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Prone to Wander

Updated: 2018-04-15T06:10:43.841-04:00


life, the interesting bits


In some ways, I feel as though I have been in a tunnel and finally have emerged out the other side into the light where I am now blinking my eyes and finding my bearings, unlike Flossy who seems to be quite carefree about being dressed in vintage Hawaiian shirts during the long Canadian winter.While I've been in hibernation mode, much of the activity has come from the busiest body in the house who sets up beauty salons during Morning Time and builds Paw Patrol's Adventure Bay structures out of anything she can find. In the upcoming pictures of the basement, another one of her homemade designs using clementine and plastic wrap boxes was left on display by accident since its awkward shape defies most of my storage bins. There is nothing she does not turn her hand to and the sheer volume of projects produced every seven days is staggering. Unfortunately, March brought sickness for myself and the girls and while we struggled to kick our coughs, colds and tummy aches, the travel plans, expected birthday fun and spring break ideas were sadly canceled.And then one day in mid-March, I picked up the phone and made the call that we had long been discussing, a call to a local real estate agent. She set a date within 48 hours to come visit our home and the game was on. We agreed to the early April listing date and the storage rental space became a reality.The last two weeks have seen us doing all sorts of things to get the house ready for pictures and showings. Things that required Pinterest and internet searches to give advice and help. Other things that just came into being and still more other things that were solicited from experienced friends. Every room and area in our home had its own Must Get Done list which then generated scribbled versions of shopping needs and 'what about this' ideas. Never short of helpers, unless of course you actually need something cleaned.I happened upon a UK home-selling show on Netflix which then became mandatory watching as the days ticked off the calendar. I became very conscious of every corner of our home's presentation and wondered why I waited so long to do some of these obvious and easy make-overs.The amount of items that we have removed from our house and put into the rented storage space is incredible and none of it is rubbish.So now we live in greatly minimized space and are developing new habits for what we use on a daily basis and where it is stored when not in use. I thought that keeping the house this minimized and tidy for showings might be difficult, but so far it seems to be like packing for traveling. Packing for leaving your home and traveling is exhausting, but packing up to come back home is much easier since you do not need to decide anything, you just repack what you brought. The harder work of cleaning, renovating and organizing for strangers is over, the easier part of maintenance has begun. The following photos were taken at different times in the last week or so and may not be what the final staging looks like. I also took my own photos after our agent and her photographer came and forgot to put the lights back on for some of my photographs. Tired of thinking about home decorating, I loaded the kids in the car right after the photographs were done to go to the mall and rushed through the empty house with my camera. But the listing photos turned out very nice and most importantly, provided accurate representations of what the house truly looks like without distorting the rooms and spaces with horrible wide-angle shots which many real estate photographers do.In the 24 hours since I started this post, we have had our first(and only showing so far) and our first conditional offer which we have accepted. A week from now, if the conditions are met, the house will be officially sold. Our next plans are still being worked out so I have nothing to share on that right now.After an Easter break, we resumed our lessons this week, giving us only three days, so now we have about 10 more scheduled weeks of work to do before I was planning to be done for the school ye[...]

February, as it happened


How to write about twenty-eight days in a paragraph.Well if you assume that many of those days involved working through our lessons, genuinely trying to love one another, keeping the house from utter chaos, managing winter weather and spending time with friends, then you have captured much of these recent days. Throw in some travel for Shane, some medical issues for his parents, last minute Valentine prep, making outdoor time happen, an annual booksale and several attempts to feed chickadees by hand and that just about rounds February out. There have been many difficult moments too. They don't lend themselves to being photographic, but they are there and so is the need for wisdom and fresh starts. So welcome March, we see spring is coming along behind you. How cheering.[...]

