I hope I never lose my sense of wonder. If that makes me naive, then so be it.

Saturday, 29 December 2007

merry merry

"I was making rather merry yesterday, sir." (Bob Cratchit)

Christmas has come and gone, the kids now out playing in last night's new snow. The gifts were not as numerous as in past years, but that didn't matter. The time with family was key this year, with Dad and Mom staying here for a week and back-and-forth visits with Bee and family. Guests Serendipity and family for Christmas dinner and Boxing Day brunch was an awesome addition.

R and A were so excited about their gifts - real compound bows to use at next summer's archery lessons (though there have been a few outings to practice with Daddy, and much fun was had there). M squealed when she opened her My Little Pony sets.. The girls gave me a gallon of paint and a coupon for help from three little painters, to finish our bedroom. Their own idea and I was pleased with the practicality as well as the thoughtfulness. D once again established his position as fashionista for me, picking up a few awesome items that fit and looked great. How does he do it? For a big hockey player/hunter kind of guy, he does awfully well at it. I was duly impressed.

The week since has consisted of days with the kids playing with toys (and weapons, counting the bows!), hanging out with Dad & Mom, and just sort of enjoying the kind of week that has very little responsibility and even less schedule. It's nice to sit and think, "what day is it, again?". I do enjoy those weeks.

Friday, 21 December 2007


December 21st. Four more days. A bit of wrapping to do. Groceries to buy before the weekend in which I do not want to set foot into a store. Tidying up the office that is our occasional guest room in preparation for Dad & Mom's arrival on Monday. A few gift baskets to make and some cookies to make with the kids today. Tonight, D & I are having an evening out, probably just shopping and snacks at a pub, but a bit of us time that will be nice.

The girls finished school yesterday and M has been announcing all morning that as there is no school she has an important job to do, playing with her Barbies. A meanwhile decided that Willow the hamster needed some exercise and so I have been visited by her a few times. R is just enjoying a day with no responsibility.

The house is cozy, the music for church this week prepared and as of last night rehearsed. And today I was looking at the tree and thinking on the star, and a story referred to but not written down. So here is the story as I know it. Short, but it has reached almost legendary status in our family.

Christmas 1961: Dad and Mom's first year married. They were newlyweds, money was tight, but there was a tree to find a top for. Dad went out to the store and found one, and brought it home. Mom became quite upset on seeing how much money he had paid for it. How could he spend so much on just a tree star? Sure, it's pretty, but the money could be used on other things! But just look at it - all silver glitter, lit up from inside, "with sparkling halo effect!" the box triumphantly declares. So pretty! So much money! Even so, the star was kept and continued to grace their tree for years to come. Last year when they downsized and moved into an apartment, it came to my house and took its place on our tree. It spent 45 years on their trees and now is in our house for the second year.
The box still bears the price sticker: $2.50.

I emailed my dad this week and asked him if he could remember why he chose that particular one, why he, who has always been in my mind careful with money, would put out such a scandalous amount of cash for it. His response: "It being our first Christmas, I was probably still so awestruck by your mother's beauty that I wanted something really beautiful to complement her." I love that he would say that after 46+ years of marriage.

So the star sits on our tree. If it could talk, what stories it would have to tell! Four more days until it has tales of another Christmas.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

found and built

School was fun yesterday, interrupted by sighting an evening grosbeak at the feeder. It's so odd to see something other than bluejays, sparrows and chickadees in the winter that we stopped lessons to watch the flashes of yellow as the male and female scouted for seeds before flying away.

We did have shear bolts, and so by installing a bolt that was about 2 inches long and 1/4 inch in diameter, the whole snow blower was working again. Yay! I felt a real sense of accomplishment at that, though it's really the extent of my tractor repairing abilities. No trip to the dealer needed, I stayed home and finished some snow clearing until the Snowman family arrived for gingerbread house time.

The kids had a ball, many sugar highs were in the making, and the end result was cute houses, happy kids, and a nice visit for the moms. I have a feeling the houses aren't up to code, but I do think that marshmallow roofing is an idea whose time has come.

It's hard to believe that Christmas is less than a week away. I think it's because I did finish a lot early. I don't say that to brag, but simply because while the older girls were at JPP, I spent some days shopping with M that I wouldn't otherwise have had, and as a result that bit of craziness was done early. This week will be some Christmas food make-aheads, planning two Sunday services and the Christmas Eve music, finishing school, and taking some time to enjoy the season. I'm enjoying not being in malls right now. Maybe that's why it feels so calm; I'm not rushing around in that insanity.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007


Ottawa's biggest storm in ages, and our first real snowstorm on the farm. They say 37cm fell, but the wind made a huge difference. The creek is bare ice in some parts with no snow cover to speak of, while the drifts in this picture are over 3 feet high. Capricious is a good word for it, with the wind being a sculptor again, but almost with a sense of whimsy as the drifts curl and curve around large things (barns) or the tiniest stick poking out of the snow. It's lovely.
But for the 'oops': today will be a search for a shear bolt for the tractor's snow blower. Hooray!

I was clearing out the drifts in the driveway in the aftermath of Monday's huge storm, and a fist-sized rock got into the blower. These tractor implements work from a shaft that spins at 540rpm, so something getting in the works could wreck the machinery if not for these nifty little things called shear bolts, whose main purpose in life is to break. If something messes up the works, the bolt breaks and keeps the 540rpm from trying to turn the rest of the implement. Smart idea. But now I have to see if (a) we have a 1/4" hex bolt thingy on hand, or (b) if the tractor store hasn't yet closed for Christmas break and I can drive 1/2 hour to get a few.

I never knew a thing about shear bolts before I lived on a farm. The things you learn out here. Some are interesting, some sublime, and some, like this, necessary but really not all that exciting.

The girls had a realization yesterday when I announced that there was a certain amount of work I had planned to finish by Friday, and that once that work was done there would not be new work added before Christmas break. They put two and two together and figured out that a day of no school on Friday might just be possible. There's motivation for you! A final chapter in their history book was begged for (really, how can I refuse three little girls saying "please, Mom, we want to hear about the fall of the Roman Empire!"?) and Rome was accordingly done away with. Today, barring drives to tractor stores, we are getting together with the Snowman family to decorate gingerbread houses.

Monday, 17 December 2007


Our weekend fit into so many classic Christmas stereotypes, it was funny.

Saturday we traipsed (love that word. Traipsing just sounds fun. Much better than merely going.) to a local Christmas tree farm where we rode on a wagon to the tree field, looked at many before finding what A dubbed 'the perfect tree' and cutting it down. Back to the main area we went, to sit by a huge bonfire sipping hot chocolate and watching the girls sled down the hill nearby. Home we went to put up the tree, then watched Elf as we ate chili for supper.

