Thursday, November 27, 2008

Family Photo Day

Tuesday was our "Family Photo Day". Every Christmas season we take a photo of the family outside. The thought behind it being that we'll make Christmas cards using one of the photos. Well, we've taken the photos over the last 7 years or so, but never managed to make or send Christmas cards. We usually try to pick a day after it snows, but sometimes nature doesn't cooperate. Good thing we went out on Tuesday, because today there is no snow on the ground!

So, how do you organize 2 people, 3 dogs and 1 cat for a photo shoot?First, you pick the spot.John came up with the idea of the apple tree location, and I think it was a great idea. My original idea was to trek us all out to the field, with our house in the background. But the apple tree was a great inspiration.Once you pick the location, you trek all the animals out (dressed up with their Christmas scarves). We kept Cassie on the leash since she is the least likely to come when she's called.
First, we get John in place, then it's his job to round up the animals while I set up the tripod, camera and remote.I snap a quick photo of John with the crew, and then go join them.I keep clicking the remote as John tries to get the dogs lined up, and pointed in the right direction.After taking about 20 photos (surely one of them is suitable!), we let the dogs run and pack up the cat.Pack up the cat? Yes, we carried him down to the apple tree in a sports bag!Now the only thing to do is pick our favourite photo.Then I crop it a bit.And add our Christmas wishes.Voila! It's done. (I'm showing you a very low resolution file here) I printed a copy of the photo at the Superstore. Now, maybe maybe maybe I'll get some cards ordered and we'll send out some cards this year!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Snowed In & Out Again

So we survived our first snow storm in Nova Scotia. Well, we have made it through several snowstorms in the past when we lived in Ontario and visited Nova Scotia a couple of times each year. But this is the first snow storm when we've actually lived here.

We spent Saturday snowed in. And the guinea hens stayed in the trees until Sunday afternoon. I don't think they liked the snow on their feet. They aren't good flyers, so it's impossible for them to fly from a tree into the coop. They flap down to the ground and then hop into the coop. On Sunday afternoon, they were finally hungry enough to fly over to the coop to see me. A lot of coaxing and teasing them with the food pan finally got them all into the coop...one by one. Our farmer neighbours tell us to keep them in the coop until spring. There isn't a window in our coop, so I have visions of blinded guineas emerging from their dark coop into the light of spring. Another farmer neighbour tells us that "most folk don't pay no mind to them". But of course, we are silly city folk and worry about our poor guineas.

Sunday our farmer friend came to plow our 1/2 mile driveway, so we were snow bound no longer. (and it was definitely easier to walk to get the paper on a plowed drive!). Our road was also plowed on Sunday.

Monday things were back to normal. My camera was finally ready to be picked up, so we went into town and then took a drive to Liverpool. Shortly after we arrived in Nova Scotia, we had lunch at a little place in Liverpool and had chocolate peanut butter pie for dessert. I've been dreaming about that pie ever since. Imagine my disappointment when they didn't have any yesterday! Thursday is "pie day" at the restaurant. And...they have no idea what kind of pie will be offered each week. And...no idea when they'll have chocolate peanut butter pie again. Sigh.

But, all was not lost. We stopped by Beach Meadows Beach on the way back home. Who goes to the beach in the winter? We do!And these people do too... We met Heidi (a husky/corgi mix) and Molly (a lab/jack russell mix) and their two women and had a nice long chat with them. Next time we'll bring our girls along. It's a great beach and I know they'd love to run it.

But this is my favourite photo from the day...Our shadows on the beach.
Today's photo project was taking a family portrait with the idea that maybe, just maybe I'll get out some Christmas cards this year. Every year we take a family portrait outside (including the 3 dogs and cat). Sadly, I haven't sent Christmas cards for many, many years. This year I intend to get back on track. More on the family photo session tomorrow.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Snow in Purgatory

To coin a phrase from someone near and dear to me..."I don't know if hell has frozen over or not, but there's snow in Purgatory".

First, a little about Purgatory.

When we first moved here in early May, it was during tick season. There are lots of ticks in the country, and lots of ticks in Lunenburg County, and lots of ticks where there are deer. Combine all three conditions, and you have our property. Ticks may not be a big deal for country folk. But let me tell you, they were a HUGE deal to us. We had never been exposed to ticks before. They are nasty little spidery looking things that attach themselves to you and suck your blood. If you don't pull them off, they stay on you for days while they fill up with blood, then they drop off to reproduce. Sounds nice, eh? Well, ticks aren't that big a deal for humans because we can see them, and pull them off (although I must say that I freaked whenever I found one on me...I am very very scared of spiders and these guys look a little spidery). But they are a big deal when you have 3 dogs that like to be outside.

