Monday, March 31, 2008


It's rainy, and nine degrees outside today.

Mud Season has officially begun!

Now 'splain to me this:


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Light in the darkness.

It's been a hugely busy, fun-filled weekend...

We've had my brother visiting, and so that in itself makes life "better than Christmas", as one of the girlies said to me with shining eyes, the minute he stepped over our threshold. He has always been "Uncle" to them, which is apparently a combination of Best-Friend-Santa-Claus-and-Super-Man all rolled into one. We don't really NEED to plan activities for whenever he is here, because the good times just seem to roll on their own. He adores my girlies, and the feeling is MORE than mutual... They just can't wait to show him all of their stuff and activities and artwork and games and new skills and... and... and... And he gives them each his undivided attention and affection, every. single. waking. minute. of. the. day.

What more could a girl ask for in a brother?

The answer to that question is "NOTHING". Greater love hath no man.

That said, we DID actually manage to squeeze in some "planned activity" as well, this weekend:

"Uncle" and I took the girlies to the movies on Saturday afternoon. It was Wee Three's very first movie theatre experience, and we were all extremely proud of the fact that she managed to get through the entire show, without so much as a potty break. THAT was a feat, let me tell you, because very little gets between Wee Three and her seemingly constant need to pee... Since her graduation from diapers to big-girl-panties last fall, the two older girls and I have memorized the location of every single bathroom within a several-hundred-mile radius of our house, in case of "emergencies", which happen nerve-wrackingly frequently with our tiniest member of the family...

I'm chalking the bladder control miracle up to the miraculous quality of the new animated version of the Dr Seuss classic, "Horton Hears a Who". It is truly a captivating film, based on a marvellous story, and I have to say... I haven't enjoyed a children's film this much since "Madagascar" (my all-time favourite... That Lemur King rocks. my. socks.) The only way that "Horton" could be made any better is if you are accompanied to see it by the Über-Uncle, which we were... and so the afternoon was damn near perfect.

In the evening, I whipped up a nice little dinner while the other members of the family rounded up candles, and we prepared for The Great Switch-Off of '08. The girlies had been told about Earth Hour by their school teachers the week before. Our public school decided to have a "trial-run" of Earth Hour while the kids were in class on Friday afternoon, and so all the children went home extremely well-informed and thoroughly prepared for when the clocks struck eight on Saturday evening.

It was wonderful to eat dinner by candlelight, and the youngest girls thought it quite extraordinary when I carried a few candles upstairs so that they could do their tubby-time routine... We read bedtime stories by the light of little tiny flashlights that my father gave us at Christmastime-- our very best presents. They operate without batteries, and instead have little "cranks" on the sides of them, and must be vigorously wound-up in order to generate power. Every few pages of the book we were reading, the girls would have to crank up the flashlights again, as they giggled away... Stories took rawther a long time that night, but it was good fun.

A "novelty", I thought.

Until this morning.

Because my three children have proposed that our family make Earth Hour a weekly event. Every Saturday night, between eight and nine o'clock, we're going to do our very best to "power down" in this household. And actually, I think that it's hopefully going to become a habit that does far more than just save us a tiny bit of money on our monthly electric bill, or be the merest smidgen of "help" to stave off a global-warming crisis...

I see this not only as an opportunity to teach my children to respect the environment and develop good energy conservation habits. I see it as an opportunity to work together as a family towards a common goal, and to switch off life's outside distractions for just a little while each week. Nowadays, we are all so intensely and constantly "in-tune" with the rest of the world... And while in almost every way, that is a wonderful thing, I often wish that the glut of information we are bombarded with could be "turned-down", occasionally. Just for a little while.

Because let's face it. There are periods of time when we just don't NEED to be "reachable", or to know the "latest news", or gossip, or stock quotes.

From now on, as often as we possibly can, between eight and nine o'clock on Saturday evenings, all our family is going to need is each other.

A few candles.

And hopefully... we'll be able to remember where the heck we put the matches.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Tonight at 8...

Friday, March 28, 2008

News from the conga line...

My brother has arrived for a visit.


Stay tuned...

I'm just one person... What can I do?

Earth Hour 2008

March 29th, 2008, from 8 until 9 pm

What will you do?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tell me about it...


Monday, March 24, 2008

The Truth About Easter...

