Monday, February 6, 2017

Nothing Special

 I liked this pic which was hanging in the gardens at the hotel in Key West.
She reminded me of Medusa with her snaky hair!

 Couldn't resist taking this bromeliad (I think) also in the gardens surrounding the swimming pool. I miss that warm, sunny climate: an early morning dip, the free feeling of peddling a bike wherever the wind chose to take me, inhaling the fragrance of a tropical breeze and feeling the sun on my face while standing on the shore, positively mesmerized by Mother Ocean.

But no matter where I go, I'm always glad to be back home again.
Six of my 11 grandchildren over on a Saturday afternoon to celebrate 3 of their birthdays (the other 5 children escaped the photo).
Soon we'll have a spring gathering to look forward to as there will be a whole slew of other birthdays to celebrate.
But one thing at a time.

Hope you're having a good winter, safe and snug with loved ones - or relaxing on vacation, or planning your spring garden.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Blending with Energy

I spent a week in Key West, Florida recently to attend a Writer's Workshop.

It was my first time staying in Key West and I was totally in love with the calm, unhurried, laid-back energy where everything goes.

Good Morning!
Roosters run wild, pecking away  in yards, in parking lots. This smart one chose to be at the beach!

Egrets fishing in the early morning.

Even the pet dog gets to ride in a boat.
Yup, everything goes in Key West. 

I had a great time!  Learned a lot at the Conference, made some new friends and travelled everywhere on a bicycle. 

Oh the feeling of freedom! Jumping on the bike, peddling to the conference, to the beach, to the shops, greeting perfect strangers along the way, stopping to pick up a sandwich or bottle of water, weaving around random roosters pecking in the dirt - it was a nice relaxing way to get around, where no one is ever late for anything (well actually people showed up early for the conference part, which was just as well - you can get toooo laid-back).

One evening we were treated to a sunset sail. Drinks flow in Key West and as we boarded the boat I was handed a glass of wine. 
"Um, may I have water, please?" 
I'm not a drinker so the free-flowing booze was lost on me. But the good thing is that people here in Key West, whether on an excursion or in a restaurant are just - happy, not drunks (or at least I didn't run into any).  
The ocean felt a little too tranquil on the way out and I wondered if we'd ever arrive at our destination.  The crew were not concerned in the least and I should have remembered that all would be well, no worries, that everything goes in Key West.  
Breeze picked up on the way back and the rest of the evening was absolutely delightful, with the most glorious sunset!

I chuckled at some of the signs at The Eden House (my hotel) and thought I'd share with you. Doubt if these would be "allowed" back home where I live - too bad. :-(

Don't think anyone will leave their children unattended, do you?

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Changing The Energy

The doctor was late. A good 40 minutes according to my cell phone. Annoyed, I rattled my magazine (as if that would hurry things up).
Christmas was just days away and I had some serious shopping to do.

A man sitting next to me in this crowded waiting room seemed to be sleeping. His head lolled over to my side and I edged away from him as if he was contagious. 
With a snort he woke up, reached in his pocket for a hanky and loudly blew his nose. I held my breath (to avoid breathing in his germs) and squeezed myself as far away from him as I could go. 

A nurse entered the room, chart in hand, called a name; a woman stood up and followed her out. Then a different nurse called someone else. Yippee!  This claustrophobic room was emptying.
Now I could move away from Sneezy into a seat someone had just vacated.

A few more minutes passed.  People shifted about, sipping their coffee, turning pages, or getting up to use the washroom. No one spoke. Two others were called away and now there were just 3 of us. Sneezy (who'd fallen back to sleep), and a woman sitting across from me, her head buried in her cell phone.

Impatiently I checked the time again. It was almost an hour now! Then a thought popped into my head. I wonder if we were all waiting for the same doctor?
Well, if that's the case, then I'm going home!  I don't feel like sitting around all day! Besides I was getting a little nervous about the whole procedure. This appointment was for cosmetic skin care -  not medical and I didn't have to be here. 
What if the doctor made a mistake on my face? Maybe I should just go home. 

What should I do? Get up and walk away? Or just ask? 
Should I ask the lady which doctor she's waiting for?
No, that would be rude and nosy. Besides, she might ignore me. Or tell me to mind my own business.
What about Sneezy/Sleepy? 
Forget it.

I shifted about in my chair, got up to refill my water glass, gazed at the door willing a nurse to materialize and call someone in. 
Nothing happened. 
Then I made up my mind. Really, what did I have to lose?

"Excuse me, are you waiting for Dr. K?
She looked up from her iPhone and answered. 

"Oh yes, and she's always late! But worth it. I've been seeing her for years.  She's so compassionate and does a good job. She knows what she's doing and takes good care of you."
"Oh!" I felt better immediately. "Thank you for telling me that."

