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

Monday, 28 April 2008


Here it is, post #200. Goodness, I talk a lot.

Our driveway is becoming more and more smooth. Our long laneway has, from year to year, sprouted potholes that then proceeded to have children and grandchildren, all of whom grew rather quickly. Our slalom down the lane helped for a while until potholes appeared on the alternate routes. Gravel put into the holes helped for a bit, then seemed to be feeding them as they continued to grow.

They are mostly gone now, thanks to D's passes with the tractor and the grading blade. It's like a new, and much less bone-jarring, driveway. After only three times up and back, there is a marked difference. It's a nice change.

This week is school, but the big event is the girls' highland dance exams on Wednesday. I have alterations to make to National dresses, and a blouse to finish. M is doing a sword and a fling, A and R are doing sword, fling, lilt, Flora, and R is also adding a seann tribbhaus and a half hullichan. I never knew, until the girls started dancing, that there were so many that fall under the title of 'highland dance'. I guess it's like that with anything you get involved in - there's more than the casual observer knows. This is our first foray into National dances (lilt, flora, and hullichan), and I must admit that much as I like the kilt/vest look, the white dresses with their tartan sashes are so pretty. The flora has become my favorite dance to watch, so flowing and pretty. It's very different from the sword.

I'm glad we had a good weekend of nice weather and some outside work, with the forecast this week for rain, rain and more rain, and cooler temperatures. All is green outside, and once I have these dresses and exams done I will be turning my attention to some of the gardens and how to reclaim them from the nasty weed that seems to invade all and take over. Perhaps napalm?

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

more classics

The girls' history book has brought us up to the Elizabethan Age, and had a chapter on Shakespeare. After reading its paraphrased story of Macbeth yesterday, we read A Midsummer Night's Dream from a book I had bought separately, Ten Tales of Shakespeare for Children by Charles and Mary Lamb. This book tells the plays in a story format, good for reading aloud and not having to explain who's talking, but it keeps some of the lines so that the flavor is there. I followed that up by getting my Pelican Complete Works of William Shakespeare and reading Puck's final speech in the original language ("If we shadows have offended / Think but this, and all is mended").

They loved it. R especially was taken with the old-style language. We even looked up some sonnets, M recalling that the one quoted in the Sense and Sensibility movie was #116 ("Love is not true love / Which alters when it alteration finds"). I'm going to try to track down the local company that does Shakespeare in the Park, and see what they have playing this summer.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

another walk

Another lovely, sunny day. I can get used to this, and the mountains of snow seem like a faraway land now.

This morning I was in the gardens by the pool, pulling the dead mats of grass and leaves off to find moist soil and little greenlings underneath. It was like something from The Secret Garden, searching under the brown to find the new little plants. It makes me feel like greeting them.

D is on the third of his dates with each of the girls this weekend. M got taken to a movie last night (Horton Hears a Who), A was taken to breakfast and assorted things this morning, and now R is out to see Nim's Island with him. While he was home this morning the five of us and Sam the Mighty Hunter retraced my steps of last week's walk.

What a difference. The snow is reduced to a few forlorn, crystalline drifts hiding in the shade of the cedars, the extra streams have vanished and left behind muddy spots. The creek is still high and rushing, but some rocks have appeared above the water and in the sunshine, all was glittery and sparkly.

As we were wandering home, a rush a few feet ahead of us caught our eyes, I thought it was a groundhog, until I saw the tail and realized it was a muskrat. Sam, still seeming to feel every inch the hunter, went after it, but it was too quickly into the water. Sam jumped in and proceeded to stick his nose in the water while we watched the muskrat easily swim across the creek, emerging out of reach and safe on the other side. Sam was sure it must still be at his feet, wasn't that where it disappeared? The look on his face was pretty amusing, and we (well, the humans) were all glad the muskrat was safe and sound.

It's nice to find things like this when you walk in what I suppose is our backyard. I like this time of year, walking and remembering why this place is worth the work, then sitting on an old fence rail in the warmth of the sun, dreaming.

Here is my waterfall, my special place, today. By mid summer I will be able to sit on a rock in mid-stream that is now under water, and listen to the soft trickle. Today, D was eyeing it and asking, "how would you shoot those rapids?"

And here's a little peaceful spot that we found. R decided it belonged in Middle Earth. Of course, in two months' time, the mosquitoes will be crazy, but for today we could stand and enjoy it.

Friday, 18 April 2008

there's something in my ear

Yeah, same day, two posts. Just the topics were so different, and it sort of makes up for my weeks of silence.
Last night's band rehearsal was the first go at the Aviom in-ear monitor system. It's surreal, since I have the Shure 210 earbuds, which do a very good job of keeping out the live sound, meaning I was mostly only able to hear the feed through the system. So one person's unmic'ed voice right next to me was muffled, while the voice across the room in the mic was as clear as could be. It gives one this sort of displaced feeling.
D said as he drove in it was odd, too, as typically the house is shaking with the amps going (my rule has always been that if plaster starts falling from the ceiling, we're too loud) - but all he was hearing was the piano, sax, and voices as all the guitars and the drums were running through the headphones.

