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Lake Life: Summer of 2016, Part 3

September9

 

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What else do we do to make summers special at the lake? We eat!

D loves to cook the entire supper on the barbeque, so as to not heat up the cottage. This was the last evening of our holiday: grilled pork tenderloin, squashed potatoes, eggplant and corn.

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We often sit out at the table on our front deck. Dining el fresco is especially lovely when surrounded by the tall pines and birch trees.

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When old friends joined me from Toronto and Vancouver the week that my Mom passed away, they did most of the cooking. I sat back and basked in their love and attention.

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We take turns cooking when we are there on a given weekend. On this day Boo and the Frenchman were at it with freshly sliced pineapple and cinnamon and walnut French toast. Yes it was as delicious at it looked!

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This simple meal was a particularly poignant one. The day that Mom died, Sister #3 and I stayed behind to pack up Mom’s things. Mom’s favourite meal was a tomato sandwich and she loved summer tomatoes that were ripe and bursting with flavour. She must have eaten half a tomato and had the second one wrapped and waiting for her in her little fridge. It would be impossible for me to describe the taste of that second tomato half.

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Sometimes word gets around that we are all assembling at one of the six beach houses that my family owns. Sometimes it is for happy hour and other times it is at dinner time. You are instructed to bring along whatever you were cooking for supper and if you have enough to share “great”, if not, someone else is bound to have more than they need. This last weekend when one of my nephews hosted a games night, appetizers were brought along. They too were as tasty as they looked.

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This weekend, was a little chillier and the wasps have driven us inside. We got out table extensions and folding chairs and eight of us assembled for an impromptu dinner of pickerel, shrimp, scallops, corn, potato wedges and green beans. Life is good, is very good indeed.

Kath’s quote: “Better is a dish of vegetables served with love than a fattened calf with animosity”. -Proverbs 15:17

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Love never fails.

Lake Life: Summer of 2016, Part 2

September8

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In Manitoba there are “lake people” and “beach people”. We are the latter. Our little place is not winterized. We have water and indoor plumbing from the May long weekend until Thanksgiving weekend. We like it this way. We have busy lives in the city and “Life is Good” (the name of the house) is the perfect summer retreat.

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Time at the beach, defines our day. We fill non-beach days with other pastimes like reading, Netflex watching, visiting, walking and biking. But beach days are our favourites.

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This is what the beach looked like last weekend. The water has receded and there are miles and miles of sand. We take up a lot of sand when all members of the family decide to accumulate at the beach. I typically plunk in the shade being fair and freckled. When D and I are on holidays, we love to take our coffee with us in the late morning and have a picnic lunch on the beach.

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We love to do the crossword puzzles together and Doug will read the paper as I plow through a book.

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We especially love this stretch of beach that we can climb over overturned trees and walk to. This area is actually the most eastern point of Grand Beach. When we are on the beach, we often do not see another soul, except in the distance. We consider ourselves especially blessed to have something so beautiful all to ourselves.

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I love the patterns that water makes in the sand, the tree art that is everywhere; even the shadows on the shore.

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But my all time favourite time of day, is when D and I will head back down to the beach with our beach chairs and wine “to go” cups and savour the last moments of the fading sun.

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What a show! A sight that I could gaze at over and over and over again.

Kath’s quote: “Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” ― Rabindranath Tagore

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

Lakelife: Summer of 2016, Part 1

September7

Today is the first day back to school and even though D and I are empty nesters, the day still marks a time of reflection. The summer was a bittersweet for our family.

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JoJo with the Frenchman.

We got to know our newest Grandaughter that much better when the family would assemble on weekends. She was such a trouper, sleeping on the beach and filling the world with smiles and laughter.

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Her big sister loves lake life as much as the adults. One evening she excitedly reported: “I got to go to the beach…at night time”! Here she is whipping us up a batch of blueberry pancakes.

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Cousins have been an important part of life at Lester Beach commencing with our kids’ generation and now continuing with another. Here is the Wee One with her second cousin Serena. Last night while babysitting the Wee One, she said her prayers for her best friends, Serena included.

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One of our collection of cottages is often hosting something or other. We celebrated six birthdays at the lake over the last couple of months. The pic above is at my brother’s 70th birthday. Even my Mom booked a cab to be there. She loved every single moment of that day. Every time I looked at her she was staring at the poplars rustling against a clear blue sky. Little did we know then, that she would be gone before the next birthday was celebrated.

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In spite of our sadness, we did our best to celebrate the Wee One’s birthday when she lead us in a dance off!

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I was alone at our beach house for my birthday. My Sister-in-Law and her Sister put on a little party for me (bless their hearts). We supped on Hawaiian Chicken and they even had my favourite Jeanne’s cake for dessert.

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My nephew who was also alone at their cottage, picked me up (I was recuperating from surgery) and drove me to the lookout so that I could watch the sunset the eve of my birthday. I was touched by all the thoughtfulness of family members after a tumour was removed from my kidney. BTW-I was good as new in no time!

Like waves of Lake Winnipeg, sorrow and joy took turns lapping onto shore.

Kath’s quote:”There is something urgent I have to say to you and you alone but it must wait while I drink in the joy of your approach, perhaps for the last time”. -William Carlos Williams

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Love never fails.

