Saturday 30 January 2016

promises promises

The title for this post is a line from some 80's band, likely from England, probably wore gel in their blond hair... can't remember the name, don't feel like googling it, so 50 pretend points for anyone who can name the band.

The idea behind this post is from my own situation of breaking promises. Who have I ticked off by breaking multiple promises? That would be me.

For the past year (maybe two) I have been promising myself that this is the day that I start working out and sticking with it. I have promised myself that this is the day that I eat clean, 5 small meals a day, protein and complex carbs at every meal. I have promised myself that I would walk on the treadmill every day. I have promised myself that I will not eat after supper. I have promised myself that THIS would be the year that everything changes. And so on. I make these promises in writing. I have kept a journal (actual pen and paper) for many, many years. That's where I let it all hang out. That's where private thoughts and family dramas and tears and laughter and hopes and dreams get recorded. That's where I make promises to myself, only to break them over and over again.

I am very open about my age. I am 49, and will turn 50 this July. But lately I have felt 79, turning 80. I truly feel part of this is due to crazy, declining hormones... enough said. However, I have become more sedentary, many days being completely spent after working all day and making supper, with no energy to do anything short of sitting in front of the tv and sometimes realizing I have fallen asleep for a few minutes. My joints hurt. When I get up in the morning, I move slowly and heavily, waiting for my body to get the kinks out and stop protesting. I can only sleep on my sides due to an aching lower back, but then my hips scream out half way through the night, only to be relieved by a pillow between my knees. Due to my evening sedentary lifestyle and my less than stellar eating habits over the past couple of years, my weight has slowly crept upward. I am not comfortable in my body anymore and I've had to abandon some clothing. And even with all of this discomfort and change, I have broken my promises.

Recently, the universe pushed me to try yoga. Once upon a time, I owned an Ali McGraw yoga tape. I did portions of it a few times and didn't really like it. When my husband and I were really into eating well and working out, we bought P90X, an intense form of torture on multiple DVDs with one DVD being yoga. Ninety minutes of yoga. I hated it. Instead of giving me a sense of calm, it made me angry. Lately, colleagues have told me about a woman who teaches yoga out of her home, quite close to where I live. Friends told me that they have started going to yoga at a school close to their home and love it. And with every mention of yoga, I softened to the idea more and more. So I went. Husband went too. It was held in a spacious room above a two car garage in which the instructor's husband also teaches martial arts on other evenings. It was comfortable with lots of wood. She was very personable, accepting, and explained everything very well. The first visit is free, so you can decide if you want to do this or not. The only complaint I had (apart from my body's abilities) was the heavy scent of incense. I cannot tolerate anything scented anymore and could feel my throat getting sore and scratchy by the end of the hour. After explaining this to the instructor, she reassured me that she does not have to use incense and if she knows I am coming, she will not use it .

I think I would like to continue going, but I'm not making any promises.

What about you, have you broken any promises to yourself over the years?

Wednesday 27 January 2016

Heard it Wrong

In a recent post I wrote how our daughter thought the line from a song was, "the saints, the opposums" (actually was the saints, the apostles) which got me to thinking about other words wrongly heard and then misspoken.

Same daughter, for years, thought the cute little things on the sides of your head were "pink tails". When she was much older and we discovered she'd been saying it wrong for years, she laughed hard at the realization they are in fact "pig tails".

When our son was little he referred to the infamous Canadian coffee and donut shop as "Timportance" (rhymes with importance). I thought it would be an amazing slogan and marketing idea to launch to the company (did not do so). Of course, it is Tim Horton's.

When daughter was little and dancing around, which she did for approximately 14 years, she was singsonging the words, "lifisbotta, lifisbotta, lifisbotta..."  What are you singing, hon? "Lifisbotta"
She was actually taking a little excerpt from Row Row Row Your Boat (life is but a dream).

I do not listen to a whole lot of recent music. I like what I listened to in my youth, teens, and early twenties. Besides the CBC, we listen to classic rock stations (dear god, I'm classic, maybe even retro). This caused our son to repeatedly sing in guttural tones, "I'm hungry like the worrrrlllld".  Yup, that would be Duran Duran, "Hungry like the Wolf."