But all that aside, the ability to set my own little monitor mix is wonderful. I was adjusting it on the fly, pulling up the drums or guitars as needed, moving the vocal levels around as different people led different songs. It's a fun toy but one that will help the band's sound be the best it can be.

So, on a first run, I must say I'm liking it. We're going to do a few more times of rehearsal before we take it live, but this is looking (well, sounding) good.

archie the wonder dog strikes again

Without going into too many details, suffice it to say that Archie the Wonder Dog has again become Sam the Mighty Hunter. And the farm is less one groundhog for it. I usually like groundhogs but when they start tunneling under our barns they reach pest status and so practically speaking, Sam did a good job.

On a more positive note, these warm days have been lovely. School is being finished with astonishing speed, the girls egging each other on: "hurry up! It's a nice day and we can go outside when we're finished!"

Yesterday was spent raking the yard, much to the chickens' delight as I stirred up assorted little bugs and such. I also filled in the trench in our yard where last fall we exposed the openings to the septic tank to have it checked and pumped, and then the snow came early and the trench remained through the winter. Oddly enough, my arms and back are sore today.
The days are longer, the sunsets wider across the sky, the house has the sweet smell that only comes from open windows and clothes fresh in from the clothesline. The birds' songs wake me in the morning, the creek's flow can still be heard from the house. The ground is still pretty wet and the gardens can only really be raked right now, but today the chairs will be put back onto the porch and I will sit and enjoy our little bit of quiet.
Then I'll remember how much stuff I have to do.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

facing facts

I'm getting older. *sigh* I'm happily in denial most of the time, but have found out I should get glasses for reading and computer work.

I tried on approximately four thousand frames and found that most of the ones I really liked were expensive (Versace does make a nice frame) or a style that I liked right now but wasn't sure the affection would last (nice Mexx ones there). I settled on a nice neutral Lacoste frame.

My eyes are still good and fine for driving, but after three migraines in three weeks, and trying to read text that was dancing in front of me, I headed in to the optometrist for my 18-month checkup and he confirmed that, in fact, they would help out with what I was experiencing.

Yesterday was back to the optometrist to finalize the purchase and pay for them. This was after going to the orthodontist for M's impression for her expander appliance and making the down payment on that, then having supper with D and buying some in-ear monitor headphones. So it was ortho/opto/phono day, and big bucks all around.

The 'phones are nice little Shure 210 earbuds which we will be playing with at band rehearsal tonight, to get the feel of it and start playing with levels on our individual monitors before we go on stage and use them there. I feel so very high-tech.

Back to the low-tech, though, for this afternoon. With school work done for the day, I'll be shovelling dirt and chicken manure. What a range of things my life includes.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

back to work

Enough snow has gone and the ground is dry enough; today marks the unofficial official return to working outside.

In the winter some stuff gets done outside, but mostly as necessity dictates. We care for the chickens, remove snow, etc, but we don't prolong the work. But today I'll start the long job of picking things up, straightening up the veggie garden boxes, going to the road with the girls to fish trash out of the ditch (mostly stuff that blew out of our recycling bins), raking flower beds, cleaning up the dogs' winter *ahem* activities, and so on and so on. It's sort of the farm equivalent of spring cleaning.

The winter boots will be put away, the work boots brought back out. Back to it.

Monday, 14 April 2008

how do they know?

Spring has finally looked at its watch, shaken it, realized that it stopped a while ago, gotten up, picked up a couple of dirty dishes on the way, wandered into the kitchen, looked at the one on the stove, checked the one on the coffee maker and wondered why, oh why, are they always three minutes apart? and said, "whoah, I'm LATE!"

Warm days, sunny skies, and the promise of 20C on Friday. I'm holding you to that, Mr. Weather Network.

The huge amounts of snow have disappeared surprisingly quickly, the creek reached the highest point we've seen since moving here, and the birds are returning. Robins are bouncing along, digging worms, worms, worms (a family joke that is now old enough to vote), the red-winged blackbirds are staking out their territory, and the Canada geese are flying over on their way farther north.

I heard them last night as they flew over the house. It was pitch dark outside. It's incredible enough that migratory animals find their way over vast distances, but in the dark? How do they know which way to go (granted, I've seen some of the flocks flying south in the spring and north in the fall, so there's another question)? How can they tell where it's safe to land? Really, that field might look nice by moonlight but what if it's surrounded by hungry coyotes or wolves or sabre-tooth tigers all sitting in the bushes, whispering, "all right guys, here they come!" It amazes me. But then, perhaps I'm just easily amazed.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

a walk

I decided to walk down the creek yesterday to get a feel for how things are thawing, and just to commune with my land a little bit. Archie the Wonder Dog came along because, after all, it was outside and to him that's the height of excitement.

