Monday, February 29, 2016

IT MAKES PERFECT SENSE!

It is time to take the camera out for a walk.  Actually it is time to strap my camera bag on my shoulder every time I step outside.  Have you noticed what is going on outside your door?

I had a Grandfather who watched nature very carefully - and likewise his son (my Dad) does the same.  I didn't always pay attention to their predictions based on what they were observing from nature - but I did become someone who does enjoy watching the world around me - just for the pure pleasure of what I am seeing.

And I am not talking about people.  Personally, I don't find a lot of pleasure in people at all - unless it is a child, or someone I love.

No I am talking about the pleasure of watching a bird at a feeder, or a tree when it shakes itself awake in early spring and decides to shoot green from it's brown winter branches.  Snow when it melts - it is so pretty how it sweats itself away - even ice, that we have come to detest so much  - it is beautiful ... the colours within it, the veins running through it...... Frost - there is nothing prettier than frost!

There is much to see out there, if you open your eyes and take it all in.

Look up - can you believe that beautiful deep blue up there?  You can't get that particular colour from any can...

While you are looking, don't forget to listen!

I know all about listening in the city.  I used to stand outside in the dark mornings of winter and wait at the curb while Gary went to fetch the car from the back.  I heard a lot of city noise... but I also heard the wind singing through the bare-limbed trees, and yes at that early morning hour I even heard the Sparrows in the shrubs across the street, waking up and having a chatter together about the new day - or whatever it is they are discussing at that time of the morning!

I am learning so much more about listening, here in the country.  It is a lot harder to listen to quiet.  One gets mesmerized by the silence - but sound is still present there too.

The other night I had Molly out for her last potty break after 11pm.  It was dark, except for our bright light over the door, and the Christmas lights that are still lit around our little barn shed.  There was no wind noise - but I knew there was a bit of wind, because the buckle on the rope on the flagpole was ever so gently tapping on the metal pole.  Ping, Ping, Ping.

If I stopped huffing my breath for a second -I could faintly hear my neighbour's wind chime  about 400 ft away, just barely making a sound.  Tink, Tink, Tink.  And yes - ever so faintly somewhere ( perhaps in the evergreens that border my property) birds were quietly saying good night.

I might have missed all these sounds, had I not been listening to the silence around me.

We have senses for a reason.  Sight, Sound, Smell.  Do we use them for anything exceptional?  I don't think so - we take them for granted, that's what we do.

Take them outside, give them some exercises.. you might be pleasantly surprised how wonderful you will feel after you do this.

Of course if you live anywhere near me , you might want to wait a day or two to take those senses outside.  We had a blizzard here last night, and although the sun is shinning brightly deceiving us into believing that spring is near, it is frigid cold with a wind chill that will freeze skin in here minutes.  The only thing we are going to be feeling outside today is frustration, and maybe a little bit of pain...if we stay out too long!






Friday, February 26, 2016

REPURPOSE FRIDAY THE THIRD!

Here we are, another Friday Re- purpose day!

I have been concentrating a lot of my attention on lighting the past few weeks.  We have a big square box of florescent lighting on our kitchen ceiling that I really don't want.  Even if I did want it, we have learned that the larger florescent bulbs are being phased out, just like the regular lights bulbs have been, and that we will eventually have to replace that fixture anyway.... Music to my ears!

I know what I want to replace it with and my idea came straight out of the re- purposed light fixtures I have been seeing on the Internet... Check out these awesome light fixtures made from repurposed items.

I know these are not for everyone - but for my kitchen - they are so perfect... and what great ideas for using some items from the kitchen - and maybe even the barn or workshop!

 


 

I love all these lights for sure for a kitchen, and some of them would be awesome in other rooms of the home as well..


Imagine my surprise when I opened the new Home Hardware Catalogue and found this!  Bingo!  I'll take two, PLEASE!

Lets step outdoors for a moment:

This lovely shady nook was shared to me on Face book.  I would love to have one of these in my garden.   Can you image sitting outside on a sunny warm morning with your cup of coffee or tea and just enjoying the morning garden, bees and birds?  All made from repurposed wood.


or here... old doors made into a lovely little sheltered sitting area in the garden...

cynthiabanessa.com


And wouldn't it be cool to have this sitting on a feature rock, or wall somewhere nearby to catch your eye?

annsgardenpath.blogspot.com

I think so...


Have a great weekend everyone!










Thursday, February 25, 2016

CHILD'S PLAY!

Where has this week gone?  I haven't been able to post much this week - I have been painting again and I bought even more paint again yesterday.!

Yes sirree...

The main floor is more than half done - and we have started in the family room downstairs, so there is painting going on all over the place at the moment.

I bought paint yesterday for the two spare bedrooms -  one on the main floor and one in the basement.  At the moment they are white - like every other room in this house was.  I am painting both rooms a deep yellow.  The one on the main floor will be accented with blues, and whites and the one downstairs will be accented with greens and other yellows.

Tomorrow we are going to Neepawa to order our island top.  While there, we will stop and see my Aunt who is still in the hospital, and I want to check out the thrift shop there (have not done that one yet) as well.  It will be a beautiful day for a drive, and hopefully we will be able to finally find the counter top we want for our island.

I have to tell you about Tuesday tho...

My cousin, his wife and their little granddaughter came for a visit on Tuesday afternoon.  Their little granddaughter is just turning 4 and is the most adorable - and smart little cutie that I have ever seen.

She wanted to see Auntie Dale's dolls so upstairs we went to the doll room and she didn't know what to do or where to look first.  She was very good - I half expected her to start touching everything but she didn't.

