Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cutting the tree



My big, beautiful spruce tree.  A few weeks ago the power company came by to talk to me about cutting it down because it really is tangled up with the wires.  While not thrilled, I told them to do what they felt was best.  No one wants to loose their power when it is minus 25C because a tree fell on the wires... that is what the power company is trying to prevent with the fall trimming.

Yesterday the crew came to cut it down.  I have to say - they were very efficient!  I was wondering how they were going to do this and found it pretty interesting.  First the guy in the cherry picker went up under the branches and started cutting off all the branches.  The ground crew quickly picked everything up and fed the chipper.



Up and up.  At the end, they tied a rope to the top and cut off about a 5 foot section, which they pulled with the rope away from the wires.  Once they got it lower than the wires, they didn't need the rope.  Turns out the center of the tree was half rotted anyway, so I was happy I never gave them any grief.  It isn't their fault my tree is into the wires.  They went along the road and very nicely trimmed the tops of my overly scraggly lilac bushes too, a huge relief for me because I have not had any luck getting someone to trim them for me.  They were up into the wires - the new trimming is sure to promote healthy growth next year.  Further down the lawn were some scraggly apple trees growing into the wires and those got a nice trimming too.  While the spruce tree was deemed necessary, I think they were just being nice about the lilacs and the apple trees.  
Just as soon as the tree-trimming truck went away, along came the phone company to do some wiring work.  I don't think the corner of my driveway has seen this amount of activity in a long time!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Empty Nesting due to Bullying

I first blogged about this quilt in... 2008.  It is 62 1/2 X 71 and still not finished (but that is due to my hectic schedule and constant moving back and forth)!  Go take a look at this post to see my adorable, smiling, little boy sitting smack dab in the center.  http://scrappyhappystarfishy.blogspot.ca/2008/09/floral-quilt-blocks.html .
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This quilt was made right around the time my son started kindergarten.  I even wrote a post about him starting kindergarten and how he had been punched 2X that week by an older kid and that another girl had been pushed off the top of the slide.  Bullying was an issue, but I thought it was just getting adjusted to kindergarten and that things would smooth out.  By first grade, things had not smoothed out - not at all!  He refused to use the bathrooms at school, which meant I had to go get him every day after school because he would never make it all the way home on the school bus.  He cried every day.  Every day.  And he broke a good many teeth grinding them at night when he was sleeping.  After 1 month of first grade, I knew things had to change, so I made the decision for him to go to school in Austria (he is 1/2 Austrian by birth).  My DH went ahead of us to get ready and a few weeks later we went over.  That was the same week my DH was diagnosed with cancer, which turned out to be a 3.3 kg tumor, which was successfully removed (thankfully!).  So, my son had to deal with a sick father, a new language he never spoke or heard before, a new school and he was traumatized from his previous school experience.  It wasn't easy for me either, believe me!
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By Christmas time he understood German and was laughing and joking at school.  The teacher told me that she could not believe that he was the same withdrawn, fearful child who had entered her classroom a mere 2 1/2 months earlier.  Unfortunately, immigration issues keep me from being in Austria full time.  It isn't easy.  Sometimes I question my choices.  Did I blow the bullying out of proportion?  Rocks being thrown, pushing, taking new sneakers off and throwing them in mud puddles, food trays being tipped over, being tripped in the hall ways?  I don't think so.  I always figured - if this is first grade, it will only get worse.
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Today, I ran into a friend with a 5th grade boy and a 1st grade girl. She told me that the bullying issues are out of control at the school. Her son is not a victim, but his friends are and he is just torn up about it (because we all know that bullying also affects the witnesses).  Anyway, she proceeded to tell me that LAST year the 5th grade boys were trapping the 3rd and 4th grade boys in the restrooms and forcing them to fight with each other (or get beat up by the "gang"), while it was video tapped on their cell phones.  I instantly felt like someone had punched me, this is just sickening.  I do not know what the solution is for the bullying issues in this community, but I am thankful, that as painful as it is to be apart, my son is not being bullied here.  He is in a school that he really enjoys, has friends, laughs and jokes... I know he is better off where he is, but it still is not easy for me.  I am empty-nesting and my son is only 9.  Sigh.  This summer, in many photos you can see that he hugs me extra big, holding on extra tightly.  It is hard on him too, but I know that for now, this is the very best I can do for him.
I am hoping to go over for Christmas, but plane tickets are sitting steady - at expensive!  I have a favor to ask everyone who might be buying things on Amazon.com this coming holiday season - please click on my Amazon links - from there you can go to any product offered by Amazon.  If you buy something from Amazon using my links, I will get a small commission that I will use toward my plane ticket.  It will not cost you any extra money and will help me.  The Amazon link today is on the top right of my blog where I am featuring some of my favorite canning items - I am still trying to figure this all out, but at least I got it somewhere!  Any little bit is extra appreciated.  Thank you so much!
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And please remember all the victim's of bullying.  

