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, December 31, 2012

2012 Draws to a Close

My gosh, it has been a very eventful year for us even though it really hasn't been reflected on this blog.  The bottom line is, I author six blogs BUT life events resulted in me losing a bit of my blogging mojo.  Somehow, the simplest task of editing a picture for the blog became a huge chore I just couldn't do.  Now, I know that sounds funny but I've been blogging for over six years now and with six blogs that for quite some time were getting daily updates, perhaps I burned myself out.  Or perhaps spending time at our vacation home and not wanting to be on the computer all the time contributed to the problem.  But is was the the first year in our new home so there was a lot to do, I had a nasty slip and fall in February and my husband was hospitalized for five days with an unknown gastrointestinal problem in August.

I have a few plans for this blog in 2013.  I really do love the idea of Blog Your Blessings Sunday but most of the original participants are long gone, bloggers on the blogrolll have quite blogging and I think even the founder no longer participates.  It was a wonderful blogging concept that just ran its time then fizzed.  Clearly that is something I will need to change in the up coming year.  I will likely make a new graphic and rename the Sunday posts to reflect that even in the bad times, there are blessings.  The Wordless Wednesday posts are always great even though I have be slack of late but I think I'm going to keep them in another form.  Originally, Wordless Wednesday was started by bloggers to post a picture that says a million words without anything added.  It not like any of the Wordless Wednesday crowd ever acknowledges me so I suppose renaming them wouldn't be a huge issue, so maybe I will rename it to my pic of the week.  

So expect a few changes in the posts, perhaps the introduction of a couple of regular posts and the modification of two of the regular posts.  I will be doing a bit of background tweaking but for the most part you shouldn't see anything.  I'm looking forward to a brand new year with a few changes and hopefully getting this blog back on track :)


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Blog Your Blessings Sunday - Remembrance Day 2012

Today is Remembrance Day in Canada, a day we honour those who have served our country and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice to serve our country.  Because of them, we are free!  We have the freedom to do pretty much anything we want in our beautiful country as long as it is legal. We are blessed to be able to freely move about our country and travel outside our country.  We are beyond blessed to live in a country of abundance that our veterans fought so hard for and continue to do so.

November in our little corner of Ontario, Canada is always dull and grey.  It's rare that the sun peeks it's way through.  November 11 quite often is very cold, rainy or snowing.  It never is pleasant weather to be out in for things like Remembrance Day services.  In perspective, our veterans had no choice whether or not they wanted to be out in the weather.  They couldn't just say 'Hey sarge, I'm taking a sick day.' or 'This weather is going mess my hairdo.' or any number of excuses we, who live in a free country can come up with for not going to a Remembrance Day service.  We are beyond blessed to have folks who serve our country proudly, unselfishly and so giving of themselves  to make it a better place for all of us.  Lest we forget...


Friday, November 09, 2012

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

WE SHALL KEEP THE FAITH
An answer to Lt.Col John McCrae by Moina Michael - 1918

Oh! you who sleep in Flanders' Fields,
Sleep sweet - to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.

We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders' Fields.

And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We'll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders' Fields.


IN FLANDERS NOW
An answer to Lt.Col John McCrae by Edna Jaques

We have kept faith, ye Flanders' dead,
Sleep well beneath those poppies red,
That mark your place.
The torch your dying hands did throw,
We've held it high before the foe,
And answered bitter blow for blow,
In Flanders' fields.

And where your heroes' blood was spilled,
The guns are now forever stilled,
And silent grown.
There is no moaning of the slain,
There is no cry of tortured pain,
And blood will never flow again
In Flanders' fields.

Forever holy in our sight
Shall be those crosses gleaming white,
That guard your sleep.
Rest you in peace, the task is done,
The fight you left us we have won.
And "Peace on Earth" has just begun
In Flanders' now.




Sunday, October 28, 2012

Blog Your Blessings Sunday - Home From Vacation

Blog Your Blessings Sunday

We spend a considerable amount of time between September and the end of December at our vacation home in sunny Florida.  We flew out to Florida on October 2 and returned home on October 23.  It was wonderful to get away!  Family joined us for the first week followed by friends the second week then we spent two days at Disney World with our oldest and spouse before finishing up our vacation by ourselves.   We arrived home in the early morning hours of October 24, happy but beyond exhausted.  It had been a funny vacation in that we were on the go almost non-stop plus we had to deal with a couple of problems there but that is to be expected any time you own property.  It didn't help that I was physically under the weather most of the three weeks.

At any rate we had a wonderful time.  We spent time with family and friends, ate a lot of great food and just all around enjoyed ourselves.  We are very much looking forward to our return to our vacation home shortly.  For now, we are enjoying the peace and quiet of being home.  Both of us are exhausted but we have a couple of weeks to recoup before heading back to our vacation home.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Bell Canada Frustrations

The other day I got a call from Bell Canada.  The person on the other end said 'I'm so and so from Bell.  I need your account password to discuss your account with you.'  Now, our account is not nor has been in arrears and Bell does have internet service so you would think asking for an account password.  I told the person I am not comfortable giving my password over the phone.  She was a tad upset but what the heck.  The next day, Bell Canada called again asking for my password.  We have caller ID but this number was not identified as being from Bell.  Again, I declined to give my password.  About 10 minutes later they called again so I asked them for a call back number.

We had been at our vacation home for the past 3 weeks. I am not happy with Bell because we have fought with them all summer over our PVR and believe me that was beyond nasty EVEN though it was their mistake.  This is the same PVR we have been fighting with Bell for almost 2 years.  See, we bought the Vbut the installer gave us a rental  according to the box.  I called Bell and they sent out a different PVR that quit about 2 months later.  We called Bell who sent out another PVR.  When we moved here an incentive for keeping our services with Bell was a free PVR so we said yes.  It never arrived and meanwhile the old PVR quit so we called them again.  They actually gave us a free PVR as part of their loyalty program then sent out another PVR under the replacement program.  We called them to tell them of their mistake and the rep said the PVR under the replacement program was ours to keep.  The following month we get a bill for the PVR under the replacement program that was still in the original packaging.  We called them back.  Despite what the first customer service representative said, we had to send back the PVR sent under the replacement program.  So basically we spent a good portion of our time in August and September dealing with Bell Canada who for whatever reason cannot get things straight!

I checked our call record when we arrived home from our fall vacation.  I saw where this number supposedly from Bell had called us on average of 4 times a day since we were left. They called twice the morning we returned so I called them back to ask what the heck the problem was figuring it was related to the PVR issue.  First I get Emily, Bell's friendly automated answering, click until you  die to find a live person, answering system.  After spending about 10 minutes on the phone with Emily with my temper rising, I finally got through to a customer service agent who  obviously was not in Canada and English was not his first language.  He says which account are you calling about to which I said this one but according to him we have two accounts registered to our house phone.  I told him we only have one account so he had to do this troubleshooting, finally deleting the redundant account.  Come on Bell, how can you be this stupid?  By now my temper was rising.

We don't need Bell Canada.  I think they really don't realize that  even though we have been loyal
Bell customers for over 35 years.  Currently, we have telephone, internet and  television through Bell Canada but that could easily change with one phone call.  I calmly told the rep that I had had enough of dealing with their incompetence for the past three months and if I got one more call from them, I would be taking our services elsewhere.  The ball is in their court but as it stands right now Bell Canada is definitely on notice.  I have had enough of dealing with their nonsense.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Canadian Geese

Canadian geese visit in the winter
Canadian Geese
January 2, 2008

The new year has started peacefully surrounded by family, friends and nature. It hold all the promise of a great year ready to unfold all of its wonderment. The Canadian geese have been visiting us lately. They make a lot of noise but it is rather interesting watching their interactions. It is a rather large flock with only about a quarter of it being shown in the photo. Yesterday they were visiting while it was snowing. Such a pretty picture!