I had just moved my Litho Tin Dollhouse on to the floor last week, and she honed into that vintage toy like a bee to a flower.  I gave her a couple of my not- at -all -valuable Barbie-type dolls and some smaller little dolls, and she played with the house and furniture and dolls the way I believe a child might have played with that house in the 1950's.

We haven't had a small child around us since our own son was small, so this was a special treat for Gary and I.  When it came time for me to make supper I threw some clothes and some dolls in a basket and we headed down to the sun room.  There again - while the adults were occupied - she played.

After supper she wanted me to come and play Barbies with her, so I got down on the floor with her and we played dolls.  We dressed and undressed our Barbies, they had conversations, and all the while I was down there, I thought - "Wow - this is so great to be able to be on the floor and play dolls with this little human doll."

It was a fun afternoon and evening, and I hope she comes back to play again.  Maybe next time we will have a tea party with my china dishes from my own childhood.

Awe - can you imagine what fun that would be!

Monday, February 22, 2016

IFFY WEATHER AND SOME NEW PROJECTS!

How was every one's weekend?

 It was a mixed bag weather-wise here this weekend.  We had mild temperatures and rain on Friday night, and then snow and -25 on Saturday night.  Woke up Sunday morning to bright sun and very cold temperatures, and by noon the warm up had started and the clouds had rolled in again.  Up and down we go... it seems to be the way this winter has been.  It is frustrating to be teased with the mild spring-like weather and then to have to hunker down to the cold again - but every day, we get a day closer to true spring  - so I am going to force myself to be generous with my comments about the weather!

I had a busy weekend.  I finally cleaned the horrid mess in the studio, rearranged the dolls, sorted through some craft supplies, did a vacuum and a general dusting in the studio, and then I headed downstairs and worked some cleaning magic on my kitchen, living room and sun room floors.

Even though my new island is not ready to be used as such, I moved it to the spot it will be when finished and moved the kitchen table to a new place in the kitchen - if anything it has made the kitchen larger yet!  I do know one thing - the island is going to be a fantastic addition to our kitchen, and once we get the top on it and some stools around it - I rather doubt we will use our kitchen table all that much.

By midday Sunday I was bored with cleaning so I decided to spend some time checking out some red work patterns on the Internet.   I found a lot that are so cute, a person could just never have enough wall space for them all... I might make some up even so...

Then I saw this...



I love the sentiment in this so much...

I was going to stitch it, but decided I would try something else instead.











What I came up with is a very small plaque for a tiny space in my kitchen. I used a small frame I had picked up for .10 at a thrift store, and I covered it with some card stock paper,  made the little note with another piece of paper and then embellished it with a few of my little treasures.


Next project:

I found this Robin Hood Flour sack in a bunch of material that was my Mother's.  I have kept it all these years thinking some day I would do something with it.


Now that I have a big country kitchen, I know exactly what I want to do with it - so stay tuned... I hope my idea works as well in actual fact as it is working in my brain!

Time to get to work!






Friday, February 19, 2016

REPURPOSE FRIDAY - THE SECOND!

I have had more fun than you can imagine, gathering the images for this weeks edition of Re purpose Friday.

I am trying really hard to give everyone something they would like to see.  Not everyone is interested in gardens, or country decorating, or even old stuff.  Keep an open mind... even if you are a minimalist or like the super modern look - there may be something here you like.

This time, I will try and do it right -and give you not only the image, but the link to the image on the Internet, where there is one available.

So Enjoy....

I will start off with some things for the garden made from everyday household items.  Check these out!

How adorable is this bird feeder, and flowers made from forks, spoons and is that a shaker in the middle?  Of course this arrangement of flowers requires knowing someone with a welder - but I have seen the same thing made with plastic utensils - and those only require a glue gun and they can be painted!

dishfunctionaldesigns.blogspot.com


This next picture is so cool.   A yard such as mine could use some of these at night!  My apologies  to Rust Oleum - the information with this image stated that these glowing pots were made by painting pots with glow-in- the- dark Rust Oleum paint.  According to Rust-Oleum there is no such product.


indulgy.com



These lights are so adorable  - and they could be used inside the house - or out on the patio.  No need to use real tea-lights  - there are battery operated ones now that would do just as well.

homedit.com

I am sure there still are a lot of these microwave carts around - (red face ) - I inherited one with this house that I converted into my little temporary island - but now that I have the makings for a real island - I just might do this...


                                                                             Sweet....



But the absolutely best thing I found today is this!

anvilironworks.co.uk

This is the best piece of scrap iron art I think I have ever seen.  Wish it were standing in my garden!

So there you have your inspirations for the week.

See you next week!








Thursday, February 18, 2016

HORN TOOTIN, HAND WAVING WONDERFUL!

Yesterday we decided to take a drive to Dauphin Manitoba.  It was a bright sunny morning, the forecast wasn't looking too bad, so we hopped in the car and were on our way by 10:30.  Its only a 40 minute drive so we got there long before noon.

We were looking for the hardware/lumber store, McMumm and Yates - apparently there is a large one there - our mission was to order a counter top for our island, and hopefully also pick up some finishing wood for the back and sides.

Before I say anything else - just let me say that I really do not like Dauphin.  I don't know what it is about that place - but it just doesn't do anything for me.

Well -  we drove to where google maps said this store was - and couldn't find it.  We should have taken our GPS along - our fault we did not.

So we changed gears and went to Extra Foods (we know where that is) for dog food.  That stop for dog food cost us 130.00!

Next stop - Walmart!  Mission there was to get a copy of Ufile to do our taxes.  Yes  - we know you can download it off the Internet - however  - our Internet is slow - and so it the old PC we use to do taxes on... hence the stop at Walmart.

