wordless wednesday (summer postcards)


Cabins and cottages I have known. Some I have loved.


The one room cabin up highway 11 ten thousand years ago that we arrived at by flying over the top of hills with my dad yelling hang on, here’s another one!  then laughing like crazy as I screamed from the backseat and my mother in the front held on to her cat’s eye sunglasses with one hand and her Sweet Caporal with the other. My dad’s cig was between his lips the whole time. We found the place by luck and chance after thinking it was fine to go on a summer holiday without a reservation anywhere. We ate radishes and rye bread for our supper and listened to the rain fall.

The place on Oxtongue Lake where we went a few years in a row and I met an older girl named Lucy who I thought wanted to be friends with me but really she just wanted an alibi for the hours she spent with a rather slimy fellow who worked on the property. I was reading Archie comics in those days and my idea of a good time was getting up before anyone else and taking the rowboat for a spin. Some things don’t change…

Where we used to stay with friends on Rice Lake but too many people kept dropping by and the dock always needed to be fixed.

The surprise of a place on PEI that I swear is magic.

The other place on PEI with a view of everything.

The one near Leamington where they left baked goods and fresh fruit on the table for our arrival and where rooster song woke us in the most cheerful way. I’d always assumed waking-by-rooster would be jarring. It’s not.

The place near the farm in Ganonoque where flies covered the insides of our windows BUT we *did* get to see the pigs fed each evening. Plus there was a canoe.

A friend’s cottage up north where no one dropped by and the dock was fine.

The haunted one near Bobcaygeon, which, apart from that detail, was brilliant.

Two in Nova Scotia:  one, on the Cabot Trail that I barely remember except it was an A-frame and we only stayed a night because it was better than sleeping in the car and who would have thought there weren’t a hundred places to choose from on that route? And the other, also a late night find I can’t remember where exactly but in a town so small everything was closed at 5 p.m. The owner of the cabin made us a sandwich. Such kindness.

The place I spent a day each year visiting people who had a paddle-boat and ate marshmallow fluff straight from the jar.

The one on the land in B.C. that is tiny, ancient and decrepit and was once home to a family of five, who travelled on foot through god only knows how many kilometres of thick forest, up and down hills to get to *town*. And back. It’s not actually habitable but we camped near it and I liked imagining the family’s life, the Okanagan people before them, the life of the land.


Other (not always) wordless friends:

Cheryl Andrews
Allison Howard
Barbara Lambert
Allyson Latta
Elizabeth Yeoman

how to do campbellford in twenty four hours


Start in Oshawa. At the RMG. Give the current exhibition of abstract paintings too little of your time and make a note to go back when it’s the only item on your itinerary.

Take Hwy 2 to Bowmanville and stop at the VAC. Be delighted to find Frances Ferdinands’ work. Fall in love with a couple of the pieces.      Continue on Hwy 2 (on this getaway we’re generally flipping the bird to the 401) to Newcastle and make your way to the waterfront where you’ll find a monarch recently arrived from Texas and the air pungent with seaweed.

Take the Lakeshore Road east along the shoreline and through the countryside and past a field of cows that apparently live in the forest.

Take that beautiful winding road all the way to Port Hope where you have lunch at Gusto. Have the fresh bright green dairy-free pea soup and the smoked trout and arugula and shut up about not getting a table on the patio because oh my god already… you have a window seat and air conditioning and the baby at the next table isn’t even crying. Life is good.

Get on the 28 to the 9 and go west a bit to the lavender fields of Laveanne. Shrug when they say you cannot have tea because there are no tables free (tables overlooking the lavender fields!) because they’re expecting a large wine group whatever that is. Buy shortbread cookies instead. Use the loo.

Go back along 9 until it turns into 29 and then magically becomes 30 or Grand or something that takes you into Campbellford where you wonder how you’ll manage to find your B&B because you misplaced the address and then, presto bongo, it appears before you like B&B magic.

Wander about town for just a bit.

Then settle on the patio for a glass of pre-dinner wine in the most ultra Canadian way — under a big old maple.

Have a dinner of curried mussels while listening to a guy in shades sing Dylan. Call it a night when he starts doing Led Zeppelin.

Next day,  cross a suspension bridge into the woods and find a pianist playing birdsong at almost-dawn.

Have breakfast on yet another patio in a town where, oddly, there are not that many patios.

Discover a place that cares for feral cats. And another with a lineup for doughnuts.

A visitor centre that grows tomatoes.

A big twoonie.

And the woman who used to run the Ultramar who has now bought the old bowling lanes and is making them wonderful (truly wonderful…!) including a tropical themed patio (in a town where there are not that many patios).

At the farmers’ market, buy organic lettuce picked this morning and something called rat tails that look like snap peas but taste like radishes and buy a bright red perennial and sample the clover tea.

Have conversations EVERYWHERE. Because you can’t buy a stamp in this town without the friendliest people engaging you in the sweetest banter.

Choose the house you’d live in if you lived here.

And where you’d buy your subs.

And your trophies.

