Monday, November 7, 2011

Strength comes in all forms....

I always knew I would be with Michelle for the birth of her first baby, but I told myself it was ok not to be there, just in case I wasn't brave enough to do it. I told Michelle not to expect me, and she put no pressure on me to do so... but when push came to shove, there was no other place I could possibly be.. then right there with her.

As her mom, I worried about so many little things. I couldn't share
my worries with her, because I wanted Michelle to know that I had every
confidence that things would be perfect. But man she was big... she was sore in her ribs, she was overdue and tired. I worried about hours of labor, epidurals, c-section, birth problems... cord problems... I was Michelle's mommy first, and an expected Grandmother second.

Because she was overdue, big and sore... they planned to induce her on Saturday, Nov 5th, 7 days after her due date.. I know they arranged this because Saturday is my favourite day of the week.. as I may have mentioned before. They started the process around noon hour, which again, suited me perfect.. because I drove up Saturday morning, through black ice, snow squalls and a near empty gas tank (oops) arriving at 1:00 at their home. I followed Scott to the hospital and we arrive just as the first few labor pains began at 1:30.

There I sat, nervously, wondering how long would this take, and when should I leave... where should I sit, what should I do... We had the company of a nurse in the room to monitor the drug in her system that brings on labor. It felt like we should be on our best behaviour with her there... and we sat in silence for the first little while. But after just a few minutes, we all started chatting and it became a little more relaxed and it made the time go by a little faster for Michelle. Scott and I traded seats after a few minutes and he held her hand and I sat in the corner. My heavens, thing progressed very quickly and with in an hour Michelle was "blowing" through some fairly tough contractions. We took our cue from the nurse and started to talk her through these contracts and I blew through them all too. Its a wonder I didn't pass out with some of the blowing I was doing!!! Soon we were standing up beside her and Scott was the Kleenex holder, tear wiper, the hand holder, the sweet nothing whisperer and I was the facecloth wiper, the firm talker, the praise dropper. There was no time for talk of epidural, no talk of c-section, no time to even thinking about leaving. An hour and a half after I arrived, Michelle felt the need to push and everyone took their spot. Two nurses.. one for Michelle, one for the baby... the Doctor and Scott and I. We were instructed on what we were to do.. and we each held a leg, and Scott was the metronome counter.. he counted through the tears, the groans, the constant bantering of nurses and me. We all held on to every word he said, because he was like the time keeper, the taskmaster, the light at the end of the tunnel. After each count of 10, Michelle could take a break. Sometimes her body wouldn't let her take a break, but other times she could rest for a minute, talk about what was happening and even have a cheerful giggle at how close we were.

Now, I am not a blood and guts kind of person, although I deal with it at school all the time. But I am not one who can watch surgeries on TV, or even watch those childbirth stories. This was part of why I didn't want to be in with them when Jack arrived.... just afraid, really of the whole idea. But you know... when the doc started saying she could see the babies' head... I had to sneak a peek.... i didn't see a head... but after a push or two.. I did see something... a very tiny peeking head... Confused, I thought to my self that Jack's head was really small! But I didn't say anything.... another push... and more of the little tiny head... I whispered to Michelle that Jack had hair... and she giggled.. because she herself was as bald as a cue ball, when she was born! Another big push and the rest of his "not so small" head came out.... and it wasn't gross at all.. it was amazing. His big chubby face, and eyes were slammed shut.. wondering what the heck was happening... And then.... three more pushes and baby Jack was finally out.. and up on Michelle's body... looking big and bright and happy to be out with his mom and dad...
It was absolutely amazing to be a part of this whole miracle... This big and healthy, little boy was born just two and a half hours after I arrived in the room. We were all in awe... and I was full of wonder, as was Michelle and Scott. So fun to look in his little face and watch his eyes, his cheeks, his little mouth... We waited and wondered for months, who he would look like... and we all see lots of both parents in him. He is a perfect mix of both of them...
Jack Terrance Matheson
November 5th, 2011
3:49pm 9lb 11oz

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Sunday, October 2, 2011

There it was.. gone... September that is...

