Thursday, January 27, 2005

Time to say goodbye.

Well, it has finally arrived, our last day at Riverwood. Sigh! It seems like we just got here, and now it is time to pack up the car and head home. We had a great time here in the country, but it went by far too quickly.

I got up early this morning and took a long time soaking in the view at each window. Tomorrow I won’t have much time to do that because we will pack last minute things and then tackle the job of getting everything in the car. Yike! Seems like our things expand and multiply when we unpack them and then it is a struggle to get everything back into the car for the trip home. This time we even have Christmas gifts to contend with, along with our city clothes, country clothes, snowshoes and boots, bags of books, 2 laptops, a printer, camera bags, sleeping bags, pillows, – and the list goes on and on. Yes it is a major job to get everything squeezed into our little CRV.

After breakfast today we puttered around the house getting things ready to pack, and then we donned our snowshoe gear and headed out to feed the birds before we ventured out on the river for our last walk along the frozen surface. It was a beautiful sunshine filled morning, but very cold. We walked along in silence and just enjoyed the peaceful morning. It was time to say goodbye to Riverwood and we wanted to do it quietly. We are both really sad to leave this time.

We set off tomorrow, but we won’t get home until sometime next week because we will be stopping off in the big city to visit with family for a few days.

The old laptop will be packed away tonight and left that way until I get home, so I won’t be posting anything for a few days. I will look forward to talking to you again at the end of next week.

Have a great weekend.

It’s a FARM!

Anvilcloud posted a blog yesterday asking the question, so I just have to set the record straight. It’s a farm!!! Can you tell that this is an ongoing topic of debate at our house?

Of course Riverwood is a farm. What else would you call a piece of property with an old farmhouse on it, two barns (no animals in either one any more, but one used to house horses), and other assorted outbuildings? Nothing for it, but to call it a FARM!

Most of the property is densely wooded, and the ground is solid rock in most places but there are open pastures with fences, which were once used to keep animals from roaming out onto the road. We even have a meadow with an apple tree. Now I ask you – Isn’t that a farm? No, we don’t grow any crops here anymore, but we could have a Christmas Tree farm or something like that here. We sure have evergreen trees aplenty. Yes, it’s a farm.

A cottage is a house or cabin on a few acres of land overlooking a lake. Riverwood is not that. It is a huge piece of forested property (123 acres) with a river running through it, a farmhouse and two barns sitting on it, and fences marking the boundary lines along it. All these things make it a farm!! Don’t they?

Whatever we call it — house, farm, cottage, or country property — I am never ready to leave it when it is time to go home. This is our last week here, and I have been struggling with my emotions every day. Shadows of sadness sweep across me as I go through each day, and I almost dread our return to the concrete greyness of the city. I don’t mind being home once I get there, but I will miss this beautiful spot so much. I think I could live here year round quite easily. Well, black fly season leaves a bit to be desired, but even that could be dealt with by using special jackets with hoods and facemasks. Anvilcloud says that if this was my permanent home it would lose its charm, but I can’t imagine that ever happening.

As this week keeps marching forward and we get closer and closer to our departure day, I get up each morning and make my daily rounds of the windows and try to hold each view in my memory, but I can’t do it. Every morning the landscape is fresh and new, a unique gift that changes with each sunrise and sunset.

It snowed again last night, but this morning dawned clear and WINDY. I looked outside and smiled when I saw that the wind was having a party with the new fallen snow: picking it up and throwing it around like handfuls of confetti and shaking the trees like feather dusters until their snowy coverings scattered like dust in the wind. Then it scooted over to the snowdrifts to spruce them up, and give them razor sharp new edges. Here and there in the open fields we could see Mother Nature picking up her fresh white carpets to give them a shake in the wind. Mini tornados of snow swirled and danced to the wind’s tune as Mother Nature went on her dusting rampage. Such a whirlwind of activity out there this morning and so much fun to watch.

We went out for our walk this afternoon but stayed away from the open fields as much as we could, just to keep out of Mother Nature’s way while she blustered about doing her housework. The thick forest was the place to be on a day like today. Amazingly, all was quiet and calm along the wooded trails, and we enjoyed a peaceful walk.

I will hang onto the beauty of this day for as long as I am able to, take what I can of it with me into tomorrow and add it to the beauty waiting for me there.

Today I must allow myself to feel what I feel, give myself all the space I need, and then move through the feelings of loss and sadness and into the joy that is beyond them. Learning from these little daily life lessons and taking baby steps in the right direction all along the way, helps me cope with the major upheaval and change that comes into everyone’s life eventually: sickness, loss, grief, death!

On some days we can avoid the blustery fields of life and walk in the calm quiet forests that protect us from the biting, bone chilling winds, but on other days we have to venture out onto the cold windswept fields and face the storm head on. On those days we have to wrap ourselves in the warm layers of love, friendship and memories that we have gathered over the years and keep moving forward through the gale.

Whatever path you have to tread today, I wish you strength for the journey, a coat of love to wrap yourself in, and a peace that passes understanding at the core of your soul.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Sheesh! What a weekend. Part II

In spite of all the trauma and worry, we had a wonderful time on the weekend. Heather and I did a lot of rocking, but some things just can’t be helped, and we needed to rock! It sure didn’t get us anywhere though!

After the guys got home safely, and we were snugly tucked in the old farmhouse for the night, we gathered in the living room, and enjoyed a hot drink while supper heated in the oven. The farmhouse filled with the wonderful aroma of lasagna in the oven and the wonderful sound of laughter and chatter in the air. A simply delicious combination.

I hadn’t seen my sister since Thanksgiving when she was just recovering from her surgery. That story is told here if you want to read more. I was so anxious to see her again and catch up on all her news and see for myself how she was doing.

She walked in the door, and I hardly recognized her. She looked absolutely fabulous. Her eyes were bright and sparkling, joy and good health shone from her face, and happiness bubbled up all around her. She had a bounce in her step and a lilt in her voice that made my heart jump for joy. It was so good to see her like this. Last fall she was so sick, and even though it turned out she didn’t have cancer, the abscess and infection that she did have was very serious, and we could have lost her.

Anyway, that is all behind us now, and she looks and feels great. We consumed pots and pots of tea and gabbed and gabbed and gabbed all weekend. The guys talked digital photography, computers, books and myriad other things while Heather and I shared what great books we were reading, what out kids were doing, what our hopes and dreams were for this new year, and a kazillion other things. We laugh a lot when we are together and tend to set each other off, so there were gales of laughter pealing through the old farmhouse all weekend. Well, after the guys got home safely that is!!!!

She is my baby sister, so she hasn’t hit 50 yet but is getting mighty close. What exciting things can happen when you turn 50, are still learning and growing, and have your health. I took a turn towards my own North Star just before I turned 50, and picked up a paintbrush for the first time in my life. She is doing the same thing, but her turn towards her North Star includes a serious look at her talent for writing. It feels so good when you turn towards the desires of your heart and start doing something that brings you so much joy and is so fulfilling.

