Friday, December 30, 2005

Heaven on Earth

Yes that is where I am right now…Heaven on Earth aka Riverwood!

After a warm and wonderful Christmas with family we were treated to too many days of freezing rain and dreary weather. Not nice for Lady Bug and Power Puff's travels during the holiday, but they made it home and back to school again safely, so we are thankful for that.

Yesterday we packed up the CRV to prepare for a trip to Riverwood today, and Butterfly and the Boy prepared for a trip to Montreal for New Year's Eve celebrations. I was not happy to see more freezing rain last night, but was pleasantly surprised to wake up to sunshine and clear roads this morning.

What a treat to discover that the freezing rain had coated all the trees, shrubs, grasses, twigs, fences, wires, sign posts and anything else that happened to be standing out in the downpour last night, in a thick coat of ice. Mother Nature worked her magic all along our route and the sunshine lit up all the icy coats she designed this morning. What a treat for the eyes and heart. Every blade of grass and each pine needle were etched in icy splendour so the whole landscape sparkled and twinkled when the sun hit it. It was a sight to behold I must say.

After we arrived at the farm and unpacked the car we got a fire blazing in the furnace to warm up the old farmhouse and then we donned our snowshoes and set off for a walk. We visited the Chickadee Tree first and slathered peanut butter on lots of branches before we trekked down to the swimming hole. The sun was setting fire to the icy trees while they stood at attention in Four Paw Pasture and Elisarben Meadow. What a marvellous walk we had. I soon filled up the card on my camera. Yikes! When we got back to the farmhouse and uploaded the pictures we discovered that we couldn't capture the magic fire on film, but we did get a couple of shots that might give you an idea of the beauty our eyes feasted on today.

AC posted a few pictures too.




Above is a picture of the roads we travelled on to get here, and below is a picture of the fence along Welcome Lane at Riverwood. Oh so pretty huh?



I am too weary to write much tonight, but I did want to post these pictures and at least say hello and wish you all safe and happy New Year's celebrations this weekend. Company arrives tomorrow so things will be busy around here for the next couple of days. I'll talk to you again next week.

Take care.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Begin

Christmas Eve day! Oh joy! Lots of snow on the ground and more is on its way. We might get freezing rain at some point, but snow is promised for tonight and tomorrow so Santa should have a good trip to our corner of the country this year.

Lady Bug and Power Puff made it home safely last night. The roads were snowy and slippery, so I was a tad concerned when their bus was over an hour late, but we eventually got the call that they were at the bus station and had arrived safe and sound- a bit road weary but safe. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when all four of our kids walked in the door about twenty minutes after I got that call.

We will all gather at our house for lunch today and then head over to Butterfly's for a sleepover tonight so Santa only has one stop to make.

I must go help AC in the kitchen now. He is making his famous sweet potato soup (that is the only thing Lady Bug specifically requested be on the menu for today). We will munch on a delicious buffet at Butterfly's later tonight and feast on turkey with all the trimmings tomorrow. Oh my poor waistline.

Lots to do today, so I will quickly post this last Advent update, wish you all a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Season's Greetings and then sign off until next week sometime.



I got these delightful little tree candles and the girls got snowflakes and this quote and note.

"Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand and melting like a snowflake." Marie Beynon Ray

Follow a heart's desire today. Pick up a book, make that call, join that club, grab that paint brush, start that course. Begin, begin, begin.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Turkey and treats

Today is the day I cook the turkey. We won't have our big meal until Christmas day, but I cook the turkey and stuffing today and then we will just reheat it on the 25th. This way, the oven is free on Christmas day to cook the Christmas morning strata, and after that all the veggie casseroles. I feel like I need two or three ovens to get everything cooked at the same time, but seeing as I don't have that, I do the next best thing and spread things out over two or three days. You have to do what works – right?

So, old Tom went in the oven around 10am and will come out later this afternoon. Lady Bug and Power Puff arrive home later this evening and we will all go to Butterfly's house for a sleep over tomorrow night. Yahoo, let the fun and games begin.



Here is today's Advent update. Another Cherry Blossom was my treat for today, and the girls got bells and this quote and note -

"I don't want to get to the end of my life and find that I just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well."
Diane Ackerman

Spread out today and widen your scope of vision. Look in the corners of life and enjoy the hidden beauty there. Take time to be everywhere you are!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Cold Winter Star, Candles and Mirrors!

And the spin gets faster and faster but the Advent update must go on!

This package really had me stumped this morning. I poked, prodded and squeezed but couldn't figure out what it was. Who would have guessed a star wearing a hat and scarf???? Not me! Cute isn't it?



The girls got a peppermint candle along with this quote and note.

"There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that receives it." Edith Wharton

Be one of these things today. Candle or mirror – the world needs both.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Kindle a fire

Another busy day here at my house, so the Advent update is last minute again. Puff, pant, gasp, here it is just in the nick of time. Whew!



I got this cute little Life Saver gift package and the girls got Chocolate kisses and this quote and note -

"If the world seems cold to you, kindle fires to warm it."

Lucy Larcom

Think of the wood fire at Riverwood. It takes some planning and preparation to build it and get it going, but oh the warmth, beauty and joy as we gather round the fire together. You can build it alone, but all those near you will benefit from it. Kindle a fire right where you are today and add some warmth to your life and those around you.

Don't know what the temperature is where you are today, but if you are feeling the cold – emotional or physical – be a life saver and kindle a fire to warm up the corner where you are.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Cool Refreshing Drink

Another busy day is here, but as busy as it might be, it is still a little more relaxing than the one I experienced thirty three years ago today. You see, today is Butterfly's birthday. Happy Birthday hunny. She and the Boy are coming over for dinner tonight, so we will be cooking up a special feast to celebrate the day. How wonderful it is to be living so close to the kids now that we can just invite them over for dinner without having to travel all the way across the province to see them. I am lovin' this.

So, with all the work to be done in the kichen today I don't have time to write much again right now, but did want to share the Advent surprise with you.



I received this beautiful stained glass candle holder and the girls got a tiny gold Christmas angel along with this quote and thought for the day.


"For each of us, as women, there is a deep place within, where hidden and growing our true spirit rises…within these deep places, each one holds an incredible reserve of creativity and power, of unexamined and unrecorded emotion and feeling."

Audre Lorde

We do have deep wells of creativity and power within ourselves. Get out your bucket and dip down into that well today. What you find there will be as sweet and refreshing to your spirit as a cool drink on a hot day.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Busy Day...

Well, here we are in the last week before Christmas and things are starting to spin just a little faster around here, and I am having trouble keeping up. Here it is 8pm and I am just now getting around to my laptop to catch up on mail and post my Advent update for today. Better late than never right?



I got this nifty little spoon rest and the girls got candy along with this quote and note -

"People are like stained glass windows- the true beauty can be seen only when there is light from within. The darker the night, the brighter the windows."
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Light that candle within and let your true beauty shine through all the colours of your life.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Turn up the heat

Bright winter sunshine is warming up the house nicely this morning and it also looks spectacular bouncing off the fresh snow all around the house. What a treat for the eyes and heart the combination of sunshine and snow is. Warm and cold in perfect balance, each complimenting the other.

The Advent calendars fit in beautifully with the day again. Just like the sun brings warmth and light to a cold winter morning, a kind word spoken at the right time can bring warmth and light to a heart feeling the chill of hurt or the frost of stress at this time of year.



I got this festive candle in my Advent Calendar today and the girls got chocolate and this quote and note-

"One kind word can warm three winter months." Japanese Proverb

Spread some warmth around today. Speak the gift of kindness to everyone you meet and remember to always be kinder than you need to be.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Crazy or Lazy?

