Tag Archives: family

Sweet Sarah…

They’re having a memorial for Sarah in Port Hope, Ontario on February 22nd.  I wish I could go.  I can’t.  Instead, I will write my memories of Sarah…

I first met Sarah some time in the summer of 1983…I liked her the minute we were introduced.  She was a year younger than I was, and had the same birthday as my brother, September 13th.  I was dating my first husband, Kent, and Sarah was Kent’s brother, James’, live-in girlfriend.  James and Sarah had gotten together in high school, and had been inseparable ever since.  At 6′ tall, James towered over 4’11″ Sarah!  She was small but mighty!

One of five children born to artist parents, it makes sense that Sarah would get together with an artist whose father was also an artist.  While James went to the Ontario College of Art, Sarah was studying social work and psychology at university.

jamessarah1

James and Sarah…early ’80′s…

Kent and I moved to Newfoundland in late 1983, so didn’t see James and Sarah again until our wedding in 1984.  James was an usher.  We spent our honeymoon in Port Hope at the family cottage, and got to hang out with James and Sarah a little bit there.  After we were married, Kent and I moved from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Moncton, New Brunswick.

The next time we saw James and Sarah was at their wedding in 1985.  They were taking care of a huge old farmhouse in Port Hope for a family friend, and the wedding was held outside there.  It was a casual summer wedding…lots of people and lots of food!  Sarah made sure everyone was having a good time.

James’ dad and his wife lived in Kelowna, British Columbia…Sarah and James moved there soon after they were married.  We visited them with our baby, Kaylee, in the spring of 1987.  Sarah was about seven months pregnant with her first child, Dylan.   James and Sarah took us on a tour and drove us to a local petting zoo.  I’ll never forget the sight of little Sarah with her big belly, surrounded by pregnant pygmy goats…it’s like they knew she was pregnant too!

sarahpregnant1

Sarah, 7 1/2 months pregnant with Dylan…

sarahjamesdylan1

James, Sarah and Dylan…

Sarah and James returned to Port Hope after a couple of years in British Columbia.  They bought a house next door to Kent’s best friend’s.  This was the end of their nomadic existence…Sarah and James were putting down roots.  

The house was old and comfortable.  James’ and other family members’ art decorated the walls.  There were books and record albums everywhere.  The fridge door was covered with family photos and Dylan’s doodlings.  The television was hidden away in the office…when you went to visit Sarah and James, you talked!  I remember late nights with wine, music, and laughter…

It was soon after they came back that Sarah opened a day care at the house.  Sarah was a natural caregiver…she loved kids and they loved her!  Likewise with animals…I don’t ever remember Sarah and James not having a dog or two.   When she didn’t have a child or a dog in her arms, she was knitting.  I still have the sweaters Sarah made for the girls when they were little.

James and Sarah’s daughter, Rachel, was born in 1992.  I had given them a crocheted baby blanket as a gift.  A couple of years later, we were visiting one summer.  I remember Sarah telling me how they had to wait until Rachel was asleep, and then sneak the blanket away from her to wash it…I hardly recognized it!  It was well-loved…

Sarah and James were vegetarians, and belonged to a food buying co-op.  It was at their house that I first had “TVP” (texturized vegetable protein) instead of hamburger in spaghetti sauce!  I still make one of Sarah’s pasta salad recipes (macaroni shells, broccoli, carrots, whole almonds, mayo with a little lemon juice and dill, if you like).  They didn’t force their lifestyle on the kids, but allowed them to choose what they wanted to eat.

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Rachel, Sarah, and Dylan, eating spaghetti…

Kent and I split up in 1997.  With very little money, I was unable to make the trip from New Brunswick to Ontario very often.  The last time I saw James and Sarah was in 2003.  I had gone to Ontario to my college reunion, and had arranged to spend a few days in Port Hope so my daughters could see their dad and his family.  We stayed at Sarah and James’ house…it was one of the best visits I’d ever had with them!  Sarah treated my youngest, Hope, like all the other kids, even though she wasn’t technically related.  Sarah told me about being “carded” at the liquor store (she was over 40 at the time).  “I told them I had a 15-year-old son at home!” she laughed.  The rest of the family came over one afternoon for a family reunion…I remember Sarah giggling as hard as our middle school daughters when 75-year-old Nana did an impromptu rendition of “Who Let the Dogs Out?” (complete with barking).

