Thursday, March 30, 2006

Oh Joy

There is still snow on the ground and ice on the river, but the air is warm enough and roads dry enough for us to be out on the bikes. Yahoo! We have managed a ride every day this week and we are loving being back out on the highways and byways. Feels great after the long icy winter.

AC took this pic of me exploring a spot near the water that might be nice for a picnic in the nicer weather. The wood pallets you see piled up to my right are a floating dock that will be put back in the water when all the ice is gone. The picnic table is all ready for us and in the heat of the summer that tree should give us a shady spot to stop and rest.

Time to go for today's ride. Talk to you later.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Isn't she a beauty?

We had a great day last Saturday. It was sunny and mild and our spirits were high when we set off for my birthday breakfast at a popular pancake house in a sugar bush just north of us. There was a wonderful breath of spring in the air, the sap was flowing, maple sugar was being made and the pancake house was the starting off point for the area Artist's Spring Studio Tour. All these elements coming together awakened a kazillion people from their winter doldrums, and once awake, they all made tracks for the sugar bush. Yikes! There were hoards of people there and it was not a very big restaurant.

After a long trek across a muddy parking lot we joined a very long line to get into the restaurant and then we hummed and hawed about staying. We were all hungry, and it didn't look like we would be able to even get inside the door of the building for quite a while. Hmmm, what to do? Oh what the heck, we were making a memory, and we could go to a dull old restaurant any day of the week, so we stayed. AC has posted lots of pics on his blog here.

The pancakes were very good once we got to them,and the place was hopping with activity the whole time we stood in line so the time went quickly. Horse-drawn wagon rides into the sugar bush were coming and going, fiddlers were playing by the door to the restaurant, people stood around laughing and talking while they waited to sit down and enjoy the feast, and once we got inside the door there was another musician playing music there. So, we were treated to a party atmosphere even if we had to stand in line for 45 minutes! Yes, we made a very nice memory.

After we left the sugar bush, we visited neighbouring small towns and toured little shops in each one. We took our time driving home and stopped at artist's studios all along the route. The sun shone all day and we soaked it up in grand style. We finished off the day with dinner, and birthday cake at Butterfly's, but that's not all, there was one more big surprise waiting for me at the end of the dinner.

Isn't she a beauty?

I am now the proud owner of the cutest little ipod! Hooray! Happy, Happy Birthday to me!

AC really enjoys his ipod and has it loaded with music, but I didn't put an ipod on my wish list until I discovered you could upload audio books onto them. How neat is that? I enjoy listening to books when my eyes are too tired to read, or I can't get to sleep and need an extended bedtime story. Our little local library here doesn't have a very large selection of audio books so I have been struggling to get the titles on tape that I want. Problem is now solved. I also have room for lots of music too, so I am one happy camper. Humming and reading, reading and humming, to my heart's content.

I hope you hear music today too and have a song in your heart wherever life takes you.

Take care.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Cuppa's Cake

Don't you just love it? The teapot pouring a fresh hot cuppa topped a delicious four layer cake loaded with maple cream icing between each layer. It was sooooo good.

Butterfly wins the prize for finding the prettiest and most delicious birthday cake for me this year.

I am on the fly today so don't have time to write much, but I just had to show you this fabulous cake.

Talk to you later.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Spoiled, spoiled, spoiled!

Yes, I am spoiled and I am loving it! This was today's surprise! Lovely huh?

Don't you love the card too?

It is getting late and I must toddle off to bed soon, so I will just post these pics for now and write more tomorrow.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Surprises continue…

Tuesday morning I stumbled down to the kitchen for my first cup of java and found my Tuesday birthday treat wrapped up and sitting on the counter waiting for me; a new k.d. lang CD – Hymns of the 49th Parallel. Her rendition of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah is fabulous and I had mentioned to AC that I wanted to get this CD. I am really liking this birthday week idea.

