First Visit

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Last night, when Attila arrived home late from work, after having worked overtime, we had a quick supper, loaded the car with bug spray, loppers, and cleaning supplies, and headed towards the camp.

Upon arrival I geared up, with rubber boots, layers of long sleeved shirts, head net over hat with brim, and bug spray on all exposed areas of skin. Attila, accustomed to working in a biting-bug atmosphere, simply applied bug spray and was ready to go.

We parked at my Grandparents house and walked down the road to the camp. It doesn’t have a driveway yet, the ditch is deep and wide, the road shoulder is narrow.

What struck me immediately as I stepped foot on the lot was the wonderful breeze. It swept across the distant fields to find us, blowing the mosquitoes out of its way as it danced through the trees to the steep incline at the back of the camp lot.

We arrived at the camp with several hours of daylight left, we set to work. Attila used the loppers to cut the saplings and trees up to 20 feet high, and I gathered them and piled them at the periphery of the camp lot. Attila lasted much longer than I did, I am unused to hard work now and tire easily. So I took myself over to my Grandparents house and began to clean the outhouse. It needs work. I had only rags and water with me, so it was the seat that got cleaned. On our next trip I will bring an old broom and really go at it. We also plan on bringing a supply of sawdust, for sprinkling after each use, to keep the smell reasonable.

Then I checked the rhubarb patch, which my Mom planted many years ago, I think when she was living there. It was thriving! So I picked a few stalks to take home with me. As Harriet says, it is the best tasting rhubarb ever.

After checking around the building to see if anything had been disturbed, all seemed well. So I took myself down the road to check on Attila.

He had worked his way about 100 feet into the bush. I watched from a distance, standing at the side of the road, as the canopy brightened after each sapling was felled.

After watching him work for some time, occasionally turning to enjoy the view, I called to him that it was time. He could have gone on until dark, but we needed to get up and go to work the next day, today, Saturday, so it was time to head home.

And so went the our first evening on our very own camp lot.

Terra and Lares are spending their weekend installing new siding on the other two sides of their house. Bright and early, before I left for work she sent me a photo of Lares on the ladder, removing the old siding, doing the prep work for the install. It is going to look amazing!

Monday, June 2, 2014

The weather was sunny and warm when we set off for the camp yesterday morning, Sunday, having carefully packed the car with all the gear needed for the day’s activities.

When we arrived, parking at Granny and Grandpa’s house, because there is no driveway at the camp, I set about getting our chairs and cooler onto the porch. On Saturday we purchased two inexpensive plastic chairs to leave at the camp.

My big task for the visit was to clean “the facilities”. Essential to comfort, the facilities at Granny and Grandpa’s house, down the road from the camp, will be used until we have made provisions at the camp. It is not a “fun” job, but needed doing, and done it is.

Attila’s big task for the visit was to clear the area on the lot where the driveway will come in. This was a huge task, requiring a chain saw and lots of physical labour. I helped for all of thirty minutes and was exhausted. Attila kept at it for eight hours, with two breaks for sandwiches and cold drinks. By the time evening fell, the lot had been transformed. There is still much to do with the chainsaw, but that can be accomplished after the driveway is put in.

My day was, quite honestly, heavenly. When not working on “the facilities”, I sat on Granny and Grandpa’s porch and just was. I didn’t really think about anything. I didn’t read a book. I didn’t use the computer, although it was close by in the car. I didn’t talk on the phone, text, or use any communication device. No, I just sat there, relaxed to the very core of my being. Attila put it so well, as we sat on the porch at the end of the day’s work, as the light mellowed and evening approached, “heaven,” he said.

Heaven.

During the day the gentleman who will install the driveway stopped by to have a look at where it will be put in. The driveway is all ready to go in the next few weeks, just the paperwork and permit fees to be paid before work begins, to the tune of $750 to the township. The cost of the actual driveway is more than we expected, we will be paying a good dollar for it. But we know the contractor, and we know that the work that he will do will be of the highest quality, which means that we are paying a fair price, and in return will receive the best possible results.

We have to go back this week of an evening. There is one task that Attila could not accomplish on our Sunday visit, because he forgot his wire cutters. There is an old wire fence across the front of the property, which must be cut away and removed before the machinery arrives to put the driveway in.

Attila worked through the day in the bush, in a t-shirt, having generously sprayed himself with bug spray. I am not that brave. I wore layers of work shirts, which the mosquitoes could not bite through, long loose trousers, rubber boots, and a hat with a brim covered with a bug net. It is difficult to look glamorous in such apparel, but fortunately I pay little, well no, attention to appearance when I am working in the bush.