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Get in the History Books

One of our local radio stations has a cute little jingle they play before announcing their tamed down version of the daily Darwin awards.

History is made by stupid people
So if you want to get in the history books
Do something stupid before you die!

Now if this jingle were true, I should be in a lot of history books! Apparently the trend towards doing stupid things started quite young in life despite being intellectually gifted. From experience, a high IQ does not mean you will not do stupid things. With that in mind I would like to take my noble place in the history books. So I am going to share a few stupid things I've done since being born. Believe me from the looks on my family's faces sometimes to their total speechlessness, I know I am still the queen of doing stupid things! There is seriously nothing better than getting that "I can't believe you did that" look for one of my kids but getting it from my husband is just priceless! I'm sure there will be more stupid things I do in the future so if the authors of the history books are reading, please add me to your biographies.
  1. flying - Yes I did attempt this off our back porch with a towel for a cape attached with a safety pin. The outcome was not as expected but did not deter me from trying again and again.
  2. horseback riding - Bicycles do not make good substitutes for horses and after going ass over johnny cake trying to use a rope for reins to steer the handlebars, you would have thought I would have learned my lesson. Nope, I did it again with a wooden wagon aka wagon train attached to the bike only to repeat the outcome but with the wagon landing on my head.
  3. Brussels sprouts - Sorry to inform those new mothers who do not know, Brussels sprouts are not good fodder for homemade baby food. The baby will turn into a giant green volcano! The spill-out will be everywhere for days. Thank goodness we had more than one kid as the first got a heavy dose of stupid things that I'm sure he kept on file to warn his unsuspecting sibs.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Blog Mainenance Due to New Blog Signature Image

A few days ago I decided to update my blogs with a new blog signature image to replace the old text based signature. What this meant was creating an image, adding it to the blog HTML then removing the existing signature. That is easier said than done as I know of no easy way to remove the existing signature other than manually. Now, consider I have 6 blogs I am making this change to which means six different images and manually opening each existing post to make the change. On this blog alone there are 1564 posts spanning 63 pages. That is a massive lot of work! At the same time I am adding labels, correcting spelling and adding alt tags where necessary so it is beyond a massive amount of behind the scenes blog tweaking. It is slow going and it is creating a considerable amount of eye strain because it is all coding that I'm going through. The end result will give a better reading experience but it is still a lot of work. So far, two of my blogs have been fully updated and I'm now working on this one. Three more to go and life will be good :)


Monday, September 10, 2012

Getting Posting Back on Track

Oh wow! I did not realize how much my posting here had dropped off. It wasn't intentional, it just sort of happened. Quite frankly, 2012 has been a bad blogging year for me all the way around. Part of that is due to moving here in September of 2011 then spending almost three months spanning three periods at our vacation home in the sunny south. Part of it is due to still unpacking and getting organized combined with necessary new house work. Part is due to do things like painting and dealing with woodworkers, plumbers and those type of things. Believe me they can eat up a week's worth of time in a blink of an eye. Part is due to significantly increasing my home canning to compensate for almost two years of reduced home canning. And part of it is due to sheer exhaustion from a serious injury, a husband hospitalized and life in general. The past year has really been a merry-go-round of chaos. Well, there you have it in a nutshell the reasons for the lack of posts.

It's not that I don't have blog fodder, it is I have too much blog fodder. I haven't even finished writing about our spring vacation to Florida and Aruba yet and here we are gearing up for our fall vacation to the sunny south.

Ok, time to get back into the blogging loop to have a strong finish for the third quarter of 2012. I have added a new signature image to replace the old text base one and am not working through manually removing the text based sig from older posts, correcting spelling and adding label. So there is a lot of behind the scene activity going on. Progress is being made!


Sunday, September 09, 2012

Blog Your Blessings Sunday - Getting Back to Normal

Blog Your Blessings Sunday

This past week has been rather hectic between my husband being in the hospital, trips back and forth to the hospital, trying to work home canning around that and life in general.  I am beyond exhausted but so very pleased that my husband was discharged from the hospital earlier this week and is well on the way to a full recovery!  What a wonderful blessing! Oh, and I did manage to home can chili sauce and tomato stock while he was in the hospital.  The past couple of days, I canned salsa and seafood sauce with more tomato stock to be canned today.  It is a blessing to be able to stock our pantry with delicious, additive free, home canned foods!

Blog posts have been rather hit or miss on this blog lately.  I'm working on changing that so you should see more regular posts for the last quarter of 2012.  The biggest change is I have changed from a text based blog signature to an image based one.  It will take me a day or two to remove all the old text based signatures from older posts.  I think the image signature looks a bit classier.  Quite some time ago, I was going to eliminated the Blog Your Blessings Sunday posts.  Most of the original members of the meme have moved on and are no longer participating.  However, it is a good way to remind me to stop and count my blessings so I will likely continue those Sunday posts.  I'm working on a few other changes for this blog just to help get my blogging mojo back as well.  Here's to a strong blogging end for 2012!


Sunday, September 02, 2012

Blog Your Blessings Sunday - The Hospital

Blog Your Blessings Sunday

Despite living in the most populated region of Canada, many communities in southwestern Ontario are under serviced for doctors and many are having their small community hospitals dealing with severe cutbacks combined with threats of closure.  Yes, Dalton McGuinty's government has not been very kind.  Ours is one such community.  Many here including my husband do not have a doctor.  There is no walk-in clinic so our small local hospital's emergency room fills in the void.  It's not ideal and wait times can be long, but it is better than nothing.  Our hospital is facing the chopping block even though we are under serviced.  Many services that were once performed at the hospital (eg. obstetrics, overnight and extended sick care) have been moved to the next largest hospital in the system.  Our hospital has now become a 2 bed overnight and extended sick care, palliative care, emergency care and ambulatory care facility.  The cafeteria offers a meal on Thursdays only but you can get a sandwich, salad or small entré from the vending machine as well as beverages.  It now costs $4 per day to park there.

We try very hard not to abuse the emergency room services.  I have used them for serious injuries requiring x-rays and my husband last used the ER for severe unexplained leg swelling later followed by an unexplained gastrointestinal infection though to have been contracted at one of the airports while traveling.  Last Wednesday, we rushed him to the ER in severe and I do mean severe abdominal pain.  After a blood work, a quick ultra sound, IV (morphine, anti-spasmotic, antibiotics, saline) they admitted him where he remains today.  He has had amazing care!  I have been able to be with him most of the time, driving only a rather short distance (less than 10 minutes) home for a short break and at night to sleep.  They aren't sticklers about visiting hours which is really nice.

We are so very blessed to have such a wonderful hospital that was built by the community, for the community and that is a real asset to the community.  It is too bad that Dalton McGuinty and his cronies want to take it away from us.  Our hospital is a huge part of our community.  It keeps our loved ones in the community, keeps members of our community employed, and strengthens our community by attracting industry.   It provides medical care to an under serviced area that would easily see folks going without medical care if the hospital were closed.   Our community needs our hospital!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Sunday, August 05, 2012

Blog Your Blessings Sunday - Home Canning

Blog Your Blessings Sunday

We have had a beyond go of it with the weather ranging from extremely high temperatures in March for two weeks (think barefoot and shorts in Ontario, Canada) to drought conditions, high heat and rather nasty, violent storms.  Well, I'm in the midst of restocking our pantry with home canned goodies that were de-pleated with our move last September.  So, I really don't have time for adverse weather conditions that are sending produce prices sky high.  Last week, I focused on yellow corn.  I was very fortunate to find it for $3 a doz about a mile out of town in comparison to the bi-colour corn in town that was going for $6 a dozen, and bi-colour corn just doesn't work well for preserving. 

