Early This Morning

Bird in Wini's Hand

We woke up extra early this morning, 5:30 a.m. to be precise.  We got dressed, tucked our pants into our socks, hopped in the car and drove 7 km south.  We arrived at a 450 acres reserve that has been donated by a local family to be used for research.  This area is not open to the public, but we were allowed to enter under the guise of volunteers.

The Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory has set up a bird banding station on the reserve, and hired a guest bird bander to conduct the research.  Lucky for us, their guest bander has been staying at our bed and breakfast for the last month.  There hasn’t been much banding going on due to the cold and rainy weather, but now that the sun is out, the banding has begun!

We were the only volunteers this morning so we had a close up view.  There were 5 foot high bird nets set up amongst the trees, that looped at the bottom.  When a bird flew into the net it would fall into the bottom of the net.  It doesn’t hurt the birds, it’s more like a wee bird hammock.  The nets get checked every 20 minutes.  Lucky for us, there was an adorable Chipping Sparrow caught in the net on our first net check.  I tend to categorize all small, brown and black birds as chickadees.  It falls in line with my lifelong belief that all dogs are male and all cats are female.  Even though their junk may look different, I am still convinced that both species are monosex.

We gathered up our little Sparrow and brought it to the makeshift banding station.  His wings were measured, weight documented, age determined, and leg banded.  There is such a large variety of birds out there and therefore a wide assortment of sizes for bird bands to accommodate all leg sizes.  The most adorable bands are those for hummingbirds.  They have the tiniest legs, hence the smallest bands.  They are so small that they need to be carried on a diaper pin.

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After our sparrow, whom we named Cairo, did his part for research, he was placed on Wini’s hand.  He so generously paused for a photo opportunity, and then flew away.

We all fell in love a little bit this morning, with Cairo, the early morning light, and with the hidden life of birds.  We all agreed our trek was worth our shorter sleep.  Our guest bander says she had heard 47 different bird songs on our property, and has made me a list on her chalk board in her room.  We better start paying attention to our feathered friends.  Spring banding is coming to a close, but there will be more to do late summer and early fall.  And we’ll be there.

Bird in Band

Mother’s Day Special

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Mother’s Day is coming up this Sunday!  How best to express you appreciation for the mother in your life than with a trip to Prince Edward County!  Because we think mothers deserve the best for all their hard work, we are having a Mother’s Day Special this weekend!  We have reduced our rates for this weekend in celebration of all the wonderful mothers out there.

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On Saturday,  Picton is hosting Terroir at the beautiful Crystal Palace.  There will be over twenty vineyards from Prince Edward County showcasing their newly released wines, and pairing their wines with local food from the County.  Winemakers will be telling their unique stories about how they started their vineyards, their passion for their vines and how they make their wine.  We have 50% off tickets for you at South in Milford to enjoy this fine event.

Now we are not suggesting that the mother in your life will love you more if you take her to Prince Edward County, shower her in comfort, excellent food, and great wine but we do know that she’ll appreciate it, and she most likely deserves it!

So go and do a good deed and book now!  You can find all you need at South in Milford.

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A Few Spots Left

OLD SCHOOL BGC POSTER 2017 UPDATE

We are very excited about our 3rd annual Old School Bluegrass Camp!  Only 55 days until our first day of camp 2017.  As per usual, we have an amazing lineup of instructors this year.  The whole cast of the Foggy Hogtown Boys will be here, in addition to the awesome Adam Shier and the fabulous Kristine Schmitt.

Although Kristine has been with us each and every year, this year she is our vocals instructor.  Our campers have been asking for more vocals training, and we just had to listen to them.  Kristine is a power house on stage and comes with a wealth of knowledge about singing bluegrass and training your voice.  Last year she organized our bluegrass choir and private vocal lessons at camp.  We also had a singing parade around our school.  I can’t wait for what she has in store for us this year.

If you are thinking about joining us for our Old School Bluegrass Camp, don’t hesitate! We are already 80% full.  There are spots left in each instrument category but not many.

