Saturday, February 22, 2014


Yesterday morning as I was out walking Amelia I spotted my first spring Robin. It was still very early and dark so I was a little surprised to catch him about. I have heard Robins chirping here and there for a couple of weeks but they are still recuperating from their long journey and not very many are up before 7:00. But there he was at about 5:45 am, checking out a puddle, probably considering how long before the thaw brings those big fat worms up. 

I always record when I spot my first spring Robin. So for 2014, that would be Feb. 21. Last year it was March 7. For some absurd reason, spotting my first spring Robin is usually a signal of trouble for me. It's kinda like: "Oh look! A robin!" which soon leads to "oh....look....a robin..." And sure enough, it has been a difficult time for me lately. 

This past week was my sister Heidi's birthday - had she lived she would be 52 this year. As most of you know, these kind of moments can be grievous and reflective. I'm still struggling with a bad case of winter blues and a few other things on my plate make this year a classic case of Robin spotting trouble. 

So - how does one deal with feeling emotionally shaken and "not oneself" so to speak? I have a few tickets in my pocket that I turn to. 
I need alone time for prayer and meditation - not that this is nothing new for me but I REALLY need it.
Exercise helps.
A glass of wine - note I said "a" not "a bottle".
Solid words of wisdom are good. Facebook is now full of them!
I turn to scripture as well. These are all taken from "The Message" which I'm reading at the moment. Here are a couple of my favourites:

Trust God from the bottom of your heart, don't try and figure out everything on your own. Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He's the one who will keep you on track.
Proverbs 3:5,6
This is my Life verse - the very first one I clung to and has seen me through many a dark Robin spotting time.

God's loyal love couldn't have run out, his merciful love couldn't have dried up. They're created new every morning. 
Lamentations 3:22

Picture this: Cyndi walks into God's Bakery - smells wonderful and there are lots of goodies on display
Cyndi: Good morning!
God: Good morning to you!
Cyndi: What have you got available today?
God: Well I have the usual that I make everyday....Grace, at least 70X7 different types of forgiveness. And I have a fresh batch of mercy just made this morning!
Cyndi: Mmmmm.....that mercy looks good.  I know I was in here yesterday and got some but, well, it was pretty much used up by about 2 in the afternoon. Any chance I could get some more of that merciful love?
God: Sure! And for you - it's free! Because you are my favourite.
Cyndi: Gosh God, everybody is your favourite!
God: I know, but right now you are here looking for a fresh batch mercy, not Joe down the street. So here you are!

It's always good to know I can start a new day fresh with a new beginning, no matter how badly I screwed up the day before. And so can you. Cause you are God's favourite. 

So if you are going through a tough bit of Robin spotting, I hope you have the resources you need to get through. Believe me, I understand.

Saturday, February 15, 2014


Happy Valentine's Everyone! I hope you are all feeling the love!

This seemed like the appropriate time to blog about love, don't you think? is a many splendid thing indeed: young love, old love, renewed love, love at first sight, endless love, passionate and even jealous. It can be quite the roller coaster ride. And yes, I'm old enough to have seen and experienced most of it.
Hugs and kisses are often a common way to connect and show our love to another. I personally, love a good hug. Now some people are good huggers, and some are not. One of the best huggers I know is my friend Andrew. I've known him since he was just a little boy and he is my daughter Randi's age. But Andrew, well, the boy just really knows how to hug. He opens his arms wide and inviting like and wraps them around you with absolutely no inhibition or even a hint of stiffness. There is no sense of shyness in his hug, it is just warm, solid and confident. I love Andrew hugs. I think I also like them because Andrew is not very tall and as a short person, I am usually hugging a navel or I have to reach my arms up high to wrap around a neck. Andrew is just the right height!

This is Andrew giving my daughter a good hug on their Grade 12 gradation. I suppose he is giving her a kiss as well.....and speaking of kissing....
There are a few things I really like to kiss. When my children were babies, I loved to kiss them right between the eyes, on the bridge of their little baby noses.

See that baby there? Not the one in the basket (that would be Awesome Dawson, God rest his soul), but the other one with the pink spotted elephant. That is my daughter Randi at about 5-6 months old. I loved to kiss that spot smack between her eyes.

I love kissing my pets too. These Frodo paws are lovely to kiss, albeit a little dangerous as they sheath some razor sharp claws and if Frodo does not WANT you to be kissed one or two of his claws will start to extend and send out a very clear warning.

I have a thing for whiskered cheeks too, like these ones....

Good Soft kissing I tell ya. Oh, and these silky ears are very nice too....

I love to receive kisses too - on my forehead or surprise kisses on my neck. In the shower is very nice. My husband is great for providing these! I think Spiderman was onto something with that rain kiss. 