We each just finished reading the Secret Life of Bees and loved it, so we had lots to talk about there. She also just finished The Dance of the Dissident Daughter and I am right in the middle of it, so that made for stimulating conversation too.

After all the tea and chatter we went outdoors, and Heather was thrilled to feed the birds out of her hand (see previous post) and then take a snowshoe walk along the river. Yes, in spite of the trauma, we had a marvellous weekend and made lots of treasured memories to look back on again and again.

I cannot believe that the inscrutable universe turns on an axis of suffering; surely the strange beauty of the world must somewhere rest on pure joy. Louise Bogan

In spite of the trauma sent our way this weekend, we were treated to joy too.

There is no such thing as the pursuit of happiness, but there is the discovery of joy. Joyce Grenfell

I hope you are surprised by joy and discover it in all sorts of unexpected place as you walk the path of life today. Keep your eyes open, the joy is there just waiting to be discovered by you.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Sheesh! What a weekend.

Here it is Tuesday already and I am just now getting back to my laptop to do some writing. Yesterday was a lost day, but today will be better. Yes it will!!!!

I really don’t know where to begin to tell you about the weekend, so I guess I had better start at the beginning.

My sister Heather and her husband Brian were supposed to arrive Friday evening, but the weather was so nasty we thought they might have to cancel the trip up here altogether. Saturday morning dawned a bit clearer, so they braved the roads and set off bright and early. Yahoo! They arrived safe and sound just before lunch, and that still gave us lots of time to snowshoe, drink gallons of tea and catch up on all the news. Yes, we would still have a great time.

We just sat down to a steaming bowl of homemade soup for lunch when my sister got a phone call from her son. His first words were “I’m ok mom – but…” Those words always make a mother’s heart sink. My sister’s face went white as a sheet, and we all sat there with our hearts pounding as we listened to only her side of the conversation.

“Oh dear...but you are ok...don’t worry about the car, we are only concerned about you. You couldn’t see at all...where are you now?” The conversation went on like this for a while and ended with “Ok you drive carefully and call me as soon as you get home. Love you. Bye.”

After she hung up the phone, she flopped down in her chair and hung her head in her hands as she related the story to us. Her son had been driving home from school and was caught in a whiteout. He went off the road, hit a guardrail, broke a headlight and dented the fender, but got control again and was ok. He was shaken up and the car was dinged, but he was ok. The weather was still bad, but he was on his way home and should be there in about 20 minutes. He said he would call when he got there.

We waited anxiously for his call. An hour passed and we still hadn’t heard anything. You could tell my sister was getting more and more panicky with each passing minute and still no phone call to tell us he was home safely.

I made a cup of tea and we sat there, willing the phone to ring. The guys couldn’t sit still, so Brian took the dog out for a walk and AC went up to the bakery to pick up the apple pie we had ordered for dessert that night.

It had been snowing for the past hour or so, and it was a bitterly cold windy day. I heard reports that the wind chill in this area was –41. It was a bone chilling cold.

About twenty minutes later the call came to say Ben was safe at home, and wouldn’t be going out again that night. Heather and I relaxed and poured a second cup of tea, but I was starting to wonder where AC and Brian were. They had been gone a long time. It should only have taken AC about 10 minutes to get the pie, and Brian was out alone in this bitter cold weather. I walked to the window and looked up the lane and wondered out loud where they were. My sister said, “Oh Brian will go for a long walk with the dog and John is probably just taking the car for a bit of a run to warm it up on such a cold day.

“Hmm? Yes, that is probably it” I said, but I was getting anxious. We poured more tea and tried not to worry, but my imagination was getting the better of me. We just got Ben safely home and now the guys were both missing. Twenty more minutes went by and I was fighting not to get panicky. I was losing the battle though. They should both be back by now. It was –41 out there. Where were they?

Worry is like a rocking chair- it gives you something to do, but it doesn't get you anywhere. Dorothy Galyean

I was rocking like mad and definitely not getting anywhere at all!

About 10 minutes later we heard AC come in the back door, but I hadn’t seen the car drive in the lane. How in the world did he get to the door without me seeing the car? His face was bright red and he said, “We have a problem. I hit a slippery corner and went off the road and the car is now stuck in a huge snow drift in a ditch.”

“Did you walk all that way in this horrible wind?” I asked as I walked towards him.

“No, a guy on a snowmobile gave me a ride, and now I know why they wear helmets and face masks. That wind really bites the face! I need to get a shovel and go back to see if I can dig the car out”

My sister and AC gathered up what he needed, got in her van and drove back to the car while I stayed at the farm to make some phone calls to try to find someone with a truck to tow the car out if need be. I could call Honda emergency road service, but we would see if we could get out ourselves first. They were having such bad weather down East I couldn’t get through to the Honda emergency number anyway.

Meanwhile, Brian still wasn’t back from his walk and the weather was getting nastier by the minute. Where was he? Half-hour later my sister came back to the farm alone. She came in the back door saying, “I have good news and bad news. The good news is the apple pie is safe. The bad news is John is going to need a tow for the car.” Yes, the car was stuck but good. I needed to keep phoning around for help, and she would go back to check on John’s progress in twenty minutes.

I set to work calling more people and then pacing the floor while I waited for my calls to be returned. Rock! Rock! Rock! That old rocking chair was getting a good workout. Brian was still not back from his walk and now Heather was wondering about him too. She joined me on her rocking chair. Never a dull moment around here I tell you. Twenty minutes past, so Heather set off to check on AC while I continued to hold the fort here and wait for calls and Brian. Rock! Rock! Rock!

Shortly after she left I finally got a call from a local man who said he had a truck and a chain and he would go pull our car out of the ditch. Thank goodness. Within a few minutes of that call, Brian came home safley from his walk, rather cold and tired, but safe and sound. Heather returned shortly after that and 10 minutes later AC pulled into the drive with a snowy and only slightly damaged car.

It wasn’t until that moment that I started to breath normally again. I was exhausted from all the rocking. What an afternoon! The storm continued to howl outside so we snuggled down into the old farmhouse for the evening to finally start our visit. What a nice feeling to be together, safe and warm after such a tense afternoon. We all looked and felt rather shell shocked though as we sat talking for a long time about all the events of the day and what could have happened but didn’t. How fortunate we were. After the adrenalin rush of the afternoon, we were all drained, so we toddled off to bed early. Tomorrow was sure to be a better day.

The next day dawned bright and sunny and we were determined to make the best of it. Right after breakfast we went out to feed the birds, and my sister was thrilled to have them come and feed right out of her hand. After the little guys had consumed their fill of peanut butter we set off for a morning snowshoe walk along the frozen river. It was grand and glorious indeed and we all thanked the powers that be for this wonderful time together.

It was a bright, sunny day, but still very cold. We came back to the farmhouse with frosty noses, cold fingers and high spirits. Yesterday had been awful, but today was a fresh new day and we were going to enjoy it. After lunch Heather and I settled in the front room with huge mugs of tea, to visit the afternoon away, and Brian took the dog out for another walk. AC puttered around the farmhouse, keeping the wood-fires burning, and working on the computer. He was starting to feel the after effects of his accident on Saturday, and was struggling a bit. Every muscle seemed to hurt from all the digging he did trying to free the car, and he felt absolutely worn out emotionally.

