Summer Blooms

Leigh’s garden in the previous post is beautiful and inspiring – I’m afraid mine pales in comparison! I have a small yard, and I don’t seem to have much time for gardening, plus it’s been too hot lately to spend a lot of time outside.

Thankfully, I have a few trusty perennials that don’t require much care. It gives my spirits a lift to see them bloom in vibrant colours every year.

Here are a few of my lovely summer flowers.

Campanula (Bellflowers)
Daylily
Possibly mock orange?
Peony

Spring is Finally Here

It’s a beautiful Victoria Day here in Ottawa. Going outside to bask in the warm sunshine makes this weird and scary time seem a little more tolerable. A day like today has a way of bolstering my hope for a better tomorrow.  I’ve been in the yard preparing my little garden for planting with a nice layer of compost. The tomato and sweet pepper plants that I planted from seed indoors are readytomato to go. periwinkle

It’s always a thrill when the first flowers of spring appear. Usually my irises are in bloom by now, but they are late this year. I’ve got peonies, hostas, lilies, roses and hydrangea emerging from their winter slumber in my front yard, but nothing blooming yet.

 

But I went around the side of the house today and discovered these lovely little flowers, which I think are periwinkle. I love them.

I hope the day is beautiful wherever you are.

Mother’s Day

legs

I was able to see my mom briefly this Mother’s Day (from a distance of 6 feet), but I was sad that I couldn’t give her a hug. Still, I’m happy that she’s healthy. I will do what it takes to keep it that way so I can hug her whenever it becomes safe to do so. Usually I take her out to lunch for Mother’s Day. She’ll have to take a rain check this year. (She did make me an apple pie, though.)

Although I don’t see much of her these days, Mom is only a phone call away. She’s always there for me, to listen and support me, no matter what.

I hope Mom knows I appreciate everything she’s done for me over the years. The birthday parties with money cakes and Bristol board hats; her special cheese bunnies, homemade spaghetti sauce, enchiladas, and cherry cheesecakes that still make my mouth water; the hours she spent giving me perms all through the 1980s; all the Halloween costumes, and later, the beautiful prom dress she made for me. I would have been lost without all her help with my babies when they were little. And so many other things that are too numerous to mention.

Mother’s Day was low-key this year, but I’m grateful my kids are well and I had them with me (just as they have been with me all day, every day for over 6 weeks!). They made me cards and served me breakfast, and I got lots of hugs (and some chocolates). This is a weird and difficult time, but I feel loved and blessed to have family around me.

Looking Forward to 2020

back yard

I’m sitting here in my dining room in the aftermath of a snowstorm, realizing as I look out at the thick layer of snow outside that there’s something like 10 weeks until I’ll see grass again. It’s bleak. But that’s okay – instead of letting the weather get me down, I’m thinking about the things I’m looking forward to this year. Simple things, mostly; I don’t have any grand plans or life-changing goals.

Writing: I’ve plotted out a Christmas story that I might be able to get done for the fall if I can find the time to do it.

Editing: It’s work, but I enjoy it. I’m lucky because the authors I work with are awesome, and I look forward to working on the new stories they come up with.

My dad’s 80th birthday: Don’t tell him, but I’m already working on my speech for his party in March. I hate giving speeches, but I love my dad to bits, and he deserves to be celebrated.

My fave TV shows returning: Outlander, Stranger Things, Killing Eve, The Crown, Dead to Me… After reading all day in my day job and then doing freelance work in the evening, I love to lose myself in the next chapters of these stories I’ve been following – especially if I’ve had a bad day and I need to just veg out.

Summer vacation: It’s not Disney World, but we might take the kids to Canada’s Wonderland in Toronto this year. I think they’ll go crazy for the rides and the water park. I always enjoy creating special memories for my girls, and we don’t have to go far away or spend a ton of money to do that.

What simple things are you looking forward to in 2020?

 

Look What I Found in My Closet

collectibles

A long time ago, before I had kids, I had a lot more time on my hands (and a bit more money) to devote to my hobbies. Back when I met my husband, 20+ years ago, we were both deeply into 1960s music. I went to memorabilia shows and bought vintage collectibles related to my favourite classic bands, the Beatles and the Monkees.

Here is most of my collection – trading cards, magazines, postage stamps, buttons, cake toppers, a record case, etc. My favourites are the adorable Monkees finger puppets. (There was no Peter Tork puppet, since he’d left the band by then; I ended up with two Mickys since one of them had boots and the other had a complete necklace.) Eventually, I put everything in a box and stashed it in my closet. I sort of forgot about it until recently. I probably won’t add any more to it, but I still think it’s groovy.

Do you have a favourite collection, from the past or present?

Happy Birthday, Dad

Today is my dad’s 79th birthday. He’s almost and octogenarian, but I certainly don’t think of him as elderly. He still has that sharp physicist’s mind and he hasn’t slowed down – he hikes, canoes and camps in the summer and skis in the winter, and he goes to the local climbing gym every week. He looks after my kids often and bounces on the backyard trampoline with them. He’s all kinds of amazing.img063

Dad’s birthday is on St. Patrick’s Day, so when I was a kid, we would usually make him a green birthday cake. My sister and I would cut out leprechauns, tape them to metal skewers and use them as cake decorations. Here’s a photo from about 1975. I’m the cutie on the right.

