Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Canadian Chronicles: The Summer of No Mosquitos

I was just sitting post coffee out on our front porch. The sun was streaming through the trees in soft, filtered light that illuminated the morning in a gentle way that speaks only of summer.

Usually, there are a few mosquitos buzzing about. It was funny that I noticed their absence, I sure do notice their presence!

This summer, along with being absent of rain, has been absent of mosquitos. I do not miss these critters, but it reminds me, fondly almost, of year's past.

One summer, it was like the kids had chicken pox! They had so many bites in so many places that they looked like they were battling a virus. If there was any malaria going around northern Ontario, we would have all had it that summer!

Another summer, a friend lay in her bed, deep into the night, armed with a bottle of bug spray. She just kept firing away, trying to eradicate the buzzing and biting. She went through at least two whole bottles of bug spray that trip--now every time I smell citronella, I think of my friend and the ch ch of the spray bottle.

There were many nights that we had to make a run for it from the car to the front door. Not only were we avoiding the bites, we were hoping to keep as many mosquitos as possible out of the house. Then, we would grab fly swatters and kill as many of the offenders as we could, before we went about settling in for the night.

I've always tried to think of a good reason for mosquitos and I've never come up with any. On the tail of writing about good guests and bad guests, I'm just enjoying that they didn't visit this summer.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Canadian Chronicles: Roxy, First International Trip

Shown here with her world famous mistress and trainer. Ruth has worked so hard on getting this pup trained & ready for travel. I am so proud of my smart and resourceful daughter!

The Canadian Chronicles: Poop Patrol, North of the Border

Sometimes, Birk is thinking so far out of the box that she enters another dimension.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Canadian Chronicles 2012: Californians Foraging for Food in Canadian Cottage Country

We are spoiled baby brats in the Bay Area when it comes to many things, especially food. The farmer's markets operate year round, and there always seems to be local, organic fresh something to tempt us.

Entering Canada, there is not only a coastal warp, but it is a coastal seasonal warp. There is also a foodie void. I'm sure if you lived here 24/7 365, you would know all of the good spots to scrounge up truffled salt and a darn bit of freshly baked, organic whole grain bread. Remove yourself 2 hours from a major city, and you'd better be making your own bread if you like it a particular way.

And, maybe that is why Canadian women are such good cooks. Maybe that is also why there is dessert with every dinner.

We've found a little natural food store that carries a lot of our normal products. They also have local meat and eggs, not organic and always free range, but at least the meat comes from smaller farms. The amount of organic produce seems to have slipped at our little store over the last few years, more and more conventional veggies are clogging the shelves. Yesterday, I was surprised to see garlic from Argentina. After all, we were in the garlic capital of Canada.

I bought some fresh cherries, not local, but they were at least from the US. We had gone a few days without fresh fruit and were living on PB & J. My family descended on 2 pounds of cherries like a hungry pack of wolves. No need to worry about what to do with any leftovers.

There is always an adjustment when we arrive. Now we grocery shop at what can best be described as an upscale 7 11. Years ago, we the local grocery store was in somebody's house, so I guess things are looking up.

Canadian Chronicles: Day One, Year 16

OK, so we've been doing this for about 16 years: leaving civilization and hanging out in cottage country for a chunk of our summer. One would think, after all of these years, a girl would get the drill down.

And, I do have some of the drill down. And, some of the old drill, that I have down, doesn't necessarily meet the drill of the modern day needs.

For example, tonight we had popcorn with Lava Vine Olive Oil (so yum if you haven't had Lava Vine wines or olive oil, you should make a point of seeking it out) and truffle salt. Yes, in my frenzy of packing, I packed my favorite olive oil and truffle salt.

I also brought a Kitchen Aid stand mixer that we've had for at least 10 years. It makes for a heavy carry on, but it made it in one piece.

Now, why would one lug a stand mixer to the cottage? Because here we cook. There is no Whole Foods that we can storm into and whip up a salad and pick up a roasted organic free range chicken at. We cook here, and I hope it sees some more action.

What I haven't learned, note to self, is that we have enough adult clothes here to outfit a small nation. We don't need dress shoes, purses, belts or anything. We literally could come here and dress in the finest of fashion (well, some of the fashion is 20 years old, but no one is going to go naked or chilly, that's for sure).

Also, the cottage reno, as I groaned about the amount of money and hassle and lack of actual time to effort ratio, had this small gleaming promise of making a "mouse proof" environment.

And, in this small gleam of a promise, I did the unthinkable. I did the thing that I have gone above and beyond not to do in the 16 years that we've owned this place. I put clothes in the drawers and on the shelves and left them there. I put pillows in plastic bags, not to seal them off from the famous winter mouse population, but just to keep the dust off them. In keeping the dust off them, I did not seal the ziplock seals.

When I was a kid, I read this poem once:

If you build a better mouse trap and
Put it in your house,

Soon Mother Nature,
Will build a better mouse.

I learned the hard way not to mess with Mother Nature this time around. The mouse families had a field day last winter. They visited every drawer possible. They chewed through clothing and made a nice comfy nest and made themselves right at home.

I am still working on my "lesson."

Notes to self:

1. Seal everything. Keep putting everything in bins. Do not leave anything out, because it makes cleaning up the next year all that much harder. It also means that you will be doing laundry until the loons come home.

2. Do not bring any clothing. It only makes for a sore back and an overflow closet situation.

However, if mice have chewed your underwear, it is nice to have some clean back ups from home. Oh, and some olive oil and truffled popcorn to drown your sorrows in.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Canadian Chronicles: Canada Here We Come!

Well, the clock is ticking down to our annual summer house shift. The bags are piling up by the door, the final bills are being paid and all of the appointments are getting checked off the to do list.

In a few days, we will cross the border and sink into summer.

Someone asked if I was ready for vacation. The thing is, if I go into this thinking it's a vacation I need to A) rewrite my definition of vacation and B) rewrite my definition of vacation.

My current definition of vacation includes turn down service, a complete lack of knowing what we are having for dinner and a bed I didn't make with sheets that I didn't wash.