So I'm in high gear home canning.  It started with cucumbers a couple of weeks ago, now into corn and peaches with a few berries mixed in.  Next will be tomatoes so that will be a very busy time for me.  I am very blessed to have the knowledge and equipment to do this kind of food preservation.  My pantry is filling up.  I'm busy, every bone in my body hurts and yet I am beyond happy!  What an amazing blessing...

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - I Love Aruba

I Love Aruba sign in Oranjestad, Aruba

I Love Auba
(Oranjestad, Aruba)
May 14, 2012

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Sunday, July 08, 2012

Blog Your Blessings Sunday - An Amazing Opportunity

Blog Your Blessings Sunday

A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by the PR manager for Hidden Valley® Ranch® dressing and dip.  Of all the Canadian cooking blogs out there I was chosen as one of the top influential Canadian bloggers to compete in the Hidden Valley Ranch™ Recipe Challenge to be judged by Chef Ned Bell and if successful, my recipe with full bragging rights would be live demonstrated by Chef Bell at the 100th Calgary Stampede (July 6 to July 15, 2012) on July 12 or 13.  As a food blogger with no formal culinary training, just blogging about the food we like and how I make it, this was a huge and amazing opportunity.  I would be competing against 15 Canadian bloggers for one of four prizes.  Of course I said yes!

Despite being sick and battling two stifling heat waves, not being able to find a couple of ingredients I wanted to use and several failed attempts, I managed to get two entries submitted by the deadline.  I am now sitting on pins and needles awaiting the verdict.    What a week it has been!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Eagle Beach, Aruba

Eagle Beach, Aruba
Eagle Beach, Aruba
May 12, 2012

We stayed at the beautiful Costa Linda Beach Resort on the northwest side of Aruba.  It is on Eagle Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches on Aruba.  It is a safe, sheltered beach with cool white sands, shallow waters and plenty of shade.  The resort provides shade huts, sun loungers, and beach chairs on a first come first serve basis.  However, it is a public beach with no lifeguards so swimming is at your own risk and you should pay attention to the water conditions caution flags.

During our stay, the flags remained yellow meaning that conditions exist so caution should be used.  We enjoyed walking along the beach and we did a bit of swimming in the Caribbean Sea as well.  It was very pleasant sitting on the beach listening to the waves while the sun set.  We were able to enjoy this gorgeous view for seven nights!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Preparation for Landing in Aruba

Government of Aruba International embarkation/disembarkation card
Government of Aruba
International embarkation/disembarkation Card
May 12, 2012


Midway through our flight, the flight attendants handed out the Government of Aruba international embarkation/disembarkation card.  On one side there is a place for the card to be stamped when going through customs at the Aruba airport.  On the other side, you have to fill out your personal information, passport number, flight number, duration of stay, home address and signature.  Next to that, you have to fill out occupation, main purpose of visiting Aruba, number of visits, type of accommodation, how you booked your visit, main source for choosing Aruba and your email address.  The card is perforated down the center.   When separated the half with occupation et al and the written notice is kept by customs.  The side with the stamp and personal information is returned to you.  It is taken when going through the initial screening at the Aruba airport when departing the island.

I had never seen this type of information collection before as we usually fly interstate.  It is an interesting way to collect personal information as well as information pertaining to their tourism industry.  Tourism is Aruba's largest industry!  The official island languages are Dutch and Papiamento (a blend of Spanish, Portuguese, African, Dutch, French, English and Amerindian) but most people on Aruba speak English and/or Spanish.  What is interesting is both the US Immigration Office and the US Customs Office is present at the Queen Beatrix International Airport.  When departing the island by air, you go through an initial screening process then through the Aruba airport security.  Those traveling to US destinations proceed to an area where they pick up their checked baggage, go through customs with their declaration and then go through US security before proceeding to their gate.  Once you have cleared customs you are considered to be on US soil so there is now customs to go through when you land in the US.  It is best to allow plenty of time to get through all these check points when departing Aruba.  The lines are quite long and while they do move fairly quickly it can take well over an hour to clear the checkpoints.

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Beach Rescue Vehicle

beach rescue vehicle at Cocoa Beach
Beach Rescue
(Cocoa Beach, Florida)
May 10, 2012  

The beach is perfect for people watching!  As I was walking back to the restaurant, I spotted a beach rescue 4 x 4.  Florida's beaches are heavily used which means from time to time rescue response is needed.  Folks don't always heed beach warnings or behave in a unsafe manner and sometimes they just simply get into trouble in the water.  Of course, there are always unforeseen medical emergencies as well.  It's quite impressive to see how well these beach rescue vehicles are equipped!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Monday, June 11, 2012

Cocoa Beach, Florida

Cocoa Beach, Florida
Cocoa Beach, Florida
May 10, 2012 

We arrived at our vacation home in the late evening of May 8.   The couple that came with us would be vacationing with us in Aruba then returning home on May 20 while we would be staying at our vacation home until May 29, returning home in the early morning hours of May 30.  We weren't flying out to Aruba until May 12 so took a little time to do some sight seeing.

One of our friends' kids works on the cruise ships and was docked at Port Canaveral so we met up with him in Cocoa Beach for lunch at Captain J's.  Cocoa Beach is well known for it's beautiful beach.  I took a quick walk down the pathway from Captain J's to take a few pictures then headed back up to enjoy a lovely lunch on the outdoor deck overlooking the beach.  It was a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours with good friends!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Blog Your Blessings Sunday - Settling In

Blog Your Blessings Sunday

My gosh, we arrived home from our spring vacation in the early morning hours of May 30th and have been going full tilt ever since.  My husband is back at the office, in meetings and has already played golf.  I'm back at the breakfast club, working on my new community garden project, trying to get my own gardens going and dealing with various service personnel working on the house while canning.  My medical tests came back surprisingly better than expected which has been a huge relief even though I ended up dealing with a very nasty reaction to a newly prescribed drug.  We opened the pool and while there was a lot of running between the pool shop and back for parts and chemicals, it cost less than expected and went fairly well.  This weekend we held the last of the season games night with eighteen in attendance.  I feel a bit overwhelmed yet surprisingly calm.  So we are settling in after being away for three weeks.  The sun is warm just perfect for getting a bit of outdoor work done and my husband surprised me with  a Jacquemonti birch!  Life is good :)

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Tuesday, June 05, 2012

A Nice Ending to a Problem - Thanks Alamo!

A few days ago I wrote a little about our spring vacation.  While I still have a lot of pictures and stories to share with you from that three week period, I have to say we ended the vacation on a bit of a sour note.  We stopped at the casino on the way to the airport where my husband won $600.  Before going into the casino, we put the GPS, iPod, iPod Touch, SunPass and house keys in the console between the two front seats so we would not have to carry them in the casino.  After the plane landed and we were about an hour away from our home we realized all those items were still in the rental vehicle.  So my husband called Alamo who told him to fill out an online form.  The confirmation email said we would get a response within one to two business days.  We didn't hear anything back last week or yesterday so he emailed them with no response.  This morning he called them.  They had all our belongings and made arrangements to ship them to us via ground carrier!

We have dealt with Alamo for a number of years.  Until now we have never had a problem.  We are very, very pleased that they found our belongings and are getting them back to us as quick as they can.  It's nice to see a company that still actually cares about their customers.  Thanks Alamo!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Sunday, June 03, 2012

Blog Your Blessings Sunday - A Wonderful Vacation

Blog Your Blessings Sunday
We left on May 8 with another couple on our spring vacation.  We arrived at our vacation home in the sunny south late that night then did a bit of relaxing and sight seeing until May 12 when we flew out to Aruba.  After a wonderful week spent in Aruba we flew back to our vacation home.  Our friends left the following day so we had about ten days of togetherness.  All in all, it was a wonderful vacation filled with laughter, giggles, good food and amazing eye candy!  Over the three week period of being away, we took almost 1,500 pictures!  I'll share some of those pictures here over the next couple of weeks.

