Category Archives: nature

Winter Tales…

Long-time readers of my blog know that I was born in Ohio, and spent the first eight years of my life there.  Winter in Ohio is kind of “hit and miss”…sometimes you have snow, but not very much, and sometimes it gets cold, but not very cold (at least, not by Canadian standards, where I live now!)…

When there was snow in Ohio, my brother, Jeff, and I would put on our snowpants and boots, and take out our sleds, which had metal runners…generally, they didn’t work very well because more than three inches is a lot of snow in Ohio, and doesn’t happen a lot!  We had better luck with our red “flying saucer”…which looked a lot like a giant Frisbee with rope handles.  Our back yard in Oregon (a suburb of Toledo) had a big hill which was fine for “flying.”

We moved to Ontario when I was eight…Jeff and I were ecstatic to live where there was snow pretty much continuously from mid-November through February (and sometimes March)!  Our parents bought us a big wooden toboggan, and we also had Crazy Carpets to use by ourselves.  We had lots of snow the winter of 1970-71…my dad would pile the snow he shovelled out of our driveway at the end of it, where there was a deep ditch.  With the snowpile being about ten or twelve feet high, we had a great long run from the top of the pile down into the ditch…often we didn’t even bother using vehicles…we’d just slide on the bums of our snow-encrusted layers of jeans (we’d outgrown our snowpants by then – we’d just put on 2 or 3 pairs of pants and play until we were soaked to the skin!).

Here's a picture of Jeff and I standing on top of our snowpile in the winter of 1970-71...yes, those are power/phone lines beside our heads!

We had great fun sliding behind/beside the Rednersville house too!  I remember at least one occasion when my brother and I were on the toboggan together and going very fast, when suddenly, we stopped dead and we both flew off the toboggan landing face-first in the snow.  We weren’t hurt, and couldn’t stop laughing because when I emerged from the snowbank, the snow had packed itself into my glasses!

There was a big field beside the house.  One winter, we’d had freezing rain, which had created a beautiful crust on about eight inches of snow…it was so slippery, you could barely walk on it!  Our family decided to take advantage of the excellent conditions and got out the toboggan.  That was the only time I recall my mom actually going out sliding with us (Dad came out quite often).  Mom sat on the toboggan by herself, and Dad let go when she was ready.  A minute or two later, we heard a thump and a blood-curdling yell: “Dave…I think I broke my back!”  My mom had “found” the one apple tree in the middle of the field!  Dad made his way out to the scene of the accident, loaded Mom back onto the toboggan, and pulled it to the car.  After we were all in, we left for the emergency room.  Mom’s back wasn’t broken, just badly bruised!

We were lucky at the Rednersville house to have 43 acres of land with a big hill behind us.  With our friends, Jimmy and Dougie, we could go to the top of the hill, and slide several hundred feet, almost all the way back to the house.  Crazy Carpets were the best vehicle for that, once the trail was established.  One winter, there was a friendly dog around which we christened “Wolfie” because he sort of looked like one.  Wolfie used to like to jump on our backs as we hurtled down the hill on our stomachs on our Crazy Carpets.  The worst injury we ever got was ending up in thorn bushes!

A couple of times, my best friend, Angela, took me out “Skidooing” in the woods behind her house.  We were about eleven, I think (snowmobiles were a lot smaller then).  That was always fun!  My dad hated it when snowmobilers trespassed on our property…he’d go out and yell at them until they left!

I moved to New Brunswick in 1984…winter was different again…you could have snow in late October, right through April sometimes!  There is also not much of a spring…you can literally go from wearing your parka to wearing shorts (and back again, sometimes several times).  There is no gradual warming like we had in Ontario.

I lived in Moncton in February of 1992 when an all-time snowfall record was broken…Moncton had a total of fourteen feet of snow that month in THREE storms.  The biggest storm was on February 1st.  At the time, I worked at a non-profit agency which was about a 10-block walk from our apartment, and we didn’t have a car.  Buses were off the road.  I walked to work, wearing a skirt (I was wearing other clothes too!).  When we got to the building, there was a snowbank about twelve feet high in front of it!  I met one of my co-workers outside, and together we decided to go around the corner and get a coffee, in hopes that our boss might arrive soon, equipped with a shovel to dig a path to the front door!  We had our coffee, and went back to work…everything was as it was when we left.  Since it was already past time to start work, I decided to bite the bullet, and climb the snowbank!  I probably didn’t resemble a mountain goat very much in my long black wool coat, and knee-high boots as I clambered up the hill.  When we arrived in the office, there was our boss, clad in a snowmobile suit…she had come in the back door, and hadn’t thought about us trying to get in the front!  I never liked her!