James’ dad passed away in 2009.  Sarah was there to comfort him.  James returned the favour when Sarah’s younger brother succumbed to cancer last year.

jamessarah0709a

James and Sarah at James’ dad’s memorial service…

 

Last fall around Hallowe’en, my daughters got a message from their aunt that Sarah was very ill…cancer.  Despite aggressive treatments with radiation, the cancer spread to Sarah’s brain in January.  She died February 5th with her beloved James at her bedside…he’d been there around the clock for three days…

Sarah was the first to laugh, and the first to cry.  She was the first to hug…all children felt safe in her embrace, and adults felt comfort…

I can see Sarah in heaven surrounded by children whose time also came too soon…maybe they’re fingerpainting…

RIP Sweet Sarah…

 

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Things I’ve Learned in the Past Three Weeks…

As my regular readers know, I’ve been set up in the Saint John City Market for the past three weeks selling books from our bookstore…this isn’t my first time selling at the Market, but it is the first attempt at being a full-time vendor.  Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

1. Nothing is predictable.  You can have an amazing sales day on Monday, but your sales on Tuesday might suck!  There is no rhyme or reason to it…it completely depends on who walks into the Market that day with money in their pocket and a desire to buy a book.  There was a raging snowstorm outside on one of my best sales days ever…I thought people would be holed up in their houses!  Hopefully, it all evens out at the end of the week (or month!).

2. Listen to other people’s suggestions, within reason.  My friend, Scott, (who is also a Market vendor) suggested I change my display to a U-shape with individual books highlighted in the center instead of two straight rows.  He was right…it looked much more inviting, and gave the illusion of having more books.  Another Market vendor suggested I stick a price tag on the books so people wouldn’t have to look for the price (inside the front cover in pencil)…no way…stickers are death on books!

3. Change is good.  I change my display daily, and bring a new box of stock from the store every morning.  The theme changes weekly.  I learned this from a very successful Market vendor (and good friend), Becky.  There are a bunch of people who go through the Market every day (it’s part of a pedway system)…I want them looking at my stuff when they pass through.

4. Word travels fast.  I mentioned to a couple of other vendors that we used tomato boxes to store our books, and pop flats to mail them in.  Now cardboard and boxes magically appear under my bench!

5. The public can be a little too friendly sometimes.  One day last week, I felt someone looking over my shoulder, turned away from my computer and was nose-to-nose with a little old lady who was staring intently at our bookstore logo on the screen, and giggling like a little girl.  It is cute, but she was certainly old enough to have a sense of other people’s personal space!

Our bookstore logo...guaranteed to make you say "Awww..."

6. Customers usually fit in one of three categories.  The first, buyer, is my favourite!  The second, be-backer, may or may not come back, despite what he or she says (although I have been surprised more than once!).  The third, bugger, will talk your ear off for fifteen minutes and leave without buying anything…if you’re going to tell me about your Great Aunt Martha’s hip surgery, at least reward me for the torture I’ve endured by buying a book!

7. Regulars are the best.  My best customer so far bought seven books the first week, two the second, and one this week (he gets 20% off since he’s bought five books from us).  He walked by my bench at a fast clip on Wednesday muttering, “Stop tempting me…stop tempting me…stop tempting me!”  I got a laugh out of it!

8. My bladder is stronger than I thought.  I’m at the Market from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.  I work alone, and the bench across from me is vacant most of the week.  I depend on the kindness of my friends (and fellow vendors) to make pit stops.  My record for “holding my water” so far is seven hours (I usually don’t drink anything during the day, and wait until I get home at night to have tea).  I’m hoping that I get a “neighbour” soon!

9. People are procrastinators.  If I had a nickel for every customer I’ve talked to who’s said, “I’ve seen your store, but I haven’t gone in yet,” I’d have a lot of nickels!  It’s been twelve years, people!  It’s time!

10. Boys will be boys, no matter how old they are.  Last week, a fight nearly broke out in front of my bench because one guy failed to move to one side so that a man coming toward him could get past.  Ridiculous!  Luckily, a woman travelling with one of the men was able to talk him out of his idiocy.

I’m having fun at the Market…I’ve met some interesting people.  I’m going to keep it up as long as I can make a bit of money…

I miss Blogland, but it’s really hard to read and write when one is being constantly interrupted…and I do have to eat.  I’ll try to visit my blogging buddies once in a while, and post when I have a few minutes…

 

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Religion, Resolutions, Raccoons, Rutabagas, and Red Tablecloths…

When I last posted, December 21st (sigh), I was deep in the holidaze.  Now that the fog has cleared somewhat (or as much as it ever does for a woman of my advanced years), I decided to post an update with some of the highlights of my last couple of weeks:

Religion:

There’s an Anglican church near Hope’s school that Jim drives by every day when he drops off the kids.  The minister seems to put great thought into the messages he puts on the display board.  This is one of his latest offerings:

Prayers just aren't what they used to be...photo by Jim

I haven’t met the minister, but I think I might like him!

Resolutions:

New Year’s Day has come and gone.  Jim and I hung out at home with the kids on New Year’s Eve…the most exciting thing we did was play Just Dance 3 on the Wii (which I suck at…Jim has a video which he’s keeping if he ever needs to blackmail me!).  I was laughing so hard at my own incompetence, I almost peed my pants (although Jim’s attempt was pretty funny too!).

