Friday, November 23, 2012

Autumn - Joy in simple things

I have found such joy in simple things;
A plain, clean room, a nut-brown loaf of bread,
A cup of milk, a kettle as it sings,
The shelter of a roof above my head.
 And in a leaf-laced square along the floor,
Where yellow sunlight glimmers through the door.

I have found such joy in things that fill
My quiet days: a curtain's blowing grace,
A potted plant upon my windowsill,
A rose, fresh-cut and placed within a vase;
A table cleared, a lamp beside a chair,
And books I long have loved beside me there.

Oh, I have found such joys I wish I might
Tell every woman who goes seeking far
For some elusive, feverish delight,
That very close to home the great joys are:
The elemental things--old as the race,
Yet never, through the ages, commonplace.

--Grace Noll Crowell 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful for Thanksgiving

 Canadian Thanksgiving happens in the USA's Columbus Day, in October actually, when the sun is still high, the leaves are sprinkled with autumn's gorgeous color, and the evenings are beginning to present some frosty grounds.  

Around our October Thanksgiving, our daughter's birthday falls in this same timing. There is always something to be thankful for, and at this time of year, there is loads to remember to offer heavenly thanksgiving upward. 

Instead of celebrating this year's date on the Sunday evening like we usually do, we opted to celebrate on the holiday Monday, the day of our daughter's actual birthday.

My husband likes to cook. Yes, he does. I tease him about my spice cupboard, the one I've had to restore several times since his cooking hobby launched. At this time of year, he loves to make a thanksgiving menu, and blessed us all with his tremendous culinary efforts.

His secret recipes for a homemade (citrus yummy) cranberry sauce, specialty turkey stuffing, sweet potato/russet potato mashed cross, and other assorted free range turkey accompaniments, really do make for a yummy (starve yourself all day to be able to consume it all) type of dinner.


It's always a pleasure to be on the receiving end of his cooking efforts, Always. Even the rest of the family offer praises of food fest delighting in his presence. 

A birthday/thanksgiving affords itself to several desserts, for the usual pumpkin pie with whipped cream didn't seem like a special tribute to the birthday side of the festivities. 

Pumpkin pie or cheesecake.... or both? 

Sweet little grandbaby was mesmerized by the dancing flicker of candle flames, shortly before her mommy blew them all out. 

Only our older son was missing from the ones living here in the east this year, for he was summoned to work this day. boohoo... It seems the way life is, missing members always leaves a little hole when in the midst of family gatherings. 

This year, everyone announced their thankful things right at the table again. Misty tears were present. Happy hearts were all aglow. Here's hoping your day was as special as ours was.

Sending "Happy USA Thanksgiving" TODAY to all of our family and friends. 


Monday, November 19, 2012

Lest we forget ~ Remembrance Day 2012

In Flanders Field
 By:  Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

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.

One Friday evening and a full Saturday, approximately ten hours in length, was spent seeing our son and his sea cadet corps assisting in the sale of poppies, by quietly standing outside of various business venues. 

In honor of those who have fought for our freedoms, assorted cadet corps  began working alongside our local Veterans, offering freedom reminders for the upcoming day of November 11th.

Some of the many, many trays of poppies used by many groups and troupes working with our Veterans this particular weekend. 

The Poppy ~ one of the most instantly recognized flowers in the world, offering a humble and wordless reminder of the blood shed for our freedoms.

As per every calendar year, a prayerful memorial service for the both known and unknown soldiers was once again held at the eleventh hour, during the eleventh day, in the eleventh month of this year.

It was an emotional scene when after many proceedings, the very first wreath was carried, and placed on display at the Cenotaph by the parents of a young 19 year old, who recently perished when involved in a "peace keeping" mission in the Middle East. Very sad...

This scene also reminded me of what my grandmother must have felt like each year, after her little brother, a flight sargeant, and also a 19 year old, suddenly died battling for his country's freedom. He was so young. You can read the tribute I wrote about him by clicking HERE.  

As a city, we stood, shoulder to shoulder at this year's November 11th/2012 Remembrance Day Memorial gathering. 