I tried to find public domain photos of the big Moncton snowstorm on the Internet, but failed.  I remember a paint store on St. George St. cutting “windows” in the snowbank in front of their store and setting paint cans in them to let people know they were there!

Winters in Moncton could be very cold too…I remember one year that we had three solid weeks of windchills between -30 and -36 C. (which is almost the same temperature in Fahrenheit).  School was never cancelled for cold weather, and every day I walked Kaylee the three blocks to her elementary school.  It’s a wonder we didn’t turn into Popsicles!

I moved to Saint John, New Brunswick in November of 1997.  Winters are milder in this area due to the proximity to the ocean.  There are a lot of freeze/thaw cycles, and a lot more ice.  We had some freezing rain in November of 2007 when my dad was undergoing radiation therapy for prostate cancer.  About 6:30 a.m., he was walking to the bus stop to go to the hospital, and ended up flat on his back in the driveway two doors from our house.  He got up, and continued on his way.  While Dad was having his treatment, he mentioned that he’d had a fall and that he might need an X-ray.  The X-ray confirmed that he’d cracked five ribs.  I didn’t find out about the accident until several hours later…when I asked Dad why he didn’t just come back home, he said, “I didn’t want to mess up their schedule at radiation!”  Sometimes, my dad’s so stoic, I just want to shake him!  I was glad he wasn’t more seriously injured though!

We moved to Hammond River the following year…there’s a little more snow here than in town, and it gets a little colder, but we love it!  I’ve got the best snowplow guy in the world, which is a good thing because our driveway is a quarter mile long…way too much to shovel!  He always has us plowed out by 7 a.m.  When we can get them off their computers, the kids go out sliding, or skating at the little pond down the road.  Here’s a photo of Jim and I taken in January of 2009…not much snow then:

Wendy and Jim beside our house in Hammond River...that's the back yard behind us, and the view of the hills on the other side of the river...

 It’s been raining all week, with more to come…I hope we get some snow before Christmas!

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The Sweet Smell of Success, Sort of…

Yesterday, I took advantage of having a relatively slow day (only two loads of laundry, two cheerleading practices, a cheer parents’ meeting, and a dinner invitation at Jim’s parents) to make molasses brown bread.  I had mentioned making bread on Saturday to Jim on Friday night, and he’d requested brown bread made with molasses.  Since we went to a movie and out for supper on Saturday, I didn’t get to the bread until Sunday.

Never having made Molasses Brown Bread before, my first step was to find a recipe…I went to my well-stocked cookbook shelves (I probably have only about 200), and selected a cookbook from a local church.

Brown Bread

2 T. quick-rise yeast

1 T. sugar

3 T. shortening

1 cup raisins

1 egg, beaten

1 cup warm water

1 cup oatmeal

2 cups boiling water

3/4 cup molasses

1 T. salt

6-7 cups flour or enough to knead

First, I put the oatmeal and raisins into a bowl, and poured the boiling water over them.

Oatmeal and Raisins Covered in Boiling Water...

After the oatmeal/raisin mix was cool, I put 5 cups of the flour, the yeast, the sugar, and the salt into a large mixing bowl, and stirred to mix them around.  I put the warm water and the shortening into a measuring cup.  Then I got out the molasses…problem!

A little bit short of molasses...needed 3/4 cup!

I didn’t have quite enough molasses, so topped the cup up with honey…it’s all liquid sugar, right?  Then I added the warm water mixture to the bowl with the flour in it, and stirred it in.  Next, I added the egg, and finally the molasses and the bowl with the oatmeal and raisins.  I added two more cups of flour (used the full 7 cups), and kneaded the dough until it was smooth.  Then I oiled the dough, covered it with plastic wrap and left it to rise.

Dough before first rise...

About 45 minutes later, it looked like this:

Dough after first rise...

 I punched it down, covered it, and let it rise again, until it looked like this:

Dough after second rise...

I greased a 9 x 14 cake pan, and then punched the dough down again.  Then I formed the loaves, and put them in the pan:

Newly-formed loaves in pan...

I left the loaves to rise again, until they looked like this:

Loaves after third rise...ready to bake!

