Thursday, August 31, 2006



Hope is the thing
with feathers--
That perches in the soul--
And sings the tune without
the words--
And never stops--at all.

- Emily Dickinson

Lovely swans in a local fountain pond

Sands of time

The sands of time!

As this is a perfect looking sand trap area for golfers to practice their swing at the golf course, for them too, it takes "time" to make things happen "on purpose". For us, we are taking time "on purpose" after work and chores these days, to discover over and over again, a most amazing tranquility and the sheer simplicity of playtime with God's creation all around us.

Everywhere I go lately, there are slogans and advertisements stating summer is almost over, rumors of course and greatly exaggerated. What a falacy! Summer, the season, ends September 22; summer, the event, ends on Labor Day, which is, at this writing, four days away. Truly, we must take some time to enjoy the season's parting gifts;

Take a long walk.

Throw rocks in the lake.

Drive with all of the windows down.

Sing along with the car radio. Even (perhaps, especially) at stoplights.


Get up one hour earlier, bundle up and sit outside with a hot cuppa something.


Sleep in tomorrow morning.

Get out and wash the car.

Swim. One last time. They close the outdoor pools soon. Beaches though are always open.

Eat cherry or grape tomatoes. Whole. POP! SQUISH!

Let the kids push you on the swing.

Learn something.


Dance to your own music. Stop eyeing the room to see what everyone else is doing. Just move.

Breathe deeply.

Be thankful for your very life.

Turning your face to the sun and closing your eyes to feel its warmth.

Stop thinking about living, planning it to the minutest detail, scheduling it, listing it, comparing to-do lists with any who will listen.

Just get on with the living.

Our kind of sand...

Sinking in the sand

Splashing in the sand

Admiring the lovely sand

Taking a foot massage in the soft sand

Building in the sand

Stopping to spend time in the sand

Playing in the sand

Getting rolled about by waves in the sand

Throwing wet sand

Life is Good!


"Life Is Good"

Darlin' if you think back
To the heartbroken past
Before we found each other
It's so amazin', it's almost crazy
What a difference lookin' through the eyes of love

Life is good, the grass is green
The good Lord smilin' on you and me
Gonna knock on wood
Sweet sunshine everywhere I look
You love me like no one could
Life is good

People stop me on the street
Thinkin' I'm the old me
Talkin' about the bad old days
But ever since you came along
Them old blues are long gone
I break into a grin and all that I can say is

Life is good, the grass is green
The good Lord smilin on you and me
Gonna knock on wood
Sweet sunshine everywhere I look
You love me like no one could
Life is good

Someday girl, this old world will try to beat you up
Let 'em bring it on, 'cause everytime we touch

Life is good, the grass is green
The good Lord smilin' on you and me
Gonna knock on wood
Sweet sunshine everywhere I look
You love me like no one could
Life is good

Life is good, the grass is green
The good Lord smilin' on you and me
Sweet sunshine everywhere I look
You love me like no one could
Life is good
Life is good

Another sunset from our deck...Life is Good!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A blustery ending to a great day!

A date with my hubby near the water of course whenever possible, each of us gazing at the sun setting for the day, is my all time favorite thing to do right now. Water and sunsets are classic and timeless, leaving us both able to experience a silent peace in the very core of our souls, melting the stresses of the day into oblivion. What a great way to relax, and just be.....

After the sun kissed us goodnight by blasting its intricate blended hues of color across the skies, and the dark of night fell upon us, the landscape was slowly lighting up in a beautiful way amidst the blustery warm breezes, giving us a definite and most certain "bad hair night" as its gift. Blow wind blow, right through my hair. Go ahead...

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Day 2 of Horse Camp

This was Day 2 of horse camp, a five day summer camp based on horse riding and knowledge of care.

One of the sea of horses, 32 in all

Our daughter was glowing when I picked her up today, dirty smudges across her face, dirty clothing, muddy boots, but so thrilled with another day at the camp. Amazing to see such high spirits knowing what this particular camp entails though, because the instructor had given me a run down of the day’s expectations before signing up. This was no "fun" time per se, rather a very physical time at best.

