Monday, May 24, 2010

The smells of spring

It has been so hot the last few days that it feels more like summer but nonetheless these are the smells of spring. Most people plant gardens for appearance but I love to plant for fragrance too. The plants are even more fragrant at night when it is too dark to see what they look like so it is double the enjoyment. Obviously the smell most people associate with spring and gardens are lilacs so we will start with that. See how many blooms you get if you prune your lilac after the flowers die? And if it looks good, think of how good it smells!
Obviously the best place to plant fragrant plants is where you will smell them often so this Northern Lights Azalea is right outside my front door.
This is the only "orange" plant in my garden because I am not a big fan of orange but I love the subtle shades.
And last (but it blooms first) is a close up of my Burkwood Viburnum. It is about 8 feet from the front door. It smells heavenly. Not a perfumey overpowering smell just really, really good.
What is your favourite smell of spring?

Monday, May 10, 2010

My Favourite Car - Part 2

You have been very patient waiting for Part 2 - there was a reason you had to wait. My favourite vehicle is my 2004 Dodge Ram. My registration calls the colour red (?) but Chrysler calls it Molten Lava Red. There are lots of reasons I am fond of my truck. Six people can fit in it very comfortably. It is a working vehicle - I use it to haul tools and garden debris 5 days a week. So it has lots of scratches. It is my office too. I often do paperwork in it. I love all the storage under the seats and in the fold down centre seat armrest (which also serves as my desk). All those hiding spots mean my kleenex and wipes (necessary before lunch after a morning of playing in dirt), pens, sunglasses, phone charger, gardening gloves, small tools, sunscreen, bug spray etc all have a home.

I don't like the gas mileage but it is not our primary vehicle. I don't put on a lot of miles driving in our little town. It sucks in snow unless I - well Connor actually - puts lots of sandbags in the bed. It has 20 inch tires (most trucks have 16 or 17 inch). They are not common and therefore more expensive. I bought winter tires in the fall of 2008 and all season tires this spring. They were $1000 a set. Thanks to those expensive tires I use next to no windshield fluid as my windshield is higher than most other vehicles on the road. Does that make up for the extra gas?

Even when I am not working the truck is. It hauls Connor's bike (and usually his friend's bikes) places. It is so much easier than putting on the bike rack. It takes Connor (and friends) snowboarding. I am happy the wet snowboard goes in the bed. It helps people move and drives kids to college. It has made many trips to the dump with construction debris. And it is useful for jumping into snowbanks and holding onto when learning how to unicycle.

Today was a special day for my truck. As I pulled up to Connor's work the odometer hit 99,999 km. On the way home it hit this milestone (ignore the dust remember it is a working vehicle)

and it is now sitting in the driveway showing this:

It is a bittersweet day - I feel I should buy a cake and celebrate. It has been a great vehicle - the only work has been brakes and oil changes but the clock is ticking towards bigger repairs. And she has a little rust spot at the bottom of the tailgate. Sob.

Each of our other vehicles had a purpose and when we sold or outgrew it it was gone without a second thought (except for the Cutlass Ciera - I missed that one). I think this is the first vehicle I would be happy to own again. Though I hope that is many years away.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Some people learn from the mistakes of others. Some people seem to enjoy making the mistakes themselves - over and over. Let's take a little trip down memory lane. Connor got a new bike late August 2009. On August 28th our nephew Dalton was visiting and did this on Connor's studded bike pedals and required 13 stitches.

September 23 Connor did this but didn't need stitches.

Last night Connor did this:
Kevin took him to the hospital. No stitches. In the past when my kids make a mistake they repeat it 3 times. So I expect one more attempt before he learns to wear his shin guards (or succeeds in his quest to better Dalton at the number of stitches).

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

My Favourite Car - Part 1

My first car was a beautiful blue 210 hatchback. There is something special about a first car. We had some interesting times in that car after it carried us from Ontario to Edmonton. It was swallowed by a giant pothole when we stopped at a stop sign during a big storm. Later it was the last in a row of cars that was struck by a fire truck while we were in watching a movie with friends at the theatre. Both accidents occurred when we were not moving.

