Thursday, December 30, 2010

And so it begins......

The end of 2010. The beginning of thinking and talking about a new year, new goals, new promises... new energy to face the winter. Someone said to me how much they hate January. I don't remember ever hating January.... January is always my good month... with lots of willpower and resolution...
**we won't even talk about February... quite yet!**

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

On their way home!

at 7:40 this morning, they are over the Pacific Ocean.....

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ah... Duke... its ok... its. ok.....

So.. its been a hectic two weeks.. can't even begin to explain to those who do not work in an elementary school. But imagine 450 kids, 50 staff... and its report card season, and a new (frustrating) computer program for doing reports... well, for doing everything in the school regarding students... and its Christmas concert practice season, its turkey dinner season, its flu season, and there is stress all around us.
Today... turkey dinner for 500. Today.... reports go home, but not before several final reprints of several sets of reports. Today... training a new working partner.... Today... a heart warming conversation over my walkie talkie which all began with a student coming in, out of breath from the playground.
"There's a dog"... "he's on the playground"... "he's tied to a tree".... "its all wrapped around him"...
The phones are ringing, the dinner is still going on, and I have to print last minute report cards. What do I do with a dog, tied to a tree, on the playground and there are over 400 kids on the playground... can you picture this. I can't think.... the noise and interruptions are almost unbearable... and then I hear Chantal come over the walkie talkie.
"Donna".. I see a dog in the woods... he is all wrapped up in a bush." " I am going to go see what is going on", she says. I send the girl off to class, and I wait to hear from Chantal.
"ohhhhhh, hes a puppy, ohhhh, he is all wrapped up in a chain... I think he's a Rottweiler"... "ooooh, he is all shaky". "I can't get to him".
So, I am now thinking, its a vicious dog that someone doesn't want and they have chained to a tree. "Don't go near him Chantal, I am calling the RCMP". "Ohhhh, he looks sooo scared," she whines. "Don't go near him.... just wait."...
"OK".... she says.. and leaves her walkie on.... I hear... "its ok, puppy"... its ok"... "oooh, he is so tangled he can't even sit down".......oh, its ok.. little puppy.
The RCMP give me the animal control number, and the animal control people answer, and I explain and she said she will call the Dog Catcher... Thinking about a conversation I had with a boy earlier in the morning, who said he heard branches breaking in the woods, and thought there was a man sitting in the woods.. I now realize that this dog has been there for a least 4 hours. I asked how long she might be, and she said at least an hour.
Just as I hang up the phone... I hear on the walkie " Donna, I can see his tag.... he's name is Duke.. and there is a phone number...... As I right down the number, I hear "its ok Duke, its ok buddy"......
And I call..... "Hello"... I explain who I am and ask if he has a dog. He says yes, and I have been looking for him for a while. I tell him about Duke, about Chantal and then I am in the middle of conversation between Buddy on his cellphone and Chantal on the walkie, and he can hear her and he is giddy on the phone as he drives closer to the location... and he laughs when she asks on the walkie " ask him if I can touch the dog, will he hurt me". He laughs and re assures her and then she is giddy, and unwrapping Duke from his chain while buddy is driving up to her.
Duke was freed, and Chantal comes back to school... and I called the dog catcher to cancel the call, to which she lectures me about a dog with no county tag on would cost the owner $225 to get him back... geesh....
Later in the afternoon, one of our youngest teachers comes to me, with tears in her eyes and says "what happened to the dog"... and I explained about Duke, the owner and Chantal.. I answered several questions all afternoon, from big hearted students and teachers who were worried about duke...
A happy ending, and a heart warming moment to a very hectic day.
Thanks Chantal.. you are a hero!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Well, so far... I suck at NaNoWriMo...

I will get back on track... really... tonight.. hee hee. Thanks for the pic, Jill, by the way.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

It is time.... to say thank you

I have been doing Children's Liturgy at Church for about 16 years.. I think. I have always worked with Kay, who is the mom of 5 children, mother in law to their 5 spouses and Grandmother to their 8 grandchildren. But when I first met Kay... she was supermom.. to 4 girls and one boy. Not only do I work with her on a weekly basis at Church, but I get to see her often at school where she is a super mom to 400 kids outside on duty most days of the week.

