Looking Back

Our son passed through Buffalo New York on Sunday, the place  where I was born and where I lived through my university years.  He  managed to Skype the area with me.

Both my Mom and Dad taught at the University there. My brother, sister and I all lived in a rented house near the University until I was 4 years old.

The rental home. I don’t remember this house. I do recall breaking my arm one day, my brother walking me home, and my Mom reading me “Little Black Sambo”.Aug18-2014HouseLisbon

This is the school my brother (and sister?) attended nearby. It is now closed and for sale.Aug18-2014Lisbon-school

We then moved to a purchased house in 1946, also within walking distance of the campus. I have memories of carrying Scarlet the cat in a bag while being pulled in the wooden wagon to the new house.

This is the house as I remember it.Aug18-2014old483-Winspear

This is the house as it looks today. My son and I spoke to the new owner of my former home over Skype!
This is where I learned to roller skate with clamp on skates with a key. My best friend was Kathy. She lived in the corner house. Her father was a doctor. Her mother had an ironing machine and gave us Toni home permanents. I practically lived with them. They had the first TV set I ever saw. There were vacant lots where we played nearby. My first school was a half block away from home and the teachers were mostly very good. Joan was my best friend in my class. She had red hair, beautiful penmanship and was artistically talented! Her father worked at Bethlehem Steel and her mother was a  homemaker. She had a younger sister and they lived in a nice apartment. We hooked up once more in University!

Public School #80 as it looks today.Aug18-2014PS80

I loved talking with the neighbors as they watered their lawns, painted their houses, walked their babies in carriages and so on. I was on a mission to learn what a “normal” family was like! My family was different and I knew it. How? Dad rode a bike to work, wore a beret and carried a briefcase. Mom used a bundle buggy to shop for groceries. NO ONE else did! She graded papers, prepared lessons, and used the Albright Know Gallery for gathering slides for her classes. We had no car and took buses everywhere. My brother played with electronics, not with other children. My sister read books in Latin and galloped like a horse on the street. I remember her practicing to fly as she repeatedly jumped off the front steps. That was proof to me that no family was like ours!

So well over 50 years later, there was my son Skyping me a view of the neighborhood, the newly renovated grammar school, and speaking with the happy new owner of our former home. I have been thinking how this home and neighborhood shaped me…mostly for the good.

As we prepare for a great move to Western Canada next month, many thoughts are churning on the roles of the houses in my past. I’m sure there will be tales to tell in future years about our new adventure. This will be no condo or retirement home, it will be a home with a modest garden near family, near grandchildren. This will be part of my continuing search for what makes a “real” family. Obviously doing things together with them close by will be the best part! Early October will be an exciting experience with our son helping set up the electronics and with our daughter showing us the ropes of living on an island and shopping and banking etc on the mainland, a short ferry ride away.

Perhaps I’ll practice trying to fly with the young ones. :)

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Where Have You Been?

The time has come to pack our bags and travel west. You wouldn’t believe the amount of accumulated clutter we have amassed over the past 17 years.  So far we have only thrown items away. I hope to fill boxes soon. No time really for blogging I’m afraid.

Fortunately I have friends who help with some of the decision making as regards what to do with guitar amplifiers, the piano, the plant lights, and the treadmill. We have more furniture than we will be able to deal with at our new place. There may be a “garage” sale in our future. Oh no!!!

But life goes on all the time that we are plugging away at these things. Our daughter has moved as well. They have many home renovations in progress too. Her stepson, age 15, has arrived for the month of August. Her new puppy (Salty) is growing and doing just what he should, namely befriending the chickens and protecting them. This is the year when her oldest child will likely be attending Kindergarten part time. A big step. She’ll love it and her teacher will love her too. What a big step!


Her middle child has become a lover of the nearby beach and now rides his two wheeler without assistance. Mastering this before his 4th birthday has made him very proud.

July10-2014LeoOnWheels1And the youngest, not quite two, loves playing with cars and making truck noises. He also loved visiting Daddy on his boat and helping him out.

As for our son, work has him dealing with foreign lands night and day it seems. There always seem to be crises…but then too, when there is progress with schools and their laptop programs it delights us all and helps many children all at once. There were several fortunate schools in Haiti this June, July and August!

One lovely friend was able to visit us at the farm last month and wrote up a blog entry of our clematis garden. What a treat to see our place through her eyes! Do take a look here and enjoy! :)


Thank you Helen!


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Moving Onward

We are trying to organize our lives…which means downsizing. We have sold the farm. By the end of September, we will be residents of British Columbia, living near our daughter’s family, watching the grandchildren grow.

This may be hard for you to believe, but even harder for us to imagine. We are busy throwing away more that 17 years worth of stuff, and the major and minor decisions are sometimes painful. But we are keeping in mind that life isn’t about stagnation, but meeting new opportunities. So off we go!

There may be new gardens, but even that isn’t certain. I’ll be back to painting and fixing the inside of the new place, and I imagine having little ones spend time with us too. There will be space for guests…that’s for sure.  We will be closer to the grocery store, but will need to take the ferry for major purchases and things like vet visits.

Living in the computer age means we will never be far from friends and family, even though the distances in miles will change.

I like Bonnie Raitt’s take on things: “Life gets mighty precious when there’s less of it to waste.”

If I appear here very seldom, know that I am busy doing things I love!

Goodbye to the farm…

July2-2014FrontViewGoodbye to over 200 clematis…


But hello family!!!



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News of my son….