I don’t do resolutions…I figure there’s no point in deliberately setting oneself up for failure.  Before Christmas, I decided to give up eating chips, and I’m happy to report that I haven’t had any since (I have had cookies, cake, pie, fudge, caramel popcorn, nuts, and candy, though…the weight is falling off at such a speed, you can hardly see it!).

Raccoons:

We’ve had fun the last couple of months watching a local family of raccoons which enjoys helping itself to Jim’s birdseed smorgasbord on the back deck.  The babies love tormenting our dog, Jake, by walking right up to the back door and peering through the glass at him.  Jake goes ballistic, barking frantically, and all three raccoons continue gazing wide-eyed at the crazed canine as if they were touring the Schnoodle exhibit at the museum.

The mother scares me a little.  She’s big, and not nearly as cute as her kids!  Jim and I often fall asleep at night holding hands…one night I dreamed about the mama raccoon.  She was trying to bite me, and I was holding her mouth shut!  Jim woke me up because I was squeezing his hand so hard!

Here’s a picture Anna took of a raccoon last fall:

One of our nightly visitors...photo by Anna Matheson.

Rutabagas:

Last year, I grew rutabagas in my garden…I love them.  Of course this year, the deer chewed the tops of the rutabaga plants…they don’t do well without leaves, so I harvested none.  I was thrilled to see a nice 5 lb. bag of rutabagas at Giant Tiger earlier this week (most stores around here have just turnip, which isn’t the same!).  I bought it immediately.  I had some nice stewing beef in the freezer…I made a gigormous beef stew and told Jim to invite his parents over to help us eat it, because fridge space over the holidays was still at a premium!  If I do say so myself, the stew was delicious, and people seemed to enjoy the homemade rolls and pumpkin pie for dessert too (the pumpkin pie I’d served at Christmas dinner got eaten before I had any)!  I’ve got leftovers for my lunch today…yummy!

Red Tablecloths:

Since my job at the Saint John City Market ended on November 30th, I haven’t been overwhelmed with job offers, so I made a proposal to my dad: I would start setting up at the Market with books full-time.   I would pay the rent, but keep whatever profits I made.  I would finally start taking a salary from the bookstore after almost twelve years of sweat equity!  It would give us more exposure (our location is a little off the beaten path), and allow us to get rid of some excess inventory.  Much to my surprise, Dad agreed with my idea!

I’ve spent this week assembling and packing books to take, and looking for red vinyl tablecloths for my bench…not an easy thing to find right after Christmas (I’m trying to keep with the colour scheme at the Market – benches are painted red)!  Each week, I’m featuring a different theme…next week’s is The Movies.

If you’re in the Market, please stop by and see me.  Even if they don’t buy anything, I’ll be depending on the kindness of friends for my bathroom breaks!

 

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And the Winner is…

Two-month-old Nico isn't thrilled to get up close and personal with the Bearded One...

The results have been tabulated for the Santa Photo Caption Contest.  Caryn (mom of Nico) chose the winning caption, submitted by Annie at Six Ring Circus: Lose the beard, fatty. It’s itching my delicate baby skin.  Caryn adds: “I imagine he is saying this in a husky grumpy voice!!!”

Annie will be receiving an angel Christmas tree ornament made from recycled cookie tins by Scott McDade of The Recycling Bin.  She’s flying there as fast as she can (the angel, not Annie!)…her wings are only little!

Annie will have a beautiful angel to hang on her tree next year...photo by Scott McDade

Honourable mention goes to Monica at Monica’s Tangled Web for: And they woke me up and took me out of my comfy bed for this? Sheesh.

and

Jess at Jess Witkins’ Happiness Project for: What did I want for Christmas? To play with my thumbs! But no, instead, I get more Christmas pajamas with the mitten hand arms!!!

Thanks to everyone who entered the contest…I hope all my friends and relatives have an amazing Christmas!  I will leave you with a much more contented picture of little Nico:

"Outfits with ears make me happy!"

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Smiles, Soup, Santa and Silliness…

Last Wednesday night, Kaylee, Scott and Elise came over so that we could take the annual Christmas family photo.  It was past Elise’s bedtime, and we had a little difficulty getting her to cooperate!  The girls were upset that we hadn’t gotten the Christmas tree up yet…perhaps if they’d cleaned up the living room, it might have happened!  They also vetoed me wearing one of Jim’s Christmas ties!  Here’s the final product, courtesy of Jim and Photoshop:

Christmas Family Photo 2011...Back: Dad, Kaylee, Scott, Elise, Wendy, Jim. Front: Devin holding Jake, Anna, Hope, Brianna. Photo by Jim.

