Monday, July 30, 2012

Cottage Notes

Everything seems possible when you have time to think, let your mind wander and your creativity bubble; when you immerse yourself in nature and live by the natural rhythm rather than the clock. You notice the small things; the insignificant becomes significant. Like the ant I have been studying for the past fifteen minutes that has been bustling back and forth on the railing of our deck, each time carrying a load that I am sure rivals his own weight. A new spider web has sprung up overnight… and she is still settling into her new digs.

When we are here at our cottage sequestered from the constant hum of daily life, instant accessibility, and the demand to multi-task, life slows down and the days get longer. Each day is a day thoughtfully spent, and spent deep in thought. As I write this from our tree house –like deck overlooking the stillness of the lake, I am serenaded by the deep buzzing sound of the hummingbird (who is disappointed that the feeder is empty), the clucking of the red squirrel who is teasing Fritz and the song of the chickadee. I suppose that is what is meant by the term “unwinding”. I am slowly unwinding into myself.

There has been little rain this summer and sadly it is showing in the forest. Not only are things wilting, the leaves on some trees are dead, brown and brittle and falling from the trees. The forest seems depressed.

Here are a few shots from our cottage:
Water is so low
Smile hubby!

Bottle of death - my improvised wasp catcher (and yes I am ashamed)
Reminding our Florida cuz of her Canadian roots!
Kidlet made a surprise visit
It looks more like fall than summer with dead leaves

Eagle very far off

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Summer... So Far

The hot, humid heat spell has broken and the morning air had a cool freshness about it; a great start to the day. My eldest daughter and her furbaby (my grandson???) have been camped out at our place for the past few days to soak up the air conditioning, so the house has had more energy in it than usual. I swear my daughter's puppy is part rabbit or flying squirrel; he spends much of his time airborne, hurdling through the air before landing on your lap (if you are lucky), or your laptop (if you aren't). Fritz has oscillated from delight at having a partner in crime, to grumpy agitation at having to share his toys, human, house...

Sadly as expected, the summer is whipping by at an atrocious pace, and we are more than half way through it already. We've done our best to cram alot of memory-making into our weekends, and most of it has revolved around our time with our families. We skipped the cottage this past weekend and celebrated my step-mom's birthday and then headed the next day to see hubby's parents and their recovering furbaby. Lots of family time! There is something comforting about sitting around with family, catching up,  terrorizing teasing one another, eating delicious food and sipping something cold. It's relaxing. 

And at the end of the weekend, I feel peaceful and grounded, and most importantly, grateful for this life that is mine. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Born (Not) to Shop

I enlisted the help of the best -- my youngest sister -- to do battle with the mall as I went in search for my MOB (AKA mother-of-the-bride) dress. My needs were simple: the dress had to minimize my chest (make it disappear), camouflage the arm wings, give me the illusion of a waist, smooth out the bumps and ripples (which may or may not include cellulite), and be the light, colour-bespeckled frock befitting an outdoor forest wedding.

It was dismal. Twenty minutes and twenty stores into it, I was thinking I should cut my losses and go to Eddie Bauer for a sturdy tent! Sleeveless, strapless, strappy, ruched, streamlined, flowing, a-line, outline - you name it - I tried it on. We left no dress unzippered! Sis was on a mission to cloak me in the stylish form to which my station provided. She feverishly rummaged through the racks piling the potentials on her arm, the whole time reassuring me that "we'll find that dress Lyn. I just know it"-  as I curled into the fetal position in the corner of the dressing room. It didn't take long to convince her that at this exact point post menopausal time, my body has a few (confounding to me) issues and it's not easy to find a flattering fit into the current, slinky styles.

We finally settled on one that was suitable and that Sis enthusiastically endorsed - even though it didn't thrill me. It was indeed beautiful and elegant - just not me. Rather than retreat empty handed, we made the purchase.

A few weeks ago in my haste to secure a dress without getting off the couch, I ordered a dress online that screamed my name. A collage of corals, greens, deep fuchsia and a loose, flowy skirt drew me in. I could see myself floating among the guests in as much comfort as if I were in my pjs. Alas when the beauty arrived in all its glory, it didn't look great on me. It looked okay - just not fantastic. *sad and forlorn face* I had this fact verified by eldest daughter and reluctantly by hubby. Thus - the reason for my resumed search.

Sis came in for tea after our shopping trip. I tried the Internet dress on one last time for her before it was returned to sender. Funny enough - it didn't look as not fantastic. Sis' eyes glistened at the potential. She jumped on board, barking orders -- "needs a gold belt; we can bling it up; just let me pull those bra straps up a bit; try it on with your shoes; YES- it's you Lyn!"

And so I guess my walking efforts are slowly and surely paying off, and in the next three weeks I am counting on gaining an extra inch or two of breathing space between my waist and bosom. I am keeping the mail order dress and staying the course with my initial gut choice. It is a comfortable dress that makes an important statement -- "I am happy!" and it's growing on me with each kilometre I walk.

Thanks Sis for being there with your energy and words of encouragement - and for not pinching me with the zippers. I really am not born to shop!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Loonie Noon Hour

It's been hotter than heck these past few days but with the exception of today, I have been keeping my lunch hour dates with my sneakers. The city where I work is an acquired taste ... and I get a hefty serving each time I venture out the front doors for my stroll.

