The cottage as it stands today 2010
It's a different world today and I'm not sure what is to blame for that. Technology? All those colourful 3D game characters that move and talk and look more like real people. They are really attractive. And my daughter can't stop talking about certain ones. We've come a long way from Atari Pong. But even out at the lake we have more technology. We have satellite TV and when I was a kid all we had was CBC. We have a phone which wasn't installed until I was at least 18. We still don't have any internet access but I'm sure that will be next. And I have discovered that if I walk up to the top of the road, at the highest point I can get one or two bars on my phone, and if I am really patient and pace in a certain spot at just the right speed, I can do a few things like send an email I wrote the night before, or check a voicemail.
But it is nice to be free of the computer. I don't watch TV but I spend as much time on the computer as I used to spend watching TV.
Or is it paranoia about the great outdoors? Hell being outside can kill you, you know. UV rays .... there is nothing a pretty little princess like my daughter likes less than having sun screen smeared all over her. And heaven forbid a bug of any kind comes within 2 feet of her. (Is this really MY child?). Or what about all those horrible people out there that take kids? My daughter had a friend over last week and when the mother dropped her off she took one look at the park right outside my front door with full visibility from my house and said: "If they go to the park an adult will go with them right?" Uh, sure. Absolutely. (Not).
But my last post showed pictures of me at the age of about 6 doing cartwheels on the floor base of the new cottage (by the way, we STILL call it the NEW cottage) and climbing on top of the roof (I may have been 7 in that picture). No one air-lifted me up there, I got up there of my own ability. Trust me, my mother was not the type to be able to rescue me if I got stuck. And if I was seven and on top of that roof that means my brother was 5. I doubt that either of my kids could do a cartwheel. I also doubt that either of them would have the courage to climb a ladder and get up to the top of the roof. They seem to have a natural fearfulness of anything risky.
My Mom calls her a "little Kim" but you've seen kid pictures of me now and I think she is prettier. She's daintier, that is for sure. You can tell I was a solid kid. And I NEVER could have sat like this.
And of course the cat had to come to the lake this year. Where once there were 4 dogs, now there is a single cat.
Is this my fault? Do I not teach them enough about how to be physically active? Somehow I doubt it. I certainly model it. I can assure you that my parents didn't teach me any of that. I was, obviously, just never told that I shouldn't try. There was no constant barrage of "be careful!" Stop. Let me do that for you. (And I don't believe it is me that stops them.... I don't think so.... I've tried every bribe I can think of to get my son on a 2 wheel bike and he won't bite. He's afraid to fall and get hurt.Where did this fearfulness come from? Clearly not from me?)
But my kids love the lake and yes there are bugs and yes there is sunshine and yes there is a gigantic and deep body of water that they could drown in right out the front door and 40 feet down and sometimes the waves are 3 feet high. My daughter is an excellent swimmer and she would be fine but my son is not, although he is far braver this year than he has been in the past.
Last year he wouldn't get off the big rock near the shore. So this is progress. And damn he's handsome.
Grandma and Grandpa Rule
But part of the reason that they love the lake is because they LOVE grandma. My mom is the typical grandma who does everything for her grandchildren just as her mother did for me when I was a child. So I bring them down to the lake and Grandma can do no wrong. They are happy to boot me out the door so I can get on my bike. They colour the million Club Penguin colouring pages she printed for them because she's learnt that is the in-thing right now. They help her in the garden or the yard. She feeds them on demand and does all the clever things with food that I suck at and never think of (or can't be bothered with would be more honest), like cutting sandwiches into fingers or taking cookie cutters to cheese slices. Sometimes they are downright pissed off when I return, they've got it so good. Although, I believe, my mom breathes a sigh of relief.
There I am in front of "caboose 2"
When I come back from a ride (on the days I go -- I don't go every day I'm out there) is when we all go swimming and my Mom usually joins us. I don't remember her swimming much when I was a kid but she gets in there now. Emma usually wants to swim as far out into the lake as I'll let her. I was doing a training swim to an island right before the Kenora tri and she took a body surfing board and paddled two cottages over to meet up with me on my way in.
Or we get out on the boat and my Dad tours us around to where all the eagle's nests are on the lake. We check out the cabin growth on the other side, and the number of cars on the parking lot at the Golf course. There is always loon spotting to be done. My kids have a fascination with loons simply because of hearing them call in the darkness out at the cabin. And one of my secret talents is that I mimick them quite well and there are always requests for demonstrations of my loon call because the loons usually answer back.
Same boat we had when I was a kid. Same motor.
