Wednesday, September 30, 2015

It is the simple things

Yesterday the rain started soon after we finished clipping and bathing the dogs. Carm had gone outside with the compressor to see if he could blow air through the water tank air outlet on the camper. Humm let me explain better: there is a water fill opening on the water tank, as well as another smaller opening that lets the air out of the tank - kind of like how we put a hole on both sides of an apple juice can - we were worried that it was blocked. He was all set to do the test when the rain started. The rain poured down, for what seemed like hours before he could dash out to restart the experiment. Air blew out so we know the line is not blocked. We have some other experiments to try that we'll do in the spring.

Boy. That took a long time to explain. And was poorly done. But since this isn't meant to be a technical manual I'll not worry about it. Just know that something isn't working and we tried something to find out what the problem might be!

The poodles got their haircuts yesterday but it was touch n'go. We head out on a camp Thursday and the weather forecast is the pits so they'll be cold. I experimented with a blanket cut on Spike where I left the hair long on his back in a blanket shape, but Carm said it looked stupid and I had to agree. They'll just have to wear coats. It is nice to have that slightly onerous job done.

In my freestyle writing practice today I stumbled upon the idea of writing about pleasures, like I did at the beginning of this blog but have forgotten to do for ages. I think it is good to remind oneself about the large and especially small things in life that bring us joy or wonderment, or even simple contentment. Let's focus on the good things and not the bad.

My pleasure for yesterday was butternut squash risotto. The squash was from Trudie's garden and had been picked just a few days ago. Carm did the work of cutting it up, sparing me potential 'disfingerment'. It cooked on the stove in my favorite red cruet pot, bubbling away until it was the consistency of a thick mud which burped like a fumarole. But nothing else about it was like mud. It was a beautiful golden colour, not at all murky or grey, and the fragrance - oh! I ladled it into big flat bowls and topped it with some grilled tofu. It was pure comfort food with the added benefit of being good for us - a double comfort.

Today's pleasure was one that I often enjoy. This morning as I sat at my desk I quietly mentioned that my feet were cold. Behind me I could hear the clip of nails as Spike trotted down the hall. Soon he was by my side offering me thick woolen socks. I took them from him with a "thank you - you are very helpful" and a treat for his efforts. He is a darling when he isn't being naughty!

My other pleasure for today involved sugar and fat, both things that are bad for me. Carm and I went into the village to get our hair cut, and for a treat for enduring so much trauma (I can no longer delude myself into believing that all the light hairs are blonde - oh sure, there may be a few of those but the greater majority are GREY). To drown my sorrows we went to the bakery for a coffee and apple fritter - a deep-fried bready treat that has its innards criss-crossed with threads of cinnamon, and is coated with a glittering glaze of sugar. Each ambrosial bite is a trip to heaven. I guess grey hair isn't so bad after all (for the moment anyway).

Departing summer hath assumed
An aspect tenderly illumed,
The gentlest look of spring;
That calls from yonder leafy shade
Unfaded, yet prepared to fade,
A timely carolling.
-  William Wordsworth, September

Monday, September 28, 2015

Bloody moon

A glowing red eye stared down at us from the heavens as if there were a wolf hiding among the stars. Friends Trudie & Leo had come to join us for last night's total lunar eclipse. We had front row seats at the edge of the hay field, our chairs lined up for the best view. At the beginning of the evening, when the moon was still full, it shone down at us like a light from a baseball stadium. The basket of snacks, glasses, and bottle of wine was in clear view. A pile of blankets balanced on the fence.

The odd gossamer strand of cloud was strung across the sky, barely obscuring the moon, and was then brushed away so the sky was clear. The bright light of the moon obscured the stars, at least until the Earth's shadow had fully cast itself upon it. Then the stars twinkled against the velvet depths of the sky. Often someone would exclaim at the beauty and perfection of the night.

Sometimes we'd joke about the speed (not) at which an eclipse happens… is the right corner getting darker? no, not yet. now? no. now? no... now? yes!

We were missing a campfire to warm ourselves with, and to keep the critters that emerge from the shadows away (there were actually no critters and the dogs were safely inside in case of skunks). Occasionally silence would descend and we'd tip our heads back to take in the enormity of space, each of us lost in our own private thoughts.

Once the moon was fully turned to red, and we'd had time to enjoy the effect on the night sky, clouds rolled in, putting an end to our fantastic night.

