November 21, 2014

The Path Always Taken

November 2014 - After two floods...
2012 - River path frequented by hikers, bikers, skiers & dog walkers

November 12, 2014

Grateful Dog Days

I'm a morning person. I know the night owls hate that about me. It's just that when I go to bed early or at a decent time, morning is awesome. I love sleep. I just don't want to do it all day. So, I get up, make myself a hot brew and start my day.

Some days like today, I catch up on emails or the classifieds or scour websites and blogs that interest me. I do all this while I think. And think. And think. Never too much of a good thing. The key is to think positive. Believe it or not it's not always easy to do at 4am or even 6am.

This morning I thought of a few negative things that have happened in my life in the past couple years. What a bummer. But I give myself that. Sulk for a bit and then SNAP out of it and move on with your day, lady.

I've recently re-joined a group of dog walkers and I'm so glad I did. I realized I really miss seeing them. With a new dog who needs to RUN, this is the perfect group to hang with. I really like their company.

Yesterday a few of us were out braving the Polar Vortex, getting some exercise and socializing - our dogs. Once out of the Arctic winds we could actually slow down and breathe. It was beautiful.

Sure, the aesthetics would not have made splendid polaroids for some but I remember laughing while we all caught up and our canines romped and forged ahead on the trail. 

Along the trail we see that others have been busy.

It took me three hours to get the chill out of my bones when I got home. While I griped internally about the forecast for our upcoming winter, I stopped and thought of my walking companions I had earlier in the day.

One lady had recently lost her great dane. That pooch was so entertaining to me just because of his size. His personality was just as large too. With this loss, still,  it's owner continued the trails as she borrowed a dog to walk. As she pulled her hood tighter around her face, she confided in me that she wouldn't even go outside this winter but her dog needs the exercise.

Then I thought about another couple who walk every day with their little mop dog. They are a retired, elderly pair with outstanding humour. They never cease to make me laugh along the trail. What struck me as I recalled my day was that neither of them complained about the weather but they did relish when we found the sheltered trail.

This couple is amazing to me. They are (were) immigrants to Canada way back when, worked hard, raised a family and are now enjoying their retirement. What gets me is that they really don't complain about anything.  They are so thankful for everything they have that I am blown away by their incessant optimism and humour. They have both suffered multiple life threatening conditions and battled back to return to the trail walks each and every time, sometimes alone but nonetheless, they return.

So, as I cranked the heat to rid myself of inner winter chill I thought of how thankful I am for who I am, what I know, where I've been, who I know and what I have.

Life is so short and so unpredictable. This I know. I really need to be more aware to be more grateful more often. As I look at the forecast for today though, I am undecided if I will join the frozen few who never waiver.

November 11, 2014

Remembering Today

Although I don't have any immediate family who served in the Second World War or any war for that matter, Remembrance Day still touches my heart.

When I was a snot-nosed, know-it-all punk back in the day, I complained to my father that I had a day off school but what good was it if nothing was open?! I was not impressed with the system.

My father was born in 1929 and therefore, too young to enlist in the military and go off to war. His older brother and brother-in-law served Canada and Canadians though.

I will never forget the interaction and conversation my father had with me that day when I was complaining on Remembrance Day. He simply sat me down and explained firmly how my uncles had to leave their loves ones and their lives as they knew them to protect our freedoms. Needless to say, my father was not impressed with my selfish attitude and comments. I gained a new understanding for our military, our veterans and all who were lost in the wars. My gratitude to each and every one of them is deeply heartfelt.

A few decades later I took my elderly father to visit his family in a neighbouring province. I met wonderful people, ate delicious food and captured many beautiful sights. I made many memories but one in particular is with me frequently.

We visited my dad's older brother who fought in World War II and was stationed in Italy. I won't profess to know much about our wars because the truth is, I don't know much.

This visit to my uncle's house was the first time meeting him since I became an adult. He was a simple man living in his beautiful, old house with his son, my cousin. Sure, we're family but they were so welcoming and made me feel part of the family so easily.

As the day wore on and the boys discussed relatives and friends whom I didn't know, the farm then and now and had some hilarious recollections, the conversation turned to war times.

We spent quite a while examining, what I thought was outrageous and courageous, the shrapnel still embedded under various parts of my uncles skin. The pieces that did not penetrate deeply could be seen very easily with the naked eye. I thought what memories those scars must "serve" my uncle on a daily basis.

My uncle didn't say much about the specifics of his time served but I could have listened to war-related stories for the duration of my vacation. What he did do at one point was leave the room only to return shortly thereafter with a simple cardboard box. Within it held some beauty for me and I'm sure, some very hard memories for him. Inside that box held his war medals and when I saw them I was in absolute awe. It all made sense. It was all clear. The brave and unselfish man sitting in front of me was another one of my heroes. And my dad was a hero for explaining the importance of Remembrance Day to me all those years before.

I wish I remembered what each medal was for. I apologize for the lack of quality in this photo (and I'm sure there is a much better one around here somewhere!) but I'm so very proud of my uncle and just wanted to share a special memory.

You're our hero, Uncle Jack. 
Thank you for fighting for our freedoms 
and for sharing a special time with us. 
You are remembered and all is not forgotten.

To every veteran and military personnel everywhere, I am giving you a deeply heartfelt thank you for all you have done for me and this free country.

God Bless each and every one of you.

November 10, 2014

Sage & Basil

Every spring I plant herbs. Whatever herbs I want. I love herbs! Now that it is November and we've had a low of -20 C, herbs outside are no more except the mint I have covered.

I dug up my sage (planted from seed this spring) and brought it inside. While it doesn't look the prettiest, it is the most aromatic!

I planted basil indoors and outside this spring. This basil has survived never feeling the outside air. It smells wonderful. I will be harvesting some today!

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