Monday, December 27, 2010


This year, for the first time, we went down to New York to spend Christmas with my sister and her family. The trip both ways was uneventful and the weather was great. We had a wonderful time. We swam in the hotel pool and played lots and lots of games. You have never seen anything like my dad playing charades or Mad Gab. His facial expressions, gestures and accents had us laughing so hard! The video won't load or I would share it with you.

We went out to their favourite Chinese buffet. Lynda told them it was Alec's birthday and the staff came out and sang to him. They gave him a cake surrounded by swans made from oranges and some vegetables. And they gave him a pretty bouquet of suckers.

Lynda read us a bedtime story Christmas Eve.


Kevin got a new camera - waterproof, shockproof and freezeproof - great for all his hobbies. I got a pass to the nordic centre 2 blocks away.

Last time I visited my parents I noticed my mom was still wearing my grandmother's apron. She died more than 28 years ago and it was old then. I decided to make her a new apron and here she is opening it and modelling it.

Connor does not like clothes. He wears the same 3 shirts in rotation even though he has a drawer full of different ones. Part of the reason he chose the Catholic high school was so he didn't have to think about what to wear - they have a uniform. I bought him this "dress" shirt to help him out on Sundays.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Still Digging Out

The last few days have been beautiful. Warm and just a dusting of snow and enough sun to start melting the snow where there were little bits of pavement showing. Good thing I didn't have to shovel much. My hand started spasming after a few minutes of shoveling yesterday. And every muscle in my body is still recovering. You don't realize how much of your body is involved in shoveling until you overdo it. And amazingly Connor hurts in the same spots!

Wasaga Beach has borrowed plows, giant snow blowers, graders and front end loaders from 4! other towns and townships to finish the clean up. As I write this at 10 pm they are still working in our neighbourhood clearing the roads. They have been here for more than 10 hours. There are still some of the small "cottage" lanes that haven't seen a plow for more than a week because the drifts are 10 feet tall and they had to wait for the giant snow blowers to deal with it. Much of our main street is still single laned while they try to figure out where to put all the snow they need to remove. They figure it will take another 5 days before things are back to normal (unless we get more snow!) We don't have to dream of a White Christmas. And I don't want to hear "Let it Snow".

The three days we were housebound felt like I was living in another time - you know like the Ingalls family in The Long Winter. Cabin Fever was settling in quickly, I don't know how pioneers made it through months of isolation and confinement. And we had phone and internet to help us "escape". We were fine for food but I did call friends I knew were more trapped than us. One ran out of bread (and flour), the other was out of cat food. It must have been extremely difficult to plan for 5 or so months. We are so lucky to live in this country at this time.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

At one point today Connor just fell backwards into the snowbank. Thankfully it is light, dry snow so there was a big whoosh of powder and he practically disappeared.

I took this just to give you an idea how high our snowbanks are. Marcus is 6 foot 3 inches. I ache everywhere from throwing the snow over my shoulders for hours.

Shasta playing "King of the Castle". Usually we don't let her off leash in the front because she is very unpredictable. Between the deep snow and the ice on or driveway she can't travel very far or very fast so she is enjoying a lot of freedom.

A Common Sight Today

We live on a corner. Every time I came in this morning I didn't even have time to get my boots off before another vehicle was stuck in the intersection. Believe me it was tempting just to leave them there since the police were telling everyone to stay off the roads and no plows had been through. That was because the plow was stuck down the road.

Usually one vehicle would get stuck, block the others and before you knew it there was a real mess. There were 4 other vehicles stuck within a few driveways at the same time I took the shot below.
This little car was stuck down the road when the first picture was taken. After he was freed he tried to turn when we were all yelling for him to keep going straight. We had freed the burgundy Ford by this point but he could only go a few cars lengths because another vehicle was stuck a few driveways down. The Ford was blocking the road to the right so I have no idea where this man was trying to go. You can still see the hood of the white van. He was there for well over an hour before being snowblowed out.
Then a bus got stuck. Why the bus was on the road on a snow day in the first place was beyond me. This contractor's truck tried to push the bus to no avail. Connor and Marcus and another stopped driver pushed the truck back, then they all pushed the bus forward. The truck got out on it's own as did the other two vehicles shown in the bottom picture.

