Man on the Moon


Forty-five years ago today July 20, 1969, the first human being, Neil Armstrong, stepped on to our moon uttering these words: “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” (watch it here).

Neil Armstron stepping on to the moon

Neil Armstrong stepping on to the moon

Indeed it was. I was 16 years old at the time and I witnessed that historical event. I’ll never forget it. I was down east on holidays at my grandparent’s farm with my Mom and Dad at the time. To this day, I can recall vividly sitting all by myself in the dark, watching it on the black and white TV. It was ironic that I was sitting there on an old fashioned farm that still had milking cows, chickens that laid the eggs, a garden full of the year’s potatoes and vegetables, and hay growing in the fields and yet, there I was, watching a man walk on the moon – live on TV!
Apollo 11 was the name of this space mission to the moon under the direction of NASA – the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. In the sixties, there were a series of space flights beginning with a simple flight to the outer atmosphere of our planet Earth and culminating with several moon landings. We watched almost every space ship launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida on the east coast of the U.S. on our TV in the living room. It was an exciting time for a kid and adult alike. Little did I know the politics involved in the space program. The United States and the Soviet Union were in a space race. Russia was the first country to put a man into space (up through the atmosphere and straight back to earth), much to the chagrin of the United States. This was a race like no other. These two countries were in the throws of a ‘cold war’ which basically meant that they didn’t trust each other, weren’t getting along, and were always trying to ‘one up’ each other. The late President Kennedy had promised in 1961 “that before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”


Crew of Apollo 11

The crew of Apollo 11 included Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin (the second man to walk on the moon) and Michael Collins. The rocket that launched them into space on July 16, 1969 had three parts: 1. a Command Module (nicknamed Columbia from the Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon) with a cabin for the three astronauts, and the only part that landed back on Earth; 2. a Service Module, which supported the Command Module with propulsion, electrical power, oxygen, and water; and 3. a Lunar Module for landing on the Moon, nicknamed the “Eagle”. It took 3 days to get to the moon from the earth. The world held our collective breath when the Lunar Module, with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on board, was landing on the moon’s surface in an area named the ‘Sea of Tranquility’ – nothing like this had ever been attempted before in history. The entire world cheered when it was successful. These two men were on the moon for 21 1/2 hours and participated in a two and a half hour moon walk. It was breathtaking! They planted an American flag and left some momentoes like a piece of wood from the Wright brothers’ 1903 airplane’s left propeller, in addition to the footprints in the moon’s surface.

First footprint on the moon - photo by Buzz Aldrin

First footprint on the moon – photo by Buzz Aldrin

Again, when the Lunar Module blasted off from the moon, our global breath was held until they successfully docked with the Command Module circling the moon’s orbit with Michael Collins. They returned to Earth on July 24th in the Command Module which splashed down with parachutes in the Pacific Ocean. The astronauts where quarantined for 21 days in a retrofitted Airstream trailer, in case they brought back any ‘moon pathogens’.
Of course, the American’s held huge parades in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles for the Astronauts and celebrated their successful win of the space race with the Soviet Union.
But what I remember most is sitting alone in the dark at my Gramma’s, watching the moon walk late at night and looking out the window at the moon and the stars with incredible wonderment.

Earth from the moon.

Earth from Apollo 11






Barbequed Pizza


Recently one hot summer afternoon, I had a craving for homemade pizza.  It all started when I spotted the pizza crust dough in the freezer that my daughter-in-law Jeanette had left.  I took it out and let it sit until it was room temperature.   I also took out a small jar of pasta sauce from the freezer.

I dusted flour on a piece of wax paper on my center island and proceeded to roll it out to fit my cookie sheet.  It was easy to pick up the wax paper with the dough on it and lay it on the oiled cookie sheet.  I then fired up the barbeque to fully heat up.  I cut up some onions, a red pepper, a tomato, and grated some mozzarella cheese.

Pizza ready for BBQ

Pizza ready for BBQ


I spread on some pasta sauce then sprinkled the cut up veggies and sliced olives from the fridge then topped the whole thing with mozzarella cheese.  By this time the BBQ was hot (around 550F degrees).  I brought the pizza outside and placed it on the upper shelf inside the barbeque.  Then I turned all the burners down to their lowest setting and set my timer for 15 minutes.