Saturday night was another fun night. We had my birthday dinner at Mom & Dads, with Graham, Erik, Juliette, Kenda and Kari filling up the table. Mom made a fantastic roast beef with yorkshire pudding, on of my favorite meals. It could only have been better if Kirsten (et al) and Olaf (et al) were celebrating with us.

Friday, September 25, 2015


Just for kicks last night we watched a bit of 'Dating Naked'. It was weird and stupid and inane but like a car wreck we slowed down to watch the carnage. I had to wonder… who the HELL would sign up for this!!!!! What man could stand there fighting with another man about his cowboy hat - naked. We could hardly tear our eyes away but couldn't keep watching.

We made it home with summer sun in our rearview mirror. Today is cloudy, cool and windy, and the honking of overhead geese heading south was keen.  It was the kind of autumn day when you put on chapstick and a windbreaker for a walk, or better still, curl up inside with a book.

Neither walk nor book were on my agenda today as the infernal, never-ending preparations for the next trip started. I reloaded staples and other sundries. I tidied nooks and crannies, bringing into the house the odds and ends that are no longer used (sadly, there weren't many of these). I even waxed the hardwood floor. One of the lovely things about a camper are the manageable chores. It takes less than 15 minutes to vacuum or wash the floors, same again for dusting or washing walls and trim.  There isn't much re-provisioning required for the next trip and I already have my list arranged (well, let's be honest - partially arranged) which will leave time for doctor appointments, clipping the poodles, and other non-camping activities.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Summer Lingers

The trees stubbornly defy autumn's arrival, the tips of their green crowns only tinged with auburn. The sun burned down, tricking me into believing that summer was never going to leave, that this was the year all those birthday wishes would finally come true.

Last night Carm built a blazing fire - something we rarely do. We pulled our chairs close to the heat leaving our backs towards the cool night air and roasted weiners and marshmallows. My hotdog was charred in places and while I wanted to think it was the best thing I'd ever eaten, it sat like a lump in my stomach. Ambrosia appeased my senses. The sticky sweet melt of roasted marshmallows made up for the deficiencies of the main course. I crouched by the fire and greedily ate more than my  share. Ah! The life of the cave man!

Today has been lazy (as if stating it makes it seem like the other days haven't been equally indolent). We took the dogs for a long walk but by the 1/2 way point we were all slowing our pace and tongues were lolling pink (not people tongues silly!). I've been trying not to think about it, but we go home tomorrow. I never feel ready to leave, and remind myself that we have only a week in the sticks and bricks before our next camp.

Presquile is really nice, in fact it is spectacular, but there is a quiet beauty here. The sites are large and there is lots of greenspace. It isn't unusual (on a weekday) to go for a walk and not see another car, bicycle, or person. Weekdays see less than a dozen campers filling the 300 sites. Our walks are relaxed and the dogs don't have to move in tight formation. Some of the roads we travel are lined with oaks, their acorns attracting platoons of squirrels which drive the dogs crazy - they almost drag me over when one passes a few feet infront of us.

The camper next to us is a class C with new owners - it is their first time out and they have lots to learn. Carm was able to help them with a few things before they made any blunders. Across from us is Bob, whom we've seen in previous years - his wife drops him off at the beginning of the week and he 'batchelors' it for the week, his cute grey dog by his side. We haven't met the other people across from us aside from a smile and wave. Some people are social while others keep to themselves.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Ruth's Visit

Another beautiful day. Except for Saturday afternoon/evening we couldn't ask for nicer. It has been in the low 20s with skies saturated with the blue of autumn and decorated with fluffs of white cloud floating on a gentle breeze. This is some of my favorite weather. I love the sweltering days of summer when there is swimming, but also love these kind autumn days.

Sunday afternoon Ruth and the birds, Bailey and Cato, joined us for the night. They live almost 2 hours away so our visits are always overnighters. Carm took off for home leaving Ruth and I to enjoy our annual girls night. We started with a trip to Upper Canada Village where, among other things, we visited a quilt show. Wow - there are some really talented people out there! (even though Ruth didn't have a quilt in the show I would consider her one of the talented).

After strolling around the village enjoying the beautiful day we stopped at Luigi's for some take-out lasagne. The rest of the evening went much like most of our visits: all of us crammed into the camper, bird cages everywhere, bowls of chips, cheesies and dip filling the coffee table, 70s music taking us on a magic carpet ride to the past. I think we were more grown up about some things ;-) (is that a good thing or bad thing?)