Usually I have "fairweather" neighbours (I don't see them from first snow until spring thaw) but this storm brought everyone out to help. David across the road blew out our driveway. Then we freed 20 or more vehicles. The contractor (I don't know him as he has only lived here a short time) went to the gas station to pick up some gas for an elderly neighbour's snow blower. People gave each other sand, shovels and gloves as needed. I really was appreciative of the way everyone worked together.

What a Day!

I woke up at 6 and took a peek outside. The first thing I saw was our bbq. From the amount of snow on top of it I determined it was yet another snow day. Clever, huh? I was outside shoveling by 6:30. The doors barely opened and the dogs needed to pee.You can see how deep the snow is when 60 pound dogs disappear. Here they are searching for treats I threw in the snow. It keeps them busy (and quiet) while I shovel.

A few more shots to show the depth of the snow. My truck looks like a super-raised monster truck and the snow is up past my knees.

Yes, I know we Canadians should expect snow. I have lived through many big storms but I have never seen so much for so long. Usually you get a break between big storms or shovel a few inches a day, not feet every day for weeks. Remember I have lived in Alberta, Manitoba and Labrador, the latter noted for record snow falls.

When I went in, I finished this puzzle while I was waiting for breakfast.

Boo Hoo!!!

More later, but the buses are off the road for the sixth day in two weeks, the Base is on minimum manning, many local roads are still closed by the OPP and we got at least another 19 inches of snow between midnight and 6 am.

I will post again, but right now I have to shovel out the back doorway so the dogs can get out onto the deck which is covered with 3 feet plus of snow - so they can find the ramp down to take care of business.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Digging Out

I have always enjoyed snow days (when the buses are cancelled but schools are generally still open). They were like a gift of time. All your plans, all the things you felt had to be done were put on hold. After the shoveling was done, the whole day was fun. We would play in the snow, play board games, bake - just spend time together. We usually have one or two snow days a year. One year the last day of school before Christmas break and the first scheduled day back were snow days and the kids enjoyed an extra long break.
For those of you who don't live in the beautiful Georgian Triangle and don't follow our news I thought I would update you on our last week or so. In the 10 years we have lived here we have never experienced anything like this. We have had 5 and 6 week stretches where it snows an inch or two a day but not 6 inches or more a day.
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday - all Snow Days. Over the 3 days a variety of closures occurred. Georgian college was closed several days. Our town buses were taken off the road early. One of the schools was closed because the doors were drifted over. The Honda plant cancelled a shift (first time I remember). The base was pretty much closed because the plows couldn't keep up with the snowfall. Again, that was a first. Connor spent most of his time at the toboggan hill. Areas south of us had more snow - I feel sorry for them.
Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday - still snowing but activities back to normal.
Monday - Snow Day again and colder. Winds caused several road closures and Kevin had to take a very circuitous route home from work.
Tuesday - Buses cancelled. Schools all closed. Many roads closed. Production line at Honda cancelled because the parts they are waiting for can't get through. Township plows have been pulled off the roads. Poor visibility and many cars stuck. And - the real clincher that explains how bad things are here - Blue Mountain is closed! We are getting off easy compared to our western neighbours. But tomorrow looks the same!
I am not looking forward to going to shovel today. There is a wicked windchill and blowing snow. Part of the driveway has snowbanks too high for me to throw on top of anymore so I have to move it down the drive. It isn't even winter yet! Where are we going to put the snow for the next 3 months? I have had enough snow days. I have cleaned the whole house and used all the butter so I can't bake anything else. I am waiting for 4 parcels that are held up somewhere because of the weather much of central North America is experiencing. Enough already!

Monday, December 6, 2010

A walk in the Woods

My sister came up from New York on the American Thanksgiving weekend. We went for a walk Saturday afternoon. This is actually the cross country ski centre 2 blocks from our house and is now out of bounds for walking now since we have received a major amount of snow in the last 2 days with more to come. Now you can see faces! Emily, (niece), Lynda (sister) and Amanda (friend and dogwalker) are on the trail. The green speck in the woods on the left is Connor.
Here we are at the shelter. Why is everyone looking up?