Once again, I felt honored to be there, and I feel very strongly that it should be something personally adopted by everyone, as one of our civic duties in life, a mere once per year committed occasion where we can be united, thankful, show honor, become more prayerful, and offer support toward our many troops both present here locally in attendance, those currently on duty fighting afar, and towards the deceased.

Lest we forget!

Some of our local RCMP troupe, (Royal Canadian Mounted Police). My Uncle was a highly respected RCMP, a pilot actually who had the honor of flying our Prime Minister, Queen Elizabeth and many other dignitaries, during his many years of service. RIP Uncle. 

And here, a while after all the other groups, are our local Sea Cadets. Our son is at the far right in this photo, and below in a blurry quick shot moment. 

I guess I'm just too short to see over the crowd, the one who were clapping in thanksgiving to our groups and troupes this day. Camera in air, I tried. :)

Blurry, the guy in the middle is our son. He's got quite the arm swing march going on there. 

It was quite touching to witness folks walking up after the ceremonies, taking their own poppies from their lapels and placing them lovingly, or thoughtfully onto specific wreaths in honor of others. It was very moving to see tears falling down cheeks, something so very personal to many. 

Finally, a small group shot of those hanging around awaiting their rides home afterward. Another mother and I coaxed this group to pose for us, and after a few jokes, we got great smiles! Yay! 

Thanks everyone! You made us all proud this day. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Fun with Nature #25 - Watch where you put your hand!

(Fun with nature take along guide)

 Our back deck stair handrail has been really great for hanging on to, specially when we hoist things up and down from deck to back garden.

It came as a complete surprise one day last month when I went to grab this same railing, and to  my utter surprise, get a load of what was resting there. This guy was no doubt trying to camouflage himself. Ha, whoa, I almost placed my entire hand right over him! He was big too. Yikes!

Out came our nature guides, and try as we might, we still haven't fully been able to identify him! 

He's a strange one, not really falling into any category we've read about thus far. WE thought sure he was a toad, but alas, he looks more like a "gray treefrog", as in the photo below taken from our "fun with nature" guide.

Imagine that! Not a toad, rather a tree frog? Of course one can tell from the book that's a tree frog, but not at all when viewing the live version on my stair railing. Wow! Who would've thought...

So, watch where you put your hand on that stair rail! You might be in for quite a surprise...

Love Nature Study? You may enjoy reading more about our nature study adventures on our property and surrounding areas.

 Check out the archives by clicking HERE for more.

Stampin on tiles (making coasters)

With the help of a perfect (for me) rubber stamp and some perfectly colored (for me) craft ink, I had so much fun recently making these new tiled coasters for our family room. 

After a few practice rounds, I perfectly the placement of the rubber stamp, added the smaller "Dream" stamp for wording, let the ink dry for about an hour, and then protected everything using a spray varnish. 

This particular type of tile, is the very same as the one currently in my kitchen, over my countertops, and my hubby thought it would be fun, someday, to perhaps customize a few tiles within the setting there. 


The final step towards completion was cutting a square of self mounting felt (Walmart), cut to size and adhered to the backing for protection of surfaces from scratches. 


Lovely new custom made coasters!

An unspeakably perfect miracle; Of emergencies and hurricanes

"To me, every hour of the day and night is an unspeakably perfect miracle."

The media were warning for several days, to prepare for the onset of Hurricane Sandy

Folks in our geographical area were warned of possible 100 km./hr winds, monsoon rains, and snow within a few days. 

So, we prepared...

 The day the storm finally arrived, winds picked up early in the morning, and the trees were bouncing about more than normal. 

We are lucky ones, not having to worry about power outages with a generator already in place, a really swanky one that came with the purchase of our home which could keep a few electrical plugs in the kitchen working, some outdoor/indoor lighting unaffected, heat and water from our well flowing fine, and the sump pump maintained. Our fridge and freezer units were on this grid, and our gas fireplaces (three of them) were in prime locations to add extra heat should it become necessary. 

Our children/young adults were luckily all home for the night, even our son was local, (the one whose work is basically all outdoors on any given day), our animals were sheltered, so all seemed perfectly well. 

Another storm however, of quite another kind, was brewing alongside this threatened event, one that was a huge emergent threat right in the midst of all else in our very home!

