Sunday, December 20, 2009

Let the Games Begin

Torch Rely to Vancouver 2010

Today we saw the Torch Rely pass through our village of Port Credit. This is the second time we have seen an Olympic Torch relay. The first, was in the sweltering heat in Columbus, Ga for the Atlanta summer Olympics in 1996. Today was the opposite of that day, it was very cold and everyone was waving Canadian flags and not U. S. flags. The same spirit was evident in the crowd though. Everyone was very excited to be living in the host country and looking forward to welcoming the world. I think that is one of the great things about the Olympics, it brings countries together on a common ground to compete and do their best. There is a certain amount of mutual respect for the competitors, they all made it this far to compete and represent their country. So today, I was feeling fortunate if not a little cold to be living in Canada when they are hosting the Olympics.

The Olympic torch passing through Port Credit on Lakeshore Drive

High fives, and the torch passing

The lighthouse at Port Credit, all dressed up for the torch relay today!

Another bright light in our lives today!
Christopher Joseph Lee

Last, but certainly not least, Christopher Joseph Lee was born on Dec. 18, 2009. Mother and father showed up at the hospital for the scheduled induction and there was "no room at the inn". After lunch and an anxious wait they were admitted and only a few hours later Christopher was born. Mom, Dad, big brother Daniel and Christopher are all doing well. I can't wait for my first hug tonight!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 17, 2009


This will be a very big weekend for our family!

First, our world traveling daughter, Kelly, comes home from her semester in Paris on Friday. I am sure it will be an arrival mixed with joy and sadness and probably exhaustion. She has had the ultimate experience abroad and is leaving behind a life that exceeded her most vivid dreams. She also puts an end to my vicarious Parisian experience. I must admit that I have enjoyed her semester almost as much as she has, through her pictures and blog postings, status updates and our conversations. What will I look forward to reading about every morning now? Not the newspaper, that's for sure!

Le Joie de Vivre

Secondly, our oldest daughter, Rachel, is going to be having her second baby....on Friday, if all goes as planned. A new member in the family and a Christmas gift to beat all! Everything else pales in comparison. Hence, my total lack of motivation to do much shopping this season.

On Sunday I will be heading to Madison to be with Rachel and family for the next 2 weeks!


Kelly coming home

New baby arriving

Christmas, with most of our family (Michael, you are missed!) and a new baby!

A new chapter in all of our lives will be beginning, there is much to look forward to. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Different advent

The city is in full anticipation...snow is coming. For this southern girl all of this is very interesting and unique. I'll go over what has to happen before the snow comes.

Fall arrives, the leaves fall. Everyone rakes them to the end of the yard and into the street. Eventually, the city comes by with these huge trucks with giant hoses that vacuum the leaves. People don't want to have the leaves on the yard when the snow falls because the lawn will be ruined after it all melts if there are leaves on the grass. Yesterday the mowers were all running up and down the green space on the road off our street. Cleaning it all up before the snow covers it. This morning the street sweeper was on our street, cleaning the street before it gets covered with snow and the snow gets plowed to the curb....for about 3 more months. The parking lots have all been sprinkled with salt. My nice boots are crying. All of this is done in amazing synchronization.

The radio said to leave an hour early for work tomorrow because of the weather and the traffic. This will be the first snow and the roads are not saturated with salt yet so things could get slippery. I really am amazed by the infrastructure that is required with winter weather. In contrast, it snowed in Houston last week and the weather channel correspondent was shocked when he announced that the city of Houston does not have one snow plow. Haha! Why would they?

So in the season of Advent, prepare ye the way of the snow.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

All the world is a stage

I composed this post two weeks ago and have been waiting to "go public" until it was definite. Well, it might be definite...maybe, we think.
Kitchen and den "after"
Kitchen and den, "before"
Living Room "after"

We are moving back to the States ( Houston). Notice, I did not say "good news" and I did not say "bad news", just news. I have mixed feelings about this relocation. I am sure you will be reading my many mixed feelings over the next few weeks or months so I'll skip them for now. What I really want to talk about today is the house selling process. Specifically, staging the house to sell.

Today was staging day. Yes, we coughed up the big bucks and had the house staged. I want to buy this house now! I think when we move, I'll hire the stagers when we move in, instead of when we move out. I obviously have no idea how to get "the look" and the professionals do. I keep trying, and missing, and they got it in about 4 hours today. It is a gift.....
Now, the humiliating part of staging. Many of your beloved treasures just aren't treasures to others. Maybe they are the things that make your house, your house. Maybe they are your grandmother's things that you love just because, but no one else really gets it. Hearing people say, "This isn't doing anything here " or "Once we punch it up and give it some WOW, it will look better" is a humbling experience. You just can't take it personally. Plus, the upside is that when they are finished, it really does look better. All I can say is , thank God for the basement! They don't care what it looks like and you can just put everything there.
Now that the house is ready and the sign is in the yard, the reality is setting in. Reality really hit me when the phone rang only hours after the job was done and it was for the first showing. Two hours on the market and two showings scheduled already. Let's hope we get our money's worth.
One note of hilarity/irony....on the day of staging and putting the house on the market, I woke up and realize the furnace had not been on in a day or two and it was a bit chilly inside...hmmmm. Go down and check thermostat, furnace broken. In the midst of staging, photographing the house, getting windows cleaned, I have the furnace guy here to fix the broken furnace. Perfect! It could not have broken after we moved out? What a day! Hope they like that beautiful furnace.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Put it on the Calendar

