So gang you may be too little to really grasp the enormity of your present situation but you are living through some very strange times. You have not been to school two months and now we know that you will not return for another nearly four months. Airports are closed, parks are closed, movie theatres and bowling lanes and dozens of different stores are all dark. You are missing your friends and your family and all those hugs and kisses from grandparents and aunts and uncles. They all miss you too! You are giving up theme parks and fairs and summertime adventures on road trips across the country. Camping is still up in the air and the cottage seems oh so far away. People are getting sick and you have witnessed ambulances on our street and been a part of some great community projects to donate to senior residences or cheer for first responders. You are full of questions. You are brave though and hopeful and so willing, even when many adults are not, to give up all those things to help others. You have supported me through working from home by being patient when I am busy and keeping the noise to a dull roar during conference calls. You have found joy in watching our plants grow, in finding new trails to hike, in making up games that the three of you can play together. We have had at home movie nights and nearly wore out our shoes walking. You have learned to use video chat and tried as much as you can to stay connected to others. I think there are a million and one things we adults can learn from you, about being present, being grateful and being compassionate. You are willing to give up summer camp, kindergarten graduation, birthday parties and more to help others. While many of us tall folks hoard toilet paper and gripe about hair salons, there you are just chugging along making lemonade as you go. When I start fretting about schoolwork you remind me that you are always learning. It may not look like school but this week we learned about big things – how immune systems work, what karma is, how everyone is connected and how so much of what we think is “normal” comes down to where and when we live in this world. We talk – all the time! And while those little moments do not seem like epic adventure memories, I like to think they come together to be so much more. I am not saying that there are not going to be tears or frustrations or days when it’s hard to see the sunshine for the clouds but I do know that I will end this year confident that you are all resilient, mesmerizing, incredible humans who have so many gifts to share. Thank you for being my lighthouse in this particular moment in time. Thank you for encouraging me to stay the course. By teaching you I am reminded myself of those most important lessons – to be kind, to be generous, to be grateful, to be present and to give love freely. The year 2020 will go down in history for many things, some of them incredibly heartbreaking but in those memories, will shine your sparks.
Acceptance is a recognized stage in the grieving process. It is the final stage of grief and the one associated with finding a way forward. If we look at our current situation in a pandemic-stricken world we are in a period of grief. We are grieving our “normal” lives which can be many things for many people. For some it is grieving a job lost that we loved, it is grieving for friendships, missed family connections and celebrations, in some cases school or privacy. Whatever it is for each of us, and for some it is more than one thing, it is still grief. For most of us the first stage, Shock, has diminished. We are no longer paralyzed and glued to the tv for one unbelievable announcement after another. We have become somewhat accustomed to social distancing and new rules at work or in the community. We are still inconvenienced from time to time or find ourselves suddenly remembering there is a new way to get your tires changed or get a can of paint. The denial stage is still real for many. This is complicated further by an over-abundance of information that spills across our screens every day. Conspiracy theories and supposed cure-alls and this overwhelming desire to believe that this isn’t really real, that someone will call it for what it is and we’ll all go back to life and have a chuckle or a cry over how ridiculous it all was. There are a handful of us in the Anger stage. For many, there is no real direction for that anger, so it spurts out as uncontrollable frustration. The government is to blame, someone else’s government is to blame, scientists in secret labs are to blame. It makes us feel some element of control to stomp our feet and shout “NO”, I’m not going to accept this, this is not my fault and I refuse to accept the punishment for something I have no culpability in. The most important thing to remember about stage 2 and 3 is that it is normal, it is healthy and, in the end, the why and how and what if does not really matter. If your house burns down does it make it less painful or less burnt if lightening struck it or if someone left the stove on or someone lit a fire on purpose? I mean when you think about it. The how and why gives you a place for blame and anger but does not make you feel better or correct the situation, does it? So that leads us to bargaining. This stage is about finding any way out. If you let us go back to school, we will promise to wear masks and not play outside or