Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Taking a Break

Good morning!

I going to take a break from blogging - not sure for how long. I am finding it hard to find the time to devote to making this a blog I can be happy with. I feel somewhat aimless when I sit down to write - I'm sure that shows through.

I want to think about what direction I'd like to take the blog in and I've been exploring things like going back to Blogger commenting or switching the blog entirely to Wordpress instead of Blogger. Or...I may do nothing and leave it as is. Those are the weighty issues on my mind! Tough times indeed (yes, I'm being sarcastic)!

One thing you can be sure of is you haven't heard the last from me! I may resolve my issues quickly...or not. We'll see. I do feel I need to take a wee break to refresh myself and consider all of my options.

That's it for now.


Tuesday, June 26, 2018


There are days when I don't even want to read the newspaper. Thankfully I don't have cable TV so I miss most of the noise from CNN and other news networks. However, I do see/read/skip over a lot of news/magazines online - I enjoy The Atlantic and The Guardian  the most. So I do keep up on current events and the local newspaper keeps me informed with what's going on in my city and surrounding area.

My morning follows a routine which involves on reading the paper and then going to read the headlines at The Guardian mostly to see if the nuclear red button has been pushed yet. That's my main worry about the state of the world these days. It takes me back to my childhood and scary times in 1962 - The Cuban Missile Crisis and the escalation of creating nuclear war heads by Russia and the U.S. I was only 6 years old in 1962 but I clearly remember the drills at school (like squatting under my desk was really going to save me!) and I remember being terrified of THE BOMB and the total annihilation that it represented.

Frightening times.

It is not within my power to make any relevant changes in the current political landscape but like most of the world's population I wish I could do something to help. Recently I've had two opportunities to reach out to strangers - one I failed at and one that I hope was helpful.

Both times I was riding my bike. A couple of weeks ago I was riding down Cheapside St. and saw a woman staggering along the sidewalk. I did what I usually do - I kept going. Then I thought I should have checked in with her to make sure she was ok. I rode back but couldn't find her. I checked all around the shrubbery and side streets etc but no sign. My hope is that she lived nearby and had made it safely home. It was only a matter of two minutes before I turned around and she couldn't have disappeared into thin air. I still feel bad that my first reaction was to ignore rather than to respond with compassion.

The second incident happened yesterday while again riding my bike. (I see a lot more riding my bike than I do driving my car!) I saw a man laying down beside a street. In fact his legs extended into the street. I circled back and approached him cautiously. I asked him if he was ok several times before he started to come around. I asked him a bunch of questions - he said his name was Jesse and he lived in public housing across the street. He said he'd been to the bank and coming back he fell asleep. I tried to set judgment aside and when he said how grateful he was that I had checked on him I said we're all human beings. I had him stand up for a couple minutes to see how steady he was and then I watched as he walked over to his home.

At no moment did I feel unsafe. Obviously there will be situations that I would report to police rather than involve myself in and will follow my gut instinct. But I hope I will never again turn my head and look the other way. I have myself been on the receiving end of help from strangers more than once and it meant so much to me.

Monday, June 18, 2018

SUMMER!! or young at heart, old in body.

It's either one weather extreme or the other around here and it's a tough decision to choose which I prefer - snuggled up inside with a good book while an ice storm rages for several days or blistering heat and humidity making temps rise to +40c(104F) and staying in the central air conditioning inside with a good book!'s a toss up!

Yesterday I made a bicycle trip to Farm Boy to pick up a few things. After I made my purchases I paused in the seating area and had a cold drink to keep myself hydrated. Then back on the bike. I was fine for about 2/3rds of the ride home and then I started to feel weak....really weak...and my backpack felt like it weighed 100lbs.  I had to stop several times in shady spots to have a drink and thankfully found my legs again and made it home.  It was gruelling though and I flopped on the couch and drank several glasses of ice water before taking a cool shower. 
Where were these guys yesterday?!?

One good thing about playing as a senior -
no one wears a bathing suit!!! However, there
is one very bronzed (and saggy) man who wears
two nipple rings!
Look away...look away!
My dilemma is thinking that I can still do the things I used to do 40 and 50 years ago. And I'm stubborn as a mule. Also, I've been waiting months and months for summer weather so I feel I shouldn't waste a minute of it by staying inside, doors and windows closed, with the A/C running steadily. But I have to be careful and not overdo it. Easy to say, harder to do. I very much resent the fact that my body doesn't perform to its previous levels. I don't think that's fair. I'm not ready to be OLD!

