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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Cold Car, Warm Grapes

The grapes are growing on Pelee Island. I can’t help but think of my girlfriend Lizanne as I look out to the fields, vines strung up in rows, green grapes slowly ripening to purple.

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Lizanne and I met in our final year of college. Always a joker, I was drawn to her sense of humour and mischievous spirit. She always made me laugh. Lizanne was one of the lucky girls at school in that she had her own car. As the majority of us navigated through the Big City on public transportation, pushing and shoving and vying for a seat on the subway, Lizanne made her way around Toronto happily unperturbed in her little red Hyundai Pony. She brought it with her all the way from her home town of Timmins, Ontario and was quite proud of the tiny automobile.

Lizanne was more than happy to give a friend a lift especially in the cold winter months, when harsh temperatures would have one shuffling their feet and blowing warm air into cupped hands while waiting at a crowded bus stop. So it was one evening, when we met up leaving the building we lived in together, that Lizanne offered me a ride.

“Want a drive?” she asked as we made our way down the front steps.

“Sure!” I eagerly replied.

As we approached her vehicle I noticed a plug hanging out from under the hood of her car.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“It’s a plug.” She responded.

“Yes, I know. What’s it doing sticking out of your car?”

“When it gets really cold up North we have to plug in our cars over night so they start in the morning.” She humoured me.

Having only ever lived in Southern Ontario, I’d never heard of anyone ever having had the need to plug in their car!

“No really, what’s it for?” I asked again. I wasn’t going to fall for one of her jokes this time.

“No, really!” She stressed but I wasn’t convinced and she knew not to push.

The next year Lizanne and I travelled to Europe together and while on a bus tour through the French countryside, Lizanne looked out to the farmers’ fields and asked,

“What’s that growing?” She pointed out the window.

I looked.

“What, that?” I asked scanning her face for any hint of trickery.

“Yeah, all that, growing in the fields. What is it?”

I couldn’t believe it. Could it be she really had no idea what grape vines looked like?

Growing up in the Golden Horseshoe meant a farm was only ever a short drive away for me; peaches, apples, strawberries, grapes, all at my fingertips. And just as I had only ever lived in Southern Ontario, Lizanne had only ever lived in the far North. Her thirteen hour trek from Timmins to Toronto wouldn’t have exposed her to much, if any, farmland.

“They’re grapes!” I finally responded.

“Oh.” She said content with my answer.

Later that evening, sipping a glass of French red wine, I reflected on our different upbringings; mine, where growing grapes and making wine were part of my cultural identity, and hers, where plugging in your car every night was as routine as brushing your teeth before bed. And yet our friendship was born in a city new and neutral to each of us. It took a trip to Europe to appreciate my vast and varied homeland province of Ontario and it made me wonder what else I had been missing back home.

The Show Must Go On

“Does anyone have some bug spray?” he paused between sets to ask the crowd.

We laughed warm heartedly. Not the usual banter spoken by musicians to their audience. We were watching Dave Russell and (one of) The Precious Stones perform at the Pelee Island Winery Pavilion, when the setting sun brought with it the usual onslaught of biting mosquitoes. Not so easy to play the guitar while you’re swatting at blood sucking insects.

“Oh, and cigarettes and batteries?” he added, “We didn’t know you can’t buy those here.”

Amidst more laughter, spectators reached into beach bags and raced to their cars to oblige. A few sprays later and the concert was able to continue for a short while longer before the bugs finally won.

You can see Dave Russell and The Precious Stones perform this weekend, along with numerous other musicians, at the 3rd annual Island Unplugged Music Festival. Check it out if you can. Just remember to pack your bug spray.

http://theislandunplugged.org                                                    http://www.peleeisland.com

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