Welcome to Suzanne’s blog, Tuesday Café

Suzanne StenglAuthor Suzanne Stengl writes whimsical, heartwarming romance and cozy mysteries. When she needs a break from her keyboard, she swims lengths at the Y, skis at Sunshine Village and hikes in the Rockies. She’s also a pretty good line dancer . . . and a very poor euchre player.

Autumn in Banff

Yesterday was officially the first day of autumn  in the Northern Hemisphere, a time referred to as the Autumnal Equinox. An equinox occurs about March 20 and about September 22. On this date, day and night are each about 12 hours long. This is an approximation because it depends on where you are on the planet.

The word equinox comes from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night).

To celebrate the equinox, and just because we wanted to, we spent the day in Banff.

After all the snow we had in the second week of September, the Indian Summer is beautiful. Nights are cool, days are warm, there is no wind and the sky has that haziness of autumn. We drove the hour and a half to Banff townsite and parked by Central Park. Walking along the trail by the Bow River, we passed the canoe docks.

boat house beside the Bow River in Banff

boat house beside the Bow River in Banff

 

 At this time of year, all the silt has dropped out of the river and the waters are green and sparkling.

The path links with the Fenland Trail, a 2 Km loop that winds through a forest of white spruce along Forty Mile Creek.

autumn in Banff

Autumn in Banff

Forty Mile Creek

Forty Mile Creek

 

Forty Mile Creek

Forty Mile Creek

 

When we reached the creek, we crossed over and followed Vermillion Lakes Drive to the dock.

Vermillion Lakes, Banff

Vermillion Lakes, Banff

 

Vermillion Lakes, Banff

Vermillion Lakes, Banff

 

Perfect weather. Not too hot, not too cool. No bugs, since we are past the first frost.

Vermillion Lakes

Here I am, at the Vermillion Lakes

 

We relaxed, watched the ducks getting ready to migrate and enjoyed the sun and sparkling water.

Vermillion Lakes BanffReturning the way we came, we finished off the Fenland Loop.

We completed the day with a stroll along Banff Avenue, had a salad at McDonald’s and then—to make it a balanced diet—we had ice cream at Cow’s, Canada’s best ice cream. They make it in Prince Edward Island and my current favourite flavour is Moo Henry.

I love Banff any day, but on a Monday, it is relatively quiet. There are still lots of tourists, but no crowds for the in between seasons of Summertime and Skiing.

Autumn in Banff

Bow River by Banff townsite

 

Today, I am back at my desk, refreshed and renewed, and ready to open the Work in Progress.

Defeating Clutter – Part 1

I know I would work much better without the Clutter in my office, but I keep putting one more thing in here “just for now” and I feel like the fish in The Cat in the Hat.

And this mess is so big2014-09-16-Cat-in-the-Hat-s
And so deep and so tall,
We can not pick it up.
There is no way at all!

(thank you Dr. Seuss)

And now . . . my latest attempt to attack the clutter.

This week’s trick is The Timer.
the timer to defeat clutter

As a concrete step for this new habit, I have placed my timer under my monitor where I can see it.
On the timer, there is a yellow stick-it note that says “15 min” in orange fluorescent ink.

After I have finished writing for the day, I will close down my files, reach for the timer, set it for 15 minutes and use that time to put things away.

Yesterday was my first day with establishing this habit and here is what happened:

  • I set the timer for 15 minutes.
  • I picked up the American Express bill off the floor.
  • I decided to file it, so then I needed to make a label for the file.
  • I found the Label Maker, which was flashing the Low Battery Signal.
  • I opened the back of the Label Maker and discovered that the batteries were last changed in April 2010. I know this because that’s what the stick-it note on the batteries said. (My hubby, the Ever Organized, wrote it.)
  • So, I found new batteries, and then I had to find a stick-it note to say when they were last changed. Because, you never know, the Low Battery signal might flash and it might be for some other reason.
  • But I was out of stick-it notes. (They’re all over the edges of my monitor.)
  • I found the box of stick-it notes. It was under my Kindle, which I noticed needed charging, so I plugged it in.

