Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

The house is decorated! Inside and outside. This year instead of our usual 15ft. tree we got two 7ft. trees. No two story foyer to put the tree in this house plus the low ceilings, sigh. Anyway, we have one tree in the dining room and one in the basement, where I hope we spend some time when everyone arrives. It is funy to put up the decorations in a house for the first time, so many decisions to make, where does everything go and why doesn't all my stuff fit in this house? Because it is smaller, duh!

Last week I had strep throat, not fun. I haven't been sick in a long time so I really didn't think I needed to see a dr. Good thing I did, after the antibiodics I am feeling much better.

Weather update: gray, cold, snowy, rainy, and did I say gray? What is with this? I am so sun deprived! Today it is sunny and so I will go out and do as many errands as possible just to be in the sun! I am not loving this November, December weather, yuk! I really hope things improve as it gets colder. I don't know if I can live through 4 more months of this. Enough ranting?

Only a week until Kelly gets home from school and I am so ready to have a house with family in it. I have such high expectations that the holidays will be fun and busy for all of us. I really hope our time together goes by slowly and we can savor it for the rest of the winter.

Anyway, off to the stores and out in the sun. Burning daylight!

Friday, November 28, 2008


Yesterday was Thanksgiving in the States. It was Thursday here in Canada. Just another Thursday....weird. All day I kept thinking about the rest of my family getting together at one house or another, planning and preparing the feast, smelling that turkey cooking in the oven, knowing that everyone else was doing the same thing at so many other houses. Here, it was just another work day with business as usual.
TJ flew in from Alberta and promised to take me to dinner, for our Thanksgiving feast. Well, we had the most unique dinner I think we've ever had on Thanksgiving. TJ had caribou and I had stuffed capon (with cranberries, very Thanksgivingish). Dinner was very nice but not even close to celebrating with our family.
One more note, Lucy, our 15 yr. old Brittney Spaniel, is not well. She has a tumor on her back paw and it seems to have gotten infected. In the morning she would not get out of bed or eat. The vet gave her some pain killers and an antibiotic but we think her days with us are few. It is so sad to see her limping around in obvious pain. She has had a long and good life but it is never easy to make the decision to end it. I don't think it will be long though. The tumor is inoperable so things may not get any better, and this is no life for her.
Like I said, a very weird Thanksgiving for sure. So glad we were able to be with family for the Canadian version in October. I would really be feeling cheated if we had not.
Let the Christmas shopping begin.

Monday, November 24, 2008

"The Wedding"

This past weekend we went down to Baton Rouge for TJ's sister, Meg's, wedding. We left the snow of Mississauga and freezing temps. and arrived in La. to sunny skies and temps in the 60's. Ahhhhh!
All of TJ's siblings, all 6, and their spouses and most of the cousins were at the wedding. All of our kids were there too. I think the last time our immediate family was all together was 2 years ago. What has this world come to? We live way too far apart and are too busy. It was great to see everyone.
Friday was the bridal luncheon and lingerie shower. I think I need to get remarried, just to reload on the pretty lingerie. The wedding was at 7 p.m. and was so nice. It was poignant to see Meg being escorted up the aisle by her two boys. They were so precious! I know that they will be so happy together with their new family. The priest did a wonderful job making the ceremony personal.
Then there was the reception. When you get all 7 Mahoneys in one room, provide them with music and drinks, watch out! We danced our feet off! Then some of us who did not want the night to end went to the hotel and continued the festivities. I went home kicking and screaming because I just did not want it to end. Yes, I paid for it the next morning when TJ woke me up at 7 to go see some of the family off. OUCH! 4 hours of sleep is just not enough to counteract so much dancing and drinking and talking. It wasn't pretty but I am glad I went for the sendoff. We just don't get to see everyone often enough so you just have to suck it up and get on with it.
I did manage a short nap in the afternoon before round 2.... big party at Meg and Jason's house, complete with jambalaya, gumbo and fried turkey. Welcome home. Another fun day with the family. This time we made it home at 11 and got a decent night sleep.
Highlight of the day was the 7 TJ Mahoneys trying to get a good family picture to document our together time and maybe use as a Christmas photo. It all started quite civilized and then all H...broke loose. We were being photographed by several family members when a cousin just popped his head into the group shot. Then there was laughter, some yelling, more laughter, more random people sticking their heads into the Mahoney family photo and the rest will remain in my memory forever. Definitely the most fun our family has ever had taking the Christmas picture. Who knows if we even got one worth reproducing. It was fun though.
So we left the sunny south yesterday and today could possibly be the ugliest day in Ontario. It is just above freezing and gray and raining and snowing and just gross! Will the sun ever shine up here? I am seriously beginning to wonder. I really don't think the cold will be that bad if only we could see the sun and some blue sky. I have heard that November is a really yucky month, I believe it! Hope December is better.
The Mahoney Family, minus 5!

Monday, November 3, 2008

God, Country and Notre Dame

Our little sock monkey at the ND tailgate.

Sunday morning with Grammy and Daniel.

This past weekend TJ and I went to Notre Dame and met up with Rachel, Matt and Daniel, the cute fellow in the photo. It was a wonderful fall weekend. The drive on Friday was beautiful and we arrived to an unseasonably warm fall evening. We enjoyed some wine and cheese outside before dinner and the guys went out while Rachel, Daniel (who was done for the day at that point) and I stayed home for dinner. It was a genius plan, no crying and fussing, and Daniel was happy too.