This afternoon my mind is hazy with bright sun and stunned with the giant club sandwich that we had at lunch. It's telling me that I should have a nap, but I'm resisting…

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Deirdre Who

We had a most welcome guest today - my friend Deirdre drove down (or is that up?) from Ottawa to spend the day with us. I've known D. since 1983 or 4 when she started work for the same department as I. It didn't take long for us to find out we had a shared interest in (among other things), horses. In 1995, the year after Carm and I moved into our house, Deirdre and I found a place to 1/2 lease a few horses. We spent that autumn and winter enjoying our new mounts. Spring brought a new focus to our riding - we were going on a cattle drive that summer!

Deirdre was with me for the most exciting adventure of my life. I don't have words about the cattle drive now - that will come in a story by itself.

Deirdre and I went for a walk after lunch, letting the dogs have a stretch - while we were en-route the sky started spitting at us, not badly but I guess the wind had also picked up forcing Carm (who had stayed back in the camper), to pick up Grace and bring her inside. He got a good bite for his kindness…

If my post is disjointed it is because I'm writing it at the same time that I'm watching a Dr. Who re-run. The new season starts tonight!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Prime Numbers

The inevitable march of time has pushed me past my 53rd year and into my 54th. But hold the boat! Don't tell me I'm in my 54th year! I'd rather just say that I'm 53 - it sounds slightly better. The fact that I'll be 60 in just 7 years frizzles in my brain, but being in my 60th year in just 6 years is totally mind blowing.

I did have a lovely day (at this age a birthday truly is a celebration). It started with the alarm clock at 7:15 (that part wasn't so great), taking the dogs for a walk and then driving home. We were getting a few windows fixed (finally) and best of all it was the first writing group meeting after the summer break. I loved seeing the ladies and Don after such a long break. There was hardly enough time to catch up on news. Hopefully next week some of us will get together for lunch.

The work on the windows was still underway when I got back home. The half-moon windows were challenging with their arch of trim and mouldings. I'm pleased to say that the job turned out great, and the workers left just in time for us to get back to camp for the next round of fun.

We met Marie, Vashek, Trudie and Leo at Sol d Alcopoco for a festive supper. I was surprised with balloons and flowers on the table and a lovely gift basket filled with jars of preserves of all sorts. Chutney, red pepper jelly, apple sauce, corn relish, maple syrup and peaches will be a taste of summer this winter. Trudie made a fruit cobbler, complete with too many candles for dessert. I'm afraid I was a bit tipsy from all the fun by the time we got back to the camper but I still had to walk the dogs in the pitch dark!

I saved the sparklers for tonight. I'll push one into the sand and as it burns down think about how wonderful my life has been. I am blessed with so much.

This morning Carm went golfing with the guy in the next camper. They didn't even know each other's names when they loaded their clubs into the back of his truck, but I have no doubt that didn't last long. I spent the day doing writing practices, lollygagging on my tablet, walking the dogs and even snuck in a short nap.

Summer's steamy embrace is lingering for yet another glorious day. It is another scorcher! I have an old bedsheet clipped to the awning to give me some shade. It's a cobbled together mess, but does the job. We have an official version but it is more trouble to set up - it is hard for me to do it myself - so I left it folded in its bag in the front storage compartment.

Each golden day was cherished to the full, for one had the feeling that each must be the last. Tomorrow it would be winter.  ~Elizabeth Enright

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Humidex 36C

I had to get out the cooler bandanas today! September 16th and 36C with the humidex.

Even though they'd only been home for a couple of nights the dogs were excited when they saw us preparing this morning. They weren't disappointed - at 11am they were loaded into the truck for the short journey to our new home. The 40 minute drive was a far cry from the 4 hour drive to Presquile, and we only passed a few cars going the other direction. Simple, close, and comfortable. Our site here (the usual one for Sept and Oct) is a huge sandy ant hill, but it drains well and has a good aspect.

By the time we were finished setting up more than our brows were drenched. Water and then an icy adult beverage cooled us perfectly. One of the wonderful things about having a camper is the ever changing "backyard". No wide expanse of horizon for us here, instead our yard is park-like with big trees and lots of grass. We have a glimpse to the St. Lawerence but it pales in comparison to the water at our last stop.

