Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Is Summer Half-Over, or Just Half-Started?

It has now officially half way through summer vacation. Part of me feels like I haven’t accomplished anything yet. I decided to make a list of the things I have accomplished so I feel better about all of the sleeping in, lounging, cross-word puzzles etc.

What I Have Done So Far This Summer:
-Breakfast with the girls
-Lunch with the girls (Twice)
-Dinner with the girls
(These are different sets of girls)
-Researched a new granite counter for the kitchen
-Arrangements made for installation of new counter!!
-Nagged Terry to lay new flooring at the cottage (Thanks Terry, it looks fabulous!)
-New windows installed in the cottage (Thanks Billy, Terry and Jill)
-Bunkie cleaned out
-Sheets and towels all freshly laundered for Bunkie ready for guests
-Celebrated the arrival of baby Avery (my daughter’s best friend’s baby)
-Researched new flooring for condo
-Arrangements made for installation of cork flooring and carpet for bedroom
-Bought a new tap for kitchen
-Bought a new sink for kitchen (It’s amazing how these things snowball)
-Visited my daughter in Kingston (with my mom and niece)
-Got my new driver license and picture
-Got my new health card and picture
-Planted new garden at the cottage
-Sent in a query to Cottage Life Magazine
-Bought tickets for the theatre (my friend is in the cast)

I am going shopping this week-end in Grove City PA. This will be my first retail experience of an entire long week-end shopping with the girls. I think I should have started training months ago…..I’m not really much of a shopper.

No wonder I don’t feel rested! July has been a month of accomplishments after all. My August is filled up with guests at the cottage, the renovations being completed at the condo, a three-day conference in Toronto and of course sooner or later I do have to plan for my return to school.

Today is the day I DO NOTHING…….and try not to feel guilty about it.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Multi-Tasking to get the Summer To-Do List Done

I got home last night from an overnight stay at Jennifer’s in Kingston. My youngest daughter is living there as she is going to Queen’s University,

Last week I came upon a brilliant idea. Friends and family seem to think because I have the summer off I have endless time to visit and do all sorts of things, The Beachboys’ Endless Summer is certainly not reality no matter how much we dream of it. There are only so many days in the summer and they seem to just fly by. So, while trying to squeeze in all of the household tasks put off during the school year, including visits to get my teeth cleaned at the dentist etc., I treasure each and every day. So…..back to my brilliant idea. My mother is always commenting I need to go up to Owen Sound to visit her for a few days. (3 hours north) Jennifer has been wanting me to go to visit her since I hadn’t even seen her new apartment yet (4 hours west) I am at one end of Lake Ontario and she is at the other end. By brilliant idea was to combine the two visits and even throw in a visit with my niece who lives just outside of Toronto.

Tuesday morning I drove to Milton to my brother’s house. There I met my mother and we threw my niece Tamara into the car and made our way to K-town, Kingston. Three generations on a road trip!

Hours later we arrived at Jenn’s new apartment. It is a basement apartment and just perfect for her as long as she doesn’t have any guests. The kitchen has a frig on one side and a rusty oven on the other side and just enough room to walk in between. That leads to a living room with a tiny couch and book shelf and TV. Jenn’s bedroom is not a bad size as most importantly it contains room for a desk. As her purpose to being in Kingston is to get a university education I was very pleased to see signs of books and other educational paraphernalia……I hope it wasn’t planted just for our visit!!

From there we headed to the LCBO (That’s the liquor store for you non-Ontario readers) It was my mom who suggested that stop. Who knew? We then headed for the Radisson to check in. Then off to Wolfe Island by ferry. Apparently the ferry is free as it is part of the road system to allow residents of Wolfe Island to have access. Isn’t the Canadian government great? It was a 45 minute cruise into Lake Ontario and we saw lots of boats, the Kingston landscape, Fort Henry and the Royal Military College. Once again, compacting lots of sightseeing into one trip. I am nothing but a master of multi-tasking!

Then back to the hotel dining room for the most amazing meal ever!! It was real food, prepared by a real chef. Obviously nothing pre-packaged or put together like fast food. Why is that so rare these days?

We were supposed to take the “Haunted Walk” through the historical streets of Kingston but a down pour of rain started. So we ended up going to bed early.

We work up and did a quick tour of Queen’s University, picked up bread at Pan Chancho Bakery. Who knew a bakery was so famous? I still don’t what it is famous for unless it is the outrageous prices. We then did a mediocre brunch (remember that pre-packaged food I was talking about?)

