Saturday, December 28, 2013

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A GLASSY NEW YEAR

Let me be the last, or at least one of the last to wish you a very Merry Christmas. I trust you are turkey stuffed and all wrapped up with your Christmas celebrations. I know I am! Tree came down today, all little christmas knick-knacks stored back in bins and my living room is back in order. 

Now, let's move on to our Glassy New Year! We in Ontario were hit with one crazy ice storm that left many without power right over the Christmas holiday, some very hazardous driving conditions, and one of the most incredibly beautiful winters I have ever seen. "A beautiful disaster" as they say. 

My daughter was flying home for Christmas from England and Sheldon the wonder husband drove over 2 hours to Toronto to pick her up. In his words, "it was the worst I have ever driven in." 
Church was cancelled.

Taking Amelia for her morning or evening walk, both in the dark, was tricky to navigate. But everywhere you looked the trees, shining through the street lights were completely covered in ice and looked as though they were made of crystal. 


Here is a shot I took of the back yard later in the day.

Here is another I took from the car as we drove along the Hwy.

Really, it was amazing to see!

Today when I got up for Amelia's walk it was noticeably warmer  and the tell-tale drip-drip-dripping of melting ice was everywhere. On the road it looked like someone had taken huge plate glass windows and dropped them from the tops of each tree. Shards of broken ice lay everywhere underneath them! The trees creaked and snapped all around me, thankful to finally drop those armfuls of ice they had been holding. 

So here is to a Glassy New Year. I hope you too, like those ice-laden trees, can lay down your burdens carried over this past year and move on to the next one. It may be a beautiful one or it may be a disaster or it may be both. But we are all in this together. 





Saturday, December 21, 2013

THE BEST GIFT EVER!

There are some gifts we receive that we never forget. They stand out in our memory permanently imprinted and larger than life. I can think of a few: the little doll's kitchen with cupboards, a fridge and stove, the ping-pong table my sisters and I played for hours, Morrie the cello, Amelia my dog. They are sugar sprinkled throughout my life adding an element of great joy and wonder and thankfulness.

But there is one gift I have received that truly is the best gift ever. It humbles me daily when I consider this gift is part of my life. 
That gift is you.
Yes You - All of you. 
You may not think you are such a big deal but you are. 
I mean if the Creator of the Universe figured the best gift he could give was a very special child to those He loved then surely you  would make a great gift to me. 
Each one of you who are a part of my life, whether you are family or friends or people I have connected with at work or church or even briefly in a lineup are so very unique. 
You bring me joy and laughter. You bring me answers and comfort. You make me think.You sometimes bring me great sorrow. But alas, I have fallen in love with you all.  It's very humbling. Some of you I see every day,  some not so often, some only through technology. And some of you I won't see again until I'm done with this earthly life. But you all have left your imprint on me. I'm not very good at goodbyes because I miss you when you are not around. And be assured, you are not forgotten. Apostle Paul, when writing to the churches often spoke of how he felt about the people in his life. To the Phillipians he writes:
"I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy". Later on he says "It is right for me to feel this way about all of you since I have you in my heart".
True dat, Brother Paul, true dat.
So let me just say, to all of you, thanks for being a part of my life, whether for a very short time or for a lifetime. I hope you consider that I, as well, am a gift to you. I am a part of your life to help season and/or encourage you in one way or another. You don't have to get as mushy as me but it's Christmas, the time of love and gift-giving. And you are the best gift I have ever had.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

BABY IT'S COLD OUTSIDE



"I really can't stay -Baby it's cold outside
I've got to go away-Baby it's cold outside
This evening has been-Been hoping that you'd drop in
So very nice-I'll hold your hands, they're just like ice"

This week, that is a pretty fair description. I was walking Amelia this morning in the dark with a wind chill of -28C. Sheesh! Hurry up and pee already!

Sometimes we get these extreme temperatures in Canada. In the summer, on those days when the thermometer is pushing 35C above we are all running from air conditioned homes to air conditioned cars to air conditioned offices. Ditto the same routine except in the winter we are pumping up the heat. 

I have been expending a lot of energy just trying to stay warm this week, with minimal success. The core of me is doing all right but my fingers and toes are not making a passing grade. Right now I'm wrapped in a blanket, sweatered up on the couch with a cat on my legs doing her part. Much appreciated Sasha, for the effort! And when I get up in the morning I send huge thanks above for a furnace starting up regularly (with a big bang, which makes me kinda nervous) and the fireplace I can start with the flick of a switch. 

Warmest, and I do mean warmest holiday wishes to you all. I hope you are toasty, right to your fingers and toes and I will receive the same blessing back, thank you very much. Maybe we should all consider a quick flight to the balmy south. 