Today I have beach volleyball and it's going to be another scorcher. If it remains cloudy then we should be ok but if the sun comes out that's a game changer. I'm going to drive there instead of bike - that's my concession for today. So if I feel weak I can get in my car and put the A/C on high. I'll have a high protein lunch and take a couple of Gatorades with me. We'll see how it goes. The one good thing is everyone is around my age so we're all in the same boat. There is no shame in leaving early!

How do you beat the heat? Or does it bother you at all?

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Present Moment

This present moment is all we have.

When I look back at my career as a teacher I regret not being more mindful and living in the moment with my students. What was I doing instead? Well...I was always thinking about what we were going to do next and was I prepared. Teaching students with special needs meant thinking of a contingency plan for every minute of the day in case something went wrong. Some students were non-verbal, some were violent and I had to be prepared for anything to happen. That meant spending a lot of time in my head thinking about the next moment, the next lesson, the next hour and so on.

Of course there were those perfect moments when everything was going smoothly, everyone, well almost everyone, was happy and I could relax and live in the moment. And those times when I just trusted myself and my instincts and flew by the seat of my pants were truly wonderful.

But life is life - I can't live in the past and I can't live in the future, unless time travel has been invented. The only place we can live is in the present moment. I'm trying - it takes a lot of practise and I'm learning a lot from my on-line course with Ekhart Tolle.

In other news...

  • I've lost 4 lbs over the past week and things are fitting better :) I sort of kick-started the weight loss with a bout of food poisoning but hey, whatever works! In a perfect world I would like to lose about 6 more lbs but what will be will be...
  • Went for a forest run (more like a jog) and ingested a white floaty seed thingy - it got caught in the back of my throat and I almost coughed up a lung. Of course you women who are around my age know what happens when you cough hard for an extended period of time. 😏
  • today's exercise will be beach volleyball for 2-3 hours and I'm hoping to ride my bike there and back. It's really windy so I'd say there's about a 50/50 chance of driving. I struggle on my bike when there's a strong headwind. 
  • Grrrrr.....I'm in a battle with all the squirrels around here as they dig up my potted plants in my patio area. Someone gives the squirrels peanuts in the shell and then they race over to my place to bury them! 
If anyone knows any safe ways to deter the squirrels I would be grateful!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Now I do Have a Reason to Complain...

Serves me right! The moment I think I have nothing to complain about...well, you know what happens right?!

I bought a package of fresh fiddleheads from Farm Boy on Monday - I just couldn't resist. My dad was a great wild food forager and he usually brought some fiddleheads home from his spring rambles. I loved them!

I steamed them until they were tender but apparently not long enough to kill the toxins that some fiddleheads contain. My bad. Those toxins can cause food poisoning unfortunately. Or it could have been caused by poor storage as stated below.

"Fiddleheads are the curled, edible shoots of the ostrich fern and are considered a seasonal delicacy in many parts of Canada. ... Fiddleheads can cause food poisoning if they have not been stored, prepared or cooked properly."

I doubt I'll forget about the ill effects of two large helpings of fiddleheads next spring. Though remind me will you?! I ate a lot of them because my daughter sniffed at them and said "no thanks"! Smarty pants! 

Anyhoo, I had the cramps, nausea, headache and other less pleasant symptoms last night. Today I still have a bit of cramping but am feeling 95%  better. 

Lesson learned: cook fiddleheads til they turn to mush & keep my smug complaint-free thoughts to myself!!

Have you eaten fiddleheads? I still think they are delicious :)

Monday, June 4, 2018


It's a cool wet day today but I'm not complaining about that - I'm happy that I don't have to water the flowers today and the Weather Network says the sun is going to come out a bit later and it will warm up to about 20c. I can handle that after a week of +30c. No complaints here!

Beach volleyball is still on but we won't have to wear socks today to protect our feet from the boiling hot sand - so no complaints there!

Lily got her jaw around an entire chipmunk on Saturday!!! But when she dropped it the chipmunk ran under the fence to freedom - so no complaining about that! Thank goodness! (Do chipmunks play dead when caught by a predator?)
aka Killer!
I rode my bike to the annual Gathering on the Green where my brother sets up a booth to sell his unique birdhouses. Humidity was high even though the day was cooler than usual and I was a puddle of sweat by the time I arrived. But I'm not complaining as I met up with friends, explored what was for sale, bought a gift for my sister-in-law's upcoming 70th birthday! Also went and had a nice lunch on a nearby patio with my friend Jules who purchased the creature below :)
Zombie Doll - Cynthia Rose
"Hey Cynthia Rose - get your slimy lips offa my beer!!"

