Friday, December 30, 2005

FOR THE LOVE OF PETS!


I have no idea how I did this. I have been having trouble uploading pictures to Blogger. I just downloaded a new photo, then posted it. It happened.
I think the photo is ROFL!!!!

Has anyone else viewed a horse from the feed bucket???

Been there....
This post is in response to my fellow blogger, Sean's, mourning of the death of his cat.
It is always difficult to lose a beloved pet.
They become family members - an integral part of our lives - loved.

I have had a soft spot for animals for as long as I can remember. My parents constantly relate stories about my bringing home stray dogs, cats, baby birds, fish and even toads!

My first official pet was a blonde and white guinea pig.
I named him "Whiskers".
I think I was about eight years old.
He was my pride and joy and I loved and cared for him like there was no tomorrow.
Apparently, there was no tomorrow... Whiskers developed several serious tumors about his throat and my Dad had to "put him out of his misery". I was absolutely devastated.
It was my first experience with the death of someone close to me, and I still vividly remember my Mum and Dad consoling me afterwards.
My parents were very sympathetic and understanding, yet pragmatic at the same time.

In the years since, I have experienced many aspects of the animal world.
For several years I worked with horses and during that time, I have observed the miracle of foals being born, as well as the trauma of horses being put down due to illness or injury.

When I was an idealistic eighteen year old, I had my favourite horse die with his head in my lap.
It was during my first working summer when I was a counselor/riding instructor at a local riding academy.
A truckload of horses had recently been purchased to augment the existing string of lesson mounts. One giant, gangly horse in particular, whom I named "Caesar Augustus", became my special friend. "Gus" was a generous soul who gave all he could into the work that was demanded of him.
He was the butt of several jokes by some of the other instructors, as he was rather clumsy and odd looking, but he had wrapped himself firmly about my heart.
As the days went by, I couldn't help but notice that he continued to become more and more dull and listless. I could see that he was not thriving - I saw that he was dying.
No one appeared to have the same desire as I to help this creature who was totally dependent upon us.
I did all I could during his last hours - including inciting the wrath of my employers.
It was a "business", after all...
I was reprimanded for using a "good" horse blanket to cover Gus during his last sweating and quaking hours.
As well, I was informed that I should not raise the ire of the younger campers by bringing the event to their attention.
It was a "business", after all...

In the years since, I have lived, learned and come to realise the importance of animals in my life. I have never been without a household "pet".
I no longer work with animals, because of the fact that they lose their "humanness" in the name of industry. It's not that I have any bad feelings toward those who do, I just don't have the heart for it. Sometimes I wish that I did.
If that was the case, I would still be working with animals...

A long time ago I made a conscious decision to keep my love of horses as a hobby, so I could enjoy them to a greater extent. In my case, the decision was a wise one.
At the moment, I have other responsibilities that supersede my horses and I have put that lifestyle upon "the back burner".
Once my children are older and on their own, I will return.

My own horse, "Red", who is out to pasture in the literal sense, is aging.
He is going on twenty-seven years old and he has been my buddy for eighteen years.
We have been on many adventures together and I was once in the position where I had to trust Red with my life - and he came through.
I know that one day I will receive the message that I should come to collect his remains.
Believe it or not, I have his "plot" picked out!
My good friend owns a farm and she has a place where she has buried her old horse who was once a good buddy of Red's. In fact, they were "corral-mates" for several years.
My horse's place is next to his.

My family now consists of "Red" the horse, "Spoons" and "Chicken Nugget" the goldfish, "Henrietta" the guinea pig, "Scat" the cat and "Murphy" the golden retriever.

Oh... And I have to remember that I also have a husband and three children!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

"HAPPY TO BE SAD" (BITTERSWEET)

It has been a wonderful Christmas with my family!

Mum and Dad were here all the way from Montreal.
We don't get to see them very much, because we live so far away and it is easier for the two of them to fly in to see us, than the five of us to travel there.

I have just bid my farewell to the folks and I'm feeling that happy-kind-of-sad.
They are wonderful parents and both of them are such kind, generous, and considerate souls.
I love them very much.

We are now home safe and sound after a three hour drive to the airport through some rather adverse weather.
It is always a relief to settle in at home after a long road trip.


POOH! Like Rachel, I have been having trouble posting photos, too.
I have a PC.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

THE SKIER'S PRAYER


I tried to post a photo earlier today, but Blogger decided that it was not going to happen.
Maybe it's the same problem that Rachel is having. I've had no trouble so far, except if a photo is saved in "Paint", it won't upload.

I tried again and, lo and behold, there it is!
It's a photo of the base of the ski hill today.
A bit dark and threatening snow...

