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ExUrbanis

Urban Leaving to Country Living

Taking a Break

December18

Life is overwhelming me.

Since my surgery (spinal fusion) in September 2015, I have been trying to regain the cleanliness and order in my life that I had been gradually losing over the ten years previous.

too much stuff 95 photo 60c7d882-c5a9-40e1-905a-68345450f8aa_zpsivyjchif.jpg

Add to life in general, the sorting of not only the things I brought back from my mother’s house in 2014, but the items we took out of Bill’s mom’s house a year ago when Ma went to a nursing home and the house she had lived in since 1955 was sold.

Add to that the fact that we are embarking on an extensive reno of our house to prepare for sale when Bill retires in three years, and that we are going to visit friends in Ecuador for a couple of weeks in the new year and I have to learn a least a little bit more Spanish than how to order two beers, and life is overwhelming me.

How, I asked myself, did I ever manage when I worked full-time? And what am I spending my time on now? The answer lies largely in the Internet. It wasn’t there before. And now I spend lots and lots of time reading book blogs and commenting, and posting to, and following up comments on, Exurbanis.

Taking a Break 300 photo acfaf7cd-3aa2-4477-a38a-aabf693a6cb4_zps2hfsnxzq.png

So I’ve decided to take a digital break. I’m not going to post to this blog except for the exceptions noted below. I’m not going to read other book blogs and I’m not going to comment. I’m not going to spend time on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media.

I am going to clean and sort and paint. I’m going to clear up backlogged projects, including my “Books Read” record, so you will see those posts as I get them done up (and I will gratefully read all your comments although I may not be able to respond). But other than that, my computer time is going to be severely limited.

 photo 4a58718d-ce92-4980-8cc8-9acbc7b15d45_zpsi66vyhtj.pngI’ll miss you all but please know that my silence isn’t because I don’t love you all. I just need to get my sane world back. I hope to be back by the time summer comes again to Nova Scotia.

posted under Just Me | 20 Comments »

The Daylilies are in Bloom Again

July24

(Does anyone remember Katherine Hepburn’s famous line in Stage Door, 1937: “The calla lilies are in bloom again.”)?

When we moved here, there were several daylily plantings that have all thrived and grown. They really need to be divided this fall!

daylilies photo 2016-07-24 daylilies 2 400_zpss6aofcbp.jpg

A sea of colour. Unlike many parts of the country (I’m thinking of you, Ontario) we had lots of rain and cool weather in June so the garden is somewhat lush.

daylilies with bench photo 2016-07-24 daylilies w bench 400_zpsryhlv7rb.jpg

A sunny spot to sit for a minute.

 

Snapshot Saturday 21May16

May21

Southern France 2014: Cows in the yard, in the heart of the village.  

Cows in the village photo French cows in the yard_zpsbxpsm0gm.jpg
 

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads. To participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken and then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky at West Metro Mommy Reads.

Saturday Snapshot 14May16

May14

Southern France – shouldn’t that be ARRÊTEZ?

French stop sign--- photo IMG_3059 450_zpsgczklift.jpg
 

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads. To participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken and then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky at West Metro Mommy Reads.

ANYBODY OUT THERE? . . .there . . . there . . .

March31

I have been absent from my blog for many, many, many months although I have been trying to keep current in the blogosphere, reading your posts and sometimes (alas, infrequently) commenting on them.

I had been keeping myself from a presence here until I could get all of my books records up to date but they are getting so far behind now that the thought is overwhelming (although I do still intend to finish them up) and I’ve decided to break radio silence and start posting again without meeting that goal first.

 photo keep calm Im back_zps57sj0bvz.png

 
 
So, this is just to notify you that I will be turning up in your readers and inboxes again, if there are any of you still out there. I won’t be posting every day, or maybe not even every week, but I’d like to at least make your acquaintance again.
 

SAD TIMES or Why I’ve Fallen of the Face of the (Blogging) Earth

July8

Okay, so I was never the most regular of bloggers and I was way behind in 2013, just giving you my monthly reading summaries.
It was July when I posted “Books Read in May”.
It was October before I posted “Books Read in June”.
But I was this close to posting July’s books in November – and truly, really, catching up before the year-end.