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Blog Your Blessings Sunday - Sleeping In

Blog Your Blessings Sunday
My husband's schedule for the past few months has been getting up at 4 AM and out the door a half hour later.  After a very full day, we had dinner together while watching Coronation Street then were usually in bed before 8:30 PM.   Needless to say, this has affected both of our sleep patterns.  The past couple of weeks we have been moving back towards our normal schedule.  This past week we adopted the rule of no alarm clock.  It's rude waking to an alarm clock at best so we simply decided we would get up when we woke naturally.  It has been a real blessing to indulge in a bit of extra sleep!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Gathering Blog Fodder

I've been on a blog fodder gather mission and the results of that will be quite apparent shortly.  Yesterday I had a bit of free time on my hand so flicked through a few television stations.  Oh good gosh, there is no end to blog fodder on the good old boob tube!  Just in the news a babysitter's boyfriend put their little charge into a washer in a laundromat and turned on the washer.  Like what was he thinking?  Then a Florida doctor who was to sails to the wind proceeded to seriously abuse himself when taken into custody.  I'm thinking he might be seeing his patient list go down!  But nothing prepared me for the blog fodder you can find watching the tv judge shows.  These shows are seriously beyond belief!

So there is this young couple in their early 20's.  She is nice looking and conducts herself appropriately in court.  He is good looking but I swear none of his brain cells were working yet he had this good natured cockiness about him.  It was down right hilarious!  She said he had a drinking problem but when the judge asked him if he did, his answer was the drink had a problem with him.   Well apparently, he got himself arrested because the friendly guy on the bus didn't want to lend him his cell phone so he punched him.  That was after the young guy showed him one of the team tatoos under his arm.  He has two and the explanation was just too funny not to mention about how he is going to get a devil girl and angel girl on his large tatoo so they can battle over his heart.  So with the public disorderliness and intoxication he was arrested again and that judge gave him bail because he had had something like two similar charges in the past two months.  Obviously he had a bit of a problem and yet he was funny.  Then she started talking.  Clearly this couple was not meant to be but she put up $5,000 cash and guaranteed his bail of $50,000 then calmly proceeded to get him kicked out of him mandatory addiction rehab!  No reason was given as to why she caused enough of a scene to get him kicked out.  I did get the impression that she was very much an enabler so perhaps she didn't want him to get sober.  She sued for her $5,000 back because he was still partying, making no attempt to pay her back.  Meanwhile, he continued to play the charming class clown in court.  As funny as it was, and honestly you couldn't help laughing, yet it was sad.

Under ideal circumstances this couple might have been a perfect match.  They looked good together and it was clear that they still cared about each other.  For whatever reason, this young man full of good looks and who could easily become a very well paid comedian, somehow got side-tracked.  Unless there is some type of intervention he will continue along this pathway of addiction until he dies an early death either from the alcohol itself or through the violence it is causing.  What a sad prediction...

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Friday, May 25, 2012

A Little Knowledge Can Be a Huge Problem

Sometimes a little knowledge can be dangerous.  I'm on a canning group because I am a large scale home canner, canning upwards of 1.400 jars of food annually.  In the canning world acidity is a huge issue but the problem is many home canners really don't understand acidity as measured by the pH of the homogeneous product prior to processing.  The pH (not ph or PH!!!!!) scale ranges from 0 to 14 with pH 0 being most acidic and pH 14 being most alkaline (basic).  For safe BWB processing the pH of the product must be below pH 4.6 otherwise the product is considered low acid so must be processed using a pressure canner.

Well, one member posted an article acidity of a particular fruit.  I have a very strong scientific background so caught the error simply by reading the title of the paper.  The thing is, it was a scientific paper discussing the acidity level of one acid in the fruit NOT the total acid.  What this means is even though the fruit could have a high content of that particular acid, it could actually end up being classified as being low acid when the total acidity is considered.  Essentially telling someone to go ahead and BWB that fruit based on that scientific paper is akin to getting them to play Russian roulette with their lives.  In this case the lack of knowledge of being able to understand what the paper was saying combined with the little knowledge that acid is important in home canning really could have caused someone to become ill or worse if they followed the misinformation!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - On the Wish List

the ceiling fan I want for our new house
On My Wish List
May 3, 2012

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Blog Your Blessings Sunday - A Week Spent With Friends

Blog Your Blessings Sunday

The past week was spent relaxing with good friends.  It was a wonderful way to refresh ourselves!  We did a lot of talking, a lot of laughing and even a bit of giggling like kids.  What a wonderful blessing to be able to share our lives together like this.  What an amazing week!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Friday, May 18, 2012

Oh Good Flipping God!

Seriously, have you ever met someone so beyond annoying that the thought of killing them crossed your mind?  Well, that is why they make happy hour!  Even though a healthy dose of tuning out does work, happy hour works better.  I'm just saying ...

 
Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Blog Your Blessings Sunday - Mother's Day

Blog Your Blessings Sunday

Happy Mother's Day! 

Normally, I make a gushy and very nostalgic post in honour of both of my moms.  They both know and I know they are always on my mind.  So today, I raise a glass in tribute of what I have learned from both.  I am beyond blessed to have had both of them in my life and not to be remiss, I am very blessed to have had my MIL in my life.

Mothers, especially the good ones are a special breed to always be cherished.  The mediocre mothers should be recognized for the parenting effort they made.  And even though it seems that mediocre mothers didn't care, the reality is they just didn't have the coping skills they needed become a Martha Stewart of mothers.  Life gives hard knocks sometimes and that means even though a mother loved her kids, she just could never do as good as she wanted.  Bad mothers, well we will just leave it at that because even a bad mother can have a positive effect, regardless how small on a child's life

Today, pay tribute to those mothers and the legacy they gave us or continue to give us.  We acknowledge that they did the best they could to nourish us, protect us, teach us and guide us into adulthood.  We cherish their love, faith, compassion, hope and fears.  We give them credit for their patience through the terrible twos, the countless questions, and nights spent waiting up late we we arrived home later than we should have.  We respect them as individuals and we love them because despite everything we as children ever did they loved us unconditionally.  We are their children, their pride and joy.  They are our mother, the one person in the world we would do anything for...they cycle of life and love.

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Tuesday, May 08, 2012

A Piss Poor Mood

Have you ever been in a piss poor mood for no valid reason?  Well I in one that I would normally term a funk but this is worse than a funk and the worst part of it is, there is no valid reason for the pissy mood.  None what-so-ever.  I should be in seventh heaven the way things are going and yet there is this mood.
So I've been doing a lot of positive self talk, playing with my plants and enjoying a bit of the sunshine in between cloud burst.  And there you have it...

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Friday, May 04, 2012

How Times Have Changed

I am a child of the 60's.  Well actually I was born just before the 60's but am very much a child of the 60's.  Corporal punishment was the in thing although it was waning somewhat.  While I never got the strap at school I did see others get the strap.  I had to go to Catechism each Saturday morning and had I learned earlier to not be so expressive, it would have saved a few hits on the head and knuckles with a ruler or kneeling on beans.  I'm telling you those nuns were beyond brutal!  My Mom did not believe in hitting kids but trust me should could put the fear of those ice blue eyes into you.  I'm not sure what would have happened, I just knew there was a line you didn't cross.  We were taught to use our manners and show respect for both person and property.

These were the same values we raised our kids with.  Respect is one of the biggest things there is.  Like my Mom we did not believe in corporal punishment.  Our kids were well behaved without the need to hit them.  Now fast forward to today's kids.

