Today is the happy confluence of Squirrel Appreciation Day and National Hug Day.

You know what this means.

Go out and hug a squirrel today.

Pixel in bag_0172, originally uploaded by maystone1.

So this was Pixel's favorite part of the day. We just kept adding more discarded paper and ribbons on top of her, which she liked just fine, thank you very much.

Everyone is asleep. I think I may head out to use the snow blower a bit. I hope everyone is having a relaxing day. More later.

So, so, so tired. I spent over 12 straight hours running errands and finishing my Christmas shopping. And going with Irish while he finished his. For better or worse it's done. (Mostly better, I'd say.) Dar and I also spent most of yesterday decorating the tree. Christmas tree lights shouldn't be that complicated, you know?

The weather was bad. The traffic was horrible. I didn't get home until 9PM and still had chores around here to finish. And then I went into my bedroom and walked through four separate piles of cat puke before I realized it and spread it around even more. Such fun.

Hey, [ profile] sparky77 and [ profile] cajoje! Jester killed a coyote last night. No lie. See Dar for the details. I'm surprised that she didn't post about it already.

I missed lighting the Hanukkah candles tonight. It was just too late by the time I got everything settled. Damn.

Oh, and my car battery died from the cold. My Mazda is now just a giant lawn driveway ornament.

On the good news side, I just killed that freakin' stealth moth that's been hiding out in my room for the past couple of weeks. Take that!
From [ profile] thatkellygirl:

On the twelfth day of Christmas, maystone sent to me...
Twelve macs drumming
Eleven museums writing
Ten blues a-driving
Nine animals composting
Eight westerns a-gaming
Seven arthritis a-walking
Six icons a-farming
Five auto-o-o-oimmune diseases
Four small farms
Three middle ages
Two progessive politics
...and a religion in a history.
Get your own Twelve Days:

Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian peeps!
My Fourth is complete: TCM is showing 1776 :)
Happy Fourth of July to my fellow Muricans from your ex-pat friend! It's always been one of my favorite holidays even though I've rarely gone to parades or flown a flag or set off fireworks (having come from a state where they were illegal.) I was going to wax all rhapsodic about what the day means to me, but my brain, she is full of fog today. Alas and alack. So instead I'll point you to an excellent post that truly sums up everything I would have said or would have wanted to say without having the words at hand.

Happy Independence Day, guys!
It was a spectacular winter day here today. The morning started misty, but even that had it's charms. Everything was covered with rime and a soft layer of snow. The air had dried out, so that even though the temperatures were very cold, being outside was exhilarating rather than excruciating. I managed to make it out late in the morning just to clean off the car and take some pics. Yes, that is a warning. They're coming up in another post. Or actually, why don't I just post the link to my [ profile] pic365 entry here. Two birds and all that.

I still have this verdammte cold, and the plan was that I would take it easy today and just hang around and read or listen to music or something passive like that. But you see, I still have my brother's Christmas package to ship out to him, and I was checking the forecast and saw that today was the only decent day in the foreseeable future, so I figured that given the chest cold and the coming damp weather it would be better to head out and get it done now. (There really is a story here, just be patient.)

It's Boxing Day here in Canukistan, which is a bigger deal than in the States. I was going to call UPS to see if they were definitely open, but I couldn't find the phone book, and I was too fatigued to keep searching and I figured that all of the stores were open so certainly UPS would be in business. Mistake #1. I gathered all my things and schlepped out to the living room. Dar was asleep, and no one else was in sight, so I was starting to leave a note when Maddie came upstairs to get something to eat. So instead I just told her that I was going to UPS. Mistake #2.