Anyway, I'm a little off track here. Back to Purgatory. So....we had just moved here and were a little freaked about going outside so we spent a lot of time in our screened in porch. One evening John said to me "It's like being in Purgatory. We're not inside, and we're not outside, we're just in limbo." Well, to make a long story short, the name stuck. Our screened in porch is called "Purgatory".

And this morning there was a foot of snow in Purgatory. We are officially snowed in. Thankfully, we went to the grocery store last night (along with every other living being on the South Shore, I think) and stocked up on supplies. Unfortunately, we didn't arrive home until after dark.

This was bad news for the guineau hens. Guineas roost in trees after the sun goes down. Once they go up into the trees, our guineas won't come down. Food will not entice them down. Doing my guinea call won't get them down. Nothing will move those hens from the trees until dawn comes.

That's okay when it's nice out. But last night when they stayed in the tree, they stayed outside for a snowstorm. We had between 12 and 18 inches of snow (the drifts are past the tops of my thighs). As I lay in bed and listened to the wind howl (that means it was very, very windy. We have a concrete house and you usually can't hear anything outside unless the windows are open) I was worrying about my guineas.

I got up early, dug out Purgatory, let the dogs out, let the dogs in...then went down to see how the hens fared. They were all huddled under a little tree halfway up the hill from their coop. They wouldn't follow me down to the coop, even when I shook their feed jar and called. I debated about what in the world to do. I didn't think I'd be able to catch them...they usually scoot out of range when you get close to them. But I guess a night in the cold slows them down some. I grabbed them and carried them to the coop one by one. This wasn't completely easy to do because they flapped their wings like crazy when I picked them up. But I was thankful they didn't try to scratch or peck me. I managed to get 4 of them into the coop when the other 3 decided to take flight. They flew down towards the coop, but instead of going in the coop they flew up into a tree again.

That was 6 hours ago and the 3 hens still haven't come down from the tree. Fingers crossed they decide to come down when I go to feed them this afternoon, or they'll spend a colder night outside tonight (only 3 to huddle together instead of 7)

Ahh, life on the farm. Never a dull moment for 2 city folk.

Oh, and did I mention that John decided we should take a walk to get the paper? We took 2 of the dogs and waded through shin/knee high snow for 1/2 mile to find no paper and no plowed road. Another 1/2 mile back (uphill on the way back). I know I've had my exercise for the day. Next time John wants to get the paper after a snowstorm, I think I'll tell him to go sit in Purgatory for a while!
Chicken coop, June 1949

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Memory keeping

I have been sorting through some old photographs while undertaking a special little project. Isn't this photo sweet? I have no idea who the children are, and that's a little sad. These photos are someone else's memories. The sad thing is that our memories fade, and along with that the knowledge fades too. These children were captured in a moment that was special to them, and special to the person who took the photograph. But without the details, later generations are left to wonder just who they were.

Are we any better off in the digital age? I'm not sure that we are. Unless we take the time to record the details, now our photos only have numbers. Our computers tell us when the photo was taken, which helps. But when our technology changes, those details may be lost too.

Photos have always been important to me. Maybe because my memory has always been bad (no, it's not just an age thing). Photos help me remember. I love looking at the details in the photos...the pictures on the walls, the clothes people are wearing, and looking at old hair styles just can't be beat for a bit of humour.

I've put together some photo projects over the years for gifts. One of my favourite gifts was a poster we gave to Cody when he was 19. The poster had over 350 photos of his life with us and with his dad. We had it mounted on a board, and he tells me it's one of his favourite all time gifts.
Somewhere, I have a photo of the actual poster. Somewhere. Maybe once I organize my photos I'll find it!

Do you have any photo project ideas? I'd love to hear about them.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Roadblock ahead