The creek is definitely high - and very fast, as I watched chunks of ice go racing by faster than I could run - but not yet up to peak levels of a few years ago. Still, there's plenty of snow left to melt. As I headed down, the roar of the falls getting louder, I had to make several detours away from the water's edge as streams had appeared where typically there are none. Any spot of land that was slightly lower had become a channel for the water. I had to skirt well around the main cedar grove, walking in deep snow and slush. Eventually, I found a way across by walking on a tree that had very conveniently bridged the new streams, then proceeded to fall a bit and slice my hand when I reached out for what I thought was a regular branch but turned out to be a thorny sapling. Ah well, a little snow on the wound and off we went. Archie, meanwhile, was gracelessly floundering in the deep snow and sloshing through the water, having a marvellous time.

And the snow! Around the house, it has gone down several feet, to the point that we can see grass in some places (much to the chickens' satisfaction, as they finally leave the coop to scratch and peck). Even with several days' warm temperatures and melting, on my walk I found myself in snow that was still the depth of my legs. And that's deep, with my freakishly long legs. How deep was it after the last storm, I wondered.

I finally reached the falls, and stood in wonder as I watched the water froth and swirl. It's so high that it's more rapids than falls. Loved the sound and the way the water moved so fast in the main part, then quietly sat on the sides, spinning slowly and keeping chunks of ice in their little coves. Found some tracks that looked rather skunkish, but little else. Archie wanted to drink the water but with visions of him taking a header in, I scooped up the icy cold stuff and let him drink from my hands. After a few minutes' enjoyment, I turned home along the water, eventually getting my feet wet when I decided to take the short way back and had to cross the stream.

I'm looking forward to spring. Seeds are being planted today for transplants. I have clothes drying on the line. It'll come.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

slowly but surely

Things are changing, bit by bit.

The snow is melting, aided by the April sun's attempts to warm things up. Our sump pump it running about every 15 minutes and we're downstairs twice a day to make sure that the lovely little rivers continue to flow where they should. The creek is going to be high when the surface ice breaks up and leaves.

We were at the orthodontist's office yesterday for the official start to little M's journey into orthodontics. Her upper palate is too narrow, giving her quite a crossbite, so an expanding appliance is in the works. It will be the start of little by little pushing the bones apart so that when they finally do fuse over the next year, they are in the right place and her teeth can be nice and straight. That little bit of joy will be followed by a smaller sport-model one to keep the space intact, and finally some braces to rotate the teeth properly. While the assistant was going over the list of possible results of orthodontics (speech issues, tooth looseness, trouble playing wind instruments), she came to "psychological issues", meaning the whole braces-stigma thing, I guess. We looked at M, who was happily deciding what color braces she would choose, and decided that likely wouldn't be an issue. She has plans for pink and purple ones, "and green and brown if I go hunting with Daddy, for camo." As soon as she found out she could choose colors and change them, she wanted to get the braces right away.

I ran yesterday. Yes, really. I, who hate running but struck up a relationship of mutual tolerance last year, have found myself wanting to run this spring. I think I was missing the way I felt after. Not during, mind you, just after. So, I did a short 1-km run. Nothing much, and not as well as I did before last year's mini-Tri, but better than I started out last year. So, slowly but surely I may get into better shape again this year. I was happy with doing it and did feel good after. It seems I am joining the dark side.

School is continuing and I can see the light of summer break at the end of the tunnel. History is reaching the end of the Middle Ages (Wars of the Roses, Henry V, Richard III of "a horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse" fame, the Plague and the end of the Feudal system, the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans who were an empire - not just footstools, as you might have thought), Earth sciences is wrapping up and a potential group study on botany is on the horizon, and the book work is getting into the last 30 or so lessons. My plan this year is to have it all done before we leave for Bean's wedding. Who wants to come back to June, arguably the best month on the farm, after two weeks away, and do school?

A song for Bean's wedding is coming together. Quite nice and I am happy with it - I hope the bride and groom like it as well as I do. Nice without being too cliched, and I do like the music.

The chickens' end is in sight. Their rate of lay has dropped off to almost nil. Their ultimate end will likely be the stew pot. I don't relish the idea (no pun intended) but they aren't earning their keep and the planned influx of 10 new hens in June will mess up the pecking order. So,they'll make the one-way trip, come back to take up residence in the freezer, and we'll clean and disinfect the henhouse so there are no issues with the next batch. These hens have been good and healthy, but we don't want to take chances. Even R, the chicken girl, is her pragmatic self and is ok with it.

Slowly but surely, things are changing and spring really is coming.