We are, again, hoping for more snow. We haven't had any since two weeks ago and the ski hill needs more. It is a bit sketchy at the summit and only one run from the top is open. If we don't get more snow quickly, that run will deteriorate from all the skier traffic it has to maintain.

Snow is forecast for this week, but the temperatures are supposed to rise, as well. I hope that doesn't mean that unmentionable four-letter "R" word.
Although, if it happens here in the valley, it will often fall as snow at higher altitudes. I am going to keep my fingers crossed that the temperature remains below freezing and the clouds moving in unload lots of the white stuff upon us!!

I will pray for snow...

Monday, December 19, 2005

SKIING, SOAKING and STAFF PARTIES


The weekend was very busy.
I took the two girls and a friend up to the ski hill on Saturday morning. Our son stayed behind to go to work with his dad.

I almost forgot to bring my skis!
As it turned out, I did forget my ski boots...
No worries, the ski rental shop had a complimentary pair that I was able to use. They weren't as comfortable as mine, but they worked and we had a good day on the hill.
My older daughter and her friend disappeared as soon as we got there - no being seen snowboarding with Mum!
My younger daughter and I took a warm up run down below. It was COLD!
The sky was as clear as a bell, with not a single sign of a cloud. The sky was a deep blue, complimenting the thick layer of snow on the trees.
I had heard there was a bit of an inversion, where the air temperature is warmer at a higher altitude, so we headed straight up to the summit for our next run.
It was cold riding the three lifts to get there, but we were rewarded. It was about ten degrees warmer at the top. We stopped in at the summit hut and shared a large chocolate chip cookie and a cup of hot cocoa.
The views were spectacular, a real view of one thousand peaks, to be sure!
After warming up, we headed back downhill. The snow was nice and easy to ski.
On the way, we met up with one of my friends. My daughter headed all the way back to the bottom to go play on the bunny hill and my friend and I headed back up for another run in the sun!
By the time we reached the bottom, it was time for me to gather the kids and head home back down the mountain.

My husband and I packed for overnight. I had to pack lots, because I'm a girl...
Well, I had to bring all my makeup, good clothes, bathing suit and another change of clothes.
I brought a duffel bag, my husband had his stuff in a grocery bag...
Doesn't that say it all?

Our eldest looked after her two younger siblings. It was her first overnighter. They all did great!
I rented "The Fabulous Four" and "The Polar Express" for them to watch, so that helped keep everyone occupied before bed.

Our soak in the hot springs was delicious! The air was cold and the snow lay all about. The water was hot and steamy.
What a wonderful way to end the day!
But, it wasn't over yet...

We met in the hotel dining room for cocktails, followed by a great meal of roast beef, ham and all the fixings!
After dinner we carried on with music, dancing and a game of poker!
It was after midnight when we made our way back to our luxurious room.
In the morning we met in the dining room for a big buffet breakfast. The spread was marvelous.

We got home just before noon.
The rest of the day was spent watching Christmas shows on TV.
We had pizza in the living room for dinner before going to bed.

What a nice weekend!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

MY FAVOURITE MOUNTAIN


This is a photo of Mount Assiniboine in the Canadian Rockies. The credit for the photo goes to Russ Heinl.
Although, I do wish that I could say it was I who took the picture!!

One of the things that I found interesting, is that I can see this mountain from both of my favourite ski destinations.
It can be seen from the east at a resort in Alberta and is also viewed from an entirely different direction at the resort where ski here at home.
The two resorts are almost one hundred miles apart!

We call Mount Assiniboine "the Matterhorn of the Rockies" because of its triangular shape, similar to that of the famous mountain in the Swiss Alps. The shape is not quite as evident in this particular photo, though.
We can also catch a glimpse of the mountain on the road through the national park toward Banff. If one knows when and where to look, it shows itself briefly among some other peaks along the way.
Some day I will hike in to this wild and spectacular place!

Today we are heading up skiing after breakfast.
In order to be back down the mountain in time, we are going to leave earlier than usual and miss the apres ski with all our friends.
Once the three kids are organised and ready for the night, with supper arranged, along with entertainment in the form of two movies, my husband and I are heading to my staff Christmas Party.
It is being held at a nearby resort with natural hot springs in which to soak. It will be a welcome respite after a day on the slopes!
Then on to dinner and entertainment.
We are so looking forward to it!

I am hoping to be able to "poke my head in the door" of Molly's chat room before I leave for the evening!

Friday, December 16, 2005

CREATIVE BLOGGING

Here is another photo of our tree that I took at the same time as the previous one. It is a bit crooked and it looks as though the poor little thing is about to fall over!