lessons with Kate


I have been re-working my planning sessions for this new term to make them more simplified and take less time so that I can actually write down a plan for the coming week for each of our three children. My previous teaching planner(which I used as a classroom teacher and a homeschooling mom) caused too many inefficiencies which made me run out of mental energy long before I felt I was truly prepared.So far, my new planning strategies have worked well the last three weeks and I'm no longer stressing on the weekends about getting enough time to sit and plan.The following is what I have been able to pull together to work with Kate for this winter term. It is a work-in-progress. Some days we roll easily from one activity to the next, other days seem like we hardly get anything worthwhile done.She has shown much progress in understanding letter sounds and formation, so with this encouragement, I have gained inspiration and insight into what skills she needs to work on and what she has already mastered to build further upon.My biggest issue so far in her daily lessons is fitting in time to make it happen without losing too much momentum with Laura's work. Thankfully Laura has shown a lot of progress in her reading since September and in her ability to work independently on a list of tasks. So with that as my goal, I made up a list of activities that Laura could work on without needing my undivided attention so that I could work with Kate yet still be available to watch over Laura's work and answer questions.And of course, I still have Seth's Year 9 studies to oversee just in case I get bored.I worked with some books I have for children with Down Syndrome and also some ideas from her therapists and also one I follow on Pinterest to give me some practical ideas to work on.  The books have helpful worksheets in the Appendix to use for practice strokes.But some of the ideas we are working on are abstract, like finding the 'middle' and required some thinking as to how to implement them. Others are more concrete like strengthening hands and fingers for writing by scissor cutting and stringing items on laces or dowel rods. (In the following photos you may notice that her nose has incision marks covered with ointment and that's because she underwent more tear duct surgery the second week of January. She has had a great recovery and we are still working on healing the marks.)One of the ideas I saw on the Pinterest therapist's boards was controlling coloring by creating a physical barrier to the area being colored. The barrier was made with Wikki Stix. While I was looking for them in various local stores, her amazing OT therapist pulled some out during a therapy session. It worked quite well for Kate so I came home and added them to my Amazon order being shipped to my parents' over Christmas. They are coated with wax so they stick to the page, but can easily be shaped and removed at any point. When they eventually lose their tackiness, you can just use another one. As you can see from the pictures below, it helps Kate to concentrate on the targeted area for her coloring and keeps her from scribbling in random places like she often does. This is her best coloring work yet.I have used these books with all my kids and they are perfect for early motor skills.Later in the day, we took those segments of straw she had cut and she strung them on two pieces of Wikki Sticks bonded together. You can buy it in long pieces suitable for this type of activity, but I bought a small container of the shorter pieces so I make do.  Because it is more stiff than our other lacing, but not as rigid as the dowels we use, it is more relaxing for her, yet still requires good eye attention. Kate likes to look away and still continue to try to complete a task, so having to sit and focus with her eyes is good practice for her.Her letter recognition skills are gaining so quickly. I thought we would be laboring on one letter for weeks, but no, she catches on very quickly and we are working on associatin[...]

Year 9, Term 2


I posted a version of this photo on Instagram and Facebook, so it you already saw it, please excuse the repeated posting.
This list of books is compiled following closely Ambleside Online's schedule and book list for Year 9. It is daunting to prepare work for our first high school student, mostly because he is studying books and topics that I did not study as a student myself. So to counter this deficiency, I try to pre-read some of the more difficult or more important material so that I can be able to discuss his narrations and ideas intelligently. I get behind often, but even a skimming-read is better than not opening the book at all.

Books read in 2017


This is what my desk area looked like after my husband painted this corner of our bedroom and I put everything back together and before I sorted and moved those book stacks. That sounds confusing. I just mean that the stacks of books have been reduced and rearranged a bit since I took this photo.  And while I know it's weird to see bricks and old boards stacked on a desk, that set-up currently works for me. I hauled those boards and bricks out of my parents tree-line last summer and brought them back here(complete with the clinging moss) to make something that was functional, reminiscent of home, and full of natural beauty, (at least to me, for now). I added two pieces of felt to the bottom two bricks to keep them from scratching the desk, but left the moss. Yes, it gets a bit messy, but nothing a quick dusting on occasion doesn't take care of.Here are some of the books I read this past year, some borrowed from the library, the rest are my own, some purchased brand new, others found second-hand. I loosely grouped them together by genre or author.Picture BooksA clever and delightful idea of thinking about seed dispersal, Miss Maple's Seeds is a lovely book. I think I might have enjoyed it more than my eight year old. Not surprising since I love soft, yet detailed illustrations with carefully chosen text, all of which describes this picture book.FictionMiss ReadI have been reading Miss Read's books for almost fifteen years after I found one in the main library in downtown Fredericton, NB and read every title I could find. I now own close to ten titles myself and am still finding ones I haven't read yet. I love her books and the illustrations are vintage gold.Jan KaronLike many others, I love Jan Karon's Mitford novels which I think I began reading when I worked at Barnes & Noble back in my university years.  My friend, Katie loaned me her copy of To Be Where You Are and I admit I gobbled it up in only a few days.Nonfiction-MemoirIn my very limited experience, it doesn't get better than Helen Hanff. I do have a friend whose emails imitate HH in almost every way and I don't even think she knows it.  And I'm quite sure that my reading (or maybe even re-reading, who can remember!) of 84, Charing Cross Road was enhanced because of our email exchanges. (And yes, I have seen the movie, years ago.) Her follow-up book, The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street was enjoyable in its own right, but missed some of the snappiness of the first one. My local library system has her other titles so I will give them a go and in the meantime, perhaps send a HH note to someone.Jean Fritz is a popular children's author who turns her pen to own life on occasion for writing material. Homesick: My Own Story was an interesting read of a bit of her 'coming of age' years in China. There is a follow-up called China Homecoming which may be more appealing to adults.Martha's Vineyard, Isle of Dreams is the second book in her trilogy telling the story of her own life history. And like the other two, she shares it in her unique style: part scrap-book, part diary-like with her own very recognizeable handwriting and illustrations. I have read the trilogy in a dizzying order, mostly because they all have been library requests and her books have long queue lines which means my requests have come in all at different times. I intend to buy my own hardcover copies, perhaps a birthday present to myself in March. Her cookbooks and home decorating books have been around for decades, so you likely have seen her artwork, even if you didn't know who she was.Fiction- Children's The Year of Jubilo was on my ebay search list for a long time before an inexpensive copy showed up. It is the sequel to Roller Skates and I enjoyed it very much, more than I remembered liking Roller Skates. I think the setting being in a small town in Maine in the sequel was more inviting to me than the city setting of the first book.I think I remember that my now[...]