The stop for the UFILE software cost us 120.00... and change!

It was past lunch - Gary wanted a DQ burger - Guess what - we couldn't find the DQ!  The Internet says they have one - we couldn't seem to find it!

The golden arches were right there - so we pulled in there for the first time in over 7 months!  Say no more!

Gary was getting a headache - so I took the wheel for the ride home.  We hadn't even gone a mile and we hit snow-packed roads from heavy ground drifting, and side winds that just about blew us off the road.  It looked like that was going to be the conditions most of the ride home.

We drove through the stretch of road where silver birch trees are all one can see for miles - I break out into a grade- school song I remember from my youth... "Land of the Silver Birch - Home of the Beaver"...

.... and then we were at Ste. Rose Du Lac!

The roads are dry, the wind is gone - my right foot goes down - and we are sailing home!

My spirits lifted, my dissatisfaction with our outing disappeared as we got closer to home.  We passed the lone pine tree in the middle of the field that tells me Laurier is the next town on the right...

Cheerio, Laurier - you great, wonderful little Hamlet, you!

And then I see our tower - our grain elevator - and I am so happy I could sing once again!  "Take me home, country roads... to the place.... that I love!

Horn tootin - hand waving, wonderful home town of mine!

WE ARE HOME!






Wednesday, February 17, 2016

WELL - THAT WAS FUN!

I don't know about you - but I seem to be back into those "doldrums" again.  I have so much to do, and just no ambition to do it.

I forced myself to deal with a project that I have been wanting to tackle for a very long time.  Doll Clothes!  I have totes upon totes of vintage baby dresses, suitable for large baby dolls.  More totes yet of real doll clothes to fit almost every size doll imaginable.

It is really quite unimaginable!

And it is driving me absolutely around the bend!

So I opened up three large totes and dumped them in the middle of my studio floor - and then talked  nasty to myself for the rest of the weekend!

"That will teach her - now she will HAVE to deal with these clothes!"  says the always nattery (is this a word?), practical Dale.

"Huh!  That's what SHE thinks!"  says the lazy "retired" and I deserve to be lazy - don't I? "  Dale!

Yeah, well neither one won this battle.  I did manage to undress and redress my Vintage 1957 Baby Doll twelve times to get some pictures to post on the sale site.






These 4 and 8 more...


And I managed to take photos of about 25 more of the dresses for the same site - I even managed to get the doll photos posted on the site.  I had a lot of views - some even wanted to buy the doll - lots of interest - no sales!

The bad is what I am left with... I am sure you all feel very sorry for me....

 






I do feel your sympathy - really I do!




End of story.

Well - not quite - I just got an email from a fellow doll collector - she wants all 12 items I posted and everything else I have like them.

Okay - so maybe this wasn't such a bad idea after all!








Tuesday, February 16, 2016

MUSIC ENGAGEMENT

I spent a lot of time this past weekend working on music - going through old music books, looking for and practicing tunes to play for the residents of the nursing home in the coming weeks.

As I was playing it struck me that although I know they really enjoy hearing me play - maybe I am a bit of a bore to them as well.  After all - I just sit and play.  Really -  you could get as much satisfaction just putting a headphone on your ear that was attached to some music playing something or other.

I think I mentioned before that I had the idea to do themes for my little concerts in the care home.  I have been choosing music accordingly and the theme I have been working on the past few days has been music from the movies.

I started with the song "When You Wish Upon A Star" from the 1940 Disney movie...   Do you know what movie this is from?  Would it help if I said a little green cricket sang the song?  Would it help you further if I said his name was Jiminie?

Well this kind of talk was running around my head as I was practicing this song - and then all of a sudden I knew what I was going to do.

There is a thing called Music Therapy - it is much sought after for the elderly in nursing homes and in hospitals.  Usually it is performed by University- Educated Music Therapists.  It has been proven to be a very beneficial program to those who are institutionalized in any way.

I don't know if what I am planning to do is close to that - but I do know, as a former Registered Nurse, how very important it is to "engage" people who are living away from their normal lives.  If you don't encourage thought, speech, action - it will eventually vanish.

So...

I am working on my own version of what I am calling "Music Engagement".

I play a song from a movie... then I ask if anyone knows the name of the song, who sang it, what movie it is from.  As I ask the questions, I tell the story of the movie - I introduce the characters, the plot - I tell them the outcome... and then I play the song again and let them remember whatever they can on their own.

They get to enjoy the music, but they may also get to relive a memory of a movie they watched - maybe with someone special in their family...maybe they get to remember something they haven't thought of in a long time...  we have engaged thought, speech, action, and memory....

And just maybe I am no longer such a boring entertainer!

For this first session, I have chosen 10 songs from seven different movies.  Pinochio; Breakfast at Tiffany's; My Fair Lady; Mary Poppins; The Sound of Music; Fiddler on the Roof, and Dr. Zhivago.

If they don't know the movie, they will for sure know the song, or visa -versa... all are familiar popular songs.

To take this one step further, I am also going to speak to the Activity Director, to see if she would like to follow this activity with one of the movies I feature with my music.  That might be very enjoyable for them as well.

So wish me luck .... I'll let you know how this works out...


Friday, February 12, 2016

FRIDAY DECLARATION!

Have you been getting any inspiring ideas lately?

I used to do this thing with my friend and co-worker, Pam; where I would seek out ideas I thought she would like on Pinterest and send them to her.  She didn't go on Pinterest back then, and she loved seeing creative things that others did - so I made it easy for her to get those ideas.

