December 31, 2014

Christmas Cactus

Can you believe that I am 45 years old and never had a Christmas Cactus? 
I'm a plant, veggie and flower LOVER and yet I've never had a Christmas Cactus. 

UNTIL THIS YEAR!

Isn't she cute? 
December 12, 2014 My little bud-ding.



December 25, 2014 not exactly BLOOMING but still beautiful!
December 30, 2014 My gorgeous girl is getting there!

December 30, 2014 My first ever Christmas Cactus!








November 21, 2014

The Path Always Taken


November 2014 - After two floods...
2012 - River path frequented by hikers, bikers, skiers & dog walkers




November 12, 2014

Grateful Dog Days

I'm a morning person. I know the night owls hate that about me. It's just that when I go to bed early or at a decent time, morning is awesome. I love sleep. I just don't want to do it all day. So, I get up, make myself a hot brew and start my day.

Some days like today, I catch up on emails or the classifieds or scour websites and blogs that interest me. I do all this while I think. And think. And think. Never too much of a good thing. The key is to think positive. Believe it or not it's not always easy to do at 4am or even 6am.

This morning I thought of a few negative things that have happened in my life in the past couple years. What a bummer. But I give myself that. Sulk for a bit and then SNAP out of it and move on with your day, lady.

I've recently re-joined a group of dog walkers and I'm so glad I did. I realized I really miss seeing them. With a new dog who needs to RUN, this is the perfect group to hang with. I really like their company.

Yesterday a few of us were out braving the Polar Vortex, getting some exercise and socializing - our dogs. Once out of the Arctic winds we could actually slow down and breathe. It was beautiful.

Sure, the aesthetics would not have made splendid polaroids for some but I remember laughing while we all caught up and our canines romped and forged ahead on the trail. 

Along the trail we see that others have been busy.


It took me three hours to get the chill out of my bones when I got home. While I griped internally about the forecast for our upcoming winter, I stopped and thought of my walking companions I had earlier in the day.

One lady had recently lost her great dane. That pooch was so entertaining to me just because of his size. His personality was just as large too. With this loss, still,  it's owner continued the trails as she borrowed a dog to walk. As she pulled her hood tighter around her face, she confided in me that she wouldn't even go outside this winter but her dog needs the exercise.

Then I thought about another couple who walk every day with their little mop dog. They are a retired, elderly pair with outstanding humour. They never cease to make me laugh along the trail. What struck me as I recalled my day was that neither of them complained about the weather but they did relish when we found the sheltered trail.

This couple is amazing to me. They are (were) immigrants to Canada way back when, worked hard, raised a family and are now enjoying their retirement. What gets me is that they really don't complain about anything.  They are so thankful for everything they have that I am blown away by their incessant optimism and humour. They have both suffered multiple life threatening conditions and battled back to return to the trail walks each and every time, sometimes alone but nonetheless, they return.

So, as I cranked the heat to rid myself of inner winter chill I thought of how thankful I am for who I am, what I know, where I've been, who I know and what I have.

Life is so short and so unpredictable. This I know. I really need to be more aware to be more grateful more often. As I look at the forecast for today though, I am undecided if I will join the frozen few who never waiver.








November 11, 2014

Remembering Today





Although I don't have any immediate family who served in the Second World War or any war for that matter, Remembrance Day still touches my heart.

When I was a snot-nosed, know-it-all punk back in the day, I complained to my father that I had a day off school but what good was it if nothing was open?! I was not impressed with the system.

My father was born in 1929 and therefore, too young to enlist in the military and go off to war. His older brother and brother-in-law served Canada and Canadians though.

I will never forget the interaction and conversation my father had with me that day when I was complaining on Remembrance Day. He simply sat me down and explained firmly how my uncles had to leave their loves ones and their lives as they knew them to protect our freedoms. Needless to say, my father was not impressed with my selfish attitude and comments. I gained a new understanding for our military, our veterans and all who were lost in the wars. My gratitude to each and every one of them is deeply heartfelt.

A few decades later I took my elderly father to visit his family in a neighbouring province. I met wonderful people, ate delicious food and captured many beautiful sights. I made many memories but one in particular is with me frequently.

We visited my dad's older brother who fought in World War II and was stationed in Italy. I won't profess to know much about our wars because the truth is, I don't know much.

This visit to my uncle's house was the first time meeting him since I became an adult. He was a simple man living in his beautiful, old house with his son, my cousin. Sure, we're family but they were so welcoming and made me feel part of the family so easily.

As the day wore on and the boys discussed relatives and friends whom I didn't know, the farm then and now and had some hilarious recollections, the conversation turned to war times.