Ready to eat

Ready to eat

After it was cooked, I let it sit for 5 minutes.  Wow, what a delicious pizza!  I ate several square pieces and let the rest cool to put in the fridge for later – actually it lasted for 3 lunches.

Here’s Jeanette’s Pizza Dough recipe:

Mix together:

2 teaspoons dry yeast

¾ cup lukewarm water

2.3 cup flour (white)

Let sit for 30 minutes, then add:

1 cup of flour

1 cup of cold water

Let sit for another 30 minutes.


4 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup olive oil

Add  flour ½ cup at a time until dough pulls from the side of the bowl.  Knead for 10 minutes and let rise until doubled in size.   Freezes well in large baseball size pieces.






Remembering Hill Park

Recently I attended my high school reunion.  This was a bittersweet event because my old alma mater Hill Park Secondary School is being closed and demolished.



This reunion was the last opportunity to walk the halls and the rare chance to toast with alcohol in the school cafeteria.  I estimate that over a thousand people attended during the evening.  The Alumni Association did a bang-up job organizing the afternoon walk down memory lane through the halls, gyms, library, and classrooms.  In the evening, the girls gym was set up with displays by decades (50’s and 60’s; 70’s, 80’s, etc.) and the cafeteria hosted the bar and outside teachers’ parking lot sported food vendors.   I attended with my sister Faye who was a student in the early sixties while I was a student in the late sixties and early seventies.  It was awesome.




When it was built in 1955, Hill Park was a state-of-the-art school and the first high school on the Hamilton mountain.  Later, long after I graduated, a community center with pool was added as well as an Early Childhood Center.

My years at Hill Park were probably one of the best times of my life.  I met my first husband there.  I actually don’t remember much of what I learned but occasionally something from that era will pop out of my head, like a quote from Shakespeare or the simple typing skills I learned which I’m using right now.  I know I retained a lot regardless.  Some friends that I knew in high school have reconnected through Facebook while others have slipped from my life long ago.   In high school, I LOVED sports.


I was on most of the girls’ school teams, played all intramural sports, and even refereed intramural games of volleyball and basketball.  I was on the basketball team (yes, I’m only 5’2”), volleyball team, track and field team, and gymnastics team.



I recall that many winter nights after practice, I’d phone my sister Faye and ask her if she could pick me up at school to save me the 5 mile walk home in the dark – bless her heart, she never said no and always came to get me even in her bathrobe and hair curlers.

Infamous Phone Booth

Infamous Phone Booth

I LIVED for sports.  Our school teams were called the Rams.  Classes where a way to pass the time until gym class or after school for team practises or games.

1971 Spring Formal in the dress I made.

1971 Spring Formal in the dress I made.

My favourite teacher of all time was Miss Joyce Reynolds, my gym teacher.  Long after I left Hill Park and was married with children, I found out that Miss Reynolds lived beside my mother-in-law.  I was able to tell her then how much she meant to me and the important impact she had on my life.  Another teacher I ‘admired’ (okay, was gaga over), was a young British lad who seemed not much older than us students – now, remember, this was during the decade of the Beatles and other British rock groups and ANYONE with an English accent was SO cool.  He was dreamie………. I worked so hard in his class dissecting my and other classmates dead specimens (for ‘brownie points’ I’m certain),  that I ended up with 92% in that biology class.  Even though I was in the course stream which was destined for post-secondary education, I loved Home Economics class and Art the best.  At the reunion, I met someone at the ‘70s display who didn’t even know that Hill Park offered Art class.  I still love art and practice ‘home economics’ on a daily basis lol.

'71 Grad Day

’71 Grad Day

I remember that I spent a lot of ‘spares’ in the cafeteria or the library with friends.  In my final year there, I was part of the ‘Soc Club’ that helped organize various events like the Christmas toy drive where some of my fellow students had tons of fun playing with the toys like Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robot.  Or Grad Day where I was JestHer and my boyfriend was JestHim – we made bristle board size playing cards and hats for costumes.  It was great to have the day off to just goof off and spend time in the exclusive ‘Grad Lounge’.  Ahhh, those were the days with nothing much to think about ……..

As Faye and I walked the halls and visited the library a few weeks ago, I noticed that all the years worth of student councils photos were on display on the far wall.  I remembered that I had been on student council one year and there I was, all this time on display and I didn’t even know it, Sentinal Executive of 1969-70, grade 11 Rep.

