Monday evening

Oh, I’m so sorry I haven’t been able to write lately!  I’ve really missed it.

But let me tell you. . .

. . .last week was just terrible.  I started back to work (which isn’t a bad thing, really) but I was totally not organized or prepared for it.  Then, my fridge decided to quit on me.  So, into panic mode I go tossing food left right and center, while piling what I couldn’t justify tossing into coolers or dumping it in a freezer.  (We ate a few rather gruesome meals of stuff I couldn’t in good conscience throw out.  Sigh.  Chalk that up to thriftiness – or – cheapness, which ever you prefer.)

I thought I’d have to replace the fridge and actually spent a couple of days shopping around.  But an uncle of a friend of Tim’s who knows about fridges said we should unplug it and let it thaw out.  It’s a frost-free fridge, I said.  Yes, but sometimes they freeze up for no apparent reason, the uncle said.  So, we tried it, and voila! two days later, the fridge is working better than new!  I was so happy to not have to go out and spend a $1000 on a new one.  I am, however, starting a savings plan to replace it.  The old girl is 20 years old.  I think we’re doing pretty good if we get another year out of it.  (Could I possibly hope for two?)

Then, while dealing with the fridge I decided I might as well defrost my freezers.  “Cause you see, this Friday the chickens are coming.  Some friends and I raise chickens every other year (well, to be honest, Joe, Rita and Heather have done all the ‘raising’ this year).  Usually we kill and clean them ourselves, but this year time is at a premium so Joe and Rita are taking them into to be done professionally.  This will cost a few extra $’s, but truthfully, I’m okay with it.

Gutting, plucking and de-cropping chickens is not something I ever imagined myself doing, and over the years I’ve gotten used to it, but is it something I absolutely love and look forward to?  Not on your life.  It’s a messy, stinky, hot and tiring job.  And the whole while you’re at it the bees and wasps are buzzing around your head.  Not pretty when you swat with a mitt full of guts.

So, anyway, back to defrosting the freezers — I had to get that done in order to make room for my chickens.

Then the weekend came and it was Hailey’s TaeKwonDo test.  We went and spent Sat. afternoon watching her, then went off to the Edmonton/Saskatchewan football game.  Man, those Roughrider fans are crazy!  We had a blast watching them.  Oh, and Edmonton won.  Whoot! Whoot!    Sunday, Tim worked and I took Hailey shopping for school clothes.  She starts kindergarten this week!  My! Where did the time go?

We had so much fun.  For lunch we had the most amazing cupcakes I’ve ever eaten!  Then we shopped ’til we dropped.  And there it was, the weekend over, and I didn’t have the energy to blog.

Tonight, though, on my way home from a meeting the mist had rolled in over the fields and I decided that I needed to get out and take some pictures.  So I flew home, threw the camera in the car and headed out.

The pictures I’ve included here are from down Sunnyside Road just south of Bon Accord.  The alpaca pictures didn’t turn out as nicely as I had hoped — I’ve got to invest in a tripod.  I think a couple of the others are pretty nice — especially the bridge and the ones of the fields.

The weather here has been just lousy lately, our daytime temperature was 12 degrees today.  Tonight we could get frost.  Ridiculous for August!  But what is it that I always say?  Oh, yeah, it’s summer in Alberta.

Good night everyone — sweet dreams.

Wednesday — and I’m runnin’ late!

Well, it’s back to work today.  And. . .

. . . I hit the wrong button on the alarm clock and didn’t get up at 6 like I had planned.  Poor Heather, she was coming over to meet me for a morning walk.  Left her standing out there on the step.  Sorry, sorry, sorry.  So, I didn.t get up until 7:10.  Not a great start, I’d have to say.

My goal this year is to be so ahead of myself in time that I have the last 15 minutes of my  morning, before rushing out the door, to sit and read.  I’m up for the challenge!  Because, as anyone who knows me knows, I’m usually flying to get to work with a minute to spare.