I volunteer in the school breakfast program and along with my other credentials I am a certified teacher.  Today's kids have no respect.  They have been raised in a 'me first', 'instant gratification' society that leaves no room to consider how other people feel.  The Ontario school system can no longer fail a child, give a child a failing grade or hold them back because they fail to perform because that might damage the child's psyche.  Well, I hate to tell them but out in the real world if you fail to perform you get your butt kicked to the curb but that's besides the point.  A child cannot be strapped in school and a teacher can no longer stand a child in the corner for misbehaviour,  Again, it is that damaging the psyche thing.  Parents can't smack their kid and if they do, they had best hope no one sees them or the kid doesn't call 911 on them.  Essentially the kids rule the roost now a days with no real repercussions for their actions.  This past week one of the kids in the breakfast program who is about 8 years old and who does have a record for going after her parents with a knife and who has tried to commit suicide attacked another student taking an actual chunk out of the students arm via a vicious bite.  She was suspended from school for one day.  That's it!  A couple of days ago, the new reported two children about ages 7 to 8 setting fire in garbage bins.  They haven't found the kids yet but they will and when they do the hands of the police are tied.  Oh sure they could report to CAS that these are kids at risk but chances are very good that CAS already knows that.  At any rate the kids will face no consequences for their actions.  The reality is parents, teaches and the law has no authority over the kids today and they know it!  I shudder to think of what will happen when these young ones become of age because quite frankly some of them are already little hellcats without control.  


Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Thursday, May 03, 2012

Double Rainbow

double rainbow southwestern Ontario April 26, 2012
Double Rainbow
 April 26, 2012

Southwestern Ontario has been experiencing some rather bizarre weather.  We had virtually no real winter and certainly not any kind of cold snap where the air is brittle and the snow crunches under foot.  We experienced a little over two weeks in March that was so warm folks were wearing shots and walking around barefoot.  Our furnace was off for the entire time!  Then April hit and frost came a lot later than the predicted ADLF date of April 15.  It is destined to be a bad year for fruit production given the fruit trees were blossoming only to be hit by late and heavy frosts.  Farmers are already complaining.  Then the storms hit.  These storms are rather strange as well with very high and damaging winds yet little precipitation.  Last week we had a horrid storm with very high winds and driving rain that seriously came down in sheets.  The sun came out, shining brightly amidst the driving rain giving a beautiful fully arched, double rainbow.  Had the rain let up, I could have got a few pictures of the full arch.  It was gorgeous!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Monday, April 30, 2012

Volunteering

Our last home was in a rural location so it was difficult for me to do much in the way of volunteering especially if I had to drive to where I was needed.  Driving can be quite difficult for me at times so I really only drive if I have to.  When we moved into our new urban location, I decided it would be good to get involved in the community.  So I started volunteering and since the first of the year have been a volunteer with the school breakfast program on a regular basis (3 days a week) as well as volunteering in the evenings occasionally for various events.  A couple of months ago I joined our local Neighbourhood Watch committee as a volunteer.  I figure I'm home a good portion of the day so I can help where the help is needed.  Then I spearheaded a new community project that is just getting going.  It was my idea and I am very blessed to have a wealth of community support.

Volunteering is so much more than simply helping out.  It is an opportunity to develop life-long friendships with like minded folk.  You don't get paid and sometimes you don't even get thanked but trust me it is always very much appreciated.  Thanks comes in the form of smiles, shared laughter and friendly chit chat.  Volunteering is a way to show the younger generation that giving back to the community makes the community stronger.  It is a wonderful way to get out there and meet others, rather than sitting home alone.  Volunteering really does put a whole new perspective on life.  I really look forward to spending that bit of time with the kids in the morning.

If you are lonely, bored or just have a bit of time on your hands, please consider donating a bit of time via volunteering...

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Blog Your Blessings Sunday - Busy is a Good Thing

Blog Your Blessings Sunday
Things have been very busy here to the point of being hectic but that is a good thing.  We've had various service and contract people in.   I've been volunteering, running errands, organizing the house and home canning.  Being busy means the house is getting in order and things are getting done.  The pantry sheves are getting restocked.  The reality is, I am happiest when I'm busy.  I can always find something to do and that really is a good thing :)

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Alive and Still Kicking...

No, I have not dropped off the face of the earth but I have been extremely busy.  The first of the year I decided I wanted to paint all the rooms in the house before spring.  Well, I'm pleased to say I made a very good start but did not make that goal.  We have had a lot of activity going on in the house with various service and contract people in.  The problem is, each tends to take up a good day or more of time leaving me a lot less online time.  So far the custom woodworker has finished the bathroom but the doors to the cabinet weren't quite right so he is redoing them.  In the meantime, he built in the bulkhead in the kitchen in a gorgeous oak to match our kitchen cabinets but the colour is off just slightly and we like the new colour so the cabinets have to be refinished.  See how it goes, one project leads into another one!  Then they installed our new garage door opener as the old one just quit and installed the central vacuum unit to replace the broken new vacuum just out of warranty.  His work tied up a good three days and he is far from finished.  Onward to our window treatment saga.  We ordered panel sliders for the patio doors and California shutters for the large front window.  They came out last Saturday for the install.  The panels were the wrong material and the shutters ended up only partially installed.  They are up but will fall if you try to open fully because there is nothing securing the shutters other than the hinges.  At a cost of almost $2,500, going through a business with a top notch reputation and tying up a Saturday afternoon, I was beyond being disappointed.  The good news is the new panels are scheduled to be installed this afternoon aka more time tied up.   The plumber was in to fix the upper level shower which ended up spanning three days then he was back to install a water powered sump pump backup system which took up another day.  We live in what the insurance company deems a flood prone area so our insurance went up $300 by moving here.  This backup system will give us a discount on our insurance policy.  The alarm company was in to determine the security system install for this coming week. 

Aside of the various service and contract people filling in my days, I have been volunteering at the breakfast club three mornings a week then running my errands in the morning and getting things done around the house in the afternoons.  Early this week one of the volunteers at the breakfast club had a stroke so I was there every day this week.  I don't mind and really enjoy being around the kids.  I did a bit of volunteering a couple of evenings and play volleyball once a week.  Actually, I don't play volleyball well at all but my doctor said moving is good for pain control so I go there to fill a spot but at least I'm out and moving a little.  I'm also walking daily, something that isn't going to hurt me and it's good for the heart.  Oh, and I'm spearheading a new and very exciting community project.  It is a lot of work but I think it will be great for the community once up and running properly.

So, I'm alive and still kicking, just busy getting our new home settled and looking forward to the nicer weather...

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Blog Your Blessings Sunday - A Good Week Well Spent

Blog Your Blessings Sunday
It was a good week well spent.  There was nothing spectacular although I did win $50.  The weather turned cooler so the furnace is back on,  I canned three kinds of stock and we hosted our monthly get together.  I finally broke down and cut the grass for the first time this year.   I did a bit of volunteer work and we enjoyed several home cooked meals.  All in it it was a week well spent enjoying life as it happened.

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Not Exactly the Results the Woman Wanted

[From my Facebook wall]

A 50- something year old white woman arrived at her seat on a crowded flight and immediately didn't want the seat. The seat was next to a black man. Disgusted, the woman immediately summoned the flight attendant and demanded a new seat. The woman said "I cannot sit here next to this black man." The fight attendant said "Let me see if I can find another seat." After checking, the flight attendant returned and stated "Ma'am, there are no more seats in economy, but I will check with the captain and see if there is something in first class." About 10 minutes went by and the flight attendant returned and stated "The captain has confirmed that there are no more seats in economy, but there is one in first class. It is our company policy to never move a person from economy to first class, but being that it would be some sort of scandal to force a person to sit next to an UNPLEASANT person, the captain agreed to make the switch to first class." Before the woman could say anything, the attendant gestured to the black man and said, "Therefore sir, if you would so kindly retrieve your personal items, we would like to move you to the comfort of first class as the captain doesn't want you to sit next to an unpleasant person." Passengers in the seats nearby began to applause while some gave a standing ovation.