Sunday morning was the kids' Christmas program, performed for a surprising amount of people who braved the worst December snowstorm in decades. It started with the 3/4 year olds singing 'Away in a Manger' while Seren's gaffer stole the show by innocently stepping up to the mic and singing his sweet little heart out. Adorable. The kids sang, some played piano, others violin, and R&A did some highland dancing (well done!). Afterward we enjoyed cider and cookies, then set out for the trek home. Slow was the order of the day as Ottawa received 37cm (that sounds low from what I saw!) and strong winds that made visibility a questionable thing at best sometimes. The roads were pretty good (our road not plowed though) and we didn't get stuck until the last leg of our driveway, where the drifts were up over the wheel wells of the vehicles. Both car and truck got nicely stuck, but the walk to the house wasn't too far.

The wind in this storm was from the east, so the drifting was in an entirely new direction. Some drifted into our enclosed back entry, and I was laughing at snow drifts that were almost indoors. The chickens seemed nonplussed by it all, merely jumping down to peck the snow off my boots when R and I went to see how they fared.

In we went, built a fire, then D went out to snowblow the driveway for 3 hours. The early evening was spent sitting by the fire watching the Charlie Brown Christmas special. I think that one is my favorite. It's funny and sweet and the music is awesome and the story is just so simple and so good. And I always laugh at the way the kids dance.

Once that was finished we set about decorating the Christmas tree. The girls ask every year for the story of the star we have. They know the story but like to hear it. I always did too, I think. There's just something about opening the box of ornaments each year and recalling the stories that accompany most of them. We have some from my parents' early years together, so at 40+ years old they're antiques as ornaments go. We also have two special ones that D's mom had on her tree when she was a little girl, and a couple that are reminders of Josh. Others bring to mind our own family history, and it's a chance to remember and celebrate.

The tree done, the kids to bed, and between the tree lights and the firelight the house seemed a little more magical. The wind howled around the house, casting more drifts that we knew would have to be addressed today, but for the evening we were all snug and cozy.

Some stereotypes are kind of nice.

Thursday, 13 December 2007


cacophony - n. - chaotic noise, resulting from the girls' delight in every sample song on a keyboard, often playing two or more samples simultaneously.

Goaliemom graciously let us take home a keyboard that she would not be using. I was excited at the possibility of having a source to enter my music in MIDI format. Hooray! No longer will I have to enter my songs by clicking up and down on the staff in the music software. I can play it and have it wonderfully, instantly, show up. What a time saver it would be!

I forgot that every keyboard comes with a series of sample songs to show you the different sounds available. I also didn't realize that they could play more than one at once. So right now I'm hearing 80's-style TV show theme song-type music interspersed with some salsa thing that sounds like the Dora the Explorer song, and a banjo playing bluegrass. It is ... interesting. It's punctuated with cries of "ooh! Listen to this! Hey, how did you do that? Hahaha!" until the girls' speaking and laughing becomes like one more sample track in the mix. Oh, listen, flamenco guitar. Who knew?

It's loud, confusing, and somewhat endearing.

Meanwhile, I plan to escape downstairs to finish up some baking started last night. Florentines were being made at a dizzying rate, and stolen by D at a pace that was itself alarming. But he gets that little smile on his face when he steals them that makes me laugh, and oddly enough one seemed to break every time he walked by the cooling rack. Funny, that. Today is sandwich style cookies.

Oh, and band rehearsal tonight. George of the Jungle, here I come.

On the keyboard front, the Mexican salsa is being joined by waves on the seashore and a sax rock thingy, and birds chirping. It's like Salvador Dali does music.

Friday, 7 December 2007


The stuff hasn't gone away, but I feel more on top of it now. Sort of like when I'm down at the creek, by the pile of wood we have stacked (mostly dumped by the tractor bucket) and I walk on top of the 6-foot-high pile looking for likely candidates for the fire. I'm on top but I have to watch my step or I'll be in a hole up past my knees.

Last night was a marathon band rehearsal, working on Sunday's stuff (well, I listened to that as I'm away Sunday. I realized it's good for me to sit back and listen to the band without playing/singing. I hear more) and then pushing on to learn six songs for the kids' musical next weekend. They're cute little songs but I got the giggles when one part sounded an awful lot like the 'George of the Jungle' theme song. Well, not an awful lot. Exactly like. Drum beats, chords, everything. I couldn't stop laughing. Another one is Christmas carols to a Latin beat - also fun and kind of amusing.

The girls' costumes for today's JPP seemed to be a bust until they got a bit creative and so R is 'bike girl', all decked out in a cycling shirt, helmet, and my cycling glasses, and A is 'Christmas girl' complete with red cozy socks, Santa hat, and other decoration stuff. They've even made up some super powers that they have. Way to go, girls! M and I are home this morning but then will head in. We plan to finish up a few things here, though she ran for it when I wrote "tickle M" on the list. Time to go catch her.

After all, even when there's stuff to be done some things take precedence. Right now cuddling with a cute little girl who's wearing My Little Pony socks is high on the priority list.

Thursday, 6 December 2007


Today seems to be under the attack of 'stuff'.

There is much to do for tonight's rehearsal; charting songs for next week's kids' musical numbers will take some time. I'm not leading this week as the girls and I head out to visit goaliemom and hubby for a few days.

I need to pack for that, since tomorrow is basically a writeoff for work at home. Last day of JPP and we're invited to see the kids and meet the teachers in the afternoon. Dance class tomorrow night.

Tomorrow's JPP is a fun 'superhero day' where the kids get to dress up. Costume ... hmm. How will we swing that?

I have to decide about timing and place to record the theme song from the conference. I have vain hopes that it will be done before Christmas. Listening to some samples today. Quality would be good but speed is also a factor. Oh, yeah, and cost. Studio time is not cheap.

My head hurts; I think it's some residual from last night's migraine. I wonder if spending two hours with my feet facing the front of the tractor and my head looking at the back of the tractor?

Christmas decorations are spread here and there. Attempts to keep all orderly was disrupted by three little girls' excitement.

But inside me, under the stuff, I still am happy and looking forward to the holidays. Last night's addressing Christmas cards by the fire with Bing Crosby on the CD was a nice break. Well, until UFC came on. Not exactly peaceful.

The girls are up, M has happily gotten Willow the hamster out of her cage and tells me she's singing 'We Wish you a Merry Christmas', but the voice sounds oddly like M's.

On to the day and all its stuff.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

i do like it, i do, i do

Sort of 'I think I can', but after spending two hours plowing the driveway. Thank goodness for our tractor, clearing away 30cm of snow plus drifts. The power outlet for the snow blower is on the back of the tractor. So, that's two hours driving backwards. My neck is now, I'm sure, a chiropractor's dream. Or nightmare. But it's plowed and I still think it's pretty and I still love living in the country. Honestly.

The house has been warmed today by my oven making baked beans from scratch. A long process but well worth the result, especially on a day like this. The kids are just in from playing in the snow; a fire and warm supper awaits.