And then my mother died. Very suddenly, very unexpectedly. If you’ve lost your mom, you know what a life-changing event this is. It’s like losing the solid ground you’re standing on. And , for good or for bad, we will all go through it.

 photo rug-pulled-out-warning_zps2b8c6dd2.jpg

To add to my unmooring, I became responsible for sorting through Mom’s things, a task that took five months half a continent away from my husband, my friends, and my home.

And while I was gone, we lost both of our dogs. One, to old age: an expected ‘put-to-rest’, but the other to an agonizing death due to a cancerous tumour on his spleen that burst at the worst possible time to obtain veterinary help.

Thus, I’ve reeled through the past seven months. And, it may seem, I’ve fallen off the face of the earth.

It’s very possible that no one out there cares, but I’ve come to rely on my blog as my personal record of books read. So for my benefit, if for NO one else’s, I’ll be posting throughout the next few weeks to at least catch up last year’s reading record.

It’s part of rebuilding the ground under my feet.

Saturday Snapshot: Baby Quilt

May18

My new grandbaby is due to arrive this weekend and I’m having a hard time being patient.

This is the quilt I made for them: machine-quilted, but it’s the first pieced quilt I’ve ever made – and some of the first sewing in 25 years.

baby quilt photo babyquilt002450_zpsed8c8df2.jpg

I really had no idea how to properly piece a quilt, but last year I saw a quilting frame in my neighbour’s front room when I stopped to buy some fresh eggs. So I did what I never would have had the nerve to do in the city: I phoned her and asked for help.

She and her daughter invited me to their home and spent a morning teaching and helping me with this project. I will be forever grateful for country neighbours!

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce of At Home With Books.


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Who Wants Mail?

April22

The month is nearly over and I almost missed it!

snail mail photo snail_mail_zpsbcf4e964.gifThe United States Postal Service has named April to be National Card and Letter-Writing Month. The USPS’s goal is to boost written—and mailed—communications to build relationships through cards and letters. “Touch them with a letter they can feel – and keep,” they say.

Maya Angelou is widely attributed with saying, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

How long has it been since you’ve received a real card or letter in the mail? Snail mail? Probably far too long. But if it’s recent enough to recall, perhaps you can remember that it did indeed ‘touch you’.
Wouldn’t you like to make someone else feel that way? Maya says they’ll never forget it.

I’ve said before: I love mail. While the USPS’s goal of increasing snail mail is admittedly self-serving, I endorse it whole-heartedly. Here’s what I want to say:

 photo TheRodgerssign225_zpse22a0b36.jpg1. Stop right now and think of someone in your life who needs to be appreciated. Send him or her a card or letter today.

Say thank-you, say I love you, say I’m thinking of you, I miss you, get well, happy anniversary, I appreciate you, I’m sorry, welcome to the neighbourhood, have a good trip, good work, it was nice to meet you . . .you get the picture. Just say something and get it in the mail!

2. No matter where you are in the world (I want to take mail-sending international), if you’d like to get some snail mail yourself, just send an email (the irony is not lost on me) to debbie at Exurbanis (dot) com and give me your name and snail mail address. I’d love to send you a note to say ‘hi’.

TRUE CONFESSION: My INBOX Overfloweth!

March26

I have a confession to make: for the past few months, I have had a growing creature on the corner of my desk. It was my INBOX.

In the dark days of winter when I couldn’t face making decisions, everything went into my INBOX – for the “next” time I was at my desk; I would deal with it then.

It started out so innocently (4 years ago) like this:
 photo InBoxMar13emptybox450_zpsc8720905.jpg
(It was in better shape then.)

But the pile outgrew the box and reached the point where it couldn’t support itself. So I put it in this:
 photo InBoxMar13smallampmiddle450_zps111e1c99.jpg
(See how nicely it fits!)

Alas, even that didn’t last and I had to find another box:
 photo InBoxMar13bigampmiddle450_zpsd2d00627.jpg
(See all the room around the red box? That’s extra space for “stuff!”

