Note to self:

Note to Self 1

The Cardinal-friendly “Squirrel Buster Plus”.  Abfab birthday pressie, non?                                    (I’ve never had a bird feeder before.)

Dear Pam:

You’re 62 today! (Ouch! How did that happen?) A smattering of advice as you enter your sixty-third year ⁓

  1. Start each day with a positive frame of mind (thanks, Dad). Just like musical earworms, typically the first thing you read each morning stays with you throughout the day so make it an intentional choice not a random item on your screen. It ought to be true, informative and worthy of a day’s thoughts.
  2. You should be using more of your time and resources to help others. Service should be a touchstone. (Thanks again, Dad.) In this era, when self-indulgence is not only accepted but encouraged – salon days, treating/rewarding ourselves, electronic everything, spa pampering – buck the tend. Kindness, helpfulness and usefulness should always be your first choice.
  3. The past two years have proven that it is not only possible but easy to be more and be happier, with less. Stay true to this choice! Zero net gain! Focus on the good things, not every thing. Whenever the lure of new, of “If I only had…” pulls you in, remember this: You need very little to be happy, to feel contentment and you already have everything you need! Which, of course, leads to the next item…
  4. Gratitude; being thankful is simultaneously profound and very, very simple. Generosity depends upon us being joyful and contented with what we have. Twee as it may be, on your birthday, be most grateful for your life; you know full-well that you’re blessed to have reached this age – too many others that you knew and loved were not so fortunate. In fact, you very nearly did not make it this far yourself! Do not squander this gift, Pam, make the most of it!
  5. Sugar is your kryptonite. There is a fine line between enjoying the occasional treat (birthday cake, for instance) and overindulging (holiday baking, for instance) so maintain your focus, my girl! Less sugar = more serenity. You. Can. Do. This.
  6. Paleo Salmon and Broccoli. Always!
  7. The way you live your life is your choice; do not compare it to others, do not let anyone’s judgment knock you off-course! Try your level-best to live each day with truth and goodness and kindness. Strive to be noble. And yes, you will fail but keep trying! Do not allow this tenet to be diminished trying to please others.

Put your best foot forward, Pam – your sixty-third is going to be a great year!

’Til next time, y’all…

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Water’s Magic

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“beside the seaside, beside the sea”*

On a BBC show we just recently watched, the host sang a few bars of this tune and the memories came flooding back.  This was a favourite of my Mum and Dad; they had the 78 RPM version of this song, on one of those very thick, pre-vinyl platters that Dad spun for Mum nearly every Sunday afternoon.  The history of this oh-so-silly ditty is that it was written as a music hall number and became a bit of a theme song for the holidayers and merry-makers that visited Blackpool each summer.  Blackpool – with its magnificent beach and pier, its prom, its fairgrounds, theatres, shops and, of course, Blackpool Rock –  was a favourite summertime destination for Stockport/Manchester/Cheshire escapees – Mum’s and Dad’s families included.  The song is about the composer’s love of the seaside and of his longing to return each year.  

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Oh! I do like to be beside the seaside!
I do like to be beside the sea! 

Nothing elevates my spirt, calms my soul, or makes me happier than being beside water.  The shores of Lake Ontario are not, obviously, the seaside, but for me they are a splendid  substitute, one that I am able to enjoy regularly – and do! It was bright, breezy and chilly at Presqu’ile today; the highest temperature whilst we were in the park was -1℃.  There were very few people in the park today, which was disappointing – I love to see loads of folk enjoying Presqu’ile!  Now, I’ve no statistics to back this up, but by my own observations I believe we Ontarians underutilize our lakes, rivers and  streams which is such a shame as (another personal observation) a day at the beach or beside the water, brings joy to everyone.

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So just let me be beside the seaside!
I’ll be beside myself with glee!

So just what is the allure of the the lakeshore, I’m often asked; why on earth do you like Lake Ontario so much?  I imagine its history of pollution combined with the adjacent power plants, industrial lands and railways have earned Lake Ontario a bit of a bad rap in some minds.  Not so for me.  Whether still and sparkling, grey and stormy, gently lapping or covered in whitecaps, I am always fascinated by its water.  Even when it is angry, turbulent and noisy, I always leave for home feeling inspired, relaxed, calm and  rejuvenated.  Always.

