I'm so glad you could stop by. This is my personal blog of daily life and my journey through life. You will find a strong emphasis on family and friends as well as finding my ancestors through genealogy. Unlike my other blogs this blog is more of a catch-all so any topic is fair game.

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Monday, July 30, 2007

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Blog Your Blessings Sunday - A Week Filled with Many Blessings

As we struggle to get settled into our new house and get it ready for our anniversary party the first week of August, I'm am conscious of the abundance of blessings we have. The past week has been very busy with both inside and outside work. Progress is being made thanks to the very generous help of our kids. Brush has been cleared, rocks removed and the yard has been prepared for sod where gardens were removed. Inside we have finished painting the family room, installed the dishwasher, fixed a plumbing problem, fixed a fire hazard electrical problem and completed many small tasks. Our oldest has been staying with us for the past couple of weeks to help wherever he can. This has given us some valuable and much needed bonding time before he moves to Wisconsin. It's wonderful to just be able to enjoy his company! Last week's blessings include:

  1. family!!!!!
  2. baby giggles and coos on the phone
  3. good friends
  4. very friendly new neighbours (even went to a neighbourhood party, music was a live band!)
  5. good DIY skills and the knowledge to know when to call professionals
  6. a serious potential electrical fire hazard averted (read about it here)
  7. a 6 hour plumbing repair (done by our plumber) - Hey, it could have been longer and more costly!
  8. learning to fine tune my patience - Paint only dries so fast and getting things done for our schedule, well ... my patience has been tested but that's a good thing!
  9. down time with Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows while sitting in the glow of the setting sun on the dock
  10. a visit last night from a maundering skunk
Have a wonderful week filled with many blessings!

Garden Gnome

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Harry Potter! Deathly Hallows

I would be remiss as a Harry Potter fan if I did not write a post on the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and the newest movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Last Saturday my daughter, son-in-law, his mother and I went to the theatre to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I was full of anticipation! After the movie we stopped to buy copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7). Like many Harry Potter fans, I have been anxiously awaiting the release of the book while avoiding any of the spoilers regarding the final chapter. I've speculated and predicted the outcome with both family and friends.

I have mixed feelings about movie 5. It was good but not sitting on the edge of your seat fantastic so I was a little disappointed. Harry (Daniel Radcliff), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) have matured and that is reflected in their appearance and behaviour. The importance of the phoenix was downplayed as was the abuse Harry suffered at the hands of Dolores Umbridge (actress Imelda Staunton), the newly appointed Hogwarts Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. She steadily takes over Hogwarts with the approval of the Ministry of Magic. Umbridge is one of those easy to hate characters right from the start in both the book and the movie so it was rather satisfying seeing her carted off into the Forbidden Forest by the centaurs. The battle at the Department of Mysteries was portrayed nicely. Voldermort and the Death Eaters were nicely portrayed as well, consistent with the previous movies.

For Harry Potter fans, this is a must see, must buy movie for your collection. As with all the movies it is one that will be watched again simply to pick up on those things missed with the first viewing. The movie has less enchantment and whimsical but considerably more darkness. There are some differences between the book and the movie. To get the most from this movie as with the previous movies, read the book first.

UK Child Jacket Version

Note: No spoilers follow. If you want to know what happens you will have to read the book.

I have the UK hard copy version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Of the jacket covers, I really like the UK children's version. It has nice visual appeal mixed with a lot of symbolism. I'm as far as page 157 of 608. Already more has been learned about Dumbledore and a few other characters. There has already been one death but you will have to read the book to discover who.

There are a lot of spoilers online regarding Deathly Hallows. Don't read them before you read the book!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Wordless Wednesday - Wispy Clouds

wispy clouds
Wispy Clouds
July 22, 2007

Monday, July 23, 2007

Friday, July 20, 2007

Photo Opportunities

straw bales
Straw Bales
July 13, 2007

I mentioned yesterday that my digital camera is always near by. We live in such a beautiful area surrounded by fertile farmland and the gorgeous Great Lakes waterways. Even a simple drive into town can provide a photo opportunity. There is an abundance of wildlife and waterfowl to enjoy and the scenery couldn't be prettier! For some reason I always love the sight of straw bales in the field. The bales are massive compared to the smaller rectangular straw or hay bales. The round bales are loaded onto farm wagons pulled by tractors for their journey to the storage barns. The tractors are slow moving allowing those patiently following behind to drink in the surrounding beauty.