No question about it: my INBOX was threatening to physically take over my office, as well as burdening me with lots and lots of guilt. Mind you, I have a number of other baskets to cull, but they’re project files, not current items that keep me awake at night.
 photo InBoxMar13A450_zps9b44143c.jpg
(This is “BEFORE”.)

I don’t know how she did it but my favourite organizing guru, Jen Hofmann at Inspired Home Office, threw me a life-preserver last week, in the form of her monthly newsletter, Juicy Gems. The subject line read: What to do with the baby elephant on your desk.

Jennifer wrote that newsletter especially for me; I know she did. So, I listened to her advice. It was brilliant!

I had my husband carry the box down to the dining room table, and I dumped it out upside down (one of Jen’s tactics). I spent many 5 minutes periods over the next couple of days standing (another two of Jen’s tips) at the table, sorting.

I pushed anything paper that was no longer relevant down to the edge of the table where my husband picked it up each time he walked past to go to the basement to feed the wood furnace. (Yet one more of Jennifer’s hints – not that the paper be burned, but that disposal be easy).

When I got to the bottom of my pile, I had several smaller piles that I knew exactly what to do with: file, return to shelf, put away in drawers, and so on. This was all in my INBOX – and probably half again as much paper but Bill took it away too fast to be photographed.
 photo InBoxMar13netcontents450_zps629d3738.jpg

AND I have new INBOX:
 photo InBoxMar13endresult450_zps5ea8ad0e.jpg
(This is “AFTER”.)

I know it still looks like a lot to do, but it works for me. And I’m so proud that I just had to share it.

SO – what’s the state of your inbox? As bad as mine was? Worse?

posted under Just Me | 10 Comments »

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Box

February6

One of the pitfalls of moving to the country is the same for moving anywhere – you leave family. Nearly all of our family is in Ontario (where we spent our first five decades), about a 1,700 km (1,000 miles) drive. Visiting can be expensive and there’s only so many vacation days available in a year.

250So when I saw this idea in Real Simple Magazine a couple of years ago, I jumped on it. I took a large shoe box, covered it in old maps, and lined it with fabric. Then I filled it with small gifts that I had picked up in my day to day travels, and sent it to my sister.

We call it our “sister safe” and it travels back and forth between us at erratic intervals. When I got a parcel notice in my mail box last week, I had no idea what was waiting for me at the post office. It was surprise gifts from my little sis.

Sister box contents

Here’s what was in the box, all individually wrapped in tissue paper. Delightful! Thanks, Jul!


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The Catching of Mice

January5

Here’s the thing: country living in an old farmhouse = mice in the house.

We’ve seen several mice hiding in the basement woodpile this winter so my husband set traps. (Country living tip: rodent traps are more effective set perpendicular to the walls along which the mice run.)

My three-year-old grandson has a toy snake that he threw down the basement several times without explaining why (and people brought up each time they fed the furnace). Crying, he explained, “I keep throwing my snake down and somebody keeps bringing it up. It needs to be down to catch the mice.” We couldn’t argue with the logic, so left the snake on the basement floor.

After my husband checked his trap-line this morning, here’s what Steven found.

snake and mouse

He could not believe his eyes (after all, he knows it’s a toy snake), but once he took things in, he was delighted! Ah, the joys of grandparenthood (in the country).

What Makes a 3-Year-Old Cry?

October5

Our three-year-old grandson has a pretty happy disposition and not much gets him down, but he was in tears this morning. We’re having a bit of a blow here on the east coast – a nor-easter with lots of rain and winds that are gusting to 100 km/hr (60mph). The ‘breezes’ caught the tree that held the start of the tree-house that Grampa is building for Steven – and took it out by the roots. Tire swing’s gone, too.

treehouse down

The silver lining? As Steven, who never cries for long, says: “I can fill up that hole with water and jump in the B-I-G puddle!”

A Little Bit About Me

September26

I’ve found that some of the blogs I enjoy the most are the ones where I know a little about the person behind it. So, I picked this up from A Sorta Fairy Tale and thought I’d complete it A-Z. Some of these questions are not the ones I’d ask (or answer) but sometimes what other people want to know is what they want to know!