We see the odd flock of Canada geese, but I am saddened to say that they are being driven away - too many people have complained about the droppings. Next they'll be complaining that there are too many squirrels. Spike, Bella and Kabira think there are too many and say that they'd be happy to catch some just to help out.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

not a hardship & Grace is talkative

After our month long trip you may be wondering how we managed for so long in a confined space. I'll start off by saying that it wasn't a hardship - at all. Our camper/villetta has all the amenities of home and in many ways feels like as much a home as our house does. The trip gave me back the ahhhh feeling that I used to get whenever I stepped into it.

One thing that made the month easy was our huge outdoor living space. The weather was generally good so we spent much time outside. The 180 view extended our eye space to the horizon. I like. But even when 'forced' inside we were comfortable. Three large picture windows and four smaller ones framed the views to the water, there was no feeling of claustrophobia.

The living room is set up for comfort - we are on vacation! A (reasonably) comfortable sofa and Ikea poang chair make a cosy seating area. There is a coffee table that has room for feet, coffee cups, and a few books. The TV, stereo system and fireplace are across from the sofa. Cuddling up to watch a movie is a good way to spend a rainy evening, and if it is cold the flickering of the electric fireplace warms us. I got a bluetooth receiver so that I can play the music from my tablet onto the blu ray player. Surround sound speakers make for good dancing vibes.

We usually have satellite TV (how decadent). We didn't watch much TV this trip though as the weather was so good. The last full day was rainy though so we watched 3 old movies on TCM. During the stock market crash Carm watched the business news network during the day. We also have internet! That is a must have otherwise I wouldn't be able to post my blog :-o

On a rainy day if I want to quietly read I go into the bedroom. A fan over the bed and a reading light behind me make a perfect reading spot.

Cooking is easy. The kitchen has decent counter space and lots of storage. The gas stove is awesome - I love cooking on it. I don't use the gas oven often - I also have a microwave convection oven. I move the cutting board from the stove top to near the sink so I can look out the windows while I do the prep.

The dining room has a proper table and two padded chairs. It is a tight squeeze to get in on my side (no gaining weight for me!). The view out the picture window was fabulous. Sometimes we are more informal and eat at the coffee table. The lid lifts to eating height - an old people's coffee table!

Grace enjoys the camper too. She has a big cage outside - she loves being outside. Her inside home is in the back corner of the living room with a window on two sides. She likes seeing what is going on in the world.

The dogs are sometimes underfoot, but usually keep out of the way by sleeping on their beds - they have two sets: bedroom and livingroom. The main living room bed is under the dining room table, we took two chairs out to make room. The other bed was under Grace's cage but Spike wouldn't go under there anymore so I moved it out onto the floor. They all use it sometimes now.

There isn't much that is missing from our little villetta - I think we could live there indefinitely.

During a few minutes of quiet time this afternoon I made a list of everything Grace was saying:

oh my
whatca doing baby
hi baby
where's laura
do you want some
hey girl
its very nice grace
come on bella
hey, hey, here
Laura's got
good girl grace
bella come here
its very yummy
look out baby
where's laura
gracie bird
oh my goodness
what is it
you are a very nice bird
gracie bird
what a very good bird
what goodness grace
look out
wanna go outside
Kabirdy (her made up nickname for Kabira)
squeek squeek (squeeky toy)
… plus lots more that I couldn't make out

Monday, September 14, 2015

home... for the moment

We got home yesterday afternoon, and not a moment too soon, in fact half a day earlier would have been better.

Tearing down camp in a light drizzle was not fun, but the unpleasant conditions eased our departure somewhat - I didn't cry. The drive down the 401 was uneventful despite heavy traffic - not transport trucks (we thought of you Tom), but cars, lots of cars, cars driving like maniacs. We got into the laneway without any problem (we seem to have that problem licked - touch wood). We were home.

One of the first things I did after emptying what I had to from the trailer was get some pork neck bones out of the freezer for the dogs. When I opened the freezer a giant whoosh of water came out of the lid. Huh? I stood there like a moron for a moment while I processed the situation. Poke - turkey at top of freezer was partially thawed. Oh oh… I moved over to the next freezer, the one full of dog meat. The top layer was slightly thawed, further down it was frozen solid. What was going on? Had the house been without power for a few days? We puzzled for a few minutes then Carm tested the GFCI outlet that is part of the circuit and voila, power to the freezers again. CLICK. GFCI tripped again. No water lying around anywhere. Unplug one freezer; seems to work; open door; click. The GFCI had failed.  Within 10 minutes, Carm ('if you don't find them handsome you should at least find them handy') had performed the necessary repair.