We said a good-bye to Jen as we dropped her back at her place. Then we drove west along the 401 again until 3 hours later we dropped Tamara back home, my mother to her car and I headed south to Niagara.

A very fast 24-hours. I’m tired.

  • Visit with my mother

  • Visit with my daughter

  • be a good aunt

  • do something touristy

3 things checked off my summer to-do list

Now…..I have to get ready for the kitchen counter guy…….kitchen reno..more summer tasks to do.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Please Be Patient!

I think I am starting to understand when retired people say they don’t know how they had time to work pre-retirement. I have been on vacation for about three weeks and I am exhausted!

I haven’t had much to time to blog with all of the tasks between finishing up work, the renovations at the condo, the rest, work and hosting duties at the cottage.

It still feels great though to go to bed every night, especially Sundays, and not set the alarm. While I have been very busy, I still wake up when I feet rested……except for the last few days …..that’s another story. I have so much to tell and so little time to blog about it. I hope everyone out there in blog land will have patience and wait for me to tell my tales.

Please hang in there and I will tell all about my busy week at home and cottage.

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Baby is Born

I spent four hours at the hospital yesterday. It was fabulous. It was four hours in the waiting room with three soon-to-be great grandmas and my daughter in her role as a very caring friend.

My daughter Kaitlin made a new friend in grade three when by coincidence a family from the school I was vice-principal moved to the school my kids were attending. I knew Amber was going to be in Kaitlin’s class and from the very beginning I watched their friendship bloom.

Fate has played a large part in their friendship. Amber’s family moved again a few years later to a neighbourhood part of the school district where we moved when we finally bought the house of our dreams, which by another coincidence was across the street from Amber’s grandparent’s house.

Kaitlin and Amber then went on to the same high school, rowed on the same crew and continued to be best friends through all of the trials and tribulations of the pre-teen, tween and teenage years. Amber even lived with us for a few months when her Mom remarried and moved out of town. Amber eventually found another place to live but I never felt she had found her place in the world.

Kaitlin and Amber have always had different goals in life. Kaitlin was the competitive one, wanting to always win the soccer game or the medal at the regatta. Amber’s goal was to be accepted as part of the team. After high school Kaitlin went to university for a business degree while Amber was satisfied with low paying jobs to pay the rent from place to place. Regardless of the disparity of their life goals, the friendship stuck like glue.

There was the challenge nine months ago when Amber discovered she was pregnant. Kaitlin was horrified thinking this was a major hurdle in life plans. Amber after much contemplation was ecstatic.

We have watched Amber’s belly grow these last months. We have also watched Amber’s support network grow. Amber’s boyfriend has really lived up to expectations. A once iffy relationship has stabilized as the baby grew. Amber’s relationship with her family has become stronger as well.

While waiting those hours yesterday with Amber’s grandmothers and grandmother in-law I could see how a little unborn baby can bring so many people together. Grandmothers who did not agree when their own children wed, a mother who left for her own delayed happiness, new people who nine months ago did not even know Amber, they have all come together because of a new baby boy named Avery.

It was not an easy delivery. Days of contractions, 24 hours in the labour room, a forceps delivery, yet Baby Avery is the most precious and perfect package of baby ever.

The name has an interesting story. Amber and boyfriend Alex wanted their baby to have an “A” name like Mom and Dad. Alex’s favourite hockey player is Sean Avery so it just seemed right for the baby to be Avery.

Every Canadian name must have a hockey connection. Once home from the hospital I called my parents to tell them the news. They have always taken a special interest in Amber because her family was not as secure as she deserved. Another coincidence…..Sean Avery, yes that one, the NHL player, had just called and left a message on my parent’s answering machine. Sean Avery was once a player for the Owen Sound Platers (now the Attack) which my Dad was a partial owner. My dad was one of a few that actually liked Sean and he happened to be in town and called to say hello on the day baby Avery was born. My dad was about to return his call when I had called. So I asked my Dad to tell Sean Avery, a new baby was born today with his name.

Coincidence? I think not……there is a special reason Amber and her new baby have come into our lives.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Canada's Polka King

I thought I would write today about a wonderful musician who is NOT Michael Jackson……enough already!!!!!

I was at a BBQ social on Henley Island tonight and I met a local celebrity musician, Walter Ostanek. I was so excited this was going to be an opportunity for my daughter Kaitlin to meet a celebrity. Kaitlin was not so impressed as she had NO clue who he was.