More book and country related posts this week…

A. Age: 57
B. Bed size: King (& pillow-top) and I can’t imagine going smaller now
C. Chore that you hate: Cleaning the toilets
PWes & FarlowD. Dogs: Wes, a yellow Lab and Farlow, whose mom is a Valley Bulldog & dad is presumed to be a German Shepherd. All of our dogs have been named after guitar players (Django Reinhardt, Chet Atkins, Lenny Breau, Wes Montgomery, Tal Farlow)
E. Essential start to your day: swing my legs over the edge of the bed!
F. Favourite colors: Wedgewood blue, soft gold and forest green
G. Gold or Silver: Silver
H. Height: 5’8”
I. Instruments you play: the piano (although I haven’t for years, so maybe I don’t)
J. Job title: Card Sender & blogger – and volunteer minister
K. Kids: a lovely red-headed grown daughter
L. Live: Tatamagouche Nova Scotia
M. Mother-in-law’s name: Eileen
N. Nicknames: Deb, Auditor-general
O. Overnight hospital stays: to have my tonsils out when I was 5, to have my daughter (decades ago), other surgery in 2001
P. Pet peeves: television! (It rots your brain…)
Q. Quote from a movie: it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. (Casablanca 1942)
R. Right or left handed: Right handed.
S. Siblings: four, all younger
T. Time you wake up: Usually between 7 & 8 a.m. (I used to be in the office every day at 7:30, so this is sleeping in)
U. Underwear: Yes
V. Vegetable you hate: Fennel
W. What makes you run late: Trying to do just one more thing…
X. X-Rays you’ve had: Dental, my arm, my foot, my other foot…c’mon I’m nearly sixty, there’s likely lots more I can’t remember
Y. Yummy food that you make: pasta with fresh garlic, tomatoes & basil
Z. Zoo animal: Elephant. I’ve always had a weakness for them.

And I love to get know my readers. What about you – want to answer one of these?


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Summer’s Swan Song – a September Day at the Beach

September15

I was out doing volunteer work yesterday afternoon and got quite warm in the car. Each time we drove past an ocean view, the water looked so blue & inviting that I thought of stopping the car and just diving in.
catching the waves
Today promised to be as warm so we decided to make a last run to the beach. (Much cooler weather is forecast, starting tomorrow.) That ol’ Atlantic was darn cold – and rough, what with the stiff breeze coming in, but my three-year-old grandson had a ball while his mom & I sat in the sun.

making sand castles

Even if we have a very warm Indian summer next month, this will probably be our last beach trip for the year. Bittersweet.


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Book Review: UNFINISHED BUSINESS: One Man’s Extraordinary Year of Trying to Do the Right Things by Lee Kravitz

August8

4 star rating

What would you do if you suddenly lost your high-powered, high-pressure job in a declining industry, and received a year’s severance pay? Hit the pavement? Take up a hobby? Stay under the covers?

Unfinished Business,Lee KravitzThe author of Unfinished Business: One Man’s Extraordinary Year of Trying to Do the Right Things, Lee Kravitz, faced just such a situation in his mid-fifties. After taking stock of seemed to be a very successful life, he decided to spend that year reconnecting to the people in his life. As he says:

As good as my life looked on paper, it was sorely lacking in the one area that puts flesh on meaning: human connectedness.

We all have the kind of unfinished business to which Kravitz refers in the title of his book—emotional loose ends: old friends we’ve lost touch with, promises we made but didn’t keep, family we’ve grown apart from, things unsaid that need saying.

By the time we reach our fifties, most of us have accumulated a long list of such items, partly because we think we’ll get to them later, we need our own time, we’re busy with other things, or it’s just too difficult to or embarrassing to carry through. It’s true that as Kravitz says,

If we remembered how we could be separated from our loved ones at any moment, we would accumulate a lot less unfinished business.

