Saturday, December 25, 2004

Christmas Morning

We awoke to brilliant sunshine and clear blue skies this morning. What a wonderful gift to open from Mother Nature.

Before we even had our coffee, we put on our coats and boots and went outside to put our gifts around our “Christmas Tree” in Apple Blossom Meadow. I gathered all the parcels and trekked across the lane to the Meadow. We found an old apple tree and carefully draped the popcorn-cranberry garlands I made last week on the icy branches, and added slices of apple smeared with peanut butter to lots of nooks and crannies in the tree. The Chickadees flocked to the tree and enjoyed the feast. They didn’t even mind us standing there with our cameras. We took kazillions of pictures and wished them a Merry Christmas as they flitted all around us. It was marvellous. Hopefully Anvilcloud will post some pictures on his blog later in the day.

We then walked over to an old tree in the back yard and hung up a seed ball for the squirrels. I have a bag of apples to take out and leave on Riverside Ramble Trail this afternoon for the deer. What fun. After we hung the seed ball for the red squirrels this morning, we came back into the farmhouse and enjoyed hot coffee and toasted English muffins. Yum.

We are now listening to Christmas Carols on CBC while we sip our second cup of coffee and catch up on some writing. What a wonderful relaxed Christmas morning this is.

Hope the warmth of the season wraps you in its warm embrace today too. Snuggle down into it and enjoy.

Christmas Eve

Our Christmas Eve was a quiet one but full of fun nonetheless. We had leftover chilli for dinner and scrumptious baked apples swimming in maple syrup and brown sugar for dessert. MMMM good.

After dinner we played a rousing game of Tri Bond, Trivial Pursuit and Mind Bender - all at once! It was a tad confusing but Lady Bug kept us on track and amazingly enough, I think I won! I am not sure though, that is how confusing it was.

After our game we donned our winter togs and went out for a moonlight snowshoe walk. The moon was full and the sky clear, so the snow stretched out across the fields like blankets of diamonds at our feet. It sparkled and twinkled with each step we took and was absolutely beautiful. We encountered one problem though. Because of all the rain we had the day before, the snow was covered in a thick crust of ice, which made it difficult for snowshoeing. We thought that maybe the crust would hold us without the snowshoes so we decided to venture out without them. Big mistake!

We got a fair distance from the farmhouse ok, but ran into trouble halfway around on our walk and kept breaking through the ice crust. Without warning, one leg would break through the surface and sink down into the soft snow underneath and we would be knee deep in the stuff. We looked like three very drunk people staggering across the field. We sure laughed a lot and had a great time. At one point we all lay down on our backs in the snow and looked up at the star-filled sky. Ahhh, what sweet memories we made.

We came back into the warm farmhouse and talked late into the night, or should I say early morning and then toddled off to bed, wishing each other a Merry Christmas. It was a warm and wonderful Christmas Eve.

We really missed Butterfly and shed a tear or two as that sorrow washed over us, but then we focused on the joy that was to come when we would see her after Christmas and set out to enjoy fully the moment we were in here at Riverwood, and we did. Butterfly called us to wish us a Happy Christmas Eve and we sent love back and forth to each other across the phone lines. That would have to do for now.

I hope you recieved love and warm wishes across the airwaves from your loved ones too, even if you couldn't be with them physically this year.

Have a Wonderful Christmas.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Merry Christmas

Here it is Christmas Eve and we are safely tucked inside, safe and warm at Riverwood. The winter storm ran out of steam during the night and skies cleared, so sunshine and colder temperatures greeted us this morning. Our drive was ploughed out bright and early and the roads sanded, so we were able to get our houseguests safely to the town to catch their bus to Toronto.

Yes, we have been busy with houseguests since the beginning of the week, hence the lack of blogs. The old farmhouse seems quiet now that our company has gone, but we will snuggle in for the evening and enjoy a quiet Christmas Eve.

I wish you real peace and all the best wishes of the season. Merry Christmas!

Talk to you all in the New Year.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Winter Lace

We awoke to a snowy morning here at the farm and were treated to yet another “piece of artwork” crafted by Mother Nature. She had to work very hard to produce this one I am sure. During the night she took a very tiny paintbrush and coated every little twig and branch on every bush and tree and shrub on the property. She didn’t drop the snow in clumps, she individually painted each branch and covered the countryside with intricate winter lace .

It was still snowing when I first got up so everything had a soft edge to it, but by mid- morning the sun came out and the whole landscape went into high definition and lots of detail. It was absolutely spectacular to see the intricate artwork of every black twig outlined perfectly in brilliant white!

We spent the morning puttering around the farmhouse, but it was hard to get anything done because I kept being drawn to the windows. We made lunch and listened to the Vinyl Café on CBC while we feasted on hot sweet potato soup garnished with a dollop of sour cream. Mmm, so good on a cold winter day.

We do enjoy listening to Stuart McLean on CBC and hearing all about Dave and his adventures with his family. Stuart had stories about Christmas and snow-storms on the program today so it fit right in with the kind of day we were having. The program ended at 1pm and we were out the door shortly after that to blaze a trail through the new fallen snow.

