Thursday, 31 December 2015

Binge Reading

Happy New Year!!!

I don't make New Year’s Resolutions because I don't like to disappoint myself.  Historically, I’m a failure at following through, so in recent years I have decided not to set myself up.  

No Resolutions

However, I am a list-maker and record-keeper.  That habit sometimes borders on resolutions.  Take my BookList for example.  I did sort of set a goal to read one book a week in 2015.  That’s only 52 books and I had come close to that in previous years.  On December 29th, when I counted up the titles on my BookList, I was at 47.  Only five books short of the magic number and three days before the year was over. 


Fuelled by an overdose of WTN movies, a bout of insomnia, and a compulsion to fulfill my goal, I went on a reading binge.  I was craving solitude.  Houseguests gone, social engagements fulfilled, a day or two of reading sounded inviting.  If I can binge on TV and chocolate, why not reading.

One Starry Christmas
Favourite WTN movie of 2015

I did reach my goal, of course, or I would not be writing this blog.  I did not cheat, but I was strategic in my choices.  I was halfway through a fast-read romantic novel so I finished that during the first night of insomnia.  It was like reading a WTN movie.   

Romantic Easy Read

The next day, I pretty much stayed in bed and read one of three books I had just gotten out of the library--the one with the fewest pages.  I was inspired to read Beryl Bainbridge whom I had heard interviewed by Eleanor Wachtel on Sunday.  I look forward to reading more of her.  


My Christmas book is only 112 pages long so it only took an hour to read.  Well, maybe two hours.  Anne Lamott is so wise and down-to-earth.

Quick and Good

I then looked through the various piles of unread books in my bedroom for a skinny one.  Jane Urquhart’s Storm Glass won the draw.  That book has been staring me in the face for years.  Happy to move it off the "To-Read" pile.

Short Stories

Today I finished up #52 with How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous a non-fiction work about the deaths of 19 famous people from King Tut to Albert Einstein.  Although it was the 168 pages and several illustrations that initially attracted me to this book, I really enjoyed it!  Informative and entertaining!

Entertaining Non-Fiction

So here is my 2015 BookList for your viewing pleasure.  I realize it includes two Nancy Drew books but The Goldfinch should balance them out!!

.....Until Next Time.....

Books Read in 2015

  • How They Croaked by Georgia Bragg
  • Storm Glass by Jane Urquhart
  • An Awfully Big Adventure by Beryl Bainbridge
  • One True Theory of Love by Laura Fitzgerald
  • Help, Thanks,Wow by Anne Lamott
  • Turtle by Gerard Beirne
  • Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (again)
  • The Eskimo in the Net by Gerard Beirne
  • The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny
  • Sleeping Funny by Miranda Hill
  • The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
  • The Water's Lovely by Ruth Rendell
  • The Child in Time by Ian McEwan
  • The Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas
  • Full of Grace by Dorothea Benton Frank
  • The Birthday Lunch by Joan Clark
  • Home to Holly Springs by Jan Karon
  • The Truth About Herself by Wendy McLeod MacKnight
  • Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
  • Deadly Nightshade by Mary Freeman
  • Farewell my Subaru by Doug Fine
  • Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen
  • Life after Life by Kate Atkinson
  • Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje
  • Garden Meditations by Peggy Holt
  • A Lockdown Murder by Mary Sawyer
  • In the Company of Others by Jan Karon
  • The Clue of the Dancing Puppet by Carolyn Keene
  • La's Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith
  • The Clue in the Old Album by Carolyn Keene
  • At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon
  • The Impossible Dead by Ian Rankin
  • Crime and Punishment (abridged) by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
  • Adrenal Fatigue by James Wilson
  • The Handmaid and the Carpenter by Elizabeth Berg
  • Once Upon a Time, There Was You by Elizabeth Berg
  • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  • Friend of my Youth (again) by Alice Munro
  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  • The Corrigan Women by Jean Dohaney
  • A Question of Blood by Ian Rankin
  • Harbour Street by Ann Cleves
  • The Memory Chair by Susan White
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  • Road Ends by Mary Lawson
  • All Wound Up by Stephanie Pearl-McGee
  • A Passion for Narrative by Jack Hodgins
  • A Good Yarn by Debbie Macomber
  • Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris
  • Just One Evil Act by Elizabeth George
  • Noah's Compass by Anne Tyler
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