It started to snow again and the temperature was dropping when Brian came in from his walk. What a shock when he informed us we had a flat tire. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It was getting dark, it was snowing, the temperature was dropping and now we had a flat tire. The guys went out to change it, but the cover on the spare tire was frozen shut and they couldn’t access the spare.

They came in to get some de-icer and both looked rather frazzled and cold. At this point I said, “We have paid for Honda emergency road service, so we will just call them and get some help. If they can’t come until tomorrow or the next day, so what? We are not stranded out on some cold windy roadside. We are safe and warm, so just take your coats off and we will deal with the flat tire later.” They both looked at me with great relief on their faces and gratefully took their coats off and slumped into easy chairs in the living room.

I tried to call Honda, but the lines were so busy I couldn't get through, so I didn’t even try again until the next morning. When I did call them on Monday, I was on hold for over an hour! Goodness, I sure was glad I wasn't trying to contact them from a cold snowy roadside, using a cell phone.

Anyway, I got through to them eventually and by noon the tow truck was here, the tire changed, and the flat one taken away for repair; to be picked up later.

We were both operating at low ebb yesterday so moved slowly through the day. We went for a walk after lunch, but the rest of the day I did a lot of reading, and AC just puttered away at this and that.

Sheesh! What a weekend indeed!

This is a rather long post, so I will end it here, but will share some of the wonderful joys about the weekend in my next post. Stay tuned.

Joys divided are increased. J.G. Holland

Sorrow shared is halved, but joy shared is doubled. Isn’t it amazing how that works? Try it. It really works. Talk to you all later.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Company’s Coming

Company is coming again this weekend, so it is time to open up extra bedrooms, dust corners and shine taps and mirrors. We went to town yesterday to stock up on food for the weekend and go to Tim’s for lunch. Yum! It was a bright sunny day, so we had a nice trip there and back: clear dry roads all the way.

Since Anvilcloud retired, he does most of the cooking so, he is in charge of the kitchen, and I tend to the rest of the chores to get ready for company. He is always trying some new recipe, and our guests look forward to what delicious culinary delight he will present them with. Me too!

Last night, he made scrumptious sweet potato soup to serve for lunch on Saturday. It is sooooooo good: made with roasted sweet potatoes and jazzed up with orange zest, fresh ginger and other secret spices. It is yummy indeed.

Today he will make his pasta-less lasagna to have for dinner on Saturday. It is a labour-intensive dish but oh so good. He uses zucchini instead of pasta, and the zucchini has to be sliced thin, salted, and dried before it can be layered with the cheeses and tomato sauce. It is quite a production, let me tell you. He has salted zucchini slices drying on paper towels all over the kitchen when he prepares this dish, and I stay far away when he is in the middle of that mess.

He usually whistles the whole time he is working in the kitchen, so that is a sure sign he is having a good time. When the whistling stops and the muttering begins, I go to the door and ask if I can help. Two cooks in the same kitchen just don’t work out, so I stay clear of his workspace unless he asks for help. I am happy to be out of the kitchen after 30 years of fussin’ in there, wondering what in the world to make for dinner. I give him my blessing and let him go to it in what was once my domain.

He tries things that I wouldn’t have looked twice at because of all the work involved, and they are delicious. He says he enjoys the “zen” of peeling vegetables, grating cheese or slicing zucchini and likes to do it slowly and methodically in his own way. Not me! When I was in the kitchen, I just wanted to get it done and in the oven as quickly as possible so I could get on to other things. The faster the better was my motto. I didn’t mind baking, but cooking dinners never did turn my crank.

I remember a time many years ago when Anvilcloud turned to me and said in a rather nostalgic tone of voice. “You know, daughter #1 is getting to be so much like you.”

“Really” I said “how?”

“Well, I came home from work the other day, and she was wearing your pink housecoat and was bustling about in the kitchen, and I thought it was you. It took me a couple of seconds to realise it wasn’t you and was surprised when she turned to me and said …”

Here, I expected him to say something like “…turned to me and said Hi, how was your day?” or some other such greeting.

No, he finished the sentence with “… can we go out for dinner?!” Yikes.

We both burst out laughing and continue to laugh about that to this day. When he retired, I gladly handed over the reigns of the kitchen to him, and he eagerly took them. Probably self-preservation. We joke that now he is King of the kitchen but that I am still Queen of the leftovers. I can whip up a tasty treat out of almost nothing in a matter of minutes, and he stands amazed at that feat. We are quite the team.

Over the years I missed out on a lot of delicious meals because I was too busy doing other things to take the time to try a new labour-intensive recipe. I had to finish with one day to get on to the next. Busy, busy, busy. Do as much as you can in a twenty-four hour period. Rush from one task to the next; that is the important thing. Right? Wrong!!

I have learned, or am still learning, not to settle for just a hasty dish of “leftovers” each day as I travel along this path. What a joy to slow down, live in the moment, and let it melt in your mouth like chocolate instead of gulping it down like medicine.

Life is what’s happening while we’re busy making other plans.
John Lennon

Pop of piece of life into your mouth this weekend, and let it melt slowly as you savour each delicious flavour it has to offer. MMMMM good.

My old laptop will gather dust again this weekend while I spend time visiting with my sister and her husband. I will be back on Monday; talk to you all later.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Fresh Canvas

Up at 8:30 this morning, and was greeted by sunshine and blue skies when I did my rounds to the windows. Jack Frost had been busy again and the bright sunshine added diamonds to his paintings. Quite the spectacular show.

When I looked out the front window I could see lots of fresh snow on the ground and a huge mountain of it looming in the entrance to the driveway. Oh dear. The snowploughs do a great job of clearing the roads but they leave a ton of the stuff in each drive entrance. Hmmm? Would we be able to get out and do our shopping today? I wonder.

I continued on to the other windows and by the time I had finished my “rounds” I heard the sound of a truck and was pleased to see that the neighbour had arrived to plough our drive. Oh the joys of living in the country. We never have to shovel a speck of snow up here. Yahoo!

I am not sure how much snow we got yesterday, but I think they were calling for 10-12cm in this area. It snowed all day and was still coming down when we went to bed last night. We got enough to gussy up the trees and change the landscape around the farm into a fresh white canvas, all stretched and ready to be adorned with our footprint art.

Snowshoes make delightful patterns in the snow and I like to try to paint with my feet. You have heard of finger painting haven’t you? Well, just take that idea a step further and picture snowshoe paintbrushes.

When I am walking in the snow I like to turn around and see where I have been and what my tracks look like. If I can talk my walking partner into it we will make hearts and circles and other shapes with our tracks. Lots of fun, really!!