It was another very cold day and we had line dancing that night, so we refrained from going for a walk in the icy blast. We drove, instead of walking, to Tim's, purchased a café mocha and took it down to the water's edge to enjoy there along with the beauty of the day. The air was cold, but the car was warm and toasty, the sky blue, the water full of that blue reflection and the shore was lined with lots of returned Canada Geese. We had fun watching their antics while we soaked up the sunshine and sipped our coffee.

Then it was time to head home and get ready for line dancing that night. Yes, we are still lovin' those classes. They are lots of fun and good exercise. Later, I was busy putting on my dancin' shoes at the club, when someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around and there stood Butterfly and The Boy. It took me a second or two to compute what they were doing standing there. Butterfly gave me a hug and said "Happy birthday mom. We came to dance the night away with you guys as a little birthday surprise for you." Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather.

The music started for the first dance and Butterfly and The Boy got up and did the routine like they had been doing it all their lives. Song number two started and they did that one with us too. What was going on here? Then it struck me. AC had been going over to Butterfly's house to give her Photoshop lessons over the past couple of weeks. Oh sure! No, no, no, they had been having dance lessons, not Photoshop lessons. What a hoot.

It was great to have them there and meet all of our friends. At the end of the evening Butterfly said she would pick me up the next night (Wednesday) around 6 pm because she was taking me out for dinner, just the two of us for a girl's night out. Whoohoo! This is great.

True to her word she was at my door at 6 last night and we set off for a fun night out. We ended up at a unique pub located on the shores of the Unmighty Mississippi. The building used to be an old mill so it had lots of character and charm. We got a table by the window and watched the river flow past us while we feasted on grilled chicken, fresh multigrain rolls and sweet potato fries. Scrumptious.

So the party continues. Getting older isn't bad at all. The trick is to get older without getting old!!!! My sister sent me this quote the other day and for some reason it came to mind when I typed this last line, so I'll share it with you.

I get up. I walk. I fall down. Meanwhile, I keep dancing.

Yep, you gotta keep dancin'. Listen for the music in your life today and move your heart to it.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Hidden Treasures

Monday morning arrived bright and sunny but cold. I got up and puttered downstairs to make coffee. I stood at the kitchen window while the fragrant brew dripped into the pot and filled the room with the most delicious aroma. MMMMM, good. Could hardly wait for my first cup laced with double cream. Just then, AC came through the kitchen door and asked me where I wanted to go for lunch! What? Lunch? Did I miss something? Maybe I am not awake yet, and possibly I overslept, but I thought for sure this was just breakfast.

"This is your birthday week" AC announced "and I thought you might be missing the endless breakfasts and lunches you enjoyed during this week with your friends in Sarnia. I can't give you that, but I can give you a week filled with little surprises. So, to start the week of in fine style I want to take you out to lunch. Now, where would you like to go?"

Oh joy, I thought. This is going to be a fun week.

Lunchtime found us at The Leather Works. It has lots of atmosphere, good food and a table with a view of the water. Great combination. While munching on a mushroom-swiss burger we looked through a tour book of the area and decided to take one of the historic tours listed there. One place listed on the tour that seemed interesting to me was Wheeler's Pancake House and Maple Sugar Museum. It was a bit further down the rather bumpy spring roads than we wanted to go, but sounded intriguing so we headed in that direction anyway.

The back roads were indeed rough after the crazy winter of freezing and thawing we just had, and they seemed to get worse with each passing kilometre, but the sun was shining and it was early, so we set a slow pace and kept on course. Before long we came to a sign telling us to "turn here for Wheeler's". Yikes, it was just a dirt road and in much worse shape than the road we just left. It was then that AC looked at me and I could hear the words without him saying a thing "Well my dear, this is another fine mess you have gotten us into!" I just smiled back at him and said "think of it as an adventure". We both laughed and continued on down the winding road wondering what we would find at the end of it.