Saturday, December 7, 2013

ANOTHER CANADIAN CHRISTMAS

I was getting groceries after work yesterday. As I'm making my way through the soup section a couple walks by me and the lady says with a big disappointing sigh "Another Canadian Christmas." You could hear the chagrin in her voice!
Well, I got a little perturbed! Come on lady, is it that bad? Yes, it's cold and probably snowy. Yes the traffic and endless shopping will exhaust you but it's not unbearable. Besides, we Canadians are so darn nice in the midst of Christmas craziness. 
Today, I was out shopping and we Canadians were in top form. At Mark's Work Warehouse I waited in a lineup that went halfway through the store for over 1/2 and hour. At 10:15 in the morning, I might add. But we all waited patiently. The couple behind me making jokes about the mannequin that "lost her head" and the young Mom ahead of me out shopping with two little ones managing her stroller expertly and keeping everyone happy. 
At Chapter's the man behind me struck up a conversation and we talked about the cat book he had just bought.
"I have that book" I said. "It's a good one!" He smiled.
The mall was at the height of madness. I was starving so I picked up some Sushi but the eating area was full and chaotic so I made my way through the mall to an empty bench. A little old lady sat down beside me with a muffin and coffee.
"I got chased out of the eating area" she said.
"Me too!" said I. We talked about our shopping and the weather, of course. She was adorable in her little hat. 
I had coffee with a friend and we shared our table with another dear soul who was waiting for her daughter to pick her up. She had locked her keys in the car. But she was not sighing or complaining. No, in very good humour indeed. 
There is a scripture that says we should be kind to strangers as you may be entertaining angels unaware. I'm thinking I may have ran into a couple today.
Yes, I know it is busy and stressful. I would be embarrassed if you knew how much I actually did today. I was some kind of machine.
But it's another Canadian Christmas. And it's not that bad.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

WORD FREAKS AND CLEVER THINGS PEOPLE SAY

Certainly would not be any secret that I like, correction, love words. I love interesting words and how they are put together. I love to find out what they mean. As a little girl I would play a game involving randomly picking words out of the dictionary and discovering what they meant. I'm some kind of word freak.

This week a few people put words together that struck me as rather clever. I like the way they flowed together and what they meant. So if you are a word freak, like me, read on. 

One of my co-workers went out for a quick shopping trip over the lunch period. It was the day before "Black Friday" but things were already starting to ramp up out there in retail land. When I asked how the shopping went they mentioned it was busy with "a dash of  Geriatric." Gosh, I love that statement! I mean, we all get the picture. Those sweet but moving at warp speed ladies and gents, with reflexes that are not what they used to be and insist on counting out the EXACT change for a purchase. When a car is moving along at less than 40 km, I can pretty much guess it is being driving by an old man with a hat or a frail little old lady who can barely see over the steering wheel. The thing is, that will soon be me. I seem to be shrinking all the time and the steering wheel seems to be getting larger. It will someday be you, too. So let me just encourage all who are out Christmas shopping to be patient in those lineups and bustling crowds and nonstop traffic. And remember there is a "dash of geriatric" out there trying to be independent and get things done as well, albeit at a much slower pace.

Yesterday, I went to an information session for a new drop in centre planning on opening their doors in January. This is a Christian-based centre run by volunteers. It will be a safe place to build relationships with all people, including the poor and disenfranchised. We can hang out together, play cards or chat and have a coffee and a snack. No major agendas other than loving and getting to know people. One of the videos we watched involving the poor stated "it is not charity, it is justice." How true! We, the well-to-do middle and upper class with warm houses and full bellies often think of it as charity when we donate to a worthy cause. Perhaps we should remove the word charity altogether! Because the fact is we are all on the same level ground and justice cries out that those who don't have a roof over their heads  or food in the cupboards have that right as well. 

Finally, I went for a swim at the local pool with my Mom who is now in her mid 70s. She was and still is an excellent swimmer. As we were doing laps back and forth I went for a dive mermaid style to swim along the bottom. Upon surfacing my Mom says
"I can't do that anymore, I'm too buoyant."
"What do you mean?" I ask 
"I think my bones are lighter and my fat is fluffier."
Dang, that is a good statement! And also a bit of an eye opener as well. Had no idea that swimming along and then bumping your bum up for a vertical dive down, down, down, would be off my things I can still do list when I reach my 70s. 

Ah....words....I love ya.

Let me just end this post with a couple of  photos, cause we in Ontario got our first whopping of snow this week and if you don't live in snow country, you might enjoy looking at it. 
This is what my neighbourhood looked like at 5:30 in the morning. No filter here, this is a true image. The world is in black and white.
My backyard, a little later in the morning. Beautiful!




Saturday, November 23, 2013

CONFESSIONS

They say confession is good for the soul. Which is true, and has been working for centuries for the catholics. I'm not catholic but I'm ready to come clean on a few things. So here goes....

I love the smell of Brute cologne (makes me feel 15 again)
I hate ABBA. I think Mama Mia is one of the most pathetic movies ever made.
I have a bad habit of leaving cupboard doors open.
Jesus really is my Home Boy.
I could eat a box of Captain Crunch, dry by the handful, or with milk. Doesn't matter.
I will never have country music on my I-Pod. Never.
I love to go vimming. If you don't know what that means you can ask me, I might confess.
I'm physically cold about 360 days a year, which means I love all things that can attempt to keep me warm.
Slippers, blankets, dogs, frumpy sweaters, whatever it takes which is usually all of the above.
I get up at the same time every day of the year except when I'm at the cottage. 
I'm a nibbler.
I am not a shopper.
I'm addicted to the items indicated below.
I am a cat and dog person. I am not a spider or owl person.
I have a very deep and solid faith, but still, I can not understand why sometimes timing seems so perfect and why sometimes it seems so wrong.
I do not like reading romantic novels but I do love watching romantic movies. I have no explanation for this so I'm going to categorize it under being female.
If given the option to go out with a bunch of people or stay home alone, I will probably choose the stay home alone. 
That is about as vulnerable as I feel like getting today. I feel so much better! Thanks for listening!



