life throws lessons at the oddest times

I have read many times that there are always opportunities to learn and grow, if we are open to the lessons.  Well today I did something I have never done before, and am very happy about it…I galloped my horse, Bella!!!  O’k not earth-shattering but to me it was like bungy jumping off a bridge!  Very scary, and the outcome would be kinda unknown.  You might cry, you might poop your pants,…that kind of thing.

I have seen lots of competitions and events where the riders move their horses into a gallop, but I never really knew what it felt like…I like a “nice controlled canter” ;).  As you all know, my new name could be Little Safety Suzie.  I am all about safety these days.

The reason I was able to do it is because last week I had someone at my farm show me.  Not intentionally.  We had a horse (Dakota) here for a few weeks on trial,  hoping that it would be a good safe horse for Pat.  Wrong!  The horse was a maniac!   The facility that we had him from sent the barn manager and her assistant to come and take him home.  Dakota was so wild, that they had to ride “the stink” out of him so that he would be calm enough to load.  I am watching the insanity in my riding ring (a few times the horse would rear and be back on his hind legs)  As soon as I heard the instructor tell her assistant to put Dakota into a gallop, my attention was immediately piqued.  This is like getting to the Olympics!  O’k not really, but kind of…for me!  I watched intently, as the student confidently went from trot, to canter to hand gallop, then gallop.  It was awesome to see this difficult horse respond.  I was thankful that I decided against Dakota for Pat;), thankful that I paid to have the owners come and pick him up, and thankful that I grasped a lesson for myself out of all the drama and chaos.

Sometimes that happens.

I went out to the barn this morning with the intention to gallop Bella, and I did!  It wasn’t so scary after all.  The best part was that in my head, I was at The Olympics!  I won!

So this is my humble advice:  throw caution to the wind(safely!), be open to the lessons for your life, and then try something you have never done before. Who knows where that will take you!  Happy Day.


Neil Young, Harvest moon…love in the air

Last night I was stopped in my tracks as the moon was coming up over the fields.  It looked like the sun rising.  Checked the Farmers Almanac, realized tonight is the night!  Neil Young and Harvest Moon, watch this!  All about the love baby, pass it on:)

Go outside tonight and see what your harvest moon looks like!  I hope to report back tomorrow with a picture of a moon like this;)

acknowledging simple abundance

On my walk to the barn yesterday morning I was struck by the sounds of nature; a cacophony of bird calls, crickets and bugs.  Everything seemed more alive than the day before.  The more I listened, the louder everything sounded.  It was like someone turned up the volume, when in fact all I did was tune in.

It occurred to me that when we pay close attention to things that please us, that make us smile, or bring us joy, the impact is greater.  The other side of the equation is that when we are bothered by something, give too much attention to it, then it will also deliver emotion, but be draining instead of life affirming.

My meditation today was to be conscious of giving attention to life-affirming moments, and let any that are irritable or irksome pass by. 

Before/After master bath

Thought that it would be fun to show you a before and after of the master bath.

Bathrooms need to feel fresh and personal, and for us soothing

The vanities(Pat’s sits directly across from mine) are taken from the kitchen which were once used as desks.  I re-used many of the good pieces of cabinetry, and simply re-painted.  In this case a high gloss outdoor black paint.

The jumping off point was the wide plank ceramic tile.  I used it in the steam room/shower, the bathroom, and water closet.  The  pebbles lead across the front of the tub and are also in the steam room, the vanity (old desk) is oak.

What was important in this room, simplicity and function.

Even though I enjoy building and renovating,  I also like to re-use what I can.  All remaining  functional pieces go to Habitat for Humanity.  I know then that they are getting another life, not being thrown in land-fill, and contribute to a worthy cause.  

Being conscious of reducing new buys, re-using what is salvageable and recycling any other items made me feel good.  It takes planning and effort, but everyone wins.

Sidney Crosby and Ben Johnson, the same old story…

Wow!  I was blown away listening to the CBC report that Sydney Crosby is still working on returning to hockey.  O’k maybe the biggest shock was the interview with his neurosurgeon who is completely supporting Crosby going back to the game…which it is!  It’s a GAME!

CONCUSSION:  ” med. a violent injury to the brain caused by shaking or jarring,..” Oxford Dictionary. How many concussions has Crosby had in his hockey career?  Probably a half-dozen diagnosed, and then a few more that went un-detected.  Who is fooling who?  When a sport (and I get that it is his profession), compromises your immediate and long -term health, what part of the brain turns off to allow you to tell yourself that it’s o’k to continue?  If he suffered a broken leg every season, he probably would find a new profession.  For some reason,  many take our brains for granted, yet it is the most important aspect of our make-up…if our brains don’t function well, we don’t function well.

When I was a member of the Canadian Track Team as a junior, I was at many of the same meets as Ben Johnson.  Johnson was always in the top 3, but never the winner.  One spring he came back from training and the track world saw a different person.  It was widely suspected that he was juiced.  He also starting winning and setting records.

A friend of mine,  was a middle distance runner, and on the team with me.  She found herself in the same place as Johnson.  She wanted to win at any cost.  She left Kingston to train with Charlie Francis and Ben Johnson, while I went on to university.    She never reached the top 3 in the country, but for years she participated in steroid use.  One year after we went separate ways, I came across her.  She was once a beautiful, leggy athlete…she turned into a course, awkward version of herself…she didn’t look or sound right…a bit freaky, really (but drugs do that to you)

Eventually Johnson was stripped of his gold medal and my friend faded away.  Their bodies abused and their minds altered.