This was especially fun the month or so before Christmas.  In my spare time I would  find and save the neatest ideas for things to make for Christmas - for the home, for decorating, for the family, and then every Friday I would send her a whole bunch of stuff.

Believe me - I had just as much fun finding and sending them - as she did seeing them on those Fridays so long ago.

Pam is one of my regular readers here - so... Pambie - this is for you darlin... miss you, my friend!


I will start with this one - this is so neat - and if my cabinet wasn't being used as a TV stand at the moment - I would seriously consider doing this for one of my spare rooms...

Check it out!


I love this next one - and that school that I was at earlier this week has a lot of old broken wooden chairs - so I am adding this one on my list for sure!


You know how much I love old suitcases - I use one old blue trunk as a end table now.... so now I have to keep my eye open for a small one that I could do this with (lots of pretty carved finals and posts at that school too).. 
What a great entry-way piece...

And just one more, because I think it is so darn fetching... 


So I declare - Fridays from here on in - shall be Re-purpose Day at Erndalesnmore!

Have a great weekend, everyone!





Thursday, February 11, 2016

AS DAYS GO!

As days go, yesterday was a good one.

I went for my doctor's visit and it was just as I said it would be, except for some reason the shot really hurt yesterday!  The walk there was really cold and pretty slippery.  We have had rain, and then cold, and then snow, so the footing was not the best but I managed to slide my way there and back and even made a detour on the way home to get the mail.

I had planned to sort through some of my totes of doll clothes and start to make piles of some that I want to sell.  Remember those boxes and boxes of clothes I bought a few years back from Vicki?  Well all those beautiful vintage dresses are clean and pressed, but they have been in storage totes all this time.  Time to unload some of them.

So I started the process.  I was upstairs after breakfast going through stuff and then I went down to have a cup of coffee with Gary.

He was on the ipad browsing the Internet on the Buy and Sell for our area.  Actually our little town has a buy and sell, and the content and prices are way better than anything I have ever seen in Winnipeg.

Anyway he spotted this for 50.00!  Remember the  kitchen island post from months back?


We called the fellow who informed us he and the item was at the Kelwood school - come on down!

Kelwood is less than 10 minutes away, so away we went. 

I will be the first to admit that I know very little of the history of the towns in this area.  We drive past Kelwood every time we go to Neepawa, and we always remark that we should go and check it out.  By the time we headed home in the late afternoon we had learned quite a bit about the town and the history of the area.

The school is on the main road as your drive into town, it is a large school (schools out here are because a lot of them are kindergarten through Grade 12).  We park, I sit in the car and Gary runs in.  We have no idea where in the school this fellow is - is he a teacher?  Will we find him?

Gary comes right back out and beckons me inside.

Well for one thing - although the school might used to hold children within it's walls, it is pretty clear upon entering that is no longer the case.  We later find out that the school has been closed for years, and the children are bused to other towns to attend school.

So what is the deal here?

A fellow shows us the cabinets we have come to see, and they are really nice, and very high quality.  Solid hardwood construction.... SOLD!

Then a lady comes up to us and asks if we want to look around?  We say - sure - and the fun begins.

Turns out this is a pickers dream come true.  Okay - so we are not pickers - but Holy Moly we sure do love to wander through places like this!

Every room is stacked to the ceiling with "stuff"... the gym is loaded - and then we meet the owner.

A fellow comes up to us, introduces himself, shakes our hands and proceeds to tell us that he bought the school.  He is originally from Florida, but has migrated north over the years and has landed in Kelwood.  He buys properties, renovates them and resells or rents them out.  He also fixes cars, and sells used cars and trucks.  He also buys huge Estates full of stuff and that is where most of the "stuff" comes from.  He bought the school with the intention of turning it into a automotive center - but due to the size of the town that idea didn't bear oil.

He takes us through the whole school and then opens the door to the Kindergarten room.  "Here's where I live, " he says as we walk into a huge open apartment - completely renovated and decorated.

We visited with him some more, then we load our cabinets and head home.

But - we are going back.  I spotted a small wheelbarrow, and a lot of things I can use in my gardens outside.  Gary found an exit sign for his movie room... (a school is full of them).  I am afraid to think what we may drag home from this "school" over time.

As learning experiences go - it was a good one!

And yes - we are going to have a kitchen island soon!



Wednesday, February 10, 2016

I AM OFF TO GET MY SHOT!

I have to go to the doctor today to get my B12 shot.  It is a 10 minute walk from my house to the hospital.  I go down my street to the Provincial Trunk Highway, turn right, walk a long block and I am out of town.  I cross the railroad tracks and then I am walking in the country.  I see wide open spaces mostly, but there is a pretty red barn, and a grain elevator, to catch my eye, should I be interested.

My doctor is the only doctor serving this town.  She works out of her clinic in the hospital building and she is wonderful!  She is friendly, knowledgeable, professional, and on time.  I can not tell you how refreshing she and her staff and her clinic are from the big city clinics that I have worked in and attended all my life.

True - she does not have the volume that the big cities do - but she still has the same medical complaints to deal with as the city doctors do - without every resource available at an arms reach!

My doctor wasn't always a country doctor.  She had a practice in Winnipeg for many years.  To hear her tell her story - she was happily living and working in Winnipeg, and then she fell in love with a farmer.

That's a pretty good reason to move your life to the country -and happy I am for her to love a farmer.  They are the best of the very best.

So I look forward to my doctor's visit.  I know she will be in a good mood - not stressed beyond her limitations, she will be on time, and she won't rush me back out the door the minute the needle is out of my arm.

She will ask how Gary is, she will talk about the weather, most likely we will talk about spring and our over anxious need to get out in the garden.

