Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Summer is Winding Down

Yesterday I officially went back to work. It was a workshop for administrators on the “Immunity to Change” I actually enjoyed it as we were walked through a process in identifying a goal and then how to create a plan to achieve the goal. It sounds quite simple but it was actually very deep……more on that at a future date I am sure as I “muse” on it for a while.

I have been quite frustrated this past week as I realize the summer is coming to an end and I haven’t had a chance to do what I really wanted to do this summer…! I have been so busy hosting guests at the cottage, arranging the “reno” at the condo and lunching and meeting friends I am exhausted! But it is a good exhaustion.

Last night Terry and I finalized our purchase of new living room furniture which is arriving next week. We still need to paint the place and while I have the painter all lined up I have yet to decide on the colour of paint. I hope once we have the new furniture in place I will be inspired to select a colour. We had problems with the installation of our new counter. They left holes in the wall and there is an issue with the installation of the sink. So instead of enjoying our new kitchen, we are dealing with a fight to have the problems corrected. The counter people are blaming the sink people and vice versus. I don’t care whose fault it is, I just want it fixed, and I want water back in the kitchen….bathroom water doesn’t taste as good as kitchen water.
Today we are having a family picture taken. My mother’s 70th birthday is coming up and she is a very difficult person to buy a gift. She either has everything or if she wants something, she goes out and gets it. We decided to get a picture done to surprise her. She will be more surprised my brother and I organized something together without her than by the actual picture. My brother, sister-in-law, their two kids and my family are meeting the photographer down at the beach in Port Dalhousie to get our photos taken. It is raining outside right now. I wonder what the pictures will look like of a family drenched standing in the rain.

Tomorrow I am attending our first “Director’s Meeting” of the year. This is when all of the principals are gathered together so the superintendents and director can tell us their “vision”. Their vision is actually a list of jobs they want the principals to do. It will definitely be the meeting that signifies the official end of summer. Following the day long meeting I will come back home, pick up Jennifer and her cat and assorted belongings and drive her back to school in Kingston. It is a four hour drive and of course a four hour drive back. Did I mention I still don’t feel rested?

Summer is winding down…….it has been great….but still so much to do…..

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Parents Visit to the Cottage

I realize I did not tell about my parents' visit to the cottage.

While my parents are an integral part of the story of our cottage purchase…..a long story for another post….cottage life is NOT for them. My parents are afraid of water. They do not swim. They do not go on boats. My mother is a fan of sheets with a high thread count and laundered each day like at the Hilton. Cottage life is not for them.

Each summer my parents invite my niece and nephew for a visit with them in Owen Sound. Now in their teenage years, it is becoming more difficult to entertain them. My mother thought a trip to the cottage might be interesting. I was a little fearful of the visit as I wasn’t prepared for the advice that often comes with a parental visit. To add on top the fact my parents really don’t enjoy “roughing it” at the cottage I thought it would be a long 24 hours.

I was pleasantly surprised.

Their arrival began immediately with my father taking the kids to the mini-putt place down the road. My mother and I did what we always do. Plan the meal. We actually planned supper using ingredients I already had and my mother didn’t make any comments about some condiment, appliance or something I shockingly didn’t own. (Some day I will tell the story of the salad spinner but I digress)

My dad and the kids returned so we went down to the lower dock. The kids swam. My mother worried but not as much as she usually does. My dad read the newspaper like he always does. Then we BBQd supper, ate, savoured dessert…..provided by my mother….did I mention she makes FABULOUS pies? Then we did what we used to do all those nights growing up. We played euchre.

It had become our habit when I was a kid to play euchre every night after supper. Looking back it was a great family thing and maybe a contributing factor to my brother and me growing up to be OK people. At the time I hated it. At the cottage I had a flashback to those many evenings as a kid.

Euchre is a four person game. So being the good host, I volunteered to sit out. My poor niece and nephew, years of bottled up euchre advice came flowing out by both mom and dad. Each card laid was analyzed and explained. A family tradition was carried on to the next generation!

After a few games we had a bonfire giving me a chance to burn lots of things in the overflowing “burnable bucket.” We also made smores. Can you believe my niece and nephew had never tasted smores?? My father seemed to enjoy the fire….or more precisely enjoyed making the fire so big as to “get a rise” out of my mother. Nothing is funnier than my father and mother bickering the way they do.

The next morning my father took us all in to Huntsville for a big breakfast. My mother got to buy her napkins from a certain store in Huntsville she had been talking about for a year. She was thrilled with her purchase of ten dollar paper napkins that look like linen. I also stopped at Canadian Tire and bought plastic bins with lids to protect my food from the chipmunk or mouse or whatever is invading my cupboard.

My father never stays anywhere too long. They left within the 24 hour time line my father always obeys.

I really did enjoy their visit…….maybe I finally am growing up.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I have just a few hours to be alone at the cottage. My parents and niece and nephew just left. This morning my son Greg called to say he wanted to come up for the week-end. With his job the week-end means Friday and Saturday so he will be on his way up tonight.

The bear did not make a return appearance last night but I cannot say the same for the chipmunk...I think. I have cleaned my cupboards twice this week because of little black spots left behind by whatever animal is enjoying my baked goods in the cupboard. I had enough of my food being nibbled at so I did a quick trip into the Huntsville Canadian Tire and invested in plastic bins with lids. So after a third cupboard cleaning I put everything inside my new purchases and hope whoever this nibbly guest is doesn't know how to open the plastic snaps.

