Friday, 31 May 2013

Joyous Spring

I haven't posted for awhile because I've been a busy bee.  I find that my focus is still on enjoying every moment of every day.  I love this time of year as I've mentioned in previous posts because of the new growth and how quickly the gardens change.  My flower beds are filling up with the perennials and are looking full and lush.

As I'm writing this I see a crow in the tree outside my living room window being a nuisance to the blue jays.  What a ruckus!!  The crows have been raiding the nests in the area for the last couple of weeks.  You can always hear when there is a cat or crow in the area as the birds become very vocal.  As I'm writing this the blue jays and the grackles are dive bombing and pecking at the crow.  Now I see another crow across the street eating a small baby robin while the adult is pecking and dive bombing it!  This breaks my heart!  I know it is part of the circle of life and nature but it still is heartbreaking to see.

Despite the sadness of the babies not making it, I still enjoy this time of year.  My vegetable garden is planted with beets, lettuce, spinach, kohlrabi and tomatoes.  I've added to my herb garden this year and planted seeds of oregano and rosemary.  I also transplanted some garlic chives to go along with the existing sage.

My peonies are looking full of buds.  My peonies are a source of pleasure but also a source of sentimental memories.  When I moved into our first home, my mother brought me some parts of her peonies which were originally from my grandmother's farm.  These peonies are not hybrids and have a wonderful aroma which our neighbour has mentioned they enjoy on their patio as the scent wafts over on the breeze.  I look forward to enjoying the scent of the 3 peony bushes that surround my home now.  My purple bearded irises are putting on a wonderful display of  blooms.  My hostas are filling out.  My lavender in my front flowerbed are growing and filling out more each day.  My snow on the mountain is full of white flowers and light foliage which is cascading over the rock edges of the flowerbed.  These combined with the flowerbox of red geraniums and dusty miller are making the front of our home look very attractive.

Puttering in my garden and digging out dandelions from the lawn are activities that I find calming and peaceful.  As I do my gardening "chores" (they're not really chores to me), I listen to the robins, chickadees, blue jays and even the grackles chirp and sing away.  All this is considered part of my leisure time.  Included as part of my leisure time in the last number of weeks is spending time with friends who moved in just around the corner from us.  Yesterday morning I also spent an hour or so with another friend and we played piano duets.  I've missed my friend who I used to play flute and oboe duets on a weekly basis.  We've not been together as regularly for much too long.  I'm hoping that we can get back into the regular routine of playing music together.

So this is what I've been doing in my down time.  I've been continuing to teach my piano students and get them ready for their Spring Recital on June 14 as well as getting a couple of students ready for their piano exams.  I find that the teaching year has flown by very quickly.

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that I've been a "busy bee".  In addition to the teaching and leisure activities, I've managed to fit time in to fundraise for the Relay For Life and organize my team "Cathy Conquers Cancer".  We will be walking/running from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. next Friday/Saturday (June 7/8).  Last year the team raised $7,925.  It looks like we will not reach that goal this year.  I'm a little disappointed but at the same time every little bit helps.  I have to mention that I am so thankful to my family and friends who have donated this year.  So whatever our final amount is, I'm very pleased to be part of adding to the local tally and know that the money raised is helping local support programs and research to this dreadful disease.  In today's paper, I saw statistics that said 41.3% of women will develop cancer and 46.4% of men will develop cancer.  This translates to 2 in 5 Canadians are expected to develop cancer in their lifetime!

I'm so glad to have so much energy again.  Although, I do get tired and it takes longer to recuperate from "busyness".  This is why I'm posting this morning because this is my little bit of a rest before I go out to weed my gardens, run errands, be a mom/taxi, organize the Spring Recital (maybe do some baking for it) and get ready for the Relay next weekend.  I'm so happy that I can enjoy every moment of every day to the absolute fullest.  This also means fully embracing my sleep time as well.

I hope all my friends, family and "blog" friends have a great weekend.  Shamelessly, it's not too late to donate to "Cathy Conquers Cancer" or any of the team members via the following link if you haven't already done so.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Happy Belated Mother's Day

I'm a day late in this post because I enjoyed a busy wonderful weekend away.  I taught until 7 p.m. on Friday night.  The van was already packed and ready to go before I started teaching so that my children and I could all hop in and go.  We were on the road at 7:15.