What kind of a day did you have – crazy or lazy? We spent a rather lazy afternoon at home making Christmas candy today and it was fun. AC made Breton Brittle and I made fudge. His recipe went smoothly, but I ran into trouble with mine. Half way through the process with the first batch, I switched from the new microwave method to the stove and I don't think that batch is setting properly. I made a second batch on the stove using the old tried and true method from start to finish and I am just waiting for it to cool so I can beat it before putting it into the pan to harden. Yes, our day was mostly lazy with a bit of crazy thrown in. I am sure the stores were crazy, crazy, crazy today too, but we didn't go anywhere near them. Yahoo!

After a nice sleep in this morning we opened the Advent calendars and then dawdled over breakfast. MMMM, such a nice way to start the day.



I was treated to another Pot of Gold box of chocolates and the girls got Christmas balls and this quote and note.

"The externals are simply so many props; everything we need is within us."
Etty Hillesum

During this time of the year when we are bombarded with advertisements telling us we need this or that to make our lives complete,take time to remember that all we really need is within us.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Sweet Treat

I love a winter snow storm, so I am rejoicing this morning. Yes, we got a dandy snowfall last night and it is still coming down thick and heavy today. Oh joy! We celebrated the snow-day by having hot buttered breakfast muffins instead of cereal with our coffee this morning. Yum! We decided not to have flaming cat on this snow-day though. If you missed that blog you can read all about it here.

While the muffins were toasting I checked out the Advent treats for the day and was pleased to find this jolly fellow with a robin on his shoulder waiting for me. Isn't he cute? He fits right in with the day.



The girls got this quote and chocolates.

"Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first."
Ernestine Ulmer

Oh yes sister. In the words of a very wise child –
"The whole world was made for dessert."

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Dashing through the snow...

That is exactly what we have been doing for the past few days. Dashing here, dashing there, dashing, dashing everywhere! This afternoon we are off on our third trip into the city in as many days and that seems like more than enough for now. It is time to say "Whoa Rudolph, let's stop and take a rest."

We wouldn't be going in again today, but my microwave broke and seeing as it is still under warranty we had to take it to an authorized repair shop – in the city of course. I didn't realise how often I used the crazy thing until it broke on me and now I feel rather lost without it. The repair shop just called to say it is ready to be picked up, so we are going to "dash" out the door and get it.

Not much time to write again today, but here is the Advent update.



Butterfly knows how much I love Cherry Blossoms, so today is a repeat of this favourite treat. Yum!

The girls got a little pill box with some aspirin in it along with today's quote and note

"Well behaved women rarely make history."
Laurel Ulrich

Go out and make a few waves today and have some fun. Be a pill even if you do give one or two people a headache.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Take Note!

I woke up to brilliant sunshine and cold cold temps this morning. BRRRRR. I had to get up and put an extra blanket on the bed last night too. Yes, winter is tightening its grip and things are getting a tad chilly in these parts. I do love winter though and will try not to complain too much about the cold weather. I would like more snow though.

Today will be another busy day for us. Neighbours are coming in this afternoon for a cup of Christmas Tea and a fancy cookie, and then the kids are coming over for dinner tonight. After dinner we will bundle up, grab steaming mugs of hot chocolate and set off for Ottawa to tour the city and see the Christmas lights on Parliament Hill and other interesting places. Yep, a busy but fun day ahead.

I started the day off right and enjoyed opening my Advent Calendar and will now share it quickly with you before I head into the rest of my day.

I couldn't for the life of me figure out what was in this parcel. All the poking and prodding didn't help a bit. It was hard in places and squishy in others, flat and bumpy, all at the same time. What could it be?



I never would have guessed matching snowmen note pads, but that is what was waiting inside the wrapping this morning. The covers are quite elaborate and even look like stop lights to go with the song lyric.

The girls got chocolate and this quote today -

"If your efforts are sometimes greeted with indifference, don't lose heart. The sun puts on a wonderful show at daybreak, yet most of the people in the audience go on sleeping." Ada Teixeira

Try waking up real early one morning this month to greet the dawn with a round of applause.

What the heck, better late than never. Take a minute to give the day a round of applause right now. Go ahead. Clap, clap, clap, clap, calp,clap, clap!!!! There, didn't that feel good?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Beauty Is!

Goodness things are getting mighty busy around here. How about at your house?

I don't have a lot of time (or energy) to blog tonight, but wanted to at least post the Advent info before I crawled into bed.



Today's treat really made me feel like a kid again. There is just something about a sucker that does that to you huh?

The girls got this quote and a pewter bookmark.

"Beauty is not caused. It is"
Emily Dickinson

Yes it is, and YOU ARE!! Write that down and bookmark it in your heart.

Short and sweet! This is something we should all bookmark in our hearts. Do it!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Snowmen and Blankets

We have a fresh blanket of snow on the ground today and the sunshine is having a party playing on the surface of it. How beautiful. This fluffy white blanket from Mother Nature's linen closet is my favourite one. I don't mind the patchwork quilt comforter full of colours that she spreads out over the land in autumn, but the cool winter white blanket is my favourite by far.

After I crawled out from under my own snug blankets on the bed this morning, and admired Mother Nature's just outside the window I ventured down to the kitchen to see what was in the advent calendar for today.


Tucked inside a festive blanket of wrapping paper was this cute snowman along with the song lyric "Soon it will be Christmas day." Oh joy!

The girls got this quote and challenge from me along with some wine gum candy.

"From every scrap you make a blanket."
Rose Chernin

Oh how wonderful a blanket feels to someone who is cold. From every scrap of experience in your life make a blanket and bring warmth to those around you. Don't "whine" about the annoying bits and pieces of today. Take each scrap and make a blanket.

Dear Deer

AC and Butterfly have both written about our marvellous experience with the deer last week, but I have been so busy with Advent postings, hair raising experiences and Christmas baking that my deer pictures have been sitting gathering dust. I have a few extra minutes before I hit the hay tonight, so thought I would take a minute to share a few of my pictures with you too and try to post this first thing in the morning.

As you know, AC and I have spent a lot of time at Riverwood, the 117 acre piece of property on the rugged Canadian Shield. The homestead has an old farmhouse, a couple of barns and three other outer buildings on a couple of cleared acres, but the rest of the property is heavily treed. A river runs along one borderline and old logging roads cut through the property here and there. AC and I love to spend time at this little piece of heaven on earth and enjoy all the gifts that nature has to offer in such a beautiful spot. We walk the trails in the fall and snowshoe along them and down the frozen river in winter. There are lots of deer on the property because every morning in the winter when we go snowshoeing after a fresh snowfall we see deer tracks criss-crossing our paths but we have never seen a deer. Not one!!!

Last year we spent Christmas on the farm and seeing as it was the first year for us not to have the whole family together we decided to do something completely different. We decorated a "Christmas tree" for the birds and we took apples, carrots and carrot tops out for the rabbits, deer and any other animal that happened upon our gifts on Christmas morning. Even with all these treats set out for them, we didn't see one deer – not one! Lots of birds, but not one deer. Not one!!

We drove into town, the nation's capital, last Wednesday and found a Nature Trail Butterfly discovered near her work. She told us we might see deer there, so we took our cameras and a bag of apples and set off along the path. It was a bitter cold day, but we were bundled up and ready for the cold – we thought!

We only ventured in a few yards past the entrance when Butterfly spotted the first deer sitting on a little knoll. We veered off the path and "tip toed" (if you can tip toe in snow boots) over to see if we could catch a closer glimpse of the lovely beast too.


Well, who would have believed it, but as soon as she heard us coming, she got up and walked towards us. Wow! Not only that, but pretty soon she was joined by eight other magnificent companions. It was absolutely thrilling.



