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Halloween is not my favourite time of year.  I let the boys go out last year because my husband came on board and convinced me it was just for fun.  Of course, D and P loved it.

This year, they weren’t sure they were going to go out or not.  It really depended on what their school friends were doing.  Seems to me that their school friends weren’t terribly decisive either because, though I kept asking, I never got clear answers.

Just this morning P decided he wasn’t going to go.  He’d stay home with D (who had already decided he was too old for trick or treating).  Well, his friend called late this afternoon and suddenly P was going out and needed a costume.  He needed one fast.  He wanted to be a zombie because that would be easy.  Easy for who I don’t know.  I pulled out last year’s vampire make-up and blood, looked to the internet for some inspiration and did the best I could.

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I’m no make-up artist and five minutes isn’t a whole lot of time to do something amazing.  Fortunately, my son is easy to please.

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This is what I drive by to go to work.

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My neck of the woods can be so beautiful at times.

The boys brought home a book from school last week and casually tossed it on the living room ottoman.  When I asked them about it, they told me some guy had come to the school and given the books out freely.  They informed me that it was about child abuse.

The boys showed no interest in reading the book themselves so I picked it up and read it cover to cover in two sittings.  It’s the true story of Maury Blair who as a child was unwanted, unloved and horribly beaten.  You would think that Mr. Blair would have written his memories out in angry tones but he didn’t.  You see, Maury Blair met God when he was a young man and his life was totally transformed.  He found the love and acceptance he craved as a child in Jesus Christ and went on to use his own history of abuse as a starting point for helping troubled youth.  He is now the director of Toronto Teen Challenge and Break-Through Ministries.

It’s also the story of Alice, Maury’s mother, who showed great promise of being an amazing evangelist as a young woman.  She got sidetracked with a relationship and from there made one bad choice after another.  Rather than confess her sins and deal with them, she chose to run from them and live a life of lies.  She ends her life exhausted and defeated, never able to leave her haunting past behind even though Maury shares with her God’s love and forgiveness.

I was amazed that this book was handed out in a public school setting.  Maury Blair clearly shares his salvation experience and for the remainder of the book gives all the credit to God for his transformed life.  It was a compelling read and I hope and pray that some of the other students who received a copy show more interest in reading it than D and P do at present.  Who knows what further good God can bring through this “child of woe”?

Quiet.  I love it and seek it out.  Today’s desire for peaceful reflection drove me back to the Orillia Fish and Game Conservancy.  I knew that there was at least one trail there that I hadn’t explored yet.

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Happily, I didn’t encounter any bees.  What I did find was a trail riddled with adorable homemade signs (like the one above) alerting me to various wildflowers and tree species.  I already plan to do this trail again in late spring or early summer.  I love wildflowers and trees but can only definitely identify a handful of either.  I’m up for learning the names of some of these fascinating plants I spot.

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The trail had various paths branching off of it leading to marsh lookout points.  Each place had a certain beauty about it.

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I’m really growing fond of my own shadow.  That’s good because it goes with me wherever I go!

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Something about the way these leaf droppings floated on the water made me think of swirls on a modern art painting.  If I ever try painting, this photo may inspire me.  There’s something about the colours and the movement that I find pretty.

I actually spent a few hours meandering today.  I’m astounded at that.  It didn’t seem like I was there that long.  This isn’t what a lot of people would call fun (I invited D and P to come along knowing that they would say “no thanks”) but it must be fun for me because I keep going back and time just flies when I’m there.

I was transported back in time today to my second year at university.  I was living off campus with a few friends about a forty-five minute walk  from school.  I did that walk faithfully five days a week in all kinds of weather.  I can remember many a class where I took notes soaking wet, a steady puddle of water pooling beside my seat as forty-five minutes worth of rain or snow tried to escape my clothing.  What most amazed me about that year was that I didn’t get sick once.  Up until then, I was prone to cold after cold, followed by sinus infections and usually an annual flu.  My room mates and I pretty much lived on canned soup and white bread (the cheapest kind), so I can’t really say that my incredibly healthy diet strengthened me.  I think I became heartier that year having to do that forty-five minute trudge twice a day, day in and day out, in all kinds of weather.

