Thursday 31 January 2019

Good Old Fashioned Winter

Yes, I know I post too frequently about weather, but this must be written about. We had snow squalls and blowing snow yesterday, which meant white-outs (for those of you who do not experience winter, that means the snow is blowing across the road so much that you lose visibility and you just creep along (because you dare not stop on the road in case someone is behind you) and wait until the wind dies down enough so that you can see the road again and figure out if you are on the correct side or not). Schools were open, as they always are, and teachers take turns supervising the 50 or so children who get brought in by their parents because buses are cancelled.

As the day proceeded, a lot of nervous staff members were watching the weather out the windows, looking at their phones, checking for road closures... which did happen. When school let out at 3:10 and parents came to retrieve their children, some teachers drove home and some teachers went to other teacher's homes. I managed to get home, and we had our daughter's boyfriend come to our house because the road that he lives on had been closed. He spent the night (she's in the city at university, he's now done and employed in a town relatively close to us). The storm raged on through the night.

When I woke at 6:00 a.m. and started checking emails and the Board website, it said buses were cancelled but school was open. However, within moments, I received an email put out by our principal that the school was now closed. This NEVER happens. It was because the road the school is on was declared closed.

We live on the boarder between two counties. The county to the east of us has declared all roads closed. The county to the west of us has closed most main roads. Now at 9:30, the sun is shining and it looks beautiful. If you travel 30 minutes to the west, there are whiteouts and the same mess as yesterday. When you get a guilt free day like today, where you don't feel obligated to try to get to work, it is a gift!

Here are some pictures of what it looks like right now.

This is a spider web on my back porch.

My forsythia shrub!!  The branches look like big fat pipe cleaners.

Snow drifted up against a back door.

My footprints (wearing hubby's big boots) slogging my way back to the chicken coop. It was thigh deep.

Everything is coated. It makes me think of spray foam insulation.

Beautiful drifts in the chicken run. They will not be going outside anytime soon!

The plough just went past our house. I wonder if roads will be opening up? We have a visitation to go to for a dear woman in our little village. I need to check if it will even happen today or be postponed. Otherwise, it's a good day to curl up and read.

Tuesday 29 January 2019

Pinball Wizard

There is a programme on tv that my husband enjoys. It is called Vintage Tech Hunters. Two mismatched men go around to various second hand, flea market type places and find old technology and purchase it in hopes of reselling it. There is usually an interesting explanation of the history of the item and as we are both over 50, there are moments of, "Oh, I remember that!" or "I had one of those!"

On one programme, the men found an arcade game called Berserk. My husband was gleeful because that was his favourite game when he was young. I never went to arcades. I lived in rural world surrounded by farms and new age Mennonites. He grew up in a city and hung out at a downtown mall after taking the city bus from his house. I had no clue what Berserk was. I have never even played Pacman.

This did bring up a memory of a game that was always at my grandmother / uncle's farm. I don't know how old it was when I was young, but I'm quite sure that grandchildren before me played with it, and probably their own parents. It was always referred to as the bagatelle game, although I didn't know if that was even the name of the game or the manufacturer (I'm assuming it was purchased, not homemade). I looked around on the web for pictures of it, or something similar.



This was a very early version of pinball. You loaded up a marble in the chamber are the right hand side and pulled back the little wooden handle which had a spring on it. The marble shot out, rolled around the curved top wall and pinged its way down, hopefully getting caught in the u-shaped traps which had different scores. I spent a lot of time playing with this old game. No lights, sounds, music, killing, headphones to communicate with someone across the country at the same time, graphics, electricity or computer chips required.

I would sprawl on the floor in the living room of the farmhouse, propped up, shooting marbles and having a great time. The only danger was accidentally leaning forward and putting your hand on the game board. The little pins were not protected with a nail head. They could practically impale you if you leaned too heavily!

I have no clue what happened to that game when my uncle died, grandmother moved into a senior's apartment, and the farm was sold. Hopefully whoever ended up with it spent a few good hours enjoying its simplistic fun.

Sunday 27 January 2019

Last Sunday in January

It's been a cold and snowy week. Any thoughts of "this hasn't been such a bad winter" are long since gone and the process of bundling up, shovelling, navigating white outs and drifting, and generally freezing one's ass off is well under way.

As I was attempting to take a decent picture of poor Aristotle this morning, I accidentally took this picture and then my phone died. I have no intention on going out again, so here you are, complete with finger in the corner.