Yesterday started out beautifully. See this photo? Not a cloud in the sky.We have one apple tree that has decided to keep its apples. These apples aren't good for eating. Not even the deer seem to want the apples that fall on the ground. I snapped these photos after going for our morning walk with the dogs to get the paper (down our 1/2 mile drive and back).
Things can change pretty quickly around here. We were enjoying our morning coffee while reading the paper and suddenly it got so dark we had to turn the light on. And the rain came pouring down (well, actually it was getting blown in sideways). And one half hour later we were back to blue skies.
One unfortunate thing about taking photos yesterday was that I discovered that there is still a spot on my camera (and hence a spot on all the photos I take). Despite the fact that we have had the camera in two times in the past couple of weeks. Despite the fact that we paid $50 to have the camera cleaned and have been told everything is fine. So...off I go again to the camera store. The two "experts" were not in, so I had the worker bee look through the lens to make sure he could see the spot himself, so that he could tell the experts what still needed fixing.
So...again...I am without a camera. This is not a big deal to some people, but it is to me. In my graduating year book from high school, we had to write our "famous last words". My words..."I wish I had my camera here". Not much has changed in 30 years. (Yikes, has it been that long?)
Since it seems that I'm on a whining rant. Here's another little problem I have. I mentioned the other day that all our Christmas gifts are hand made. Well, one gift involved several days at the computer to put together a book. After many, many days of trying it seems that my book cannot be uploaded to be published. Our computer can't do it since we're on dial up access. We tried to do it at DIL's, but kept getting error messages. I had an "Aha" moment the other day and signed myself up for a library card so I could have access to the high speed computers at the library. (side note: I forgot how much I love libraries) But.
I can't get the photo book uploaded at the library either. In order to upload the files, the program needs to be downloaded onto the computer. You can't download programs to the library computers.
I headed back to my car with tears in my eyes. I so wanted to give this gift. I have 11 more days to try to figure it out, and then it will be too late to make the company's cut off date for Christmas delivery.
And now that I'm done whining, maybe it's time for some wine of a different sort. And tomorrow will be a different day. Maybe I'll get my camera back. And maybe I'll figure out how to create this gift. There's always hope, right?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Well, blow me down

Today was supposed to be mild, with light showers in the afternoon. So we decided that we'd put up some Christmas lights while the weather was good. Usually it's very, very cold and not a fun thing to do.

It was very, very mild this morning. I let John sleep in, and took the dogs for the paper myself. It was so mild that I didn't even need a jacket (practically unheard of in November in Canada). But the wind was amazingly strong. It was so windy that the wind in the trees sounded like waves crashing on the shore. I got the dogs inside and went to let the guinea hens out for the day. I thought we'd pop the hens back in their coop early in the afternoon so we could take the dogs out with us when we strung the lights.

Once back inside, the rain came. Someone misinformed the weatherman, because we did not have light showers in the afternoon. We had heavy rains and winds all day.How windy was it? Well, it was so windy that when I looked outside I saw a guinea hen get blown off his feet and swept across the driveway like a tumbleweed. I decided I better get the hens in their coop early, but it wasn't because we'd be stringing any lights!The good news is that I got lots of Christmassy things done today, so I'm well ahead of schedule this year. I'll be able to relax in December and enjoy all our company. Our shopping is done, and I'm very happy to say that almost all our gifts are handmade....either by me, or by someone else. John and I are tired of all the commercialism around Christmas, and are trying to keep things simple. Every year I sew up some fabric gift bags, and I managed to do a few this afternoon. All our gifts are wrapped in their fabric bags, and stocking stuffers for 9 people are wrapped and tagged. Phew!

Now...I'm off to peel and cook some pumpkins. I'll be freezing the cooked pumpkin for some home made pumpkin soup when our guests are here in December.

So...no lights up yet, but lots accomplished. Maybe we'll continue our tradition of putting up the lights in frigid temperatures.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Outing on a foggy day

I had a hot date booked for today with the best guy in the world. (well, in Nova Scotia anyway) We decided to head off to Cherry Hill today. We had heard that there is a beach there that's great for scavenging. I love to look for beach glass when walking on beaches. Although there are lots and lots of beaches within a 1/2 hour drive of our place, the beaches are all beautifully sandy and there's not much scavenging to be had.

When we woke up this morning, it was so foggy you couldn't see past the bird feeder in our yard...about 25 feet from the house. The fog cleared up, and we headed out with my camera. Yes, the camera is back after it's second cleaning in as many weeks.

On the way to Cherry Hill, we passed through Petite Riviere. I finally managed to take a photo of this......something I have seen many times and never took a photo of. This guy is coming out of the roof of a house...someone's idea of humour I guess. I should have taken a photo of the whole house, but had my zoom lens on. Next time.

On the way to Cherry Hill, we turned down a side road and I snapped a couple of photos at a wharf.It was quite foggy at the coast, and doesn't everything look a little dismal in the fog?After a couple of false starts, we found the beach at Cherry Hill (which is not down the road called "Beach Road", oddly enough). Our walk on the beach was short lived today. There was quite a smell to the air, which the dogs seemed to love but I wasn't too fond of.So, no scavenging today but a great outing despite the fog and sea smells.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A little update

Another week without my camera. Bummer. It was in getting cleaned up a couple of weeks ago, and we took it back in on Monday. There are some stubborn spots that just won't go away. Of course, without a camera it always seems like there are scenes that should be captured. But, we'll just have to remember them instead.

Like on Remembrance Day. After we attended the service in a local town and returned home, John and G headed out in their hard hats and work boots and gloves with their chain saws to do some more work around the property. It turned out to be a great family day, with DIL and Miss M and me lugging wood while John and G cut. (well, Miss M didn't lug any wood...she just enjoyed herself as 7 year olds do) We cooped up the guineas, so the 3 dogs got the run of our 20 acres. And they loved every minute of it.