When she asks me if "there is anything else" she won't already be rising out of her chair and heading towards the door... and I won't have seen a sign any on any wall anywhere in the clinic about the 2 complaint rule - you know the one that says if you have over 2 medical complaints you have to book a new appointment.

So I must get ready...

Talk to you tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

I DOUBLE DOG DARE DALE!

I have been in kind of a flux, where my crafting and projects are concerned.  I don't seem to be in the mood to crochet, knit, stitch - even reading has seemed boring to me of late.

I still have several bags of very sad dolls from my pick at the hoarders house last fall, that I have been walking past all winter where they sit on the floor in the stairwell to my attic studio.

I actually kind of forgot all about them  - until last week when my cousin and her friend came up for a visit.  It was so nice to meet another of my readers in person that day, and we talked about the post where I described my experience with these rather sad dolls.

She wanted to see my collection so up we went to the doll/craft room.  On our way up, I reached in one of the bags and pulled out a very large 1960's fashion doll to show the general condition of the dolls I had found that day back in fall.

I put the doll on the step and forgot about her - until yesterday morning.  I was heading up to my computer, coffee cup in hand, and there she was - still where I had dropped her.  I picked her up and brought her along up to my work area.

She is so sad...to begin with she is filthy - her hair is falling out, she is missing 2 fingers on her right hand, and her dress - which may or may not be original is in shreds.
 


 



I'll bet she was stunning when she was new.  She has green eyes - that's not all that common in dolls - they are cloudy and dirty - but maybe I can bring them back.

I start to imagine her clean with peach-coloured skin, sparkling green eyes, shiny new blonde hair, a beautiful ball gown of shimmering silk, a wrap, a pair of sparkling beaded high-heel slippers and a purse - Oh, and a glorious big round hat with a plume!

Ahhhh.... she is gorgeous!

Ta-Da! I am not bored anymore.  Off comes the torn material some would call a dress, and down to the bathroom sink we go.  I can clean her up - maybe I can even re-root some new hair for her...

Do you think I can go so far as to make that outfit?

Wouldn't it be challenging to see if I can?

Remember, I am not the seamstress I wanna be!


Is that a DARE I hear?

A DOUBLE DOG DARE even?


Hmmmmm...































Monday, February 8, 2016

ME AND MY BLUE PARADISE!

It seems that winter has finally caught up with us.  We had blizzard-like conditions yesterday all day, which left  us with snow packed over glare ice roads, and some pretty frigid temperatures.  It's kind of a kick in the shins after the nice mild winter we have been having, but on the other hand - this is our normal - we should be happy to finally see it, this winter.

I made good use of the nasty weather - I spent time finalizing my seed order, which started with mainly vegetable seeds, but somehow grew to herbs, perennials and even a couple of perishable plants as well.

I believe I should be good to go, come spring.  With the established perennials I plan to dig up and transport from my old yard in the city, along with what I already have here on this property, and now what I have ordered, I should be able to create at least a honest start in my vegetable and flower gardens this year.

I want it all.... now! But establishing gardens and beds takes years of planning, hard work and just plain good luck.  After gardening in my other yard for 17 years, I was just getting to know the yard, the soil... and now I will have to learn all over again.

Every yard and every garden has a different environment happening in it -a different ecosystem.  Gardeners have to pay attention to things like soil type, water, drainage, sun, shade, pH, even snowfall - all the controls that can make or break a garden and the gardener.

I started a journal of my new yard last fall, and I will continue to journal this spring and every season following.  I learned long ago not to rely on my memory - it's just not that reliable when it comes to plants!

I am excited about a few new varieties that I have ordered from T&T.

One of them is Little Bluestem (Blue Paradise).  It is a grass that has silvery-blue foliage all season and then in fall turns a deep-wine colour.


Isn't this glorious?

The other varieties I am excited to try are the Bold Cheyenne Spirit Echinacea.  I have the traditional purple and white varieties in my garden in the city which I will bring here, but I have been dreaming of having a big enough space to try these lovelies.


And Lavender...




I have never had any luck with growing this Lavender - but I love it so much - love the colour of it's blossoms, and I love the scent.  So I am trying Lavender Lady again... maybe she will like this yard better than she like my other.

I am so fortunate that all the plants I have nurtured over the years are still available to me.  Our son bought our home in the city, and he is not wanting quite as many flowers as his mother - so I will be able bring a lot of my favourites out to my new gardens come spring.

There is nothing like staring at colorful blossoms to make one forget about the white stuff outside.

Hope you have enjoyed this taste of summer too...







Sunday, February 7, 2016

BACK HOME FOR DINNER!

I don't usually post on a Sunday, but we have blizzard-like conditions going on outside and I seem to be stuck on the computer, so I thought - why not!

I have a real treat to share with you... but first  - of course I have to tell a tale!

Two years ago almost to the day, I walked into my workplace of over 17 yrs on a cold February Monday morning.  I was met by my manager and a total stranger who were waiting for me.  In less than an hour I was unemployed, standing at the hospital entrance 4 floors below my office, waiting for my husband to pick me up  - while I waited I was saying tearful goodbyes to other hospital staff who were just arriving to work.  The company I had worked for had out-sourced my and my co-workers work, and our office was closed forever.

It was a really difficult day to get through.  In actual fact both my son and my husband showed up to get me, and we didn't go home - we went out for breakfast to Salisbury House and by the time I got home later that morning - I was already feeling so much better.

My neighbour Elaine, had lost her husband to cancer the year before.  She was totally alone with no family living in Winnipeg.  When her husband was sick and then dying, I made them both a priority, giving them my time, my help and my love.  After Gordon was gone - I doubled it, for Elaine.

