Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Harbinger of Spring

Hello Houston!  It's springtime!
At the beginning of March the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo rolls into town through chilly, sometimes rainy, late winter weather and three weeks later, when it leaves, Houston is in full bloom!  Three weeks of roping, riding, mutton busting, amazing live entertainment and pollen.  It's a pretty big deal....just ask the over 2 million people who attend every year. 

A couple of weeks ago my photography class went to the rodeo BBQ cook-off  and while I was stalking photo ops through the puddles I was reminded of those days back in Katy when the kids were young.  Even though we aren't cowboys and cowgirls, everyone can put their boots and jeans on and pretend for three weeks in March.

Back in Katy from 1986-1992 our kids were in grade school and they always celebrated the beginning of the rodeo with Go Texan day.  Everyone would wear their boots and hats and dress in the nearest thing to western wear we could scrounge up around the house.  The trail riders made their way into town a few days before the first Saturday of the rodeo and we would take the kids out into the windy side streets to watch the riders on their horses and wagons.  Seeing the trail riders made us feel so Texan!  If you don't go skiing or to the beach, the rodeo is the place to be during Spring Break.

Going Texan!

These March showers will bring in the azaleas, bluebonnets and greenery
Another event that signals the end of winter is our Red Solo Cup ski trip.  We usually go the last weekend of February or the first one in March, depending on schedules.  When we leave Houston spring is just beginning to show its shy face.  After enjoying our last taste of winter on the snowy slopes, we return to a city that has exploded with life.  This year's ski trip was one for the books and definitely deserves its own post!  Tonight the Red Solo Cup Crew is heading to the rodeo, yee haw!
Enjoy this spring!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

It's Been 10 Years!!!

In January of 2008 we moved to Toronto and in February that year I started writing The Canadian Chronicles.  TEN years ago!!!  I never expected it to last this long.  Frankly, there have been times in the last few years when I considered abandoning the blog.  The closer I got to ten years the more I knew I could not quit.  This anniversary deserves a little walk down memory lane.  Put on your reading glasses, get a drink and enjoy my walk.
This is where it all began
February 2008
In the beginning my stats were fairly accurate so I have a good idea of what the most read posts were but then something happened and the stats went crazy.  I'll try my best to choose the most read posts plus I may also have to throw in a few personal favorites.  I can't say they are like my children because unlike my children, there are blogs I love more than others.  Maybe they are like pieces of art (in my dreams), some are masterpieces, some are sketches, some are self portraits and others are merely exercises.  They are all pieces of my soul in one way or another.  Writing this blog over ten years has been a pleasure, sometimes a chore, occasionally a challenge, definitely a growth experience, and a personally enriching activity.

2008-This was my very first blog post in February of 2008.  I've come a long way since then.
My most read post in 2008 was this post.  It chronicles among other things the day I became a "known wine smuggler".  Also in 2008 I wrote the post that in my mind started it all.  It was one of the most traumatic days in my life and the day I gained tremendous perspective.

2009-  The most read post this year embodies much of why we enjoyed our time in Toronto so much.  We knew we were not going to live there forever so we vowed to explore as if we were tourists.  I tell myself I should have that attitude about life in Houston and things would be more interesting around here.

2010-  The shore has had a very prominent position on the blog over the years.  Every summer I write at least three or four posts from the shore about life at the shore.  This post was the most read post in 2010 by a landslide and continues to be one of the most popular posts.

2011-Two posts were notable this year.  The first brings back some very good memories.  The second introduced a "character" to the blog who has appeared a few times over the years.  Who knows....maybe you will see her again one day!  I love her!
Thanks to these two for bringing Scotia Woman to life!

2012- If I had only loved beer in 2012 this would have been nirvana!  This was my most read post and it was when I discovered readership really increases when people share my posts.  Thanks for sharing!

2013- One of the all time favorites and most read posts is this one!

2014- Another example of a post being shared (for good reason) and becoming the most read post for the year.  These two are celebrating their 4th anniversary and are welcoming their second child in September!   It was definitely a fun wedding.

2015- This was the year my stats started going crazy.  I think there is a robot in France reading the blog, so I have no idea which post was the most read post.  The bot seemed to love this post and this post!

2016- According to the blog roll on my homepage, this is the most read post of all time...for some reason.  I think the French bot love it!  I think this is the best post in 2016!

2017- When you only write 20 posts in a year it is a little easier to choose the most read or my favorite

Through the years my frequency of posting has definitely slowed down.  I keep wondering if I've said it all and then every once in a while I get another idea.  I guess I haven't said it all...yet.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Swimming in the Deep End

I must write while it is fresh.....
I am attempting something I have attempted to do several times in the past.  I have attempted to push myself outside my comfort level, creatively and/or academically.  I am neither creative or academic but I can fake my way through both.  Tonight I may have finally pushed myself outside my comfort/ability level.