The early mornings at 8am begin with a riding lesson, each girl with her own capabilities, handling a new horse per day to get used to other temperaments amongst the established horse population. Next on the morning roster is the duty of cleaning stalls with pitch fork and wheelbarrow (wink), feeding and general grooming care of the horses taught, each horse brushed up to a shine with various bristled brushes. Horse tack instructions continue to be detailed, with each girl having to learn the saddling up her own horse each day before riding can even attempt to begin. Yesterday the girls were given the tedious task of taking apart all the bridles, cleaning them up with sponges and small toothbrushes to get into the nooks and crannies, polishing of the leather until it shined, then they were informed they had to attempt to reassemble them all again, once the cleaning had been completed. Not an easy assignment though, as all seven or eight parts look the same when unassembled, so this is a tricky one, taking some time to accomplish correctly.

Her favorite horse "Snuggles",
though it will not allow a saddle upon it's back

Duties throughout the day continue with raking out the indoor riding ring, or watering it down when it’s too dusty, taking written quizzes, eating a well deserved packed lunch with a rest time attached, then back to watering the animals after a second afternoon riding lesson, and much more. This afternoon the girls rode bareback and braided the horse's manes after the grooming. I guess that's just a girl thing though right, colorful elastics and all.

Tomorrow each student will make their very own lead to keep from rope with steel hooks on the end, to use on their horses when ushering them from their stalls for either grooming, or saddling up. I teased my daughter, telling her she could use it at home for her pup. wink...

Each day, new tasks are assigned and supposedly tomorrow, the girls all learn about horse shoeing and cleaning hooves. Lucky them! Actually, I love this lady’s philosophy, that of teaching her students of the huge responsibility attached to owning and boarding horses. They aren’t just a pleasure thing; they are a lot of work and carry a huge time committment each day, and a rather large financial expense just to maintain them! Observing each gal’s face at the end of the day near pickup time around 4pm., with huge smiles all aglow, it would appear her philosophy is a smashing success. Knowledge is valuable, and patience is a virtue. This summer horse camp is certainly teaching them well, for their own benefit and creating mature and responsible future horse lovers . There’s absolutely no fluffy stuff happening during the camp for sure, and the days seem to whiz by for the students, leaving them fulfilled and looking forward to the next camp day. Using horses for a summer camp theme is surely ingenious however, as I would concur those strategic virtue builders being practised, and the daily rigorous routines in the schedules posted, could spring forward, with the very same skills being incorporated into other areas of their lives someday. Perhaps as in "The Karate Kid" films (wax on, wax off) this is just a jumping point (forgive the pun) for continous overflow down the road.

Next week, all the university students are going back to school. Here in the east, very few students seem to continue with their day jobs while back attending classes. The instructor will no longer have her hired help each day, so if horse camp gives courage to our daughter, she wants to request to work one afternoon a week in exchange for her continued lessons in the winter time. If she takes the lead on something such as this, taking time with the horses for more familiarity, I’ll be a great cheerleader! This is good!

Too wet to ride in the outdoor paddock the past two days

However, though this all sounds terrific, last night both girls had their second official riding lesson, after the horse camp students were excused. Since it was too wet in the outdoor paddock, the indoor riding area was used for the lesson.

Both girls did their usual routine, beginning with fetching their own horse for the lesson, grooming it, tacking it up, placing the saddle on (little one needs assistance still for these), eventually once mounted on the animals, the lessons began. The older daughter had become very confident with her first day at horse camp and no longer needed to be hooked to the instructor's lead for guidance. The younger daughter, still hooked to the lead was progressing well, trotting along with correct body posture and movements, but something suddenly spooked her horse, sending it on a quick lunge with a few great steps rushing forward. Try as she might, our young gal was hurled forward abrutply on the horse, losing her reigns with her instictive grabbing onto the horse's mane, but still couldn't adjust to stay there, thereby tilting too far to the right, sending her tumbling to the ground with quite a good thud.