That means that I’m going to have to work something out for blogging.  Because I just don’t see it workin’ for me in the a.m.  Unless I’m up at 5 again, and at this moment, I’m just not sure I want to do that.  6 is fine, 5 makes me a little cranky.

We’ll see, I got used to it last year, even to the point of enjoying that sense of stillness that exists that time of morning.

Anyway, chickadees, gotta fly.  Or I’m gonna be late on my first morning.  There will be no reading today!

(Will answer yesterday’s comments later.  Thanks everyone!)

My last Monday of holiday time . . Sigh!

Here’s today’s blog from my meanderings:

http://freelancejoesblog.wordpress.com/

He has this neat little thing going, kind of like tweeting, I guess, where you post ten word comments.  He’s trying to reach a million of them, I think.  Check it out, some of the comments are pretty neat.  I left my own ten-worder, and now am obsessing over others.

It was a pretty quiet weekend here at chez Larson.  Tim went for a ride with a buddy then worked in the yard.  Landon, Jenn and the kids came for brunch yesterday — we had the traditional eggs Benedict, was wonderful.  And other than grocery and shoe shopping I didn’t do a damn thing.

Well, I did finish Atonement on Saturday.  Wonderful book.  Read it.  There’s a surprising revelation at the end.  Ian McEwan has just become one of my favorite authors.

So, my gd car has to go into the shop again!  This time it’s the keyless entry system.  Just up and quit on me.  You know, I love this vehicle for the way it drives, the comfortable interior, the smart look, but I am less than pleased with all the ‘little’ things that have required fixing.  It seems to me there is something faulty with the electrical system if I keep having these problems.

Anyway. . .  that’s what I’m doing on my last Tuesday of my holidays.  Huge sigh.

Last Friday I did something I never thought I would.  I went through all my old files of writing — the articles and short stories I had started but never finished — and I threw most of them away.  I thought it would hurt, or cause me some major anxiety, but it was actually quite easy.  I shook my head once or twice when I thought about the wasted time and the amount of paper, but afterwards I felt good.  It was like I got rid of a huge weight.  That file drawer full of unfinished projects, the accordion files filled with twenty-five year old clippings (I know, I can hear some of you gasping that I tossed them) were like nagging, mean-spirited, nasty tormentors that made me feel like a failure every time I opened the drawer or walked past their dust-covered tops.

I kept my hundreds of rejections and copies of anything that I thought might still have potential.  Why did I do this?  Is it because I’m giving up on writing?  No.  It’s just that I feel it’s time to move forward.  To stop being bogged down by everything I haven’t done.  To get going on the stuff I want to accomplish.  All those old ideas were good ones at one time, but they lost their relevance a long time ago.  I just couldn’t accept that.

It was surprising for me to go through my files because in there were published articles and pieces that I had forgotten about.  I was actually quite proud of myself when I took a look at all I had actually accomplished as a writer.  Now, it’s time to get back there.  No more excess baggage, no more guilty avoidance of the file drawer.  I can open it now and add new stuff.  Stuff I will finish.

That’s the plan, anyway.

I am feeling good about this!

Thursday, hazy Thursday

Hazy sun through my pine

The sun blanketed in haze over freshly swathed fields, 8 a.m.

Reading one of Cindy’s posts ( http://theonlycin.wordpress.com ) this morning I was inspired to create this list of things that impress me:

  • stories about people who go out of their way to do kindness for small seemingly insignificant creatures like snails and slugs — recently reported on CBC
  • helpful strangers who will Google an address or directions for you — this happened in New York quite frequently
  • the nice people who walk by our house (which is in a constant state of renovation and yard work) who only say nice things like:  wow, you guys are doing a great job!  when in actuality they’re probably thinking: wow, are you guys ever going to finish?
  • really, really nice cars — in red, that are incredibly fast
  • the Tiffany’s diamond — it was the real thing and it was stunning
  • my grand daughter’s sweetness to her brothers
  • juicy, ripe tomatoes fresh off the vine
  • Cirque du Soleil — those performers are otherworldly

This could go on and on, once you start it’s kind of infectious.  Here’s a couple of pictures of other things that impress

me with their beauty:

Something way past due. . .