Sunday, November 17, 2013

MOUNTAIN TOPS AND VALLEYS

It is a typical November day today in Ontario- gray, damp and drab. The startlingly bright colours of fall are either gone or sleeping in muted tones on the grass. The trees are looking fragile and delicate with their bare and exposed limbs. One wonders how they survive the brutal cold that is coming their way.

But they do.

They take on the cold, the ice and the wind like stalwart soldiers. They lose a few branches on the way, some even fall altogether. They endure the valley experience of winter. Then the spring comes with new life and they begin to make their way out of the valley, up the mountain top to better times of summer.

And we do the same.

It has been a difficult year for many. We have lost so many good people. I have been to more funerals this year alone than I have my whole life. Just recently another young man in the church passed away suddenly. He was not even 40, and just starting to turn his life around. I have people I work with who are struggling with the mysteries of raising their children. And I know how very hard that is! If they were all the same I could provide pat answers to them all, as I've raised two and helped to raise about 7 other teenagers who have lived with us over the past 10 years. My best advice? Pray - everyday. That's what I did, cause at times, I had no idea what to do. There is a proverb that says if any of you lacks wisdom, just ask. So I did - a lot.

Today, I woke up to find out a dear friend of ours fell off his roof and is now in hospital with numerous injuries. Another valley experience for himself, his family and friends. I'm praying he heals quick like a 20 year old, as opposed to the 40 year old body he is in!

Led Zeppelin sang a song "good times, bad times, you know I've had my share". The universal human experience. Be gentle with each other people, we are all going through valleys and mountain top times.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

TURNING THE BIG FIVE-0

Been a big week around here for me...yup. I somehow made it to 50. If you have not yet reached that milestone, or as a lady I know who is well into her 60's puts it "an accomplishment", then you might be wondering what does it feel like, knowing you are occupying a body that is 1/2 a century old. 

From a physical point of view, I feel Great! I'm in excellent shape and in excellent health. I have always tried to look after this shell I'm in so I can do what I want to do, when I want to do it. Now I know there are things beyond my control that can hit anytime but I've tried to steward well what I have and the results are good. So, First piece of advice - look after yourself physically!
Wrinkles? Yes! Gray Hair - heck ya! Back flips out of the question? Probably as I never really mastered those, but with a little work I'm sure I could still pull off a cartwheel. 

I have been asked a few times how I feel about it - do I feel different. Not really. I have always been introspective so I did take some time to assess my position and honestly they only thing that kinda freaked me out was the fact that I am not in my 40s anymore. I had gotten rather used to being 40ish since I've been in that boat for the past 10 years. But I still have goals in mind, still have dreams and hopes and still believe they can come to pass. So my second piece of advice would be - never give up. It is NEVER too late. Live life fully everyday. 

So that's it for my motherly bordering on grandmotherly advice. 

I was pleasantly spoiled for my birthday! I am not a centre-of-attention type and don't really need much acknowledgement but co-workers and family alike celebrated with me. 

When I was having my morning coffee on the big day the routine was in the norm with Amelia snuggled beside me in the big comfy chair by the fireplace and Sasha stretched out on my lap. Now Amelia knows she is not to lick your face. She occasionally sneaks one in on the hand but if you get right into her space, although she really wants to, she will keep her tongue in check. But on my birthday Amelia lost it and licked my face and neck with exuberance.
"Amelia what is going on? What are you doing and why all the kisses?"
Amelia - "I just can't help it!!! It's your birthday! I LOVE YOU!! And you taste sooooo good!!!

At work I was treated to cake and lots of food. They gave me all things to keep me warm - slippers, chocolate, coffee, a big mug to wrap my hands around and leopard-printed fuzzy jammies. 

I treated myself and invested in an original oil painting by Jesus Estevez, a local artist whose work I have admired for the past few years. 

Finally, I went out to dinner with friends at the East and Main restaurant in Wellington where I was made a big to-do over and served by the affable Australian Jeremy. My husband surprised me with yet another Jesus Estevez painting (it had been my second choice when I was trying to decide), and best wishes abounded. 

So here we go - 50 years an counting! I may see another 50 or another 5. Either way, I'm blessed beyond measure!







Sunday, November 3, 2013

NEED TO KNOW BASIS

I live on a need to know basis. In other words, I only know what I need to know to live my life in the present moment. 

When my son Adrian was young, around the ages of 4-10, he was one of those types who really needed as much information as you could provide. If we were going anywhere, he needed to know:
where we were going, who would be there, what would we be doing, when would we be leaving etc. etc. 

Most of us really do want as much data to assess the situations we are facing. And there is nothing wrong with that. For example, if you were making a big purchase, you do some research, get the info you need to make a good decision. Because this is stuff you need to know. It also helps us feel in control of our lives. 

But there are many things, good and bad, coming our way everyday that we don't know about. In the next year you could be facing illness or health, prosperity or poverty. You may have to face the fact that absolutely nothing will change over the next year - every day very much like the day before and the situations you are struggling with will still be there. 

