Featuring Joy & Geoff, Big Brother , Little Brother , Sis , and various household (and outdoor) critters...

Friday, 29 April 2016


I love this cat (who sits beside me on a box - of course - as I write this. I think we will soon have a visit to the back yard). She has been with me since I still lived at home, and has kept me company at important times over the years - especially after my family moved and I was on my own for a while. Somehow still having her here makes me feel like I am just continuing along in the era of my youth - that perhaps time is not passing as rapidly as I fear most days.

For years during childhood we asked for a cat. Mom wasn't so sure, and Dad, who liked cats, deferred to Mom's preference. When my friend's cat was going to have kittens, I was turning 20, and began informing them that I would be bringing a kitten home. No one argued...at least not with much conviction. Had I been more daring, I would have brought home two - either Spike, her grey tabby brother, or Scully (our name for her...not sure what she was named by her family), her brilliant orange-red sister (who also turned out to have longer hair). I thought I wanted a grey cat, but was captivated by her colouring and chose her over Spike, 20 years ago. Then the fur started growing...and she became an even more unique beauty than I imagined at first.

Of all of my pets, I had a specific dream of seeing her reach 20. She celebrated that milestone birthday last month (March 26 or 27, 2016) - a true gift. I thought we would lose her earlier a couple of times - a case of urinary crystals at age 9, a heart murmur around age 12, dental issues, inefficient kidney function for a number of years, and Easter lily poisoning (thankfully caught before digestion occurred) just after turning 17. Nothing that has resulted in serious issues or ongoing treatment - the only real sign of time passing has been some gradual weight loss and a couple of recurring issues with matting...suggesting at least in part that her grooming technique is not quite as thorough.

Motet has been pretty much "my" cat...although became more social over the years, with both humans and animals. She holds her own, though, against critters trying to get at her treats and snacks, or Hesper playfully nudging and smothering her with kisses...or little girl as a toddler, sitting on Mo at times. 
She has loved sleeping on my head, often kneading my hair and keeping me awake, but bringing comfort at the same time. She has also had a habit of climbing me (not so much the past couple of years, thankfully), quite dangerous with no front claws! She has often enjoyed draping herself around my neck while I sit or walk around. More recently she has been snoozing behind Dad's neck while he sits on the couch downstairs.

A natural hunter, she has been adept at catching mice even when on her tie-out, and even once after moving here, despite deafness and some arthritis. Motet is a lover of the outdoors - we compromised on a harness and tie-out under close supervision (she is also really good at getting tangled up), but she is a good escape artist as well, heading for the door (eventually realizing that stealth was more effective than speed). Since moving here she has had a couple of afternoons of freedom without anyone's knowledge. More recently she will wander with us untethered, enjoying a leisurely ramble in the yard. As a youngster she would escape and run up the neighbour's Magnolia tree...and we dreaded tip-toeing over her lawn to get her down. 

For a cat, Motet has been reasonably well-traveled. Mom sometimes brought her along to pick us up from school, and she spent many weekends at the trailer with us. A cat through and through, any new box, blanket, sweater, bag, or remnant becomes a favourite sleep surface. For the past year or two she "moves" regularly - spending a few weeks or months "living" in specific rooms. For a time she was always on a long counter/desk in the family room. She eventually moved to little girl's room, spent some time in my room, and has been hanging out with my parents in the basement since the winter. This week she has chosen my room again.

As a kitten, Mo was mischevious and playful - she would go fishing the aquarium (and more recently has still enjoyed watching them), and loved to play with Muffin, our ageing dog. The two had a marvelous time together. One of her favourite games (before becoming deaf and slowing down a bit over the past couple of years) was crinkle ball "Monkey in the Middle" - I would toss the pom-pom overhead and she would leap into the air to catch it. This week she has been spotted lying on a catnip snake, so the spirit has still been there! Motet has been a constant fixture across a few generations of pets and people - children who were tiny in photos taken with Motet in the early years are now married and have their own children (some of whom are also pictured with Mo). She is a tie to my youth - a time before marriage and career and independent living.

