April 28, 2014

blustery

We seem to be stuck in that in-between phase where you no longer need a winter coat but still can't go outside without a light jacket and possibly a scarf.

The wind is perpetually wild - rapping at the windows and blowing trash across the front yard. It always feels like it may rain at any moment so it's best to not venture too far without an umbrella and Wellies at the ready.

Every day is what Winnie-the-Pooh would describe as a Rather Blustery Day.


Today I noticed the first flowers of the season. Amidst the dead leaves and fallen pine needles covering our front yard, the pop of purple seemed like a breath of fresh air.

Although it's still too cold for my liking, Maple is enjoying the warmer weather. She loves running back and forth across the grassy backyard (and, presumably, not having to do her business on top of of an icy snow bank). In the evenings, she seeks out the last stream of dying sunlight coming through the living room window, and lays in it.

We took her for a haircut last week, and I'm sure the sun feels that much better on her skin now that she no longer looks like an overgrown muppet.

before



after


She cleans up nicely. 

Just in time for my mom's visit this week...!



April 20, 2014

the pitter patter of nothing

Holidays are always a bit tricky for me. 

Growing up, my family didn't have a ton of traditions. During the years that we were speaking to my grandparents, we'd go to their house for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. But when my parents were on the outs with them, we simply wouldn't go anywhere for holidays. Fourth of Julys and Memorial Days came and went with little to no fanfare. 

It was something that always bothered me.

I'd go to school after a long weekend and hear my classmates talk about barbeques and days at the beach, and I promised myself time and time again that when I was an adult, I'd celebrate every holiday and make my own traditions.

Not having kids, this is easier said than done. There's no macaroni art, no construction paper cut-outs to hang on the fridge. No Easter eggs to dye, no baskets to hide. No costumes to make, no one to take trick-or-treating. No bake sales to cook for, no field trips to chaperone.  

It's bittersweet. Not having kids is my choice but there are still moments when I feel like there should be little feet pitter-pattering down the stairs in anticipation of...something. Whether it's presents under the tree or a school dance to attend, there should be excitement in the air.

Instead, there's silence. And that silence becomes more obvious to me on holidays.

Sure, because I don't have kids I can basically do whatever I want. I can sleep 'til noon and enjoy quiet meals. I don't have to spend thousands of dollars a year on presents and sleepover parties and uniforms and dance lessons. My life is 100% my own. And that - in theory - is liberating.

But, in reality? Today is Easter and Bobby is woodworking in the garage while I tidy up the office and prep dinner. And while there's nothing wrong with these things - we're both enjoying a quiet Sunday off from work - there's that lack of fanfare that bothered me when I was a kid.

Can it be that by not having kids, I've doomed myself to a lifetime of quiet, uneventful holidays that may as well be any other day of the year?

I'm sure I'll feel differently the next time I see a screaming child in a restaurant. But in this moment, on this quiet, Easter Sunday, the silence is deafening.

April 18, 2014

green

This morning I saw the first green of the year on my neighbor's tree. 


That and the arrival of songbirds has me hopeful that winter is officially in the rearview mirror. Then again, I've learned to never say never when it comes to Ontario weather.

April is flying by. It seems I was just visiting my parents in Florida and suddenly it's Easter weekend. 

Bobby's birthday is next week and my mom is coming to visit us the week after that.

And, just to keep things interesting, Maple is having spay surgery on Thursday and Bobby's car broke down yesterday.

Thank goodness I have this three-day weekend off from work. So much to do, so little time.

April 13, 2014

getting warmer

The weather is slowly but surely warming up. 

There's no more snow on the ground 

and each day the grass gets just a little bit greener.


Maple has traded in her fur-lined parka for a tweed cover-up.

When she wears this, she transforms into her alter ego: Sherlock Bones.


She's taken to digging through the flower bed in the backyard,

which is freshly thawed

and apparently very tasty. 


April 11, 2014

mini break


I flew to Florida last weekend to spend some time with my parents and their two dogs. My brother was attending an out-of-town wedding, so we were watching his two pugs for him as well. So it was the three of us and a menagerie of rescue pups - Madison, Dobby, Cooper and Andy. 

