A Day at the Spa, Two Days at the Cottage and Cleaning the House

….a busy week

Last Friday my good friend, Arlene and I went to the Elmwood Spa for our birthday lunches, water therapy and facials. My birthday isn’t until the end of August but we decided to have our birthday lunches at the same time. We enjoyed salads, a main course and dessert. The only thing we had to pay for was our wine and coffee.

When you have  a treatment for more than a $100 you can also do the water therapy at no extra charge. This includes the steam room, the whirlpool tub and the salt water pool. We did it all. After 30 laps of the pool I showered and then proceeded to to the rooms where the facials are done. What a relaxing afternoon. We left the spa feeling renewed and refreshed.

On Saturday my husband and I left for the cottage. This was Kevin’s first trip and my fourth. The weather wasn’t great but it was nice to get out of the city and just chill. Sunday was overcast but for the most part the rain held off and Kevin and the dog were able to go for a long walk through the woods. Frances loved the freedom to run and roll in every mud puddle she could find.


On Monday morning we left but not before Kevin made us a delicious breakfast that we affectionately call hopple popple. It’s a fry up of bacon, vegetables (usually onions, potatoes, mushrooms, etc.) and scrambled eggs.

For the rest of the week I’ve been doing a lot of cleaning and reorganizing some of my art supplies and paintings. Our son and his wife are vacationing in Toronto and will be staying with us for a several days. I spent most of my time cleaning the spare room and framing and hanging some of my art work around the house. It gave me a great deal of satisfaction to see some of my work hanging on the walls.

On Wednesday Kevin and I went out for dinner at Nodo on Dundas St. W.. The meal was so good that I didn’t get a photo of our meal until it was completely gone. IMG_2737

Our daughter-in-law and daughter were at the baseball game for Josie’s birthday and we agreed to stop by their house to check up on the dog, Olive. After our meal we made the short trip to their house and spent some time playing with the dog and catching the baseball game on their TV. The Blue Jays were behind 2-0 and in the top of the ninth they pulled it off and scored three runs.


Two More Days!

…..the count down continues

One more day with the kids and then a PA day for cleaning up. The irony is that it seems like all I’ve been doing for two weeks is cleaning, cleaning and more cleaning; however, as soon as I start a new art project or pull books for discarding I seem to be right back where I started from.

Joanne suggested that I take photos of the every day things that I see all the time as a visual record of my life as a teacher. Here are a few shots taken after I’d cleaned the library. Unfortunately it doesn’t look that way at the moment. Outside the library a gallery of art that my students have done is on display and further down the hall is Ms. B’s class, Ms. C’s class and the office.

A Week of Art, Knitting and Play

….starting with a visit and an open house on New Year’s Day

What a great way to bring in the New Year. Visiting a long time friend and catching up over wine and cheese and then going to a New Year’s open house at another friend’s house directly across the street from where we live. More wine and nibbles and great conversation, catching up with the news in the neighbourhood. Thank goodness I was able to walk to both venues and didn’t have to worry about driving.

On Sunday, I started participating in a new year-long on-line art class with Carla Sonheim. The interesting thing about this class is that Carla posts a new video every day for 365 days. I was hesitant to sign up for another class but I knew I would miss it if I didn’t. So far I’m not disappointed. The videos can be short mini lessons on techniques, supplies, quotes from celebrities and interviews from other artists. So far we’ve had a lesson on making your own cloud stencil, a quote from Alan Alda, an interview from Carla’s nephew who is a clown, a photography assignment, a blind contour assignment, a glue resist lesson and a lesson on quinacridone paints. I haven’t even checked out todays class.

It’s very interesting how some of the other 400 plus students interpret each video. Even when there isn’t an assignment many of them, including myself, play with the concepts from the videos and create a piece of art. My son sent me a small journal and I’ve been painting and drawing in it every day since the class started. It won’t be long before this one is filled and I’ll start on the other one another friend from school gave me.

I’ve also been knitting on my knitting looms. For my daughter’s birthday I knit her a large infinity scarf to match the hat we gave her for Christmas and I knit my granddaughter a hat and a small neck warmer. On Thursday I drove to Hamilton and brought my looms with me. While Winnie was sleeping I taught my daughter how to use the looms and left her one to make another hat. I even knit Winnie a little pot holder for her little kitchen.