For Andrew... who can't resist reading stories about those first few days of school when ... as a parent.. you are excited, terrified and some what relieved to have your kids back at school. As a staff member you have all those same feelings but for different reasons. Those first few days for me are mostly adrenaline filled, somewhat terrifying and with a hint of excitement and resentment!!!
Last years' challenges at the start of the year were mostly painful and embarrassing as we struggled through the implementation of a new computer system that allowed teachers to take more control of attendance, class lists, have access to the students demographics , etc... Sounds boring for most, but very exciting to teachers.. for sure. But the center of the nerve centre for this system was ~me~ and my coworker... with each of us holding the key to a different part of the system. With all the normal upheaval on the first few days.. we had the added stress of trying to make this system work with no experience and little training. We survived but it was painful and frustrating as mentioned before..
This year... was just as hectic, with 75 new four & five year olds starting school, plus 50 or so families new to our community and several new staff members. But the difference this year was a calmness through the staff, now far more experienced with our "new" system... a great partnership in the office, and the strongest of bonds in our administration. When you work as a team, you get so much more done... with far less effort and together we are an amazing team, with each one of us having weaknesses and strengths that compliment and offset the others.

How many people does it take to remove a splinter.... bahhaa....

Other September news....
Stephanie has a new job in Gwangju where she teaches students via video conferencing in small schools through out the city. She teachers many classes each day, in a variety of grade levels, as well as 10 minute "one on one" sessions with after-school groups each day. She has a new apartment, which she loves and coworkers who are from all corners of the world but all English speaking, dessert loving teachers. Stephanie is on video to the class, and they are on video to her.
She loves this new way of teaching for funny reasons like... she gets to bring her own lunch now... no more school cafeteria lunches of fish head stew, and kimchi.... she has her very own heater for her cubical... which... is a gift because they don't have heat in their schools.... ever! (Even when it is +5 outside ~ a Gwangju winter)
Sean is working very hard on his degree at UNB and is in his LAST semester and then will head to Korea to get back to Stephanie, their cat, his friends and his weird love of Korean food!!! His plans will be to teach once he gets back, but will have to wait for some paperwork stuff to be processed and hopefully it will all get done before the new school year begins in Gwangju, around April. I dropped in on his mom and dad's pottery display in September... at the Craft Festival.

Yet.. more September news...
Michelle is in her last 4 weeks of pregnancy and we spent early September in the baby's room getting things sorted out and arranged. She and Scott are well stocked, well read, well rested and well... ready for a baby boy to arrive.. sometime between Oct 11 (Full moon) and Oct 31 (Michelle's guess!). Our baby Jack is coming along very well, and Michelle is a real trooper with the whole pregnancy. She has enjoyed every minute of her extra large belly, the extreme mountain climbing that Jack seems to be involved in (inside of her) and her busy, fast-paced daycare job. Scott is working very hard on his PHD at UNB along with his Apple Rep stuff.... and with two cats, a nutty white dog and all his father to be chores like cooking and cleaning... he is in a non-stop whirlwind. Scott is hoping for a Thanksgiving baby but his money is on Nov 1st in our family bet on when Jack will finally arrive!

So, Andrew... September in and around a school is always hectic, and I know a part of you misses this time... but let me tell you... Some of us are envious of your retired lifestyle of self-inflicted busy as opposed to a September merry-go-round of unsolicited emergencies, problems, complaints, failures with a spattering of fun and funny moments!!!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Chocolate Cake...simple and delicious..

So I mentioned to Chantal the other day that I really would like to have a KitchenAid Stand Mixer for Xmas and could she possibly lay some hints to my family to get me one. And then two days later I saw the Canadian Tire flyer with the exact one I wanted on the front page and it was 40% off. Did I cut out the flyer and tape it to the fridge with a big blinking arrow on it for Terry to go buy... for me.. for Xmas..... no.
I went out and bought it myself and un boxed it the minute I got home! I will be hinting for slippers for Xmas instead...
Terry laughed at me and said the first thing I need to bake is a chocolate cake. I have sort of been looking for a good chocolate cake recipe for a while since it happens to be Terry's favorite cake. I am not a fan of cake which sort of takes the fun out of baking one. This summer I found a recipe I thought I would like but it was too dense, too wet, too fussy. So, off to my favorite recipe site and searched the cakes.
I found this recipe called "That" chocolate cake and it was on a funny blog (found here). Sounded simple enough and away I went (after Terry made a run to the grocery store (twice) for ingredients.).
Not thinking it was "blog" worthy quite yet, I didn't take any pictures of the making of this cake.. but it was painfully simple.

