Monday, October 31, 2011

Colorful Drive

The five-hour drive...

... between Ottawa and Toronto...

... seems shorter...

... now that the leaves are changing color.

As scenes fly by, I snap pictures...

... trying (inadequately) to capture...

breathtaking moments!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Finding Joy in Everyday Tasks

I need regular doses of "excitement" in my life - a new (inspirational) quilting project, a drive in the country to see something "new." When I was teaching, sometimes I would just put away my lesson plan and try something different. (Sometimes the class liked it - at other times, they would wonder why I had veered from the predictable path: "Turn to page 56...") I was doing it for myself, to add some zest to my day - and I hoped they would find the change fun and useful, too.

But I recently read, in an excerpt of a book by Kathleen Norris, some words that made me realize - again - that daily life is where our character and relationships develop, where trust grows, where ideas form:

"We want life to have meaning, we want fulfillment, healing and even ecstasy, but the human paradox is that we find these things by starting where we are, not where we wish we were. We must look for blessings to come from unlikely, everyday places... and not in spectacular events..."

She also comments that in her life, "what seemed like 'dead time' was actually a period of gestation."

That doesn't mean that I don't need the joy of new (inspirational) quilting projects - or drives out of town to broaden my world... But that I should appreciate my mundane, everyday tasks. And maybe, as Kathleen Norris suggests, I should even view even washing dishes, not as drudgery, but as an opportunity to think and reflect - and perhaps even, like a child enjoying a sink full of soap and water... a time for "play."

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Morning Walk

I'm trying to walk more..

Yesterday's walk had a new dimension: FROST

As I walked through the college grounds near my home, I noticed...

... flaming-red leaves...

... a plastic dome covering the soccer field...

... and FROST everywhere!

No point in complaining:

This is Canada!

(Time to pull out the hat and gloves!)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Not Ready For This!

I enjoy the colors of the season - leaves turning red and yellow...

But what's this?!

They have already put up the boards - the wall - for the park's OUTDOOR SKATING RINK?!

I'm definitely not ready for that!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Frozen Cookie Dough

I baked more when my children lived at home. Homemade cinnamon buns, cakes and cookies didn't last long with five people around to gobble them up!

Now I am reluctant to bake - as I know I'd eat most of it by myself. But I recently discovered a way to have fresh cookies around - fewer... for longer... by FREEZING THE DOUGH BEFORE BAKING IT.

I made a batch of whole wheat peanut butter cookies from this Canadian Living website.

(As usual I modified the recipe somewhat - substituting a small amount of soy flour, wheat germ and psyllium for some of the whole wheat flour - roughly a tablespoon of each in each cup of flour. The resulting mixture was a little dryer than usual, so I added a few tablespoons of water to make it stick together.)

I then rolled the cookie dough into balls - and froze it.

Later, when I wanted a few cookies, I simply put a few balls of dough on a pan. When they had thawed, I flattened them and baked them...

It's nice to know that fresh cookies are only about 15 minutes away... when a friend drops by... or a cookie craving comes! (My plan is to expand my repertoire by freezing oatmeal chocolate chip cookie dough next.)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

African Violets

" The best things in life are free..." (Title of a 1956 musical and hit song of my childhood.)

These African violets were re-gifted by a neighbor, who didn't want to be bothered looking after flowers...

I am so thankful she re-gifted them!! Today I noticed them from outdoors... an angle I rarely see.

Beautiful from every angle! Sunshine and flowers have the "gift" of brightening my day any time of the year!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

How to "Eat an Elephant"... (Or Finish a Quilt)

I often think of the riddle: How do you eat an elephant?

Answer: One bite at a time.

I think of it, not in terms of eating, but in terms of completing any large project... like a quilt!

I love quilting - creating a design with fabric! And I enjoy making LARGE quilts (rather than wall hangings)! I always begin with great enthusiasm, anxious to see my idea take shape... It's fun... for a while. But eventually I get bogged down in the enormity of the task. Making a quilt (like cleaning a house or creating a garden) involves a lot of time, a lot of steps... It's not instant gratification!

For me, the hand quilting part is the most tedious... So when I finally pieced my latest pinwheel quilt and put it on a frame, it stayed there, untouched, for months. I'd look at it... and leave: The task seemed overwhelming!

Impatient to start a new quilt... (Starting is never a problem!)... I promised myself that I wouldn't begin a new one until I had finished this one. So few weeks ago, I decided to quilt "just 4 threads a day." Every day I threaded four needles with approximately 2 meters of thread... and every evening before heading for bed, I made sure I had quilted them.

Before I knew it, I was done! The secret? Breaking the task into manageable "bites."

Last night I had the joy of removing the quilt from the frame!

(Well, I'm not really done: I still have to add a border... But I am getting closer!)

Monday, October 24, 2011

At Every Stage of Life...

I'm really looking forward to this afternoon's entertainment, my mother told me, when I dropped off her laundry. Thistle and Shamrock - I wonder who they are!

It sounds like someone singing Scottish and Irish music, I suggested...

...thankful that (at 92) she still loved music... and that decreased mobility had not dampened her enthusiasm for life.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Signs of the Season

There are many reasons why I love this time of the year...

The beauty of the leaves...

The cooler weather...

It's a perfect time to walk and marvel at the beauty of changing nature...

All the while trying to forget that... THE NEXT SEASON IS WINTER!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

October Farmers' Market

The season for farmers' markets is coming to an end. So last Saturday we paid another visit to the Carp Farmers Market - our favorite in the area.

The drive there - as usual - was stunning!

It's always fun to leave the city behind...

There was no more corn on the cob... (Terry's favorite vegetable). But we found apples galore, as well as strawberries (a surprise)...

... a variety of pumpkin and squash...

...and root vegetables, like carrots.

We always manage to buy something. But even if we didn't, it's worth going just for the lovely country drive!

Friday, October 21, 2011


Well, I've raked up all the pine needles and leaves on the ground... for the second time in two weeks, Terry announced.

I don't expect any more to fall. I guess I'm done.

I asked... I don't want to discourage you, but...

Haven't you noticed that most of the trees around us - in our neighbors' yards - still have all their leaves?

Depending on the wind, they could all end up in our yard!!

I suspect that there is still a lot of raking to be done...!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Last Week's Challenge: Moving a Load of Topsoil

Terry and I have talked about getting a load of topsoil for a long, long time...

I wanted to fill up my garden boxes... and fill in a gold-fish pond we no longer used - plus some ruts created by digging skunks (looking for grubs).

Terry wanted to build up the soil around our basement (which had sunk over the years) so that melting snow in spring would drain away from the house.

But how much to get?

MORE rather than LESS, I kept insisting. I always need soil for the garden beds...

Reluctantly Terry placed an order for 8 cubic meters. The soil arrived... a mound more daunting to Terry than to me.

The squirrels must have thought we had bought it for them: in a flurry of activity, they immediately began digging holes in it and planting seeds! (And the shedding pine tree quickly covered it with needles!)

We have three days to move it,
Terry announced. The weather network forecasts three days of good weather followed by a week of rain!

So to work we went, each with our own wheelbarrow...

Thanks to a little help from our son, we managed to move it all before the rain began...

... tucking away some for next year!