Now came the horrible job of throwing perfectly good food into the garbage. Everything was very cold, and things further down were frozen solid. I threw out lots and cooked some other things. As usual, there is a silver lining in everything: my freezer got cleaned out!

So, here we are back in our giant home - it seems so strange after living in 375 sf (Carm just did the math - wow, that seems huge, no wonder the camper is a behemoth to drag around). The grass is long - it didn't rain at Presquile, but clearly rained regularly here. Carm couldn't start the reaping until mid-afternoon - it rained last night and was grey with a threat of rain until noon - the grass was still wet when he started the mower.

I've been reprovisioning the villetta in preparation for our next trip - we leave on Wednesday, but are back home for the day on Thursday to have a few new windows installed. So much for a relaxing day at the camp for my birthday! However, a nice birthday treat is the start of writing group on Thursday which means I'll have an escape from the mess of window installation.

With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.  ~Eleanor Roosevelt

Saturday, September 12, 2015

the jet stream

The jet stream swooped low over the province bringing colder tempretures and, yes, rain. Our last full day here and we are bundled up inside with the fireplace adding warmth and ambience. Spike was curled up against me anytime I was sitting on the sofa, while Kabira cuddled up in her outfit. Bella doesn't feel the cold like the others so kept her distance from the fireplace.

After a quiet morning reading and doing stuff on my tablet we went into town to meet Brenda and Bill at the Smokehouse where they treated us to a farewell lunch. We went back to their house for a while but the time eventually came to leave. Lots of hugs and promises to visit over the winter before our truck rumbled down the road.

We had to wait for the rain to abate to pick up the fence and do a few other things to prepare for our sad departure tomorrow.

There is something about the rain - it seems to have broken the Presqu'ile spell, making it easier to leave. At least that's what I'm telling myself.

Friday, September 11, 2015

two more sleeps

Only two more sleeps left… already my mood has been dropping. It started a few days ago with tiny ripples of irritation and anxiety that spread between my shoulder blades. It kept getting worse as the departure date getting nearer. This morning I was almost in a rage with the dogs, nearly weeping with emotion. I kept myself from sitting on a rock by the water and giving in. Not helpful. Instead, I went back to the camper, took some emergency meds and went back to bed for a few hours. Did it help? Somewhat.

Since there is rain in the forecast for tomorrow and Sunday, we got a head start on putting things away. First the shade tent was neatly inserted into its bag and tucked into its berth. Then the round side table, followed by an assortment of odds and ends. The big things like the fence will be saved for Sunday morning.

Then we went for what might be our last swim. The water was warm and crystal clear and sparkly in the sun. There wasn't much wave,  not enough to have fun on the noodle, but it did splash over my face when I tried to float on my back. I wished that I had a water camera.

I can't believe it is almost over. But what I have to remember is to take each day as it comes and not anticipate how I might feel in a few days. No point in wrecking the few days that are left. This is easier said than done.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


A lamentation of swans glided in the water off-shore this morning. There are huge flocks of them on the lee side of the peninsula, but they do visit our windward side occasionally.

The swans weren't the only ones lamenting… this afternoon we helped Bill and Brenda take their trailer home as they were cutting their camp short. Since late Saturday night Bill has been suffering with something - emergency thought a uti. Fever and chills, etc. had kept him bed bound and unable to eat for the last few days - today he decided he wanted to go home. That's where we stepped in. Carm hitched and drove their trailer to their house in Brighton. I just drove our truck with the bikes and fridge - not a terrific amount of help but still necessary. We had been having so much fun with them, it was sad to see them go, especially in these circumstances.

It was hotter than hades today, especially away from the lake. There was just a ruffle of breeze. The water was still, and the perfect temperature for swimming - which we did as soon as we were back from town. The grey never left the sky and at times seemed to merge with the grey water. It looked a bit like I feel on a bad day - featureless and dull. If you looked out of a window at the lake you might think that it was cold out, and maybe we were into September. Right on one count.

Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud.  ~Maya Angelou

Monday, September 7, 2015

I've got the rhythm

Each day is blending into the next: shortish walk for the dogs, followed by coffee, then it is time to put out the awnings and Grace, and then wash the windows and screens to get rid of the millions of midges that stick everywhere. After all that exertion I squint my eyes to see my tablet's screen as I sit outside for freestyle writing practice, and I often start my blog after that. And so the rhythm of the days proceed, interspersed with a swim and maybe a visit from Bill and Brenda.

They are easy days, free from anxiety and feelings of depression. I think the great expanse of water that does a 180 in front of us relaxes me. I've started a reading book which is a compilation of essays from Gourmet magazine, but I haven't gotten far. My brain seems to be on vacation too - a vacation from worrying, a vacation from negative thoughts, a vacation from creativity. Instead I sit with idle thoughts and look out over the water or watch the passers-by.

Unfortunately sometimes those passers-by have loose dogs that run all over the place. Also unfortunate, my dogs react to the free-ranging dogs more vehemently than they do those that are more orderly. Maybe they sense that they are rule breakers and could cause someone to get hurt. We saw one family with a small dog on leash, a big white dog running everywhere, and two rats on the woman's shoulders.

Several years back while we were camping here the spot next to us 'turned over' and we welcomed Jack and Mary as new neighbors. After a few day had passed Jack (who passed away recently) and Mary said they groaned when they first saw our fence and three dogs… but that our dogs were some of the best behaved dogs they'd seen and also that they liked the way we walked our dogs. In the campground area they have to walk by our sides and not sniff and pee on everyone's site. Jack and Mary have not been the only people to give us similar comments.

It is 34C in the sun - I was sitting in the shade, and with the wind coming off the lake almost put on long-sleeves. That seemed ridiculous so I went inside, put on some music and cleaned until I'd worked up a sweat. Then, of course, it was time for the first swim of the day. Late in the afternoon we meandered down to the causeway. The dogs were lethargic and didn't want to go very far, so I let them dip their toes in the water then we came back so that we could have a swim ourselves. Brenda visited us for a while, but Bill is too ill to leave the trailer.

The rhythm of our day was much like the gentle swell of the lake.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Summer in September

Oh my… it seems like a cliche to say that today was perfect, but there are no other words. Grace played in a water dish I put in her cage. We swam a few times, the gentle waves bobbing us as we floated with our noodles. The breeze was warm but kept us cool. Bill and Brenda came by and enjoyed some of this September summer afternoon with us. I must have said a hundred times that I wish I had a water camera. The view of kayaks gliding by is different at eye level. I wanted to capture the afternoon for pulling out mid-winter when things seems so bleak.  

I've been doing the first exercise from the book I'm reading (something about How to become a writer). The main exercise is to do 10 minutes of freewriting everyday - don't look, don't fix grammar or spelling, just write. The idea is to let my mind move freely to develop content. I'm afraid I haven't been successful (although I'm not supposed to think of success or failure, just do without criticism). But anyway, I find my thoughts don't stray very far from here. I write about what is around me and my thoughts about being here. At first I thought it was a bad thing, but after some thought (while freestyle writing- I had to write something!), I realized that I don't want to leave, so my thoughts won't leave either.

Labour day weekend overfills the park with happy campers and their dogs. All sorts of dogs. It was a trial for Spike and sometimes Bella, but I have a confession to make. A few weeks before we came here Spike went through the fence and onto the road. I wasn't close enough to catch him, and the other dog walking down the road was too much of a lure. I freaked out and bought an e-collar: an electric training collar that can deliver a buzz, a vibrate, and if needed, an electric jolt. He got jolted twice for going up to the gate, but we need some setups with other dogs. It is important that he stay off the road.

I ordered the 2 collar package so I could put one on Bella too - I thought they might be handy here for barking at other dogs when we are camping. It does the trick! A gentle vibration stops them in their tracks. They turn away from the road and settle down right away. When they have the collar on they often remember not to bark. These collars have reduced everyone's stress levels. Especially mine.

Friday, September 4, 2015


A squadron of small, red dragonflies roosted on the fence this afternoon, their gossamer wings fluttering in the breeze. I wondered if they were newly pupated (is that what dragonflies do?) and were drying their wings in the sun. Larger ones darted about, their aerial maneuvers amazing. I counted 15 at one time while writing this paragraph.