Ran into a former work colleague who retired two years after I did. I asked him how it felt to be retired and he said it feels like his natural state of being. I understand what he means - it feels the way life should feel - waking up when the body is ready to wake up, eating when hungry and not because the clock says a certain time, exploring new interests, developing old ones more fully...retirement is fantastic!! Really...I can't complain!

Had a nice jog and then walked on the trails at Kilally Meadows yesterday. Ran into a friend who is a weather radar-watching freak and he told me a thunderstorm was going to hit at 2pm. But I'm not complaining - I timed my walk and made it back to my car just is time. He was dead on with his prediction! At precisely 2pm the heavens opened...though I don't think I heard any thunder or saw any lightning - SO NOT COMPLAINING!
The rain is on its way!

Kilally Meadows!
So...I guess what it all boils down to is this: I'm complaining about the fact that I have nothing to complain about! 
It's a tough life I lead!

Monday, May 28, 2018

Another Day, Another Chipmunk Tail

Who thinks chipmunks are cute? I do, I do!

I have lived in my home for 24 years and never saw a chipmunk until this spring. Lots of squirrels, rabbits, even skunks, but never a chipmunk.

At first I thought, oh how cute, and I enjoyed watching them bound along......
.....until they moved into my patio area and made a home behind my cement steps. That's a little too close for comfort.

You see...when I spent summers in PEI there were lots of chipmunks. And while they were as cute as they could be they also enjoyed living in my basement, chewing on electrical wiring and chewing up the insulation. I'm not good at killing rodents but it was them or me! I trapped them and let them loose in the forest but they ran back to the house faster than I could!!

I'm not able to reach the nest behind the steps because of a cement overhang from the doorsill. Lily has been doing her best to chase them out of our patio and will sit patiently for hours by the steps waiting for a chipmunk nose to appear.

This morning I was sitting outside, reading the paper, while Lily guarded the perimeter. Suddenly I heard the unmistakeable CHIRP of the chipmunk and next thing I saw was Lily playing with the fur off the chipmunk's tail!!

Ughh! She was having so much fun hiding the fur in a bed of myrtle and tossing it around like a cat does. I couldn't stand it (and I'll never kiss her again!!) so I put on a work glove and tossed the fur over the fence. Lily wasn't too pleased with that but I just couldn't watch her displaying her killer instincts!

Then I checked google, of course :) and found that when a chipmunk (or squirrel etc) is threatened with capture/death from behind they release their tail. In this case just the fur that covers the tail. Lily was just doing a good job keeping our patio (and home) free from rodents. I do understand that this is her instinct and she's not misbehaving.

I'm hoping that close call persuades the chipmunks to take up residence elsewhere! Otherwise my patio is going to be a battleground over the summer.
Should have named her "Killer"!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

May's Money Challenge

My money challenge this month (and pretty much every month) is to get to the end of the month before I get to the end of my money :) As I am sure you would agree some months are harder than others! Sometimes things come along that you want to take advantage of (sales at your favourite store...I don't really fall into that category as I rarely go shopping), an appliance or car breaks down (so far so good), you eat out more often (nope), there are a lot of birthdays/anniversaries, (yes, to some extant), old furniture needs replacing (yes but I'm going to postpone those sorts of purchases for awhile longer), home repairs or redecorating etc etc etc...

 Budget BUSTERS can occur at at any time, some are small, some are large, some can be squeezed out of a monthly budget, some need an infusion of money drawn from savings. I HATE it when THAT happens!

I haven't had any large budget busters this month BUT I did decide to take an online course with Ekhart Tolle, author of "The Power of Now" and other helpful, inspirational books. When I first retired and my mind wasn't filled with schoolwork and students and clubs and curriculum anymore I found my mind became busy with less positive thoughts and I spent too much time in negative thinking, dwelling on the past and wondering about the future and what retirement was going to look like. If you are a long time reader you will remember (possibly) that in 2014, the year I retired, I made a LOT of changes in my life - some were my own decisions (taking an early retirement, selling my house in PEI and remaining in London), and others were thrust upon me (the breakdown of a relationship, the death of a pet and so on.)

Gradually I tried lots of different things to help myself through this period of transition - some have fallen by the wayside (crocheting, sewing, spool knitting, anxiety meds!!) and others have stuck (hiking, being out in nature, cycling, volleyball, reading, blogging, meeting friends for breakfast and movies, photography, travel and...Ekhart Tolle!)

His book, "The Power of Now", wasn't easy to read (I find non-fiction a tough read usually) so I borrowed the book on audiotape and listened to Ekhart as he read and explained the book. It was a real life saver. Living in the present moment is the only way to live - there is no past or future moment, there is only now. Due to many traumatic events happening over the past 60+ years I was STUCK and Ekhart's revelation of a book was very significant in helping me to become unstuck.

