Thursday, April 19, 2018

Icy April

Seriously Mother Nature?

Icy front walk at this time of year! And no, my gardening buddies, that's not a real geranium - it's fake.  I needed a pop of colour to brighten up our looooong winter. Ice was dripping from the table yesterday, which would have made for a more dramatic pic, but I couldn't step outdoors. Freezing rain was harsh and the porch slippery.
Can you guess why there is a path of ice from the rocks guarding my deck to the tree? The answer is not very pretty - septic field. For those not experienced in a septic system, the water runs frequently (showers, toilet flushing, faucets) which warms the earth above, melting the snow, which then freezes. 

Rock garden looks funny with a layer of ice on top. If you look closely,  you can see a splat of green that belongs to a hardy boxwood. It's sitting at the foot of the shepherd's crook (which I hang my hummingbird feeder on in summertime), bringing a bit of hope to the cold landscape.
My poor crocuses are frozon in their beds. It was too icy for me to go outside and take a pic. But I'm sure you can visualize a crocus popsicle! Purple to be accurate. :-)

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Excerpt from "Walking the path of the cabinet maker"

April this year has been cold and windy - very disappointing, and today is no exception. I thought it was high time to put in the effort and clean up some of my files. Delete the old ones and take a stab at reorganizing the rest.  
I came across this article I'd written while learning the art of cabinet-making back in 2001. 
Strangely enough a lot of the soul-searching I had entered into back then is still in the works today. Maybe another time I'll post my thoughts on that subject.

The woodworking classes were small and cozy. Four women to be precise and nobody was interested in competing. It was a supportive group and I was glad to be part of it. We were there to learn and enjoy our apprenticeship.  

The teachers were patient.  Not once was I made to feel inferior, stupid or incompetent as I stumbled along using incorrect measurements or the wrong tools (I'll bet they chuckled behind our backs).  But whatever they privately thought about their first all female cabinet-making class, they kept to themselves.  

The atmosphere was thick with concentration as we jean and boot-clad ladies focused on sorting through the maze of hand tools, new vocabulary (mortise and tenon joining technique, kerf, mitre box WTH?) trying to figure out which tiny line represented the 1/32nd mark on a measuring tape or how to use a hand saw and keep the cutting line straight. 

It was noisy and busy with the ring of hammers on nails, woodchips flying about (duck!), sawdust covering the floor, our aprons and even our hair, when out of the blue I looked up to see our teacher, Gary stepping out of a back room, tea-tray in his hands.
What a treat! In the midst of chaos we were to stop and have tea.

We looked at one another with huge smiles as we shed our aprons and wiped grubby hands on jeans. Gary was already pouring the tea into delicate bone china cups as we gathered round, chatting excitedly as if we'd never had a cup of tea before.

Hmm, he must have a wife somewhere, judging by the pattern of pink roses on the china, I thought to myself. 

Accepting a steaming cup of brew with a splat of milk, I took a sip, closed my eyes and relaxed into the moment. Ahhhhh, it was nice to stop for a bit of a break. 
“Does anybody have a spoon?” 
My eyes flew open.
I looked over at Aggie, searching desperately among the tea things.  
“A spoon?!” The teachers looked up in horror!  
“Naw – just use a piece of wood (that was Chris, teacher #2).  

Ewwww, I thought. 
What a picture we must have made: four dust covered, work-boot clad females sipping our English tea from fine bone china cups decorated with delicate pink roses yet having to stir in milk and sugar with a rough, splintery stick.  
Yup, definitely cozy.

Friday, February 2, 2018


Imbolc is a festival of fire and light. It falls midway between winter solstice and spring equinox, and marks the successful passing of winter and the beginning of agricultural spring.
The light continues to grow stronger and the days grow warmer.

And this morning I could feel a lightness in the air, a moist warmth with the promise of Spring. A loud, rhythmic drumming caught my attention and I knew woodpeckers were beginning their mating ritual. Chickadees usual "chick-a-dee-dee-dee" was interspersed  with "fee-bee" a sign that their mating rituals had begun as well.

Are these mouse trails in the snow? Mouse highways?

First bloom on my African violet. My mother always kept African violets on a table under an east facing window in our dining room.  "Oh, my African violets are waking up! Spring must be on its way!" 
Her smile of pure joy gave me an appreciation of the changing seasons, of looking for hope in the middle of a deep, dark winter. Yes, mounds of snow still covered the ground, cold and icy winds still tore at our clothes as we walked to school in the mornings, but with a bit more sunlight every day, we knew the worst was behind us.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Beginning to Lighten

I heard a chickadee call as the sky began to lighten this morning. We've just come out of a deep freeze here in the eastern part of Canada and this was a welcome gift from Mother Nature.

It had been so cold my garage doors were frozen shut, there was ice build-up in the corners of my north-facing windows, even though I keep my home warm. My oil furnace was working continuously, heating the house (for which I am grateful - what did natives in this country do before central heating? I can't imagine!)  drying out the air and making my hair fly-away and clothing full of static.

Stepping outside I was met with the sting of a brutal arctic wind on my face, and even with a scarf covering mouth and nose, breathing was very difficult. Some days I stayed indoors, chopping vegetables to pop into a nourishing broth. Soup making always brings on a feeling of comfort, of a warm kitchen, mothers or grandmothers in aprons, gentle hugs, steamy windows, neighbours popping in, tea and cookies, friendship and lively conversation.

But today the air is warmer, almost spring-like in contrast. As the sky lightens there is a surge of new energy, of hope that the worst is over - at least for now. Winter still has it's polar bear arms wrapped fiercely around us, but we can wiggle out and play in the snow.