The Jotter

The Jotter

     I like to think I invented “The Jotter”, a little notebook I take to my social engagements with a list of items we should discuss over dinner.  I started doing that because often I would come away from a 4 hour meal at Dimitris thinking I had forgotten to ask so and so about her daughter, or her sciatica, or her fantasies.  So now in preparation for my dates, I update The Jotter.  Consistent topics include Children, Husbands, Books, Movies.  Here is a sample of an expired jotter from a year or two ago.  You can see traces of the meal smeared across the surface.  

Expired Jotter

     The term “Jotter” was the result of one of those nasty Scrabble games I had with my room-mate at the camp.  Although I had never really heard the word jotter before, when I got the appropriate letters, I feigned self-confidence and laid those Scrabble tiles on the board.  After all, the J is worth 8 points, and if you can get it on a triple letter score, you might have a chance of beating the brilliant strategist across the table.  My room-mate, aka Brilliant Strategist, snarled at me.  “Jotter.  I don’t think so. What’s a jotter?  I snarled right back with false bravado.  “One who jots.”  Tom would not let it rest.   He challenged.  I surreptitiously held my breath as he consulted the Scrabble dictionary.  Fortunately it was there!!  I got the points and the upper hand …for a moment.    

Scrabble Dictionary

     According to the above definition, "a memorandum book", I guess I did not invent the jotter idea, but I am going to take credit for putting it into practice.  Many of my social circles have come to expect The Jotter at our outings.  They might even contact me beforehand with a request to put a certain topic on The Jotter.   

Commercial Jotter

     Most of my social circles consist of groups of four.  In a group of four lies the danger of two conversations emerging simultaneously.  I HATE that because one of my ears is always straining to hear what the other two are talking about.  I don’t want to miss anything!!  

Social Group of Four

    The Jotter helps alleviate that "missing out" problem to an extent.  If I catch a word of the other conversation, I can jot that down then get back to it when my one-on-one conversation is over.  That way I have not been TOTALLY rude to my conversation partner by only listening with one ear, and I have a reasonable chance of retracing the other conversation. 

Common Ear Strain

    The Jotter also helps with brain hyperlinking.  You know when you are in a conversation and someone says, “I have great hope for Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister”, and you want to blurt out, “What kind of shampoo do you use, Paula?” but you know it’s rude to interrupt.  The hyperlinking goes like this:  Justin Trudeau; nice hair; Paula’s hair looks nice tonight; I wonder what kind of shampoo she uses?  With a jotter at your elbow, you simply jot down the word shampoo so you will remember to ask Paula that important question.  You don’t need to interrupt and you do not need to expose your circuitous brain functioning to your friends. 

The Circuitous Brain

Hot Tub Jotter
     With a bit of ingenuity, the jotter can be adapted to suit various environments.  A few years ago, I had a hot tub party in our backyard in December.  There was wine, bubbling hot water and snow falling….absolutely too much liquid for a paper Jotter.  Solution?  I wrote the jotter items on large graph paper with heavy marker and duct-taped it to the side of the garage.  

Recognize Anyone??

     I’ve had various versions of The Jotter over the years.  I was being all 21st Century and keeping jotter items on my cellphone for a while.  Because I’ve had 3 major cellphone mishaps in the last 3 months, I no longer trust that format.  I'm back to paper.

Broken CellPhone

     Back in the day when I was working for a living, I created The Environmental Jotter, a bunch of scrap paper cut and stapled together in one corner.  Very rough but a respectable effort at recycling.