Saturday started early with the tailgate setup. What a huge glad it was done by seasoned veterans. Our hosts, the Murrys, picked up everything at 8:30 in the morning and the party started. Now, I need to say that if you have not ever been to a college football tailgate you are missing something. What a herculean effort! Our hosts put on a great feast and it was well attended. We even got to catch up with old Columbus friends who were also there for the weekend, visiting their daughter who is a sophomore. Just imagine this day; start at 8:30 setting up, cook, drink beer, entertain, visit, walk around campus, drink more, eat more and then off to the game at 2:30. Cheer with great enthusiasm and passion for the next 4 hours, or more if the game goes to 4 overtimes like this one did, and then go to Mass with about 15,000 other fans of Our Lady. Pray with full voice and heart and then at 8:30 at night, a mere 12 hours later, go home for dinner and the post game festivities. I think/know my favorite part of any ND game is at the end when the football team, win or lose, stands in front of the student section while the band plays the Alma Mater and everyone locks arms and sways back and forth and sings together. It is inspiring, win or lose, they are a family united at the end. AND then the exit and walk across campus to mass after the game. There are at least 3 masses around campus after the game and each one has standing room only. I like to think that everyone is as passionate about God as they are about football.
I am never disappointed with ND. Such a wonderful place to spend a weekend, or 4 years for some.
TJ and I drove home on Sunday again in wonderful fall weather. We are really being treated with a beautiful fall. Every time we leave and come back I feel more and more like I live here. It still feels a little weird being a citizen of one country and living in another. I have a whole new perspective for anyone who is a foreigner, as I sometimes feel I am.
In the country part, the election is tomorrow. I know the Canadians will be following it as closely as the Americans. I will be happy it is all over, it seems like this has gone on forever. Now what will we read about in the papers?
Here is an experiment, I took a video of Daniel and will try to post it here for anyone who is interested. He sure is a cutie!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Thanksgiving and Octoberfest

I think Fall is my favorite season up here so far. This past weekend was near perfect! A three day weekend for Thanksgiving and it could not have been more perfect, in many ways.

Our weekend really started Thursday night. We finally went to dinner with another couple from Houston. They moved up here one year before we did and it was so nice to find out that many of the things we struggle with are the same things they are dealing with. Glad to know we are not alone. It is a challenge to live with one foot in one country and the other foot in another country. Especially with college students in the states. Things like health insurance, car insurance, licenses, dentists, mailing addresses to name a few always pose questions and no real answers. It was reassuring to find out that they were handling these issues very similar to the way we are, and still not completely satisfied with the situations yet. Live and learn. Anyway, dinner was lovely as was the company.

Friday I had another small world situation. I had washed the comforter on my bed and decided to take it to the Laundromat to dry it in one of the huge dryers. I was walking down Lakeshore drive to the laundry carrying my wet comforter when who should I run into but Linda and Hugh, walking my way. It was too funny and then we ended up going to dinner that night with them. Did I say how beautiful the weather was for the weekend? No? Well, it was the quintessential fall day, clear skies, orange and red leaves everywhere and temps in the high 60's and low 70's! Absolutely perfect.

Saturday was spent in the yard mowing (the grass seems to grow at warp speed in the fall) , raking and general yard cleaning. TJ and I took a long bike ride and then we grilled steaks for dinner. OH, and watched college football. Bummer, LSU and Notre Dame lost. Friends came over to help us drown our sorrows during the LSU game too.

Sunday we celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving at my cousin's house. Full dinner with turkey, stuffing and all the trimmings. We have much to be thankful for, the welcoming cousins, the perfect weekend and good health (finally).

Monday was the holiday and we decide to drive up to Kitchener for Oktoberfest. TJ decided to ride his bike up there, a mere 3 hour ride, uphill all the way. I drove up and met him and went to our friends house in Kitchener. We headed to the Oktoberfest and managed to put away 3 pitchers of beer and some brats and schnitzel. Lots of music and dancing in the tent too. I think it was just what TJ was hoping for. I think this Oktoberfest is one of the biggest outside of Munich. It was great fun. The drive home was quiet, TJ was recovering from the long ride and carbo loading after the ride.

Back to life today. I guess Christmas will be here before I know it so I really need to get cracking on the home organizing and decorating. Fun!

Here are some pics from the weekend. Enjoy!

Friday, October 3, 2008

It's a small world

Just a short note today. I had a "moment" on Wednesday that I thought I'd share.
I started the day working from 9-2 training more for WW. The lady who is my mentor is great and we found out that we live relatively close to each other. We get along well and she is just a very pleasant person.
That night I had signed up for a retreat at our church figuring that I could take care of my spiritual side and maybe in the process connect with a few people. I don't really feel like we are part of our church yet so this is an effort to get involved. I reluctantly went by myself and went in to the registration table and registered. I looked up into a room full of people and who should I see there but my mentor from that morning! It was like seeing an angel, a familiar face in a sea of strangers. I was so glad. She was hospitable and introduced me to her friends and now I don't have to go in to a room of strangers next week. What a blessing! It's a small world isn't it? Looking forward to Wednesday nights now.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Back to the States for a visit