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Higher Education - All its Rights, Privileges and Obligations

A couple of weeks ago, I got my hard earned pieces of paper that say I am an educated person out and hung on the walls of my new office.  While they had been hung proudly in three of our homes, I never did get them out for our last home.  Now they are home!

I earned all of my post secondary, higher education as a mom, while commuting from our small community to avoid disrupting our kids.  My schedule was arranged so that I was home in time for a home cooked meal with all of us sitting down as a family.  I learned that I could easily survive on 4 hours of sleep a night, and that despite all the odds including writing the final exams for one of my degrees with full fledged pneumonia, I was a survivor.  Over the course of four years, I earned an undergraduate degree, a diploma in Honours Standing and a graduate degree from The University of Western Ontario then went on to earn another degree from the University of Windsor.  Quite frankly, I have a string of initials after my name that is rather mind boggling.  Three of my credentials were earned in the hard core sciences and one using that scientific training.

My diplomas from Western reads "with all its rights, privileges and obligations".  An education comes with certain privileges.  It gets doors opened that would be closed if you did not have the education.  It comes with rights to alumni status, continued support, and access to university resources.  More importantly and education comes with obligations.  Knowledge is of little use if you do not share it.  As a university graduate you do have an obligation to share your knowledge ever opportunity you get.  Now, my diploma from Windsor reads "with all its rights, privileges and honour".  Honour is great but you ultimately get that by earning any type of degree to begin with.  The focus should be on the obligations you have to your generation and future generations once you have that education.  If you have been fortunate enough to get any type of an education, never, ever forget your obligations to share that knowledge!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Monday, April 02, 2012

My Gosh!

My gosh!  I knew my blogging was suffering between volunteering, getting an amazing community project off the ground, decorating and home upgrades; I just didn't realize how badly.  Long time readers of this blog are used to getting daily posts, so I really do apologize.   Sometimes, life just throws enough curve balls that it is hard to get back into the rhythm of things. I will try to pick up the posting frequency so please bare with me. 

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Sunday, April 01, 2012

Blog Your Blessings Sunday - It Could Have Been Worse

Blog Your Blessings Sunday
I can't believe it is April already!  Last week was one of those weeks that wasn't really great but it could have been a lot worse.   I saw my doctor who ordered x-rays.  The results weren't what I expected but I can work with it and now that I know the cause of the problems it will be easier to deal with in the long run.  It really is a blessing to know what you are up against whether you like the results or not.

I volunteered at the breakfast club three days last week.  The weather had turned cold to the point of putting the furnace back on.  Those are the days more kids use the breakfast club so it was a bit busier.  I woke in the early morning hours of Friday to being decided sick but went into the breakfast club anyway.  By lunchtime I felt horrid and even worse on Saturday.  Today it's up in the air as to whether the symptoms are improving or just moving deeper into my lungs.  The nice thing is, it is a dull, grey and somewhat cool day so I'm not tempted to go outdoors meaning my body is getting some of the rest it needs to recoup.

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Blog Your Blessings Sunday - The First Week of Spring

Blog Your Blessings Sunday

It was another beautiful, unseasonably warm and mainly sunny week.  It's been two weeks now that we have had the furnace off but the weather is predicted to return to the normal temperatures this coming week so we will likely have to put it back on.  Daffodils, Narcissus and crocuses were in full bloom to greet the first day of spring.  Buds are on the trees, the grass already needs to be cut and and our peach trees are just starting to bloom.  I spent the week volunteering, enjoying the weather, identifying plants in our new gardens, doing a bit of pantry restocking and doing a bit of gardening planning.  In general it was a very laid back, quiet spring week.  What a delightful way to start spring off!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Despite Good Intentions

For the past couple of months or more I have been involved in getting a much needed community project up and running.  It was my idea and with some rather impressive support, I have been rather busy.  Today we held an informational session that was beyond a dismal failure.  It really was beyond a slap in the face and while I am a bit discouraged, I have every confidence my idea will fly.  What I don't understand is folks giving the mouth support but nothing more.  Furthermore, I can't understand why a government agency would give mouth support without following through.  What I do understand is myself.  I did not earn four post secondary degrees while raising our kids while helping in our family business to simply walk away when the going gets tough.  Like it or not, with or without the mouthpieces support THIS PROJECT WILL GO AHEAD.  It WILL be a successful project and one that will serve our community well.  Our intentions have been good and yet despite the good intentions, apathy prevailed.  What today showed is we really need to light a fire under the apathy displayed by this community and trust me, I'm just the person to do so! What the he---, if you can't help yourself as a community then exactly who should be helping you?  It's time to take a stand, help yourselves!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Blog Your Blessings Sunday - Unbelievable Weather!

Blog Your Blessings Sunday

Last Sunday I blogged about the temperature reaching 61ºF so I turned the furnace off.  I expected the unseasonably warm weather to last a day or two.  Little did I know it would last all week!  We had temperatures into the low 70º F during the day and low 50º F at night.  My gosh, these temperatures are unheard of for this time of year in southwestern Ontario.  Unbelievable!  Folks are walking around in shorts, sandals, and short sleeve tops.  Kids have been walking by in bare feet.  I think this is pushing it a bit given the amount of illness going around.  The warm spell is predicted to last all this week as well.  I am elated to be able to turn the furnace off this early in the year.  What absolutely gorgeous weather!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Meet Baily

new puppy Baily
Baily
March 14, 2012


Isn't she just adorable?  Baily is a 6 week old mixed breed puppy one of our kids adopted.  This little cutey loves to snuggle up close to the crook of the neck and she loves being held.  Baily is quite small even though one of her parents was quite big so she is either the runt of the litter or inherited the smaller size genes.  At any rate, we don't think she is going to get very big.  She went for her first vet check-up and shot yesterday.  The vet said she was too small for the shot but he gave her de-worming pills along with a clean bill of health.  Baily came to visit us for the evening while our kid met another obligation and didn't want to leave her by herself.  Snuggles from grand-puppies...priceless!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Blog Your Blessings Sunday - Spring Has Sprung

Blog Your Blessings Sunday
We have had a very unseasonably mild winter with very little in the way of snowfall or even cold snaps.  Unfortunately that has resulted in more sickness from germs not killed off by the cold snaps but as a family we have managed to stay fairly healthy this past winter.  Wiraton Willie predicted an early spring and sure enough we are right at the six week mark for his prediction.  Yesterday it started warming up and I even spotted the first robin of the season. Today we reached a high of 61ºF so I had the furnace off and windows open.  We grilled steaks on the charcoal side of our outdoor grill.  The air smelled heavenly all day, fresh and clean during the day with the amazing aroma of steaks on the grill for dinner.  It is supposed to nice the rest of the week.  What a great weather for the kids to have for March Break!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Saturday, March 03, 2012

Are Your Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution?

I'm a go getter who has no problem taking action where needed.  It's in my make-up, that bit of stubbornness mixed with attitude fueled by a heart that really does want to make a difference in this world.  My pet peeve has always been childhood hunger or hunger of any kind.  Years ago when our kids were young, I can't tell you how many kids I fed.  They were always at our house and at least two of them there because they would not have got fed at home.  It made no never mind to me.  I will not see anyone go hungry if I can help it.  Food insecurity is one of Canada's growing concerns.  It is surprising how many Canadian children go hungry on a daily basis.  As a Canadian this really bothers me.  I can't sit by twiddling my thumb, doing nothing.