I had to do a bit of thinking as to how I was going to post a photo in the first place.
In the end, I borrowed the digital camera from work, brought it home, took the pictures, brought it back to work the next day, downloaded the images to the computer there, then e-mailed them back to myself on my own computer, saved them and then uploaded them to blogger.
How's that for getting creative?

Here's a little footnote to my "bare my soul" post from yesterday -
I just reread it and I hope it doesn't make me appear a raging alcoholic! LOL

It didn't get nearly that far. It was a bit of an early wakeup call for me, that's all, and I learned some interesting things from the experience.
Again, I was one of the lucky ones who was able to get out before it was too late.

Today is day three of my make-over!
So far so good...

Thursday, December 15, 2005

FEELING BETTER (about myself)


This is a photo of one of my favourite couples! I would also like to consider them friends.
They have brought to me music, wonder and even a little intrigue.
As artists who are in the public eye, they have managed to remain "normal" - from my point of view...
They help make me feel happy!

Now, to change the subject entirely...

I think I am going through that middle age mother thing.
I am beginning to spread around my own middle - oh, Lord help me! I admit it.
In recent months I feel as though I have been "letting myself go". I have gained more than a few pounds - and I don't mean the UK equivalent to our dollar! Ten pounds, to be exact.
And then there are the ten pounds I gained over the two previous years...
I have been fortunate enough to look younger than my years over the course of my life. I believe that comes from having a positive outlook and a healthy, active lifestyle.

The past year though, I have been staying home more and more. Therefore, not allowing myself to breathe fresh air, exercise my body, or feed my soul.
Financial matters have become worse, although I know they will improve in the long run.
That can be a huge strain on one's well-being.

I have begun a bit of a self make-over recently.
I have managed to cut back on my alcohol consumption considerably.
I was going through denial of what was happening in my life.
"Let the alcohol take care of my troubles..."
Before long the alcohol itself becomes trouble - I am no idiot and I know full well what I was doing.

I now feel much better, both psychologically and physiologically.
The troubles are still there, but I am able to meet them head on and I am dealing with them.

It has, in actuality, been a very interesting experience. I can now see how and why one may be easily drawn in to alcoholism.
My eyes have been opened and my mind has taken recognition.
I am very lucky.

I will now bare my soul with an excerpt from a piece that I wrote to myself several months ago:


" Why am I writing this? Why the need to change, if my life is good? I believe I can do better and be a better person. I have slipped into a lifestyle that is not productive and potentially destructive. During the past year, I became overwhelmed and I began to avoid facing day-to-day life. My own expectations of myself grew to unreasonable proportions and I figuratively jumped ship.

And I landed smack in the middle of a wine bottle...

To be honest, it is not a bad place to be - some of the time. That is the reason I ended up there. I could simply wrap myself in the state of euphoria the bottle had to offer and muffle the world around me. Unfortunately, that state does not exist forever and the little things I was attempting to ignore piled up in front of me. By the time I slowly opened my eyes again, those little things had grown into a mountain.

It was a short dive back into that warm, fuzzy bottle...

The odd thing about what was happening was that I knew what I was doing. It was not as though I had no choice. I walked into this with open eyes and my head held high. I take full responsibility for my fallen star. I also take full responsibility for my education.

No event in life is for naught. There is a reason for every happening, no matter how great or insignificant in appearance. Every moment has its threads that create a web for the fabric of our lives that radiate from us, moving out to become our lifetime. I discovered that there is no particular point that one can define as "the" moment, for they are all woven together to create a whole that is constantly shifting and changing. I found myself searching for that elusive point at which to alter my direction.

An apparent lesson in futility that washed ashore in yet another empty bottle..."


It has been an undulating road since, but I believe I have been successful in my endeavour!

I do not regret the experience.
It is part of my life and has helped to mould who I am.
It is something that I will bring with me for the rest of my days and, most importantly, I have learned from it.

I will now apply that lesson to help create a simple, healthy diet and an exercise routine for me.

My challenge to myself is to lose twenty pounds by July 2006 - and have fun doing it!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

"CLEMENTINE"


This is our Christmas tree!

My nine-year old son christened her "Clementine".
My kids had a go and decorated the dear thing...
Oh, we so love the Christmas Season!!

That is my fifteen-year old daughter lying on the couch beside the tree - watching TV.

Our house is very small and has an open area concept, which is good. If we had walls, it would appear even smaller!

If you look closely near the top right hand corner of the photo, there is a sketch of Pete Townshend that I did a couple of years ago. Below it is a sketch of Keith Moon. I am quite proud of the drawings.
I wish I had more time for my artwork...