When we arrived home that morning after I lost my job, my first inclination was to head next door and tell Elaine.  I knew she would see our car parked outside, and wonder if everything was okay.
I arrived at her door unannounced, spilled the beans before I even had my boots off - and instantly, our roles were reversed!

From that moment until early summer when I went back to work in a different position - Elaine made me her priority - sharing her time, help and love.

After we talked a bit that morning, she put the coffee on, and asked if I had a hour to spare.  How funny that struck me - I had just lost my job - I had many many hours to spare... I smiled and answered that yes, I could stay for an hour.

She got up from her chair, turned on her TV, opened a case of Cd's that her son had sent her for Christmas ands popped one into the blue ray player.

That was the first hour of many that spring, that I sat in her living room drinking coffee and eating her awesome cheese scones and watching the most fascinating TV series that I have ever seen.  I was introduced to BBC  television series (the real BBC - not the Canadian version of) or the Brit's take on reality television - which in my opinion we would never be able to duplicate, if we tried for hundreds of years.

These series all have the same small group of historians and archaeologists in them.  They recreate life in whatever time frame they are working in, using actual abandoned buildings or in many cases farms from the correct era.    They live and work as people would have in structures that were used in those specific time frames.  You might think this would be boring and stuffy to watch - but it is anything but.  It is fascinating, funny, entertaining, educational and totally mind-boggling as these very intelligent and professional people take on new lives and recreate periods of time that we can only read about in books.  They live their lives for one full year in the correct period, without any involvement of their real present day lives.


Tudor Monastery Farm Series

Tales from the Green Valley ( my personal favourite) this one is a must-see.

Victorian Farm

Victorian Pharmacy

Edwardian Farm

Wartime Farm

all still available to watch on YouTube as well as a bunch I have yet to see...


Yesterday I got an email from Elaine telling me she has found a new series for us to watch.  Even though we can no longer watch together, I jumped at the chance to share this new series with her anyway.

I have started this one and you have to watch it.  It is a good one too.

This series is called  BACK HOME FOR DINNER.  I am not going to spoil it by telling you about it - just watch it...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfPof73YF94&list=PL7fg9NEjNqazfuuads51Y8fpC9WCb4sFh


Happy Watching!

Friday, February 5, 2016

PLEASE DON'T MAKE MY MUSIC STOP!

After I wrote yesterday's post I became curious to see if I could find a chord organ similar to the one I had as a child.

I found a picture of one very much like the one I had, only mine had legs on it - perhaps my Dad added the legs to it, himself.



Back to my piano...

There are a few things very different about my piano that you just don't see on other pianos...

The first thing that is obviously different is the music stand.  Not very many piano's in Canada have a music stand such as mine - because piano's that have this type of stand are from Europe.  My piano is an Irish piano. Built in Belfast by Hart and Churchill in 1929.

The second thing about my piano, is that it is not a spinet, and it is not a full upright - it is a half-upright... these are not all that common either.

The piano teacher I studied with all those years - had a piano that looked just like my piano... it had a music stand just like my piano, and it was a half-upright... I know because she always made me set the metronome myself, and while it wasn't an easy reach for me to take it off the piano to set it - it was still easy enough to reach where it sat on the lid - without me having to stand up - which would have been the case if her piano had been a full upright.

All this went through my mind as I stood looking at my "new" piano... can you imagine the excitement that shot through my heart when I was also told that Gary had found out that the piano had originally been owned by a piano teacher who had brought it with her from somewhere in Europe?

My teacher was from Europe - France to be exact - her piano looked just like this new piano... could it be possible?

Well there is no way to prove that indeed this was my teacher's piano - but I know it is.

I can't explain the feeling I have always had when I play it - like I was speaking to a cherished old friend, who knew me as well as I knew them.  I still feel that way every time I play it.

So what has all of this got to do with having my piano tuned this past Tuesday?  Well now you know how much I cherish my instrument, and why.

Back to Tuesday!

Just minutes into the tuning of my piano, I sensed that the tuner was not happy.  He hadn't really gotten right down to business as other tuners had in the past, but he sat staring at the strings at the back of the piano.  Then he fumbled in his bag of tools and then he stared some more.

I sat waiting for something to happen, and then he turned to me and asked me the strangest thing.  He asked what I use my piano for.  "Do you just play for pleasure, or?"  were his exact words.  I wondered why he asked such a question really - who cares why I play it - I play it! ( Now I am getting irritated).

Then he turned around and told me that my piano was built all wrong!

Well this is news to me!   How does a piano live to be three years short of 90 yrs old if it is built wrong, and why am I being told this now?
So he shows me - his tuning tool is too large for the first 4 pins beside middle C.  Strange - I had two different tuners work on this piano before, and neither ever alluded to this problem.

So he starts to tune the piano beginning with the 5th pin! Ah - hello - what about the first 4 pins?  He completes tuning the whole piano and then tells me that he has silenced half the strings on the first 4 pins with felt, and that it will have to stay that way until he can return to remove those 4 pins and replace them with longer pins so his tool will work.

He told me the piano will have to be taken apart, the strings removed the new pins replaced and then restrung... "It's not cheap" was his other comment.

News flash - neither was his tuning job!   He charged me 165.00 to "tune" my piano, and he altered my instrument, and the next day 40% of the keys below middle C were flat!

I am sick - I plan to use my piano to teach piano lessons in fall.  I am performing at the nursing home for the residents there several times a month, and I am the accompanist for the church services at the nursing home as well  - I need my piano to practice!

To say nothing of the fact that I wish to be able to sit and play my piano whenever I please, and after a 165.00 tuning bill - I should be able to play for months without noticing a note out of tune.