That Chocolate Cake
3 cups (600 grams) sugar
scant 3 cups (425 grams) flour
1 cup + 2 tablespoons (135 grams) cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
3 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups hot coffee

Preheat oven to 350F. I used a very large Bundt pan, but the original recipe (found here) was made using three 8" round cake pans. What ever you use, grease and flour your pan.
In a mixer bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Whisk to combine.
In a separate bowl, combine the beaten eggs, vegetable oil, and milk. Stir to mix. Then, with the mixer on low, pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix on low until evenly distributed. Pour the hot coffee into the batter and mix on medium low until smooth. The batter will be soupy.

Pour your batter in to your prepared pan (or pans). Bake for 35-50 minutes (depending on what size pan you used) When the cakes spring back when pressed lightly with a finger, or when a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out cleanly, the cakes are done. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes, then invert the cake onto cooling racks to cool completely.

1 3/4 cups (350 gr) sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
7 1/2 oz unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a saucepan, bring the sugar and heavy cream to a boil over medium heat. Immediately reduce the heat to low and simmer the cream and sugar for six minutes. Be careful not to let the saucepan overflow.
Remove from heat and whisk in the chocolate and butter until they have completely melted. (At first, I just stirred it, but the chocolate refused to incorporate until I used a whisk, and then it took about two seconds.) Stir in the vanilla extract.

Let the frosting cool completely, whisking every now and then during cooling. (You can do this step in the refrigerator to speed up the process) Once completely cool at room temperature, the frosting will thicken to a spreadable consistency. Now, my frosting didn't turn out as well as the original post and I think it was because I used "Blend (10% cream) instead of heavy cream (35%). I sort of poured and spread my icing on the cake and then refrigerated it. It is still super delicious.


Friday, August 26, 2011

whose got time to blog in the summer.....

...But the tough part is, I had such a great summer... its well worth blogging about, even if its for my own memoirs. I have thought about how to do this, and I will probably blog in order, and I will post them in order... and then repost them after a week or so, to the actual dates they happened so that I can keep good record.

One of the really fun part about my job working in a school is that I get seven weeks off during the summer. I enjoy those 7 weeks immensely and take advantage of every moment. The really hard part about that whole luxury is... for the last 2 weeks of my time off... I am fretting about wasting my whole summer and not getting stuff done that I had planned to do. I hum and haw, and plan, and make lists but still, I watch TV, I visit with friends, I garden and even sew. But then during my last two days before going back.. I cram so much stuff in that I really need to get back to work, just to get a rest!

Just a cute little note... at the very start of the summer, actually, before school was over.. Terry and I were called upon to do our grandparental duties and babysit Michelle and Scotts cats, Apollo and Sirius. We had a great two weeks with them and they often sat shoulder to shoulder, staring at the wilderness TV out our front window.When I snapped this picture I was reminded of them when they were little 3 month old kittens, home from university for Thanksgiving. They did the same thing, and it was so exciting for them to watch the birds and squirrels. Here they are..... at 3 months old!

I am just eating the Peach Ice Cream... Is it delicious?..... most certainly....... was it worth all the trouble?..... maybe..... would I make it again? .... most definitely NO. But oh my, its very good.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Peaches- what was I thinkin'?

Its August in the Valley and the peaches are gorgeous this year. Why, when nothing else seems to be producing well.. are the peaches so pretty... who knows... but they sure sucked me in!
I stopped by Mr. Laffin's little road side market and picked up two bags of small ripe peaches to make some jam... Something, I have never made before... peach jam.
During one of my many evenings of Pinterest sailing, I found a wonderful looking recipe for peach ice cream as well and ideas and cravings started flowing... I can really kill two birds with one project... since I have to poach and peel peaches anyway... why not try peach ice cream too..

Why not indeed... I have made ice cream before, and its fairly time consuming but its usually vanilla with a few added fun things and maybe a flavoring or two. How hard could it be to make peach ice cream.