The Environmental Jotter

     I do buy the occasional jotter, if it’s a bargain.  My Nancy Drew Jotter is probably my favourite, and coveted by many.  I found Nancy at a dollar store in Quispamsis for only 50 cents.  What a jewel.  Jot on!!

The Nancy Drew Jotter

Until Next Time......

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Reverse Halloween

October 31st

     Although I’m not a great fan of Hallowe’en, I do capitulate to societal expectations in this area.  We are just hours away from the little Halloween goblins ringing our doorbell for candy and I am prepared.  

Kids at the Door

     Two weeks ago my “Little Brother” Noel and I did the candy shopping at The Superstore.  After careful mathematical calculations, we agreed that the 90 piece box of bite-size bars offered the best taste appeal and, at $10.00, the best bang for the buck.  Like me, Noel’s math skills are quite sharp when there is a dollar sign involved.  In an effort to be well-prepared, I snapped up a box of Hershey Bars, brought it home and put it out of sight.  It took about 2 days before my room-mate Tom spotted it.  Another day passed before one of us eased open the box lid.  The 90 morsels were gone within days.  

Bite-Sized Bars

     But that was OK; the sale was still on at The Superstore.  With only a week to go before October 31st, Tom came home with another box.  Within a day, the lid was lifted....and you can guess the rest of that story.  Here it is October 31st, and there are 24 treats left…..all Reese’s Pieces, obviously the least favorite in the collection.  

Pre-Halloween Leftovers

     Not wanting to be caught without candy, Tom picked up a little more at Costco yesterday.  Now I think we have invested about $50.00 in candy, and we have consumed several thousand nutrient-deficient calories.  I am hoping we can resist opening this shipment until the doorbell rings this evening.  

Calorie Content of Mini-Bars 

     In the midst of one of our post-supper, candy-eating frenzies a couple of days ago, Tom came up with a great idea.  He does that sometimes.  Perhaps it was the sugar, the serotonin, the dopamine, or, as he likes to think, sheer brilliance.   He proposed that instead of kids coming to the door to GET candy, they could come to the door and give US candy.  Yeah!!  I liked the idea.  A sort of REVERSE HALLOWEEN.  

Reverse Halloween

    When we told Noel, our Little Moral Compass, he said he didn’t think that would be fair. He suggested that maybe we could TRADE candy at the door, you know, look in the children's bags, see what they have, and offer a trade from our big bowl of Reese's Pieces. 

Moral Compass

     Maybe we’ll give that a try!  If you drive by and see egg all over the side of the house, you will know Reverse Halloween was a failure.

Egged House

..........Until Next Time...........

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

September in Scotland with Granite and Cuddles

WoolGathering has taken a break for the month of September.  Visit my other blog, Granite and Cuddles on tour, which follows Barb and Tom on their trip in Scotland.
Granite and Cuddles on Tour

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

How I Spent my Summer Vacation

How I Spent my Summer Vacation
      The end of August is fast upon us.  I am NOT going to say, “Where did the summer go?” or, “My, the air feels like fall, doesn’t it?” or  “The days are getting shorter, aren’t they?”  No, I’m hanging on to summer for Dear Life.
Dear Life by Alice Munro

High School Reunion
     Forty years.  Can you believe that?  Sitting at the Hampton Pub in late June with Friends of my Youth, I was absolutely thrilled when the ever-charming Leo Kelly took my hand, gazed into my eyes and crooned, “Barb, I loved all the girls in our class, but you were my favorite.”  Butterflies.  Just like when I was 18.  Five minutes later, Leo had moved down the table and was holding Dorothy’s hand.  I overheard him say, “Dorothy, I loved all the girls in our class, but you were my favorite.”  Sinking feeling in my stomach.  Just like when I was 18.  Charming Leo continued to change seats about every 5 minutes.  “Tanya, I loved all the girls in our class, but you were my favorite.”......  “Cathy, I loved all the girls in our class, but you were my favorite.”  ET CETERA!!!  You get the picture. 