Four weeks and we'll see this guy...Mr J and his mom (John's daughter) and her boyfriend will be visiting us for a few days. It will be the first time we meet A's man, and should be a fun long weekend. The same day the three of them head back to Ontario, we will pick up this guy from the airport...
This will be Cody's first visit to our new Nova Scotia home. He'll be staying for 2 weeks. I asked him what he'd like to do while he's here. "Relax" is big on his list. To tell you the truth, I think he's looking forward to having someone do his cooking and cleaning for him...he has been out on his own for the past 3 years and I think he misses being looked after sometimes. He's busy in Toronto trying to break into acting. He had his first successful audition a few weeks ago, which landed him a role in a film. Yay! It's a non speaking role. And a non paying role. But still, it's a start. All dreams have to start somewhere, right?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Promises

One of the jokes around here is about cooking. I take a lot of ribbing about cooking. It's not that I don't cook well. It's just that I don't cook often. When we were trying to sell our former home in Ontario, one of the comments we heard from the viewings was "the kitchen was tired". The home was 15 years old, and the kitchen was original, and it was not a high end kitchen to begin with.

One of the wonderful features of our new home is the gourmet kitchen. I love it. I promised John that he would enjoy many, many gourmet meals from the new gourmet kitchen. We've been here six months (6 months! where does the time go?) and he's still waiting for his gourmet meals. John calls me a "Modified Farm Woman". (farm women are supposed to put dinner on the table while their men are out working the farm. I'm modified because I don't follow the country rules) What can I say? John is a good cook, and I kind of like having my meals made for me. But look what I have now...New pots!I have never had a set of pots. John came home with these yesterday and I am thrilled! A twelve piece set of stainless steel pots....made in Canada. (almost impossible to find anything not made in China these days. I don't know whether I was happier about getting my new pots or happier about the fact that they were made in Prince Edward Island). So, ahem, I think that means I'm supposed to get on with those gourmet meals now. No more excuses. Stay tuned.

The two side tables are finished. They are completely different styles, but I like them and I like the way they look in our living room.The photos are a little blurry. Both tables were bought an auctions for a steal.Today: I'll be working on a Christmas gift for most of the day.
Tomorrow: We're off to Halifax. John will be going to a college football game with G and Miss M. I'll be hitting a craft show with DIL and two of her friends. A girl's day out...I'm very excited!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

a big win

On Tuesday, America's big day, we headed to Lunenburg. We bottled some wine, had a wonderful lunch, and then headed back home. We took the scenic route back, and took a little side trip on a road we hadn't yet travelled. The sun was low in the sky and cast a wonderful glow on everything. I wish I could have captured it better, but I'll keep trying.
We spent Tuesday night glued to the television, like millions of people around the world. We're very happy with the results. I think Americans have given hope back to themselves...and to the rest of the world.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

In the quiet of dusk

I'm not what you would call a religious person. I don't go to church. But when I stand outside in the cool November air at dusk and watch the sun set...and listen to nothing but the sound of the wind in the trees... ...just silence, and beauty all around. I am awestruck. I can only think of the words "magnificent" and "majestic". So beautiful it brings tears to my eyes.

And I am thankful.

Monday, November 3, 2008

a little help from a friend

After struggling to strip the former finish off a couple of auction purchases, I have now progressed to the priming and painting stage. I would have liked to strip the pieces completely and stain them. But...I'm going with repainting the pieces. Why? Because I don't have enough patience to strip them properly. Reminder to self: do not purchase any furniture that needs refinishing in the future.

I was going to paint the tables in my "studio", which is the second floor of our shed. But it's getting a little nippy out there so I moved everything inside to our laundry room (we don't have a basement).Phantom decided to join me.It's always nice to have some company. But he's a bit of a slacker.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Working the lower field

This is what I call our "lower field". As you drive up our 1/2 mile long driveway towards the house, if you look right you'll see this field just before you get to the apple trees. There are almost no leaves left now...this photo was taken a couple of weeks ago.

Can you see the paths through the grass? Those are deer trails.

Do you see the very small green dot towards the centre of the photo? That's a small pine tree, and just beyond the pine tree is a spring fed pond where the deer like to drink.

And...do you see the dead trees that are laying on the field? There were 3 large trees down...and they aren't there anymore! G visited us today, and brought along a chain saw for John. The two of them cut up the 3 trees and we piled the wood at the side (unfortunately it won't be any good for firewood). Thanks for the chainsaw work, G! And thanks to DIL and G for the chainsaw. I have a feeling it's going to come in handy this winter when those cold winter winds blow trees down on our driveway (something that's already happened a couple of times).