Am I being taken advantage of?

It sure feels that way - all I know is that no one is taking my piano apart.  The other thing I know is that it is not my or my piano's fault that the tuner does not have the right equipment to perform the job.  That piano has been successfully tuned for 86 years.

Taking my gloves off on this one - hope it doesn't get ugly!




Thursday, February 4, 2016

NEVER LET THE MUSIC STOP!

I had something happen to me on Tuesday that has really upset me.

I had my piano tuned - which usually is a celebration, but somehow things did not turn out as well this time around.

After months of asking around for reputable tuners, we finally decided on a name of a man given to us by several people here in town.

We called the man well over a month ago, only to get a return call form his father ( also a piano tuner) stating that his son was away, but if we were willing to wait he would come and tune my piano.

So we waited, and then he called and said Tuesday would be the day.

Like a kid at Christmas, I was so excited.  My piano was finally going to be tuned - a very big deal for me!

My piano IS a very big deal to me - and it always has been.



This is my music journey!

When I was four years old, one of my brother's brought home a tiny little chord organ for his little sister.  I actually remember it - it was green and the cord buttons were black and white ( the black buttons being for the sharp and flat chords, I imagine).
To hear my family tell it - my chord organ and I were inseparable.   That little instrument started my life-long passion to music.

As I gained a few years all I wanted was a real piano.  My parents weren't rich, in fact with  five children at home, as well as foster children to raise, I am sure they were quite strapped.  So my parents arranged for me to start piano lessons with the man across the street who was a choir director at a local church - and I practiced my lessons at another neighbour's home on their piano every day after school.

That arrangement lasted for a year or so... I don't know if I was constantly nagging for my own piano ( I am sure I was) or if my parents saw something in me that made them believe that investing in music lessons would be a good move  - but a year later there was a beautiful piano sitting in our living room, and I had started studying with a French instructor who was a Professor of Music at the University of Manitoba who taught from the Royal Conservatory of Music.

I never looked back.  I studied with her for nine years, and I credit her for giving me so much more than the ability to play the piano.

She was the kind of teacher that inspired one to love music - all music.   She often took me to the University to listen to concerts performed by students, on many instruments other than the piano... concerts of performances of Classical music from all the great composers... I was a sponge, and I think she realized that the piano was just going to be the beginning for me.

I was the kid on the block that went home after school and sat at the piano and practiced for an hour every day - without being asked to.  I was the kid on the street, who declined the opportunity to go to the YWCA to swim, because I'd rather learn a new piece of music from a newly acquired book.

As I grew older I became more involved in music all the time.  I studied the Cello ( my second love) and played in orchestras for six years during my junior and senior high school years.  I took voice lessons, and sang in choirs in church, high school, and joined a troupe of singers and entertainers who performed in plays and "showboats" all over my city.  I  also performed as a soloist for many years.

From the first time, I sat as a very young girl in the concert hall at the University, watching and listening to students perform, all I ever dreamed of becoming was a music teacher - even a professor like my own teacher.
I ended up making a different choice in careers - but throughout my life I have always wondered where life would have taken me, had I chosen music as my career.

Music, and my ability to perform it or to sing it, has been a very important part of my life - all my life, and the piano has stayed a major force of who I am since I was 4 yrs old.

I no longer have the piano my parents bought me, in fact there were a few years when I did not even own a piano but I always had some sort of keyboard to play on - even though the real deal was missing.

About 16 years ago, Gary was working at a clients home, and came back home one evening and all he could talk about was the beautiful old piano they had sitting in their basement.  I asked him who played it, and when he said no one played it - I asked him to inquire if it was for sale.  A few weeks later it was delivered to my home.

I didn't see the piano prior to Gary buying it and having it delivered to our home - which in itself is rather strange, I admit... I can't even remember why I didn't go and see it first - as I would be the only one playing it  - but there it was sitting in my living room - and I had such an overwhelming feeling that I had played this instrument many many times before...


MORE TOMORROW....







Wednesday, February 3, 2016

SPRING LIST #1 !

What I meant to talk about on Monday, was Spring, but I slept in, and then yesterday the rodent got in the way so finally today, I am getting to my Spring List series of posts.

Last Week we had several very warm days, in fact I think it was Friday last week, we were the hot spot of Manitoba at +7 C.  Most of our snow has melted.  When I look out, I see grass, flowerbeds and a little bit of snow here and there, but seriously - it looks like late April in my yard - not Feb 3rd!


This weather is really messing with my mind.  I want it to be spring so I can get outside and get to work.  There is much we want to do well before it is time to plant gardens.  I have lists that keep growing as well as frustrations over how those lists will be attended to, come spring.

My back yard where the vegetable garden is located is 50'x54'.  It is this space that I am going to be concentrating most of my gardening efforts on this year.  Except for the big vegetable garden, this space is an almost clean slate.  Bordering this space are 3 ginormous dying spruce trees that are taking up 6' x 54' of my yard.  They are going as soon as someone will remove them.

Over the winter these three trees along with the three in front of the house have deposited about 2" of dead pine needles over almost every square inch of my property, which is I am sure creating a yard of acidic soil where not much is going to want to grow.  My first nightmare!

The second nightmare, is the 54' of Karagana hedge that runs in front of those big trees in my yard.  Once the spruce trees are gone, these old hedges will have to be moved back to the property line about 5.5 ft, or I will have to remove them completely and replace them with a new hedge at the property line.  Most likely it will be the second scenario.

My third nightmare comes in the form of a fairly large garden shed shaped like a barn.  It is nice, and useful - but it's in the wrong place!   At the moment it stands beside the garage, well into the yard.  Every time the garden tractor (which lives in said barn) is used it has to be driven across well established grass and lawn.