Today I feel like getting away from all the work that needs to be done in the house but I can't. We have too much to do before August 6. In my mind's eye I will be enjoying the scenery of the countryside as I go about the seemingly endless amount of work throughout the house today - painting, caulking, preparing walls, tearing things apart, putting things back together, stripping wallpaper and when in doubt repeat. Some tasks are easily accomplished, others are more challenging, while a few require outside help. Yep, our electrician and plumber are our new best friends with the AC installers right up there as well. Still bit by bit they are coming getting finished at least on the lower level. With any luck the lower level aka main living area will be finished enough for the party by Wednesday of next week.

If you are interested in reading about some of the repairs, decorating or anything related to our new home, please check out my homemaking blog, Garden Gnome at Home.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


abandoned farm

Abandoned Farm
July 13, 2007

My digital camera is always close by even when I'm driving as I never know what might strike my fancy for a photo opportunity. So it was a few days ago as I was heading into town. I've been by this old farm site several times and have taken several photos but was waiting for just the perfect sky for a nice photo. I couldn't resist when the opportunity presented itself. All that is left is a dirt laneway leading to bare track where the house set, the front porch and a huge shade tree. I can't help pondering...

As you know I have been extensively researching my ancestors. I would have loved to find even these few remnants of my third great grandparents home. Sadly there is nothing remaining despite a very diligent search. The old abandoned farm makes me wonder and ponder so many things.

Who lived there?
I imagine a family farm with young children running carefree during the summer after doing their chores. Their parents were hard working, honest folk tilling the land, raising livestock and keeping their faith. I see a family gathering with extended family for a summer picnic shaded from the heat by the huge shade tree. The children likely climbed the tree and swung from a homemade swing hung for their entertainment. During the storms the children likely hid under their beds as they heard the winds whip about the house causing both it and the tree to groan eerily.

The laneway - The laneway likely was at best little more than two ruts leading to a simple farmhouse. At first it would have been ruts caused from a horse and carriage. Later automobiles widened the ruts. It would have been almost pure mud during the spring thaw and rainy autumn seasons. At some point someone added gravel to counteract the mud but there is little of the gravel left now.

What was the house like? Given the location, I suspect the original house was a wood sided, two story house somewhat on the smallish side with no indoor plumbing. There would have been an outhouse and summer kitchen. The house would have been heated with wood and food would have been cooked on a wood stove. The house would have been cold and drafty in the winter, hot and muggy in the summer and rather pleasant during the spring and autumn months. As the farm passed through the generations the house may have been bricked. The old wood porch was replaced with a concrete one. Indoor plumbing and wiring were installed and the summer kitchen renovated into a larger kitchen.

Abandonment? As the farm passed from generation to generation as many farms in this area do, at some point either the remaining family passed on or sold the old homestead. Whoever the farm passed to decided to tear down the old homestead several years back expanding the workable land. Somewhere one or more elderly persons were fondly remembering the old homestead likely with a tear or two.

And life goes on, generation after generation always changing but leaving memories behind...

Monday, July 16, 2007

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Blog Your Blessings Sunday - Family

blog your blessings Sunday

I'm going to deviate from my normal listing of blessings over the past week. This past week has been one so blessed with family, I wanted to share that instead. Throughout our move the number one blessing has been family. They have been there through the frustrations of the sale, the packing, the unpacking, and the settling in. They have helped get outside work done, hauling stuff to the dump and have give unsolicited but pretty good advice. This weekend all the kids and their partners were home for a family reunion on Saturday. Most of them came home early to help us with the house, stay overnight to travel to the family reunion and turn things into a family oriented weekend.

