Wednesday, December 12, 2018

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree

I stumbled across this photo shoot one morning as I was walking the beach (in Naples, Florida last month). From far away, all I could see was a Christmas tree growing out of the sand.

Eeks, Christmas already?  But it's summer! Hot, hot, hot. Bathing suit weather. Flip-flops and sunscreen. I had to remember that it was winter back home. And winter here in Florida - just different climates.

As I got closer I realized it was a photo shoot. Not a school play or party or something. I really didn't have a clue when I first spotted that tree so close to the water's edge.
Now it was clear that this family was making a personalized greeting card.  How sweet. Christmas on the beach.
I wasn't sure how they felt about me taking a pic so I waited a bit to see if anybody looked my way.
Nobody paid me any heed. The photographer was busy calling out instructions to the little boy and the mother was watching closely while jostling a toddler on her hip.

Fifth Avenue in downtown Naples. Everything was beautifully decorated. Here's Frosty waiting for snow (ha ha, that won't happen)

Santa must be hot in that outfit! It was about 85F or 29C that evening

Palm trees aglow all up and down the streets. They sure look strange to my eyes.  But oh so nice!


Saturday, December 1, 2018

A Visit to the Cemetery

It was mid-October and we were on our way to the Halloween Store.  Nine-year-old Grandson was looking for a specific costume and Mom said it was OK for us to buy it. 

We were greeted by a green monster towering over the store entrance. Spider webs coated the walls, sinister clowns popped out from dark corners, and it seemed that every aisle held rows of face paint, glitter and freaky masks, just in case you hadn't noticed them earlier. 

There were rather ghoulish hands dripping fake blood, horrible witch masks covered in warts and frightening looking mummies, bandages coming undone. I'm glad the grands are old enough to know it's all for show; most of it was rather distasteful to my eyes.

We did not find the longed for costume (don't ask me which one, it's from a TV show or something). Eleven-going-on-twelve-year-old Granddaughter told me she would make her own costume and it was to be a surprise! No hints!

On our way home, Granddaughter asked if we could visit the cemetery, where her great-grandparents were buried.  As it was a mild and pleasant day and I was in no hurry to get the children back home, I agreed. Besides, they'd been asking for ages and it never seemed to be the right time, or it was too cold, rainy, snowy, whatever...

I parked the car close to the spot and we walked among the headstones towards my parents grave. The children were entranced. I don't think they'd ever been in a cemetery before. It was all new to them and different than whatever they'd seen on TV.  This was real.

Nathan commented on the abundance of flowers embellishing certain graves and how others looked so barren. Jasmine was interested in reading the info on the stones. 
"Oh my goodness, this person died way way before my Mom was born!  Maybe even you, Grandma and you're old!"  I had to laugh. 

I let them explore and eventually we came to my parents grave. They had been cremated and their ashes buried together (way back in 1998). 

"Where are the flowers?" Nathan looked at me curiously. 
"Um, well, I haven't been here in quite a long time."  Actually it had been years. 
"Can I take some from this grave (he pointed to one nearby) and give it to Great Grandma and Grandpa?"  

Eeks! I was horrified, but calmly replied "No, that's not very nice. We don't do that."
"But they have lots and lots of flowers!" Couldn't argue with a child's logic, but it just didn't seem right.
"Tell you what, we'll look in the woods over there and pick one for your great grandparents."
So off we went in search of a wildflower or two. 

We happened to pass some metal plaques lying flat in the ground. Some were so old the writing had worn off; others marked the final resting place of soldiers, who had fought overseas.
"Oh, can I step on those?"
"NO!  Sorry Nate, but that's not a respectable thing to do."
"Well, why not? They're dead."  Hmmm. How on earth to explain to a little boy.
"Let's just find some flowers."

Anxious to get back on track, I hurried them along. We found some pretty blue flowers growing amongst the dead leaves and milkweed pods and were on our way back when little Nate noticed that some people had made arrangements of stones on their loved ones graves. 
"Can we take some of these stones for Great Grandpa and Grandma?"

"No, we can't do that!  It's almost like stealing." Well, it wasn't really, but I couldn't think of anything else to say and I'd grown tired of the "it's not nice" refrain.
He nodded his head, but I could see he wasn't completely convinced.