Feel free to decide what his caption might be.

On different, less thrilling notes, I was given an amaryllis bulb at Christmas time and it is making a show of itself now.

It is not something I would have purchased for myself because I am NOT a houseplant type of gal. I much prefer to tend flowers outside in the nice weather, but it does give a little colour to the kitchen.

This morning I had an old favourite for breakfast, steel cut oats. I put raisins and cinnamon in it, too. Are you familiar with it? It's much chewier and filling, I think, than regular oatmeal.

If you look closer, you can see my Sharpie marker writing of quantities on the side of the container. This is so I don't have to keep putting my reading glasses on to remind myself of how much water and how much oatmeal to use each time.

And now for something that I am gleefully excited about... yesterday I bought this two-pack of sunglasses which are also reading glasses (magnifiers). For a few years now I have either just put on my reading glasses and squinted away in the sun in order to read, or I have done an awkward job of wearing reading glasses with sunglasses propped over top of them in order to read (beside the pool, on vacation, in the car, etc.) I have no idea why I waited so long to buy these, but I can't wait until I have an occasion to use them! Granted, I'll still have to have regular sunglasses just for walking around or driving, because I won't be able to see long distance properly with reading glasses on... Anyone else have these?

It's a mind numbingly exciting day of grocery shopping and a bit of cleaning ahead. I have a frozen roast of beef which I might do up in the Instantpot with some onion soup mix. I might even throw another mason jar full of bird seed on the snow for the little freezing birds. Will the fun never end!

Thursday 24 January 2019

anthropomorphism - my love of rabbits and woodland creatures

I am sitting down to a small after dinner decaf coffee in the bunny mug my daughter gave me for Christmas. It's on the small size and I love the pictures on it. I saw many of these types of bunnies on prints and cups and other items when we visited England two years ago and was so tempted to buy something at the time.

I adore anything with a rabbit on it. What's even better is if the rabbit is wearing a little coat, or holding an umbrella, or having a moment with a mouse who is also wearing clothes.

Anthropomorphism is the applying of human qualities to things that aren't human, such as sweet little woodland creatures. When I see illustrations that show darling, furry animals in their cozy little homes drinking tea and reading the paper, I feel warm and happy.

(from Celebrate Each new Day, illustrator unknown)
(illustrator unknown)

(Chris Dunn illustration)
(Jill Barklem illustrator)
These all make me smile.

Sunday 20 January 2019

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Slept in a bit this morning. I love when I can sleep past the time I normally get up with the alarm. Is it bad that I am still using my night time cold medicine so that I can get some decent sleep? (In my defense, I am still coughing!).

This morning, when I came downstairs, and yes, I was the first one up, I was greeted with what I thought was a big cluster of feathers in the downstairs hall. Upon closer inspection, I noticed it was more a partial bird, complete with feet, rather than just random feathers, although there were those, too. Again, I question the cat door as a good decision. Oh well, at least it wasn't brought into our bedroom in the middle of the night. There I was, before coffee, vacuuming up downy feathers. In case you are wondering how little birds stay warm in the winter, I can vouch for the huge amount of little downy feathers that must act as insulation they possess (or possessed in this case).

After all bird remnants were dealt with, it was coffee. Then, happily, I watched some more episodes of Grace and Frankie on Netflix. The most recent season was released on Canadian Netflix yesterday, or maybe the day before. I quite enjoy it.

I lazed around for a while doing that and thought I'd better check on the chickens, so got dressed, threw a load of laundry in, and got ready to go outside. OH MY LORD, it's cold outside!!! I even put on snow pants!


I scooped a bit more food into their feeder, then unplugged their heated water bucket and dumped it outside. It was time for fresh water. The heated bucket is quite large and holds almost three regular sized buckets of water, so there was a lot of back and forth to the house. They also got some leftover lettuce, about which they celebrated like they'd won the chicken lottery! I collected eggs (two from the three hens), and then spread some bird seed out for the regular, winter birds. I really feel sorry for them right now.

With a tiny bit of energy left, and my socks completely slipped down to my toes inside hubby's big insulated rubber boots, I thought I'd shovel a little of the path for the cats on the front porch. Like a gross, freezing cold pig, I realized my nose was dripping. I thought, boy, it really is cold outside, but I'm not going in for a Kleenex right now, I'll just wipe it on my yucky chicken gloves. Well it kept dripping and I thought, I'm glad nobody sees me right now. Then I looked down and saw red. My nose was actually bleeding. Huh. I put the shovel aside and went into the mudroom and grabbed a paper towel out of the closet. Wow - it was quite a nosebleed. I hadn't had a nosebleed in years and years.