As a kid I remember watching Kitchener television (one of the few stations we got clearly up in Owen Sound). Each week he hosted his own show playing the accordion and leading his polka band. Not that I was really into his style of music at the time but because he was on TV each week I thought he must be important. Later when I went to university he was very important as he was at Octoberfest each year. University students, jugs of beer, polka music…..what could be better??? Then I ended up moving to St. Catharines to discover it was the home of Walter Ostanek, where he owned his own music shop. Walter has been nominated for 13 Grammy Awards and actually won three times! Unfortunately, the Grammy Awards people (whoever they are) just recently decided to remove the Polka category.

While I will always consider Walter a celebrity, I was thrilled to actually chat with him for quite some time. I discovered he truly is a kind, gentle, fun man. It was great to meet him!

For those interested, check out more about Walter:

Monday, July 6, 2009

Will Yoga Kick My Addictions?

The computer is not my friend. I spend way too much time “surfing.” If I truly were surfing surely I would be much slimmer, much more tanned and much more satisfied with myself at the end of the day.

After staying up way too late last night, and sleeping in way too late this morning I realized I have already wasted too many precious hours of my summer vacation. Like someone with an addiction, I am going to have to get my computer use under control before it starts to control me. I gave myself a kick in the rear today and told myself to get going. I walked up the street and signed up for the yoga studio. I have given a financial commitment so now I must give myself a time commitment as well.

Funnily enough, once I got home from the big signing up, I turned on the TV (another addiction I am working on) and I caught a few minutes of Oprah. Now, I am not one of those people that considers Oprah a religion but today she said something that really made me think. She was saying how we have to take time for ourselves. She was describing me. During the school year I always complain I don’t have enough time to exercise, to eat right, to do whatever I should to take care of me. I have my calendar to ensure I am at every meeting on time etc but according to Oprah, I need to include myself on that calendar. It was a little AHA moment.

SO……….I am going to actually schedule the 5 k training I have been procrastinating. I am going to schedule my yoga classes. In spite of it being summer time I am going to schedule my time so I don’t waste my time……….as I said in an earlier post, summer time is too precious to waste……my time is too precious to waste.

Hopefully this will be the first day of the rest of my life……………so sorry to be so corny!!!!! (A few minutes of Oprah really does go a long way)

Does anyone out there have any words of wisdom before I embark on this new journey called yoga? Will it truly be a mind/body/spirit experience?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Celebration of the Laying of the Floor!

I forgot to let everyone know, Terry did come through with my requested birthday gift…. new flooring in the cottage. It is beautiful. No more ugly orange spongy carpet. I can’t believe we waited so long to get rid of it. The floor looks great, feels great and most importantly can be Swiffered in minutes! (I just wish Terry's back felt as great......thanks honey!)

I should do a Swiffer commercial. To celebrate the laying of our new floor I headed into Huntsville and purchased a Swiffer vacuum. I had to wait 16 hours in order to fully charge the battery so I had to wait overnight. I couldn’t wait to wake up and try out my new Swiffer on my new floor! Yes! Truly, in minutes I picked up all the gritty stuff that mysteriously gets dragged into the cottage and I was done! No more dragging out an ancient Hoover that no matter how hard I tried, was never able to vacuum up the colour orange.

Terry and I are back in the city now. It’s Sunday night and we are back to reality. Terry has to work tomorrow. As soon as we got home we started the laundry and checked the telephone messages. After Terry being at the cottage for ten days there were lots of people waiting for him to return their calls and fix their computers. His days and nights this week are booked.

As for me…… is Sunday night and no work tomorrow…….yippee! There is nothing better than a Sunday night in the summer time. Too bad I am not up at the cottage but we will return soon enough. I am meeting with lots of groups of friends this week and taking my calendar with me to book everyone’s time at the cottage. Even when I am not at the cottage, this cottage living is taking up a lot of my time!! YEAH!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Technology at the Cottage

OK, so I am at the cottage where I am supposed to be getting away from city life and all of its evil influences like technology. I love it up here with the smell of the cedars and the panoramic view of the lake but I haven’t been able to get away from my daily internet habit.

Up here it is strictly dial-up. Sometime it takes 10 minutes to load a page……..I play a few games of solitaire in between pages. Through the dial up internet connection I keep up with my Facebook friends and the news of the day. Sarah Palin has decided to quite being governor of Alaska. (why do I care….but I do???) I have been invited to join the CFRB crew for lunch next week. Most importantly I found a kindergarten teacher so all of my work related jobs are now over!