Yikes! Was it ever cold out there, –16 with a wind chill of –27. We felt the cold while walking across the open field, but once we got on the old Logging Road, we were in the protection of the trees and soon warmed up as we hiked along. We followed our old tracks along Riverside Ramble Trail and then veered off onto the North Boundary Line Path and that was tough slugging in there. This route goes through dense bush and required lots of climbing over fallen trees and blazing new trails through thick snow. We had to really search for the pink ribbon markers to guide us along this path, and they were hard to find as some of them were completely covered with snow, and others had only a little corner of pink sticking out. We managed to find enough of them to keep to the path and cut a new trail through the snow, so the next time through should be much easier. That is one thing about snowshoes, they leave a nice clear path to follow. Even if it snows again, it is usually easy to see the outline of the old route through the trees.

We came back to the farmhouse an hour and a half later with rosy cheeks and cold noses, but warm fingers and toes and high spirits. We exchanged our snowy togs for warm track- suits and settled in to enjoy a hot cup of tea and a buttery shortbread cookie or two. Yum. Such a nice treat at the end of a cold walk.

The temperature took another dive this afternoon, so we went out for only a short time. We cleared the snow around the gate and dug the car out, but we sure didn’t go for another walk. We will stay inside for the night now and wait to see what marvel Mother Nature has to offer us tomorrow.

Hope you were able to get out for a walk in the fresh air and sunshine today too and maybe even saw a lacy tree or two along the way.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Facing the Beast

Brrrr! The farmhouse was VERY cold when we woke up this morning. The temperature outside went down to –24 last night and the fire was pretty low when AC got up at 7:30 to put another log in the furnace, so the air in the house was a tad on the cool side to say the least! I got up around 8:00 and it was still only 59 in here. I made coffee, puttered about in the kitchen for awhile and checked the thermostat again. Hmmmm it was now reading 58. Not good to be going in that direction. Maybe it would take awhile for the fan to come on and heat things up, so I continued to work away in the kitchen. Still not feeling any heat I checked the thermostat again - yikes, 57! Time to take some action. AC had been up late reading last night, so he was still sleeping. I had to the face the monster in the basement all by myself. Oh dear!

It is such an old yucky cellar and I hate to go down there. I have no idea how old the farmhouse is, but let me just say it is VERY old and the cobwebs down there seem to have been there since day one! The stairs are steep and narrow and the ceiling low. I darn’t look around me when I go down there. It is best not to know what is just above one’s head or next to one’s shoulder. I have found it prudent just to look straight ahead and focus on the task in front of me, then hightail it up the stairs as fast as I can, chased all the way up by giant spiders and other ghastly things I am sure are right on my tail. Never look back, just run up the stairs and close the door quickly behind you. Gives me shivers up and down my spine just like when I was a kid being chased up the old basement stairs at home after I had gathered potatoes for dinner out of the sack at the bottom of the stairs.

Anyway, I had to brave the basement this morning, so down I went into the depths. Ugh!

It was to struggle to get the furnace door open, but I finally did it and saw two little logs barely winning the battle to burn. I moved them around to get air flowing past them and they burst into flame. Ok, now we were in business. I needed another log to put on the fire. Nothing for it but to bravely venture into a dark corner at the far end of the basement in search of a piece of wood. The pile was stacked neatly along the wall, but it was too dark to see clearly, so I couldn’t tell if spiders were lurking under the wood or not. I just had to grit my teeth and put my hand down and grab a piece and of wood. Shiver!! I held it as firmly as I could with mostly just my finger tips and rushed back to the furnace. Now, how to get it in the furnace and position it without burning my hand? I was sure spiders were, at that very moment, crawling up the wood and about to reach my hand and I wanted to get rid of it quickly. I braved the flames and put my hand in as far as I dared and balanced the log on the other two already blazing in there. Ah, mission accomplished. I was the hero of the hour, and it felt good.

The first visit to the basement was by far the worst, but since then I have made three more trips down into the dreaded “ dark hole”. Yay for me! AC is up now, but I really should know how to tend the fire, so I have made myself put more logs in the fire. I must admit that each trip gets easier, and I found an old pair of work gloves to wear to protect my hands against the vicious spiders so I am all set. I still don’t look up or around when I am down there, but I am getting the job done and that is what is important.

It feels good to face your fear and do it anyway. I hope any fear you encounter today goes up in flames and is nothing but ashes after you have faced it.

Sending you toasty warm greetings from a cozy farmhouse this morning.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Oh joy, it is snowing again and that makes me very happy. We don't even have to worry about shovelling the stuff up here. A neighbour comes in with his plough and clears out the drive each time it snows, so we are all set.

We enjoyed a snowshoe walk under blue skies and sunshine this morning, but snow is falling now, just in time for our second walk of the day. AC has been busy in the kitchen for the past hour or so, making sweet potato soup. It is sooooo yummy, made with fresh ginger, cloves and orange zest to give it fabulous flavour. MMMMM, I can hardly wait for dinner!

While he bustled about in the kitchen I made more popcorn-cranberry garlands to decorate our "tree". I will see if I can post a picture of it. It is the most unique Christmas tree I have ever had, and in a way it is the prettiest! Don't you think so?

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Christmas Gathering

AC fell yesterday and hurt his leg, so we didn't snowshoe today, but we did take a jaunt down the road. Not quite as spectacular as our ramble along the snowy trail yesterday but still beat a walk along city streets by a country mile.