I'm working my way through 1 Chronicles at the moment and came across the story of King David. He is nicely settled and living in a fine palace made of cedar. So he decides - pay back. Time to build a fancy house for God instead of the mobile tent the Israelites have been using forever. But word comes back through the prophet Nathan that David is not to go forward with this project. One of David's own offspring, a son, will be the one for the job. God says "He is the one who will build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. I will never take my love away from him, as I took it away from your predecessor." That is what David needed to know. Information God did not provide was the aforementioned son would be Solomon - the son birthed from the union with Bathsheba. Where David would arrange to have Bathsheba's husband killed so he could cover up his adultery and take her for himself. Can you imagine what David would have felt if God had provided that little tidbit as well? I have to say I find that very gracious of God. To provide the positives and leave out all the negatives. If we knew that someone was going to screw up royally (pun intended) and yet we simply bypassed that and moved on to the positive outcome! 

A big part of my Christian walk involves faith and trust. "For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you and hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11. That is what I need to know. Sure, I'm going to make some huge goof-ups along the way and life will throw me curve balls. Maybe I will be warned ahead of time, maybe not. But I can trust to live on a need to know basis. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

MY DAY OF REST

Today is Sunday. For me, it is my day of rest. That may seem like an old fashioned concept to some of you but I'm a believer in it.

But it is not something that comes naturally to me. I'm a multi-tasker and to stop - everything - at once - when there is so much to do - that is a tricky thing.

Right now, I could 
Be folding laundry that is waiting in the dryer.
Stripping a bed that needs to be washed
Should have done some yard work as it was pouring rain all day yesterday and today it was not.
Lawn needs mowing
Bought a 10lb peck of apples that need to be washed, cut and made  into applesauce.
There is also a pumpkin in need of cutting for Halloween and another waiting to be pureed for later use.

In fact, I could be doing a number of these things...right now....all at once!!!

But, I'm not. I'm forcing myself to take a day of rest.

So, instead I'm watching "The Lake House", bundled in a blanket and drinking green tea with honey. True, I'm multi-tasking a little as I'm doing this blog at the same time. But I think it is a small concession. 

So, why a day of rest? The obvious answer is above. I'm a busy girl and I could go like the energizer bunny every day. I need to slow down, even if I have to force myself to do it. 

I realize not everyone can have a day of rest on Sunday - so pick another day. A day where you say "nope. I'm not doing that. It can wait." Especially you antsy-pants types like me. You know who you are.

We live in a very busy world. A busy, fast-paced world that keeps getting faster. I suggest we all take a break!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

BATH TIME!

Ahhh.....bath time. It falls into the same comfortable category as grilled cheese sandwiches and chocolate milk, or lazy Sunday afternoons with a good book or movie. 

I don't take baths as often as I used to. Showers are so much more efficient in our day and age. You are in, you are out, hair and body washed - BAM. But last night (Friday night), I was tired and chilled so a bath and bed seemed like a good remedy. I had this bath fizzy bomb which had been kicking around for some time and  thought I would give it a try. It was a "Luscious Lavender" bath fizzie consisting of baking soda, cornstarch, citric acid, essential oils of lavender, orange, and dried lavender buds. So I dropped this big white puck in and it immediately started to fizz like Alka-Seltzer. It also released hundreds of those little dried lavender buds that looked suspiciously like bugs. I double checked twice before I hopped into the tub. The water was hot, slippery from the essential oil and I was soon covered in what looked like little bugs. I came out warm, smelling like lavender, and all oiled up! Needless to say, a tub cleaning was in order after that.

My tub is not conducive to a good soaking. It is an old basic rectangular shape that leaves you with your head crooked up uncomfortably. Now my last tub - that was a beauty. A lovely old 4-footed girl, big enough for two with a gentle sloping to accommodate your head and shoulders as you slid in, laid back and    relaxed. I miss her dearly. If I had a million dollars, as the song goes, I would buy me a new claw-foot tub, and renovate the bathroom to showcase her in. I would also be having myself a lot more baths! 

Ah well, you get what you get. My bath certainly did the trick and took the chill off. 

Winter is on the way in Canada: cold, relentlessly sunless, damp in Ontario and usually snowy. If you live in such a climate I hope you have access to a good old bath to warm you up. Try a bath fizzie or, for those of you that remember, "Mr.Bubbles" is always fun too. Baths are one of those things that comfort you, like grilled cheese sandwiches and chocolate milk. I say, crank on the hot water tap and hop in!

Monday, October 14, 2013

FOOL FOR DANCING OR DANCING FOOL

Have you ever been a dancing fool? Or maybe you are just a fool for dancing. I have - guilty on both counts. 

I've always dabbled in dance to some degree. I attempted ballet as child, but that did not last long, nor did the money to pay for the lessons. So it was not until Grade 6 and I could FINALLY go to a school dance when I really started to shake what my mama gave me. Boy, did I have the time of my life. Did I know what I was doing? Nope - a dancing fool. But I kept watching American Bandstand after that and checking out all the moves, practicing in front of a mirror (this falls under fool for dancing category). 

Then I married a man who does not dance. So that meant no dancing for me. I circumvented this problem when in my early 40s I took ballroom with my 60ish year old mother. We did the cha-cha, the fox trot, the waltz and I don't know what under the watchful eye of Marek, our little (and I mean little) polish dance instructor. After a year of that I attempted to talk my husband into being my partner, thinking to myself, "Maybe he just does not feel comfortable on the dance floor and a few lessons under him would make him want to shake his booty." Sadly this did not work. I had a discussion with one of the girls at work.
Me-" I love dancing, but my husband does not dance so I never get a chance to. Whenever we are somewhere like a wedding and the dancing starts, he is ready to leave. Maybe he thinks I'm too sexy for my skirt (hahahaha)."
Co-worker - "Does he drink?"
Me- "nope"
Co-worker - "There's your problem."