I am not sure why the shed was placed where it is, but I am VERY sure that it is somehow going to be moved adjacent to the driveway where the tractor can have access to pavement instead of my pretty grass.  Just because it is a "lawn tractor" does not mean it is going to be used on that piece of lawn - no sirree - that lawn gets cut with a lawn mower from here on in!  The shed will have to be moved - but at the moment, we are at a loss to know just how that is going to be accomplished!

Once the trees are down, and the shed and hedge are moved, then I can get going on the plan I have made for that back yard.  I am building a patio area adjacent to the side of the garage, for our BBQ and patio set, surrounded by beds of flowers and maybe a couple of shrubs for privacy.

I have a nice grassy area behind the garden that is bordered at the back by yet another beautiful full hedge.  I want to build a small brick wall to imitate a small walled English garden.  I will put some flowering perennials there, perhaps a rose bush ( I have a few that need to be moved) and my pretty old garden bench.  It will be a lovely place to take a book and sit and read, or watch the birds, or just dream of gardening and nature itself.

I have one more thing I want to accomplish out there this spring, and that is to build or acquire an out-house-size garden shed.  I want something small enough to disappear in the landscape of the garden, but big enough to hold all my gardening tools and equipment.  Something like this...


I would even covert and old out-house - if I could find one that still was solid enough to work with!

If I can accomplish all this by the long weekend in May - that will be the first one of my lists of things to do outdoors this spring - accomplished.

Then it will be on to the next list!

To be continued!



Tuesday, February 2, 2016

PUT YOUR TRUST IN A RODENT!

Happy Ground Hog day, everyone!  Are you sitting at the edge of your seat waiting and wondering what the news will be from the rodents around the world?  Will Spring be early?  Will winter be another 6 weeks away?

Am I the only one in the world that thinks this is the most ridiculous tradition ever?

Punxsutawney Phi - perhaps the most famous rodent of all has popped his head out of his burrow this morning and proclaimed to all and sundry that we will have an early spring this year.

Nova Scotia's Shubenacadie Sam - fully concurs with Phil.

Ontario's Wiarton Willie - strongly disagrees and says they are both off their mound - winter will continue for yet another 6 weeks.

And poor sweet orphaned and rescued Winnipeg Willow dropped dead on Friday night - just days before her awaited prediction could be recorded for all time.

Manitoba Merv?  He croaked last year as well  - I believe.

So obviously here in Manitoba we don't have a reliable source of rodents - although I strongly believe I have the next famous predictor living in a burrow at the back of my garden, I can't seem to get anyone interested enough to come and claim it as the next predicting hero he or she could be.  How very sad for all Manitoba citizens!

The truth of the matter is that the occurrence of these rodents sticking their head out of their holes on February has nothing to do with seeing a shadow and making a grandiose prediction, but everything to do with finding a mate.  It's really all about Valentine's Day - not Spring at all!
In the past 30 years, Ground Hog predictions have only been correct 37% of the time.  That's not too good of an average.

Personally I am more apt to watch the birds.  They are a far better predictor of weather changes than some furry burrow-dwelling critter who has been asleep for months and is just now waking up from a long nap, taking a stretch, giving a scratch or two and peering out at a white world to see what's shaking!

However it is predicted, spring could be early or six weeks away.  Depending  on where you live - you might already know the answer to this question anyway.

Here in Manitoba, even though we are having a very mild winter - I think it might be safe to say we will still have winter until at least the end of March - which is for sure 6 weeks hence!

I am more than willing to let the Hogs off the Hook... but just in case I'll keep my eye out for McCreary Mitch this morning when I am outside with the dog!




Monday, February 1, 2016

NEED A BOOST?

I am having an extremely difficult time getting my motors started today.  It is mid afternoon, and it is just now that I am settling down to getting something accomplished.

I was up at 7 this morning, took the dog out for her first morning trot, and then instead of putting the coffee on, I crawled back into bed.  I don't remember anything until Gary woke me at 9:45 and asked me if I was going to get up anytime soon.  Apparently it had not been the first time he had tried to wake me...  one time before he tried, only to be told by me that " I was calling in sick today"!

Okay, there is a flashback!  Haven't had the need to say those words in over 8 months!  Wonder what that was all about?

That got me out of bed in a flash - and on some level I still think he is pulling my leg, but Gary isn't a liar, so it probably did happen, just the way he said it did.

Truth to tell, I have not thought about the days when I used to have to get out the door by 6:20 am very often in the last 6 months at least.  I regress - just last week when we were enjoying a really nice day in Neepawa, I did mention to Gary how very much I was enjoying the freedom of being out shopping and having lunch out with him, without the thought that I should be at work, or that I had to get back to work.  But that has been the only time in all these months that I have given employment any of my precious brain activity.

I hope to never have to think about that ever again..

Moving on - so I rolled out of bed almost at 10am (which I never ever do), I had breakfast, 2 cups of coffee, checked my non-existing emails on my ipad, had a bath, washed my hair.  Went upstairs turned the computer on, wrote an email to my ex-neighbour, Elaine; went back down to the sun room, fought with some #10 crochet cotton trying to work though a design I am working on for a Chatty Cathy outfit... Had lunch!

Did the lunch dishes, took the dog out again - scanned and sent a pdf document about seed starting that I had found in a magazine, to my ex-neighbour Elaine, and here I am.

Crikey!  Surely it must be nap time soon!

I really did have a much better outline for this post - but it has vanished my thought process somehow...I promise, tomorrow will be better.

Please come back...