Sugar Land Snowman
Today in Mississauga

Snow in Sugar Land, TX Dec. 4, 2009

This may only happen once. Today, it snowed in Houston and it still has not snowed in Toronto yet. My weather obsession is in high gear! Houston high and low today 37 and 26, Toronto high and low 37 and 27. Of course, tomorrow it will be 60 again in Houston and still freezing here, for months......just let me enjoy this moment while it lasts.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Rick Mercer vs. Obama

Tonight we had a choice to watch Obama or MANY other things, namely The Rick Mercer Report. I must admit....Rick Mercer won. What is it about that guy? He is hilarious! I love his sense of humor and cleverness. I have a whole new appreciation for my Canadian friends' senses of humor after watching his show.

He is a political satirist and is willing to do almost anything for a laugh. I've seen him with our mayor of eons, Hazel Mccallion, and on a lobster fishing boat in New Brunswick and doing roller derby in Montreal.

I can read about Obama's speech tomorrow, tonight I need a laugh.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Never say Never

November is over and according to the radio this evening, it is the first time in 160 years that it has not snowed here in November. I imagine we also had record breaking sunshine and warm weather this month.
I know when I have been beat! My dismal prediction for November has been definitively disproved! I think it is a blessing. November has flown by and in the most pleasant way. I hope December is just as "miserable" as November was.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Make pavement while the sun is shining

It appears that November is also the month "they" decide to do road work! As I drive around town, or try to drive around town, I have noticed that there is a huge hurry to get the roads repaired. Surprising to me that "they" had all summer to do this work and now that the threat of snow and ice is looming there are work crews around every corner! I passed 3 on my way to my meeting this afternoon, a 6km drive. Just makes me go "hmmm".

In other news, since my last entry we have had amazing weather....near record highs and probably near record sunshine. Now that I have acknowledged this fact I'm sure we will be in for a week of gray rainy skies. NOOOOO! November is making a liar out of me! Hope it lasts....maybe that is why "they" are working so frantically, the sun is shining!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

It's not just me!

So just to let you all know that today someone shared an interesting tidbit with me. As we talked about the lovely (rainy) weather today she said that November has the highest suicide and death rates of any month here. Hmmm, wonder why?
See, I'm not crazy, it really is a lousy month. Don't worry, no thoughts of doing myself in have crossed my mind. Just had to share that's not just me.

Monday, November 2, 2009

November@*!*Whining about weather

November has a whole different meaning to me up here. It used to be that November meant God turned the heater off and finally I had relief and could enjoy the outdoors again. There was Thanksgiving to look forward to and college football was in full swing. November used to be a great month!

November has a whole different meaning up here. Now it is a wet, dark month. I remember last year thinking it was possibly the longest yuckiest month of the year. We are off to the same start this year. Cold and wet and dark is November. Daylight savings time is over and that means it gets dark earlier and earlier this month. To add to the joy, it has rained the first two days so far. I know it sounds pessimistic but we are not off to a great start again this year. I think the darkness only amplifies the coldness and wetness.

I am sure everyone has their favorite time of year and their least favorite time of year. It has all changed for me up here. I used to hate summer and it's heat and humidity. I love summer up here! Long, warm days with lots of outdoor activities. Winter used to be one of my favorite times in the south because for me it was bearable to be outside and I like the fact that I didn't have to run the air conditioner all the time. Now I find myself dreading the frozen ground and icy sidewalks a little. I don't mind the cold as much as I mind the heat and humidity though so that is one advantage.

If only we did not have November to get through before everything freezes. Not a big fan of the cold, wet, dark month. Not even any holidays up here to look forward to in November.....glad we get to fly south for American Thanksgiving! Ahhhhh! And who knows....maybe November will surprise me this year and be beautiful, after all it has only been 2 days. It will still be dark though, November.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mountains, Rivers and Reality

I got the opportunity to see the Canadian Rockies a few weeks ago. One of my cousins got married in Calgary and it was not only a great wedding but a great chance to go somewhere I have never been and see something I haven't seen. I've always heard how beautiful Calgary is and now I can agree, it is beautiful.