So, it began yesterday with blanching all my peaches which included a boiling pot of water, a sink full of ice and water.. a slotted spoon, a paring knife, several bowls (for for the skins & pits, one for the skinned peaches, one for the chopped peaches)... This was a fun project and without batteries in my camera! An hour and a half later, they were safely in the fridge for this mornings' project.

Bright and early today, I began my peach projects, and since I have made jam a million times.. I know exactly what the process is, and decided I should start on one of the ice cream stages first.. since the recipe seemed to call for a couple of steps. I was amazed at the number of steps I had to do, including.... finely chop the peaches, mix with sugar and something else (can't remember) and let sit for TWO HOURS (in a bowl)..... meanwhile I had to mix cream with whole milk and something else... and heat until there is steam.... stirring constantly.... and meanwhile I had to whisk 6 yolks with more sugar(in another bowl)... and then add one cup of milk to eggs..stirring constantly... and then eggs back into cream/milk stuff and stir constantly again.. until like it reached some ungodly temperature which meant I had to find my candy thermometer... and then I had to fill another bowl with ice, and put another bowl in the ice and then a strainer.. and then when the milk was a certain temp I had to strain the milk/cream/yolks in to the bowl and STIR CONSTANTLY until it reached room temperature... then I added vanilla.

Then in the fridge for 2 hours. After that horror... I then had to simmer the peaches that had been sitting for 2 hours in a pot.. (a different pot than the milk pot) for 10 minutes.. then cool to room temperature.. and then add peach snaps and refrigerate for 4 hours.... Geeeshhhhh. THEN I had to strain the peaches, and mix the juices from the peaches into the milk stuff.. and then I could actually put it in the ice cream maker..

After 45 minutes... it didn't look much different than when it went in.. but I had to stir in the drained peaches... and now..I have this tiny little container of peach ice cream and it has to freeze in the freakin freezer for like 12 hours!

In between all the constant stirring, the millions of dishes and bowls and pots... and measuring cups, stir things... oh, my ... I actually made Peach Jam... which was a "peach" of cake... hee hee.

So here it is. My last day of vacation.. and its been a peachy day. I haven't gotten to try the ice cream yet, but I will for dessert tomorrow. All I know is that it better be over the moon delicious because I don't think I will ever make it again!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Now, who am I trying to kid....

I am not what you would call a stunning beauty... and I am totally ok with it all.. except as I get older I am amazed at the age spots, the lines, the droops. Over the last few years... some vanity in my looks started to kick in and I started going to a beautician to get my eyebrows waxed because my failing eye sight wouldn't allow me to get it done myself. I quite enjoyed going to Leah at Starks, and started branching out from eyebrow waxing to pedicures, and the odd facial.

After my hairdressing shop had their awful fire, it came to me that I would have to start doing my own eyebrows until they got back on their feet. How does one pluck their own eye brows when you need to wear your reading glasses to do it! Well... my solution was to get one of those big ass magnifier mirrors and my Mother in Law just happen to have one she didn't need!

That's when it happened.... that when I actually saw the spots, the blemishes, the lines, the facial hair.. the "old" coming out of me.. oozing like a volcano .... ARRRGGGGH. What an eye opener.. and I instantly wondered how people could stand to be in a conversation with me, while looking at this face. After a bit though, I came to the realization that they were quite use to my face that they looked at each day... it was just me that was shocked that I wasn't the 20 year old beauty I use to be!

This began my new routine in the morning... pluck pluck, tweeze tweeze, squeeze squeeze... I bought foundation, and mascara... started wearing my one 4 year old tube of lipstick more regularly. But, as all routines go.. I did this for a month or soo.. and then it got lame. I put foundation on when I thought of it.. and suffered through trying to put mascara on, like once ever week or so.. and the lipstick.. well, I stuck with that pretty good.. but I only put it on once a day.. thinking it will last all day!

