I am back from Christmas in Halifax. We went for a walk on Boxing Day at Point Pleasant Park along a little used path. There it was, a distance from the trail, a Christmas tree growing in the wild. Eileen was entranced.
Eight people and a dog in a small living room: opening stockings, opening gifts, or around a small table, opening lobsters, Whatever the picture, the debris of conspicuous comsumption was everywhere. These are the lobster leftovers before they went back into the pot to make the bisque. Local food, recycled. We are thinking green.
The Czarina anad Miss Johnston posed for their Christmas portraits this morning. The evening service is now finished and I am about to pack to leave when I wake in the morning. It has turned warm and rain is in the forecast.
The cats are staying back here. Lola, the beagle, is not the perfect hostess. If it has fur and moves, she cannot resist the chase. The cats are never amused.
Have a wonderful Christmas and I'll check in when I can.
A lot of snow yesterday- but not nearly the storm that hit Nova Scotia. My computer glitched yesterday, but was resussicated today, and I am back in cyberspace. I am heading to my son's in Halifax on Christmas morning, weather permitting. My sisters will both be there for Christmas - It has been a long time since we've been together for the holidays. This year we are following the 100 Mile Diet and will be feasting on lobster. This is hardly a hardship. I hope I get there. The forecast is snow, freezing rain and rain. Travel mercies.
Before the service, before the people arrive, while the final touches are being set in place and the band is still practising, there is a sense of anticipation. The pews filled. The children were excited by the prospects of a Sunday School party. Advent is slipping into Christmas.
I stopped here for petrol today and couldn't resist this snow covered blueberry. Canada is full of small towns who put up "statues". This is in Oxford whose claim to fame is fields of wild blueberries - which means that the land is poor and acid. Northern Ontario abounded in these statues: goose, polar bear, bison, UFO, nickel (coin), but this blueberry!
My elder son, the stock broker, has come down from the mountain: here is his mass mailing:
I am sitting in a hotel in Mendoza after having returned from Aconcagua National Park Last night at about 2am. Sitting is a big word..
I am terribly sore after having lived through a fantastic modern adventure. I am walking around as stiff as Gumby. After having hiked 29 kilometers for 7 1/2 hours through very mixed terrain. My legs were so damned sore that I didn't even notice the massive blisters on both my feet!
Our whole team (4) successfully summited Aconcagua on December 17th at about 15:50. The moment of the summit was made in a group as Yan and I waited 15 minutes for Robert and Alex to reach where we were, about 5 meters just bellow the top of the Americas. The day was torture. Our summit took 9 hours and the descent took another 4 hours. It is amazing how long it takes to walk the last 100 yards by two steps and ten deep breaths! So there you all are: Success!!! I spent much of the long day wondering if my next ten steps would be the last before I would turn around, but held onto the thought that I had come so far to celebrate my wife (Nathalie) and son's (Tommy) birthdays at 6962 meters. Focus, perseverance
I have pictures for any who are interested... give me a few weeks to get them organized.... please.
I am signing off with but before I want to thank you all for your interest and support.
I particularly want to thank my family for their love and support in my crazy hobby that takes me away from them too often and for too long. I want to thank Tusker and my friends Eddie and Amy for making the logistics of this trip happen. I especially want to thank those of you who financially contributed to the Make-A-Wish Foundation for this fundraising initiative. The Ottawa Airport Authority was a big help to me (thanks Paul).
As you all know, the timing of my departure could not have been worse. The stock markets around the world had had their worse three months in decades and the economic news coming out daily before my departure was looking extremely bleak. I have to admit that even days before leaving Montreal I had considered cancelling because of this reason. I have had absolutely no news of what is going on in the world for the last two and a half weeks. It is truly a very strange feeling being scared about logging onto google and being hooked back up to the information I.V.. I think that I will be brave enough soon, maybe tomorrow. In any case, all this to say that I am very appreciative of my partner Andrew who holds things together as I am sucking on limited oxygen.
I will be arriving back in Montreal on Christmas eve at about 4 pm, weather permitting. I hope to be able to share this adventure with all of you very shortly.
Two and a half hours and the game is still not finished. Only a grannie and an auntie would have this much patience. It is only a matter of time until the nine year old wheeler dealer bankrupts us all.
This is the same tree that stands by my porch. The picture was taken this morning after the storm, before I went to work. The sun seems to shine all the brighter after a storm. While these are the shortest days of the year, we are far enough south to get about 8 hours of precious sunlight each day. Tomorrow I am driving to Halifax, about three and a half hours, to make sure the gifts reach my family. I shall be driving there again on Christmas morning if the weather favours me. I am filled with Christmas excitement.