When Winnie woke from her nap we played together while her mom and dad prepared lunch for us. She’s at the age where she likes to play peek-a-boo but she runs to hide behind a table or chair and then peeks out to see if I’m watching. When she wasn’t running she did sit with me for a minute and I read part of a book. After lunch we dressed up warmly and went for a walk over to James St. N. to look for fabric for a quilt that G wants to make and then to another store where she had a gift certificate from her birthday that she wanted to spend.img_0840

On Saturday I finally took down our Christmas tree and vacuumed up all the needles. I also put together the organizing unit that J gave me for Christmas and I’ve already filled it with my art supplies. I have one more shelving unit to assemble for my pens. Already my drawing table is much neater and ready for more art projects.

Today I’m hoping to get to the ROM to see the Chihuly exhibit. It’s the last day so I may not be able to get in but it’s worth a try. I still have a lot to do around the house and even though I had two weeks off it seems I never get to the mundane things like cleaning my bedroom. Having said that though, I did have a lot of fun and spent time with family and friends.


Opening the Cottage in August

….I was dreading going to the cottage on my own to open up for the season

Before we left for Italy I was hoping to open the cottage so that it would be ready when we returned. Unfortunately that didn’t happen for too many reasons to go into to.

When we did return home from our amazing trip it took me a couple of days to recover from jet lag. My husband was still recovering from his gastrointestinal problems so a couple of days were spent visiting his doctor and then a specialist. One thing was for sure;  going to the cottage meant going on my own. My husband didn’t feel well enough to be at the cottage, my daughters couldn’t make it until later in August and my friends were busy with elderly parents and health issues of their own.

Last Sunday I finally packed up the car and made the trip on my own. Leaving on a Sunday meant I missed all the weekend traffic and the line-up for the ferry (barge) was short. One of the other reasons I was hesitant about going up alone was because the regular car ferry had been taken off the lake forever and a temporary barge was transporting eight to twelve cars at a time (normally 20 cars were on the old ferry). The fear of the unknown kept me in the city longer than I had planned.

Everything went fairly smoothly crossing the lake. When I got to the cottage my neighbour’s adult children had already removed the plywood panel from the back door and had moved my propane fridge from inside to the deck outside. It was evident that the mice had moved in last fall after we left or early in the spring. It’s been worse. I quickly cleaned up the mouse poop in the kitchen and removed all the cushions from their protective storage bags.

Every day that I was there I tackled a new job or two. This way I didn’t kill myself trying to do it all in one day. After four days I had wiped down all the surfaces, washed most of the dishes I would need, swept and washed the floors on the main level and opened up the sofa bed to make sure nothing was living inside. Outside I raked the leaves from the pathways, swept the deck and set up the outdoor furniture and the barbecue.

While I was there I had some fun as well. I visited with my good friends next door, celebrated a birthday down the way with cake and a bonfire, learned a new board game, went for walks on the beach and actually swam in the lake, two days in a row when the water was calm. I was able to get some reading done and finished a novel I had started earlier in the year. I’m now on a second book that I hadn’t finished from a couple of months ago.

On Thursday when I left I luckily got the last spot on the barge for my car and had a leisurely drive back to the city. It felt good knowing that the cottage was somewhat visitor ready and that next time the trip would be less stressful.

The other fun thing that I found time for was taking photos that I will share with you over the next few days. You may have already seen some of the flower shots that I took of my neighbour’s garden.

I Don’t Know How I Managed!

….getting ready for an overseas trip following the last week of school was insane

As I’ve mentioned many times before teaching in June is insanely busy. The week before leaving for Italy I had the following to do:

• attend a birthday party for a very special friend

I’ve know AB for 40 years. In fact she was my first teaching friend and colleague and she quickly became a member of our family. She was there when all my children were born, she spends every Christmas with us and most birthdays. She attended the weddings of our daughters and held Winnie soon after she was born. We’ve been there for each other, through thick and thin, in good times and bad. Last year she made a big move and the family rallied behind her to help in any way possible. I was thrilled when all my family came out for her birthday, especially since we were all preparing for Italy.

• MC the farewell celebration for the grade 5 students on Monday

• clean the library and attend the staff party on Tuesday

• on Wednesday run the final assembly of the year, with the help of two friends, for the entire school.

• on Thursday attend the last staff meeting of the year and then clean up the library office before the end of the school day

Trying to clean and organize my office was probably the most stressful day of all. Knowing that I only had a few hours to get it done and having to say good-bye to two colleagues who were retiring left me very emotional. At one point I actually had a melt down when friends wished me a great trip and gave me Euros to treat myself in Italy. I think it was all too much. I had put such high expectations on the trip and my husband wasn’t 100% well. I really worried that things would go wrong and that the trip could be one big disaster (luckily it wasn’t).