the rest of December


While we were visiting my family, I decided to take the scenic route on the way home from the post office and hardware store. I drove down some back roads into steep valleys and climbed around winding twisting unpaved roads thinking I could snap a few pics from my driver's seat undisturbed.But in fact, I met more cars on those rural roads than I did on the paved road back to my parents' driveway. Ha! So much for the quiet countryside. Anyways, I did pull over for a few shots at the top of a very steep hill that I always dare my husband to not use the the brakes on. Being a wise and prudent man, he never listens. Since I was armed with my camera, I also braked carefully down it as I was looking for good spots to stop and take photos. I found a few before reaching the bottom of the hill and the road which then winds its way back up to the hill my parents live on. That's Pennsylvania for you, hills and valleys with creeks and trees all over the place.On our last evening there, my brother and family, hosted all of us for dinner where he kept his wood fire burning brightly. With two full bookcases flanking the fireplace and soft comfortable chairs on the carpeted living room, I was almost ready to move in. I did sneak one picture of just him in his kitchen checking on the Italian meatballs he was preparing for dinner. But between meal prep and log burning, we chatted about books and I pulled various ones off to peruse that caught my eye. I found that fantastic bird book and then a book on the writings of John Muir by Edwin Teale. Both have been added to my substantial book wishlist.  I took blurry pictures of the part where Muir is discussing Solomon's attention to nature to defend his own lifelong pursuit of nature study.So good.So very Charlotte Mason.And, having made the acquaintance of a wild flower, so that they can never forget it or mistake it, they should examine the spot where they find it, so that they will know for the future in what sort of ground to look for such and such a flower. 'We should find wild thyme here!' 'Oh, this is the very spot for marsh marigolds; we must come here in the spring.'~ 'Home Education'[...]

Hello, 2018


And just like that, we are into a new calendar year!Like many of you in the northern hemisphere, we have plunged into frigid temperatures here in Ontario, which has limited how much ambition I have for tramping around outside to capture new sunrises and sunsets. So I have turned all my attention to housework projects, most of which involve sorting and packing.Shane used his time here at home to make major headway on the painting and trim projects needed on the house. Our kitchen was newly repainted right before Christmas Day and then he moved upstairs into the bedrooms after we got back from visiting my parents. He had a lot of drywall repair to do in Seth's room since we had not painted it ever. But with the exception of some of the floor trim, everything is finished in his room.Our bedroom saw two walls re-painted last night which involved me cleaning up my desk area. But now everything I had planned to pack up is done, so cross that off the list! The other half of the room and the girls' room are the only areas left upstairs to do. And since I did a major clean, sort and pack in their room on New Years' Day, the painting work can happen very easily in there.We are not doing our regular lessons this week and I'm glad for that, even though I initially had planned for us to be back at it. I'm giving myself permission to do more restful and relaxing work since Christmas ended in a bit of a hectic pace for me. I enjoyed myself for the most part, but it was without much margins. I like wide margins, both in my paper and my schedule.I read two new-to-me Miss Read books, The White Robin and Christmas at Thrush Green back to back and enjoyed them so much, especially the Christmas one.  I sat in the living room chair and just read and read until the book was finished before getting up to make our homemade pizza and Caesar salad for our New Years' Eve dinner.In other news, my husband splurged on a new camera for me for Christmas. It was not a surprise in anyway, except that he actually bought it! I picked it out online after reading and watching reviews and then he ordered it online, picked it up from the post office two days later and said we should open it right away. I let him open it, and contented myself with reading through most of the owner's manual that evening. The next day, I charged the battery and then when he came home, he tried it out. I didn't actually take any pictures with it until the Saturday before Christmas since I was quite busy with other projects. But I managed to mess around with it in time to use it for Christmas morning.It's not a DSLR, but it takes rapid photos with the lens just like one. It's called mirrorless and it smaller than a DSLR body so it fits comfortably in my hand and is easy to take with me. I don't have a case for it yet, so I just have been using my purse and being very careful when we were traveling.I know very little about cameras, in fact, I probably just wrote everything I know, but I have enjoyed getting better at using light to make better photographs in recent years. Now I'm hoping to improve in the area of capturing candid people shots, starting with my own people.I finish with a verse from my Bible reading which encouraged me in this new year of 2018:But Christ is faithful as a son over God's house. And we are His house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast. ~ Hebrews 3:6Happy New Year! Thank you for reading here.[...]

Goodbye, 2017


Another year is over and the start of a new one awaits. I have nothing profound to say.  I have ideas and hopes for the coming new year, but in the end, I can only live the life I'm given.