There are probably more examples that I have forgotten. I have likely heard many things wrong over the years. My inability to hear things clearly forces my husband to put hands to mouth and shout, "The bless-ing!"
"the blessing!"  from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

Sunday 24 January 2016

behind the wheel

A couple of nights ago, we had a beautiful sunset. I got a couple of pics through the trees.

sunset behind our now empty chicken coop

it looks like a raging fire in the distance
I was listening to the news last night where a report from Virginia described the ankle-deep snow. The governor came on and said this storm might cost them one hundred million dollars. My jaw dropped. That money amount was shocking. I realize that big snow is not as common in some of the states as it is here, but I don't understand where that kind of cost comes from.

We still have a lot of snow on the ground. I look at the five day forecast, but often things change. It's wise to only look at the next day to get an accurate idea of what the weather will be like. Snow doesn't really hold anyone back in this area. You have to learn to how drive in it, but at the same time respect it. I believe in the province of Quebec, you must have tires which  are snow rated, or you could be fined. Sure, every year with the first heavy snowfall, there is always someone who is going too fast and braking too hard and ends up in the ditch. Young drivers need to learn lessons the hard way sometimes.

Our son just got his G1. That's what we used to call our "beginners" back in my day (lord, I sound like an old fuddy duddy there, don't I?).  He will be signed up for driver training soon in the month of February. There will still be plenty of snowy days and unsavoury driving conditions at that time, so perhaps its a good thing that he is learning in these conditions. Maybe he will end up being a better driver for it. He has had lots of experience on the lawn tractor, driving, turning, backing up... I think even that gives him a bit of a feel for actual driving of a vehicle. I think he will be a good driver.

He's quite tall and I am sure he will have to move the seat back from the position I usually have it in. When our daughter was home in the summer, she would use my vehicle to drive to work and other places. She brought the seat forward so much that when I would get in, I would bash my knee against the steering column. When my husband sometimes uses my vehicle (because it holds more in the back, with the seats able to fold down), he adjusts the seats to what feels like a La-Z-Boy reclining position.

I did not take "driver's ed." like many of my friends who lived in town and just stayed after school to attend the driving lessons. No, my driver education came from my father. He drove big cement and block trucks for a living.  My father was an Oldsmobile man. Great big, land yacht Oldsmobiles. My mother took me out a few times, but it was my father who thought that learning how to parallel park should be done on Dundas Street (the main, busy downtown street) in our nearby town on a Friday afternoon. I have not parallel parked since. Seriously. I will drive around and look for a spot that I can drive into. I realize that sounds pathetic. I'm o.k. with that.

I remember another time when my father picked me up from my part time job in a menswear department at a local department store. It was about a 15 minute drive home and my father thought I should do it. It was one of the first slippery nights. I didn't realize that and when I made an adjustment in my steering (or just a bonehead move because I was a young untrained driver), the car started to fish tail and skid. I think I hit the brakes, but there is a slight possibility it was the gas. I just remember the car swinging around on the road, careening down into a shallow ditch and ending up in a farmer's field facing the opposite way. Gotta hand it to my dad, he sat there for a moment, said something like, "wups" with a little grin on his face, got out and had a quick look at things, came back in the car and said , "Let's not tell mother about this."  He drove home. I do recall some vegetation hanging from underneath the car after that.

What were your early driving days like?

Saturday 23 January 2016

Feed the birds,tuppence a bag

This morning is bright and shiny and beautiful! The sun is making the snow sparkle and has been much needed. Lately, I have been feeding our local bird population. I've been enjoying reading others' blogs about their own bird feeding adventures, so I will give you a peek out my back door.

This big blue spruce is a perfect perching spot for the birds.

The bird feeders this year consist of a new one which I received for Christmas with a tube for the seed and an outer "fence" to keep squirrels out, a suet feeder, and the feeder table. I really like the new bird feeder, but squirrels can just come and feast from the table anyway. Generally I get a lot of juncos, chickadees and doves.

I always know when the bluejays are in the vicinity because the smaller birds scatter and let these large "bully birds" have first dibs.