• Friday became packing day and transporting the birds to my niece’s place

Friday, July 1st was the first day of my holiday and it was Canada Day. That meant that next to nothing was open because it was a national holiday. If anything went wrong today there wasn’t much I could do about it. Well of course something did go wrong. The shoes that I had planned to take to Italy broke and were unwearable. I couldn’t get them fixed in time and I had no other sandals to replace them.

We also got a phone call from a very close friend who was suppose to be on his way to Norway for a very special presentation that he was doing. Well it turned out that when he got to the airport his passport, although not expired, was going to expire in a couple of months and the airlines wouldn’t let him fly. Would we verify to officials that he was who he claimed to be so that he could have a new passport issued to him? Well of course we said yes but we weren’t sure how he would manage that seeing that all government offices were closed.

• Saturday we packed the car and drove to Hamilton to drop off the dog and pick up our daughter and granddaughter and then drove to the airport

I decided to quickly drive to the mall as soon as they open and pick up a new pair of sandals. I was successful and in fact I ended up buying two pairs of shoes that I packed for the trip.

Our friend called and had made arrangements to meet with someone from Immigration Canada and we had to be on call to answer any questions that they might have about him. I quickly asked about his height and weight and the colour of his eyes. Even though we’ve known him for over 25 years we weren’t sure about his eye colour. His hair is dark so we assumed they were probably brown but we were wrong. His eyes are blue.

By the time we left for Hamilton we still hadn’t heard from the immigration people and of course they tried to call us while we were driving. Luckily they tried several times and we did eventually connect and were able to answer all their questions to their satisfaction.

Later that day we all made our flights and our journey to Italy began. Maybe next time I plan a trip to Europe I’ll give myself a week at home before I leave. Stay tuned for our adventures in Venice. Ciao!



Back to Normal

….what a productive day!

Yesterday I started the day with a very long walk with my husband and Frances, our Super Dog. It was extremely cold but we extended our walk and when we finally got back home, I had already exceeded my goal of 10 000 steps for the day. We were suppose to go to Hamilton to visit with our daughter and her family but the plans changed and they were coming to us instead.

Time to clean-up. I started in the kitchen, moved to the bathroom and washed the floors. I was hoping to get to the living room but they arrived early. We enjoyed a simple lunch together and then they had to leave to visit family on his side. B’s dad had not met Winnie yet so we volunteered to look after Lucy (their Bassett hound). This meant a another  walk, albeit a short one. When that dog doesn’t want to go any further she puts on the brakes and there’s no budging her.

When the two dogs settled into their own quiet spaces I decided it might be a good time to clear away the remaining Christmas ornaments that were piled on top of the coffee table in the living room and on top of the piano. I pulled out all the boxes from under the stairs and started to reorganize the stockings, ornaments, lights, candles and Christmas cloths and skirts back into their preselected bins. When I returned the boxes to their place under the stairs I must have hit my head at least three times when I was backing out of the closet.

Once the decorations were all put away I vacuumed up any remaining pine needles from the carpet and washed the hardwood. I also decided to polish the piano. Seeing that I’ve haven’t done this in years the wood practically drank up the polishing cream. When I was done it felt good to get so much accomplished.

After I took Lucy for her ‘short’ walk I noticed the most amazing moon hanging over the city so when I returned home I took my new camera, set it on ‘hand held night shots’ and returned to the park, without the dog, and tried to capture that image. I posted a few of these shots on WPC.


Later in the evening, G and her husband and the baby returned. We spent some more time together. While B helped me with my camera and cleaned up my computer, my husband played with the baby. She gets stronger every time we see her and she desperately wants to crawl and loves to stand when you hold on to her.

I now know a little bit more about my new camera and I was given some very useful tips about keeping my computer virus free. I updated some of my software after our company left and I was able to write a post for this blog before I went to bed. By the time I did finally go to bed I had logged 17 000 steps for the day. Not bad. All being said and done, I had a very productive day despite a nagging headache. Wonder where that came from? Haha!

Closing the Cottage

….closing the cottage took place later than normal

Traditionally many people close their cottages on the Thanksgiving weekend in Canada. For us this year that date was pushed forward by two weeks.