 

I was home nursing my infected toe again on Tuesday (it’s better now)…I happened to glance out the window and saw three deer making themselves at home near the fence to my garden.  I went outside to scare them off.  While I was there, I noticed my forgotten leek plants…four of them…standing in what was left of my ruined garden.  Since leeks are a member of the onion family, deer don’t like them!  I decided it would be a wonderful time to dig them up (the leeks, not the deer!).

Fooled by the balmy temperature (about 50 degrees F.), I was shocked to discover that the leeks did not budge when I pulled on the stalks…the ground was frozen!  Not to be deterred, I went back in the house and grabbed a big kettle of hot water, and retrieved my trusty garden fork from the garage.  I wrestled the kettle down the back steps and poured it on the earth surrounding the plants.  I plunged the sharp tines of the fork in, and began to wiggle the tool back and forth until the leek plants were loosened enough to pull out.  Three big ones and a small one…not bad!

Bucket of leeks, fresh from the garden...

 

I followed instructions from the Internet on how to clean and prepare the leeks, never having done it before!  I also took pictures, which did not turn out because the batteries in the camera were dying…the multiple rechargeables I had purchased were nowhere to be found!  I finally borrowed Anna’s camera to take this photo of the leeks after I cut them up:

Cut leeks in the measuring cup...

 

I ended up with two cups of leeks for my trouble…I decided to make vegetable soup.  Yesterday morning before I left for the bookstore, I cut up onions, carrots and potatoes, and loaded them into the Crock-Pot, along with some herbs, chicken and vegetable bouillion cubes dissolved in hot water.  We had it last night…not bad, but I’m hoping it will gain more flavour after sitting in the fridge overnight (homemade soup is usually better the second day).

This morning, I opened up my Facebook as usual, and was happy to see that my cousin, Caryn and her husband, Jaime, had taken their little boys to see Santa:

Four-year-old Alex is an old pro at this...natural charm!

 

Then, it was two-month-old Nico’s turn:

"Whatchoo talkin' about, Santa?"

 

Now it’s your turn: Come up with a caption for Nico’s visit with Santa.  The person with the winning entry will receive a handmade metal Christmas ornament made by my friend, Scott McDade, from The Recycling Bin (you probably won’t get it in time to use this year, but put it away for next year!).  Deadline for entries is Monday, December 19th.

Win one of these ornaments made from recycled cookie tins! Photo by Scott McDade.

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Has Anyone Seen My Dashboard?…or…She’s BAAACK!

The report of my death was an exaggeration.”  Mark Twain

I actually wasn’t dead, just working so much that Blogland was like Never Never Land…a place I never had time to visit.  That chapter in my life is now finished – the temporary, seven-week job turned into seven months with a somewhat disappointing ending – I didn’t get the permanent position!  However, certain facts came to light during the last month as I was training my replacement (yes – I’m that nice much of a patsy), and I’m rather glad someone else will have to deal with those “challenges” (which is corporate speak for things that are FUBARed).  I had a lovely going away party, and have made several wonderful friends.  I expect to be happily unemployed at least for the next few weeks…getting a new job in December is next to impossible!

So, WordPress has been changing things around while I’ve been gone…I really had to search to locate my Dashboard!  Once I get this post written, I hope to get around and visit all my blogging buddies and at least read their latest posts (sadly, I deleted more than 1500 unread e-mails this morning – they were stressing me out – best to start fresh!).  I’ve missed everyone so much…please forgive me if I’m ignorant of what’s been happening in your lives lately!

Okay…so in my last post, some (gulp!) four months ago, the deer had totalled my garden (it’s still completely useless, and the grass the landscapers planted in my devastated back yard isn’t growing!).  Jim and Devin have replaced the fence that was ruined, but we will definitely have to make it higher with wire, as the deer still sail over it like Olympic high jumpers (I refuse to award medals – it’s too hard to get the deer to stand still to put them around their necks!).  Ironically, to control the ballooning deer population, the powers that be in our province decided to allow hunting them with crossbows during the gun hunting season.  To protect our family and our dog, we bought multiple “No Hunting” signs at the Dollar Store and posted them around the perimeter of our (landlord’s) property.

Jim and the girls returned safely from their amusement park vacation (without me!), although there was a slight mishap which involved Hope losing $40 cash which she had placed in the cupholder of the van for “safekeeping”.  When the van door was opened near the top of Mt. Washington, the wind carried the money away (some $80 in total).  Jim scrambled down an embankment to save one $20 bill, while another two sailed over the cliff.  The last was later found by Anna on the floor of the van.  When I asked Hope why she didn’t have the money in her purse, she told me that she was afraid of being mugged: “Americans are sketchy, and they carry guns!” (please don’t take this personally…Hope’s 13, and she watches way too much Criminal Minds!).

