A Spring in My Step

Ah, spring. Clocks moved forward, smoke alarms tested, and our first voyages of the upcoming 2017 season reserved.

Getting to Pelee Island isn’t always convenient. Between work, the kids’ calendars, the ferry schedule and the weather, I’m sometimes surprised we get there at all. And yet, we persist. We couldn’t imagine not going. The planning has become as natural as a spring rain, and just as the first Robin sighting signals the return of the season, so too does booking our first ferry crossing to the Island. The anticipation of warm weather and carefree days fills me as I pick up the phone and dial the toll-free number to a little bit of bliss…I can feel the sun on my face already…

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Harrison aboard the M.V. Pelee Islander, during one of our first voyages of seasons past.

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Family Day Fiasco

It was winter 2008 and the Family Day weekend was fast approaching. My husband Rob and I decided taking a road trip with our two young children was a good idea. I’m not sure which one of us suggested it, but after weighing our options of feasible cities, we soon settled on Cleveland. I guess our decision was based loosely in part to our perceived connection to Ohio. You see, Pelee Island has a long-standing relationship with Americans, especially from Michigan and Ohio. Many have owned property on the Island for generations and the smaller ferry, the Pelee Islander, still makes voyages back and forth to Sandusky.

So with this new-found connection to our neighbours to the South, we thought, Why not? There seemed to be plenty to do for a family of four over the course of a three day long weekend; The Christmas Story House, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and of course, a hotel with a pool to entertain the kids. We did our research. Things should have gone smoothly.

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After a five hour drive and promising our kids a dip in the pool when we get there, we parked the car, unloaded our luggage and proceeded to stand in line at the counter with the other patrons. Sweating in our winter wear we waited amongst the throng of families all waiting to check in, the sound of crying babies and screaming children grating on our travel weary nerves. Why are there so many people visiting Cleveland in February? we wondered, not realizing until much later that our Family Day coincided with the American Presidents’ Day.

We were almost at the front of the line when Rob leaned in and whispered in my ear, “Uh-oh – that’s not good!”

I looked in the direction he was gesturing. There, upon an easel, a sign indicated the pool’s closure due to scheduled maintenance.

“Oh no, the kids aren’t going to be happy about that.” I whispered back.

We inched our way up to the counter, where the hotel employees were trying to placate all the disgruntled visitors.

“Let me handle this.” I said to my husband as our turn at the counter quickly approached.

We were greeted by a young attendant, smiling stiffly, a line of perspiration above her lip.

“Name?” she asked, in a business as usual voice.

Once the formalities were dispensed with, I proceeded to voice my displeasure at having no access to a pool.

“It was clearly noted on our website.” she justified.

“I didn’t book through your website.” I answered. “I actually picked up a phone and spoke with a real live person who failed to mention anything about scheduled maintenance on the pool.” I could hear my voice rising.

“I’ll get the manager.”

“Good.”

We waited until the kindly manager made her way over to us. She explained they were offering a shuttle bus over to a neighbouring hotel to use their facilities.Yeah, just what we wanted; to be shuttled, on a crowded bus, to use a pool, in the dead of winter.

“Go have dinner on us” she offered “and when you’re ready, head on over.”

We were soon soothed into reluctant acceptance. Funny what no other options and a free steak dinner will do.

“Watch, we’ll probably get there and find THAT pool is closed too.” my husband predicted as we packed up our bathing suits and flip flops, water wings and goggles, and made our way out to the shuttle bus at -12 degrees.

After a short drive in the hotel’s packed mini-bus, we made our way into the surrogate hotel and onto the mirror paneled elevator. As the doors opened we let the smell of chlorine guide us down the long corridor, our young children tired but in tow. We stood before the pool entrance, Rob’s hand on the door handle. We were almost there! Suddenly, a long and steady stream of people began to exit the pool and file past us.

“What’s going on?” Rob asked no one in particular.

“Someone just pooped in the pool.” a small boy answered matter of fact as he pushed past us, bare foot and still dripping wet from his hasty exit.

Disheartened, we reversed our steps down the hall and into the elevator to the ground floor to catch the shuttle bus back to our hotel. The four of us stood outside the hotel lobby shivering, waiting for its return.

“This is crazy!” I lamented. “I can see our hotel from here. I’m walking back!” And with that definitive statement I marched off. Rob and the kids followed.

Later, Rob would tell me he had worried for our safety. It was dark and he’d heard the stats on Cleveland’s crime rate. Perhaps that’s why we didn’t pass any other people on the downtown streets or perhaps everyone had the good sense to stay indoors on such a frigid night.

The hotel manager happened to be standing in the lobby, as if there to greet us, just as we pushed through the revolving door, huffing and puffing from our chilly walk. Our eyes met and in an instant her smile flattened out.

