Saturday, January 17

New Comforter

Some of my regular readers will remember that last weekend Brandon and I went shopping and I picked up two new comforters for $19.99 each. Some asked to see photos. I put this one on the bed the other day and snapped a couple of photos. This one is my favorite and very pretty. The green in the leaves goes perfectly with the mint green walls.

This is a close up of the pattern. Beautiful pink roses, blue flowers and green leaves on a cream background. Very pretty. I didn't have a lot of choice in pattern or color. Hubby said he didn't care what color it was for that price as long as it was warm and it is. The material it's made of is very silky and I wondered how warm it would be. It is lightweight and toasty. I'm very pleased with the bargain. The other comforter is black and white and it's been put away for another time. I am well off for comforters during these cold January nights. I have a total of four now and each of them will be needed if this cold spell doesn't break.

Speaking of the weather, it is still COLD outside. I've been hibernating and haven't been out of the house since I went to pick up my glasses. However it is more balmy than the last few days. Temperatures have risen from -22 C to -8 C. So now it is 17.6 F. With the wind it seems much colder than that. I will be glad when it is above 0C. We need a break after a week of these bone chilling temperatures.

In other news, I'm catching up on my writing and tomorrow the boys are coming.

Hope you have a great weekend. Stay safe and warm. ~Blessings, Mary~

Friday, January 16

A Few of My Articles

My regular readers will know that I write web content articles. Since I've had several requests about my writing recently, I thought I would link to some of my writing and allow you to get a peek at what I do all month besides blogging, reading, housework and picking up the grandsons when necessary.

If you are a cycling fantatic, you need to cycle Tuscany and Umbria. This article tells where to go and what to see. Cycling in Tuscany and Umbria provides you with fantastic scenery and so much more. Click on the link to read about what it's like to cycle in these provinces of Italy.

Have you ever stayed in a Bed and Breakfast? If not, you're missing the experience of a lifetime. Read my article Bed and Breakfasts: What you should know, for advice on staying in Bed and Breakfasts.

Are you a collector? I know many people who collect McCoy pottery. Find out how to collect The Real McCoy and not the reproductions.

Want to give your kitchen a facelift? Read my article Guide to Refacing Kitchen Cabinets. It's easy and will give your kitchen a much different look.

Do you know how to select preserve and store acorn squash? It is relatively easy and this article will explain exactly what you should do.

Do you want to make your own soap? Find out how to make your own cold processed soap in this Soapmaking article.

Do you enjoy fishing? Have you always dreamed of taking a fishing vacation? Read my article Ten Great Spots to Take a Fishing Vacation.

Many anglers never think of fishing for catfish in the hot summer months. Read Hot Weather Cats to find out what you're missing.

If you need to learn about Hunting Safety Tips this article will tell you exactly what you need to know.

This is a great site for all those who enjoy a country lifestyle. I have written for them for about two years now. The editor and owner are marvelous people to work with. Each month I write articles on everything from travel, to fishing, hunting, equine care, recipes, preserving and canning and so much more. No, I'm not being paid to write about the site. I just think that many of you will enjoy it.

We are still in a deep freeze here in southern Ontario but there is now an end in sight. It is to get warmer tomorrow...possibly single digits and we are to get snow. One thing about the frigid temperatures we've been having, it doesn't snow when it's that cold, so we've had a reprieve from shoveling.

Take care, have a great weekend and stay safe and warm. ~Blessings, Mary~

Thursday, January 15

I've been tagged by the Hootin' Anni! And it is a fun tag to do!!! First, the rules are simple. As follows:
6th Picture Meme!

1. Go to your Picture Folder on your computer or wherever you store your pictures.
2. Go to the 6th Folder, then pick the 6th picture in that folder.
3. Post that picture on your blog and the story that goes along with the picture.
4. Tag 5 other peoples that you know or don’t know to do the same thing and leave a comment on their blog or an e-mail letting them know you chose them.