"I'm sure we can find a stone or two and perhaps next time we come out here we'll bring a candle and whatever you think Great Grandpa and Grandma would like."
"A soccer ball? I think Great Grandpa might want to play soccer. And Great Grandma might want a garden."
"Oh, I think the flowers will cover the garden part, but very kind of you, Nathan."

Finally we were back at the grave. Jasmine arranged the wildflowers solemnly on the headstone. Nathan pulled out the smooth rock he had found in the dirt and carefully wiped it clean on the adjacent headstone before I could stop him.
He then placed it respectfully on his Great Grandparents grave. 
I didn't say a word - at this point I'd given up.

But I'll bet my parents, being down-to-earth and practical in their lifetime, must have been rolling over with laughter just about now.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Buddha Holding Up The Earth... the name of this Qi Gong pose. 

Standing at the shore as the sun slips towards the horizon and waves lick at my toes evokes within a sense of peace. 
Immersed in the power of sea and sky, I had no idea that my good friend Connie was taking my pic. Thank you Connie!

Naples, Florida. I'm here for a couple of weeks vacation. A time to escape the beginnings of winter back home in Canada. Friends come to stay for a few days and we have fun.

We visited the Botanical Gardens, shopped, ate the freshest seafood you can imagine and swam in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. I saw a small pod of dolphins one morning as I was sitting in the sand on my beach towel.

I jumped up in excitement and for a better view. Fins surfaced and dove, surfaced and dove, rhythmic in nature, perfect in synchronicity.  I watched in fascination and willed them closer to shore.

Well, it certainly wasn't me; must have been something (food?) that drew them closer. A little more, a little more, and in a flash I was in the water, swimming out to the sandbar where I could stand up and watch.  I was hoping I'd end up in their midst. These playful creatures only live for joy, so it seems.

They came close - about 10 feet I think. They did not circle around me as I'd hoped, but glided away towards a group of about 12 swimmers who were at the far end of the sandbar, shouting and pointing.

I have lots to tell when I get home.
Happy Thanksgiving to my American neighbours.
Hope wherever you are in your part of the world, it's not too cold and wet; November can be a damp month.

Friday, July 13, 2018


Mid-July already and this post was supposed to be for June. 

I was walking over my front lawn a few weeks ago and noticed wild strawberries growing in the grass. 

Brought back memories of childhood, of pinching sweet berries between our young fingers and stuffing them into our mouths. Returning home later in the day, hands and faces stained red. 

I wondered if the birds or chipmunks would feast on these. It's a busy, happy time of year, as we are blessed with an abundance of seeds, acorns, berries everywhere we look.

I love summer!

Enjoy the season. Enjoy the warmth and sunshine, the gentle rains and long days. Enjoy the many gifts nature brings to your doorstep. 


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Only in Montreal... we have an ice storm one week and spring/summer weather the next! Finally my crocuses are blooming! Daffodils are not far behind.

Only in Montreal......
do we hear 3 different languages spoken in the same 5 - 10 minute conversation.

I was in the changing room after my Aquafit class this afternoon. It was a fun class as usual. This time the instructor had us kicking our legs and thrusting arms to the rhythm of some old Country and Western songs which propelled me back to my high school days. Now some of these songs were just fine, but we thought ourselves too "cool" to actually enjoy this kind of music. The Beatles ruled back then. Plain and simple.

 Opening my locker I hauled my gym bag out and groped around for the container of body lotion, but came up with my water bottle instead. Might as well sit for a minute and re-hydrate. No rush. I'm retired. I closed my eyes for a minute and drank deeply. Hairdryers droned and I could hear water flowing from the showers a little further away. Locker doors banged cheerfully. Conversation flowed around me.

A change of rhythm, different intonation, foreign syllables, had me sitting up short. Who was speaking Arabic? I opened my eyes, but the two Middle Eastern ladies were changing at another set of lockers.  I listened for a minute or two enjoying the rhythm of their voices, the pattern of their speech, secretly hoping I could decipher what they were saying (as if).

Then one of them switched over to English. They were talking about aches and pains. Oh. Rather boring. I tuned out and went on with the necessary business of putting my clothes on.

About 30 seconds later, these same two ladies switched over to French. Well, it's not unusual for people to do that here. Start a conversation in French and then continue in English, or the other way around. Or one person speaks English and the other answers in French.

We hear so many languages spoken on the streets of Montreal it shouldn't be surprising, but it struck me as funny to hear 3 different languages in one short conversation.

I wonder if the ladies involved noticed.

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!