Yesterday morning we walked along the Logging Road and Riverside Ramble Trail and then came in for lunch. I spent the afternoon curled up in the cozy farmhouse reading, writing and gazing out the window. It snowed all afternoon and around 4pm we got ready to go out for another walk. The flakes were huge and fluffy and thick. By the time we got our gear on though, the snow had stopped and the sun tried to break through the clouds. I was disappointed that it stopped snowing, but the lemon drop sun in the grey sky was so nice to see, I didn’t stay disappointed for long. This was a red-letter day for us and nothing could cloud my excitement –not even clouds.

In the weak sunshine we happily trekked across the open fields down to Poison Fen. The Fen is about an acre of land running along the riverbank, which is flooded during the spring, and full of poison ivy in the summer. Needless to say we don’t walk there in any season but this one but it is the perfect spot to access the river right now, because the bank is low and easy to navigate in snowshoes. Yes, today was the day we would venture out onto the river for the first time. Oh joy.

We have had over a week of extremely cold temperatures, since all the rain and mild weather, so we thought it was finally safe to take the plunge – hopefully not literally, and walk on the river. The fresh snow had prepared a brilliant white canvas for our foot art, and we set to painting with glee. Well, I was gleeful, Anvilcloud was more subdued and just enjoyed the walk. We balance each other perfectly.

The river winds down the east boundary line of the property, and you can walk on it for miles. It runs mainly north to south along the property line, but there are so many twists and turns along the way that we keep switching back and forth to each point of the compass. No matter how many times we have done this, it always amazes us how different everything looks from the middle of the river. We think we are miles away from the farm but walk around a bend in the river and see one of the barns quite clearly through the trees and wonder how it got there or how we got so close to it after walking so far.

The first few steps out onto the frozen water are always a bit nerve wracking for me, but after those first tentative steps I relax and realize that the surface is frozen solid and will hold us up just fine. There are usually a few patches close to the shore that stay mushy but they are easy to spot and avoid.

We enjoyed a delightful walk on the water yesterday and I had fun making circles and loops with my tracks as we walked along.

To affect the quality of the day; that is the art of life.
Henry David Thoreau

Each day, all of us are presented with a fresh white canvas with no mistakes on it yet, and we can paint on it what we will with our lives. What artwork will you create on this page of your life today? Go on, don’t be tentative, have some fun. Create something new and wonderful with each step you take.

Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.
Robert Bresson

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


I awoke early this morning and rolled out of the warm bed into the cold dull room. Brrr! I gabbed my housecoat and padded over to the window to see what was going on outside. Oh, I was overjoyed to see snow falling thick and steady. Yahoo! fresh snow to dress the trees, decorate the fields and give us a thick, soft carpet along the trails. Fresh snow makes for a quiet, almost magical walk in the woods, and I love it. The fluffy snow muffles every footstep and adds so much beauty and atmosphere to the paths. I could hardly wait to get out there.

I went from that window to another one to check out the feeding tree. It was coated in snow, and I could see squirrels digging around at the base of the tree looking for a stray piece of popcorn or peanut left behind by the Blue Jays. The Chickadees were busy flying back and forth from that tree to the apple tree behind it, checking to see if they could find a scrap of peanut butter hiding in a nook or corner. I would have to go out and tend to the birds early today because of the storm, but first it was
time to tend to me and make my own breakfast and get that first cup of coffee dripping into the pot and then dripping into me!! Mmmm, that first cup is always sooooo good.

I love the windows in this old farmhouse, and I pay a visit to each one of them first thing in the morning to check out the views. They are all different, and I enjoy each one thoroughly. Back in the city I look out at concrete roads and other houses; here, I see nothing by trees and fields and sky, no matter what window I look through. What a treat.

Some of these old windows have lost their seal, so on cold mornings Jack Frost comes and decorates the glass for me. I am treated to intricate frost-painted frames through which to view the world, and they are absolutely amazing. I stand in awe of the detail and beauty of these pieces of art. How does Jack do that?

It is now afternoon, and I am sitting enjoying my after lunch cup of tea while I relax and look back on the day. It hasn’t stopped snowing all day, so every tree is wearing a designer gown, and the fields are snuggled down under a thick new blanket which is getting thicker every minute. We enjoyed a quiet walk on that blanket this morning and then went along Riverside Ramble Trail to admire all the designer gowns displayed there.

Right now, the snowflakes are huge and fluffy and give the world around the house that snow globe feel. I can hardly take my eyes off the window in front of me long enough to write. It is so pretty.

The farmhouse and the world outside seem to be full of peace and quiet, all awash in the beauty of silence and solitude. I think I will put the laptop away and just sit quietly for a while and let the beauty of the day soak into my soul.

More important than the length of life, is how we spend each day. Maria A Furtado.

I hope you can find a peaceful spot in your busy day to spend some time in quiet reflection. Stretch out in the moment and let the beauty of silence soak into you soul.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005


AC and I went out walking this afternoon and decided to venture across the road to see what was happening on the acreage over there. AC wanted to follow the west boundary line of the property through the bush as far as we could. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to do that, but thought we could at least start and see how far we got. It was almost 4pm and the sun was getting low in the sky when we set off. The snow cover was thin and hard so we weren’t leaving many footprints, and I didn’t like the feeling of getting deeper and deeper into the woods without a clear trail leading us out again. It is one thing to get lost in the woods in a rainstorm on a mild fall afternoon, but it is another thing completely to lose your way when it is –20 outside and evening is fast approaching. I was fearful and wanted to turn around.

I didn’t say anything, but I am sure fear was emanating from me. After searching around for the property line in the dense brush for awhile AC took pity on me and walked towards a clearing in the trees and from there we could see an open field. We walked across it and climbed a hill at the back of the property. Once we got to the top of the hill I knew where I was and could see the roof of the farmhouse through the trees in the distance. I felt so much better when I could see the way home again, and I felt the fear that had shadowed me for most of the walk, lift from me like a mist. Only then could I fully relax and enjoy our walk. I was really struggling up to that point.

I went for the walk in spite of my fear and tried to move through it, but it was there, hovering over me until I came out of the dense bush into the open and could see a familiar landmark. I read somewhere once that courage isn’t the absence of fear, it is feeling the fear and marching into battle anyway. That quote came back to me as we set off on our walk this afternoon. It might have been a simple walk in the woods for anyone else, but to me it was a little battleground with my fears.

As I followed AC through the bush I kept thinking of those little chickadees missing out on the peanut butter because of their fear and I was determined to learn the lesson they were sent to teach me. Fear really does rob us of our joy as we walk through life and I wanted to face mine and stare it down. When I let go of my fear, or it let go of me, the sky seemed lighter, the air clearer and the day warmer even though it was still –20!!

I will continue to do my best to face my fears and march to battle anyway, and I wish you courage for whatever battle you must march into in the coming days. May you find that hill of hope wherever the fight takes you and always be able to find your way safely home again. Tighten your boot straps, put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward.
Courage dear heart.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Giving and Receiving.

We just enjoyed a wonderful surprise weekend with Butterfly and The Boy, and it was delightful. They were supposed to meet friends for a winter getaway, but work schedules conflicted, and they had to cancel those plans. They quickly made use of their free weekend and joined us up here at the farm for a couple of days. We had expected other company but discovered at the last minute they couldn’t come, so everything worked out, and we had a great time with the kids.