Outdoor weddings are always a risky venture, one thing you can't control is the weather. That being said, you can control your attitude about the weather. I've got to give the attitude award to my cousin and his bride. An early October wedding, outside, in the snow! It was spectacular! Cold, but beautiful. The backdrop of the mountains and snow covered trees made everything surreal. For a day we were all transported to a winter wonderland and the wedding was great fun.

TJ and I did some sightseeing and got to see the Banff Springs Hotel. I'm glad we got out to see the area and I think it may not be my last time in the Canadian Rockies, next time, skiing!

Our next stop is on the Seine River. That's right, Paris! From snow and mountains to sun and the Seine. Our daughter, Kelly, is studying in Paris this semester and what better excuse to visit?

Sidebar......TJ and I have been to Paris 4 times now and here is the progression as I see it.

First time, late 1980's, left 4 kids at home with a sitter, was very sad to be away from my 2 year old "baby", was young and it was my first time in France. Suffered severe jet lag due to the fact that I could not sleep on the plane because I was so excited to be going to France. Somewhat intimidated by the city and the language, probably did not attempt to speak much at all. Pinched myself daily because I had really made it to France, a lifelong goal. Vowed to go back someday.

Second time, 1996, 4 kids in tow, on our mission to take our children to Europe before they flew the nest. It was June, there was a heat wave, we were on a strict budget (read, 6 people in one very small, hot, noisy, room). The heat and the smog and our exhaustion made for a less than perfect visit and we were only there for 2 days (hurry, see all the sights with 4 hot, tired, shellshocked kids) before we had to start our journey through France and Italy.

Third time, April 2003, TJ, Michael, Kelly and I were visiting Katie, who was studying in Angers that spring. When I say it is nice to have a french speaking guide I mean it! Katie was our translator and it made things very nice. This was in the middle of the Iraq crisis and we did not know how welcome Americans would be. We were a little nervous, for no reason as it turned out. The French people were very friendly, I think having Katie as our voice had something to do with that. We did spend a few days in Paris but most of the trip was in the Loire valley.

We have come full circle, back to Paris without any kids. This time to visit that 2 year old "baby" who just celebrated her 21st birthday and is studying in Paris. No real agenda, 2 people in one large, quiet and cool room. We have seen the sights, this time we were there to just be. We still had that translator though, Kelly's french is coming along nicely. It was a true luxury to spend 6 days in Paris, and take it all in at a leisurely pace. I feel like I know so much more about the city now. It only took 20 years to get here!

Reality, the problem with going away is that you have to come home. For a few days it is nice to be back in a routine and settled but there is always that longing to be back at that cafe, or walking along that river or looking at those mountains seeing things you have never seen before. I guess I need to appreciate the routine of home as well as the joys of traveling. But it sure would be nice to walk home every night in the City of Light!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

How many Prime Ministers Can You Name?

Last night we went to Trivia Night at our church. What an interesting night. I never knew how much I don't know about Canada! I was the token American on the team so ALL questions that had anything to do with the US. were referred to me. I knew some and not others as is to be expected. The thing I did not expect was how many of the questions were so Canadian. I heard names I have never in my life heard! How to give yourself a severe ego crush....try trivia in a country other than your home country. Ouch! How many prime ministers have there been? Who was the first one with a PhD? Who is the most decorated war hero from someplace I've never heard of? What were hockey pucks made out of in the 1800's? Yea, there were plenty of hockey questions too, another one of my shortcomings. Must get reading for next month!

We finished dead last out of 5 teams. We did have the most fun of any of the teams though and we got bonus points for our lovely drawings on our answer sheet and for our "spirit". Lesson the extra credit it might help. Our captain did a little drawing to depict each of our answers, if for no other reason than to entertain the "grader". It worked.

So after living here for a year and a half, I thought I was assimilating quite well. Wrong! I felt very foreign last night. How to get smacked right back into reality. It was a very nice evening and maybe I know a little more about Canada than I did before, if I can remember any of it.

Next time let's do baseball and presidents!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Some People's Trash= Other People's Treasure?

Trash day in Canada is something very different than trash day in the States. In the States you just throw stuff away, OK there is recycling in most places too. In Canada, to quote my cousin, you need a degree to figure out the trash here!

In Mississauga we have several different trash categories. First, you have a 2 bag limit each week for "trash". Second, you have the paper recycling box and the plastic, aluminum, etc. box. Third, you have the "green bin". The green bin is possibly the most disgusting trash bin in the world! This is the bin for all "organic" matter, that means fruit, vegetable, coffee grinds, tea bags, dead flowers, bones, fish, eggshells, grease, fat, sauces, dairy products, baked goods, paper towels and napkins, pizza boxes....yes, all the disgusting stuff that I used to put most of down the garbage disposal that I don't have here! Summertime is an especially lovely time for the green bin, smelly. You cannot put dead animals, dirty diapers or pet waste in the green bin though. Thank goodness!