OK. New batteries. Labeled with stick-it note. I made the label. Stuck it on the file and filed the American Express bill. Now when the next one comes, I will quickly stick it in the file until it’s time to worry about itemizing these things.

I still had time left, so I cleared off one shelf of the book shelf and wiped down the dust. Then the timer went. I left the books on the floor and had lunch.

I think it’s important to not overdo a new habit. Do the 15 minutes and then quit for the day.

Have you ever tried the Timer Approach? Does 15 minutes seem like a reasonable amount of time? How would you like to commit to 15 minutes/day for at least 4 days this week, and then report back next Tuesday?

The Cat in the Hat from Dr. Seuss
Timer from istockphoto.com #000009443672

September Snow

So, we had a little snow . . .

mountain ash

mountain ash

On Sunday, University of Calgary politics instructor Paul Fairie posted this on Twitter.

Paul Fairie spoof

Paul Fairie spoof

I am probably one of those people you should ignore. I like the cool crisp days of winter. I like skiing. And I think the snow looks pretty. :) However, I don’t particularly like September snow and I don’t like driving in it.

Here is what my garden looks like:

Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums

 

lavender

lavender

 

lilac

lilac

 

bird bath with September Snow

bird bath (poor birds)

This morning there is a snowfall warning in effect. The prediction is for “snow at times heavy beginning late this evening. Amount 5 to 10 cm.” It’s the same thing for Wednesday.

But not to worry, it will all go away by Sunday. And it will probably stay away for at least a couple of weeks.

What do you think of building snowmen in September?

 

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

summer vacation

In the time I went to school, I don’t remember ever having a teacher use this writing prompt. That may have been because I grew up in an agricultural community in Southwestern Ontario.

Corn tassel

Corn tassel

Summers meant hoeing beans, picking cucumbers, picking tomatoes and/or detasseling corn.

It was hard work and no one wanted to relive the experience in a school essay. When you lived on a farm, you worked on a farm.

Sometimes there were swimming lessons at the little pool in town, but I usually only got there for the July lessons. By August, there was too much work to do. As a result, I never moved pass Advanced Beginner. Although, I did have a pretty good dog paddle.

When I was twenty-four, I signed up for swimming lessons at the local YMCA and finally passed my Advanced Beginner and now I love to swim.

This summer, I was in the little town of Deep River, Ontario. One of my best summer vacation memories is jumping off the boat into the warm deep water of the Ottawa River on a hot sunny day.

Oiseau Rock

That’s me on the far right, swimming with Makita, Liz and Ryan in the Ottawa River by Oiseau Rock.

Other than my trip to Ontario, I didn’t do a lot of summer vacation stuff because I was focused on the WIP. The Working Title is HIGHBURY and it’s almost finished. Almost. I am smoothing out the last two scenes and tying up loose threads. Along the way with this book, I discovered it was actually the Second book of a series. Once I am completely finished with it, I will begin the First book of the series. Nothing like starting in the middle.

Guardians of the GalaxyI missed most of the summer movie fare, but I did see Guardians of the Galaxy. If you like the Marvel movies (The Avengers, Ironman) you will probably enjoy this one. I did. As usual, Stan Lee makes a cameo appearance. What a guy.

We had one BBQ in the backyard this summer with a few friends sitting around the fire. I will make sure to have at least one more BBQ in the warm days of Indian Summer.

And I only went hiking once, to Johnston Canyon, so I must make time to do at least Larch Valley this fall.

2014-09-02-yoga-FreeDigitalPhotosdotnetThis summer, I signed up for an eleven week session of drop-in Yoga. The Summer Sizzler. Turns out I love Yoga and I managed to get to 28 classes. I’ll go back to swimming at the Y this fall, but I want to do more Yoga.