I turned the oven on to 375 degrees, and put the bread in for fifteen minutes.  Then I reduced the heat to 325 degrees, and baked for another 25 minutes (our oven is hot – others may find it works better with 400 degrees for the first part, and 350 for the second).  After the allotted amount of time, I took the bread out of the oven, and out of the pan.  I had a minor issue with one loaf sticking to the bottom of the pan, and slightly squishing another on the top.  This is the finished product (cracks and all):

Finished loaves of Molasses Brown Bread...

I sliced one piece each off one of the loaves for Jim and I to sample…we wanted to take a loaf to Jim’s parents, and had to make sure it was okay.  It was delicious!

I had left the loaves on the dining room table to cool, and realized after we got to Shirley and Gordon’s that I’d forgotten to bring them some.  I promised to leave one for them to get this afternoon when they drop off Bri after her orthodontist’s appointment.  We had a lovely dinner: chicken, peas, carrots, mashed potatoes, rolls, apple pie, and blueberry pie.

We had to leave Jim’s parents’ at 7:15 because there was a meeting for cheerleading parents at Hope’s school after her practice. 

We got home about 8:30, narrowly missing a skunk which had just ambled across our driveway!  I went into the dining room to put the bread into plastic bags, and was horrified to see what Jake had been up to while we were gone!  He had eaten almost half the bread (the only loaf he hadn’t touched was the one I’d cut to sample).  I salvaged what I could (I might have said a bad word or two, too!)…six hours of work was ruined!  I guess there’s no point crying over chewed-up brown bread…

"But they smelled so good, Mom!"

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Macho Deer, Calzones, Aggressive Squirrels, and Fallen Trees…

Here, for your Wednesday reading pleasure, are some random happenings from my weekend:

1. My landlord and I had a fun discussion about our gardens on Friday when he came to collect the rent.  He told me that he had paid $1500 to install a solar-powered electric fence to keep the deer out of his, but that the bucks had recently started breaching security.  “I don’t know if they’re proving their manhood…they twitch a little when they go through, but do it anyway!”  It made me giggle to see his impression of the bucks as they passed through the current.  He said they had taken a bite out of every one of his beloved squash (he told me he was boiling them anyway)…I invited him to come and help himself to some of our “unused” squash!

2. A new bird has joined the flock which comes to feast at Jim’s Bird Feeder Smorgasbord: it’s quite shy, and just flits onto the deck and picks up the seeds the greedy goldfinches spill.  It’s a white-breasted nuthatch.

White-breasted nuthatch...

The Smorgasbord has been closed for the last couple of days as it had been raining most of last week, and the water had gotten into the feeders, causing the bird seed to sprout.  Not wanting to hurt our fine feathered friends, Jim has been washing the feeders out with bleach and soapy water, and will refill them shortly (he buys so much nyger seed at Bulk Barn, I think we should own stock there by now!).

3. It was a gorgeous day on Saturday…who would have thought I’d be sitting on our deck shelling orca beans in a T-shirt and bare feet on October 2nd (in case you’re wondering, I was also wearing jeans!)?

4. I’m liking this “give Mom a break” thing we started with cooking.  On Saturday, Jim made an amazing pot roast with potatoes, onions, carrots, turnip, rutabaga (from our garden), peas, corn, and homemade gravy.  Last night, Anna and Hope made Chinese food…it was awesome!  The kids are cooking again Friday night…can’t wait to see what they have planned!

5. Anna was taking pictures of one of our resident grey squirrels through a window the other day…when it saw her, it started launching itself towards the window!  It did it at least twice…

6. Saturday night, Jim and I went to see the new movie, “The Social Network.”  In case you haven’t heard, it’s about how Facebook got started.  It was quite an interesting social study…Jim liked that the technical parts were accurate!  The writing is very good, but it’s definitely not an “easy” movie…the teenagers talking behind us made it somewhat difficult to follow sometimes!  The way Mark Zuckerburg’s character talked was sometimes reminiscent of “Rain Man.”  Jim had to go for a pit stop in the middle of the movie…while moving my knees out of his way, I managed to dump half my box of Raisinets on the floor (glad I bought them at the Dollar Store and not the theatre – that would have been an expensive accident!).

7.  Sunday morning, I started boiling down tomatoes from the garden for pizza sauce.  Jim wanted me to make calzones similar to what we’d had last week at a local restaurant.  There were quite a few tomatoes, and it took them several hours to get thick enough for sauce.  I added minced onion and garlic, chili powder, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and sugar.  It was delicious!  Then I made the calzones, which while easy, take time to shape and fill (I used pepperoni, fresh mushrooms, and mozzarella cheese, along with the sauce).  We ate late that night, but they were good!  I had a whole bag of pizza sauce left, which I put in the freezer for another time.