As you've no doubt figured out, UPS was closed. As was DHL. Maddie vanished into her room. I came home exhausted to find that Dar was getting ready to send out a search party. Uh-oh. Apparently we had a conversation this morning specifically about how UPS was closed for the holiday. Which, it turns out, is a statutory holiday, meaning that employers will be fined for making their employees show up. The stores got a special dispensation a couple years ago. But I forgot about that, too. To quote from arguably the worst Star Trek episode of all time: "Brain? Brain? What is brain?"
So. Looking around the ol' flist it seems that the holiday was pretty laid-back for y'all. Good news that. It was kind of a mixed bag here. Lots of good humor, good gifts, good food. Also lots of work by Dar (with an able assist from Marie aka The Nana) and a great undercurrent of sadness for her.

Among my swag were four CDs. Four! Two (from my brother) were medieval music, including one that replaces an old tape that I'd bought back in the early 80s and for which I've been seeking a replacement for many, many years. (It's music from the Crusades, and it includes a "lament" written by Richard the Lionheart who was royally pissed (heh) that no one was paying his ransom and bailing him out of prison.) The other two were Neil Young's Live at Massey Hall (yes! and also from my brother) and from Maddie, the Broadway soundtrack for Jersey Boys which is about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. My favorite falsetto has a Bway show about him. Who knew? Besides Maddie, who knows everything about Broadway musicals. I also received - wait for it - my very own electric fireplace. For lo, I am usually freezing. Unfortunately it overwhelms my bedroom, so I'll be returning it for a more mundane space heater, but how cool is that?

I have a cold, and it's moving south into my lungs. Ruh-roh. Because I'm on immunosuppressants, I have to be more vigilant about this relatively small stuff, but Dar is keeping an eye on me, and hopefully this will get the hell outta Dodge pretty soon. My lungs are starting to feel like someone's been sandpapering them.

Chloe Kitty had a most happy first Christmas what with wrapping paper and many ribbons to cavort about with. Jane kind of stayed out of the fray/mess/what-have-you, and I think the rest of the felines were just relieved to have an open path to their pine-scented watering hole once more.

The alpacas got a Christmas treat, too. Our favorite grocery store (Zehr's) was giving away their unused greens, so Dar brought home a couple of fresh pine boughs for the guys. The usual alpaca wackiness ensued.

O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum. Yum-yum-yum )

Now it's time for more cough medicine and then hopefully some sleep. Happy Boxing Day!
It's definitely a white Christmas for us this year. Even though the past two days were warm and rainy, it didn't get all of the snow. Then late yesterday the temperature plummeted and the snow squalls came in and it's white, white, white. Pretty lovely, I must say.

We're having unexpected company this evening, but that always seems like the thing to do on Christmas Eve. When I was growing up and our big family Christmas Eve parties were already overflowing the confines of the house, there was sure to be a few extra people added to the mix. Friends of relatives, relatives of friends, sometimes not even that direct a connection as some of my cousins got older and started traveling around the world, building those nebulous networks of "My sister-in-law's boyfriend's cousin said you stayed with them for a couple nights while you were traveling through Nairobi last year. I'm going to be in your area around the end of December. Would I be able to stay with you while I'm passing through?" And the answer was yes, and the invitation to the family party was automatically extended. The more the merrier. Literally :)

So if you're celebrating Christmas, I hope it brings you laughter and a little light at least this evening. To anyone who isn't celebrating, well, be of good cheer - we're all almost back to normal time and space. Heh. And speaking of time, space, and Christmas, a little pictorial gift from the geeks of Dorking.

Star Trek decoration_0700
The Guardian of the City on the Edge of Forever with lights and sound. That's Spock and Kirk jumping through to wish us all a Merry Christmas.
I've been up and doing stuff for 21 hours now. But damn if my presents aren't all wrapped, so I claim a victory. Of cours when I can't move tomorrow, it shall be a pyrrhic victory, but what the hey. See the big thing is that when I keep going past when I should just call it quits, my body goes into overdrive and I can't really stop. I was staggering around my room picking pieces of lint off my rug. That's like saying you're only going to pick up the pinkish tinged portions of the grains of sand on a beach. (Seriously lots of lint here. Many cats. Many little pieces of paper left over from wrapping. But it does look substantially better because I am insane.