We eventually turned around a bend in the road and I fully expected to find a shack with a dilapidated sign hanging off the roof saying Wheelers. Thankfully, that wasn't the case at all. Granted, the first thing that greeted us was a rather muddy empty parking lot, but it was flanked by two large well kept buildings and assorted other small rustic sheds and barns. What a pleasant surprise. AC had posted pictures and a link on his blog. Here

Nothing looked open, but it was a nice place. We parked in front of the museum and ventured up to the door. Surprise, surprise, it was open. It was an absolutely beautiful log building with marvellous displays of maple syrup bottles, moulds, spouts, buckets, saws, drills, old fashioned snow-shoes and all sorts of other interesting things. Not a soul in sight though. AC and I wandered around to each display taking many pictures along the way, thoroughly enjoying our surroundings.

We then ventured outside and made tracks for the restaurant. If the museum was open, maybe the restaurant would be too, and it was. Three staff members were inside, but no patrons. This was another beautifully crafted wooden building with a huge stone fireplace in the centre of the room, ringed with large windows looking out onto snowy fields and maple woods. Delightful!

The owner's daughter greeted us at the door and spent a lot of time answering questions about maple sugaring. She let us taste different kinds of maple syrup - light, medium, and dark, and then explained how the weather affected the sap flow, how they tapped the trees now versus then, showed us the collection area and explained how 14,000 lines ran into this one room. No more collecting sap from buckets hooked on trees. When the sap is running freely, it would be gushing into this one collection area. An amazing process. When we were there, the sap wasn't flowing at all though. Much too cold for that yet. Warm days and below freezing nights are what is needed to really get things moving.

After our tour, we had a cup of coffee in the dining room and looked at a menu for future visits. They make their pancakes from scratch and also make their own Maple sausages to go with them. Yum! We had already eaten lunch so didn't sample any of the delicious fare listed on the menu, but are planning a trip back real soon to do just that.

So, our little adventure turned out to be quite a serendipitous one and in spite of the bumpy roads, we found a jewel of a place at the end of it. The reward at the end more than made up for the pot holes and bumps we had to put up with along the way.

Hope you have a bright day and find little jewels of pleasure tucked away in all sorts of unexpected places like we did on Monday. Don't let the bumps in the road discourage you and make you turn back. You never know what is just around the next bend in the road so keep on moving forward.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

"Light tomorrow with today"

"Light tomorrow with today" Elizabeth Barrett Browning

This quote is on my little desk calendar here beside me. It really suits this time of year doesn't it? The days will soon be brightened with spring bulbs that we planted on a distant yesterday last fall. What we do today does set the tone for tomorrow, so strike the match that is your life and light up your world as only you can.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Ahhhh, it's here

Welcome Spring! Pretty awesome new template huh? Thanks AC. I love it!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Oh, and one more thing…

In my post about our St Patty's Day adventure I forgot to mention one thing that had me in gales of laughter that night. It was my trip to the ladies room. Yes, the ladies room. What a hoot. I felt like I was in the middle of one of my most embarrassing nightmares. You know the kind where you are walking down the street and suddenly discover you are in your see-through pyjamas, or worse than that– completely naked. Well, one of my recurring dreams has me entering a bathroom stall, getting comfortably seated and only then discovering that I am sitting in the middle of a busy intersection or some other public place, or the stall has no back wall, or only half a door. Once seated I don't know how to get up, pull myself together and get out of there without total embarrassment. Or should I say "showing my-bare-ass-ment"!

As I mentioned in my last blog, our St Patty's Day shindig was held at a rather rustic clubhouse in the middle of nowhere. Not a grand and glorious establishment by a long shot. About half way through the night I decided to make a trip to the ladies room and powder my nose. The loo seemed to be a makeshift afterthought that jutted out into the main dinning room and offered little privacy or removal from the hubbub of activity all around it. A flimsy, toilet-paper thin wall was all that separated you from tables full of party goers. Sheesh!