This is a picture of my maternal grandmother, Candace. She was born in 1905. Her mother died the following year and from what we've gathered, she died in childbirth.

When Grandma was 3 years old, her father died of a rare blood condition, which had been passed down to Grandma. Alfred (her father) bled to death.

An orphan, Grandma went to live with an aunt and then on to another aunt. Throughout her childhood, she was bounced from one family member to another. At 19 years old, she met my grandfather and they were married the following year. She had my mother, her oldest child, when she was 22.

Three years later, my uncle Walter was born. Two years after him, Aunt May arrived(she passed in November)...then Jim, Willie (deceased 1967) and Mabel, the youngest. Yes, Grandma had six children and they were all born at home. Most without a doctor present. With her blood condition, I'm surprised she survived all of these home births.

Grandma was in and out of the hospital all of her adult life. When I was a child I used to help her. She couldn't bend over to pick anything up or she would hemorrhage. Much of my childhood was devouted to helping Grandma who lived right next door.

When I was 12, Grandpa decided to move 100 miles north. No one knew what would become of Grandma because there weren't many hospitals in the area. However, she often came home to be admitted at St. Joseph's because they knew all about her blood condition as did her doctor, so it was worth the 2 hour drive to be sure she got the proper care.

Grandma could stitch like nobody's business. She made quilts (you can see one in the photo) embroidered and sewed all of the clothes for her children until Mom and Aunt May were old enough to sew.

One thing I remember about Grandma was her ever-present apron. It seemed that she had one for all occasions and she is wearing one in the photo above. They were all made on her treadle sewing machine, which was a Singer. I learned to sew on that machine, as did all of her daughters.

Before Grandma and Grandpa moved north, she had no electricity in the home. All meals were cooked on the cookstove and an oak icebox sat against the north wall of the kitchen. A long oak table and pressed-back chairs stretched across the room. Today I have that table and there are eleven leaves that go with it. It can seat 40 people.

There's so many memories that I could write about Grandma. She taught me many things, gave advice that I still remember to this day and pass along to my own grandsons. She also took me to church with her and learned me a love of God.

I still miss Grandma and have very few photographs of her. That is why I was so blessed just before Christmas when my mother gave me this photo of Grandma and another when she was very young, holding my mother.

Do you have memories of your grandmother. If so, I would love you to tell me about them in the comments.

If you would like to read about Grandma's Kitchen, you can do so HERE.

Now I am to tag five people to do this meme. So, here we go:

1. Renie at Renie Burghardt's World

2. Denise at Shorty Bear's Place

3. Pea at Pea's Corner

4. Paula at On A Rainy Night

5. Amy at I Love Retro Things

and of course anyone else who would like to take part. Just leave me a comment to let me know you've participated in the meme. I'd love to see your photo and read your story.

Have a great evening and stay warm and safe. ~Blessings, Mary~

Wednesday, January 14

We're in a Deep Freeze

We are in a deep freeze. Last night the temperatures dipped to -21 Celcius, which is -5.8 Fahrenheit. That seemed really cold and to top it off, today was damp. It looked like the world was in a haze. At first I thought it was fog, but when I went out this afternoon, I realized it was ice crystals in the air, otherwise known as ice fog. The above photo shows what it looked like along the Grand River.
In a woody region near the dog park, the world was dressed in a lacey winter gown. It is beautiful, but it sure was cold. When hubby and I went out to pick up our new glasses, I had him drive me along the river to take a couple of photos.

In 2007, this is what Niagara Falls looked like and it wasn't as cold that year as it is today. I wonder what the Falls look like right now. If you look closer, you will see the piles of ice at the bottom of the Falls. They are beautiful in winter, especially at night when the lights are on. However, as cold as it is here today, I have no desire to visit Niagara Falls. There is always mist coming off the water as it thunders into the abyss and it would be colder there.

