Posted by: Valerie | April 7, 2013

My clothes pegs are getting restive

They were clattering around in their basket when I was doing the laundry this morning.  Sorry pegs, spring is seriously teasing us this year. Already into April and still no chance of hanging the clothes out to dry due to a foot or so of dirty snow on the patio at back of the house. I have to confess to being a bit of an enviro-babe (“babe” is a loose term in my case) when it comes to a drying-line of sheets flapping merrily in the wind. It is so satisfying – same as baking bread. I don’t mean with a machine – I mean punching it out on a board and watching it rise under a damp cloth then plaiting it into an elegant and delicious loaf. It’s a smell thing too. Bread smells wonderful and so does laundry dried in the fresh air.  I have to admit that I haven’t made bread that way for years and years. I don’t eat it often either. To my disgust I have almost completely lost my sense of taste and smell which takes a lot of the fun out of gustatory matters.  I now have a tendency to use a lot of chili flakes and Indian spices in my cooking. Joe is getting used to it. The plus side is that cleaning out the kitty litter isn’t quite as dramatically unpleasant as it was before.

It’s been a busy first three months of the year up here in the Kawarthas. Joe and I had a brief escape to visit some friends who were spending the winter in Myrtle Beach. Not very warm but definitely an improvement on the weather at home.  I’ll take walking along a nearly empty white sand beach in February any time! Our friends were generous hosts, plying us with copious amounts of good and ridiculously inexpensive wine by Canadian standards. Unfortunately but unavoidably they also shared a nasty cold with me just before we left. Poor Susan – she was quite sick while we were there and her bronchitis lived on as a nasty cold in me and then Joe.


Live Oak at Brookgreen

We did get to enjoy ourselves though .  A visit to Brookgreen sculpture gardens was a high spot for me.  With avenues of live oaks draped with Spanish moss, we were away from the hustle of a commercial seaside resort and back in the romantic deep south that I used to read about in novels by Frances Parkinson Keyes when I was about 14. I suspect they may not have been very good books but my 14-year-old self didn`t notice.

I have been musing on the progress of my reading over the years. From Enid Blyton`s Famous Five and Adventure series to the School Friend, Little Women and Anne of G.G. Then Agatha Christie at around 12, followed by the afore-mentioned FPK. I do remember having graduated to Gone With The Wind at 17 but don`t really remember what caused the transition to Tolstoy and the like by the time I was 20. I was “serious” for years after that. I remember reading all of Thomas Hardy one winter. I do wish I had kept a log of everything I read over the years. Just recently I decided to reread Anna Karenina which I remember really loving in my 20s.

Garbo as Anna

Garbo as Anna

After getting halfway through I needed to have a break for something lighter. The translation I find annoying although it’s supposed to be the classic version. Of course it was translated in the 1900s so there is a stiffness about it that I suspect – but how would I know – is probably not present in the original. I confess to being a literary omnivore. As long as it is well written, I will read it.

Our second break this year was a trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake for a short stay at the 1860ish Riverbend Inn that is also a winery. This was a Christmas gift from James and Angela and it was lovely, lovely. We ate excellent food, sloshed lots of wine and wandered about. N-o-t-L is a quaint little theatre town, home of the Shaw Festival, about 15 km from the heavily commercialised Falls area. Much more to our taste. We allow ourselves a little snobbery.

Two old geezers

Two old geezers

Also poor Joe has been to the Falls so often as visitors from the UK and Hungary have always expected to see the Falls. Of course that has always been in the summer when it is stinking hot and full of tourists.

I have always found that visiting world famous tourist destinations has been a bit of a let-down.  Thing is, you are so familiar with the postcard views, National Geographic or TV travel shows that when you do see it for real there are no big surprises.  Niagara Falls looks just like it is supposed to – so does the Grand Canyon etc. etc.  I am sure that if you spent a couple of days exploring the Grand Canyon the experience would be quite different but most tourists turn up, look at the view, buy a souvenir  and a cup of coffee and get back on the bus, as it were.  Years ago we went as a family to the GC and were most amused to see a whole busload of Japanese tourists spill out, line up in front of their bus for a group shot, and get back on again.  They may have stayed all of 20 minutes. Then there was another bus load of elderly Mancunians who exclaimed to each other noisily “Eeee – it’s even more bee-ootifool than it was the last time we were here.” Say that to yourself in a Manchester accent for best effect.

The Butterfly Conservatory at Niagara was a wonderful treat. Lovely and warm which it wasn`t outside but that was to be expected as the place is a replica of the Costa Rican rain forest. There must have been thousands of spectacular butterflies all flutterbying about. I had planned to take lots of photographs but the darn things wouldn’t keep still long enough. I felt particularly honoured when a couple of them actually sat on me. Funny how things change. All my life, until the last few years, I have had a great horror of flying things in confined spaces. Moths, birds and worst of all, bats. Fine outside but not near me indoors, oh, no! Somehow, I have got over it – with the exception of the bats, that is.  I do remember having  to spray rigid with hair spray a huge moth that had invaded my bedroom when I was a house slave in Germany. It was late and the household had retired and would not have been impressed if I had wakened them!  It must have been a nasty end for the moth. I apologise in retrospect.

butterfly strip

I have rambled on as usual and now it`s time to put away my metaphorical pen and go make cauliflower and garlic soup.

A bientôt, mes amis. Bis später, meine Freunde – I could go on in Italian, Hungarian, Spanish etc. but that would be showing off…






  1. Val, I enjoyed your musings about hanging clothes on the line and making bread. Nothing compares with sleeping in sheets dried on the line. When my family was growing up I made six loaves of bread every week. Kneading all that bread was good for my mental health with four young children to look after. I enjoyed your list of readings as well. It brought back memories. And your descriptions of your travels. Such lovely writing. Thank you.

    • I am so pleased that you enjoy my mental wanderings. I do enjoy just rabbiting along. Thanks to you.

  2. I really enjoyed your ramble, Valerie. I remember your trip to the CG and the expensive, oriental rug you brought back that we all reckoned was made in Dayton, Ohio. I’ve had the washing on the line, on and off, for the last few weeks. Ottawa is, perhaps, more balmy than Bancroft. As the snow has melted we have begun to realise the level of devastation, and the work involved to clean it up, that resulted from the big, wet snowstorm just before Xmas – many trees lost their tops and about 16 are down. On the plus side – the daffodils are up. Keep rambling.

    • I still have that rug in my front hall. It has held up very well although the fringes on one side have disappeared. Other than that it’s fresh as a daisy. SEE!
      We’re behind you on the melting business and have yet to see what the moles have done to the front lawn. It will still be a week or so before we can get down the back, even in wellies, to see how our trees have fared.

  3. Dear Val, you do “rambling” very well. I was stumped at “mancunians” but you explained it shortly thereafter. Funny how townies get their names. Anyway, don’t worry about bats – they are as afraid of you as you are of them.

  4. Funny your spring took so long to get to you, today feels like the first day of our winter! The cats will be bugging me to light the fire soon. I wish I’d kept track of books I’d read too, I did for a while then chucked it out!! Now, I’m doing it on flickr. BTW I’ve NEVER read any Enid Blyton books, I rebelled against her when I was the right age, I think because everyone else was reading them, I was like that, actually, I still am! (With some things :o)

    Our neighbours have just been on a three month tour of the US, Andrew gave his camera to someone to take a photo of them at the statue of liberty, when he looked at the photo, they hadn’t included the statue! I’m still laughing about that. :o)

    Lovely to read your bloggings again. Keep them coming, please. :o)

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