"Life is short, I wanna live it well
One life, one story to tell
Life is short, I wanna live it well
And you're the one I'm living for."
~ Jon Foreman, Switchfoot

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The week leading up to Christmas was full of so much planning and prepping, I'm not sure how I survived. The girls were up early every morning, usually by 5:30. Some mornings, I got up even earlier because my sleep was so poor and my mind racing to remember all the things I needed to keep track of. I think I will need to sleep for a week before I start to feel truly relaxed.We opened gifts with our kids very early, and ate our Christmas breakfast of cinnamon rolls, scrambled eggs, sausage and oranges by 7am. Then after showering, I worked on cookie dough that I had refrigerated overnight and then timed the ham to go in after lunch. By 2pm, Shane's brother's family arrived and we sat down to our dinner around 4:30 pm. After they left in the evening, I started the dishwasher, put two girls to bed and then went to bed myself.Early the next morning, we got up, packed up the car and the cat and drove down to my parents' home. We saw two ships in the St. Lawrence River, both Christmas red of course.In New York, the interstate posted signs warning of lake effect snow with whiteout conditions expected and within ten minutes we were in the middle of a crazy snow squall. We kept on driving and in about 15 minutes, the snow clouds cleared and we were back under blue skies. We passed two stuck cars on our side of the highway with police on the scene very quickly. We were very thankful to pass through unscathed.It is very cold here in Pennsylvania, so walking around on my parents' property is not as comfortable right now. But the fresh air clears out the mind and gives time to reflect on the coming new year.[...]

Portland, Day 4


Please forgive the delay in posting the rest of our Portland trip, fall was a busy time for us.The morning I spent in the Portland Japanese Garden was glorious. So much green and bamboo, water and trees, moss and stone walls, and of course, the ferns; everywhere there was beauty to contemplate. I know you had to slog through many photos to read this, but I did try to select my very favorite features of the garden to share here. Just imagine if I made you sit through all of them.I saw gardeners tending tiny weeds in the moss and I marveled at this careful attention to even the most tedious work. And the visitors ranged in all different ages and demographics, some you might have suspected were there under duress, seemed to truly be soaking in the serenity that the garden emitted.Since I was there in early September, reddening Japanese Maple leafs were sparse, so everywhere I stepped, I looked carefully for one fallen to the ground that I could snag as a souvenir.  It took me two trips around the circuit, but I managed to find a very tiny red leaf to press in my guide brochure. In front of the gift shop was a large seating area covered with a Japanese mat with signs encouraging visitors to sit 'gently' on the natural fibers. With many visitors coming and going, it was tricky to get clear photos of some of the areas, but waiting for a momentary lull in the foot traffic was relaxing too.Having never paid too much attention to the world of cultivating miniature trees, I was astounded at the various displays of aged trees. Complete in every way, yet very small.I leave you with my run-through of all the wind chimes set up outside one of the gift shops. allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />[...]



As I walked with hands held, one girl anchored on either side, through the parking lot toward the sidewalk, I saw him walking in the same direction a few paces behind us. By the time we were approaching the door, I knew he was going the same place as us.I opened the door, propelled two little girls inside and continued to hold door open for him as he arrived right behind us. As the girls stood off to the side, I turned behind me and spoke to him."You go ahead, please. There are three of us."With much more enthusiasm than I had anticipated, he heartily thanked me, checked to see if I really meant the offer and then ended his remarks with a joyous, "Merry Christmas!".He was genuinely surprised and pleased and so was I.He stepped up to the hairstylist, waiting at the computer and gave his name, spelling it carefully, but quickly."H-u-g-h".Then he looked for a place to sit in the crowded seating area. I gave our names next, checked to make sure that we had time to spare and then the girls and I headed back out the door to visit a children's consignment shop one door down.We picked out some clothes to try on, but concerned we might be getting close to our turn, we left the clothes on the counter and said we would be back. Since it is a place we shop frequently, they were more than happy to hold our pile of clothes.When we walked back into the salon, it was clear that things weren't moving that fast. I spotted Hugh sitting on a chair and feeling friendly, I asked him over the heads of other waiting clients, "Have you gone yet?" He gave a small smile, shook his no and said out loud, "No, I haven't."I told the girls to keep their coats on and we headed back to the clothing store.After we had finished our shopping, I took the bag to the car and then we all headed back to the salon.Hugh was coming out the door at the exact moment we planned to enter. Ready to exchange a final round of pleasantries, I smiled at him and he smiled back, reaching for his back pocket.Opening his wallet, he turned it toward me, pointing at a photograph tucked snugly behind the clear vinyl frame. As I leaned in to look more carefully, he began to speak, "His name is Cameron. He's twenty-two years old. What is her name?" He was gesturing towards Kate. I turned to look at Kate and told him her name. He repeated it with a kind smile.The photograph contained two people, a large, seated young man with a much smaller and younger girl seated beside him. I couldn't see the facial expressions of either of the youths, but it was clear that Cameron had Down Syndrome.He went on to say the names of either schools or day programs his son had attended, but I was not familiar with any of names he rattled off. He said his son was doing well and then he returned his wallet back to his person.I noticed he had two silver earrings in one of his ears and his freshly cut silver hair was still a bit wet. He looked youthful, yet he was older than me by at least a decade.  He seemed a very proud dad, although from something he said, it gave me the impression that these children did not live with him.With a last goodbye, we parted ways. I was touched that he shared part of his life with me and that we were able to help him be on his way to wherever he was headed to next.[...]