“Your stay’s on the house.” she generously offered before I could express my frustration. Satisfied with that at least, we rented a movie back in our room and called it a night.

“I just want to put my head down and have a good night’s sleep.” I expressed to my husband, pulling back the sheets and climbing into bed.

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Early the next morning we were awoken by banging down the hall. Bang, bang, bang a furious fist pounded on a neighbouring hotel room door.Rob and I jumped out of bed and raced to the door. We took turns pressing an eye to the peephole to see if we could witness the commotion down the hall but the fracas was out of viewing range.That’s when the shouting started.

“Are you bleeping kidding me?! Are you bleeping kidding me?!” A woman’s shrill voice screamed at the occupant of the room who had presumably opened the door and was now face to face with the irate woman.

“Are you bleeping kidding me?! Are you bleeping kidding me?!” she repeated.

The response came in hushed tones so we could only hear one side of the argument. But we were able to piece together, with very little dialogue and absolutely no visuals, the reason for the spat. We surmised a woman had found her significant other cheating on her with another woman.

Rob and I looked at each other and I’m sure he saw that look in my eye because the next words out of his mouth were,“Don’t open that door Rose.”

I looked at him. I so wanted to see those responsible for waking us at such an ungodly hour, and he knew it. This weekend was supposed to be a fun get-away, and so far it had only been one annoyance after another. I wanted to open that door, shake my fist and yell,“Are you bleeping kidding ME?!”

It was at that point we decided to find another hotel for our second night in Cleveland. We waited until the commotion down the hall cleared before vacating our room and heading downstairs to check out. There, a new frontline of hotel workers lined the lobby desk. We were greeted by a young, fresh faced blonde.

“Good morning,” she chirped. “Did you enjoy your stay?”

I looked up at Rob. He squeezed my hand.

Are you bleeping kidding me?!

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And yes, if you were wondering, we did get to The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and The Christmas Story House!

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49 and Counting…

I turned forty-nine recently. No, really…forty-nine. That’s not code for an age I don’t want to disclose. It’s my real age, for real. I don’t feel forty-nine, whatever that’s supposed to feel like. I feel young. And I have a teenage daughter who makes me feel that way.

Megan recently started dating, and while my husband professes it makes him feel old, it has had the opposite effect on me. I’ll leave the worry to him and Megan’s older brother Harrison, who says I should keep a careful eye on her. But of course he’s approaching it from the vantage point of a young man, as he rightly should of course. Me though, I’m seeing it through her eyes. The eyes of a young lady, and I remember what that feels like.

Oh don’t worry. I’m not trying to be her BFF. I’m still being a mom, saying all the right things, delivering words of wisdom and verbalizing cautious concern. But secretly, quietly, I feel her youthful joy, hopeful for the future and whatever that may hold.

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A Possum, a Skunk and Donald Trump

I woke last Wednesday, as the whole world did, to the news Donald Trump had just been elected the Divided States of America’s 45th President. I also woke to a possum in my yard.

I had gone to bed the night before cognizant of what was appearing to be the incontestable outcome of this contentious election. Still, in a mix of one part denial and one part wishful thinking, I lay my head down and tried to sleep. Tossing and turning and suffering from what could only be diagnosed as #TrumpAnxiety I finally got out of bed to face reality.

Donald Trump Speaks To GOP Women's Groups

Still bleary eyed, I let my dog Bailey out as I always do. I poured myself a cup of coffee and gazed out the kitchen window to the backyard. There I saw Bailey calmly smelling a furry little creature. I immediately grabbed my phone (to take pictures of course) and headed outside to investigate. I then came back inside and called my husband.

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“Is it alive?” he asked.

“It’s a possum.” I replied.

I waited out the day in the hopes the possum was only playing possum and would shake off the encounter with my dog and get up and walk away. He didn’t.

This is it, I thought, the first sign of the #TrumpApocalypse.

“I’ll have a garbage bag and shovel waiting for you when you get home.” I reported back to Rob.

My daughter and I went on with our day, every once in a while checking in on the still dead possum. We had dinner, cleared dishes, Megan got on with her homework, I headed to the family room to watch TV. Flicking through channels, trying to avoid the post election media coverage, I was jolted to attention by the overwhelmingly pungent burnt smell of skunk. The stench was permeating through the house at an alarming rate.

“Megan!” I yelled running up the stairs. “Where’s the dog?!”

“Outside.” She responded, momentarily still focused on her homework until the odour hit her nostrils.

I raced to the back door and called for Bailey. He approached me in clear distress. Saliva drooled from his lips. His eyes were red. He twitched and rolled around in the grass. And he reeked. Beyond belief.