All three of us stood there utterly amazed as the deer sauntered up to us to see what we had to offer. We talked softly to the beauties, offered them apples and lettuce and snapped pictures like crazy. I kept expecting them to bolt at any minute, but they didn't.


Our hands and feet were turning into little blocks of ice and Butterfly had to get back to work, so we left long before the deer did. It was totally awesome.

Well, I must toddle off to bed now, so will put this in draft to post in the morning. Hope you have a good rest tonight and wake refreshed in the morning to walk in the sunshine all day.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Star Light, Star Bright

The Advent fun continues. AC teases me and says "Don't expect anything under the tree for you this year. You are getting it all ahead of time." I know, I know. I am so spoiled with the calendar this year. I am loving it though.

Today was one of those special days when the calendars complimented each other. It is so neat when that happens.


The girls got a handful of confetti stars to spread around, and this quote and I got aromatherapy tea lights.

"Sometimes you can touch a star by reaching down." Aili Jarvenpa

Reach down to help someone out today and add the light of that star to your life and theirs.

When you reach out to help someone you do add light and beauty to your own life too. Think of that every time you see a lit candle during this season and reach out to those stars around you and make the world a brighter place to be.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Hair raising experience – Part II

You got it Wash Lady and Gina – my hair raising experience was a visit to a new hairdresser. Not only for a cut but highlights too. Yikes! Scary indeed. Why is it so hard to find a good hairdresser and not someone who gives the same cut to everyone no matter what your hair is like or what you ask for?

After years of trial and error, I finally found a girl who would listen to what I said and tried to give me the cut I wanted. She didn't always succeed, and a few times I had one side shorter than the other, or a cut that didn't work with the natural waves, cow licks, or free spirit my hair had, but after years of training, she finally knew my hair and what it would and wouldn't do. She would meditate the night before I came in for a cut and eat her Wheaties that morning, just so she would be in fine form and at her creative best for the task ahead. (Get it? A head?!!) As my hair started to turn grey, I was always game for something new and wanted to change colour or styles with the seasons, and she was always willing to try to give me what I thought I wanted.

My first encounter with haircolouring was not a happy one. After years of not colouring my hair at all, I decided to take matters into my own hands one day, and add some highlights to it. I ended up with orange hair. Not only orange, but a patchwork quilt of different shades of orange. What a mess! It was a, hot as blazes, summer and I had to wear a hat each time I went out because my head looked like it was on fire when I went out into the sunlight, and people kept trying to throw buckets of water on me. I slinked off to my hairdresser and asked her to help me "fix it". I put the temporary insanity of trying to colour my own hair, down to menopausal madness due to raging hormones at the time, and vowed never to try to colour my own hair again. My dear sweet hairdresser took me into the back room and worked her magic on my head. She put the fire out and gave me a gentle glow of blonde instead of the flaming orange. I loved the new look and so did AC.

My old hairdresser was a gem. She understood exactly what I meant when I said I want it short but long, close to my head but full, off my face, but with bangs that touch my eyebrows…..

So, it was with great fear and trepidation that I moved far far away from her and faced the task of finding someone else who spoke the same language. It was easier to find a new doctor!!!!

Butterfly heard from a friend that there was an excellent guy in town and people travelled all the way out here from Ottawa just to have him cut their hair, so I gave him a call and set up an appointment to put my head in his hands. Then I tried to calm myself with the mantra- " it will always grow again, it will always grow again, it will always grow again" and kept repeating it to myself as the dreaded appointment date drew closer.

Yesterday I sat in the chair and tried to tell him about the natural waves in my hair and what kind of a cut I wanted. He didn't seem to be paying any attention to what I was saying. He looked at my hair and said he wanted my hair to find its own freedom and tell him what it wanted to do instead of him trying to make it doing something else. I didn't know if I liked what I was hearing or not. What was I letting myself in for! Oh dear, should I get up and run for it while I still had the chance? (It will grow again, it will grow again, it will grow again.) I stayed put.

He then got out his colour book and showed me the colours he would chose for my skin tones and pointed out three shades that he liked– a highlight, a low light and something else – I forget what he called it. I think I was going into panic mode at this point. They were completely different colours than what I had, (warm tones instead of cool) and he went on to explain that he had to cover the old colour before he could do something new. As he chatted on about colour and hair follicles I repeated my mantra to myself and decided to throw caution to the wind and blurted out – "Sure why not" and let him go to it. (It will grow again, it will grow again, it will grow again.)

I must say that I have never had anyone spend so much time cutting my hair. He seemed to be cutting one wispy strand at a time. I had to sit perfectly straight, I was not allowed to cross my legs and I had to be very still and tilt my head, just so, when instructed to do so. An artist was at work!!!!!

To make this long story a bit shorter let me just say that I love the new colour and I think I will like the new cut. I wasn't sure at first though. When he styled it and fussed with it after the cut I felt like I had a palm tree on my head when he was done. It was high and wide and my head felt very big. Yes, it was a tad more bouffant than I was used to. So much so, I thought I might have trouble getting into the car to drive home.

I walked in the door and AC's face registered his shock at the new do too and he said "It is big isn't it?"
"I feel like I have a palm tree on my head" I replied, and I started to tug at it to try to tame it down a bit. AC followed me upstairs and said that I should leave it alone and maybe we would get used to it after awhile. As the day wore on and it flattened out a bit we both thought that we rather liked the cut and it might be ok. It was the rather flamboyant styling job that was a bit over the edge for us.

After all this talk about the cut and colour I thought maybe I should post a picture of it. So, after sleeping on it and having it mashed into the pillow for a few hours it looks like this.



Not bad huh? All I did when I got up was brush it back and it fell into place. Whew! The morning after the cut always tells the tale doesn't it? Yes, I think I am going to like this cut a lot. Who knew I should have been listening to my hair instead of trying to tell it what to do all these years? You learn something new every day don't you?

Jingle Bells and Christmas Flowers

The sun is shining brightly today but the wind is blowing fiercely. BRRRR, it is a beautiful but cold day.

The cat woke me up rather early this morning by dancing on my head. I guess he wanted me to get out of bed and turn the heat up. Can't blame him really, it was a tad chilly in here. We turn the heat way down when we go to bed at night and haven't yet installed one of those thermostats that turn it back up a half hour before we get up so the house isn't icy when we first drag out feet out from under the covers. We have one on order though.

AC stayed under the covers while I went down to start the coffee and see what was in the Advent Calendar. I didn't let him stay there long though because I don't open the surprise until he is there too. I dig out the parcel and poke and prod it, but no peeking is allowed until he gets up.


This one was an easy one to guess because it made noise as soon as I picked it up.

The girls got chocolate in their calendar along with this quote-

"People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us." Iris Murdoch

Buy yourself a flower today and go mad with joy!!!!


The stores are full of beautiful and inexpensive Christmas flowers right now. Treat yourself to one and put it near your favourite writing spot and really look at it. Flowers are wonders of creation and we skim over them or look past them far too often. Take time to stop and look, really look, at one today. You will be glad you did.

We will putter around the house this morning and then head up to a small town just north of us to visit some of the quaint shops there and soak in the Christmas atmosphere. My Christmas shopping is done, so it will just be fun trip to look and touch but not have any pressure to find anything in particular. We will wander around in some book stores, art galleries, and gift shops, perhaps visit a tearoom and then maybe stop at the local general store for some of its famous fresh baked cinnamon buns to bring home with us. We have been to this general store a few times already and find it quite unique. It has old creaky wooden floors, a magnificent counter along the back wall lined with antique apothecary jars, a shelf built near the ceiling that goes all the way around the store which serves as a railway line for an old fashioned model train, which travels around the room as you shop. At the front door is a big wide counter littered with glass-domed pedestal plates full of fresh baked goodies. The fragrance when you first walk in the door is the heavenly aroma of cinnamon and brown sugar rolls just coming out of the over. Oh, I can almost taste them now. Yum!