Which brings me to today's topic....twice a year they lift the 2 bag limit and apparently the sky is the limit for these two, two week periods. They have "free trash" day or week in Nova Scotia in the summer too and talk about junk! You can drive up and down the road and there will be sofas, chairs, toilets, doors, windows, many appliances, Santa Claus decorations, bathtubs and all sorts of other treasures along the road for at least a week. With these "free" trash weeks also comes what can only be referred to as the worlds biggest street sale! People stop and pick up their new found treasures along the side of the road. My guess is that the city publishes the date for this and then waits a week to pick up the stuff, the result being they pick up half of what has been put by the side of the road.

Exhibit A, one grill, two chairs and a light fixture, oh and that nice bookcase!

It really is like a field day when you have the freedom to exceed the 2 bag limit. Throw it all away....NOW! We won't get this chance for another 6 months. I will admit to having possession of at least one item found by the side of the road on free trash week. It was a gift and we proudly display our plastic light up Santa next to our garden in Nova Scotia! (refer to picture in Summer, Part 3 posting) He makes a great scarecrow and who doesn't laugh when they see Santa next to the garden in July?

All kidding aside, I find that when I go somewhere with no recycling it just feels wrong to throw away that glass bottle or the can or the cardboard box. I am trained. I also have noticed how little actual "trash" we have. Must be the smaller family. But when I first heard the 2 bag limit I was trying to figure out how I could do it, now I sometimes only have one bag. How Canadian of me! I must have a degree.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Summer, the end

So I guess if this weekend is Labor Day weekend then it is the end of summer. How can winter last so long and summer be so short? (imagine asking that in Houston?!) It seems only yesterday that we were visiting with our friends Bob and Donna on their trip here and planning our long stay at the shore. Now it is over and it is back to real life and cooler weather.

About that cooler weather....I can remember when we would go shopping up here on vacation when I was in school and they had all the fall clothes out in August and in my reality it would be months before we could even think about wearing sweaters or cords or jackets and I wondered who buys this stuff so early? Are they kidding? Well, now I see the fall clothes and think, oh I better get some long pants or a jacket, I might need it soon. Shorts go in the drawer for another winter and bye bye tank tops and flip flops...sigh. I guess it is a good thing I like pants and long sleeves. But how will everyone see what is left of my tan with pants and long sleeves on? I have decided to push the season as far as I can and wear those shorts and sandals until I freeze! Two more weeks...haha.

Another observation....we always marveled at the fact that Canadians seem to do a lot of traveling. More than most people it always seemed to us. They are adventurous and really do see more of the world than the typical American. Looks like we are subscribing to that philosophy as well. We have done a lot of traveling since we moved here and it does not look like it is going to end. I tend to think that it is just the phase of life we are in right now but WOW! I can count 4 or 5 trips we are taking in the next 2 months. That is a lot! We are visiting new places as well as old favorites. We will be visiting our son Michael for Labor Day in Casper, WY. Our first trip to where he lives and we are both looking forward to going out west. Another exciting trip will be October when we go and visit Kelly who is studying in Paris for the semester. Why not? I think it is a great excuse to go to Paris. I might be more excited to see Kelly than the Eiffel Tower this time! Lots to look forward to but I still have to get my life going here too.

Back to work, at least a little. Another good thing about being up here is that no one really questions you when you ask for 2 months off to go to your cottage in Nova Scotia. Gotta love that! In the States they looked at me like I was crazy. I am definitely taking advantage of that while we live here!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Summer, Part 3?!

Garth and Hugh discussing life and "the games"
TJ's garden was Santa-ed

The Mini Olympics winning team

Pot luck with the cousins at the farmhouse

Time flies up here!

First there was the week with just TJ and I. We worked a lot and got organized. It was relatively quiet and we had a nice time.

Then Katie came up for a week. We enjoyed visiting and spending time together. TJ was gone for most of the visit until the weekend and then he came for a few days. I think he had a great 3 days! Perfect weather, just enough activities to be interesting but not too many to be exhausting.

Then there was the massive influx of people and "the games". Lots of cousins and many get togethers. It is always so hard to fit everything into a day. Where does the time go? We aren't working, we don't really have any obligations up here but still the time seems to just fly by. Can a day really be comprised of waking, eating, doing a few chores, exercising, beaching, visiting, a couple of meals, more visiting, laughing, playing and more visiting and going to bed completely exhausted and very late, only to wake up and do it all again? The answer is YES! We love it too! There are so many people here during "the games" that it is hard to fit them all into one day so we just have a continuous cycle of visiting and hanging out, oh, and the games. We lost this year, not enough key players here that week. Guess they chose to have a vacation instead of playing in the games. Still, a great week and super great weather!