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Time to Clean the Closets!

It was pouring BUCKETS today.  Seriously!  So, I decided to tackle a shelf in the closet.  And you know how it goes, once you start a project...  Anyway - after I took this photo I did another 3 LARGE totes.  Earlier this week I gave away 3 large garbage bags of towels, sheets, pillowcases, etc.  Then I dropped off another 3 large garbage bags of clothing to the Salvation Army.  Now - I am looking at probably another 3 big bags sitting on my sofa - all sorts of boys clothing that my son has outgrown.  He has cousins - so all his outgrown clothing goes to family first and what they don't want, they can donate.  
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But what I wanted to say... is before the cold/sick season descends upon us - now is a good time to go through your medicine cabinets and throw out the expired stuff.  You don't want to take/give your kids expired medicine.  I was a bit surprised at how old some of the stuff in my cabinet was - so into the trash it went.  I never knew that mouthwash had an expiration date!
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For the past few days it has been very windy.  I took advantage of paint drying weather to spray paint these old wrought iron chairs with white rustoleum paint.  There is 1 more chair and a little table too, but those were up on the back lawn.  These things are heavy - think cast iron frying pan super-sized into chair size.
These are funky, little chairs.  Not so big.  But they are decorative and I figure I might set them out in the back patio next year with some big pots of red geraniums around them.  
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And yesterday, you just knew it was going to rain because of the flurry of activity at the bird feeder!  I know a lot of people don't really like the bluejays, but I do!
Also this week, I finally got a chance to use all my frozen blackberries from this summer.  One of my neighbors picks buckets of them every summer and I always end up buying a ton of them.  One summer I wasn't home and my husband told him I already had enough, so he chased me down in the grocery store parking lot and sold them to me there!  I told my husband - from now on, just buy the berries.  Goodness, the man must be in his 90's and if he has the gumption to pick them, I will buy them.  No time to can in the summer, so I just pop them all in the deep freeze until fall and then I am very happy to have a whole bunch...  This week I went down to a friends house and we canned together.  Here is a photo of part of what I brought - the blackberry juice is in the juice container and I thought this was the perfect way to get it across town without spilling it!
We made blackberry/apple jelly, raspberry jelly and apple butter.  Her husband got a doe so we put up all that meat for her deep freeze too.  It makes the work go faster when you have a friend to visit with!  Since then, he also got a buck and she told me today on the phone that she already has that meat put up too (we live in an area where you are allowed 2 deer per season).  She did beets this week, but I didn't have a chance to go back as I have been very busy in my own neck of the woods!  Basically, around here, everyone is busy with fall canning, putting in the outdoor furniture, doing the final mowings of the season and stuff like that.  I always like this time of year!


Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Cape Enrage - Zip Line Fun

We went to Cape Enrage in Alma, New Brusnwick on our little get-away and School Boy mustered up the courage to try the zip line.  Have you ever read a Scaredy Squirrel book?  That would describe my son to a T.  Mr. Safety with multiple back-up plans and 100 reasons why something is too dangerous to try.  At first, when he saw the zip line, he said NO WAY would he go up there.  But then a little girl, smaller than him went, plus her siblings.  Then a group of older folks went (one man was 92 years old - their oldest zipper).  So, he decided it might be ok.  He checked out the double harness system, the helmets, and thought... well ok.  I didn't pressure him, but I told him that if he wanted to try it he could.  He was worried, "what if I don't like it?... can I go only once?"  I told him 1X would be fine, at least he would have tried it, but he wouldn't know if he liked it or not if he didn't try.  So he went.  
Coming in for a landing after the 1st run - he was all smiles.  You can see he had a firm grip on that rope, LOL.
He told me his legs were "a little wobbly"!  Of course, he went all 3 times (you get 3 runs) and had a blast!  I think something like this is a huge confidence builder!  He was so happy and excited and loved the photos I took of him.  Well, now I know he likes it, I will be on the look-out for a longer zip-line.  This one is fairly small but for a first time experience, it was perfect!






