Sunday, August 13, 2017

CHARMS OF HASTINGS COUNTY

There's no denying Prince Edward County is one of my favourite go-to spots. It's a hop-skip-jump over the bridge away from my home and loaded with great places to eat, visit and just relax.


But this past weekend I checked out the charms of Hastings County, my very own backyard. And I must say, they can give the County a run for my money!



In my early 20s Corby's Distillery was still a very functioning industry making whiskey and had been supporting the community for over 100 years. I remember taking a tour and watching the bottles whiz by the ladies sitting there with their hair nets. The smell of molasses was sweet and heavy in the air. In 1991 the factory closed down and Corbyville grew quiet and sleepy. 



But it's hopping (pardon the beer pun) now! Richard Courneyea, a local businessman has refurbished and opened the Signal Brewing Company. The place is beautiful taking advantage of the location.




The patio was nonstop with staff providing friendly and prompt service to the thirsty patrons.



Our friend Theo checked out the local offerings made on the premises.


His favourite was the dark ale.

And we snacked on nibble size portions 



These yams were a hit at the table


Then we headed over to the Air Force Museum in Trenton.


Loaded with artifacts and information on  War lore, the centrepiece is a Halifax Bomber pulled up from the bottom of a lake in Norway in 1995 and fully restored. Being a history buff I was fascinated. I even sat in a few cockpits and tried out my signature "pew, pew" sound as I shot down the Red Baron (in my mind). 

And who says the County has all the good restaurants? We finished off the day with dinner at Linguine's in Belleville.


My pasta with grilled salmon was delish with lots left over to take home. 

I will always be heading over the bridge to take in the delights of Prince Edward County, but from now on I'm keeping my eye on the Charms in Hastings County too. Bottom line, the Quinte region is a great place to live!


Sunday, August 6, 2017

THE SUMMER OF '77

The two young girls looked about 13 or 14 years old. They had stopped to shake a pebble out of one of their sandals when I passed them on my walk. A little heavy on the make-up but still young and innocent.

And suddenly I was back to the summer of 1977, the summer before I started High  School. 

And I remembered.

I remembered hanging out with my girlfriend Lynda. 

Lisa, Laurie, myself, Bernice and Lynda on Grade 8 Graduation

We were determined to wow them when we walked into that high school so we spent a lot of time pouring over 17 Magazines and trying makeup and hair products. Blue eyeshadow was all the rage. So was "Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific" and "Short and Sassy" shampoo. 

I would either bike to her house or, her to mine. We would have sandwiches and  Koolaid and sometimes if we had any money, buy a popsicle. We were still so innocent.

But life was about to teach us a lot in a few short years.

That summer would bring the death of Lynda's father. I would sit outside the hospital on a bench in the hot sun while Lynda would visit her father inside. Little did I know in 10 years I would be doing the same thing in the same hospital with my own sister before she would pass away from cancer. 

High school brought experiences with working and making my own money. With the loss of other friends through foolish accidents or suicide. It brought the intoxicating experience of falling in love, a much too heady potion for any teenage heart to bear. It brought independence and many, many mistakes with drugs, addiction and sex. 

I passed by those two young girls, little heavy on the makeup, and wondered how they would fare through their High school years. 

Life is an incredible journey. Full of wonderful and fearful experiences that mold us into who we become and even though I felt I had lost all my innocence by the end of those 4 years, I had not. It is still there, still hidden away inside the little girl within me. 

You just have to remember.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

MY OLIVE OIL AND HONEY OBSESSION


I'm not a collector. Honest. I don't have a shelf full of figurines, or a box of buttons and I definitely don't have dolls or clowns stashed in a special room.

But I've noticed I seem to be amassing quite a large variety of two specific things in my cupboard: Olive oil and honey. I thought I'd put them all together for a family photo:


SMILE!!

In the Oil section I have: a basic olive oil, a habanero, lemon, garlic and a Tuscan oil that is great for making salad dressing.  In the honey section there's mountain, clover and wild flower that I picked up in Vancouver and Lavender from the local lavender farm. 

Maybe it's that pretty golden colour that attracts me, but mostly I think it's the practicalness of these products.

I use honey for sweetening my green tea or on a fresh piece of bread lightly toasted. I always have a batch of homemade granola in the fridge made with honey and maple syrup.

Yogurt and fruit with granola and drizzled with honey is a staple for me!