While I was away on my trip to New York something nice happened — Granny 1947 picked me to receive an award for my blog.  This is the link:

http://thelisas.wordpress.com/

The Versatile Blogger Award

I was both astonished and honoured by her consideration.  Really.  Because, often, when I’ve finished my blog for the day I wonder:  Who is going to be interested in this?  But, nonetheless, I post it anyway.  It’s a way of communication and I am so glad for the connections I’ve made on this space.  To think that others find my ramblings interesting is humbling and inspiring.

Unfortunately, the award says I’m to pass it on to 15 others.  I’m terribly sorry, but I don’t know 15 others, so, I’ll just pass it on to the few I do know.  Maybe they have already received it — if so,I hope they will consider it a double honour.

I have copied the following directly from Granny’s blog:  Traditionally, when one receives an award like this, he/she graciously passes it along to someone else with no strings attached, but The Versatile Blogger Award comes with some conditions, listed below. If you are one of the recipients, please understand there is no pressure to accept it – just know that we enjoy visiting your blog.

Conditions:
1. Thank the folks and link to them
2. Share 7 things about yourself
3. Pass along to 15 bloggers (and link to them)
4. Comment on their blogs to tell them of the award

1.) Thank the Folks and Link to Them:

Thank you, http://granny1947.wordpress.com/, for awarding The Versatile Blogger Award to me.  I find it awesome that you even considered me.

2.) Share Seven Things About yourself.

  • I have been married for nearly 31 years — and we still manage to have fun together from time to time.
  • I have a son, an only child, who has 3 beautiful children of his own.
  • I am the oldest of eight children — 3 sisters, 4 brothers.
  • The only time I inhaled a cigarette I passed out cold, so you could say I have never smoked.
  • I dream of winning the lottery and finding a lovely lakefront cottage in which to while away my days writing and reading and gardening.
  • I would love to spend a year travelling the world.
  • I constantly dye my hair red; it suits my temperament better.

3. Pass Along to 15 Other Bloggers and Link to Them:
(In alphabetical order)

http://granny1947.wordpress.com/

http://slpmartin.wordpress.com/

http://souldipper.wordpress.com/

http://thefrailestthing.com/

http://theonlycin.wordpress.com/

What memories are made of

The blog I checked out today:   http://divycorner.wordpress.com/2010/08/17/him-i-envy.  I really applaud Andy Pag for his efforts, but as I commented  on the blog, I really don’t think they’ll have much impact.  Even so, I give him credit for trying.

Me and my pumpkins on a train ride

Well, I didn’t get to go camping.  The frigging rain and wind stopped that.  But, we had fun, anyway.  We went swimming, and spent the day at Harvest Days, Bon Accord’s yearly summer fair/ball tournament.  It’s pretty rinky-dink, but the little ones like the noise and candy and different-ness of it all.  I learned that it’s damn near impossible to eat hotdogs in gale-force winds — that was frustrating beyond belief!  Other than that, though it was a pretty good time.  We kept the kids up late to watch the fireworks.  Listening to them ooh and aah was so worth it.

I spent yesterday putting my house back together.  The kitchen had been transformed into a ‘rock store’ — all my napkins had been unfolded and spread out over the wall unit and cabinets and littered with the shiny coloured rocks (glass blobs and marbles that I use in my flower vases).  They put them in bowls, colanders, and inside cups.  Some I stepped on.  Ouch!  I should have taken a picture, but didn’t think of it until after I had it all cleaned up.  So now, I’ll just have to keep that memory tucked in my heart.

It was funny, cleaning up made me remember how I used to clean up after Landon had gone to bed each night — the picking up of toys, the stepping on Lego, the finding bits of things stashed here and there.  Sometimes it was a chore, but mostly I enjoyed it.  Seeing all the ‘mess’ reminded me of his day, his laughter, his questions and queries, his temper if things didn’t quite go the way he wished.  It also reminded me that I had fun, too.