Next up, another girl I work with talked me into taking a contemporary dance class. As usual, I'm years older than anyone else, a pattern of mine when I'm learning a new skill. So, for the next few years Kelly and I grabbed and groped each other as we twisted, jumped, somersaulted and carried on like banshees with terribly bruised knees. I had a ball, and I was dancing! Alas, age and a few medical concerns put an end to my contemporary career.

So, here we are and I'm definitely a fool for dancing. The only dancing I get to do is in my basement, alone, under the baleful eye of my cat. 
But I know I'm not alone!!! I know there are millions of you out there just like me dancing around in the basement, or in your bedroom or maybe out in the middle of the woods, all by yourself. 
I also know, cause I've seen them on occasion, there are many dancing fools out there on the dance floor, hopping and bopping and rocking the Kazbah. 

So let's Rock Around the Clock, Dancing Fools! Plug in your I-pod, crank the tunes and dance with me. I may not be able to see you, and you definitely won't be seeing me, but I know you are out there.....

Sunday, October 6, 2013

GARDEN FOLLIES IN THE FALL

We have had some beautiful weather this week, the kind that makes you want Fall to last forever. There are times in each season that are achingly beautiful, and it was kind of like that.
It is a little early, but I thought I would get a head start on putting the garden to sleep. So I started to remove and cut down the perennials in the back yard.


One section of the jungle down! 

Now, I get to bag it all.


The garden still have a few gems left in in though. One of my rosebushes is still providing flowers.


But as I'm working on the perennials, one can't help but notice all the leaves that are landing on the yard....


And, if I look up, all the leaves that have yet to fall.


Alas, one of the drawbacks to living in a mature neighbourhood with lots of trees. It is worth it though. I'm a tree hugger at heart.

Finally, they will all be stored in my dilapidated shed in the back corner. Right now this shed is being occupied by one nasty, big, fat spider. She/he hangs in the opening and makes her wispy webs indicating "do not enter" over the front so I cautiously remove the webbings saying "sorry!!" out  loud so I can put the bagged leaves in there or slip by bike out. I know he/she is lurking somewhere nearby and you will notice my bike is only half  in the shed as I try not to disturb said spider as little as possible. Someone told me spiders jump.....great.....I suspect he/she is telling her minions of the irritating human who removes the webs and word is being spread throughout the region....






Saturday, September 28, 2013

BELLEVILLE CULTURE DAYS

A city with a vibrant arts community is alive, colourful, and necessary. A city that hones and encourages music, art, dance and creativity in all its forms is balanced, healthy and growing.

This weekend my little town celebrated the arts with "Culture Days" with most of the down town area participating in one form or another.

The local market was a hub of activity, more so than usual! I went down myself to scoop up some fresh fruits and vegetables that shows the abundance of Canada.


All ages were out and about. Look at that little sweety in the hat buying apples! Speaking of apples, I bought a few of these bad boys myself.


YUM! YUM!

The downtown was cordoned off like a street festival with families taking in the festivities. We even spotted a water buffalo - don't see one of those in downtown Belleville very often. 


Sheldon and I stopped in a little french restaurant and picked up a cappuccino and almond croissant - a recommendation of the fella behind the counter. They bake croissants fresh only on Saturday mornings so you have to be up-n-attem if you want some. 

Later in the day I headed down to Dinkels, one of the local restaurants to meet with my Father and a few other local authors to talk about our babies, aka books, and meet with the public. To say it was quiet would be underestimating.....don't think anyone knew we were in there. So, I sat with my 78 year old father and 3 other guys, also well into their 60 or 70s and chewed the fat. I had a lovely glass of red wine. Finally another starving author showed up, a sweet young thing in his mid 30s. His book, "Act Like You've Been There" is chock full of helpful tidbits and advice. He took mine, I took his (we are talking books here people), and I packed up my stuff to walk home in the autumn sunshine.

Other than the book signing bust, I think Belleville's Culture Days were a success! The weather certainly smiled upon us, the citizens of my fair town, young and old, seemed to be enjoying themselves. Hopefully a few people considered the creative souls scattered throughout the area proudly showing their wares and talents and supported them in one form or another, so we can continue to grow and be community of culture.


Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Beauty in the Lonely

The other day Sheldon and I were driving through town on our way to Band, or something. It was fairly dark out, just past the twilight hour.

As we drove along I looked into the windows of a donut shop. The shop was open but not a customer to be had. There was an employee just standing there, staring out the windows, watching the traffic go by. It was a quiet moment. He seemed lonely. But there was a beauty in it. A poignancy about it. I wondered if he had a radio going somewhere, keeping him company. Perhaps there was another employee hanging about but out of sight, cleaning up out back, prepping for the next day, counting cash from the register.

In many a movie we find these moments captured. The beautiful girl, making dinner by herself, the handsome young man staring at the TV, mindlessly flicking through channels. Of course, these two meet up eventually and the ying and yang of being along and being together is completed. 

