Day 53 – Safe haven

I’ve been sitting here listening to a Rammstein playlist for over an hour and trying to figure out how to write tonight’s story. What’s making it so difficult? I think it’s because I’m trying to find a way to explain how essential it was for me to come home…and how all the people and places and experiences fit in. But here’s the truth of it all; it can’t be summed up in one post. So, instead I’ll just tell you where I was this evening.

After a particularly hectic day, we went over to the Manning’s tonight for a quick catch up. I’ve been at the Manning’s place periodically for around 33 years. I’ve cried there and laughed there and drank too much there. I’ve slept on the floor, and on the swing, and in a bed, and on a couch there. I’ve eaten food that I’ve never heard of before, while listening to the most beautiful piano being played there. I learned what true friendship was there (thank you Laura…).  I was taught that it was safe to tell the truth there. And, I found my first taste of trust and freedom there.


As a teenager when my world was falling apart (and it fell apart quite regularly) the Mannings were there. And not just mom and dad Manning either…Laura, Bruce and David all took a turn at being my sanity, whether they knew it or not.

Everyone needs a safe haven when they are growing up. This was mine. And, on coming home after 30 years away I realized, it still is.

Day 52 – Craft beer, unplanned adventures and an amazing friend

Meet Josie. We went to high school together. When I came back to town after being gone 30 years, Josie was the first person to come visit. She lent me her mom at Christmas to help with my first attempt at baking. And, I credit her with both helping me quit smoking, and getting me started on a wonderful journey of getting healthy again by introducing me to yoga.


Anytime we get together we have good adventures. What makes them so neat is that they are usually completely unplanned, like today. We started off with a basic idea of going up to the farm and ended up going to a really cool conservation area (that was actually on my summer must-see list by the way), stopping by a craft brewery, and then grabbing lunch at The Tall Teepee in Alderville.

The really cool conservation area is called Crowe Bridge Park and it’s kind of a hidden jem. The riverbed is limestone and Josie was telling me that this year the water is really high, but normally a lot of the river bed is exposed by mid summer making it a beautiful spot to just relax, do a little paddling around or take a chair out into the river and sit.


After leaving Crowe Bridge Park, we decided to work our way back to the farm to pick up Chuck and go for lunch. But, we couldn’t pass Church-Key Brewing without stopping in. Owner and brewmaster John Graham was working and gave us not only a sample of some of his brews, but a tour of the facility (which is located in an old Methodist church by the way…how awesome is THAT!), and a neat history of how he started the business (17 years strong now). I had to buy some of his Northumberland Ale and Josie picked up a bottle of CSIS (Canadian Style Imperial Stout). Thanks for being such a great sport John!

We grabbed a quick lunch at The Tall Teepee, another maybe not-so-hidden jem. If you want a hearty, tasty meal served with a smile and a laugh, that’s the place to be. We’ve never been disappointed with the food, or the atmosphere. Unfortunately, I was way too hungry to take pictures. So, you’re going to have to just imagine my incredibly yummy cheeseburger and fries platter and Josie’s fish and chip daily special.

How do you top a day like that off? Well, Chuck and I figured the best way was a nice long bike ride.


Ah, summer…how I love you…

Day 51 – A bad cell phone photography day

Oh, if I could tell you how much I hate the camera on my phone today. If I could only find the words that would properly express that sentiment. With that, I also have to say I am stunned and amazed by what I’ve seen other people achieve with nothing but a phone camera. And jealous. Or envious. I’m never quite sure of the difference.

I am not a good cell phone photographer. I don’t understand what is happening and I can’t control anything. Just for reference, I still have a Blackberry and won’t give it up so maybe that has some bearing on it…but I’m pretty sure it’s just me.

The skies today were stunning! The cloud banks were enough to completely stop me in my tracks. I stood there astride my bike taking picture after picture of them with my stupid cell phone camera. I poked at the screen to try to chose the focus point but that changed the exposure. I tried changing the exposure but ended up just taking another ugly picture. I moved a lot and caused motion blur. And everything was in the wrong perspective. And so small. And zooming in just caused a bunch of noise that got so bad the boats were nothing but schmultz on the screen.

The whole time I just kept thinking, “God…if I only had my camera with me…why don’t I have my camera with me??”. Lesson learned. If I want to take good shots, I need to use my camera. I’m not ever going to be a good cell phone photographer.

Unless…I keep reading about this new phone Kodak is making…I’d love to have a Kodak back in my hands…hmmm.

Day 50 – A certain sort of sadness

It’s day 50. There are fifty days of summer behind me, and twenty days ahead. Twenty!

I looked at my “all the things I want to do this summer” list and you know, I haven’t accomplished much from it. All the plans we had laid out, how long 70 days actually seemed to be back then in the spring…

And I’m thinking this evening, have I made the most of each and every day? Have I laughed and loved and LIVED? Have I taken advantage of summer in the way I had always talked about doing? Will I be filled with regrets in another 20 days when summer is over and fall is here?