Tonight hubby is going to freeze his hiney off. It is to be even colder. -25 feeling like minus thirty. That is -13 Fahrenheit, feeling like -22. We have not had temperatures this cold since 2005 and it is to be even worse tomorrow, according to Toronto news at 6.

If you are in one of the provinces or states that are experiencing this deep freeze, stay inside unless you absolutely have to go out. Frostbite and hypothermia can set in quickly in this type of weather and if you have to go out, be sure to dress in lots of layers, wear a hat, gloves and scarf. Be sure to have an emergency kit in your car, a flashlight with good batteries, an extra set of new batteries and an insulated blanket. If you breakdown, do NOT leave your car.

Stay warm and safe and enjoy the beauty of the season. ~Blessings, Mary~

Tuesday, January 13

Memories of Aunt May

When Aunt May passed, I told my readers I would tell some stories about her. I am missing her phone calls and the time we spent laughing and having fun together. However, she is at peace with no more suffering and pain.

Aunt May was quite the gal. When she was about 18 years old, she took over the janitor's position at the one-room school a quarter mile up the road. Her duties included being at the school by 7am and stoking the coal furnace so the school would be warm when the teacher and children arrived. She also had to clean and oil the wooden floors to keep them shiny, which was no easy task when mud and snow was brought in. Five days a week, through rain, sleet, snow and hail, Aunt May carried out her responsiblities. No matter what happened, she was always there on time. She plodded through snow drifts as high as her hips in winter and what a struggle that must have been for her. She was a tiny woman, but she also suffered from the rare blood condition she had inherited from Grandma, who was her mother.

One morning she headed out to the school. It was pouring rain and a young man, who had seen her walking everyday as he drove to work, stopped and asked her if she would like a ride. She accepted. Before long the two were courting and in 1957, they were married. They had two children, one boy and one girl who are now adults. The girl married and had two children. The boys, who was on the autism spectrum, always lived at home. He treated his mother well and did a lot of things for her. When she lay dying in hospital, he visited her everyday before and after work.

Aunt May and Uncle Joe went through a lot of tough times. She was in and out of the hospital with her blood condition in the early years of their marriage. In 2005, Uncle Joe was diagnosed with prostrate cancer. When they looked into treatment, they found that he could be cared for sooner if they traveled to Buffalo, NY. For weeks, Aunt May went with Uncle Joe and spent days there while he had his treatments.

Through thick and thin, climbing mountains and trudging through dark valleys, Aunt May and Uncle Joe withstood the storm. He was at her side when she passed. A testament to the love the two had for each other.

In other news, we've had snow off and on for the last two days and now we are heading into a deep freeze. It is supposed to get really cold and the temperature is already plummeting. My car won't start, but hubby's van is running, so we aren't without a vehicle. Seems every winter the battery in my car dies. We just put a new one in last year.

On a more positive note, hubby took my mother to the bank and for groceries today so I could catch up on my writing assignments. He is always willing to give Mom a hand when she needs it if I have other things I have to do. I really appreciate the fact that the two of them get along so well.

Stay cozy and warm and be careful if you are driving on slippery roads. If you live in the northern US or Canada, be sure you have an emergency kit in the car and a couple of extra blankets. If you break down, do not leave your car. Last week a woman who lived near Toronto did just that. They found her a couple of days later under a pile of snow. She was alive and will recuperate, but there is no sense taking chances. ~Blessings, Mary~

Monday, January 12

Out of the Shadows

This is a story that I wrote a few years back. I happened upon it today and thought my readers might enjoy it. Any positive feedback is most appreciated.

Out of the Shadows

Old Ezra shuffled along the alley, a paper sack clutched under one arm. His body was lean and gaunt. Years on the street had aged him twice over.

A pigeon flew from the eaves overhead, startling him. Pigeon! Ezra's mind wandered back in time. A blonde-haired girl of three climbed onto his lap. She had been his Pigeon. He called her that after the day they'd gone to the park and she'd wanted to stay and live with the pigeons.