The very nicest thing about not having the hoardes-and-masses of "high-maintenance" guests visit us at Eastertime (and by that, I'm NOT referring to you, Brotherdear, YOU may visit whenever you like... xo), is that for four. solid. days. the five of us are free do do whatever the heck we want, for a change.

If we WANT to sit around in our pyjamas until three in the afternoon, well, then, we can. (And we did.)

If we WANT to eat chocolate for every, single meal, and deem a fistful of jellybeans to be a "vegetable" serving, well then, we can. (And hoo-boy, we sure did.)

And, if we WANT to postpone Easter Dinner on Sunday, in favour of doing something that is MUCH more fun than standing around and basting a big, fat ham hock for hours on end, well then, we can. (And we did.)

People, for Easter this year, we decided to try something a little different.

I call it "The Glorified Egg-Toss":

Yep, we rounded up the kids, and took them bowling.

And I have to confess, we had a blast.

Child Number Three even managed to hold her pants up long enough to roll that enormous "extra-small" bowling ball down that alley... slooowly..... slooooooooowly....... And occasionally, she even hit a few pins down.

Child Number One has bowled before. She wowed us by getting a few strikes, and improved her game tremendously over the course of the afternoon. Number Two was the star, though. She takes after her old mum, who spent more than a few weekends at the local bowling alley as a young teenager (BOWLING, of course... I surprised my husband by showing him how to put my "signature" back-spin on the ball. Yep, the old girl's still "got it"...)

Look at that form! And she's never even had a lesson.

By the time we got home, we had decided to put off our Big Meal until today. Because when you don't have company, you can just DO THAT. Just put it off!! And eat pizza and bowling-alley hotdogs, instead.

Yessir, it's been a great weekend. And after last week, we all really needed it. I think Child Number Two summed it up best, in the card she made for me at school:

Where do you suppose she gets this from??? Ahem.

Sweetiepie, you did more than Rock My Easter.

You and your sisters ROCK MY WORLD, Babe.

Every. Single. Day.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Happy Easter to you all!

I Believe in Springtime
by John Rutter, sung by The Cambridge Singers

I believe in springtime: fresh and new and bright;
I believe in morning dew and shining morning light.
I believe in sunbeams. Melting all the snow;
And I believe in when winters done the streams will run and rivers flow.

I believe in eagles soaring up so high;
I believe in trees and mountains reaching to the sky.
I believe in green things; all the gifts of earth;
Growing up from tiny seeds that spring has brought to birth.

I believe in summer; I believe in fall:
But most of all I believe in God who made it and blessed it all.

I believe in people living all as one;
Sharing all their songs and laughter, happiness, and fun;
I believe in friendship: taking time to care;
And feeling sure of someone else, and someone feeling glad you’re there.

Then I start to wonder how it all might be
if the world could live together just like you and me.

I believe in hoping; I believe in prayer;
I believe in trying hard, and learning how to share.
I believe in dreaming; and when dreams are through,
Then I believe in trusting God to help me make dreams come true.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

An Easter Sweetie...

We are gearing up for the Big Day, here! The enormous ham is in the fridge, waiting to be studded with cloves, draped with pineapple slices and maple glaze, and put into the oven... There are Yukon Gold potatoes to be "scalloped", and fresh asparagus to be steamed and drizzled with butter...

And nestled into the freezer is our favourite dessert: Iced Lemon Torte. Tomorrow, about a half hour before dinner, I will bring it out, and ready the meringue topping. It is truly a beautiful sight when it is brought out from being under the oven broiler (for just. a. FEW. seconds!!) The white meringue "peaks" are touched with a toasted-brown colour. And the flavour? Fresh and delicious... A wonderful light treat, to cap off a splendid springtime meal. It may look as though you've slaved over it for hours, but actually, it's "easy, peasy, lemon-squeezy!!" as my children say...

Iced Lemon Torte

2 packages of soft lady fingers
5 eggs, separated
3/4 c of freshly squeezed lemon juice
the grated rind of one lemon
1 1/4 c granulated sugar
2 c of whipping cream, whipped
4 tbsp icing sugar
a dash of cream of tartar

Butter a 9 inch spring form pan and line the sides and bottom with split lady fingers.

In a saucepan, beat 5 egg yolks and 2 egg whites until thick. (Reserve the remaining whites for later.) Add the lemon juice, lemon rind and granulated sugar. Cook over a low heat, until the mixture is thickened. Allow to cool completely. Fold in the whipped cream, and pour the mixture into the prepared spring-pan.