All these years later, I’m so blessed to still have my wonderful dad around to talk to or see just about every day. Hope your birthday is awesome, Dad! You’re the best.

Happy Family Day

snowsuitToday is Family Day here in Ontario. Family Day takes place on the third Monday of February. It’s also observed in New Brunswick, Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia; it’s called Islander Day in PEI, Louis Riel Day in Manitoba, and Nova Scotia Heritage Day in (you guessed it) Nova Scotia. Most of us in the private sector get the day off, but federal workers don’t. Banks and most stores are closed.

It’s a fairly new holiday. It all started in 1990 in Alberta, when Premier Don Getty created a February holiday so Albertans could spend time with their families. The date was chosen to coincide with Washington’s Birthday, to avoid disrupting trade with the United States. Over the years, other provinces adopted the holiday – often as a campaign promise at election time, as happened in Ontario in 2008.

Before that, there was no public holiday between New Year’s Day and Good Friday, which was a mighty long three-month gap filled with a whole lot of winter. The real value of Family Day is that it gives us something to look forward to at the point in the season when we’re fed up with the snow and cold and aren’t sure we can take much more.

If the weather cooperates, a good use of the day off is to enjoy winter activities with your family, such as skating, skiing, sledding or snowman building. If you find it too cold to hang around outside, museums and art galleries are open. Or just putting on a fire and playing board games with the kids sounds good to me!

If today is a holiday where you live, what will you be doing?

Small Goals

To Do ListIt’s a brand new year, a time when people traditionally make resolutions to do things better. But how many people actually keep their resolutions? It’s too easy to slip back into old habits. And maybe January isn’t the best time to try, for instance, cutting back on junk food – especially up here in Canada, where, let’s face it, it takes a lot of chocolate to get through the three months of frigid weather, windshield scraping and snow shoveling ahead!

For me, the key to reaching my goals is small steps. Large goals like “lose ten pounds” or “write a novel in three months” are too much. I break my goals into manageable chucks, write them down and consult my list as I go. I might only be able to write two chapters of my novel per month, but if I keep that modest target in mind, by the end of the year I’ll have a completed manuscript. Since I have so little free time during the week and have to make up for it on weekends, it helps to break those days into hours and plan what I need to get done. I don’t usually achieve everything on my list, and I beat myself up when tasks are left over at the end of the day (or week).

I suppose my New Year’s resolution should be to sit back and look at my list of accomplishments, small as they may be, and give myself a pat on the back for doing the best I can.

May 2019 bring you peace, happiness and wonderful surprises.

I Can’t Blog Today

Here’s why. Friday evening, I was carrying a load of laundry down the stairs when I slipped and landed hard on my bottom. I felt the impact travel up my spine to the base of my skull. After sitting on the step, whimpering in shock and pain for a mInjured female employee working in the officeinute or so, I got up and carried on. But I suppose my body isn’t as resilient as it used to be. I woke up Saturday with an aching neck and shoulders. Still, I didn’t want it to slow me down. I went with my family to a Christmas bazaar at our local Orthodox church, but before long I felt dizzy and had to sit down for a while. (Those Russian ladies were so friendly and sweet, offering me tea and asking if I needed anything.) Thankfully, the dizziness went away, and I decided what I really needed was rest.

When I got home, I curled up and watched Bridget Jones’s Baby. (Funny movie! I recommend it.) I’m not used to sitting around on weekends and I can’t really relax. I hate not being productive and knowing I’m falling behind in my to-do list. I had shopping, cleaning and baking to do, as well as editing for clients and a bit of research and writing for myself. I had trouble sleeping and ended up watching Iron Man in the middle of the night (not quite the right thing for putting you to sleep, I’ll admit).

So I slept in way too late on Sunday, putting me even further behind in everything, but I was still too sore, stiff and tired to accomplish a lot. I’m sure I’ll be fine in a few days. Who knew that falling on your rump could be such a pain in the neck! So that’s why I have no time for blogging today.

Oh, wait, look at that – I blogged!

You’re Never Too Old for Halloween

My kids love dressing up for Halloween. I must admit that I do too, especially when Halloween falls on a weekday and people come to the office (my day job) dressed up in all sorts of elaborate and imaginative costumes. There are many great ready-made costumes available, but I find it a fun and satisfying challenge to put together a costume from scratch (and pay a lot less for it).

This year’s costume has been months in the making. Back in the spring, I came home after a haircut and my daughter told me I looked like a certain character from one of the TV shows she watches. (Hint: I have bobbed brown hair and glasses.) So I decided right then that I should dress as this character for Halloween. image3

Every time I went to Value Village over the spring and summer, I searched for the required pieces to the costume. I first found the red shoes ($6.50) and then the red pleated skirt ($10). It took some time to find the perfect orange turtleneck sweater, and I was thrilled when I finally spotted it among the fall arrivals in September ($4). It’s surprisingly difficult to find orange knee socks, but they had some at Party Mart in their Halloween section ($6). Add a large magnifying glass (borrowed from the kids), and I’m all done.

Can you guess who I’ll be for Halloween?

How about you?