Anyone who has read my blogs knows how much family means to me. I cannot stress this enough. You can have all the money in the world but if you don't have family you have nothing! My husband's grandmother age 94 was at the family reunion. She was able to meet and hold our granddaughter her great great granddaughter. A younger family member is doing genealogy as a class assignment focusing on certain portions of her family at one time. I was surprised at what information she had! It was all done by hand and word of mouth with the help of other family members who gathered whatever information they had. To me it was a genealogy mecca! It was a wonderful blessing to see such a young person interested in genealogy to the point of gathering not only pictures but primary and secondary information. How wonderful to see a young family member so interested not only in the history of the family but also the future embracing all what genealogy is about.

This past week has been all about family. From the laughs, the tears, the fond memories, the food, the support, the bonding...it was all about family. We are so blessed beyond words to have such a wonderful family. Sure there are a few skeletons and family hush hushes although surprising very few given the size of the family on that size. What is amazing is the absolutely wonderful stories of their lives from the elder members and how some of those things influenced future generations. Two world wars, a depression, immigration and starting a new life in Canada with no family other than themselves to depend on. Believe me I was all eyes, ears and talk picking for any information I could find while enjoying myself.

I watched my now adult kids and grandbaby interact with their aunts, uncles, great (everything) and sit with a mesmerizing look on their face as they listened to their great great grandmother sharing bits and pieces with them. I saw the respect in their faces for other family members. I saw the shear joy of them being around other family members. I saw the laughter and sharing. And I saw blessing flowing so freely. Family...is everything! And what a true blessing it is.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Peaceful Enjoyment

sunset on the water
July 7, 2007

So much has happened in the two short weeks since we moved. Not only are we unpacking and trying to get the house organized we are also working on the house. That means long, tiring days. So far we have removed three pick-up truck loads, heavily loaded of brush and the same amount in rubbish to the dump. Inside, we have organized the home office for my husband as he often works at home during the evening, organized the pantry, organized the utility room and am now preparing the family room for painting this morning. DIY activities have involved: electrical wiring, updating electrical receptacles, solar lighting, stripping wallpaper, reviving flooring, installing our stove, hanging bird feeders and indoor lighting. We needed help with included the gas lines for the grill and dryer plus our electrician is coming in Tuesday to get the electrical problems fixed quicker than we can right now. The AC is being installed the same day. I just calculated that we have 23 days to get the house and yards in shape for our anniversary party on August 6. Given that a good 5 of those days are already committed to other events that leaves 18 days which would be fine if we were both home all day to get things done but we aren't. So a couple of deep breaths and steady work to get what we can done is working right now.

The picture of the sunset was taken while sitting on our dock. We have so much going on that it would be easy to miss these photo opportunities and the chance to re-connect as a couple. The past few mornings we have been sitting together in the sunporch re-connecting as we watch the glittering water. Our even meals have been mainly grilled then plated and taken to the dock to enjoy. After dinner we take a short walk just enjoying our surroundings. Right now these intervals of peaceful enjoyment are critical. They put everything into perspective and give both our minds and bodies a chance to rejuvenate. Some of our best ideas for our new home have risen from this type of peacefulness.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Wordless Wednesday - Clouds

July 5, 2007

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

On the Water

view of water from sunporch

View from Sunporch Overlooking Backyard

The official back of our house opens onto the water. Shrubs, trees and vegetation line the entire backyard creating a scenic and private setting opening onto the water. It can be viewed from the lower level family room, kitchen and covered patio or from the screened-in sunporch on the upper level above the covered patio. I took this photo from the sunporch. The view has changed and will be changing again within the next couple of weeks.

The cedar shrubs under the maple tree have been removed. These were a mosquito haven and took up a large section of the yard. The garden bed under the other maple tree will be removed as well. The previous owner kept the cedar bushes along the breakwall somewhat rounded but we will make them more of a straight low growing hedge. I've already added solar lighting along the hedges for a soft, subtle glow at night. We will be renovating the dock likely next spring. It is a good size but can be extended a considerable distance into the water.