Ezra sauntered across the street, down the embankment by the dam and into the shadows of the bridge. He came to a flat rock, sat down and hunched his back against the biting wind. It was bloody cold, that was for sure.

Ezra pulled the bottle from the bag, broke the seal and guzzled the whiskey. He pulled a dog-earred photo from his pocket. Pigeon smiled out at him. He swiped a tear from his cheek. Life was like a deck of played the hand you were dealt. When pigeon died, a part of him had died with her.

Ezra continued to drink into the wee hours of the morning. When the whiskey was gone, he pulled out a bottle of rubbing alcohol. He looked bleary-eyed at the skull and crossbones on the label.

"To you ol' buddy," he mumbled, then took a long drink from the bottle.

Ezra slept. His dreams took him to a lush meadow. Pigeon stood in a patch of wildflowers. The sun was blinding. A blanket of peacefulness enveloped him...a serenity that he had never felt before.

Pigeon came toward him, arms out-stretched. Ezra didn't hesitate. He stepped out of the shadows and into the light. He was with his Pigeon once more.

I hope you enjoyed this very short story. Sometimes my mind just wanders into a different realm and I jot down the happenings of where my imagination takes me.

Have a great week and be sure to stay warm. They are predicting that we will have a deep freeze for a day or two. Temperatures will reach minus 30 degrees Celcius with the windchill. Be careful and stay safe. ~Blessings, Mary~

Sunday, January 11

My paternal uncle was pretty much illiterate. He had worked on the farm most of his life and when the farm was sold after Grandma and Grandpa died, he had a hard time finding a job. Now keep in mind that this was the 50s and though there were plenty of jobs to be had, uncle couldn't read much and so he was pretty much unemployable.

We called him Uncle Hump because he was shaped similar to an egg and we kids thought he looked like Humpty Dumpty. LOL The name stuck and forever after he was "Uncle Hump."

Uncle Hump picked the dump. In those days there was plenty of good stuff to be found and he sold things that he found there after he'd cleaned them up and repaired them. Then he began picking bicycle parts out of the dump and putting them all together to make bikes for kids. He then charged for the bikes and he became the proprieter of a very lucrative business.

When I was about ten, I dreamed of having my own bike. My brother had one and so did my maternal uncle who lived next door. If I wanted to ride a bike, I had to convince either my uncle or brother to let me ride theirs. That wasn't an easy task, so I really wanted a bike of my own.

The morning of my birthday arrived and Dad told me to go and have a look in the shed. There, to my delight was a red and white bike. It was one that Uncle Hump had put together, but to me it was like receiving a million dollars. It had been put together with me in mind and the paint was bright and shiny. What fun I had riding that bike. It was a 24 inch and the only bike I ever had as a child. I took care of it, being sure to put it in the shed at night so it wouldn't rust.

My friend who lived about a half mile up the rural gravel road had a bike and on Sunday afternoon we would ride for miles. If Gail couldn't go, my maternal aunt would go with me. Some Sundays we rode as far as 15 miles. Up and down steep hills, the wind blowing our hair. Around curves in the road to see sights during spring, summer and autumn. We saw deer grazing in the fields, farm animals, squirrels, rabbits and a wide variety of bird species. As we passed neighbors houses, they would wave at us and we would wave back. What a wonderful time we had those Sunday afternoons.

These memories are a big part of who I came to be. I still love riding a bike and sometimes in spring, summer and autumn, I go biking with Brandon and Jordan. We don't ride as far. I think 15 miles of riding bike would kill me at this point in my life, but I still love to feel the wind in my face and blowing my hair as we coast down hills and through scenic valleys.

Do you have a birthday memory. If you would like to join the Remember When meme, please visit Speaking from the Heart. It's a lot of fun stepping back in time through our memories.

Have a wonderful week and remember to do an random act of kindness. ~Blessings, Mary~