One of the nice things about being back in the Maritimes is that we have "Snow Days". It never happened in all time I was in Northern Ontario. On a Snow Day everything stops and we hunker down, put another log on the fire and have another cup of coffee. Schools and businesses close. Storms here can be dangerous. Being close to the water the storms pick up high winds and a lot of moisture. I'm just in from shovelling, and there will be more once this all abates. I love the luxury of a "Snow Day".
I have a wretched cold, which is my excuse for not going to the gym. But mid afternoon I walked to the tea room and ordered desserts for Christmas Day. Then I caved in, although I am trying to save every penny, and had a cup of tea and a piece of pie. Oh lead us not into temptation. They gave me the choice between a tea cup or a seasonal mug. I went with the mug. I measure my life in little things.
There's a bag of kale in my New Brunswick fridge which I picked three days ago in my Nova Scotia garden. I think that I would grow kale just for its good looks. It's a stunning plant, but I have learnt to really enjoy eating it. And to be able to harvest in mid December in this climate is an added treat. But the kale itself was a gift.
Three years ago I was given some leftover kale seedlings, which I planted when I was down from northern Ontario for a week. They must have been just left because this May I found thousands of seedlings in the abandoned garden. I saved eighteen and set them out in three short rows. The results have been astonishing. I shall leave them to go to seed next year and keep the cycle going. It's the gift that keeps on giving.
The pageant was this evening. Here is Gabriel followed by the heavenly host. A work party had made the angelic robes last week. Nothing untoward happened. After years of pageants I have seen some number of unanticipated hilarious glitches. There was once a host of angels aged two and three who tried flying off the chancel steps. After all they had wings. These angels were a little older. I did see one halo tossed through the air. But it was relatitively calm and there was no fighting. A couple of years ago one angel punched another to get a better position. They were sisters. But that was another church.
This is the Czarina in the car with bag, snow shovel, and cooler about to begin her journey back to New Brunswick. She is not amused.
Neither am I. We had three days of heavy driving rain. It seems that the century old flashing above the windows of my Nova Scotia home have ceased to adequately function. Water poured into my newly painted parlour. I wept. The primary purpose of a house is to keep the water out. But as the rain didn't abate, there was no way I could take three or four courses of shingles off and replace the flashing. The good thing is, I suppose, that I was there to witness it.
Into each life a little rain must fall. My mother used to say that. She never replaced flashing.
My only excuse is that Miss Johnston, a cat, loves it, or at least she takes an ontoward interest in it. It's one of those fiber optic trees that flashes all different colours. This is almost the ultimate in Christmas kitsch and a testament to my bad taste!
Snow has come again. The roads are treturous. And I have computer difficulties. So this machine that I am working on now needs to be turned in. And the following day, weather permitting, I hope to drive home to Nova Scotia for a couple of days, so postings may be more sporadic.
There's a Christmas concert that I am going to this evening - and no picture for the blog. So here is the Christmas ice cream that became my quick supper before I'm down the road. I guess I'm not losing any weight. Although, I think it has been a good nine months since my last ice cream binge.
I took this this afternoon. Things changed after nightfall with the Santa Claus Parade. All the local industries decorated their trucks and festooned them with lights. The town organizations and businesses put in their amteur, but fun, floats. There were the butter factory, the doughnut factory, the heavy equipment dealer with tractors, horses, greyhounds, three marching bands and all. And finally Santa, but just before him was the post office truck with letter carriers walking along the crowd. The town children had written their letters to Santa,. They waved them in the air, and the posties picked them up. Such excitement!
My Advent calendar is propped up in my kitchen window. It's coming all too quickly. I should get out my Christmas cards. Most of my friends don't have my new address since I moved here from Northern Ontario. But, church-wise, this is a very busy time of the year. It became much colder today. You can see that the snow is gone, but a large storm is forecast for this weekend, so it will soon be back to shovelling. Christmas is definitely coming.
My elder son has left his blackberry at home and gone to South America. He emailed me from Argentina just before he began his ascent of Aconcagua, which is the highest summit in the southern hemisphere. Yesterday, however, he was touring vineyards. He wants me to put it on the blog, so here goes: http://www.makeawish.ca/news_and_media/news/read/561 I shall let you all know when I hear anything else. Is no news, good news?
My new card for blood donations came in the post today. In Canada giving blood is voluntary. I hadn't given blood for years. For a long time I could not, and then I forgot all about it. But the blood services was coming to Sussex, and I said that I would be a donor. So I go to the clinic in the Lion's Den and they ask I have a donor card. Indeed I do. I have always carried it in my wallet. It was issued on the 24th of February, 1965. They were flabbergasted and assured me that they would issue me a new card. And it turns out that I have a relatively rare type - so they want lots more of it. I always knew that I was special.
Each time I walk by a rhododendron I am grateful to be living where they also live. This plant grows near the bottom of my steps. It holds the promise of spring: a bud that will open with the return of warmth. But then this is still autumn, and winter is still to come.