Just amazing to hear about my son’s travels with friends in Nepal. My son sent me this URL by a friend, saying it is the short version. (I fear what he means by this…)
Thank you Nick!
These photos and text are MARVELOUS!


They will be teaching children about laptops before returning home.


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Anticipating May

In terms of weather, everything is misty and mysterious here. I imagine things will clear up in the next few weeks, but it seems such a slow start to spring! Today was nasty and cold, but some pots of bulbs that were planted up late last fall are showing fresh new tips, and that is mighty exciting. Pansies and Violas survive this weather too!

April18-2014Pansies7On the sad side, many trees have been destroyed by the Christmas ice storm, mainly huge old willows, and those require immediate attention.


I have not made time to post enough lately. We have been ever so busy! First has been DH’s retirement which officially begins tomorrow.  “The last paycheck” he lamented over dinner tonight. We are still working on taxes (both US & Canadian) which are increasingly complex… ugh.

Then there is the end to his involvement in the organization he began over a dozen years ago to bring attention to the aggregate situation in Ontario (sand, stone and gravel). It is a difficult break. The letters from friends have been so touching….

Our “children” progress with their independence and pursuit of happiness. Our son has been attending conferences on laptop education and has been traveling through Italy, England, France….and onwards to Nepal. Communication is scant, and Mama always worries. Photos on Flikr are amazing though! How many can you stand?

14020694675_b4099eecc413982470166_b1fc9403cc 13997629246_229d41b83b 14002371402_2a494e4360 14002797881_3bb444fe46 14002857121_d03365d12c 14003278951_87fb6d5b96 14005998415_a8ba7977b5 14006285675_485ac2597f 14006383455_806b72e27a 14006429564_78422177af 14006525655_5a6a3450dd 14006869734_cf5e0a846e

Our daughter’s move to BC has been exciting and complicated…but the children have been happy throughout, which is a blessing. They helped select their new home, and so knew what to expect.  This coming weekend they should be moving in…and then repairs to the place begin in earnest. In the meantime they have visited playgrounds, checked out their new property with the magic playhouse and barn, been to the beach, bathed outdoors…all wonderful adventures.

IMG_20140423_190253 IMG_20140427_161050April29-2014ForrestPark April29-2014LeoParkApril29-2014KidsWallApril29-2014IvyForWallChecking out the loft of the barnApril29-2014IvyBarn Then inspecting an old bird nest. April29-2014IvyNest10262013_10152324482290255_6978711998936291684_nVery soon my husband travels to visit them in BC. Our son-in-law begins his new job soon, which will keep him on the ocean for 2 weeks each month. Then a week later I leave to join them too. We are timing our visits to help out with the grandchildren during DSIL’s absence, though we will get to visit a few days with him.

And when we return to Ontario, we expect that gardening season will begin immediately, starting with the vegetable garden. Do you think summer will happen this year?  ;)


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April is the cruelest month

Well, in my opinion,  April is really the most mixed up of months.

We have had such a mix of weather and experiences this month. Just crazy! Planning for DH’s retirement,  listening to accounts of the very complicated house move for DD’s family, hearing about DS’s exotic work and travels…

Combine this with medical and dental appointments, lots of garden cleanup from the Christmas ice storm… WOW! Then major flooding, and today powerful winds that knocked over the bird feeders, alarming the dog.

On the bright side we have small flowers in bloom, tiny tips of Bloodroot emerging, and almost all the dirty snow has melted.

And so I’m here to share some update photos with you all:

Real life miracle survivor friends…one year later! March21-2014SueSharon

Warmth returnsApril6-2014SunnyDay6

The future playhouse for the grandchildren1981929_10152265232550255_318479720_n

Making memories before the moveApril9-2014

Sold and packing up….April11-2014Moving.5

New sweater ready for Ivy


Games made and laminated for the young ones. Some fun new books arrived for them as well.April10-2014Scavenger-Hunts

First bulbs emerge
April11-2014Snowdrops April11-2014WinterAconites

Flooding as the snow melts all around…April13-2014FloodingTowardHouse

The overflow channel where a muskrat was frightened awayApril13-2014FloodingOverflowChannel1

Lots of cleanup necessary this year… and so DH bought himself a chainsaw and some protective equipment.


And this because it is so beautiful!10013929_10151955491027522_6793402652551585310_nEvery day brings more excitement!


And then…today’s surpise.


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A Tiny Post With an Added Surprise!

It is 52F here today! What a treat. The snow is melting slowly, which I hope means no flooding of our creek. I have seen a robin, and that is GOOD!


The experiment continues: my huge pots of bulbs that have been shivering in the garage for months now, without a break, are now soaking up light and moisture on the potting table in front of the garage. I know it will be cold again, but I think they can deal with that. The test will be to see if they emerge at all, or if the constant bitter cold killed them.


My husband brought in a bit more wood from the barn. We continue to enjoy the heat of the wood stove, but the quality of the wood is very low by now. We’ve been using it for 5-6 months straight! Soon it will be time to tidy up large branches for stacking in the barn. They’ll need to age for a couple of years though, so next year’s wood will have to be purchased.

The earth is soggy and squishy. Rubber boot weather at last!


PS! I brisk walk out in the now 55F world revealed a few exciting bits!

March31-2014FirstBlooms3March31-2014FirstBlooms2March31-2014FirstBlooms4March31-2014LysimachiaBeaujolaisThis Lysimachia beaujolais mais have survived the winter! I certainly hope so.(http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=b417)

On the negative side, there seem to be voles everywhere….


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