Student Council

We also walked into the Auditorium where we proudly graduated on stage after grade 12.  The Board of Education made a completely brainless decision that year to make all the grade 13 students attend one of two schools downtown the next year which meant that we couldn’t finish our high school career in our beloved Hill Park.   I had to leave the school that I loved, the friends that I had, and take public transportation to a foreign school – I lasted until the new year then eloped, quit school, and moved to another city.

Sadly, I didn’t get to see any of my old friends during the reunion – there were SO many people there!  I guess we should have planned a meeting spot but I didn’t expect such a crowd.  Actually, I didn’t recognize anyone anymore.  However, one gentleman at the sixties display remembered my other sister Betty who wasn’t there because she lives on Vancouver Island! lol  Everyone remembers Betty!

once a Ram Always

I will always remember Hill Park, those teachers, and friends who left a tremendous impression on my life.  Cheers to Hill Park!  Go Rams Go!!



I spent a pleasant half an hour yesterday afternoon in my back yard cutting organic Stinging Nettle leaves into a bucket.  I was careful (this time) not to touch any part of the plant to avoid the stinging.  Nettles grow wild around here.  I used to pull them out, roots and all, and chuck them in my fire pit.  Now I’m just careful not to touch them.  I harvested a half a 5 gallon bucket of fresh nettle leaves with my vinyl kitchen gloves on – enough to fill six dehydrator trays.  This first batch is promised to my niece Brodie.

I remember once when my boys were small and they were playing a game of hide-and-seek in the back yard.  One of them (Taylor or Darin) hid in the nice big green plants and came yelping out, jumping up and down as they were stinging from head to toe:  he had hid in a patch of stinging nettle.


Stinging Nettles growing by the river

Stinging Nettles growing by the river

Urtica dioica, often called common nettle or stinging nettle, is a herbaceous perennial flowering plant, native to Europe, Asia, northern Africa, and North America, and is the best-known member of the nettle genus Urtica.  Nettles are an amazing herb.    They’ve been used medicinally for hundreds of years to treat joint/muscle pain, eczema, arthritis, gout, anemia, urinary tract infections, hay fever, joint pain, tendonitis, insect bites, sprains, and strains.

It’s no wonder that stinging nettle is a wonder herb:  per 100 grams (1 cup = 89 grams) contains Total Fat 0.1 g; Sodium 4 mg; Potassium 334 mg; Total Carbohydrate 7 g; Dietary fiber 7 g; Sugar 0.2 g; Protein 2.7 g; Vitamin A 40%; Calcium 48%; Iron 8%; Vitamin B-6 5%; and Magnesium 14% (% based on a 2,000 calorie diet)!   It can be taken as a tea, tincture, or included in a skin cream.

As with all herbs, nettle should be respected when it comes to possible interaction with other herbs, medications, or medical conditions.  It’s always a good idea to speak with your health care professional.

  • Nettle can raise or lower blood sugar so diabetics need to monitor their blood sugar closely to determine the effect of nettle on their own body.
  • Stinging nettle can have a diuretic effect, raising the risk of dehydration, and it can increase the effects of Diuretic drugs
  • Stinging nettle may affect the blood’s ability to clot, and could interfere with blood thinning drugs.
  • Stinging nettle may lower blood pressure, so it could make the effects of drugs for high blood pressure stronger
  • Because stinging nettle can act as a diuretic, it can increase the effects of these drugs,
  • Stewed stinging nettle leaves enhance the anti-inflammatory effect of NSAIDs, reducing pain in acute arthritis.
  • Pregnant women should not use nettle.


Drying Nettles

Drying Nettles

This morning, the nettles were crisp and dry in the dehydrator overnight.  I crunched them up in a Ziploc bag then put them in a Mason jar to store.  I’ll get outside later and cut off some more stinging nettle leaves to dry.





Garden of Eatin’


Today I picked my first garden produce: rhubarb. My daughter Nellie and I enjoyed a stick of rhubarb dipped in sugar just like when I was a youngster. Eating that sweetened sour rhubarb reminded me of what heavenly delights I have to look forward to in the next few months from my garden of eatin’ :

Fresh rhubarb and sugar

Fresh rhubarb and sugar

I received my first clump of rhubarb from my elderly neighbour when I moved here 33 years ago.  I went on to give clumps to other new neighbours over the years as well.  My friend Farmgal gifted me a new clump of rhubarb a few years ago and I planted it up by my kitchen garden close to the house – today’s rhubarb was from this plant.