People chuckle about the fact that I have portraits of "The Who" on the same wall as the school portraits of my children!
It has to be that way, due to the lack of wall space...

That's my excuse anyway.

Monday, December 12, 2005

MOLLY'S CHAT ROOM


This is a photo of mountain biking in our "backyard".
I no longer do downhill riding - I'd rather watch.
Much safer.
I broke my ribs and wound up with very large boo-boos after a fall riding down a trail at the ski hill.
So, I stick to cross-country now...
Much fun!

I attended Molly's chat room last evening while waiting for supper after skiing. I have never been in a chat before and found it a bit intimidating at first.
How was I to follow all those conversations??
I was with friends, though, and they helped guide me.
Although I was not able to see the Basement Jam on my computer, it was fun none-the-less!

Thanks to all of you for the chat!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

BANFF IN MY HEART


This is a photo of Cascade Mountain in Banff, Alberta, Canada.
At sunrise.

Banff is my favourite town. I have been to many places in Canada and this place has a special hold over me.
I settled in the area in the 1980's. I was merely driving through on my way from Vancouver to attend university in Ontario to study for my teaching degree.
I made it no further than Banff.

Having been there many times previously as a visitor, the place held a certain attraction.
It is difficult to explain, but it was like a magnet.
The earth there had a draw both physically and spiritually for me.
It was a place where I felt entirely at home - where I belonged.
And it still is...

I grew into the person I am while living and working in Banff.
In the years before, I felt that I had been waiting for... something.
I had been soul searching.
In the mountains I became reborn.

I met kindred spirits with a love for the great peaks and valleys and the adventures they offered.
While I worked there, I also skied, hiked, camped, rode horseback, lived, loved and gave birth to my oldest child.

Although I now live an hour's drive away - west through the mountains, in a valley no less beautiful - I cannot pass by Banff without being drawn in.
I might pause for lunch, take a walk or simply drive down Main Street on my way.

I cannot pass without saying Hello and Thank You.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

SKIING DAY ONE


Sunrise over the Rockies.

Yesterday was opening day at our local ski resort, as many of you know!!

Like I haven't spoken of it for weeks now...

The day was grand.
We woke up to snow falling, but that soon turned into a clear, sunny day. The temperature hung at about -10 C. Perfect!

I rose early and went about my regular morning chores, as well as making sure all our ski equipment and clothing were all in order.
Skis, boots, poles, snowboard, hats, neck warmers, mitts, goggles, helmets and a bag packed with extra hats, neck warmers, mitts, goggles...

After breakfast, I dropped the two younger ones at elementary school. My older daughter came into town with me to catch the bus up to the hill and I went to work just down the street from the bus stop. Half an hour later my daughter showed up at my work. The bus had not arrived.
Oh....

A quick scramble ensued, but it all worked out with my daughter catching a ride with my friend who had room in her vehicle. I was to meet them up there later.
I worked till noon and on my way home picked up my younger kids from school. We quickly got ready and out the door. We stopped for some fast food on the way.
Fast food used to be cheap...

The drive to the hill was beautiful. The sun was shining and the scenery a winter spectacle along the way.
When we arrived we unloaded the van and loaded ourselves with the equipment then went to organise our lockers. As season pass holders, we have the opportunity to rent lockers for the season. Very handy.

It was like deja vu...
All the regulars in the locker room, getting our boots and helmets on, chasing the kids down and making sure of that last visit to the bathroom...
My kids had so much fun. My son, the cautious mini-genius, had a great time, too.
Last year, by the end of the season he refused to ski. He was screaming and in tears on the hill. Poor little fellow. We encouraged him throughout the off-season, but not too much. We want him to ski, but it has to be his idea. We want him to want to.
A usual run is led by my younger daughter, followed by me - keeping an eye on her and waiting for my son. By the end of the day he was laughing and beating us to the bottom!
That was reward enough for me!

My last run was on my own. The kids waited at the bottom for me. While riding the lift up, I saw my two friends and managed to time it right to meet them. We took a ride further up the mountain and had an excellent, if not leg-burning, run back down to the bottom.
All three of my kids met us there.
We ended the afternoon with a drink of pop in the bar where we reunited with many or our other ski friends. We regaled each other with stories of our travels and adventures from the past summer.

Our drive back down the mountain was beautiful.
It was dark, the moon was rising over the crest of the dark bulk of the mountains with the evening star complimenting its glow.

We are decorating our Christmas tree this morning, then heading back up for another fun afternoon in the snow and the sun.

I will attempt to post a photo of our tree next week.