     A Lady Never Discusses the Size of her Yarn Stash
     Then there was the daytrip with my cousins Susan and Peyton from Halifax, and my cousin Mary Ruth from Ottawa to Harvey to shop at the Briggs and Little Woolen Mills.....because, I don’t have enough wool in my life.  And neither do they!
That Could be Me!

Send me a Letter... 
    I had a quick visit with my daughter Julia in Toronto in mid-July.  Sweltering Toronto is not my favorite place to be in July; however, the temperature was pleasant and I had an event-filled week.  One of the highlights was attending a play performed on various porches in a downtown neighbourhood.  Postman, based on the life of Toronto’s first black letter carrier, was excellent!

Laurence Dean Ifill as Albert Jackson

Aunt Gladys to Norwood     
     While chatting with Aunt Gladys earlier this year about my friend Ines who is converting her family homestead to a Bed and Breakfast, we determined that Aunt Gladys had been to that very house in the 70s to buy hens.  At the age of 92, Aunt Gladys is no longer in the hen business, but she maintains a definite interest in old houses.  I suggested that Aunt Gladys might like to visit this house again.  She was keen, so away we went! 

Aunt Gladys on the Verandah at Norwood

The Hen Story:  One warm summer day, Aunt Gladys and her husband, Uncle Eldon, travelled 60 kilometres from Gorham’s Bluff to Cambridge Narrows to buy some hens.  The hens were packed in threes in burlap bags and loaded in the back of the Dodge half-ton.  On the way home, Aunt Gladys suggested that they stop at The Country Kitchen for dinner; being on a farm, they did not often get a chance to eat out.  Reluctantly, Uncle Eldon agreed.  Unpacking the hens at home later that afternoon, they discovered some hens to be half-dead and many to be dead-dead.  Uncle Eldon was not impressed.  There followed a beheading, gutting and pin-feather picking Hen Party.  A memorable day. 
Not Aunt Gladys; Not a Hen

The John Deere Trail
We hit the John Deere Trail in Carter’s Point one hot Sunday in early August.  This trail, built and maintained by twin brothers, features a gentle walk through the woods and an inspirational tour of impressive vegetable and flower gardens.  At the end of the walk, you are rewarded with refreshing lemonade and home-made cookies and cakes!  One Sunday every summer, Jerry and Joel host a tour of their trail and gardens as a fund-raiser for Long Reach United Church.  What a gift!
The John Deere Trail
Cemetery History 
     One August afternoon, my cousin Betsy, my Aunt Muriel and I made a stop near Gagetown at Elm Hill Road,  the site of an early settlement of  Black Loyalists in New Brunswick.  In the Elm Hill Cemetery, field stones with no markings indicate the head and foot of most of the gravesites.  Occasionally, you will find a tombstone with writing. 
Tombstone, Elm Hill Road Cemetery

Life on the Lakes     
     A weekend of heritage, nature, arts events took us back to the Washdemoak in early August.
  We attended a quilt show, a book sale, the Flowers House Tour.  Several artists and craftspeople were on site at Norwood demonstrating and selling their talents.   We purchased a gourmet picnic and a bottle of wine at Motts Landing Vineyard and Winery and sat in their field to eat it.  Beautiful.  We could have been in Tuscany, but we weren’t.  We were in Cambridge-Narrows overlooking the Washdemoak. 
Mott's Landing Vineyard and Winery
Charlotte’s Tea     
      In mid-August, a tea was held at 1810 Carter House in honor of my mother, a dedicated member of Peninsula Heritage, and an excellent tea-maker.  Ladies arrived in hats, gloves and pearls to enjoy the wide variety of teas and vast array of desserts. Charlotte, who would have been 99 years old on August 16th, would have enjoyed that tea party!!
Tea at 1810 Carter House
Noel at the Camp   
     Noel, my "Little Brother", was able to spend 3 nights with us at the camp this summer.
  I am going to let the pictures tell that story.  We all had a good time!
Noel at the Camp
Fisher Noel

