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            ...toothbrush?  my phone (okay...Dan's phone)? my camera? my mascara?  I know!  I hate packing to go away for a couple days!  Couldn't I just buy everything I need when I get there?  No....that wouldn't work...then I wouldn't be relaxing right? 

            I have my "lists" all over the place, my laundry is still finishing up, I'm waiting to talk to my friend to find out what else I can possibly cram into my suitcase to bring!  Will it be warm, cold or rainy when we're there?  How much wine should I bring?  ...and, oh yah....I just remembered!  Roasted Marshmallows dipped in Baileys!  Hahahaha!  Big yes! 

            Can you tell I'm just a little bit excited?  Part of the reason is, it's so gorgeous in the fall up in Southampton and I'm looking forward to the photo op!  I'm hoping my favourite shop "Martha's" is open, but I have a bad feeling that she's already closed for the season.  Definitely, The Cook's Cupboard will be open and Nancy reminded me in a msg today about the best Macedonian Omelets on the planet at The Lighthouse Restaurant....having that!  For sure!  (there blows my diet....ahhh...but...I knew this was coming...October's a new month for a fresh start right?!)

            I'm not actually taking three suitcases....don't be scared Nancy! 

            It's strange when you begin to blog....and you become a blogaholic....you know....where everything you look at you see in the context of a blog?  How can I make that into the perfect blog subject?  Should I do a theme and take photos of front doors of places while away?  Maybe I can find some natural stuff at the beach to make home decor items out of?  Wow....hooked or what?!  And, going somewhere different brings whole new content and stories to talk about.  But, I'll be relaxin', don't you worry.  It only takes a click (or 20 if you're trying to make it perfect) to take a photo and I can still use my other hand to cook my marshmallow!

            I'll be back Monday!  and...I'll miss you! 

 
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Old Trailer
            Lately, I've been thinking alot about "The Trailer" where we spent every day off of our 12-hr shifts from May 1st until October 31st each year for 11-12 years.

            This photo depicts our old trailer...as it was when we first took it over from Dan's Uncle Wally.  It was only 24ft in length, but it was fantabulous for us.  At the time we'd been paying up to $900.00/week for cottages in the summer for a couple weeks to take our five kids on vacation.

            Then one day, Dan's mother told us about her sister and brother-in-law selling their place, so we went and had a look and it really was a great solution to a vacation for a family of seven!  It was in Southampton, Ontario and in a lovely park one block from Lake Huron with it's gorgeous sunsets and beautiful sandy beach, one block from the tennis courts and an easy 20 minute stroll on a beach boardwalk to downtown Southampton with it's quaint boutiques.  At that time, the fees were only $1,250.00/year!  Wow!  Six months for that price!  And, the kids loved it!  All five would sleep in the rear bedroom (two bunks, with one of them being a double) and Dan & I would lower the dining table, pull the curtain across and hop into our bed each night!  We had a fire pit in the yard and eventually had a garden and other ornamentation.  It was very small, but an extremely happy place! 

(These photos are both from the end of the seasons, so they are not as spruced up looking as they were at the height of the season in the summer, but cleaned up for winter.)

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New Trailer
            We bought the new trailer in 2004 and it was so luxurious inside to us after that small, cramped space.  This one was 40ft long!  It had a bathtub, full size fridge and stove, air conditioning, a separate master bedroom and the living room converted to a guest bedroom with a pull across privacy screen!  It was so nice...home away from home!  And we painted and re-roofed our old shed to match!  We were in heaven at this place.

            It wasn't just heavenly due to the surroundings, but the people were what made it.  Families much like our own, all getting together for fires on weekends and holidays to laugh and have some fun, became good friends we'd look forward to seeing even in the off-seasons. 

