Friday, August 29, 2014

I LOVE Labour Day Weekend..

Well, it’s the last long weekend of the summer that never officially arrived. For various reasons, this one in particular, has produced some of the most long standing memories to date.

In the early cottage days, it was the weekend that we started hauling items up the hill. We didn't have stairs for the first six summers but we did have slave labour. I mean energetic children that did what they were told. As the years progressed, they caught on and rebelled. Trekking items up over the entire weekend inevitably prevented the angst, emotion, and volume of, “MOM…. NO FAIR… All she’s carrying is an empty water jug!”

This weekend doesn't only make me think of cottage life. It reminds me of indoor shoes, outdoor shoes, back packs, and the pain of adjustment at home the following week. Tweens adjusting to making (and not missing) the school bus at the bottom of the hill. Then, there was High School, and the cash drain of twelve hundred bucks a year for uniforms. BIG bucks for clothes they loathed wearing each and every single day they had to put them on. 

Good Times… Good Times.

Smiling, none of those are the one moment I deem most memorable. It would be a private moment Labour Day Monday of 2012.  I had lived at the cottage for the summer and the Post Secondary journey was finally complete. I remember my husband and I enjoyed a great day. By mid-afternoon, I finally said what I’d been thinking all weekend long, “we made it” I said. “No rent cheques to write. No more books to buy. We made it!”

Memories of a really GREAT Labour Day Monday.
Taken: September 3rd, 2012
It was in that very moment that be both realized it was a new beginning for us. Actually, in going back through my photos today, I found the one I’m posting. 

The fact that I picked up my cell phone and snapped a picture of my husband’s glass of red wine is significant. I'm positive it was to remind me that the kids were grown and gone and the next lag of this long journey was ours to define.

The hard part for both us, had been transitioning from being parents to being a friend and solid support system for them. Two years later (this weekend), we readily admit, that we had to do those things as a couple as well. 

So, I guess in some ways, this weekend not only commemorates Labour Day, it's an anniversary for us as well. Wonder what he'll get me as a gift? Who the hell am I kidding. He's gonna forget! 

Bet he'll tell me it's my fault. For failing to remind him! Ya Gotta Laugh About It...!!

Have a great weekend Peeps. Stay safe, have fun, and ensure you're always SMILING.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What A Hump Day… Doggie Style!

What a dog with fleas today has been. Tell me something… Have you ever gone to bed (the night before having a really bad day) knowing exactly what'll be waiting for you in the morning? I know. Sucks doesn't it?! 

Well, as planned, I got up with the sun and was greeted by my long list of things to do with gumption. Choosing what gets crossed off the list first usually comes to me in the middle of the night via a hot flash. Today, first up, was decided before I went to bed last night. In preparation to start, I poured myself a cup of coffee; only to discover, after the fact, that the milk had soured. Sadly, a high point.

By late morning I was a mess. My glass washboard bit me. Ripped a two inch piece of skin off my thumb. No worries, the bleach in the wash water took care of any infection risk! Barely able to ring out the clothes, when I finally did get them on the line, it started to rain.

Once the sun resurfaced, Puddin’ felt the need to help me rehang the already too wet laundry. Because my clothesline is simply a rope tied to a tree that I attach to the storm door handle, the weight of the wet clothes make it sag. So, I prop the clothesline up with a long stick.

No sooner had I settled back to work at my desk, I see the dog on the deck chewing my clothesline proper-upper-thingy in front of the patio door. I discover ALL of the clothes on the ground and full of sand. Knowing I couldn't rewash them, I reattached the line, repossessed my prop, and proceeded to fetched the hose. Let me tell ya… with large quantities of smoke rolling out of my ears, I rinsed the snot out of 'em. Surprisingly enough, doing that felt really good. Almost as exhilarating as the relief one feels after a total melt down!

My cottage doormat. They may wipe their PAWS
... But they know squat about doing the laundry!
TAKEN: August 27th, 2014
Because I honestly do refuse to let the glass half empty win. No matter when one may strike, I always try and take some good from any bad day. 

Did you know that today is National Dog Day here in Canada?

As a result, I am pleased to report... 

That Puddin’ gets to LIVE... MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!!

Oh, and thanks for listening.

Monday, August 25, 2014

I'll Take On Mr. Stay Puft Anyday!

By mid-week last week, I had this past weekend completely planned. The Honey-Do list was long and had been itemized in order of importance. Other than a last minute Business meeting at 10am Saturday, it was completely set. Then, once again, the Weatherman completely screwed up the forecast. Typical. This guy screws up on the job 100% of the time and never gets fired.