A snowy, blurry bluejay.

I often get little downy woodpeckers and nuthatches. I adore how the nuthatches approach the feeder by coming down the tree headfirst.

I particularly enjoy the cardinals. Like couples who do everything together, the cardinals show up in pairs. The male is always easy to spot with his brilliant red coat, and the female is identified by her crest, orangy red beak, and her dull reddish colouring.

male cardinal below the feeder table

the cardinal and his wife

Another blogger, Sue in Suffolk, had some redpoles at her place. I've had those in the past but have not seen any this year. Other birds that I have had in the past, who have kept their distance this year are pileated woodpeckers. They are stunning birds, larger and more "pointy" than the little downies.

an internet image of a pileated woodpecker

Finally, the title of my blog comes from the movie, Mary Poppins. When our daughter was young, this was perhaps her favourite movie. We had the video and it was viewed countless times. She started dance at four years old, and even at that young age, she would prepare her costumes and props ahead of time so she would be ready to dance along with the choreography in various parts of the movie. No, she wasn't as precise as Julie Andrews and Dick Vandyke, but she gave it her all. When her brother was old enough, she would coerce him into doing scenes with her, the favourite being the "Step in Time" scene on the rooftops. "Feed the Birds" refers to a scene where an elderly lady is selling bags of bird food (bread crumbs?) and young Michael wants to spend his money on a bag. His banker father tells him to invest his money instead. The song itself is melancholy and sweet and it is in my head now. There is a line that has the words, "the saints, the apostles" in it. My sweet daughter always thought it was, "the saints, the opossums". Of course, those are the words we sing instead. So whenever I mention to my husband that I'm going to go out to feed the birds, he sings back a little of the song. "Feed the birds, tuppence a bag."

from Mary Poppins

Sunday 17 January 2016

Stripey Cat

Our cat, Sampson, is our only pet now. He used to be one of two cats, until a few months ago when we had to have Nelly put to sleep due to ill health. He knew his place in the pecking order. He waited until she ate her food. He tried not to make eye contact for fear of a swat to keep him in his place. He rarely meowed. He barely purred. We wondered if he was taken from his mother too soon and didn't learn those normal cat things. We got him from a shelter at about one year of age, so his habits and idiosyncracies were already in place.

I have often let him know that he needs better manners when he has been caught on a counter top. He used to be very bad about walking around on any surface he chose. One morning as I was making lunches for school, I turned to get something out of the fridge and he swiped the ham right off the bread and took it to the floor to eat. (It was taken away). When Sampson wants to go outside, rather than meowing to let us know, he picks up the corner of the mat in front of the door and lets it fall a few times so that we hear that sound and then get up to let him out. He is smart enough to pick up the corner of the mat in the den (where we have the tv) and then when someone gets up off the couch and approaches the door, he turns and leads them to a different door that he wants to go out.

He can also be a bit wily and ping on the window screen to be let in the den door, then walk  directly through the kitchen to ask to be let out of that door. I suppose it is a much quicker route going through the house than going around the house.

He loves to be outside. In the warmer weather he spends much of his time outside. He catches many rodents. I don't mind the mice, but I do have issues with him killing chipmunks or baby bunnies. I suppose I am a bit of a rodent "racist" that way. Not quite fair to the mice. The only time I was close to tears about one of his victims was a few summers ago. We had a large open cardboard box sitting on its side on the back porch. I can't remember what it had held, but obviously we just left the box out there to dispose of in the burn pile later. Sampson has a distinct meow that he uses to let us know that he has captured something, presumably for us, and left it on the outside mat.  This time, he left his treasure inside the cardboard box. It was an indigo bunting. They are the most beautiful blue bird I have ever seen. I do not see them often, but it is magical when I do. No doubt this bright, beautiful bird caught his eye and he "just had to have it". (Hmm, do cats see in colour?)