There is a beauty to be found in the lonely. You have to feel it, embrace it, let it fill you up. It is in these quiet, alone moments that things can be heard. You may come to acknowledge a truth about a situation or yourself that you may have been avoiding. You may come to acknowledge a mistake, or a great victory that you misguidedly ignored. You may hear the still small voice of God, reminding you that you truly are never alone. I know these moments are much easier to cope with for the introvert than the extrovert. But they come upon us all, throughout our lives. 

I think there is a balance required. We need the lonely times and the community times. Too much of one or the other overloads us. I think it's important that your children, should you have any, are taught this as well. My kids always had a quiet time - each to their own room, whether a nap was required or not, to just spend time with themselves and as an added bonus  - Mom got a little break as well! It was mandatory up to the age of 6 or 7 and after that, they just did it themselves. 

If you are always in the company of others, I hope you can find some time to yourself and if you are all alone I hope you can find the beauty in it. I also hope you balance it out with seeking out friends and community where you can connect and love.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

JOHN AND MORRIE

Last February I had a little trouble with Morrie's bow. You see when I'm finished playing I always loosen the strings and when it is time to play with Morrie, I tighten the strings. But something went amiss and I could not tighten the strings. I would turn and turn the little knob to no avail. My cello teacher, Linda, recommended a friend of hers named John. So my bow stayed behind to see John the cello doctor and I took home a spare.

John is a fascinating man. He is well into his 80s with big round blue eyes behind wire-rimmed glasses, a smattering of white hair hanging in at the top, and a great accent - he sounds like the Count from Sesame Street (ah,ah,ah....). I was prepared for a hefty bill or perhaps the news that a new bow would be required. So when John called me I gritted my teeth for the bad news.

He told me my bow was ready to be picked up and gave me directions to his house. When I got there, his wife, a lovely little doll, was sitting in the corner with her walker nearby, just finishing her dinner. 

I wish I could make you hear his accent, but I can't so just try and imagine this being said by the Sesame Street Count.
Me: So, John, how much is it.
J: oh.....$20 should be fine.
Me, aghast, "Really??? Wow, that is great! thanks very much!!"
J;This is not a good bow.....I did what I could with it, but you might want to start saving your pennies for a new one....
Me: Ok, I will
J: You see, a good bow, is like breath to the soprano.
Me, laughing....
J: No, no, I mean it!!!
Me: Sorry, I believe you, it is just that you said it so beautifully.

That was my introduction to John. I fell in love with him almost immediately. Recently, Morrie had more trouble, this time a little more serious. The tuning pegs at the top had frozen and were immovable. So Morrie himself went in for surgery with John. I was truly prepared for a nasty bill this time but again, John surprised me.

J: I had to use gentle persuasion, tap,tap,tap here, a little tug there. Brute force will not work with a cello. I worked on it last night and on and off all day today.
Me: Thanks again John! So, how much do I owe you?
J: $30 
Me: Here, take $40! I see you added a new nub on the bottom of the pin(mine had broken off).
J: Yes, I used a cork from a bottle of County wine.
Me: Red or White?
J: I don't know, I just drank it!
We continued to chat a little about dogs and the County when I noticed a pen and ink drawing of the London Bridge on his wall. 
So I said: My daughter is now living in England, teaching.
John looks at me intently and deeply into my eyes and says: "And you are sitting at home, pining away."
Yup, he nailed it. Not only is John a genius with cellos, he is highly intuitive. 
Like I said, I fell in love with him almost immediately.





Sunday, September 8, 2013

A GRATEFUL HEART

It's Sunday morning, which means spending the morning at church.   When I have to play I go in early to practice with the team whatever music we have on board. But today my team is not on the docket. So I have some extra time to do what Sundays were meant to be, a day of rest. 
Since I was about 19, with very few exceptions, church has been a part of my life. Why, you may ask, do I spend the one day where I actually have the time to do whatever I want and I end up spending   a good chunk of it at church? 
Because I have a grateful heart.
I'm forever aware of how God personally, gently and patiently picked me up, dusted me off and has never, never, NEVER let me go. He is always there, always encouraging me, always forgiving and always giving me new gifts of Grace and Mercy every morning.
Because I'm human and sometimes I'm amazing and really a great person and sometimes I'm not. I really blow it. 
But His deep, intense, never-let-go-Love is there regardless of whether I'm amazing or a mess. 
And I'm very grateful for that. Very. 
He is my best friend, the one who understands me, the one who guides and gives me advice, the one who created me and knows my beginning and my end. 
So, although I am in constant communication with Him throughout the day and night, on Sundays I want to personally go to His house and let Him know how very grateful I am for His incredible patience, love and grace for me. Of course, I don't have to go to church to do that, but it seems more respectful and focused. Plus I get to hang out with others of like mind. 
That's why I spend Sunday mornings in church. 
I have a grateful heart and I want to let Him know how much I appreciate Him. 


Sunday, September 1, 2013

CHANGES



"Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes
(Turn and face the stranger)
Ch-ch-Changes
Don't want to be a richer man
Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes
(Turn and face the stranger)
Ch-ch-Changes
Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can't trace time"       
          David Bowie

In many place of the world, September signals a time of change. From the time we are 4 years old it means a change of pace from the lazy, sometime boring days of summer to the busy, hectic pace of a new school year. We are conditioned to it after years of doing this transition. So even though I don't have little kids bustling about, making sure back packs are ready, lunches are packed, school supplies are bought and new clothes are laid out, I still feel a change in the air.