Going to sleep now. You just watch me.
I went a little too far with the running around in the past few days, and ended up really crashing last night. However, Mark's mom (aka The Nana) and I wailed through some Christmas shopping, so there was a bright side.

Speaking of crashing, The sad tale of the Little Christmas Tree That Couldn't. With Pictures. )

Hopefully we'll have the Christmas shopping done by Friday, because the thought of hitting the stores on the weekend before Christmas is equal parts depressing and scarifying. Not that I don't expect Friday to be a shopping nightmare day, too. And besides, I still have wrapping to do.

I have been unsuccessfully trying to mail two lousy Christmas cards for a solid week now. I admit defeat. They were for my step-mother and my best friend who moved to NC. It just ain't gonna happen. And my brother's presents still haven't made it to me, so his stuff (and my SIL's) will be going out, oh, after the new year probably. Eh, you know, every so often you run into a holiday that just defies your best plans, and this is mine. I'm thinkin' we shall all survive.

I was so rundown yesterday that I ended up in bed by 7PM, and I figure I was asleep before 9PM. I also woke up at 3:30AM, so this should be an interesting day :) Right now I should grab a shower before the hordes start struggling their way up and out of bed. Hope y'all have a good one ahead of you.
I'm watching Starship Troopers - for the first time I might add. I know that seems hard to believe; they show it every other week on the syndicated channels. But really, never read the book, never saw it in the theater, always bypassed it on TV until tonight. What a weird movie. Is it a cult film now? Is everyone deliberately overacting or are they really that bad? Oh my God, it's Michael Ironside! As the badass lieutenant. Of course it's Michael Ironside; he owns these kinds of roles. I'm still very confused about this movie, though. It really makes no sense, but now I'm committed to watching it through until the finish. I'm thinking of it as penance for all of my past sins.

Moving on. Mark and I took Jane and Chloe into the vet this morning to get their rabies and distemper shots. Chloe handled it with aplomb, but poor sweet Janie was scared and clingy. Both the vet and the tech fell in love with her, and I can't say that I blame them. I asked if they wanted her as their new office cat, and they didn't really say no. They didn't say yes, either, but they didn't say no. What they did say was that just before we got there, another client was asking them if they knew of any gray kittens available for adoption. Jane! Jane is your kitten! The vet said she thought that the woman was probably looking for a baby kitten, but Janie is only 6 months old, which is still very kittenish. The vet said she'd pass along our number and give Jane high praise for being the little sweetie that she is. Everyone cross their fingers that our girl gets her own home soon.

We dropped the kitties off home, then Dar and I ran some more errands. By the time we got home, I was toast. Dar was still going strong, though, so she started tracking down the Christmas decorations and then jumped into the cookie and candy making. Oh, man. She makes these chocolate truffles with Irish whiskey (poteen?) that is just to die for. She's also become really good at baking gluten-free goodies. She did a test batch of gingerbread cookies that are just incredibly yummy. Oh yeah . . . it's beginning to taste a lot like Christmas :)
I started my Christmas shopping today. Yeah, you heard me. I'm usually one of those people who has things all wrapped up by now - both literally and figuratively. Not this year. Although I should add two qualifiers to that: I have done some online shopping (even if nothing has actually made it to my door yet), and I've drastically cut back on my list of people to buy for. Obvious reason for that, blah, blah, blah. I wish it were different. I actually like to go shopping for gifts for other people. Dar and I are always pointing out things to each other that we think our friends would love. Man, if we ever win the lottery, you guys are gonna get showered :)

I also had some non-holiday errands to run. It turns out that Immigration requires yet another blood test when an applicant's blood pressure is as high as mine. (Which actually wasn't all that high: 142/84) The doctor had called yesterday to explain that I needed to get my creatinine checked because the systolic was above the standard limit of 140, but he apologized for it and said that he knew I was taking meds that controlled it but the regs are the regs. Honest to God, he sounds (and looks!) just like Tim Gunn on Project Runway. I have to stop myself from calling him Dr. Gunn :) Anyway, in between the shopping I had to go wait my turn at one of the big med labs in Kitchener; after that I also had to make a stop at OHIP (provincial health dept.) to see about resubmitting a bill. Unfortunately I couldn't do it there, so there's more bureaucratic hoops to be jumping through next week. Eh, no biggie, really, but really, who likes dealing with bureacracies?

