Friday, July 30, 2021

FIFTY TWO

 

First birthday cake on my actual birthday.

Last month I celebrated my 52nd birthday, which was also my 2nd Covid birthday, so things were not as per normal. For close to a decade now, I've been celebrating my birthday with my cousin/friend, Andi, who's birthday is only 3 days before mine. We have certain traditions we try hard to stick to. We go to their place, she cooks lobster for us and something else for the boys, and only twice have I not taken care of the cake. I like to take care of the cake.   

Last year, due to Covid restrictions, we exchanged cake and lobster in a parking lot and went home to enjoy our goodies on our own. We were able to get together in July, but it was not the same. This year we celebrated together, safely outside, and it felt almost normal. 

My birthday was on a Thursday this year, and I was working from home. I had a little celebration with Rob over my lunch break before he left for work. We had both booked the Friday off to make it a long weekend. 

Happy birthday to me!
On our Friday off  we went for a nature walk and enjoyed drinks and lunch on a patio for the first time in months! First time visiting Harper's Landing, won't be our last. 
We were thrilled to see some Bobolinks on our outing. 

Enjoying drinks on a restaurant patio!!!

My Martini of choice, Vodka, dirty with 3 olives.
 Dave and Andi came over on Saturday to enjoy a birthday celebration in the backyard, and it was lovely.

Balloons for a festive feeling.

Lobster for lunch for us girls!

Table for two.

For that festive feeling.
Birthday cakes!
I ordered two birthday cakes again this year, just in case it rained and we couldn't get together and I had to deliver one to Andi. Her's was salted caramel and mine was strawberry, real strawberries, so good! Her's was delicious too.

Birthday Cake #2. 
  It wasn't our "normal" birthday get together, but it was still lovely. 


Friday, June 18, 2021

THE FOG IS LIFTING

 

Sunrise walk earlier this month.

It's been a rough couple of months but I finally feel like the fog that grief causes is lifting, if only a little. Some of you reading this may already know, but my father passed away in April. It was sudden and unexpected and it was heart breaking.

Dealing with the loss of a loved one at any time is difficult, dealing with it during the Covid pandemic added a whole other layer. I said my goodbyes to my Dad over the phone while he was laying in a hospital bed in Nova Scotia. I watched his funeral in my living-room while it live streamed with only five people in attendance. It all seems so surreal now.

My brother and I talked almost daily during the most difficult days. And I really don't know what I would of done without my Aunt Betty, Dad's younger sister. She took on a lot during this time that I couldn't do. Friends and family members reached out and helped in any way they could, and I am grateful.

I know I still have many difficult days ahead. I'm hoping to go to Nova Scotia in the Fall to bury my Dad's ashes next to Mom. 

I think about my parents daily, and even though I've done a lot of reminiscing the last couple months, the memories are a little harder on the heart the last couple days I've noticed. I think it's because Father's Day is Sunday. 

I wrote a few words to be read at Dad's service, and in honor of Father's Day and my dad, I am going to share them here.

And my daddy skinned his knuckles
On the cars that he repaired
He never earned much money
But he gave us all he had

He never made the front page
But he did the best he could
Folks drove the cars from miles around
And let 'em look underneath the hood

Those words are from country music singer, Alan Jackson’s song “Home”, written about his father, but they very well could have been written about our father, Layton MacAloney. Growing up on Dixon Court, there always seemed to be a car in the driveway on Saturdays that Dad was working on for a friend.

We lived on Dixon Court for many years. Dad always had time to chat with his neighbors and enjoyed teasing the neighborhood kids. He also liked to start up the lawnmower or power saw early on Saturday mornings to let his neighbors know it was time to be out of bed. 

In 1988 we moved to Johnson Avenue. Next door was a young family, Jan and Jackie Bates, they had three young sons to raise and for Dad to tease. They became neighbors by chance and remained friends by choice.

Dad had many hobbies through-out his life. When he was younger, he enjoyed driving stock car at various tracks. He drove at Onslow Speedway with his older brother, Carvel, when we were kids. We’d go clam digging, smelting and camping as a family.  When he retired, he bowled with the seniors’ league a couple times a week. Having family involved in harness racing had him going to the barn often and attending the horse races.   

Dad, for as long as we can remember was always on the go. Mom used to call it “running the roads”, but Dad truly was a social butterfly at heart, and he enjoyed going to visit his family and friends and he did it often.

In 1995 Dad took his first flight on a plane, to Saskatchewan for Jeff and Sandy’s wedding. Dad liked to joke that the only food the airplane served was eggs, he had them when they left from Halifax, and then again when they transferred in Toronto. Same thing on the return trip.  With the wedding and a touristy trip to the famous Buffalo Rubbing Rock we made some great family memories. He’d fly west a couple more times over the years to visit Jeff and his family, the last being for Xmas in 2017, when we celebrated Xmas together for the last time.

Some of you may not be aware, but Dad could be quite stubborn. When Mom passed away in 2012 we talked to him about moving into a senior’s residence where he wouldn’t have to worry about yard maintenance and maintaining the house. He happily remained in his house.   

Dad taught us many life lessons while we were growing up, some he’s not even aware of. We learned the value of hard work, the importance of a strong community network and that wealth is not always measured in dollars. 

Though my brother and I haven’t lived in Nova Scotia for many years, love knows no distance, and we will both miss our father dearly and long for one more conversation.