This is where the camp adventure starts. This is my Granny and Grandpa’s house. They passed away in the 70s and 80s, I miss them as much today as I did when they passed on. I cannot describe in words, the feelings that I experienced, when my Grandbabies, Tink and Imp in the background, Elf in the foreground, visited their Great Great Grandparent’s home, last summer. I loved my grandparents, and I love my Grandbabies, and there they are. It was like bringing the Grandbabies home for my Grandpa and Granny to know, the fifth generation coming home. Generations that I love, spanning more than a century of love, from the 1890s to now… (The porch where we sat yesterday is on the right in the photograph.)
GrannyAndGrandbabies
The barn, across the road from the camp. When I was a little girl, the neighbour across the street from Granny and Grandpa’s kept milk cows in this barn, and pastured them down “the tracks”. I remember going down “the tracks” with him in the evening, to fetch the cows home for the night. The barn is no longer used, the current owner, born in the area, lives down the road a bit.
CampJune1 2014 6
Attila, heading down the road to the camp at the end of the day, with our plastic chairs.
CampJune1 2014 2
The camp, taken from across the road. To the left and right of the clearing you can see how dense the forest was, how much Attila had cleared in a day’s work, as he carved out a clearing for the driveway. Unseen is the ditch between the road and the camp, which is about eight feet deep, and very wide. The driveway will have to span that ditch!
CAMPJUNE1 2014
This photo was taken from inside the camp lot, looking towards the road. The brush in the foreground is that of the trees removed for the driveway, which Attila piled about forty feet back into the lot, out of the way for the time being.
CampJune1 2014 3
Moving towards the front of the lot, you can see Attila working on brush removal. He is in the middle, just to the left of the very tall stump of a dead tree. Can you see him?
CampJune1 2014 4
Moving even closer to the front of the lot, there is Attila once again moving brush, from the felled trees.
CampJune1 2014 5

Worldly Distractions

Weather

15°C
Date: 8:00 AM EDT Saturday 31 May 2014
Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 102.7 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 14.5°C
Dewpoint: 7.0°C
Humidity: 61%
Wind: NE 5 km/h

Quote

“Sincerity is the way of Heaven.”
Mencius
371 BC – 289 BC

The Right Direction

Attila and I are in the process of purchasing a vacant lot north of our country house. Someday we might say to ourselves, “what were we thinking!” So here it is, in writing, just exactly what we are thinking in doing such a thing.

I will begin with my Grandparents, who were central in my life, as they were in all of their Grandchildren’s lives. They owned and operated a general store, and the local post office, in a small town in Parry Sound District, Ontario. I literally thought their home was heaven, because it fit all the descriptions supplied by the Sunday School teachers. I might have been right about it too. To say I have fond memories of their home, and the community in which they lived, is an understatement.

My Grandparents home and business have gone unoccupied since my Grandfather passed away in 1985, predeceased by my Grandmother. Attila and I wanted to purchase their home, to renovate and live there. Such was not to be. That left a hole in my heart.

For the last ten years, since we moved to our country house, we have kept an eye on the property market in the area where my Grandparents lived. Property there is very costly, because most of it is either large acreage, or lakefront property. We kept looking, not expecting to find anything we could afford.

Last year a small vacant lot appeared on the real estate web sites, almost next door to my Grandparent’s house. The price was reasonable, and for us affordable, so I put in a call. I was disappointed to find that there were “complications” and the property could not be sold at that time. A year passed. This spring, after we decided to sell our country house, I noticed the ad again. Feeling whimsical, I called again, thinking that there was little chance of the land actually being available. To my surprise it was, the “complications” had just been sorted the week before!

I put in an offer on the spot, and used the fax function of my printer to process all the paperwork involved. And then we waited. The realtor called to say that the vendor had encountered a new “complication”. So we waited. Then the offer was sent back to us at a higher price, which we countered with a slightly lower price, and they accepted! We take possession of the property on May 16th, 2014. We are engaging a local business to construct a driveway into the property, which is pristine bush.

Now we have our little piece of heaven!

I do not need to live there, in fact I doubt we will ever live there. What we will do is camp there, and perhaps we will even spend our summers there. It is an easy 45 minute drive from the property to Attila’s place of work, so this is a doable plan; in the summer. In the winter we would have to find alternate accommodation, in a town, near shopping, with ploughed parking, and thermostat heating.

This has the potential for giving us the best of both worlds.

The little house in the city will be our anchor, the place that is ours and ours alone.

So, to summarize our tentative strategy: sell the country house, spend the summer camping at the new property, spend next winter in an apartment, visit and enjoy our own little house in the city as often as we can. This is the plan while Attila must work at his present job. It has become painfully obvious that we are not going to find work near the little house in the city, we will have to wait for Attila’s retirement; thirteen years from now.