An unexpected visit with loved ones is a terrific gift to unwrap and enjoy, and we did just that this weekend. The weatherman gave us a gift too and sent us sunshine and a touch of fresh snow to make for fun walks along the snowshoe trails and across the fields. What fun! Cold and refreshed after our walks, we entered the warm embrace of the old farmhouse for delicious comfort food and rousing games of Trivial Pursuit.

The highlight of the weekend was something new for the kids though: feeding the birds. Well, maybe I should say, feeding the birds by holding food in your hand and having the birds come and eat right out of your hand! You can see lots of pictures here and here of this grand adventure.

Something that started out as our little Christmas gift for the birds has turned into and absolutely fabulous gift to us instead. We give the wee birds apples and peanut butter, and they give us their trust and cheery little greetings in return. What a priceless gift from these fluffy, feathered wonders.

We go out to the feeding tree now, and the birds are all-aflutter above our heads, as they chirp at us happily and wait for the treats we bring. It is thrilling to have them come so close and alight upon us.

We have had quite a temperature drop in the past couple of days, and I imagine they are struggling a bit to keep warm at night. Isn’t it amazing how they survive in the forest when the temperature drops to –30C? I have always marvelled at that and wonder how in the world they keep warm in such conditions.

I went out and tended to the feeders this morning and enjoyed talking to the wee, feathered bundles as I did. I asked them how their night had been, and they chirped their answers back to me. I also asked them how they kept warm at night, but they wouldn’t let me in on their secret. I think they must have very special long underwear knitted for them by Mother Nature, but I guess I will never know for sure. They are being very “tight-beaked” about that subject.

Later in the afternoon, AC and I were going out for another walk, and as I was ready a few minutes before AC, I walked along the laneway to see what was going on over at the feeding tree. I stood there, quite a distance from the tree, and when the birds saw me they came over to where I was standing to see what I had for them. I didn’t have anything so I called for AC to bring a knife and the peanut butter. He did, and seeing as I wasn’t anywhere near the tree, I just loaded up the knife with peanut butter and held it out for them. They swooped down and sat on my hand while they had a little bedtime snack, eating right off the knife. I sure hope their mothers weren’t watching because I could hear my mother’s voice in my ear, saying “Don’t eat off your knife!”

The whole experience of feeding the birds has been totally awesome and has taught me many lessons over the past few weeks.

Fear keeps some of the birds flitting back and forth from branch to branch but never coming over to my hand for a mouthful of food. Others are very brave and just dive in and chow down after a couple of test passes over my head. I know there has to be a balance between reckless behaviour and facing your fear and doing it anyway, but these little creatures have painted a very vivid picture of the benefits of getting off that comfortable familiar branch in my life and alighting on something new. Fear holds us back and keeps good things from us and us from good things. We have to use a certain amount of caution, but there comes a time to jump off the branch, take a chance and live life to the full. There are all sorts of wonderful “treats” in new wrappings, waiting for us in unexpected places.

I also learned that we can’t order or predict what kind of gifts we will get in return for our actions, but if we don’t do anything, we will never know what joys are waiting out there for us. I reached out with a small gift for Mother Nature and she sent little Chickadee paint-brushes to paint vivid life lessons for me.

Put your time and talents out into the universe and see what comes back to you in return.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Begin It

What a difference a day makes. We went to bed at 11pm last night while the rain continued to fall; the thermometer said it was +10 degrees. We awoke this morning to sunshine, fresh snow and a thermometer reading of –10!!! What a country!

I read the Toronto Star on-line this morning and was shocked to read that the temp got up to +18 in the big city yesterday. +18!!!! That is just crazy for the middle of January. It hit +12 here in cottage country, but it was so soggy we didn’t get out for our walk. I did go tend to the bird feeders, but that is as far as I got.

We have been housebound for the past two days, but haven’t minded really. We both managed to get lots of work done inside while the storm raged or should I say drizzled, outside. John finished composing and printing the picture collages for our 2004 photo album and I kept busy reading, writing, and working on a project I have put off for far too long.

I have been collecting quotes for years and have hundreds of handwritten ones penned in a pretty marble covered journal with gold edged pages. I have dates and notes beside each one detailing where and when I found it, who I passed it on to over the years, when and why.

This quote journal is one of my prized possessions, and I enjoy leafing through it and gleaning fresh wisdom from old quotes each time I do. Sometimes a familiar quote becomes brand new, and it jumps off the page at me and says something it never said before. Or I find a quote there that I don’t remember at all.

I do have one problem with my treasured quote journal though. It is getting so massive and unruly I have trouble finding a specific quote when I want it. I usually put a quote at the end of every letter I write, or tuck one inside each greeting card. I know the quote I want, have a general idea of it’s location: i.e. it is in the bottom left hand corner of a page, or the top of another, but have so much trouble finding it when I need to. Grrr! Not a great system I know, and I spend more time leafing through the book than I want to when I am pressed for time.

It was past time to do something about this! I needed to put these quotes into a database so I could sort and find certain ones easier. Soooooo, I finally took the bull by the horns and made this my “work” project for this holiday at the farm. Yesterday I spent many happy hours entering data and putting some order to my quote journal. It felt wonderful!

The reward for a thing well done, is to have done it.
     (R.W. Emerson)

Amen to that!

We have company coming for the weekend, so the laptop will be put in a corner and allowed to gather dust for a few days. I will talk to you again on Monday. Hope you have a great weekend and continue to be surprised by January gifts. Unwrap and enjoy each one.

Whatever you believe is possible for yourself to do, begin it.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Run for Cover

We had freezing rain yesterday afternoon and then last night it turned into a full-blown thunderstorm. Good grief. This is the middle of January isn’t it? We should be having snow not rain!

As the storm increased in intensity, lightening joined the thunder, and with each flash the security light in the drive got the message that it was morning, and turned itself off. After a few seconds it would register that it was really nighttime, and turn itself on again, but for those few seconds it was off, it sure was dark around the old farmhouse and I didn’t like that at all. The warmth and comfort of the security light was palpable during the storm, and each time it went out I felt a bit of panic because I couldn’t see what was going on just outside the window. I sure breathed a big sigh of relief each time it came back on because I was connected again. I could see my place in the world and know what was going on around me. That helped me feel calmer and somehow in control even though I wasn’t in control of the storm at all, just my feelings. One of the most frightening things about any situation is feeling disconnected and alone in the dark and not knowing what is going on isn’t it?

The lights inside the house flickered on and off quite a lot during the storm, so we scurried around looking for candles and matches and flashlights. I should have filled up containers with water too, but I didn’t think about that until this morning. I must remember that when we lose power here in the country we lose the water pump too. I should at least fill up the kettle and the bathtub when a storm threatens just so we have water to flush the toilet and water to drink. Oh well, I will do that next time for sure.