Not even 30 minutes into the 4 hour drive, we hit major rain.  The wipers were on full blast and not clearing the water.  It lasted like that for an hour! stopped raining but you could see more dark clouds up ahead.  In our 4 hour drive to my brother's home in Kitchener, I drove through copious amounts of rain, some hail, high winds which wanted to throw the van into the lane I was not driving in and fog.  The highway speed is listed at 100 km/hour but the cruising speed of the vehicles on this road is normally 120 km/hour.  On Friday night, the speeds went anywhere from 60 km/hour to 80 km/hour and then in the few dry spells back up to 120 km/hour.  By the time I reached my brother's home at 11:00 p.m., my shoulders and neck muscles were filled with knots and I had a major headache.  My son is able to drive and was willing to take over the driving, but the rain poured down so hard that the wipers couldn't keep up with it, you couldn't see the lanes and you couldn't see the road signs.  There were very few spots where we could have pulled over safely to switch drivers.

I met up with my husband at my brother's house as he had been in the area for business meetings.  I had a brief visit with my sister-in-law before I headed fell into bed.  Saturday was filled with shopping.  Our evening entailed a steak dinner which my brother cooked.  This is the man that swore he would never cook and whose claim to fame was 101 things to do with Kraft Dinner.  He prepared a steak dinner for all of us including my mother.  After dinner, we enjoyed an evening of playing cards.

Yesterday was Mother's Day.  This was the reason for our trip to Kitchener.  My siblings and our families have not been together with just my mom since before my dad died in 1991.  My mom had called us all about 2 weeks ago and told us her plan.  We would all meet at The Falls Inn and Spa in Walter's Falls, Ontario for a Mother's Day Brunch.  So we loaded our van up with 7 people for a 2 hour drive up to the Inn.  En route, we detoured so that we could go by the church that my mom grew up in and got married in near Bognor, Ontario.  I remember attending this church on Sunday mornings as a little girl while visiting my grandparents' farm.  The church closed many, many years ago and is now a bed and breakfast.  Directly across the road was an old abandoned school house.  It is grey and lonely looking.  It still has the bell tower over top the entrance but there is no bell.  This was her elementary school she attended as a little girl.  As we stopped and my husband took pictures, my mom shared a few memories with us.  She told us that there were two older boys who took hold of my uncle and holding onto his feet, dangled him headfirst into the well.  My mom says she remembers my uncle laughing but that she was terrified for him.  As she was describing this event, she pointed at the yard and gave us the approximate location of where the well was.  What was interesting is that the old hand pump was still there although it was overgrown with grass and weeds!

I have forgotten to mention that as we were driving up to Walter's Falls from Kitchener, the wind picked up and snow and sleet started to hit the van.  As my husband was taking pictures of old St. Paul's United Church and the old St. Paul's school, the gale force wind was blowing snow and it was very cold.  After visiting the old school, my mom directed my husband to the old homestead of my great grandparents.  As we drove up the laneway so my husband could again take some pictures, I recognized the house!  I had memories of visiting my great-uncle in the 1970's who had taken over the homestead many years before.  As I sat in our van, I could literally smell the mouth-watering aroma of my great-aunt's kitchen.  The memory that I was reliving was of my grandpa, my dad and I stopping by Uncle Willie's house for something.  As we walked in to the house, you could smell my Aunt Mary's baking.  She was making pies and some were out cooling while others were still baking.  There's nothing like an old farm kitchen with the Franklin wood stove providing the heat along with the smell of homemade pies!!  So now I'm back in 2013 in our van and I'm watching my husband take pictures of the outside of the old farm house.  It's been kept in great shape.  The biting wind is whipping his hair and dress pants as the snow is blowing.  You see, Bognor, Walter's Falls and the area is all set on top of the Niagara Escarpment.  There are high "hills" and deep valleys.  We continued on our way to Walter's Falls.

We arrived at The Falls Inn and Spa just in time for our Mother's Day Brunch reservation time.  When I packed on Friday, we had been enjoying warm Spring temperatures.  I packed a very nice flowing skirt along with a dressy white t-shirt which was covered with a three-quarter length sleeved light jacket.  For my feet, I packed my sandals.  So there I am, climbing out of our van with my very Spring-like ensemble.  My bare feet were blue from cold even though I had wrapped a blanket around my feet for the ride up.  As the side door of the van opened up, the wind whipped my skirt right up into my face just like the old Marilyn Monroe photo except I'm sitting and trying to climb gracefully out of the van.....NOT!  It was rather funny and I'm sure it looked just as funny because there was my brother roaring with laughter...once I got my skirt down from my face.  We went indoors and awaited our turn to be seated.  As we were waiting, my other brother, sister-in-law and my two nephews arrived.  My sister and brother-in-law arrived with my two nieces and my nephew.  They are triplets and are growing up so quickly.  They'll be starting high school in September.  Everyone arrived at just the right moment because the hostess was leading us to our table.  I asked my mom, "How many are we now?"  She promptly and proudly said "16"!!  It was so nice to see my mom so happy.  She was glowing and so proud of having her children and grandchildren all together.