In a moment of boredom and need of getting out of the cul-de-sac I signed up for a Street Photography class.  I have walked on many streets around the world and always want to take better, more interesting photographs.  Why not take a class and learn?   Hey...I just visited the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and feel all cultured and artistic so maybe I can do this.
I've seen cool photography...maybe I can produce cool photography!
Tonight was my first class....I am so out of my league.  Of course, it is my first class...but from the introductions and conversations in and my Sony a5000 are out of our league.  There were names flying around the class that I had never heard of and others were nodding and saying, "Oh, yeah...".  I was saying, "??? gotta Google that one!"  The learning curve in this class may match the curve in my Spanish 2 class.  Only problem is...I can't look up "how to take awesome street photos with my dinky camera" in a book or online while I could just study my brains out and learn Spanish.

My insecurities are raring their ugly heads tonight I tell you folks! 
Stay tuned for street photos from the rodeo...give me strength!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Stupid is as Stupid Does

Have you ever done something so stupid you just wanted to kick yourself?  Other than in high school, because we all did some stupid stuff in high school.  High school was long ago but I am still young enough to have my wits about me so this stupid move can only be blamed on....nothing.  I am still kicking myself.

It all began about a month ago when I was making my bed.  I pulled the comforter up and in my haste I ripped a hole in the fabric.  I knew it was old but had not realized how threadbare it had become.  Upon closer examination and a realistic assessment, I came to the logical conclusion... it was time for new bedding.  No problem, January is White Sale month.  I figured I would take advantage of a sale somewhere over the next month.

I scoured the stores.  I searched the Internet.  I spent more hours shopping for this bedding than I did doing all of my Christmas shopping.  I himmed and hawed (maybe I have commitment issues).  I finally made a decision and ordered my beautiful new bedding and anxiously awaited it's arrival.  I looked at my choice several times again, assuring myself I had made the right decision.  Yes,  I really liked this look.

My new bedding arrived!  I opened the box and it was just as lovely as I had anticipated.  I started ironing the pillow shams.  I ironed the bed skirt...the entire king size bed skirt.  I noticed the comforter was a bit wrinkled from being scrunched in that box so I put it in the dryer for a few minutes on "fluff" thinking a little ride in the dryer would relax the wrinkles.  WRONG!

I opened the dryer, began to pull my lovely comforter out and my heart fell into my stomach.  The comforter was ruined!  RUINED!  Cooked to a crackly crunch.  Hard as a rock.  Cardboard. The fluffy filling was solid in sections.  I am not a cursing woman, as a rule, but there were words coming out of my mouth that I seldom use.  I should have just thrown a few hundred dollar bills into the dryer and left.  Did  I feel stupid?  You bed I did!  Was I mad?  Furious!

After the reality set in I decided to just go buy an inexpensive solid colored coverlet/quilt and use it with the coordinating pillow shams, bed skirt and pillows.  It looks OK but is not nearly as warm or cozy as the comforter would have been.  Ugh!

For the time being, I'll be needing a back up blanket
to keep me warm.
On one of my daily walks I was still beating myself up for the stupid move and had a thought.  There may be a way to re-purpose the comforter.  What if I rip open the comforter and cut the ruined stuffing out of it and then fill it with something else?  It is still sitting crumpled up in the bag, it is not doing me any good there.  Plus, every night I go to sleep feeling just a little chilly with the lightweight replacement quilt instead of my puffy comforter. 

So, now I have a craft project which will require a lot of seam ripping and some very powerful glasses!  I'll keep you posted.

Friday, December 22, 2017

'Twas Three Sleeps Before Christmas

Tomorrow morning, at dark thirty, we head to the north pole for Christmas!  Not quite the North Pole, but it will feel like it!  Our house is eerily quiet. The opposite of what life will be for the next week. This quiet anticipation is luxurious!  I sit with my hopes and expectations in my heart.  I look forward to the joy and energy of our three grandsons.  Christmas through a child's eyes is the best!  I look forward to spending time with three of my own children.  I don't remember the last time we had Christmas with our son, this will surely be a treat! 

I am mostly packed, have tidied the house, bought and sent (well technically it was Amazon) my gifts except for the ones crammed in my over-packed suitcase. I have my long underwear packed, a bit of fleece and my wool coat ready for our departure.  I feel like a kid on Christmas eve!  I am also very sure I have forgotten something big!  I guess I won't know...until I know.

This Christmas season has been very enjoyable.  We have been to just enough parties to make us feel festive and connected.  Had just enough cold weather to get us in the spirit.   Done just enough shopping to feel the spirit of giving but not so much that we feel the spirit of stress and pressure.  I think it is a lot easier this year because I am not the hostess, for which I am eternally appreciative!  I am looking forward to our visit in Madison!