I hope you find something warm, wonderful and festive to do today and you enjoy all the sights and sounds of the season.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Hair Raising Experience.

Well ladies, I had to pluck up my courage today and just do it. I have been putting it off and putting it off since we moved here in September, and it was getting to be quite a problem. So today was the day to take the bull by the horns and take action. I have had this date marked on the calendar for a few weeks now, and every time I would see the appointment written in red ink under the number nine I would quake just a little and have this inner dialogue with myself - Maybe I should cancel the appointment and wait a few more weeks. No, don't be silly, you have to do it sometime, so just brave it out and go do it. Maybe I should ask more questions, and look around more before I take this step into the unknown... and on and on it went.

Today dawned snowy and cold, and I thought maybe the roads would be closed and I would be forced to stay at home. Well, I could always hope. No such luck, the roads were fine, so I wasn't given a reprieve. I made my coffee as I listen to the road reports and traffic was moving just fine. Drat!

I still had two hours before I had to leave, so I could enjoy my coffee, open the Advent Calendar, read the paper on-line, check my mail and maybe even read a couple of blogs before I had to go and face the music.

As soon as the coffee was ready I poured a big steaming mug and then ventured over to the Advent Calendar to see what was waiting for me there. I shook and pinched the parcel, but couldn't figure out what it was. I was delighted to find a set of Holiday wine glass charms tucked inside the wrapping paper, along with the song lyric Silver Bells.



Pretty huh? I would sure be ringing those Silver Bells once I knew what would happen at my appointment and had the traumatic experience behind me. Maybe I would even celebrate with a chilled glass of white wine.

The girls got bracelets with power messages on them like this yellow "Livestrong" bracelet from Lance Armstrong.. The girls got different coloured ones with "Strength" and "Power" written on them and this quote accompanied them.

"It doesn't so much matter what one loves. To love is the transfiguring thing."

Spread the love around today. Do something special and out of the ordinary for someone today.


There is power in the simple act of loving and showing it isn't there.

I put my Livestrong bracelet on, picked up my strong creamy coffee and headed upstairs to check my mail and read the morning paper before I headed out "into the lion's den"

I left the house around 9:30 and I said to AC I felt like I was going to the dentist instead of where I was going. I am sure it would be easier and less traumatic than this!!! Oh well, I had been putting it off for as long as I could, and it just had to be done, so I bundled up and headed out the door.

Have you guessed by now where I was going? It is getting late and this is turning into a rather long post, so maybe I will just end this here and pick it up again tomorrow. Stay tuned. I have to go rest now after my rather traumatic day.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Magic and Cherry Blossoms

Goodness this is a busy time of year. I ran out of time to post my Advent surprise yesterday, so I will give you a two day update today.

We went into the big city yesterday morning to visit Butterfly's nature trail near her work. I still find it hard to believe that we have such nature trails right in the middle of the nation's capital, but we do. We were on busy city streets one minute and in the middle of the snowy woods the next. Simply fantastic! We took lots of pictures and I hope to get a post written about that soon. But for now, here is a peek at what I found in the Advent calendar yesterday and today.



Cute little pate knives and the song lyric "Meeting smile after smile" were tucked inside the wrapping for me on day seven, and the girls got a Santa stamp to add some magic to plain pieces of paper, along with the following quote and note.

"I am sure there is magic in everything, only we have not sense enough to get hold of it and make it do things for us." Frances Hodgson Burnett

This season above all others is full of magic. Grab hold and don't let go.

I hope you out there in blogland feel the magic in the air these days too and you put it to work for you.

This morning (day eight)rolled around before I was ready for it. The temperature took a nose dive last night and the house was cold, cold, cold when I woke up and the bed was warm, warm, warm! I had a hard time rolling out of my cozy cocoon and putting my feet on the cold hard floor, but I eventually did just that and headed into my day. BRRRRR!

Coffee was first thing on the agenda, then the Advent Calendar. Yum, I found a nice warm treat there and once again it fit in with the quote I gave the girls today.




"What one loves in childhood stays in the heart forever."
Mary Jo Putney

Ahh those childhood memories of this special time of year. See if you can't recapture that feeling today and take it with you wherever you go.

I don't know if you have these candies in your neck of the woods, but these really speak to me of my childhood, and I still love them. We had a small corner store near our house and if I had a dime to splurge on something decadent it would be a Cherry Blossom. I am sure they were much bigger when I was kid though.

MMMMM, I will indulge in this with my afternoon tea and recapture that feeling of childhood as I do.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Cookie Art

I arrived at Butterfly's door at 10am on Saturday morning all excited about the day ahead. This was a full circle moment for me and I was pleased beyond words that my Christmas baby (Butterfly was born just before Christmas day) was now having me over to her house to pick up a tradition that she remembered from her childhood and wanted to share with me again.

All week we had gathered what we would need for the day – cookie cutters, flour, sugar, butter, icing sugar, food colouring, decorations, baking sheets, and lots of imagination. We put Christmas music on to play, turned the Tree on, and set to work. What fun we had rolling, cutting, baking and even dancing - all morning.



We stopped for lunch and AC and the boy joined us for this short break. After lunch we set all our decorating ingredients out on the table and let the creative juices flow as we decorated over 150 cookies!



We didn't finish until 6pm. Yikes. Our backs and shoulders were yelling at us by the time we got the last cookie decorated, but we had so much fun and laughed a lot as we added a festive touch to each cookie. We sure enjoyed munching and crunching the odd cookie that broke during the decorating process too. Mmmm, they tasted just like childhood.


Aren't they pretty?

We had a little icing and overflow decorations at our workstations, so we saved the last four cookies for AC and The Boy to decorate and eat. They loaded these with icing and sprinkles or chocolate chips and gobbled them down in short order. Sooooo good.

I sure was tired when I got home, but my heart was light and full of sweet memories of days gone by. It was a perfect day of old and new memories mixed together, rolled out, cut into shapes and decorated with love.

Holiday Train

What a delight it is to be living in this small town and be part of all the festivities in the area at this time of year. There is something different about a small town spirit and we are enjoying it immensely. The Santa Claus Parade was quite amazing but the visit from the CPR Holiday Train far surpassed even that event.



We have never even heard of the Holiday Train, but it is well known in these parts and people come for all over to greet it and cheer it on. It was a very cold night, so we bundled up in ski suits and heavy boots and set out to take up our spot along the train tracks and await the train. As the time got closer for it's scheduled arrival the crowds got thicker and thicker and it felt like the whole town (all nine thousand of us) were gathered along-side the rails.

I had no idea what to expect about where the train would stop, which side of the tracks I should stand on, what car the show would be on - stuff like that. I just picked a spot and decided to stick with it. I would be able to hear the music wherever I was and hoped I could see some of the show. AC went off down the tracks to see if he could get some clear pictures of the train pulling into town and I told him I would stay by this particular light pole so he could find me during or after the show. We didn't connect again until well after the show had ended. I will let him share all the details of his adventure with you here. He has lots more information on the train on his blog too.

Ok, back to my story, -- wouldn't you know that the train stopped and positioned the show car right in front of me? Yahoo! What luck. I had the most perfect spot to view the whole show. I clapped and danced and had a wonderful time soaking up the holiday cheer and delight the train brought to our town that night.