 

My Momma

July16

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This is a photo of my Momma last week. There was a Hawaiian Barbeque at her personal care home. My sister-in-law accompanied her. When I saw this picture, I commented that I had not seen her so happy in a very long time. She really enjoyed the event and especially the special food that was prepared for the residents and guests. Later that evening she also indulged in a chocolate bar.

Momma loved to eat but unfortunately hospital fare just wasn’t her “cup of tea”. She did enjoy her breakfast of boiled eggs and a muffin, but for the most part, she was uninspired.  Instead, she would request cans of pork and beans and fresh cucumber and tomato. Simple food that could absolutely delight her. The last thing item that I removed from the personal care home was a sign which read: “Resident has food in her fridge if she requests food during meals”. This note said many things about my Mom but especially that she knew exactly what she wanted and that food was meant for far more than nourishment for the body.

The morning after the barbecue the lovely staff at Concordia Place checked in on her to see how well she had slept and let her remain in bed until they would transfer her to her chair for her breakfast. When they came back to do so, they couldn’t rouse her. She had peacefully slipped away.

The subsequent arrangements for the celebration of her life were easy: we knew that she would want us to be modest in our burial selections, but we also knew that there better be good food and lots of it!

This is an excerpt from my part of her eulogy:

Mom silently demonstrated how to love others by cooking for them-doughnuts for all the guys who delivered papers with my brother Tom, late night meals when my brother Doug and his band would roll in after a gig, me inviting all the Keg “orphans” to Christmas dinner, well you get the picture. For Mom, having lived through poverty and the depression, food was precious, and we were precious to her and so she loved us with food. She taught us to never waste a single thing-she even kept the water from boiling potatoes and added it to the gravy; she sent all those little butter packets home from the nursing home with Sue.

Kath’s quote (from one of the many sympathy cards that we received): “When a good-bye is so unexpected and sudden, it is the wise heart that knows that sometimes it has to look back and remember in order to look forward and hope”.

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Love never fails.

 

The Gift of Restored Health

May27

A week ago I had surgery to remove a tumour on my kidney. The operation went as planned and I have been recovering right on schedule. But let me back up a bit to late September of 2015.

About a month ago I was changing for my first yoga class when a pain hit me that was so acute, I could not stand up straight. My doc has recently retired so I had to go to a walk in clinic. That doc suspected a kidney stone and sent me for an xray. A couple of days later, I was sent for a ct scan. I received the results of the scan just before my plane took off from Toronto to meet Doug in NYC. At this time the doctor informed me that there was some concern about my pancreas and kidney and that I required a contrast ct scan. So I headed off on our “trip of a life time” with this news.

This last ct scan was scheduled for when I was in Montreal so I had to postpone it until last week. D took me on Tuesday and because the tech indicated that it would be 3 days before my doc got results, we headed to Regina. Half an hour later, my doctor called to say that he must see me as soon as possible. This takes us to this past Friday afternoon. I was successful in not letting my fear overcome my times in NYC, Tuscany and Montreal but last week I went to a pretty dark place considering what might be ahead.

To the good news- my pancreas is clear and healthy! To the not-so-good news. I have a small (2.2 cm) malignant tumour on my kidney that will have to be surgically removed, hopefully keeping the rest of my kidney intact. Cancer Care also contacted me Friday and I will see a doctor within two to three weeks. My walk in doc indicates that I will be top priority since the tumour is so mall. I was so relieved by the pancreas part of the news that the kidney part seems like a piece of cake. I am sure that there will be tough times ahead but this weekend as we told the kids and my family, I am the happiest Glamma in the world!

I thank God for so many things, the obvious one being that I do not have pancreatic cancer. But also that he gave me the kidney stone in the first place or I would not have visited the walk in clinic that day.

Unfortunately, I was not considered a priority since my tumour was small, in fact when I finally saw my surgeon in December, he indicated that he would consider my surgery “elective”. This of course is good news but it took some time to process the information and decide when the most opportune time for surgery would be. I decided that by waiting for May I could enjoy Christmas, help with Isabelle when Josie came along in February, get away on our March trip to Isla and fulfil a teaching commitment that I had in the spring.

So one week post-surgery I can tell you that my capable surgeon was able to do the procedure laproscopically which meant instead of a considerable cut and scar, there are four small holes in my abdomen. This method quickens the healing process but actually makes for a more complicated surgical procedure for the doctor.  This week has produced the balancing act between pain management with T3s and the side effect that the codeine produces (and my desire to renew my lovely tradition of having a glass of red wine before bedtime).

Even though the forecast is not the greatest, D is taking me out to the lake this afternoon. He will get me organized for my independent recuperation and the beach house is actually a better set up than home with no stairs and a smaller space to navigate. I won’t be taking my long walks on the beach or riding my bike to collect heart stones and drift wood but I will enjoy time in our solarium and sleeping with all the windows open.

But to the point of these musings: we are so blessed to live in a country where financial position does not dictate the access to healthcare and I am equally blessed by my loving family and circle of friends who walked this nine month journey with me. To all of you but especially D, thank you. I have felt your love and concern every step of the way.

Kath’s quote:” I have decided to be happy because it is good for my health.” -Voltaire

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Love never fails.

 

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