All that said, just to explain my morning routine this morning.... got dressed.. looked in the mirror.. and thought I looked particularly pale today.. so I gave my lips a swipe of this new lipstick that came in a sample pack that Jacquie got for free somewhere.. didn't really like the color but didn't have time to change it. I thought I would attempt the mascara today...
I am not great when it comes to eye stuff.. creeps me out totally.. so mascara is such a struggle for me... and sure enough... went in too deep with a big blob on the wand and touched my eye...
I immediately slammed my eye shut.. and voila...
After my laughter stopped, I thought I might.. first look for my camera, and second, look for eye makeup remover.. which I was pretty sure I bought when I bought all the other crap when I started my "new" routine! Got the picture... found the make up remover.. and spent a minute or two trying to get it all off... realized I forgot to brush my teeth.. so I did... smearing my new lipstick all over the toothbrush.. and my lips... removed that and went back in.. put on my old lipstick and went to work with mascara on just one eye!

PS.. don't look at my eyebrows.. that part of the routine wore off too!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Rhubarb, Anyone!

*I originally wrote this blog last July and never finished it. I was about to write this very blog again, and had a feeling that I had already blogged my rhubarb... and when I did a search, I found this blog, only half written, and never published. Sadly.. nothing has changed, so the first paragraphs are the exact same as last years!

**I have grown Rhubarb for the past 20 years. The same rhubarb plants. I dug them up from my neighbor's yard over 20 years ago and planted it in my yard. She NEVER picked it... she was happy to get rid of it. The funny thing is... I don't really like rhubarb. I love watching it grow, I love that its the first thing up in the spring... and my plants are very large. I am not sure if its a large variety or I have a great spot for it.. but it grows gigantic every year.
Peeking out of the ground on March 15
6 weeks later-April 30th.

3 weeks later May 24

Every year... I pull some, chop it, freeze it. I pull and give away much of it, as well. But eventually, the stocks get woody because they don't get pulled fast enough, and then its done for the year.

There are only two recipes I make with rhubarb... and once I make those, I don't do another thing with it. This year... things will be different. My goal is to use every bit of it. Make things, give it away.... freeze it for winter use.**

So here it is, a year has gone by since I wrote the first two paragraphs.. and I suspect the reason I didn't publish my blog from last year, was that I never did a freakin' thing with my stupid rhubarb. But .. this year.. I will be! (oh, the pictures are from this year, I never got around to taking pictures last year!)

First off... I actually planted MORE rhubarb... even though I don't really like it... I wanted to try going the "strawberry rhubarb" kind...
you can see the little stocks of bright red planted next to the big one. Thanks Cynthia, for the gift of your dad's rhubarb, by the way! Once the little ones take hold and start growing next spring, I will be digging up the monster 'barb and bringing it to my sisters house for her to grow!

Back to the recipes... I make an incredibly yummy Rhubarb cake... so easy its embarrassing... and I also make a yummy Rhubarb muffin. That's about it.
As mentioned above.. I am going to use EVERY bit of my rhubarb this year... and this weekend I started using it up. Made the cake for dessert on Saturday and brought the rest to work today.
Tonight I made 30 Rhubarb muffins (recipe below) and I started them right after I made 30 banana chocolate muffins. Its the last week with students at school, and that always means we need a few little treats in the staff room.. so why not use up some of my dreaded rhubarb, as well as those nasty blackish bananas the kids won't eat in the snack bin.

Stunned moment.... I start the muffins, while baking supper, talking to Michelle on the phone, watching Jennifer Aniston on Oprah and tripping over the cats. There are several stages to the muffins.. and as I get to the last stage of sprinkling buttery brown sugar and cinnamon over them, before they go in the oven, I realize... I forgot to put the FLIPPING rhubarb in the batter!. They are now, in the tins, with brown sugar on them.. and there is NO RHUBARB in them.......ARRRRRRRGGG. So, I start poking the little chunks of rhubarb into the muffins... without disturbing the brown sugar too much... They cooked fine.. but I am telling you, each muffin doesn't have very much rhubarb in it... and as you can see, I hardly made a dent in my monster rhubarb plant!
A little butterfly visitor yesterday morning before the weird weather hit! After the big rainstorm, and thunder and lightning, we had a flood in the back yard. We have never seen so much water collect in the garden! It drained within minutes.. but geeesh! Sure flattened the rhubarb!
Rhubarb Muffins
(recipe given to me from Bertha Gubernt)
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups diced rhubarb
2 1/2 cups of flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Combine sugar, oil, egg, vanilla and buttermilk.. beat well. Stir in Rhubarb. In separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt until blended. Add dry ingredients to rhubarb mixture, mixing just until blended. Spoon batter into greased muffin cups, filling them 2/3 full. (Don't over fill) Scatter cinnamon topping over filled cups and press lightly into batter. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 24 minutes.