            We moved to our new home in the spring of 2009 and sold our trailer in the spring of 2010.  I just couldn't "get into" the trailer the same way I used to knowing we had the River at our doorstep and beautiful sunsets at our own home!  Plus, the drive was pretty hurtful for me (back) and I only went up a few times that summer of 2009.  I missed home!  That's when I knew it was time.  Time to sell the trailer.  The kids were grown up and leading their own lives, working and going to post-secondary school and were only making it up there for a weekend each year.  It was time to let go and enjoy our own home. 

            Best thing I ever did!  Yes, I miss the trailer occasionally...but really, it's only the people I miss and I'm heading up there this weekend with my friend for a relaxing visit for the first time since we sold the trailer.  I'll be sure and take photos of Southampton to share with you and I most likely won't be blogging this weekend, but will make up for it when I get back! 

            Home is where the heart is.....

 
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The Keeper
            Two and half years ago, Dan & I moved out here to our lovely new home, where everything was perfect!  Except...the dishwasher.  It was a great dishwasher...it worked great (the old one, I'm talking about), but it leaked all over the floor - profusely!  Within one month of us living here.  But, to give credit, it was an older model, etc....  And, it was black, like the rest of the appliances and I don't really like the black appliances that much, so when it died, we thought, "Let's slowly change them over to stainless", because we really liked them in our old place.

            So, off we went to Lowes and found a full door Frigidaire dishwasher (not this one).  We paid somewhere in the region of $1,300.00 for this first one we brought home and we had a plumber install it.  Don't forget, we had just moved and Dan's back wasn't up for laying on a ceramic floor hooking up a dishwasher, but he has done it in the past and he's good at it!  Maybe better than the plumber who took three hours to hook up our dishwasher!  Well, buddy hooks it up and we look at it and it's crooked, so we're saying "What's up with that?"  That's when we realized the galvanized hinge for the door at the bottom is bent.  How the heck that would happen is beyond us?  At the factory, obviously.

            So, back it goes after a quick call to Lowes and this time, while we were down there to exchange the dishwasher, we asked for delivery, because....we bought a Frigidaire fridge to match our new dishwasher.  When the delivery arrived, Dan hooked up the dishwasher...with his sore back, since we really didn't want to pay someone to come and do it again!  So, he had it done in under an hour (with breaks...hahahaha) and we started her up and...nothing.  Are you kidding!  Nothing.

            We call Lowes again and they suggest we call Frigidaire because it's under warranty.  That's a whole other treat trying to explain that it's never been running and you just got it today.  They sent a guy out from a local appliance repair shop and he states "Yup, it's toast, you got a bad motor".  He signs the forms and back we go to Lowes.

            Now, you know we're pretty ticked by this point right?  We called first and they said they'd speak with the manager because there were no more like ours in stock!  They were going to let us choose whatever dishwasher we wanted to replace it.  And, they were going to take care of the cost of the plumber and the gas money going back and forth. 

            We arrived, searched and searched up and down the aisles of the dishwasher displays and there was nothing!  Nothing that matched our new fridge we'd purchased.  They were saying "How about this lovely one?" and I'm saying...."the handle is too square" or "I don't want to see the controls showing".  Frustrated and upset we were advised to get our money back from customer service and try another store.

            Did I say frustrated and upset?  What I meant to say was MENOPAUSAL!  After telling our story to the Customer Service Rep at the Returns counter, she said "let me get the manager okay?" and I...wait for it...started to cry.  Oh yah...loser!  He comes back and I tearfully tell him our story, with a lineup of customers behind us all listening and Dan holding me close consoling me (I'm sure he was thinking...you go girl!) and now the customer service rep has tears in her eyes!  The Manager then says "Did you look in the model kitchens?".  I say no and he guides us over to them and we search again.  The first clerk never gave us that option and we didn't question it because they are the "high end" appliances.

            There we were in the model kitchens and I look over and see (the keeper shown above) "The Dishwasher"!  But, there's no price anywhere around it.  It's a Frigidaire and it's two drawers that can run independantly of each other or together at the same time...and it matches our fridge!  The clerk goes off to find the price for us and we're thinking "No way...we can't afford this one, it's going to be alot more than what we paid."  Still dismal about the whole situation, we wait and back she comes with good news and bad news.  Of course...we said "Give us the bad news first" and she says "It will take 4-6 weeks to receive this because they're only produced as they're ordered"...and "but the manager says he'll cover the difference!"  OMG!  The price was $2,100.00 plus taxes!  I couldn't wipe the smile off my face!                            

