Summer 2013

I have missed a few months here, but life has been busy on the farm!   The lilacs were beautiful this year and on the few days we had the kitchen windows open, the perfume was heavenly.   It has been a great year for apples as well and the wild apple trees on our farm and down the country roads are laden.  Surprisingly, at least to us, our family of chipmunks climb the trees.   They appear to be going after the seeds and dispose of the rest of the apple on the ground.   It’s wasteful, we tell them, but the apples are sour.   The horses are also keen though.

Speaking of horses.   Our big sad note for the summer was having to put down our lovely black Icelandic, Tobi.   Despite numerous vet advice, diagnoses from horse clinics and trying everything we could think of, he was in considerable pain.  It was a hard time for all of us, but we could barely manage his pain.  We remember Tobi for his feistiness.   He loved to be groomed and to have someone hold his head and stroke him.  He was a beautiful little horse.


My husband’s brother brought his big grey quarterhorse, Remington Steele (Remy) over to keep our mare, Jora, company.   We are not sure if Remy will be allowed to stay with us, but Jora is relaxing with him.   For about a month, she was reluctant to leave the barnyard – we wondered if she thought Tobi would just show up.   We tried to keep her busy, with lots of riding.  Remy likes to play and they have devised a game coming in from the field.   Remy leads the way, but stops just ahead of Jora.   Jora walks along pretending nothing is going to happen, then bursts into a fury of speed and attempts to overtake Remy.  Of course, Remy always wins the race.   He is easily twice as large and looooves to move those feet.   For an old guy, he can shake a leg.

I finished the summer with a 4.5 hour trail/obstacle ride on a military base near Meaford, Ontario.   Jora held up beautifully, despite being the smallest horse out there.   She was patient and obedient with all the obstacles, willing to try anything, including approaching a scary camouflage netting.   The trail was challenging, about 17 km over fields, through swamp and woods and at one point, right through a military camp.   The following is a great picture of Jora in front of a Sherman tank.   We were still perky at the half way point of the 4.5 hour ride.

WWtanks 111-1


April in India

Jaipur India

Jaipur India

Oh my!   Elephants and camels and cows, of course.  This is India – hot, congested and doing just fine.   The stereotypes — cows wandering about, beautiful women in gorgeous saris, traffic, noise, plastic everywhere — abound.  But middle class India is on the move.  With well paying jobs, they are visiting their famous tourist sites and staying at top hotels.

Of note:

  • there are over 1 billion people in India, with 223 million schoolchildren.
  • in the south, and maybe the north, government schools are closing down as people send their children to religious or private schools because they are seen as the better choice and people can now afford them.
  • the roads are BUSY.   Over 1000 new cars per day on the streets of New Delhi.
  • condominiums are expensive, despite 10 percent (at the time) interest charges
  • the women are all beautiful.   Their saris are exquisite; even the poorest woman looks well-turned out
  • yes, there are still cows (and pigs and goats and camels) wandering about, but they all have owners and increasingly they are being tethered, at least in the cities.  The small towns and villages are the last to change
  • there is a palpable skepticism for government and government workers.   However, all Indians appear to love bureaucracy, so it’s hard to have one without the other.  An honest India would rule the world.
  • the handiwork (carpets, pashminas, jewellry, woodwork, marble, fabric) is gorgeous and the really good stuff is expensive.  As it should be.   People need to be paid, but it may cut back on tourist trade.
  • animals were well treated, by and large.   The cows, of course, as givers of nourishment, but also the dogs, considered to be the most faithful of animals by the Hindu.   The camels and elephants were expensive enough to merit good treatment.
  • the food was wonderful as were our accommodations

We used an excellent Indian travel agent who put together a tour for us.  As requested, we were met by a guide and driver at all airports, and were driven/guided about each location.   We went to Calcutta, Darjeeling, Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, and Cochin.   Guides and drivers were Hindu, Buddhist and Christian.   We saw their world through their eyes, a wonderful perspective.   We travel to learn and in that respect it was an A+ trip.

February 2013


Horses waiting at the gate.

February is definitely the coldest month here at Woods End.  Despite the longer days, there are more storms.   Mind you, we have had some days above freezing – warm enough to melt the snow at the sides of the roads so we could ride out.  Tobi is still very sore, so Peter and I take turns on Jora.   We have had a second vet in, who admitted he had no idea, but that he seemed to be lame in all four legs.   We are giving him complete rest.  The hare is getting friendlier.   Birds:  blue jays, woodpeckers, chickadees and finches.   Saw one of the local few White Snowy Owls.

Friend from Mississauga had his operation – very long, about 7 hours.   He will be in the hospital for a while, but is recovering step by step, day by day.

Peter and I have read a number of novels by Lee Child, the Jack Reacher series.   Lots of action and a credible hero, who seems to manage to kill everyone around him.   Highly enjoyable.

Back to Toronto for a second TSO (Toronto Symphony Orchestra) AND a Diana Krall (jazz piano).   Both performances were excellent.

Lots of contract work.  Love this work.   Finished house cleaning.   Took a two-day seminar on Happy Horse Health – learned about manure storage, pasture upkeep and how to assess a healthy horse.   Great courses, very well done.