...Both the weather and the Stay Pufts
TAKEN: August 23rd, 2014
Anyway, that change in plans produced some much needed UV rays and the enjoyment of my very favourite summer treat. 

Here goes. I am going to go on the record with the fact that I truly believe roasting the perfect Stay Puft jumbo marshmallow takes some serious skill as well as a splash of hidden talent!

There are simply so many variables to take into consideration. The wood choice for your roasting stick (as well as which species to use to create the perfect coals), wind velocity as well as managing its direction, not to mention having nerves of steel and the patience of Noah.

I remember when the kids were small (and before we owned a cottage) we had a fire pit in the backyard. As the kiddies burnt their treats to a crisp using the wire hanger I'd unfolded for them as a roaster, my daughter inadvertently flung one of her treats while trying to fan out the flames. Screaming at the top of her lungs, we quickly realized her angst was because it had landed in the middle of our dog Toby's back.

As the dog literally glowed about the Saturday night moonlight, my cat like reflexes ensured he wasn't burnt. Didn't even singe any of his fur. The quick action was not only for his safety, but to get to it before he could. Lord knows, he most definitely would have eaten it.

Boy, that was a long time ago. I'm smiling. It feels like it was yesterday.

Pleased to report that nothing like that happen last Saturday night. This generation of Pups expect to be served their freshly roasted Stay Puft's before I even get mine. What can I say? Guess they know wearing them is sooo 1990's.

... And just totally out of fashion!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Yardwork Pre-Nup Anyone?

For years I've joked with my husband that I would have never consented to signing a prenuptial agreement for money; frankly because we didn't have any. That said, I have gone on the record saying “...I SHOULD have signed one specifically addressing yardwork & snow removal!”

Keeping that long standing statement in mind, a month or so ago I posted something on Facebook about my husband making me mow the lawn. My mother in law quickly sent him a terse text message telling him he should be ashamed of himself. He quickly called her back and in loud voice announced “For crying out loud… SHE LIKES DOING IT!” 

EGAD she was long... Took me two days to mow it!!
Taken: August 18th, 2014
He’s right. I do. 

I know I need the exercise (that’s a given) but it's really something more than just that. It's personal time out in the fresh air, in the company of the sun and my very favourite music. The rumble of the mower is simply an added bonus. 

For me, doing the yard work, is like being alone in a beautiful sweaty stinky noisy bubble for a few hours. As silly as that reads, it kinda feels like a mini escape from the realities of my everyday life... That produces a very calm mindset, complimented by the aroma of freshly cut grass.

Then, living at the cottage, I let my chore lapse for over a month. Never had I so blatantly neglected my duties and I knew that completing said chore was going to be brutal. Actually, brutal understates what I had waiting for me. It was excruciating. Almost torturous!

With last winter's snowfall and this summer's rain, you have no idea how grateful I am that I have been able to save enough money to buy my very own snow blower for the coming season. Next up next Spring? Lawn tractor!

Carpe Diem...Is all I have to say!

Monday, August 18, 2014


All these years later, I still text my Quirky Sidekick almost every single day. Even though we're 1,500 kilometers apart, we still manage to make the other a priority in  our very busy lives. All these years later, who knew that being the smallest Team in such a large company would bond us forever? 

As I have shared many times before, my mother passed away on Valentine’s Day 1987 from ALS (more commonly known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis – or Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Recently, to raise awareness, a viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was created and long story short, my Quirky Sidekick Tim was challenged.

Not only did he seriously accept Jerree’s challenge, he also donated some of his very hard earned money to this worthy cause.

Working within the hockey community in Nashville, trust me when I tell you that he WENT BIG. His chosen ice bucket was a Zamboni!

I’ve told him over and over again that I couldn’t have endured what he did for this worthy cause; yet he assures me he's glad he did. What can I say, other than I am very proud of him. Thank you Timmy. You're the best Quirky Sidekick a girl could ever ask for.

If you could please take a minute to see how brave a man he really is. HE's AMAZING!

Thanks Peeps...

Friday, August 15, 2014

Any Great Day Offers Perspective

Have you ever had a day that went from FUNK to FAB without warning?

Well, when I rolled out of bed this morning, I was completely and unequivocally indifferent to my day ahead. I knew I had a number of things to check off my ‘list of things to do’ but was bummed that the weather was still crap. In protest, I waited to stoke the woodstove, then pouted as I almost instantly gave in. Whatever, it was freakin’ cold!