The plans for getting our Jane Kitty spayed are kaput. The vet's office called back yesterday to say that she needs the rest of her shots and boosters before they'll do the surgery. That will push everything back by about six weeks. I just don't think we can wait that long. As I said, the poor thing spends her time either alone in the guest room or cowering under the bed because Pixel and/or Little are stalking her. I'm going to talk to our vet and see if they'll keep her as their office cat since their old office cat died last month. It's worth a try. Chloe will be going along to get her additional shots, too, and her first exam, since she managed to evade us the first time we corralled all of the kitties for their vet visit.

Chloe has her moments as prey, too, especially from Little Cat. Pixel and Chloe tend to play, and then the play occasionally turns pissy, but Little Cat just despises Chloe. I think it's jealousy more than pheremones. Chloe will crawl into my lap for protection when Little comes skulking around, and Little will still come after her. In fact I've been at the receiving end of Little's Mighty Paw of Thwapping because she couldn't reach Chloe. That is one determined feline, let me tell you. We're thinking that Little will grow out of it or tire of it or at least Chloe will grow bigger than Little and scare her off. Guess we'll just have to wait on that one.

I think we're getting our tree this weekend. We talked about waiting until Mark's parents get here from Ireland, but what with recovering from jet lag and the possibility of them having to finish up their own shopping we decided to just do it now. I've always liked tree shopping. I'm not such a great fan of tree wrangling, but the shopping part is fun. I missed out on it last year because I was sick, but I'm hoping to go a'hunting this time around.

Which means I should try to get some sleep. But first I think I need a cracker or something crunchy. To the kitchen!
I did things today. I did outside things today. I feel just like a big girl.

Honestly, sometimes lately I do feel like Beth in Little Women:this frail creature whom everyone coddles, and who never seems to leave the safety of the house. Of course I'm no more like Beth than I am like Tinkerbell, but I haven't been outside in about four days now, so this felt pretty good.

All I did was clean off my car and move it and . . . Actually that right there was a bit of an accomplishment. Mark had kindly mostly dug it out from the snowdrift that had built up around it, but there was still some left to get rid of. Then I had to do the ice scraping thing (I hate that most of all), and then I had to maneuver it around the drifts and the bare but icy sections to put it in the one spot that seems to be blissfully free of deep snow. I got stuck once, but I managed to drive out of it without actually having to get out and push.

Have I mentioned lately how much I hate winter? Well consider this my daily kvetch.

Since I managed to do that stuff without any horrible effects, I went out later with Dar to get the alpacas settled for the night. I have missed those guys very, very much, and I was half convinced that they would have forgotten me by now, but no :) The crias (Valentino and Sparky) are getting so big! And everyone's fleece is growing in nicely, although about half the herd was still shivering from the cold and the damp while we had both of the barn doors open. I can see why some suri breeders only shear their animals once every two years, because while our guys are definitely getting their fleece back, it's still not all that long. Poor babies.

I brought my camera with me, and you shall be subjected to alpaca pic spam in the next post. Mostly portrait style stuff, if you're into paca portraits.

Unfortunately walking through all of the deep snow to get out to the barn and back again really did a number on me. I don't see this being a daily adventure, but I'm determined to get out there when I can. Maybe this is all the snow that we'll get, and in a few weeks everything will be clear again. Yeah, I crack myself up sometimes :)

Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah. I love any holiday that lets me play with matches, so this is one of my favorites. And a Happy Hanukkah to you all. Light a candle against the night!
This time Dar was with me. We were hitting all four of the local (to Listowel) grocery stores plus the TLC (farmer's department store, sort of), thinking that if we got everything out of the way early in the morning we'd miss the afternoon storm. Yeah, well, apparently storms don't read the forecast. Or they have crappy watches. Anyway, another white-knuckle drive home. We were in a line of traffic, and none of us ever got above 25 mph which was fine with everyone. (The usual speed is 60-70 mph.) I'm telling you all right now, when I finally get my citizenship and I get voted Premier, this damn county is getting mandatory windblocks along all country roads and highways. Because this is just nuts.