I just got home from 10 days in the States. Yea, that's what Canadians call the U.S. Anyway, I started in Houston and got to see the wreckage of Ike first hand. Lots of trees down, traffic lights not working, traffic jammed, gas stations with limited gas and grocery stores with limited supplies. Still thousands of people without power. Luckily my family had power and most of the other creature comforts. It was great to see family and drive around in a very familiar place even with the mounds of tree limbs and branches piled in front of almost every yard.
After the weekend TJ and I drove to Baton Rouge to see his Mom and sister Meg and 3 of my siblings. Baton Rouge looked even worse than Houston with huge piles of Gustav debris in front of almost every house as well. The only difference is that Gustav was almost a month ago and the trees in BR are much larger and fell a lot harder. Many houses were damaged and I can only imagine what things looked like right after the storm. I did have good visits with the family though. Did some U.S. shopping and took advantage of good prices and a selection I am more familiar with.
On my way back to Houston I caught up on my talk radio. I just had to listen to the political ramblings and see what the buzz in the States is on the election. I was accused of becoming liberal after living up here and my friends felt obliged to educate me and talk some sense into me. I just love playing devil's advocate and get the discussion going. I am happy to listen.
On Thursday I flew up to St. Louis to see Kelly. It just happened to be her birthday too. We had a nice night out to dinner with 12 of her best friends. Great kids! Kelly seems to be doing well and loves her life at school. We had lots of time together and the weather in St. Louis was near perfect. We just wanted to stay outside and play. We went to the Missouri Botanical Gardens on Sat. and had a beautiful day. It was a "rock star" day, between the gardens, the weather, the cafe with sushi and drinks, the free tickets to see Maroon 5 and Counting Crows and the cute red Mustang we drove around it really was a great day! Kelly went to the concert with a friend and I suffered through another dinner out with friends,wine and sushi....such a sacrifice. And on top of it all Notre Dame and LSU won their games. Does life get any better?
On Sunday we went to Mass then to brunch in yet another cute cafe. I hated to leave but it was time. I think this was my farewell to warm weather for a while and I may not be in the States again until November.
It felt like home but then again, coming to Mississauga also felt like home. Just not as many friends and family here....yet. It was a real treat to see 3 of my 4 kids and all 4 of my siblings on this trip as well as so many good friends. Can you ever go back?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wine and flowers

Last weekend we had a visit from a couple who we usually meet in NYC once a year. They decided to visit Toronto for a change. We got to be tourists for the weekend and had a great time.

Friday we went downtown and toured St. Lawrence Market. Patti and I loved it! Tons of fresh meats and fish. Fresh local vegetables and fruits. A culinary playground. Patti is a great cook so I thought this would be fun for her. I would love to be able to go here once or twice a month and pick up some good stuff to cook throughout the month.

We walked a lot that day and in the end decided instead of going out to dinner we would go back to the market and pick up some food to cook for dinner. It worked out great. We had Alaskan Black Cod, fresh french style green beans, roasted multi colored carrots and fresh baked bread. Everything was so good and fresh. Plus Patti is such a creative cook.

Saturday we went down to Niagra-on-the-Lake. First we toured a few wineries on the way. Small world situation, we met the owner of Rosewood Winery and she is a neighbor, plus she is the PT who subbed for mine and worked on my knee once. She literally lives 2 blocks away from us. She was very hospitible and we all enjoyed their wines. We stayed in a nice B&B and had dinner out and saw a play at the Shaw Festival. Niagra-on-the-Lake is such a beautiful little town. The flowers were breathtaking. The pictures may not do them justice but they are definitely a highlight.

Rick and Patti left on Sunday, TJ and I drove to Niagra Falls. It was raining so the falls were not as beautiful as they were the first time I saw them. All in all it was a fun weekend.

On Tuesday I interviewed to start working for Weight Watchers again. It will be different working in Canada and learning the subtle differences up here from the program and procedures in the states. I am looking forward to getting out and into the meeting room again. I need more human contact to keep me going. This will hopefully give me some networks to build on. We shall see.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Labor Day North

I guess summer is over. Yesterday was Labor Day and the kiddies are back at school today. The leaves in my front yard are starting to fall and vacation is over. Sigh. I am seriously hoping for a long beautiful fall with lots of patio time.

TJ and I rode bikes yesterday around the lake and I cannot remember Sept. 1 ever being so beautiful. One bonus of living up north, playing outside in August and Sept. and not dying from heat and humidity. I'm sure the downside will be this winter when all I want to do is play outside. We shall see.

Thought I would include some pictures from my bike yesterday. Totally enjoying the outdoors up here these days!

Political aside:

Toronto Star headline Saturday: "A Gun-Toting Mother " referring to McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin. With a 1/2 page front page photo of her.

Toronto Star article Sunday, page 5ish: " Sarah Palin as Miss Congeniality" with a picture of her aiming an automatic weapon. (actually the article was very entertaining and definitely a commentary)

Hmmm, do you think they like her? I'm not sure. .. It is no wonder there are no conservatives up here. I am enjoying watching the slant on the US election from here, very different perspective that's for sure.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The End of Summer?

Whew! What a week it has been. Last Sat. Kelly and I left the shore and headed to Toronto. Friday before we left turned out to be one of the best days at the shore in August. What a miserable month it was! I feel so bad for the people who were only there in August, the weather was terrible. Michael and Gina were there from the 2nd to the 7th and had no sunny days, none of those perfect Amherst Shore days that we all love so much. Kelly was there from the 1st till the 16th and only a few sunny days. If they could have been there in July the weather was unusually good! It is very different to have the luxury of being there for 6 weeks and not have to worry about the rainy days. I REALLY like the fact that I was able to spend 6 weeks at the shore this summer. I hope it is the beginning of many LONG summers at the shore.

In summary, the summer had 3 parts for me. The first 2 weeks were me and TJ and the farmhouse and the perfect weather. Low key and what I love about the shore, slow pace of life, great weather, spending time with the people who were there and just enjoying life. The second 2 weeks were the frenzy of friends, family, the games and mixed weather. Rachel, Matt and Daniel were there along with Katie. I love this time too but there is so much to do and so many people to spend time with I want to clone myself so I can enjoy it all with energy. Then the last 2 weeks that turned out to be very different this year. Michael and Kelly both came a little later this year and the weather was less than perfect and so many people left early due to the games being so early and they came for them. Many of us agreed that it was a "different"summer. I think the main reason was that the games were early this year and some people came for the games and then left so early and then others came later and there were no games. Who knows? It was a little "different". Still good to be there and see everyone regardless of the weather and the situation.