Freeze overnight, or for at least six hours, covered with aluminum foil.

About one hour before serving, beat the remaining 3 egg whites, until stiff peaks are formed. Add the icing sugar and cream of tartar, and beat a few seconds more.

Turn on the oven broiler to "low". Spread the egg whites over the frozen torte and place under the broiler until the meringue is lightly browned. WATCH CAREFULLY!! The "browning" occurs very, VERY quickly and suddenly!!

Cool for a few moments, and return to the freezer if you are not going to serve the torte immediately. Or, allow the torte to stand for a few moments more before serving, to allow it to "defrost" a bit more.

Lovely served with a few fresh berries alongside...

Hope the Easter Bunny is good to all, tonight!!
xo CGF

Friday, March 21, 2008

Spring is sprung?

It's Spring.

Or, so I'm told.

Although spring "officially" arrived yesterday, I am finding it extremely hard to believe. The snow still lies thick on the ground outside, the weather is dreary and dark, in spite of the dratted time-change. The Canadian Press quoted an "expert" on Wednesday morning, who hypothesized that it will be at least six more weeks before we here in Ontario even BEGIN to feel a change for the better, as far as our weather goes.

I confess it. I have been having trouble raising up my spirits this week. In SPITE of the prospect of Easter celebrations this weekend. I am having difficulty convincing myself that all of this blustery cold-ness will ever end, and that I will eventually be barefoot and back in my garden once more.

What the heck is up with Easter being so early this year, anyway?? It just doesn't FEEL right, no matter what the calendar might say. Someone told me the other night that this is the earliest that the holiday has fallen since 1913, and although I've not got the energy to actually confirm that tidbit of trivia, I'm inclined to believe it. I certainly can't remember a year like this within my own living memory.

It USED to be that the temperatures were warm, and the grass was green and lush and thick. The Easter Bunny hid chocolate eggs outside, and dotted them all around the lawn. We went egg-hunting with the girlies decked out in new spring dresses and hair ribbons... Birds were chirping in the trees, and crocuses and snow drops were peeping out of the ground. It was easily believable that it was the season of "new birth". One didn't have to make an effort, or look too far to see the hard-core evidence.

Getting worked up enough to celebrate Easter, and the Coming-of-Spring, just seems to me to be a little too much of an effort this year. I'm having to reaaaaaallly use my imagination. And the endless waiting to see some evidence... the "having faith" part of all of this... is difficult for me to muster.

At times like these, I go looking for good music to lift my spirits.

And what do you know, I found some. Guess where the inspiration came from?

My brother, of course.

Several months ago, he sent me a youtube video that he had found, of a group of highschool students performing a selection from the musical, "Godspell". I can't remember which highschool, or where they were from... I imagine, though, that it was something akin to "Anytown, USA". It wasn't a performing arts school, or anything particularly specialized.

The calibre of the performance, however was spectacular, for performers of such a tender age. Those young people literally swept me off my feet.

And it made me remember another very special performance of that musical that my family and I saw together, when I was just a kid, myself.

As you may already know, I grew up in the idyllic town of Stratford, Ontario. And we were lucky enough to be raised during some of the most magical years at Stratford: the years when many of the most wonderfully talented young performers in the world were being attracted, trained and raised-up onto the boards. Our parents, in their wisdom and generosity, enabled us to see the productions... to appreciate the talent, and to soak up all of the culture and experience that we possibly could.

The Theatre used to run from the spring until the early fall, and then the winter-time was generally an "off-season" for the actors and production staff who would be returning the following year. Most of them sought employment opportunities elsewhere during this time... And one year, a few of them were brought back together to collaborate on a production of "Godspell", which was performed at London, Ontario's beautiful Grand Theatre.

I remember the tall, lythe Dennis Simpson... whom we recognized instantly from TVOntario's "Polka Dot Door". Donna Goodhand, one of the grand dames of Stratford. David Dunbar, who could sing like an angel, and yet make you fall on the floor laughing with his comedic antics. The distinguished Barry MacGregor, who surprised us all by appearing in a leather jacket, jeans, and a "greaser" hair-do that seemed a startling polar-opposite to anything we had ever seen him in before. There was also Barbara Budd, now one of the the brilliant stars of CBC's "As It Happens"-- also marvellous actress and chanteuse, who belted out a rousing "Day by Day". The formidable presence of Susan Wright (you could NEVER go wrong if Susan was a part of your cast)... But most of all, I remember Brent Carver, who played Jesus. He was young, and luminous and newly "discovered"... and gave a performance filled with sensitivity, combined with an almost other-worldly power that left us completely spellbound.