I took two pictures and my battery light flashed that it was low. Oh no! It was darn cold, I had bulky mitts on, I was in a crowd of people and it was dark. Dare I try to change the battery? No. AC had the better camera for night shots and he was off somewhere merrily taking a kazillion pictures, so I wouldn't bother trying to change my battery. I tucked my camera safely in my mitt and waited for the doors on the show car to roll open and the music to start. Taped Christmas music was blaring from speakers the local radio station had hooked up and the crowd was dancing and singing along while we waited for the real show to begin. Total fun.

The stage opened and as you can see, I was right in front of it. My mind started to whirl. Hmmmmmm? I wonder were AC is? Even if he did get good pictures of the train coming in, he is nowhere in sight now, and I have the perfect spot to get some pictures. Maybe I should try to change the battery. This inner dialogue went on for a few seconds and I finally decided to fumble away in the dark and jostling crown, and change the battery. My fingers got cold in the process, but I did it without dropping anything. Thank goodness. I snapped pictures with abandon and got quite a few. Good thing too, as you will discover when you read AC's blog. Sheesh!

Anyway, we had a grand time and even got a picture or two. Yes, the best laid plans sometimes do go awry, but it all works out in the end, and if it doesn't, it isn't the end yet.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Snowmen and Kites

Today's treat in the Advent Calendar really had me stumped. I poked and prodded the strange shaped package but couldn't figure out what all the sharp little ends were. The twig's and stick's sharp ends made sense once it was unwrapped and I found a rolly polly snowman.



He is now sitting on a shelf by the stairs in the upstairs hallway watching "people passing" by. It looks like this snowman has had one too many of the chocolates I put in the girls calendar today, but I am sure he will slim down in the New Year! Won't we all?

"Imagination is the highest kite that can fly."
Lauren Bacall

Get your imagination kite out of the box today and go outside and let it fly sister.

Don't keep your imagination kite all boxed up today either. Let it dance in the wind and have some fun.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Angels and Shining Stars

Grief doesn't go away in this generally joyous season. In fact those who have reason to grieve must feel the pain with increased sharpness when others are so cheerful. So it must be with the four peacekeepers, two of them Canadian, who have recently been taken hostage in Iraq: Tom, Harmeet, James, Norman, their families, and the rest of us to some degree. So, when I received HT's letter with a copy of the speech that she just gave, I was moved, for my little sister has overcome her own mountain of grief to, once again, claim her share of the sunlight.

HT has given me permission to share this letter with you, but please allow me to supply you with the pertinent background. (edited to add - Grab a tissue or two you might need them)

In 1992 my mother died suddenly and unexpectedly at HT's house on Christmas day. She had not been sick and had no history of heart disease, but the cause of her death was attributed to a massive heart attack. Mom had spent a wonderful Christmas day with my sister and her family, and, when I spoke to her around 6pm that night to wish her a Merry Christmas and tell her that I would see her the next day, she talked excitedly about the wonderful time she had that day. However, as was related to me later, mom started to feel ill around 9pm, and by 11pm the paramedics were at my sister's house, but it was too late, mom was gone.

Three months later on mom's birthday in March, my sister was getting ready to take flowers to put on her grave. HT's young daughter Elisabeth, just five at the time, was not being very co-operative that morning and was giving my sister a hard time about getting ready to go out. She threw a temper tantrum, but HT, who was in no mood for her shenanigans that day, sent Elisabeth to her room until she could stop crying and behave.

Elisabeth stomped off up to her room while my sister continued to clean up the kitchen fighting all the while with all the roiling emotions inside her: loss and grief over my mother's death. After a few minutes, she too headed upstairs to get dressed and face a difficult visit to the cemetery. When she got to the landing, she saw that Elisabeth had cried herself out and fallen asleep on the floor in the hall. HT went over to wake her up but to her horror found that Elisabeth was not sleeping -- her precious daughter lay lifeless on the floor.

Once again the paramedics were at the door in short order, but nothing could be done to help little Elisabeth. Her spirit was gone. Later we learned that a mysterious virus had attacked and stopped Elisabeth's heart. She hadn't been sick and had no history of heart disease; it was just a strange virus that struck out of the blue.

The whole family reeled at the news of Elisabeth's death on mom's birthday, and we all just about went under as waves of sorrow, grief and loss swept over us. We managed, just barely, to keep our heads above water, but my dear sister spiralled down into a deep dark depression and has struggled valiantly over the years to climb out of this almost bottomless pit of despair.

You never "get over" the death of your child, and the pain never goes away, but my sister is beginning to find the soul-strength to raise her head to the sun these days, and we all marvel at her strength. For years, she fought to put one foot in front of the other and take care of her family when all she wanted to do was curl up in a corner and die. But now, she is striving to live.

I've taken a lot of time and space, to provide you with the background that may help you to appreciate the text of a recent speech that she just gave to other bereaved parents.

After Elisabeth died my sister went to a support group called BFO (Bereaved Families Organization) and they were a lifeline to her when she really needed one. This year she was invited to be the guest speaker at their Lighting of the Tree ceremony to honour loved ones lost.

This is a copy of the talk she gave that night. If you are dealing with the pain of grief and loss during this season I hope this speaks to your heart and helps to ease your pain even if just a little.

Thanks for letting me share this sister dear. I am so proud of you. Love and hugs from your big sister.

Tree Dedication – Bereaved Families Organization - Nov. 29, 2005

This time of year is often called the season of light, but for many it can feel more like the season of night. For most of us here it’s a bittersweet mix of both. I’ve come to see that light and darkness can co-exist quite beautifully together; in fact the darkness makes the light more brilliant. I saw this the other day when I was hanging an evergreen garland in my window. After I put it up and plugged it in, I found that the lights didn’t work. I was too tired to struggle with them, so I left it up. Later that night, I found beautiful twinkling lights in my window. They had been there all along; I just hadn’t been able to see them in the bright light of day. It reminded me of the quote, “When it’s darkest, men see the stars.”

Have we known any greater night than this separation from the ones we love so dearly and so deeply? We know about utter darkness, don’t we? It’s taken a long time for my eyes to adjust to the absence of my daughter’s light, but in the pitch blackness I have found many unexpected gifts.

Tonight I am standing in a room full of compassionate people; some of you I know well and you are the kindest, most caring people I have known. This compassion is born out of our deep loss and I believe it mirrors the precious ones we love.

I am here too with perhaps the strongest, most courageous people I have ever met. Fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends who have not only continued to live in the face of unbearable pain, but who have also found the strength to reach out and help others despite their own grief. This is a powerful reflection of our love, and what beautiful, much needed light you bring to this world.

Tonight we are remembering cherished family and friends who have brought so much light and so many gifts to our lives. The strength and compassion alive in us is their shining legacy. I know in a heartbeat we would give it all back just to have them here with us, but for now we must live in the shadow and that is where their spirits burn bright.

My son is an artist. A while ago he was working on a portrait and while I watched him work, I felt a need to apologize for everything he had lost as a result of his sister's death. Without hesitation he said that he regretted nothing, that he embraced it all, the dark and the light. He said, “I’m blessed, because those who only experience the light of day miss the wonder of the night.” He went on to say that the loss made him love deeper, the despair caused him to embrace hope, and the sorrow gave him greater appreciation for every moment of joy.

He asked me what his painting would look like without any shadows. I looked at it and saw that without them it would be flat and lifeless, it was the shadows that gave it depth and made the light more luminous. It’s ironic isn’t it, that in the darkness light becomes more beautiful, but it’s true, because of our shadows we are deeper, stronger, wiser, and more compassionate.

I love the BFO logo, the shadow that is always beside us, these precious shadows are our “Oh Holy Night,” and their stars are still brightly shining.