Then comes the family time. Rachel, Matt, Daniel and Kelly and TJ all here for 10 days. Talk about busy! That Daniel is one moving man. He has an amazing curiosity about everything around him. He also loves the beach. It is so much fun to see him think about things and figure things out so quickly. This age is so physically tiring but they are wonders to watch. We had a great time with all of them here. We also know why young people have kids, whew! We have also had the most perfect weather of the summer for the last week. August is the time to be here, mid August, for those of you who are planning a future trip up here. Warm to hot days, cool nights and plenty of sunshine, no jellyfish and warm water to boot! We love it!

I'll just share a few pictures for your reading enjoyment. By no means all of the pictures but just a taste of the summer. It really has been one of "those" summers! Thanks be to God.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Summer Part 2

The deck addition and future screened in porch.

Shore life in July has been very nice. This is the first summer we are actually staying in the farmhouse. I think I like it, but then again, this has not been the busy time at the shore either so being down the road is not a big issue yet. When more people show up I could feel different about not being in the middle of the action, then again, I might just like being away. We shall see.

Our first week here was full of work. TJ keeps a very fast pace when it comes to work....surprise! The garden was full of weeds and we weren't sure if there were any vegetables in those weeds or not. Turns out, TJ is quite the gardener. The lettuce crop is fantastic! Never one to do things on a small scale, TJ planted a garden big enough to feed a small town. Lettuce for everyone!
the lettuce crop

We cleaned the house, trimmed a few windows and have almost completed the bathroom, I mean....really completed it! Whoo hoo! This house is an endless opportunity to work. So many things to do, so little time, I mean money.

I must say the place is shaping up, still lots to get done but the vision is coming into focus.

Weather report: More sunny days than rainy days. That being said, it has not been fantastic just yet. Still a little cool and wet to be the perfect summer but I think things are looking up. Today is the perfect shore day and I hope an indication of things to come. Not complaining at all!

I think this past week was my vacation. TJ was back working and I was here alone for the week. Yup, that was my vacation. Katie arrives today, TJ comes for the weekend next weekend and then I will have another week until the next visits from Rachel, Matt, Daniel and Kelly and TJ. This summer is the summer of shift visits. Everyone is not here at the same time there is just a constant flow in and out of family.

So far, so good. What is not to love, right?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Summer, Part 1

Summer officially arrived on June 22 and it was actually summer like for about a week. Our friends, Bob and Donna visited from the 25th until the 30th. We had a great visit with them. We did all the usual tourist things, downtown Toronto, Niagara on the Lake, wine country, a few pubs here and there and hung out enjoying the lovely summer evening on the back patio. So nice to have good friends to share that with!

There were a few highlights from their visit.
Donna and I at St. Lawrence Market

First might be that they brought their new dog, Lily, and Lily and Sadie were very compatible! That is saying something for Sadie! The video is for my family's benefit. It is pretty cute.

Another highlight would have to be seeing Jersey Boys. We loved it! It was so much fun and very well done.

The final highlight would be our day visiting the Niagara wine country. We tasted some very good wines, bought many and then ended the day at home out on the deck, enjoying our purchases. The weather could not have been any nicer either. Bonus!

Now TJ and I are heading to Nova Scotia for the rest of the summer. Well, at least for me. Here is hoping for more sun than last summer and more warmth than last summer. I am looking forward to spending time with family and friends and living a slower pace life. That might be a stretch at the shore sometimes though. Not to worry, it will be great!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Line Ups!

Wanna know what causes Canadians to act like people in Louisiana or Texas when a hurricane is coming? The threat of a strike at the LCBO! (The local liquor commission, the only place to buy booze here.)

Today's news is that at midnight, the LCBO may be going on strike, closing all the stores for a while. Well, since we are having company for the next few days, I decided I should get a few bottles of wine, just in case. It looked like the grocery store before a hurricane! The shelves were almost empty, the line ups at the check out were about 20 people deep at each one. Craziness! One fellow with a British accent caught me in an aisle and said, "They should all be shot, this is ridiculous." Hmmmm, a little extreme. " I really was surprised at how many people were out loading up.

So, Toronto is now in the throws of a garbage strike, so apparently garbage is piling up all around. Ontario is possibly getting ready for a strike by the LCBO. I'll bet the garbage strike lasts longer than the LCBO (if it happens). Judging by the public reaction already.....priorities!
Just had to share that with you all.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friends and Family

I think June is the month for friends and family, well, maybe the entire summer is if I think about it! I just got back from visiting St. Louis and Nashville. Kelly is spending the summer in St. Louis, working for the university, so I went to visit her last weekend. While I was there, we drove to visit TJ's brother, Phil, and his family in Nashville. It was a good weekend!

The Tree house

TJ built Erin and Declan, Phil and Carol Anne's kids, a treehouse while we were there. The kids had a blast, I think TJ did too! It was so nice to be around them and see the kids, who are growing way too fast.

