Sunday, December 30, 2007


It seems that my animal census was out of date. The mice are gone and so is the dog, but here is the new kitten, Bebe, the third cat. He was watching us whilst my son and I (mostly Terry, he is the expert) spent the afternoon making sushi. Then we had a great meal with all five of the boys.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

out again

Today Tommy's dad was home from work so he went along on our latest geocaching adventure. Here they are in a redoubt, all that is left of fortifications put in place in 1689 to defend the settlers against the Iroquois. Then we were of the the bank of the Saint Lawrence to find another cache. We wandered home tired and needing to replenish ourselves at the depanneur along the way. A depanneur is a convenience store where Tommy indulged in a chocolate bar.

Friday, December 28, 2007

snow fun

This morning Nathalie, Nico, Tommy and a friend went geocaching with me. Here they are opening up their third cache. In all they found five. Now we have converts, with Nathalie wanting her own GPS receiver and thinking up a name for their team. Lots of fun: we returned tired and hungry, which is how it should be.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

boxing day

In Canada the day after Christmas is Boxing Day. So early on Boxing Day morning I packed up and left for Montreal, or at least the "South Shore" to spend a few days with my son and family. The plane ride was, thankfully, uneventful and today I got my computer hooked up. So I am back online, and now everyone has trooped off to bed and silence has descended upon the household, I can think and write. Does anyone out there know what its like to have the latest version of "Guitar Hero" non stop? Well this evening we took a short break and looked up all the nearby geocaches. Tomorrow we shall hunt them down. That will be a new game for the boys.

Monday, December 24, 2007

nativity ball

I am writing this earlier in the day, being Christmas Eve, the evening is filled with Chrfistmas at the church. So each of you have a blessed Christmas. Tomorrow, after the morning service there are various invitations, and then the day after Christmas, Boxing Day, I am going to visit my son and his family near Montreal. So I expect the blog enteries will be a bit more sporadic - but I shall try inbetween the fun. At last count there were, five boys, two cats, a dog, betwen ten and twenty birds, some fish and white mice and their very patient mother, my lovely daughter-in-law.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

leather bell

Last evening was spent carolling. We went around to all the shut-ins taking small gifts and singing the carols. There were six of us: three men and three women. We were in fine form, but the rain had started, falling on the snow, and so it was very icy underfoot and took longer than we had anticipated. Then we went to a home to admire their tree, drink cider and munch and talk. I collapsed when I got home and so no blog yesterday.
I would be out again this evening, but the rain, although intermittant, has not stopped and now a weather warning has been issued anticipating a sudden drop in temperature, so we are all staying home. The evening at the movies was set aside.
This bell, made from leather hide and beaded by a Cree woman, was given to me to hang on my tree. The leather would have come from moccasin scraps.

Friday, December 21, 2007


Well it isn't much, but I was looking at these decorations that I had been given and wondering what I would do with them. I am going away for over a week after Christmas so I didn't want to leave a live tree in the house, especially the cats are staying home. The friend who originally foisted them on me is coming over each day to feed them. And I really dislike articial stuff, unless it is really articial and not trying to look real. But the Sunday School had used a couple of fake trees in a play and they had been brought over to store in the manse. The living room looked a bit bare so I stuck one in each corner. So this evening the cats and I decorated one of them. It doesn't show up too well. Maybe I should go for some close ups.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

surprise package

The parcel from my sister, the cosmetic queen,
arrived today. She has telephoned and told me that it was on its way and that it was "not for Christmas", so I opened it. It was filled to brimming with treasures. I loved this purse, but inside it, too, was filled with cosmetics. I put it down and looked at all the great stuff and when I looked back someone else had already taken possession of it. (Wherever I am "Miss Johnston" is never far behind.) It was just like opening a surprise Christmas stocking - something that doesn't happen any more. Aren't sisters treasures? Of course, my sisters remember things that I would rather forget, in graphic detail, with proof! They also undertand cats. Each of us has two each. It shall be fun when we all take them to the cottage.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas lights

The city bus company puts on a tour of the best Christmas lights. For over an hour we toured the back city streets with Santa on board. There were some amazing displays. I enjoyed it all, but I did wonder about the carbon foot print. My little camera does not take night photos, so when I returned I captured the nativity scene just outside the Porcupine church. It has a floodlight.