Our first grandchild was due to arrive on October 4th and we wanted to be close to home when she made her way into the world. As a result we didn’t venture too far from home from October 1st on.  One week after the due date was Thanksgiving, which we spent with our daughter and the following weekend it snowed up north. Snow in mid-October is pretty rare in this part of Canada so we weren’t prepared, physically or emotionally, to drive in 15 cm of snow this early in the year.

Earlier this week we had beautiful weather and all the snow up north had melted away. We left after rush hour and made it up to the ferry dock on time, so we thought, to catch the 11:30 boat. What we didn’t know at that moment was that the schedule had been changed in early September when the kids on the island went back to school in Midland.

A nice young man came over to the car and told us that the next boat wouldn’t be for another two hours so we decided to drive back into Midland and have some lunch. We had Frances with us which meant that we had to find a place where we could eat outside. Luckily it was warm enough to do that and one of my favourite restaurants in town still had their patio tables and chairs outside on the sidewalk.

After a delicious lunch of butternut squash soup and a couple of grilled sandwiches we drove back to the ferry dock where I got out of the car and took a few photos of the surrounding area and gave the dog a little bit of exercise while we waited for the ferry to be loaded.

When we finally got to the cottage we quickly started to do what needed to be done. I stripped all the beds and bagged and stored away all the pillows and blankets. I removed all canned and bottled foods from the cupboards so that they couldn’t freeze over the winter. I removed all paper products from the counters and put them into sealed containers so that the mice that move in couldn’t shred them for bedding materials. My husband brought all the outdoor chairs and tables inside and moved and covered the barbecue. We loaded up the car with the bedding and clothes that needed washing and all the canned food. The last thing we did was board up the door so that the snow couldn’t blow in and to keep the glass window from shattering.

We took one last walk on the beach with the dog, keeping her on the least so that she didn’t go swimming. There’s nothing worse than having to drive for two hours with a wet dog unless of course that dog has been sprayed by a skunk.

We left in good time to catch the 4:00 ferry but when we got down to the loading dock we saw that the ferry was on the other side of the lake. I guess that this scheduled time had been changed as well. When the ferry got closer I could see why the time had been changed. The ferry was loaded with high school children coming home from school.

When we finally got on the ferry we were allowed to drive on, front end first, instead of backing on. What a treat! After 20 minutes on the ferry the car ride home took just over two hours.

Another great summer at Christian Island has come to an end. Thank goodness we were able to close on such a beautiful day.

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A Bit of Cleaning, Some Reading, Making Bean Soup and Visiting Friends

….Monday, July 6, 2015

People often wonder what I do at the cottage all day, especially when I’m up here alone. Well there’s lots to do but no pressure as to when I do it. I like that.

Instead of spending two days of solid cleaning when I first open the cottage I like to spread it out and do a little bit every day. I take care of the absolute essentials when I first arrive, like fill up the water barrel, start the fridge, make the bed, uncover the furniture and wipe down all the surfaces that I’ll be using right away.


On subsequent days, I’ve washed all the dishes, even though they were clean when I left in October, wiped out the cupboards and restocked them and organized my clothes and put them back into the dresser. All of this is necessary because at some point in the months when we’re away a few rodents manage to find their way into the cottage, looking for warmth, food and shelter. Unfortunately for some of them they don’t survive and I usually find a few carcasses lying about and of course evidence that they’ve been around. Luckily this year the evidence has been minimal and a few of them had drowned in a bucket of water that was inside the cottage.

One of my goals this summer is to finish reading the books that I started this year and then didn’t finish before I picked up another to read. I’m happy to report that I’ve finished two of them and am concurrently reading two more. I also started a new book and I finished that as well. I think I will report on those books in a future post.

Another goal is to do a little bit of art everyday or at least a couple of times a week. I completed one art assignment this week and I started sketching in my art journal. Another goal well on it’s way!


I didn’t bring up a lot of food on this visit but enough to get me through the week. When I was cleaning out the cupboards I noticed that I had left a container of dried beans here over the winter. I decided to make soup from scratch. I turned on the side burner on the BBQ and cooked onions, celery and carrots in a large soup pot. I added a chopped clove of garlic and then 4 cups of broth, 2 cups of water, a tin of diced tomatoes and 1 cup of dried beans. I added salt and pepper to taste and then I let it cook for 2 hours. After the two hours I looked in the fridge to see what else I could add and I found some chick peas, cooked hamburger and fresh mushrooms. I chopped up the burgers and the mushrooms and added everything to the pot. I let it cook for a few more minutes and dinner was ready. I grated in some fresh parmesan cheese. Delicious!

