Traditional Camp

The sun comes out and the sun goes in behind the clouds this morning. It is the beginning of what both Attila and I hope will be a quiet and uneventful week.

We made a brief visit to our Traditional Camp in Parry Sound on the weekend, where everything is looking as we left it, thank goodness. The last time we were there was last summer, when we were on our first one week vacation in over 20 years, and it was a disaster. That was the week my brother had a sudden heart attack and passed away. This year, around the same time of year we were in the area to attend a reunion of cousins at my sister’s cottage. Thoughts of my brother and how much my Granny and Grandpa’s house meant to him were at the back of my mind all weekend.

The reunion was organized by my Sister-The-Middle-Girl, and my cousin who is renting a cottage on the same beach as my sister’s cottage. Together with my Sister-The-Youngest-Girl they organized and hosted a get together of all of my Grandpa and Granny’s living Granddaughters, seven of us, except for one Granddaughter who did not attend. We all drove over from the cottages to my Granny and Grandpa’s house and multiple photos were taken of the group. I hadn’t seen one of my cousins for over 30 years, it was wonderful to catch up. My newlywed niece and her husband were there; they treated us to a slide show of their beautiful wedding. My Mom was there, and I got to spend a lovely evening chatting with her. Mom and her daughters, and our spouses but one, all stayed Saturday night at Sister-The-Middle-Girl’s cottage, it was comfortable, and the cottage and beach are beautiful. My Sister-The-Middle-Girl has a beautiful cottage facing west on the lake, the sunsets are stunning.

It is now a 5 ½ to 6 hour drive, one way, to reach our Traditional Camp. We decided to take a scenic journey, heading straight north for quite a distance before turning west to travel through hills and forests. The drive was a treat, the scenery was so beautiful. We took the same route home, but there was quite a bit more traffic, many slower moving RVs on the road, that crawled up the many hills. We were very tired when we arrived home.

I have been growing my hair out for what seems like forever. The idea was to have long hair with no bangs. It is driving me to distraction at times, and at its present length it looks awful all of the time. Usually I do not care, as no one sees me here in the house, or at the camp, save for Attila. It was too bad though that it was looking the way it did for those once in a lifetime pictures at the reunion. I will be very glad indeed when the bangs grow long enough to at least stay tucked neatly behind my ears.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 10:00 AM EDT Monday 10 July 2017
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.4 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 21.9°C
Dew point: 17.6°C
Humidity: 76%
Wind: SSW 19 km/h
Humidex: 28
Visibility: 24 km


“My definition of an expert in any field is a person who knows enough about what’s really going on to be scared.”
P. J. Plauger

The Sun Hat

July hasn’t been the month I was looking forward to all winter.

It has had it’s highlights.

Sunny and Sky, our new preemie Grandbabies, came home from the hospital around the middle of July. Terra and Lares spent a few days enjoying having them at home before they let anyone know, because once we knew we were visiting, family members from all over. Sky apparently had to go back into hospital for a few days as he was having trouble keeping his body temperature up and became dehydrated, but he recovered quickly and returned home again within a few days. Both Sunny and Sky have “brain bleeds”, which Terra has been told are not unusual and do not seem to be a big concern. Terra tends not to provide details, so I “won’t worry”, but it has the opposite effect, my imagination is not kind, and it has learned that the worst is always possible, so details help to keep things in focus.

Yesterday Terra dropped by with Sunny and Sky, and Dash the dog in tow. Both babies seem very healthy, although still quite small. They have both almost doubled their birth weight, good for them! Terra is a natural mother, she is in her element. Both Terra and her older sister Luna wanted to be mothers, and they take the role very seriously.

Our first one week summer vacation in over twenty years began the weekend before Sunny and Sky came home from the hospital. We decided to camp at our Ancestral Camp, and were so glad that we did. It was a six hour drive to get there, and a six hour drive to get home again, so it was quite an undertaking.

The first few days we visited with family, and had some truly wonderful times. My sister-the-middle-girl had everyone to her cottage for a BBQ the first night, so we all got to visit. Also in the area vacationing were my sister-the-youngest-girl and her Beau Bob, my niece and her boyfriend, my first cousin S and her family, my first cousin C, all the way from Ottawa, a very long drive for her to make on her own.

A few days later another family gathering was hosted by my first cousin C at her rented cottage, and we enjoyed the company of my first cousin P and his family, my Uncle T who is approaching 90, and my Mom’s first cousin and her grown children (really grown, retired now).