touch toys or come withing 6 feet of each other. If I could just hug my mom, I swear I will self isolate for 14 days. If some of us could just go back to normal we promise to wash our hands and not go out more than we need. Sound familiar? Now the caveat to our current situation is that there are certain bargains that may work. We have seen some work. We have a little bit of freedom and the risk is relatively low and we get optimistic that the bargaining worked, and we can negotiate our way out of this situation. We can’t. We can accept small victories as just that, but acceptance would bounce us down to the bottom and we are not all there yet, are we? The next is a tough one. Depression. The inevitable reality that this is what it is. We are not going to graduation. Mom’s birthday is going to be on zoom and my first grader may not learn to read this year because I just cannot find the time or energy to teach her. This stage is different for everyone, as different as the things we are grieving. The thing to remember is one – I am not a psychologist, so this is all my opinion but also that from what I know as a layperson is that the stages are not always linear. You could find yourself happily in denial on Monday and full on depression on Tuesday. It is ok. I am personally a fan of connecting with a friend or family member when dealing with anger or depression particularly. It is not an easy path to navigate solo and we may find we have more in common than we think. The reasons we are in each stage and feeling each feeling may be different but like the house analogy – it does not actually matter. We can connect through the commonality of how we are feeling even if we do not agree on the why or the how. But I digress, let us jump next to testing. This one is not about testing our limits in so much as they concern the health and safety or ourselves and others but in seeking a new challenge or passion. It is the glimmer of sunshine follow the darkness of depression. That moment where you may not accept everything as it is, but you are willing to try to find a silver lining or make the most of it. Maybe that is a new exercise routine, a new hobby (cooking/painting/interpretive dance) or maybe it is finding an opportunity where there was not one before. With warmer days perhaps that means standing in the yard (proper social distancing of course) and enjoying a visit and cup of tea with a friend or your mom. For some it could be finding a way to help others or find a new calling in this new world we find ourselves in. My opinion, again not worth the virtual ink it is written in, is that when things are the darkest for us, we should reach for this light. This opportunity in the chaos to be our guide through it. Let me say, as someone who is tried a few things this is again not a straight line. You may try and fail at something; you may circle back to another stage and start all over. All perfectly reasonable – after all, we are all new to this. I like to reflect on and mimic some earlier generations. Generations who lived through wars and depression eras that lasts more than a decade. These resilient, enviable people went through a remarkably similar process I am certain. After all we are all human. They suffered and learned and adapted and thrived eventually and so shall we all. If we keep in mind some very fundamental truths. The how and why do not matter. The focus needs to be on “we” and not “me”. We need to learn to be resilient and adapt to an ever changing normal. There are likely a million other truths that we will learn and come to know in the next months and years. Now, my favourite stage…. acceptance. It is hard to know if any of us are here yet. Some of us may have a very hard road ahead to reach it. This is a lovely stage. The stage where we accept that our lives as we have known them are over. There is no “back to normal” coming. There is a new normal that we get to define and create together if we can stay united and strong in our endurance of the other stages. This stage is fundamentally one of action. We accept and we find a meaningful way forward. I would not begin to suggest that I know what that road will look like. I still bounce around the middle section of this process most days, but I believe we will find the meaningful way. Perhaps that hope is my testing stage. So why write all of this down at all. There are no more answers here than anywhere else, what the hell do I know anyway?! Writing is what I do – it is my process and I think if I can share with just one person a glimpse into how it all makes sense for me, maybe it will provide comfort to them. Just maybe we will stop focusing on the how and why and stop clinging to constant news and start moving forward. To grab the proverbial pandemic bull by the horns and say, “listen bull, I am going to protect my friend and family from this virus, but I am going to define what that looks like for me.” I am not going to let changes to what I thought was “normal” decide if I am happy or if my children are happy. My new world will be built within the confines required to keep people safe and I am happy to do it and I will do it well and I will thrive in its creation. Well that might be a bit ambitious but the one thing I have learned these last few months is nothing is certain. Something as small as a virus can change all human existence so why can’t I define mine?
