Christmas stories: Winter walk #1 and 2

If you asked my sister Michele, she would agree that it’s all in the writing and editing.  So here I present to you two very different Christmas stories:

Winter Walk #1

On Christmas morning, my trusty border collie Skye-dog and I set out to grandma’s house through the woods.  The snow was falling and soon Skye’s fluffy winter fur (that didn’t do a very good job of camouflaging her widening belly) was speckled in white flakes.

We walked further into the forest, past cryptic messages in hob-goblin language scrawled on a wall along the path…

We crossed over a foot bridge that is the home of a very fierce troll, who only comes out at night …

… Skye is always anxious as we pass through this part of the forest and looks cautiously into the undergrowth …

For this troll is always very hungry and when there are no rabbits around to feast on, it sometimes gnaws on tree trunks –

… or even rips the bark off trees to nibble –

But then, a sudden noise made us stop in our tracks …

… we heard a rustle and saw Little Red Riding Hood.  Skye approached her and asked, “Have you seen the vicious troll who lives under the bridge?”

“No,” she said.  And in a strange, muffled voice she continued, “But I have seen the tree strangling snake…”  and she pointed ahead.

But as she did so, her hood fell away and we saw that she wasn’t Little Red Riding Hood after all!

Skye gasped!

It was the only creature more ferocious than the troll:  the border collie eating Aussie!  Skye was so terrified, she turned on her tail and ran …

… and this is all that was left.

Winter walk #2

It was Christmas morning and the light along the river had a rosy glow.

We were on our way to Grandma’s house and had to travel through the woods, where the virgin snow had just fallen overnight.

The forest fairies had made log pathways along the woodland floor that showed us the way…

And the kindly woodsman had cut an opening through a fallen tree trunk that crossed our path.

The Viburnum fairies made sure the berries were visible so that we wouldn’t get lost…

And the cedar fairies raised their arms to let us through…

The notched tree trunk marked the turn in the path…

…and after walking most of the day, we finally saw the lights that beckoned us in.

Merry Christmas everyone, and to all a good night!

Holiday hellos

Although I’m not so on the ball this year, I usually keep up with making simple, natural holiday planters for my front steps.

This year, if I were to decorate outside, it might look more like this:

At least there was effort made, which is more than I can say for my house, where there has been none.  So in the spirit of Christmas and the holidays, I offer up to you other peoples’ decorations in the hopes that your home has followed in their footsteps and not mine.

From the simply elegant, to the most ornate and finally to the essentially humble, a decorative wintry welcome is always appreciated.

Turkey, stuffing and all the trimmings!

From the great website ‘Simon’s cat’, a public service announcement that your dog will hate but in the end, will thank you.


This video is being presented by the RSPCA (the Royal Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, in the UK) and you can read more about their animal welfare campaign through their Give animals a voice website/blog.

Please Santa: bring Skye snow

I can’t believe that this is the extent of the snow we’ve had so far this winter!  What’s up with that?  Skye-dog is very disappointed.  As you may know her second favourite game is “two-ball”, which can be played satisfactorily during any season however is best when there is no snow.

But her first favourite is the “pouncing-on-frisbee-in-the-snow-and-whipping-it-between-her-legs” game.

This is the *only* reason I am asking for snow ;c)

Old-fashioned Christmas

Our family has decided again this year to abstain from gift giving and just concentrate on being together.  My two sisters will visit from Toronto, one of them complete with partner and kidlets, and it will be nice to see them although I know our time will be short.  The only exception will be gifts for the kids, who are always fun to shop for but funner still to see them open their presents and enjoy the food, laughter and festivities.

Just the thought of not having to brave the malls, big box stores or busy main roads has me feeling a bit more relaxed.   That being said, the shops I’ll visit will all be local, within walking distance so it will be a civilized endeavour!   This is my neighbourhood.

Although I’m not old enough to remember these old cars, this corner of Bank Street and Second Avenue was three blocks from where I grew up and the corner store was a groceteria owned by the Badali Brothers which I remember clearly from my youth.  For more information on the history of the Glebe, John Leaning has written the definitive record; read it here.

This nostalgia for times gone by had me finding a program called Victorian Farm Christmas on TV Ontario the other day.  This is a very well done series that follows three British historians as they take on specific working class roles on an English country estate that time has forgotten (Acton Scott Estate).  The series follows them through a Victorian rural farming year and ends with them enjoying a Christmas feast at the grand home of their boss, the landowner Mr. Acton Scott.