Friday, December 09, 2005

THIS IS IT!


This is what we skiied today.

The weather, the snow, the company, the hill, the skiing - all perfection!!!

The fog is the snow making in action.

Adios until tomorrow...

LIFT OFF!!

We're off to the lifts today!

I hear the snow is great.
I'll tell you all about it later!

Yodeladedo!!!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

ONE!


REMEMBERING JOHN LENNON...

John was the first rock star I fell in love with.

There have only been two since - Keith Moon (RIP) and Pete Townshend.
Only one of those stars is still alive...
And kicking butt, to boot!

John was a gentle soul who rallied for peace, harmony and humanity.
In an ironic twist of brutal and calculated fate, he was brought down violently.
He died of several gunshot wounds to the chest from point blank range in front of his New York City apartment exactly twenty-five years ago.

God Rest Your Soul, John.
I will remember you forever...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

TWO!


This photo is a view of the base of the mountain from one of the bottom runs.

Friday is going to be a big day!

Most of the high school kids will be taking that day off to go skiing/boarding on opening day.
I'm quite strict about my children attending school, but opening day happens only once a year!
My older daughter will be going up to the hill first thing in the morning, therefore missing the entire school day!

I am working that morning, but taking the afternoon off.
As soon as I'm done about noon, I will be flying home to change. The elementary school gets out at 12:30 on Fridays, so I'm picking up the two younger ones and we're all off to the slopes for the rest of the afternoon!

Only in ski country...

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

THREE!

I am working at home today.
Cold outside! It was -22 degrees C when I woke up. Oh, Brrrrrr...
The sun is shining, the sky is a deep, clear blue and frost has taken a firm hold round the window panes.
Our Christmas tree is up and we will decorate it this evening in front of the fire.

I hope it warms up a bit before Friday...

Monday, December 05, 2005

FOUR!

It's Monday morning before sunrise (as usual).
The snow is falling! Again!
The temperature dropped to only -12 C last night.

I am sorry for those who were not able to get a decent feed for Rachel's show. I know that Matt Kent did the best he could. Experiments don't always work out first try...

I am happy for those who were able to be a part of the audience at the studio!
What fun they must have had!
And what a talented cast they were lucky enough to see!
I'm looking forward to checking their blogs later on today...

Sunday, December 04, 2005

FIVE

In exactly one week it will be my third day on the hill!

Yippee!

COLD, SNOWY SUNDAY

Today is Rachel and Petes' Basement Jam being held at Pete's Oceanic Studio in London, UK.
Some of my lucky blogger friends are going to attend!
I won't be able to be there, of course, and I am not able to watch it on my computer.
I will do my best to be in Molly's chatroom with the others who are able to watch.
I hope my silly old computer will let me! I am having trouble printing out Chapter Twelve of Pete's novella this morning. I will try again later.
Here's wishing everything goes well for the performers, the audience and those watching on their computers!
What an amazing event Pete and Rachel are so kind to present! It's free, to boot!

This morning has dawned clear, crisp and cold. The temperature dropped to -21 C over night.
It is a very lovely sight.
Now that the sun is ingniting the eastern sky, the beauty of our valley is greeting me.
Tree boughs are draped in a thick mantle of virgin white snow.
Mountain peaks are cast in the pink alpenglow of sunrise.
The air is crisp and clear with woodsmoke from neighbouring chimneys rising in sharp contrast to the sky.
The landscape is a velvet white carpet.

My, I am waxing poetic this fine, cold morning!

This afternoon we are going to see the little Santa Claus parade in town. We will be dressing in our woollies, snowsuits with our Sorels on our feet. I will pack a thermos full of hot cocoa, too.
After the parade we are going to buy our Christmas tree. Out with the decorations this afternoon!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

SMOOTH LEGS

Well, I finally did it.
I found out how long my leg hairs grow in three weeks!
All I can say is, I am glad I am blonde!

Ahhh, to have silky-feeling, nicely moisturized legs again...

SIX MORE DAYS!!!

PLAYING WITH TEMPLATES

All I wanted to do was create some links!
Now my blog looks like it's had a major make-over.
I made some changes back to what it was and previewed it - looks OK.
But when I bring up my blog, it still looks awful...
So, maybe I'll need to post something for the change back to show up.

Here goes!

Well, it looks no better.

I'll wait a day...

Friday, December 02, 2005

FUNNY BRITISH SAYINGS

It's a cock up...

I'll run you over...

or I'll knock you up...

The telly is the TV, not the telephone...

I could think of more, but I'm out of time.

ONE MORE WEEK!

Thursday, December 01, 2005