Abby Sunshine

Duck Toller

1-1-10 Happy New Year!

Happy New Year

Some people believe black-eyed peas will bring good luck to those who eat them. This delicious Southern dish mixes them with okra, corn and bacon for a very lucky combination indeed. It is a traditional New Year’s dish! Try it.

Black-Eyed Peas with Okra, by Stella Zedman


* 4 strips bacon, diced

* 1 large onion, chopped

* 4 cloves garlic, minced

* 3 cups (750 mL) fresh okra, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch (.5 cm) rounds

* 2 cups (500 mL) fresh or frozen corn kernels

* 1 or 2 fresh chili peppers, chopped (optional)

* 1 can (19-oz/540 mL) black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed

* 1 cup (250 mL) chopped fresh or canned tomatoes

* 6 green onions, chopped

* 1/4 cup (50 mL) chopped fresh parsley

* 1/2 tsp. (2 mL) salt

* 1/4 tsp. (1 mL) black pepper

Cooking Instructions

1. In a large skillet or Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove bacon pieces from the pan with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat behind. Reserve the bacon bits in a bowl.

2. Add onion and garlic to the pan and cook over medium heat until softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Add okra, corn and chilies and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until okra is tender but still a bit crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Add black-eyed peas, tomatoes, green onions and reserved bacon and cook for another 5 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and season with salt and pepper.

Servings: 4

How kids can help

Trim and cut up the okra.

Stir the ingredients in the skillet, with adult supervision.

No Comments »

12-31-09 New Year’s Eve

This last day of 2009 is a time to reflect upon the year that’s over and contemplate life next year. What is working well in your life? What would you change?

Time’s Square in New York City has a New Year’s Eve Wishing Wall. It is a place where people submit their wishes for the new year. The wishes are put onto confetti and come sailing down at midnight. . .kind of a neat idea. . .Confetti Wishes

Here are some of the wishes that have been submitted:

“I wish I can fly.”     “To find happiness again-not to be sad.”

“To end world hunger.” “I wish that my father isn’t sick.”

“To master the saxophone”     “Win the lottery”

“All troops return safely from Afghanistan”     “A cure for diabetes”

“I want to live in New York City.”

“I wish for my daughter to speak to me again (soon)”

“For my family to stay safe & healthy and to lose 20 lbs.   ”

“My wish is to find true love with that special someone.”   “I wish I had one kitten.”

“I wish I could swim without arm floats.”

What wishes might Abby have for 2010?

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - Nap Time 3

“to play fetch”

“to play with a squirrel”

“to play with a cat”

“to eat some table scraps”

“to catch that sledder going down the hill”

“Did I already say to play fetch?”

“peace in all the world”

What wishes do you have for 2010?

No Comments »

12-30-09 Something Caught Your Eye

While enjoying a brisk walk around the lake, Abby Sunshine couldn’t help but notice something.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - Something Caught Your Eye

Abby is such a good walker, so focused, so diligent. What could possibly jar her mind from the walk? Something so interesting that she would fixate on its presence? Do you have a guess? I do.


You got it! A squirrel indeed! This clever little creature was, in my opinion, taunting Abby. It was quite a show. At one point, she (or he) scurried out onto a thin, little branch, right over Abby’s head and was bouncing up and down, eating berries and looking right at Abby (and us). To say the least, Abby really wanted to play.

No Comments »

12-29-09 Snow Plow

Well, so much for the fluffy snow, and so much for the snow that was great for building snow sculptures. . .

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - By Snow Pile

Abby Sunshine is sitting along the side of a street- the pile you see is HARD chunks of snow that have been pushed aside by the snow plow. When the snow melts and freezes, it becomes heavy and frozen. It is very difficult to shovel and virtually impossible to sculpt.

I’m not sure what Abby is thinking. . . What would you be thinking if you were a dog?

No Comments »

12-28-09 Abby Contemplates Poetry

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - Snow Sculpture 3

The Creatures Rest

by Alcman (7th century B.C.E.)

Now sleep mountain-top and chasm

headland and ravine,

creeping kinds that emerge from the black earth

beasts who roam the hillside, the race of bees,

and creatures submerged in the purple sea

now sleep, and tribes,

too, of the wide-winged.