The Victorian Farm series was produced by Lion Television and saw a team of three historians, Alex Langlands, Peter Ginn and Ruth Goodman,  recreate rural life as it might have been in 1885.  The  series was filmed through four seasons in 2007 and 2008 and first broadcast early the following year accompanied by a best selling book. With viewing figures of more than six million  for each episode, the first series of Victorian Farm proved enormously popular. 

To build on this success, BBC2 commissioned a three part series, Victorian Christmas, first on air in December 2009.  This involved Ruth, Alex and Peter returning to the estate during 2009 to tackle an array of new farming tasks and discover how the Victorians created the celebration of Christmas as we know it today.  

You can watch several episodes of Victoria Farm Christmas on the TVO website here or watch the TV Ontario schedule for a re-run of this beautifully produced series (it originally aired December 11th).

Winter colour

So Environment Canada has finally admitted what we’ve all been thinking:  that is, weather is getting harder to predict so, I say, what’s the point of doing it at all?  Everyone seems to be wrong until after it’s happened.

I’ve heard that the West will have colder than usual temperatures and we’ll have milder than usual ones, but more snow.  I guess that’s okay with me.  I’d rather have a good snow covering, blanketing the garden and protecting it from harsh winter winds, if there are any.

This is a diving board used by beavers; no sign of any in this December landscape ;c)

It is perhaps, the quiet before the storm.

I understand the paintings that show snow as blue and the winter light, red.

I think there is a beauty to this early winter landscape too, with its more muted tones, but nonetheless, I realize how much I crave colour again when I visited Mill Street Florist and saw some of their holiday creations.

I love how the choices are entirely natural (well, almost entirely, with the exception of the chartreuse dyed reindeer moss):  winterberry, mini pomegranates, magnolia, ornamental cabbage centres, viburnum (Viburnum tinus) berries, grapevine, moss, evergreen branches and pheasant feathers.  Lovely.

How will you satisfy your craving for colour this winter?

Ikea hell

Now, I know this has nothing to do with gardening or plants or even dogs for that matter, but after lying on the physiotherapists table yesterday afternoon and over-hearing this conversation, I knew I had to repeat it.

“The new Ikea opened today and there were only a few hundred people waiting in line to get in.  All the news reports said there would be thousands…”

“Yes, and those people will never be seen again. Can you imagine? Over 400,000 square feet? And if you walk through the entire store, it’s 1.3 kilometers from start to finish…”

“And the restaurant? Over 600 seats? “

“Do they give you a bunch of ingredients, a piece of paper written in Swedish and an allen key — then you can make the meal yourself?”

But then it got more inflamed.

“I realized after buying a light fixture you can only use *their* lightbulbs.  But there is no special express lightbulb lane; you have to walk through the entire store just for one lightbulb.  And you always get stuck behind an extended family, with several giant carts and strollers!  You can spend hours in that place just trying to get out!”


“I think they come in at night and change around all those themed displays so that the kitchen items are never in the same place twice; or at least it seems that way.  And those ‘Shortcut’ signs are just to confuse shoppers…”

I originally thought that this big, new store would accommodate us lightbulb (or casual) buyers by ensuring we could make our way through the whole place quickly — like a direct route, a central lane or something like that.   But others tell me, NO, this has not happened!  The Ikea gods have deemed that this is a fundamental requirement — or right — for all shoppers; in order to have the entire Ikea experience, we must see everything not once, but every time, whether you like it or not!

The Ikea people are all too aware of this and on the website put a positive spin on it by saying :

Plan your visit

Make a day of it
Bring your family to the IKEA store. Your kids can play in the supervised playroom while you shop.

All I can say is, when will we smarten up?  Or do we love —

  • 640 seats at the new restaurant
  • 55 Room Settings
  • 3 full home displays
  • 36 cash lanes
  • 1,200 parking spaces – 600 covered
  • 1,761 bin locations for customer product pickup
  • Picking, Home Delivery and Assembly services – We can shop for you!
  • 40 per cent more energy efficient than the last store built in 2004

Is there nothing else for us to do in any given day than walk through aisle after aisle of these giant stores, looking for one or two things but leaving with much more?  Do we really need all that stuff? 

I’m getting a headache already.  Count me out until they make it a more people friendly, express aisles and all.  Despite the fact I have a border collie, I am not a sheep.