Because Connor is on the roof. Why? Because it was there. Are you noticing a theme here? This boy has major issues with boundaries.

But underneath all that rebel exterior there is a little angel.

Friday, December 3, 2010

My son, the artist

Connor has learned a very impressive skill from my dad. He makes flowers. This is highly useful in restaurants when you are bored while waiting for your food to arrive. Before attempting this yourself you must be prepared to drink a lot of coffee or have several little ones with you who are willing to drink the milk and cream.

Does anyone need step by step instructions?

Getting caught up

I have been very remiss in my blogging. Now that the yard is blanketed in snow I can get caught up on the last month. To add a little colour to your white world today here is my last garden pictures for 2010.

This year I planted very colourful vegetables. These are Purple Haze carrots

and "blue" potatoes.
I turned this colourful bowl of vegetables and parsley

into lots and lots of freezer salsa.
I also grew little purple eggplants. This one is Hagar.

We went apple picking. Just Kevin and I. It isn't nearly as much fun without a crowd of kids and family. The apples this year were amazing. I have never seen so many giant apples.I made an amazing pumpkin trifle. Mmm!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Newfie Night

A few weeks ago I heard that a local church was having a fundraiser for our new youth centre. The senior pastor and the youth pastor are both from Newfoundland. Since my dad has always loved Newfie music and humour and my parents toured Newfoundland years ago and loved it, I invited them. And I invited Kevin's mom because she wants to go on a bus tour in the spring. They served 125 people last year and turned away 40. This year they rented the RecPlex - big enough for 250 and it was packed.

When we arrived we went to the sample tables and had squid rings (like eating rubber), Fish'n Brewis (not bad), fish cakes (not bad), cod tongues (chewy), cod cheeks (pretty good) and Newfie Steak (fried bologna). The buffet meal was roast beef, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, turnip and pease pudding and salt beef. Good as well. The dessert was partridge berry pudding with lemon sauce. The skits were good and there was a 15 year old fiddler who step danced later and Highland dancers.

The end of the evening was a "sacred" ceremony called screeching in. This involves drinking screech and kissing a cod. In order to be screeched in people had to cough up $20 to nominate you. My loving family and "friends" did so behind my back and as the ringleader tried to drag me up to the stage, the "cod cops" told her she had been picked as well. Ah - sweet justice - she suffered with me. Since it was run by a church our screech was purity syrup. It was like drinking red sugar water - gross. Then I kissed the cod and became an honorary newfie. My parents were screeched in on their tour. Kevin was screeched in at the mess when we lived in Labrador (using coca-cola since we don't drink). How many of you have had the pleasure of becoming an honorary newfie?

I won a jar of partridgeberry jam as a door prize and also a dining package in the silent auction. And I got to keep the ball cap I was screeched in wearing. We had a great time and hope to go again next year.

Friday, October 22, 2010

What I woke up to

Three or four inches of snow!! We were told to expect some wet snow but this is crazy. We had to shovel and the plows came around!

This is a lilac bush. There was a fair number of broken trees around and you can see why.

And here is a before and after of the corner garden. In the first shot you wouldn't even recognize the standard hydrangea. Two hours later it has emerged from it's snow cocoon. In both shots the spireas and potentillas are flattened by the snow's weight.

Here is a shot of my Bridalwreath spireas that are taller than I am. The branches are just beginning to free themselves. They are coming up one at a time like little catapults.
Not only were we shocked by the snow, there was a town wide power outage from about 7 until 8. Just as everybody was trying to get out the door! There wasn't much I could do in the garden so I didn't meander into work until 10:30. It was actually warm and I enjoyed working in the snow.

What about you? Did you get snow?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Miss me?

I wish I had a great excuse for not blogging - like a tropical vacation - but nothing so exciting. My laptop was out of commission for 3 weeks and I have been very busy at work. This is the most exciting thing I have done lately - the fall activities at Brooks Farms when we went down to my sister's in Newmarket. Can you identify the 3 aliens?