I think my heart was in my throat and my voice was lost as it all happened in a split second, but my own body movements were thrust into high gear. I was not so concerned she had taken a fall as I was being ensured she was out of the horse's clearance. It was still attached to the lead, the instructor having pulled it to the side, but too close for my comfort with a possible kicking to my baby. Stunned as she was though, my gal stood up and wasn't sure she wanted to continue the lesson of course, but the instructor and I were on the same page with this situation, convincing her she had to get back on straight away.

The indoor riding ring

Walking along rather than trotting, not long after, the horse was once again spooked. The same thing happened again, though this time, our gal sat up straight and tall, leaning backwards on the horse and yanked the reigns - hard. All was well, good girl, brave girl! If anything, both girls were much more attentive to their horse's movements, posture so much better, and no more ho hum riding look on their face was present for the rest of the lesson.

By next lesson, this horse she was supposed to
have originally, should be ready again once it's hoove is mended

Last night she was nursing a sore hip and backside, yet today she escorted me to the barn to see the horses and acted like nothing had happened. Eager to have her next lesson, I sometimes wonder how these little ones can be so very brave. Big sister though got the jitters after the fall scene, but after another day at horse camp, she too has become much more attentive, oozes contentment and seems just fine. The instructor forewarned them when she was just a student herself, she was told that unless you fell off one hundred times, you would never be a good rider. Imagine!

Back loving the horses today

Friday, August 25, 2006

Lunch anyone?

"Fish Friday"

Off to lunch

Guess where?


Four bumps on a log!

We've decided to get down to the beach as much as possible during these lazy days of summer, when able, after a day filled with animal duties, chores and sometimes extra physical labour jobs necessitating helpers.

It was a lucky day finding a perfect log, positioned in the right location on the sandy beach, awaiting someone to push it back into the water. Then, the fun began...

When able, steel rakes have littered the driveway side close to the garage, as the soil from the bobcat work and consequent weeding sessions, continues to be leveled little by little, for the grass seed scattering. However, with dry, tough clay mixed in with the soil, digging or raking with steel rakes, hasn't been easy with continued high heat temperatures surrounding the task, limiting our hours of exposure, though little by little, duty continues to call us there, and we hope to have these areas on the driveway, and around the front of the barn complete, with grass seed sprouting by this weekend.

Crossing our fingers anyway for the weather to co-operate, with the soil being just right and pliable after a thunder storm and shower the past 24 hours. As I type this, the sun is waving at us in the west, perfect for our dinner time. Jeepers! Maybe we'll have to go to the beach or to the porch for our sunset viewing instead tonight....

Traffic Jam ~ Country style

Well folks, this is the ultimate traffic jam this time of year near our home. No cars on a 90km stretch of country road but me, and one other motorbike driving towards me from the other direction. Slowing down to a snail’s pace, the farmer’s tractor with his hay booty took up much of the road, leaving us in a lurch, until he could veer over towards the edge of the road, just enough to pass him.

NO honk, honk, beep, beep on these roads here!

Being that most farmers are cash croppers, this farmer wasn’t from the general locale, so he has to haul his goods a bit of a distance. I think though, most folks around here don’t mind much at all. I on the other hand, just happen to have my handy dandy camera, loving taking a snap at whatever might interest me during my days on the road.

Passing the tractor, a scenic picture taken from the outer rearview mirror.

Monday, August 21, 2006

A Dream Come True!

Today was the exciting and long awaited day, held on merely with baited breath all week long for both girls, as they mentally prepared for their first riding lesson. They read reference and novel books on horses, met our neighbor’s breeds at the fence and chatted with them (maybe sneaked an apple to them again??), and fessed up to viewing the films; "Dreamer" and "Felicity" for the umpteenth time, dreaming it was them on the horse. Not only was this day the first riding lesson, it was also the "first" ride on a horse for both. I know, I know, they are so deprived, not even having a ride on a pony in their youthful years before today. But, the opportunity hadn't presented itself, so in our defense, we plead not guilty.

The drive to the stables wasn’t as far as we had anticipated; therefore we were incredibly early, sitting a bit inside the vehicle until closer to our time. Actually it turned out the riding stables are only ten minutes at the most from our house which was terrific!