Monday, December 17, 2007

church basement

Porcupine has small church decorated in 50's rec room style with a basment underneath. The stairs are narrow and steep, but all the parties happen here. It was decorated for the bazaar "Follow the Star". The building has difficult access and while they fit into the six pews, they dream of growing. So they dreamt and prayed for a new building. Completely unexpectedly, last week they were given 6.8 acres of prime land out on the highway on condition that they built a church - a multi-use facility. They all heard about it on Sunday. They are"the little church that could".

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Advent III

On the Third Sunday of Advent the pink candle is lit for joy. This was taken at the special women's service in Porcupine this evening.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

dream catcher

This is an oval dream catcher that was made by a Cree. It is very beautifully made and was given to me ay a prayer vigil for hostages in Iraq exactly two years ago. I hung it and continued my prayer until they were at last released. I thought that I would take it home with me and hang it in our meditation room at home. Then we ceased to be and I thought that the home was gone with her. But now I shall have that home to return to. I shall joyfully hang the dream catcher in that sunlight meditation room.

Friday, December 14, 2007

getting up

A two day absense: Wednesday I drove to Kirkland Lake for an evening meeting. That's just less than a couple of hours away. So I drove back in the early morning and got stopped by the police who were doing an alcohol test. So the officer and I discussed my cute little car and that the moose were out on the roads to eat the salt, and I drove home. But the next evening I was beat, missed a Christmas party and tucked in early - so no blog last evening either. And I got up late this morning with the idea that I should buy back my old home in Nova Scotia. I've been mulling it over all day, spoke with family and friends and think that I will. Wherever I go it will be waiting for my return to fix it up, and it needs a lot of fixing.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

holy circle

On December 1 I hung the wreath. It will come down on January 6, Epiphany, Little Christmas.

Monday, December 10, 2007


We speak three languages up here. Well, we often speak two out of the three. I took this photo this afternoon on my way into the cop shop to pick up a police records check which I needed in order to move from here to another position. I shall be moving on in the next few months, but I still do not know to where I am going.

Sunday, December 9, 2007


When I was in Brownies they kept us busy learning semophore. We could send signals from one end of the church hall to the other. The first seven letters were the easiest, and the longest word we could send was "cabbage". It somewhat limited our communication.
They made cabbage rolls for the church bazaar and presented me with the leftovers, which means the tight inner heads as they only use the outer leaves. I am now working on several cabbage recipes. This cabbage and the carrots were being softened for cabbage "au gratin", which really was delicious. It looks like I have enough cabbage for the winter even if I eat it every day.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

making supper

This when things were tidy before I got started. A friend's mother is hospitalised with pneumonia. So I have prepared supper for her when she and her husband return after she has finished feeding her mother. Now it is dark, the table is set, the pot roast is done, and soon they shall be through the door. I had better check the potatoes.

Friday, December 7, 2007

another sweater

I am knitting up another sweater and, as usual, the Czarina is helping - or not. Knitting fascinates her.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

last supper

I could not resist. This is the volunteer who ladles out the soup at the church luncheon. She belongs to a congregation which sold its building in order to better afford ministry. They meet on Sundays in the city community centre. Through the generousity of the Roman Catholic church once a month they have a luncheon in the basement of the Catholic Church. Long tables with white clothes are set out for lunch. Here is a picture of another long table. Perhaps the church luncheon is simply an extension of the supper in the photo.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

thin sun

Here is a thin winter sun hanging low in the northern sky. In a little more than two weeks the light will begin to return

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

quilt revisited

Well, I was asked what the quilt really looked like - so here it is - both sides. It was made by one of the Cree ladies - one who does not read Martha Stewart, but who put love and care into every stitich. So when I think that I shall have a pink and gold Christmas and sip champagne from a fluted glass, I have this to bring me down and to bring me face to face with a little humilty. The cats, who are notorious for their lack of colour sense, just love it.