Back home, Kelly and I spent 3 absolutely lovely days in Toronto before we left for St. Louis. We had the days we wish we had at the shore. We rode our bikes to yoga and also went on a long bike ride and we ate outside and just enjoyed the perfect weather! Then on to days......and days....of driving. Kelly is happily back at school and I FINALLY am home for a few weeks. I think the drive today was the straw that broke the camel's back. I'm done. In a good way.

Comic relief? At the border my car was searched for the first time EVER since I have been crossing the US/Canada borders. Just what I needed. Yes, I had more than my 2 bottle quota of wine and paid the duty after being very stressed about being stopped. I guess after 20 years it was bound to happen. I'm glad all I had was 4 bottles of wine. I guess my "wine smuggling" days are over. I will just have to learn to love the limited selection I have up here. Sigh. Oh, but it was so nice to be in a land where the selection was great and the prices were low! I miss that.

Back home, it was refreshing to come "home" for the first time in my life to a place that was not sweltering in August. My neighborhood looked lush and green. The flowers looked healthy and not tired and the fresh air felt soooo good. I think I will like this next season.

Time to sign off, too much babbling for now. Glad to be in one place for a while.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The craziness of mid vacation

It is mid vacation and I am working on being exhausted. The annual Christie Brown games were last weekend and much fun was had by all. I did not really participate much this year because of the arm injury. No volleyball and softball with two plates in my left arm! I did do the three legged race and that was about it. The Browns won this year, surprisingly as we were missing many key players.

Then the week flew by with a margarita party, the cousin dinner (at the farmhouse!) and dinner at the Browns for Lesley's birthday. All in all a very fun week but a very full week.

Kelly and Michael and Gina (girlfriend) arrived on Friday to rain and grey skies. We haven't seen the sun yet, boo hoo. Last night was a big party for the Atherton/Swetnam cottage and we danced until it was way too late/early. Today is recouperation day and tonight will be lobster dinner and stay at home night. Much needed by all.

Michael and Gina are here until Thursday and then TJ will be gone back to work and it will just be Kelly, Rachel, Daniel and I. I think I may even be able to read my book again and get some things accomplished. We love seeing everyone but also enjoy the peace and quiet when it is all done.

Some pictures to share.....

Monday, July 21, 2008

Summer at the shore, Part 1

TJ and I arrived on July4! How appropriate that we arrived on Independence Day. Independence from the big city and freedom at the shore. The weather has been divine for the most part, at least the first week was unbelievable. Today it is raining and a perfect day to catch up on chores and communications.

I loved the quiet of the first week,although I was exhaused just following TJ around and doing all the farmhouse things we needed to do. There is an ifinite number of things to be done at the farmhouse but things are coming along and the rewards are beginning to show. It is still a long way from becoming our vision of the family home.

The kitchen is beautiful and better than any kitchen I have ever had in any home I've lived in. Sigh.

It was great to just be here and spend the day doing physical stuff and have dinner and end the day fullfilled an exhausted at the same time. Things have slowed and sped up at the same time. The progress at the farmhouse has slowed but the social life has sped up and they days seem to pass quicker when more people arrive. I already see the days flying by and want time to stop so I can just stay here longer.

Enjoy this while it lasts!

Here are some pictures to enjoy.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Baptism and other fun stuff

The last 2 weeks have been quite busy! We went to Madison for Daniel's baptism. I got to go for 4 days! Other than catching up with Rachel, Matt, Daniel and Kelly one of my main priorities was to go shopping, in the USA! Oh how I miss shopping at my old familiar stores with the low low prices of the states. I did less damage than expected but Ann Taylor has a good amount of my Canadian money now.

Daniel is a great baby. He is so happy and such a good little guy. Not to mention cute as can be. No bias either, haha. The baptism was beautiful and it was so nice to have my parents there to meet Daniel and see his baptism. The day turned out to be perfect and we all enjoyed the after party at Dan and Peggy's house (Matt's parents).

I got home Monday evening and on Tuesday my parents came to visit as well as sister Susan. Unfortunately, the weather was not ideal for their visit. All my talk of how we have been enjoying the evenings on our deck and how nice it has been to go biking sounded a little false with what we had during their visit. Susan and I did get to go biking along the lake on Wed. before it rained for the rest of the day. We went to Niagra Falls on Thurs. and were not disappointed. It was beautiful! Niagra on the Lake was fun too and we enjoyed lunch and shopping. Susan and I had "mass transit day" on Fri. and took the GO train into Toronto and saw the tall ships visiting the area and sat outside and had happy hour in the sun. It was great to have family around and more fun to be able to get out and about with them and show off the city. I think we all had fun.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Party Time

It was the 1st anniversary of my 50th birthday on Sunday and we had a great BBQ. It was not planned to have a "birthday" party, it just happened to be the most convenient day for all the invitees to come over this weekend.
We had an Amherst Shore warm up party. All of our friends and family that live nearby came over for some Texas brisket, bbq beans, colelsaw and Texas sheet cake. The beer was Canadian though. We even managed some Texas weather for the event. Yes, it was 33C/96F with humidity the day of the party. Go figure! Last year it was the same weather....and we all jumped out of a plane. This year no such activities. I'm just glad to be walking easily!
It was a great time and so good to have a house full of friends and it got us all fired up for the summer vacation at the shore. I think it won't get here soon enough for most of us.
A fun way to celebrate my birthday!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Place to Belong

We just got back from a week at Amherst Shore. May at the shore...a first for me but not a last. In spite of less than perfect weather I really enjoyed the trip. It is so different to go there and not be surrounded by the usual friends and family. It was peaceful and quiet. Still the same beautiful place with the same smells and sights I have loved my entire life. I felt at home. After so many months of not feeling at home where I live, it was so nice to go to the shore and belong somewhere. It was nice to go into the cottage and have it smell just like I remember and to see all of our familiar things and look forward to another summer with the family. I look out the windows and see the things I have looked at for years and open the windows and smell the fresh air and the freshly cut grass. I can go to Craigs and walk in and be a familiar face and see familiar faces and chat about the winter and the upcoming summer. Oh, to feel connected is so welcome.