Everything takes a little longer at the lake now-a-days. My Dad built an entire cottage in a summer at the age of 41 with the help of all the neighbors but we built "caboose 2" (a misnomer -- it isn't a caboose at all, but old names die hard) about 8 years ago and the ceiling fan and light just got put up this summer. And he put a little deck on the front too. But then again, he was likely slowed down in recent years from his slowly occluding coronary arteries as well.
Mom and Dad on the dock from a couple years ago.
The boat used to come out in May when I was a kid but in recent years we've been lucky that it came out at all. Every year there seems to be something. The motor is always malfunctioning. A tree fell on it one year. This year the dock posts got bent into a Z shape from the break-up of the ice in the spring. The boat didn't see the water until August long weekend and even then only when my brother got out there and forced it. I can understand it. I find it easier to get big intimidating (and frustrating) jobs done when someone offers to help.
I talked about my Uncle George as one of the interesting "Lake" characters from my childhood but I never did mention John. John was our neighbor on the other side of us and he knew everything about anything mechanical or building related. He wore the same kind of worker green pants -- like Mr. Green Jeans -- and he never stopped working. One of my brother's and my favorite childhood games was "John and Henry" (Henry is one of his two sons). And the John and Henry game was a sandbox game with bulldozers and building blocks because John and Henry were always building.
John was a bit of a pack rat. It would be fair to say you could call him a "collector." He had piles of wood that would probably take 10 years to use up but still he'd be down every weekend and chop more. He apparently has about 30 bikes in one of the sheds out on his lot. His son Richard, who lives in Calgary, is aware I want to lay my eyes on those bikes if he ever gets around to cleaning out that shed.
John had a predictable routine. We could always expect John's visit sometime around 10:00 on a Sunday morning and while sometimes his presence was awkward and ill-timed, if he didn't show up we'd always wonder why. He trusted no one of authority. He didn't like women (post a very nasty divorce) he said nothing but polite small talk to my mother or I, but when I was a kid he teased me and called me a monkey for always doing acrobatics. He did the same with my kids. He knew everyone and visited everyone for coffee the same way he visited us. He was always willing to lend a helping hand and a piece of advice.
John died at the end of the summer last year. He had a stroke, and given his hatred for doctors, he likely refused treatment and told everyone to Go to Hell. It was odd this year not having him around.
Other Photo Memories
All the pictures you saw in the last post came from slides my parents took throughout my childhood. My family takes a gazillion pictures. It could be frustrating at times, like at Christmas when you REALLY wanted to open your stocking from Santa, but today I am glad to have them. I scanned several hundred of the slides from those carousels about 8 years ago for one of my father's birthdays to make him a scrapbook of lake memory photos and every single one of them bring back a flood of memories.
My parents have had this cottage since 1966 and I bet we have 3000 sunset pictures. Every night my Dad looks out the big sliding door windows and checks out the sunset and each one is more spectacular than the previous. At age 74 he still feels the need to snap a picture of every single one.
I ride out to Redditt Ontario a lot on my rides. I didn't remember this but my father reminded me recently that Redditt is the place where the glass bottle house is. I went looking for it on my last ride out there and I wasn't able to find it anymore. But I found this photo:
Man this was a cool place. That was one of the things I didn't write about in my last blog. My grandparents were out at the lake with us often and I was just as enamoured with them as my kids are with my parents being at the lake. My grandfather loved to explore and take day trips and this was one of his favorite places to go. One of his other favorite places was this famous Kenora landmark:
Husky the Muskie -- he's more treed in than he used to be when I was a kid. If you blink on your way out of Kenora you will miss him.
And this is what my Aunty Judy and Uncle George's cottage now with new owners, looks like today. Just a sad shadow of what it was.
And no visit to Kenora would be complete without a visit to the Bike Store. Clothing upstairs and an Olympia Cycle and Ski off-shoot downstairs. This building used to be Fyfe's Hardware, hence the nostalgic naming of what is now a sports store.
My Dad never wore a life jacket when I was a kid. This is progress.
Best Buds -- on the MS Kenora a couple years ago. A cool tour if you ever get the chance.
Dad -- in his favorite chair on the porch. I've always thought I look more like my Dad than my Mom. Hard to believe he's 72 in this picture.
Me a couple years ago when I first started biking. And a bit of a view of the inside of the cottage which is a little cluttered but true to who my parents are.
I'm glad to have this place and I'm glad my kids have it too. I don't suspect it will be around forever. If my parents were to give it up, I couldn't afford to maintain it. I'm not sure what my brother would do. I don't know if he could afford to buy it outright anytime in the next 5 years either. But I will continue to enjoy it while it lasts.