 A lung infection doesn't take long to manifest itself into a major threat for my husband, usually all it takes is a 24 hour period to swell into a medical emergency.

This was day 7 of feeling quite unwell, and it was also day 3 of taking his routinely self prescribed (when viewing sputum changes as threats to lung health) home emergency supply stash (doctor prescribed) of antibiotics, the ones which routinely heal him up to three or four times each year when lung infections hit hard. For some reason, this time, these meds were not offering a decent or slightest reprieve as normally would occur, and a medical danger zone was swiftly building.

All afternoon, growing concern was peaking into taking further medical action steps. I knew  something more had to be done. 

Options were; head to the family doctor, who in turn would point to ER at the local hospital, head to the local Internist, our go between doctor to the Toronto medical care in place, call a paramedic/ambulance who in turn would insist on ER, or just get to our local ER - and NOW. 

I was ready to go. He wasn't. 

In pain from violent coughing, and spiking a fever, we waited for a bit of a reprieve for him, and then he consented to get going before the storm grew worse and driving proved to become a hazard.

A puzzling diagnosis finally arrived after several tests and many hours (the one lamely offered after a third party was called upon when the chest xray left everyone clueless, to it, and to his disease) a disappointing one too after such a long night.

However, the ER doctor didn't feel right about that third party's "guess" of his symptoms only being the result of his lung disease (WRONG!), and he was able to prescribe a somewhat stronger antibiotic before advising us to head home, get out of the "sick area", to keep my husband safe from further exposure to anything else in his already weakened state.

In the middle of the night, the wind seemed to subside for our drive home. The night though soon became a windy, blowy, blustery night with the sounds of tree tops cracking and things blowing around.  I really appreciate the quote I used above, for it offers thoughtful reflection so very important in our lives.

"To me, every hour of the day and 
night is an unspeakably perfect miracle."
Our hearts go out to all those who have had to, and continue to endure, many more complications and difficulties from Hurricane Sandy than we did. 

After a further appointment with the specialist late last week, I'm relieved he gave his prognosis for the state of unwellness - pneumonia. 

My hubby is now finally on the mend, not 100% great, but nevertheless on the mend. And, with the assistance of this local specialist, his own letterhead presentation letter is currently being prepared to have in hand, for any future local ER instances. Surely, this letter will prevent any future mass confusion for those medical folks who try to offer their expertise, but have no clue about such a rare case as my hubby's. 

As a perfectly wonderful aside...

I had forgotten all about a wonderful and exciting gift that I had won previous to this emergent time, and it arrived in the mail this week. Perfect timing if you ask me. And, such a blessing to be sure. 

Thank you to the folks (Mary especially, hugs to you!) at Catholic Embroidery for their very generous gift, a gorgeous and very comfy blanket with the San Damiano cross of St. Francis embroidered onto it. Love it! Thank you again and again....

St. Francis prayer before the San Damiano Cross

~ by St. Francis of Assisi

Most High, glorious God, enlighten the shadows of my heart, and grant unto me a right faith, a certain hope and perfect charity, sense and understanding, Lord, so that I may accomplish Thy holy and true command.

From Wikipedia; The San Damiano Cross was one of a number of crosses painted with similar figures during the 12th century in Umbria The name of the painter is unknown, but it was fashioned around the year 1100. The purpose of an icon cross was to teach the meaning of the event depicted and thereby strengthen the faith of the people. The Byzantine style was common in Italy before Cimabue and Giotto.

When the Poor Clares moved from San Damiano to the Basilica of Santa Chiara in 1257, they took the original San Damiano Cross with them and still guard it with great solicitude. It now hangs in the Basilica over the altar of the Chapel of the Crucifix– a reconstruction of the Church of Saint George, which was torn down to build the Basilica. The crucifix hanging over the altar of the ancient church of San Damiano is a copy. All Francicans cherish this cross as the symbol of their mission from God to commit our lives and resources to renew and rebuild the Church through the power of Christ.

You can read more on wikipedia by linking HERE. 


Monday, November 12, 2012

(Late) Ten things I'm Thankful For - 10/26/2012


(This is a late edition due to growing internet issues. I've loaded and reloaded until the coffee shop became my uploading fun place for blog post preparations. I am hoping our online abilities improve, and soon.) 