Kay and I get together at least once a month to go over the readings for each Sunday of that particular month. We then have to gear our talks and crafts to the 4, 5 and 6 year old kids, and make them relate to the readings. Kay is an expert at it. I have learned so much from her about what all these mystery readings mean, what they stand for, and how we learn from them. She has given me a deeper faith, and confidence to teach this to others... That is the bonus of knowing her.. the real meat and potatoes of Kay is her patience, her knowledge, her wisdom on how to be a good mom and gramma.
In every one of our "meetings" we not only dream up crafts and invent "how Jesus and folded jumping frogs" relate to the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary time (for example).... Kay also guides me through some of my parenting heartaches, my fears, my challenges and my celebrations. With 5 children of her own, and 4 of them girls... she certainly has lots of ideas, successes to share and failures for me to learn from. And I always leave Kay's home with a fresh and sometimes still warm loaf of homemade bread...
Ok... that is the history... this is the reality. When ever Kay is globe trotting around the country visiting her family, I do Sunday Morning lessons with the kids on my own. We each have a Church bag.. filled with story books, magnets, scissors, bells, paper projects and "the books" we do the readings from. When Kay leaves for a couple of weeks, I get her bag, because she carries all the story books, the action story scribblers and the hard covered book that the Father hands to the kids.
I just couldn't stand to drag that decrepit bag around any more. It was made of thin cotton, with ripped handles, torn in several spots and way to flimsy to be carrying all the heavy books that are treasured by both of us..

Now, Kay went away two weeks ago, and I thought this might be the perfect opportunity to make a replacement for her ugly bag... I got my sister and her awesome sewing machine to make a couple of "Kay" patches and she sent them down with Michelle. With no pattern to follow except experience, I designed a sturdy bag, with heavy duty handles, and lots of space for her books and a row of pockets inside to hold the magnets, ribbon, pencils, scissors and even the gold bells I found at the bottom of her old bag! I choose funky and modern flowered fabric to accent the canvas and to make the lining....

Thank you Kay, for all you have taught me, shared with me, talked me through, and laughed with me. I love you and your whole family.... but I hated "the Ugly bag"! It was time for it to go! Hope you enjoy the new one....

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Its time to Remember

I am so proud to be a Canadian and I haven't even travelled anywhere to get the foreigner's prospective on Canadians. But my children have, and lots of my friends. I don't have that flag waving, heart thumping, in your face pride... I have that "look straight in your eyes.... know that I am a Canadian" pride.
Remembrance Day is one of those things that I am proud of. We remember. Even if we don't remember the war, even if we don't have family who were in the war, even if we don't associate with the Military at all, due to where we live, or what we do for a living..... we remember.
I was raised in a Military family, in Military communities, married into the Military, who was raised in a Military family, and lived in Military communities. When I was a kid, I thought it was only the Military who remembered. When I moved out of the military environment, and into small town communities... I realized that everyone remembers.
Our schools honor and teach it... our businesses do as well. In Nova Scotia, there is no school for anyone, and all businesses are closed. I am not sure why, but I like it. Wait, I know why, because its Remembrance Day, and we get the whole day off. But, what I meant was, why are we so lucky to get the whole day off... I like it, anyway. Therefore, at school, the Remembrance Day ceremonies are attended by all students, staff and community members, on the day before Remembrance Day. Thats ok... it gives kids a great sense of the day, and then they get to have the whole next day off.
In Ontario, and many other provinces, children are in school all day and most businesses are open at noon. Government workers, Military and Civilian, are off all day too. You know, some people say that is not right, that schools and businesses are open on this day... but... I am ok with this. In every school, the children take part in a ceremony that teaches Remembrance. They do the exact same thing as we do in Nova Scotia, but on the proper day. Businesses remain closed until noon, in respect for the 11th hour. The moments of Silence... where we can all reflect, even if we only have a moment to reflect, its at 11:00.
I feel we are lucky in NS to have the whole day, and I wouldn't ever want that to change, but I don't think that the other provinces are wrong in what they do. I appreciate that schools and businesses respect the day. I appreciate that we have the FREEDOM to do what ever we want on this day because of the wonderful men and women of the past who served our country and allowed us this freedom.
Don't worry, if the schools keep doing what they do... and businesses do what they should... we will always Remember.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Rain Rain.. go away..