Sign up here, and see for yourself what all the fun is about!  It really will be one of the best weeks of your 2017!

Happy Easter Bunny!

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That was my best egg this year.  It is a self portrait, although I didn’t nail my peaches and cream complexion or the shape of my head.  I spent Easter Sunday all by myself.  I had a blissful 24 hours alone. We had our first guests of the season at South this weekend.  Jess went to Toronto with the girls to have Easter dinner with his family, and I stayed home to tend to our guests.

I adore Jess’ family, and I am sure I missed a delicious dinner, and general Parker revelry last night.  But having the house to myself is a treat I rarely receive.  We did do lots of fun Easter activities together on Saturday.  Our annual Milford Easter parade and hunt is always a high point.  There is a chance to decorate your Easter bonnet at the Milford library.  I can never seem to convince my kids to wear a bonnet let alone decorate one, so we tend to skip this activity.  Our whole town and community meet at the town hall for the parade.  We walk, bike ride, and stroll through town together with our silly bonnets to the fairgrounds.  The Easter bunny is there, as are real bunnies, and Jen’s dog always rides her donkey to the fairgrounds.  I feel like that dog and donkey team are the unofficial mascots of Milford.  They are there for every event.

IMG_4719Once the Easter bunny gives the go ahead, hundreds of kids run off searching for treats. Our Recreation Committee dispersed 8500 chocolate eggs for our hunt this year.  The kids sweep that field clean in a matter of minutes. There are hot dogs and hot chocolate to consume, and neighbours to catch up with.  It is a small town event, and it is one that I have grown to love.

IMG_4720 The kids and I decorated eggs, and we had a wee hunt of our own Sunday morning.  Jess made a delicious breakfast and then they were off to Toronto.  I spent the day reading the paper, walking my dogs and organizing.  The dogs and I explored one of our local beaches, and found a trail I had never been on before.  I had a much anticipated plate of Easter nachos for dinner with a glass of wine.  I ended the day, cuddled on the couch watching a chick flick.  It was a perfect day.

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Now my kids are home, each one showing me their Easter haul from Nanny.  Back to the noise, and the chaos which is just fine with me.  It was too quiet without them.

Hope you had a wonderful Easter weekend!

Marilyn and I

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I am not a performer.  I would much rather sit amongst the crowd, than be in the limelight.  There has been quite a bit of interest from the media about our move to Milford, and our chosen digs.   The phone started ringing after our Globe and Mail article was published in January 2016.  Just last week, a television show from the U.K. and Germany have ask to film our home.  It all makes me cringe slightly.  I am flattered that people find our life choices interesting, but the thought of being on stage makes me want to lock the door, turn out the lights and draw the shades.

The Marilyn Denis Show contacted me about a year ago to appear on their show.  I kept declining as it takes a lot of effort to clean up my home, look presentable, and squash my stage fright.  They wanted to send in a film crew, and I just couldn’t bring myself to say yes.  I kept imagining that I would simultaneously throw up and pee my pants in front of the camera and crew, and then they would accidentally air my social faux pas on national television.  Just for the record, I have never done that in public before but it seemed like a rational concern at the time.

A few months back, they came up with another option.  I was to film the episode myself, and mail it in.  Now this was an option I could get my head around.  Luckily my friend Mike from Authentic Media offered to help film my M.D. spot.  Even when it was just Mike and me, I was still quite nervous.

Yesterday was my big premiere.  I got all dressed up in my track pants, and watched it with my kids last night.  It is not as bad as I had feared.  I was going to quietly let it slip under the radar, but I thought I would share it with you.  I am never going to own the stage (even though I do own a stage but you know what I mean), and be comfortable in my own skin in front of a camera.  It is not a skill I ever plan to hone.  I am going to go with generally awkward, nervous with odd hands gestures, respectively rumpled clothes, not enough make up for television, and a slightly lopsided face. Because that’s me in front of a camera, or in person because I’ve accidentally lost control of my bladder while throwing up in public.