We hope that since the little house in the city will be the only house we own, we can focus our renovation efforts on it, and continue to visit and spend time with Terra and Lares.

Here is what all the excitement at our house is about.

The view from “the camp”, as we will call our new vacant lot in the country.
Vacantlot2 14 2
The view looking towards the back of the camp. There is a steep incline to a rocky point, offering a wonderful view of the surrounding landscape. This is rough and ready Canadian Shield. There is plenty of space at the front of the lot for camping, and one might even build a home there, if one were so inclined. I am not inclined, the little house in the city will be the only house we need, in my estimation.
Vacantlot2014 3
Our nearest neighbour. The house has a distinctive lean to the right, the building is rotting from the ground up, and has not been in use for over fifty years.
Vacantlot2014 4

Worldly Distractions

Weather

2°C
Date: 11:00 PM EDT Sunday 27 April 2014
Condition: Clear
Pressure: 102.5 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 2.3°C
Dewpoint: -3.1°C
Humidity: 68%
Wind: NNE 4 km/h

Quote

“We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.”
Bertha Calloway

My Brothers

Today I am remembering a project that I worked on with my two youngest brothers; I am the eldest of six. We were involved with digging a trench and installing a drainage pipe for an ancient septic system. None of us had ever tackled such an “aged” project before. We all had our own unique technical knowledge, gained from other projects we had been involved with over the years. We all had some transferable skills to offer the project.

What struck me most was my brothers’ mode of interaction. We listened to each other respectfully, considering each concept presented. What a pleasure, a deep pleasure, it was to interact with these two men as a member of a team. It is not often males have the personal confidence to allow egalitarian female participation. I think our parents did something very right by us.

Older people have a lot of something that is really, really important to the human species. Experience. There are different kinds of experience. One can, for instance, gain experience through experimentation; experience that is isolated in time and space. The experience that older people have though, is a richer kind of experience, because it is cumulative, based on generations of experimentation and practice. This kind of experience is invaluable. This kind of experience cannot be gained in a classroom, it has to be developed “in situ”, over generations.

My Grandparents were the source of all wisdom in the world where I grew up. I adored them. I admired them. I respected them. I wanted to spend as much time with them as I could manage. Luckily, through the 1970s, I lived within driving distance of their home. I visited them several times a week, and always came away feeling enriched. I had a close and loving relationship with my Grandmother, who never spoke a harsh word about anyone, and tolerated no “nonsense”. Our time was spent being together; I helped with whatever my Grandmother was doing. We spent time together, in her world.

When my Grandmother passed away it shook my world. I continued to visit my Grandfather several times a week, spending time, helping with whatever he was doing at the time, in his world.

I still long for the company of my Grandparents, always will I suppose.

I learned a lot from my Grandparents, things I could never have discovered through my own experiences or education. It wasn’t just how to bake bread, or how to keep a fire in a wood stove. There is much to life (and survival) beyond the physical. I learned that love and respect are vital to peace of mind and healthy living.

Through my many years I have built on the cumulative experience that was shared, mixing in bits and bobs from my formal “education”, BA, Hon BA, MA, PhD, and marrying it to that cumulative experience whenever I could.

It has been heartbreaking to watch information become a cheap commodity on the internet. To find that self-proclaimed experts abound, and that the difference between self-promotion and knowledge is not recognized by a lot of people.

“Respect your elders” has come to have very little meaning in today’s world. That is the basis for social breakdown, when humans cease to recognize the value of cumulative experiential knowledge, passed down through connected generations; it is the DIVIDE AND CONQUER of the information age.

For example, in Nunavut people are primarily dependent on imported foods, and have lost the ability to sustain life on local resources. Their survival skills are all but lost to them. A whole history of cumulative experience exterminated in one generation.

The Changing Food Economy in Nunavut: Will Country Food Stores Secure Nunavut’s Food Supply?

Nunavut Food Protest: Inuit Organize Widespread Protest Over Hunger And Food Costs

When young people gain knowledge, support, and experience from older people it has to work both ways, benefits must be available to all parties involved in an equitable exchange. “Mining” older people’s knowledge, resources, and experience without reciprocity degrades the quality of the exchange, inhibits flexibility and balance.

I suspect that if you are reading my journal, you have already considered all of these points, and more. Thanks for listening!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-1 °C
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 102.9 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -1.0°C
Dewpoint: -1.7°C
Humidity: 95 %
Wind: NW 5 km/h

Quote

“There is absolutely no inevitability as long as there is a willingness to contemplate what is happening.”
Marshall McLuhan
1911 – 1980