As can only happen in a large family, the noise level increased as we all laughed, teased and talked.  Sometimes amongst the ones right beside us, but other times, raising our voices to "talk" to the other family members at the other end of the very long table.  As we enjoyed the warmth of a delicious Sunday brunch, our table overlooked Walter's Falls.  The Falls Inn is actually built on the location of the original sawmill site.  The view was spectacular!  You could see the rocky hills of the Niagara Escarpment and right outside the window and below was the actual Falls.  As we ate and visited, the wind outside picked up and started sliding the patio chairs around on the patio.  The snow started falling more heavily with big fluffy flakes.  The snow started to accumulate on the ground.  We all enjoyed our meals and the family fellowship.  Before long, it was time to get up and leave.

Oh wait!!!  My mom had my brother-in-law bring along his camera and tripod.  We all congregated in the foyer where there were was a wrought-iron circular staircase.  We set my mom up in a beautiful chair and arranged all 15 of us around her.  Some stood beside her chair, some stood behind her chair and some of us stood on the stairs.  My brother-in-law set up the shot, put on the timer and ran to get in the picture.  He told us to look at the flashing light.  Wait....what flashing light?  So back he goes to the camera to try again.  Take 2 became Take 3 and then 4 and finally Take 5.  The end result was a wonderful family photo!!  My sister is going to get copies made for all of us including our children.  My son has already said that he's going to get his framed and take it with him to university in September.

The bonus part of the day yesterday was that my one nephew's birthday was on Saturday, May 11.  So we went back to my brother's place and shared in the celebration with a birthday cake.  It was a great day and wonderful to see us all together.  My mom was so happy and I enjoyed myself immensely.  Before too long, it was time to pile back into the van for a 2 hour drive back to my other brother's home.  We dropped my mom off.  Originally we were going to just kick drop my brother and sister-in-law off and start our 4 hour trek home.  However, my feet were purple with cold, my legs were cold and I decided to change into jeans, socks and running shoes for the trip home.

I have to say the snow stopped and we had a very good drive home.  We arrived home around midnight and I'm very tired today. Mother's Day was so worth the extra effort and time required.  I can always catch up on sleep.  Today, I'll unpack, teach and do laundry tonight.  I'm hoping I'll have an early bedtime.  It was a great weekend and I can't stop smiling from the memories and stories that were told.  It is so heart-warming to have nieces and nephews who have the same quirky senses of humour.  My one nephew is quiet.  You see a sparkle in his eye and a very slow smile develop as he shares in the family dynamics.  My other nephew is a little louder and enjoys a good laugh.  It was a great day!  So Happy Belated Mother's Day and I hope you enjoyed your day as much as I enjoyed mine.  May it have added some warm memories to your heart.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Beautiful Springtime

The last number of days are the reason that Spring is my favourite season of the year.  In the last week, the trees have bloomed into leafy plants.  I can see the blossoms swelling on my pear trees.  My rhubarb is up and ready to be picked.  I've been enjoying asparagus from my garden as well.  The world is bursting with the various shades of fresh green growth.  Living in the city, the winter snow is often brown with sand and salt.  The grass is brown and the trees are brown as they are all dormant through our winter months.  Once Spring arrives, I love to watch nature awaken as if from a deep sleep.  The squirrels have returned to my yard.  The birdsongs are waking me up at 4:30 or 5:00 a.m.  This year we have a rabbit which tentatively hops into our yard in the early mornings in search of food or just in an effort to explore.  I'm not sure how I feel about the rabbit.  He/she is very cute with the little white cotton tail.  I love to watch it as it hops along and then stands on its hind legs to look around.  It reminds me of a periscope breaking through the water's surface to take a peek around.  After looking around, the rabbit drops down onto its four legs again and sits and sniffs.  I can see the nose wiggling as it tests the air for scents that may indicate food or danger.  Despite enjoying watching the rabbit, I am afraid it may raid my vegetable garden once I get it planted.

I'm getting in the habit of waking in the morning, getting the coffee going, grabbing a cup and the newspaper and enjoying 45 minutes on my patio in the sun.  What a glorious way to start my day.  This time of year tends to get very busy for me and this quiet time helps keep me centred and calm. 