I opened the rickety door and was confronted with a step. I took the step up and when I raised my eyes, found myself looking directly into a lady's face staring back at me above a half door on one of the two small stalls inside. I burst out laughing and so did she. She was seated in the stall, but because the stall was up on another pedestal like wooden platform and only had half a door, we were on the same level and had eye contact. It was just too funny. There were four ladies in the loo at this time, two in stalls and two waiting on a small patch of floor by the tiny sink, and we were all looking at each other. It was just too funny for words.

It sounded like we weren't removed from the dining room at all, and I was sure that if I entered the stall and sat down, the walls would suddenly collapse and there I would be on the "throne" in the middle of the overcrowded dining room. I said that this reminded me of my worst nightmare and I felt like I was caught with my pants down in the middle of a public place. We were all laughing hysterically by this time and rolled out of there with tears of laughter streaming down our faces.

Let the good times roll.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Another fine mess…

Over the years I have heard this phase whispered in my ear a number of times. "Well my dear, this is another fine mess you have gotten us into." In my mind's eye I can clearly see AC's pained expression even as I type these words. I must admit that I have gotten us into some doozies.

Let me tell you about the latest, our St Patty's Day – dinner. No, concert. No, dance. No, oh I don't know what it was, we never did have tickets and we didn't know the names of the people who reserved them for us. I only knew the first names of three girls from line dancing who invited us to join them and make up a table of ten for this event. We should have stopped right there, but we didn't. Read on.

We only had a general idea of the location of the restaurant, so on Thursday we went hunting for it so we would know where we were going on Friday and how long it would take us to get there. We drove down this country road and found nothing but farmer's fields. Hmmm, where in the world were we going? Soon we happened upon a sign for the facility we were looking for and turned down a rather unkempt looking, long and winding driveway. We passed closed huts and garages bearing signs saying "this driving range closed" or "this way to the pro shop". Ok, this is a golf course and the event will be held at a big beautiful clubhouse further on down the road. Now things were making sense – sort of.

We drove on past more closed buildings and dodged around huge pot holes in the road until we eventually came upon a rather rustic looking clubhouse. Not elegant, big or beautiful by any sense of the imagination. Uh-huh, we were getting the picture now. This would be a small affair and jeans and cowboy boots would be in order. The sign on the front door gave the winter hours for lunch and dinner and there were a few cars in the muddy parking lot. We turned around without going in and headed for home. At least we knew where we were going the next night, even if we didn't know who had our tickets. We decided to go in a bit late, but still in time to order dinner and then enjoy an evening of dancing and visiting with our friends from line dancing. We were ready to party.

Seeing as it was a St Patty's day affair, I hunted around in my closet for something green to wear. I didn't have one thing. Not one! Green is not my colour I guess. AC had a green plaid shirt so he was all set once he put a green ribbon and shamrock on a hat to finish off his outfit. I did find an old shawl in the back of my cupboard that had a smidge of green in it, so I threw that over my shoulder, added a shamrock and we were ready for the festivities. AC has posted a picture over on his blog, go have a look here.

We drove out to the deserted place we had been to the day before and were surprised to discover the parking lot jammed packed with cars. What the…? AC dropped me off at the door and went in search of a parking spot. As soon as my feet hit the ground I could feel the beat of music beneath them and the sound of singing danced across the cold night air to my ears. I could almost see the walls of the old clubhouse shaking too. What in the world was going on inside?

I slowly opened the door and walked into a pulsing sea of green. To say the place was crowded would be an understatement. It was jammed packed with people. Here, out in the middle of nowhere. I was shocked. I must have had an overwhelmed expression on my face because a lady came up to me and asked if I was looking for friends or if she could help me find a table. I didn't know who had our tickets or the last names of the girls from line dancing. I should have turned around and run right then and there.

AC joined me at this point and he had a look of terror on his face. I think he wanted to turn and hightail it too. Fortunately or sadly, we had just enough information about our friends that the lady was able to figure out what table was expecting us, and we were directed to it around the corner and at the back of the room. We caught sight of our friends, but were dismayed to see that only one chair was still empty at their table. We were, after all, over an hour late and it was impossible in a crowded room like that to hold the seats for us. There were plastic lawn chairs stacked along the back wall though, so two were set out for us at the end of the table and we joined the group, sort of. Our lawn chairs seated us about a foot lower than all the rest of the chairs at the table. My chin was almost at table level, so I felt like a kid who needed a booster seat in a restaurant. We looked like low down little munchkins sitting there, the honorary leprechauns?