I have been pondering the strange beauty of snow drifts the past couple of days. They are so fluid, yet take on strange angles and have odd little cuts into them. The wind as sculptor - I love it.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007


Here it is, Tuesday. And I am indeed getting my comeuppance (who invented that word?) for complaining last year that winter was decidedly un-wintry. The earlier snow had no chance to leave before another 30cm came along, starting early yesterday morning. I'm not complaining yet. I am definitely liking it. Wait 'til February, then I'll be sick of it all. But I will definitely not be saying that winter is too slow coming this year!

The weekend was busy but all good. Friday R and A went to JPP and got back their history and science marks (R scoring A+ in both, A getting A's in both) and hearing glowing reports about them from their Creative Writing teacher. As their mom it's heartwarming to hear them so well spoken of, and as their teacher it's doubly good to hear their academics praised by another teacher. Next week is the last until next term. I've enjoyed the days one-on-one with M but I think the break will be good for us all. That and not driving downtown through the winter weather.

Saturday was the party for the band. It's nice to get together with no need to accomplish something rehearsal-wise. I had a ball making lots of fancy little fussy goodies. Everything came together well. I'm writing it here so next year I can remember just what the heck I did:
- sweet & sour meatballs
- satay beef with Thai peanut sauce
- mini phyllo cups filled with Greek salad - cucumbers, onion, tomato, olive, capers in a vinaigrette
- broiled shrimp with two sauces: Cajun mayo and raspberry horseradish (thanks to Goaliemom)
- endive leaves piped full of a cream cheese/sundried tomato pesto mixture
- phyllo triangles filled with brie, green apples, walnuts and shallots
- crescent canapes, made from biscuit dough covered with cream cheese/horseradish and fresh veggies
- stuffed mushrooms
A big pot of wassail (sort of a hot mulled cider) simmering on the stove was also a big hit. Everyone brought desserts or drinks and we had a fun evening together. Silly me took no photos at all. *sigh* I didn't get the whole house decorated but used some natural materials to make it pretty. I filled one large bowl with fresh-cut cedar, apples and oranges, and another with cedar, cinnamon sticks and one Christmas ornament. Not too bad, and that sort of decorating seems to suit the old farmhouse.

Sunday was church, then in the evening we headed to a local seniors' home to provide music for their Christmas service. We led a few carols and I brought in some special guests: violinist Snowman and her brother, and R, A, & M. Between the kids on violins and the girls singing a couple of songs, I'm not sure the rest of us needed to show up! I think the folks really enjoyed what we played/sang for them.

Yesterday we enjoyed the snowstorm from the comfort and safety of our house, and the girls realized a drawback of homeschooling: school doesn't get cancelled in bad weather. Cut short to allow for play time, perhaps, but not nixed. Tonight we plan to head to Seren's for dinner for much food and conversation and laughs.

The farm looks pretty but the barns seem more lonely - except the chicken coop, where the hens are glad for their heat lamp. The rest of the buildings, though, are dark and lifeless. When will we change that? Sometimes it feels so far away. I stood out last night in the wind and snow, looking and them and thinking how forlorn they looked. Someday ...

Wednesday, 28 November 2007


This place is so pretty under a white blanket. I know I'll be longing for the lush green again before the winter's out, but it's all so pretty with a new cover laid down last night. The girls are itching to get out and make footprints all over the pristine lawn. I am thinking, not so much itching, that I need to get the snow chains on the tractor and hook up the snow blower attachment.

The birds are excitedly hopping around the suet and seed we put out, and are proving a huge distraction to lessons - but are in themselves an opportunity to learn, so I try to keep some semblance of focus with the girls but can understand the gazes shifting from paper and French lessons to the chickadees and blue jays who arrive for the feast. The verb conjugation just can't compete.

But what is learning if only confined to books? Sure, some things must be read about. Case in point: R and A are both enjoying reading about Alexander the Great right now, and since a trip to Asia Minor and ancient Macedonia is not in the cards, books are our best bet.

Much as we want certain academic standards, one very important goal in our home schooling is for the girls to love learning, to ask 'why?' and know how to find answers, to appreciate and be thankful for the things of life that we too often overlook. So much can be learned by patient observation. So some days, I chuck the lesson plan so we can get out and experience life, not just read about it.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

clubs and parties and engagements, oh my!

Clubs: I spent a couple of hours on Sunday night going way out of my usual zone, heading downtown to a nightclub by myself (mucho thanks to D for watching the girlies so I could do this) to see uber-drummer and his band play a set. So I walked into Zaphod's feeling decidedly out of my element, chuckling at how non-homeschool-mom-ish it was, and how I didn't know anyone there, and how much older I was than everyone I saw. And then he saw me and came over, big hug, he was so glad I came out and all smiles, I think a bit surprised I came, and I decided: this was so worth coming. To have someone genuinely glad to see me, not because they need me to do something, but just because I'm there. To show him he's valued and loved. They then proceeded to rock the house - very well-done, very tight, original music though heavier than my usual listening fare. But as a musician I could definitely appreciate the talent the guys have.

Parties: This Saturday night we're hosting the gang from the Sunday morning crew (band, sound, & media) and spouses here for a 'do. I'm having fun this week making appetizers, finally using all these elegant little recipes I have collected and not been able to use. Last night I played with phyllo dough (brie, grannysmith apples, shallots and walnuts. Wow.) and today is Asian dumplings and meatballs for the freezer. I do love to play in my teensy little kitchen.

Engagements: Dear nephew Bean is engaged. To a lovely girl who is a perfect match for him in so many ways. Our families will celebrate their marriage next summer. The girls are ecstatic, D and I are so happy that this special guys has found such a great girl.

So happy. And yet my thoughts jump from there to J. Maybe they were already there (first snow of the winter always takes me there), but I'm sure the leap would have been made anyway. I don't want in any way to diminish how wonderful this is for them. It is precious to find that one who becomes your friend, your partner through life, and so much more.

Thursday, 22 November 2007


I'm almost done A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. It's one of a series of classics I've been going through, including Notre Dame de Paris (Victor Hugo) and Silas Marner (George Eliot). It's good. Very good. I've always liked Dickens's writing, Great Expectations, A Christmas Carol, and Pickwick Papers being my favorites. Tale has a shadow hanging over the story - one of those stories where the foreshadowing is helped along by one's knowledge of history. The characters are in Paris in 1792, not exactly a safe haven. And I think I can see a nasty but noble end in store for one Mr. Carton.

Dickens can tend strongly toward the over-melodramatic (case in point: The Old Curiosity Shop) but his characterizations are wonderful. From Mr. Jingle to Miss Havisham, the Dodger to Scrooge, Joe Gargery to Pickwick, they are enjoyable to read. Some, true enough, are quite the caricatures, but they are fun nonetheless.

I do love to re-read an old book. It's like visiting with a good friend. You already know them, but each time you visit you find out a little something else. Maybe it's something new about them that you'd not noticed before; maybe something they say reflects on your own life in a new way. Or you can just sit, and be.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

baby, it's white outside

There's something about waking up to an unexpected snowfall. No idea it was coming and more is, apparently, on the way tonight. I woke to hear D saying 'whoa, it's a good thing I got the snow tires put on yesterday' and looked out my window at a true Winter Wonderland. Well, no sleighbells ringing, but the scene was picture perfect.

