List Legacy


W has a t-shirt that says “I Drink and I Know Things”.  It was gifted to him by a friend who knows him very well.  If I had a shirt like that it would say “I Clean and I Find Things”. Not all that funny, but accurate as hell.  Mostly what I find are forgotten lists of things I’ve jotted down so I won’t forget them.  Totally useless endeavour when the list goes missing, and confusing as all get out when one turns up and makes very little sense to me in the here and now.

When I decide to clean, even if it’s something as simple as using the Swiffer duster on a shelf that the morning sun hits, illuminating a grey film that was invisible the night before and making me wonder how we can actually breathe in here,  I end up rearranging things.  Could be just items on a shelf, or could be all the furniture in a room. You just never know.

Twice this week I have moved stuff around in my bedroom, trying to accommodate a big old chair that’s worn out and uncomfortable and takes up too much space in the living room.  It’s next move may be out the front door.  The second time around for the rearranging involved moving the desk back to where it was in the first place (big sigh accompanied by eye roll) and going through its pile of miscellaneous papers which seems to accumulate even faster than the dust.

And I found a list.  Yes, I know, no one at this point is surprised.  It’s in a little black note-book which also contains some account numbers and passwords that are no longer valid because I’ve changed them.  This is exactly the kind of thing you don’t want to leave behind after you die, unless there are people you need to seriously annoy posthumously.  I have also written down my cell phone number because I have never bothered to memorize the damned thing.  It’s easy enough to find on my phone, so why did I bother doing that?  One mystery after another, right?

The list appears to be things you can do at our camp.  Or at anyone’s cottage I guess.

  • Wake up early 
  • Drink your coffee on the deck
  • Watch the early morning mist burn off the water
  • Go for a boat ride
  • Paddle a canoe
  • Go barefoot
  • Dance in the rain
  • Explore
  • Take pictures
  • Watch the birds
  • Play horseshoes
  • Make an inukshuk
  • Build a bonfire
  • Roast marshmallows
  • Watch the sunset
  • Always carry a wine glass of sufficient size to knock a bear unconscious 

That last one was SO worth waiting for.  It’s not mine, but I don’t know who to credit for it.  Someone brilliant, obviously.  I would add to that one to always keep the glass topped up so you can throw wine in the bears eyes and temporarily blind him before you turn around and run like hell.

That was more fun than finding an old grocery list or a paper from a page-a-day calendar, although I found both of those as well.  The calendar page says

Dont die green.  Die crisp and toasty brown, well lived and well loved.

Kinda sounds like bear food, but whatever.  May we all live long enough to get crispy.

Happy Sunday!

Honey I’m Home

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When I told my daughter I was flying home on Friday the 13th she said “Oh my God mom, you’ll be the only one on the plane!”  But guess what – the plane was fully booked.  I guess there are a lot of fearless and not so superstitious souls out there. We made it from Winnipeg to Edmonton on time with a flight attendant who looked like Natalie Portman.  Only prettier.  If that’s even possible.

My son drove me to the airport when I left and my daughter picked me up this afternoon.  What awesome kids I have.  And then of course there’s W who made the trip to Winnipeg and back twice, not to mention putting up with me for two weeks in between.  All awesome and much appreciated.  I know, I know, I’m worth it, but still.

So now I’m back in siren city.  It is hot, hot, hot.  We are having the most incredible fall weather.  I will miss the call of the loons and watching the deer wander across the back lawn.  I won’t so much miss the geese honking their heads off in the middle of the night, or listening to the hourly trains as they whistle and rumble by on the other side of the river. I will miss the peace and quiet during the day, watching the eagles soar, and good times with great people.

It was a lovely relaxing holiday.  Still, it’s good to be home.

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A Different Kind of Island Holiday

Time flies when you least want it to.  Our company left this morning to drive back east after a week of roughing it with us on the island – or in the wilderness, as Jazzy might describe it.  We’ve had trips up and down and across the river, beautiful campfires, incredible fish fries, and a cabin clean up to purge a lot of accumulated stuff.sangria

Along with the usual beer and rum that accompanies the scintillating conversation (that could be a slight exaggeration) this week we also consumed copious amounts of sangria.  It is probably a good thing that I didn’t pay better attention to the ingredients and thus won’t feel overly confident to mix up a batch on my own.  There was a lot of fruit thrown in there, so I’m going to say it was good for us.  Even if you’re not a wine drinker it’s hard to pass up one of these.