Don’t go thinking that I was Mom of the Year or anything if you’re reading the above — I had plenty of days where my reality was anything other than idyllic — but, for the most part I loved being a Mom.  As I’ve said plenty of times before it was the best and most important thing I ever did in my life.  Admittedly, I wasn’t always great at it, but that in no way takes away from what it meant to me, still means to me.

But being a grandma is a whole other ball of wax.  I love this, too!  I get to have all the fun and really, very little of the responsibility.  Our days are filled with what will we do today? Not, what do I have to do today?  I can buy the little boxes of cereal for breakfast — you know the ones that cost way too much but are fun to eat because they’re little and usually laced with sugar?  I know, bad grandma!  So what! It’s once in a blue moon.

One of my favorite memories of this past weekend (there are lots) was me and Timmy sitting at the kitchen table, him eating a toasted peanut butter sandwich, me a toasted tomato sandwich and just talking.  I can’t remember what we were talking about, only that he kept telling me how much he liked peanut butter and that he really wished we could go camping.  He was leaned halfway across the table and was looking at me so earnestly with those big blue eyes of his.  When we were done he asked if we were going back to the ‘hooray’.  That’s what he called the fair, because that morning we’d been to the parade and he couldn’t say parade.  Adorable.

I’ve had a pretty terrific summer and last weekend put the capper on it.  Hope yours has been a good one, too.

Okay, so here’s the blog I checked out today:

http://msjyh.wordpress.com/2010/08/11/a-picture-is-worth-a-thousand-words

Very much worth a visit.

what I'm hoping for this weekend

It’s raining here today.  Very dark and gloomy.  Am trying not to be too discouraged, because we need the rain, badly.  However, this could put a damper on my camping plans.

You see, we still tent it.  Which isn’t bad for Tim and I, but my grandkids are 3 and 5.  Don’t know how much fun they’ll have if we have to hole up in a tent all weekend.  Sigh.  I am praying to the sun gods.  Pray with me.

I think I am finally over whatever bug it was I had.  Man oh man, this one hung on!  Today was my first day in nearly a month that I haven’t had a sore throat.  And I can finally take a deep breath without coughing.  Sing hallelujah!

Did a little bit of weeding in the garden before the rain hit.  Sad to see how everything is already spent.  There will be a few more blooms, but the zenith is past.  Now it’s just keeping on top of chickweed and unscented chamomile.  The slugs have wreaked havoc on my coleus, but I’ve decided to let them be.  The coleus have given me the best of themselves so far, why not let the little buggers have a bit of them, too?  It’s time too, to get in and hack down the Delphinium that is no longer in bloom.  They start looking so bedraggled and dirty after they’ve bloomed.  I want them out!  It can wait til next week, though.

Well, I guess I’ll go do a bit more optimistic packing for the weekend.  Remember:  pray for sun!

Wednesday — Randomness

Here’s a very interesting article on the use of the ellipsis.  For anyone into language, grammar, etc.  I loved his point of view.   http://thefrailestthing.com/2010/08/11/dot-dot-dot-2/

I’ve had a couple of quiet days.  Getting things ready to take my grandkids camping.  Am thoroughly looking forward to it.  I love camping!

There have been disturbing signs already that summer is starting to wind down.  The mornings are cooler, the evenings shorter, the smell of freshly cut crops lingers in the air, my petunias are beginning to get ‘leggy’, and the lilies’ glory is  fading.

Summer is my favorite time of year and I always feel just a bit mellow when I acknowledge that it is leaving.  Here, in Alberta, it is such a short visit.  I know that fall will be glorious and there will be warm days and nights to come, but it’s simply not the same.  Summer is magic; it’s sultry heat and god clouds and everything growing at its absolute height of perfection.  It’s kids laughing and staying up late and s’mores and scraped knees and Popsicles.  It’s a beer on the front porch watching the hummingbirds dip into the delphinium, or, later, watching as the bat dips and dives and devours mosquitoes.  It’s the sound of coyotes in the field nearby, their yips and yowls just beyond my bedroom window.  It’s the sound of frogs chirping and croaking and the way it always makes me smile how they all stop in unison when someone walks past the slough.  It’s reflection time, connection time; time to just enjoy being alive.