Erin and Declan in the treehouse

Kelly and I had a great visit, mainly spent restocking her pantry and making sure she does not suffer from malnutrition for the rest of the summer. I think she will be fine now. We did do a few other things too like a movie, the park, the zoo, a museum and dinner out. It was great to see her and spend some real time together.

Next week we have friends from Georgia coming to visit for a few days. Should be fun showing them around Toronto. I am hoping for some good "patio weather" so we can sit outside and have dinner or happy hour.

When they leave then we are off to the shore for the rest of the summer! To more friends and family. All good stuff.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Fresh Air

I think one of my favorite things about living up here is the fact that I can have my windows open for many months. I just love the feel in the house when the windows are open. The house also smells so nice with the fresh air inside.
For most of my life I have lived in places that had to run air conditioning for about 8 months a year and then heat for the other 4 months. There may have been a week or two that were worthy of open window living. When we moved to Georgia, I remember how luxurious it was to have entire months when I could open the windows in the house and just enjoy the outdoors...inside. I loved it!
The past couple of months have been open window months. I realize that my internal thermostat runs a little cooler than most, I like it very cool! There is no sleep better than that in a room with the windows cracked and the temp outside around 50 and the blankets on the bed all cozy and warm. Ahhh! I just love it.
I noticed when we visited our friends in Montreal that their house smelled so nice and I really think it was because it was spring and the windows were open. Plus, I think the house was just very clean! I can't make that claim....It reminds me of when we would leave either Texas or Louisiana when we were kids and drive to Ohio to my grandmother's house in the summer, and her windows were always open and it always felt nice there, well except when they were having a heat wave, then it could be plain miserable. That is another post altogether.
I ramble on too long about something like open windows but I really do love not having to run the AC at this time of year. Don't get me wrong, as soon as it gets the least bit hot or humid....the AC will be on! Bummer!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Fun in the sun

The calm water in the morning

My sisters and I took a little trip to Florida last weekend. We try to get together once a year but it seems to work out to once every other year. Even though we see each other at the shore every year, it just isn't the same with kids, spouses, cousins, etc. around and we don't get the real vacation feel at the shore since one of us has to cook every night. This is a real treat for all of us and we each need this time for one reason or another.

Let me start by saying the weather could not have been more perfect. We were lucky enough to be there for a rare northern front, which meant that the humidity was low and there was a nice breeze. Amazing! The water was also great, no seaweed, calm in the morning and more waves toward the evening, a little something for everyone. Lots of wildlife sitings, rays, dolphins and even a shark. I luckily missed the shark, I hear it was small and harmless. Glad I missed it.

Help, don't let him take me!

Tammy and Lee Ann having fun with the pirate.

Our first night dinner was at Peg Leg Pete's, directly across the street from our condo! After a drink, appetizers, dinner and more drinks, we spotted this fellow on our way out and just had to have our way with him! Yes, it was like being on spring break again, as we left and were in the parking lot we realized there was an older couple in a car watching the photo shoot and cracking up, which just made us crack up even more! There was also one lady in her car not so amused, which also made us crack up. No pirates were injured in the taking of the photos.

LeeAnn, Tammy, Susan, Karen and Lisa

The shadow picture is supposed to be us striking a pose that would define us. I think LeeAnn is diving (the little mermaid), Tam is doing yoga, Susan is making muscles, Karen (mutual friend of all of us) is drinking a beer and I am giving her the beer and taking pictures.

Susan getting some excercise!

We were always the last ones off the beach in the evening. Long after all the families had gone up we were still sitting there having happy hour and enjoying the beautiful beach. Evening really is my favorite time on the beach, it is just so relaxing. One does lose all motivation to go up and shower and dress for dinner though after sitting on the beach for so long!

The Formation, the only picture of the 4 of us together.

A picture just like this, taken about 4 or 5 years ago was what instigated this trip. We did this same formation years ago and Tammy sent the old picture to each of us with the subject line- these people sure know how to have fun! It got the ball rolling for another sister trip. Why did we do it? Because we could. Notice the special skills Susan and I have for our role in the formation! Yes, we sure know how to have fun!

The video will be available online soon....hehehe!

All in all, the trip was a big success aside from the sun poisoning 3 of us got. Mine was definitely the worst. I did not have as much sun training up here as the others do in the south. We laughed and talked and cut up and played and ate and drank and just sat quietly and it was perfect. Sisters are great!

Friday, May 22, 2009

HGTV without the crew

This week I feel like I am living one of the home improvement shows, but without the crew.

We got to the shore on Sat. last week to a huge mess in the farmhouse. The two front rooms were sheet rocked over the winter and all the random furniture and junk that was in the rooms was now strewn all over the other rooms. There was also a solid coating on every surface of plaster dust. Let the work begin.