The back lawn

The back lawn

Looking east from the deck, early morning

Looking east from the deck, early morning

West side

West side

View from the deck
View from the deck

Yes, we are incredibly spoiled.  The weather has been unseasonably warm for September with a few days hot enough for swimming.  Supposed to cool down now and rain, but those days are easy, lazy ones too, snugged up in the cabin with a fire in the wood stove.

Hope everybody is having a relaxing Sunday.  I have four more days of island survival to endure.  Poor me.

Camp Log 3

July 07

Camp Log 2006, Part Three

On the Sunday following our arrival it rains all day long.  The guys go fishing because, let’s face it, men in general don’t know enough to come in out of the rain, and Ann and I scrounge around for some fun rainy day indoor stuff to do.  We watch a movie (The 40 Year Old Virgin) on my little battery operated DVD player.  The sound is pretty bad,  so we play it with sub-titles.  Then we decide to paint sun catchers.   Despite the fact that the sun catcher package says adult supervision required, they don’t turn out too bad at all.  We eventually get around to stringing them up with fishing line on a wire hanger.

Very classy addition to the decor.  We both take a solemn oath to never attempt this mind numbingly boring activity again, and both of us, with now severe cases of cabin fever, go out and sit on the deck in the rain.  Where the guys come home to find us, and wonder why we don’t have enough sense to come in out of the rain.

Monday is day one of shingling the roof.  What a production.  The guys haul over scaffolding, the nail gun apparatus, all the shingles and various tools and paraphernalia.  Ann and I wander off until we think we’ve gone a sufficient distance so as to be out of range for being asked to do anything helpful.  We paint rocks.  Rock painting has become a favourite camp activity for me.  There’s nothing but blank canvases everywhere you look, and often when you’re in the process of creating a small masterpiece, people will wander by to see how things are progressing and offer you refreshments.  That’s why I refer to one particular rock as the rum rock, because it took about four rum and cokes originally to complete it.  The paint has all faded, so I decide to give it a facelift.

Hmm.  It ends up looking like some kind of a demented goalie mask.

I also touch up the stick people – four of which are shown above.  There are many many more.  Think “invasion of the stick people” and you’ll have the right idea.  In the next few days we add even more, and gather driftwood for a sign, and put stepping-stones up one of the pathways to the cottage.

YES!  We have gone project crazy!!  And this is turning into a vacation slide-show from hell.  But please open your eyes for just a minute, so you can see our little cat and dog solar glow balls by the steps, and the wind chime way up there at the top of our stairway.   Okay.  You can doze off again.  I was going to add one of W. on the roof with a wet towel tied around his head, with the ends hanging down, so that he looks like a cross between a terrorist and Willie Nelson.  But probably just talking about that will leave you with a disturbing mental image for days.

The roof gets completed (it takes two days), we make plans for the flower beds, and take walks around the island and some pictures of the eagle’s nest.  And Canada Geese families.  And then we paint a big plastic barrel black in preparation for building our outdoor shower.  We declare tomorrow “Sit-On-Your-Ass-And-Do-Dick-All-Day”.  But of course that doesn’t happen.  Because it is W.’s mom’s birthday on Saturday and we have to prepare for our gala barbecue on the deck.  I think I’ll spare you those pictures too – a bunch of drunken friends and relatives sitting around in the sun.  Tomorrow we’re going to Wal-Mart and Canadian Tire!!  And we’re going to stop by the house in town to have REAL showers with ACTUAL HOT WATER!!  Be still my heart.

Camp Log 2

July 05

Camp Log 2006, Part Two

Our first evening at camp is so hot and muggy and close, with no breeze at all, that it puts me into a kind of lethargic state of semi consciousness.  Not W.  He keeps thinking of stuff that needs to be done and hopping up and going off somewhere and showing up several minutes later wearing one less article of clothing.  Eventually he is down to just his underwear.  Seriously.  And standing under the sprinkler.  At one point in our relationship I might have found this type of behaviour interesting to watch, but now I just pray the neighbors across the river don’t have binoculars.

We are up at the crack of dawn the next morning.  It rained overnight, and the deck is still very wet, but it’s impossible to drink your morning coffee anywhere else. Our new wind chimes are not nearly as loud and annoying as we thought they might be.  It takes quite a strong breeze to move them, and then they’re actually soft and mellow sounding.  So I guess 12 feet away from the deck on the ‘swing’ tree is going to be their home, rather than lost somewhere in the forest.