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Inside Drawer
            It was delivered in 2-3 weeks and installed by a professional (two sets of hoses, etc...we didn't want to go there!) and we absolutely LOVE it!  It's great for just Dan & I to use just one drawer daily or when we have lots of company to use both!  We won't go anywhere else to buy our appliances now and we are still hoping to replace a couple more black ones with stainless! 

            WE LOVE LOWES!     

 
I've decided that I will post new projects that are in the works here
on my main blogging page.
In this way, you can see what I'm working on at present, so,
whether it's a craft, a revamp, or a room,
you'll at least see the BEFORE photo for sure
and
hopefully, look forward to the after as much as I will!
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(the photographer of this photo doesn't want any credit..heehee)
As you can see, the rust on this birdcage is pretty bad.
What I've done so far is, I've used steel wool
dipped in a mixture of Vinegar, Baking Soda and Lemon...
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And...as you can see, it really is cleaning up well
with this method.
I think I've done the hardest part...the cage, but
now I have to work on the stand.
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which I think...may be challenging to get in all
the little grooves and try to clean out the rust.
I read somewhere that you can soak
metal in strong tea
and it will clean off the rust.
Think I'll try that first....way less elbow grease involved!

Dan had this old birdstand with a different birdcage hanging on it for quite some time.  The old cage was just a stainless steel 70's version of a square budgie cage and not very pretty or salvagable as far as we were concerned.  This sat in our old garage for years...with no love....I know!  Then, a couple years ago we were at an antique place and found the lovely, curvy, Victorian looking birdcage with little glass feeders and brought that home.  It was a perfect fit for the cage stand and now....I'm finally doing something about refurbishing the old girl.  We're not going to put a bird in it, but something.....not sure what yet. 

That will be the fun part!   Playing with different interior looks!
 
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            According to Wikipedia "In Asian philosophy, the concept of yin yang (simplified Chinese: 阴阳; traditional Chinese: 陰陽; pinyin: yīnyáng), which is often referred to in the West as "yin and yang", is used to describe how polar opposites or seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other in turn. Opposites thus only exist in relation to each other."

            Whenever I'd vent to my father (who passed away in 2005) about "other people" he'd say "Who would you compare yourself to?", which gives credence totally to the concept of yinyang, I feel.  Everybody vents, everybody has someone who annoys them at some point in their lives.  It could be someone close to you, or it could be a fellow co-worker, a neighbour?
But, the point is, it's human nature to vent.  At times, though, you have to know when to stop and when I get to that pinnacle, I think of my father saying this to me...because it's so true, but in a funny twisted way right?  You actually do need that polar opposite to understand yourself and your own faults! 

            Next time you find yourself at that frustrated level with anybody, think of the "why?" before you continue on your rant.  We need this bit of conflict in our lives to teach us how to be better people.  And, when someone isn't conforming to the way you think, you may be the object of their rant.  It's highly possible that if you are having issues and feel the "seemingly contrary forces", they are as well.  So, although, you are polar opposites, with that person, at this moment...there's a reason for both of you being in the same circle and you must think sometimes "How does this person enrich my life?"  A different perspective is always a good thing.

            Follow the "Who would you compare yourself to?" advice and get over it!

               
 
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Taken with Dan's iphone...
            This beauty on your left is my Canon A620 camera, which I bought ....oh.....let's say approximately 8-9 years ago!  I've used it quite a bit throughout the years, but really?  Just on the Auto settings.  I once took a gorgeous photo of a hummingbird that I submitted (because you could see the feathery wings fluttering very clearly) to a contest and won!  But, that would have been in the early years when the instructions on "how to use it" were still fresh in my head!  I mostly used it for family gatherings...you know - the usual things people pick their cameras up for or the odd bird outside in the yard and sunsets of course.