Hope, Brianna and Anna drinking fruit smoothies at Cora's...

My granddaughter, Elise, celebrated her second birthday on September 9th.  Kaylee and Scott had a barnyard-themed party for her.

Menu for the Party

 

Elise wearing the sweater Gramma got for her...the tiara was not my purchase!

 

A few days after the party, Elise made an announcement on Facebook:

Elise has some news...

Everyone is very excited!  The new kid has some big shoes to fill…Elise is a tough act to follow!  She’s PERFECT, and I’m not just saying that because I’m her Gramma (well, maybe I am!).  I don’t know of many kids who know all of the alphabet (as well as punctuation marks), and the sound each letter makes, before their second birthday!

This is getting a little long, and I’m getting hungry for lunch…I will leave you with this amusing anecdote from a couple of weeks ago:  I was talking to a single woman friend of “a certain age” who was lamenting the difficulty of finding a suitable partner for casual “whoopee”.  “I don’t want to get married,” she said.  “I just want an occasional roll in the hay, but I don’t want to be one of those…what do you call them?…JAGUARS!”

 

 

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The ABCs of My Last Two Weeks…NEW POST!

Note: This is another LONG post…a lot builds up in two weeks!  You might want to get a cup of tea or coffee before you start…WM

 

Airport.  Wednesday night, we took Anna to the airport to fly to Ontario to go to her cousin’s wedding (see Wedding), and see her dad and her uncle (see Cancer).  It was her first time flying solo…she was a little nervous, but got there fine. 

Birthdays.  Summer is a busy time for birthdays in our family: mine was July 17th, Jim’s was July 21st, Hope’s was July 31st, and Anna’s was August 3rd.  Jim’s mom had a party for him at her house.  His sisters were there for the barbecue…his dad and sister, Tracy, were cooking in the rain!  Smoke was getting in Gordon’s eyes!  Hope had a party with her friends at the Carleton Community Centre (see Disc Jockey).  The whole family got together for a combo party at Jungle Jim’s  in Saint John for Hope and Anna on Tuesday night (see Tip).  We tried to get into the new one in Quispamsis, but they would not take my reservation (for fifteen people!)…needless to say, I will not be patronizing them in the future.

Cancer.  We learned a few weeks ago that Anna and Kaylee’s uncle, Scott E., had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  It was a terrible shock…Scott is a truly wonderful man, and a great husband, father and grandfather! Anna hadn’t seen him for four years, so I decided to fly her down to Port Hope for Scott’s son’s wedding this past weekend (see Wedding).  Anna also got to see her dad for the first time in four years. 

Disc Jockey.  Hope celebrated her birthday a couple of days early with eleven of her friends at the Community Centre in our old neighbourhood on the West Side.  Most of the attendees were West Siders, and I felt sorry for the three girls from Quispamsis who were looking rather left out.  Eventually, the kids started to talk to each other, and then they all went outside, leaving me alone in the dance hall with the DJ who I was paying $15/hour!  I went downstairs and told the girls that I was “paying big bucks” for this, and that they’d better come in and start dancing, or I would!  “Don’t embarrass me, Mom!” Hope begged.  Hope was quite happy with her presents: loads of cash and gift cards.  One girl gave her some cute earrings her sister had made.

Extension.  I got another extension at work, until September 30th.  The City has also decided to post the job I’m doing now.  Of course, I applied for it!  I’m enjoying it a lot, and most people seem to like me.  If I get it, I’m going to have to figure out how to manage squeezing in some blogging time!

Found.  We have at least 2-3 cruise ships come into port every week between June and the end of October in Saint John.  Many of the ship’s passengers end up at the Saint John City Market where I work.  Invariably, someone loses something important!  Last week, a lady from New Jersey lost both her driver’s license and her ship card, which I returned to the commissionaires at the port after one of our Maintenance guys found them.  When I got back from my walk in the rain, the woman who’d lost her ID was waiting at my office.  After I assured her that her documents were safe down at the ship, she gave me a huge hug!  This week, a Market customer found a Visa card on the floor, and brought it up to me.  I called Port Security to see if it might belong to one of the ship’s passengers.  When I told the guy the person’s name, he said, “The police just brought me her Amex card, and her ship card.”  She came to get her Visa card herself.  She was breathless, but grateful when she arrived.  “You people are so good!”  I told her that’s just how we are in Saint John!

Girlfriend.  Devin’s girlfriend, Kat, finally came over to our house for a visit.  We were worried about how our neurotic dog, Jake, would react, so we armed her with a handful of dog treats.  Soon, Jake was literally eating out of her hand!