Christmas recital


 Yesterday, we gathered with several other homeschooling families to hear our children recite poetry and play various piano pieces which they have been working on this past fall. We had a wonderful time together, eating, talking and playing while a snowstorm blanketed our area.I made chocolate lollipops for all the children and Seth helped me drill holes in two cedar logs to display them. I added various sprinkles and even crushed candy canes to some of the lollipops this time making them a bit more festive and crunchy.In addition, I thawed some phyllo pastry to make two different kinds of finger food snacks:Brie, granny smith apple, pecan, maple syrup, dusted with cinnamonBoursin, mandarin orange, walnut, sprinkled with cuminI also packaged up some edible treats and decorative ornaments for my mama friends who teach my children and provide meals on co-op days. Getting to mess around with pretty paper, decorations, tissue paper, ribbon and more is so satisfying in between taking care of laundry, lessons, kids, cats, and cooking. My heart is full of thankfulness for my fellow mamas who cheer each other on toward love and good deeds. (Hebrews 10:24)[...]

children and drinks


In case you wondered if our children were still around...
They are all here...every day.
All day.
And so sometimes, mommy has to take her medicine which is a special kind, called Coffee.
Kind of like Nyquil, it tastes mostly horrible, but it makes her feel much, much better.
She wishes she enjoyed taking her medicine, but she's a tea-drinker, steeped hot and dark and loaded with cream and honey.
She also sometimes drinks wine with her dinner. And a few sips while she makes dinner.
She likes red and white about the same.
She's not picky.



If you've been reading my blog longer than a year, you may remember that our backyard conservation area all along the river underwent an extensive excavation as they worked on replacing and adding to underground pipes that travel for huge stretches all around our neighborhood. They put up orange construction fencing which prevented entry to the river at all points.It was a sad twelve months.But then in early fall, the fencing came down, and many days of adding topsoil, grading and smoothing the dirt began. The dirt was given time to rest. Then one day, a hydro-seed truck pulled in and sprayed the whole area an unnatural green. Weeks later, grass had sprung up unevenly.We ventured out on baby grass and walked all the way to the weir and on a newly created walking path through the woods.It was a good day.But that was the last time I was out there. I don't know why exactly.Today, I took the garbage outside myself and then slipped open the latch at the back gate and started walking toward the swimming geese. The clouds began to part and the sun began to shine. Crystals of snow glittered on the ground and on the tree branches. Baby trees offered their boughs to the mounds of snowflakes nesting where they fell. Other than the occasional squirrel dashing through the snow, the gaggle of river-riding geese were the only other creatures visible.My camera hand was aching with cold. It was time to go in, for now.[...]

a bit bewildered


I cannot understand how it is possibly December right now. I'm somewhere back in September, and I can't seem to figure out how why everyone is talking about Advent and Christmas already.Under duress, I made myself start jotting down Christmas gift ideas for our kids. It wasn't until I went out and did some shopping that it became very real. I now have gifts hidden in my house. We are playing Christmas music at home and in church. We are attending and participating in various Christmas recital programs. Tomorrow evening is our church's Christmas party.Also I have less than a week until we celebrate Kate's tenth birthday.Ten.My girl will be ten years old. Tissues please.We finished Term 1 of Ambleside Online with an exam/review week, two weeks ago. And then all my well-meaning December term plans fell flat last week with a whole bunch of other stuff that needed to get done. So we see what this coming week will do for us.I have been keeping up with some Advent readings from Malcolm Guite's Waiting on the Word which I ordered two years ago from the UK, but it is available now in North America from most booksellers. He makes me realize how poorly I read, especially poetry. But I enjoy his connections so much, and I hope that I can learn from his skillful observations.We are planning to sell our house in the spring, so this is likely our last Christmas here. We have lived here ten years and our children really only know this home so please pardon me as I add a few photos to remember it as it is tonight.It has been a good little house for us. It has taught me to think carefully how I use each space. Where we live next has not been decided. We are staying close to the same area, perhaps moving closer to my husband's work or maybe just moving a few miles away. We will have to see what's available come spring. Meanwhile we have been packing, painting, and purging. I am keeping lists for myself of what needs to be cleaned out so that I'm only packing things we actually need to keep. It's been very freeing,  but really I purge quite often so it's amazing how fast things creep back in that we do not need.[...]