We bought an ancient Dodge Crew Cab from a co-worker of mine and sold Kevin's little Mazda truck. When we were unexpectedly posted to Goose Bay months later we sold it back to the original owner (he even paid for all the repairs we had put into it!) Then we traded in my car and bought a Nissan King cab - a beautiful bronze colour. Then we had twins. Guess what - you can't put 2 car seats in a vehicle with jump seats. So we bought an old Ford Granada which served us faithfully for the remaining 2 years in "the Goose".

Then we traded in the Nissan for a 1979 Chev Blazer. The Blazer is the only vehicle we took with us when we moved to Portage la Prairie in 1989. Then it came with us to Edmonton 4 years later. The Blazer took an intense dislike to me (handles and controls would break off in my hands and it wouldn't start). When I was pregnant with Connor we sold it because we needed another seat (again). 4 massive guys showed up to pick it up one Saturday. We had owned it for 9 years.

While in Portage we acquired an old, old van and started to rebuild it. It took us to the mountains and back with no problems. I can't remember why we sold it but we bought a silver 1989 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera. That was a great car. It went with us from Portage to Edmonton then to Gagetown, NB. A little squishy once Connor was born but doable. By the time we were posted from Gagetown the Ciera had almost 300,000 km on it and we scrapped it.

The Blazer was replaced by a Chev Beauville van (12 passenger). We had nothing but trouble with it. The windshield leaked, it stalled constantly and took years to figure out why. We did manage to make it from Edmonton to New Brunswick successfully then it had a tree fall on it in a thunderstorm while parked in our driveway and was repaired only to collide with a telephone pole and be written off. It was replaced with a 1997 GMC Safari. We moved to Ontario with only one vehicle. We didn't buy another for more than 6 months when we got a little commuter Saturn for Kevin and I drove the van (instead of walking everywhere). The Saturn was rear ended a few years later when we were pulled over on the side of the road (4th accident when we were not moving) and we bought a 2003 Ford Escape. When I started gardening it was difficult to use the Safari. The van was always full of spiders and smelled of rotting garden materials. We had to put the seats in and out constantly and vacuum the vehicle every week. The mileage was pushing 300,000 and it was not very reliable, the carpet was soaked with fluid from the rear heater, most of the doors were not working and one of the tires needed air every few days. When Kevin wanted to buy another canoe, I told him I would buy a truck if he bought the canoe. He did and I did.

If you followed all of that I am most impressed. I couldn't find a better way to document our vehicles and they overlap a lot. I wish I had pictures but I am too lazy to find them and scan them.

So which is my favourite? Whichever one I have at the time (except the Blazer - it was never my favourite - even when it was the only one). My first car I loved because it was a sign of adulthood and independence. The Nissan King Cab was so new and shiny and represented a move we were really looking forward too. I just really liked the Ciera and can't explain why. All the vans I loved because they could haul our kids spread out enough to limit fighting, had room for the dog and could pull a trailer. I loved the Saturn for it's low operating costs (remember for years we had driven full size vans). Funny that we never really owned or wanted a mini-van. For many it is an unwritten law - have kids, get mini-van. I like the SUV because it is easy to get in and out of but still economical (but it has cost us a lot of money lately). And my truck - I love my truck - but you'll have to wait a day or two for Part 2.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Niagara Falls

Tori and I and her Dutch roomie spent 3 busy days in Niagara Falls. We had a great time and saw lots of attractions.
Tori and Jellien (ya/lean) enjoying some downtime.

The Laura Secord Homestead was closed so all we could do was peak in the windows. We also accidentally discovered her grave and it and the whole cemetery was in disrepair. It was a little disheartening that the history of the area is being forgotten while the shopping and casinos are promoted.

It is amazing how similar the girls look. Everyone understandably thought they were both my daughters. If Tori hadn't dyed her hair brown everyone would have thought they were twins. I can only post 5 pictures at a time so keep going for more pictures.
The girls kept getting in trouble.

We hiked down the 300 or so steps to the Whirlpool.

And of course we saw the falls.

We met lots of famous people.

We saw lots of pretty flowers!

And we saw lots of butterflies.

On Friday Kevin took the girls canoeing while I went to work then we had a picnic on the beach. Then Kevin and the girls raced of to the Drive-In (they don't have Drive-Ins in Holland). We packed a lot of activity and scenery into 4 days! We took Jellien to the airport yesterday to meet her parents. She was very excited to see them after 4 months. They are going to spend a month touring Eastern Canada and possibly the states before returning to Holland.