"Our life is frittered away by detail...simplify, simplify." - Henry David Thoreau

I know I said "blog like no one is reading" but it's nice to know these people are

Saturday, May 29, 2010

I want to ride my bicycle. I want to ride my bike.

The best thing about living in a small town is riding home after a girls' night on your bike weaving down the main drag like its a slalom course and making it home safely. And yes, I was wearing a helmet. One that I buckled on while riding with one hand and talking to my brother with the phone tucked in securely. That's what helmets are for, right?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Daily Affirmations

This is the way we should all start every day!

P.S. This girl may even get me to love my curls ;-)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

More Scenes from the Island

We'll be heading up north again this weekend to help my Mum with her Dock & Boathouse sale and then packing up what she is taking home. It is going to be bittersweet with lots of old friends dropping by but I know it is for the best. She will be able to concentrate her energy on creating yet another warm and welcoming home at her new house without worrying about whether the cabin made it through the winter or if the boat will start.

Here are a few more photos of this very special place.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Another Random Tuesday

I've been losing stuff and I never lose stuff. I am sure this will jinx me for years to come but I think I have only lost my wallet once in my life but in the past year or so I have lost two jackets that I really liked. One was this perfect light jean jacket with 3/4 sleeves from Old Navy or somewhere. I wore it with shorts, capris and skirts. The other one was from Costco but it looked just like a Lululemon jacket. Neither were very expensive but, of course I can't find anything else like them. It's just so frustrating, I will be getting dressed and think to myself, "that jacket would be perfect with this outfit." I have lots of others but they just aren't the same. I also can't find one of my favourite cookbooks which is silly since every recipe is probably on the internet but I will always choose reading an actual book over seeing it on a screen.

I love Parenthood, the TV show. (The life? Well, that's up for debate) I have been a fan of Lauren Graham since Gilmore Girls (check out the Hooked on Houses post about the set if you are a fan) and she is great playing another single mom but this time with not-so-perfect children. The rest of the cast is wonderful too and includes Peter Krause and Craig T. Nelson.

I never learned to type and it is very frustrating since I spend so much time doing it now. I went to an all girls school in the 80's and they did not want their graduates to grow up to be secretaries. Computers were just being introduced when I was in Grade 10 but we were all too busy learning to "program" Basic to learn how to type or keyboard. Which do you think has been more useful?

I am locked in a battle to the death with our cell phone provider. Last weekend we went up to open the cottage and found out that my brand new iPhone and my Other Half's Blackberry do not work up in the woods. The woods they worked just fine in for the last two summers and when my sister arrived her phone had a signal. So when we called (on her phone since the landline was also out, as it regularly is, hence the need for a reliable cell phone in the woods) to find out what was wrong we were told that they are in the process of switching over to a new system and the fancy new 3G phones don't work on the old one which is the only option in our area. Did they tell us that when they pushed, I mean encouraged, us to upgrade? Of course not. Would we sell a boat to a customer if it wasn't fully functional in all bodies of water? "Oh, I'm sorry sir, we didn't know you were going out on the ocean, this one only floats in fresh water." Hmmm, who would be liable? Can they tell us when we might be able to use our phones everywhere we used to? No. Did we just get locked into another three year contract when we up graded our phones? Yes? Have they got us by the short and curlies? Duh.

We finally convinced number Two Son to audition for the school arts assembly. I'm sure it was my Dad's story about always regretting not trying out for his elementary school's "Toad of Toad Hall" play that inspired him. He made it and will be doing a solo when the entire school sings K'naan's Wavin' Flag which is still one of my favourite songs despite the fact that he is practising all the time. Note to Self - charge all camcorder batteries beforehand.

I'm heading down to the city today to stay the night with a friend who's just had knee surgery. Woo Hoo. Can you say Girl's Night In?!

Monday, May 17, 2010

The End of an Era

On the weekend we went up to open the cottage and to help my mother move out of hers. We are very lucky to have had two places up north that have been in the family for over 60 years. My mother's family runs two summer camps and she inherited her parent's cabin on one of the islands owned by the camps which she moved into after she and my father split up 12 years ago. My father kept his family place on the next lake where I grew up and where my children have spent all of their summers. We would visit back and forth and the boys would go for sleepovers with their grandmother giving me a break to enjoy the peace and quiet which Algonquin Park is famous for but which we don't get much of when the brothers are in residence.

The little island was a magical place when I was younger. We would go over to visit our Geeya and Bompa and have cookouts on the point, catch fish off the dock and watch for the moose across the bay at dusk. My boys have enjoyed the same things with their Geeya There were never any fancy toys or boats but lots of imagination, make believe games and stories told. My grandparents enjoyed the luxury of having the workmen at the camps help them haul their groceries over to the island, they even had their laundry done at the camp but my mother has done this all on her own for the past 12 years. And finally at age 68 she has had enough. She recently built a new house and wants to spend more time there, working on the garden and making it home.