I love auctions. I love the smell of old books and finding an undiscovered piece of porcelain and the bottom of a dusty box in a dark corner of an estate sale. I love a new discovery, specifically one with a story attached. I have always been a history buff. Stories thrill me – how and why and where and when things happened is a puzzle I love to piece together. I thought this summer I would chronicle my adventures in treasure hunting as a way to keep a record myself but also to share my hunt with others. So please check back in, stay tuned and follow my blog as I share my weekly adventures treasure hunting for under $5!
The week that started the challenge.
In a simple room, bathed in natural light from the warm summer evening outside were boxes and tables and cupboards stacked with knicks and knacks, forks and pots, books and light bulbs. Every room in the small wartime home had been emptied into the front room, piled on 75 year old hardwood. Estate sales are bittersweet. There is the obvious sadness – a family’s final measure to let go and say goodbye but also the relief of being able to leave another footnote of grief behind. Whenever there’s an auction I like to spend some time speaking with our hosts. I like to think there’s a measure of comfort in it – reassuring them that we will treat these items, sentimental or otherwise with great respect and in 2 or 4 or 6 hours we will be out of their space, the home will be empty and a new chapter will begin. There is a memorial quality to an estate sale. Often, especially in small towns, they are a gathering for friends and neighbours. There are shared stories and a laugh or two as folks gather to say a final informal farewell and take a memento of their friend along with them. Perhaps a neighbour shared weekly coffee and that one gold inlay porcelain tea pot brings a happy memory to them whenever they use it. There’s something comforting knowing that the item will be cherished and result in a warm embracing memory of the one they lost. Even if the item is purchased by a stranger – being able to see them, meet them, perhaps hearing their plan for the object can be rejuvenating – a sort of reincarnation.
On this particular evening my colleagues and I emptied that front room onto tables in the front lawn. Visitors checked in at the desk and got a bidding card and the evening got underway. $1, $2, $10 – one item and in some cases boxes of items was raised, described and purchased in swift measure. Cups and plates, Tupperware and suitcases, things I wasn’t quite sure I could identify and some I thought that I might be inclined to use at home. 5, 10, 30 minutes passed and I hesitated and waited and didn’t bid on the $5 knife block and $2 Children’s books. Suddenly something caught my eye and my heart sped up a little. A large brown book with tattered pages and worn binding. Did I mention I LOVE old books? It was a bible and I bid. $2. No one else felt for it the way I did so I gathered it up and was visibly giddy I’m sure about my find. It was, as it turned out, the family bible. 200 years old and full of entries and stories about the Schram, Burgess and Davis families. How they settled on 400 acres outside what is now Thorndale Ontario when they arrived in Canada from Ireland. There were pressed flowers, newspaper articles from the 30s, Birthday cards and baby shower invitations, Church bulletins and census registration cards from 1918. There was a story clipped about Al Capone and I read the classified from 1937 where I could have gotten a 7 room house with a fireplace for $27/month. I spent 4 hours reading, taking photos and researching. I found the church (still in operation) and sent them an email to share these wonderful finds with. Bulletins from 1913, 1938, 1942 and a little bit of history on the family that started the parish, donated the land for the cemetery and also served over the generations as Reverend’s and missionaries.
I continue to uncover and unlock mysteries. Ancestry.com is my friend these days and instead of model trains or video games or painting in the yard…my hobby has become finding out more about these people who, 2 weeks ago, I had never even heard of.
Until next time…and another $5 treasure.