Cinnamon mixture
1 tbsp melted butter (or Marg)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

*note from experience- when the muffins come out of the oven, take a spoon and move the melted brown sugar that might have leaked onto the muffin tins back onto the muffins while soft. let the muffins sit for a few minutes in the pan before you take the muffins out. If you wait on the brown sugar thing.. it becomes like cement onto the muffin tin, and make a real mess of the muffin tops as you try to get the muffins out of the pan. All in all.. though.. so worth it!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

How much fun can you have with a name?

What do you think of when you hear the name "Jack"

Jumpin' Jack Flash..... Jack & Dianne....Captain Jack..... Jack & Jill... Jack and the Beanstalk.... Hit the road Jack..... the game of Jacks... Jack Daniels.....
When I hear the name Jack... I get this warm tingly feeling all over my body but mostly in my heart!

This is "my" Jack. He was unveiled today when Michelle and Scott went for their ultrasound. He is 12 ounces right now, and 20 cms long. While they were at the appt, the proud parents had the most amazing experience watching him roll, kick, fold, bend and lay still. He was totally showing off for them and allowed the technician to take lots of pictures and lots of measurements too. The due date is right where they thought... just before Halloween.
We have had lots of fun with planning baby things.. but it will be even more fun, now that we know who he really is.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

on Demand...

Being the parents of three cats... is not an easy task. The demands on the back door operation is getting out of hand. We have Paralax and her new found hunting skills. Then there's Pika and his 'need to be in, then out, then in, then out" and finally Tonks and her 'want' to be out, but her 'need' to have the door open at all times to feel safe. This spring has been a chore for Terry and I to keep them all happy. If Pika doesn't get what he wants... he usually tries to destroy things like our carpet by the door. Paralax lays a beating on Pika if she isn't let out when she requests... and Tonks, well, she is vocal about her needs, but far less destructive.
We felt it was going to be a long demanding summer... and we needed a solution! I bought this cat door a few years ago, mostly as a joke...and, sadly, I don't even remember the joke. But we decided the other day that it wasn't really a bad idea.. and on the spur of the moment, Terry got out his power tools and within 15 minutes.. we had a cat door.... This door has a magnetic latch at the bottom, it swings in and out.. and even has a lock on it for when we need to keep them in (or out). Now the trick was to teach them to use it. We decided to tie it open for a few days to let them know they have free reign to come in and out without having to wait for us to open the door, plus for Tonks' sake, it would always be open to allow her a quick escape when something spooked her. Pika was the first to figure it out, and enjoyed going in and out.. and Paralax caught on pretty quickly after Pika.

Tonks on the other hand.... just couldn't believe that the door wasn't WIDE open for her.. and therefore she hung around the little door for a very long time. This was something she would have to figure out on her own... because she wouldn't let us near her to guide her... she doesn't trust us. After the lure of cat treats, cat nip and jealousy (cat treat envy)... she popped through the door.. had a few treats and then slid back inside.
You know though, after that first little adventure for her... she tried it again.. and ventured farther out onto the deck and over to the catnip... always keeping her eyes on the little door. She would then tear over to it, and slam her way through it.. as noisily as a dog would. I think she would go into a mini panic before she got to the door, thinking it might shut before she got there... After a few days though, she was in and out, roaming the deck and the yard, for that matter. She seemed to get braver than we expected!!!Its been installed now for about a week, and we now have it closed but unlocked. Paralax has the whole concept figured out... being able to push the little door open just enough to get her head out and then she slips out quietly and effortlessly. Pika is not interested in trying.. and Tonks is pissed. We still have some work to do... but there is hope!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Cottage Heaven