Delphinium . . . sans hummingbird

Good morning! It’s revelation time.

Hello all!  I took a small break from everything — and I mean EVERYTHING — but I’m back now.  My apologies if I caused any concern.

All of a sudden, blogging and writing and messaging and Facebooking started to become more of a chore than it was a joy.  I’d get up every day and think:  I need to blog,write, etc., but I’ve got to do this, this, this.  If I write now, that will take up the first two hours of my day, but I need to get outside and work in the yard, then I need to clean the house, then I need to find time to see my grandkids, then I need to find time to connect with friends, then I need to figure out what we’re having for supper, then I need. . .

If I put off the writing until later then I felt guilty or put upon because I had something else to do in the middle of my day that was taking me away from other things I wanted/needed to do.

Somewhere along the line my life has become one great big long to-do list.  And I don’t want writing to be on that list.

Writing has always been something that I love to do, it’s the thing that has taken me away from the to-do list.  So, you can imagine (maybe) how unsettling it was for me to realize that writing was becoming an obligation.   It shocked me, set me back on my heels a bit.

So, I decided to take a step back, to think about writing, and try to figure out how and where it fits in my life.   Well, I can’t say I’ve actually answered this, other than to say that I know, in my bones, that writing is a need for me.  It’s my best form of communication, it’s where I feel free from everything in my ‘normal’ life.

Like many who write, I’ve entertained the fantasy of writing full-time, of earning a substantial living from writing, of being recognized on some social level for my writing.  But, like most who write, I’ve sacrificed the fantasy for the reality — life, after all, requires attendance.  Choosing family and all the inherent obligations that comes with it does not allow for entire days spent at a desk or computer, it also does not allow for many free evenings or weekends devoted solely to the craft.   And yet. . .

. . . when I say that I feel chagrined.  Because the message is that if you want it bad enough, you will make it happen.  There are abundant  examples of people who have made the fantasy a reality — they have put it all on the line and made their passion their success.  So, then, that leaves me feeling like I must not want it bad enough, I lack that special ingredient in my makeup that could have driven me to be more successful.  Then I start the argument with myself that says that for me family was more important — putting my husband and my son first had to be the priority.   Although I actively pursued writing and even had some minor success, eventually, the demands of family and the need to contribute financially — on a steady, regular basis — caused me to put writing on the back burner.

Still, I didn’t completely abandon it.  I continued to write and actually decided to go to university and get my BA, majoring in English, of course.  After ten years I’m still working on it.  I’ve allowed myself to become sidetracked by other obligations, stuff I don’t even feel all that passionate about, but somehow feel I should do, because others expect it.  Which, of course, is utter nonsense.  No one expects anything from me that I don’t feel compelled to give.  The truth is I want to please, and in wanting to please everyone else, I’m failing to please myself.

This is what my little hiatus has done for me.  It’s forced my to recognize that any lack of personal writing success I feel is because of my own choices.  And that those choices have brought other successes into my life.

And that that was where my sense of writing as obligation was coming from:  personal dissatisfaction with myself and my shoddy efforts at creating excuses for not doing the thing that makes me, me.

This was followed by the thought that It’s not too late; it is never too late.

Oddly enough, I realized that while watching Gordon Ramsay’s Master Chef reality show last week.  One of the contestants is a 60-year-old housewife who always dreamed of being a chef.  The look on her face when she was selected as a contestant said it all — sheer joy and undeniable determination.  If she could let go of her fear and reach for her dream, then so could I.   I don’t have a clue how I’m going to make it happen, I just know it’s time to stop making excuses and get on with it.

I am so grateful that I have this space to write in, it felt wonderful today to sit down and write out what has been in my head for the past couple of weeks.  I know this entry is more personal journal than it is entertaining blog, but it feels safe here, it feels right.