I have a full day planned with a breakfast club gathering, a stop into the florist for fertilizer and potting soil (my indoor plants are looking at me pleadingly), a few other errands and then a good long afternoon walk in the sunshine.

How is it in your part of the world?

Monday, January 1, 2018

January 1, 2018 - Supermoon

The biggest Supermoon of 2018 rose at sunset today January 1st and will set at sunrise tomorrow morning - January 2nd. It will be the largest and brightest full moon of 2018.

This Wolf Moon was named by the Early Native American tribes because it was at this time of year packs of animals would howl outside their camps.

This second full moon in a Supermoon trilogy started with the Cold Moon on December 3, 2017.

The third Supermoon will be on January 31st, and since that's the second full moon in the month, it's called a Blue Moon.
Go figure.

All I know is it's freezing outside this evening, but that didn't stop me from bundling up, slipping on warm boots and heading out to gaze at that huge, golden orb hanging low in the eastern sky.  It was breathtaking!

Wish I could have taken a pic, but honestly, I don't take moon pics well (as I mentioned a couple of posts back). But that's fine.  This one from the Farmer's Almanac was perfect!

I hope you have an opportunity to step outdoors and catch a glimpse as she weaves through winter clouds, or embrace her full, clear, magnificent face as she lights up the sky and earth below in a celebration of a brand new year.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Early December

I walk the land every morning.
It's in my bones.
I rise early each day, well before sunrise.

This pattern too must be in my bones. A time of the ancestors when out of necessity, work had to be done first. Lanterns lit, water pumped, a fire started in a hearth, porridge bubbling in a cauldron or flour turned into loaves for the day's consumption.

My modern self throws on a housecoat and slips down the stairs in darkness, not wanting to face the glare of electric light. It's too harsh this early.
Entering the kitchen, I surrender and with a flick of a switch turn on the overhead pot lights. These new lights are on a dimmer, turned down to a softness -  just enough so I can see to start my coffee maker.
I pull a carton of milk out of the fridge (no milking of cows in this day and age) and splash a good amount into my cup.

Coffee in hand I step out onto my back deck. Yes, it's December here in Canada and cold, but that doesn't bother me. I'm warm from my cozy bed, warm in my plush housecoat, winter boots on my feet. Not long ago it was flip-flops. October this year was unseasonably warm and I was ecstatic to be able to slip into flip-flops and feel the strange contrast of autumn leaves crunching underfoot.

Deep breaths of fresh air - oh how I love to inhale the freshness of a new day.

This December morning Mother Moon lights up the entire back yard. She is beautiful as she shines out between the branches of Lady, a glorious beech tree standing tall and proud in the west side of my yard.

Trees are beautiful at this time of year - their bare branches reach up to the heavens, revealing that which is usually hidden by their greenery. Our trees are old in this part of the land; a forest once-upon-a-time, they remain rooted deep in the earth, watching us humans go about the business of our everyday lives.

I've lived in this home since 1996 when I moved in with my soon-to-be husband. As some of you know, I moved out for 3 years, now back again.
I look around my property and inhale the familiar, the homes and neighbours, an occasional light in the window of another early riser.

I'm not the same person as I was a few years back. Certainly not the star-struck in-love woman in my 40's back in 1996. Life changes us, as it's meant to.

My blog is still up, yet I leave it behind for long periods of time.  I miss it. I miss the energy, the good feelings blogging evokes when I visit your blogs. I miss peeking into gardens around the world, being invited to share in the lives of ordinary people. My blogging friends are generous "come sit a spell, pull up a chair and warm yourself by the fire, coffee's on, tea's hot and ready for you, I've just made a batch of gingerbread cookies!" All virtual of course, but the thoughts, the intentions give me a warm feeling, a feeling of connection no matter who or where in the world we all live.

I'm not the same person I was when I entered the world of blogging. Back then I was hurt and scared; husband was sick with an illness that would eventually take him. Blogging was a way to save my sanity, a way of reaching out to others who may be with me on this frightening journey.

It came as a surprise that people actually responded to my cries, my venting and grieving, I did not know what to expect. I drew strength and comfort from my fellow bloggers, their own struggles, their joys, and virtual hugs, their normal everyday activities.

I did not know what blogging was all about.
Was I good enough to actually post something?
Would anybody read my stories?

Along the way I met many, many kind and courageous people. People who blogged whether their writings were good or not. People whose pics were phenomenal, their writing superb, and I felt myself measuring up to those standards and coming up short.  Maybe I shouldn't post. I wasn't good enough. So many others were so much better.

And then it came to me one day that I was blogging for me. That I was making friends anyway, whether my posts were "publish-perfect" or just ordinary.  Blogging was about the normal ups and downs of everyday life.  The important part was reaching out and connecting.

Gazing into the face of Mother Moon, her benevolent glow warming my heart and cold hands, I feel a ripple of happiness, of contentment at this unexpected gift.

Wouldn't this make a nice pic? Framed by bare-naked tree branches if I stand right here. If I walk a little to the side, she's lost behind the tree trunk. Quickly I run back in the house, pop my cold coffee into the microwave and grab my phone.
Not a great pic but it works for today.

Pocketing my phone I step off the deck into the pre-dawn stillness. I drink in the quiet, the lull before the beginning of a brand-new day.
The anticipation.
I like to be up early enough to witness the soft glow in the Eastern sky as a new day is born.
It's like magic.

Night is fading. The clear strong light of Mother Moon shines on, even as she slips further towards the horizon. Stars as well are not giving up yet. They hold on to their brightness in a clear, cold sky.

With the passing of years, I've become stronger.  A little more confident in who I am. Blogging, I've learned, is an expression of who we are. Competition is not necessary, nor is it wanted (to me anyway). Some will like my blog and others won't.
As simple as that.