See what I mean? FUNK. 

Then, piece by piece, everything effortlessly came together. Grumpy and cold, I checked my phone to find a text from B. He normally doesn't text so that (and his positive bang on the spot message) instantly made me smile. 

...a perfect Orillia Lake sunset captioned by yours truly!
Taken: July 18th, 2014
Shortly thereafter, I was awarded a meeting. One that I'd been asking for since the 2013 Fall Cottage Life Show. 

All of a sudden, my phone went wild and my giving into the woodstove didn't matter so much.

Then, the truly and very unexpected happened.

Knowing I was in a funk not fab mood, a business associate (on his way north) wanted to see me. No if, and, or buts.

They confirmed that they'd grab us some lunch in Gravenhurst, then progress to meet up at my cottage. Problem was, I’d never made the offer to meet them there before. They’d need directions. I was nervous.

Just so we’re clear. My idea of cottaging and a person that has a vehicle that costs more than 4x’s the original purchase price of this gem of a property, can never really align. Hell, this is one step up from camping. I’d always thought that... Until today.

Today proved that you can never know what another is really thinking. Not only did they bring the sunshine down the hill with them... They came with bells on, toting our very yummy lunch!

The moral of my story is to never discount any day. Those weather laden days you may deem as crap, may very well turn out to be amazing. Look at me today. My advice? Wake up every single day wanting and willing to be FAB...


(...and stop over thinking. That was lunch advice. Point taken.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Does A Good Cottage Scrub Interest You?

My first 'laundry' memory was in the basement of our house in Quebec. I recall being in my rubber boots, riding my tricycle about the wet concrete floor, as my mother put the clothes through an old wringer washing machine. I distinctly remember her cautioning me to stand back and keep my mitts away from the slow moving wringers.

...Very LOUDLY I might add!

When my Dad was alive, he had his parent’s old wringer washer at Camp. He’d just uncover that puppy and let the water slosh around the cement mixed slab he’d built specifically for such chores. Over the years I'd considered getting one for Orillia Lake. Truthfully, never really progressing much past a nostalgic thought.

Once I moved and settled into the cottage this year, I'd decided the laundry mat was a much quicker way of getting the neverending deed accomplished. (About an hour and a half of time and ten bucks got the chore done.) Then, my second week out here, I spied my very old glass washboard that'd been staring me in the face for over a decade. Figured it worked for gals like Laura Ingalls Wilder... So, I instantly decided to give it a good ole Little House try.

The first week I tackled the chore it didn't go well. By the time I'd finished wringing everything out by hand (working from the deck) my back and all of my muscles were killing me. As a result, each week since, I've refined my process and I'm pleased to report that I've developed a pretty neat system. Even jimmy rigged a way to quickly get rid of excess water. What can I say? I am totally jazzed with my new found Kung-Fu grip and developing biceps.

Simple, yet effective...
Take that Fabricare & Hydro One!
Taken: August 10th, 2014
That said, six weeks into this adventure, my washboard hands are truly a little worse for the wear.

I've grazed my knuckles until they've bled. Those wounds, combined with the splash of bleach I use, most certainly let me know I need to slow down and pay close attention to what the hell I'm doing. 

What's my biggest surprise?

How much cleaner the clothes my are!

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not going on the record saying that I love to do laundry or anything daft like that. It’s just if I’m going to work up a good sweat and have my entire body ache, I want to know I have getting the results I deserve.

Another strange and interesting first for me... Go figure!

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Proof Is In The Protection!

Shortly after the tragedy of September 11th, I had to fly into Chicago for a week of software training. With security in the US heightened, I needed specific paperwork to clear Customs that I just didn't have. Because it was last minute Business, I had the option to have a letter from my employer notarized stating my destination and purpose for my travels.

When I was at my Lawyer buddy Sean’s office having him process my documentation, I remember him specifically asking me “are you sure you want to do this?” 

“..They’re going to take one look at your dark skin and there will be LOTS of questions!” 

The truth of the matter?  The American’s let me in like a head of cattle being put out to pasture; it was coming back into Canada that my paperwork was questioned. I remember being scared. All I kept saying was “I was born in Quebec and live in Ontario… I was born in Quebec and live in Ontario!”

This is the darkest summer tan I've had in years!
Taken: August 11th, 2014
Well, all these years later, I am still an avid sun worshiper.

I truly appreciate a bright sunny day in the middle of winter as much as I enjoyed sitting on my dock for the entire day yesterday. I'm very respectful of the sunlight when it presents itself and try and rationalize Mother Nature's thought process when she keeps it carefully tucked away.