Last night, I tried to read as the storm ranted and raged outside, but I just couldn’t concentrate on my book. I kept putting it down so I could go to the window to look out at the “temper tantrum” going on in the great outdoors. The downpour was heavy and steady and made the laneway looked like a river of water flowing towards the house. The water pooled all around us, and it seemed like the farmhouse was floating in the middle of an icy lake. The fresh water hitting the ice base, splashed and lit up in the glow from the security light. If I let my imagination really run away with me I cold almost feel the house bobbing up and down on the waves. It was quite pretty really, but it made me sad to see all that beautiful snow being eaten up by the rain.

I so hoped it would snow instead of rain, but all my wishing and hoping didn’t change one raindrop in a snowflake, no matter how hard I tried. You could read the disappointment in my face and hear it in the tone of my voice, as I wandered from window to window looking out at the storm. John said to me “ Are you choosing to be happy?” I looked at him forlornly and said, “I am trying my best but seem to be losing the battle tonight!!” I didn’t look or sound happy at all!

I usually love a good thunder and lightening storm, but in the spring or summer, not in the middle of January. Many people want to hide in a closet during a thunderstorm. Not me. I open the curtains and enjoy watching Mother Nature do her foot stomping thing. Not last night though. I just wanted her to stop the rain dance and send some snow my way.

Around 11pm the worst of the storm had passed but the rain continued to fall steadily. I puttered around getting ready for bed and decided that I couldn’t change what was happening outside, so I would just have to change what was going on inside and focus on something positive. I was very thankful that we didn’t lose power. That made me happy. We had water and heat and were warm and dry. What else could I want? Yes, I was happy to be here at Riverwood and enjoy whatever Mother Nature had up her sleeve for me. I toddled off to bed in a happier mood and snuggled down under the blankets for a good sleep.

One key to happiness is to see the beauty in the “what is”, instead of wishing for the “what isn’t”! You miss the beauty of what life has to offer when you wish the “what is” away.

This morning I can see the dirt base on the driveway, so we lost many inches of snow last night, but this melting took care of that icy layer lurking just under the snow and now it will be much easier to get in and out of the driveway. Yes, there are positive things in every situation, we just have to really look for some of them.

I hope you can find something good in the “what is” in your life today.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Totally Awesome….

We were busy with company on the weekend; then Monday was a catch-up and clean-up day and yesterday we headed down to the big city to shop, so not much time has been spent writing in the past little while. Sigh! I will make up for that today though. I have a quiet free morning stretching out in front of me, and I am enjoying it completely. Ahhh!

The weatherman is calling for freezing rain today and tomorrow, so we might not get out at all, but that will be ok too. I have lots of writing to do and books to read, so the day will be full of good things even if we don’t get out for a walk.

We came home from our shopping trip around 4pm yesterday and headed out to tend to the bird feeders. We wanted to see if the Chickadees would come feed out of my hand again, but I think they already had their jammies on and were heading off to bed by the time we got there. Not one of the feathery wee things was to be seen anywhere. Usually they swarm to the tree when they see us coming with our apples and peanut butter, but we saw not a one last night.

We thought we would try to tempt them with a juicy treat of apple and peanut butter anyway, but we only had one brave little nuthatch come for a visit. It was a totally awesome visit though. I held the apple and peanut butter on my outstretched hand, and the little guy perched right on my fingertips and feasted. It was absolutely thrilling to have the tiny wonder trust me and sit so close to me. He looked me right in the eye from time to time as he munched on his bedtime snack, and I wondered if he was as full of wonder as I was at what was happening. He was rewarded for facing his fear and doing it anyway, and I marvelled at his courage. After a few minutes he must have heard his mother calling him to come get ready for bed, because he flew off, and we didn’t see him again. We then set about putting out apples and peanut butter for the birds to find in the morning, and we happily came back into the warm farmhouse to fix supper and settle in for the night too. We talked excitedly about what had just happened and could hardly wait to see if we got any good pictures of the little guy eating out of my hand.

Anvilcloud has written about our picture taking trials over the past couple of days, but in spite of forgetting to put the memory card in the camera on the first day, and the late hour on the second day, he managed to get some great pictures. Go and have a look here and here.

If it isn’t raining, we will go out to the feeding tree after lunch and see if we can get a visit or two from the Chickadees. Oh, this is so much fun.

Be aware of wonder. Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work everyday some.      (Robert Fulghum)

Be aware of the wonder all around you in your corner of the world and keep your eyes open for the joy waiting to perch on your fingertips today. You might have to stand still and stretch out your hand to receive it, but go ahead, reach out. It is there waiting for you.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

January Contemplation

January can seem so dark and dull after all the bright festivities of December can’t it? I used to dread January, but not any more. It is on the relaxin' side of the holiday season, and I love this part of it. All the work and preparation leading up to Christmas is behind me, but the warm glow of time spent with family and friends is still all around me. I can wrap myself in this warm blanket of memories and snuggle down deep into the comfort and joy of if for the rest of the winter. Mmmm, absolutely wonderful!

The long dark evenings of January make for quiet contemplation and goal setting and that is exactly what I do. This first month of the year, with its snowy landscapes, stretches out in front of me like a clean white page, and I am urged to dream my dreams and write them down.

The book of my life for 2005 is fresh and new with no mistakes in it yet, and I can direct my story to go wherever I want it to. Oh the exciting possibilities this New Year holds. What direction will I go in? Where will I find the courage and strength I need to follow my dreams? I know it is somewhere deep within myself, but I must dig deep to find it. I will take life a day at a time and while I am alive I will live.

What lies behind us, and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Dream your dreams, dig down for that strength within and then reach for the stars as you set about to live your dreams this year.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Let the Sun shine…

The sun seemed to have lots of trouble getting out of bed this morning, and I could relate to the ole guy perfectly. I had to drag my sleepy body out from between the warm covers too, and then I had to fight with myself not to go back to bed again, to enjoy 40 more winks! After all, the sun did just that after showing his face for only about ten minutes this morning. Yes, the lazy old guy crawled back under his cloud covers and hasn’t poked his nose out since.

Oh well, we would just have to make our own sunshine today and be content with that. Ahh, that first cup of coffee always does wonders to brighten any day, and today was no exception. MMMM good. Time spent writing seemed to add a few more rays to the day, and then we went out to feed the birds and go for a walk.
Wow, we almost needed sunglasses by this point. The sun was still under his cloud covers, but we were making our own sunshine and it was brilliant.

I hope that you were able to make the sun shine wherever you were today too, and you basked in the glow of it.

Here dies another day
During which I have had eyes, ears, hands
and the great world round me;
And with tomorrow begins another.
Why am I allowed two?

GK Chesterton.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Sunshine on Snow

Today dawned bright and full of sunshine, which lit-up the fresh fallen snow all around the old farmhouse. What a sight for sleepy eyes. I rolled out of bed and padded from window to window marvelling at the brilliant white blanket covering everything outdoors.

I stood at the kitchen window while the coffee dripped into the pot and savoured the view while I waited for my first cup to be ready. I am glad I did that, because within half an hour, the sun was hidden behind the clouds and didn’t make another appearance all day. I took my first cup of coffee and sipped it while I checked my email and by the time I had done that, the clouds had moved in. Just as well really, because I had lots of work to do today.