So the time has come to cull through 60 years of memories and memorabilia. Not to mention all the junk. My grandparents grew up in the Depression and they lived a very frugal life. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle wasn't a slogan it was the way they lived. They reused every plastic bag and the waxed paper from cereal boxes. Anything that didn't leak was a planter, their clothes weren't vintage, they were original. My mother lives very much in the same way so cleaning out the cabin is a huge task. There are mildewy books on everything from mushrooms to the painter Tom Thomson who drowned on the lake. Gorgeous black and white photographs of campers from the 1940's through to colour prints from the 70's. In the boathouse we found a dozen wooden paddles made from maple and cherry as well as a gorgeous cedar strip canoe that hadn't been in the water in a decade. The weathered logs which form the cabin walls are covered with paintings, birch bark birthday cards and macrame hangings, my boys each chose something to take home.

There wasn't any one thing I particularly wanted, the island wasn't about things, as I told my middle son the night before as he lay crying and asking why Geeya was leaving it. It was about the people - our family, the generations who were there before us. A friend once wrote in our cottage guest book, "You are so lucky here. You have such a sense of place." That is what the island gave us, a sense of place in the world no matter how far we travel. And while my mother is leaving it physically, she and her parents and her grandparents will always be there. I don't know if we will go and visit the cousins who are taking it over, the families are not that close but it would be interesting to see what they do with it. I can't imagine they will keep the separate bath house or the tiny kitchen with only a hot plate and 30 year old microwave to cook on. I can't imagine they will knock it down but no matter what they decide in my memory it will always be a little lopsided, in need of a coat of paint with tiny pine trees growing out of the cracks in the rocks, hummingbirds flitting from daylily to daisy and the sound of children laughing with their grandparents.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My Name is Cid and I'm an Addict

I know I never should have tried it the first time. My sister warned me that once I started I wouldn't be able to stop. I'd forget about all my other responsibilities - the kids, my job, the house and only be able to think about the next time I would do it. I would put off everything else, plan my days around it and she was right.

My name is Cid and I am a hair straightening addict. I never knew how easy it could be to make my curly hair smooth and sleek and worthy of compliments everywhere I go. I bought a straightening iron years ago at the drugstore and used it every once in a while if we were going out but if there was a party or something special I would pay someone at a salon to blow dry my mane straight. Sometimes it would work depending on the humidity and the upper body strength of the stylist but now, now I get super straight hair every time and I figure cost per use is down to pennies since I bought it a month ago. I even straightened it while we were in Florida and it didn't go frizzy even with all the humidity.

The problem is I can't stop. I know it isn't good for my hair to subject it to such intense heat every time I wash it. And although I have never washed my hair every day, I am still ironing the s**t out of it at least once a week. It is amazing, people who have known me for years comment on it. And strangely enough it has been about three months since I had my highlights done and even my roots don't seem as bad when it is straight. So the big question is whether it's worth the time and the potential damage to my hair? I know I'll take a break once the summer is here and we head to the cottage and I'm in and out of the lake all day long. I like the curls when I just leave it to dry naturally and don't try to brush it out.

Now I know those of you with naturally straight hair will say, "Oh, what I would do for your curls." But you don't really mean it. Look at any magazine and count the number of celebs with curly hair. I just got my university alumnae magazine and everyone of the women pictured has pin straight hair. It's like the 60's when women really did put their heads down on an ironing board to flatten their locks. The only time curls were really in was the dreaded 80's when it was all about big hair and I have a grad photo to prove it.

So here goes

Au naturel

And after 25 minutes of the only kind of ironing you'll ever catch me doing

(gotta say, I love the Phonebooth feature on my Mac)

So, I know I may be opening myself up to much deserved criticism regarding my narcissism and obsession with my hair, but I need the clear, unbiased opinions of people I never have and in all probability never will meet. Please keep you responses directed at the hair style and not the art in the background or the size of the bags under my eyes.

Monday, May 10, 2010

DIY Let Down

These wild weather swings are getting to me, as is my house. I want to get out of it and into the garden but there was snow coming down yesterday and the temperatures are too unpredictable so I can't risk planting anything yet. We have talked about renovating but we really can't do anything until we see how this year goes for the business. I know I shouldn't be but I am so jealous of our neighbours who have completely overhauled their house, painting all the trim and wall, ours is looking so chipped and dirty. They have done their bathrooms with clean white tile and classic fixtures. The husband is a real handy man and has done everything himself from tiling the showers to refinishing the floors but he has the time since he's not working right now which is part of the reason they are fixing it up. They have to sell and so every dollar they spend they figure they will get back when the house goes for over asking. Me? I just want a new tub I can lie down in and have both my boobs and knees covered in water. But money, while coming in fairly regularly for us, is going out for other things like new soccer cleats and bikes and birthday parties. Necessities in some family member's books but as a result there isn't much left to spend on renovations. Not the end of the world, I know but I hate our bathrooms.