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Ice is already forming along the north-facing (shaded) shore of Presqu’ile Bay.

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I should (always) like to be beside the seaside, beside the sea!

On a deeper level, and when I am alone, quiet time by the lake is something of a spiritual experience for me.  The sound of water lapping against or crashing into the shore is a soothing background for meditation, easing me into that deeply relaxed state which, elsewhere, is sometimes more difficult to attain.

Scientists have gathered substantive data which supports the theory that being close to water – be it an ocean, a lake or a river – improves mental health.  Be that as it may, being beside or on or in my venerable lake brings me happiness and a deep sense of peace.

I’ll be beside myself with glee…

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Mark my words, it is always glorious to spend time at the shores!

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‘Til next time, y’all…

I Do Like To be Beside the Seaside

Now everybody likes to spend their summer holiday
down beside the side of the silvery sea.
I’m no exception to the rule, in fact, if I’d me way,
I’d reside by the side of the silvery sea.

But when you’re just the common or garden Smith or Jones or Brown
at business up in town, you’re got to settle down.
You save your money all the year ’til summer comes around.
Then away you go to a place you know, where the cockle shells are found.

Oh! I do like to be beside the seaside!
I do like to be beside the sea!
I do like to stroll along the Prom, Prom, Prom!
Where the brass bands play, “Tiddely-om-pom-pom!”

So just let me be beside the seaside!
I’ll be beside myself with glee
and there’s lots of girls beside,
I should like to be beside, beside the seaside,
beside the sea!

Now William Sykes for burglary been out to work one night,
and filled his bag with cash and jewels and plate.
And Constable Brown felt no surprise when William hove in sight.
Said he, “The hours you’re keeping are far too late.”
So he grabbed him by the collar and lodged him safe and sound in jail.
Next morning looking pale, Bill told a tearful tale.
The judge said, “For a couple of months I’m sending you away!”
Said Bill, “How kind! Well if you don’t mind, Where I spend my holiday!”

Oh! I do like to be beside the seaside!
I do like to be beside the sea!
I do like to stroll along the Prom, Prom, Prom!
Where the brass bands play, “Tiddely-om-pom-pom!”

So just let me be beside the seaside!
I’ll be beside myself with glee
and there’s lots of girls beside,
I should like to be beside, beside the seaside,
beside the sea!
*[John A. Glover-Kind]

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

December 1

As the temperatures drop and the snow swirls, the most wonderful time of the year arrives.

December brings holiday madness, advertising overload, seasonal sales and must-haves, without which, we’re cautioned, Christmas will somehow be less-than.

Too many succumb; rushing around with a slew of shopping and to-do lists in hand, wearing both finances and spirits thin, finding themselves bone-weary long before the blessed night arrives.  For many people it is a season of stress coming in the form of too many social obligations – Christmas parties, dinners, visits. For some folk, family drama is overwhelming.  In our family angst takes the form of great sadness at having to set one less place at the dinner table this year.

And yet…

It really is the most wonderful time of the year!

December 4

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”     [Matthew 11:28-29 NIV]

In December, few are gentle, few are humble; the busyness of holiday preparations and activities rob us of our more tender sensibilities. Rushing around with wrapping paper and ribbons, hoovering up stray pine needles, baking one more batch of cookies, attending school concerts and making sure the home is decorated just-so, it’s pretty hard to find rest for one’s soul.  He says, Come to me. I am gentle. I am humble. You will find rest

So, this month, this most wonderful time of the year, I am striving for gentleness and humility – the holiday spirit we want in our hearts and in our home.

In our lives we found December’s frenzy staggeringly misguided so, a number of years ago, Cam and I decided to redefine what Christmas means to us and ever since we’ve fought to protect our new traditions. Of course we decorate a tree and each year we thoroughly enjoy the oh-so-cheesy Christmas movies. We visit and we enjoy dinners with friends but all the while we try to remain focused on what the holiday spirit really is for us.

December 3

We sought a king but our gift was a baby, reminding us that the greatest throne is not really a throne at all.

Whatever your intentions or traditions, I hope you have time to savour this most wonderful time of the year, surrounded by everyone you love.