Hammock-Lounger Noel
FireFighter Noel

Captain Noel

Tree-Climber Noel

ZooKeeper Noel

Kitten Farmer Noel

Puzzle-Solver Noel

Land of Potatoes and Plenty
   Last weekend, my sister and I took our elderly Aunt Carol to visit her elderly cousin Freda in Carleton County.  Freda would be our first-cousin-once-removed, in case you’re wondering.  We have many second, third, fourth cousins in Carleton County.  Our second cousin Gary took us on a wonderful tour of the area where we saw acres and acres and acres of potatoes, fields and fields and fields of oats, hectares and hectares and hectares of hay, big sky, rolling hills, antique cars, tractors, trucks, seeders, harvesters, sprayers, etc,etc,etc.  Plenty of evidence of lots of HARD WORK and agricultural success stories.  What a beautiful corner of our province.   And what kind, genuine, generous relatives I have in Carleton County.

Potato World

Until Next Time.....

Monday, 27 July 2015

Mountain Doctor:

Mountain Doctor

While the plane was descending on my flight from Toronto last week, I felt my right ear go into some distress.  An avid gum-chewer most of the time, I realized too late I had forgotten to pop the trusty Trident into my mouth having been too absorbed in conversation with my seat-mate, the HR man from Sobeys.  By the time I noticed the crackling in my ear, it was too late.  I deplaned and went home where my ear condition worsened as the day progressed. 
That evening and the next day I did extensive research on "airplane ear" or “barotrauma” and felt myself to be quite an expert by Saturday evening.  My room-mate Tom refers to me as Barb Fullerton, MD….Mountain Doctor.  The MacMillan girls call that DWOL….Doctors WithOut Licence. 

Mountain Doctor

I treated myself according to online direction—hot compresses, yawning, gum-chewing, valsalva.  Valsalva.  That’s the medical term we doctors use which means pinching your nostrils and exhaling to cause the ears to pop thereby unblocking the Eustachian Tube. 


Eustachian Tube.  That’s the canal in the ear that allows air to flow into the middle ear to balance pressure.  As you can see, I am quite confident in my medical knowledge…a little TOOOO confident as it turns out. 

Eustachian Tube
By Sunday morning I was deaf in my right ear, and the pain was heading toward excruciating. I decided it was time to consult a DWL----Doctor With Licence.  One millisecond after she looked into my ear she said, “It’s an infection.”  I was shocked; I had not even considered that!  I had misdiagnosed.  I could hardly believe it. I got my two antibiotic prescriptions filled and headed back to the hills with my room-mate Tom at the wheel.  He didn’t say much but I saw his eyebrows raise and his eyes roll when I admitted to him that I had been wrong in my diagnosis. 

Tom, uxorious as usual, waited on me hand and foot with tea and blankets and hot compresses.  By late afternoon, I pried myself off the couch, grabbed a knife, and told him I was going to the garden to get some greens.
Garden Knife

“You can’t do that!” he exclaimed.  “You have an imbalance in your Fallopian Tube!”
Tom has a way with words.  He has a way of mixing them up.  It makes me MAD because I think he is just being careless, and if he gave ANY THOUGHT WHATSOEVER to what he was going to say, he wouldn’t make such RIDICULOUS mistakes!
Fallopian Tubes
“My fallopian tube!” I yelled.  MY FALLOPIAN TUBE!!!???"  I’m impatient with this quaint little quirk of his at the best of times, but fueled by pain and painkillers, perhaps I was a little harsher than usual in my response.
“I mean your Estrogen Tube,” he sputtered, his eye on the knife in my hand.
Estrogen Tube
“My ESTROGEN TUBE!?” I screamed.  “I DON'T believe it!  EUSTACHIAN TUBE!  I have an infection in my EUSTACHIAN TUBE!!!”  I yelled, waving my hands and stamping my feet for emphasis.
“Right,” Tom repeated, cowering in his armchair, his eye still on the knife.  “Eustachian Tube.”

Until Next Time.......