Hallowe’en Past

As kids, we loved Hallowe’en.  I remember drawing pictures of black cats in the moonlight and cutting out lanterns.  But most fun of all, was getting ready to go out trick or treating. 

We just dressed in anything we could get our hands on but I remember what my favourite “costume” was.  It was my Mom’s idea.  She braided my hair and then I dressed in my pajamas and bathrobe.  That was it.  I didn’t even have to get dressed for bed when I got home. I was ready to go to sleep!

With ten brothers and sisters, we each had a pillowcase and they were all full of apples and candy and chips.  When we got home we all emptied our cases on the living room floor.  The entire room was filled with our loot.  Mom was busy for weeks using all those apples for baking pies and other tasty treats.

Funny thing  is – I don’t remember the candy lasting more than a day or two.  I realize now that Mom would have just thrown it all out.  She wouldn’t have been able to stand the mess.

I think as children we were mostly unsupervised.  No one took us to dance class or choir practice or hockey or baseball.  We went by ourselves or with friends.  On Hallowe’en it was no different.  We went out in a little pack and visited homes we’d never been to before.

This year we have had 1 child come trick or treating.  She was about 10 years old and was dressed as  Smurfette.  She looked very cute.  Even her face was blue.  I gave her a whole handful of chocolate!

I can’t wait to see photos of my grandchildren.  They always enjoy it, almost as much as their parents do. 

I don’t really like the fact that Hallowe’en is now marketed to adults more than to children.  It just seems like it should be preserved for kids.  They don’t have that many special days.  I’d like to think they are making memories for their later years.  I know I did.



Full Circle

My life is not so busy any more.  I love that!  It’s still difficult to believe that I am retired and I really don’t have to work anymore.  Ever!

Last Saturday Eleanor and I went to a couple of church bazaars, one at a Catholic Church and one at a United Church.  They were fun, and we each actually won something at one of the raffles.  I bought a few used books and an apron made by one of the church members.

On Tuesday I got an email from a friend that I thought  asked me to go for a walk and out to lunch.  This is what I read. “This morning do you want to go out for a walk and then to lunch?”  I said yes.

What it actually said was “Thurs morning do you want to go out for a walk and then lunch?”  I wasn’t wearing my reading glasses and read the message on a small screen.

I waited and waited and waited.  It was 12:00, it was 1:00.  At 2:00, I emailed to ask what the hold-up was, not that I minded.  We discovered my mistake and laughed about it.  We’ve both done things like that.

In the evening I went to see the movie, “The Help”.  I had read the book and was looking forward to seeing the film.  It did not disappoint.  The actors were amazing.  We all loved it.  If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.

Thursday I went for the walk and lunch with Eleanor and while at the mall, we met a former vice-principal of mine and after chatting for a while we left promising to meet another time for lunch.  Then while walking I met a former student-teacher of mine who is still teaching at a nearby high-school.

Later in the day my sister’s husband popped in from their Vermont home (they live in Bermuda).  I tidied the house a little and in the early afternoon, I baked a chocolate cake.  We had a great visit with fantastic conversation and after seeing him enjoy the cake so much, he left with a nice slice to eat at his hotel. 

This morning I played with my new Cricut (pronounced cricket) cutting machine which I used for scrapbooking.  I love it.  It’s great having a new gadget to play with.

This afternoon hubby and I went for a walk and picked up a few groceries.  It was only 5º C  (40º F) but sunny and oh so beautiful.  We met a former student and her mother on their way to do some shopping.  I taught her in grade 4 and she told me she had just gotten married!!!  I just love meeting former students.  They always stop to talk, give me a hug and tell me all about what they are doing now.  Some of them are teaching, some are nursing, several are engineers, at least one a police officer, many are in high-school or university and they always talk fondly of their days in my class.

I ate well all week and exercised every day.  Some days I walked outside and some days I did mall walking.  I read the new Richard Castle book, a romance book and an art magazine.

Tomorrow Eleanor and I are going to another Church bazaar and will probably go out for a steeped tea at Tim Horton’s afterward.  A good week and it looks like full circle to me!



An Exerciser’s Alphabet (For the Over 60 Crowd)

A few years ago, when I was still teaching, I came across a picture book called, “A Prairie Alphabet”.  The author and artist were from Manitoba and the pictures were beautiful.  The next year, there was another book, “A Mountain Alphabet”, then “A Canadian Alphabet” and “A Hockey Alphabet”.  I have collected these books and love to share them with my grandchildren.

I thought I’d try An Exerciser’s Alphabet for my “over 60” blogger friends.