‘Til next time, y’all…

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It’s the most wonderful time of the year
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you be of good cheer
It’s the most wonderful time of the year

It’s the hap-happiest season of all
With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings
When friends come to call
It’s the hap-happiest season of all

There’ll be parties for hosting
Marshmallows for toasting
And caroling out in the snow
There’ll be scary ghost stories
And tales of the glories of
Christmases long, long ago

It’s the most wonderful time of the year
There’ll be much mistltoeing
And hearts will be glowing
When loved ones are near
It’s the most wonderful time of the year

There’ll be parties for hosting
Marshmallows for toasting
And caroling out in the snow
There’ll be scary ghost stories
And tales of the glories of
Christmases long, long ago

It’s the most wonderful time of the year
There’ll be much mistltoeing
And hearts will be glowing
When love ones are near
It’s the most wonderful time
Yes the most wonderful time
Oh the most wonderful time
Of the year
[Edward Pola and George Wyle]

18th November

No one worries about you like your mama and when she’s gone the world seems unsafe. You can’t turn to her any more and it changes your life forever.

Mum.001

Today would have been Mum’s 98th birthday and indeed, my life was changed forever on 15th February 2006. It was my mum who gave me my tender heart and my common sense, who taught me how to make a house a home by filling it with love, who loved me beyond measure and Cam as if he’d been her own son, and who will always be watching over us. Happy Birthday, Mum!

‘Til next time, y’all…

❋Adriana Trigiani, Big Stone Gap

This is who I am…

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My economics class is having a (gulp) fortieth anniversary reunion next April at UTSC. The event coordinators sent out this form for us all to complete:

This is who I am…

Making:  Progress. Plans + preparation + pictures = progress.
Cooking:  Anything and everything in a crock pot; pot roast, frittata (the best, BEST ever!), pork tenderloin and, today, chicken parm.
Drinking: Anything hot and comforting. When it is damp, I feel cold, when it is cool I feel cold and when it really is cold, I feel positively frosty. So, lots of coffees and teas – both Assam and herbal blends.
Reading: Thoreau – always! Kleon – often. Streams in the Desert – daily. Jean-Jacques Rousseau – for Arts & Letters. Mary Oliver and Shannan Martin for me (for the beauty of their words).
Wanting: More time; with Cam, with my family, with my friends. More time to…
Looking: At all the photographic images I can possibly find. Am slowly and steadily being swallowed whole by the beauty of monochromatic art.
Playing: Wooden Blocks – silly, addictive, inane, fun, time-wasting, endlessly amusing.
Wasting: Too much time in post-camera production when what I really want is to be outdoors shooting.
Sewing: Nothing at the moment. Surprised?
Wishing: For a miracle for Cam at the dermatology clinic on Monday.
Enjoying: My photography course; it is exhilarating, inspiring, exciting. And exhausting!
Waiting: To read how all my friends and classmates respond to this survey.
Liking: A sweet on-line conversation… Every night a very dear friend of mine sends me a lovely e-mail message, detailing the highs and lows of her day and her hopes, fears, dreams and observations. Every day I respond. It is an enchanting means of communicating and we really bare our souls to each other; I know I am blessed to have this relationship and I cherish it (and her).
Wondering: How and when we will be able to halt (or at least slow) the spread of hatred, intolerance, racism, homophobia and xenophobia encouraged by the far-right. More specifically, what I can do about it.
Loving: Cam Perrault; he is a spark plug of awesomeness!
Needing: Nothing.
Smelling: Coconut… Shampoo (Herbal Essences) and sea salt spray (John Freida). Intoxicating!
Wearing: Camis (aka vests or undershirts as you non-Brits say) – an extra layer is essential for me every day at this time of year. – I. Love. Cosy.
Following: Naomi Klein – you should too!
Noticing: That the Maples are clinging to their leaves extra-late this fall; the colours are still magnificent, awe-inspiring, and great fodder for my lenses.
Knowing: I know who I am. I know the person I want to become, and that is huge.
Thinking: About our dear friend who is fighting Parkinson’s and Achalasia (chief amongst an entire litany of health problems) and doing it with good humour, unmatched courage and determination. He is the gold standard for confronting and surviving chronic health issues. He is in my prayers every night and my thoughts every day.
Feeling: Happy. Content. I’ve been feeling exactly right for quite a while now. Everything in my life is clicking and that is a very special feeling.
Bookmarking: Cambridge In Colour – abfab resource for all photographers, regardless of skill, camera or experience level! A very supportive and inclusive community.
Opening: Crockpot lid; all the better to savour the aroma of the previously mentioned chicken parm! We’re eating well tonight!
Giggling: At Toby; a more cockeyed, gas-filled, nervous, affectionate and sweetly dopey dog there never was!