Who can resist mint!  In teas or just about anything else, mint is wonderful.  Drying mint for storing and winter use is easy-peasy.

Day Lillie

Day Lillie

Just days after the snow melts, day lillies begin to poke through the ground.  Within a few weeks they grow a foot tall adding lime green colour to the yard.  These bright orange flowers can be added to salads or even stir-fried.

Wild Ginger

Wild Ginger

I dug this wild ginger from the forest near my house.  I just adore the velvety green leaves and the delicate little flowers.  I’m sure I could eat the root if they weren’t too pretty to dig up.

Bee Balm

Bee Balm

Isn’t the flower beautiful?  At one time, I had six different colours but red is my favourite – my sister Faye gave me the original plant years ago.  Bee Balm or Bergamot is is that flowery smell of Earl Grey Tea.  It’s nice to just rub the leaves and smell it for hours.

Ginko Biloba

Ginko Biloba

I planted my ‘Ginko’ tree in honour of my first grandchild Kalia’s birth 10 years ago.   Ginko is reported to have memory-enhancing properties so I’d better start drying and using for a tea any time now.

Creeping Thyme

Creeping Thyme

I planted this creeping thyme in the pathway under the arbour.  Every time I walk through that arbour, I smell that sweet smell of thyme.  I use this thyme in my soups and other recipes, even when I have to brush the new-fallen snow off.



I have several areas where Hops vines grow.  They are versatile and forgiving and create wonderful shade.  Last year, I clipped all the ripe hops off, dried them, and mailed them to my son Robin who used them in his beer making.



One of the first things I planted when we moved to this place were apple trees.   I have three remaining apple trees but only one produces apples that I love.  They make great Apple Crisp.

It’s hard to believe that only a few short weeks ago, the ground was covered in 2 feet of snow followed by 3 feet of flood water.  I can’t wait to be eating from my garden of eatin’.


*most pictures were taken last year


Spring Flood


I live on an island! Well actually, I didn’t win a lottery and go out and buy a tropical island. The great spring thaw happened and MADE my house appear to be on an island surrounded by water! Last week, we had two feet of snow on the ground and even more if you add the 3+ feet drifts in some spots. Then the temperatures began to rise above zero celsius (32F) ……… way above normal. And within 2 days, most of the snow has melted! That translates into flooding. Everywhere. Our area has been issued a Flood Warning (ya, no kidding). Snow pack from forests, ice on rivers, and rainfall have combined together to suddenly create flooding in Eastern Canada. It’s not just in my area – many places are under Flood Warnings as rivers, creeks, and lakes overflow their banks. Here, the river ‘bank’ is now 30 feet from my house instead of 200+ feet. Unfortunately, this is only the beginning. The weather forecast is for heavy rains for the next few days. We have been warned (again) to brace for further flooding and prepare for the worse.  This is worse than the 2nd Hundred Year Flood in 2008.

April 12, 2014 Backyard Flood

April 12, 2014 Backyard Flood

Yesterday was quite calm and the water looked like glass. By the middle of the day, I could see the still-frozen ice on the river begin to move away from the shoreline. A pair of Mallard Ducks were swimming in backyard and a Great Blue Heron stood guard on top of the dock. My grown kids decided to go canoeing after the long (way too long) winter of frozen river. Thankfully, they didn’t have to walk down to the beach to retrieve the canoe because Taylor dragged it up almost to the house last fall. They only had to use a use a shovel as a paddle to get to the shed down by the water, where the paddles were stored (note to self: bring a paddle up to the garage next fall). Marty and Jeanette paddled down to Private Prop which was a lake in itself. The even watched a beaver playfully swimming on the grass, a.k.a. flooded field. The cement picnic tables were almost under water too. They enjoyed a unique paddle through the surrounding forest where Marty was able to photograph amazing orange ‘fungi’ seemingly ‘growing’ on the ice. Later after supper, Marty and Taylor canoed from the house down through the yard (watch it here) and out to the swamp towards the bridge. They saw several beavers, including the largest beaver Taylor has ever seen. One beaver swam right in front of the canoe so they got a real close encounter.

