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

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Flooded: On The First Day

Around 5:00am on Saturday, May 25, 2019 I awakened to the sound of torrential rain. I recall thinking, or whispering to Geoff, that I didn't think I had ever heard rain coming down that hard. I quickly fell back to sleep, waking again at about 7:20am when Geoff’s phone rang with a work call.While he was still on the phone, Geoff turned to me and stated, "That's not coming from outside", at which point I became more aware of the heavy spatter of water. With my phone in hand, I ventured down the basement steps, not far from our bedroom. It took a few seconds to process what I was seeing. A layer of water covered the floor at the foot of the stairs, and more was pouring in the window. As I began to record the scene, my mom stepped out of the shower in the bathroom by the staircase, and began to exclaim. She had stepped into water already nearing her ankles, and was hearing by expressions of, "Oh no, oh no."

As Geoff attempted to work through the significant work-related issue he had been called about, as an on-call manager, he quickly realized he needed to get other managers involved on that issue so that he could attend to the water entering our house faster than we could react. Within 30 minutes I was on the phone with our insurance company - while we likely didn't yet appreciate the full implications of what was happening, we had a sense it was significant.

The next 2.5-3 hours passed in a blur. My mom was in shock, and went out for breakfast with friends as planned. Geoff had the presence of mind to turn off the power before water reached the outlets. My dad, Geoff, and I sprung into action. I don't entirely know what they focused on, but we worked in parallel, retrieving items and bringing them upstairs as quickly as possible. Initially Mom and Dad had set a few items up on couches and desks, but as the water rose I realized that was not sufficient, and focused my attention on moving keepsakes and irreplaceable items. We were able to carry up some smaller furniture items as well. Unfortunately, as we later learned, it would have been wise to attempt gathering some larger and costlier items like televisions, which we considered lower priorities thinking that they would be covered under contents insurance, and as they were not sentimentally significant, they were left behind.


Furniture began to float far sooner than I would have expected - the strength of water always amazes me. Some drawers became impossible to open as they filled and furniture capsized. Couches and desks crowded together and had to be pushed (ever so easily) out of the way to create paths. At the end I was gathering armfuls of saturated items from our eldest child's room, hoping that we might be able to save some of his stuffed animals, blankets, books, and clothing. These were dumped part-way up the stairs, while I had the children take the items to the upstairs bedrooms. I watched his piano keyboard succumb to water, as the bed where he had placed it (ironically lower than the dresser on which it normally sat!) oozed with water. As the muddy, rushing water approached our waists we agreed that concerns about safety necessitated our exit. I recall being aware that it was strange to walk away from so many belongings that we knew would be ruined - just to watch it happen and know that we were helpless to do any more.


After the pace of the morning, the rest of the day plays in slow motion in my memory. In re-reading the following paragraph I see that the day was not still, but I think the sense of our inability to directly address the water made it feel that way. We sat upstairs, waiting for the water in the house to reach ground level, and brainstorming next steps - we eventually realized we would not be staying in the house that night, with no power and with questions about contamination in the air due to the water that had traveled across recently-manured farm fields. Toward early evening our dog was taken to a kennel, and my parents' dog went to my brother's. Through social media someone from church suggested we contact the owners of a local boutique motel, and we secured a spacious two-bedroom apartment (initially thinking for one or two nights)! All of this was somehow sorted out on short notice. The cats stayed at the house. We eventually confirmed that two were still presumably in the basement.

The noise and movement of the water pouring in was intense. As a result, the serene stillness of the scene once the basement was full stands out in my mind. Insurance had contacted a restoration company to come out and assess the situation, and begin water remediation. The first company never arrived, and a second was sent out. By about 6:00pm there were pumps in place, run by generators.

We still had not developed a full awareness of the scope of the situation and its ramifications. As each new realization dawned, we addressed it. We also had only a taste that day of the outpouring to come in other forms, as our community and social networks sprung into action and rose up around us.

Monday, 10 June 2019

Curly Journey Update 11 Months In

I've logged in to post about another topic, but figure I will provide a brief Curly Girl Method update after nearly one year!

I've stuck with it - no blow drying (other than diffusing) or straightening, and have been using only CG friendly products.

Winter was frustrating at times, but much better after I discovered the need to leave in a fair bit of conditioner and go easier on other products. Now that the summer humidity is returning, I'm getting better volume again, with more uniform curl and more days on which I can "refresh" a little rather than re-wetting my entire head and starting over with styling.

My biggest problem is the pixie grow-out - I can't resist trimming frequently to maintain some shape and volume at the top, and keep bulk out of the bottom half. I want to keep the back longer and work toward more of a longer shag type style, but maybe I'll need to go with a bob first, while it grows longer around the ears, then let the back catch up. Sometimes when the shorter look is working I am tempted to go back to a longer-on-top pixie. I've always changed styles often, but wearing it curly makes me think twice about dramatic short cuts at the moment, as the grow-out feels even slower wearing curls - they grow out first, rather than down (sometimes creating volume in the wrong areas), then will hit a length where they start to drop or fall downward (creating some altogether odd combinations of shapes and differences in how the curls sit).