What are  you up to these days?

‘Til next time, y’all…

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A land of magnificent waterfalls.

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Taughannock Falls

We belong to a wide circle of family and friends who all love to travel. Just this month, my cousins have been to England, holidaying on Lake Winderemere in the Lake District of Cumbria. Another cousin is Island-hopping in the Caribbean right now and yet another cousin and his wife are about to depart for the warm sunshine of Mexico’s beaches. Dos margaritas por favor. Two of our friends have just returned from the Greek Islands and another couple are set to embark on a fifty-five day trip beginning in London (taking in a couple of football matches at Wembley), followed by some sun in Portugal, then a visit with friends in Scotland and ending up in Ireland with family. A very special friend of mine is on her way to Toronto (and Cobourg!) from Mexico. Another dear friend has just returned from a holiday on Vancouver Island. Travellers one and all. Then there’s me, watching – contentedly – from the sidelines, cheering them all on in their quests for adventure and fun. Yup, the travel bug has bypassed me entirely; almost as if I were inoculated. My love for the comforts (or safety, as I’m often told) of home overrides my quest for adventure.

We need only travel enough to give our intellects an airing.
[H.D. Thoreau]

Exactly how I feel!

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Aunt Sarah’s Falls

700 Kilometres

This time wanderlust arrived without fanfare or anticipation. A spur-of-the-moment opportunity for a road trip taking in some of the prettiest waterfalls; did I want to go? YES! Of course; a holiday that is part work, part play, all adventure – perfect! An autumn jaunt along unknown roads. terra ignota

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Seneca Lake

My photography inspiration comes from my fundamental need to be en plein air; on a farm, in the woods, by the water, surrounded by farm life or wildlife – escapism, pure and simple.  It is a truly beautiful gift, non – escaping to inspiration

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Shequaga Creek

Shequaga is the Seneca word for tumbling waters.

The Finger Lakes Region in upstate New York is really and truly one of the most scenic places I’ve ever been and the Seneca history there is deep and textured and utterly fascinating. We spent most of our time in and around the village of Montour Falls, which got it’s name from Queen Catharine Montour, a prominent Native American woman of Seneca heritage who lived at the village site in the 18th century.

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The village of Montour Falls from the top of Shequaga Falls.

Shequaga Falls were were both one of the highest and had one of the largest volumes of cascading water of all the waterfalls we saw on this trip. They are in the centre of the village and accessed via a small strip of parkland. They are magnificently beautiful, the roar is, at the same time, deafening and calming, and at this time of year there were very few visitors so I was able to shoot to my heart’s content.

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Looking down over Shequaga Falls.

Sadly, as Cam first noticed, they are quite commercialized; there were floodlights for nighttime viewing and on the road bridge that spans Shequaga Creek at the top, there is a huge star which presumably also lights up. Whereas the other falls were all purely organic – unchanged and unadorned by mankind, Shequaga felt quite corrupted. Still, they’re a sight to behold, non?

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Shequaga Falls

Road trips are always sweetly intimate. Sharing uninterrupted togetherness, Cam’s hand reaching across the console to take mine, our attention wholly focussed on each other. And best of all, savouring the scenic delights the waterfall route had to offer. Only afterwards did I realize the egency of this escape from our home routines, and I found myself awash with gratitude.

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Deckertown Falls (Photo Credit: Cameron Perrault)

Being such a short holiday there was to be no lazing around; up early, out for breakfast and on the road – not a moment was squandered, every day filled to the brim with the sort of happy adventures that create shiny new memories.

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Hector Falls

There were some sweet discoveries that one of us found impossible to resist! (A HUGE coconut cream tart!!!)

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There was also some class work done, mostly architecture, for the assignment due upon our arrival back home.

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Auburn, NY.