I love her lionesque profile, her ear and foot tufts, her fur ruffling in the breeze. Just last weekend she was chasing a leaf in the yard, and stalking Dan (Dandelion), our current brown tabby (of course she did this for my mother, not me, so I didn't capture it in photos or video). She has an independent and determined streak, more so even than other cats I know. She has always been fine with being held (mostly by me) at times, but if she doesn't want it, well...I am sporting a scratch or two on my neck and chest as I write this. She has not been a lap-sitter, but as noted, enjoys a snuggle on her own terms, on a head or around a neck. In her senior years she amuses us with her focus on the goal - a confident stride to the water bowl, or to the back door to be let outside (or find a way to slip past). Despite some shifts in her habits through her senior years, that personality remains present, and is seen in her routines, activities, and responses to the world around her.

So, yes, I love this cat. My beauty. A cat of many nick-names, but named originally for the Motet, a musical form that reflects my classical music background. 
Here is a lovely and meaningful Bach sampling:



For the law of the spirit, which gives life in Christ Jesus,
has made me free from the law of sin and death.

Defiance to the old dragon,
defiance to the vengeance of death,
defiance to fear as well!
Rage, world, and attack;
I stand here and sing
in entirely secure peace!
God's strength holds me in watch;
earth and abyss must fall silent,
however much they might rumble.

Therefore now since the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, that same who raised Christ from the dead will make your mortal bodies living, for the sake of His spirit that dwells in you.

Hence, you spirits of sadness,
for my Master of joy,
Jesus, comes here.
For those who love God,
even their troubles
must be pure sugar.
Though I endure mockery and shame here already,
nevertheless you stay with me even in sorrow,

Jesus, my joy.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Happy Easter!

The great egg hunt of 2015...Easter is early this year, and snowfall is late...we awakened to a layer on the ground that had melted by mid-day. Snow and cool temperatures did not deter the kids from wearing t-shirts for the hunt!

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Happy New Year (and Cats R' Us)


Ok, so I am having hard time getting into the "happy" part of "new year", what with having to face the reality of work and business...things that were quite successfully ignored for nearly two weeks over the holiday! In fact, I am currently ignoring work once again, but since it is, actually, a work day, I need to keep this brief.

Our Christmas lacked snow, but involved all the lights and decorations and family time we enjoy. It was a treat having my aunt, uncle, and cousins stay for a couple of nights right after Christmas - it made things feel a bit more like the memorable extended stays with our families at my grandparents' place every year. Nothing ever feels quite as magical and beautiful as the "good old days" at Christmas.

This year involved cats and kittens again, but this time I was not dealing with dying strays, dead raccoons, and rabies shots (I don't recommend spending a good portion of your Christmas vacation on multiple ER trips for a series of vaccinations).

Above is Mac with big sister Trillium. Below is peek at our little Chumley (whose brother and sister, McIntosh/Mac and Cider (now re-named), went to their home with friends of ours the week before Christmas). Chum's older brother and sisters - officially barn cats, but at least for the winter looking a lot like house cats - and his mama, Zinnia, are still around to keep him company. (As much as I love kittens, I do not like contributing to cat over-population, and was thankful that my work on building a relationship with Zinnia paid off in the fall, when I was able to capture her at last to have her spayed).

Miss Flora, our black and white kitty (who along with siblings Bud - who vanished just shy of 10 weeks old, Dandelion, and Trillium, was born in a flower pot in May) was the first to bridge the gap between barn cat and house cat, gazing in windows and wanting to be part of family life. She eats everything in sight, and with a variety of food needs what with underweight kittens and aging, finicky cats around, keeps us on our toes making sure there isn't too much extra food available for her to consume. She is an amusing companion, flopping to the ground for belly rubs, and dashing here and there. Her sister, Trillium, who never seemed to want much affection when living outdoors full time, has turned out to be quite a lap cat. Dan enjoys proximity to humans, but prefers not to be handled much. They are all sweet cats who are affectionate toward each other, and baby Chumley has lots of big siblings to snuggle with.