In spite of my wildlife problems, the weather is finally fabulous at the cottage. We seldom get this perfect weather so we can truly appreciate it. In Huntsville today it was actually too warm. With the lake breezes, the shade of the cedars and the bright sunshine, it is absolute paradise here.

While I am enjoying my few hours of peaceful quiet, I am looking forward to company once again. It is so perfect here it would be very selfish not to long as the company knows how to do their own dishes!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A "Wild" Week-end With the Girls

Every year I host a girls’ week-end. It is a three day non-stop gab fest in which we drink a little too much, eat a little too much and laugh way too much. However, I do get a little stressed at times as I play the role of host and I want everything to be just right. My friends are more Hiltony than outdoorsy.

I headed up to the cottage last Friday night to prepare for their Saturday arrival. The first thing I noticed as I walked in the cottage was the quiet. This was not a good quiet. This was a quiet caused by the lack of the humming noise the cottage fridge makes. I bravely opened the fridge door and was struck immediately by the smell of rotten food. I quickly grabbed a large garbage bag and stuffed in all of the food, including the only used once trio of ketchup, mustard and relish. I then took it all outside to the large Rubbermaid 20 gallon garbage can with the twist-lock lid. It has stood through four or five raccoon-free summers…..let’s keep our fingers crossed with the recent bear sightings.

I then headed back to the cottage and put the groceries into the beer fridge. It is not a large fridge and is almost 60 years old but always works. We are on our third gently used “new” fridge in ten years….hmmmm….improved technology? I think not.

The girls arrived on time Saturday morning and I proudly put them all in the bunkie. There were fresh sheets, new carpets on the floor and I thought it was going to be a great place for my guests.

In spite of all of my plans to be a good host, we did have our problems. The first night my friends were woken at 4 a.m. by their new friend, Chippy the Chipmunk. He spent the night running across the rafters. When daylight finally arrived they discovered Chippy had used their books and magazines as his personal washroom.

Then the toilet broke. This is not really an unusual event at the cottage but why this week-end? These ladies would not even contemplate the use of the outhouse. As a good teacher I taught them how to fill the bucket from the bathtub and flush the toilet manually.

Then there was no hot water for the shower……
Then we ran out of dishwashing soap……..
Then it rained……
Then it rained…..
Then it rained…….

Then there were drinks on the dock for the 90 minutes of sunshine.
Then posing for facebook pictures.
Then Balderdash.
Then Euchre.
Then just enjoying each other’s company.

In spite of the glitches there were lots of memories for us to laugh about all over again at our next girls’ adventure.

Now……back to the garbage in the Rubbermaid container. Yep, no problem with raccoons. The bears are another story. They found the stash last night. I just got off the phone with the Ministry Bear reporting people and was informed I am correct about my fears. Once the bear has found a food source he will likely be back.

Who wants to break that bit of news to my mother and father who are visiting today? It is hard to believe but they don’t enjoy the cottage at all and haven't visited here in years. They are breaking down to bring my niece and nephew here for two days. Reluctant Mom and Dad, two teen-agers, a chipmunk and a bear.

I will keep all informed how this visit goes.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Royal Canadian Henley

It’s that time of year again, Henley! The Royal Canadian Henley is celebrating its 127th year. We live right across the street from the grandstands. It is usually quiet in our condo in Port Dalhousie, this morning we woke up to the sound of the horn at the finish line. As each crew finished their race a horn blows. To me it is a fabulous sound.

For many summers I belonged to a recreational rowing crew. While “recreational” is its title because of the festivities following the races, no one is fooled. No matter the ability level, each crew gets competitive once the race starts. The sound of that horn means we finally reached the finish line and my body can recover. Rowing may look like a relaxing sport to the casual observer, but anyone who has tried it knows at the end of a race your leg and arm muscles are burning, your lungs are gasping for air but your heart is singing because you have accomplished something with your team that feels like nothing else. Rowing is definitely a team sport, no heroes allowed, everyone has to be equally as good or you might end up rowing in circles (literally).

Time commitments have not allowed me to stay involved at the crew level but I still volunteer once a year at the grandstands. It is a great job. While I can’t actually see any of the rowing from my post, I get to meet people from all over the world as they gather to cheer on their friends and family. I have also been a hockey mom for many years but rowing is special. I have yet to witness an argument or unsportsmanlike conduct at a rowing regatta.

My daughter Kaitlin facebooked me this morning very excited. She made weight! All summer long she has been struggling to lose those last 5 pounds. This is not a vanity issue. Her race is tomorrow and she must weigh in below 130 pounds. If she doesn’t make weight she can’t race and her whole crew is disqualified. Talk about peer pressure. Kaitlin has been waking up each day this summer at 4:30 a.m. She has been on the water from 5:30-7:00 a.m. Then she works at her summer job all day and afterwards is back on the water or else at the Y working out. Regattas have been on week-end days and her serving job in Niagara Falls on week-end nights. Somewhere in there she has even managed to have a social life. Hopefully she will qualify tomorrow to make it to the finals on Sunday. Sunday finals at Henley is a huge deal.

No matter what place her crew crosses that finish line, I will be proud of her. She has exhibited discipline, physical exertion and team camaraderie. These skills will serve her well throughout her life.

Rowing………….there is no sport like it.