I hemmed and hawed about taking this course online but decided it was a very worthwhile expense for me. It is eight weeks long and the second week starts tomorrow. So far I would say I'm getting a lot of value for my dollar and it is money well spent. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and do things that will be a benefit to your life even if it costs money. Sometimes you just have to loosen the pocketbook a little bit. Living frugally doesn't mean never spending! I'm saying that to myself, not to you, as it can become a bad habit tucking every bit of my money away into savings.

I am learning a lot and hope I can successfully apply it to my life.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

I've Got Gas!

See? I kid you not!

I was down to 3 bars on my fuel gauge and gas went below $1.20/litre on Friday so
I decided to grab some.
I added $30.00 worth of gas to the tank and now have about 3/4
of a tank. 
I wonder how long that will last.
I also wonder when was the last time I bought gas.
So I just checked my credit card online and the last time I
purchased gas was April 6th 
and I purchased $45.00 worth. 
That was 6 weeks ago!!
(Both purchases were on Fridays)
Not bad...not bad at all! 

Friday, May 18, 2018

May Weather Not Good for Blogging!

I am sooooooo grateful these days for the wonderful weather we're having after our long hard slog through winter and early spring. "Mid-SPRING" has been worth waiting for! Only a couple of weeks ago we had a major ice storm and now the fruit trees are flowering and yesterday I was attacked by mosquitoes and flies while hiking in Kilally Meadows!! The temperature yesterday was a HOT 27c (81F) so I took full advantage of it enjoying a good long ramble.

Mr. Heron is about the only bird that sits in one spot long enough for me to get a photo!

So I guess you know what kind of photos I'll be taking for the next few months :)

Fauna and flora :) in the photo below those 3 blurs are white-tailed deer running along a path.

 I zoomed in a little more and you can see a lovely little white tail just right of centre. They were loving the weather as much as I was. If you look at the header photo above that is the trail the deer were running on. Of course by the time I hiked across the field to get to the path the deer were long gone.

It's so amazing the difference a coat of green foliage makes!

I was getting VERY tired of grey/brown:

Now there is so much colour everywhere!  

So, if I don't post often just imagine me on my bike with a big smile on my face:

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Major Explosion!!

The earth has erupted in many shades of long last! 
Needless to say I've been hiking and biking along the trails so that
I can capture some of spring's glory. This
is my favourite time of year when the earth 
comes back to life.

Leaves are appearing...

...delicate flowers are blooming everywhere! carpets are so inviting...

...the trails are easier to see!

...the geese are framed by bridge pylons, softening the view...

...the goslings waiting patiently for the "all clear" from mom and dad...

JACK is back! I thought spring wildflowers were much later this year after the long, harsh
winter but when I checked my wildflower journal it was May 3rd last year when
I first saw the jack-in-the-pulpits, so only a difference of 4 days. 
Mother Nature has her ways of catching up!!

After several floods this year I didn't see as many jack-in-the-pulpits but when I had
a good look around I saw a few more here and there, like in the photo below.
No...that's not my beer bottle. I've cleaned up and filled two garbage bags with garbage while
hiking but it looks like I'm not done yet!

Ahhhhh, green glorious green - my favourite colour!!

As you can see I am spending most of my time outside. We've been having
perfect weather - sunny and 22c today. So it's time for lunch and
then I'll be getting back on my bike so I can explore the trails some more.


Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Merry Merry Month of May

The numbers for April are in and they're pretty good:

  • the budget line for gasoline was $60 but I only spent $45 😁 yippee yahoo! Still have about a half tank of gas left. 
  • the budget line for food was set at the usual $280 but I only spent $212 😁
  • Utilities came in under budget by $35 😁
  • Savings per month has risen to $1200 from $1000 which will shorten the amount of time needed to replenish money spent on new car😁 This means a smaller amount of misc spending money but so far so good. 
  • Misc $$ was spent on: two movies- "Game Night" (fairly funny) and "A Quiet Place" (EXCELLENT!!! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!); two albums purchased from iTunes; a Scotland guidebook downloaded to my Kindle App; $55 spent on fundraising dinner; a pair of gloves used in grooming Luna and Lily ($15 on Amazon - they work really well!); a six-pack of craft beer; a couple of pints after volleyball; $65 spent on a spring tuneup and new rear brakes for my bike; $25 spent at Dollarama (but I don't remember what I bought!); $26 for dinner with family at Morrissey House (it was 15% off for women to make up for gender equity issues!); $15 at Walmart for cat food; $25 to The Red Cross
  • Internet bill has risen from $79 to $88  😑
  • Paid income tax 😑
Looking ahead at expenses for May:
  • As it's my birthday month I get to pay the gov't $120 for a new license sticker for my car 😑
  • I will want to purchase flowers for my patio and for the front garden - I'm hoping I can keep my purchases to a reasonable amount - HAH!! That almost NEVER happens - I usually overspend on flowers! πŸ’š
  • I will need to keep misc spending to roughly $90 per week so that I can move $1200 to savings. Done  By the end of 2018 my savings accounts will be back to their pre-car purchase amounts!! 😁 I see several trips in 2019!!!
I have budgeted $45 for gas but I hope to spend ZERO now that I have my bike ready as my main source of transportation in the coming months 😁 Also hoping I can keep grocery spending to a minimum.  In aid of that I received and used a $25.00 gift card from Loblaw's to make up for their bread price fixing scandal. That should get me through to the weekend!! I also have $40 in points that I can use for groceries if need be.