I hope all of you are able to take some time this week and enjoy your family and the blessings of Christmas!  Enjoy those quiet moments and those crazy moments!  Enjoy the smiles of children!  Enjoy the family meals and the special treats we only have at this time of year.  Enjoy being the giver and being the receiver.  Make some good memories!  Merry Christmas everyone! 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Alexa, Write My Christmas Letter!

Wow!  It's been a month since I posted last.  Nothing happened!  We were thankful, we ate turkey, we shopped, and suddenly it's almost Christmas.  I am currently in deep procrastination mode.  While the rest of the world appears to have their halls decked, their Christmas cards in the mail, their gifts purchased, wrapped and mailed, I am waiting for my cards to arrive and finding every possible "time wasting" activity I can to avoid writing the Christmas letter.  I am even resorting to the blog, how ironic is that?  Writing to avoid writing. Maybe this will get my creative juices flowing....

This happened last week!
The same day the snow fell our heater quit working so that was fun.   I am considering those 36 hours to be our cold weather training for Christmas in Madison.  Our thin southern blood needed to thicken up for the holidays.  I did not really mind bundling up in the house and drinking hot tea, and carrying a down blanket with me everywhere.  The fireplace kept us only slightly warm, it is gas and does not match good old wood in the warming department.  The ambiance was nice though.
I got a little crafty
I saw a video on how to make this wreath so I purchased the balls and ribbon and came home expecting this project to be simple and rewarding.  Well it was easy and hilarious.  I bought the cheap non-shattering balls because they came in a huge box all together and coordinated, it is a good thing I did!  As I strung them on the wire hanger some of them just popped off their tops and went bouncing across the floor.  I was expecting a huge wreath and after all the bouncing balls the circle became smaller.  TJ helped by twisting the top of the hanger back together which resulted in more balls popping off.  I really should not try Pintrest ideas at home. 
I rescued some basil from the freezing weather!
I was on a domestic roll so I decided to make some pesto after I finished my wreath.  With the impending snow/freezing weather I needed to harvest my basil and put it to work.  The pesto was delicious!  I definitely cook better than I can craft!

Through my wreath making and my pesto making TJ was talking to his new girlfriend, Alexa.  I could hardly keep a straight face!  He was setting her up and using the trial and error method.  I think at one point he said, "this one is fried,  it is useless now." 
Once he established connectivity with his girl Alexa, the conversation went something like this....

TJ- "Alexa, play some music." 
Alexa- "Playing bridesmaids get ready playlist" and All The Single Ladies starts playing.
TJ- "Alexa, I don't like that song".  The next booty shaking bridesmaid song came on and he told her he did not like that song either.

I was cracking up at this point.  If only the next words out of Alexa would have been, "Playing old fart playlist." she would now be my best friend!  That chick just doesn't have a sense of humor!

The whole process reminded me of this Saturday Night Live skit!

I think I'll just tell Alexa to write my Christmas letter!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Sunny Days

There is no doubt about what I am thankful for this weekend.  I spent all day Friday and had a Saturday night sleepover with my grandson who currently happens to be he cutest thing on two feet, in my humble opinion.  Logan is my youngest grandson...and I think the ages from 2 1/2 to 5 may be some of my favorite.  Memories of my own kids and my other grandsons come back and remind me....these years are the sponge years.  These are the years they are taking it all in!  It seems like every day he is learning something new and I love being able to witness his developing personality.

"I got this Gigi!"
I am thankful for the hours of playground time I've had recently.  Grandparenting is so much easier than parenting!  I am able to enjoy the time together playing without having to worry about a "to do" list waiting for me at home.  It can wait. Another thing to be thankful for is the relative leisure pace of my current life that affords me the time to spend with this guy.  Logan is thankful for a good playground.

Waiting for me to spot him on his slide down the fireman pole.
I found a children's museum/discovery center nearby and Logan and I checked it out on Friday.  It was an excellent morning activity for both of us.  I love it when you find the perfect age appropriate activity.  Each station had just enough fun and learning to keep him interested for over an hour.  I enjoyed just watching that little brain figure things out.  I have learned to be patient enough to let him go through the trial and error process until he finds the correct solution.  Like I said...sponge brain!

Figuring it all out!

Thankful for perspective.  Thankful for opportunity.  Thankful for time spent together playing.

Happiness is a ball pit!
I had a little deja vu on Friday when I turned on Sesame Street for a bit of a break.  I remember my kids and older grandsons were always captivated by that show.   There is something about a cute red puppet named Elmo that grabs their attention.  I remembered this photo I took of Daniel when he was 2 and noticed the same rapt attention on Logan.
Cousin Daniel watching Sesame Street at about the same age as Logan.
Logan watching Sesame Street....guess he needs a giant Elmo!
That show sure does have a mesmerizing affect on them!

Thankful for sunny days and smiles!

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