Company is coming for the weekend, so we had to head into town for groceries, clean up a bit and get bedrooms ready. We had all that done by lunchtime, so after lunch we went out to tend the bird feeders and then treated ourselves to walk through the fresh snow and took and path through the woods we hadn’t taken before. It was fabulous to break new trails and have fresh snow to walk on again instead of icy crusty snow.

So, not much time for writing today, or for the rest of the weekend, but will get back here Sunday night. Have a good weekend and enjoy all the gifts January has to offer you.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Walking in a Snow Globe

That is exactly what it felt like today when we went out for our afternoon walk. The weatherman called for snow, and Mother Nature delivered it beautifully – all day long. What a treat. The dance of the snowflakes started a little after 9 am and continued until 6 pm. It was an absolutely marvellous snowy day, and I loved every minute of it.

The big fluffy flakes seemed to be having a grand time as they floated and glided around on their way to making new dresses for the trees and fresh blankets for the fields. What a joy to watch the choreography of the dance as they wove and spun their magic. I kept moving from window to window when I was inside the house, and felt like I was right in the middle of the most amazing snow-globe when I went outside.

The snowflakes fashioned an outfit for me too as I walked across the fields and I loved the touch of Mother Nature’s cold white paint-brush on my cheeks and tongue. She is such a talented artist isn’t she?

If you have a chance to walk in the snow this weekend, be sure to try to catch a snowflake on your tongue. Go ahead. Be a kid again and just do it.

Things That Go Bump in the Night

I was enjoying a wonderful deep sleep in this snug little farmhouse last night when something woke me up. I didn’t know what it was at first. Something out of the ordinary happened, and it grabbed me out of dreamland and thrust me rudely into this dark cold room. I was awake and in a high state of alert — heart pounding, adrenalin pumping. I opened my eyes and looked at the wall next to me but couldn’t see anything. The room was dark and quiet, but panic was clamouring in my head. I looked at my watch; it was 4 am.

It is unusually quiet here in the country anyway, but this quiet was deafening. The furnace wasn’t on, the fridge was in a rest period and the water heater was quieter than a mouse. Total, absolute quiet bombarded my ears.

What woke me up? I strained my ears and eyes but couldn’t hear or see anything. AC was sound asleep beside me, and now his soft breathing was drowning out any other sounds in the house. "Stop breathing so loud," I telepathically shouted at him. He evidently wasn’t receiving any messages from me in the depths of his dream world, and he continued to breathe on! The nerve!

We sleep on a creaky old iron bed in a small room on the main floor of the farmhouse, and because the room is so small the bed is pushed up against the wall. As a result, I can’t get out of bed without waking AC up to let me out. I lay there in the dark debating whether to wake him up or not? He has been sick and having trouble sleeping and now seemed to be in such a deep sleep: "I should let him sleep; no, I should wake him up!" What the heck woke me up?

I didn’t really want to go prowling around the cold dark farmhouse, so I lay there straining to hear. Nothing: I could hear absolutely nothing. Could I smell anything? No, no smoke, and the detector right outside our bedroom door was silent, so I was sure the house wasn’t on fire. I started to imagine all sorts of noises: was that an engine noise outside; was that a footstep in the kitchen; did the floor creak in the bedroom above our heads?

When we are here alone, we don’t open up the second floor of the house at all. There is a door in the kitchen leading to the bedrooms upstairs, and it is shut tight the whole time we are here. It saves on heat and makes us much cozier down here on the main floor. Did I hear noises up in those closed rooms above our heads? I strained and strained my ears, but I heard nothing.

After what seemed like an eternity, my heart rate started to settle down, and I convinced myself that something in my dream woke me up and that I should just roll over and go back to sleep. I was just drifting off when I was roughly yanked back to full alert again. Was it the sound of paper rustling? Did it come from the bureau across the room from the bed? No, maybe it came from the living room just outside the bedroom door. I lay there straining my ears again. Nothing! I could hear nothing — except AC’s breathing. The old iron bed is very creaky — maybe it was the bed? Maybe it was AC’s foot moving the covers? No, I was used to those noises; this was something different.

All was quiet again though. Once I was fully awake and alert, I couldn’t hear anything. I raised myself up on my elbows and peered out into the darkened living room and listened and looked, but couldn’t’ see anything moving and didn’t hear a thing. I lay back down and started to drift off again. Another noise roused me, and this time I knew it was paper rustling and that it was coming from the bureau in the bedroom. I looked over and in the gloom couldn’t see any shadows moving about. Oh no, it must be a mouse. Not again!!!! (check here for the first mouse story) I then heard scratching and scampering and noises out in the living room. I guess he was finished in our room and was on his way to the kitchen for a snack!!!

I looked at my watch again, and it was a little after 5 am. This little game had kept me awake for over an hour. Amazingly, once I knew what I had heard and thought that the mouse was safely munching away on something in the kitchen, I rolled over and went back to sleep. I guess I thought that if the mouse did come back into the room and across the bed that he would go into AC’s PJ’s and not my nightgown, and I was comfortable enough with that thought to drift off to dreamland again. Can you believe that?

When we got up this morning, I told AC what had happened during the night, and he said he thought he had seen a shadow of a mouse or something running across the floor when he had been up to the bathroom during the night. It was just a shadow, and he only caught a glimpse of it out of the corner of his eye, so he wasn’t sure if he had seen anything it or not.

I checked around nooks and crannies this morning and found that the little blighter had been under the kitchen sink and in one drawer beside the sink. I cleaned both those areas up and will keep that cupboard door and drawer closed tight at night to keep the little monster contained and out of our bedroom until we can get a trap or convince him to go back outside. I really don’t want to trap him, but I don’t want him and his buddies to move in either.

Never a dull moment here at the farm that is for sure. We are feeding the birds and squirrels outside and are enjoying watching them and visiting with them, but we sure don’t want furry little creatures in our bed at night. Been there, done that – don’t want to go there again.

We are being treated to a wonderful snow storm this morning, and the beauty all around us is more than making up for the trauma of things that go bump in the night in this old house. We will snuggle down indoors this afternoon and enjoy the storm while we sip a hot cup of apple cider and curl up with a good book.

I hope you enjoy something warm and comforting on this cold blustery day too. Keep your eyes open as you walk through this day. Lots of good gifts are waiting to be opened and enjoyed by you.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

January Morning

I awoke to bright sunny skies this morning and it was a very welcome sight after such a dull day yesterday. It is cold and windy outside too, with a promise of snow in the air. Yahoo! That makes me very happy, because we need some fresh snow to cover the icy drive so we can get in and out of the property again. We might have company this weekend so we need to go into town for extra groceries, but we can’t get the car back up the icy lane to the road. Fresh snow will make it nicer for our company to snowshoe the trails too. Ahh yes, – let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

We went for a trek down to the river and along to the swimming hole yesterday and it was a very icy walk indeed. Thank goodness the snowshoes have metal clips on the bottom that give great traction on ice. If we didn’t have them, we wouldn’t be getting out at all. Every inch of ground is covered in ice and almost impossible to walk on.