I'm at the time of year where students are getting ready to perform at the year-end recital.  I also am preparing students for their practical exams in June.  Just organizing the recital requires a lot of work.  Of course, this is all my choice.  I put together a program/booklet for the audience.  It includes the order of performances but also biographical notes on each composer that is performed in the recital.  I also provide refreshments for after the recital so that it becomes a send-off party for the students as they end lessons and go on to their summer activities.  So I have a time of baking as I prepare baked goods for approximately 80 people.

I will also be baking to supply baked goods for the bake sale/garage sale that I'm organizing for my Relay For Life team "Cathy Conquers Cancer".  This will take place on the Victoria Day weekend.  So this year, I'm also pulling together items to put in the garage sale as well.

Amongst all this, I will be planting my vegetable garden, picking my rhubarb and freezing some of it as well as using it in my baking.  My husband suggests that I also sell some of it like I did last year to raise money for "Cathy Conquers Cancer".  We also have Mother's Day, my best friend's birthday and my birthday to celebrate in the midst of all this in the next couple of weeks.

I'm not complaining because I'm happy that I'm feeling well enough to tackle all these activities.  However, my days are very full and I am falling into bed much earlier because the body is tired.  So if there is a period of time where I haven't posted, it is because I've been too busy enjoying life to spend time on the computer.  Happy Spring to everyone!!

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Waiting is over!!

We are enjoying a string of beautiful spring days.  As a result, I've been puttering in my garden and working on the weeds.  I've been picking some of my asparagus and enjoying little tastes with my meals.  I've been visiting with friends.  Today I even managed to do some heavy digging in my vegetable garden in order to get it prepared for planting in a few weeks.

In the midst of my busy-ness, I received a telephone call with my results from the CT scan.  Everything is still clear and stable!  I didn't realize how much tension I was carrying in my chest.  When I received this wonderful news, all the tension melted away.  Last night we celebrated my continued remission with my friends that just moved in around the corner.

This morning, my husband mentioned that I didn't look so worried.  There appeared to be an inner peace that wasn't there before.  He's probably right.  You see, now I know that the breathlessness is because I'm out of shape.  Now I know that my voice is not working because of the residual effects of the virus I had in March.  Now I know that the night sweats I'm having are really due to menopause.  Now I know that the fatigue I've been feeling really is because I'm being active, busy and perhaps a little older.

What a relief the results are!  So now I'm back to enjoying my yard, going for walks and planning my summer.  I will continue to fundraise and plan for the Relay For Life.  I will continue to take each and every opportunity to enjoy life!  Bring it on!!

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Waiting some more....

One thing I've learned in the last year is how to wait.  Wait for appointments that are weeks in the future.  Wait for results from those various appointments.  Wait for my energy to return.  Wait Work for changes to take place in my life.

To help me cope with all this waiting, I knit.  I read.  I keep busy.  Last week I had a CT scan done and I feel a little fearful as I wait for the results.  The symptoms are still there that prompted the CT scan to be done.  I'm continuing to try to reassure myself that these are residual symptoms from the virus I had in March.  I'm coping with my fears by knitting.  Over the weekend, I kept busy helping friends move from one house to another.  It was a full weekend as I also attended a wedding.  I'm also keeping busy trying to find ways to motivate my team members to raise funds for the Relay For Life.  I'm also working on raising funds myself.  The funds came in much easier last year than they are this year.  I'm assuming this is because I am one year removed from treatment.  I also look healthy this year.

This week has been busy teaching and planning for my students' year-end recital. I've inputted the information for the order of the program.  I always include short biographies of the composers as program notes in an effort to provide the audience with an opportunity to learn about the various composers whose music is being played at the recital.  These administrative activities have helped keep me distracted as I wait for results from the test.  I need to also start baking as I have always provided juice/water and baked goods at the end of the recital as a little party for the parents and students to mingle before they go off for their summer break.

I'm glad the weather has warmed up because now I can work in my yard which helps keep me distracted but allows me to enjoy the miraculous beauty of nature.  The birds have returned and are singing up a chorus of beautiful music.  We have a rabbit that is visiting the yard this Spring.  I'm not sure how I feel about this because I have found him/her munching on some of the green sprouts and shoots that are working their way up out of the ground.  The physical labour of spreading my compost and pulling weeds is good for my soul.  The next step will be to till the soil and get my vegetable garden ready for planting.

So I keep busy with my teaching and the above activities in an effort to endure the passage of time until I have the results from the CT Scan.

Again, if you wish to support me in the Relay For Life, I'm including the link at the end of this post.  I "relay" in the effort and hope that we can eradicate (or at least increase the odds of cure/survival) so that other families are not decimated and impacted by this horrible, horrible disease.  I've survived but I have lost 3 friends to it this past year.  Please help with a small donation.  Every little bit helps. 

Thank you.