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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Our First Real Nor'easter and other things Christmassy

A few days late, the snow finally came.  It was something to wake up and see the world coated in gentle mounds of crystal white.  The flakes fell in picture postcard vignette, large and soft like drifting on the breeze like eider down.  (Sadly the snow didn't last and it began to rain, so Ron put away the keys to the John Deere and surfed the weather reports which were calling for another 30 cm of snow over the next 24 hours.)

Such a pastoral description (as outlined above) doesn't actually describe a nor'easter, oh no.  We're in the middle of one right now.  The windows of the house are mostly pancaked with snow blown aggressively against the pains by a wind that's as capricious as the most impish of elves.  One side of the trees are completely clear and the other sides are plastered with icy snow.  It's truly not fit for the proverbial man nor beast.

We did get to witness an amusing little squirrel ritual.  We watched Heathcliffe tunnelling in the snow.  This entailed a small ridge of disturbed snow rising mysteriously from the ground, to be followed by his little red head popping up through the crust intermittently.  (Whether to get his bearings or fresh air, I can't be certain.)  To give you more of a visual description, it was a bit like watching a swimmer do the breast stroke.  Once he did this a couple of times he would turn around and make sure the part of the tunnel he'd already created was holding, by running all the way back to the tree line, turning around and starting the whole process all over again.  It took him a good five minutes to tunnel to the house, run along the side and get to the pine tree out the side kitchen window.  Once he had achieved this goal he want back to the fir trees via his new construction project and disappeared.  I guess it's better to have an escape route than not, but we haven't seen him use it again, at least up to this point.  We also have a wood pecker (yet to be named) who seems to be more of a ground pecker, at least the times I've seen him.  Ron says he does actually peck the trees, but I've never seen or heard it.  I wish I had a better camera, so I could get a picture of the birds we have...the blue jays are beautiful and the wood pecker has a lovely rusty red crest, not to mention all the sweet little birds (some of which I think are chickadees) that come to the bird feeder.  They're all very shy and nervous, unlike Heathcliffe, who tends to bully them if they get too close to his stash of food.

In other news, I roasted my first whole turkey (hard to believe, I know, but it's true!) for Christmas dinner and made cranberry sauce and stuffing and all the other fixin's.  Here's a picture of the bird and some other stuff:
This one just because it's pretty.

The goose, er...turkey, is cooked!

Fixin's: Roast 'tatoes, veg, stuffing & gravy
I'm a gravy fiend, so I made enough for 6 people, but it's mostly gone now.  One dinner and a hot turkey sandwich pretty well took care of it.  Ron and I opted not to trade gifts this year.  (Heck, we got a brand new snow blower...that's gift enough, I dare say.)  We had a lovely day and visited with some new acquaintances later in the evening (having had an early supper).  We're adjusting to the concept of dinner and supper as opposed to lunch and dinner but I still slip up frequently and say dinner instead of supper which can cause some confusion if you're trying to make plans.

Ron's coming in from clearing off the car; presumably so there's less to clear off tomorrow, when I head back to work.  We're looking forward to a quiet New Years and wondering if we will indeed even make it until midnight...we'll let you know. (PS the weather forecast has been updated to only 15 cm of need for the snow blower...poor Ron.)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Our First PEI Christmas

Well, I think the first, and most obvious, thing to say is:  (Click on the photo to make it bigger.  Yes, that's Heathcliffe wearing a Santa hat, Ron refused to pose for the picture!)

As some of you may already know, this photo was taken on a road quite near our house, it was a few weeks ago...we are suffering from a green Christmas.    :0(

Here are some photos of the house with Christmas decorations up:


 Oh, I know...boring boring boring, but at least we DID decorate.  Here's a little shot of our Christmas Eve tapas...yes, of course we had lobster, but other stuff, too (chicken wings not shown).
Don't know why one wine glass is glowing...perhaps the Christmas Spirit!
Our day has been quiet, I know most of you are enjoying being with family etc, but Ron and I are just enjoying having a stretch of time off together.  We wish all of you the very best this holiday and hope you have a festive and safe New Year. 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Green Monster (We're not talking jealousy, either!)

(Welcome new followers, Ryan & Jen!  That's their balloon business link amongst the followers.  If you want balloons to decorate a special event, get in touch with them.   No they didn't pay me for the plug!)