We stopped by the gathering place for the Old World Santas just across the road from the farm, and AC took a picture. I in turn took a picture of him taking a picture. Tee Hee! We both have lots of pictures of each other taking pictures. What fun. Anyway, when we got back to the farm AC helped me upload it to Hello and post it here. Seems a bit complicated, but I might get the hang of putting more pictures here eventually.

Right in the middle of the gathering was an old fellow who I thought looked a lot like a Gandalfian Santa. What do you think?

After our walk we had a yummy lunch and then went to town to get some groceries. Another marvellous drive with a special treat waiting at the end for us. The small town was wreathed in tall snow clad pine trees and Christmas music was playing outside on the street. I felt like I was walking into a postcard again.

We enjoyed walking around the town for awhile, then headed for home. I spent some time this afternoon making a popcorn-cranberry garland and tonight we are going to enjoy a drink of Bailey's and a chocolate or two while we watch the old Scrooge movie starring Alastair Sim. AC has the wood fire blazing happily so we will be snug and warm while we curl up to watch the movie. MMMmm good.

After the long blog I posted yesterday I think I will take pity on you today and keep this one nice and short. Treat yourself to something special and out of the ordinary tonight too and do something seasonal to lift your spirit.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Picture Perfect

Have you ever felt like you were right in the middle of a picture perfect post card? I had that experience yesterday and every time I look out a window this morning the feeling washes over me again. Riverwood looks totally awesome!

We set off from home yesterday in a bit of a tizzy. As usual, our stuff seemed to expand as we piled it near the door ready to pack in the car. Gathered there in a heap were - city clothes, country clothes, city boots, country snowshoe boots, snowshoes, sleeping bags, pillows, computers, printers, cameras, food, Christmas gifts, bags of books and myriad other odds and ends. Yes, we had a mountain to chip away at and transfer to the car.

It was sleety-snowing when we started the task, but it turned to light snow by the time we finished and in the process we tracked quite a bit of mess into the house whilst packing. We thought we had better clean up a bit before setting off, so I mopped the kitchen floor and AC prepared to vacuum the carpet in the den and family room. He bent over to plug the vacuum in and found the power cord for his laptop still plugged into the power bar. Whew! That would have been awful if he had left that behind. He has all sorts of work he wants to get done on the laptop while at Riverwood. Anyway, he found it in time, so all was well. We set out, locked the door and got into the car – oh oh, I realised I forgot my bag with my camera, cell phone and wallet in it. Whew! Another near disaster averted. I would not have been a happy camper without my camera for our whole holiday. We locked the door again and were just about to get into the car when AC discovered he didn’t have his wallet. Back into the house we went again. If the neighbours were looking out their windows I am sure they got quite a chuckle as we continued to lock and unlock the front door and get in and out of the car. Sheesh!

On the third trip back inside the house I was wondering what else we had forgotten and got my list out of my travel bag and looked it over. I double-checked that the back doors were locked, the side motion light on, the fireplace and stove off, the basement light off, the small light in family room on, etc. We got into the car for a third time and drove off, but I felt rather uneasy. What else had I forgotten? This was a terrible start indeed.

We picked up our coffee and toasted bagel with extra butter at Tim’s, and headed for the highway. As we sped along my apprehension started to ease up and I eventually left all my worries behind me. They flitted out the window one by one and lay scattered along the roadside. Our neighbours would be checking the house everyday to make sure everything was ok there, and whatever else we had forgotten we could live without or buy another. We were now on holiday, and Riverwood waited. Don’t worry. Be happy! So, I didn’t and I was!

There was a smattering of snow covering the fields on either side of the highway near home, but as we drove further east the snow-cover started to increase and the landscape looked more and more Christmassy. Hmmm, maybe we would have a White Christmas after all. Eventually we turned north off the 401 and headed into Riverwood country. What a treat was awaiting us there. All the trees were decked out in their finest black tuxedos and party dresses trimmed with white fur. The fields and lakes were covered in a fresh blanket of the fluffy white stuff too and the further north we got the more spectacular the scenes around each bend in the road became. It was a magnificent drive. We couldn’t have ordered a better day for dry clear roads to drive on but lots of fresh thick snow on the land all around us to feast our eyes on. I kept saying to AC, “I feel like I am driving into a postcard. Oh look, there is a perfect picture for next year’s Christmas card. Oh no, over there is a better one. Oh, look over there.” Perfect scene, after perfect scene, after perfect scene, just kept coming.

Finally we turned into Welcome Lane at Riverwood and we were confronted with the best scene of them all. The pine trees on either side of the gate were laden with heavy snow which made their branches bow down to the ground making a frame for the house. AC drove down Welcome Lane to the house, but I chose to walk in after I got out of the car to open the gate. It was magical - the light somewhere between afternoon and evening, the air thick with snow-covered silence. I walked along and drank it all in.

We cleared the steps of snow, entered the house, turned on the heat, unpacked the car and then went for a short walk and took some pictures. We have never seen Riverwood quite like this before and the beauty of it almost took my breath away. The time of day, the fresh snow on all the trees, the time of year – all combined to make for a most enchanted moment.