Being taken to see this show was more than a small revelation for us, as children. We were raised in a household that embraced culture with open-arms... And yet, the culture was almost entirely classical. We were read good literature. We were taken to see productions of Shakespeare and the ballet. We were taught the piano (and any number of other instruments, whether we liked it or not), and sang in the church choirs. On the long car road-trips that we embarked upon each summer, my father delighted in playing his endless supply of cassette tapes that he had recorded especially for the occasion. Since he had us "trapped" in the car, he used it as an opportunity to educate us in music appreciation... One year, we all listened to ALL of the Beethoven Piano Concertos. By the end of the holiday, we could pick out each and every one by number-- often pin-pointing musical clips right down to the movement. It wasn't as though we, the children, had much CHOICE in the matter at the time. If we wanted to get to-the-beach-and-back, we were going to have to learn Dad's Music. And so, we did... and thanked heaven above that he hadn't chosen to teach us Mozart, instead (MOZART wrote twenty-seven of them, while Beethoven wrote "only" five).

But I digress.

The point I'm getting at here is this: "Godspell" seemed to be an unusual choice of musical for my parents to be taking us to. For "Godspell", although based on the Gospel of St Matthew, is what I would describe as a "Rock Opera". NOT what we would have considered to have been my parents' cup of tea. And yet, it was. They were every bit as mesmerised by the performance as we were. Which made the experience even more fantastic.

"Godspell" may have a small cast of only ten performers, but it packs some powerful messages. The characters of Jesus and his followers not only tell, but enact the parables found in the Book of Matthew, using fabulous music, and lyrics "poached" from the Episcopal (Anglican) hymnal. Rather than focusing mainly on the life-story of Christ, the show centres in on the most important lessons that Jesus taught: love God, and love one another.

As I listened to the soundtrack the other day, and re-visited all the familiar stories, I suddenly realized something about the show that I had forgotten.

The musical takes us through the parables, through the Last Supper and the betrayal of Jesus by Judas. Jesus is crucified, and although we see no blood-and-gore à la Mel Gibson's "Passion of Christ", the audience is able to feel every bit of the agony, just by listening to the first part of the finale.

What I had forgotten... was that THAT is the point when the musical ends. There is no spectacular finishing-scene in which Jesus is resurrected from the dead. The life ebbs out of him... and then... there is a silence.

Silence, that is, until the small voices of a few brave women begin again. "Long live God!" they chant, over and over again, as others begin to join in. The voices begin to strengthen, the volume swells, and soon they are singing, full-out. They rise up rejoicing, right in the face of death-- filled to the brim with FAITH. Faith, that, although Jesus has left them, he will rise again. That although things seem bleak, there are better things to come.

The audience of this show doesn't have to see a ton of special effects, or PROOF of what-comes-next in the Easter story. We KNOW what happens next, without a shadow of a doubt. The optimism and enthusiasm of the music are downright contagious, and it is impossible to leave this show without a lighter step, and a fuller heart.

And it got me to thinking...

This Coming-of-Spring thing?

Might not be quite so difficult to get worked up about, after all.

Wishing you and your families a joyous, blessed Easter.
xo CGF

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy First Day of Spring!

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got snow to shovel...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Easter eggs?? ALREADY????!

Apparently, as of today, I should be trading in my Shamrock socks for the Easter Egg ones.

This is what my children told me, when I arrived at the breakfast table sporting a fresh, clean pair of socks with three-leafed-clovers on them... Admittedly, they are left-over from St Patrick's Day yesterday. But, with the stock markets being as horrific as they have been, and the US Fed announcement coming up this afternoon... I figured we could use a little boost in the "luck" department today.

(And before any of you go off on a tangent on how I shouldn't wear ONLY SOCKS to the breakfast table, I will clarify the previous paragraph to say that I WAS wearing a complete outfit, along with the socks. I save the socks-only routine for... Well, let's just suffice it to say that in THIS "family blog", you won't be getting any more details than that.)


I had actually totally forgotten that Easter falls SO EARLY this year.

And so, once we had shipped the eldest two girlies off to school, Wee Three and I trudged home, and dragged out yet another Holiday Box from the basement: the one marked "BUNNY".