Portland, Day 3


With my husband ensconced on the sixth floor of our hotel for the day at the tech conference, I was out and about the city by myself for the day.This Starbucks is across the square from our hotel and provides me with cold, caramelly, caffeinated drinks in the late afternoon when I am becoming a bedraggled sightseer with an exhausted camera battery. Today I was on foot only, although I have a pass to ride the public transportation for the week, all the places on my hit list were walkable. And my first destination, Powell's Books, of course. We had walked past it the previous evening on our way to Whole Foods to get some dinner for ourselves, so I knew the various entrances this gigantic building offers. I came in through the main entrance seen below, found the store directory and walked straight to the Rose Room, the wonderful Children's section. I browsed for a couple of hours, just in that section.Because they sell both new and used, you get to see various editions of the same book that you might not normally see if you order either online or buy from a new bookstore. It was so inviting, like this small bookshelf dedicated to all things Tasha Tudor. The Beatrix Potter shelf is to the left of this one and even taller and more full.The children's poetry shelves were amazing, so many vintage editions of poets and anthologies. I almost bought this one, I carried it around with me, but in the end, took a photo of the cover and put it mournfully back on the shelf. I hardly have space in my carry-on, so I need to be extra-choosy. But it's going on my wishlist. I took photos of books to remind myself to check for them later. These are new versions of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle that I want to look for, since we have read many of the original stories by Betty MacDonald.This is just one row in the Middle Readers section. I restrained myself from not looking at every shelf. I was too afraid of all the treasures I would find that would not be able to be brought home. I looked for specific authors like Kate Seredy, Marguerite de Angeli, and Henri Fabre. I found wonderful titles I was unfamiliar with by authors or illustrators I already loved. It was like making new friends by way of old friends.After I winnowed down my shopping basket, which included putting three books back on their respective shelves, mostly due to weight issues, I purchased these books:This illustrated version of Charge of the Light Brigade was the extraordinary find of the day; I have never seen this poem illustrated before and by the Provensen husband and wife team, double awesome. I left Powell's by the exit that would deposit me directly across the street from Anthropolgy, a store that I have not been in for many, many years. I browsed heavily, looking carefully and feeling poor or perhaps just frugal.But I did settle on a few small purchases, one for me and two for small gifts. Then I took out my camera and tried to take some inconspicuous photos.Starving for a overdue lunch, I walked right into Whole Foods and bought myself some chili and San Pellegrino. I ate my lunch at the Whole Foods eating area while playing phone tag with my son who wanted a phone number. I sat there texting my husband and talking to my son; it was a bit surreal for this non-phone user.These bathroom sinks in Whole Foods seemed to keep the water from splashing out, but made me feel a bit like I was washing my hands at an animal trough.Coming back to the hotel, I planned my route to come right past these inviting windows. Then I went inside and found many delightful things made by local artists and makers. I'm not a trendy person, I prefer to be contentedly behind the time[...]

Portland, Day 2


We walked out of our downtown hotel Tuesday morning and took the light rail train to the Oregon Zoo stop which is underground. We emerged from the elevator and immediately noticed the air quality was much poorer due to forest fire ash swirling heavy in the air. The zoo opened a few minutes later and one of the managers announced to the small group entering with us that they were allowing the animals out, but would be continually assessing the situation to see if the animals remained outside. As we began our tour of the zoo, I was blinking my eyes often, but very soon we were surrounded by lush trees and vegetation and the air quality improved dramatically.We had a wonderful morning, the landscape was beautiful and we saw almost every animal we were looking for.  It is a lovely place to enjoy creation. I've posted a few of the videos I took of entertaining animal behavior after the photos.Can you spot the two dead white rats in the eagle area?For my guinea-pig obsessed children. The area where the elevators take you to the underground trains. allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' /> allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' /> allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' /> allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' /> allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' /> allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />[...]

Portland, Day 1


We took the light rail train west out of downtown Portland to the Taulatin Nature Preserve Center where we followed a series of trails through beautiful tree-lined paths. We met many other visitors, some on bikes, some jogging, others pushing strollers and carrying babies. Most of the trees towered way over us, with all varieties of moss, lichen and leaf canopy all around. It was beautiful.The sun shone with orange light through the hazy air as reports of forest fires all around Oregon burn through forests unabated.This bowl filled with plant life could turn and spin once started and then you could peer through each kaleidoscope to see the patterns created. This tree had virtually no needles left, moss was dripping from every branch instead.This is a view of our hotel from across the plaza in downtown Portland. We are staying on the eleventh floor and have an interior room which overlooks an inner atrium. But I do look out of one of those windows in the morning on my way down to get complimentary coffee served in the atrium.Pieology is a great pizzeria that we have enjoyed twice so far. You can order one of their creations or request your own toppings. The Hickory BBQ Chicken is definitely our favorite.After resting in our hotel, we had a brisk walk across the Willamette River to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry to take in an IMAX documentary and then, a submarine tour!Shane starts his tech conference tomorrow, so for the next three days, I'm on my own during the daytime. I have a list of things to see and do as long as the air quality permits outside adventures, otherwise I'll hole up in the beautiful Central Library.[...]