I have my own changes to deal with. My globe-trotting daughter is now living in Oxford, England where she starts her new teaching job tomorrow. I skyped with her today - she is terrified and excited and expects this transitional week will be unsettling until she gets her bearings. Her boyfriend will be heading over the end of this month to attend Oxford University so she will soon have company. Randi was having a little trouble finding a place to live but she eventually did find one. She skyped with us Friday night and the conversation went something like this.
"So I think I've found a place to live."
"Tell me about it Honey!"
"Well, it has pros and cons to it.The pros are it is a great family and I really connected with the mother. There are two lovely little girls. The neighborhood is great, the price is right and I only have to walk down the road to catch the bus to work! They are Muslim but they have no problem with me being Christian."
"Sound good to me - what are the cons?"
"The cons are I can't eat pork in the house, I have to dress modestly and Dan (boyfriend) is not allowed to step foot in the house....."
Ok.... from a mother's point of view, I'm not seeing any cons here.....no pork, no skivies and no men....works for me!
My son headed off to University for his last year also. Less than 10 minutes after he drove away, our ballerina, Nami returned from a month in Japan to spend the school year with us. 

So my household has changed over. I feel the change in the air. 

And Time may change me, but I can't Trace time.






        

Monday, August 26, 2013

Sure Glad That's Over!

Did you ever have something coming up that you did not want to do? 
Not looking forward to it.
I'll take a pass please
That was my last two days. But it's done now. I'm on the other side and I can say "sure glad that's over!"
You see I'm turning 50 this year and well, that means, Colonoscopy time. Now I don't want you to get the wrong impression. It's uncomfortable for sure, but really, not that bad. I'm no worse for wear and my innards are as clean as a whistle - probably the first time in a long time. 
I started with the prep, which is truly, worse than the procedure. But I have to say, my friend Dan Cutrona describes it much better than I so I am shamelessly cutting and pasting his description.


"There are times when you wish the commode had a seat belt. You spend several hours pretty much confined to the bathroom, spurting violently. You eliminate everything. And then, when you figure you must be totally empty, you have to drink another liter of MoviPrep, at which point, as far as I can tell, your bowels travel into the future and start eliminating food that you have not even eaten yet."

That pretty much covers it. I put in a rough day yesterday, started up again around 3:30 in the morning and carried on well into this morning and even after the procedure. I'm a wee thing and I think the prep may just carry on a little longer than required with me.

The hospital staff at Picton Hospital were wonderful, caring and gentle. True story,  I literally had a home birth once to avoid a hospital IV. I told the nurse there were often troubles getting an IV into me and she very carefully checked all veins, tapping and patting. She found one she felt would cooperate and slid that needle in on the first try. I was soon wheeled into meet and discuss any concerns with the doctor doing the procedure and a very nice young anesthetist asked whether I liked  County wines or not and then promptly sent me to sleep. One of the last things he told me was the SandBanks Baco Noir was very nice.

I woke up, had some gingerale and some Peek Frean Social Cookies which tasted amazing after not eating for two days, my husband helped me back to the car and I spent the rest of the afternoon recuperating on the couch. I had company too.

This is Sasha sitting on my legs. You can't tell but she put her little paw right over top of my hand where the IV had been and just gave me a constant reassuring pat.

She's very sweet and soft.

Frodo was hanging out beside me too (and the phone and TV remote). Now Amelia would be here as well except she got herself into some trouble (aka the garbage) while we were at hospital and she feeling very bad about it outside in the rain and sulking and she refused to come in. 

So here I am. My tummy is a little tender but I had supper, no problem and I'm expecting to put in a full night's sleep without running to the white throne. 

Still, Sure Glad That's Over!




Thursday, August 22, 2013

Camping

Before Sheldon and I were married, we would go camping with our church youth group. Bunches of kids trucking through the wilderness, back packs and various bags in tow. But we soon figured out it was easier to canoe in - that way you did not have to carry everything ALL THE TIME. You canoe - then you carry, then you canoe, then you carry. You get the drift. 
Once we were married we continued our inclination to head into the great outdoors. I say all that to point out we have now been camping every year for over 25 years. We Crowders are a well-oiled machine when it comes to this hobby. Everybody knows what they are doing, when to pack, what to pack, when to paddle when to not, where and how to pitch a tent, start a fire, you name it. We are especially good at the food thing, cause when you are camping calories simply don't count. So there is lots of junk food, meat and the occasional carrot.
Canoeing with the kids
But things are changing, and as usual, I don't really care for it. For example, last year was our first time we did not camp as a family since Randi our daughter was in Japan for the year. Bit of a hike to make it back in time to hop into a canoe. We took along a sub-kid. One of Adrian's friends who had been camping with us before, just to make me feel balanced. Plus, he's a great kid who doesn't have issues with bugs, dirt and no toilet or shower.
This year although Randi was back in Canada, work commitments prevented her from joining us. So we were down to 3. 
In 2007 the kids were not too keen on camping photos
I'm no idiot - I can see what's coming. It will soon be down to 2. 
I love camping, I love my family, why can't I have both? Forever? 
Just another sign of the times that my kids are extricating themselves from this family hub to work towards starting their own. I know there are lots of parents out there who can't wait for the empty nest but I am not one of them. I will grudgingly accept it  however. 