We pulled out, arranged and decorated our little Easter tree. We carefully placed the china rabbit figurines underneath it, and a few tiny baskets around it... We put fresh, pink-and-green candles in all the candle holders, and flowery wreaths on the front and back doors.

We're "getting there".

Spring arrives on Thursday. Although, you'd never guess it, with all the snow, and the heavy-looking, grey clouds hanging in the sky today. But, the house is clean and freshened up, and winter is almost a thing of the past-- in our MINDS, anyway.

The girlies are SO READY for Easter to be here. They take after their mother: they're not going to let anything-- especially not a little snow and ice-- get in the way of their Chocolate. All I have to say is: The Bunny had better be a snowshoe hare, if he thinks he's got ANY chance at all of getting into this neighbourhood on Sunday...

My socks-of-choice are not the only "leftovers" from yesterday. Today for lunch, we will be finishing up the treats from last night's St. Patrick's Day dinner. The dinner that took hours to prepare, and the family only MINUTES to polish off. Yes, it was that good. We had a beautiful leek-and-potato soup that simmered gently all afternoon, before I laced it with heavy cream and sprinkled it with minced chives. We had fresh asparagus spears slathered with butter... and a beautiful, round loaf of Irish soda bread, still warm from the oven.

The soda bread recipe is one that I am especially fond of, and find to be particularly useful on those rotten days when I look in the fridge and pantry, and find nothing-in-particular to feed my children for lunch. It is quick to mix up, and calls for ingredients that, no matter what, I always seem to have on hand. The girlies just love it with a big bowl of soup, and I feel good knowing that their meal has been healthy, as well as warm and satisfying.

The woman who taught me how to make this bread has been a friend of mine, all of my life. She and my mother met years ago when they were in nursing school together, and the bond between the two of them, and indeed, between our two families, has remained firm and steadfast for well over forty years, now.

Brigid is one of the most jolly and thoroughly optimistic people I have ever met. She is warm, sensitive and nurturing, which makes her a marvellous mother, and an exceptional palliative-care nurse. The quality that I find the most fascinating about her, however, is the way in which she expresses herself. She communicates in long streams of delightful conversation. Indeed, she seldom pauses for breath, but rather, punctuates what she is saying with bubbles of laughter, and then resumes chatting away in her lilting Irish accent, exactly where she had left off.

The truly amazing thing about Brigid is that when you are with her, you never feel "left out" of the conversation, simply because you are doing more listening than talking. The way in which she catches your eye, or leans in towards you slightly, or tilts her head as she speaks, makes you feel thoroughly engaged, and fully participative in the exchange.

I remember her teaching me this bread one day when I was visiting her during my university years... And, as a good daughter of an Irish minister, she ended off by stating that carving a cross-shape in the top of the dough just before it is popped in the oven would ensure the success of the loaf.

And then she winked at me, looking every inch a mischievous leprechaun.

Irish Soda Bread

1 c rolled oats
1 c all-purpose flour
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp softened butter
1 c buttermilk

In a mixing bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix the softened butter into the dry ingredients, using a pastry cutter until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in the buttermilk, just until moistened.

Turn the dough onto a floured board and knead for 30 seconds, until smooth.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and turn the dough onto it. Pat the dough down into a six inch circle, and cut a cross into the top with a sharp knife.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

Good Luck!!

Monday, March 17, 2008

March 17th

The Prayer of St. Patrick
arranged by John Rutter, performed by The Cambridge Singers

Christ be with me,
Christ within me,
Christ behind me,
Christ before me,
Christ beside me,
Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.

Christ above me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ in quiet,
Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

Oh boy, oh boy, OOOOHH boy...

Happy St Patrick's Day, everyone!!!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Post-vacation clean-up...

We are struggling with the "pain of re-entry" around here...

It snowed-- upwards of 45 cm, apparently-- while we were away, and although the snow removal service managed to clear our driveway and a path to the front door, we arrived home yesterday to find our back gate and garden completely, and solidly "snowed under". All access to the back door was completely cut-off, and so, The Rescue Team were unfortunately unable to come to work in our absence, since I had only given them a key to-- you guessed it!!-- the back door.

The house is messy and a bit smelly, having been essentially closed-up for the past ten days, with the exception of a daily-visiting pet-sitter (who, thank God, also had a key to the FRONT door). There are suitcases exploding all over the place, and buckets of beautiful, but sandy sea-shells that we carefully carried home on the (*&%$#!) plane yesterday, overturned on all the carpets. We've got to tidy it all up, assemble and attack Mt Washmore, throw open all the doors and windows and air the place out... and Get Ready for School and Work Tomorrow.