Of course I had way more soup than I could eat so I put the rest into container and froze it for future meals and I kept some in the fridge for another dinner this week.

While I was cooking I got a phone call from a friend who has a cottage four roads over from mine. She invited me to come to her place for a chat, a glass of wine and to see the finished renovations on her cottage. The soup had pretty much finished cooking, so I turned it off and walked over (1500 steps). The cottage looked fantastic and since we hadn’t seen each other since January we had a nice long gab and got caught up on each other’s lives.

When I finally left it was going on 8:00 and I ended up having a late dinner. The nice part was that it was already cooked, I just had to reheat it. Even though it was getting dark I ventured down to the beach for one last walk and just managed to get in my 10,000 steps for the day. I did decide though that leaving my walk for that late wasn’t the best decision because the mosquitoes also come out at that time. Note to self, walk before the sun sets.


So that’s my day in a nutshell. Everyday I read a little, do art a little, cook, clean and visit friends, either in person or on the phone. I hope all of you enjoy your days as much as I do. Cheers!

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No More Excuses!

….well I can always find more excuses 

I’ve been looking forward to going to the cottage for months and I’ve been off school since Friday and I still haven’t made it up there. What’s wrong with me? Well nothing actually. I have some good reasons for not being there yet.

On Sunday my very good friend, AB, was having one last party at her house before she moves to her new condo. She’s been in that house for over 30 years and we’ve had many a celebration there. It was great seeing a lot of the old faces from past parties and we also celebrated AB’s birthday.

On Monday we had to wait for the guys from the appliance store to determine if our new washing machine should be replaced. They were there less than 5 minutes but it was at the end of the day. They delivered the new machine today.

Before the appliance guys arrived I did some shopping and I purchased flowers for my containers in the front and back yards. I don’t know why but I always leave my planting till well into June. Of course I couldn’t go to the cottage with that weighing on my conscience. I also renewed my membership for the concert series and mailed the cheque.

Today I filled up the car with gas. Tomorrow is a holiday in Canada so I wasn’t sure if the Costco gas station would be open. The store is closed for sure. I also filled one of our propane tanks to take with me and I purchased two large bottles of water and a few supplies that I will need for my trip.

At home I cleaned the bird cage, cleaned the debris off my lawn (branches and leaves that had fallen during Sunday’s rain storm), pulled a few weeds, and swept the porch, sidewalk and the street in front of our house. Actually I couldn’t believe that I was compelled to sweep the leaves off the street. It seems that I kept finding jobs to do that kept me from getting in the car and driving north.

After the new washing machine arrived today I did a couple of loads of washing. It seems to be working just fine. I went for a long walk with the dog, helped my husband make dinner and then watched the FIFA Women’s World Cup game.

Well I think I’ve run out of excuses to not go to the cottage. Except that my oldest daughter called tonight and thought I was driving her to the airport tomorrow night. She’s okay with me not doing it but I’m feeling a little guilty.

My husband won’t be coming with me tomorrow and I hate opening the cottage by myself. I have to take the board down over the main door, move the fridge and connect it to the propane tank and set up the BBQ. Then there’s checking all the rooms for evidence of rodents and possible water damage from all the rain. I have to clean out the water barrel and fill it up and put away the food, make the beds and sweep the floors.

Once this is all done I can relax, assuming that no problems are lying in wait for me to fix. Of course I could stay home and not go up until my husband is able to join me but that could take another week or more. I think I’ll have to chance it and go up on my own. Wish me luck. By the way, I have no electricity or wifi connection so it may be a few days before I can post another article.

Done – Time to Relax

… finally finished cleaning the library

If you walked into my library right now you’d think I was off my rocker making a statement like that. There are boxes of books everywhere.

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Believe it or not that’s what I had to do. Over the summer a new carpet is being put down in the library and the books on the freestanding shelves had to be taken down so that the shelves can be moved.

I also had to clean my office so that the caretakers can get in there and clean the floor and the counter. I was really stressing about not being able to get in there and get things off the floor and the counters.

I spent two extra days at school this week to get the job done. While there I started to purge and threw away a lot of paper and old outdated documents. It was a slow process but worth it in the end. I can now enjoy the rest of my summer without worrying about the state of my office.

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Now I hope when I return that the carpet will be down and that my office will still be uncluttered. I suspect that many of those boxes will end up in. It’s the one area that’s not being carpeted.

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The big challenge is to keep my office like this all year.

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