The riding instructor and I had spoken on the telephone and instantly I knew I’d like her. She is a very lovely English woman with thirty plus years of teaching experience. When we’d arrived, she had just been inside her home adjacent to the barns having a bite to eat, because her day camp registrants for the week had only left moments before we arrived, leaving her a quick few moments to run in and take a tasty bite. Therefore it was great to have her walk up the rest of the drive with us to the barns, having brief introductions, and then she began chatting along with the girls as they prepared for their big day. Students are categorized with letters from A to E, “E” being the earliest beginner, so both girls were in this category.

Her horse for the time was "Misty"

A tour was given around the sections within the stables, then horses assigned. The youngest girl’s horse/pony (just a little guy) had filing done on its hooves, much too short, causing soreness, so a substitute was available for her usage. I could see the excitement building as they toured the barns to view some thirty horses, and then were both thrust into everything straight away; perfect to give the first overall impression, that a horse is much more than just an instant riding buddy. I was only able to take two brief pictures, then realized the camera flash was spooking the horses, so that came to an abrupt halt.

Now to get the younger one's horse!

Brushing began as soon as the tying down was learned. Saddling up and placing the bridle into the mouth on each girls’ horse was a lesson in itself, and then equestrian helmets were borrowed from the riding stash before moving outdoors to the front paddock area. There is also an indoor paddock in the center of the barns, a riding ring allowing lessons and horse riding/jumping to occur all year long.

My horse is "Rocky" and I love him!

I could tell immediately the teacher was well experienced and sensed limitations early with each child she taught, her instruction for instance included perfect expectations for each girl’s ability, giving them confidence over their fears and nervousness, persuading them to take the lead for walking their own horses outside, across the driveway, and into the ring. There their first mounting into the saddle was completed, courtesy of a rubbermaid stair step. That was a tricky one. *wink*

Mounting the horse wasn't as easy as she thought

A lesson on reign handling

Once hoisted up high on their saddles, they still had their reigns in hand from the walk, so instructions on how to hold them were given, saddle positioning taught, stirrup footing checked, and bridle do’s and don’ts were enforced as the instructor gently and ever so patiently, took a lead in her own hands, also hooked up to both horses, and gave the girls a most pleasurable first experience lesson ever could have imagined! She not only taught them to ride gracefully with the importance of posture, obviously having an actual ride on the horse, but they also learned to stand/sit/stand/sit in as they began to trot about with big smiles plastered all over their faces.

Whoa there Rocky boy!

Somehow in the course of the initial lesson, the instructor spoke of one horse being a boarder there, with its owner attending her horse camp this week. Our eldest had a huge desire to attend something like a horse day camp but none seemed to be in our local area, so we thought. It just so happens that one gal registered has bowed out for the camp beginning next week, so now our older daughter will be filling up the void taking the last spot of the season. The camp runs from 8am-4pm M-F, with every aspect of horse ownership and riding taught during the sessions. Love it!

I love trotting!

For us, this is real life at its very best, the core of separating the ever dreamy horse riding assumptions, to a hard knock comparison of actually having to get down and dirty, touching and doing everything herself for the general care and maintenance of the animal, including cleaning out the stalls each day, for one truly, educational tribute to a genuine and smashingly great, real life in the barn learning experience… If it were her own horse, she would know the time investment necessary for its care, so during horse camp, this is the method taught and instilled, along of course, with the riding.

Once camp girls learn well, the instructor chooses some of the older ones to work for her in exchange for riding lessons. Her general pricing for lessons are the least expensive I've ever heard of, a wee fraction from those back home. Perhaps its the just the country life here, not so many city slicker folks around sending pricing sky high when yearning for their latest thrill, not sure. Supply and demand likely wins in the end with the country folk taking the lead in this area here. The bartering stuff though, this is where the best part

Horse whisperer

Stay tuned…

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Grand excitement in the barn......