We take comfort in knowing he is no longer in pain or suffering. Dad has been reunited with Mom, his parents, siblings and countless friends.

We hope when you think of our Dad, you remember that Layton MacAloney grin, and smile or laugh at a memory you shared with him. He enjoyed a simple, but rich full life, and now it’s time for him to rest. He’s left us all with a heart full of memories that we will cherish until we see him again. 

If  you are seeing your Dad this coming Sunday please give him a big hug from me.

I love this picture of Rob, Dad and I taken in 2013.



     

Monday, March 1, 2021

WELCOME MARCH

 

My first and only Snowy Owl sighting this winter.

March 1st marks the first day of Spring in the meteorological calendar, and also in the birding world as well, for those who list their birds seasonally. I do not remember ever being happier to turn a calendar page to a new month as I was this morning.

I handled the first lock down much better than this past one. The last two months have seemed like a year long. I only left the house the last four weeks to go to work for a few hours every Thursday morning. I worked and hibernated at home the rest of the time, even forgoing my daily walks around the neighborhood and our regular Sunday morning nature walks. I spent my free time binge watching the Food Network and Netflix. 

I knew it was time to get moving again and got out for my first Sunday nature walk in weeks yesterday. I was  rewarded with my only Snowy Owl sighting of the winter. The turn of the calendar page this morning has made me feel more optimistic about the rest of the year, vaccines are starting to role out, migration is only a few weeks away, and the warmer weather is on it's way as well.

A coyote we saw on our walk yesterday. He was gone quickly when he realized we spotted him.

Another shot of the Snowy Owl seen yesterday. 

Even though this summer may not be "normal" again, I am looking forward to being able to enjoy our backyard once again, and the wildlife that visit us. It's time to shake off the cobwebs of the last couple months and start enjoying my life again, as best I can under the circumstances.        

Friday, February 5, 2021

FOODIE FRIDAY - CATERED CHRISTMAS

 



Yule Log for dessert, it was delicious! 

This past Christmas when the health officials asked us to only spend Christmas with those we live with, we did. We knew it was going to feel very different, but I wanted it to be special too. This was only Rob's second time not having Christmas dinner with his parents. The first being in 2017 when we flew to Alberta with my Dad to spend Christmas with my brother and his family.

I still had lots of turkey in the freezer for soups and pot pie from Thanksgiving. So when I saw an ad in my Facebook newsfeed for "Christmas Dinner for Two" from Encore Catering, I took a look. The menu looked lovely, and I thought the price was reasonable. After discussing it with Rob and having a couple questions answered from the company we decided to place an order. Rob doesn't get as much time off over the holidays as I do, so it was nice to really free up the day. I loved that they delivered, but our back-up plan if it didn't show up was pizza. I'm glad we didn't have to use the back up plan. 

Molly checking out the Christmas dinner box. 

All the goodies inside the box. 

The reheat instructions were perfect and easy. In the oven, not microwaved.

Table for two!

Everything was delicious and we even had a few leftovers.

I was in awe of the Yule Log and meringue mushrooms!

I added on a box of 4 Hot Chocolate bombs to our order. They were delicious! 

I will most definitely use this company again for catered meals for a special event or "just because", but next year I do hope we are all able to gather again around Rob's parents table for Christmas dinner.   

Friday, January 8, 2021

OWL SURPRISES

 

Screech Owl in our backyard, December 19th, 2016 

December 23rd, 2020 was my first full day of Christmas break, and it turned out to be quite a memorable day! 

Rob doesn't leave for work until around 1pm, so we were home together in the morning. That morning the Blue Jays were quite vocal and Rob noticed them swooping by the owl box, so we both kept a look out. Rob had seen an Eastern Screech Owl in that same box almost 4 years ago to the day, but I was at work that day and missed seeing it. That was the first time he had seen an owl our yard. 

At 9:30am it happened, Rob was downstairs, I looked out the window and there he was, another Eastern Screech Owl hanging his head out of the box! I called Rob quickly upstairs so he could see him. After a quick look, Rob went out the front door to walk around back to see if he could get a picture, but during this time, the owl ducked back down in the box to sleep the day away.

I kept a look-out all afternoon, and at 4pm he showed himself again. I texted Rob right away, and he asked me if could try to take a pic with his camera. I tried.

Eastern Screech Owl, December 23rd, 2020 

This was the best I could do. It's taken through the kitchen window, as I didn't want to flush him. I sat in the window and watched him for 2 hours. He spent a lot of time looking towards the back of the yard. Who knows what he was hearing. When it was getting dark he flew to one of the pine trees in front of our kitchen window, I could see him sitting there, and then he flew to a neighbors clothes line, before he flew off to hunt, and it was too dark for me to see him any longer. We really hope another Eastern Screech Owl visits us again.    

January 4th I was back to work, but Rob had the day off. We had got a tip of a Barred Owl being seen not far from home a few days earlier. My work day ends at 3:30pm, so we went for a dusk walk. I haven't seen a Barred Owl in many years. We were both very hopeful that we would see one on our walk. 

Barred Owl, January 4th, 2021

I spotted him while we were walking along a path in the area. If you ever see me giggling and doing a little jig while out in nature, it's a sure sign I have spotted an owl. It's not planned, all reaction. 

What a beauty!

As always, we didn't linger. A couple pics and good looks through our binoculars and we continued our walk. What a great start and end to my Christmas Break!