So spread the love people! Be an "Andrew Hugger" and hug with confidence. Kiss your loved ones in a way that lets them know that you care. Because the personal contact is something we all need.

Saturday, February 8, 2014


I'm not a winter person by any stretch. Winter sports like skiing, skating, snowmobiling, sledding are just not my cup of tea. I get too cold, too fast to really enjoy them. Give me a bicycle! Pass the suntan lotion and give me a beach!
But this is Canada and winter is long....really long this year. Today I looked out beyond the mountains of snow in the backyard and caught a glimpse of my bike....waiting....waiting for me.
I'm looking out the back window. 
Staying inside where it is warm. 
I'm hibernating. Going to bed early and sleeping it out.
Now it is early February and I've volunteered to canvass for Heart & Stroke in my neighbourhood. Time to shake off my winter blues and get out there. 
I'm not much of a salesman but I believe in the cause as my Grandmother had a number of strokes, my mother has some heart issues and even my husband's ticker sometimes gets a little jumpy.
One of my favourite stops is a widow, well into his 80s, who loves to chat. We talk about his dog, how he is coping for the winter and he always mentions his wife who he still misses deeply. He is adorable. 
There is a new family who moved in with two young children. 
I find out one big house is empty as the 97-year-old who had been sticking it out there broke her wrist and it is not likely she will be able to come back to live independantly in her home.
I get to catch up with the neighbouring animals too. There is Max the hound dog, Chippy (a barky little thing) and I also meet a new fellow who's name is Barclay. Turns out he is just visiting as my neighbours are looking after him for a while.
"What's his name?" I ask
"Barclay, but I call him "Poopus Grandus".  Pretty clever if you ask me. 
I find out there is a red-tail hawk hanging around and rumours of a rare white peregrine falcon, which leads me looking up a lot as I walk.  
I also find one neighbour is hobbling about, waiting on the list for a new knee, while another had a heart attack at Christmas and just returned home from Bypass surgery in Kingston. She is doing well and her husband gave a very generous donation. 
I sometimes feel like I'm just being a bother but on the other hand, it never hurts to connect with people. 
So I'm getting out there, catching up on the news, connecting with my community and trying to avoid my inclination to hibernate. Sometimes you just have to push yourself.

Saturday, February 1, 2014


It is Sunday afternoon on a dreary winter's day. I move into the kitchen for some wind down and refresh time. The CBC is playing on the radio and the red wine has been poured. Let the chemistry for my soul begin.
I have a new recipe for Cauliflower soup I want to try. It calls for white truffle oil, which I don't have, but I did find a truffle infused olive oil, and that will have to do. It also calls for onions, which are taboo in this house as Sheldon does not eat them. So, I make the soup my own sans onion.
Garlic is lightly browned in the truffle oil as well as the cauliflower florets I've cut up. Then I add the hot vegetable broth and in the process get a bit of a burn from the steam, which makes me spill some in an effort to avoid injury. Better go easy on that wine. A chef needs to keep her wits about her! 
While that simmers away I start into a traditional family recipe of Gingerbread with a hot rum-butter sauce. This is one of my favourite winter desserts that my mother used to make for us. 
My parents are big on puttering in the kitchen and traditions.
The night before we celebrated Robbie Burns day with the classic haggis chased with a shot of whiskey. 
It's tradition, you see, and it's comfortable. 
But let's get back to the kitchen chemistry....
The cauliflower is all loosey-goosey and ready for the next stage. I  blend it to a smooth consistency, add a little cream and pepper and voila. The stuff is gorgeous.
"Sheldon", I say, "you have to try this". It is rich and buttery and all over yummy goodness.
"Eh, I'm not that big on cauliflower..." He gives it a little sniff.
WHAT?? I've been with this man nearly 30 years and this is news to me. Besides, this is good soup! I put it in front of him for supper but he really did not do it justice. Was keen on the chicken sandwiches though!
The gingerbread is baking in the oven, the sauce is ready and warm on the stove. The house is redolent with the scents of ginger and cinnamon. Hoot and holler all you want winter. You are staying outdoors and it is warm and tasty in here. 

I often want to share these traditional things. So, last night I invited a bunch of little girls over and made them snow taffy, another family recipe handed down and best prepared when there is an abundance of fresh, fluffy snow. 
The children all enjoyed themselves and it was lovely to listen to their giggles and squeals, something I really don't get in the house  at this stage of my life. 
Kitchen chemistry and traditions. Both of these and the act of preparing them soothe my soul. They are comfortable and familiar to me and a great way to stay balanced and de-stress. 
I know these may not work for everyone but I hope you have similar tactics to get you through the rough spots.