It is now almost 24 hours later and the awesomeness hasn’t stopped all day. We went for a walk along Riverside Ramble Trail this morning and I am at a loss for words to describe the beauty of it. I felt like I was in another world as we snowshoed amongst the tall snow covered trees lining the winding path. AC has posted some pictures on his blog, and here too, if you want to go in and take a look.

The sun has come out now, but it is snowing again, so we have more fresh snow on the ground, sunshine blazing on the fresh fallen snow but also through the falling snow. What a combination. We are going to go out again and snowshoe down to the swimming hole and see what is going on down there.

I will finish this blog when I get back….

Ahhh, what a treat to walk into the warm toasty farmhouse kitchen after our very cold late afternoon walk. The temperature is dropping quite low tonight, but AC got the wood fire going in the furnace so the farmhouse is comfy and warm and fragrant with the smell of wood smoke. This afternoon’s jaunt was much shorter than the one we enjoyed this morning, but still quite lovely. The sun, getting low in the sky, cast marvellous pink and grey shadows across the fields and the black trees stood at attention all along our path. One group of trees across the road actually looked like a gathering of tall, skinny, old world Santas. As we stood there in the fading light I thought I could hear them whispering about lists and all they yet had to do.

Yes, it is definitely Christmas here at Riverwood. I hope it is starting to feel like Christmas where you are too, and the beauty of the season fills each day with warmth and joy.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Invincible Summer

In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.
Albert Camus

If cold wintry blasts are assailing your soul these days, I hope you can tap into that invincible summer deep within yourself and be warmed and encouraged.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Roses in December

“God has given us our memories that we might have roses in December."
J M Barrie

I hope your memories bring a sweet fragrance into your life during this Christmas season. I know some memories have thorns and bring pain, but chose to focus on the rosy ones today and enjoy a walk through that fragrant garden of memory with me.

Inhale, take a deep deep breath – ahhhh – Roses in December! Beautiful!

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Beauty Treatment

"How beautiful a day can be when kindness touches it."
George Elliston

I hope your day is touched with kindness and it brings beauty to the path you must walk whatever it is.

Yes, I must resort to my quote file for the next few days, as things are getting a tad busy around here. I spent all day yesterday out doing errands, and am about to hit the road again this afternoon. We will be heading off to Riverwood on Monday so I won't be doing much writing between now and then. I will try to check in with a quote and thought each day though, so hope you drop by for a short visit and a hello.

Always be kinder than you need to be and give the world around you a "Beauty Treatment"

Monday, December 06, 2004

Mouse in the House

We got out on the bikes yesterday, but today we awoke to snow on the ground and strong, cold winds playing havoc with people who ventured outside. So, the bikes will stay tucked inside the house for now, and so will we. Time to sit snugly at the laptop and get back to my story about AC and his “Close Encounters” of the furry kind.

A few years after the “mice in the car” traumas, we once again found ourselves at the family cottage for our summer holiday. The cabin had been empty for quite some time before we got there, and the mice population was very high. I think the mice thought they owned the place and considered us the intruders. I guess we were, seeing as they used the property far more than we did.

We spent the first day there thoroughly cleaning up the cabin and getting it ready for our holiday. We opened windows, aired out bedding, stocked the fridge, filled the cupboards and swept out corners. It was a hard day’s work, but then everything was clean and ready for our little family to enjoy.

We went to bed that night and could hear the mice running in the walls chewing this and that, but we had the perfect solution this year, our cat. Yep we brought our cat with us and he would walk the perimeter while we slept, and would keep us mouse-free inside the cabin. The furry little critters could frolic to their heart’s content inside the walls if they wanted to or go out and party till dawn in the forest. We could live side by side with the wildlife in perfect peace and harmony. We had all the angles covered this year, so no worries.

It was a bit unnerving to hear the mice scampering about inside our bedroom wall when we went to bed at night, but, as long as they stayed there, we would be OK. Cats like to prowl at night; so we went to sleep knowing that our trusty cat, Dixie, was on guard and we would be safe. Oh sure!!!!

Nobody told us that cats have to be taught as kittens how to hunt and kill mice. Our old housecat apparently never went to that kitten school. He was old, well-fed and lazy …need I say more?

We set traps each night to help the cat if things got out of hand, and sure enough, each morning the traps were full. Goodness, this was a bad year (or good year) for mice, but the traps and the cat should keep things under control. Right? Wrong.

We were in bed early one morning, and I was in a deep, deep sleep. All of a sudden AC sat bolt upright in bed, made an ungodly guttural sound and grabbed his chest. He thrashed about and continued to make horrible sounds. This roused me from the deepest depths of dreamland, but I was still in the stupor that comes with that kind of deep sleep. I didn’t know where I was, who I was, or what was happening. After a second or two I realized that AC was having some sort of spasm. The first thing that popped into my fuzzy head was: “Oh dear God, he is having a heart attack, and here we are in the middle of nowhere, with no phone and no neighbours close enough to call for help.”

At this point AC threw back the covers and jumped out of bed. He continued to grab and thump at his chest while making horrible grunting sounds. He flailed his arms about madly as he jumped and thumped his feet on the floor. Maybe 5 or 10 seconds at most had passed since I had been in my deep sleep, and I was still trying to process what in the world was going on.

By this time I was kneeling on the bed, holding the covers up to my face, watching AC thrash about beside the bed. The second thought that popped into my head was: “I don’t think people having heart attacks jump around like this and make all this noise.”