I’m running out of time…autumn is coming. The corn is tasseling, the hay is in, the tomatoes are ripening, the apples are on the trees. Signs for back-to-school blowouts are in all the store windows. The days are so much shorter and the evenings are so much colder. And, I’m not done yet. I’m not done yet. I’m not done yet. Not even close. I just want to have a re-do. I want summer to start all over again and to have those 70 days stretching out in front of me instead of fading out behind. I want to feel the hope of longer days to come instead of the dread of those horrible, ghastly, cold, dark short, short days that are not so far ahead of us.

After feeling sad about all of this for the past few hours, I’ve realized something really important. It’s not how many days I have left, or how many I’ve spent. It’s the fact that summer ends. It always ends eventually. And I’m just not okay with that. I could have reached every goal on that list and it wouldn’t have made a damned bit of difference. If summer was 365 days a year it still wouldn’t be enough for me. There are never enough days, never enough hours, to satisfy my need for summer. For those of you who are thinking, “Oh, you would miss the seasons.”, no. No, I wouldn’t. Really. Anyone who says that to me, well, they just don’t know me at all. If you could feel my heart racing and the tears I’m trying to hold back, and the full on screaming panic I’m fighting right now, you would know…I will never, ever, miss winter.

I may start a new blog to help me get through the fall and winter. My working title is “The 9000 miserable days of horrible darkness and cold that make me want to lay down in a ditch and scratch the skin off my own face while howling pitifully”. What do you think? Too long?

I hope you come back tomorrow…I’ll try to be in a better place. There’s no sense losing the last 20 days I have of summer to worrying about something I can’t control, or change. At least, that’s what people tell me.



Day 49 – Sidewalks and sandcastles

The civic holiday here in Cobourg has always been a big deal. It’s the best weekend of the summer, and the downtown stores put on a huge sidewalk sale. King Street is closed down for three days and, unlike a lot of other venues, most of the vendors are still local. When I was a kid, there were all kinds of carnival rides during the sidewalk sale. My friend Sharon told me they haven’t been part of the sale for many, many years now.

There’s food, and music, and deep discounts on all kinds of goodies. And there are friends…almost everyone comes down to the sidewalk sale even if it’s just for a few minutes so there’s a really good chance you’re going to cross paths with people you know. The crowds are kind of crazy for a little town but that’s all part of the excitement.

After checking out the sale, it was down to the waterfront. Today the sandcastle competition was taking place. It’s a really neat thing to see. All spring the beach was crazy flooded. For Canada Day, the town brought in load after load of sand but it’s almost as flooded again today as it was in the spring. That didn’t dampen the spirit of the sand sculpters a bit.

Then we walked up to the new apartment to show the kids, and to start measuring out where things will go. Next, we took a quick run up to the farm to see how everything was making out through the thunderstorms and winds. It’s all okay up there. Topping it all off were a beautiful moon rise and spectacular clouds. What more could you ask for in one day…


Day 48 – A breath of fresh air

It can be pretty easy to be dragged down into a bad place sometimes. And it can be pretty hard to pull yourself back up and out onto level ground again. Almost always, I can count on a young person (wow…I sound SO old right now) to help me up. After yesterday’s nasty shock and what our family has just been through with losing mom, having help to get back up is almost imperative.

Enter Mika. Our step-granddaughter. A breath of fresh air. A super great kid. Someone who can really hold up her end of the conversation, and who sees the bright side of things.

Mika came down from Sudbury with Chuck today for the long weekend. Even though we were under a severe thunderstorm watch (and tornado warning), we ventured down to the Market & Smor at the beach and got Mika a bubble tea, Chuck a smoked salmon sandwich and a watermelon and cucumber salad for me before heading over to the Golden Chopsticks restaurant for dinner.

It’s funny how integrated food is with moods…when you’re happy, celebrate with ice cream and cake and candy. When you’re sad, pack in a bit of comfort food. When you’re stressed, eat. When you’re depressed, eat.

When you have a super great kid descend on your home and demand bubble tea, well hell, you’d better get down to the beach and find one. 🙂

Day 47 – A shock

Things were going well and then a phone call came in that kind of shattered the peace. We heard through the grapevine that an old friend had passed away. Immediately, a long stream of pictures started running through my mind…because we had done, literally, thousands of pictures with him. From a midnight shoot at a hotel, to modelling portfolios, to a shoot at a monastery for an art installation, to random snapshots, to a vampire shoot in the middle of the forest, to his wedding…we worked with this young man on so many different projects.


I can’t even begin to imagine what his family is going through right now. For us, looking through so many pictures of him, all I keep thinking is that this isn’t real.

Ryan, you made us laugh so many times. Your hugs made everything better. You were my muse when I was lost behind the camera. You will be so deeply missed by everyone…

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