As I look around this evening I see light in each person here, it‘s the reflection of the beautiful spirits that have touched our lives and continue to live in each one of us. As we darken the room and light the tree, I hope each of you will see the shimmering light and feel the warm glow of your loved one’s presence.
And in your moments of darkness, when you see the stars, I hope the words of this Inuit legend will comfort you:

Perhaps they are not the stars, but rather openings in Heaven where the love of our lost ones shines through and pours down upon us to let us know they are happy.

Amazing

Day five of the Advent Calendar and the fun continues. Butterfly didn't know what I was putting in hers, and I certainly didn't know what she was doing until she presented it to me, so it is amazing how today's calendars fit together. They even fit in with AC's blog today and Butterfly's too. Go in and have a look and see if you don't make the connection too.





As you can see in the pictures, Butterfly gave me a funky festive pen that lights up when you write with it as my treat for today, along with the song lyric "Children laughing". I gave her a quote about stories and included a festive eraser as the treat for the day. Pens or pencils and erasers! How neat.

"The universe is made of stories, not of atoms." Muriel Rukeyser

Enjoy reliving your happiest Christmas stories today

Writing down the stories of our lives, maybe correcting an error or two as we go along, seeing the world as children again, being caught up in the wonder of the world around us and enjoying the pure clear sound of children laughing - somehow all these thoughts come together and compliment each other today. Amazing!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Sugar Cookies and Pots of Gold

I don't have time to write much of a blog this morning, but I wanted to take a minute to post a picture for the crowds of you waiting to see what I will open next.



Ahh, Pot of Gold Chocolates, and the song lyric "There's a feeling of Christmas".

Don't know about you, but when I was growing up we very seldom had dessert at our house, and if we did, it might be a sprinkling of brown sugar on a piece of bread. If a box of chocolates came into our house, it was an event to be ooohed and awwwhed over and we knew it was an extra special day if the chocolates happened to be "Pot of Gold". Christmas was about the only time a delicacy like this might find its way to our door, so this little "Pot of Gold" did bring the feeling of my childhood Christmases with it today. Thanks Butterfly.

It kind of ties in with the "quote and note" I sent to the girls today too. I put a peppermint in as the treat for them to bring back the taste of a Candy Cane and all the cool memories of snow and Christmas that comes with it. I looked all over for tiny Candy Canes when I was putting the Calendars together but couldn't find them so had to settle for the taste.

"I am younger each year at the first snow. When I see it, suddenly, in the air, all little and white and moving, then I am in love again and very young and I believe everything." Anne Sexton

Oh how wonderful. Do you remember that feeling of excitement at the first snow fall? Take time to go back in your mind and capture that feeling and take it with you through each step of today.

Must run now, I am off to make sugar cookies at Butterfly's house today. I used to do this with the girls every year when they were little, but I haven't done it for years now. Butterfly thought it would be fun to get together for a day and give it a whirl again, so today is the day. I will take some pictures and fill you in on the details tomorrow.

I hope you feel young at heart today and enjoy some happy childhood memories even if you don't have a fresh snowfall or the taste of peppermint to kickstart those memories. Talk to you all later.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Lazy Saturday morning…

The wind howled around the house last night and I was awakened numerous times by thumps and bumps of this and that blowing around outside. I actually got up three times to look out the window to see what in the world was going on out there, but by the time I got to the window each time, all was quiet. As a result of my restless night, I slept in rather later this morning and am now enjoying a rather lazy Saturday morning. The wind is still wreaking havoc outside, but the sun is shining brightly warming the house nicely on this cold blustery morning.

Once again the gift and song lyric in the Advent Calendar from Butterfly seems to fit in perfectly with the day. I poked and prodded this parcel but couldn't guess what was inside. Once I peeled back the tape I was delighted to find this small Santa ornament holding what looked like balloons, and the note with it read "In the air". The "air" was having a rather raucous party outside today and Santa's balloons would have had fun in it for sure.



On closer inspection I discovered that the balloons were actually little circles designed to hold memos or holiday pictures. I think I will keep it on the counter beside the phone in the kitchen ready to hold messages and reminders during this busy season.

AC was also up a lot through the night but it wasn't due to the weather outside; it was the cold inside. He picked up a bug somewhere and it had him coughing and spluttering up a storm of his own last night. Poor guy isn't feeling well at all. He stood rather bleary eyed at the counter with me this morning as we opened the Advent Calendars together. He read this quote and thought I sent to the girls –

"There is a wilder solitude in winter when every sense is pricked alive and keen."
May Sarton

I hope you feel alive and vibrant as you walk through today. Ring the bells of life and enjoy.


AC picked up the tiny bell ornament I put in with the note and shook it as he said -
"This is about all I can handle today. I don't feel at all alive or vibrant let me tell you. Cough, hack, gasp!!"

So, tiny bells only will ring at our house today, but I hope you feel alive and vibrant in your little corner of the world and you ring what bells you can loud and clear, and enjoy your day.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Snow and snowmen showed up this morning…

Wash Lady and Iona asked me to continue to share my advent calendar this month, so I will try to post a picture and short note each day. Fun huh?

I saw snow falling gently outside the window when I opened the curtains this morning. Oh joy. I love to wake up to snow now that we don't have to head out into the early morning traffic in it. It is one of the many joys of retirement not to have to scrape the car and shovel the drive in order to face a commute to work on a snowy morning.

After checking out the weather, I wrapped myself in my robe and padded down to the kitchen for my first cup of coffee and a visit to the Advent calendar.


Hmmmmmm? What could this be? I knew what it was as soon as I saw it let alone put a finger on it. Can you guess what it is just from the shape of the parcel?


Yep! A Christmas mug. Something festive to put my morning coffee in this month. I had snow outside the window and snowmen on my new mug. How neat. The little note with song lyrics on it said "dressed in holiday style" Yes, the snowmen on the mug were dressed in holiday style and I must hunt up my candy cane earrings to wear today.

AC opened the other quote and treat, (A chocolate kiss) –

"All the great blessings in my life are present in my thoughts to-day."
Phoebe Cary

Take time to stop and count your blessings today and fill your thoughts with these good things.

So dear blogging friends, find something festive to wear today and as you count your blessing may they add a sweet taste to your day.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Santa and Sunshine arrived this morning…

December 1st, time to start opening the Advent Calendar. Oh joy! The big box of gifts has been sitting on the kitchen floor just under the wall hanging for over a week now and it has been oh so hard to keep my "sticky little fingers" out of it. I wanted to poke and squeeze and shake a few of the parcels, but managed to control myself and didn't even touch one, let alone shake or squeeze any of them.

I felt like it was Christmas Eve last night when I anticipated this morning and the fact that the Advent Calendar awaited. Visions of sugar plumbs were indeed dancing in my head. What fun!

I awoke to sunshine this morning and it was such a welcome sight after a couple of days of steady rain. The house was bright but cold, so I grabbed a snugly robe and toddled off downstairs to the kitchen to turn the coffee pot on. After I started the coffee and it was fragrantly dripping into the pot I went straight over to the calendar and found the gift marked "1". I gave it a squeeze as I took it out of the box and carried it and the quotes for the day over to the counter. Now that I could open it, I wanted to draw it out and enjoy it as long as I could. AC had to be there too, so I called him to the kitchen. He opened the quote for the day and treat that I had sent to the girls for their calendar, and I opened the surprise that Butterfly had sent to me. What fun to not know what was there for me.

We opened the notes and then I tried to guess what was in the parcel before I opened it. Poke, poke, squeeze, shake. Oh, I know what it is, a spool of ribbon. Wrong! I open the paper to find Santa smiling out at me, and he was offering me a sweet treat. It was a small box of chocolates. Cute huh?