Two of the finished calzones...yes, that's a dinner-sized plate! Yummy!

8. In the afternoon, we went over to Jim’s parents to pick up some firewood.  While they were away visiting relatives last week, a big maple tree in their back yard had fallen down during a windstorm, narrowly missing their carport!  They offered us the wood.  We filled up the back of the van…we went back to get the rest last night.  It should be close to a cord…that will save us some money next year!

9. Sunday night, Jim and I went to the Blue Olive to see Rose Cousins, one of our favourite folk singers.  She was her usual, funny, charming self, although she was fighting a cold…she joked that a Canada Goose had gotten into her nose.  Rose introduced us to a couple of other singers who are just starting out: Heather Green and Ria Mae.  We liked them both, and especially enjoyed the end where everyone sang together!   There had been a mixup with our tickets, and our seats had been given to someone else…to compensate, the hostess paid our tab for the night (which would have been higher had we not been drinking pop – Jim did get a nice Greek salad, though).  We sat with our friend, Stephen Webb, from CBC.  Jim grew up with him.

Rose Cousins...

10. I was out picking tomatoes Monday night, and got into a mild disagreement with a doe.  There was a whole group of deer out there, quite close to the fence, and I waved my arms and yelled at them to make them move away (Dad is terrified that they’ll get into the garden some day!).  They did move, but one stubborn female stayed closer than the others…she stomped her foot and snorted at me.  I waved my arms and told her to “Git!”  She stared at me like my kids do when I’ve told them to do something they have no intention of doing…she snorted and stomped again.  We repeated this exchange for about five minutes before she and her posse hightailed it into the woods.  I win!

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Dear Earl…

September 4, 2010

Dear Earl:

I am writing to express my deep disappointment that you chose not to make an appearance today in Hammond River…That imposter you sent was hardly up to your standards!  Do you call that rain?  I can spit harder than that!  And wind?  It barely messed up my hair! 

We worked really hard to get ready for your visit!  I picked everything that was ready in the garden.  The kids took down everything but the frame of the trampoline…

Kids working on the trampoline...

Jim used bungee cords to lash our lawn furniture to a tree…

Our lawn furniture isn't going anywhere...

Jim also brought all the bird feeders in the house, except one, which was buzzing…he decided to leave that one out on the porch.

I had the menu all planned: tuna sandwiches and cheese and crackers (because we assumed that your presence would not have a favourable affect on our electricity).  Instead, we were forced to eat spaghetti sauce made from our garden tomatoes:

Freshly-peeled tomatoes...

Sauce cooking...

The finished product on some radiatori pasta...yummy!

The kids watched a little TV (or a BIG TV, as it turns out), something else we didn’t think we’d be able to do (we had board games on standby).  Deal or No Deal was on.  The contestant was from Alaska.  Hope asked Anna, “Does she live in a snow globe?”  When Anna broke into hysterical fits of laughter, Hope corrected herself…”I meant an igloo!” she said.  Anna assured her that the woman probably lived in a house or an apartment.

Once the rain stopped, Jake had fun with his little friend on the deck, who was helping himself to the formerly buzzing birdfeeder…

Jake watching the chipmunk fill his cheeks...

As you can see, we had a fine time without you.  I think our friendship is over, and we never want to see you again.

Regards,

Wendy

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Waiting for Earl…

Hurricane (or Tropical Storm, hopefully) Earl is scheduled to arrive here early tomorrow morning, and when he gets here, we’ll be ready…

Having spent my early years in Ohio, I have vivid memories of our whole family sitting under a table in the basement waiting for a tornado.  Dad held the staticky transistor radio in his hand as we listened anxiously to the Tornado Warnings being issued.  I remember seeing the sky outside go black at 3 in the afternoon, and seeing hail as big as baseballs!  Luckily, we were never hit with a tornado, but to this day, I am terrified of windstorms!

This transistor looks like ours...

I was never a Girl Scout, so being “prepared” is a state I’m rarely in.  However, since we’ve had lots of advance warning, we decided to do as much as we could to avert potential disaster at our house.