On Facebook today I announced to everyone I finally have the Bunkie transformed from winter storage shed to royal guest palace and invited all of my Facebook friends to come to the cottage. I am crazy????

Yes, internet connections are important in cottage country. But just don’t tell anyone. I have kept it my secret……until now……I can choose to respond to emails or not. No one expects you to be on line up at the cottage so the instant responses accepted in the city aren’t required. I have the best of both worlds…….I can choose if I want to be on line or not.

But I do have to admit the whole dial up thing is taking a toll on me. One can only play so many games of solitaire a day. I have been listening to the radio (The Moose) and they are advertising Bell internet for $17.00 a month. I think is it high speed. Anyone out there know anything about it? At the Cottage Life show this spring, Terry and I went to a booth where it was promoting “the Rocket” from Rogers where we could bring high speed with us. The cute city guy had never even heard of Haliburton so he couldn’t tell us if it worked up here or not.

As I look out the window at the beautiful scenery I can’t believe I am pondering dial-up vs. high-speed. It shouldn’t matter up here in cottage country……………did I mention it is only 8 degrees today????? (That’s Celcius by the way……….I don’t want to alarm Ed in Texas..or in St. Louis) Where is the warm July weather?

Happy 4th of July to my American readers……………there are fireworks in Dorset tonight!! Not sure why…….is this paying homage to American tourists or leftovers from our Canada Day celebrations?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Cottage Time

I was reading the Globe and Mail the other day and came across an article regarding getting things done at the cottage. It was an essay written by an elementary principal (like me!) who was preparing for a whole summer at the cottage (like me!) She was anticipating a summer of reading, doing yoga on the dock and actually losing weight by the end of the summer. It was very clear she was a newbie cottager.

The writer was given advice from her cottage neighbour that every day she must have a list of things to accomplish or before you knew it the summer would be over and you would feel like it was a summer wasted. I took this advice to heart as I could certainly relate to having days go by without having accomplished anything. So today I set out to do my “To Do List”.

1. go to Huntsville and buy supplies
2. plant more flowers in some containers by the dock
3. clean out the hall closet
4. hang up new curtains

I have accomplished my list, it is now 3:00 p.m. and I am not sure how to feel. I am a little tired from physical activity for the first time in a few days. I feel a sense of accomplishment my closet is clean. I am pleased when I look out the window and see the beautiful marigolds waving at me from the dock. OK….so I didn’t get the curtains hung…..details, details. However, I am disappointed the weather is now overcast. While I was doing my chores the weather was fabulous, now it is breezy, cool and looking like it is about to rain anytime now.

I have better advice for the new cottage.

Make a To Do List and do it ….when you get around to it.

Cottage time is too precious to waste on To Do Lists.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy New Years!

To most people today, July 1st, is Canada Day, a celebration of our country’s birth. To me, it is more like New Year’s.

July 1st is the day after my birthday and marks my official beginning of summer. June is a crazy time with all of the tasks and celebrations involved as the school year winds down. I usually have no down time and am stressed to the max in order to meet all of the deadlines and to go to all of the retirement and year-parties. I don’t mean there are not fun parts of June, but much like the Christmas holidays, I am so busy by the time July first comes around I am physically exhausted.

Also, the month of June represented the return of terrible eating habits and too much drinking. Last night, to celebrate my birthday I went to a Blue Rodeo concert with some girl friends. It was great fun. There is something about doing something slightly illegal to make you feel young again. We snuck our mickies of rye into the stadium hidden in our purses. We enjoyed cheap drinks, a free concert and millions of laughs. We stayed over night in a near by hotel and gabbed into the wee hours of the morning. My friend Diane dropped me at home about noon today just in time for my daughter Kaitlin to pick me up and take me out for a birthday lunch.

√ School year over
√ Retirement Celebrations over
√ Birthday celebrations over

It is time to get back to reality, back into control.
No more over eating, over drinking and under exercising (actually NO exercising is more like it)
To really make me feel guilty, I just received an email from one of my blog subscribers asking me how my 5 K training was going. OK, Jennifer A. Jilks……….it is NOT going!! But, like I said earlier, to me July 1st is like New Years. I have the summer to start fresh again and give up the bad habits and work on new healthy lifestyle.

So, tomorrow my son Greg is picking me and driving me to the cottage where I will be reunited with my husband and my dog Journey. No more excuses. I am back on track. I am motivated. I can do it! Tomorrow I am a new woman!

Thanks Jennifer A. Jilks for keeping me honest.