If you’d like to peruse some celebrity homes, learn about front door makeovers, and see my clip then click here.  If you want to go right to my highlights, then skip to minute 21.

Enjoy the show!

 

 

 

Spring?

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I believe spring has sprung, even though it was snowing this morning.  For a Canadian winter, this past one was quite mild.  Not once did I pull out my full long johns.  There were a few days I wore my thermal shirt but was never so cold that I donned my full thermal threads from neck to ankle.

Now that I live in Prince Edward County, there are some clear non weather based markers of spring.  The first event of the season is Maple in the County.  It is the beginning of maple syrup production. When the nights are cool and the days warm, the sap starts to flow.  Many farms in the County open their gates so us non farmers can come and witness what they do so well, raising chickens, pigs, cows, making maple syrup, and maple candies.  One of our favourite places to visit is Nyman’s farm.   We get our fill of adorable baby farm animals plus some tasty maple treats.

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We did try a few new places this year as well.  Saturday afternoon I ventured to the other side of Milford to have a glass of wine at the Jackson Falls Country Inn.  I spotted a few friends at the bar and enjoyed Whoa Nellie! belting out some awesome tunes.  Jackson Falls has revamped their kitchen and is now serving full course dinners most nights.  I can’t wait to come back and try their culinary delights.  They are one of 13 restaurants participating in Countylicious which is happening right now.

Our other new favourite is Parsons Brewing Company in Picton.  Chris and Sam Parsons have opened up a stunning facility with great beer and awesome food.  I had a delicious pint of Mousetrap Rye Pale Ale, which paired perfectly with my maple infused pork tacos.  I met Chris and Sam before we moved to the County.  They lived just a few short blocks from us in Toronto, and we all moved to the County on the same weekend back in June of 2013.  They are now very good friends of our, and it has been wonderful having another family from our old ‘hood go through the rural transition with us.  I can’t wait to see what other delectable food their brewery kitchen produces this season, and there will always be something good to drink there.  Parsons brewery is going to be our new hang out this summer!

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Photo of Parsons Brewing Co. is from the talented Eve Harvey.

My Girl

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Eleven years ago today my middle child was born.  Wini’s conception and birth were a bit of a surprise to us.  As a sleepless mother of a 5 month old, I was taken aback when I found out I was pregnant.  Once the shock subsided, we looked forward to our happy accident. Her arrival into this world was full force.  Of course we knew that after 40 weeks in utero, we should expect a child to emerge from my body.  We had done it once before.  We simply didn’t plan for her to arrive so quickly.

I had my first contraction at 1 am on February 27th, 2006.  Forty seven minutes later Wini was born.  Luckily I had a team around me.  Jess caught Wini and swept her mouth for any obstructions.  I lay naked on our bathroom floor with a new born on my chest, while my mother in law paced the floor repeating “Holy shit, holy shit, holy shit”.  She is an experienced nurse and did have the where with all to haul a dirty sweatshirt out of my hamper and cover my daughter.  Then we waited for my midwife to arrive while my oldest child stood crying in her crib.

My awesome midwife Manavi knew something was up when I didn’t answer her last phone call and proceeded to run every red light to get to my house.  She parked on my front lawn and bounded up the stairs yelling “I’m coming” in response to me screaming her name. Everyone was well taken care of and deemed healthy, and we were able to add a plus one to our little clan.

Wini is one of the joys of my life.  She is loving and funny, and smart, and a little firecracker.  And let’s face it, she is the only kid that looks like me.

Happy birthday to my Winstar.  May your days be long and full of happiness, fulfillness, family, friends, adventure, love, and peace.

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 Although my cake decorating skills leave a lot to be desired, this cake is delicious.  The recipe is from my one of my favorite people who has some serious kitchen skills.  Check it out at Annie Dishes.

The photo of my daughter and me is the fabulous work of Quietlife Photography.