Well parents – it’s finally here – summer vacation and if you’re like me then you’re starting to think what on earth these little people are going to do for the next 2 months! Whether you have the whole clan kicking around the house every day this summer or you just have a day off here and there I thought it might be fun to start a list of some things to do. Consider it like Cole’s Notes for summer – the moment someone utters the words “I’m bored” or you just have to get out of the house – grab the list and have the littles pick a number from 1-10 and GO! Whether these are classics in your parental play book or new twists I hope that you enjoy some of my personal favourites:
- Road Trip – This is our go to summer day idea, in fact we keep the van pre-packed in the summer with a bag of spare clothes for everyone, towels, swim suits and a bucket of random outdoor toys. We pack a cooler with drinks and snacks and sometimes add the little propane grill and we head out. This is where it gets fun – we just drive. You never know where you might end up or what cool new hang out you might discover. We sample new chip trucks, enjoy hidden beaches, fish at different lock stations, hike the many area trails and try every playground along the way.
- Eat Your Heart Out – Summer in Lanark County is a mine field of Farmer’s Markets, Pick your own Farms and Country Farm Stores. Head out and pick up lunch on the way. A great way for the family to explore where their food comes from and help out local food producers at the same time. An added bonus is an impromptu petting zoo if you find one with animals.
- Backyard Camp Out – Not a camper? Not to worry – have all the fun of novice camping with a backyard camp out. Put the tent up next to the sand box or kiddie pool for the true campsite feel. Most towns allow small enclosed fire pits so you can even have a proper campfire and let’s not forget SMORES! Add some dollar store glow sticks and keep the party going after lights out.
- Fair Days Ahead – It’s the season of the county fair! Pair that with countless area Canada 150 celebrations and annual festivals, car shows and concerts and it’s hard to have a boring weekend. Pull out the Hometown News Event Calendar for the month and pin it to the fridge for ideas.
- Paperback Writer – Nurture your inner Shakespeare by helping your budding novelist write their first book, short story or poem. Too young? Create a summer reading list theme or record your little one’s masterpiece as they dictate. Get to know your local library! They have free activities throughout the summer so check out their websites to find out about story times, dress up days, Lego drop ins and more!
- Budding Entrepreneurs – Do something nice for others and have the kids raise a little money for a local charity through hosting a Lemonade Stand, Yard Sale, Bake Sale or Art Show. Not only is it fun, it is a great way for kids to amp up their math and counting skills, customer service know how and of course be charitable. If your children are older why not start a summer business – mowing lawns, weeding gardens or helping clean out a shed or two.
- Take a Walk Down Memory Lane – History comes alive in the small communities dotting Lanark County. You may think “my kid isn’t going to be interested” but often you’d be surprised. Learning about the heritage buildings, doing the Carleton Place Mural Tour or visiting small local museums (like Heritage House in Smiths Falls or The Carleton Place & Beckwith Heritage Museum) are a great way to spend a few hours. There are no better stories then the real ones and our communities are full of tales of intrigue and mystery, and they can even learn about their own ancestors along the way. If you’re looking to explore some larger museums then visit your local library to check out the free family passes for most of the most popular ones in the National Capital region.
- Lights, Camera, Action! – Make it a movie night by visiting the Port Elmsely Drive In, complete with onsite food this is an affordable way to spend a warm summer evening (Fun tip – bring a quick pop up tent or screen to ward off any bugs and a few chairs and enjoy the movie outside the car). If the Drive in isn’t your scene, most of our area communities have Movies in the Park throughout the summer – Movies under the Stars starts on June 29th in Smiths Falls and includes snacks and special themed activities too! If home is more your speed hang a sheet or use the back wall of your house to set up your own drive in. A simple projector and some plug and play speakers and your set for a summer of movie nights at home.
- Art in the Park– Summer is my favourite time of year for arts and crafts, mostly because the mess can stay outside but also because there is a wealth of new material to create with. Art journaling is great and your kids can start a scrap book of summer adventures. Have them dedicate a page to each day out and fill it with drawings, memories and bits collected on the way.
- Hunt On – Summer is the season of Auction Sales, Flea Markets and Garage Sales. Why not spend a Saturday on a special kind of treasure hunt. Have everyone in your house take $5-$10 and see what they can find for their budget. Have a little Show N Tell at the end of the day to see what deals everyone found and why they choose them. I snagged a 200 year old Family bible last Saturday at an auction for $2.00!! It really is fun for all ages!
