of the truck just as I was going by and this amazing scent of fresh bread hit me full in the face. How can you not appreciate that! I love the smell of clean sheets, a dusty old house on a hot summer day, fresh baked cookies and coffee, pine trees and water that remind me of camping or cottaging, cleaned and polished babies right after bathtime. I love the smell of snow, of snow melting in springtime, a dewy spring morning and a crisp fall day. I could go on and on. Nothing will take you back faster in time then your sense of smell. Get out there and breath in people, breath in!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Searching for Donkeys, Found Destiny

Let's all start this month with a deep breath......and's June. Let's just slow things down a bit, shall we? Especially you, Amy - easy girl on how many things to accomplish in one day. And I thought I was bad! Sheesh!

I wanted to share something God is revealing to me in His most wonderful way of late. It's no surprise to anyone Life is full of unexpected twists and turns - some good, some not so good. Let's take Samson, for example. Here is a big strapping, good looking lad just doing what big, strapping good-looking lads do hanging around the house. So his father, no doubt in an effort to get him moving, sends him off with a servant to find some missing donkeys. They are not having much luck and are considering giving up the search when the servant suggests they chat with the prophet Samuel who happens to be in the area. Well they do this and the next thing you know Samuel advises Samson not only are the donkeys home but he has been chosen to be anointed the first King of Israel. I'm pretty sure Samson did not see that one coming. God has some wonderful plans for all of us and they may show up when we least expect it! He is preparing open doors, changing the scenery, making connections all behind the scenes that we may not be aware of until one day the curtain opens up and there is a complete change in Destiny! Let's do our best to keep our hearts pliable and our ears open to His direction.

But here is another example - Jesus says to his disciples one day to get in the boat and head across the lake to the other side. Sounds like a good plan - a lovely sail across the lake with the King of the Universe. But again, things turn out differently - the King is sleeping and the weather turns very nasty. It gets to the point where the disciples are thinking this is the end and they are all going to a watery grave.

One day you may be going about your business and then there is a phone call and someone says "there's been an accident" or "it's cancer." And the storm around you begins to overwhelm and the King of the Universe seems to be sleeping. Here is where our faith is tested to the utmost. Is God still working behind the scenes, making connections, changing the scenery? Just like the first example, you may not see what God is doing but rest assured, He is not sleeping. He will still carry you through. And like the Samson, your life will never be the same. What I find ironic about the disciples in the boat is after Jesus wakes up and calms the whole situation, after a night of chaos and near-death experience they land on the other side only to be greeted by an insane maniac who tears his clothes and breaks off chains. You just never know, do you...

On a completely different vein for all those waiting with baited breath on how the big 50th Anniversary Party went, we pulled it off. It was quite chilly outside and it rained a bit but my parents were more than pleased. Special thanks to my sister Heather, for all her help, for Shaun and Holly and Fran's advice, for Sheri helping with fancy sandwiches and for Sheldon supporting all the way and pitching in to make it a success. Here are a couple pictures!

Friday, May 29, 2009

It's D Day (Weekend)

Well, here we are, the end of May and that means "D" Day or "Da Big Partay in My Back Yard".
I'm sure you have all been on the edge of your seat wondering if Cyndi will actually be ready...will the garden look OK....can she pull this off?? Or, is this the beginning of a beautiful disaster!!
There has been a lot of hard work put into the garden and last night Shaun and Holly came over and gave me the "thumbs up!" Yes, it could still use a fair bit of cleaning up but I think we are good to go. I'm now moving onto to buying food, preparing food, decorations and general house cleaning. My sister Heather has come down to help out - God Bless Her. Now, all I need is a rainless Sunday - and lawn chairs if anyone has any extra...Stay tuned fellow bloggers - the countdown has begun.
Did I mention this is the end of May - when did that happen!! Probably the same way my parents turned around and found they had been married for 50 years.
Well this Housecat would love to mews more news but I'm busy, busy, busy - like the Mad Hatter himself. In fact, by the end of the weekend I may very well be the Mad Hatter embodied.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Multi-Tasking Monster