Move the patio furniture outside, put all tools and wood and nails and paint in the basement, distribute furniture to another temporary home, take down plastic dust barrier (or attempt at dust barrier, can't imagine what it would have looked like without the plastic....), take sheets off all furniture (a stroke of genius at the last minute last summer, so glad we did that), sweep floors, mop floors, clean every surface in the house, sweep again and mop again. Sit down and take a breath, when does that work crew arrive anyway?

Before arriving we went to Home Depot to get more supplies, and a trip to Wal Mart to buy things like paper towel holders, salt and pepper shakers, towel racks, you get the picture. Mahoney farmhouse economic stimulus package at work.

Progress report-
Upstairs- bedroom has a real bed with box spring, an area rug (to cover the plywood floor), curtains to block the early morning sun, a dresser and a closet full of new hangers.

Bathroom has almost been completed....mirror above vanity, door!, curtain to cover the window at night so I don't feel so exposed to the people driving by on the road, still needs two light fixtures and trim on the window and baseboards.

Hung light fixtures in dining room and back entrance.
Primed all new walls and ceilings. Painted front entrance hallway and wall behind fireplace.
Sanded and verathaned floor in dining room. Looks so much better!

Basically organized and started to feel like we live here. Which we have been doing since Sunday. Nice place for sure!
Lest I forget the outside....TJ got his huge garden plowed so he will be planting all sorts of produce tomorrow. The yard looks great and I can't wait to see my lilies and peonies in bloom when I get back in July.

But this would have been so much easier if the work crew had showed up. I am wiped out, I will need a vacation to recover from my vacation.

Here are a few pictures of the work in progress!

Front foyer and living room and dining room with new walls.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Saying Goodbye

Sometimes it is hard to say goodbye. Sunday a week ago, we had to say goodbye to our dog Lucy. She was 15 years old. Last November she got very sick and we kind of expected that she might not make it then. The vet was a little concerned and said with her age that she might not make it much longer. Well, she surprised us all. I have said that Lucy was the dog with 9 lives. Our vet was surprised that she had such a miraculous surge after that last setback. We had decided then, that the next time Lucy crashed we would not take extrordinary measures to bring her back. She had an inoperable tumor on her foot and it was bound to get infected again and then it might be time to say goodbye.

Sunday morning TJ got up and said Lucy would not get up from her bed. She did not eat, which is her reason for being most of the time, and could not go out to the bathroom. TJ brought her out and she walked around a bit and then just went and layed down in the flower bed. She could not lift her head. So see the life just leave her. We brought her inside and gave her some of the pain medicine we had from the last time she was sick, just to ease her pain a bit. We went to church and I'm sure both of us were praying for the same thing. Help us to decide the right thing to do. It is so hard to make that decision. I always said I just wanted "to know" when the time comes. I think it was today.

We brought Lucy to the emergency vet clinic and filled out the required paperwork and then went into a lovely room to say goodbye. The room was actually very nice, a sofa, an aquarium, a couple of chairs, low lights and nice music. Lucy just laid on the floor on a blanket. I swear I saw tears come from her eyes. She was just so sad and pathetic. TJ and I cried and pet her and said our goodbyes. The vet came in and after looking at her for a while reassured us that we were doing the right thing by putting a good friend out of her misery.

Lucy was as good a dog as they come. She had such a wonderful disposition. She was loyal, well behaved, gentle and always happy for anything she was given. I think of her 15 years ago as a puppy coming into our family and how TJ worked so diligently to train her and how happy the kids were to have a dog! She just loved to hunt and loved running on the sandbars in Nova Scotia, in her day. She had her share of adventures too. She swallowed a prism from a toy and almost died very young. She got lost regularly in the country in Georgia. She was lost in Houston for a day and a half and almost died then too. Lucy did have a way of wandering away and just following her nose. Lately, she took a lot of naps and it was hard for her to breathe and hard for her to go up or down stairs. She was always up for a walk though, even as old and slow as she was, she was like a pup when we walked her, just happy to be outside.

Ironically, Saturday night at dinner with friends we were talking about the movie Marley and Me. I said it was so true and a very accurate picture of how it is at the end. I told everyone that when Lucy's time comes I hope it is very obvious. Well, be careful what you wish for....I had no idea that the next morning that sign would be there for us to see. And it was obvious.

Goodbye Lucy, good dog.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

In Living Color

I have decided that spring is God's reward to us for surviving the winter! For months the trees have been bare, the grass has been brown and nature has been asleep. Yesterday I was riding my bike, yes it was warm enough to go bike riding, and just had to marvel at the beautiful colors all around me. It is like the city has just taken a deep breath and burst into life.

