Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Dream On

Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King courageously and eloquently shared his dream for a better America; a kinder, gentler world, free of prejudice and hatred. This monumental speech was delivered with such conviction and passion, that the message continues to resonate, and is as relevant, to this very day.

Today was cause for reflection and introspection. I too have a dream:

I dream of a world
in which my children,
everyone's children,
and everyone everywhere
can be free to be
exactly who they are -
their authentic selves,
love who they love,
without judgement,
nor hatred.

I dream of a world
in which
is greater than
fear of that which
we do not understand;
stronger than hatred;
more resilient than prejudice; and
humanity remembers
we are

Thank you MLK for your shining light and reminding us that change starts with a vision -- a dream of something bigger and better.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Kick Start

Sometimes it's the little things that make my day... like the wrapper on my cereal bag that says "created with love, from our kitchen to yours!" I can't help but smile when I read that... before viciously tearing into the bag of nutty goodness. 

And then there is my infamous "banana-grams". When I was a manager in another lifetime, I would write happy messages on bananas and leave them randomly on the desks of my staff. Some thought it was dumb; others smiled. However, regardless of the reaction, it planted a seed of good and happy to start the day. Sometimes we have to look for the love; for the tender, encouraging messages from the universe. We have to pay attention to see the signs that are sent our way. 

So today I gave myself a reminder to make my day a great one; to create some happy.It is after all, a choice!

A fierce growl just came from my stomach so I may be devouring "happy" shortly!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Pixels of Cottage Life

Changing leaves signal the approaching end to summer....

The drive home from the cottage - leaving another weekend behind us.

Kidlet and her foster guide dog Gael.

Reunited as promised. The girls from Kenya 2010 trip together again.

Dead snake in the middle of the road.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Can We Talk Toilets?

I am programmed to seek the lesson - the gift - in adversity, but this weekend almost had me bewildered, baffled and befuddled. Almost.

At first flush, it should have been a showstopper weekend at the cottage, with long awaited sunshine, and temps that finally broke 20 degrees Celsius. In and around the usual swimming and canoeing, Hubby planned on working on his beloved outhouse and installing the new special order, comfort height, high efficiency, gleaming toilet.

He puttered away at the outhouse, erecting two of the four walls while I quietly chanted the mantra Ed from Home Depot told me, "A good carpenter is someone who makes his mistakes look pretty". Things were looking promising and visions of late afternoon sit-downs amid green forests danced in my head.

Then he got ambitious. Last year when he yanked off the toilet to replace it with a new model, we discovered that the standard toilets are too long to fit between the drain and the wall. With a depleted sigh and a grunt he hoisted the old one back on until we could come up with plan B.

Plan B was a special order toilet with a 10 inch (rather than 12) rough in. We waited 6 weeks and then picked it up at Home Depot, along with a new, slow closing, no slamming seat!

We raced home and he got the new one on only to realize that the water connector hose was 2 inches too short for the newer, taller toilet! Never mind that the new toilet was the wrong shape (they gave us an elongated instead of a round) and the new toilet seat didn't' fit! Hubby released a subtle gasp of frustration.

No problem; we zipped back into the Home Depot to exchange the seat and get a longer hose. We roared back to the cottage to connect - turned the water on - and it leaked like a fountain. Poor Hubby!

We He checked the connections and saw that inside the opening was slightly different from the original. Not to be defeated, we troddled off to the village General Store where the selection of connecting hoses exceeded that of HD's. We found a 16 inch hose that matched with the original and drove gleefully back to the cottage - hooked it up - held our collective breath, turned on the water - and it leaked as badly as the other new one.

By then we were just using the toilet by manually filling the tank and were totally frustrated. This disappointment seemed to fuel the need to pee every twenty minutes - me - not hubby.

We surrendered, and I poured a wine spritzer. I called my trusty go-to guy  Jim and asked him if he knew a local plumber. I explained the whole mess and he thinks we need a new valve as well to update the fitting. He said he would come over first thing Monday morning and if he can't fix it, he will get it done for us by Wed morning -- not to worry. I think I told him I loved him...

A weight was lifted and hubby and I stole a hour by the lake pretending all was well with our world... and when the loon sailed by with his haunting greeting, it was. We stayed extra late to enjoy a quiet dinner, amidst the trees, overlooking the vista hand painted by a crafty Creator.