We're all feeling... a bit testy, shall we say, this morning.

But when I opened the comic section of today's newspaper and saw this strip, I quickly got my head turned 'round right. Isn't it the TRUTH, how "paying-it-forward" affects us all in a negative way, as well as in a positive way??? We had such a hard day yesterday... I was a train-wreck by last night, and let my husband bathe our children and put them to bed, rather than risk "raining my wrath" down on their poor little heads at a time when they should be feeling soothed and relaxed.

This morning, once I have finished this ENORMOUS cup of Very Strong Coffee (oh, how I MISSED my Very Strong Coffee while I was away...) I am determined to make a "game" of Shovelling Out the Pit We Call Home. We're going to plug the ipod into the big speakers, blast some really great music, and divide up the jobs.

The kids are actually thrilled at the prospect, and actually can't WAIT to help me wash and dry the kitchen floor. Probably because my wildest dance moves usually (and accidentally) occur when I'm skidding around on the tiles with a mop. They just can't believe This Old Gal still has "it" in her... So, we're saving that job for last. The "reward", if you will.

And when it's all done, I'll make them each an ice cream sundae, and myself a chocolate martini, and we'll celebrate.

Because when you make an effort to strip away all the crapola and "lighten up" your attitude, more often than not, it turns out that Daily Life isn't so bad, after all.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The truth about Truthiness...

There is a sort of "meme" going around the internet right now, amongst my circle of blog friends... The challenge is to post a photograph of yourself, taken first thing in the morning. And I mean: FIRST THING. As in: no toothbrushing, no hairbrushing, no make-up and... are you ready for this... no coffee. You're allowed to get out of bed. And in terms of the "preparation" part of this exercise, that's about it, folks.

Which should make it easy, really.

Except, I'm chicken.

I confess it: even when I am sick, I make the effort not just to get out of bed, but to dress. Do my hair. And my face.

Apparently, to many people, that MAKES me a sick person.

But, sue me. All my life has been about "creating an illusion" of some sort... When I was a kid, the two things I loved best were dress-up and make-believe. Fast-forward to adulthood, and you find me creating costumes and "transformations" for the stage.

And so, I suppose now that I am a wife and mother, I "stage myself", in a way, on a daily basis. It's important to me. It makes me feel better. Protected, I suppose; my appearance is like a sort of "personal armour". I spiff myself up, and present the "best self" that I possibly can. It shows that I care about "Me". And like it or not, I am certain that looking fairly decent and put-together positively affects the way that I am received by others.

That's not to say that I don't let-it-all-hang-out every once in awhile around home. I have my favourite flannel pyjamas, and big fuzzy slippers. I have my "grubbies" for painting, and my even "grubbiers" for long, sweaty days of slogging happily in the garden. I don't generally wear much make-up when I'm working-- and what I do put on usually melts off within the first hour or so-- and my hair is mostly tucked up under an old baseball cap.

I have no problem walking around dissheveled, if the situation calls for it. Hell, take a picture if you want-- if your camera lens is strong enough to withstand the impact.

But, first-thing-in-the-morning? Before my face has even had a chance to fall into place?

Nuh-uh. There's some Truthiness that just shouldn't be shared.

As my pal Jack says:
"You Can't Handle The Truth"

And unfortunately, my Morning Truth is one of them.

So, here's the deal. I'll give you this much. THIS should give you the general idea of how I look when I first roll out of bed:

Okay, I confess. I brushed my hair.

(The eyebrows could definitely use a little lawn-mowing, though, non?)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Goodbye... for now.

We went out tonight and said our last goodbye to the beach... until another year.

All of our "friends" came out tonight to bid us farewell... There were two beautiful dolphins, who swam remarkably close to shore, and treated us to a final, joyful, explosive leap into the air... There were the little sand pipers and plovers, running en masse along the shore... There was a gorgeous, wallowing manatee, who raised her whiskery nose at us, then disappeared once more with a flip of her big, fat tail... And all the while, ospreys and brown pelicans soared above us, pausing every now and then to suddenly and dramatically dive for their dinners, with an explosive **sploosh!!**

And, of course, there was Heron.

Heron has kept us company every evening, at sunset, for most of the past ten wonderful days.