Monday, December 3, 2007


Snowed in - yesterday church services were cancelled and then the internet went dead. The snow has only just stopped - so that's two days of snow, but there is more in the forecast. This was taken yesterday morning. I kind of like it - not the cancellations - but the quietness of being marooned in all this whiteness. - an unexpected little break.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Finnish bazaar

For the second day in a row the universe announced that I was not going to have a pink and gold Christmas with champagne. I went to the Finnish Lutheran bazaar. (Are there more Finns in Northern Ontario than there are in Finland?) It is always crowded and wonderful with baking and needlework. When I went in I purchsed the ticket for coffee and sandwiches and they pressed me to spend my change on a raffle ticket. And I won these red and white Father Christmas candles. Pink and gold are just a fleeting dream.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Christmas quilt

I was reading a Martha Stewart Magazine yesterday and deciding that in my new and future home I would eliminate all the Christmas ticky tacky and decorate in pink and gold and loll around and drink champagne. As soon as I put that idea out, the Universe answered. Today I was given a quilt - one side in green and red squares and the other with Santas and sailing ships - upside down and a bright pink fabric running up one side. I tossed it on the sofa which someone had tossed out into the manse. In seconds Czarina had claimed it as her own and I might as well forget the champagne dreams and get out the Christmas kitsch.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


One of the wonderful things about this house is that it has wide sills under every window. This one is above the kitchen sink. The mugs came from the Catholic white elephant table. Outside is a very cold winter night.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


They left today for the cariboo hunt. And today I found the last bit of last year's meat in the bottom of my freezer - so I cooked it up. I never think about it any more. It no longer seems odd to be eating cariboo spaghetti sauce. I wish that I could share it with all of you.

Monday, November 26, 2007

dry grass

In the winter, especially on days like this when the light is so flat, my eyes search for colour. Even a little yellow-brown grass will do.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

winter coats

I really kind of like winter, except for two things. Driving in winter is often not fun and the other thing is that I have to wear so many clothes. I think that I really love stepping out the door without putting on boots and an overstuffed coat. This is an array by my front door.

rose in snow

Yesterday I presided over my third funeral this week. The casket was covered with roses. At the end people took the roses. I took one. It dropped to the snow as I was getting into my little car. These perfect roses come from South America, are heavily chemicalized, and the women who tend them with their babies on their backs have very high rates of cancer. It was cancer that took this man, too. So this is a death rose lying in the snow.

Friday, November 23, 2007

penny candy

In olden times I used a penny in these machines and then it went up to a nickel, but we got a little more. Nothing seems to have changed except the price. I took the photo because I loved the colour.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

cat & mouse

I was trying to book a flight to see my son and family in Montreal, but I was getting the usual help from my computer cat who has now moved to behind the machine and is playing with a pen. Meanwhile I am filled with the excitement of having a ticket in hand and a place to go. I shall leave on Boxing Day and return after New Year's. Now I shall accumulate all the gifts and treats for the five grandsons. Christmas excitement has stirred up in my heart.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

flapper pie

So winter has closed in and what do we do? We eat, and party and eat. So here is Bill coming through the door with his famous flapper pies. We were going to eat before playing wild games of Crazy Eights.
I had never heard of flapper pie before I came here, nor had I ever had Italian Wedding Soup. But this is the north where perogies are served on the Chinese food buffet. Yesterday I was with the Finnlanders eating cabbage rolls. Being up north has been a broadening experience.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

grey days

The sun is getting lower and lower and the days seem to be getting greyer and greyer. I seem to need light and green, but then I live in northern climes so I ought to be used to it. This was taken on my way from the hospital parking lot to visit in the intensive care unit. The white spots are the snow flakes. And the patient: she will be taken by air ambulance to Sudbury for a pacemaker.