We spent quite a while examining, what I thought was outrageous and courageous, the shrapnel still embedded under various parts of my uncles skin. The pieces that did not penetrate deeply could be seen very easily with the naked eye. I thought what memories those scars must "serve" my uncle on a daily basis.

My uncle didn't say much about the specifics of his time served but I could have listened to war-related stories for the duration of my vacation. What he did do at one point was leave the room only to return shortly thereafter with a simple cardboard box. Within it held some beauty for me and I'm sure, some very hard memories for him. Inside that box held his war medals and when I saw them I was in absolute awe. It all made sense. It was all clear. The brave and unselfish man sitting in front of me was another one of my heroes. And my dad was a hero for explaining the importance of Remembrance Day to me all those years before.

I wish I remembered what each medal was for. I apologize for the lack of quality in this photo (and I'm sure there is a much better one around here somewhere!) but I'm so very proud of my uncle and just wanted to share a special memory.

You're our hero, Uncle Jack. 
Thank you for fighting for our freedoms 
and for sharing a special time with us. 
You are remembered and all is not forgotten.


To every veteran and military personnel everywhere, I am giving you a deeply heartfelt thank you for all you have done for me and this free country.


God Bless each and every one of you.




November 10, 2014

Sage & Basil

Every spring I plant herbs. Whatever herbs I want. I love herbs! Now that it is November and we've had a low of -20 C, herbs outside are no more except the mint I have covered.

I dug up my sage (planted from seed this spring) and brought it inside. While it doesn't look the prettiest, it is the most aromatic!

I planted basil indoors and outside this spring. This basil has survived never feeling the outside air. It smells wonderful. I will be harvesting some today!






September 4, 2014

Little Blue Pepper

This is my attempt at growing an ornamental Little Blue Pepper plant. Started from seed and without a grow light, I will have to admit that despite the fact I love it's cuteness, this is a slight failure. One purple flower from April to September. I am not a quitter and will try this again next year. Hopefully, I'll have a grow light.


September 3, 2014

Sorrow for Mankind

Last evening was upsetting to me. Not that my feelings matter in this case but I guess I was just surprised by how I felt.

As usual at 6pm I turn the tv on and watch or at least listen to the evening news. And last night was no exception. Even though our tv news comes from a city 2 hours away, they have local stories showing quite regularly. (By the way, it sucks not having an actual local news station).

I quite expected the first story up to be about a 31 year old cyclist biking through town raising money for an organization when he was struck by a vehicle on our highway and sadly, he did not survive.

This morning I cannot remember what else was on the news. Everything else seemed insignificant when I  heard that another American Journalist was beheaded by the horrific and violent terrorists in Syria.

Now, I will not profess to know or even understand a lot about foreign politics or religions but I do know that the cruelty this Islamic militant extremist group possesses is something my grey matter cannot grab.

Part of make-up is my skepticism of all things. If I cannot touch it or see it, it's not necessarily real. I don't often trust in governments and definitely question politicians and their motives.

As I did with the news of the first beheading, I began to search the internet for the videos that were said to have been posted as evidence and as a threat toward the American president. This time I found the video. And I viewed it. This was my first mistake.

Once you view a video of a beheading, you CANNOT unsee it.

While I am not educated in foreign policies or in tune with our defense systems, I do know that the images I witnessed on that video have affected me to a degree that I have never felt and the images are sketched in my memory.

I ran through the gammit of emotions, didn't sleep well and it was the first thing on my mind this morning. While I understand this is not the first inhumane act that has gone on in other countries, I saw this unbelievable scene with my own eyes. I cannot even fully express my feelings. As I stated, not that my feelings matter in this situation. The question I keep asking myself is how can one human being be that cruel to another human being? HOW? In spite of the the reasons why, I keep wondering 'how'. I now know I am naive when I think that all people have SOME compassion for their fellow man.

I'm not sure how I will deal with this issue in my own world but I know I must but right now I think I am grieving the loss of the simple, mutual compassion I thought mankind possessed. And then I think of the families of the deceased. I can't even imagine what they must be going through. My heart breaks for them. My heart breaks for all of us.

At this point, I haven't heard what the American government plans to do to stop the killings. I just want it to stop.

I do believe I needed to see that video as a means of educating and proving that these horrific acts are indeed happening. That video really brought it home for me. Two American journalists slain within a two week period and a threat of a third beheading; this time to a British hostage.  When will this violence stop?

Part of me doesn't want to believe what I saw but I saw it and it is real. This reality has given me renewed sorrow for mankind and at least for now, everything in my little life is in perspective.