  • A is for Abs.  Don’t have any visible right now but I plan to become reacquainted with them through my exercise program.
  • B is for Bicycle.  A bicycle is the perfect machine.  It is powered by people not gas or electricity.  It can be parked in very tiny spots, it is quiet and non-polluting.  It also has the added benefit of making me feel like a kid again.
  • C is for Cardiac Care.  Whatever I do to keep my heart healthy is going to have lasting benefits.
  • D is for Drugs.  I am hoping to decrease my dependency on medications as I get healthier.
  • E is for Energy.  I am finding that my energy level actually increases as I approach my fitness goals.
  • F is for Fitness.  I am slowly, very slowly, becoming more fit and I am enjoying my progress.  Each step I take towards my goal is a thing to celebrate.
  • G is for Go.  It’s important to keep on going – walking, cycling, lifting, and stretching.
  • H is for Health.  I think becoming more healthy, eating what is good for me, and moving more fluidly is a positive thing.
  • I is for Intensity.  As I become more fit, I am able to increase the intensity of my workouts.
  • J is for Junk Food.  I wouldn’t put soda pop in my car to make it run.  Why would I put anything but good healthy food into my body to help it run?
  • K is for Kobo.  My Kobo eReader has brought me a lot of happiness as I read for entertainment and to improve my mind.
  • L is for Love.  It is important for my mental health to give and receive love from my family and friends.
  • M is for Mall Walking.  I do this several times a week and am working my way (virtually) across Canada.  I am at Deer Lake, Newfoundland, heading west.
  • N is for New.  I am doing new exercises, learning new things, and making new friends.
  • O is for Old Girl New Tricks.  This “old girl” really is learning and sharing “new tricks”.
  • P is for Prayer.  Taking care of my spiritual life is as important as my physical life.  I take time to pray for friends and family.
  • Q is for Quiet.  It is as important to be quiet and reflective at times as to be constantly on the go.
  • R is for Range of Motion.  With all the trouble I’ve had with osteoarthritis, it is essential that I improve my range of motion.  My exercises are already having a positive effect.
  • S is for Strength.  My physical strength is increasing as I am eating better and exercising more regularly.
  • T is for Time.  I know that years of  several unhealthy habits won’t be overcome in a few months.  It will take time.  I’m retired.  I have lots of time.
  • U is for Understanding.  Understanding my own needs for increased exercise, healthier food, mental challenges, and spiritual nourishment has been essential in moving toward a better life.
  • V is for Vitality.  I am definitely more energetic and balanced as I eliminate bad habits and replace them with new healthy ones.
  • W is for Wii Fit.  I am using this to help me with Balance, Strength, Aerobics, and Yoga Training.

    Wii Fit helps in the search for fitness.

  • X is for X-ray.  I believe that any new X-rays I get will show improved bone health.
  • Y is for Yoga.  I enjoy the stretching and balance exercises.  I can already see an improvement.
  • Z is for Zoom.  I am going to be able to zoom around on my bike and my own two feet as I near my fitness goals.

Thanks to Karen of  Waisting  Time, for her “alphabet” idea.  http://waistingtimeblog.com/

What does your alphabet look like?

Computer Wars

I am really mad at all my computers, my internet service provider, my email accounts, cell phone, iPod, Netbook, digital camera, remote controls, and the Internet.  The only electronic device in the house that I am not upset with is my Kobo ereader.  That is working just fine.  The way it is supposed to work.  The rest.  I wish I could just chuck them all in the recycling bin!  I’m mad as heck and I’m not going to take it anymore.

  • Camera – I got a new one and it takes beautiful pictures but I cannot email any of the photos to anyone.  I don’t know why!  You should see these possibly award-winning pictures.  Oh, you can’t because I can’t email them! What the heck is the use of a camera with photos that I have to have printed
  • Cell phone – I can take lovely photos with my new cell phone.  But guess what!  I can’t email any of them to anyone!  I don’t know why!  Oh, I said that already. 
  • Netbook – I don’t know why I’m mad at my netbook except that it is what I use to publish my blog posts and I cannot even load photos into my blog posts any more.  I used to be able to but I tried again last night and I got so frustrated that I gave up after only 17 tries.
  • Computers – We have a lot of computers in our house and I’m furious with most all of them.  They seem to have been invented to make me feel like  an old coot.  They give me the rudest messages.  Honestly.  I think they know it’s me and they get together and plan ways to frustrate me.

My resident computer techie and I are about to try some disgnostic tests which we hope will solve the whole darn problem.  However, it may make the whole internet thingy shut down and we could lose our service for a few days and I won’t be able to get email or send photos to anyone.  Oh, wait! I can’t do that now. 

As part of the test, I am going to try to upload a picture to this post after our network has been reconfigured.  If the picture get through then we’ve been successful.  If not, then….

The picture I've been trying to download.

 Seems like it is a router problem.  We’re not quite there but progress has been made.  I’m going to try to upload another photo.  Here goes.

Apples at Apple Fest 2011. The second photo in our test.