AC then started to move his “dance” outside the bedroom. He thrashed and jumped and grunted his way out the door. As he did so a third thought popped into my clearing head: “A mouse! Oh no, he must have a mouse in his pyjama’s!” And he did!!!!!

Isn’t it amazing how lightening-fast one’s mind works and where it goes during times of stress? I had only been awake for maybe 15 seconds at this point, and I was shaking from the rude awakening I'd received, but my mind clicked into gear. As I saw AC’s back disappearing through the bedroom door, I remembered reading an article at some point in the past about mice and how they travel along scent paths. The article went on to say that if you happened to be standing on their scent path when they where on their way back to the nest, they would go up you and over you instead of around you. My mind whirred and spun, and it dawned on me that if AC did in fact have a mouse in his pyjamas, and the mouse had once been in this bed, then once it got out of his pj’s it would come back up over the bed on the way back to its nest, and….. I was still in the bed. Yikes! I needed to go on the offensive, so I quickly reached over and slammed the bedroom door shut.

I remained kneeling on the bed holding the wad of covers up to my mouth while AC thumped and bumped and made terrible noises out in the living room. All of a sudden, all was quiet out there. Maybe 20 seconds had passed since we had both been sound asleep – it seemed like 20 hours though.

As I knelt on the bed shaking, the bedroom door slowly creaked open. There stood AC, minus his pyjama top! He leaned against the door-jam and looked at me with the remains of terror and wonder in his eyes. I squeaked out the question – was it a mouse? He shook his head yes, and walked on shaky legs over to the bed and sat down on the edge. I remained where I was – still not able to let go of the covers. We sat there in silence for a second or two, and then AC shook his head as he quietly said: “Boy, would I like to see an instant replay of that.”

We both burst out into gales of laughter and couldn’t stop. We laughed till we cried. As we sat there laughing uncontrollably, we looked out the bedroom door into the living room and a pair of eyes looked curiously back at us from underneath the couch. The CAT! Yes the cat, the protector, the mighty hunter, the catcher of mice - was hiding under the couch. His fearful look seemed to be asking if it was safe to come out now. That made us laugh all the more and does so to this day. I am laughing as I write this story this morning - some 20 years after the event.

AC told me later that the mouse came up over his shoulder and into his pyjama top, and that is when he sat upright and first grabbed his chest. The mouse then ran under his arm, around his back, and up over to his chest again where he got his little feet caught in AC’s chest hair, but it didn’t slow him down long enough for AC to catch him, and then the little blighter started the circuit all over again. That was when AC flew out of bed and started jumping to see if he could make the mouse fall out, but the determined little beastie wouldn’t let go. AC then jumped and bumped out into the living room, ripped all the buttons off his pyjama top and got rid of the top and finally the mouse. He jumped so hard that he bruised both heels, and he hit the door jam with such force on the way out of the bedroom that he took 20-year-old paint off the wood. You just can’t imagine how funny it was.

Through the day we found pyjama buttons here, there and everywhere in the living room, and each time we found one we started to laugh all over again. What a hoot. It was just too funny.

That night when it was time to go to bed again we were uneasy to say the least. Dare we get back in that bed? Surely it wouldn’t happen again. Surely the mouse had been scared half to death too and wouldn’t venture near that bed again – ever. We had nowhere else to sleep, so we had to chance it. It was a really hot night, but we got into bed and tucked the covers snugly up around our necks. We both lay on our backs, arms at our sides with elbows bent and hands up under our chins; the covers tightly clasped in each hand. Needless to say we were not relaxed, and we were boiling. We lay there like pokers, afraid to move an inch in case we opened a crack in the covers. After a few minutes AC turned to me and said: “I wonder if the general store in town carries sports equipment?”

“Why? I asked.”

“I feel like I need a football helmet and shoulder pads to protect me while I sleep.”

We both burst out laughing and eventually relaxed and went to sleep. No mice, none that we were aware of anyway, bothered us that night, but two nights later AC had another furry critter crawl over him. He didn’t have a pyjama top on so it was easy to flick it off of him, but we just couldn’t stay there any longer. We packed up the next day and went down to the city.

As much as we loved that old cottage we never slept there again. The next time we went up for a holiday, we took a tent with us and slept in it. We enjoyed the cottage during the day, but we would retreat to our safe, mouse-free tent at night and sleep in blessed peace and safety.

That mouse story has given us, and many others tears of laughter over the years. People come up to AC and say, “Oh you’re the guy who had the mouse in his pyjamas,” and we all start to laugh all over again.

I hope I have given you a chuckle or two this morning too. I laughed my way all through trying to write the story down let me tell you. We have recounted the story many times, and can hardly get through it without laughing uncontrollably.

Share some laughter with your friends today and let the endorphins run wild. It is so good for you.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Oh No! Not again!

We took our generator in to be serviced a couple of weeks ago, and when we put the back seats up in the car to make room for it, we noticed a roll of life savers surrounded by torn bits of paper under one seat. I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach and thought it looked like a mouse had been chewing the candy and paper but convinced myself that the mess couldn’t have been made by a mouse; and just cleaned up the paper and didn’t think about it again.