Buy postcards at Stedmans. Buy an optical illusion wind-chime thingy for the garden. Buy a bright orange and yellow tea towel that will make it 1965 every time you dry a soup bowl. Give thanks that places like this still exist, who sell garden hoses and slippers and sheets of gingham patterned vinyl by the metre (what does one do with the vinyl?) and so much else you didn’t know you needed, all in adjoining aisles. This truly is the only way to shop.

Visit the WestBen site and vow to return for the music.

Visit Kerr’s Books and marvel that a town this size has an indie.

Visit Empire Cheese and find not only whiskey mustard cheddar but maybe the best veggie chips around and a view of the land in this part of the world.

Take your time driving home.

Above all, continue the theme of bird-flipping to all major highways.

You’re welcome.

(Note: *do* is just another word for relish.)

More travel notes here…





things i learned in a few patio hours with my favourite eccentric

A teaspoon of red wine vinegar tossed into a bowl of lentil soup just before serving apparently turns lentil soup into nectar.

Shivasana is THE most important yoga move. Ten minutes is good.

Persimmons for arthritis.

Raccoon poop is best disposed of with a) gloves, b) crumpled newspaper. Forget the trowel or shovel because then  how do you clean off the toxic??

Margaret Carney, nature writer and birder extraordinaire, once upon a time worked as an editor at Harlequin.

Lima beans, aka butter beans, will last — tops — three days in the fridge once the tin is opened so after you use half a tin for making a butter bean flan, use the other half — straightaway! — in a butter bean salad (red onion, celery, dressing of choice).

A lavender farm has opened not a million miles away from my front door.

And if that isn’t enough there’s ANOTHER lavender place even closer.

Ways of peeling garlic. (The knife crush is but one.)

Levine Flexhaug.  (1918 – 1974)  Famous for more or less painting the same cheesy landscape scene over and over in audacious colours and with various ‘differences’. So bad it’s brilliant.

The word minim.



wordless wednesday (summer postcards)

Having a wonderful time on the shores of Lake Ontario where I’m happy to say the powers that be finally decided to invest in a bunch of beautiful garbage bins!

Nothing makes my heart sing like rubbish in a bin.

(and no, those bits on the ground are not rubbish, also not snow) (likely mud)

(Whitby, 2017)


(click on pic… this one looks much better enlarged)


Other (not always) wordless friends:

Cheryl Andrews
Allison Howard
Barbara Lambert
Allyson Latta
Elizabeth Yeoman

wordless wednesday (summer postcards)

Where nothing is fancy, everything is good, the toast is plain and buttered just right, the sausages, exactly the way you like them and the eggs — when you say you’ll have them over m’easy,  a phrase you invent on the spot, they understand — the staff have been there for seven hundred years and could work at the fanciest restaurants in the world and show them how it’s done. Among other things, they call you hon  the correct way and when they ask how things are they actually give a hoot. And that orange slice! And the packet of peanut butter. Mint tea in the silver thing that leaks and well-thumbed newspapers stacked on benches for anyone to read. The young woman, slightly stoned or wanting to be, who comes in and orders a juice, drinks it down quick then says she forgot her money and would it be okay if she went to get it. Staff says sure, hon, you do that. And while she’s gone they take her empty glass away and there’s something in their face that says they know she won’t be back but that’s okay, that’s the way it is sometimes. And then the young woman comes back, with her money, and orders another juice. It’s that kind of place.

(P.J.’s, Whitby, ON)


Other (not always) wordless friends:

Cheryl Andrews
Allison Howard
Barbara Lambert
Allyson Latta
Elizabeth Yeoman


wordless wednesday (summer postcards)

Greetings from somewhere west of Toronto, way west (but not as far as Calgary) (or even Windsor). No idea what’s inside this museum as we didn’t stop, or it wasn’t open, who can remember. What is recalled is the infamous garden at the swanky inn where we stayed (a gift to us from kind souls else we’d never have gone the way of such swankiness). I’d looked forward to staying there mostly because they are known for their enormous vegetable gardens and famously claim almost everything on their menu is seasonal and made with their own produce… but what we saw on the menu didn’t jibe with their marketing schpiel (butternut squash and cauliflower in July for instance). In fact almost everything on the menu was out of season  and when we asked the waiter what was up he got a little jumpy and said he’d check with the kitchen but in fact he never came back to our table. Someone else brought the bill. Later, walking in the infamous gardens of menu mythology, we asked a couple of gardeners where the celery was, and the frisee (two of very few things on the menu that were in season) and were told they didn’t grow celery or frisee and so we mentioned the marketing that spoke of how all this magnificent produce was used in the kitchen. Ha!  they snorted. The garden, it seems is pretty much for show… while rows and rows of produce go unpicked, none of it on the menu. Not a single string bean, not an onion. Even in the face of oodles of evidence, we didn’t want to believe it… a vegetable garden of this size, being used only as a marketing tool??? Nah. Can’t be true. But in the morning, as we set out for a walk, we watched a delivery arrive from a huge commercial vegetable supplier whose name was painted very clearly on the side of the truck.

I wrote a letter to the inn, asking them about this.

Didn’t hear back.

(Summer, 2015)

Other (not always) wordless friends:

Cheryl Andrews
Allison Howard
Barbara Lambert
Allyson Latta
Elizabeth Yeoman