Featuring Joy & Geoff, Big Brother (6), Little Brother (5), Sis (3), and various household critters...

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.

Sunday, 24 November 2013


Autumn has advanced steadily through November, with the landscape telling of winter to come.

After moving from our home of 13 years in early October, we have spent the past weeks adjusting, setting up house, and trying to beat the cold and snow with some necessary outdoor projects - the first of which were gates and finishing touches on existing fencing, to secure the hounds. We added a safety cover to the pool - an added measure of peace of mind (especially after one hound fell in while I was standing beside her keeping watch). A separate pool fence is in progress, but heavy snow yesterday will put that project on hold for the moment. Snow here doesn't tend to stay for the winter until after Christmas, so I expect there will be a thaw and some slightly warmer temperatures again in order to finish that project (which needs to be done, even with the safety cover, since the same hound tried walking across it this morning, now that it looks different with snow on it...and I imagine a child or two would do the same once it is completely snow-covered).

As a result of moving, we closed our trailer late. Here is a scene from the edge of our campsite:

At home we have been able to fully observe the changing season. When we arrived in October, everything was still lush and green. The few containers we brought with us gave us another month of flowers before frost did its work, and there were roses still covering our new rose bushes.

Here are a few views from our new property -

Looking north-west:

 Looking north-east:

 Looking east:

 Looking south-east:

 Looking south - the view from our rear windows, onto the back yard and beyond: 
(The forest is not ours, but we certainly enjoy the scenery it offers)!

 The first snowfall:

We are so pleased with the new house - the layout and space are working wonderfully for our family, and our new town (a couple of kilometres away) is proving to be quite delightful so far. We already have a pile of amusing stories about people getting to know us. It is the kind of place where one can't really be anonymous for too long!

In the midst of unpacking and setting things up, I have managed to get started on Christmas decorating, to add a little seasonal warmth to the surroundings. We are quite a bit further from the city here, but the country drives are lovely. Here is what we found en route to our homeschool field trip last week:

Nature is so restorative, and although I typically enjoy it by driving through it rather than diving in on foot, I am thankful for the sights and the reminder that transitions can be beautiful, and savoured as we bid farewell to one chapter, and greet a new one.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Out of Nowhere...

 ...here I am!

After a typically long absence, I decided to make a blog appearance, and as is becoming my habit, it will mainly be in photos. Starting with cows against woodlot, because I love seeing cows in treed areas. We stopped by the roadside so I could snap quite a few pics from the truck window.

The next is a rare glimpse of the back of the back yard, featuring the compost area. I don't take many photos of the compost area. Baby girl is hauling some weeds...worth capturing on camera, because I haven't been around much weed-hauling this season. Kinda let the gardens go...we're moving, after all. Ok, so I've kind of let it go since 2007, after a car accident that left us a little achey all summer. We're fine now, but the gardens are still suffering. Geoff and the kids did a big weed-fest recently, in time for hosting my mom's 60th birthday gathering.

We have managed quite a few single nights at the trailer this season. Really wish we had been able to do a few more two-nighters, but we've had something going on most Sundays, and have been heading home Saturday evening. With beautiful weather it was hard to stay home this weekend (I even packed for the kids), but I had to agree with Geoff that our garage (aka, storage warehouse) is unlikely to magically sort, purge, and pack itself. When we have been at the trailer, there have been plenty of scenes like this:

I am having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that it was already one week ago that we left for our Labour Day getaway with friends, and that this time away, which was thirstily anticipated all summer, has passed. It was great...just not long enough. We have not taken any time off this year, due to the moving situation, so my main "vacation" will be unpacking and setting up the new house (which will be fun in some ways...and...yeah). I'm just going to stare at these pictures of The Falcon (our '69 trailer that has been enjoyed by us since 2007 - definitely got our money's worth) in just about the most idyllic camp site ever (on our friend's parents' property), until I believe I am actually there...


The kids did fantastically on the two-hour 'serious business' trail we do every year at Georgian Bay...Baby boy (he's 5 now! Wow!) hitched a ride right at the very end. Big brother managed on foot the whole time. Baby girl actually did the whole thing, too, until the last few minutes, impressing some rock climbers who were awed by her scrambling skills.

The kids had an extended play-time at the town beach, while Geoff joined some locals on his trumpet at the park. On Day 1, the swim was unplanned, and it was windy and chilly...hence the new tie-dyed t-shirts I nabbed from a Farmer's Market vendor right at closing to keep them a bit warmer on the walk home. 

And since it's 9:30pm and I haven't had supper, that's the end for today.