Canada is a beautiful country. When the weather is good, the moon is full and the air balmy it is perfect for camping. I will go, with or without kids, for as long as someone wants to stick me in the canoe and paddle me out there when I can't do it myself anymore. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Random Things On My Fridge

For the past 70 years or so, the fridge has become somewhat of a fixture in your average household. The shape and colours have changed throughout the years but there it sits patiently holding your milk and cheese, keeping it nice and cold. When I was first married we had a second hand fridge that someone gave to us. Then it died. We fixed it and it died again. So we decided it was time to look for a new fridge. With baby Randi in tow, off we went to a second hand appliance store. We told the owner we were looking for and he took us to the warehouse. Then we told him how much we could afford. He promptly took us behind his warehouse into a field and showed us a beat up abanded Fridge. Thought that was pretty rude when we are clearly a young, penniless couple with a baby to boot. Eventually we ended up with some green 70s monster that someone donated to us and it fared well for over 10 years! When it finally gave up the ghost, I'm happy to say we finally had some money at that point and we went to Sears and bought us a very pretty, brand new white fridge, which we are still using to this day.
But my fridge, much like most, is usually covered in a cornacopia of pictures, magnets and notes. Here are a few that are presently part of the fridge decor:


The middle is a photo of one of our previous ballerina's home in NewBruinswick. Natayu came from an incredibly creative family and when he wasn't hanging with us during the school year, he was here in this beautifully redone church. As for the bare naked fella - I believe he came from another ballerina who had a friend bring it back from Florence Italy. And, of course, an old photo of Randi and Adrian!

This is one of my favourite photos, taken at Canada's Wonderland as we zoomed down on a roller coaster. It is getting old and faded but I LOVE the expression on Adrian's face. It still makes me laugh every time I look at it. And at 6:00 am on a cold winter morning, a good laugh never hurt anyone.

Another photo of one of our previous ballerinas that lived with us and at the time, her fiance. They were married in 2012. We went to the wedding and, I cried, of course. The green fella is one of a selection of muppet magnets I picked up somewhere. They are scattered about on the fridge. And on the far left is a magnet from Pilot Insurance where I worked at the age of 20-24, my first office job!

This scrap of paper has been on my fridge since I was first married. I just like it.


Here is a photo of our dear friends son's wedding, my Mom hand-feeding a sparrow and a friendly reminder on how to treat people from the good Book


Another muppet magnet with a great cat photo from a calendar. Just happens to be my Sister's Heidi's birthday.
Lastly, a Christmas card from a coworker Karen of her two amazing pups, Bella and Mac and a rather gnarly looking pizza dough recipe.

So there is a glimpse of what I get to look at everyday. The question is, what's on YOUR fridge....




Saturday, August 10, 2013

A PERFECT DAY

You know when you have one of those really perfect days. A day that just start out right and at the end of it you fall into bed happy and content with a stash of new memories to watch over and over again as you smile indulgently to yourself. 

But what does a "perfect day" look like? And is it different for everyone? I thought I would ask around and discovered there seems to be a theme for most people.

A perfect day involves: serenity, peacefulness, love of family and friends, nature (often water). A young mom wrote "no demands/responsibilities placed on me." For those of you with kids under 10, I'm sure you can relate to that one! But that is a common theme as well. A perfect day involves no timelines or commitments, just a day to enjoy. People want "yummy" food, or music. 

So I suppose I should fess up and let you all know what a perfect day looks like to me, since I'm the one who begged the question. 

So, let's see....a perfect day. I definitely would start with some alone time with a good cup of coffee - no wait, let's make that a perfect cappucino! In the warmer months I would enjoy it outside under the gazebo in the garden. In the cooler months you would find me by my fireplace with a blanket. My dog would be snuggled up beside me and I would have Sasha the cat on my lap. I would get my groundings, spend some time in prayer and recharge.  
After that the perfect day would involve spending some time outdoors, getting exercise, enjoying family and/or friends, loving and being loved. It would involve excellent food including chocolate of some form, great wine and music. A large dose of laughter must be sprinkled liberally throughout. I would end the day quietly, with a good book or movie and a good bed. There.....that sounds perfect to me.

Now I know that may not be so perfect for someone else. For you party animals and shopaholics my day would be missing a few key factors. But I think most people really just want a simple pleasures of life. 

And that's the good news - these simple gifts, though maybe not all of them at once, packed into one day, are readily accessible to us all. 

Here's to perfect days, and perfect moments. May your life be filled with them!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

RENOVATIONS

We have started a renovation job this week. It involves my eating area and a major part of the downstairs flooring. The plan is to remove the wall between the eating area and the TV room (done), putting in a door out to our deck where there is presently a window and putting down new flooring throughout the front hall, into the kitchen and the dining area. 

WALL REMOVED LOOKING INTO TV ROOM


Now most of you know how stressful renovations can be so if you think of me the next little while, please say a prayer to God above and all blessings for a speedy recovery regarding my house's surgery.

WALL REMOVED LOOKING TO EATING AREA
I'm not so sure how I am going to cope with the chaos and the plan is to complete before our ballet student returns the beginning Sept. from Japan. Our first ballerina, when she was stressed, would do this action that involved cupping her fingers around one of your eyeballs, sorta like she had an "eye headache" and was trying to pull out her eye. I can feel myself beginning to recreate this action....

This could be a very long month for me....I'm open to suggestions.