Did you swim in any rivers, lakes or oceans this summer? Did you see any blockbuster summer movies? Did you take up any new sports or activities? How did you spend your Summer Vacation?

beach chairs from Bigstockphoto.com #5904213
corn tassel from Wikipedia
Guardians of the Galaxy movie poster from Internet Movie Database imdb.com
yoga from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Jungle

The story of my 2007 Ecuador adventure continues. This is a letter I wrote home after our two weeks in the Galapagos and our one week in the jungle.

For the rest of the Ecuador story, go here.

Dear family and friends,

The Galapagos Islands are incredible. I knew they would be. I just didn’t know the heat would be so much. Getting back on the plane for Quito was wonderful.

The Napo River to the Jungle Lodge

The Napo River to the Jungle Lodge

We spent less than a day in Quito, and then flew to Coca, where we took a 45 minute boat ride down the Napo River to the Jungle Lodge. This was also hot, but only 29 degrees Celsius (in the shade) and there was major humidity. Very nice for your skin. I did a few jungle walks with the naturalist before I gave up.

Observation tower in the jungle

Observation tower in the jungle

 

View from the tower

View from the tower

I think my stomach reacted to the Malarone (for malaria) or maybe it was just the heat. I don’t do heat well. That was me, lying in bed at night, with my ankles sweating, while I listened to all the interesting jungle noises, the cicadas, the frogs. One frog sounded like a construction vehicle when it’s backing up.

Our cottage for sleeping

Our cottage for sleeping

We were at the Jungle Lodge for seven days, and for five of the days, we did Spanish lessons. And we slept a lot. The heat and humidity make you very sleepy.
 

Spanish lessons in the open air dining room

Spanish lessons in the open air dining room

One day we visited a Chechua home. More culture shock. I find I don’t do culture shock well. I have decided that there are two kinds of people in the world: travellers and non-travellers. I am a non-traveller. Though, I have to say you don’t often get to watch your Chechua guide reach into a swamp and pull out a crocodile. And damn, me without a camera. Esta es la vida.
 

jungle flora

jungle flora

We returned to Quito yesterday, and we leave again tomorrow. Somehow we keep bumping into people we have met before. It’s that kind of place.

We stayed at Loro Verde.

We stayed at Loro Verde.

In Quito, you can sleep. Last night was the best sleep I’ve had in three weeks, with the temperature under 20 degrees Celsius. It was heaven. And my stomach is starting to feel semi-normal.
 
Today, we did errands. First we found a shoe repair, and got Rolf’s sandal fixed, and his back pack mended. While waiting, we talked to the guy who was polishing shoes. This started in Spanish. Then the guy started using English. Rolf spoke Spanish and Bradley spoke English. Bradley was born in Los Angeles, of American dad and Ecuadorian mom, but he likes living here. Part time he works in the shoe repair place, polishing, and part time he works as a guide at the Explorers. He asked us where we were from. Alberta, I said. He knew of the place because, he said, Alberta is where the Titanic sank. He told us he knows all this stuff because he reads Watch Tower magazine, and then he began telling us about the Jehovah Witness. Rolf didn’t mind because he was getting Spanish practice. The backpack and sandal were repaired quickly, and all for $2. Rolf tipped the guy a quarter, for being so rapido.
 
After that we headed for the school, La Lingua, to pick up our certificates for doing 100 hours of Spanish. We had lunch with the director and her husband, and that took about three hours. Time moves at a different pace here.
 
Now, we are at La Sala, using the computers. It’s about 6:30 and time to decide on a restaurant. I’ll find Rolf and see how he’s doing with his emails.
 
Tomorrow, it’s the bus to Cuenca, for eight hours. I can’t say I’m looking forward to it, but apparently there is this incredible scenery that needs to be seen. I have seen so much incredible scenery I just don’t know if I have room for more. Hopefully, the bus won’t fall off the cliff and I will be able to write more emails. This bus trip is, I think, the last major adventure component of the trip. We will take another shorter bus to Vilcabamba and then fly back to Quito.
 
Oh yes, now I remember. There is one more adventure after this. We will do our last week in Baños, where Tungurahua is smoking. The volcano has not blown up for about eight years, and if it does while we are there, hopefully the wind will be blowing the right way.