“Oh no!” I sobbed.

Sure this was the second sign of the #TrumpApocalypse, I called my husband, yet again.

“You’re kidding.” He lamented.

“I wish I was.” I answered.

Sometimes reality just stinks.

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Just to Toot My Own Horn

I’ve never encountered road rage on Pelee Island. There is no traffic. There are no stop lights. Many roads aren’t even paved. The only hand gesture you’ll encounter is a wave. (read Have We Met? if you haven’t already) Not to say there haven’t been encounters. There probably have been. But I kind of doubt it.

In recent weeks, my husband and I both had, on separate instances, less than positive encounters with fellow drivers on the streets of our middle class, suburban neighbourhood.

My husband’s experience involved a young lady who felt he should risk being t-boned in an intersection so that she, and her busy life, could make it through the light behind him. She then proceeded to pass him, gesturing rudely. No, she didn’t flip him the bird…

My personal experience included almost being run off the road by a jacked- up pick- up truck, who presumably couldn’t see me in his blind spot. I honked my horn to let him know I was there but was quickly admonished with yet again another crude hand gesture.

When did flipping the bird become passé?

So in a gesture of another kind, I’d like to say a big thank you to Shannon H. writer of Adventures In Thirty Something for nominating me for both The Liebster Award and The Versatile Blogger Award. Both awards are generated by the blogging community and aimed at promoting fellow bloggers. Check out what Shannon is writing about along with some of my other favourites – and tell them I say hi. Toot toot.

Building the Love Shack

Great Lakes Island Escapes

Irv Oslin, Writing and Journals

SIMONETEFFECT, Pure Black and White

Through Open Lens

You Gotta Eat This

 

 

Call it Like it Is

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A tiny owl greeted us as we turned onto our property this weekend. Arriving in darkness, our car headlights momentarily lit up the surrounding forest to reveal the small nocturnal bird perched upon a low tree branch. We stopped the car of course and promptly took out our phones to capture as many pictures of the elusive little fellow as possible.

I don’t profess to know much about birds (Refer back to my post, Look – a Heron!) Every year at about this time, the Pelee Island Bird Observatory offers saw-whet owl banding sessions and every year I say, I’m going to partake. I have yet to do so. My mainland life always seems to get in the way. So my first thoughts upon seeing the little owl was that it must be a saw-whet. I based my assumption on the fact it was small and since this is the only saw-whet characteristic I know for certain, it seemed entirely plausible. Only now, upon closer inspection, I think the owl in question was probably a screech.

I’ve quite often heard owls on Pelee Island but don’t often get the chance to see them. Early on, the first sounds of hooting had me jumping out of bed in order to share my excitement with my small children at the time. Gently shaking them awake, I’d eagerly tell them to listen.

“Kids can you hear that?” I’d ask.

Their sleepy responses always paled in comparison to my own enthusiasm.

“It’s an owl!” I’d happily state the obvious.

Since those first audio encounters I’ve had the chance to hear many owls and even see a few over the past number of years. Last summer I was thrilled to discover the eerily alien trilling my son and I heard was in fact, Eastern screech owls communicating with each other. And then there was the time I was driving my daughter and her friends around the Island when a large grey owl swooped down off a tree just in front of our vehicle. Their cries of “What the heck was that?!” echoed my own thoughts exactly.

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Good Bye Sweet Summer

Call me crazy but I’ve had enough of summer. Bring on the chilly evenings, cozy sweaters and fall foliage. Heck, even set the clocks back. I’m ready for autumn.

We Canadians so look forward to our summers; time spent at the cottage, flip flops, the ice cream truck, no snow to shovel…but come the end of August and I’m done with it; the heat, the humidity, the sunscreen, and yes, even the ice cream truck with its incessantly sweet music heard from a mile away. I can never seem to resist its siren call and soon find myself standing before the truck’s open window pondering all the sweet choices, Nutty Buddies, Rockets, Snow Cones and Creamsicles. Inevitably, I always settle on my favourite, never straying too far from a soft vanilla cone with sprinkles.

This October, my husband Rob and I will celebrate 25 years of marriage. We’ve spent the past year considering how we should commemorate this special milestone. We started with very grand ideas and have slowly scaled back, from Europe to the Southern States to an all-inclusive beach resort. Why were we finding this decision so difficult? We’ve finally agreed on someplace much closer to home – a few days in the country, a few days in a quaint town – where we will be pampered at a spa, take in a theatre production and stroll city streets and woodland trails covered in crunchy fallen leaves. We realized Ontario, in all its fall glory, is exactly what we want. Vanilla with sprinkles? Yes perhaps, but still sweet.

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