The fields, browned and mangy looking only yesterday, were pristine. The fences were outlined in white and every branch was carefully balancing an inch of snow. All was grey and white, except that the evergreens looked very smug, as if to say they had gotten the memo about the monochrome color scheme but wanted nothing to do with it. They still bore the snow on their broad shoulders, but insisted on adding color to it all. It was peaceful, that sort of hush that only comes on a snowy day.

The girls underwent that sublime change from half-asleep to wide-eyed and wide-mouthed as I woke them and pointed out the window. I think M and A were ready to go out and play, jammies or not. A visit to a friend's new home later resulted in the construction of the winter's first snowman. He was pretty dingy thanks to their still-dirt yard, but a snowman it was.

The dogs seemed to be puppies again as they jumped for snowballs, while the chickens stuck out their heads, pecked at the snow, but refused to set a toe outside. Wonder what they'd so if I just carried them out and dropped them in it?

And more on the way. Tonight I shall curl up with a book (almost through A Tale of Two Cities. The best of times, worst of times and all that).

Monday, 19 November 2007

15 ... nah

I feel like I'm poking my head out of a foxhole to see if the shooting has stopped. All quiet on our front, apparently. Now I just have to clean up after it all.

The conference went well and was another reminder of how humbling leading 750 people in singing can be. Wow. These people, out there on the front lines, all together singing and hearing them was awe-inspiring. It was one of those glimpses of heaven - people of all different backgrounds, from all across the country, united. Wow. And me, I was thinking, "ok, God, You just keep amazing me". It was exhausting, exciting, exhilarating, but above all it was ... what adjective? Awesome. In the literal I-am-awed sense. It wasn't reliant on me. It's good to remember that.

The song I had written was likewise warmly received and people really seemed to connect with it. I now have to find a way to make it available to the many people who asked for it. Again, humbling and awesome. Surreal to hear so many people sing something that came out of my time at my piano (and driving with goaliemom!).

Saturday, we went into town and helped with the final setup for the Santa Claus parade. A team of very dedicated people had been there since early in the morning setting up a couple of floats and our church's van and fun cruiser, which were prepped to hand out hot chocolate and goodies along the route. We arrived mid-afternoon, along with Bee, in time to finish up the sound system setup and the last few lights. A group of four of us sang on the float - very fun. My voice was kind enough to join us for the day. My left eye, meanwhile, had decided to get infected and be all itchy and red. Good thing the parade was after dark or I might have frightened the children. It's fun to just go along, smiling and waving at families. The singing was a bonus.

Yesterday, the cold hit D full force. I think he had managed to stave off the worst of it but spent yesterday afternoon sleeping, then was up for a few hours before heading back to bed for the night.

This week I have hopes of thing getting back to the usual routine. This afternoon is spent digging holes for tomorrow's septic tank pumping (note to self: CLOSE WINDOWS), a few other things in the offing, but we're mostly back to normal.

Whatever that is.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007


And now I share what I have learned since blog #151. This could get real dull, real fast. Funny thing is, I do learn things from the little mundanities (I have no idea if it's a word. It should be. The mundane things of life. I'd better call Oxford and tell them I have a new entry for them) of life. Who knows when they will present themselves at your doorstep, waiting for you to decide whether you will ignore them and step over them in the pursuit of your day, or sit with them a while and learn something?

I've had no choice but to sit with the little guys this past week. I've been an annoying sort of sick. Not enough to make me feel justified in doing nothing and sleeping all day, but enough that my voice was disappearing fast. Typically, that's not a huge deal. The week before a nationwide conference at which I'm slated to lead the singing, it's frightening. Thursday it was fading, so on Friday I went on a self-imposed ban on talking and whispering. It was one big game of charades at our house, and the kids loved it. I felt like an idiot, knowing I had the ability to speak but writing notes or waving my arms around to try to salvage my poor vocal chords.

Saturday was more of the same, and while I felt dumb in every sense of the word D was kind and a huge help but amused. Sunday morning I talked, sang nothing, and then the ban was back on Sunday afternoon. Last night's rehearsal was where the mundanities started showing me things. They reminded me that I'm expendable. While it might be nice to be irreplaceable, there's also some serious pressure in that. The amazing band crew came to the rescue and we planned possible other leaders to songs I had planned to lead. This morning I was reminded during my study time that God's pleasure in me is not reliant on my performance. Even when my abilities fail, the love is still there.

Little M was love in action on Saturday afternoon. I had gone to sleep for a bit, and woke on my bed to hear little elfin footsteps go across the room, then a slight rustling, then back out of the room. Back and forth, back and forth went the tiny tread. I opened my eyes to hear her whisper "no, Mommy! Go back to sleep!" I obliged, curious but still tired. Then I heard a wee voice from the door say "one, two, three!" and the lights were turned on, and the door closed. I sat up to see what she had done. There was my room, transformed as only a seven-year-old can do it. Pieces of looseleaf, cut to resemble crude snowflakes, adorned my bed, the shelf, the dresser. A Lego robot hung in the window (??) and a whole herd of My Little Ponies stood on the chest at the end of the bed, looking at me. My slippers had been placed beside the bed and on the floor, her socks and a scarf made a little happy face.

Was it practical? No. I cleaned up most of it later. Was it loving, did it warm my heart, make me feel better in a way nothing else could? Absolutely.

The conference starts tomorrow and while I continue to keep talking to a miniumum, hope and pray that my voice returns, continue to drink hot lemon and honey, take vitamin C by the handful, and plan to pick up some serious medication to get me through the week, I know all is not lost and I am valuable and I am loved even if I don't sing a note.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007


This is my 151st blog. I started in January feeling a little pretentious to be putting my thoughts 'out there', but have really enjoyed getting things down and connecting online. I've also found out a few things.

I like my simple, kind-of-dull and yet fun-in-itself life. I know many women don't have the freedom to do what I do, to stay home and not have to go to a job and bring home a paycheque. I appreciate this part of my life. I don't mind that my job is that of being a wife and a mom. If that was all that defined who I was, it would be enough. There is the musician, the wannabe farmer, the occasional reluctant mini-triathlete, but I am content and pleased to be my husband's wife and my kids' mom. That I get to be that and so much more is a bonus. I hope I never take it for granted.

I can miss someone and still have joy in my life. The missing isn't cheapened by it, but in a way that I can't fathom, it is enriched by the joy. Sad smiles are still smiles, and more poignant ones at that.

For all the crazy things that happen at our farm, I don't want to ever move back to suburbia. The conveniences aren't worth it in my book. We are so much closer to nature here and have become more 'green' than I would have with a disconnect from the reality of the environment. I wouldn't call myself a crusader, but when I see directly how little ecosystems work together and the diversity of life, I get more determined to do my little part. We're sort of accidental organic farmers. Is there such a thing? I think we're becoming it. The thought of spraying stuff on our fields does not appeal when I see the meadowlarks and bobolinks flit around over their nests, when I watch the girls run happily through the grass.