I realized on this trip ,especially, that this place and the farmhouse when it is finished will be our family home. We don't and won't live in a place anymore where the kids all grew up and where we have a history. No place except the shore. It will always be in our family and it is where no matter where we all go in life we will always have this place to belong. It makes it so much more important to finish the farmhouse and make it our home for the summer.

Back Mississauga, it was even good to be in our house. Slowly I am warming up to living here. Not that I haven't liked it but I am feeling a little more comfortable here and have a few things to look forward to doing around here. I have plenty to keep me busy until it is time to go back to the shore. I think I will really like spring turning into summer up here. So far I am thrilled with my yard and discovering all the new plants that I have never been able to grow in the south. I really never liked gardening because I associated it with lots of sweat and bugs. Not so up here, it is so nice to go outside and feel the velvet air and breath easily. I think gardening up here will be very rewarding, the colors are so bright and things just grow so nicely here. Such a variety to choose from too, I have even planted a few herbs and lettuces. A first for me, the non gardener.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


After 2 years of planning, the trip to Italy finally happened. It was worth the wait and was everything and more than we had expected. We left Toronto on April 20 and returned on May 4. Two glorious weeks of good friends, beautiful places, perfect weather and too much food and wine. I cannot think of a better way to celebrate 30 years of marriage.

With 22 good friends from Columbus, Ga we started our trip in Tuscany. We visited Siena, Pienza, Florence, and Montepulciano from our first base in Chianciano Terme. From there we went to Assisi by way of Perugia, sampling some yummy chocolate on the way and looking out the windows with anticipation. Assisi was inspiring. St. Francis is inspiring. What a beautiful place filled with history. Our hotel was a highlight with it's views and terraces which our group took full advantage of at night. There was a very long drive to the Amalfi Coast but we stopped for a break in Pompeii. Amazing. Each stop was more and more beautiful. The Amalfi Coast with it's blue water and steep rugged coastline was very different from Tuscany's rolling hills and vineyards. Another hotel with a terrace on the top and this one had a view to take your breath away. We again took full advantage of it for happy hour! Our trip ended in Rome, a city that has so much to offer that around every corner there is something to enjoy. I could go on much longer singing the praises of each of these places and still never do them justice. How can you describe something that has survived since before the time of Christ? How can you describe the beauty of so many churches filled with frescos and history? How do you describe spending 10 days with some of the best friends we will ever have? It was a perfect trip.

Back home, the flowers are blooming and there is life all around. This may well be the longest spring I will ever experience. It was spring in Italy, then spring in Switzerland and now it is spring in Toronto. I like having a spring that lasts 2 months!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

spring is here!

Spring is here! Double digit temperatures and green grass. I have never appreciated the onset of spring more than I do this year. I do remember seeing things start to green up and bloom in Georgia but never the stark contrast of seasons like we have had here. The snow and the green grass are really opposites. It was so nice to drive around town today with my sunroof open and the breeze blowing. The signs of nature are popping up all over the place. Trees are budding, grass is getting greener and the tulips and crocus are popping up everywhere. I sure do hope I'm here to enjoy their debute.
With the birth of Daniel, new life is everywhere. arm is healing and my knee is healing so my body is coming to life again as well.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

It's a Boy!

Daniel Thomas Lee was born April 5, 2008. He weighed 8 lbs. 5 oz. and was 21.5 inches long. He has blonde hair and blue eyes and is absolutely beautiful! Our first grandson and he was named after both of his grandfathers. All is well with the world.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

When the snow melts

The big news lately is about the big melt. More accurately, what the big melt leaves behind. Never having experienced this amount of snow, or the melting season, I find all of this very curious. Apparently, everyone in Toronto is concerned about all the trash that is being exposed when the snow is melting. I definitely see what they mean too. Cigarette butts, garbage, leaves, and tons of mud and sand are sitting in the streets and on the sidewalks. Lovely. A regular column in the paper is a picture of the most disgusting street scene and the plea for the city to clean it up. Usually, the city is on the ball and does clean it up quickly, a good thing. The difference is remarkable. I guess it will take a while to recover from the winter. There are signs every day though that we will recover and that the real spring is right around the corner.
I am looking forward to the blossoming of trees and the flowers popping up from the ground. The grass is green under all that snow and the crocus and tulips are just waiting to show their faces. The days are sunny and it is light until 8pm. I think I will like the spring and summer and all the hours of daylight.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring?? is here!

Well, I think there are a few uniquely Canadian signs that spring is here. First one is the "running of the maple syrup". Yes folks, it is really an event up here. All over the newspaper there are articles of people strapping on their snow shoes to go and get some of that famous maple syrup. Actually, it sounds like a lot of fun, and yummy too. Of course, being from the south, we think Aunt Jemima invented maple syrup and never knew your could just go out to a tree and get it yourself. Is there any real maple in the stuff we get at the store anyway? Guess we will have to get some "fresh" maple syrup this year!