Animal Poems

This poetry book, edited by John Hollander and illustrated by Simona Mulazzani, has a wide range of poetry, including the poem above. It includes beautiful imagery and a lot of additional information. For example, in this poem, The Creatures Rest, it tells us that “Alcman was a very ancient Greek poet who lived in the seventh century. . . .only fragments of his poems survive. . .”

I recommend this book. I think it’s great!

No Comments »

12-27-09 Abby at Easter Island?

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - Snow Sculpture Has Abby packed her bags for a winter vacation? Off to the warm climate of Easter Island? Has she decided that touring this island of mysterious sculpture is the place to be? Is Abby longing to learn more about the Moai?

Well, what I do know is that she hasn’t traversed the Pacific to any far off islands. Abby Sunshine needed only to walk down the block to find an awesome winter snow sculpture of one of these fascinating wonders of the world.

Easter Island

It is said that these monolithic statues from the 2nd century were a “remarkable intellectual, creative, and physical feat.” In my opinion, so was this snow sculpture. Wow!

No Comments »

12-26-09 Snow Balls

Have you ever walked through the heavy, wet snow – only to get it caked on the bottom of your pants and boots? If you try to make a snowball, it gets your woolen mittens soaked and covered in snow? If yes, you may relate to Abby Sunshine’s experiences during this beautiful blizzard, but wet and sticky snow.

Here is how she looks after running in the snow on days like this (34 degrees Fahrenheit):

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - AbbySunshine - Snow Balls

Doesn’t it look like she is wearing a costume? These patches of snow form perfect little snow balls! She doesn’t like it much, but she sure looks cute. It is naturally occurring simply from her running around in the deep snow. I wish I could claim credit for making such a perfect design. It’s Mother Nature at work on a Duck Toller.

These are temperatures to make quality snowmen, snow people, or snow sculptures. If this is interesting to you, take advantage of days like these and let your creative juices flow.

Snow Sculpture Dog with Guitar

1 Comment »

12-25-09 Christmas Day

Merry Christmas!

Click on this peaceful photo of Abby in the snow. It will take you to a website where you can request Christmas Carols and the characters will sing them for you! We think it’s pretty fun. We hope it brightens your day!

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - AbbySunshine 11

No Comments »

12-24-09 Snow Fly, Don’t Bother Me

It is Christmas Eve and we awoke to inches and inches of beautiful, fluffy snow. Abby Sunshine didn’t hesitate to play in it. It is so deep for little Abby, that she must use some finesse when retrieving her “dummy.” (We have learned not to use tennis balls in the snow- they disappear very quickly, not to be found until spring).

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - AbbySunshine 2She carefully looks for her toy.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - AbbySunshine 1Next, she makes an energetic bound and runs from where she found it, jumping through the deep snow.

Let me show you another real life example:

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - AbbySunshine 3Here you can see that Abby is searching.Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - AbbySunshine 4And here you can see that she has grabbed it. With great energy and strength, she pops out of the deep snow and runs. It’s as if she understands physics! She is minimizing friction. She uses less energy to travel through the air than trudging through the snow.

OK, if you don’t believe it yet, here is example #3. She is just below the wind chimes. As you look, you can imagine their gentle sound on this quiet, snowy morn.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - AbbySunshine 6 Looking, tail up, she knows it’s there. . .Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - AbbySunshine 7 Yes, it is! Now she bounds away.

When have you had been calm and steadfast, and then had to turn it up a notch to really get the job done? In Abby’s world of deep snow, she must be calm to find the “bird” but exert a big push to get through that snow and bring it back to me. It reminds me of a lot of things I do. Maybe I want to go skiing, so I need the calm energy to plan, get the skis ready, and so on. Next, and perhaps most importantly, I need the PUSH of energy to get out the door and do it! If I think of Abby’s attitude, perhaps it will be a little easier. Why wait? Just think about what Abby would do. . . What kinds of things do you do where you could use that extra burst of energy?

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - AbbySunshine 8Here she is getting a better grip.Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - AbbySunshine 10And now she’s flying toward me, full steam. Again, again, again???

No Comments »

12-8-09 Running in the Woods

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine Running in the Woods

There’s nothing like a brisk run in the woods. Try it sometime.

No Comments »