God is good. I overlook it, I forget it. But He stays the same. Thank goodness His constancy isn't dependant upon mine.

I don't think I'll ever do a month of trying to start all my titles with "in" again. Well, maybe. It was kinda fun.

Friday, 2 November 2007

deep conversation

Last night was band practice, the typical busyness of a Thursday night. After the gang had gone home, the girls were in bed and the dust had cleared, I had a good chance to sit and talk with Goaliemom, who has been staying with us since Monday and has the audacity to go and leave us today. The talk was of many things but ended up 'in Rome', as we call it. We talked about life and loss and grief and had two interesting observations.

One: that in the cultures and times in which grief is expressed very vocally and obviously (think of wailing, wearing black, etc), there is a certain health which goes beyond our 21st-century North American 'get over it' mentality. Someone who pushes down the grief and puts on a good front is "being so strong" or being healthy and "having closure". But at what price? Yes, we do work through things and in some ways we find a new normal, since there is no getting back to the normal we had before. But sometimes it just isn't tidy and it certainly doesn't happen in as short a time as people seem to think. Sometimes you walk through the woods and end up right back in a place you thought you had left long ago - it's like that with loss. You think you may have dealt with something, and then - wham - you get smacked with it again. All roads lead to Rome.

Two: that sometimes to grieve and work through things, we need to be alone. So often we worry that people who have lost someone shouldn't be alone. And while there is a time for support and being there for someone, there is a process through which we can only go in solitude. There is a nakedness of the soul that only comes when one is alone, and that nakedness is where we can truly, in a real and raw way, work through things. Yell at God. Cry. Ask questions that have no answers, but still demand to be asked. Then ask them again.

Thanks for the talk, GM.

Monday, 29 October 2007


It's not such an early morning, but the sun is not yet up, D gone to work and the girls still asleep - but it feels early in the quiet. There is frost on the fields but our little house is cozy, a welcome change from yesterday, when our furnace wouldn't start until the technician came out and fixed a few things.

Last night was spent in a way I love, a simple pleasure: to stave off the chill we had a nice fire going, and I turned a chair around to face it, put my feet up on the hearth, and sat reading for a while. Quiet, simple, nice. This was interspersed with laughs with D, discussions with R about the benefits and challenges of solar power (clean, renewable resource versus prohibitive setup costs and Canada's relative lack of strong sunlight), cuddles with A and M.

This week will be fun as my parents are in town from Wednesday on, and Goaliemom joins us today. R and A will have lots to do for their projects to be finished on time. Poor R panicked on Friday when she realized that the colony she had chosen and researched was not on the list of topics. Turns out they'll be covering it in class so she had only one week. Saturday was spent starting again with a new colony (Virginia) and continuing her learning about solar cells (many thanks to D, physics guy extraordinaire, for once again showing his talent at taking something complex and explaining it in a way that is understandable). A is continuing along with her projects and has complied a nice concise history of the pop-up toaster.

M spent Friday with me in a delight of shopping. Her favorite was our trip to the store to buy all sorts of things to fill shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. Up and down the aisles we went as she chose toys, crayons, and nice treats for, as she called it, "the little girl who doesn't have many toys". We are so blessed, and we so often take it for granted.

R floored me on Friday. We were listening to a Christmas CD in the car as I prep for the Santa Claus parade, and on this CD (Winter Wonderland, by Point of Grace) the last song is a pretty one called "All is Well". It is a nice, slow song, sort of a lullaby, by Michael W. Smith (note: I prefer his version to the one on this CD). It has memories for me as one JB and I sang together, 'way back in 1997. It's one of those songs that remind me of him. The girls were in the back of the car chatting, so I could drive quietly and feel wistfully sad, but so far dry-eyed and alone in my thoughts. Until I felt two little hands on my shoulders. R, sitting behind me, knew the song. The tears started and I looked back: "How did you know?" "Well, I know on the other CD with this song you skip it a lot, and I remember hearing once that you sang it with Josh, and I think it reminds you of him" Words of comfort from an 11-year old.

My thoughts early in the morning are like the chickens; they wander here and there, topic to topic, straying away from home base a bit but eventually coming back. Time to get the girls up for our Monday out - French class with N, then home group and school work.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

and on it goes

After a fun weekend with visitors (goaliemom and hubby) including several evenings of movies (The Holiday; Music & Lyrics; Tea with Mussolini), much general enjoyment and a morning's hunting trip for GM's hubby, D, and my not-a-girly-girl R, it's back to a so-called regular week. The weekend was stupidly warm, and I was torn between being annoyed (weather all wrong) and guilty (but enjoy it while it's here!). But today is more respectable late October weather.

School continues well as we move on to angiosperms (flowering plants), fly through the ancient Greeks (Minoans, Myceneans, and today Sparta and Athens), and continue in grammar, math & spelling. R & A are adjusting to the extra work from JPP, though R's project choice of solar panels does have her trying to get her head around the photovoltaic reactions. Learning to simplify to allow understanding is something I have had to do in teaching curious kids. It's funny, I remember a prof in my first-year zoology class saying that such an ability was needed to make science accessible to most people. Interesting how it proves true years later.

Introduced a song written for an upcoming conference on Sunday. People seemed to 'get it' quickly - that is, they weren't standing there trying to catch a melody too tricky to pick up. No deer-in-the-headlights look. That's a good thing when one has written a song for people to sing along with. I'm pleased with the outcome. The second verse was French, thanks to N's translation of my idea. I figured a song for a national-level conference should reflect both national languages.

It's odd singing in a language you don't speak. I've done it before, in both Latin (for a wedding) and Elvish (yes, really - an Enya song from Lord of the Rings for the same wedding. It was quite a wedding, I must say). The beauty of both of those is that they're not languages spoken in general. So, nobody was going to listen and think, 'wow, she really messed up that Elvish, Galadriel's gonna be ticked'. But singing in French to a group that I know includes several people for whom that is their first language, I wanted to be sure to pronounce it right. Coaching from N was a huge help there.

That's all for today, I think.


Tuesday, 16 October 2007


I spent some time today cleaning a few things out of the garden. Very little is left now; the tomatoes and peppers got hit by the frost last night and had become a soggy, wilted mess. I harvested what was ripe and into the compost pile went the rest. The leeks are still there, defying the frost, and some garlic that I had given up hope on seems to be proving me wrong and growing in spite of me. As I carted the plants to the compost pile, I noticed some differences between the fall work and spring work.

The sounds have changed. In the spring, working in the garden was accompanied by the songs of birds returned to the area and singing for all they were worth to stake out territory, attract mates, and, I like to think, just because they love to sing. Today only a few lonely crows and some southbound geese were all I heard.