The reason we are up so early is that W.’s “friend” Benny somebody or other flies his little plane directly over the cottage when he sees the flag is up and knows that there’s someone there.  At this point we don’t know that his religion is annoying the hell out of people and that he is very devout.  So the first couple of times it’s funny when he roars by overhead sounding like he’s going to take the roof off.  But he does this EVERY SINGLE DAY  for the entire time we are there.  The earliest is at 6:15, but 6:30 and 6:45 a.m. seem to be his favourite times.  So instead of starting each day saying good morning with a smile, we become accustomed to saying “Benny, you ASSHOLE” and shaking our fists at the sky.  There are trains that go by across the river at all times of the night and day, and we always get used to them after a couple of days.   Unfortunately, there is no getting used to Benny.  One day, just as a variation, Benny taxis down right in front of our island, revs up his engines and takes off from the water with a truly deafening racket.

W.’s mom and dad come over around 10:00 a.m.  It’s another hot day, but wonderfully windy.  We discover a mallard and her nest under a Caragana bush right on the near edge of the west lawn.  We have no idea how long she may have been there but I’m sure she must be surprised at the sudden activity so close by.  We make a point of trying to disturb her as little as possible, and thankfully she doesn’t abandon her seven eggs.  There are pelicans flying overhead.  The deer wanders by on the back lawn which I have just recently mowed.  I consume a few bottles of water and a couple of coolers called ‘blood oranges’, a mixture of bacardi rum, peach and mango.  I decide several of those could make you ill.  So I switch to rum and pepsi.  For my health.

Every time I see my father in law I learn something unexpectedly.  He talks and talks until you want to beg him to please, if there is a point, GET TO IT!  He might, he might not.  But every so often there’s some little gem.  He starts boasting about how he can still get into the pants he wore before he got married.  Mind you, he muses, I always wore things that were hand me downs and several sizes too big…..  I love it.  What a GREAT idea!  Brides could get a wedding dress two sizes too large and years later put it on and brag that it still fits!!

Finally, late in the afternoon, my sister and her husband arrive.  YAY!!   Now there’s no way in the world I can keep up a daily record because when we get together we never shut up.  Ann has come bearing gifts – a beautiful wooden treasure chest, and two solar-powered garden lights, in the shape of a cat and a dog, with marbles for eyes, and big glow ball bodies.  My brother-in-law M. is quick to point out that the dog’s nose looks like a miniature penis.  Gah. It does.   I decide I will have to bring the treasure chest home with me and fill it up with treasure.  Grandmas are expected to do such things after all.  The wind dies right down to nothing and we sit on the deck until it’s dark and cool and the bugs come out.  There are millions of fire flies.  We are able to walk right up to the mallard’s bush and see her sitting on the nest.  She must know we’re not a threat, except maybe to her sanity, but nothing physical.

We have lots of plans for our couple of weeks together.  The roof needs to be shingled, the flower beds need serious work, there is an outdoor shower to design and build.  Fish to be caught.  Beer to be consumed.  From experience we know the days fly by, and we promise to make the most of every one of them.

There is a duck there, I swear.  Bottom center you can see her head and an eyeball.

Camp Log 1

July 04

Camp Log 2006, Part One

I took a travel journal with me on our trip to Ontario.  Man.  Blogging is so much easier than actually picking up a pen and legibly writing stuff down.  Halfway slogging through sentences I’d forget what I was going to say.  Having written something stupid I’d realize there’s no backspace key.  Knowing that, and trying to write only non stupid things, slowed me down even more.   Somehow I managed to blather on for almost 30 pages.  So I’m adding the 2006 vacation to my illustrious history.  Jumping with both feet right into the present from my murky past.  I’ll be referring to my scribblings, not copying them word for word,  and editing and adding and revising.  You’ll just have to trust me that the absolute truth as I recorded it would bore you to tears.   I’m already boring myself, and I haven’t even gotten started.