Saturday, October 06, 2012

Where we stayed in Fundy National Park

I am working on updating my business website, which required a little get-away trip.  It was a mini-getaway for our family too, which was an added bonus!  We were only able to stay 2 nights, but it did help break up all the driving we had to do.  My son and I looked on the internet before leaving to pick out a reasonably priced place to stay - he loved the idea of staying in these "smurf" cottages.  These cottages are right in The Fundy National Park.  Let me tell you, Fundy National Park is wonderful!!!  Similar to Arcadia National Park, but 1/8 the people and 1/2 the price!  So, we stayed here. - Fundy Highlands Inn and Chalets.  The hosts, Pierre and Anne-Marie were very welcoming.  Pierre knows the park trails very well and  helped me with picking a hiking trail that DH could manage with his bad knees!   Really, if you are looking for a place to stay in Fundy Park, I would recommend this spot.  Plus - free wi-fi - something I really needed during this trip!  Sometimes I can go a few days without, but since I am taking 2 college classes on-line this semester, I really needed to be able to log-in and do some homework.

We really wanted a place with cooking capability so this little kitchenette was perfect!  Very well equipped.  We brought 1 cooler of food from home and stopped at a big grocery store along the way to stock up the 2nd cooler with cold goods.  There is a variety of restaurants  down in the town of Alma, plus a little store where you can pick up groceries, but we really like having our own food with us!  The bakery in Alma is really good - we stopped there for a fresh baked bagette to go with our meal one day.  Yum!
Here is a photo of the main room.  Like a little squirrel house!  It is a bit off-season and chilly at night - but there was electric heat, so perfect!  This cottage really reminded me of the style cottages my grandfather used to build - old fashioned and homey - it brought back happy memories of when we used to stay in one when I was little!
And this was our view while we sat outside on the deck and ate!  Very peaceful and relaxing!  The grounds are really well-kept too.  I especially liked the flower arrangements that are still in bloom in October!  I liked it so much that I am planning on returning again next year in the Spring.


I will write more about our trip in another post!

Monday, October 01, 2012

Jack-o-Lantern Time!

Last week the grocery store had a huge box of pumpkins.  Of course, School Boy wanted one right away.  Well - might as well because once the store sells out - it is a "quick" 8 hour round trip to the next store over... or if you want to go to more than one store, then figure on 12 hours.  So, I know it is early, but sure beats going all that way for 1 pumpkin.  So, I said yes.  And he got that big one... and as soon as we got it home he was hankering to carve it, although I thought it was a bit early.  Oh well, why not?  He is leaving mid-October anyway - let him have fun.  So, I traced the design on the pumpkin and then turned the knives over to him and DH - I just don't have the nerves to watch.  Well, that went so well, we ended up getting the 2nd pumpkin for our neighbor.  School Boy's nearest and dearest friend and I think she is 98.  We went to the Dollar Store for the lights to put inside and I got one of those very cheap pumpkin carving knives for all of $1.  My son and DH said it was worth every penny.  So, if you are going to carve a pumpkin this year - get one of those funny looking knives!  They come highly recommended in this household!
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My truck's radiator hose is leaking.  Last week School Boy and I went to try to find a replacement - 4 stores and 2 countries later we had to settle on ordering one.  Anyway, the store called the other day that it had arrived.  I wasn't up to going today so DH went (he was home 8 hours later - see why I didn't want to go - I had already been just a few days ago to get it the 1st time around!).  Instead I stayed home, did about 6 loads of laundry, vacuumed, mopped, cleaned the small fridge to get it ready (we are shutting down the bigger refrigerator and freezer tomorrow), cooked 3 square meals for my son, and "relaxed".  In my down time I picked back up on book that I wrote and illustrated last year that I would really love to get published.  
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Finally DH gets home with the working vehicle and SB and I have to run out for an errand.  On the way home we noticed a rainbow so drove over to the cove so I could get a good look at it too (not such a good idea to be looking at it while driving!).
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Well, that was my "day off".  Tomorrow I have a quiz for school and Thursday I have a big test.  I have tons of paperwork to do.  And I guess, we might as well hang up the orange Halloween lights even if it is just for the next week and half.  Trying to be festive...