The other sign that spring is here is the Brier. Sponsored by Tim Horton's! Who else? The Brier, for those of you from south of the US/Canadian border is the men's curling championship. Don't you feel smarter already? We had the pleasure of joining friends for dinner and to watch the Brier on Sunday evening. They were getting us back for making them watch the Super Bowl. Dinner was fabulous!!! And we did see the end of the curling. Ontario lost unfortunately. Our friend knew some of the players personally. Can't say I knew anyone playing in the Super Bowl personally. Riveting game and an enjoyable evening. I really am a sports junkie!

Spring is officially here according to the calendar. I just hope that Mother Nature listens up and things get a little more like spring. The "big melt" is on these days. I think we had a whole week of temps above freezing during the day. The mountains of snow are down to hills of snow and no snow at all in some places. I can see spots of grass in my back yard, it really must be spring. The unfortunate thing about being above freezing though is that the precipitation takes the form of rain now and not snow. Snow is much prettier, I think. I see tulips in the stores and people are getting a little antsy for spring so it must be time! Bring it on! I can't wait to see the first blooms of the next season.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Travel as Therapy

Over the last few weeks we have been out of town every weekend. This was all planned before the skiing accident. "To go or not to go?", that is the question. I made it to and from Rachel's shower and felt much better when I got home, maybe another road trip will help just as much.
TJ and I went to New York City to meet friends of ours from our Columbus,GA days. It has become an annual thing and so much fun! We got to see "Wicked" on Broadway. Excellent! Ate out and had great food and wine. We did a walking tour of Greenwich Village food places and restaurants. So informative and yummy. My walking was labored but I pushed myself and tried to keep up with Rick, aka Speedy. I could not keep up. It was great to be in above freezing temps with no snow or ice anywhere to be seen! We all had a great visit and have vowed to do this next year too.
Back home and TJ is going to Montreal for work. He asked if I wanted to go. Since I have not been anywhere lately! OK, I am such a fool. We head to Montreal for a couple of days, with the dogs in tow. They were so happy! Talk about snow! Our friends who we stayed with have even more snow than we do. They also have 3 dogs of their own, so there were 5 dogs at their house. They got along surprisingly well too. Montreal seems like a very nice city and I think I would love to visit again in warmer weather, in better health so I can do some sightseeing and shopping. I am tired of being on the road though and the thought of going home and just repacking is not making me happy. The only think that makes the next trip worth the trouble is sun and warmer weather!

Home for a day and then off the San Diego! What a LONG flight from over here. The palm trees, sunshine and warm air were sooo worth it. We were surrounded by Canadians at the Buffalo airport who were fleeing the tundra for March break. I was glad to be one of them. I definitely understand the need for "March Break" now. We had a beautiful visit with Kirk and Mary Kate. MK gave me some much needed physical therapy help for the arm and the knee. I trust her and hope this all helps.

Back home and here for a while! It feels good to unpack and do laundry and watch the snow melt. We missed a monster snow storm while we were gone. Yippee! Now the big melt is on. It could take a month for all the snow to go away though. Everyone here is hoping we set the all time record for snow in a winter. Only 9 cm. to go.

In was good to be forced to travel. I think if I had sat around here and tried to get well I would have gone crazy first and might not have healed as quickly as I am. Still not 100% but it has only been 4 weeks. Taking your mind off the pain and inconvenience is helpful. It doesn't hurt to be surrounded by family and friends either. Now we are home until the grand baby arrives. Time to do some stuff around here and regroup for the next adventure. Who knew life would be such an adventure when we got here? Maybe a little too much of an adventure, eh?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Gimpy and the Pregnant Lady

I had one week to heal as fast as I could because I had was planning to go to Rachel's baby shower in Madison the following weekend. How fast does one heal from surgery and hitting a tree? The mind was definitely willing but the body is another thing.
I will say that I felt better every day. Better than horrible is good but not great.

Friday, Feb. 22 I headed to Madison, by myself. Arm in a sling, gimping along with my bum knee. Exhausted and dealing with my suitcase, the picture I was bringing for Rachel's gift and my bag/purse. OH JOY! The red silk sling did the trick and people gave me a wide berth.

It was so good to spend a weekend with my girls. Well, worth the pain of traveling. Rachel and I just visited, went to dinner and then picked Kelly up that night. Madison was covered with snow and most sidewalks were sheets of ice still. Yeah, the pregnant lady and gimpy trying their best not to wipe out on the ice, picture that.

As attentive as TJ had been at home, and he was very attentive, having the girls around was great. I had Kelly and Katie to do my hair and Rachel and I went and had our nails done and got pedicures. I had someone to button my pants, yeah, think of all the things it takes two hands to do. Like putting on a bra! TMI but it is true! Being around the girls was very therapeutic.

The shower on Sat. was so nice. They did a great job and Rachel got some very nice gifts. It is starting to settle in that there is a baby coming. The nursery is so cute! Rachel had a great time after the shower putting everything together. She is going to be a good mother. Anyway, it was fun to watch the sisters put stuff together from my vantage point on the sofa. I was not much help in this activity.

I am amazed when I stop to think that in less than 2 months I will be back here and holding a grand baby in my once broken arm. That should make it all better for sure! I can't wait to fall in love with this baby. Can't wait to see Rachel and Matt as parents. It is such an exciting time.

After a weekend of much walking and being around people and just trying to function I was feeling much better. I think being pushed is helping. The flight home was very smooth and not nearly as painful as the one there. I got home early on Monday and the dogs were happy for the company again.

One week until the next trip. I need to rest! I also need to clean my very neglected house. Yikes! Isn't house cleaning covered by the Canadian Health Care system?