January 2013

An interesting start to the New Year with major dental issues – a pain in the mouth and the pocketbook.   Files for Old Age Pension and anything left from taxes is going into a Tooth Fairy Account.   Dental bills keep going up, and I know, I know, we want dentists to be well educated, on top of things and with up to date equipment.  Still, the cost of a new crown has tripled in the past ten years, and my salary has not.

Peter turned 65 and we had a nice party with lots of seafood.   A lobster bisque to start, followed with grilled scallops and pasta, lemoncello to cleanse our palate, and then cake and ice cream.   Tea, coffee, Scotch.   Jackie and Mark were big helps, with guests John and Vicki, and Rick and Jann.   Lots of fun.

In Toronto for a Toronto Symphony and met up with friends from Mississauga for a pre-music dinner at Verona.  Very nice food.   He is looking at an operation to remove a lung – way better than chemo.

The Icelandic ponies are still digging through the snow, as it was not a very cold January.   Tobi is off again, although he does not have problems walking.  Still, he seems stiff.  We will have to watch him.  They are sharing the barn with a wild hare – a small one, probably born last summer.  We leave carrots and bits of apple out for him (her?).  With some patience I think we could tame it.

The following photo shows me pitching in hay for the evening meal.  We are using a product called “eco-traction” against the ice.  It works very, very well.


Days are getting longer and the sun just a tiny bit stronger.





Busy December

As always, Christmas overtook reason.  The Season was fun, though, with lots of relatives and friends visiting Woods End.  Son J flew in from Vancouver; he and his sister came up for a quiet family gathering for a weekend.

However, the festivities really started on Xmas Eve, with 30 family members gathered for a finger food buffet.  Great food and wine and talk.  Xmas Day was quiet, including a visit to Grandma (now 98) and then off to see “The Hobbit” at the movies.   On Dec 27, daughter and her husband M arrived in the late afternoon, for Xmas dinner.  Grandma was happy to join us for another dinner.   Dec 28 and 29 were full with a visit from S, daughter’s friend, X country skiing, movies and to partake in some Warm Yoga.

On cue, snow arrived on the 30th and the 31st – beautiful soft snow.  At one point, we all headed out, two on ponies, two on snowshoes and one on skiis, on our neighbour’s trails.  M is carrying a hatchet, not for the wolves, but to clear the trail.  The ponies love the woods and enjoyed their outing.

Walk in the Woods 2012

Walk in the Woods 2012


Our friends, B and N, and their two four-footed pets, came for New Year’s Eve.   Dinner was:  shrimp and lobster egg rolls, lobster bisque, begger’s purses with caviar, scallops in pasta, and a light cake with orange sauce for dessert.  At midnight, we rolled out the champagne, frozen green grapes and two kinds of Xmas cake.    Our friends brought a nice Spanish wine “Lan”, which we all loved.

New Year’s Day breakfast was toast, eggs, maple bacon, sauteed mushrooms and onions, green apple relish, fresh fruit, and coffee.   B and N left early; he was coughing and will go in for a lungscopy (not the right word) to check out a mass in his lung.   Wishing him good luck with that.

Drove son to airport, and daughter and M also took their leave.

A really excellent December.



November Highlights

November had a quiet start, nice after all the activities surrounding daughter’s wedding.   The weather was cool and rainy for the first couple of weeks, but then warmed up very nice for the middle.   It only really cooled down at the end of the Month.

Jora, the mare, did very nicely out on grass, but Tobi got a bit of laminitis, so we had to curtail their grass.   It is ongoing learning as that pony seems to have a very sensitive stomach.   In any event, he didn’t take too long to improve.   Laminitis is very painful and dangerous for a horse, so we were pleased that he improved.

The big event for November was the 100th Grey Cup.   It was in Toronto, with Toronto Argonauts playing, so we got tickets and went with our friends from Ottawa, S and D.   We marched briefly in the Grey Cup parade, getting a close up view of the Grey Cup itself, then peeled off for a bit of shopping.   We were marching down Bloor Street, after all, and the call of stores such as Williams and Sonoma and Roots overcame all reason.

The Grey Cup was excellent, although Calgary almost didn’t show up.   The four of us had a very good time, the place was full of cheering fans, and Toronto won handily.   Very memorable.  The tickets were special issue, in plastic to keep for posterity, and D got some fabulous shots.   It was a super ending to November.

Grey Cup - Toronto 2012

Grey Cup – Toronto 2012


November Fun 2012

If we found October exciting, busy and highly emotional, November promises fun, fun, fun.    We are going to the 100th Grey Cup, in Toronto.   And since the local football team made the finals, it does promise lots of excited fans.   We’re excited too!   Thanks to Jackie, we were able to get some excellent tickets and we will meet our friends the Sinclairs from Ottawa.

We had a weekend with the B’s in Mississauga, spending the night, walking the dogs, reading the NY Times over breakfast, and capping the weekend with a movie, the latest James Bond, Nightfall.   Great movie, great time with some old friends.

There has been some work lately, from Ottawa, which is always welcome.   Love to do the interviews as people are always interesting and usually, very generous in what they have to say about others.   Hope to get more work in 2013 and hope to find another part-time job.   Like the anonymity of it and that I can work at home.

Reading some great books.   Loved “The Swerve” a wonderful book on the recovery of Lucretius’ poem.   Who knew “atoms” were discussed 2,00 years ago.   And that is what a book should do – surprise and delight.   Bought it for my bookshelf.