The smells are different. It's that fall smell in the air that I love, yet it reminds me that the warm days are over and we're heading into the cold season. The light has changed. It's more golden in the fall; whether because of the trees or because of the angle of the earth to the sun or because it wants one last hurrah before winter, I don't know.

The thoughts are different. Instead of going over in my head what will go where, how to rotate the veggies and ensure that each gets the best spot to grow, I just pull it out and plop it on the pile. My thoughts are free to wander elsewhere, planning dinner and composing blog entries.

The leaves have changed. No longer is the rustle of leaves that of young, hopeful leaves just emerged from buds, but that of leaves that are tired and ready to fall. It's a drier sound.

It sounds desolate but it's just the way fall is. I'm sure there is deep philosophy in there somewhere, but today I just drank it in.

The chickens, meanwhile, delighted themselves by striking into new territory. I watched them excitedly crossing the driveway and heading up to the first bend. I think they feel very brave about it all, little feathered explorers discovering that across the vast expanse of the driveway, everything is pretty much the same as on this side. But I won't tell them that.

Monday, 15 October 2007

beware the ides of october

It just doesn't have the same ring to it. Not nearly so menacing.

The day is half over and has already been full, attending French tutoring given by N for a few families. It will be extra exposure for R&A with JPP, and M's weekly French lesson. They did enjoy it and having N pronounce things correctly instead of with my undoubtedly English accent (English, not British) will be helpful to them.

Last week, D away from Monday through Friday, stayed rainy and was cause for getting lots of inside stuff done. I was pleased with the accomplishments, and on Saturday helped the B's move into their newly-built house. It was the funniest move I've ever helped with; since the fire and their time here they have been living in a trailer on the property while the new house was under construction. So, one would enter the trailer, regret not having brought totes or bins or such, pick up all the pots & pans one could hold, and walk the 20 feet to the house. Then it was back and forth, back and forth, carrying the household items in for Bee to put away as she saw fit. There were no big boxes, little to no furniture to carry over, and the kids running back and forth with toys for the boys' rooms. M decided to help Aunt Bee by folding J's shirts and pants ('but not his underwear, Mommy, that would be weird').

Today is school, proofreading a book for Serendipity (a very clever bit of writing, I must say. Quite brilliant, really), and coming up with some really nifty culinary creation for supper. Hmm. Wonder what I have? Perhaps some Asian-style beef dumplings with noodles and peanut sauce. Yeah, that'll work.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007


Today is the second in what, according to the Weather Network forecast, is a long series of dreary, rainy days stretching through the whole of the week. Cool and rainy, and I am happy. This weather is so much more fitting for fall than the hot sunny days we'd had. Sure, I liked it at first, but it was just feeling wrong. I get into fall mode in October and want warm soups that steam the smells of roasted garlic and bacon and leeks, hearty stews thick with beef and lentils or chicken and dumplings, spicy chili sprinkled with cheese. It was just too hot to prepare any of those, so this week we are enjoying it. I do love the feeling of walking into a house from the cold, damp outdoors, and being flooded by warmth and the smell of something wonderful cooking.

My apologies to those who were loving the extension of summer. I may not love the deep cold of winter, but am Canadian enough to relish the autumn.

School continues, the girls working at math, grammar and spelling, in addition to history (ancient Assyria and Babylon right now), science (plant types: bryophytes (mosses) and ferns this week). R and A are involved in Junior Partnership Program (JPP) which gives them some more academics: simple machines, history of Britain in North America, French, and Creative Writing. This week they are starting work on their projects, one for science (research an invention. A is doing a pop-up toaster, R solar panels) and one for history (research one of Britain's 13 colonies. A is doing New York, R Massachusetts). So the work continues apace.

I am catching up on many errands, we visited one of the girls' friends in hospital yesterday and were pleased to hear that he's doing better. I am also engrossed in a Stephen Leacock book. How, oh how, could I have missed reading him all these years? Why did we do Canadian Lit that was boring in high school, instead of reading his works? Thanks to Serendipity, who got me started on Arcadian Adventures of the Idle Rich, I have now read as much of his writing as I can get my little paws on. Brilliant stuff, enjoyable satire, clever commentary.

Of course with the cold dreariness there are many outside jobs not getting done, but they will still be there when the sun returns. I have learned that they do not get upset and leave if you ignore them. One sometimes wishes that they were more easily offended.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007


We're back to the routine of the week after the holiday Monday. But, for posterity and subject matter, I will pause to think of things for which I am thankful.
- my family, the one I grew up with, and the one that now has extended to include my amazing hubby, amazing girls, inlaws and nieces and nephews and friends who have attained the status of honorary family.
- God, my faith, my Rock
- our farm, my place of solace, occasional frustration, hard work and much laughing at myself
- memories, since sometimes that's what you have
- our health
- this country that annoys me and is often ridiculous, yet I don't think I'd want to live anywhere else. Except maybe Scotland.
- road trips and the memories of such
- music, mine and that of others. It inspires, uplifts, makes me anywhere from joyous to melancholy.
- Chai. 'nuff said. Panera Bread Company Chai. Even more 'nuff said.
- the amazing beauty of nature
- the ability to appreciate it
- more than I can think of right now

Yeah. So, now feeling very grateful, on to the day.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

is it really the best they can come up with?

I'm sure much thought and engineering from people much more qualified than myself went into designing the way you hook up an attachment to a tractor. But, to my reckoning, wrestling with the drive shaft of the PTO (power take off), holding it up while trying to align the grooves of the attachment's socket to the grooves of the post of the tractor, at the same time holding the pin in that lets it slide on to the post, should be able to be done more easily.

Maybe we should just go back to horses.

Monday, 1 October 2007

now, where did I put that

September? Where did it go? I'm certain it was here somewhere. I returned home Saturday to a yard that had significantly more leaves on the ground than when I left, more tomatoes ripened and awaiting harvest, and all the calves gone from our place, to market I think. Yeah, the reality of farming has its sad side. Some get kept, while others wind up in neat little styrofoam trays. Hm.

The month seemed never to be, perhaps due to some family visits at the beginning, our weekend at Seren's cottage and our road trip at the end. Perhaps because of the busyness of starting school. I do suspect, however, that I've just gotten scatterbrained and misplaced it. It's under a pile of papers in the office.

Speaking of which, I watched the season premiere of The Office and now want to rent the DVDs of the first couple of seasons. I love dry humor. Speaking of that, D gave a short and highly entertaining talk last night at a volunteers' evening for the church, and surprised many people who just didn't know what a sense of humor he has. Speaking of that, there are a lot of segues in this post.

Saturday, 29 September 2007

almost there

This morning will start the last leg of our road trip. It has been fun, seeing parts of the country I'd never laid eyes on before. I had no idea Wisconsin was so pretty. Rolling hills, acres of corn (for feed or ethanol? not sure, but that's a debate for another day), tidy farms on bright green patches of grass, old dairy barns still in use. It made me realize how sad much of Ontario's farmland has become. Once upon a time, our farm fields likely looked like that.