Harvest.  Since the deer have been helping themselves to my garden on more than one occasion, I haven’t been able to harvest much lately…beans apparently don’t grow very well without leaves!  We’ve had two meals of them so far, and will probably not have enough to put any in the freezer (I had about forty bags last year).  I picked a few peas the other day.  The tomatoes are starting to form, however.  I have high hopes for them…the deer didn’t damage those as much!  I should be able to pick some zucchini soon too.  The raspberries are just finishing, and I started picking blueberries this week…should get a few bags of those frozen at least!

Ice Cream.  I love summer because ice cream goes on sale!  I’ve bought four 2-litre tubs in the last two weeks!  Farmer’s Peanut Butter Caramel Cookie Dough is amazing!

Jets.  Some people thought the stunt jets flying over the U2 concert (see U2) in Moncton last weekend were neat.  I did not…I have a recurring nightmare of a plane crashing on top of me!  Of course, they flew over while Jim was at the souvenir tent buying a T-shirt!  There I was, curled into a fetal position with my eyes closed and my fingers jammed in my ears!

Kale.  This year was the first time I’ve grown kale in the garden.  Since we seem to like it both cooked and raw, I think I’ll grow it again next year.  Perhaps I can keep the deer out of it, because they love it too!

Landscaping.  Since our yard now has a very steep hill at the bottom of it, Jim had the idea of just planting a bunch of flowers down there instead of trying to mow it.  I’ve been collecting seed heads from the poppies in our front yard, and hope to dry them and plant the seeds next spring.  I’m having a bit of a problem with mold though…we’ll see how it goes!

Mud.  As alluded to earlier, Jim and I went to Moncton for the U2 concert at Magnetic Hill (see U2).  I had purchased the tickets back in March for Jim’s birthday, because he loves the band!  It rained all day…driving up was a bit hairy at times.  It stopped just as we got there.  As we made our way on to the field, I started to regret leaving Anna’s rubber boots I’d planned to borrow at home.  It seems that 75,000 people traipsing across wet grass multiple times has a negative effect:

These girls were trying to negotiate the mud in front of the concession tents...notice the depth...photo by Jim

 

My feet in my unfortunate choice of footwear after a trek to the Port-a-potties...photo by Jim

Nails.  Jim decided to trim Jake’s nails while I was at work on Saturday.  Unfortunately, he cut one too short, and poor Jake was bleeding!  After he jumped all over Jim’s clean laundry, we made the dog a makeshift bandage to prevent further stainage!

Old Friends.  We were very fortunate on our trip to Moncton to be able to stay with our friends, Brenda and Chuck.  I’ve known them for about twenty years, and they are always warm and wonderful hosts!  Brenda actually came downstairs in her nightgown when we stumbled into her house at 2:30 a.m. to ask how the concert was!

Brenda and Chuck...still holding hands after three decades together!

Park ‘n’ Ride.  For the U2 concert (see U2), the City of Moncton had organized a Park ‘n’ Ride program.  We eagerly decided to use it again, remembering how easy it had been when we went to The Eagles concert at Magnetic Hill three years ago.  Unfortunately, it worked a little differently than in 2008…it took us 2-and-a-half hours to get out of the concert site and back to downtown Moncton!  Please don’t “fix” what ain’t broke! 

Quiet.  Jim and the girls left yesterday for vacation (see Vacation), and Devin’s at his mom’s house this week.  It is quiet in the house (except when Jake barks at nothing outside).

Reba.  Hope was saying the other day about how she was jealous that I’d met so many famous people (from my days of being married to a country DJ).  She asked me to list some of the people I’d met, and I started: “Alabama (twice), Sawyer Brown, Ricky Skaggs, The Rankin Family, Reba…”

Hope interrupted: “REBA!  I told Gabrielle you’d met ABBA!”

Potato, pototo…

So You Think You Can Dance.  Anyone who reads my blog regularly knows I love this show.  I finally got to watch the PVR of last week’s show this morning.  Sasha dancing with my favourite boy from last year, Kent (an Ohio boy!), in a Tyce Diorio choreographed piece moved me to tears.  I also absolutely adore MelanieMarko, and Tadd!

Tip.  As I mentioned before, there were fifteen of us at Jungle Jim’s for dinner last week.  It’s the first time in my life I’ve ever left a $40 tip!

U2.  Despite the lineups and the mud, Jim and I had a good time at the U2 concert.  I was happy I had purchased camping mats to sit on, and Jim was glad he’d bought binoculars, even though we had to wait while the clerk at the Wal-Mart in Sussex fiddled (unsuccessfully) with the showcase key!  We were sitting in what we dubbed “the senior citizen’s section” up near the top of the hill, in a less muddy part of the field.  A couple of old hippies in yellow rain gear sat to our left and alternated between smoking joints and regular cigarettes.  We watched as inebriated people negotiated (and failed to negotiate) the mud on the way to the Beer Garden.  “What Not to Wear” would have had a field day if they’d had cameras set up at the concert!