I declined the sweet treat because I hadn't had breakfast yet, but he is sitting on the tea cart now, and I will indulge in his sweet treat with my afternoon tea.



My thought for the day from Butterfly was a line from a song "City sidewalks, busy sidewalks" Ah yes, that does stir up all sorts of happy memories of this season and the hustle and bustle that goes with it.

I sent this quote to the girls, and the novelty that accompanied it was a small Christmas gift box ornament. You can see it beside Santa in the first picture.

"Everyone has inside him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don't know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!"
Anne Frank

This month as you are busy hunting for the perfect gift for loved ones, remember to look inside yourself to find that piece of good news hidden there and give yourself the gift of belief in your potential this year. Have fun.

Well, I hope you enjoyed sharing the advent calendars with me today.

Look for the good news inside yourselves today too and present yourself with that gift of belief in yourself.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Wow!

Isn't this page fabulous? AC surprised me with it last night and I think it is pretty spectacular. Thanks hunny – I love it!

We are getting rained on today, so all the snow is gone, but things are still looking pretty festive around here. The outside lights are up, the tree is decorated, the Christmas dishes are in the cupboard, cinnamon sticks and cloves are simmering on the stove, and Christmas music is playing softly in the background. I am getting gifts wrapped and ready to put in the mail today, Christmas letters are being written to tuck inside cards, and Christmas events with new friends in this area are filling up spaces on the calendar. This Christmassy template for my blog is like icing on the cake – such a sweet and unexpected treat.

We had a fun time at Butterfly's on the weekend decorating her tree and celebrating the start of the season with her and the Boy. AC has posted a picture of their main tree on his blog, but this pic gives you a close-up of the new ornament I found for the tree this year.


I usually give Butterfly one new ornament each year, and as soon as I saw it, I knew this crystal butterfly would add a sparkly and meaningful touch to the tree. Pretty isn't it?

We took a break from the tree decorating to attend the local Santa Claus Parade at 5pm. What fun! It was cold, but we were bundled up warmly and all but our toes were snug and warm during the whole parade.


Don't know what Butterfly and I are laughing at here, but this picture gives you an idea of the fun we had at the parade, and the next picture is of one of the many floats that lit up the night. It was a great parade for such a small town.



After standing out in the cold for over an hour, we thankfully returned home to a warm house where the fragrance of an oven stew greeted us at the door. We quickly shed coats and boots and then gathered round the table for steaming dishes of thick stew, and hot biscuits. Mmmmmmm soooooo good!

After dinner, we retreated to the family room and finished decorating the tree there while we munched on sweet holiday treats. Once the tree was done we sat around it in the soft glow of the lights, and played Trivial Pursuit. This time it was the girls against the guys, and after a slow and shaky start, Butterfly and I emerged the Champions at the end of a close game.

It was a day full of joy but as is so often the case, mixed with sorrow too. We dearly missed Lady Bug and my heart travelled across the miles to her many times during the day. She is in the middle of writing essays and preparing for exams, so she couldn't join us for the first Tree decorating party at Butterfly's, but she was there in spirit and in our hearts and thoughts all day.

As we moved through the day our thoughts would meander down memory lane and remember the dear ones who have passed on and again the bitter was added to the sweet. Joy and sorrow got all tangled up together. You just can't have one without the other as you move through life.

"There are few sensations more painful, than in the midst of deep grief, to know that the season which we have always associated with mirth and rejoicing is at hand."
Sarah Josepha Hale

Christmas can be such a bittersweet time of year. We all have periods of grief during the holidays for loved ones lost. We must allow ourselves to feel the feelings when they come, realise that we are not alone in this mixture of feelings and take the bitter with the sweet. Each one somehow makes the other more intense.

I wish you joy in spite of any sorrow you might be facing this year and may you enjoy a season full of peace.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Passing the torch

And the seasons, they go round and round……

I have always loved the Christmas season and all the festivities that go with it—receiving cards and letters from old friends; getting together with family and neighbours to warm our hearts and hands over cups of hot tea or mugs of steamy cider; freeing old decorations from their tissue paper wrappings and putting them and all the memories they carry with them on display; decorating the tree; baking cookies; finding the perfect gift for that special person and anticipating their glee when they open it; playing Christmas music; walking snowy streets at night to see all the brightly lit houses; and...oh,on and on the list could go.

One tradition I started years ago when the girls were little was a "Tree Decorating Party". It would be held on the last Saturday in November or the first Saturday in December, and was a very festive day indeed. Grandma and Grandpa and other friends were invited to come help decorate the tree and then stay for dinner. When everyone arrived shortly after lunch, the tree would be up and all the decorations set out ready to be hung on just the right branch, the Christmas music queued up to play, the salty snacks and sweet treats ready to munch, and all of us ready to dig in and have some fun.

Grandma usually sat and threaded ornaments or untangled garland, while grandpa helped. AC and I would string the lights up while the others would direct us to where we had an empty space or a burned out bulb. As the girls got older, Butterfly and Lady Bug would string the lights while AC and I directed the operation. Once the lights were positioned just so, everyone would add decorations until the tree was finished and then we would have the grand lighting ceremony when it got dark. Coats would be donned and we would all go out to the street to see what the tree looked like through the front window too. Once everyone oohhed and ahhhhed over how pretty it looked from the outside, we would come back in for dinner, games and a fun family evening around the tree. Oh I have so many fond memories of those parties.

As the years passed, the girls moved away from home and friends and family members moved on too or found it hard to travel, so it became impossible to get together for our tree decorating party.

We had to change as the seasons of life changed and adapt to them as best we could. AC and I decorated the tree alone for a few years, but we still made a party of it. We played Christmas music, had snacks to munch on and then we would go out for dinner. Last year we didn't put a tree up at all, because for the first time in years, we didn't have any family coming home for Christmas. We travelled to them after Christmas for a late celebration of the holidays. We made our quiet Christmas at the farm as fun and festive as we could and had the most unique Christmas tree ever up at Riverwood.

Yes, this has been a year of major upheaval in our lives as we find ourselves on the other side of the province now, but once again close to family. My heart jumped for joy the other day when Butterfly invited us to her house for her first Tree Decorating Party. The torch has been passed, the tradition continues. and we happily move on to the next phase of our lives.

We will all gather at her house after lunch today to help decorate her tree. Perhaps I will sit on her couch and thread ornaments or untangle garlands, and AC will help me while the young'uns string lights on the tree.

And the seasons they go round and round……


Thursday, November 24, 2005

Snowy Walk

Ah, the first real snowfall of the year happened in our corner of the country today and AC and I enjoyed this initial shaking out of the white blanket around our new home.

We watched the fluffly white stuff fall for most of the morning, from the vantage point of our cozy house, but after lunch we bundled up and headed out into the great outdoors to join the party. There was lots of snow on the ground and plenty more big fluffy flakes kept falling during our whole walk. What fun to feel like we were walking in a snow-globe.

The trees along the walking path in the woods near our house were getting all decked out in their pretty white party dresses and we wanted to be the first to see the fashion show.


Pretty Dresses huh?


There is nothing quite like the beauty of a walk in the woods after a fresh snowfall. Positively Magical!



Wherever you find yourself today and whatever the weather, I hope you take some time to step outside and enjoy it. Go ahead, act like a kid again and maybe even catch a snowflake or two on your tongue. MMMM delicious.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Such a nice surprise.

For years I have made Advent Calendars for Butterfly and Lady Bug to open during the month of December. After they left home I thought this would be a way of connecting with them when we couldn't be together physically. Over the years I have mailed these calendars across the province to Ottawa, across the country to Alberta, and around the world to Australia. Yes, they really did get around didn't they?