And most of all, I found the gift in this toilet turmoil. It made me appreciate the gleaming throne we call a toilet, and reminded me that I am one of the privileged on the planet that has one. You just don't know what you have 'til it's gone. And that's a flush!

Friday, August 9, 2013


Hubby and I seem to be in a cycle of disrepair. Lately it feels as though everything is breaking.

A few weeks ago, right in the middle of the colossal sweat fest when temps soared past 30 degrees C to the "feels like" 40 degrees, right after I expressed my gratitude for air conditioning on Facebook, our air conditioner took an unpaid leave of absence. Just like that. Broken. Add it to the list under the broken pool heater.

At the cottage we struggled with the "new" twenty-year old, lightly used boat motor. Couldn't get it to start -- not without removing the motor cover and spark plugs and dribbling in a little gas first -- something we figured out after we donned our trusty lifejackets and sat ready for our tour of the lake. Needs a little tune up is all. Add to the list "needs repair", under the Zodiac dinghy that has a  s l o w  leak - not a problem cause the motor doesn't work. And then there's the totally rotten, towering birch we discovered leaning dangerously close to the snazzy new deck we just put on the cottage. It has to come down. It too, is broken.

Home from the cottage, hubby went to tackle the algae in the pool. Got halfway done and the vacuum pole snapped. Broken! He moved on to the lawn which hadn't been cut for the few weeks that we were on vacation. The lawn mower started, coughed, sputtered and stopped. Hubby coaxed it along with it cutting out every 30 seconds until it finally wheezed its last emission. It is an old mower, well past its prime. And its broken.

And Harmony called to ask if there was a reason the cottage water pump wouldn't be working... and after my heart coming close to a dead stop, she called back to say she found a loose wire after calling the repair hotline (gotta remember to get that number from her) and all is well -- for now.

Lots of broken in a short few weeks. And what does it mean?

It reminds me of what is not broken and that which is good in my world. As hubby always says, these are first world problems. Many would love to complain about the woes of owning a second summer home... or the aggravation of their electronics failing. The list of broken is long -- and in the whole scheme of things - unimportant.

The things that matter are in perfect working order: me and my family are strong and healthy and my relationships are working. My job is fulfilling and my work family a joy to be with. All is well in my world, and soon, all that is broken will be repaired or replaced. How lucky am I?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Eat, Screech, Prey

We've been at the cottage for almost two weeks straight now - our longest stretch ever. We spent the first week working remotely from the cottage, and although we had our usual worries and workload that comes with our jobs, somehow waking to the glaring sunshine that floods the cottage in early morn, and the sounds of the forest put an idyllic trim to it all.

The second week was the official start to our vacation which of course was ushered in by cooler than normal temperatures (where the heck did I file my longjohns?), grey overcast skies, and a healthy share of rainfall. Of course neither of us brought enough warm clothes to wear so we're starting to become one with the forest... or at least smell like it!

Last year Hubby's mom gave him an "experiential" birthday gift (well, for both of us actually) -- a visit to a falconry to learn more about our feathered friends with whom we share our cottage grounds. So today we took our adventure to the Muskoka Birds of Prey, just an hour and a bit from our cottage. The minute we pulled into the place, we were greeted by a flock? of turkeys, a couple of red hens and the chanting and screeching of a chorus of birds. Birds abounded! Cages of various varieties of quail,  better known as "dinner" to this crowd, lined the property, and out back behind the house was a veritable village of aviaries and various shelters and perches full of birds.

As our instructor Laurie explained, "it's a lifestyle". She and her partner hatch and raise birds of prey - which means that at some point or another, they share their home with them. Baby eagle owls wander around her house with hawks - she calls them "imprints" - to get them used to humans, and to protect them until they are old enough to be moved to an aviary.

Hubby was in his glory, outfitted with his leather glove carrying the falcon around, sending it to its perch and then coaxing it back again with a dearly deceased baby chick laid out on his glove. We learned alot and had a unique opportunity to interact with owls, falcons and hawks, as well as see an interesting lifestyle up close and personal. I thought I would share a few pictures from our day -- although they aren't the greatest. I took them discreetly with my point and shoot as I didn't want the instructor to think I was merely out for a photo op and not focused on the experience . So enjoy, and excuse me while I clear a few feathers from my throat...