Okay.  The night before, which was actually the day of our departure, because it was already past midnight, I took pen in hand and talked about my insomnia before going away somewhere.  And also about how I painted my toenails because that is something you HAVE to do the night before you go on vacation.  I think it’s probably a pre-vacation rule in some cultures.  The shade was a really interesting rusty-red.  It is now chipped and faded and looks quite disgusting and there’s an ugly scar on one of my big toes where I dropped a rock on my foot.  But on June 15th there are no battle scars yet.  We get up at 5:00 a.m.  At 7:00 we still have not left the city.  W. loves to run around all over the place at the last minute while I sigh audibly and roll my eyes and ask him why he didn’t do all this stuff yesterday.  He painstakingly explains to me why he never fills the gas tank completely because the truck runs better without the extra weight.  I cannot even comment on this.  I just do some deep breathing and admire my toenails all the way to Lloydminster.

In Saskatoon we take a little detour somewhere in the middle of construction and have to find our way back onto Circle Drive.  We see the sign just fine the second time around.  I like to talk when I travel.  W. doesn’t.  We see a pre-fab house and I wonder what a small one would cost, and how we could float it across to the island.  And where we should put it if we could get the damned thing up the hill.  Maybe we could fill up the foundation of the old house with cement and put the pre-fab house there.  It would be great to have some extra accommodation space.  And since W. is not listening, I suggest we put it there while the cement is still wet so that the house sticks to it when it dries.  Then I ask him if he thinks I should have a job in the field of construction.  He says no.

Early in the afternoon, around Dundurn, we are passed by bikes and bikes of Hell’s Angels.  They look like flocks of black crows zipping down the highway, buffeted by the wind.  I suggest they’re going on a picnic and W. just snorts.  We see a semi that went off the road and flipped over.  Yikes.  We drive through pouring rain and into the sunshine.  I want to know why all the big fat gross bugs splat on MY side of the windshield.  W. drives and drives and drives.  I doze on and off.  Every time I open my eyes we appear to be in the exact same place.  Saskatchewan on the trans Canada has got to be the most boring place to drive through on the face of God’s green earth.  At 7:30 we arrive in Brandon, Manitoba, home of…..I don’t know, some museums and stuff.  At this point I don’t care.  We check into the Comfort Inn and hear there are thunderstorm warnings in Cartwright, Kilarney, Mather and Turtle Mountain.  I wonder who names these places.  There is also a tornado watch somewhere complete with looney sized hail, but not here, and I expect that’s what it might take to wake me up tonight.  I get tired of listening to W. reading the entire weather channel and crash.  I can’t imagine how tired I’d be if I had done any actual driving.

If the desk clerk is to be believed, and why would she lie, there was booming thunder and a crazy light show complete with pouring rain over night.  Our air conditioner was so loud we heard nothing.  Not even each other snoring.  Bonus.  They should advertise that.  We’re off to Winnipeg.   When we get there we stop and buy groceries and pack our coolers with perishables and head for Kenora.  I may not be able to continue my travel memoir because I expect at any moment that the humidity is going to kill me.  W. asks me what the hell I’m writing.  I tell him I’m writing down EVERY SINGLE WORD HE SAYS.   That shuts him up completely for almost an hour.  In Keewatin we make our last and most important stops for booze and ice.

At 3:47 p.m. I am sitting on the deck although there’s still a thousand things to do.  The deer was on the side lawn when we came up the hill.  W. is being SO nice to me – he’s gone back over to load stuff into the boat himself.  I strongly suspect I just get in the way, so I don’t argue.  It always hits me when I’m here – I do love this place.  The water level is way down compared to last year, so the island seems bigger.  I hope this trip W. brings the spiced rum.  I send telepathic messages across the water.

At 4:16 W. is still over there gabbing with somebody and I decide it might be a good idea to pitch my watch into the river if I’m going to have to live with Mr. Fromadifferenttimezone up close and personal for the next 20 days.  There is cold beer in the fridge.  Thank you Darcy!  Thank God my father in law has his priorities straight.

The guy W. was talking to for so long turns out to be Dan, from two islands down.  His dad and W.’s dad were army buddies, and Dan and his wife actually live on their island, and we sometimes rent one of their cottages when we have lots of visitors.  He helps W. haul stuff up the hill and all I have to do is put it away.  It’s hot and muggy and the grass needs water.  We sit around staring at it for awhile.  Time slows down to a crawl.  We take pictures of a tree frog on the window sill.  He finally hops off in a flash blinded daze.  Then we hear the best best BEST sound ever.  The call of the loons.  Last year the water level was so high it destroyed their nests, but they’re back.  And we’re back.  And life is good.