Cottage living is simply the best livin', really. There is always work to be done at the cottage, but somehow, it doesn't feel like work. Opening the cottage is a ton of work, especially for my sister and her hubby.. who drag an entire van full of stuff to the cottage each day for a couple of days, just to get it open. Bedding, towels, food, the TV, sewing stuff, cleaning stuff... etc. Gail spends the whole day making beds, vacuuming, hanging curtains, dusting and washing all the flat surfaces, stocking cupboards and the bathroom. Her hubby does repairs of winter damage, fools with the water and hoses, the pumps, the lawn furniture, the yard... etc
But finally, after a week or so, it is ready for the fun stuff.... my visit!!! Meanwhile, at my house, I am digging up plants, making suppers, finding my garden gloves and tools... and this year was no different.. I was soooooooo excited to hit the road and drive 6 hours for the cottage. I had plans of gardening, digging up stuff, yard work to clean up the lake damage! Spending time with my sister and my daughter were the bonuses to the weekend.
We arrived late Friday night after a long rainy drive... and went to bed shortly after we got there... all excited for a day of outside fun in the morning....
And it rained... rained all day.... cold.... windy... rain. There was no hope of doing any outside work, so we sat. We talked, we planned, we waited for Michelle and Scott. And we drank coffee... we sat... we talked....
One of the things we noticed was.... we had no Internet. When we talked about quilt plans... we couldn't search for the proper pattern. We planned some Grammie camp events... and we couldn't search for ideas.... We couldn't skype with Stephanie, or Patience..... we couldn't email Michelle and ask when she was coming... I couldn't show Gail Pinterest..... we couldn't check the weather forecast or find out information on movies coming up at the show. After a while, we seemed to be obsessed with how we could get the Internet at the cottage without it costing an arm and a leg! We couldn't wait for Scott to arrive, so he could tell us how to get it.... alas, when he came.. he had no good news on the subject. We said the entire morning, afternoon and evening... waiting for the rain to stop... And, finally... we went to bed.!

Sunday morning, arrived... cold and grey... but it wasn't raining. It didn't take long for the whole house to eat breakfast and get dressed and we were outside... in the chilly weather, and we started cleaning the yard and gardening.
The lake comes up pretty high every spring, and most of this flowerbed gets covered in water and eventually all the mulch floats away, along with loose soil. We usually have to rebury most of the plants, and top with more mulch. This year, even though the water was high, it didn't cover this garden!
After about 2 hours, and 6 of us working, we got everything pretty well looking great. We spent the rest of the day doing fun cottage stuff... the boys fished, and we worked inside the cottage, and on the deck. Michelle learned some great jewelry making lessons from Gail and got hooked on making bracelets.. She is now recruited for our Grammie camp to teach the kids a new craft!

Just before supper, Scott, Terry and I headed out on the kayaks and went for an hour's paddle. The water was so high, we had the opportunity to paddle through tree branches about 5 feet in the air! This was an adventure that Scott has always wanted to do, and he took a pretty intense shortcut through a pretty thick stand of trees and came out the other side soakin' wet. He had a few tricky spots to get through, but he loved it just the same! Boys will be boys!.

I always love the cottage.

Monday, May 30, 2011

A proud moment - a Cat Tail!

As you may recall, Stephanie left us her two cats way back in 2009 to take care of while she was in Korea teaching. They are still with me and have survived their second winter and enjoying their second spring. These two little cats spent the first 5 years of their lives as indoor cats.. never having the freedom to roam the yard. We have gently exposed them to the great outdoors.
Tonks enjoys sitting on the deck and watching birds, June bugs and our neighbours. Paralax, on the other hand, is prowling the neighbourhood. She is in and out of the house as often as she can convince us to let her in and out.
Every night, Terry starts around 8pm trying to get her to come in for the night, and usually succeeds around 10.
Imagine our surprise when one evening this week, Terry opens the back door and finds Paralax sitting proudly on the deck, guarding her first kill. A teeny tiny shrew!
You could totally see the pride and sense of accomplishment in her face when she proudly lay beside her kill. She rolled and bath, then swat it, then roll again... a little more bathing....
She lay protectively beside her little critter, while Tonks gingerly inched her ways towards it to have a little sniff. Pika inspected it as well, and sort of turned away, not impressed.

Poor Paralax got a little possessive and hid it away under her paw. It was so small she totally covered it with her paw.
Terry and I chuckled all evening, just imagining the excitement and her pride.