Taylor and Marty canoeing in our backyard

Taylor and Marty canoeing in our backyard

I waded down to the shed in my rubber boots, choosing the path that I knew was the highest in the yard. I wanted to check my lawn tractor and lawn mowers. Predictably, they were in about 4 inches of water. Unfortunately, I didn’t bring my cell phone with me because I didn’t want to ruin it if I fell in the water and got a soaker. So I couldn’t call one of my kids up at the house to come help me. I managed to find the hydraulic lift, which was under water, and crank up the front of the lawn tractor to put something underneath to raise it a couple of inches. However, the mower deck was still under water on one side. Then I turned a couple of buckets upside-down and popped a wheelie with the push mowers and got them up on top and out of the water.
Today it’s much more threatening-looking. We had rain overnight. The wind has changed directions and the water, large ice chunks, and debris are now being blown in our direction right up on to the yard (we’ll see if anything interesting floats in like other peoples docks, which happened once, or even a boat – happened too). I can watch the chunky ice float slowly, almost frame-by-frame, down the river towards the city of Ottawa where it will empty into the Ottawa River which will empty into the St. Lawrence River.

Taylor canoeing up his bike

Taylor canoeing up his bike

Now here’s the kicker: the forecast is for heavy rains, even thunderstorms today and tomorrow. The prediction is that the humidex will make it feel like the high 20sC (80sF) but then on Tuesday, a cold front is slated to move in and it will feel like -10C (14F), yes that’s minus 10 celsius. Bizarre. Gee, I wonder if we’ll be able to skate instead of canoe in our yard this week??

In a few short weeks, it will look like this:

My 'Lake of Shining Waters' , Rideau River

The Sides of my Fridge

The outside of my fridge is an anthology of the life that I’ve lived and the people who’ve lived it with me. The actual surface is barely visible under all the artwork, notes, fridge magnets, and other memorabilia. Almost all three sides are visible ….. and completely covered. To me, it’s a tribute …… recognition of accomplishments or places we’ve visited.



The front side is reserved for a special tribute to our beloved Chris. Front and centre is one of my favourite pictures of Nellie and Melvin with their Daddy on the beach in New Carlisle, Quebec. Anchoring the bottom of the freezer door are fridge magnets from the many places we’ve visited like Comox Valley, B.C.; Niagara Falls; Vancouver Aquarium; Montreal’s Biodome, Calgary; Tadousssac, Quebec; Pacific Rim National Park, B.C.; Bonaventure’s BioPark; and of course Perce Rock, Gaspesie, Quebec. Every time I go to the fridge, I am reminded of these happy times with my family from coast to coast. In the top corner, I can always find our ‘burn permit number’ magnet when we need to phone it in at the start of an outdoor fire, just to keep the fire department aware of deliberate fires. And beside it is a magnet with Emergency CPR instructions. I hope we don’t ever need that…..

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One side of my fridge has the oldest collection of artwork. There you will find a diagram of DNA and RNA that my oldest son Robin drew for his younger brother Marty about 15 years ago to explain how it all worked. There is also a chemistry Periodic Table which has been in the top left corner of several fridges for many, many years. It’s always handy to have this reference just in case you ever need the symbol for any of the elements ;). A wee note from my grown daughter Kristi, drawn when she was about 5 years old is held by a fridge magnet for our veterinary office. There’s a thank you letter from Marty and Jeanette after I mailed them their tent to British Columbia. And a computer printed picture of my son Taylor wake-boarding on the river. I like the fridge magnet with a picture of the Emerald Ash Borer – this insect is devastating the ash trees around here so it’s handy to have a visual reference in case I see one.  Near the bottom, there’s also a sketch of the relationship between gamma rays, x-rays, microwaves, UV rays, and radio waves and colours that looks like it was drawn by Marty a long time ago.

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The far side of the fridge is the most open and eclectic collection in the entire house. There’s the large Mother’s Day ‘memo’ board made by Melvin when he was 5 years old. And my granddaughter Olivia’s artwork including a googly-eye star and a colourful thanksgiving turkey. More fridge magnets of ‘how safe is the ice?’ or Telehealth phone number. Granddaughter Kalia’s baby and toddler pictures – she’s 10 years old now. Sometimes I have to rearrange things as they get knocked off when someone brushes by.

All in all, I love these moments in time that are displayed on the sides of my fridge.

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