Sydney Crosby seems to be affected by the same desire to push himself regardless of known health problems….in this case,  associated with frequent concussions:

headaches, memory loss, difficulty concentrating, mental health concerns, anger, depression, sleep disorders, mood swings, early onset dementia….

What does it take for someone to take a step back and assess their life in totality?    I am baffled as to what makes playing hockey so alluring when day in, day out Sidney Crosby is experiencing problems associated with brain trauma.  Sometimes I think it is simply the fact that he doesn’t know anything else.  He doesn’t have a Plan B.  Admittedly, he doesn’t need one at least in terms of financial security.  If he could step away from his perceived sense of self, he might see that there are many ways to contribute to the world that don’t include adulation, stardom, and truck loads of  money.  What happens to people like Sidney Crosby and Ben Johnson when you strip away the labels?  Heck, lets throw Tiger Woods in there too!  They show themselves for who they are… Human.  Mere mortals like the rest of us.

That seems to be their biggest challenge and greatest fear.




Fresh food, fast! Tomato basil soup

I am a huge fan of soups and right about now we have plenty of yummy ingredients showing up at farmers markets and supermarkets.  Here is a soup that will be in your bowl in 15 min.  

Again, when I do my food posts, I call them my no recipe/recipe.  You decide the quantities:) It’s not rocket science, contrary to so many cooking shows…cooking is free form, unlike baking.  It is an art.

Gather up your ingredients: 4 fresh large tomatoes (or if you are stuck, canned), 1 small onion, fresh basil, 1 carrot, 1/2 cup of veg.stock (or water)

Core tomatoes and chop coarsely

Chop coarsely onion and carrot

Sautee onion and carrot in a glug or two of olive oil for about 5 min….they shouldn’t drown, just be allowed to glide around

Add tomatoes and veg.stock.  Bring to a boil, then turn to med/low for 15 minutes.  All you are doing is allowing the carrot to cook through.  If you like your soup thick, just simmer a little longer and the extra water will evaporate out of the soup.

Remove from stove and either use a hand blender right in the pot, or use food processor(do small batches, so you are not overheating the vessel), or pass through a food mill.  All work, all give different textures, and all vary in time required to use and clean.  I love to use the hand blender because it is so easy to use and clean.

Puree until desired consistency.  Throw in a good bunch of basil and pulse to combine.  If you like, you can add a little bit of 35% cream.

Serve in bowl with sprig of basil to garnish.  I still eat mine the way I ate it as a kid…a whole bunch of crackers in the bottom of the bowl, with soup over top.  Yummmmmm!

SECRET* The secret ingredient to this soup is the addition of the carrot.  Carrots contain natural sugars that reveal when cooked, that’s why roasted carrots are so delicious.  The carrots add an element to the soup that softens the acidity of the tomatoes and naturally sweetens.  I learned this from an Italian friend:)…ps. use carrots in you tomato sauce as well, it makes the sauce soooo rich tasting.




PS. substitution:  use rosemary instead of basil, but because of its natural intensity, throw it into the pot when sweating onions and carrot.


We all participate in the kill

In the car yesterday I heard an interview with Jian Ghomeshi of the CBC.  He spoke with an American woman, Danielle Martin,  who is trying to persuade the world to eat bugs…crickets, larvae, beetles…Take a peek at her cooking video.

So here is what bugs me!  Beyond the obvious!!!

Some of her critics are vegans and vegetarians who are concerned that she is killing.  That killing insects is no different than killing a cow.  I will agree that killing is killing.  However, can I point this out to all the vegetarians and vegans out there….when you eat beans, soy products and fish for example, there is massive amounts of killing involved.  Most commercial fish are hauled in and asphyxiated.  They lay on the boat in the hold until delivered to the processing plant.  For all commercial harvesting of fruits, vegetables and legumes untold numbers of insects, mice, voles, raccoons etc. are also caught up in the combine or run over by the equipment.  If you live in farm country, which we do, you can’t help but notice this.  Last year during haying, I saw a rabbit caught up and killed.

Stop reading now, because I may just offend a whole group of people.

This is the real world.  Lets just all get the stories straight.  If you don’t want to eat meat because of large feed lots, that is one thing.  To say that you won’t condone the kill, is naive.  We all participate in the kill in order to survive, carnivores, omnivores, pescatarians, vegetarians and vegan

let ’em roll baby roll, shake your booty ya ya


An odd segue, but stay with me;)  Just warning you, this post is about good advice and great music:)

Animals are  just like people:  if you have the right ones around you, they add so much value  to our lives.

Did that sound lame?  o’k then..,..Winston Churchill said it this way, so it has to be better right?

There is something about the outside of a horse, that is good for the inside of a man”.

I am feeling frisky(was that my outside voice?)…felt like something fun to match the horses playfulness today!

Or, should it be…shake your booty! watch?v=pOr7TMuk461&feature=related

Gotta get me some bell bottoms pants…

know this


we are the village.  the kid at the video store, gas pump or track meet; are our children.  offer them what they need…smile, money or encouragement.

Water does that to you

Ahhh!  Last swim of the season!  Finished barn chores, hot and sweaty, anxious to swim it all off.

When I swim, in my minds eye, I am a dolphin.

In my minds eye, I am an Olympian!

In my minds eye, I am Four