I must share about the harried excitement in the barn shortly before leaving for our boot excursion. The husky had something foreign in her mouth, and the children were forcing her to drop it. All began to squeel and scream "it's a bird!". With the large garage door up and the smaller door opened most of the morning, it appears a baby brown thrusher birdie made its way into the barn. Wrong place to be with both a bird hunter dog (lab) and a hunter dog in general (husky), and quick instincts came to play, as the little birdie made its fatal descent towards the kennel. Gulp! The wee flighty bird was tasting mighty fine, and happily beginning to slipslide into the dark recesses of the husky's belly, until she obeyed the children's coaxing, and spit out only part of the back half of the birdie onto the floor. Utter disgust could be heard around the countryside I'm sure as the children squeeled, and shouted their emotions. And grossly, no where did the head seem to appear in the pile on the ground displayed before them all. As a conclusion to this end though, later while on the evening pup's walk, the natural bodily function excreted to the ground contained both feathers and a beak! Ewwwww.......

Our drive to town also gave more excitement in the barn later on, when we brought home two bales of straw. One bale was delivered directly into the dog pen, the other will be stored for a later time. The straw was lightly raked out somewhat, then all stood back to witness the pups reactions. The husky went wild, rolling and digging down deep, tunneling through the new experience. She loved it!

The lab wasn't as sure, but began instinctively to pad it round and round, making a nest to lay on. Just as our old dog Sparkie loved the straw to sleep on, always warm and comfy, we knew this was a great addition for them for the winter ahead. Dry and warm, they happily are now "nesting". No birds allowed in those nests though!

Afternoon Siestas

We love afternoon siestas, or "quiet hours" in the afternoon hours when the sun is hottest. After the brick saga, an afternoon of boot shopping, and the excitement of the dogs with their new treat, it was time for settling down for a lull.

Two of the younger children headed for the barn loft. Once there, a blanket was spread on the floor, dolls all around, one reading, one hugging her babes, sharing a quiet time together. The older son headed for bed with a good adventure novel. The night before I had moved the trampoline nearer to the back deck and closer to the house. Our older daughter visited the storage closet to find her sleeping bag, grabbed her pillow from the bed, and took a lovely snooze, off to dreamland with the sound of crickets, cicadas, mourning doves, and the natural quiet of the country.

Friday, August 18, 2006


Ahead of schedule, the imposed deadline for completing the brick moving to the new storage area is complete, as I type this at 10:52 am. We are all celebrating at this moment with a rather large glass of icy electrolyte filled, lemon lime Gatorade. Oh, it’s going down so good!

Quenching our thirst!

Pushing our bodies to extremes, all hands on deck, thankfully we awoke to an overcast sky to shield us from the sun’s rays today. However, even with the cloudy skies protecting us, the summer heat still reigned true, eventually creating situations with heavily dripping sweaty brows.
Another palette gone!

More tools of the trade were discovered, and came in handy to haul bricks, allowing our youngest helper to pitch in, becoming more productive with the team efforts, as well as blending in with the natural rhythm of everyone else's developing strategic assemblies.

New tools of the trade discovered

Feeling proud of herself, little helpers are very productive today

They have a plan folks! Doing a great job too!

The condition of these bricks was interesting, dried mud caked on, requiring a broom swished across each row as we uncovered them. Filthy is a mild description that comes to mind.

Filthy caked on dirt must go!

Castle maker to avoid sore lower back work

Everyone was assigned a position, rotations happening when necessary. With a break in the weather for the most part, we decided to continue until all was complete. The evening is now free without more work. And work we did, resulting with the grand finale of muscles screaming for mercy, as we officially wind down, laughing and celebrating over the end of the brick saga. We did it! Ahead of schedule too!

Preparing for hockey in the fall, building my muscles.
Someday I'll thank you for this!

My claim to fame today is having touched each and every single brick the past few days, from all three palettes, as I was the assigned “loader” for wheelbarrow and wagon, sweeper of the bricks, castle stacker of the piles to avoid more stooping over for the loading motions, motivation 101 mama, and cheerleader extraordinaire.

Loader of the bricks


Great work team!!!

More little green friends were discovered with each lifting of another empty palette. We found a large one here, with a smaller one a short distance away. Now homeless, they struggled to move onward in search of cover.

Mama Toad

Baby Toad ??