Spring was always beautiful in Georgia with the dogwoods, azaleas, daffodils and forsythia, and Texas had beautiful azaleas in spring too. But it still wasn't the stark contrast from winter that it is up here. After months of brutal freezing weather and dreary days the beginning of spring is even more of a contrast. You just can't believe how amazing it is to drive around and see the yellow forsythia stand out like a bright light all around. It really is like God's reward for surviving the winter. "You made it and now you get to revel in all these splendid colors!" Bring it on!
Enjoy life, in living color!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Weighing In

Did you know that people lose weight the same way in the U.S. and Canada? I do. I work for "a popular weight loss program" and have worked for that company is the U.S. and in Canada. One thing that is consistent in my life is that fact that when I go into the meeting room, it's all the same.

I like my job. I get to meet a lot of different people who are all struggling with the same thing. These people are usually at the point where they are ready to change. It is often inspiring to see people go on this journey and to share in their success. I take very little responsibility for their success, they have done the hard part. I was just there to "weigh them in" and talk to, inform and motivate them, my favorite part!

Lately, I have witnessed many successes. Success is contagious. I have had many members lose over 25 lbs. in a 12 or 20 week session and go on to reach their ultimate goals. I love seeing their commitment and their confidence grow as they become the person they used to be or the person they always wanted to be but never thought they could be as far as weight is concerned. This does something to their attitude too. When you get control of how and what you eat you also get control of other things in your life. Anyway, it is nice to be surrounded by good positive people who are committed to losing weight. Plus, we sure do have fun at our meetings!

A fun positive environment, celebrations every week, looking and feeling better every week and we all have a common goal and want to be there. What more could you ask for?

Thursday, April 16, 2009


It is supposed to go up to 20C tomorrow! Spring is definitely in the air, which means the pedestrians are out! During my recent trip to Houston I made a few observations. The weather was perfect and if it were that temperature around here the sidewalks would be full of pedestrians. In Houston the only people out walking were heading to their cars. No one walks in Houston if they don't have to, my friend Valerie said everyone would think they were homeless if they walked somewhere. So true.

Well, people walk here. I am always shocked to see the number of pedestrians out even on cold snowy days. People just walk here. Now that the weather is getting nicer there are even more people outside and walking. I haven't really decided if people walk more up here because they are just happy to have nice weather and really appreciate it or if they walk because they want to. I am leaning towards the want to because they walk even when it is freezing. Mass transit helps too, you can take the bus or the train and then have to walk to your final destination. But then again, I see people walking everywhere! I must say, I missed seeing people outside walking when I was in Houston, I have gotten very used to seeing people out and about.

One more thing about the pedestrians. I have actually gotten used to watching out for people crossing the street in crosswalks while I am driving. When we first came here I was so used to not having to wait to turn or to even look to see if someone was crossing the street. Those poor people I have almost run over....I am now much more conscious of the crosswalks. They actually get used here....and sometimes even by me! I love it!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Hello Grammy

Daniel turned a year old on Sunday! Apparently he loves phones (I'm sure this is due to the fact that his mother also loves the phone and is on it often) so Rachel said he got 3 phones for gifts. Here he is calling someone, I can only hope it is me! How cute! We will be spending Easter with them and it will be fun to see Daniel walking and playing in person and not on video on the internet. The last time we saw him was at Christmas and he has changed so much since then.
Looking forward to Easter, seeing family and the promise of spring. Really, it is going to get here I look out at what I hope is the LAST snow of this season!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Isn't it Ironic?

I was in Houston last week and had to laugh out loud when I opened the newspaper and this was the headline.

The article is not talking about policemen either. After my post on guns in Texas I found this a bit ironic. The article goes on to explain that the legislation is trying to allow people to have guns in their personal vehicles as long as the vehicle is locked. Yikes!

I don't know if spring can be ironic but if "poignantly contrary" describes irony then the spring in Texas is just that to the spring in Toronto.
Exhibit A and B

Spring in Toronto, March 29, 2009
hey, there are buds on that tree!

Spring in Houston, March 27, 2009
Aside from the stark contrast between spring up here and spring down there, my visit was a great one. I just loved visiting friends and relatives. At one point while I was driving about 75mph on the freeway I had a thought that I could easily slip right back into my life in Houston. Yup, except for the weather ( and mildew, frizzy hair and profuse sweating it produces) it isn't such a bad place. I think the fact that I have friends and relatives there may have something to do with it.
OH, fashion alert. Boy do I miss summer clothes! Boy do I miss wearing fun colors and sandals! Is this because it is the end of winter and I'm just plain tired of dark clothes or is it a north/south thing? Everyone down there is dressed in bright colors it seems and the clothes are so much more fun. I did do my share of economic stimulating. Now I am going to vow to bring color to Canada. I am going to push the season and wear all that yellow, turquoise and pink that I got "down south".
That's all the news that is fit to print today. Waiting for inspiration....
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