Yesterday we went to the big city to visit daughter #2. She is in the middle of term papers and preparations for her exams right now, so we went to take her out for dinner, give her a hug and wish her well on her exams. We got in the car for our two hour plus trip to her house and stopped on the way to get a cup of coffee and a toasted bagel. With coffee beside me and bagel balanced on my lap, I opened the glove compartment to get something out and was dismayed to find a Kleenex in there covered with mouse droppings. I couldn’t deny it this time; we did have or had had a mouse in the car. Luckily, I didn’t see the actual mouse, but he had recently been in the glove compartment doing who knows what, and under the seat munching on lifesavers. Groan! The fact that he had been in the car didn’t bother me nearly as much as the more important issue - where was he now? Not knowing if he was still in the car or not, made for a most uncomfortable trip let me tell you.

Now, did you notice the little word “again” in the title of this blog? Yes “again”. We have had mice in our car before – TWICE! Granted that was about 25 years ago, but it is still very vivid in my memory and seems like only yesterday.

When Thesha was just a little munchkin, we were enjoying our summer holiday at my parent's cottage; having a grand time in the country. We noticed that we had a bumper crop of mice around that year, but they were mostly outside and didn't bother us much in the cottage, so we locked up our food and tried not to let the wild life spoil our holiday. It is amazing what one puts up with at a summer cottage huh? Spiders in the outhouse and mice in the porch were just part of the whole experience. I freak out if I see a mouse here at home, but up there, they just come with the territory.

After about a week in the country we got in the car one day and set off on a nice day trip to visit friends in the area. Butterfly was buckled safely in the back seat and our dog was snuggled in beside her. We were merrily driving along the highway going about 60mph when all of a sudden the car began to swerve from side to side. I turned to look at AC and was shocked to see him flapping his arms wildly and banging the steering wheel repeatedly. What the heck was going on? I soon saw that a mouse was running to and fro on his person. I am not sure whether AC or the mouse was more upset, but I think AC was, or maybe it was ME! After frantic thumping and bumping he finally knocked the furry monster off his arm and onto the floor. Oh no, we lost sight of it. Where was it now? AC regained control of the car and pulled over to the shoulder of the road. He slammed on the brakes and we jumped out. Hearts pounding wildly we got Thesha out of her car seat and all of us stood outside the car shaking and laughing and almost crying. After a few minutes, we calmed down and gingerly got back into the car to search for the mouse, but couldn’t find it anywhere. We then had to get back into the car and drive to our friend’s house. It was awful not knowing where in the world the mouse was or when it would make another appearance. What an tense ride that was. Thankfully we didn’t see the mouse again on that trip, but we were certainly on edge the whole time. When we got back to the cottage we put a trap in the car and three days later caught the little intruder. Whew!

The day after we caught the mouse, we packed up the car and set off for the seven hour trip home. We got on the highway and I turned to AC and said, “ I am so glad that we caught that mouse because the long trip home would be almost unbearable if we hadn’t.” No sooner had I gotten those words out of my mouth than the car started to swerve wildly again. I looked at AC in horror and realized that we had another mouse in the car. I saw this mouse run down his arm, around the steering wheel, along the steering column, across the dash and into the cold air return vent. We slammed the vents shut, pulled off onto the shoulder of the road and tried to calm down and get our heartrates back to normal before we set off again. I couldn't believe that this was happening again. We traveled the rest of the way home with the vents closed tight, so not a speck of air was circulating in the car. It was damn hot too, but neither of us would dare open those vents. That was how the little blighters were getting in and we weren’t about to take a chance on letting this one make a return trip inside.

The most memorable line of the whole adventure naturally came from AC and it still makes us laugh whenever we relate this story to anyone. While he was madly slapping at the mouse and the car was swerving wildly, I screamed “God Help me!” AC turned to me with incredulity in his eyes and voice and shouted back – “Help you? It’s crawling all over me!!!”

Goodness we laugh now when we look back at what happened, but it was downright scary at the time. We were so lucky that we didn’t get into a major accident. Our guardian angel slipped up and let those blasted mice into the car, but made up for it by keeping us safe on the highway that day. We were literally all over the road, and are so thankful that no other cars crossed our path when those mice decided to do a tap-dance on AC’s shoulders, neck, and arms.

So, all those memories came flooding back as we drove along busy Hwy 401 yesterday. I kept stamping my feet just in case the mouse was under my seat and thought he might like to venture up my pant leg or something like that. It was a very unsettling ride to say the least.

I am happy to report that we made it there and back safely yesterday and didn’t see hide nor hair of the mouse, but I think I will go out and buy a mouse-trap tomorrow and put it in the car for the next few days, just to make sure he is gone before we set off on our winter holiday next week. Never a dull moment around here, that is for sure.

Stay tuned for part two of the saga of our encounters with mice at the cottage. Yes, AC had another major run-in with the little blighters, early one morning, but I will save that story for another blog. At least it didn’t occur in a car going down the highway at 60mph, but it just about gave us both a heart attack anyway.

Well, I must run now, so will publish this post before I head off to bed and will continue with the rest of the story tomorrow.

Talk to you all later.