May is one of my favourite months! What other time of the year can you see purple and pink frothy trees? Or be kissed again for the first time in nearly 6 months by a warm summer breeze? You can see flowers springing up before your eyes and grass as green as Ireland. It's not too cold for those of you who don't like frigid temperatures and it's not too hot for those of you who don't like to swelter. Truly, it is a heavenly month and one I like to savour. But I'm sooooo busy right now; I have so many things on the go; I'm a multi-tasking Monster and May is flying by!
A fair chunk of my job consists of arranging for meetings. Video-conferences to numerous sites, teleconferences between numerous people, real live meetings between real live people. I have to arrange rooms, book equipment, send out agendas, photocopy hand-outs, get the coffee ready etc. etc. Now that's all OK with me - I love to organize and there is a lot of meetings going on right now at work. But on top of that I'm also helping to arrange a Retirement Party for one of the ladies at work, my son's birthday party and of course, my parents 50th Wedding Anniversary that has me desperately trying to get my garden in order.
So that got me thinking about a Day in God's Life and the amount of multi-tasking He's got beneath His Wings. "Let's see...." God says to Jesus....."Today we have 353,176 new humans being born, we have 128,772 to welcome home and Oh yes....we can't forget the 82,354 celebrations we have today with the Angels for all those people who have accepted You into their hearts! - Always a good party!!"
It's is a good thing there are 3 of them (Father, Son and Holy Ghost) and a good thing They are Omnipotent!
As there are not 3 of me and I'm definitely not Omnipotent, I'm getting a little concerned I may mix up a few things.....It could be my Son may end up with a lovely Retirement Brooch and a nice garden party for his Birthday and my 70-year-old parents and their friends will find themselves in Camouflage gear playing Paintball.....I'm going to have to be careful with all these balls in the air....perhaps I should arrange videoconference for everyone so they can all share everything vicariously!
I do love May but this one is passing me by. I'm barely getting a chance to enjoy it. On the other hand I believe God is orchestrating all this because He wants to keep me busy, keep my mind off of things. Well, I'm not a God but I am a Woman and multi-tasking is what we do. So bring it on....I will make lists, write myself notes and hopefully everyone that is supposed to will end up with a teacup in the garden, a paintball gun in hand and enjoy a lovely Retirement Dinner with their co-workers!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Moving Day

Now that the weather is decent I'm back to riding my bike to work. It's lovely in the morning - there is usually no wind to fight and my energy level is high. I bit harder at the end of the day. Generally there is a wind pushing me backwards and my 40+ year old body is not very keen on aerobic exercise after working all day.

One of the benefits of bike riding (for those of you who have read my book - just a little plug) is how you have time to see all the details of what's going on in the world that you ride through. The other day I pedalled past a big moving van parked in front of a house. It's a stately Georgian-style home and not one I would leave willingly. The van was open at the back and still pretty empty but there were blankets ready to bundle up a family's treasures and the men trundled back and forth from the open door of the house to the open door of the van, up the ramp and nestled the furniture into the back.

Moving day can be exciting, tiring, anticipated and stressful. Like most people, I've seen my share of moves. Lately we are in the cycle of moving daughter Randi somewhere at the beginning of each new school year and then moving her out and home at the end and then we start all over again in the fall.

Spiritually God is in the process of moving me. And, yes - it's exciting, tiring, anticipated and stressful. Moving means I'm going somewhere new and learning new things. I'm anticipating what is in store for me but it's also stressful. Moving means I have to leave other things behind; things I might want to keep. I once heard a speaker say "God is not a Happy Camper." In other words, He's not one to park it and stay put. He's like that big Atlas Moving Van picking us and all our baggage up and moving us to something new and different.

If you know someone who's in the process of moving - spiritually or otherwise, do your best to lend a helping hand. Support and encourage them as best you can. Moving Day is a lot easier when you have friends around.