Just then Sneezy/Sleepy woke up. 
"I'm just waiting for my wife," he said in response to my questioning look.

Whew!  Well then, I guess it's not so bad, I could wait a bit longer. 
Ms. Cell phone and I began to chat - then something strange happened.  I felt good, I felt fine, I was not grouchy or impatient. 
We laughed.  Even Sneezy/Sleepy joined in.

Ms. Cell phone was called in for her appointment.
SS and I continued our conversation. Turns out he lives not far from my son.  And his children are attending university close by. My goodness we had something to chat about!  Then all of a sudden Ms. Cell phone was waving goodby as she passed the waiting room to head out. 
It was my turn!
But I was having fun - I wanted to stay and chat. 

Wow - who would have thought? Just the simple act of  reaching out and talking to someone had the power to change the whole situation. 
Changed the energy in that room.  A lesson? You could say that.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Switching the Old for the New

It's been a while  - and I've been busy.
Back in my "old" home, making it new.
It's been 16 months since my return.  A year and a bit of reacquainting myself with my home while enthusiastically discovering all the changes a neighbourhood naturally goes through in the 3 1/2 years, I'd been gone.
I told myself to wait a year.  A full year getting my bearings back, enjoying my space once again, before taking on any renovations.
Ha! That certainly didn't happen!

Two months after my return I hired an electrician to replace a faulty electrical panel. Then I found mice in my kitchen cupboards! Yuk! I immediately hired Skeddadle - a humane wildlife control company (not an exterminator).  Their way of fixing the problem was to seal up the outside of my house, so mice could not enter.  So far so good.

Then, come spring, I decided I'd had quite enough of my awful-looking grungy garage floor.
It was time to do something about it.
I called a local contractor to pop by for an estimate. He and his crew advised that the best course of action would be to break up the existing floor and pour a new concrete floor.

Mulling that over (did I really want the mess and noise and expense of that?  I thought they could just resurface the old one), I figured they knew what they were doing and since a cement truck would be here anyway, why not pour me a new front porch?

The old one was starting to crumble with age. And should really be extended right to the siding on the house. There was nothing but a patch of dirt (to the right of the door facing it), where nothing would grow because of lack of sunlight.

It was a huge project, as the stone front walk needed to be repaired. I also had a new pathway constructed around the side of the house.  Well, as long as the contractor was here, had the supplies, might as well get everything done at once!  This was back in May of this year.

Looks like summer now - and this is my new front porch.  With new wider front steps.
Oh, and did I mention that I thought I'd replace the front door?
The old one was made of wood - yes very sturdy but rattled in the wind and let in the cold air. I'd had several handy-men in to see if they could make it fit better, change the hardware, but nothing worked, so I did my research, got in a few estimates and made up my mind.

I hired a reputable "door and window" company to replace the double door with a single one and 2 side panels. Lots of glass for letting in light and the decorative metal for a bit of privacy (you have to really put your face to the glass to peek in) and to make it look fancy.

I'm very happy with the results!

Yes, there are still more renos to tackle, but for now, I'm just enjoying my comfy home.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Deep Freeze

We're in the middle of a deep freeze.  Minus 25 Celsius today. Yesterday I bought spring flowers to brighten up my windowsill and lift my spirits.  Spring will come, but not today.
Basking in the sunlight - at least the sun is bright today - tulips are happy!
Still sleeping
Wake up, Baby Daffodil and meet your family.
Already open and curious to see the world
"One day, you'll grow up to be just like me!"

Should be a little warmer by Monday.  Whew! What's it doing in your part of the world?

Sunday, January 10, 2016

What do you see?

We've had an unseasonably warm winter this year.  But considering the severity and harshness of the past two, we were due for a mild, balmy winter.

I missed walking out on my back deck these last few years, but now I'm back  -  and even though it's winter,  the first thing I do early mornings, is step out, coffee cup in hand, breathe in the fresh air and have a look around.  

Anything new happen overnight in my backyard?  The neighbours? Not usually.  Unless it's early spring or summer - and then there's always something new in the garden! 

Yes, snow on the ground, but not much.  Icicles hanging, dripping from the roof. Everything quiet.  The quiet that comes with heavy clouds which seem to mute all sound.  
But what's that on my garden shed?

There is a Christmas wreath on the door, but what's that water mark?
I'd love to hear your comments.  And then I'll tell you what I thought it looked like!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Full Circle

I'm back.
Back in my old home.

It's been quite a journey.

After my dear hubby passed away in 2010, I waited the requisite year and sold our home.  It was just too much for me to look after on my own. As well,  I wanted to live closer to my children, so thought a move would be a good plan.

It was not.  Oh I learned a lot - good things and bad.