Still holding the paper towel to my nose, I one-handedly got out of my boots, snowpants, coats, etc., then grabbed the coat and took it to the laundry where I sprayed the blood spots with spot remover. (We'll see if that works!). I have decided now that my outdoor work is done for the day.

There's a load of laundry happening, and a book to enjoy. Yesterday I finished Louise Penny's Glass Houses.

I've been reading her books for years and years and am always waiting for her next one. There is a new release coming soon. I have it on hold at my local library. This one did not disappoint. If you are looking for a new mystery series, I would highly recommend this one, but it is best to read the books in order, the first one being Still Life.

I have another Ann Cleeves to read (of Shetland fame) and this one:

As a lover of Python movies, I am looking forward to this. I've already flipped through and looked at all the pictures. I enjoy biographies, but not the 'sensational' kind. I just like a look at the lives of people. I guess that's why I enjoy reading blogs, as well.

It is currently -15 degrees Celsius out, but 'feels like' -26 degrees with the windchill. No wonder my nose bled! I have no idea what that is in Fahrenheit for my American readers. Bloody cold! Ha, ha!

Wednesday 16 January 2019

Cold Chicken

No, it's not leftovers. Just thought you might like to see that the chickens still actually choose to go outside, even in the winter. They aren't fond of days that are very windy, or if the snow is deep, but if there is a hint of sun, they will spend time outside.

They can stay in their coop if they choose. I just open their little door in the morning and they decide what they want to do.

A handful of chicken feed makes them happy.

Happy Wednesday everyone, we're past the halfway mark to the weekend.

Monday 14 January 2019

Tracks in the Snow (now with answers!)

When I go out my back door to open up the chickens, I often see animal tracks in the snow. I love thinking about what must go on at night when we aren't looking. Take a guess at what made these tracks:

Tracks number one (above).  Quite certain this is mouse. Where snow was deeper, they created marks that looked more like open tunnels.

Tracks number 2 (above). Cottontail rabbit who places his front feet close together.

Tracks number 3 (above)  Squirrel - black squirrel to be exact.

Tracks number 4 (above). Me, wearing my husband's big rubber boots.

Tracks number 5 (above). Chickens!

Sometimes the tracks criss cross over each other. I'm taking a wild guess that the animals weren't actually out there at the same time.

What are the most interesting tracks you've seen on your property? What are the most common?

Sunday 13 January 2019

Saints Alive!

It is a beautiful sunny, snappy cold day. I've been up for quite some time. I let out the chickens, yes they do still venture out of their coop even winter as long as it isn't too windy or snowy, the snow is packed, and especially if I put a little food out for them. This morning they got some leftover mashed potatoes and ate it like I haven't fed them in a month.

Then I got myself settled with a cup of coffee and blog reading. I absolutely love starting my weekend mornings with reading blogs and perhaps commenting if I connect with something that somebody has written. I was reading Rachel's blog. She lives in England and has a lot of interests and knowledge about things of which I have very little (politics, soccer, travel to wonderful exotic countries...) but I love reading about them anyway. Today, she mentioned it was the feast day of St. Mungo, and that Saint Anthony was her favourite saint as a child, and I questioned what he was about. Apparently, he takes care of helping you find lost things. That's usually not a problem I have. In fact, I pride myself on being a finder. I once found the popped-out lense of my husband's glasses in a hay mow. Top that!!

So, that got me wondering who my favourite saint might be. I know a little about the more "popular" saints, but not being Catholic, or anything really, I did what we all do, I went on the 'interweb' and looked up a list of Patron Saints and had a good old time finding out who represents what. Here's what I found that might relate to me, should I become interested in appealing to saints:

St. Cassian of Imola, St. Gregory the Great (I like that name!), St. Thomas Aquinas (that one didn't surprise me, as there is a school named that in a city I used to live in), St. John Baptist de la Salle, St. Marcellin Champagnat, and St. Francis de Sales are all saints of teachers.

Not to be beholden to my profession, I also found out that I might appeal to St. Dorothea of Caesarea, St. Fiacre, and St. Phocas if I need some extra help with gardening. If they could help with tomato blight and squash beetles, it might be worth a shot.