We've been waiting patiently for comes, it goes...there's even talk of a green Christmas; but that's not the monster of which I speak.  I'm talking about this fellow:

He's a lean 44 inches of snow blowing fury and Ron's more than ready to wreak his revenge against any errant flakes.  (Note the chains on the back.  What you can't see is the 2 forty pound weights on the back to offset the weight of that most gnarly (yes, that's surfer speak - just embrace it) snow blower.)  Here's the problem:

From our walk today (December 18th)
You'll notice the marked lack of snow...not that we're asking for LOTS of snow...but the forecast seems to be for rain over the next few days with a hope for flurries before Christmas.  One of the perks of moving here is to have a white Christmas, or so I told myself.  This is what it looked like last weekend (but just for a couple of days):

From our Dec. 12th Walk
Now, don't think I'm complaining (at least not much) because I'm pretty sure that come February, I'll be so sick of snow and cold that I'll be ready to move to a beach shack anywhere tropical, but is is too much to ask to have a nice little bit of snow for Christmas???  These are the things I ponder in my spare time.  I did go to the Kensington Christmas Parade (no Winter Carnival for these folks!) in my official role as Credit Union Employee.  It seems to be quite the festivity and there were throngs of people along a good chunk of the route.  Unfortunately, my camera was on the fritz (one of the managers was wearing a coat with reflective stripes on it  - that plus flash equals a bad combination) so there are no photos.  It was all very festive and I almost stole a pair of miniature horses dressed up as reindeer.  ( cute, about the size of Great Danes - maybe smaller.)  Unfortunately the owners kept a close eye on them...oh well, where would I keep them, in with the John Deere?  Do deer and horses even get along?  Mentioning wild life reminded me about the little "Mutual of Omaha" moment that Ron witnessed yesterday.  An eagle came in and perched on Heathcliffe's favourite tree trunk.  (Heathcliffe saw him coming and made a mad dash for the tree line.)  All the birds pretty well scattered after that and didn't show up again until today.  We were also visited by two coyotes.  (Why do they pronounce it Keye-oat-ees?)  Anyhow they spent a couple of hours cleaning up the farmers field of any tasty little critters.  (Thanks boys, perhaps you could come around weekly, just to keep the mouse population down.) 

By way of an update, we've had no further mouse activity after vanquishing Mr. Scritchy and what we presume was his rather homely wife Mrs. Sneaky.  (She opted not to take his name.)  Hopefully no small Scritchy's were left behind.  I find it particularly awkward as many advertisers have chosen to use cute little mice in their holiday commercials...the mice made their choice, I'm trying to be okay with it.

I hope this finds all of you ready for the holidays.  We've opted to "do" Christmas this year and have decorated.  It's strange how few decorations we seems to have in a house this big, but I think 2 Christmas trees is over the top for us, at least at this point.   

To Paul, where ever you are, you are missed , the world was a more familiar place with you in it, but my Christmas wish for you is peace, whatever that is for you.  I wish it for your family, too.  And to a friend who just recently lost his father to a battle with cancer, my heart is with you and your family.  Every life is precious and we are grateful for whatever time we get to spend in the light of their being.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

An Apology, a Suggestion and a Sigh of Contentment.

First, the would seem that someone thought that the "Tale of Mr. Scritchy, the House Mouse" was actually a children's story and read it out loud accordingly.  My apologies to both the person reading said story and the young traumatized child.  I'll see what I can do to get something more child friendly on the blog at a later date.

Hopefully the cute factor will get me out of the dog house.

The suggestion is for those not as comfortable with technology as others, but would like to say a little something on something we've written or something someone else has added.  (Besides, we like to hear from you and wonder what you're thinking!)

It's quite easy to add a comment to this little blog.  In the comments area just type what you want to say...I have not coded this site as adult only, so mind your "p"s and "q"s please.  (If you don't see a comments field, just click the little green word "comments" and it should make a field magically appear.  (Yes...I can hear all of you asking "Sure, but then what?")  I usually select to post under "Name/URL".  You don't need a URL and you can call yourself pretty well whatever you like (for example someone I know uses "Hop-Along-Tom"), so you would just type in whatever you would like to use to represent yourself and click "post comment".  Okay, this is where it gets a little bit scary.  The computer will ask you to type in word that you see in a box on the screen (which is occasionally hard to read) and click either "okay", "continue" or "post comment" (or something similar).  This isn't a trick to infiltrate your compute it's just to make sure a computer isn't searching the web looking for innocent blogs to post adds or naughty things on.

The sigh of contentment comes for a week's work done, the snow blowing lightly around the house making it seems a bit Christmas-sy, hot chocolate in my tummy and a veal roast for dinner.  (Ron found it for only $5...that's right, eat your hearts out - those of you who like veal.  To those of you tsking at me...don't think I don't know where the meat comes from...I live in a farming community, I've gotten the grizzly details, but refuse to feel any guilt.  If not me, it would be someone else, but I will treat it gently and lovingly and truly appreciate it.)  It's also nice to have a nice cozy home to cuddle down in and spend time with someone I love.