And in the workshop our mouser, orange tabby Agent 99 (inherited with the house), has extra company since the arrival of "The Smoke Monster", a large, black, fluffy, friendly stray beast with a chronic cold and injured leg.

Agent 99 continues to be quite happy outdoors, and our indoor cats, Motet (18) and Scat (16, brown tabby pictured below) are hanging in there. Scattie has experienced some neurological issues that have left her with a weak back end and apparent blindness, but she actually improved after the initial incident, and finds her way around, enjoying a good meal still. We were glad to have her with us this Christmas. Motet holds her own as well. She is pretty quiet, a bit picky with food, fairly deaf, but otherwise seems content and reasonably well.

We managed to get out for a hike at a nearby provincial park last week, and took a leap of faith by purchasing a winter membership. We went again later in the week, so only have to make it 3 or 4 more times before the end of March in order to make the membership worthwhile compared to the cost of day passes.

Ok, I fear for my work day now, as morning will soon disappear. However, a bit of reflection time feels good. Wishing you well as you, too, settle in to the new year. I trust it brings much peace, beauty, and growth.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014


Thanks for 17 years of great haircuts, Gabriella. After hacking at my own hair from Grade 10 until part-way through university, your skillful work was a revelation!

My soul is heavy as I think of your sweet family tonight. I dearly hoped when I was in for an appointment just last month that I would be seeing you again in August, as we had optimistically planned. I don't think I would have found it in myself to continue working as long as you did while willing yourself to beat this cancer.

I will miss commiserating with you about parenting the 7 and under crowd, and discussing decisions about education and activities, or chatting about trailer purchases and camping. It was always fun showing up to find we had the same boots, or Roots purse, or that we recognized each others' outfits from one of our Winners excursions (at least once running into each other there, caught red-handed feeding our fashion addiction). And it seems we also shared a bit of a thing for red tones in our hair, and fun bob cuts, although we both played with lots of style and colour changes over the years!

I wish you could have stuck around - I kind of always envisioned us getting together as old ladies, because even with the commute now, I would have hung in there for the long haul. Mainly, I wish things were different because your beautiful children, and committed husband, and loving family and friends will miss you so much.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Wild Turkeys, House Finches, Agent 99, and my Motet

I have been uploading some recent photos and decided to find a few to post here. Turns out there is a theme. Not much of a surprise, since I do enjoy snapping critter shots.

A couple of weeks ago the kids called us to the dining room to witness some visitors in the woods just beyond the fence. Since moving further from the city, there have been far more wild turkey sightings, and a recent close encounter when one opted to take flight from the shoulder of the road directly into the path of our approaching vehicle. He just barely cleared the van as we passed, and I was jello for a few minutes afterward.

Much to my chagrin, I realized a week or so ago that I had failed to take any photos of our official outdoor cat (a "chattel" we agreed could stay with the property when we moved there!). Formerly "Peaches", our little (actually, fairly substantial) hunter is now "Agent 99". She's quite a lovely creature, and does her work well. (We have a couple of unofficial felines out there as well, who arrived as kittens last fall - I suspect they belonged to a cat I noticed late at night a few times, who eventually stopped showing up). I think 99 appreciated the extra warmth and company during the long, cold winter we just had, and the (now young adult) kittens seem to enjoy the free food. Go figure.

With the snow staying so long, I didn't get around to removing winter decor fast enough, and now much leave my Christmas wreaths in place until our house finches are done nesting. We can watch them from the kitchen, which is entertaining. And at least they are not in the back yard, where keeping fledglings safe from hounds would be a particular challenge (having done that with near-full success when we had baby blue jays at our other place. Of course, in that instance, mama jay was also a strong protector, swooping and cutting my head one time when she decided I had ventured too close to the nest).