Talk to you soon, or maybe not!   :  )

A Healthy Week

I’ve been trying to get healthy and fit and this week I was very successful.

I was able to exercise every day, using the Wii Fit, walking at the mall with the Sneakers Club, and doing yard work, getting ready for winter.  I’ve started using my pedometer again and have been able to walk almost 10,000 steps every day. 

With the Wii Fit, I exercised about 35 – 40 minutes a day, doing aerobics, strength training,  balance exercises, and stretches.  My Wii Fit age ranged from 35 to 75!!!  I’m afraid I had difficulty doing some of the balance exercises.  Hence the 75. Remember I’m only 66.  The machine would say , “Balance is not really your thing, is it.”  So funny!

While walking at the mall, I discovered that my walking “across Canada” was updated and I am now in Deer Lake, Newfoundland.  Only about 7500 Km. to go to the finish.  But hey, a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step!

Today we did yard work together with hubby mowing and me raking.  I raked all the walnuts up into a pile just waiting for our neighbours to come and get them but they’d better hurry – the squirrels are having a feast with them. 

I also ate very well this week.  Still no junk food and it all seems so easy.  No temptations, not even the Hallowe’en candy my hubby bought.

I was also busy with my watercolour painting  and managed to complete three paintings.  I am happy with them and enthusiastic about beginning a new one this coming week.

To complete the healthy week for mind, body, and spirit, today was day 309 of my read the Bible in a year challenge.  I have also read 81 books since Christmas, and have started my 82nd, Heat Rises, by Richard Castle.

We’re expecting a lot of rain this week so exercising may be a challenge, but I’m up for it.

The Polish Class – Part 2

On Monday mornings, I used to ask my students what they had done on the weekend.  It was good practice for them and interesting for me.

 One student, Piotr, had a touching story to tell.  A Polish friend had told him about a bakery that sold loaves of day-old bread for a good price.  Piotr caught a bus and had to transfer twice before he got to the bakery.

Once there he picked up several loaves of bread and joined the line at the cash.  Because of his lack of English, he didn’t realize that he had not picked up the day-old bread but he had the regular-priced bread.  When it was his turn to pay, he didn’t have enough money.

There was a Canadian man standing behind him in the line who realized that Piotr was in a bit of a predicament.  He asked Piotr where he was from and this good man ended up paying for Piotr’s bread and offered to drive him home.

Piotr was reluctant to accept because he lived so far away but the man insisted.  On the way to the apartment, he stopped at a grocery store and bought six bags of groceries for Piotr and his wife.  He helped Piotr carry the bags up the stairs to his apartment, wished Piotr and his wife success in Canada, said good-bye, and left.

They never found out the man’s name but Piotr and his wife both had tears in their eyes when they told the class about the kindness of this “Canadian man”.  The whole class was uplifted by Piotr’s story and expressed amazement at the man’s generosity. 

It is better to give than to receive.  I hope that man realized how happy he made two people that day and how thankful they both were.


The Polish Class

I learned more from teaching  that class of Polish students than they ever learned from me. 

It was the early 80s and I was living in Winnipeg with my family.  I got a job at a language school, teaching ESL, and my first class was made up of 15 Polish adults who were refugees.  They had all escaped from their communist-ruled country.  Many had children with them.  They had recently arrived in Canada and in 20 weeks, they had to know enough English to get a job.  

The classes were held five days a week for five hours.  Most of the students didn’t know one word of English and I knew it was going to be very difficult for them to concentrate for so long without a break.  Sometimes on Friday afternoons, we would play Bingo.  I figured it would help them learn their numbers in English and they really loved it.

One day about two weeks into the course, I noticed that Waldemar looked withdrawn and that he seemed to be frowning.  I asked him what was wrong.  He pointed to his head and said, “No good”.

After using his Polish/English dictionary, I learned that he had a headache.  Through a combination of broken English and several gestures, he asked me what to take to get rid of the headache. 

I suppose it really struck me then.  These people couldn’t even ask for an aspirin for a simple headache.  What if it had been something more serious?

My heart seemed to tighten as I looked at my class.  What did I see in their faces?  I saw happiness and I saw hope.  They were learning English in an effort to get jobs to support their families and I couldn’t believe how cheerful and optimistic they were.

I could hardly speak as I wrote the word,  “aspirin” on a piece of paper for Waldemar. 

The next morning, he was fine and back to his usual cheerful self.  The aspirin had done the job and Waldemar showed the rest of the class the piece of paper with the precious word written on it. 

The whole class copied it down.

I learned more from that class than they ever learned from me.  I think of them often and hope that they are all happy and have been successful in their new life in Canada.

Apple Fest 2011

On Saturday, Eleanor and I went to nearby Bowmanville for their annual Apple Festival.