I thought I could make it out to the birdfeeder without my snowshoes yesterday afternoon, but I was sadly mistaken. I got a few feet away from the back door and I started to slide all over the place. I could hardly get back to the path. Yikes! The older you get the harder you fall, so I carefully waddled back to the porch and quickly donned my snowshoes. I won’t be going anywhere without them for the next little while!

The birds are busy at the feeders in the old apple tree, but the red squirrels have found the tree too and they are wreaking havoc with the delicate feeders I fashioned out of plastic lids and string. They were just fine for the birds, but won’t hold the weight of the squirrel’s hulking bodies! Well, hulking when compared to a bird’s body! We put a feeder out for the squirrels on the other side of the house, but the little blighters aren’t content with that. They want the bird’s food too. Sheesh!

We noticed deer tracks around the base of the apple tree yesterday, so all sorts of creatures are having a holiday feast. I will put more apples out for them later today. I sure hope we see the deer when they next come to the tree. We would love to get some pictures of them too.

Well, I must end this post here and go out to tend the feeders and then attempt a walk along the icy trails. I hope you get a chance to go for a walk today too and enjoy some of the gifts January has to offer in your little corner of the world at present. Open your eyes as you walk through the “meadow” you will be surprised at what you see.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Riverwood or Rivendell

John is still fighting the cold he picked up over the holidays, and was up through the night coughing and spluttering. All the noise woke me around 4am, right in the middle of a dream that seemed so real. I got up to see how John was doing, and I thought that since I was up anyway, I would try to write some of my dream down for a blog. I didn’t have much luck though. It slipped through my sleepy brain like dust in the wind and I couldn’t get it down on paper.

I soon gave up and padded off to the kitchen to make us both a hot apple drink. I thought that it might help sooth John’s throat and give me some extra vitamin C to help ward off the cold germs. We toddle back to bed around 5am and were soon asleep again. Our little romp in the middle of the night really threw us off though. Because the morning was so dark and dreary and the house so quiet, we slept until almost 11am. Yikes. I think we are catching up on our sleep after all the late nights we enjoyed while we were at Shauna’s.

We had a Lord of the Rings movie fest over the holidays and watched all three parts over three days. We brought the set with us to the farm and I am now looking forward to watching the two cd’s with all the extra scenes and interesting facts about how part three was made. Then maybe I will watch the third part again while all those facts are still fresh in my mind. We did love those books and think the movies are great too. Maybe it is time to read the books again – for a fourth time!

When were arrived back at the farm yesterday we had to go through the routine of opening it up after our absence – turning on the heat and hot water, opening vents, taking down cobwebs – stuff like that. We usually awaken a few flies once the heat is turned on, but we were really surprised to be bothered by a pesky mosquito yesterday! Yes, a mosquito diving bombing us in the middle of a cold January night is not a normal occurrence. In July and August it is a sure thing, but not January. We climbed into bed around 11pm and it followed us into the bedroom. Thank goodness I killed it before it had a chance to munch on us all night.

Anyway, in my dream I was blogging about Riverwood and Rivendell and how the two were so similar. I had everything pieced together perfectly, and was writing up a storm, when I was rudely awakened by John’s coughing and spluttering. I had the spiders and the mosquito all worked into the story. The mosquito was the same moth type thing that alerted Gandalf that the eagles were on the way. The Gandalfian snow trees and the old Ent – Treebeard- standing guard down by the river were all woven into the story too. I was on a roll, and this was going to be a fantastic blog.

Alas, in the cold light of morning, my notes didn’t make any sense at all and Riverwood is not Rivendell. Gandalf is nowhere to be found, and Treebeard is just old tree standing down by the river!

I am not giving up hope just yet though. Maybe Rivendell does exist in some hidden corner of the property and I just haven’t found it yet. I will keep looking. The search is so much fun.

What do you see?

Here we are again, tucked in safely at Riverwood after our Christmas celebration in the big city. Whew! I am very glad to be back in this quiet place after all the busyness and travel of the last few days. We had a wonderful time of feasting, playing, laughing, crying, giving, receiving, remembering old friends, and making new ones, but it is time now for some quiet contemplation and days filled with writing, reading and maybe a walk or two along a snowy trail. Heaven on earth!

Even though we were looking forward to getting back to the farm, it tugged at our hearts to leave the kids after such a nice visit. The seven-hour trip between us seemed so huge when we pulled out of their driveway. Parting does pull at the heart-strings doesn’t it?

We drove along in silence for awhile and let our feelings go where they would as the sweet memories of the past week mingled with the sadness of parting. So many things in life are bittersweet aren’t they? We really can’t have one without the other, so we might as well accept and feel what we feel and make the best of every situation. How could we really appreciate the taste of the sweet if we didn’t have the bitter with which to compare it?

We sat quietly for most of the trip here, but felt our spirits lifting as we got closer and closer to the farm and started to focus on the gifts Mother Nature had in store for us during this visit? That is the key to dealing with any heartache isn’t it? Let yourself feel what you feel, but try to focus on something positive and not dwell on what hurts.

The drive in was dull because the trees had lost their pretty white dresses and the snow on the fields was old and tired looking. The countryside seemed to reflect our sad feelings about leaving the kids.

We had clear roads for most of the trip, but when we turned off the main highway we hit icy, slushy, messy roads that were very slippery. Oh dear! At least we didn’t have far to go at that point, but we wondered what the farm lane would be like? When we got here we discovered the lane was a sheet of solid ice. Yikes! Should we park the car out at the road and walk in, or just drive in as far as we could? I got out to open the gate and could hardly stand up – it was glare ice!

We decided that driving would be safer than walking, so we put the car in a low gear, kept one foot on the brake and coasted down the driveway. We stopped just short of the snow bank at the end of the drive. Whew! We wouldn’t be getting up the driveway again anytime soon, but we had a fresh load of groceries, so we would be fine for a week or more. We had arrived safely and that was all that mattered right now.

We opened the car doors and the first thing we heard was the happy chattering of the Chickadees. They were busy munching on the apple slices and peanut butter we had left for them in the old apple tree on Christmas Day. They seemed to be welcoming us “home” when we pulled into the lane. What a nice greeting at the end of a long and rather sad drive.

Mother Nature does have gifts to give us to cheer us up if we only have eyes to see and ears to hear. I hope you see and unwrap her gifts each day of this new year.

"Many eyes go through the meadow, but few see the flowers."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Happy New Year!

I am the only one up right now, so I have the quiet house all to myself. What a treat. I am sitting in the family room and the cat is curled up on the couch here beside me purring contentedly. We are both enjoying a few quiet minutes of contemplation on this first morning of 2005. Seems like the perfect time to post and note and wish you all a Happy New Year.

We have enjoyed a wonderful warm family time during the past few days and I have lots to write about, but haven’t had much time to get at my computer. I will write more when I get back to the farm next week. For now, let me just wish you a Happy New Year.