The trip was wonderful, the girls behaved very well for the most part, many silly giggles were had, many good times. But it will be good to be home again with D, the dogs, this chickens, the hamsters. We made scrambled eggs here this morning and it was funny how odd white eggs looked.

Home is always a good place to get to.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

four years

... and still missing him. I look for words, but sometimes I can't find them. They elude me. Sometimes I will chase them, but other times - like today - I will grudgingly accept that I cannot catch them just now. So today, I will simply have the feeling without having the means to express it. Except this: I still miss him.

We are having a good time in Minnesota, enjoying time together and with Goaliemom and Bean and Swimming Teacher Extraordinaire (Bean's GF). His university campus (yes, it is his, I decree it.) is, in the words of Lizzie Bennett, "happily situated", pretty without being ostentatious, up-to-date yet charming.

Dinner at the Olive Garden last night was delicious and had us laughing at the realization that since asking about a wine on the list resulted in being offered a sample to try, we could end up with a glass's worth of free samples. The girls enjoyed a swim at the hotel on our return, then to bed while GM, Bean and I stayed up and talked about all sorts of things.

Today will be a day spent at a nearby town whose quaintness and shops have gained a reputation through GM. Looking forward to it.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

one place to another

The weekend was marvelous. Fine weather, nice scenery, excellent company, and no mice running across my face as per Seren's experience. And one of the nicest things in that each day, after lunch, most people napped. Why? Because we could, and wanted to. I didn't but instead enjoyed some solitude on a swinging chair overlooking the lake and the mountains covered in trees rich in fall colour.

I sat there, thinking and decided that to have no more pressing decision than: should I read, or nap? is loveliness itself. Then a big decision arose: should I walk back up to the cottage and make a cup of tea? Sometimes one needs to make these momentous choices.

Sunday was a blur of activity, but we did get the luggage switched and were on the road again to Goaliemom's place, then yesterday we left early and drove literally all day. We passed through Michigan, Illinois, Indiana (aka land of the toll booths), Wisconsin, and finally into Minnesota. It was mostly great weather for driving but at about 9pm you started to get the feeling that you had always been in a car that you would always be. The little girls fared well through the day and the big girls (us) had lots of time to talk, to be quiet, and to listen to music. The bonus at the end of the day was having Bean come by the hotel to visit. The girls had so been looking forward to seeing their cousin.

So here we are. Not nearly so relaxed and quiet as the cottage, but nice in its own way: three days of nothing planned but fun. The biggest decisions here will be where to go, what to eat. Mall of America and a little town called Stillwater, plus a visit to Bean's college will be in the mix. We'll likely take in one of his hockey games as well.

Tomorrow will be odd. Four years. Time marches on but in many ways I do not. I have gone from one place to another in the past few days, many miles and many sights. I wonder, have I gone from one place to another personally since he left us? All roads, it seems, lead back to Rome.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

on the road again

Tomorrow we're off on a little trip, from which we will return for a quick switch of luggage and the girls and I will head out for a week-long road trip with Goaliemom. My brain is not liking trying to figure out packing for this scenario. I think I am wired to be a homebody: I am very happy when life is blissfully dull.

I had a lovely moment the other day, I had worked all afternoon in the kitchen making applesauce and pie pastry and decided to brew a cup of coffee, featuring some lovely chocolate Arabica brought from Paris by Goaliemom for my birthday. Said cup of coffee accompanied me down to the creek where I sat on an old barn timber that now perches on two rocks to make a bench. I watched the cows in the field across the creek, listened to the wind in the grass, and had that rare feeling of utter contentment that is so sweet and so often elusive. I just hugged the mug in my hands, smiling at nothing in particular, looking around and realizing that yes, we have done a lot of work here, and just enjoying it all.

A new addition to our family deserves mention in this little blog of mine; a hamster now lives with us. The girls wanted to keep a young mouse we caught live, but that didn't work out. However, using their pooled savings and Dad & Mom's okay, they bought a cage and hamster from the pet store. She was quickly christened Willow (Willow Honey Cocoa Hamster, her full name), or as D calls her, Fuzzy McFuzzerton. The girls enjoy her greatly and are convinced that she is the smartest hamster ever to grace this earth.

But back to packing.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007


Time for another descriptive blog. Fall has most definitely arrived. The pool has been abandoned and sits there, tired and waiting for the winter closing.

One night's frost has taken its toll on most of the garden, so last night we had "last hurrah from the garden" omelets, with cherry tomatoes and basil and green onions. All but the tomatoes, peppers, leeks, and some of the herbs have been shipped off to the compost pile. Some of the herbs were cut and are now hanging up to dry in the summer kitchen. The chickens, meanwhile, have made the garden their playground and spend the days busily scratching, flinging soil everywhere and finding bugs for snacks. The lawn is looking a little shaggy, needing its last cut of the season. Pumpkins are sitting in the sun to 'season', along with the onions and shallots, to prepare for storage. The apples picked on Sunday will find their way into my freezer this week as sauce, pies, or crisps.

The windows are being closed at night now, as the sun's setting brings on the chill. We put a fire on over the weekend and its cheery crackling was a very welcome thing. Outside the maples have started turning to orange and red, the swallows have been gone for weeks, and the sound of geese on their southward journeys is becoming more common. I always find that their honking sounds more melancholy in the fall. I'm sure it's just my perception though.

The girls have been digging out their sweaters and R has taken to stealing my socks on a regular basis.

And there's that smell in the air. How to pin it down? It is crisp, a hint of leaf decay in it, perhaps a distant trace of smoke from someone's leaf fire or wood stove. It brings to mind brilliant blue sky, yellowing grass and leaves slipping through the air or crunching underfoot. Not the wettish smell of spring or the heavy air of summer. It is its own. Fresh, but with a bit of warning that cold is on its way.

The garden will have a new row dug out this fall, to be turned over and have lots of compost added so it's ready for spring planting. The chicken coop needs its winter preparations completed, snow fencing must be put up by the driveway, the old barn foundation should be cleaned out and filled. I want to try putting a coldframe in the garden so I can get some greens growing later into the fall, and hundreds of other little jobs are waving their hands and shouting "ooh! ooh! pick me! pick me!"

Fall is a busy time here, but I do think it's my favorite season.

Monday, 17 September 2007

when does it get normal, again?

You know the kids have gotten their money's worth from bracelet day when they decide on their own that they've had enough of the rides. I think the look on their faces when I said it was time to leave for dance class was something akin to relief. Friday at the Fair was a sunny day, perfect for the Ferris wheel, the Sizzler, and other assorted rides of spinning. I've noticed that that seems to be the general theme of fair rides: spinning. Sometimes even spinning in small circles whilst spinning in larger circles. Spin, spin, spin. No wonder they looked a little green about the gills after a couple of hours. They also enjoyed seeing the horses, cows, sheep, goats, and lots of different breeds of chickens.