We started out around 11 a.m. and had lunch at a Bowmanville church hall.  The church women put it on and their home-made soups are wonderful.  There is a variety of sandwiches, and it is all served with apple crisp and ice cream, and tea or coffee.

The streets are blocked to traffic, and stalls with crafts, artisans, and apple sellers stretch for several blocks.  The most popular stand is one which sells Apple Fritters.  I’ve never had one (the calories!!!) but I’ve been told they are amazing.  Apparently apples slices are rolled in dough which is deep fried and then dipped in sugar and cinnamon.  Just walking by the huge line-up is a temptation in itself.

Children were able to have their faces painted, ride on an elephant’s back, and hop on a mini merry-go-round.  The poor elephant, I thought.

Vendors were selling every sort of product imagineable, and some I couldn’t ever have thought of.   Chocolate covered bacon anyone???

Can you imagine yourself eating this?


Firefighters were well represented and several of them were wearing pink gear to raise money for breast cancer research.

It was quite cold and very windy but we had a great day and came home with more apples.  I wonder what I should make with them this week!

The Last Happy Cowboy

I was having a conversation today about western books, movies, and TV shows.  The heroes were strong silent types who squinted up at the sun before riding off to save the town or the homesteader or the schoolmarm.  Remember Alan Ladd in Shane?  Or Audie Murphy in all those Saturday matinée westerns?  They were real men!

Bonanza, Gunsmoke, and The Rifleman were not really for children but they entertained us with tales of rugged men living and keeping law and order in the wild west.  Zane Grey, Max Brand, Dusty Richards, and Louis L’Amour were prolific authors of westerns whose books are still being read today.  I picked up Riders of the Purple Sage from my library today to reread.

There have been a lot of cow pokes who have ridden through our imaginations over the years.  The spaghetti westerns with Clint Eastwood were stark and filled with gunslingers and small towns that had to be rescued, usually by the stranger who stayed in town only long enough to get the job done.  There were flying bullets and bruised knuckles, sturdy horses and pretty women.

Can anyone forget the stirring intro to The Lone Ranger TV show?  I’m sure Rossini couldn’t have imagined his work being used in a” duster”.  Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, the Cisco Kid, and Hopalong Cassidy were the cowboys I grew up with.  They never killed anyone.  They could solve problems and get the girl with the minimum of gunplay.  Oh, they’d sometimes have to resort to shooting the gun out of the bad guy’s hand.  They had fantastic aim. Sometimes they would get “winged” or  have their “skull creased” but there was never any blood!

Roy and Gene would get the ranch back from the evil banker who tried to foreclose on poor Miss Flossie and her orphaned little brother and then they’d get together with the boys from the bunk house and sing a cheerful western song about their horse. 

You knew the bad guys because they wore dark hats and had mustaches.  It was important to know who to cheer for!  Evil always failed and good always won.  Perfect!

Roy Rogers - King of the Cowboys


Roy Rogers – the last happy cowboy.

A Nutty Problem

The Walnut Tree

 We didn’t plant the tree.  We didn’t even know it was a walnut tree.  We didn’t even know that walnuts grew on big trees. 

The tree just started growing on our front lawn about six or seven years ago.  It grew fast and one year we noticed some “fruit” on the tree.  I was still able to reach the branches and picked the green fruit.  It smelled faintly citrus-y but we had no idea what it was.

Our son-in-law is a professor.  He teaches and does research on the vascular systems of trees, so I emailed him a picture of the tree, the leaves, and the mystery fruit.  The verdict – a black walnut tree.

There were only about 5 or 6 of the little green fruit that year.  The next year about 40 or 50, last year 3, and this year 8,986,754. 

Walnuts in front of our house.

The tree is about 30 feet tall and since early October, those nuts have been falling the roof of our little bungalow.  The first time we heard it, it sounded like a semi had driven into the house.  They have continued to fall, sometimes one at a time and sometimes in clusters.  The noise is unbelieveable! 

Party central.

When a cluster falls from the top of the tree, it hits the roof with a crash and they all roll down the roof like a bunch of teen-agers at the skateboard park.

I’ll be just drifting off when I hear, Boom.  Crash.  Rumble.  It’s flippin’ annoying.  But there’s a bright side.  Every night, all the squirrels in our neighbourhood now congregate in our yard for a big party. 

The opened walnuts on the back step. Wet and soggy!

They take the walnuts to our side entrance and somehow manage to open them on the step.  But it is on the picnic table on our back patio where they love to get together and party.  You can see by the photo that they manage to open them quite easily.

So, what do we do with the walnuts?  We were just about to rake them up when our next-door neighbours came and asked us if they could have them.  Seems they want to roast them. 

U-pick-it - walnut style.

The ground is a little wet right now, but as soon as it dries up, they’ll be welcome indeed.

A squirrel with walnuts in front of our house.

To tell the truth, I’m going a little nuts right now.