            It's a 7.1 megapixel and when it was bought, was worth quite a bit of money and was actually sought after.  Hahahaha!  Now you can pick up a Sure Shot and get 18mp...too funny!  What's even funnier is that years ago, when digital cameras first came out, Dan & I bought one of those Sony 5.1mp (I think 5.1, but we gave it to one of the kids after we bought the new one) and paid almost a thousand dollars with the super expensive memory stick and taxes!  Wow...cameras sure have come a long way.

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            So, when I started this blog, I actually was using my iphone 4 for most of the shots, because the pictures were fairly wonderful, but then, of course, we all know I dropped that into my tea, so a new one is on hold 'til next week and I can't use that forever for my blog!   After I did that boneheaded move, I started to explore my old Canon and do you know what?  It's actually not a bad little camera for a newbie like me!  I found out how to just have certain colours show up like this photo here, just by spending Sunday afternoon playing with it outside.  Also, I found that I could adjust for macro setting, manual, portrait, scenery, shutter speed, panoramics and a whole host of other utilities.  That was when I decided I needed to learn how to use this camera properly, before I invest in a new SLR camera.

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            This is where my daughter, Alana, comes into the picture (photo?).  We're having Dan's birthday this Saturday and the kids are coming...Alana is staying overnight...heeheehee...I'm going to pick her brain so badly!
I asked her yesterday to bring her ultra-deluxe camera to show me how to use the telephoto, wide angle and macro lenses in a tutorial for Mom.  I'm so glad our kids attended school - it's like having a secondary brain at your disposal! 

            In looking on various classified areas of the web, I found this beginners set of accessories for the Canon A620 at an extremely reasonable price (under $150.00 with taxes and delivery to Canada) on ebay and ordered it immediately.  I'm looking forward to playing with my camera now and hopefully sprucing this blog up a bit! 

            Another new learning experience, just from starting a blog. is underway!!  Yay!!

 
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        Every night, we hear the train going past our wee village.  I love the sound of the train passing by, rumbling and whistle blowing.  I think it may be a throwback to when I was young and stayed for vacations at my Nanny's home in Nova Scotia, because she had tracks across the street and behind some houses from her home.

            You know how they say music can take you back to a different time in your thoughts, well so can a whistle of a train.  It just sets off a "ping" in your mind and heart relating to a good memory. 

            One of our trips to Nova Scotia, when I was a child, was taking a long journey from Ontario on the train with my parents.  It was truly a whole new world!  Yesterday, I was thinking about trips and I kept thinking about taking a train trip for some uncanny reason (which is what brought this whole subject up in the first place!)  to somewhere I may have been already or somewhere new.  But, the thing is, it's a whole new perspective of a trip when you take the train, so it's a good thing to head to somewhere you already have been by vehicle or airplane and see a different view along the way.  The train is very comfortable and from what I've seen on those cooking channels, have wonderful chefs on board now!  Your berth (room) is comfortable if you can afford your own, or you can just get one of the type that convert to a bed at night...think they're called Sleepers?  You can walk around and visit the dining car, the bar and make stops in new cities. 

            I actually checked out VIA Rail for their package deals and wow!  They have a large amount of variety with getaways for a few days or longer than a week in categories like Cultural Events, Spas, Fishing, Shopping and more!  Like a moving hotel!  I was thinking it might be nice for Dan & I to head up to Quebec City for a weekend.

            When I'm laying in bed here in this serene place, awake, and listen to the soulful train whistle, I get this peaceful feeling come over me that tells me "I am where I should be".  Sometimes...you just have to listen.  All is right in the world.

 
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            Has anyone ever had a dog that ran...and ran....and ran....an escape artist dog?  That's our Rainy.  She's 1-1/2yrs old and her breed is broken up into 4 parts - maternal is Blue Tick Coonhound/Blue Heeler, paternal is Shephard/Akita and she's what we call "A Going Concern"! 