Last night, Jim and I stopped at the grocery store on the way home – we spent almost $150!  Among the essentials were 8 jugs of water, in case the 40-70mm (1 1/2″ to 2 3/4″) of rain we’re supposed to get messes up our well (again, like it did when we got 90mm last year!).  If the power goes out, we’ll break out the Sugar Smacks or the Alpha-Bits we bought.  We also have 4 bags of chips, and about 10 bottles of pop.  If you’re going to die in a storm, you might as well eat what you like…(I did slip some apples, a cantaloupe and a bag of spinach into the cart, though).

We stopped for gas and ice (to keep the pop cold) on the way home. 

After supper, I went out to the garden while Jim put away the lawn furniture (I saw him doing something with bungee cords – I didn’t ask!).  The kids worked together surprisingly well to take down the trampoline.  I picked all the tomatoes that were ready (I’m up to using a BIG mixing bowl now!), and all the beans.  I picked a Red Kuri squash and a Dakota Dessert Squash.  We now have four huge pumpkins about 18″ in diameter.  I wanted to harvest them, but Dad convinced me that the 90kmh (56mph) winds the weatherman is calling for would not send them hurtling across the field (if you see a piece on the 11 o-clock news tomorrow night about “When Pumpkins Kill,” Dad was wrong!).  I sadly said “Goodbye” to the sunflowers…I suspect they will not survive the wind!  I dragged out the hose and watered everything, as I have every night this week.  I rejected Dad’s offer of help putting the hose away…I find that whenever he “helps” me, it just slows me down…

Attack of the Killer Pumpkin...

When I got inside, it was almost 9, and I was exhausted.  Jim talked me into watching an episode of Modern Family (he has the whole first season downloaded).  I asked to see the one where Phil and Jay fly the remote control airplane together…”I was in a plane crash!” (best line ever, spoken by Phil after Jay flies the plane into his face).  After watching half the first episode of a strange sci-fi series called Eureka, I was ready to crash myself…

Phil recovering from the "plane crash"...

We just have to pick up a couple more things tonight, and then…

Bring on the storm!

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Where the Wild Things Are…

Tonight, we got home a little bit late because of having to stop to do errands on the way home…I made a lovely chicken stirfry for supper (featuring fresh zucchini from our garden).  By the time I’d finished dessert (more luscious blueberry pie with vanilla ice cream – https://writerwoman61.wordpress.com/2010/08/08/i-owe-it-all-to-pig-fat/), it was after 8:00, and I still had blueberries to pick.

I grabbed a plastic mixing bowl (I like to harvest stuff in mixing bowls), and went outside.  We’d had a minor blueberry boom over the last couple of days – the bushes were loaded with big, ripe berries again.  I’d been picking for about half an hour when I felt something drop down my shirt.

As I was fishing the small green inchworm out of my cleavage (I never freak out about bugs!), I saw something small and fast run across in front of my feet into the long grass beside the rhubarb…I’m hoping it was a mouse…

It was at about the halfway point that I heard the rumble of thunder in the distance.  It was getting darker, and the mosquitoes and other bugs were coming out in earnest – they were biting me through my jeans!  I continued to pick, straining to see the dark berries in the dim light.  Luckily, the storm held off…

The next sound I heard was that of a deer snorting.  For those who don’t know, deer snort as a way of telling you that you’re pissing them off…I turned nervously around, checking to see how close it was, and praying it was a doe and not the buck.  She was more than 200 feet away – nothing to worry about.  I went back to the task at hand.

Finally, I was coming down the home stretch…by now it was so dark, I was picking almost entirely by feel.  I checked the backside of the last bush, and headed for the house.

Then I saw the bats swooping around…I’m never picking that late again!!!

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Random, Rants, Roughage, and Rodents…

This is going to be a very random post, as we are heavily into planning for our upcoming 10th Anniversary Open House at the bookstore this weekend (http://bit.ly/aZc2SH ), and I’ve been busy trying to get the stacks of books under some sort of control…

1. Ridiculous customer: We have a really BIG Bible: about 6 inches thick, and at least 10 lbs.  On this Bible, there is a small plastic tag that reads in BIG RED LETTERS: “DANGER – Do Not Touch.”  On Friday, I watched a woman move the tag off the top of the Bible, set it on the shelf, and proceed to haul the big honkin’ Bible off the shelf and down on to the FLOOR, so she could look through it!  Apparently, she could read the word “Revelations,” but could not comprehend the shorter ones: “Do Not Touch.”