Little did I know what I was doing by feeding those kids, something that just came naturally, was part of the solution.  I never thought of it that way.  Fast forward to 2012 and I have an amazing community project underway.  If all goes according to plan, it will be part of the solution to feeding the hungry in our community.   I'm excited and yet scared.  I'm not scared of failing but more of letting down those who are looking for help so come hell or high water this project is going to fly!  I am determined to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.  Failure is not an option!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Saturday, February 25, 2012

February is Jinxed!

Last year I injured my leg when a truck door slammed into my shin resulting in a huge heamatoma that saw me on crutches for two and a half weeks.  The healing process has been slow and now I still have a bit of a lump with discolouration around the injury.  Last weekend I mentioned to my husband that it had been a year.  Well, don't you know I jinxed it!  Last Tuesday night I took a nasty fall down the stairs.  We have a bi-level home so thankfully it was only down the last two steps of the first level. 

What happened was I was moving rather gingerly due to a stain while playing volleyball the previous Friday night.  I had just had a nice soak in an epsoms salt bath then before settling on the couch to rest had to get something from the lower level.  I had my hard soled slippers on hoping they would help relieve my back.  My slipper caught on the stair tread, sending me crashing down onto the landing while giving my ankle one heck of a twist.  It took me a good 10 minutes to get my bearings!  I literally crawled back upstairs, grabbed an ice pack then sunk into the couch.  The swelling was bad!  When my husband got home he wanted me to go to ER but I could move my toes so reasoned it couldn't be broke.  I have emergency first aid training certification so knew the signs to look for.  Early in the morning hours I got up to go to the washroom and while in the process of leaving the washroom fainted.  My husband insisted I had to have it checked.  A family member came over the next morning.  She insisted on having it checked also. 

Sitting in the ER was beyond excruciating!  My back hurt bad enough I could barely walk as it was.  My ankles hurt something fierce to the point I was gritting my teeth but still refusing to take the pain killers the triage nurse offered.  The good news is despite the looks, nothing is broken but it is a very, nasty stage 3 sprain.  The prognosis is a full recovery in 6 to 8 weeks providing I follow RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) for the first week as well as using crutches to get around for one to two weeks and support shoes when I start putting pressure back on my ankle.

In comparison to last February's injury, I am a bit more mobile with this injury and in a lot less pain after only a couple of days.  I'm using one of the custom made drink trays on wheels to get things around on the upper level.  I manage to get up and down the stairs, not often but I can do it.  So, mobility while hindered is not at a full stop.  I'm telling you though, February is a jinxed month for me.  Next February, I'm going to wrap myself in bubble wrap!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Bok Tower Gardens in Wales Lake, Florida

Bok Tower Gardens Entrance
Bok Tower Gardens Entrance
December 16, 2011

We enjoy doing a bit of sightseeing each time we stay at our vacation home in Florida.  During our stay last December we visited Bok Tower Gardens located at 1151 Tower Boulevard Lake Wales, Florida. This beautiful 250-acre botanical garden and bird sanctuary is a must to see when traveling in the Central Florida area.  The crowning feature of the gardens is the 205 foot neo-Gothic and art deco Singing Tower carillon, a national historical landmark designed by famed architect Milton B. Medary and ornately crafted by noted stone sculptor Lee Lawrie.  The singing tower is located on Iron Mountain which is about 295 feet above sea level making it one of the highest peninsular points in Florida.  Construction of the tower began in 1927, taking almost two years for completion.  The carillon house 60 bells that perform daily at 1 PM and 3 PM.

It was a beautiful warm day, perfect for enjoying the many beautiful plants and lush growth in the gardens.  We visited the Exhibit Hall and Museum as well as the mansion built by C. Austin Buck , vice president of Bethlehem Steel Company in Pennsylvania.  The 22 room mansion sits on an 8-acre parcel of land known as the Pinewood Estates within the gardens.  It was built between 1930 and 1932 as a winter home for the Buck family.  The Bok Tower Garden Friends had decorated the mansion for the holiday season.  It was spectacular to say the least!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Florida's Natural World Headquarters Sign

Florida's Natural Brand World Headquarters sign
Land of Oranges
December 16, 2011


Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sightseeing in Florida

marshland near our vacation home in Florida
Marshland Near Our Vacation Home
December 13, 2011

Florida really is a pretty state!  There is an amazing abundance of waterfowl to enjoy that attracted by the many ponds, marshlands and larger bodies of water.  We had to go to the post office shortly after arriving at our vacation home.  When we finished, instead of taking the city streets back home, we found a little, meandering road that followed the water's edge from where we connected about a block from the post office to where we connected back up with the main highway.  It was a gorgeous, scenic and relaxing drive!  There were pockets of marshland between the water's edge and the larger body of water so we had ample opportunity to take a few pictures of waterfowl.  On the other side of the road where heritage homes although they may not have had the actual designation.  They were quaint, unpretentious and full of character!

Getting off the beaten track has always been important to us.  It is the only way to see some of the more interesting sights regardless of where you are visiting.   It is also a wonder break from the hustle and bustle of urban areas but even in urban areas a bit of exploring can easily yield a plethora of amazing sightseeing opportunities.  It is surprising what gorgeous little pockets of wonder are tucked into urban areas!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Monday, February 20, 2012

Gators at our Vacation Home

small gator sunning himeself in our vacation home resort
Small Gator Sunning Himself
December 9, 2011


Our vacation home is located in a beautiful park-like setting, gated resort with two award winning golf courses.  There are many natural and man made bodies of water that attract a wide variety of waterfowl and wildlife.  One of the most commonly seen is the alligator.  In most cases the gators will not bother humans unless they are provoked.  It is possible to get fairly close to them especially on the golf courses but it is very important to remember these are wild animals that will not hesitate to attack if they feel threatened or are provoked.  Problems do arise if someone has been feeding a gator then the park has to remove it for the safety of the community.  Homeowners and most of their guests know not to feed the gators but some like us rent our vacation home out when we aren't using it so occasionally a renter will feed a gator.  There are signs posted to not feed the gators and we included the same instructions in the informational binder we leave out for our renters.

I personally have a healthy respect for gators much the same as I do for other wildlife.  I love taking pictures of the gators from the safety of our golf cart or car.  I don't go close to the edge of the water either.  Quite often a gator is resting just below the surface of the water with only his eyes showing.  When I go for my daily walks I stay in areas that don't come close to the water either.  Other than that I enjoy the gators and always look forward to a photo opportunity with them as the subject.

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Blog Your Blessings Sunday - A Valentine!

Blog Your Blessings Sunday

Last week we celebrated Valentine's Day.  Well, my husband and I don't actually celebrate it but others do.  I spent a quiet evening doing a bit of catch-up, exhausted from painting while he enjoyed going to see the Detroit Redwings win the 21st straight game at home!  I was volunteering at the breakfast club earlier that day.  One of the children gave each of us a hand drawn Valentine thanking us for giving her breakfast.  I thought it was such a sweet gesture! It sure put me in a grand mood for the rest of the day :)

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Buck it Up Buttercup

I am now on to almost finished painting the third room in our house in the last two weeks.  I'm tired of the perpetual, never ending headache of smelling paint.  It is low odour but it still smells.  I'm not sleeping more than a hour at a time and up early every morning this month to volunteer for the school breakfast program.  I am very frustrated with the lack of food at one of the schools so sweet talked my husband into donating food on behalf of the business.  Trust me hungry children cannot learn!  It doesn't help my mood that one of the other volunteers has an attitude from he-double hockey sticks with me as the target.  I bite my tongue a lot while at that school but she will not break me!  I'm there for the kids not her.  I'm just saying...