There is no other topic for today other than RAIN. It would be impossible to even blog today except about our weather. We had warning that it was coming... rain rain rain rain.. in the forecast but man, I don't remember ever getting 3 full days of constant, never stopping rain. Sometimes hard, sometimes soft.. but nothing but rain. I worried all Friday night for Michelle's drive home, because of this darn rain, and add to that, high winds... and here it is, the end of the weekend and its still raining.
Of course, a few at church this morning were thankful and relieved that all this rain wasn't really SNOW.. which we did get, this very weekend, in 2002.
I remember, because we had a storm day at school on Nov 7th, and Natsumi, our Japanese Exchange student, and Michelle... made an incredibly cute snowman, in the driveway.. no less.

It was Natts very first snowman. She was full of adrenaline and excitement, working diligently on her project.
She was so warm while working, she took her coat off.. as it wasn't very cold for a snow day.. She lost her luster for snow, by Xmas, that year... which.. of course we all do.

So, people, I guess we can live with the rain.. for now. But I am worried about all this water. I am seeing giant puddles where I have never seen water before... Our river, behind the house, in the summer is calm and quiet during a normal summer day.

But it doesn't take long for it to fill with rain water, after a day or two of rain. But today, it is a raging torrent of water... with a potential of flooding the houses in the neighbourhood.

We have giant puddles in our yard too.... well, not as many in MY yard, as there are in my neighbour's yards. These puddles are a little concerning... Rob brought his rake over and pulled leaves from our ditch so the draining system throughout our little knot of houses, runs good.

We can usually gage the disaster level in the community by how high "Lake Sometimes" is.. and I drove over today to snap some pictures of the results. I am surprised that I only think to take pictures of the Here and then gone Lake we have on Bridge Street, when the water is high. I need a pic or two of when its a sea of green grass, dandelions and Willows.
Our village pond and wooded fitness trail has a whole new look to it today.
The forecast said the rains will let up by noon today... except its now 5:30.. and its still raining. Michelle called me from the Mammoth and its dry and cloudy there.. no rain.. I am glad for her, I hate to think of her driving in this again!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Pajama Saturday

Have I told you that I love Saturdays. Well, I do. Michelle arrived home late last night, after a 6 hour drive from Fredericton. I fretted all week about her driving here, and made her call me at every kind of check point. The Irving, the Pass, The Mammoth, Windsor.... It was extremely windy, pounding rain, and pitch black out... my nerves.
Anyway, she arrived at 12:30... and we sat up for half an hour and chatted, and then we crawled into my bed and went to sleep.
Saturday morning was spend sitting with a big pot of coffee, and skype with Stephanie who had spend her Saturday at her school for a 2 hour concert sort of performance of all the students in her "little" school. She teaches English at two schools.. one is little, one is... you got it.. BIG. She and Sean read the introductions at the beginning of the concert (as her contribution to the performance) and then she helped with costumes and lineups. These are her grade 1's performing. She has promised to send more pictures and possibly a video.
So the entire morning was the three of us, just like the old days... chatting, laughing, showing each other our cats, planning out NoMoWriMo themes... and planning for their Xmas visit. Stephanie has a list compiled on her computer of the things she is going to eat when she gets back to Canada. First few on her list... corn chowder... lasagna...Kraft dinner!