I really, really hate them. They have circa 1985 beige fixtures and although we have replaced two toilets when they both gave up and completely stopped flushing the remaining two aren't long for this world. The one in the boys' bathroom has a wobbly seat and clogs regularly, as you can imagine with three boys, and the one in the basement runs constantly if you forget to jiggle the handle. The sinks are that kind of material that collects every stray hair and is a magnet for toothpaste, even when you rinse there is still crap glued on. The faucets are old and no amount of scrubbing with a toothbrush will get rid of the guck in the crevices and for some reason the inside of the plastic handles have turned black. Don't even want to consider what might be the cause of that. I have used gallons of Drano to try and unclog the drains and finally took the whole plug mechanism out of one. The bowels of which was one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen. My boys have beautiful hair but I didn't need to see quite so much of it covered in slime and coming out of the drain hole.


So today while my Other Half is away I thought I would take the bull by the horns and tackle replacing one of the faucets. We have had two replacements sitting in a closet since we moved in. I am smart, I am capable, I can google "How to change a faucet" and I did. I then went upstairs to follow the step-by-step instructions. Armed with a couple of wrenches, my trusty new MacBook with the page opened to eHow and even my camera to record the process like all those DIYer bloggers do. I wanted the "Before and After" shots to post with pride.

Now the list of "Things You'll Need" included something called a "basin wrench." Googled that and found out it was a wrench used just for such small spaces as underneath a bathroom vanity. Oh, I don't need one of those, I thought, there's plenty of room. And there was until I hit something with the end of the regular wrench and knocked it off. Strike One. No water came gushing out so it couldn't have been that important. But then try as I might I couldn't budge the bolt on the water hose connection to the faucet. Strike Two. I finally gave up and climbed back out from under. Looked at the corner of the sink and saw a big chunk of the porcelain (or whatever it's made of) was chipped off. What ever I hit must have buckled the material and now there is a big chunk missing. Strike Three. I gave up. Put the shiny new faucet back in its box and back into the closet and put all the bath toys back under the sink. Threw out a few old bottles of baby shampoo and some expired sunscreen to make it seem like I had done something and hung up the wrenches in the garage. So much for "I am Woman, see me Do It Myself"

If the weather would just warm up I could get out and do some planting in the garden but there is a frost warning for tonight. Guess I'll just go back to helping iPhoto identify more faces in my 15,000 pictures.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A MacNightmare

So here is the reason I haven't been on line much lately. I have been wrestling with my recent conversion to a MacBook which my darling Other Half gave me for my birthday. I took possession of it on April 24th and I have been caught in its shiny, new clutches ever since. That is until May 3rd, a mere nine days later when Number One Son and I were hard at work on a Social Studies project. Actually we were spiralling downward in a fight over when he should have started the project, when it was due (they all got an extension) and how, in the future, he needed to better manage his time, but that isn't what this post is about.

We finally found a cool template to use for his newsletter about John Cabot's voyages to find the Northwest Passage and had begun pasting photos and had written about one and half pages of text when we tried saving it. Now, of course we had been saving all along but suddenly this appeared -

Unable to save document due to invalid argument

Huh ... I thought our argument had been quite valid but really that was none of the Mac's business. Hit Command S again. Same message. Tried to do it the long way. Nothing. Tried to print what we had done so far and then the pinwheel thingy started spinning. Stopped everything and got on the phone with Apple Support. Went through two advisors until finally they had me shut it down manually and turn it back on.

"What do you see?" the advisor asked me in a comforting southern accent.

"I see a white light ... and a big question mark." I replied.

"Oh. Let's try that again," he says. I do. Same white light and question mark.

"What does it mean?" I innocently ask.

"Umm ... well ... it means it can't find your hard drive," says the nice advisor very calmly.

"But it's right here, in the computer, isn't it?" I say, trying to conceal the panic in my voice from my thus far oblivious son sitting next to me.

"Well, umm ... I haven't seen this happen before for these reasons. You'd be best to take it back to where you bought it and see if they can recover anything."

"Recover anything? You mean it's gone? My nine day old, barely broken in MacBook is dead?"

By this time my son is making a soft moaning sound which is getting louder by the second and I am barely holding back the tears. Tears for the social studies project and the production schedule I spent all day working on for our business, tears for the time it was going to take driving to the Best Buy two hours away, tears for all my Mac hopes and dreams, not to mention the sales job it took to convince my Other Half that switching to a Mac wouldn't cause any inconvenience to him or the business.

The advisor sheepishly continued with his script, "Well, thank you for calling Apple support, is there anything else I can help you with today?"

Oh, where to begin ...

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