Part 3

Friday! Feb. 15,2008
TJ finally got back from Newfoundland. Yes, did I mention that while all this was happening, my husband was on a business trip? He finally got home and to the hospital.
Valerie headed back to Houston, I'm sure she was glad to get out of that hospital. I had planned to show her so much more than just the ER at the hospital! We were going to have a great week. Best laid plans.... they will do the surgery. We think.
Another day of no food or water. I did not even need pain meds for the day. I was walking around little by little trying to work my hurt knee and get out of the bed I had been in for 3 days.
Finally, at 7pm TJ and our nurse Lydia inquired in the O.R. and they said it was time. If I could have jumped onto the operating table I would have at this point. Anyone who know me knows that hospitals, needles, surgery, any of it is definitely not my thing but I wanted to get going and get home!
Turns out I am very healthy. All the blood tests, EKG, and whatever else they needed to know about me before operating says I am healthy. Good to know.
Don't remember the surgery, duh. Remember the room spinning when I was coming out of the anesthesia.
I knew it would hurt more after the surgery for a while than it did before. I was right. But I am on the road. I got to eat! Slept like a baby with all the meds. The over the elbow cast is gone and replaced with a soft stretchy ace bandage and some gauze underneath over the incisions.

I went home Sat. morning, as soon as they would let me! Not a moment too soon.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Part 2

Thursday morning, day 2.
Wake up, we have a room/ward for you!
We should be able to do your surgery today, so you can't eat or drink anything until after the surgery.
My friend Valerie held a vigil at my bedside all day, bless her. I was in and out of consciousness all day. My mouth felt like the Sahara Desert. I was put on a saline drip to hydrate me but it did nothing for that thirsty feeling all day.
I did feel truly blessed all day though. My phone rang and rang. I had visitors all day. I don't really know many people here and still I had more visitors than everyone else in the ward. Talk about a pick me up. They have no idea.
Lying in a ward with people better and worse off than you can be humbling. The lady next to me was facing a huge life decision, whether to have her foot amputated or to opt for reconstructive surgery and face possibly a lifetime of operation after operation. She was a very nice and interesting person who was facing so much more than I was. I will be fine after this, she has a life changing decision to make. I had no place to complain.
All day they kept saying, surgery maybe after 3, surgery maybe after 6, well, surgery around 9. At 9, they came and told me two emergencies had just come in and there would be no surgery today for me. Whaaaaaa.
Can I please have some water and food? OK, until midnight and then nothing because we will do surgery tomorrow.
Valerie could go home now and I slept fairly well that night after the water and sandwich and yogurt. Best meal I ever had!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Canadian Health Care, experience 1

We arrived at the hospital, on the busiest day in 5 years. No kidding, the news crew was there to document this. It was in the paper the next day too. So you know what that means. Waiting and plenty of it.

Another interesting point is that since we have only lived here for 3 weeks we do not have a Social Insurance Number, which is apparently your key to the excellent health care up here. We have interim insurance and therefore have to pay up front and get reimbursed. The looks we got though when we said we did not have a SIN card were priceless.

High and low points, from what I can remember....

-having my makeshift splint removed and the coat and my favorite fleece removed was painful, I let them cut off the turtle neck and long underwear and sports bra. Yes 4 layers of clothing had to be removed! Painful!!! And all done in the privacy of the hallway in the triage area! "Sir, could you please turn the other way we need to get this lady's clothing off and there are no rooms to do it in."

-X-rays, this will only hurt a little. Don't believe them.

-slopping on the plaster and splint that would hold my arm for the next 3 days unbeknown to me at that point. From my hand all the way up and over my elbow to my armpit.

-We will have to do surgery, you broke both the ulna and the radius. We will put in a couple of plates and you will be fine. There are no rooms or ORs available now.

Nurse," should we just send her home and let her come back for the surgery?"

Doctor,"there is no way she can go home! She will never make it through the night, she will be in too much pain and then you need to consider any bleeding."

Thank you Doctor!

"Where can we put her? We don't have any beds." Find someplace!

So I spent the night in the ER triage area on a gurney between a woman with a dislocated ankle who cried all night and a lady on the other side who coughed all night. Thank goodness for the morphine. I only cried once and could not be heard over the others.

So I guess the only high was that the doctor would not send me home and made sure I at least had a bed and pain medicine. Or was that a low too?

An Otherwise Perfect Day or Crash

It all started so nicely. Valerie was here from Houston. It had snowed all day the day before. We decided to shovel the driveway and enjoy the blue skies and decent temps. We had a blast, no really, we did. We shoveled and chipped away at the giant chunk of ice at the bottom of the driveway. We were successful too. Only after we had completely cleared the driveway did the beloved snowplow drive by and dump a fresh load of street snow at the end of the driveway. I'm sure it was Valerie and I's beautiful smiles that convinced the driver to back up and plow away the deposit he had just made. Yippee!

Valerie said, "we should go skiing." I said, "really, do you want to?" She said, " Yes, can we?" I said, "Yes, let' get moving and go." So we did. The drive was beautiful. The snow was crisp and clean. The sun was shining. We got to the hill and rented our skis and set out to enjoy the day after eating our pb&j sandwiches for lunch. We had a great time. We high fived each other on the lift at our genius for choosing to ski instead of go to downtown Toronto and see the city. The slopes were fresh with snow, not too many people and we could not have been happier. Then, while going down a gentle alley way to the lift, CRASH.

I caught an edge and tumbled, out of control, out of bounds, into a tree. OUCH!
Valerie no where in sight, me knowing at that moment I had broken my arm cried pitifully, "help" "help". A very nice young, 16ish, boy stopped and asked, "Are you OK ?" "NO." Next skier stops and helps get my twisted leg out of the ski, that did not pop off like they are supposed to. Long story short, I got to ride in the toboggan behind the snowmobile wrapped like a pappoos.

Valerie drove me to the hospital where would begin yet another adventure in another posting.