Just to update you on my Garden dilemma - thanks for the advice, I will be calling Holly!! A lady from work came over and helped me arrange a few planters to put on the patio. She said what everyone says....."It's really overgrown" and "I've never seen anything quite like it." I cleaned and filled the pond and set up the fountain and we bought a little Cherub to sit on the edge. I've decided to name him "Chad The Cherub." So, here is a picture of "The Chad",doing what he does best. I also took a picture of the magnolia tree in my neighbor's yard (a little garden envy here).

Friday, May 1, 2009

I've got 31 days....

SOS...SOS....My parents 50th wedding anniversary is the end of May and guess who's back yard they have decided to have the party in?? Well, I DID say I would help in any way. Of course I was thinking getting the balloons, arranging some little sandwiches, tea and coffee etc. I was not thinking Hostess with the Mostess.
We bought our house 5 years ago from a sweet little retired (note retired) dutch couple who had all the time in the world to putter in their extensive gardens. And, I might add, they were darn good at it. How very fortunate for us to inherit such lovely gardens. How very unfortunate for the gardens to inherit us. There are perennials in abundance coming up who knows where and I-don't-know-when. There is a lovely little pond in the middle that in my memory was a show-stopper when we looked at the house. There was a lovely little fountain in there and real goldfish! Now, after 5 years, frumpy is the word I would use to describe it. And to top it all off, our Amelia-Bedelia loves to do laps around and around the pond effectively destroying all grass and leaving lots of space for the weeds to move in.
So, in a desperate attempt to make this backyard worthy of a 50th wedding anniversary, there I was last night in the pouring rain clipping the rosebushes (I hope you are supposed to do that) and spreading grass seed around followed by topping it with fresh soil - I've seen other people do this so I think this is what you do. HELP - I am not a gardener. I'm open to any suggestions short of moving out and giving the gardens a break. Please people....I've got 31 days...

Friday, April 24, 2009

Some Housecats Live Forever

Allow me to introduce you to a few good friends of mine. There is Amelia, a hound/beagle cross who is my biggest fan, Frodo one of the coolest cats on earth and somewhat of a mentor to this housecat, and then there is Claire a cat that seems to live forever.

I have had many pets over the years providing me with unconditional love and companionship, each with their own unique personality and a joy to me. I'm sorry to say, Claire, the cat that just keeps on going like the Energizer Bunny, has not been one of them. Not that she does not have her own charms, small as they may be, but from the day she arrived in my arms, a little calico beauty with more gumption than I could possibly imagine, she has at best been miserable. Claire, along with her brother had been dumped at the side of a country road when a coworker of mine came across them. Her brother had not survived but they brought Claire home and began to nurse her back to life. Knowing I had a penchant for Calico cats, this little fluff ball eventually landed at my house to spend the rest of her life. She was always somewhat on the defensive side and wanted very little to do with human interaction of any kind. But she was awful cute and feisty too! Generally a Good Morning greeting to Claire with any attempt to show affection was reciprocated with a very grumpy "Back off" growl/meow. We learned to just leave her alone. She would rarely go outside (a true housecat) but slept in the sunbeams and be a general curmudgeon around the house. She became quite fat and her beautiful coat of many colours prompted me to nick-name her the big fat geisha. Now I'm not one to give up on an animal so we carried on with her. Pets came and went and after a few sharp scratches soon picked up on the fact that this family member was not interested in playing whatsoever. When she hit about age 12 the Vet pointed out to me she could really use her teeth cleaned. "Naw.." I thought. "I'm not about to spend money cleaning 12-year-old cat teeth. She's not likely to survive another 2 years". About 5 years ago we moved into town and soon Amelia entered out lives. Claire, by all respects an old curmudgeon at this point, was not happy with this floppy eared bouncy puppy so she picked up and moved to the basement and basically stayed there. Many people did not even know we had a calico cat. Every now and then she would stomp up the stairs and meow at me angrily letting me know she needed more food or water and I would comply.