The good was I learned to stand strong on my own two feet; to weather life's storms.  Not always easy, but you quickly figure out it's either sink or swim.  Packing up 3 houses (well 1 condo and 2 houses) to move is not for the faint of heart, but I learned to keep going - to sort, to pack, to clean and keep looking forward.

I learned a lot about renovations.  Not my idea of fun, but totally necessary if you choose to be a homeowner. "My choice", I kept reminding myself as I went from one home to another.  I did not want to fall down that slippery slope of depression or get caught in a trap of feeling sorry for myself.

The bad was that I felt in a constant state of upheaval. I had to "let go" of a lot of possessions. House stuff did not fit condo stuff.  Condo stuff did not fit house stuff.
Initially, I thought that by changing furniture, homes, etc. my grief would mysteriously disappear.
Well guess what?  It doesn't work that way (gee, ya think?).
I thought a fresh start would do me good. But all I longed for was my old home.

I was not happy living in the condo.

The good was that my living room window faced the lake - a rich and beautiful spot! Early mornings I'd sit with my coffee and watch as kayakers skimmed the waves, arms weaving figure-eights with each strong stroke.  The gentle presence of geese gliding over the water or ducks bobbing and paddling soothed my soul.  

Herons became fascinating subjects as I learned to capture their long legs, their stillness, (and if I was lucky) a fish spearing moment - all with my video camera.  I watched in awe as a huge flock of ducks swirled around and around before coming in for a landing on the lake's surface.  Never had I seen that before.  

Nor had I seen a beaver up close - they really do have huge rather frightening-looking front teeth. Or a fox slinking along the riverbank as if hugging the shore for protection. Funny, I thought foxes only lived in the woods. 

The bad was not liking condo living - at all.

So when my lease was up, I moved.  Into a house, closer to my old one.  I was not happy in that house either.  The neighbourhood was very different.  Oh there were good things and bad.

The good - I was back in the country.  I took many pictures of ducks and geese on the pond near my house. There were farms close by and I took the opportunity of snapping lots of horses and a big fat pig. I walked miles and miles and miles.

The bad - I was still missing my old house.  I missed the bay window in my sunny south-facing kitchen, where David and I would watch chickadees in the hedge or hummingbirds at the feeder. I missed the space - lots of space to turn around, to breathe, to wander from room to room and just absorb the good feelings in our home.

I missed the neighbours - people I had known for years.  People who smiled and waved and shared coffee and stories and garden tools. My next door neighbour had caulked my shower stall and done minor repairs to make my house presentable before I put it on the market.  I had locked myself out one afternoon, and Mr. Neighbour obligingly hoisted a ladder to an upstairs window, where he could clamber up into my house and unlock the front door.  Was my face red! But it didn't really matter. Neighbours help each other out. I left a basket of freshly baked butter tarts on their front porch the next day, as a thank-you.

This new house did not feel right - at all. I felt like I didn't belong here. The former owners were very neglectful of their home - and it became more and more evident as I tackled each renovation (and spent a lot more money that I had planned). 

So after 2 years in that house I decided to do something about it.  I still was not happy - it did not feel right and I didn't think it ever would.

My old home had been on the market for the past year or more.  Could I?  Could I move back?  But wouldn't that be moving backwards in life?  Rather than moving ahead? And how much more money would I lose by buying, renovating and selling?  Land transfer taxes and notary fees? Moving costs and selling agent's fees? Was I crazy?

I argued, I flip-flopped. Go back to something safe and cozy?  Or forge ahead into something else?

Finally, I knew I had to stop vacillating. I had to at least have a look at my old home before coming to a decision. What if it was so different that I hated it?  What if it felt weird? Smelled weird? Had bad vibes or something?  Or maybe I'd fall in love with it once again.

I called a real estate agent to book a visit.

At first I was hesitant.  The "new owners" had made changes I didn't like.  Well, it was their house - they could do what they wanted. Walls were painted blah colours, light fixtures were changed.  My beloved rose and green tiffany lamp (overhead in the kitchen) was gone!  My lovely sage curtains in the family room, sheers in the dining room, and forest green panels in the living room were all gone - replaced by boring wooden blinds.  Yuk!  If they didn't want them, then why didn't they tell me?  I'd have taken them with me.  

But Life has other ideas and we move on.

I stepped out into the back yard.  Where was the cedar hedge? The one surrounding our deck that chickadees used as their playground? They'd taken it down - completely!  Yikes!  Then I looked up into the branches of  Grandfather Oak - way up.  What happened to his branches? They were trimmed beyond repair.  Quickly I turned to look for Lady.  They wouldn't erase her elegant branches, would they?  Yup. She didn't even look the same.  Those graceful leafy fingers that kept us cool by stirring the breezes on hot summer days were mere stumps. Slashed down to the trunk.

I was crushed. How could I even consider moving back here? Everything was so different. Well, not everything.

One month later, I moved back Home - where I belong.