I thought about that today because I delivered a  lot of newspapers in not so nice weather.  For the last few routes I was wet, very wet.  I could have gotten all upset about it but what good would that have done?  Instead, I thought back to that extremely healthy year I had and all the healthy years I’ve had since then.  Being outside, braving the elements, getting exercise, it’s done me good.  I’m stronger than I used to be.  The thought didn’t quite get me singing in the rain but it did help me to push on and push through and get the job done.

Trials don’t have to bring me down.  With the right attitude they can make me better than I was before.  I need to exercise this way of thinking.  Today it rained.  Tomorrow it might snow.

They showed up en masse today, little drops of red and orange in a world that’s growing more brown by the day.

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I thought it would be cool if they congregated somewhere but they didn’t seem to think like me.  They were quite happy to walk their separate ways on the back of our home.  Hundreds of them.

Have you ever noticed how ladybugs like to walk on the edge of things?  Try taking pictures of them and you’ll notice.  I took a lot of pictures of these pretty little visitors but most of them were blurry and uninspiring.  Big sigh.  I think a macro lens would have come in handy today.  Oh well.  They’ll be back.  They come every October when the weather turns a little nice.  It’s like they know that soon the snow will fly and that they must try to find someplace warmer to spend the winter.  They’re thinking our home is a good vacation spot.  They’re wrong.  All the ladybugs that made it in last year sunned themselves to death on our bay window.  It’s like they didn’t realize that too much of a good thing would lead to their demise.  I guess if it’s your time to go, drying up and falling off a bay window with a good view is as good a way as any.

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So tiny.  So pretty.  So hard to photograph.  I gave up after about forty snaps or so.  A few other bugs stopped by too and hung around even when I approached with my camera and held it about one centimetre over them.

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This beautiful wasp was slower than molasses.  That really made photographing him a pleasure.  He didn’t try to run away to an edge like some other tiny, pretty bugs I was trying to immortalize.

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This insect didn’t move at all.   No bay window needed I guess.

I really need to learn more about these faithful callers.  They’re truly extraordinary if you take the time to look at them.  Such vibrant colours.  Such interesting habits.  The artistry of their bodies is amazing.  And they like our home!  Three cheers for Ladybug Day!

I came home from church in conflict.  It had nothing to do with the sermon, though it was a good one and definitely something to think more upon.  No.  I was in conflict because there are a lot of little jobs that need doing around the house but it was also a perfect Fall day.  A part of me wanted to get caught up on housework and the rest of me wanted to blow some time walking in the woods taking pictures.  I tend to get less productive as the day goes on so opting to enjoy nature in the afternoon would mean that a lot fewer mundane jobs would get done.  On the other hand, perfect Fall days don’t come along every day.  The pictures showed which side won out.

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I drove out to the Fish and Game Conservancy in Orillia and walked some of the trails there.  The woods were quietly dreamy and there were observation spots where you could see things like your shadow and even some swans.

Was it a good choice?  It seemed like it at the time but now that I’m faced with this messy house again I’m beginning to reconsider.  Big sigh.

I have been a homeowner for many years now and have done many joyful renovation projects.  Some of them have turned out better than others.  I’m the sort of person who gets an idea in my head and then runs with it on the cheapest budget possible.  This is challenging and fun but it doesn’t always produce the greatest results.

I feel like I’m now stepping back and starting where I should have years ago.  I’m looking through decorating magazines and blogs and studying the rooms I like and dislike and trying to figure out why one resonates with me and another doesn’t.  Design-wise I’m pulled in all sorts of directions.  I realize that I don’t really definitively know what I like.  I have started cutting out pictures of rooms that I think have “wow” factor and putting them in a folder and really looking at them carefully.  If I can figure out why I like them, it will help me put together rooms that make me happy.