2. Reluctant body fluids: I am an occasional blood donor – I had an appointment to make a donation on Friday.  I made my way through the incredibly detailed questionnaire designed to safeguard our blood system (no, I’ve never visited Africa, been in prison, or worked with monkeys or their bodily fluids).  Unfortunately, I hadn’t had much water to drink (“I drank tea,” I reported hopefully, but that was no good), so they had a terrible time even finding my small “rolly” veins.  Apparently, it helps to be hydrated…they did finally find a vein, and got the process started.  As usual, my blood flowed as slowly as molasses…after about ten minutes of me squeezing a small rubber ball, the flow stopped completely.  I felt like an utter failure: “Sorry about that,” I mumbled dejectedly.  “I’ll try to drink more water next time.”  The nurse told me not to worry about it.  As I nibbled a cookie, I chatted with an acquaintance of mine, who has over 600 donations under his sleeve, and volunteers at the clinics when he’s between donations!

Canadian Blood Services logo...

3. Rampant greed: I made my first visit to our new Costco on Saturday (Jim had already been there a couple of times with the kids – one trip yielded the biggest jar of olives I’ve ever seen – I don’t even like olives!).  I was amazed when the cashier informed us that she had to take some money out of her till, because earlier she’d had a customer pay for a $2400 order in CASH!  We bought a few useful things, including giant boxes of cereal, rechargeable batteries, 300 ZipLoc freezer bags in two different sizes, and a 36-double roll pack of toilet paper (that should last a couple of weeks!).

The toilet paper we got...I'm sure that embossing will make all the difference...

4. Rodents: Anna informed me when I got up Sunday morning that she had seen a BIG raccoon on our back deck during the night…he was apparently enjoying the eggshells that I have in a bucket out there for the garden.  Jim’s bird seed is also attracting other critters: in the morning, Anna saw a big RAT!  She snapped a picture of it, but deleted it before I told her I wanted it for my blog! 

5. Roughage: I spent Sunday in the garden, harvesting various vegetables and greens.  We had company on Sunday night, and I served salad which was a combination of stuff from my garden, and purchased ingredients.  We also had Swiss chard/beet greens, mixed snap beans, and my first Red Kuri squash, which I picked even before it had a chance to turn red!  I was also thrilled to discover at least one baby pumpkin, a couple of Dakota Dessert squash, and three decent-sized zucchini.  The best news was finding out that my broccoli is finally forming tiny heads!   I also picked more blueberries and a handful of blackberries.

Red Kuri squash before it got red...

Baby pumpkin...

This zucchini is destined to become chocolate zucchini bread...

Uncle David's Dakota Dessert squash...

Baby broccoli head...this is only about 3 inches across...

6. Recognition: My blueberry pie was a big hit with our company https://writerwoman61.wordpress.com/2010/08/08/i-owe-it-all-to-pig-fat/:  Jim’s parents complimented me on how tasty the pastry was, and Jim asked for seconds after they were gone!

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Crazy Eights…

Since this is my 88th post, I am focussing on the number “8” today:

1. Jim and I started going out on May 8, 2008.  It seems like we’ve known each other forever!

Jim and I - Winter 2009 in our yard...

2. My birthday is July 17th – 1  + 7 = 8.  I am one of eight cousins on my mom’s side of the family.  I moved to Canada when I was eight years old.

3. We have lived in “our” house for one year and 8 months.  We still love it as much as the day we moved in on November 29, 2008

Our house (not our vehicle)...

4. Anna celebrated her 16th birthday on Tuesday, which is divisible by 8 (16, not Tuesday)She was born (eight days late) in the eighth month of 1994, and weighed 10 lbs., 8 1/2 oz. (no epidural – OUCH!).  That baby grew to be 5′8” tall.

My Sweet 16 Girl: Anna...

 

5. Our new living room furniture was also delivered on Tuesday.  There were 8 pieces: couch, loveseat, chair, ottoman, recliner, coffee table, and two end tables.  There is now seating for 8 people in our living room (if somebody sits on the ottoman).  It was about 8 seconds after the delivery guys left that we discovered the 8 cm. (about 3 inches for the Americans) rip in the top corner of the couch (they came and exchanged the couch the next day).

This is our new furniture (we got different tables though)...

6. When I came to the bookstore yesterday, there were 8 boxes of books waiting to be put away (I did five of them).  There were also five boxes of books to evaluate – it was basically junk – I kept only 8 books out of the whole bunch!