Last night, he amused us all by befriending a fellow fisherman (and stealing fish from his companion's bucket, when the companion wasn't looking...)

And tonight, he accompanied us on one last stroll down the sand, as we headed towards our favourite spot for enormous Edy's ice cream cones.

We watched sailboats drift towards shore, and picked up shells along the way.

Heron walked ahead of us, spearing a fish or two every now and then, and flapped over our heads to "catch up", if he happened to lag behind for too long.

We said our final goodbyes, and then watched as he slowly walked away...

Tomorrow, we return to the land of the ice and snow.

And, although it is very hard to leave this most beautiful, warm, and magical place...

It will be good to be home, once more.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Tuesday's Sunset

"The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach - waiting for a gift from the sea."

--Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Gift from the Sea

"One cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach. One can collect only a few, and they are more beautiful if they are few."

--Anne Morrow Lindbergh, "Gift from the Sea"

Monday, March 10, 2008


It is perhaps a more fortunate destiny to have a taste for collecting shells than to be born a millionaire.

--Robert Louis Stevenson

Sunday, March 9, 2008

A Day at the Beach...

After 24 hours of weather that I will simply describe as "exciting" (extreme thunder-and-lightning storms, high winds, and tornadoes reported just North of where we are), we awoke this morning to discover that island life has returned to normal!! The locals here were hardly phased by yesterday's rather turbulent "blip", having survived and rebuilt after a catastrophic hurricane a few years back... I watched the storms from our back deck, and was in awe of the size of the waves, and the trees nearly bent double from the force of the winds. Today, however, it felt as though it had all just been a nasty dream!!

The girlies were eager to hit the beach, to see what treasures the sea had tossed up onto the shore for them to collect... We found dozens of varieties of different shells, as well as starfish and anemone, which we threw back into the water after gently examining them.

The birds were all out in full force, looking for their next meal! As well as pelicans, egrets and sand pipers, we caught sight of enormous flocks of Royal Terns, and Black Skimmers...

No doubt, many of them were after these exquisite creatures: beautiful little cockles and scallops that had washed up on shore with the tide. When we approached to examine them, they quickly snapped shut, to avoid being "discovered". Several of them chattered their shells noisily, much to the girlies' delight-- and one even SQUIRTED several long streams of water in our direction! It was the stuff that cartoons are made of, and it made us all giggle madly...

Once we had enjoyed a good swim, we waded and collected shells for decorating the day's sand castle. Clearly, Wee Three takes her job as Foreman of the Construction Team very seriously...

One last leap through the waves...

And a sisterly stroll along the shore...

Then, it was time to dry off, and head back up the beach for home.

All to be repeated again, tomorrow. It's heaven, I tell you...

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Good news first...

I have discovered Edy's Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream.

Sweet. Merciful. Jesus.

There is a reason why the United States has a National Ice Cream Day, and this frozen Nectar of the Gods is IT.

Now, the bad news:

It's worth it.

God Bless America.

Friday, March 7, 2008


We are here.

And I simply cannot believe how beautiful it is.

We awoke this morning to brilliant sunshine, and the girlies and I dressed top-speed, and found our way down to the beach. We stopped for a moment, and relished the delicious feeling of warm-sand-between-the-toes... And then, were immediately awe-struck to find that the brilliant white sand STOPPED, suddenly, and gave way to this:

Miles and miles and MILES of beautiful sea-shells.

The girlies squealed, and we all dropped to our knees to scrabble through them, and pick out the most colourful, most unusual, and most perfect ones... I have for years read in story-books about little children building sand-castles on South-Sea islands, and decorating them with sea-shells, and TODAY... my girlies and I did just that.

It wasn't more than fifteen minutes before we saw our first dolphins, popping up **ker-splash!** out of the water to greet us. And where there are wild dolphins frolicking, it turns out, there are also flocks of greedy brown pelicans close behind, eager to get in on the feasting.

We chased little sandpipers, who went "wheeky-wheek-ing" ahead of us down the damp sand, little white egrets, and enormous herons...
The gardens appear to be in their pink-and-purple mode at the moment, and I am so eager to travel to the large wild-life preserve, where we will take a guided bird-watching walk, and learn more about the local trees and plants.

This island is a paradise... And for the next eight-and-a-half days, it is "ours". We simply cannot believe our great good fortune, and are drinking in every, single minute of enjoyment and relaxation. For the next precious eight-and-a-half days, everything will be about The Girlies... Their Daddy...

And Me.

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