The variety of oils are always being used in cooking. I usually use a lemon oil for salmon but lately I've been into this habanero oil which adds a beautiful hot spiciness to the fish!


Just squeeze fresh lemon on top of that and you've got the best of both worlds!

And let's face it - these products border on miraculous. Honey never spoils, it has tremendous medicinal benefits including regulating blood sugar, and healing attributes. Even the way it's created is incredible!

Olive oil is a powerful antioxidant that can fight inflammation and the fact that heart disease is rare around the Mediterranean Sea leads many to believe their large use of Olive Oil plays a part in this. It also has anti-bacterial properties. What more could we ask for!

Bottom line, I guess if I'm going to start collecting, I think honey and oil are good candidates. 

Someone pass the Corn Flakes and a spoonful of honey!



Sunday, July 23, 2017

ROADBLOCKS AND BUMPY JOURNEYS

For the past couple years they have been chewing up downtown replacing old pipes and fixing whatever else has been lying under there. 


It makes for a messy commute to work! I can still bike through but it's kinda like going through an obstacle course and driving is out of the question. 

Sometimes, life is like that. You are cruising along when out of the blue your path ahead is blocked, even downright dangerous. You need to find either a way through it or take an alternate route. 


These roadblocks happen to everyone: illness, death, letting something (or someone) go, letting something (or someone) in, failures and consequences from our own mistakes. 

Being a music lover, I love the encouragement and the honesty in Psalms. When the road ahead is looking dicey I can echo King David's heartfelt request: 

"You are my rock, my rampart; true to your name, lead me and guide me!" Psalm 31:3. 

I figure He has a better view than I do of what lies ahead.

Really in a jam? David penned this in Psalm 18: 

"I called to Yahweh in my anguish, I cried for help to my God; from his Temple He heard my voice, my cry came to His ears." I can picture God turning His head and looking down at His child who is in peril. "Then the earth quaked and rocked, the mountains foundations shuddered, they quaked at his blazing anger." Look out...Daddy is coming and He's not happy! "He reached down from on high, snatched me up, pulled me from the watery depths, rescued me from my mighty foe, from my enemies who were stronger than I." 

It's encouraging to read this an know there is a force way more powerful then I, ready to come to my aid. 

But sometimes the road blocks don't seem to dissolve, the path gets darker and rougher and there is nobody coming to help. 

Almost all Psalms end on a positive and hopeful note, that God will come through. But Psalm 88 is honest enough to point out we don't always feel that way:

But, for my part, I cry to you Yahweh, every morning my prayer comes before you; why, Yahweh, do you rebuff me, turn your face away from me?  vs 13 & 14.

He ends his lament: You have deprived me of friends and companions, and all that I know is the dark.

They didn't have to put this song in there, they could have left it out. But scripture is brutally honest about the human experience.

If you are presently looking at a roadblock or the path ahead is unclear, I understand. King David understands. God understands. I pray you find your way through. 

Much Love!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

HOW I'M SAVOURING SUMMER

We are sailing through the summer time pretty quickly around here.

In Canada, summer always seems to be in a hurry, not wanting to impose on the other seasons. So here's how I'm savouring her little visit.

I ride my bike. For some reason, it guarantees making the time seem longer. This morning I rode along the waterfront savouring the warm breeze on my face and the hot sun on my back. 

Watch a Fireworks Display! The sense of community is palpable as we all sit oohing and aahing up at the dazzling flashes and explosions overhead.
I go camping. 


My family obligingly go with me and put up with this yearly obsession of mine.

The market is bursting with fruits and vegetables, not to mention a feast for all your senses.


Berries in season, cucumbers, snap peas, lettuce. Everything tastes better fresh. 

I eat outside, as much as I can! Today we went with friends to TerraCello Winery in the County for oven roasted pizza. You can sit outside surrounded by grape vines and feel like you are smack in the middle of Italy. 

Take some time to smell the flowers.


Or, go hog wild and smell a whole field: in this case, Lavender! 

And of course, Ice Cream or Gelato is a summer savouring necessity.

This sour cherry gelato from Nice Ice Baby was starting to drip so I had to give it a few licks....tastes like summer to me.

Canadian summers: short and sweet, shy and fickle. Here's to making the most of them!


Sunday, July 9, 2017

THE WATERFRONT FESTIVAL TRADITION



One of the first times we ever went to the Waterfront Festival in Belleville, my daughter was barely a week old, strapped to my chest in a Snuggly (that's what they called'em back then). Yesterday, we took her for her 29th birthday.