            In the 1-1/2yrs we've had her, we've pretty much barricaded our border fencing.   This dog has actual fingers!  When she was a little puppy, she'd just crawl over the fence, scrabbling up and beyond after getting a good hold on the top of the short gate we used to have.  And, off she'd go...running gleefully down the middle of the highway!  Not a care in the world....just "I'm free!"

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            First, we added a screen to the top of the fence, but she tore through that, so up went the chicken wire to cover this side (the inside) of the screen.  Then she just started pulling herself up & over the side fences on the gate, thus the lattice.  After that, it was digging under the fence....I mean...this dog wants to run!

            Once we had this all barricaded, we thought we had a foolproof solution.  We were soooo wrong!  That's when she started jumping the fence by the cemetary.  She'd get up on the woodpile (which has since been moved out from the fence) and just leap into the cemetary.  That was okay at that time, because she was pretty much cornered in the cemetary, but now the front gate of the cemetary is broken, so it's right back out to the highway again!  This is all moot now though, because she can't get through that side anymore. 

            At one point, we had her on a long leash that reached the perimeter of the yard almost everywhere.  It was attached to a cement block, but I'll tell yah...if she wanted something badly enough...she'd just drag that block with her!  We bought one of those wireless electric fence units and took it back after reading that if your dog is particulary stubborn - our dog? what? - they would just barrel through it and put up with the shock.  Go figure!

            Slowly, while spending time outside, we decided we could trust her again.  WRONG!  That's when she started digging under the fence that's midway down the bank to the river....very awkward for Dan to fix and he spent hours and hours barricading with cement blocks, chicken wire, frost fence, rebar...you name it, he tried it.  And, when she got out...it was straight across the stairs to the east, up the hill, into the cemetary (which is open at the bank side) and right out the broken front gate onto the highway!  Fun!

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            That was when Dan would go after her on foot, I'd go in the vehicle with weiners and leash in hand and we'd chase her down the country road nearby off the highway.  She really likes weiners.

            Today, I had her on the inventive, big, blue, holey ball on the end of her leash (it gets caught up in whatever she's trying to get through) and she managed to dig under the side of the stairs leading to the dock, crawl under the stairs, out the steel stairs to the west, over the steel stairs to the east and wrapped herself around a few tree trunks and some lovely vines.  Did I mention how fun this is?  I got her unhooked and led her back up to the house by her collar, went back and collected the leash and was all mucky, full of burrs and just generally not happy.

            I know we have to put a new fence in and maybe rebar every 6" along, deep into the bank, but we'll have to hire a contractor to do that.  The slope is ridiculous!  Anyway, she's back on her long leash, now attached to the deck and I hate doing that to a dog, but, it is what it is!

            I so hope you've enjoyed a "Day in the Life of Rainy"

 
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The Graphics Fairy
            Birds, of course, refers to the "children".  This is really a complex subject and the variables are their personalities, yours, and the circumstances surrounding the birds flying out of the nest.

            When your kids are young, it's such a daunting responsibility to ensure they are loved, taken care of, taught morals, manners and that they experience new things all the time.  But, the time period I want to talk about is how you deal with them "flying the coop". 

            Our five kids (blended family, two are mine, three are Dan's) are all living elsewhere now and range in age from 22yrs to 30yrs.  Over the years, it seems they've all left, yet come back again when things didn't work out so well and you always take your kids back with open arms and try to help them achieve their goals.  It's such a time of anguish for them in those last growing stages of their life with the parents...wanting to be all grown up and on their own, yet, also wanting someone to take care of them for a little while longer.  I'll be honest here, at times we've had to put our foots down regarding nonsense and ask a few to leave, and yet those same few we've also helped extensively to get started later in their "new nest". 