This and That

I don't know about you, but I have been having trouble getting out of bed these past few mornings. Seems so hard to roll out of the snug warm covers on cold dark mornings doesn't it? This problem along with some books I have been reading, started the old wheels turning in my brain about the scant hours of daylight we get during the winter months, the accompanying long dark nights, the changing of the seasons, and our bio-rhythms. Yes, lots of things spinning around in the old grey matter these days. This blog entry will be a little bit of "this and that", just to put some of these thoughts down in black and white and help me put some order to them. Maybe! Actually, I think this blog might be all over the place too, but let’s start and see where I end up.

It seems soooo much easier to hop out of bed on a bright day in the spring or summer, when the house is warm and full of sunshine, than on these cold dreary winter mornings. Brrrr! I awake, and the battle begins. Hmm, let me see - warm snugly bed vs cold dark room, which do I chose? Now that I don't have to get up and go to work, or get kids ready for school, the choice to roll over and stay in bed is an easy one to make. It is so hard to swing the old feet outside the covers and plant them firmly on the cold floor, on frigid gloomy mornings. I do it with a mumble, grumble, and a growl. Coffee, I need coffee!

Just the other morning, I sat rather bleary-eyed in the family room, trying to wake myself up with that first cup of coffee. I stared blankly out the window and wondered if maybe just maybe, man was really meant to hibernate for the winter? Seeing as I felt like a bit of a bear that morning, I growled as I sipped my coffee and thought I should give that idea more serious consideration. Sleeping the winter away sounded good to me right then.

Once the coffee started to kick in I realized that I didn’t really want to hibernate and miss the beauty of sunshine on fresh fallen snow and all the winter sports that go hand and hand with that, but I did start to think about the long dark winter nights and what life would be like if we didn’t have artificial light. Hmmmmm? What would the world be like if we got up with the sun and went to bed with the sun? Interesting to think about isn’t it? Maybe material for a future blog.

I was reading a book about sleep a little while ago, and in it the author quoted another book, “Acquainted with the night: Insomnia Poems” by Lisa Russ Spaar. Intrigued by the title, I went to my local library to check the book out. I am not bothered by insomnia but AC sometimes is, so I thought it might be a good book to share with him. The book wasn’t in our branch, but the librarian said they would bring it in for me. Imagine my surprise a few days later when I went to pick the book up and discovered it was a book of almost the same title by a different author - “Acquainted with the night: Excursions through the world after dark” by Christopher Dewdney. The jacket liner proclaimed it to be – A journey from twilight to dawn with a passionate observer who is endlessly curious, astonishingly erudite and touched by genius…the book explores the history of night, the life of night, the culture of night, the meaning of night.” Hmm, sounded interesting so I took it home, started to read and was soon hooked. It is a fascinating book and it came my way in such a serendipitous manner. I love it when that happens don’t you? I still eagerly await the other book to see what it is like but for now I am enjoying this book along with the 4 or 5 others I have on the go right now. So many books to read, so little time! Sigh.

Just the other day I discovered another new author, and his delightful book added to and expanded on the thoughts already spinning in my head about the night, sleeping, rest and so on. Isn’t it amazing how that happens sometimes? Oh such a treat to have all these new authors dropped into my lap, like pennies from heaven. I found this latest author quite by accident too.

We drove to the wetlands last Sunday because it was too windy to ride the bikes, and on the way home I turned the car radio on to see what was on Tapestry. I caught the last half of an interview with John O’Donohue, an author, who was talking about his new book “Beauty: The invisible embrace.” What an eloquent amazing man. I had never heard of him before Sunday, but was so impressed by the way he seemed to be talking poetry. That is the only way I can describe how he was conversing with the interviewer. Wisdom and beauty dripped from every sentence he uttered. AC and I looked at each other and wondered how people could talk like that off the top of their heads. We sat quietly in the car to catch every word he said and once we got home, we rushed into the house and turned the radio on in there, to hear the rest of the interview. The very next day I was at the library looking for O’Donohue’s first book “Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom” and I put in an order for his new book “Beauty: The Invisible Embrace”. Oh such treasures I have waiting to be read. Riches indeed.

I started reading Anam Cara, and was surprised and delighted to find O’Donohue writing about the night and light and darkness. Amazing how these thoughts dovetailed with all the ideas already circling inside my own head.

O’Donohue says in Anam Cara “The world rests in the night. Trees, mountains, fields, and faces are released from the prison of shape and the burden of exposure. Each thing creeps back into its own nature within the shelter of the dark….. The darkness absolves everything; the struggle for identity and impression falls away. We rest in the night.” Ahh, blessed rest.

The night is a gift to us, but we turn our electric lights on and don’t allow ourselves to open that gift and experience that time of rest. We study late into the night, work the night shift, party, watch TV, read – any number of things that eat our time and don’t allow us to be released from the “prison of shape and the burden of exposure”. We don’t take time to look inward and become acquainted with ourselves. How different the world would be if we all had to stop whatever we were doing when it got dark. If we weren’t sleepy we could meditate, contemplate life, talk to each other, sing, look at the stars, the list could go on and on. Can you even imagine a world where no one is sleep deprived?

“Night is a dead monotonous period under a roof; but in the open world it passes lightly, with its stars and dew and perfumes.”
Robert Louis Stevenson

Dewdney believes that “the night is neither dead nor monotonous, but a deeply intimate time of day that shapes the rhythms of our bodies, the ebb and flow of our mood, the very pulse of our minds.”