7. We got home from getting groceries just after 8 p.m. last night (we spent $80-something at Superstore).  I noticed that I now have 8 sunflowers open in the garden.  I left Jim and the kids to put the groceries away, and rushed outside to pick blueberries.  When I first went out, there was an 8-point buck standing in our field (that’s only the second time I’ve seen a buck out there).  There were a couple of does too.  In the front field, a flock of Canada geese were feasting on bugs stirred up by the recent haying activity.  I picked the blueberries, which took an hour…it’s a minor miracle that I didn’t spill them as I swatted at the approximately 800 bugs which insisted on flying up my back and down my pants!

This guy is like the buck I saw...

8. Proposition 8 was defeated in California yesterday!  Jim and I and our many gay friends are all very happy about that…gay marriage has been legal in Canada for several years (it was legal in 8 out of 10 provinces and in 1 of 3 territories from court decisions beginning in 2003 until July 20, 2005, when the Civil Marriage Act legalized same-sex marriages nationwide).  It’s about time the U.S. stepped into the 21st century!  My friend, Nancy, wrote her blog post about that today: http://nancygedney.wordpress.com/2010/08/04/hooray-prop-8-is-dead/

Gay Pride Flag...

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Filed under blogging, family, gardening, memories, nature, rants, self-discovery

Things I Learned on My Summer Staycation…

I’m back at the bookstore today after our first 11 days of vacation…here’s what I learned:

1. Laundry and dirty dishes never take a vacation…in fact, when everybody stays home, their volume increases!  Wishing clothes would fold themselves doesn’t work.

Why can't clothes do this themselves?

2. Cleaning under furniture once in a while is a good thing…on a hunt for the satellite remote (it has to go back to the company in a couple of weeks because we’re changing over to fibre-op TV), we moved our couch.  Lurking underneath were bowls, spoons, forks, plates, assorted food wrappers, pencils, pens, dozens of ponytail holders, and a mystery object, which we later identified as a petrified clementine which resembled an oddly-shaped peach pit.  All together now: EWWW!  Oh, and we didn’t find the remote there either…

3. Our dog hates the vacuum cleaner…I think he thinks it’s some sort of loud animal.  He barks and whines and tries to bite it…we have to put him out on the deck to use it.

Jake's worst enemy...probably because he hasn't seen it enough to get to know it...

4. Sleeping in never makes me feel more rested…it just makes me feel guilty that I’m not accomplishing more (I think I’m the only one in my family who feels this way).

5. Wallpaper is now pretty much obsolete…Jim had to go all over town to find some…it was on sale for $5/roll because the store was selling out of it.  It’s just as frustrating to put up now as it was 25 years ago (which is why I let him do it himself!).

This isn't Jim...

6. I’m grateful for what we have after finishing the book “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls.  This was our Book Club choice…it was a tough read because I was so outraged that no one did anything to help Jeannette and her siblings!  It’s amazing to me that they all survived with their sanity intact.

This book made me furious!

7. Small things excite me – finding out we had a cherry tree and blueberry bushes in our yard after living there a year-and-a-half was the highlight of my week (see https://writerwoman61.wordpress.com/2010/07/20/surprise-surprise-surprise/)!

8. The number of times Hope has to pee on a road-trip is roughly the number of miles divided by 25.  There’s Gravol for carsickness…I wish they’d come up with something for “travelbladder.”

We always give Hope this when we travel...

9. I’m loving the headphones Jim got me for my birthday…I can plug them into the computer, and listen to CBC “Concerts on Demand” while I work on my blog…Jim and Anna got a kick out of watching me “get down” to Garrett Mason and Colin Linden’s rendition of John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom” yesterday (I think they were both giggling hysterically) http://bit.ly/c0dJcL .

10. Our hummingbirds are fearless…one buzzed my head while I was picking beans in the garden the other day…they like the nectar from the scarlet runner bean blossoms!

Hummingbirds love these blossoms...

11. Kids “can’t hear” you when you ask them to do chores, but announce that food is ready, and they’ll knock you over getting to the table!

12. I like my regular routine…as much as I love the kids, I really don’t want to be home with them every day!  I was happy to get up at 5:30 this morning and come to the bookstore, even though I have a ton of work to do.

A corner of our store...

Next vacation is in mid-August…

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Filed under books, family, gardening, music, nature, tourism, travel

Day-Trippin’ and Hope…well, She Got Muddy…

Yesterday, Jim and I took the girls on a day trip to Moncton (Devin opted out).  Jim’s week of holidays was winding down, and we wanted to take the kids somewhere.   We had picked up a free family pass to Hopewell Rocks in Alma when we were in St. Martins last month – this was the perfect opportunity to use it.  Hope and Anna had never been there, and it had been years since Jim and I had visited it.  The girls also wanted to go to Magic Mountain, a water theme park in Moncton…

Magic Mountain...