            The psychological aspect to the parent is the subject of this story (it just took me awhile to get to the point!)  because it's a transition like no other when your birds leave the nest.  If you haven't experienced it, get ready!  What I discovered was it's harder to let go than I imagined it would ever be...obviously, I thought it'd be wondrous to not have to clean up after them, keep tabs on where they're going, with who and what time they came in!  But, it's not that easy.  Once they're gone, they have their own lives, work, friends...just like they did at home, but here's the key....they are in control of their situations...not you!  Now, they only rely on you when they feel it's a necessary enough situation to require your input. 

            I would have to say, I believe it took me a couple of years to realize their problems weren't necessarily our problems and that we didn't have to rush to their aid everytime a problem arose, but could just give some simple advise over the phone about possible solutions to their problems.  But, here's the funny part...in the beginning, you'll actually get in your car and go help them, or give them cash (if the situation required it) or solve the problem for them by making the phonecalls required and writing the letters needed!  Always indignant about how society is treating your child in any particular circumstance.

            Then, suddenly (and it really does seem to happen overnight), you step back.  You listen to their dilemmas, but are hesitant to give so much advise that they think you're going to take care of it.  You give pointers on what they can do to remedy the problems and later that week when you're talking to them, you casually ask how it all worked out?  It's a control issue for the parent.  When the control of your "birds" is gone, you've relinquished it to them, so you must let it go in your head as well and realize you've taught them and they can figure things out just fine!

            I've said this before about other people...."It's their stuff".  Taking on all the stressors involved with other people's stuff is a huge task.  I don't mean you should never help others, but alot of times, from all those years of taking care of your own family, you become controlling to a certain degree and you must stop and just control your own life and let others control theirs....especially your children's.

            Recently, we've discovered that Dan's going to be a Grampy and myself a (step)Gramma because his oldest, Robynn (coinciding with the nest topic!  hahahaha!) is going to be a Mommy and we can't wait to have a wee one in the house (it's been soooo long) that we can spoil, not discipline (much) and just give smushy (there's that word again...) hugs and kisses to!  So, it's good that we've already stepped back from our control mode of parenting. 

            We are "Empty Nesters" and proud of it!

           

 
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            Oh yah!  I've never dropped a cellphone in any water, always been careful at the beach in the past and so careful with carrying them in my purse, but, what do I do!  And, this was on the heels of my horribly Spaz-tic day...actually the very next day (Spaz holdover...).  I dropped my iphone4 into my green tea!

            It was only half full, but really, the top end went in first and like any genuine moron....I took it out, dried it off quickly and tried to turn it on!  Big NONO!  Then I checked out YouTube for "what to do when your iphone gets wet?" and learned that the very worst thing I could have done was to attempt to turn it on!  Don't do that if you ever get your phone wet and you may be able to save it without shorting out the circuits! 

            I thought, well....I'll just follow along the steps anyway, just in case there's hope.  So, first I blowdryed it for about 15 minutes and then I got a big ziploc bag full of rice and plunged the top end into it to leave for 48hrs.  Apparently, the rice will draw the water out?  After 48hrs, I tried to turn it on and it just made a vibrating noise and had a black screen.  That's when I thought "hmmm...bet it needs the battery charged?"  I plugged it in and it made all kinds of strange noises and had lines on the screen, etc., but, I'm sorry to say...my iphone is toast.

            Luckily, I purchased the extended warranty and it's only going to cost me $150.00 to replace my phone (isn't that what I paid the first time?)  instead of the full price of the iphone. 

            Unfortunately, the camera on the iphone was so great I was using it to do my blog, and now....I spent several hours yesterday playing with my old Canon PowerShot A620 and reading up on how to use it again.  There's a reason for everything!  I've learned things my old camera could do that I really didn't realize and am going to attempt to finesse my skills over the next little while...but only until I can pick up a newer SLR camera!    Not in the budget right now so I'll survive with my new/old camera! 

            I'm hoping that by spreading the word about what a "Spaz" I was.....we can prevent an overpopulation of "Spazes" worldwide.  Please pass on the "What not to do when your iphone gets wet" story!