A cold front moved in last night, clearing the haze, but still leaving us with a high of 28C. Nice! The horizon is a sharp pen line now, and not drawn with a pale blue pastel. The boundary between sea and sky is distinct. There are small whitecaps in the distance, smudges of white-out against a blue background. It really is lovely out.

It was comfortable in the shade here so we didn't go for our swim till late in the afternoon when Brenda came by. The water was perfect, and I think cleaner, as the wind has shifted and is no longer coming directly from High Bluff Island, or more accurately cormorant catastrophe (the air stinks when it comes from there).

After nearly a week of short walks we took the dogs to lighthouse lane for a proper walk through the two long clearings. It isn't a really long walk - 3km at the max - but we were all tuckered out at the end. I ran with the dogs a bit to give them a chance to stretch their legs, and at one particularly large grassy area Carm let Bella off her leash to get some of the crazies out. She may be the oldest, but she is definitely the most energetic.

The wind did not play a role in our activities today, although it did make itself known at times.

Thursday, September 3, 2015


Spiders. Presqu'ile is synonymous with spiders. Their invisible webs are strung on the fence, between the rosemary plant and Grace's cage, in the corners of the shade tent, on the side of the slides, around the windows, everywhere that there are two things that can be joined by the gossamer threads. It was here that I overcame my strong aversion to the arachnids (the small ones anyway - big vicious looking spiders still give me the heeby jeebies).

Why so many spiders? Food. Lots of food. Tiny little morsels of tasty delight. Last night the weather was perfect for the midges/no-see-ums. Warm, no wind - the air was thick with them, and this morning spider webs everywhere were highlighted with the bodies of these fleeting creatures. Our screens were blocked with carcasses; there were some that had lived the night on our ceiling. Carm vacuumed the inside, while I took my little hand-held outside. There had been a galactic battle with many casualties.

Earlier last evening it was perfect for eating outside (before the legions), and later visiting with friends (with a light to draw the we-can-see-them-since-they-are-flying-in-hordes).

Today, as the afternoon wore on, and the land heated up, a slight breeze picked up, leaving the water flat like a Venetian glass mirror, framed by a mosaic sparkling in the sun. It is funny how the breeze doesn't seem consistent over the entire surface, but chooses to leave large swaths untouched.

The whole day was a fantastic. As of 3:30 pm we'd been in swimming twice. I'm like a beluga whale frolicing in the water: fat, white, and looking like I'm having a good time! Carm estimates the water to be in the mid 70s F - it is perfect: cooling but not cold. Refreshing. A bit stinky, but refreshing.

Bill and Brenda joined us for a late afternoon pre-dinner drink. We sat at our site, the view of the water magnificent and a light breeze, barely strong enough to ruffle the hairs on my arms.

All it needed to be perfect was a waiter serving mojitos or iced apple ciders, and salty snacks.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The first Timneh babies

The water is washing against the shore with only a light breeze. It was hot taking the dogs for their early am walk so we didn't go far, just to the church garbage. A 5 bag day - 4 from my dogs and 1 of some unseen other dog - thanks for picking up norton (not the first word to come to mind…).

I may be getting some of these memories out of order, it was so long ago that the timeline is a little faded.


One evening in the early spring of 1996 we noticed that Oscar, the female of our pair of African Grey Timnehs, didn't come out of the nestbox when we "did the bird room". We lured her out with a walnut and quickly peeked in. One lovely white egg cradled by wood shavings glowed in the nest box. To say we were excited was an understatment. But it is a long time from laying to hatching so we tried not to get our hopes up too high. Over the next few days 2 more eggs appeared. We'd been waiting for this for 1 1/2 years but the next 28 days seem like the longest.

Every day we checked the nestbox to make sure nothing had happened to the eggs, until one day, after what seemed like an eternety, a tiny, naked chick took the place of one of the eggs. It was barely the size of my pinky - it seemed impossible that Oscar and Felix would be able to take care of this fragile being. Two days later there was a sibling and another two days after that the third egg was cracked open.

The parents cared for thier precious offering for 2 weeks, at which point we removed the chicks from the nest to hand-rear them. Hand-raised parrots make the best pets since their very first memories are everything human. Caring for bappies (baby parrots) from a young age is a lot of work. They must be fed every 2 to 3 hours from early morning to late at night. Special parrot pablum has to be made, their little nests need to be cleaned, they need to be kept warm until they fledge, they must be carefully weaned onto adult food, and they must be handled and socialized.