The calendars consist of a quote for the day, a little note from me and a treat- maybe a chocolate, or a toy or a Christmas decoration. The calendars are a lot of work to put together, but worth it and oh so much fun to open each day. What fun to know that we were all reading the same quote for the day, and enjoying the same type of chocolate, or hanging the same decoration somewhere in our houses. The one thing that was missing for me was the element of surprise. Because I had put the calendars together I knew what was coming each day but I still looked forward to opening the pockets, munching on the chocolate and reading my challenge for the day.

I just spent the last week working on this year's calendars, and Lady Bug's went in the mail yesterday.

I will hand deliver this calendar to Butterfly on the weekend but mine is in a state of disarray. Somehow in the upheaval of the move, I lost the felt wall hanging that I used for my Calendar. I think it got put in a box that went to the Goodwill by mistake, so right now all my quotes and treats are scattered around on a table waiting for something to put them in. Sigh. Oh well, I could just buy another calendar right? Wrong! Can't seem to find one anywhere. Drat!






This brings me to my nice surprise. We had Butterfly over for dinner last night and she brought a big gift-wrapped box with her.



It is too early for Christmas gifts, so I wondered what in the world was in the box. Yep, you guessed it, an Advent Calendar for me, and what an Advent Calendar it is too. I can't touch the gifts until December 1st, but I was allowed to open and hang the Calendar last night. She and AC went all the way to another town last week just to get this cute new felt wall hanging and then she gathered and wrapped all sorts of little gifts to go with it.



She also has little notes for me to read each day tucked inside each pocket, but the treats are too large to fit in the pockets, so they are all in the big box waiting for me to open starting December 1st. Oh, I can hardly wait!

Thank you Butterfly for this wonderful surprise. Sure warms my heart and makes me feel loved.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Steppin' Outside the Box

Whew! So much is going on around here these days, I can't seem to find time to blog, and don't know where to begin when I do. Let me see if I can take a stab at it this morning and at least say hello and let you know that I haven't fallen off the face of the earth.

It is a cool Sunday morning here in my corner of the country, the house is quiet and cozy, and I don't have anywhere I have to be in the next five minutes. Ahhhh, time to sit and relax, and maybe even write. What a treat.

I mentioned in Brain Drain that I was suffering from transplantation wilt and didn't quite know what to do with myself in this new pot on this strange window sill. After sitting back and relaxing and getting lost in my books for awhile, I decided to gather up my courage and send some new shoots out into this unfamiliar soil. I had to take some action and branch out. I started by calling a couple of the neighbours we had spoken to in passing on the street, and invited them in for lunch one day. They seemed surprised but pleased with the call and gladly accepted the invitation. AC made his famous sweet potato soup and it was a hit on the cold Autumn afternoon we got together.

The snow has already started to fall here, so our bikes have been put in the basement and won't be dusted off for use again until next spring. Sigh! Now the bikes are in storage, AC and I have been looking into fitness clubs and other ways to get exercise to keep fit during the winter. We snowshoe up at Riverwood,but it is a little harder to do here in town, and just not as much fun when we have to drive to a park to do it. At Riverwood we just step out the back door and we have 120 acres of snowy fields and forests to trek around in.

During lunch with our new neighbours one lady mentioned that they and some of the other couples on the street go dancing at the local Army/Navy club every Thursday night and invited us to join them that evening. Now, AC and I have danced at a couple of weddings, but we are NOT dancers by any stretch of the imagination! We looked at each other and our eyes clearly reflected our thoughts:- Seems scary and totally out of the box for us, but we will meet new people and it might be a lot of fun, so what the heck, why not give it a try. We turned to our new friends and said "Sure!" After our company left with promises to pick us up at 8:30, we polished up our dancin' shoes and got ready for a new experience. What a hoot!

We didn't know any steps to any dances, but got up with the rest of the group each time the music started to play and lumbered around the room like two sticks. Nobody cared that we couldn't dance, and we didn't either, we just got up and moved our feet to the music and had fun! We sure laughed a lot and had a great time.

When the band took a break during the evening, one lady plugged in a CD player and a group of people got up and line danced. I was fascinated to watch the choreographed routines play out in front of me and wanted to get up and join them. The lady next to me said that this group got together on Tuesday evenings and they also taught line dancing if I wanted to give it a try. It was free, it was exercise and it looked like fun. What more could I ask for in a way to keep moving and fit during the winter months? I signed up on the spot and said I would be there next Tuesday. AC said he would have to think about it!

Tuesday rolled around, and much to my surprise AC said he would join me for the evening and give line dancing a try. I will let him tell you about his experience that night and what his thoughts and feeling were, but let me just say, he was less than enthused. The routines were rather complicated and not easy to learn. We were totally out of our element, but hey, our feet were moving and I was having a blast. I kept turning the wrong way and was wrong footed on most of the turns, but everyone knew that we were just learning and they didn't care, so why should we? It was much more fun that walking on a treadmill or working on a stair machine. I loved it and knew I would be back for more sessions. This would be my winter exercise for sure. AC? Now that is another story! Check his blog (in a few days) for all the details.

I am steppin' totally outside of my box these days and am lovin' it out here. Take a step across the line and go outside your box today to try something new. The whole world awaits and who knows what fun is waiting for you just on the other side of that line.

Now, if you will excuse me I have to go practise the Electric Slide and Changes. Grapevine to the right, then the left; step back three, touch your toe down; step out and quarter turn and start again…. Fun, fun, fun!!!!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Pretty Scary

You must go over to AC's blog and see the pictures he has posted. The ones of this year's Halloween are quite a hoot! The story of his first Halloween is a tear-jerker though. Take a hankie!

We both dressed up and sat out on the front porch to greet the little munchkins last night and had a total blast. AC uploaded scary Halloween sounds on his ipod and set up speakers in the porch so he could add sound effects to the evening. Things were set up early in the afternoon, costumes donned around 5pm, the bowl of treats full to overflowing shortly after that, the pumpkin lit at 5:30 and we were ready to take up our posts. Armed with steaming cups of coffee laced with Bailey's to keep us warm, we awaited our first visitors.

We were entertained by a steady stream of witches, ghouls, ghosts and goblins, beauty queens, bunnies, skunks, elephants, cats and ponies. Yes, ponies – and lots of them. Big and small, timid and bold they were all cute. I was surprised not to see one Harry Potter this year though, but I was visited by one Hobbit. The most creative costume was produced by a kid about 12. He had a base costume made out of white plastic garbage bags and attached to these bags were scraps of newspaper, coffee cups, candy wrappers, and other items of garbage. On his chest he had taped a sign that said "White Trash"! He wins the prize for the most unique costume this year.

AC turned up the sound affects in the porch when he saw older kids coming to the door but turned them down or right off for the little timid ones. He was all dressed in black and wore a big black and orange hat pulled down over his face. He sat quietly in one corner controlling the sound and I sat in the other corner giving out the treats. When he turned up the sound, some kids were quite taken back and gave him a frightened look. Next year I think we should make him seem like a lifeless stuffed scare-crow and then have him move suddenly. That would be fun.

We had 150 treats ready to hand out and they ran out before the munchkins did! Next year I guess we will plan for over 200! I should have known to get more when we drove down the street yesterday afternoon and observed the elaborate displays on some houses. One house had bales of hay on the front lawn and over thirty carved pumpkins artistically arranged on the bales. A few doors down another house had set up an elaborate tent system to pass through to get to the front door.

Well, I guess that is enough rambling for today. Hope you had fun last night and don't overload on chocolate today. Talk to you all later.