It's Tradition! 

We've watched the festival expand and contract, go from big name bands and bellyflop contests to a more placid family affair. We enjoy the celebration, the connections with our community and the food.

Well, mostly for the food....just like the rest of you...admit it.

Sharing is the name of the game so we always get a little bit of this and that and we all dig in.

Perogies are a favourite all round!

Might as well pick up an apple crepe while you're there.

LOVE the Momos, with the sauce - feeling hot, Hot, HOT

The Mexican booth from Chilangos is a fairly new addition but was an instant hit. Abraham, one of the owners is friend of ours. You would be pressed to find a harder working man in Belleville.

We rolled ourselves away from the food area and checked out the other points of interest. Glanmore Museum had set up a booth full of artifacts and pics of local history. Loved this one:


You can get your upholstery done and utilize the Undertaker all in one stop shop! Seems Multi-tasking is not a new phenomenon.

I love hot sauces, but perhaps this guy didn't know when to quit. Duly noted.

Another hard worker, this guy with the Lemonade stand will whip you up a citrusy bevy in seconds. 

Of course there is lots music, dancing and games for the kids too. 

We are past the Carnival stage at the moment but it's always fun to wander through and listen to the raucous noise of barkers and squeals and machinery.
Here's a fun fact: I worked with a Carnival when I was 17 (in the ticket booth). A short lived career but I'm proud to say I was a Carnie once!

If you have never been to Belleville's Waterfront Festival, save room for it next year in your busy calendar and make it a Tradition! There is always something for everyone to do and there's great food.

Portuguese Chicken.....mmmmmm.


Monday, July 3, 2017

THE LAST OF THE RED HOT BALLERINAS



As of 4 days ago, our ballerina Lauren graduated from High School and the Professional Ballet school. She has lived with us the past 3 years. 
And she is the last of the red hot ballerinas

For the past 12 years, we have had young dancers attending the Quinte Ballet school billet with us. 

Bottom line, I've raised a LOT of teenagers.  But it's time to stop washing leotards and body suits and hunker down to the Empty Nest we should have had about 6 years ago. 

So this Blog is in honour of all our extra kids we raised alongside of our own. I don't have pics of them all, but most of them.

First up was Elise 

She was in the same grade as our daughter and eased us into billeting. Elise was bright and beautiful and is now working at Air Canada!
Next came Shannon

The quintessential ballerina in every way, she married an Aussie and worked with a professional Ballet Company in Australia until quite recently. 

We decided to double up for a while and had Natayu and Victoria at the same time.

These two were always in fits of giggles together and both are still in the dance world. Victoria does a lot of teaching and Natayu runs the gamut from Circus work to contemporary. Around this time we had Ben as well but I don't have pic of him, he only stayed with us a short time. 
Then came Kelly!

With a school average running at about 98% (and that was not good enough for Kelly), this girl was absolutely brilliant. She moved on to study Chemical Engineering which she no doubt aced. 

Then came Rachel

On our recent trip out to B.C. to visit Adrian and Carolyn, we were able to have dinner with Rachel who was just finishing up her degree in Nursing!
Here's Nami!

Straight from Japan and unable to speak hardly a word of English, Nami was sweet and hardworking but our conversations were not much more than two or three word simple sentences!  After graduation, Nami headed back to Japan to study, believe it or not, English. She's pretty darn good at it now!

And lastly, there was Lauren

This one's a real fire cracker so all I can say is look out World...here she comes! I expect to see her on the big screen in no time.

So that's it kids. I've loved all the energy and youth and passion for your dancing that you have all brought. But I'm hoping to see some grand babies soon. 

Who knows. Maybe one of them will be dance crazy and I will have to eat my words about the last of the Red Hot Ballerinas!


Sunday, June 25, 2017

HOW WAS YOUR WEEKEND?

I'm a little tired... a lot tired really. I sort of feel like this:




But things are looking up! I just finished working my last weekend (until further notice). I'm starting a new position soon and it's straight days, Monday to Friday.  There are things I will really miss about my present job, but working weekends is not one of them.

So, I had to start my mornings off right with a good strong cup of coffee. I take it to the garden so I can spend some time in prayer and prep.


Hey, if it's good enough for Jesus...I mean I'm not sure what the Garden of Gethsemane was like but mine is a good place to go for downtime and to refocus. 