As time has passed since his antagonist, Nelly, has departed, we have noticed changes in Sampson. He is more affectionate. He purrs a little more. He waits for our son to pull up a chair by the table for him when we eat supper (just to hang out and feel like one of the family). When he comes in wet from rain or snow, he waits patiently while someone gets a towel and dries him off. He jumps up on one of us while we are watching tv and nudges us with his head. He will then make the rounds and jump up on any other people who are also there. I don't know if he just felt that he couldn't assert himself when he was second fiddle and thought he would be punished by little Nelly. Regardless, he has filled a void and we appreciate it. He's definitely one of the family.

He does enjoy a good "freak out" on the chair along with a game of "snag the human with my claws".

Tuesday 12 January 2016

"Have a Safe Drive"

The snow started to get heavy at about 2:00 this afternoon. People at work started to look out the windows and mutter about driving home. By 3:00, people were checking weather stations and asking for others to "convoy" with them on the drive home. By 3:45 I was texting my son (who was on a school bus on his way home) to see if they were o.k., or if the bus driver had pulled into someone's laneway to wait it out.

My drive home is short. I like the scenery and it is a very pleasant way to wrap up the day. Today I was sitting very upright, leaning forward in fact, wipers on, emergency flashers flashing, high beams just to make myself even more visible. There was no seeing scenery. At one time I was using the hydro poles at the opposite side of the road as points of reference. There were little reprieves now and again where I could see a little bit ahead of me so I knew I wasn't going to run into someone (and they weren't going to run into me). There were other times when I felt like I was driving into a sea of white. I was extremely happy that there was some kind of agricultural forum type event at the community centre and  two lines of big four by four pick up trucks were parked, flanking the sides of the road, leading me into our little village. I just aimed down the middle.
This is a picture taken through the glass of our front door. Our neighbour's garage and house is about 85 yards away and you can barely see them.
This is taken through a different door looking out to our back porch. It is not as blustery in this picture.

When I pulled up to our house, I was the only one home. My husband wasn't home from work yet, and my son was still not off the school bus. Eventually everyone made it home, my husband actually accidentally timing his drive during a brief window of calm.

Today's weather was an example of snow squalls. They come off the waters of the Great Lakes and cause white out conditions, dumping a lot of snow. There are highways closed, which means that the police put up barriers letting people know that it is unsafe to travel that road. There is one stretch of highway to the east of us that has a permanent barrier ready to be used, rather than waiting for police to get there and bring barriers with them. Information about road closures is also on the internet, announced on radio stations, even shown on the weather channel on tv.

People from my work texted each other to announce their safe arrivals home. It is very common for people to wish each other a "safe drive home" as they part ways. I don't know if that is common in other areas or not. To make your way through a hideous snow storm is generally a rite of passage and everyone has a storm story to tell. People also have tales of being "storm stayed" which means that the weather was so bad that they were forced to spend the night at someone else's home (if lucky) or some other form of shelter.

One year, we had been invited to join friends of ours at a dance. It would have been about an hour and half drive away. The weather was not looking promising and by the time we were to head out we were doubtful. We started down the road and ended up turning back. On our way into our little village, we saw another vehicle barely inching along, and then pulling over. These were two people not from the area who had a ways to go. My husband put the window down and shouted to them that we just lived "over there" if they found themselves in trouble. Not too much longer after that, the couple did indeed end up at our door and they spent the night on our pull out couch. They were very nice and appreciative. I couldn't begin to remember their names, but she sent me a Christmas card that year.

I've just been interrupted by the cat pinging on the window screen to be let in , and the night is quite calm and clear right now. That's the way with snow squalls, it can be calm one moment and the inside of a snow globe the next. For now we are cozy in our home with a  fire in the woodstove.

Saturday 9 January 2016

Weekend De-Clutter

I'm just pooped after getting back to work for a week, hosting a relative that requires a lot of energy, and running the roads. Last night was a basketball night which was a good game between my son's team and another well-matched team. It was close but the other team won. Oh well. Next time.

Today I slept in (ahhhhh), got up and visited blogs, went into town and got groceries, took empties back to the liquor store, and bought some new foundation and moisturizer which was delightfully on sale this week!! After doing a fridge purge and wipe,  putting groceries away, and folding a huge load of towels, I sat myself down and watched a couple of episodes of "Fixer Upper". Ironically, husband is currently working on that upstairs bathroom project. He, too, had a bit of a rest from renovating after getting back to work for a week. But he is back at it today, as well as taking phone calls from people who want to buy stuff he has for sale on kijiji.