It was fortuitous that we were in the area that week, because an article I had been interviewed for had just been published, it was about my Granny and Grandpa’s house and the community they lived in. We managed to get many copies of the publication, it was a real thrill to see the picture of my cherished Grandparents in the magazine.

We headed for home on the third day.

The day after we arrived home I received a message from my Mom that my brother had had a heart attack and was unconscious in the hospital. I feel very lucky that we were on vacation and so had the opportunity to be with him every day before he passed away on the Sunday at the end of that week. We will lay my brother to rest on August 6th, beside our Dad.

Life here at Mist Cottage is a bit surreal at the moment. Sometimes I burst into tears when my brother’s presence washes over me, the finality of our corporeal separation grips me. How very much Attila means to me reveals itself over and over again, disclosed by the simplest things, the smallest gestures. Other times I feel gratitude to the universe for my girls, and for Sunny and Sky and Imp, and Elf, and Tink. I think about how very precious is my Mom, my brothers and sisters, how lucky we are to have each other. I feel trepidation that things will not remain the same, as I know that not all change is welcome, although all must be borne.

Slowly the little day-to-day things, that work to balance the natural grief that humans experience, are coming back into focus.

A developer has purchased the property at the end of our dead end street and is building a housing development there. They started preparing the property this week, so that there is a steady stream of fully loaded dump trucks parading up and down the narrow street. This will go on for at least a year, and is not a welcome change in the neighbourhood.

The young couple next door are experiencing financial difficulties and are talking about selling and moving to more affordable rental accommodation. They have two little boys, who are quite delightful, and it seems very sad that a young man who works six days a week cannot earn enough to keep his family living in modest shelter.

This morning I took the opportunity to borrow my first library books from the local library. I had been there before, when we were living at the country house and commuting to Mist Cottage, but this time I actually borrowed some books. I prefer reading paper books to digital books. I don’t have an explanation for my preference, it could be because that is what I grew up with; it could be that the digital screen is hard on the eyes and is messy with recharging and updating programs and connecting to the internet; or it could be that the paper books on offer to be borrowed are much better than the variety of books that can be freely attained via digital media. Whatever it is, I like a good paper book that I can hold in my hand and turn the pages.

Hanging laundry out to dry has been a very practical option this past month, and continues to be so. It is hot, dry, and sunny; a load of laundry hung on the porch line takes about an hour to dry.

Attila and I are going to break down the large remaining pile of debris from the demolished garden shed, pack it into Tank, and cart it off to the land fill site. We will pay 31 cents per square foot to dispose of the material. The debris has been sitting on the lawn for over a month, so it will have killed all the grass beneath it; we will need to reseed the area with drought resistant grass, or perhaps the plantain seeds will have ripened and can be gathered and sown.

One thing I have enjoyed about the drought is the return of native plant life. People, with very rare exceptions, are not watering their lawns. The grass is brown, much of it has died. Growing in these brown patches are lush looking Birdsfoot Trefoil, healthy flowering Wild Chicory, beautiful swaying Queen Anne’s Lace, lovely tall Milkweed. All of these plants, plus various native grasses, lined the highways and byways of my youth, and now they are popping up everywhere on urban lawns. It is a sight for sore eyes as far as I am concerned.

Today a knock on the door proved to be the delivery of my new sun hat. My old sun hat, a straw hat purchased in the 80s, or it might have been in the 70s, is coming apart, and it blows off my head in the slightest of breezes, requiring me to keep one hand firmly planted on the top of my head. I’ve been looking for a good sun hat for quite a while now. I found pretty ones, made out of paper, what good would that be when you sweat, or it rains! I found straw hats that kept the sun off, but had no chin strap and would blow off my head the way my old straw hat does. I found beautiful hats that cost over $100, nope! I finally decided on a Columbia Bora Bora Booney II, the light coloured version.

After unpacking the hat I immediately tried it on, and I liked the way it fit, comfortable and not too tight. The headband size adjusts easily, for a better fit. The chin strap works well, and the brim keeps the sun off my face and out of my eyes. And of great importance to me, the hot head, the venting works really well to release heat, while keeping the beating sun from heating up my head. So far I love this hat.

Today, when the tears find me, I will put on my new hat, wander in my sunny garden, and remember how lucky I have been in love.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 2:00 PM EDT Friday 29 July 2016
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.4 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 26.7°C
Dewpoint: 13.7°C
Humidity: 44%
Wind: NE 9 km/h
Humidex: 30


“This is my answer to the gap between ideas and action – I will write it out.”
Hortense Calisher
1911 – 2009