And for lunch the skeleton crew of girls I worked with brought in quacamole and a spicy chicken dip with chips!  I made a snack of greek yogourt, fresh berries, granola and honey.


We ended up staying late both days due to last minute emergencies but I made it home in time for dinner and I have the next couple of days off. 

You may have not worked this past weekend like me but I hope yours was filled with good coffee, good food and maybe some time in a Garden to unwind. 


video

Sunday, June 18, 2017

HE'S GOT THAT OLD CAT CHARM!

One of my coworkers got a new kitten recently and she's often posting pictures and videos of Facebook. Who wouldn't?? I mean it's a kitten! 

But I can't help but notice the energy. ZIP....ZOOM..POUNCE!! This little ball of fluff is bouncing!

Allow me to introduce Frodo:




I call him "Old Man Frodo". We got him when my daughter was in Grade 7 (she will soon be 29) and he is pushing over 17 years old now. There is no "ZIP...ZOOM...POUNCE" anymore. 


But he used to have all that vim, vigour and curiosity.



Just look at that adorable face!!



I mean both of them of course! 


Old Man Frodo takes the stairs, both up and down, one at a time.
His meow is either nothing, or a slight croak or sometimes he puts all his energy into it and sounds like he's completely forgot where he is and is lost. Underneath all that gorgeous fur is a frail and rather bony frame. I pick him up very gently now and put him down the same way.

He sleeps....a lot....



Or, when he goes outside, there is no chasing birds or stray leafs anymore.

He just lays on the sun warmed front step or on a hot day in the cool garden under the peonies and ponders the 8 lives he's lived. 

Frodo may not be a powerhouse anymore but he has that Old Cat Charm. 

And he STILL has the best paws in town!

You may have an adorable new kitten in your life and they are lots of fun. 

But these old cats, well, they have their charms as well. 



Sunday, June 11, 2017

HAVE A GOOD DAY!


When I'm biking to work, I will pass by several Crossing Guards. One (my favourite) always yells
"Good Morning!"
Me, panting: "Morning!
"Have a Good Day!"
Me, still panting as I pedal by:"You Too!"

It's a lovely blessing to bestow on someone. And it's also the way she says it. It's more like "Have a GOOD Day!!" Like she really means to make it happen for you. Like let's just seal that one up and engrave it in stone.

I will often say that to Sheldon before I head to work. "Have a GOOD Day." But I often add "No surprises today." Because Sheldon and I have spent a lot of time in Emergency lately doing a lot of this:



And after a month, we really have no answers. He presents with a heart issue and the symptoms are long and tedious. But after the last 3 Emergency visits and a chat with a Cardiologist, they tell us there is nothing wrong with the old ticker.

I turn to my faith: "The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the Peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Phillipians 4:5-7). 

The situation certainly "surpasses" all my understanding so now I rest in that Peace to keep watch. 

There are more tests pending and eventually we will get to the bottom of it. They switched his blood pressure medication and that seems to have settled a lot of side effects too. Here's hoping our visits to Emergency are coming to an end.

Have a GOOD day everyone....and I Crossing Guard mean it!





Sunday, June 4, 2017

WHEN I'M AWAY, THE GARDEN WILL PLAY

May is a beautiful month - great for gardening! I usually take some time off each May to focus on my garden and give it some attention for the season ahead.



I took a week off alright - but not in my Garden. I went out West.

Sorry for ignoring you garden. I see you have been busy while I was away. 

I knew trouble was brewing when we pulled in to the drive last Saturday night to a veritable jungle in the front yard. The grass was growing in leaps and bounds.

I have a gravel path that circles around where I have a fountain. That was nearly annihilated by the grass. 



I spent a good hour on my hands and knees just pulling up weeds and grass trying to find the gravel underneath. I swear nature is as relentless as the Love of God - just keeps coming at ya. 


This mass of greenery are violets, taking over the world. I keep pulling them out to try and make room for these:



Not sure what they are, but they glow like little drops of moonlight at night.

So I'm taking the good with the bad. Although the grass and violets are scheming a victory everything else is also feeling mighty fine.

My hydrangea bush and peonies are also about to explode. 




And I finally got around to doing a couple of planters.




My garden carried on without me. In fact, if I ignored it all year, I'm pretty sure there would be quite a party going on. But I'm back now, restoring order and telling the violets to "simmer down." Here's to another year of back yard gardening ahead. 

Come on Garden, Let's Play!