new camera and other random news


Some of you dear readers, may already know that my camera dropped out of my hoodie pocket into the ocean in southern Nova Scotia several weeks ago. It didn't recover. So after doing camera research for too many afternoons and evenings, I went back to the camera store and just bought the most basic model they sold for point and shoot cameras. I thought the old camera was a basic model, this one is quite a bit smaller and much more light-weight, less optical zoom, no touch-screen, but has 20(!) mega-pixels to its credit. Because it is still in Nikon Coolpix family, it takes the same charger, has the same type of icons and buttons; I just slipped the old memory card into the new camera and went and took these shots of Kate and the kitten.Yes, most everyone knows that we were given a ten-week old kitten from our friends who have a farm. Laura and Seth were at the farm the day the mama gave birth to four kittens and Laura was told that one could be hers. We had been talking about getting a kitty, but not necessarily a kitten. However when the email came that we could still have her if we were interested, I said, 'yes, give me a few days to get ready.' Of course, I wasn't really ready for what life with an indoor kitten and three kids would be like, but everyone helps keep track of her and takes turns playing and cuddling with her without any fighting or issues. Also some of you know that we installed new kitchen counters and a beadboard backsplash, but I don't think I've showed any photos of what the area looks like now. Not the best way to see the changes, but I wasn't focusing on showing the kitchen when I took this, just working on camera lighting. The lemons are sitting on a large wooden cutting board but the laminate counter underneath is also woodgrain so it's hard to distinguish the two in this photo. We bought the piece of countertop from Ikea and Shane cut it and installed in the same L-shape as the previous countertop. He is almost done the beadboard work, then we turn our attention to painting and cupboard upgrades.So the vet pointed out that Kitty has the markings of a Siamese, but not the face structure, so while her fur may have been more like her father's (whoever he was), her face is the same shape as her mama's, Bella, the barncat who is a striped tabby.  I'm happy her face is not smooshed like the Persians or pointed like the Siamese. She is just herself, whatever her name ends up being.And the rest of the photos are just more fooling around with the camera settings, getting to know what it can do. Apparently it can make my little kitty look like a huge soft cloud hanging over my garden. So much fur, so much fluff.The garden is doing its thing with very little input from me these days. The peas were in their prime while we were away, so my neighbors who were tending the garden enjoyed many of them. But the cucumbers waited for my return before going full-tilt. I'm finding several almost every other day, it's been one of the best cucumber years I've ever had.  We pulled the lettuce today for some chickens we know, it was too bitter, so I will try one more seeding and see if I get some better stuff before September. And the garlic harvest has been drying in the bike shed, almost forgotten.In this last photo, I carefully draw your attention to what is missing, besides all the grass. Yes, the hideous orange construction fencing was all taken down earlier this week. Now to get rid of that black material blocking the riverbank and I will be dancing all the way down there! I would have already made my way[...]

in the WayBack machine


I started this post so long ago, I don't even remember where I was going with it. But it records memories of home life and Shane's outside project on our new fence. It took several weekends, but he had lots of helpers. We celebrated Easter and our fifteenth anniversary with a huge condo roofing project that took up almost every minute of Shane's waking moments to administrate as condo president. He is currently packing boxes, I think he's done with this position and condo life. [...]

summer living in June


We wrapped up our study lessons for the year and headed south to Pennsylvania in late June. But before we left, we celebrated Father's Day and Seth's 14th birthday on the same Sunday in June. We also saw the garden come to life as seeds sprouted in mostly tidy rows and chipmunks, squirrels, and birds were reprimanded for taking too much of an interest in our dirt. The usual garden fare: beans, carrots, peas, celery, cucumbers, lettuce, tomato, garlic, herbs and golden zucchini. Not large amounts, not enough to preserve, but enough usually to make me pass the grocery store offerings with a sniff in my nose. A terrible attitude since gardens are notorious for causing all sorts of silent wailing, moaning and other humbling sound effects. When I was certain that winter had left us for the season, I came out of hibernation and we resumed our Charlotte Mason Study group which usually meets at my house. We eat treats, drink drinks, and chatter like magpies and mamas.I wandered around our collection of townhouses and took photos from the neighbor's gardens and wild flowers missed by the lawn care machines.Then we hit the road, the kids and I and drove to spend some time with my parents. Shane came for a long weekend and then returned for work and we stayed for the rest of the week.  We took the kids to a local park and bike path and enjoyed the summer evenings together.I apologize in advance for all the playground pictures. It was a beautiful evening and everyone was trying to do something on the equipment.  Something they hadn't done since last summer when we visited this playground.[...]

back with family


This is a kind of follow-up from this post which you may want to read first to give you some context.A few weeks later, it was time to go back to be with family and share in the funeral service for my cousin Gary whose stay in hospice was mercifully short but marked with wonderful care.I ended up needing an emergency root canal before we could travel and had to wait for the endodontist to return from his vacation, but God was gracious and the timing worked out well and so the kids and I were able to travel home as planned with Shane coming later on the weekend.While Gary's family took some time to prepare the details for the memorial service on the coming Saturday, my parents' home became the place to be if you were six and under. Laura played all day with her two little girl cousins, inside and out from one idea to the next; they certainly enjoyed themselves. The other little one needed more attention which we were all happy to give. Having someone little to cuddle and feed was a wonderful antidote to the reason for all of us gathering.By Friday, the house was full of arriving family, all of Gary's siblings, his parents and extended family who had different timelines for the last time everyone had seen everyone. Pleasant times, little people, new additions and catching up on family news made for many clusters of conversations and diversions.And amidst the funeral arrangements, Gary's wife, Donna marked another birthday which we all helped her celebrate by going out for dinner at a local restaurant with her parents and brother arriving in time to join us. It was a full crowd of friends, cousins, grandparents, nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles, brothers, sisters, parents, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Hugs and handshakes, tears glistening, laughter breaking out, the coming together joyful yet marked with sorrow. My cousin Gary was a Baptist pastor and loved to sing hymns and his children, Rachel and Jason are both very musical, both in playing instruments and singing. Jason played and sang at his Dad's funeral service and I believe that Rachel and Jason sang together at a memorial service held on Sunday afternoon which I did not attend.It was a short time to be together as family, but as Christians, our hope is in the forever we will have with all of God's family.Here are some videos I took of our time with family both in February and in March.  None of them are high quality (and some may make you a bit dizzy, sorry about that) but were filmed to simply capture the spirit of the moment. (If they do not load properly, please try the 'refresh' button on your browser, they seem to load correctly after that.) allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' /> allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' /> allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' /> allowFullS[...]