We left our house about 9:30 (not bad since we’d planned to be gone by 9)…our cooler was packed with bottled water (partially frozen), egg salad and cold cut sandwiches.  We also took cookies, granola bars, and the rest of the cherry muffins (Jim even had one in the car).  After making several stops for Hope to pee, we finally arrived at Magic Mountain about 11:15 a.m.  Hope had just gotten a new cellphone for her birthday, but had to be convinced to leave it in the car (on a pee break in Sussex, she texted Brianna “I’m on the toilet!”).  We dropped off the girls, reminded them to apply sunscreen, told them we’d come back for lunch at 1, and headed for the furniture stores.

Hope's new phone is like this one, except it's purple...

We definitely noticed a difference in the stores in Moncton…most of the sales people left us alone (although there were a couple of exceptions to that).   The sales people in Saint John were much more attentive (and friendlier)…to the point of annoyance sometimes!  I saw a beautiful old-style secretary desk at one place (which would have been perfect for my “Room of My Own” https://writerwoman61.wordpress.com/2010/07/13/janes-homework-assignment-a-room-of-my-own/, but not so perfect for our living room).  Ditto for the Victorian-style sofa…

The secretary desk was something like this one...

We found a couple of nice used wing chairs for only $100 each, but the arms were quite worn.  We saw the same sectional set we’ve been contemplating, for $400 more (same chain store, different city – they must know that people have more money in Moncton).  One liquidation store’s stock was almost completely leather…I hate leather furniture!  Before we knew it, it was time to meet the girls for lunch.

This couch wouldn't look right in our old farmhouse...

We made our way back to the park, but the girls weren’t at the appointed meeting place…parking was a nightmare…we ended up straddling the curb near the entrance until we saw them.  We drove down to the Boardwalk at the park, and ate our lunch at one of the picnic tables there.  I had my mouth all set for a “beaver tail” until I heard the price…$6.25…yikes!  They were $3 when I left Moncton 13 years ago…the girls got ice cream, which was much more reasonably-priced!  After lunch, we took them back to Magic Mountain, and headed towards town.  Still no luck with furniture…everything was either really expensive, or incredibly boring!

Unfortunately, this delicious-looking Beaver Tail didn't find its way into my mouth...

We’d arranged to pick the girls up at 3…we retrieved them, wet and sunburned, and started for Hopewell Cape.  Low tide was at 5:15, which is the only time you can walk down on the beach by the Rocks.  We got there just after 4, and started down the trail from the Interpretation Centre.  After walking several hundred yards, and going down a few hundred steps, we made it to our destination.

Brianna and Hope posing next to the rocks...

The "Flower Pot Rocks" Hopewell Rocks is famous for...

One of the park rangers showed us some sculptures which had been made by carefully balancing small rocks on top of each other.

Ranger rearranging some rocks...

Hope was wearing flip-flops, and had great fun getting as muddy as she possibly could.

They say that mud is good for your skin...Hope's going to have the softest toes around...

Hope's muddy calves...

Jim and Anna took several photos while we were there (these are Anna’s).  After about an hour, everybody was tired and hot…Jim said he’d spring for the shuttle to take us back to the Interpretation Centre (we still had to climb the stairs, though).  We had to wait what seemed like forever for Hope to get her feet washed off at the “washing station.”  Finally, we were on the “shuttle,” which was really just a big golf cart, and headed back to the parking lot.

Anna took this one of her and Brianna on the back of the shuttle...that's Jim's head between them...

Everybody was hungry…we drove back to Moncton and stopped at Mike’s Restaurant, a chain we like, but no longer have in Saint John.  We ate until we were stuffed (no room for dessert)!  Hope’s cellphone vibrated, she jumped at the very same time the waitress came: “I’m sorry, did I scare you?” she asked.

“No,” said Hope.  “My cellphone just went off.”

We gave the waitress a big tip…

Mike's Logo...ours in Saint John has been closed for a few years...

We stopped in Sussex for ice cream on the way home, and popped into Walmart to look at shelving.  Since we have a Walmart in Saint John, we decided to wait and pick it up here.

We finally arrived home about 9:30…I went right to bed, and was snoring within minutes of my head hitting the pillow.

Vacations can be exhausting…

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