That’s a wrap on one of the happiest, most special holidays of my life. Everyone we met on this trip was kind, helpful, friendly and gracious to us Canadians. We had a truly grand time but now, and as always, we’re delighted to be home in our most idyllic Cobourg!

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Owasco River and River Walk Park.

For the past few days we’ve been in the throes of post-getaway busyness; unpacking, putting the suitcases away until next time, doing what seemed like a mountain of laundry, restocking our fridge and cupboards and cleaning the WeatherTechs – it looked as if half of New York State was at the bottom of our car. Mundane to be sure, yet our euphoria and well-aired intellects remain intact.

‘Til next time, y’all…

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Seneca Lake

Abask in Autumn

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“Autumn…  The year’s last, loveliest smile.”
[W. C. Bryant]

Driving home from Presqu’ile in the afternoons these days, the sun is lower in the sky and the light looks and feels different; a reminder – even on superb days like those we enjoyed this past week when the temperatures soared – that summer has drawn to a close.  I love the changing seasons and with each new arrival I think this one absolutely has to be my favourite season.  Autumn, a favourite old friend, is no different.

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“Oh, Marilla,” Anne exclaimed one Saturday morning, coming dancing in with her arms full of gorgeous boughs, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn’t it? Look at these maple branches. Don’t they give you a thrill—several thrills? I’m going to decorate my room with them.”  [L.M. Montgomery]

The cooler temperatures are a relief from summer’s oppressive, humid heat – I can breathe normally again!  Our beautifully vibrant Canadian Maple leaves are indisputably show-stoppers and Thanksgiving is always the cherry on top.  Even  so, the end of summer is always a bittersweet time for me.  Autumn is the epilogue of all those splendidly long days spent outdoors; lakeside picnics, frogs, butterflies, fireflies, bees, so many birds, flowers and warm sunshine – all those things that make summer so perfect. 

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“Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies.
I would send you a bouquet of newly-sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.” [ny152@aol.com  aka Joe Fox]

If like me, you’ve a soft spot for Kathleen Kelly; for sweaters and school supplies (cedar pencils!) and that oh-so-intoxicating scent and sound of walking through fallen leaves, then fall is merely the beginning of new routines.

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Presqu’ile in the fall is particularly paradisiacal:  The fog rising from the lake and the wind blowing through the woods is positively intoxicating at this time of year!  Plus, there is this exhilarating smell that hits you the moment you enter Jobe’s Woods, reminding me of a million childhood memories – walks along the Wilket Creek trail, rambles around  the Bruce’s Mill conservation area and yes, even trips here to explore Presqu’ile.  That heavenly scent evokes a wealth of memories – of Dad’s fragrant and delicious apple crisp, our bottom-of-the-garden-neighbour, Mr. Tuff’s bonfires with wieners roasting on sticks, of shopping for school supplies and – excitedly – using them again as if for the very first time, and of Thanksgiving celebrations at church.   Autumn for me is a veritable cavalcade of sensory nostalgia.

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Fallen leaves are everywhere. Their crunch underfoot is truly the best sound, isn’t it?  Even at this age, I still love scuffing my feet along the ground, kicking and disturbing as many leaves as I can. 

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Today was the Semi-Annual Great Perrault Closet Swap; we took all our summer clothes downstairs and replaced them with our winter wardrobe (hazard of living in a very small house with very small closets) which brings me back to Kathleen.  I watch “You’ve Got Mail” every fall, and every year I fall in love with Kathleen Kelly all over again! If I could be any movie character, it would be Ms. Kelly – no doubt – with her oh-so-appealingly yuppy look:  Black tights, skirt and sweater vest teamed with that crisp white shirt (I love that outfit), or the equally lovely grey dress and cardi.  Delightful!  Afterwards I always have the strongest urge to treat myself to a new sweater. 

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Our friends who live south of the Mason-Dixon – quite sweetly – believe they enjoy four seasons, they just aren’t the same four seasons we enjoy!  And I’d not trade our experience for anything.  My hope is that you allow yourself the freedom to enjoy the impact of this magnificent season; the lustre of our magnificent Maple trees, brisk and invigorating walks in the fallen leaves,  pumpkin spice treats and wardrobe revisions.  Sweater weather is here at last!

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’Til next time,  y’all…

  “You’ve Got Mail”