My first cat, Motet, turned 18 in March. She seems to be quite deaf, but has otherwise been doing well. Last week she came down with a sudden and furious bladder infection, and seems to be on the mend. Baby Girl (not much of a baby now, at age 4) very thoughtfully tucked Mo in and read her some stories to help her feel better. That and the antibiotics appear to be doing the trick. I'm just trying to be thankful for any time I have left with my little cat friend.

Motet has always enjoyed hanging out on my neck. She has also always longed for an indoor/outdoor life, and with close supervision and a harness, has been allowed out at times. Since moving I haven't been able to find her harness, but with the advent of spring she has regularly been trying to trick me into letting her out with the hounds. I took her out the other day to see what she would do. She wasn't trying to make a run for it, but she did head right for the fence-line, having a good look to see if there were any obvious exits. So even at her age and when somewhat under the weather, it seems her zest for adventure has not suffered!


Happy Easter!

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Winter Remnants

They say that Spring has arrived. I suppose the heaps of snow do appear to be gradually receding. I know that this has not been a popular winter with most, but I found the constant blanket of fresh snow to be somewhat refreshing, compared to the slush and grey that so often characterises our winter season. Four straight months of snow cover is highly unusual here, however, as there are typically a few thaws throughout.

Living outside the city has its advantages in winter...the scenery was beautiful this year, and I soaked it in on my drives, and while gazing out of the windows at the back of our house:


Some days on the road were an adventure...the highways near our new home are more open to the wind, with this result:


I was recently close enough, at last, to some wild turkeys to snatch a couple of photos before they wandered away from the roadside:

 The feeder beyond our sunroom has been full of activity - woodpeckers, cardinals, blue jays, sparrows, chickadees, and others have enjoyed snacking there:

And Motet, turning 18 within the next few days, has enjoyed watching them:


We enjoyed the company of friends for brunch on a couple of occasions during February - I do hope to host more in our new home. I attempted peanut butter balls for the first time, and Kitch made a treats tag to go with them.


Two weeks ago I had the great honour of attending with a friend as she gave birth to her second little guy. He obliged by being born in the middle of the night on a weekend, between Geoff's shifts and my work schedule...I drove an hour, and arrived an hour before he made his entrance, stayed for a while afterward, then drove home to be with our kids before Geoff headed in for his 7:00am shift!

We are getting a little antsy for more-spring-like weather around here, although I try to save actual complaining for  middle-of-July heat waves! In the meantime, a few little organizational projects, indoor house projects, work, church, and other business gives us (more than) plenty with which to occupy ourselves.

Friday, 3 January 2014

On the 9th Day of Christmas...

Our first Christmas holidays in our new home are nearing the end...although despite working today, I intend to count the next 3 days (which includes the weekend, and my usual Friday off) as extended holiday time.

As always, time flew by between Christmas and New Year's. It didn't help that quite a few hours and much mental preoccupation ensued following a nip by a stray kitten (which we ended up euthanizing due to illness...after which we also found a dead raccoon in the workshop where the kitten had been living...and then realized that perhaps I should have started post-rabies vaccinations, which I did last weekend...thankfully due to holiday slow-downs, the kitten was still available for testing and I don't need to finish the vaccination schedule, but I digress...).

Geoff and I obtained some much-needed quiet and reading time January 1, when my parents offered to take the kiddos out of town for the day, to an annual extended family gathering.

As has become my pattern, the some highlights of our seasonal story will be told in photos...beginning with a hint of the teal and red combo I ended up using throughout the main floor (an extension of painting the front doors turquoise, and then bringing it into the house, alongside my more traditional red-based colour scheme) - I ended up enjoying it quite a bit!

The master bedroom is pictured below...we would love to do a fresh mid-century look in our room, but have an antique set we quite like (that has significance to us), and were just given the antique sewing machine, which at least temporarily filled a conspicuous empty place in the room. 


 We were a little concerned about furnishing the living room, in the centre of the house, given that the post-moving budget limit has been reached on more essential purchases. Less than two weeks before Christmas it occurred to me that we could likely find some super-cheap used furniture online to fill the space for now...and ended up with a vintage set in pristine condition, which we really like. Coordinating accent chairs were found through another online classified, and ta-da - we're all set up for $150.00.