Pixie grow-out or not, keeping volume in the crown can be a challenge both if layers are too short (sections pull up and away from areas where I want coverage) or too long (sections fall flat from the root). Root clipping on damp hair seems to work best for this, after diffusing a little. Diffusing is helpful, although doing just enough to start getting some lift, while not over-doing it and ending up with dry, undefined, frizzy sections is an art. Sometimes dampening and finger curling sections that got a bit frizzy while diffusing can help.

So there it is. An ongoing experiment, although overall still generally more content with my hair than I have been in a long time.

Monday, 23 July 2018

Curly Goals

My hair and I have had a complicated relationship over the past four years. For 17 years I worked with a skilled stylist who stayed on top of trends - we had a lot of fun trying out various cuts and colour combinations over the years. When she died, four years ago this past weekend, actually, I lost momentum and direction with my hair. We had started a grow-out plan, but without her guidance to ease the transition, I have kept cutting it off - with the help of various local stylists and my own scissors and clippers. Before Gabriella died I had also been experiencing mixed feelings about continued use of chemical colour. On top of that, it took me a few months to become ready enough to have her last cut and colour work altered (I know, she would have wanted me to keep it fresh and current)! So, in the past four years, I have been grieving the loss of Gabby (only a few years older than me), I turned 40, and I stopped colouring.

I did use henna for a while, and really liked it - the colour was rich, and my hair was shiny. Eventually I began to question the health risks and benefits of that (I know how to spoil my own fun), had an unfortunate incident involving blonde highlights (not what I really wanted, and they destroyed my hair), and ended up chopping off a bunch of growth due to the damage. At that point, I was also pretty worried - my curl was disappearing. I have always appreciated having wavy/curly hair, although find it terribly unpredictable and can't stand any stringy crunchiness, or imbalance in the wave pattern - the feel or the look of it. My favourite curly hair time was Summer 2012 (I think I have some posts from then, actually - sure, it had some frizz, but I was working with it and enjoyed the volume and overall uniformity. A lot of the time, though, I have been straightening (or partially so) for convenience and because it usually feels more "put together" - at least a bit more predictable. In Summer 2017 I briefly committed to working with the curl consistently (after being flooded with relief after giving my hair a trim and discovering that it still curled)! That said, while I have worn it curly more often over the past year, I have certainly not done so consistently, and it has been a LONG time since I have been excited about my hair, and felt confident in it.

Last week, while reading a post in a Facebook group, someone made reference to the Curly Girl Method, and recommended a group to another commenter. I joined, and have now officially started the adventure. Needless to say, I am a bit nervous, as I still have a pixie, and I have never grown out a short haircut without the help of flat irons and hair dryers.

We'll see how it goes, but I am excited to have some new strategies and motivation to help me along the way. Some of the specific Curly Girl (CG) techniques are things I have figured out over the years, trying to find more reliable and effective ways to bring out curl in my hair, and keep it soft rather than stringy, but there is still lots to learn and explore. I am most curious to see if there is any chance those tight, smooth ringlets I get underneath my hair, at the back, when it is longer, could ever possibly appear on the top layers. Time will tell - if I can refrain from chopping it off repeatedly.

Here's a bit of the journey:

1998, smoothed with curlers for a vintage nod:

2011, likely flat ironed and curled...

Summer 2012 - Gabriella's work, an inverted bob with exaggerated long side pieces that worked especially well with curl, as they didn't totally shrink and disappear when worn curly.

A pixie, done by a local stylist. I do miss colour. And my cat - I miss her, too.

Attempting a grow-out, with henna...

Spring 2016, still using henna and a hair dryer:

Summer 2018. Stuck. No colour, cutting it myself with a stylist trim occasionally. Relying on the hair dryer and usually the flat iron as well.

 Pre-CG, but had just learned about it. Used my current products and diffuser to see what happened using a couple of techniques (like putting the product in soaking wet hair - I usually try to have it pretty wet when I style it, but I made sure it was even wetter this time). Reasonably happy with the outcome, but...

...note the flatter back and top, compared with the front. Not a great balance.
July 19, 2018. Hadn't picked up CG products yet - but was about to head to the store for some (which were clearly needed - not very exciting limp waves, lacking uniformity)!

 Day 1 CG - pre-scrunch (final wash, deep condition, leave-in, gel):

Day 1 - post-'scrunch-out-the-crunch' - pretty happy with it for a first try - fairly even, soft, not greasy, not too stringy - room to improve, but I'll take it for now:

Day 2 - post-sleep, nothing done to refresh. Curls held up well overnight and just needed a bit of "tidying" for the day:

Day 3 - low-poo wash, condition, gel, and a bit of mousse as an experiment. Not sure I loved the mouse, but I was pleasantly surprised to compare photos to date and see overall uniformity, and decent waves.

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.