Jim and I at the concert...the guy in the red shirt is mad because he got stuck sitting in the Old Fart section...photo by Jim

  

Vacation. Jim, Hope and Brianna left yesterday for vacation (Anna will take a train from Port Hope to Montreal, and meet up with them tonight).  Jim has a “Six Flags Extravaganza” planned, hitting three parks in one province and two states!  Sadly (NOT – I hate amusement parks!), I couldn’t go with them because I had to work.  I will miss them, but I will also enjoy the quiet and having less laundry and dishes to do!

Wedding.  Anna and Kaylee’s cousin, Corey, got married on Saturday.  I still remember him being the ringbearer when he was five at my wedding to my ex-husband (27 years ago!).  I wish Corey and Christine many happy years together!  Anna got to be the official photographer too!

eXceptional.  Okay…I know this is cheating, but X-ray is the only word I know that starts with “X”.  My granddaughter, Elise, will be two in September, but already knows all her numbers, letters, and symbols (question marks, etc.), as well as the sounds the letters make!  I predict she will be reading by the time she’s three, just like I was! 

Yellow Pages.  We got our new phone book the other day.  For some reason, they’ve started putting the Yellow Pages in the front.  I find that very confusing!

Zebra Stripes.  My girls are crazy for zebra stripes.  Anna has a zebra striped sports bra, spankies, bathing suit, cheerleading bag, and suitcase.  Hope had pink and purple zebra stripes on her birthday cake!

Congratulations on making it through my longest post ever!  Now go have a snack!

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A Getaway, Gorgeous Greenery, and A Get-Together…NEW POST!

Note: This is a post I started last Tuesday…I’m only just getting back to it!  Pretend you’re in the Twilight Zone while you’re reading, if that helps…

After a LOOOONG week at work, I was very happy when Jim picked me up late on Saturday afternoon for a mystery getaway he had planned for my 50th birthday on Sunday (the 17th).  I only knew that we would be away Saturday night, and back Sunday night, because we needed to travel to the Passport Office in Fredericton on Monday to get passports for Jim and I, and Anna and Hope (Devin and Brianna already had theirs).

Our first stop was Comeau’s, a legendary seafood restaurant near Pennfield, NB.  There was a bunch of people standing and sitting in the entryway when we arrived, so we amused ourselves during the 20-minute wait by looking at some of the items displayed for sale: toilet gaskets, aluminum siding, fishing licences, dulse, and date cookies were among them (Twilight Zone, remember?).  Jim had called that morning for a reservation, but Comeau’s doesn’t do those apparently.  The people coming in were quite a mix: a lot of old folks, a family or two, and some bikers who decided to do a takeout order when told of the 20-minute wait.  Almost no one was dressed up (except the biker chick with the bleached blonde hair, leather fringe vest, and the shiny bling on the pockets of her jeans). 

Finally, a table was free, and one of the two waitresses seated us (they never stopped running – I was getting stressed just watching them).  The menu wasn’t quite what Jim had expected either: he thought Comeau’s was a little fancier.  Pretty much everything was deep-fried…we opted to share the large seafood platter.  Neither of us could believe the plate we were presented with: it was stacked four inches high with three pieces of battered fish, 8 fried scallops, 4 fried shrimp, a bunch of fried clam strips, and a few French fries at the bottom of the pile – pretty good feed for the $24.95 they were charging for it!  We ate as much as we could, and had the rest packed in a doggy bag.

When we got back to the car, some thoughtful soul had left a half-consumed can of beer in the parking lot beside my door.  I emptied it (on the ground!), and left it on the picnic table in front of the restaurant…damn bikers!

Jim asked me if I wanted to know where we were going…I thought that would be a good idea.  “St. Andrews,” he said.  I love St. Andrews (technically called “St. Andrews by the Sea”)…it’s a lovely old tourist town in southwestern New Brunswick near the Maine border.

After another forty-five minutes, we pulled into the parking lot of the St. Andrews Motor Inn.  The man at the desk graciously upgraded us to a King Suite (Jim had booked a Queen Suite)…”It’s not very busy tonight,” he said.  Excellent!  We thanked him profusely, and explained this was the first time we’d been away from our four teenagers in almost two years!

Our room on the third floor was called “Kathy’s Suite,” apparently for a deceased woman who had managed the inn.  I hoped Kathy’s current accommodations were cooler than her suite…it was like a sauna in there!  We opened the windows, and then went for a walk in search of snacks, ending up at the Save-Easy grocery store.  We bought some bottled water, sparkling grape juice, chips, and caramel popcorn, as well as multigrain bread and some margarine for breakfast in the morning (our suite had a fridge, stove, toaster, and microwave).  I saw several faces I recognized from Saint John as we walked back to the hotel.