Even though I am thoroughly enjoying doing nothing, I now have this need to get rid of stuff. Maybe it's the new year, post Christmas chaos, or watching tv shows with lovely decorated, perfect rooms, but I want to tackle a few spaces this weekend and just TOSS. My husband is a bit of a saver, and I am more of a get-rid-of-er.

My first mess to sort through is my bathroom drawer that holds all of my makeup, potions, lotions, brushes, etc. You know how you are supposed to get rid of mascara after so many months... blah blah blah. Well, I imagine I have some fairly old items in there, as well as others which I haven't used because the colour wasn't quite right. It's also time to get rid of eye liner pencils which are harder than granite.

after (trust me, it's better)

Hmmmm, well I am continuing this post after supper and my tossing kind of stopped at the bathroom drawer. I made a really good supper, though. At the grocery store that I usually go to, they have a great deli counter where they sell all kinds of salads and rotisserie chicken and other such food already made for you to take home and enjoy. I often look at the salads and am tempted to buy some, but find that they cost quite a bit for a small amount. So, today as a lovely girl was slicing up my turkey, I had a look at what was in some of these salads and decided to pick up some of the ingredients while I was at the grocery store and make my own in much greater quantity and, hopefully, at a fraction of the cost. So, tonight I combined chickpeas, edamame, red onion, chopped up parsley, cut up cherry tomatoes, and a couple of handfuls of "carrot slaw" which is just shredded carrot and a little cabbage and broccoli slaw. I tossed it all with an oil and vinegar herb dressing (just Kraft in a bottle) and it was, in my opinion, very good! I also made roasted chicken thighs with my secret weapon, Herbes de Provence, mashed potatoes, and broccoli.

I may continue my purging tomorrow morning. Next: the closet in the mudroom which houses cleaning supplies, vacuum, other stuff that doesn't have a proper home... Are you a tosser or a keeper?

Wednesday 6 January 2016

Emotional Granola Bar

Nothing exciting happening in my life, so I bring you:
somewhat perturbed granola bar

as well as:

stunned and confused granola bar

You're welcome.

Saturday 2 January 2016

Wrapping up the Old Year, Welcoming the New...

This is a quick "pictureless" post to say that this past week is over, time filled with being there for a relative who stayed with us for six days and who is suffering from dementia, so patience was required. We are now back to being the four of us, but only for a short time because today, after our daughter finishes her work shift (she put in some hours to earn some more money when she was home for Christmas holidays), we are driving her back to her home where she attends university. We are also shopping "in the city" (cue banjo music) with our son who is very soon turning 16!!!! He will be able to pick out some items from stores that we just don't have around these parts (banjo music can now stop).

Our green Christmas then turned white with wicked weather a couple of days ago and the typical icy, crappy road conditions we see at holiday time and on the weekends when plows and sanders take a bit of a break. Hopefully our driving conditions will be favourable when we are driving home this evening. We did not ring in the new year with any kind of frivolity due to hosting our relative and being the drivers for our son and his buddies attending a New Year's bash of their own. That's o.k. We are not really ones for big parties or dances on New Year's.

Do I make resolutions? Yes, I have in the past, but I'm kind of a goal setter at various times as well as a prolific list maker, so I don't really need a new year to create another set of goals. I actually do look back at old lists and am quite surprised when I realize that I have accomplished many of the things I have set out to do. I think that by writing them down it helps to seal them in your self- conscience and you accomplish them over time.

I've been enjoying reading others' blogs and seeing what they are hoping for the new year, as well as laughing at funny memes they are posting. My Windows 10 problem has been righted, but for the life of me, I don't know how. (??) I am about to pack up daughter's clothes for her (How many clothes do you need for two weeks?? The answer is a suitcase and a duffle bag full.) so that we can get going soon after she gets back from work. I will leave you with this: don't you just hate it when you discover two or three Christmas items that you missed when packing up the "twelve boxes of Christmas", and now you just plan on shoving them anywhere because you can't be bothered to get a box back out?  Can you relate?