How to have fun in the winter

When in Rome.... or when in the frigid north.... ski!

One advantage of this location is the proximity to skiing. TJ and I joined the Browns one weekend in Ellicottville for a ski weekend. We all had a great time. The snow was not quite like the snow in Utah, but the company was great and we somehow managed to have a good time. The dogs got to come too and sure did love the freedom of running around in the snow! A true winter wonderland.

It was a real adventure driving out on Sunday in TJ's truck after it had snowed all night. Trucks are not known for their ability to climb snow covered hills. It took us 3 tries to finally get up the hill and over the crest and onto the main road. The Little Engine That Could came to mind. If I could have only been able to push! Driving home in whiteout conditions was a new experience too.

Happy Pancake Day

Happy Pancake Day!

Yes, it is Pancake Day in Canada??!!! Not Mardi Gras, Pancake Day. What have I moved to????

I found out at dinner from a friend of Linda's that the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday is called Pancake Day in Canada. You are supposed to eat pancakes for dinner. Woooo Hoooo! Wow, all these years we thought you were supposed to eat, drink and be merry when all along we were supposed to be eating pancakes! What have we been missing? NOTHING!

Thought you would all appreciate the humor in this finding. Apparently, the tradition is from the English (boring) heritage when everyone was supposed to empty their pantry of the "good stuff" in preparation for fasting during Lent so they used all the sugar, eggs and butter (must have been from Tatamagouche) for pancakes. Again, whooo, hooo! No mention of the wine, beer and King Cake! I much prefer the French and Spanish tradition of Mardi Gras.

So eat, drink and eat pancakes!
Happy Mardi Gras!
Love, Lisa

P.S. weather report for anyone who cares. Rain tonight. All the snow is melting and the temp was in the +category all day, even saw the sun for a few hours this afternoon. Above freezing for you farenheiters. That's all from here for now. Gotta go set the butter out for tomorrow!

The Beginning

Thought I'd give everyone a little too much information about life in Canada, week1. Hope you don't get too bored! It got really long.

TJ and I arrived in Mississauga last Sunday and spent the night with Linda and Hugh. Michelle, Geoff, Abby and Lesley were all there for dinner that night and we crashed hard because we were so tired. Oh yea, it was cold too. No, really cold not just freezing cold. The dogs lived in the condo for two nights and were realy city dogs getting to ride on the elevator and walked on a leash to go to the bathroom every time. They did however love the lake and all the ducks and geese in the lake. Sadie thought this must be the reason she spent 3 days in a dog box in a car!

The movers came on Tuesday, we claimed our "stuff" at customs and had no problems! $65 later we were on the way to the house. Linda came over to help clean and unpack and then Cheryl (her husband Edward works with TJ) came over to help as well. Linda bailed before lunch and Cheryl stayed until dinner. She was amazing. She opend and unloaded boxes and basically forced me to put stuff away. We gladly took her to dinner that night with us and all ate well and slept well, in our new house among the boxes. Dogs still getting the leash bathroom due to incomplete fencing in the backyard. Oh yea, TJ "had" to work this day and made a 3 hour drive to Sarnia and flew home that evening. You can imagine my delight at that situation. Weather: It snowed lightly most of the day but the sun did shine too.

Wed. more unpacking. Cheryl came over and helped all day! What a trooper. TJ stayed home and did man stuff, moving boxes from here to there and taking empty boxes outside which was very helpful. We went through a lot of stuff. Out to dinner again that night. Weather: sunny and high 20'sF for any Canadians.

Thursday I chilled! TJ worked. Cheryl stayed at her hotel and read. We went to dinner that night to let Edward pay off his bet against LSU in the Sugar Bowl. Great French restaurant in west Toronto. Slept like babies again that night. Weather: more sun more 20's

Friday, I tried to get the boxes out of my master bedroom and unloaded some of the upstairs. Got somewhat organized. Cheryl and I went out and bought some new lighting for the kitchen, temp fencing for the backyard for the dogs, other sundries. As if there weren't enough to deal with. I COOKED DINNER at home that night.

Sat. TJ woke up at 6 with an upset stomach, I think I should not cook at home anymore, he spent the better part of the day groaning and moaning. Low grade fever. Great, just what we need, the flu. Maybe it was just food poisoning, lunch? We did manage to get a lot done around the house though. The goal is to not have any boxes on the main floor by the end of the weekend. 2 boxes to go! It started snowing in the afternoon and is still snowing. It is very pretty and I have realized that the good news is that when it snows it is not that cold, 28.

Observations: No garbage disposal, ugh. Some list of stuff I am supposed to compost and put in a green bin. UGH. We have a green bin, a grey bin, and a blue bin, still trying to figure out what goes where.
Doing laundry is a challenge. The glass doors that close off the washer and dryer are very wide and the way things are situated laundry goes something like this. Slide doors all the way to cover the dryer, put wash in washer. Close doors. Open again to unload wash into laundry basket because the doors cover the dryer and you can't get to it, slide doors to other side and put clothes in dryer. Meanwhile if you are doing multiple loads you would put the wash in the washer while the doors were on the dryer side. UGH! These things are not disclosed on the buyer sheet! How did these people live with this all these years???Plans are in the making for a better system. There has to be one.

It does seem that everything up here takes about 5 more steps to get done than it does in the states. One reason these Canadians are sturdy people.

The people around here have been nice so far. Have met neighbors on both sides and across the street. A variety of people, young and old. Very nice though. I still like the area, it is very pretty and I can only imagine that it will be beautiful in the spring and summer.

Hope you enjoyed this edition of the Canada Chronicles, stay tuned for more as life develops. You can unsuscribe by pressing delete when you get these emails.

Love to all,
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