Well here we are; Claire is now pushing 17 years old. She has gotten a lot thinner and actually mellowed out a bit. She now comes upstairs but still lets Amelia know who's boss and she purrs like a nuclear machine contstantly. She will huddle up to us on the couch, probably seeking warmth. There is a warning look in her eye you must be aware of that means she could turn on you and slice you open if you are not careful and she still grumbles and complains. Claire poops and pees and throws up in places I would rather she didn't and every year when it comes time to visit the Vets I consider....should I have her put down? But the family has decided we will see just how long this cat survives. In all respects, other than the fact she moves like a 100+ year old woman, she is still going strong. I never expected that the cat I would own the longest would be the most miserable, grumpiest, unfriendliest thing I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. So for all of you wondering - yes Claire is still alive and kicking. Kudos to Claire - she has shown me the true meaning of tenacity.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

One in Five

Perhaps you have heard such comments as: "God broke the mould when he made you!" or "there's no one else like you!" or how about " You're one in a Million!" It's nice to know we are unique and special and that on this earth not another single person is exactly like you. Sigh.....sadly these are not the kind of comments I hear. It's seems I'm rather generic. It seems there a many, many people out there who look a lot like me.
It started when I was a teenager. I would be walking down the street and some unknown would be waving wildly at me yelling "Hey Heidi!!". My sister Heidi and I were only 1 1/2 years apart and granted we looked a lot alike - same hair colour, same shape, pretty much the same size, same pointed Italian chin. So after hearing this a lot I just simply started waving back and saying Hey right back. Why fight it? Why try and yell back "I'm not Heidi!" Now this is an acceptable mistake as we could pass for twins. But as I reached my 20s things started to get worse. I was waitressing and I can't tell you how many times people would walk in, stare, move closer and then begin to ask random question like "are you -----" or "do you know ----". Then it would move onto " you look just like -----." After a while I would just sign and nod. Yes, I know, I look just like you cousin Mabel in Iowa or Suzanne in Toronto. Things finally started to simmer down in my 30s. Perhaps I was finally becoming my one unique self. But lately it has started up again....A lady at church came up to me the other day.
"So, how are you enjoying living in Wellington?"
"I don't live in Wellington" I tell her.
"Oh...." she says with a puzzled look and then she trys another tactic. "So how is Judy doing?" I'm beginning to see where this is leading "I don't know a Judy." I tell her. And then I know what is coming next....
"You look just like so and so who lives in such and such!"
I have come to accept that I'm one of God's more generic models. I like to think that He felt this was such a fine specimen He would make a number of them with very few changes or upgrades! When my daughter was about 5 I had brought her into my workplace one day and a coworker exclaimed "Wow,'ve been cloned!" See, that just proves my point.
I'm not one in a million but by my guesstimation I'm about one in five!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Brave Little Crocuses

The past couple of days have been mostly cold and miserable with a fair bit of snow. Everyone stares out the window and sighs.....where o where is springtime? The weatherman calls this "winter's last gasp." It feels more like winter's last jab in my ribs!

But there for all the world to see or for anyone who walks up the pathway to my house are a group of little crocuses bravely facing the winter snow showing off their lovely colours. They huddle together in solidarity to stay warm and seem to proclaim "We will not be ignored. It's springtime winter and your time is up!"

Bravo brave little crocuses! I admire your spunk! May I learn a lesson from you all that no matter what the world says I will stand up for what is right.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Let the Blogging Begin!

Why does one Blog? Good Question.....certainly would not have asked myself that one 10 years ago as the word "blog" was not in my vocabulary. Am I bowing to pressure? Am I scratching an itch? For the sheer pleasure of writing? Probably a bit of each! But mostly because this house cat does a lot of musing and all these thoughts get swirling around looking for the big Exit sign.

I love to write, I love to read, I love music and I love photography. I love this amazing life that God has given me. I thought I might share a bit of it with you so please, come on in, pull up a chair and feel free to join me.