I want to move from buying things because I need them and they’re a good price to buying things because I love them and will make them work anywhere I go.   I think in the long run this will be less expensive.  Buying better quality pieces that are “me” is an investment for life.  I don’t know why this is even so important to me.  I just know that when I sit in a room that is “right” I feel great and when I’m in a room that isn’t, I’m bothered.  It’s kind of exciting to finally begin at the starting point and maybe get it together more than I have in the past.  I’m looking forward to gorgeous rooms that I can live with in my future.

It’s DA’s birthday tomorrow.  Since he works on Saturdays, we decided to celebrate it today on his day off.  My contribution to the celebration was to make a cake.  I had in mind a cake I wanted to TRY to make but I wasn’t too sure I wanted to share my creation with the rest of DA’s family.  Check it out.  I found this cake tin at a garage sale this past summer for change:

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DA and I grew up watching Sesame Street and we often laugh at how much DA resembles Bert.  We’ve watched a few early clips of the show and chuckled because Bert does things the way DA would.  When I saw the Bert and Ernie tin up for sale, I knew I had to snatch it for his birthday.  Making the cake was simple, decorating it was anything but.

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I don’t think I’ll become a cake decorator anytime soon.  Poor Ernie and Bert!  They both look like they have major skin problems.  Then there are Ernie’s lips.  I tried to outline them using a red Scribbler and the red totally ran.  Ernie looked like he was trying out to play the part of the Joker on Batman.  Though I can’t say this cake was a smashing success artistically, I can say that I laughed a lot trying to ice it and that DA loved it.

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Here’s a blurry image of the birthday boy (my camera couldn’t handle the low light) holding the gift the boys handpicked for him.  DA likes his beer so they thought a big beer bottle shaped coin bank with some beer money already in it would make a great gift.  DA loved that too.

I got him a good pair of walking shoes so he can hike off all the cake we ate and all the beer he will drink.  Happy Birthday DA!

I’m artsy.  Presentation matters to me.  I like things to look good.  I work hard to make things beautiful.  I labour long to keep things beautiful.  Whatever gene I have that makes me this way was not passed on to my sons.  They honestly don’t understand my desire for cleanliness and beauty.  To them I sound like a broken record, always telling them to put things away.  “Who really cares if the room isn’t perfect?” they wonder out loud.  “Why can’t you care more about presentation knowing it matters so much to me?” I respond.  We just can’t seem to sing in harmony on this one.  I don’t know if the boys would label me as a clean freak.  I am trying to make our relationship more important than the state of various rooms in our home.  I think they’d more likely call me excessive.

Today, P asked me to help him on a school project.  I love projects.  The difference between a good project and a great one is presentation and presentation is where I shine.  As soon as P told me about his project, ideas started popping into my head and out of my mouth.  Before you knew it, I was looking things up on the computer and printing things off and showing my idea of how they could be put on the project board and…well…doing P’s project.  P got quiet and gave me that look.  He isn’t particularly interested in producing a great project.  He’s not even that interested in making a good project.  He’s shooting for good enough.

I hung my head, apologized and backed off.  It’s hard for me.  I know that left to himself P will put together a mediocre project.  He won’t try to make it beautiful or colour coordinated or even particularly neat.  He’ll try to make it look like every other boy’s project in his class.  It’s his project and I have to let him do it himself even if it isn’t done to the standard that I would like it to be.  I have to accept that not everyone is keen about making things the best they can be like I am.  I have to let my boys get a B or a C though I know the way to get an A.  They’ve told me again and again to not take over and to let them be who they are.  It’s their broken record song.  It’s the one thing I find hard to pick up.

Ecclesiastes 3:11

He (God) has made everything beautiful in its time.