The chicken girl in me noted that St. Isadore the Farmer, St. Norburga, and St. Walstan are patron saints of farmers. I don't know if owning five chickens counts as being a farmer.

Today, however, I feel more like needing the assistance of St. Hunna (laundresses, laundry workers, washerwomen) or St. Martha (housewives, domestic workers, servants)! I do so enjoy noticing mucky pawprints across my kitchen table!! I've cleaned the tub, toilet, swept and spot cleaned the kitchen floor, and put in a load of towels so far.

I took a course in university, so long ago, where I read a fascinating book on the saints. I can't even remember what course it was, or what the book was called. I'd forgotten most of what I learned (seem to be noticing that a whole lot lately) (oh hey, is there a patron saint for memory loss?), but this was an interesting bit of time spent scratching the surface.

Monday 7 January 2019

Catching Up

I've been out of the loop for a bit now. I'm still not over this evil cold/flu experience - going on two weeks now. Husband is now sick with it. Oh my dear lord, he snored like a freight train last night with the congestion and night time cold medicine. Now that daughter is back at university, he has agreed to sleep in her room tonight so that I can actually get some sleep, too.

We celebrated son's nineteenth birthday. Husband was all hopped up on cold meds and came to the restaurant with us, ate food, and after we came home, he fell asleep on the couch after cake. Good times. We took daughter back to 'the city' on Sunday and she is now feeling cruddy with a soar throat and clogged up ears. I'm waiting for her to also lose her sense of taste and smell, which happened to me with this, too.

Anyway, at some point, Christmas was packed up. My sweet family carried the boxes down from the 'rubbermaid' room upstairs and I disassembled displays and put things in boxes, disregarding the labels I have Sharpie markered on the outsides. Yup, threw caution to the wind and put snowmen in the box that said 'Santa collection'. Chaos will ensue next Christmas! They then carried the boxes back up to the store room and assembled the jigsaw trying to get everything to fit back in there again.

To back it up even further, my big gathering on Boxing Day went off without a hitch. We fit everyone in the kitchen, there were enough plates, and more than enough food. I think everyone had a good time and the weather behaved itself.

And now here is January. Absolutely NO New Year's resolutions were made. In fact, New Year's Eve was a sad little event with me being sick and we cancelled on friends, but I'm sure we will get together with them some other time. They are actually going to be first time grandparents quite soon. I can't even imagine!!

The wind today blew from the east, bringing in nasty weather including freezing rain. I'm glad none of us had to be out driving at that time (around supper time). I've been enjoying reading bloggers posts about epiphany and wassailing, and various other celebrations. I love finding out about those kinds of traditions.

I did get an Instantpot (fancy pressure cooker which also doubles as a slow cooker) for Christmas and the only thing I've made in it so far was split pea and ham soup (using up some of the ham from Christmas). If I had made this soup from scratch using dried split peas and did it on the stove it would have take me a couple of hours to make sure that the peas were soft enough. If I did it in a crockpot, it would be simmering away all day. When I made it from scratch, using dried split peas, with my Instantpot (pressure cooker feature), after it had come up to pressure (which takes only a few minutes), it cooked in 18 minutes. It was good. The vegetables (carrots, split peas, celery) were soft enough and the soup was good. It made a lot, and I even took some today for work for my lunch. My verdict so far with the Instantpot is a thumbs up. I haven't tried a roast or anything like that, but when I do, I will post about it and let you know.

Right, time to throw away some Kleenex and do a final tidy up in the kitchen. Hope you had a good Monday everyone.

Tuesday 1 January 2019


It has been about a week of coughing, blowing my nose, taking drugs during the day, drugs to help sleep at night, being in my pajamas all day long, having zero energy, whine, whine, whine. 

My house is still fully decorated for Christmas and I just want to do that Bewitched thing where I twitch my nose and my house is back to normal. Haven't had energy to do anything - husband picked up Chinese food because there was no way I was making supper and we've pretty much eaten the leftovers from Boxing day. I am feeling so sorry for myself because this is  my two weeks off work and spending it doing nothing is really not what I wanted. Oh well, at least I don't have to wipe myself out planning lessons for a supply teacher which is what I would be doing if I were back at work right now. 

Don't know if this is just a really rotten cold (plus sinus), or the flu. I got my flu shot (the only one in the family who did), so maybe it's a lesser version of the flu. Thank you for allowing me to complain. No comments necessary because quite frankly, I'm annoying myself!