Because Michelle has had a career choice change and is now working at a daycare in Fredericton, she really needed to get some ideas and plans from some of my friends. Debbie came over after lunch and it is AMAZING how much she knows, and can do. She explained the amazingly useful game of Rock Paper Scissors.. and how this decision making game is a miracle in her classroom for solving debates as to who starts first, who plays with what... etc. Action Uno game.. Centers.. word play, parachutes...
After a yummy lunch at Pizza Delight, we went off to Sears for a little Xmas shopping and then to met Chantal in her classroom. Again... pocket walls, white boards, projector games, weather... clothes pins... surveys... oh my.... my head is swimming-I can't imagine how Michelle feels. She is so excited to make shopping lists, and planning plans.. with her co-worker Kelly.
She is off visiting with a friend, and I am snuggled on the couch with my little grandpup... and a cup of tea...
I love Saturdays....

Friday, November 5, 2010

An adventure for Thanksgiving 2010

Thanksgiving this year, was very different than any other Thanksgiving in the past. Last year, was my first year without Stephanie being home. Therefore, we changed everything about the weekend so we wouldn't notice all the traditions were gone!
This Thanksgiving was the first holiday without either of my kids, or their spouses. Originally, I wanted to go away somewhere for the weekend... like Cape Breton, or Yarmouth. But Terry wasn't really up for it, and actually once the weekend drew closer, I was really looking forward to being home for 3 days.
Saturday was filled with yard work, errands and a bit of housework. We did groceries in preparation for making Salsa. Sunday was Salsa day, as well as Church, in which we made a very cool Thanksgiving Grace house shaped thing for hanging on your fridge. It was covered in seeds and glue .. and the kids really enjoyed this fun and messy craft. The rest of Sunday was chopping, simmering, etc.. which I wrote about already. During the chopping process, we discussed what we would do on Thanksgiving Monday. I was not cooking a turkey... just didn't feel like doing all the work for 2 of us... and I wanted to go on a little drive. The weather was amazing.... and looked really great for Monday. Terry said he has something in mind, but he wouldn't tell me. He did say, he was going to take me out to lunch at a place I had never eaten at!
Monday was gorgeous and we hit the road about 10am and headed in the direction of Digby. I was thinking... hum Annapolis Royal... Keji?, Digby... Clare... Yarmouth. It was no use guessing, because Terry wouldn't even give me a clue...
Once we got to Digby, I was confused by the turns we were taking... having never been in the direction we were heading. I soon realized we were heading to Brier Island.! If you don't know where that is, please look on the map below. You will see it, at the very tip of the long skinny finger beyond Digby. You can read "Freeport" on the map.... its just past there.
This was so fun, as it was uncharted Territory for us... and it involved two ferries and some pretty cool island views along the way. The first ferry was fairly small, holding about 20 cars. The second ferry, even smaller, holding no more than 12 cars. What a blast. It reminded me so much of the old days when I was little and we had to cross the St. John River near Burton, on the Ferry.
We arrived at Brier Island around 1:15.. and decided, before we explored the island we would have a nice lunch. This sweet little island has a total of one restaurant ... and it was closed. We drove the entire length of "town" and found the corner store. We took all the side roads (2 of them) and found nothing.... so, back to the corner store.... where we were told that all eating establishments were closed for the season.! So... we bought a large bag of chips... two bottles of drink, some tootsie rolls and off we went exploring. The island is shown below. To give you an idea of the size of the island.. the red road running though the island.. is 2 km long.
We drove that and found the most western end of Nova Scotia.. and the lighthouse that marks this.. below.

We drove to the most eastern part of the island, and found another lighthouse... not nearly as fun looking but the view was spectacular. We were up on a cliff... at eye height to several soaring seagulls.
This light house was in another corner of the island... and had tons of communication equipment, satellite things and a big building behind it.. with offices. Very cool.
This last light house was at the mouth of Grand Passage which is the churning waters between Long Island and Brier Island.
Waiting for the return ferry.... we fed the seagulls some chips....

The rocks on this island were very unique.. not something I have ever seen before... very very cool.

What a great day, and a great Thanksgiving weekend. I knew it would be different, and I enjoyed every minute...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Here we go again...