I personally think sunglasses are just as good an accessory as a fun pair of shoes. AND, because I am built for comfort, I own more than thirty bathing suits.  My oldest are from the year we bought the cottage in 1999 and my newest are two I purchased at the start of this season. Some are meant for tanning, some are meant for swimming, and some were just too colourful and fun to imagine leaving them on a rack.

Typically, my tan lines fade by Christmas.... Living at the cottage this summer I suspect those puppies are gonna last until I land in the sun on an island next winter. 

How do I know?

The five gallon drum on moisturizing lotion I just invested in gives me a plethora of hope!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

My Lunchtime Luxury...

When I was heading home last weekend to get ready to go North, I passed a Yard Sale on the main stretch of road before my house. I wasn't after anything specific, I just love a great Yard Sale. You know what they say (totally in a non-Fruit of The Loom context) "...One person’s junk is another person's treasure!”

After about half an hour, I was exactly twenty dollars poorer, and I’d I left their driveway with a couple of very cool items. A new to me gas powered whipper snipper for the cottage, and a huge box of used books.  I’m grateful I didn't have to buy a new weed whacker but in my opinion, it was the books were the real score.

Next Up? Mixed Blessings!
Taken: August 6th, 2014
I don’t think I have ever consistently read as much as I have this summer. Don’t get me wrong, to some extent or another I love to read every single weekend; but since moving to the cottage, I read every single day. 

Early in the morning, right before bed, and for an hour everyday at noon. Some set an alarm to get up in the morning and I set mine to tell me to stop for my lunch. 

I grab what I from the fridge, snatch up my book, then head to the dock. If it's raining I stay under the picnic table umbrella, and on those cold July days I just survived, I curled up in front of the wood stove. I purposefully get up from my desk & stop what I'm doing.

I am a little embarrassed to admit that other than family there are only two people that I share my time out here with. One is a client that I'm training and the other's my closest and most trusted confidant. I have invited the latter for lunch and a swim here next week as I am very much in need of a solid sounding board.

Looking out on the water over lunch today they cheerfully popped into my thought process. They'd emailed this morning ordering sunshine for the day, which is code for me to make my famous roast chicken (their fave). I wonder if they'd mind eating quietly while I read?

I'm thinking NOT... but I had to wonder and smile just the same.

Oh, if you have some recommended reading for me.... Don't be shy. Send me a note.

We're all friends here.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Weddings That Were Meant To Be

Last fall, when I was booking our winter holiday, I was asked if I wanted to pay for cancellation insurance. I immediately said no. I’d already upgraded and had the ability to transfer the holiday within 24 hours of departure, so I figured that would suffice. I remember telling Shelly at the time “…the only way we aren’t going is if one of us is dead.” Then continued, “…should that be the case, after the funeral, I’ll gladly pay again!”

As expected, laughter ensued.

I've always been quite open in the comment that I’d never marry again. Not because I’m unhappily married but because after almost thirty years with the same person I don’t know how I would even begin to process cohabitating with anyone else. Then, when I reflect at what I've witnessed in the last two week, I will officially never say never. 

Just Married
Taken: July 25th, 2014
A little over a week ago my mother in law remarried. Not only did she marry a man she’s known since high school, in a small very private ceremony, she married the love of her life. It was beautiful. So intimate. Perfect!

Then, this past weekend I went to home for my cousins wedding. They too had dated in high school and all these years later found their way back to one and other. 

After the ceremony, the bride showed my cousins and I a small circular charm that read “Sweet 16” (which I presume she'd worn as her something old).

Their granddaughter was flower girl
Taken: August 2nd, 2014
She proceeded to tell us that at one point in her life (long estranged from my cousin) her apartment had been robbed. 

When the Police had gone through the dumpster at the rear of the building, the only piece of jewelry they recovered was the charm Denny had given her in high school. All these years later, she still had it, and she was wearing it on her wedding day, to him. 

She deemed Saturday the happiest day of her life.

As I looked around last weekend I smiled as I spied my family and their spouses. Some married less than a year and some married over fifty years. As we sat at dinner, the girls on the one side of the table and our spouses on the other, there was constant banter about the spoils of marriage. I guess my husband said it best when he finally announced to everyone within earshot…  “Take my wife… Pleeeeeeze!” 

Though he garnered a round of applause, he still brought me home. Once again, proving he'd drawn the short straw. I really do feel kinda sorry for the poor lad.

Thirty years later... He STILL can’t catch a break!