In late February, after we had returned from our trip to Pennsylvania, I slipped on some spilledwater in our kitchen floor as I was attempting to clean it up and twisted my left knee as I fell. The full extent of the damage is only partially known, with a stretched ligament, hamstring injury and unknown damage to inside of kneecap. The swelling very gradually is going down and I have been in physio therapy sessions multiple times a week for the past four weeks. I have seen an increased range of mobility, even going up steps at my old pace on the good days. Bending my knees to look for things in the fridge, in the lower cupboards, and any sort of kneeling are still not happening.I have been put on the list to have an MRI to see what damage was done, if any, to the meniscus. Whether I have that done remains to be seen. The injury certainly has been a disruption to our regular routine, but Shane and the kids have been very helpful in doing the tasks that I found too difficult. Early on, my therapist suggested an adjustable cane for managing the limp, it was humbling to have to purchase one and use it as I went from the house to the parking lot and even to church.Also getting another year older only a few short weeks later made me feel old and decrepit. Friends celebrated my birthday with a delicious homemade chocolate hazelnut cake and thoughtful gifts and flowers. The signage was lovely and the decor consisted of pine branches and Dash the rooster's best tail feathers. Perfect for this group of friends. We celebrated again with Shane and my mom with pizza and a version of angel food cake that is my traditional birthday cake. Later in the weekend, we celebrated again with my brother and sister-in-law and were treated to Chinese food and ice cream cake.I still do feel old, but hoping with the return of spring, I can feel the rejuvenation that is going on around us. The injury could have been much worse, and between my mother coming for a week and friends bringing some meals over and encouragement from friends, I have known the Lord's kindness in my frailty.Kate likes to re-enact my injury by going down on one knee and then lowering her head to the floor and gently tapping it on the floor as if to show that I even banged my head, which I didn't. I landed sorely on my bottom. Lots of padding there.I missed being able to go with Seth and Laura to the annual Lego contest held at a local aviation museum. But they went with friends and showed off their original flying machines to the judges and the participants. Neither won anything, but their friends made clean sweep of the prizes and they all enjoyed their time.  Laura later was inspired to build other things with Lego, when she wasn't busy running her 'doctor's clinic', having indoor picnics, flying her homemade kite outside or playing with her Calico Critters, just to name a few projects she has gotten into. Her enthusiasm for play turned many cold wintry days into enchantment, even if we are out of tape and a little bit of patience for all the projects that threaten to overwhelm our living space. I take photos of many of them to save the memories before they are ushered back to the recycling bin or garbage. She shows much promise for ingenuity and design, I look forward to seeing what she produces as she matures. In the meantime, I have to buy more tape.Our swallowtail butterfly did well for several weeks drinking the sugared water I provided in small plastic caps, even when we had[...]

going back


In late January/early February, we received word that my Dad's nephew, my first cousin, would not be having any more treatment for his spreading cancer and that he would be glad for visitors before he needed to be in hospice. We decided to plan a quick trip for the long Family Day weekend in February.As it turned out, Shane and Seth were able to help with some furniture-moving for my cousin's family and then we all spent time visiting with my cousin and his wife. It was a busy house that day with lots of coming and going, but amid the physical and emotional pain, there was much laughter and pleasant memories exchanged. My cousin, Gary and his wife Donna, have two children, both married with their own young children. Later in the weekend, Laura and my mom and I returned for a short evening visit before we drove home the next day. Laura enjoyed some board games with her cousins and I visited with their mom, Rachel. Gary was tired, but ready for board games with one of his grandchildren. It was a sweet evening and I said good-bye to my cousin one final time.Outside the weather was mild and sunny, so one afternoon, Laura and I took a long meandering walk through the same terrain I played on as a child. We checked out the natural spring on the neighbor's property, the same spring that housed cold, ripe watermelons once upon a summer. Yes, I let her drink from it, much to the later chagrin of her father. She's still standing upright.Another afternoon, we walked part of a trail that goes around some quarries and old factory buildings. Kate thought we were taking her for a swim and made several attempts at getting closer to the water. It was a beautiful warm day and we soaked up every minute knowing we were heading back to full-blown winter back in Ontario.It was hard to leave my parents' home, especially knowing that the next time we visited would be for Gary's funeral. [...]

book sale finds


Pictured below are some of the books we brought home from a local annual book sale held every February. The Strawberry Shortcake book is a sentimental find for me. I grew up with what ebay searches now called Vintage Strawberry Shortcake and I had the story with the owl on the cover about winter not ending. We still have it, along with pillow characters and the pvc minatures that were artificially scented. My seven year old plays with them now. 
And The Golden Egg book actually came from a secondhand store, 2nd and Charles while visiting my parents but I just included it here.
We have been going to this book sale for ten years now, so it is not surprising that my book piles are diminishing each year, we have so many of the good ones now! Most of the books or authors are known to me, some we just took a chance because it was vintage or had a guinea pig on the cover.