Monday, November 28, 2005


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Passing the torch

And the seasons, they go round and round……

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the seasons they go round and round……

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Snowy Walk

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

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

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

Pretty Dresses huh?

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

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

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Such a nice surprise.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Steppin' Outside the Box

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Pretty Scary

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

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

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

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

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

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