Yesterday was one of those inexplicably odd days that left me shaking my head more than once:
  • when the ginormous hulk of a man belched loud enough to register on the Richter scale after I smiled sweetly at him as we passed
  • when I spotted a lone expensive leather loafer laying on the side of a lawn and walked away wondering about the fate of the mate
  • when a man stood chatting leisurely at great length with a cable repairman as his gas powered lawn mower coughed and sputtered on the concrete sidewalk, causing me to cough and sputter
  • when I almost got mowed over by a fierce little lady in a powered wheelchair after she sped up behind me
  • when I made a point of smiling at 5 complete strangers and got only one smile returned (from a toothless baby) and 4 looks that screamed "LOON"  (me as the loon), a few of them toothless too.
So I am finding that all of this feet on the street is getting me better acquainted with the fellow who sits on the corner with his hat out, not to mention the other intricates of the city. It is what it is -- but usually it is much friendlier. I will persevere with my walks and my relentless attempts to get a smile returned, and maybe when this heat wave passes people will get a little more cheery and I will see a toothy grin. A girl can dream...

Stay cool as I walk on.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Summertime Snaps

It's summertime - cottage time! Weekends are spent at the cottage,  three hours and a whole world away from the compression, repression and frenetic pace of city life.  Every weekend has been glorious with sunshine and heat - and nature has not disappointed with a veritable parade of birds and animals. Hubby and I cherish our precious few days of respite at our cosy little cabin nestled on the leafy ridge with our million dollar view of the lake. My sister made the trek and spent some time with us dockside and taking refreshing dips in the lake. We had front row seats to the red squirrel invasion, the mink swim-by, and the air show compliments of the golden eagle, falcon, blue herons, cranes, and of course, the beloved loons. I tried to commune with the loon that was lingering a few yards away with my attempt at a loon call. I would call in the best loon voice I could muster - and he would take a deep dive and disappear for minutes at a time. Not a shred of acknowledgement from an obviously lonely loon. (I am talking about the bird here...)

At the risk of repeating myself, have I mentioned that I love all things about the lake; that I love the minuscule fridge that barely holds a two day supply of wine, water and whatever; that I revere the decrepit deck that wraps around the cottage, even though it leans and bends away from the building; that I have become attached to the quirks and irks of a poorly erected but much loved cedar sided haven; that I count on the nightly visits from the masked bandits; and even the shrilly strains from the bagpiper across the way have grown on me?

I thought I would share a few captures ...
Looks like the chairs are having a work out!
Fritz loves my sister -- and her wine!
Everything tastes better at the lake

Our bathroom window dwellers

Our bossy red squirrel
Not a bird - at the bird feeder
The chipmunks felt neglected thanks to the squirrel

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Drive-By Love

I was deep in thought and song when I made the turn onto our street that winds and bends and passes by your house and takes me to mine. As I drove by your house I could see you working busily in your garage – and I think maybe I heard music coming from there as well. It is a familiar sight and for some reason, this time it touched me especially deeply. I was instantly filled to the brim (and a little over) with love for you and gratitude for the life we share; gratitude for having you with us; gratitude for having you just 400 metres down the street; gratitude for the warmth and comfort I get every time I drive by your place and catch a freeze frame of you or the ladies going about your daily lives. At 50+ I love that I have my Dad a stone’s throw away and a step-mom who really knows how to make a girl feel welcome – not to mention the wine that is always on chill. We are a fortunate bunch – and just one more reason why life is good. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Give a Little to End Sexual Slavery and Support Survivors

Photo courtesy of  SMF: 
Sexual slavery sounds like an incomprehensible dusty myth dredged up from centuries past. Shockingly and sadly, it is not, but rather a horrific modern day reality for some girls and women living around the world. Somaly Mam is a survivor of sexual slavery and endured unspeakable torture, rape and abuse as a child. She survived only as a result of her searing courage to escape after witnessing the brutal murder of her best friend in the brothel in which they were held captive. Now Somaly Mam is not only a survivor -- she is a "thrivor".

She established the Somaly Mam Foundation in 2007, a funding vehicle to support anti-trafficking organizations and to provide victims and survivors with a platform from which their voices can be heard around the world.

So this week I am donating to the Somaly Mam Foundation to help in the effort to end slavery and empower the survivors so that their light too, can shine brightly. Thank you Somaly Mam for being a symbol of hope to many and a source of inspiration to me.

Read about my weekly Give a Little challenge and other posts. I have to give ongoing props to Wendy Smith for her inspiring book, Give a Little. Consider giving it a read.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Canada Day

My skin is noticeably soft after a dip in the lake, and my hair puffs to twice its volume. It’s remarkable the difference fresh water devoid of chlorine and other chemicals can make. 

The lake is teeming with life, both of the animal and plant variety, all of which have made an appearance this weekend. Muskrats were laughing - as only they can - from the cove beside the dock; fish jumped out of the water trying to escape the patrolling snapping turtle; and ravens, hawks and the falcon soared overhead.

A dockside Muskoka chair is the perfect vantage point for Canada Day; inhaling nature, being lulled into relaxation by lapping of the water. Add family to the mix and the day moved beyond perfect, to memorable.

A memorable, perfect day at the cottage with moist chocolate cake shaped like the Canadian flag. It doesn’t get any better than that …. Oh Canada!
Eat cake!
Good-byes at day's end.