We are learning to enjoy the people of our new surroundings.  They think we're a bit crazy, wanting things like Christmas trees with the roots still attached (so we can replant it), gold and candy stripe beets or Thai curry paste and doing things like ACTUALLY recycling the way the recycling program is set up and going for long walks voluntarily.  We're finding people open and friendly for the most part, though it does take them a while to really warm up and get to know you.

I have a theory that if they can't place your somewhere amongst people they know or have heard of they aren't quite sure what to do with you.  One of the favourite pastimes around here is playing "Do you know so and so?"  It's rather like the five degrees of Kevin Bacon, but you play it with random local people until you can link them to someone you know or are related to.  We aren't very good at it, but have tripped over a couple of connections accidentally.  (Our Geo-thermal heating guy is related by marriage to our investment adviser at the credit union.)  Yes, PEI is actually that's going to be interesting.  Ron's quite excited, if the snow keeps coming (though it's not forecasted to) he might get to use the snow blower.  I'm still working on getting pictures, but it seemed silly up until now, as we didn't have any snow to speak of.

Anyhow, I'm off to sear my roast of veal, perhaps a glass of wine is in order, that's the perk of being the chef!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Are We Mice or Men and Other Stories from the Island

Mr. Scritchy wasn't this cute.
It's been a banner week this week.  I will start with the tale of Mr. Scritchy, the house mouse.  He first made his presence known one night as we watched TV.  Ron popped up of the sofa once and went in to the bathroom, but came back and sat down.  I thought he'd gotten up to turn on the night light in the hallway or something.  Not much after he popped up again, like a released helium balloon and proclaimed "It was a mouse...the little @#$%^$"  The word started with a "b" and rhymes with mustard.  He chased the little thing in to the guest room, but the little bugger managed to get around the blanket that Ron used to try and block the doorway.  We found his access point in the bathroom closet and put something nice and heavy over it until we could get some stuff to seal it off the next day.  He came by his name the following morning.  As I was putting on my make-up I could hear him in the floor under the closet trying to get out.  "Scritch, scritch, scritch".  Creepy.  Anyhow, we used expanding insulation and tin foil to block off the hole and any others we could find in the closet and Ron did an outdoor perimeter check to find any access points and efficiently sealed those off as well.  (We called the closet incident a tie.)  We think we might have closed off his exterior exit, but read along and see what happens.

We found no further signs of Mr. Scritchy until a week or so later, as we were getting ready to go to bed the little so & so popped out of the office from an open knot hole in the flooring.  Ron scared the little guy so badly that he ran down the ledge of the wall leading to the staircase and slipped off the end and fell a good three feet to the stairs and scurried down and in to the living room.  We deployed a familiar tactic, but used better materials.  We blocked of the entry to the living room with books and pedestals and proceeded to chase Mr. Scritchy around for half an hour.  (You have to understand that he was just a teeny little grey mouse with a little pink nose and desperate desire to live.)  Most of you know me well enough to know that I hate killing things, so we were trying to catch him alive to take a release somewhere far away.  Well he figured out our plan pretty quickly and after rushing me a few time (he sensed I was the weakest link from the get go) he finally managed to squeeze himself down in to one of our forced air vents.  We now refer to this as the Living Room Skirmish.  Score one for the mouse.

Disgusted with ourselves for letting him get the better of us, we left up the barrier baited the "never again" traps (aka guillotines) and spent a restless night of shame (cue Alice Cooper's "No More Mr. Niceguy").  The next morning the traps were empty and there was no sign of Mr. Scritchy.  We tried to logic it out...the vent pipes led down to a place where he could have slipped out and we hoped that had made his way in to the basement where he couldn't do any harm and it was unlikely that he'd get back in to the main part of the house.  We just couldn't be sure.  We were relieved, we don't abide free loaders and he certainly wasn't helping with the rent, but we could wonder and hope that he was really gone.

This morning Mr. Scritchy was a found...a victim of his own cleverness, he'd come back to the living room and been caught in one of the snap traps.  (Thank heavens I didn't see him...I would have felt horribly guilty.)  Rest in peace little fella' or in your next life bring your wallet with you.

We've finished painting the dining room...another battle, but that's what we get for choosing red.  Now all of you know how much I love RED!    Not being able to paint the living room red made me a bit melancholy, so Ron came up with the brilliant idea to paint the dining room instead.  It looks quite phenomenal, if I do say so myself and with the dark place mats (thanks 'Chelle) and white plates dinners will be visually smashing and hopefully equally as tasty.

The final excitement from our week was the delivery of our snow blower.  We bought an attachment for the John Deere, as the driveway is so ridiculously long. (567 feet according to our deed of ownership.)  It seems a bit futile to have put out the money at this point as its 7 degrees and sunny, but I guess being prepared is better than being snowed in for a week.  Pictures to come.