Their exhibits did well, each winning something and all happy with what they had done. I even won a ribbon for tea biscuits. We returned on Saturday with D to watch some of the animal shows, but overnight a cold northerly wind had arrived and after an hour of walking around shivering, we decided we'd had enough and went home to do some work around our own farm.

Saturday night also brought the first frost, not enough to kill everything but the zucchini, basil and pumpkin leaves were definitely hit. I'm glad I got most of the beans and tomatoes out on Saturday.

This week is short thanks to a trip to Serendipity's cottage for part of the weekend; the girls and I leave on Sunday afternoon for a road trip week with Goaliemom to visit Bean Boy. Normal week, hmmm. Wonder when.

Friday, 14 September 2007

take me to the fair

The weekend the girls (and, I admit, I) have been waiting for is here. The Fair opened last night but today is the first full day of exhibits and rides, so today we continue our three-year tradition: we get up early, finish school with a drive and determination that is rarely equalled, then drive into town for a day celebrating our inner farm girls. It has the extra benefit of being bracelet day, when they can go on all the rides they want after 3pm for one price.

Our entries into the homecrafts exhibits were dropped off on Wednesday evening, so today we get to see how we did. It's all fun and the girls all worked hard, so no matter what the judges say I'm pleased with the endeavour. It was a good experiment in different art forms for each of the girls - collages, drawings, penmanship, painting, and of course the enduring art medium of pipe cleaners.

The fair is over 100 years old. The midway is not exactly antique, but one look at the shelves of canned goods and racks of quilts is enough to take one back many years. The local women showing their neighbours what they could do in the garden, in the kitchen, or with a needle, sharing ideas and having fun (with, I'm sure, a little competitive spirit thrown in). Change is evident in the categories of digital photography, but the country life is definitely in the forefront.

The girls have been talking about it for weeks. They have planned the rides they want to go on since mid-summer ... "remember the scrambler? ooh, that was so fun!" "but I don't want to go on the polar express again, that was too fast and I felt squashed." "oh no, I'll definitely go on that one" "remember the pig races? they were so funny!""look, look! they've put up the Ferris wheel!". Tomorrow D joins us and we go as a family to see the horses and cattle.

We leave today at 11:00 and will be there until we leave for dance class around 5:30. Lunch will be eaten in the old hall, where a local church provides a home-style meal and once again we feel very small-town. The day should have little that is unexpected and much that has become comfortably, happily familiar.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007


Oh, so THIS is what life with the internet was like. I had forgotten. We are finally, as of noon today, back online at home. The first week was kind of nice, no checking for emails, no sitting in front of Facebook. I did miss blogging though. But by week four it had become tiresome and I felt out of loops that I never knew existed. I have realized that I do indeed rely on internet for much of my communication, both incoming and outgoing.

So today, we are back.

What has happened since my last little post (thanks Seren!)? Well, we could talk about the approach of fall on the farm. We could tell the story of Archie the Wonder Dog meeting a skunk and his subsequent baths in baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. We could hear about our first week of school, currently underway. We could go into the details of our preparations for the local Fair and how much it still amuses me that the local farm Fair has become such a major calendar event for our family. We could hear about the chickens' newfound brave explorations, all the way over to the house now.

That will wait for another day, though.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007


I have now been without internet access at home for two weeks. Thanks to Serendipity's computer, I have finally been able to catch up with things. The modem is fine, the computer will connect if set up at someone else's house, so I am holding the phone line into our house responsible. It shall pay. I have no idea how, but it will. How exactly does one take revenge on a phone line?

In other life news, I have finished the Harry Potter book, cleaned up the farm for a birthday party/wedding vow renewal party that was a huge success, enjoyed a weekend visit from Goaliemom, Bean and J, and generally gone about my business as usual.

Off to visit and not abuse the hospitality of Serendipity.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

deja vu

Double post, as some things need their own. Last night was one of those horrible instances where history seems about to repeat itself in a nasty way. A phone ringing after 11:00 is rare, and Goaliemom calling then rarer still, since we'd just had a long chat on MSN. Through her broken voice I heard the words again, "there's been a car accident" - my nephew, the driver, was ok. Thankfully it was not to report an injury, but of course it was so hard on my nephew mentally and emotionally. I won't presume to know what went through his mind. I won't presume to know my sister's mind, knowing her son was suffering thousands of miles away. I just know my side of it, the way my heart felt like it was dropping into my feet, the need to steady myself in case the next words were like those I'd heard before.

Parts of it were so oddly familiar, but not a happy familiarity. More like a person who you met once, an aquaintance of a friend or something, who immediately presumed too much of you, and now every time you see them you groan inwardly at how they will make you feel awkward and annoyed.

Deja vu is surreal sometimes, cool other times. But sometimes I could do without it, thank you very much.

on apiaries

An apiary is a beehive; apiculture is raising bees for honey and beeswax. Among the many many other things that have crossed my mind (it's a regular highway in there, sometimes) for the farm is having some beehives. Organic honey, beeswax to use for whatever one uses beeswax for - but mainly the honey. Right out of the comb. It's been one of the lesser ideas until recently.

At the side of the farmyard, right by the fence surrounding the yard on the north side of the house, is a beautiful, tall old maple. If it's less that 80 years old I'd be surprised. Three main limbs split out from the main trunk and the center of these has seen better days. While some live branches still come out the top, a large break shows that most of that limb has died and fallen away. D noticed a month ago that in that dead limb, there was lots of bee activity. You can hear the buzzing from the vegetable garden 50 feet away. They're high up though and no immediate concern until yesterday. I came home and heard buzzing from the house. Hm. Odd. I walked over toward the tree to see a cloud of a couple hundred (no exaggeration) flying around a lilac tree. I wondered if the hive had been deserted, but not so. I went out later after warning the kids and keeping the dogs in and no more were flying - a closer examination showed that there was a clump of solid bees about the size of a football sitting on the fence under the lilac tree. Hundreds of them, all sitting together. Possibly sent out to start a new hive, was all I could think. D called our neighbor who has gotten some beehives himself this spring and he said that was likely it.

So the side of me that likes chasing cows starts thinking, there we go! the bees are all ready to go to a new hive! all we have to do is get a bee house ready for them, take them over, and away we go! Yes, dear, but since we have no house, no protective gear, and no smoker to calm them, that seems a little far fetched, don't you think? Oh. Well, maybe. Could we put them somewhere else? No. Don't be so silly. They won't sit on a shelf. Hmph.

I didn't want to kill them but as D pointed out pragmatism must again rule the day and that clump was sitting right on the gate we use to go from one yard to the other, and we weren't killing the whole hive in the tree, just what appeared to be the start of a new one. Anyone wandering too close would be in very real danger. Besides, our neighbor said the new colony would be started too late and the group wouldn't survive the winter as there wouldn't be enough time to get the honey stores they would need to make it. So, after dark, they were sprayed.

Maybe we'll get a house in the spring for some of them to come from the main hive. After all, credit where it's due: I would be willing to bet that a large part of the bumper crop in my garden this year is thanks to their pollination.