We are looking forward to enjoying many sunrises and sunsets in our new home. The wonderful eye candy we are greeted with each day makes the work of getting settled while fixing a few problems enjoyable. Watch for more pictures of our outdoors coming soon. If you are interested in what's going on indoors or in the kitchen at our new home, click the links.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Blog Your Blessing Sunday - Settling In

blog your blessings Sunday
Our lives have changed greatly over the past week. We are slowly getting settled in our new house. The location is absolutely beautiful! The blessings have been abundant. I can't begin to write them all out here in this post so here are a few highlights of our blessings last week:

  1. family!!!
  2. grandbaby cuddles and giggles
  3. awesome friends
  4. sense of humour
  5. patience and tolerance
  6. discovery
  7. wildlife
  8. beautiful sunsets
  9. extensive DIY skills
  10. a new adventure

Friday, July 06, 2007


mute swans
Mute Swans (Cygnus olor)
June 29, 2007

Last Friday was a day of discovery in our new home. As I did my morning walk about to check out the surroundings, I discovered many and I do mean many garden decorations peaking out in unexpected spots. I took pictures of the ones I wanted to keep knowing that later in the day all would be gathered up to make room for my Gnome Empire. My gnomes are so thrilled at this prospect! It's interesting seeing bits and pieces of the previous owner.

Throughout the day as we discovered more of these items, we would stop and ponder the meaning. Why did she put that particular item there? Most were broken in some way yet she found a home in the garden for them. The most peculiar and thought provoking item we found was part of a tombstone of which when I finally get to my genealogy supplies I will do a rubbing to see the inscription. Then we discovered other parts to the same tombstone. I couldn't help but wonder if perhaps this tombstone had been vandalized at one of the cemeteries so she brought it to her gardens to protect what was left of it. The next time I talk to her I will ask because I'm sure there is a story there!

I had been concerned that the Mute Swans wouldn't stop by. They were a frequent sight at our old house and I never tire of watching them gracefully glide through the water. Mid-morning my fears were put to rest as this family visited the dock area. As soon as they saw me they headed right to the dock so she must have fed them. We discovered a few potential problems and as we worked through the day we made note of these. All of the problems can be solved. Some like a potential rodent problem will involve persistence but things like electrical can be solved immediately.

So it was a great day for discovering about our surroundings, our new home, the previous owner and ourselves...

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

First Glimps

our new laneway
Our New Laneway

Moving day ended about 1:30 am Friday morning so it was a very long and tiring day. Everything went well with the exception of a very nasty temper tantrum by the new owner. Obviously he thought we weren't getting things out quick enough so became quite abusive. Other than that between our friends, family and the movers we managed to get things moved rather quickly.

Friday morning I was up early to do a walk about the new property. It is very much geared towards friendly privacy. The laneway is bordered with boxwoods and open onto a deadend road. A wide expanse of greenspace dotted with a stand of trees separates the deadend road from the main road. I think the laneway is quite majestic looking! The layout of the property is greenspace and laneway to the garage. From the garage to the house is a yard bordered with gardens on one side, a walk way and side yard leading to the back (we prefer it as front) yard. From the house to the water edge is lovely. There are large trees with a lot of under growth, grass area and natural privacy opening onto the water. There is a breakwall softened by boxwoods and a dock.

The property as beautiful as it is did not come without problems. I'll be posting how we deal with these problems on Garden Gnome at Home and from time to time mentioning them here. The house itself is a well built two level home with brick exterior. The lower level is not really a basement as the house was built into the ground so that at the side face the garage it is mainly underground except for about 3 feet. About halfway up the house the ground slopes to where the the kitchen opens at ground level. The lower level walls are a foot wide keeping this level a fairly constant temperature. The house was built for energy efficiency at a time when few talked about saving energy. Vegetation and trees provide protection from the prevailing winds as well as providing privacy. The most startling thing I notice about the house is the quiet. Once inside the outside is virtually non-existent!

We have met the neighbours on both sides who are extremely friendly people! We met the neighbour two doors down on the one side Saturday and the other neighbour two doors down golfs with my husband. On Saturday we also managed with the help of our kids to trim up some trees, remove two bushes, collect the garden ornament clutter left behind, clean out the sunporch and clear the garage so the car fits in.

And so begins another chapter in out lives...

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Happy Canada Day 2007

Canadian flag waving
Happy Canada Day