Yes, our day starts the night before, and what we do with our evening sets the tone for the coming day. What we fill our minds with, what we eat, what interactions we have with other people etc. All these things really do set the tone for the next day.

I still don’t know why I wake up feeling like a bear on some morning when I have gotten to bed early the night before and seem to have enjoyed a nice deep, restful sleep. Maybe we just need more sleep during the winter months and some sort of “hibernation” is called for.

So, my thoughts continue to spin and weave on these subjects and I am not quite sure how they all tie together, but I am sure they do. I will delve deeper into these books and keep you posted on the tapestry of thought weaving together.

In the meantime, let me challenge you, (and myself also), to open that gift of the night and enjoy it in all its beauty. Pay attention to our evenings in order to start each day off right, and indulge in the sheer luxury of sleeping in on a cold winter morning or two. I am sure we are meant to do that from time to time. Don't you?

Take care, and be good to yourself.

Friday, December 03, 2004

One of those days

Have you ever had one of those days when nothing will come together for you on the page? Well, today I am having one of those days. Sigh.

I got up early this morning and enjoyed my first cup of coffee in front of the fireplace while I did my morning pages and planned my day. Ah, a free day at home to write and catch up on some email. Priceless.

I poured a second cup of coffee and came up to my studio to get to work. I sat at my laptop all morning and didn't get one thing finished. Not one piece of email written, not one blog ready to post. Nothing, and I mean nothing would come together. Oh dear!!

So, at noon I gave up and padded down to the kitchen to make lunch. I am now back at my laptop, but I won't look at what I wrote this morning until tomorrow. Maybe it will look different after it has simmered on a back burner for awhile. For now, I will write a few email and then go out for a walk.

I hope the sun is shining on your little corner of the world today too, and you get out to soak up some of it.

Have a good day, and remember - Always be kinder than you need to be! You just never know who is having a bad day and needs some extra kindness.

Talk to you all later.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Dark cloud on a sunny day

December came in bright and full of gusty wind today. After all the rain last night it was nice to see the sunshine this morning, but oh the wind. I think they said on the radio that it was gusting up to 60kph. Not a day for a ride on the bikes that is for sure.

We spent the morning snugly tucked inside the house writing and doing other cozy things but the sunshine beckoned us outside this afternoon. So, after lunch, we donned our warm coats and hiking boots and hit the bike trail for a walk instead of a ride. Clear blue skies shone overhead while the wind blew ferociously at ground level. We only did one section of the trail, but that was enough on this cold day. We stopped at the turn around point for a steaming cup of coffee and fresh cinnamon bun before heading home again. MMMM, both were yummy.

My spirits were lifted by the sunshine and I was totally enjoying the walk. Not too many people were out on the trail, but we did meet one old gentleman walking his dog, and we exchanged cheery hellos as we passed. That is the etiquette on the trail, to acknowledge each other in some way and keep on going.

At one section on the trail we come close to a local high school and depending on the time of day, we might meet quite a few kids walking home. I always try to greet them too, even though they seem wrapped up in their own worlds and lots of them don’t answer back at all. I try to make the effort to connect with them and let them know that I see them and they are worth a hello. You never know who needs a smile and a little acknowledgement. So I try to make eye contact and say something.

Today, when we were almost at the end of the trail we walked towards three young boys who looked about 12 or 13 years old. I don’t think there were old enough to be in high school, but they might have been. They were rough housing and pushing each other around, but seemed to be doing it good-naturedly. As we got closer to them I heard one of them say “Oh look, a dead bird.” He picked up a stick and started pushing it off the walking path. He was still pushing it to one side when we came up to them. I smiled and said “Yukky huh? “ The boy with the stick didn’t say anything; he was too engrossed in his activity. I heard the second boy say “Yah.” But it was the third boy who got my attention. He looked right at me with a cold look of distain or hatred and in an ugly insolent tone made some smart remark about liking it and wanting to eat it. It all happened in an instant, but his look hit my spirit like a bucket of cold water thrown in my face and really shook me to my core. We kept walking at our brisk pace and passed them quickly, but as I passed I heard him say something about “a cupcake”. I don't know if this was directed at me or not. I didn’t look around or respond to him in any way, but the look in his eyes hangs over me like a dark cloud even now. I can’t quite describe it, but I think what I saw in his eyes was pure hatred. What would make a young boy like that so angry and full of hatred towards a stranger who just greeted him along a walking path?

AC and I were walking together and he is big and tall, with an air of authority about him, but that didn’t deter this kid at all. He looked right past AC and directed his anger or hatred at me. I am sure that if I had been walking the path alone, the kid could have quite easily and happily done me harm.

The look this kid gave me frightened me at first, and then the insolent tone of the remark made me angry but now I feel just plain sad. He is just a kid, but is so full of hate and anger that it oozed out of him and touched me in a profound way on this bright sunshine filled day.

If I saw and felt all this in just a split second as I walked past him, what in the world does his mother see every day? How do his teacher’s fair? How about his siblings and his friends? I hurt for this kid and his family and will keep them in my thoughts and prayers. I must have encountered him on the path for some reason today. God help him!

God help us all to care and make a difference in some hurting person’s life today even if it is just to make eye contact and say hello.