In Kravitz’s year of making amends, he set out on ten ‘journeys’, including catching up with a loved aunt who had drifted out of his life, making an over-due condolence call, paying a 30-year-old debt to an associate, looking up a mentor of his youth, and visiting a high-school friend who is now a Greek Orthodox monk. Along the way, he gains insights into himself and into what really makes a life – his and ours.

Reading this book has made me aware of the emotional loose ends in my own life, but being aware and taking the time and effort to do something are two different things. Lee KravitzKravitz recognized how much of a struggle it would be to keep up the rekindled relationships on an on-gong basis once he ‘re-entered his life’. He determined to make time, and so should we all. I would be interested in a follow-up from Kravitz: how has he handled that intention?

Of course, you’ll relate to this book if you’re a baby-boomer, beginning to question the value of what you’re achieved thus far in life, but don’t wait until then. Read this at twenty, thirty, or forty and perhaps you’ll prevent some of the regret that comes of losing touch over the years with the people you care about. After all, as Kravitz says:

Life goes fast. Click. You are fifteen. Click, click. You are fifty-five. Click, click. You are gone. And so are the people who loved and nurtured you.

Link for my Canadian readers:

Unfinished Business

Note: Amazon.ca is charging twice as much (19.44) as Amazon.com ($10.00 for hardcover), so if you’re in Canada, I’d suggest the Kindle version:

Unfinished Business: One Man’s Extraordinary Year of Trying to Do the Right Things

Book Review: The Daughter-in-Law Rules by Sally Shields

October6

The Daughter-in-Law RulesFirst, let’s be sure you have this right. This is NOT the “daughter-in-law rules” as in “the cat rules, the dog drools” but as in rules of behavior for daughters-in-law or “101 Surefire Ways to Manage (and Make Friends with) Your Mother-In-Law”.
Read the rest of this entry »

There are Stories to be Told: Start a Family Tradition

July27

One of the most rewarding ways to use your larger outdoor living space in the country is to gather your family members for a reunion. Perhaps it’s a small group that gets together annually, or a large one whose far-flung members attend every two or five or even 10 years.

Whether large or small, a reunion is a wonderful opportunity to knit families closer together through shared stories. In the much-underrated 1990 film Avalon, a Russian immigrant to 1940s America relates the disintegration of his family ties. In his young manhood, his children gathered at the feet of older relatives during family gatherings and listened to tales of their heritage and history. As television took hold of society in the late ’50s, children and adults alike opted for the entertainment of television personalities, instead of the stories of their roots.

And just as the art of listening to stories has gone by the wayside, so has the art of telling them. Here’s how to re-start a tradition of storytelling at your family reunion. Read the rest of this entry »

Thank You Power

May26

Two time Emmy winning newscaster Deborah Norville is a successful author of several books including her latest Knit with Deborah Norville, as well as Back on Track: How to Straighten Out Your Life When It Throws You a Curve, and two children’s pop-up books: I Don’t Want to Sleep Tonight and I Can Fly!

PhotobucketThe May issue of Success magazine contained an interview with Norville about her recent book Thank You Power: Making the Science of Gratitude Work for You.
Read the rest of this entry »

Sparking Imagination – Naturally

May12

Part of rural living, especially in more remote areas, is the simplification of your approach to life. Living so close to the natural world–hanging out clothes on the line, growing your own vegetables, watching the deer in the fields–makes you aware of things that are not real.

Take toys, for example. Read the rest of this entry »

Giving Back to Those Who Matter Most

March26

I read Success magazine every month at the suggestion of my business mentor. The articles are short & punchy; in fact, several features are only a paragraph or two. That makes it a lot easier for today’s busy professional to grab useful tidbits from its pages.

The regular “1 ON 1” column in the April 2009 issue asks the question: “What are some everyday ways I can give back more to the people in my life who matter most–family & friends?”

Denis Waitley, sought-after speaker and best selling author (including Seeds of Greatness) suggests this:Photobucket
“Take the time to send handwritten notes to those you care about. Text messages, voice mails and e-mails are convenient, but expedient. Be different. Send a card or note by regular mail.

I couldn’t agree more! The novelty has long worn off e-cards. Hand-written cards, Read the rest of this entry »

Every little bit of kindness is appreciated



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