We hosted for our regular games night (about 15) then the following day for Superbowl (about 30) and were on the go every single day last week.  I've dealt with the internet going out, and pest control.  My sense of humour at catching 3 mice in less than two weeks along with killing off carpenter ants is not very good so we called in the pros.  That meant I was multi-tasking between Bell and the pest control guy just after our friend who is doing the custom woodworking left.  Oh and then my doctor's office called to say I failed one test so need to undergo further tests...like I really needed that!  AND my husband signed me up for volleyball Friday nights.  Apparently my head is a walking target for the volleyball as well with one resulting trip to ER but that is because it came so close after the slip and fall at the airport so I lost vision in my right eye for a short period.  It also doesn't help that my impacted wisdom tooth is showing signs of infection or that I am the head of a very large and what promises to be a huge community project. 

Two things happened to bring everything back into perspective.  First, someone at volleyball said "Buck it Up Buttercup".  That has become my new mantra because the reality is no matter how bad I feel or how tired I am, someone has it worse.  The second thing that happened was a little girl that comes to the one school's breakfast program (I'm at two schools) came up to me and thanked me for feeding her.  I held back the tears until I got in the car to drive home realizing I had made a difference for one child for one day and you know that is all that really matters!  So, BUCK IT UP BUTTERCUP!  Life is grand especially when you have the opportunity to help others ...

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Monday, February 13, 2012

RIP Whitney Houston

This past Saturday (February 11, 2012) we lost another musical great.  We were saddened to hear of the passing of Whitney Houston at the age of 48.  While the cause of death will not be announced for a few weeks, already there is speculation.  I have one comment regarding the speculation.  Knock it off!  The only thing this does is hurt those she left behind.  It's just nasty and unless you have walked a mile in her shoes, you have no right to comment or judge.  'Nuff said. 

Whitney was a great performer who gave us a lot of pleasure through her music and left a legacy for future generations.  She will be sorely missed by her family, friends and fans.  RIP Whitney and thanks for what you gave us.  It is much appreciated! 

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Blog Your Blessings Sunday - Out of the Mouths of Babes

Blog Your Blessings Sunday

Our Grandkids are absolutely precious!  Oldest and youngest Grandkids stopped by for brunch with their parents today.  Oldest Grandbaby who is now in Junior Kindergarten rides a bus to school so I asked her if she rode the short or long school bus.   She said she rode the short bus but when more people get on the bus the bus gets longer.  Well her reasoning is perfectly logical but it still was rather humorous.  Not to be outdone, youngest Grandbaby who will be three this year went into the guest bedroom that is currently in the process of being painted.  I asked him what he was doing and when he said "Fixing the switch Grandma" my feet hit the hall.  Here he was with the switch plate and screw driver trying to replace the cover on the telephone jack.  Thank goodness it wasn't on the electrical outlets that have the plates off.  I had the door shut so didn't figure he would go in there.  I was wrong :(  Now the funny thing was he was very concerned that the toys were gone.  I keep the toys for the Grandkids in the guest bedroom but moved them out for painting.  He went running to Papa asking for help to find the toys, his little arms stretched out with an "Oh no Papa, toys gone!".  Papa found the Lego bin so they were both content after brunch.  What a wonderful way to spend a bit of time on a winter Sunday!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Thursday, February 09, 2012

The Twenty-Two Buick Skylark

old Buick skylark
The Twenty-Two Buick Skylark
December 7, 2011

My Mother-in-Law's birthday was on the twenty second so one of my husband's lucky numbers is 22.  He always plays 22 straight up when playing roulette.  Surprisingly he often wins as well.  I spotted this old Buick Skylark that had been nicely restored.  The combination of green with the number 22 was an omen for the good fortune we would enjoy during our winter vacation!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Vacation Home Oasis

pools at our vacation home resort
Vacation Home Oasis
December 7, 2011 

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Atrium at Orlando International Airport

atrium at Orlando International Airport
The Atrium
December 6, 2011

I love atriums, glass houses, greenhouses and window walls.  They add natural light, warmth and a structural beauty that is hard to describe other than a geometric element to the space.  Atriums have been extremely popular building additions since Victorian times.  We are planning on adding a glass sunroom onto the east side of our house just off the kitchen this year.  It would be a cheery spot to great the day with a morning cup of coffee.  Quite frankly I really don't understand why these glass spaces are not used more in modern homes.  Yes, there is the energy efficiency to be concerned with but I will tell you there is absolutely no way you would feel depressed and mood swings would be alleviated simply by spending an hour in a glass space each day during the winter months in the Northern Hemisphere.  It is a heck of a lot cheaper remedy then anti-depressants and you can take advantage of the solar gain during the winter months!  Besides the glass spaces are simply delightful

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Friday, February 03, 2012

Arrival at Orlando, Florida for Our Winter Vacation

tram ride from terminal at Orlando International Airport
Tram View Heading from Gate to Main Terminal
(Orlando International Airport)
December 6, 2011

We arrived at Orlando International Airport for the second leg of our winter vacation a bit ahead of schedule as they put us onto an earlier flight.  It is a good thing we arrived at the airport in Milwaukee earlier.  We would have had time for a leisurely breakfast had our flight not been changed.  As it was we ended up with just enough time to grab a coffee and board the plane.  The flight was pleasant with a smooth take-off and landing.  We arrived in Orlando about 4:30 PM then once at the gate took the tram to the main terminal where we headed to the car rental area to pick-up our rental car.  We have got it to the point that we can fly between home and our vacation home with no checked baggage as well as print our tickets ahead of time so we only have to head to security when boarding then straight to the rental car area after landing.  This saves a considerable amount of time.  It was a beautiful late afternoon, perfect for picture taking.  The sky was a gorgeous azure with fluffy white clouds marking the promise of a wonderful and pleasantly warm winter vacation to unfold.

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Blog Your Blessings Sunday - A Splash of Colour

Blog Your Blessings Sunday

As an avid DIYer and crafter, I like to watch the DIY shows for home decorating and gardening ideas.  Several years ago, one of the hosts on a DIY show made the comment that every home needs a red room.  Now my husband is a huge Detroit Redwings fan so the sports room has a lot of red in it but the walls aren't red.  Red made it's way into the kitchen via dinnerware and lids to the glass food storage containers I use.  When we first viewed this house, I planned on doing the kitchen black and white with splashes of red if we were the successful purchasers.  Well, we were successful but after moving in it was fairly obvious my colour scheme would not work yet at the same time the taupe walls weren't working in the kitchen.  I devised a plan to paint every room in the house as my winter project.

I was on the Behr website using their decorating tool starting with the green I wanted for our bedroom.  All the colours in the house would in effect co-ordinate back to that green.  At the same time the colour scheme of taupe, green and burgundy was the same as our vacation home making it so that any items taken from here would automatically match there and visa versa.  I had a nice co-ordinating burgundy picked out for our home office and a taupe for the kitchen.  My husband said the burgundy would look great in the kitchen so I thought what the heck, headed over to Home Hardware.  They have the codes to make most of the Behr colours except they didn't have the code for that burgundy.  I came back home to get the next closest burgundy colour number then when back to Home Hardware but on the way there did a quick turn-around.  I was onto plan B.  I grabbed one of the dinner plates then went back to Home Hardware where they custom matched the paint to the plates.  

The kitchen is now a deep, rich splash of almost a ruby red.  It is absolutely gorgeous!  The red makes the marble tile floor pop and serves as a wonderful backdrop for the black appliances while bringing out the warm tones in the oak cabinets.  I can't help but smile every time I go into the kitchen.  Red is a very difficult paint to work with and this one has been about a difficult as they come taking more coats than expected but the end result has been well worth it.  I'm so glad I listened to my husband and used the red in the kitchen!  What a wonderful splash of colour, one that will continue to bring a smile not only to me but to everyone who sees it...

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012