 We haven't had much time at all to enjoy the view from the sunroom (other than glancing that direction was we pass through the foyer going between the kitchen/family room and bedrooms), but this is where Geoff and I spent a good chunk of time with our books on January 1 - ahhh.

 It was fun decorating the new place for Christmas. Once we build massive built-in book/display cases in the living room (flanking the piano), I can de-clutter the mantle, jam cupboard, and piano in future years to keep things a little simpler.

 Mesmerizing for all ages...the spinning candle holder...

My main gift from Geoff - a hand carved nativity (for which he built the stable backdrop and a hefty rustic wood storage box with individual compartments, that should be put on display itself).

Another gift from family...the year of the Nativity...


The holidays are truly not complete without Mom's pies (particularly the apple ones). I know everyone doesn't agree, but the apples are cooked down to a soft texture...and of course, it is best served with a liberal dose of the brown sugar sauce intended for the Christmas pudding...

Just before Christmas, Geoff and I celebrated our 15th anniversary...for the third year in a row (yes, that means each year since having kids) we did not get away overnight, as was always our tradition. We nearly did, but trying to find a B&B last minute, just before Christmas, is apparently not an easy task. We did, however, go to dinner and a movie, which was a novelty in and of itself.


I really, really want my kids NOT to believe in Santa (I will actually have way more fun with the whole Santa thing once that is the case), but long-standing family traditions prevail...this year we even neglected to leave out Santa's goodies, but he found them anyway and left us his usual note! Not much I can do about that...


 I hardly ever skate, and can't do anything fancy, but have always wanted a good pair of figure skates (and my current ones, while serviceable, are going on 25 years old now). Geoff found me these lovely ones, and I look forward to breaking them in...Now that he works at our local arena, I really have no excuse to neglect regular outings...

Merry Christmas (it's only the 9th day, after all, and we haven't reached Orthodox Christmas quite yet) and a beautiful New Year to you!

(I leave you with a picture of our formerly live tree - originally standing about 20 feet tall, hacked off at about 12 feet, and finally cut down to 9.5 feet, with nearly a 6-foot span. They said we could have anything left in the field for $35).

Friday, 13 December 2013

This is What Happens...

You know those times you decide to do something festive AND support family in the process? Like attending your niece's high school Christmas concert? With three youngsters in tow? When the afternoon has been a steady downward descent into a parenting disaster zone?

Of course, you attend, because you said you would. And because it is the festive season. And you want to support your niece.

Then your 3 year-old has a tantrum during the third song, and you carry her out as quickly as possible while trying to avoid falling headfirst down the super-steep auditorium steps that are of varying depths and have no railing.

So you are killing time in a high school hallway with a child who has just been screaming, "Let me go!" and "I want to ride the alligator [elevator]!!!", wondering if you dare show your face in the auditorium again (and how long it will be before you are back out, in the hallway).

And as you wait a bit longer, observing your child's degree of emotional regulation to determine her readiness to try the concert again, you decide to  peruse the wares on display for the silent auction. You have never before bid on silent auction items, but the knitted wool ladies socks, shawl, and baby sweater catch your eye. The starting bid is low, so you figure you may has well have a go at it. Then, in your reluctance to re-enter the auditorium with a potentially volatile little human, you browse some more and end up bidding (half in amusement) on these:
Farm Girl Boyfriend Cap


All Farm Girl Straw Hat


After enduring an intermission that included children (literally) trying to climb the grooved auditorum walls, jumping down sets of steps (from the highest point - seriously, the steepest steps ever), running and shrieking, and performing other antics involving kicking siblings' seats, chewing gum picked up off of the floor, flipping seats, climbing steps and seats (and falling off), kicking the backs of others' seats, whining and crying (again), and more...at least you end up with the satisfaction of coming home with these hats.

And darn it all, these hats will be worn come summer, despite one's husband intending to have a good laugh every time one of them is sported.

Laughter is good medicine, so I'm doing him a favour.