Monday, November 19, 2007

the matriarch

I got a telephone call late yesterday evening with a request for me to conduct a funeral this morning for a 98 year old Chinese lady. She was laid out in a lovely embroidered silk jacket and covered with a silk sheet before the casket was closed. Incense was lit. Funeral money was burnt. Sweets and lucky money were distributed. In between I presided over the Service of Christian Burial. Then we all went to the feast. There were none of the usual funeral egg sandwiches.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


I brought in the winter pansies. Maybe if there is another warmer day they can go out again. They could stay out all winter, but I cannot see them under the snow and I am so enjoying them on the kitchen window sill. I suppose that they will grow long and leggy, but right now they are just perfect.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


We went to Hornepayne for a Presbytery event - a covenanting service. This community is a railway town about six hours away. The the way through Hearst lacks considerable interest; just one tree after another. The next morning we were to return. We came out after breakfast and the sun was shining down with just a smattering of snow on the ground. So let's just take the other way home. Let's go to Wawa! So we did and here is a photo of the Wawa Goose. Then we came back after lunch in Chapleau. We were in just after sunset. It was a much more interesting road - different trees and even some hills.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

back door

Keep those cards and letters coming! Here's my door with an assortment of cards. I suppose that soon Christmas cards will take their place and these will go into my scrapbook. Being far away from everywhere I love it when there is something in my post box. Something physical somehow conveys a presence that the virtual never does. But then the virtual keeps me in touch with the world and espcially with friends.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

garden plant

The second snow has melted. The garden is not mine. Such as it is, it comes with the manse. But I found this little plant in a reduced-to-clear bin at the grocery store, and it has done rather well. I love the texture of the leaves, and it looks like it is an evergreen, except that it is red and chartreuse. I think that I have fallen in love with it, and I shall not want to leave it when I go in a few months' time.

Monday, November 12, 2007


It was a dark, dank, grey day - so November! I took my camera into the yard and found this bark with its yellow lichen spots. There is always something.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


The new reinvented me is trying to learn how to use cosmetics. It is difficiult to admit that one doesn't know what every other woman seems to know. However I do have a costmetian consultant who is very interested in whatever goes on in the bathroom. Her eyes are permanently lined in a lovely beige tone so maybe she does know a thing or two. The other thing is that if she sees my camera she turns up and poses.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


So I was asked if I ever finished the sweater that I featured on August 31. I did finish it about a month ago, and I am wearing it now. I laid it out to snap its picture as virtual proof that this magnificent creation exists. Of course, you can't lay something down without a cat turning up to investigate. It's written into their internal DNA rule book. But then there was cat in the first picture in any case, so we're just keeping with the theme.

Friday, November 9, 2007


Before dawn I took a picture of my banana plant. Growing a banana tree in the house is a sure sign of denial.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Porcupine Lake

The lake has not frozen yet. I watch its edges as the ice begins to form. When it does then I wait and wait anticipating the spring thaw and break up. I miss the open water of the ocean. No matter how cold it got at home I could look out to the water. Sometimes it steamed in the cold, but it was always there, and I could walk the beach in the middle of winter. - pangs of homesickness for a home that no longer exists.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

train station

The bus drivers have been out now for six weeks. They have a legitimate grievance, but the north is being held at ransom.

Last week I had a four hour drive to a train station, but early this morning it was forty-five minutes and as you can see, it snowed over night.

My sister came up to visit with me - her first time in the north. Sisters are great and I have two. We have a common history - "Do you remember when?". We remember different things, and then we try to piece it all together. Somewhere in the middle of all that there lies the truth.