Was April kind or nasty to your monthly budget??

Sunday, April 29, 2018

So Long April

April was more like winter than spring this year; I can't say I'm sad to see it go!
May is my favourite month and not just because my birthday is in May. No.....I love May because the weather is usually crisp and clear, not too hot and not too cold.  The bugs (mosquitos) aren't out in full force yet and the wild flowers are coming into bloom. There is usually more sunshine than rain. I can get out on my bicycle everyday to see what's new...trout lilies, bloodroot, coltsfoot, marsh marigolds, lily of the valley, lilacs etc....

This year we had more rain than usual sometimes getting 2 weeks worth in 2 days. And the river showed it by overflowing its banks not once but twice so far this spring. It made cycling a bit tricky and I often had to turn around and paddle peddle back to shore!
Remember these photos?

The river is now back where it belongs..... (two days later).

 The photo below I took while I was cycling - I'm a bit of a risk taker........CRASH!

One more photo for today - This was on the wall of a vegan restaurant I went to last Sunday for a fundraiser dinner (very yum!!) and the picture gave me a little giggle as it's based on a hip-hop song with the line "everyday I'm hustlin'". Kinda cute.
We had - roasted tomato soup with quinoa croutins and vegan parmesan cheese - excellent!! Then the entree was eggplant with roasted veggies and fresh sprouts and some sort of sauce reduction followed by New York Cheesecake (the crust made of crushed nuts....(not sure what the cheesecake is made out of for it to be vegan).
All washed down with a new local craft beer - Andersons.
There was a raffle and I bought several tickets but didn't win anything but my friend Julie won a bag of coffee beans! Hopefully she'll share :)

Still to come - April's finances.....

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Canada is Losing her Innocence

Just a brief post... memory of the 10 people who were killed yesterday while enjoying the spring sunshine... innocently walking on busy Yonge St. in Toronto. We won't forget you.

...with healing thoughts for 15 people injured on Yonge St. yesterday when a deranged man deliberately drove a rented van down a very busy sidewalk tossing people to the right, left and centre. We pray for your recovery and for your families.

...with great pride for the police officer who didn't return violence with more violence. A peaceful take-down was managed in a frightful situation. Now the perpetrator will have to face his crimes in court and the heavy punishment that will come with them.

...with sadness, for our loss of innocence, some might say naivety. Unfortunately no one is exempt from these "attacks by vehicle".  This is not a gun crime. But it was definitely EVIL.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Back in the Saddle....

You folks know how much I like to ride my bike! The feeling of freedom and the cool breeze on my face while racing along the city's trails...well, it doesn't get much better than that in my book :)

This weekend has seen the best weather we've had so far this year so I've been putting a lot of miles on my bike...and needless to say I have the sore butt to prove it! Nothing but getting back into the saddle again can help with the pain so I'll be heading out again this afternoon for another ride. Here are a few photos from my first ride on Saturday:

I quickly found out that there is still some flooding along the multi-purpose trails...I turned around but not sure what the person on the other side did...can you see him?

The bench was a bit out of my depth but the view is nice :)

There were a number of interesting "sky" features like the "sun dog" below...

What is a Sundog, and How Did “Sundogs” Get Their Name?

Some interesting cloud formations...
 A facebook friend thought the sky was unzipping in the photo below...

...and Kylie....the vulnerable looking leaves of whatever plant this is below have survived the ice, snow and flooding!

So did this lovely mallard duck...!

Today it is going up to 19c - the warmest day so far! My doors and windows are open, I've done some raking and it feels quite warm on my fenced in patio. Warm enough to sit outside and read!! Oh, heavenly days are here again!!