If you guessed Connor, me and Alec you are right! Isn't Connor the cutest little alien pig you have ever seen? I am still confused about the connection between corn, pumpkins and aliens so I can't enlighten you. We were very happy to have Alec home with us for Thanksgiving when he was sent on a last minute course to Kingston. Here's a few more pics of me and the boys.

And my niece exhibiting her amazing zip-line technique!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cat Sandwich

She might have been happier tied up in blind cords.

Cat's Cradle

Monday, September 13, 2010

Spending Time with Earl and Dan and Dorothy

For the last few days of our trip the airwaves were full of talk about Hurricane Earl. The category one hurricane was supposed to be centered over Sackville at the time we planned to leave. We had limited tv and internet access so it was very difficult to know exactly what was coming.

We had a hard time deciding what to do. Stay and hope for the best? Desert Tori and the roomates? Her landlord is a firefighter and reassured us that Sackville was well equipped to weather the storm. The town is high and the tide was going to be out. The water is gravity fed so it wouldn't be affected. We were a little concerned that both front and back lawns were covered in lumber because he is in the middle of rebuilding both entrance decks. One of the roomates boyfriends couldn't understand what we were worried about. He spent most of his life in Mauritius where they get spinoff tornados several times a year. But we don't so it was a big deal. I remember my dad's stories about Hurricane Hazel. Kevin's aunt is still traumatized by Hazel. It is not something we deal with often in Canada. The internet worked for a few hours so we could start looking for hotels out of the danger zone. They were all booked already by people more decisive than us. The one we found had been increased 60% so we decided to stay and leave early in the morning and race Earl. Then my boss' husband called. His daughter also lives in Sackville (small world) and he spent 3 years counselling Hurricane Katrina survivors and he was very concerned. At that point there wasn't much we could do. We had nowhere to go and it was 5 pm.

The next morning we got up at 5 and were out the door at 5:45. Shortly before we left I glanced out the window. I was startled to see a big cat. I had hoped most pets had taken in. Then I realized how BIG a cat it was. I was thinking it was a bobcat then it turned and I got a good look at it's tail. It was a cougar, meandering down the main street of town. It was about the size of my dogs so not full grown. I figure it is a baby from this spring just cut loose and trying to find it's way in the world. This is undoubtedly something I will never forget.

The drive to Oromocto was eerily quiet. We only saw two other cars in the first 2 hours. We arrived in Oromocto just before 8. We had intended to visit friends on the way to Sackville but we were late (sorting out Tori's financing). We didn't call so they weren't expecting us. We cruised by their house and saw a light on so knocked and surprised them at breakfast. Here is Dan and Dorothy.
We have known them since Caitlin and Alec were born. Dan (he's the one on the left) was a helicopter mechanic at the Search and Rescue flight were Kevin was and Dorothy and I hit it off at the twin's shower. We had two years together in Goose Bay, then encountered them again when we lived in NB. Dan became our car and small engine mechanic (he can fix anything and makes awesome first beds for all the grandkids). Connor loved playing at Dorothy's when he was a toddler. Dorothy makes amazing quilts to grace the beds Dan makes. We have met all their children and grandchildren. It was good to see them after 10 years. But remember we were racing a hurricane and didn't have time to dilly dally. Off to Edmundston, near the border of Quebec, where we had tried to seek refuge the night before. Surprise - the worst weather was in Edmundston. The forecast had been 50-70 mm rain in Sackville, 40-50 in Fredricton and 20-40 in Edmundston. It turned out to be exactly backwards (Oh, I love weathermen!). The rain was very heavy here. It was the only place we had to slow down and we saw a car that hydroplaned into the guardrail.

The rest of the drive was uneventful, just long. We hate driving through Montreal. We had 3 maps and none of them had highway numbers that matched the actual road signs. We had supper in Brockville at 9. We got home about 2:30 after 20 hours of driving. That is a new record for us. We used to drive straight from Oromocto to Newmarket but we have set a new record. And Kevin did all the driving. I read. The kids slept.

The End

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sackville is almost a town time forgot. It is centred around the old stone university buildings and a quaint main street. And of course there is a rustic train station.And there is a huge waterfowl park with a maze of boardwalks.

Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion of our trip tomorrow.