It was still hot in the room when we got back.  We sat on the balcony for a while munching our junk food, and Jim took some photos of the sunset.

On the balcony with my sparkling grape juice...

  

Sunset in St. Andrews...photo by Jim

 

View from our balcony in St. Andrews...photo by Jim

We finally went to bed…I was tired from working all day.  About midnight, Jim was still awake, and went downstairs to have a conversation with the desk clerk about the room temperature (I was snoring by then).  The hotel guy explained that the air conditioner was probably “iced up”, and recommended turning it down a bit.

In the morning, I showered, and then made us breakfast to eat on the balcony: leftover clam strips, scallops and fries from the night before, and multigrain toast.  Jim went down and snagged a couple of donuts from the “continental breakfast” provided by the hotel.  There was a prominent sign in front of our kitchen sink warning that dishes were the guests’ responsibility…a $25 charge would be added to the bill if they were unwashed.  So I washed them, not realizing that one of the wine glasses would break when I stuck my hand into it (luckily, it didn’t cut me).  I left an apologetic note…

We checked out, and drove to our next stop, the Kingsbrae Garden.  We realized right after paying the admission that Jim had left his camera in the car, so I waited while he went to retrieve it.  Even though it was early (around 10 a.m.), the temperature was already high.  We had dressed in cool clothing and applied sunscreen…luckily, it stayed rather cloudy and there was a bit of a breeze! 

As we toured the garden, there was a girl who was a dead ringer for Anne of Green Gables…beautiful red hair, porcelain skin, and even a straw hat!  I wish we’d thought to take a photo of her!  Here are some of the dozens of pictures Jim took in the garden:

A poppy...

 

Lilies...my favourite flower!Hens and chicks...

 

Calendula or "Bellflowers"...

 

A Bee on Hydrangea...

 

After about an hour-and-a-half touring the wonderful garden, we were melting in the 32-degree Celsius heat (about 90 degrees for Americans)…we drove back downtown in search of lunch, stopping at a small café the hotel man had recommended: the Sweet Harvest Bakery.  It was packed, but we were lucky to find a table for two.  We sat down and eventually the waitress came over with a handwritten menu (laminated).  It was a Breakfast Menu, but the food looked good, so we went with it.  I ordered the Potato, Onion and Cheese Frittata, while Jim went for a more traditional breakfast: eggs, toast, and bacon.  As we waited (and waited) for our food, we watched the people around us.  We overheard the couple at the next table inquiring about when the Lunch Menu started: they were given the lunch menu!  Oh well…we eventually got our “brunch”, which was delicious!

Potato, Onion and Cheese Frittata...taken with Jim's Blackberry...

After lunch, we checked out a few stores in St. Andrews, but didn’t buy much…most of them were tourist traps.  We inquired at the Information Centre about whether there were any old bookstores in town, but there was none.  We found a park and walked down to the water, hoping to cool off with the breeze off the ocean.  I would have loved to wade in, but there were thousands of tiny pieces of broken shells, which probably would have cut my bare feet to ribbons!

We left St. Andrews mid-afternoon, and headed in the direction of home.  Jim told me the kids had forbidden us to be home before six o’clock.  I assumed they were making a birthday dinner for me.  We took the scenic route, managing to stretch an hour-and-a-half drive into four hours: touring St. George, Dipper Harbour, Musquash, checking out fruit tree prices at a Garden Centre, stopping at Jim’s office in Lepreau, and picking up some meat and produce at Olsen’s in West Saint John.

We got home a little before six…I was surprised to see three extra cars in the driveway.  I knew Jim’s brother-in-law was coming over after supper to fill out paper work for Jim’s passport, but I didn’t know what the other cars were doing here!

The first thing I noticed when I came in the door was that the house was clean (no dirty dishes or dirty clothes to be seen, and someone had actually vacuumed!…Twilight Zone again).  The second thing was that almost our whole family was in my living room (all except Jim’s sister, who was away camping in Maine).  “Surprise!” they yelled as I walked in.  You could have knocked me over with a feather (a really BIG feather!)…

Devin was on the deck barbecuing hamburgers, hot dogs and sausages, and the girls had made salads (Jim’s mom and sister had brought salads as well).  There was a vegetable tray and various snacks laid out on the coffee table.  Elise was chowing down on as much caramel popcorn as she could get into her mouth (just like her Gramma).  Jake was howling outside, having been banished because he was behaving badly around the guests.

After supper, I opened my cards and presents, and then had ice cream cake: I was glad the girls had only put six candles on it…I had no trouble blowing them out!

My 50th Birthday Ice Cream Cake...photo by Anna

 Thanks to Jim and our family for a truly unforgettable 50th birthday!

An apology to my blogging buddies…it’s happened again!  I haven’t been around to visit…I hope to be back on track with my reading soon!  WM

 

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