- 1- I'm thankful for hot and steamy soups in autumn. This one was a homemade tomato soup, accompanied by melted parmesan cheesy fresh french bread slices, compliments of my hubby. Everyone declared all was perfect for such a blustery day. 

- 2 - I'm thankful for simply luscious autumn scenery, like the one above, photographed this day, in my very own yard! Note the blue hues in the sky, the fall palette of color bursts in the trees, and feel the love of autumn upon us. 

- 3 - I'm thankful for this "family size" box of Ritz crackers, the kind of cracker I don't normally buy. However, on sale, this one caught my eye after one son was complaining that he was granted great snacks at a friend's house, but not his own. Huh?

When I inquired just what that might be, he in his coy young adult aged body language added; "They have Ritz crackers mom." 

I don't get it, but it meant much to him that I bought these. Crazy times.

- 4 - I'm thankful for the little things of autumn, the ones that catch my eye any time of day or night. The photo above is the current decor on my kitchen table. The one just below it, was the table decor when dining out during our lunch the other day. Sweetness abounds. 

- 5 - I'm thankful for small findings in the garden, like the tiny bird nest above hiding in my tree. No one dared remove it, for there it will remain until next spring for what we hope will be, yet another birdie visit.

- 6 - I'm thankful for an organized beginning to our school year. Tabs are an all important item for one daughter this year, and she requested her very own bottle of white out to correct her errors in the future. Another cutesy thing was finding my old bin of "office supply's" date stamp in her possession, the one she's been using to sign in each day in daily her school portfolio schedule. I suppose one never knows when an item comes in handy for someone else. 


- 7 - I'm thankful for things like this! The "Leaves", is this same daughter's penmanship, the one she entered into the annual country fall fair's exhibit. This gal struggled to use cursive writing in her daily work, much preferring to print instead. After using several books of Italic writing for her penmanship practice, I finally see her "non-loopy", more formal writing coming to fruition.  

The woman she had handed her entry in to remarked how wonderful she thought her writing was, a boom to this young gal, who will now happily continue forward with confidence in her efforts. And how great it was to see her work among all others in the community on the very large viewing boards at the fair, and have her listen to the comments of friends who were able to see it on display there, more great motivation for her to press on!

- 8 - I'm thankful for small family birthday celebrations, especially the ones that often fall on calendar holidays like this one below on our Canadian Thanksgiving. Happy, Happy 20th Birthday to our girl! 

The change up of birthday cheesecake, with the additional traditional pumpkin pie and whip cream, all made for a very caloric Thanksgiving/Birthday dessert.

- 9 - I'm thankful for schooling structure, at least it's coming along for our son with his new curriculum program. It's been much more intensive, with an online component he's trying to master. 

Starting out of the gate later than normal, due to books not mailed to us in time, we're both getting the hang of it all with this new to us school. First quarter coming up to send/email all of his work online. Now to get him pumped up to plunk away at his thesis for his big English essay....

- 10 - I'm thankful for having our bi-yearly ductwork cleaning all behind us now. It's hard to believe two years has already passed since the last time we had this service performed, the one this time with very interesting results! 

Remember when I told you the story of how we had a surprise visit from an ermine (winter white weasel?)? 

Well, lo and behold, in one of our cold ducts in the basement, the very one we heard that rodent using his sharp nails on the air vent steel, well, we found damage to the wall when he obviously tried to escape from where he had ended up when chasing the mouse indoors. 

Oh my goodness! The men involved in the service had never seen that type of damage before, for sure they've seen mouse scratching, just not evidence of a weasel's damage from an attempted great escape. 


It was fun to know one of the servicemen, one of the young fellows who used to  hang around our home. He was so excited to come over, that he sent me a very lovely note afterward, telling us how much he missed being here. What a thoughtful guy he was! 

And there you have, one more installment of "Ten Things I'm Thankful For", though tardy as all get out. Our internet abilities are getting worse here than every before, so.....slow and just not worth the photo uploads anymore. When at a coffee shop, I try to take advantage and load, load, load. Today's load is always changing and growing, blessings aplenty and so many more things in our midst to be thankful for, IF ONLY we'd care to sift through and take a good look. 

Have a great evening;