What a cast of characters.


It was an incredibly short trip (only two full days) but we managed to cram a lot of stuff into our time together.

On Friday we took the boat out on the Gulf and enjoyed the warm-but-not-too-hot weather. The water was blue and clear, and we saw quite a few dolphins.







We anchored the boat on a little beach and spent the afternoon kicking back. We turned on our portable radio, ate Publix subs (!!!) and then went searching for shark's teeth and shells in the sand. (Note to self: wear flip flops to avoid sandspurs in feet when foraging unknown beaches.)


 




Back at the house, we barbequed a rack of ribs and caught up on all the episodes of Resurrection. 

On Saturday, my mom and I were busy planning our upcoming trip to New York. In the evening, we all went to Cracker Barrel, where I devoured the most ridiculously indulgent meal: fried chicken, mashed potatoes with sawmill gravy, macaroni & cheese and biscuits with blackberry jam. Then the three of us shared a fried apple dumpling with vanilla ice cream for dessert. 

I felt physically ill by the time we left but, damn, that's some good eats. 

And to anyone who heard about my American cheese debacle right after I moved to Canada, let this serve as proof that it is very much a REAL food, good enough to be featured on a menu right under country fried shrimp and chicken 'n' dumplins:


I also managed to squeeze in a Checker's run (spicy chicken & seasoned fries all day) and hit up Publix and Walmart for some Zinger's, Fig Newtons, Bigelow tea and other amazing foods that cannot be found in Canada.

I bought so much food that I couldn't fit it all in my carry-on. But fear not - although I had to leave some at my parents' house, my mom is bringing it with her when she visits me in May. (That's why they call us Ameri-can, not Ameri-can't!)

So all-in-all it was a great mini-break for me. It's too bad it didn't last longer, but regardless, it was so nice to see my family, enjoy an economy-sized strawberry soda and know that home is just a plane ride away.


April 3, 2014

spring is here?

This morning, just after the sun rose, I saw (and heard) the first songbirds of the season.


There was a cardinal, whom I've named Big Red:

  

and some type of blackbird, whom I shall call Captain Butter Beak:



I'm not sure if this is Captain Butter Beak or one of his brothers but he was chirping on top of the neighbor's pine tree like he was king of the world:


There was also a black squirrel hopping along the fence but he was too quick for my camera. 

Things are looking promising... Hopefully by the time I come back from Florida, spring will finally be here!

April 2, 2014

time

It's been a very busy couple of weeks at work, with the seasons changing and the whole store being remerchandised for spring. It's a physically demanding job, since all of our fixtures are made of solid steel, and I have to single handedly lift, drag, prop and climb with them up and down ladders.

I've been eating too many sweets and watching too much TV in an attempt to comfort myself after long, traumatizing shifts that manage to make my legs feel wobbly like Jell-O and my back feel stiff like cement at the same time.

I feel overextended and out of shape. My knees ache and I wake up feeling like my back is on fire.

The dry winter air has made my hair and nails brittle, and some mornings I'm too exhausted to even shower before work.

I don't feel like myself. I am worn out.

And I miss home (America).

Which is partly why I'm flying to Florida tomorrow. It'll be an extended weekend trip - Thursday thru Sunday - which is really too short to get the tan that I so desperately need, but hopefully long enough to begin to repair my soul.

It'll be my first time seeing the dogs in more than a year (which breaks my heart) and my first opportunity since I moved to visit my old stomping grounds. My holiday trip to New York, nice as it was, didn't give me the chance to visit a lot of my favorite places that I grew up with.

Much as I disliked living in Florida, I love the restaurants and grocery stores there. People are friendlier, food tastes better, prices are cheaper than here in Canada. And I won't even have to bring a coat.

At this time tomorrow, I'll be seated in a rocking chair on the front porch of a Cracker Barrel, listening to the buzzing of cicadas, the smell of fried catfish in the air.

Funny how something that was commonplace my whole life is now so romanticized in my head. I guess time will do that to you. Time and a severe case of homesickness.

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