Fatty Bee on Snapdragons

I followed this bee as it went from Snapdragon to Snapdragon.








September 1, 2014

Herbs

Indoor Basil (planted from seed)
Spearmint (planted from seed)


August 31, 2014

Contemplation of Changes

I feel blessed to be me. Every day.

A life-changing moment for me happened six or 7 years ago. It has stuck with me like no other lesson has in my 45 years.

My bestest friend since we were both 5 years old. We met in kindergarten. That big playroom in the basement of our local elementary school. I loved her like no other. My eyes fill with tears as I type this. I still love her and I miss her terribly.

Unfortunately, things happen, people change and events cannot be undone. I am abundantly grateful for the 30+ years we had together and will cherish our good memories forever.

One day my friend and I met up as we always did. She was wearing a luxurious leather jacket that was stunning (as were most outfits) on her! One simple question that I wish I never asked her. One moment in time I cannot forget. My world of trust came crashing down on me like a entire mountain range and my sky really was falling.

I simply asked my bestie where she got the coat while giving her rave reviews on her choice and loving it and loving her.

I will never be able to completely describe the feelings of my heart dropping from my chest. Such loss is tragic to the soul. The person I held in high regard explained how her new jacket came to be.

She ordered two jackets in from a local store, paid for both and took them both home to try out better. This made total sense to me since she is tall with long arms. And don't we all know that lots of times we try things on in the store, buy the items but then something's not quite the same once it's home? She explained her likes and dislikes in each coat finally deciding to keep the longer, more expensive leather piece. She returned the the cheaper coat to the store for a refund.

You know how sometimes you're listening to someone describe a situation in their life or you see a show on tv and people are saying, "I didn't know. I just didn't know." Well, if there ever was one, this was my 'I didn't know' moment. And still years later, I ask myself how could I have not known, but I. Did. Not. Know.

My friend explained to me that she was returned the cheaper leather jacket to the store. She purposefully put the cheap jacket into the packaging that the more expensive coat was originally in.

Now some may say that it's not the end of the world. I can agree with you. It very well may not be the end of YOUR world.

My thoughts were whirling wildly. My heart was breaking from utter disappointment and absolute disbelief. We were raised by good, decent, honest parents I heard my naive self scream. Who was this person standing in front of me?

My friend knowingly and intently returned an item in the wrong packaging for her own monetary gain. I can't remember how much extra "refund" money she received. I think my brain shut down at some point. I was reeling. And really, whether it be a dollar or a million dollars, the intent was malicious and fraudulent.

Yes, what my friend just described to me was fraud. Thirty year friendship. I didn't know my friend was a thief. I. Did. Not. Know. Looking back, as hindsight is always 20/20, there were signs I guess. But she was my friend, my bestest friend in the whole wide world I hear my 5 year old self crying to itself.

This time I could not make excuses for my friend's actions. I could not reason the situation out. It just didn't make sense.

Not only did she commit fraud, when I asked her WHY she did it, she self-righteously stated, "They (the company) have more money than I do." I responded, "But it's stealing!" She quickly replied, "I need the money more than they do."  Not sure if she could see my bigger than believable eyes or if that vision was just in my head. I couldn't believe it but I had to. There stood my friend right in front of me. Those words coming from her lips. It was happening. She went on to say, "You just think you're so perfect like you've never done anything wrong." The last thing I heard myself say was, "No, I'm not perfect. Never have been. Never try to be and never will be but one other thing I'm not is.......a thief." It's true. I'm not perfect but I try to live an honest life and be the best person I can be.

My lifelong friend who was more like a sister to me was a thief. My friend with a government job was a thief. I still ask myself, "How much money does a person need?"

As I relive this moment of heartbreak, even though I know it's better to know the truth, I have regret in asking a simple question to my best friend. "Where'd ya get the jacket?"

I have only seen my friend twice in all the years past. She has turned out to be a bitter enemy. The truth hurts. I assume it makes her feel better to cut me down to others. I just let it be because I have the truth and I have forged ahead continuing to try to live the truth.

The first time we saw each other after that encounter, we ignored each other while in the same store. The second time our paths crossed, she came up to me at my dad's funeral telling me what a lovely service it was and I thanked her for coming. While I had a million things on my mind, at that exact moment during the service luncheon I remember one thought as she walked away from my table, "Watch the silverware."(Really, can you believe that was my thought?)

I have yet to connect with anyone the same way I did with my kindergarten pal but apparently, change every thirty or so years is necessary and good for the soul.

'Live and let live'. Fortunately, we do not have to let dishonest people live in our lives.