So, this time last year... for those who have been reading me that long, will remember that Terry was going away hunting in Ontario for 10 days. I was a tad excited about spending time here alone... for the first time EVER.
To review, Terry went hunting quite often, almost every year in early November for 10 days. It was never really a big deal.. just common practice... normal. But last year when he went, was the first time in all our years that when he went away, I would be all alone. I had always had kids home, or my dad. The first year, after Dad died, Terry didn't go away and I was glad he didn't. But last year, I was looking forward to the 10 days. So was he. You can read just how excited I was and what all my big plans were for when he was my last year's blog.
This year is not as exciting to me. I still am excited to be on my own, but I don't have as many rules set, on how I will enjoy it.
Last year.. I swore I wasn't cooking one meal, not one. I also said I wasn't doing the garbage... because... its against my beliefs. Well, I still don't plan on cooking.. but if I have to I will. The garbage will not get done this year ... because I still don't "do" garbage. Last year, Scott arrived from Halifax in time to put it out... but this year... it will sit in the garage... its no sweat off my butt!.
Terry left today. I had left overs for supper.. and ate in front of the TV. Imagine.... it was law in my house... since Stephanie was born. We have never had a TV within hearing distance of our dining room table, let alone within watching distance. But today, I grabbed my plate of leftovers and moved into the bedroom and watched Oprah camping in Yosemite... what a friggin hoot. I am going to go there some day!
The time Terry is gone will go by fast, because I have a list a mile long of chores and projects I need to get done. I also need to take care of all the pets.... you know.. feed them... let them in, let them out... let them in, let them out. I usually don't do that.. Terry does. He feeds them, combs them, talks baby talk to them.... ugh... they are demanding.
Pika is now curled up around my hips, squeezed between me and the armchair. ugh.. they are demanding! Terry never minds that... me.... drives me nuts. Tonks is missing Terry already... she keeps staring at me, and I can't figure out what I have forgotten to do for her. I am sure I will figure it out soon.

The harvest continues -Salsa....

Quite a few years ago, our family got on a kick of making and eating salsa by the gallon... literally. For one whole fall, we picked, skinned and stewed several buckets of tomatoes, and tried several internet salsa recipes, along with friends salsa recipes. Some kinds were too spicy, and others too runny. Each time we came up with a recipe to try, we planned a day and everyone took on a job. Stephanie was the pepper chopper, Michelle was the tomato peeler, Terry did the hot peppers and I did the onions. I also did the actually cooking of the salsa, preserving it with whatever method was called for.
That winter, after all the kinds of salsa were made, and tested... and extra tomatoes were picked and frozen whole... Terry and the girls tried them all, one right after the other and determined what they liked and didn't like about each kind.
From that process... Terry came up with a recipe of his own, using good parts of all the salsa batches we had already done.
My favorite recipe belonged to a coworker from years ago, named Julie Lavigne. It was sweet (from using as many apples in it as tomatoes) and it was quite spicy as well. I loved it just the way it was, and didn't need to change anything. Armed with Terry's new recipe, we made a final batch using the frozen tomatoes.
It was perfect.. and became our "Family's Salsa". We called it Terry's Salsa. You would think we could come up with a better name... but hey, some names just happen.!

Every year after that we grew Roma tomatoes and bought all the rest of the stuff. We made several batches of Terry's salsa and one batch of my favorite...
Making Salsa became tradition in house, as much as decorating the Christmas tree. But just like decorating a Christmas tree, once the kids weren't around to help with it, it just wasn't as fun anymore.

We sort of skipped a year, then another and before we knew it, 5 years had gone by since we made any........ but this year we had a terrific batch of roma tomatoes growing, plus Vivian's garden was full of Romas as well. It was time to brew a batch or two.
Michelle's job... which I did...

Terry's job.... the hot peppers....
Stephanie's job... the green, yellow and red peppers.... Terry did those... and he did all the onions.... yipee. We made a triple batch of "Terry's Salsa"... and we never got around to making my Salsa (yet)...

Success... 18 bottles of Terry's Salsa. Not nearly as spicy as we thought it would be.. with all the hot peppers that went in it... but still very enjoyable...