And while I'm ranting . . . OMG, I completely forgot what I was going to rant about next. Bwah! Dementia: 1; Mays:0. I'm back. Tea, I was going to rant about tea. There is not a box of Celestial Seasonings Tangerine Orange Zinger - or Country Peach - to be found in this area. I'll have to drive into St. Jacob's to buy some. This is not exactly worthy of a breakdown or anything, but really . . . it's not like Celestial Seasonings is some podunk brand. Grrrrrr.

So if I can't find the tea, what do you think my odds are of finding some Hannukah candles, eh? OK, everyone who just said "Who the hell cares" is wrong. The correct answer is zip, zero, no chance at all. Can I prevail on someone to please send me some candles? Not giant size or anything, just regular ol' Hannukah candles. I did the grand search all over this part of southern Ontario (I'm not kidding), and not one is to be found. I would be happy to reimburse you, of course.

OK, just to end on a positive note, there are some wonderful things about living in this area, and one of them is just being in farm country. Because farmers is a bit crazy, in the very best way. And for evidence, Exhibit A. Heh.
Wow, it just really hit me that it's closing in on Thanksgiving Day for my fellow Yanks down there in Yankistan. For all of you who are hitting the road today, you guys drive safe, hear me? Do not make me pull this car over and come back there and set you straight.

I really, really, really loved Thanksgiving in the States, and yet I can say that this is the first year where I'm not getting a big ol' pang of jealousy and nostalgia about not being there. I think I've grown :) OK, I'll admit that I definitely did not miss the apocalyptic, homicidal rage inducing traffic jams, and in the latter years I rarely braved the apocalyptic, homicidal rage inducing traffic jams to go visit my family in CT, but still . . . I loved the holiday. I would either go to [ profile] malterre's place or more usually stay home and have my friend [ profile] minimaxx over for a quiet, simple dinner. It was the tradition behind it, I think, that I found so attractive. I loved the idea that on that day, 99% of the country was engaged in the same sorts of activities: travel, making and eating of vast quantities of yummy food, gathering together, and, of course, the devouring of the pies. In our family it was all capped by a walk around the neighborhood (weather permitting) to work off all of that food. What's not to love?

So . . . for those of you on your way tomorrow, allow me to wish you now a most wonderful Thanksgiving. May the meats be moist and the pies be flaky and the Traffic Gods benevolent.

Gobble, gobble, guys :)
It still is in my top holidays list even if I did mostly ignore this one. Dar dressed up as a witch doctor to answer the door and she decorated the entry hall. See?

Day 304-Halloween

We only got a few kids unfortunately but the weather was very windy and then it started raining which really took everyone by surprise.

Maddie had gone out with a group of old friends in Kitchener; they collected food donations for the local Food Pantry, and they brought in over 400 lbs. of food. Woo-hoo! Go, Miss Madelaine :)

I was too stiff, sore, and in pain to be of much use. I stayed in my bedroom - which is at the front of the house near the driveway - and would give Dar a shout when I heard a new batch of trick or treater's heading our way.

The cats kept an eye out, too. Pixel was a big help. My good baby girl!
Pixel waits for Halloween ghosties

One of the people on our alpacasite list had a cria beheaded a few days ago. The general opinion is that it was either Satanists or some truly horrid initiation rite. Anyway, it being Halloween and most farms being somewhat isolated, everyone is keeping a watchful eye on their guys.

I'm way drugged up for pain, and way tired on top of that, so I'm giving it up and going to sleep. Happy Halloween to you all, my lovelies.
Thanksgiving pies

There were pies. And turkey. And family.

And it was good.

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