Feeding every 3 hours meant that I had to 'sneak' them into work with me. Their little clear plastic container sat on a heating pad tucked onto a shelf under my desk. I fed them during my breaks, carrying them and all their feeding and cleaning stuff to the ladies bathroom. I could do it fairly discretely - many women didn't even notice (this wouldn't be the case a few years later with the Blue & Gold macaws - they created a huge stir)! As they grew and became more aware of their surroundings they'd raise their cute little faces, looking up at me as I worked at my desk.  Spending so much time caring for something so helpless made me fall in love. They were darlings.

As it happens to all children, they grow up and it becomes time for them to leave the house. The same is true for bappies. The first chick to be claimed was Cato, the oldest of the bunch. A nice family came to see them a few weeks before they were ready to go, and when the time came, returned to make their choice. Carm was in charge of this transaction as I was at work. When he called to tell me which chick had been chosen I sat at my desk and cried. She was my favorite. There is always something good to come from the bad: her new owner, Ruth, has become a close friend.

The other two chicks went to their new homes not long after. There were more tears for each departure, but that's part of the job - if I'm doing it right.

Our goal was to raise happy, well-adjusted parrots and we had succeeded with our first clutch. We were pretty happy.


Cry. Forgive. Learn. Move on. Let your tears water the seeds of your future happiness.  ~Steve Maraboli

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The start of 1996 - Aunty Jean

It was supposed to be hot and sunny today, but as is so often the case on Lake Ontario, the lake is its own fickle weather generator. Around noon it clouded over, the wind picked up, and it looked like rain coming our way. But here at Presqu'ile if you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes!

Last night we lit our own campfire, the first in at least a year. The wood from the park was wet and punky so instead of a campfire we had a campsmoke. I will no longer curse those around me who have a smoking fire. It likely is not their fault! With just the odd flicker of flame to light the night, and the moon eventually coming around the point to add its say, we had illuminating conversation.

If you were to ask me 'what was your most momentous year?' I would have no trouble answering: 1996. It was a year of deaths, births, adventures, celebrations and challenges.


The year started with sadness when my great Aunty Jean passed away. She was like a grandmother to me, enveloping me with love from my birth until her death in January 1996. I travelled with my parents to Medicine Hat, Alberta, where she had lived most of her life to attend her funeral.

Aunty Jean was my father's maternal aunt with a long history of spoiling him, starting from when his father was in the war, and his mother was a temporary war 'widow'. My grandmother passed away when I was barely two so Aunty Jean took over the role. Homemade cheese straws, donuts, fudge and other confections tickled our tummies with love.  She always had some store bought red hots, round cinnamon candies that burned our mouths, in her handbag. If we were lucky she had a whole bag for us. She always had stories about my dad. We never lived in the same town so sometimes long periods of time would separate our visits.

Her funeral was much like any other until, in her closing statements, the minister reminded us that a funeral is a final gift from the departed. A gift of family and friends coming together in love to reminisce about their loved one and reaffirm their relationships with each other - a celebration about life and love. It is one of the most memorable statements I have heard - I always recall her words when at a wake or funeral and make sure to fully appreciate each moment. The gathering is a gift to be treasured.

I always felt like Aunty Jean had given me another gift, one of adventure and heritage. While in Medicine Hat I found out about the 1996 Centennial Cattle Drive organized by the Alberta Beef Growers Association. It would be the trip of a lifetime, starting from just south of where my great-grandfather homesteaded in 1913, through CFB Suffield and into Medicine Hat. CFB Suffield is a huge tract of land that was expropriated from struggling farmers and ranchers to make a military training base. Some if it is untouched prairie. It is open land without fences and only a few roads. It is a landscape that I treasure like no other. I signed up as soon as I got home, along with my friend Deirdre (also a horse lover). But that's another story.

An insignificant but daily reminder of the trip to Medicine Hat for Aunty Jean's funeral, and everything else that happened in 1996, is the leather belt I picked up at the Calgary airport. It is a rich chestnut brown with a scene of running horses painted on it. I have worn that belt almost daily for 19 years; it has some wear, as my memories have, faded and worn in spots, other parts like brand-new; it is a talisman for everything that happened that year.


To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”  ~C.S. Lewis