It was at this point AC turned to me and gave me that look "Well my dear, this is another fine mess you have gotten us into." He laughed and I laughed and we tried to make the best of it. This was not an easy task though, we were around a corner and at the back of the room, so we couldn't see the group playing the music; we were hungry because we had come expecting to buy dinner but we didn't see that happening any time soon; the munchies that had been set out at each table were long gone by the time we got there and were not being replace; the dance floor was small, very crowded and about a mile away from our table; the music was all Irish jig stuff that we couldn't dance to anyway, so we ruled out dancin' as part of our fun for that evening. We tried to enter into the conversation at the table, but the music was so loud we could hardly hear what we were saying to each other let alone converse with people seated a foot above us. It was too funny. Our lawn chairs were right beside a very drafty window and after about half an hour I was freezing. The night was quickly going from bad to worse.

We both just wanted to get out of there and go home. Now, how to do that gracefully? We couldn't figure out a way, so at the end of one set of music around 8pm, we just got up and left. The first steps out into the cold night air felt like glorious stolen "freedom". I wanted to run to the car. We did laugh and giggle as we stumbled through the dark trying to avoid the huge puddles in our path. The night was clear and cold and the sky was full of stars above our heads. We marvelled at the beauty of it. Now this was awesome entertainment and the trip out to this place was worth it just to see this starry sky at the end of it.

Once home, we got into our jammies, I made some popcorn and we curled up on the couch munching our salty treat while we watched a movie. Ahh, now that's better, much, much better.

I am sure that this won’t be the last "fine mess" I will get us into or the worst, but each one gives us a story and a memory, so let's hear it for fine messes and the laughter they bring.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Holidays are such fun, but they are over too quickly, and oh the "thud" when we land back home. I am still trying to recover from my "thud" after Riverwood. I managed to get unpacked, caught up on the laundry and housework, but can't quite get into a rhythm of doing anything else. My spirit is still at Riverwood but my body is here and I can't seem to get myself together!

I know this sounds crazy, but just that short time away, and I feel a bit lost here again. I stood in the kitchen on the first night home and had to stop and think about where the silverware drawer was. I know I still have to dig around and search for seldom used pots and pans, but - the silverware drawer??? Good grief. I stood in the kitchen and had to re-adjust myself to my "new" surroundings again, and it was a strange feeling. So, I plod on and try to get back into routine and pick up the threads of my life in order to weave a piece of fabric out of all these little bits and pieces of my everyday.

I finished my book club book the other night, AWAY by Jane Urquhart, and it was another strange one. Not quite as out there as Green Grass, Running Water, but a bit strange in places. I found it interesting that the family moves to Madoc, a place we pass on the way to Riverwood, and it mentions lots of places in the area that we visit quite often. From Madoc the story moves to Belleville, Ottawa and Montreal. Also, all very familiar to me.

Urquhart is a poetic writer and some of her phrases are beautiful and memorable, but the story....well, it is a stretch at times.

One phrase at the end of the book jumped out at me and made the whole book worth reading though. "Be where I stand." What a waste life is if you are constantly "Away" wishing for something else. "Be where I stand" - and enjoy the life I have right here and right now.

Well, I must go "away" now. It is time for me to go pick up some loose threads, and weave a pattern into the tapestry of my life that I can only create today. Tomorrow different threads will be available so I must work with what I have today – today!

"Be where YOU stand" today, and enjoy what "is" right now.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Cat in the hat or...

Rocks in the Box?

He is one crazy cat isn't he?

He does love his place in the sun. Don't we all? Hope you find a nice sunny spot to sit in today too, and it warms your body and soul.