Ah May….April’s manic weather with its last bite of frost and torrential rains is behind us and its blue skies and sunshine ahead. The world is buzzing again – the bugs are back (groan) but the birds are singing, the perennials are sprouting and we can pack away all the dreaded snowsuit gear! Suddenly the time it takes us to leave the house is reduced in half as the kids can grab their ball caps and sneakers and go. May is a month of action. Well rejoice fellow Carleton Place natives – our town does May right. Patio tables are appearing street side, the Annual Pitch In volunteers have worked diligently to clean up the parks and roadsides and neighbours are raking lawns and cleaning out their garden beds. Suddenly there is colour and a bustle downtown as folks emerge from their long hibernation. Some of our favourite annual events are back too! Free Comic Day returns to downtown Carleton Place on May 6th at 10am. Bridge St will be transformed as fans big and small visit shops for Comic Book themed activities, special guests and of course a free comic! Wine’d Around Downtown is the annual footnote to May. Buy your T-shirt ($25) and participate in the fun on May 28th from 1pm-5pm. This annual wine and food tasting extravaganza raises funds for the CP Sister City Committee to help youth from our community and our sister cities (Comrie, Scotland and Franklin, Tennessee) participate in student exchange opportunities. Another popular fundraiser is the Community BOGO dinner for the Lanark County Food Bank happening at St James Anglican church on May 16th at 4:30pm. Enjoy a fabulous meal and every dinner ticket purchased allows a Food Bank client to attend the dinner as well. On May 26th and 27th enjoy the beautiful Mississippi from the Carleton Place Canoe Club while you browse the annual spring art Show & Sale. There are also some new traditions beginning this year. The Teen Expo comes to Notre Dame Catholic High School on May 2nd from 11:30am-4:30pm. Free Admission and open to all, this event is a showcase of community groups, resources and vendors geared to youths 12-19 years and their parents and educators. The newly formed Hometown Hearts is kicking off their calendar of community events with their May 11th Night on the Town. Starting at 5pm get on your retro gear and head downtown for live entertainment, food and drinks. While the Mississippi Mudds are no strangers to Carleton Place, they do has a new performance May 1st-6th. Head over to the beautiful Town Hall Auditorium and enjoy the classic HMS Pinafore reimagined by the creative team at the Mudds. As part of Canada’s 150th celebrations in Carleton Place you can take part in the “Paint the Town Red” Tulip Tour from May 14th -20th which launches the May 20th opening of a new exhibit at the Carleton Place & Beckwith Heritage Museum, “A Valley Town at Confederation”. On May 26th, pack up the family and grab a picnic and join your neighbours at Riverside Park for the Family Fun Fair. Let’s not forget friends about the ample green space our fair town offers. Trails, parks and playgrounds are open and ready for visitors to enjoy them. Spend the day fishing or boating, head out on a bike ride with the kids or kite flying in the park. There will be sidewalk chalk and bubbles and oh so much sand. As usual there is never a dull moment here in the busiest town in the valley.
With the return of warm spring days and as the lakes and rivers in the area thaw, residents head back out onto the water. It’s hard not to see the rushing, swollen riverbanks and not think about the season’s fishing bounty and you don’t have long to wait. But before you bait your hook make sure you have all your bobbers in a row. If you are an Ontario resident between 18-65 years of age you require a valid fishing license which includes an Ontario Outdoors Card (hunting or fishing card). You will also need either a conservation tag or a sport fishing tag. Each is valid for between 1-3 years and can be purchased online, at Service Canada or one of many licensed issuers, such as Canadian Tire, Pathfinders or Bennett’s Bait & Tackle. If you purchase your license and tag in person you will receive a temporary one that you can use right away and your official card will arrive in the mail. For 2017, your outdoors card will cost you $11.94 with your tag ranging from $16.75-$88.38 depending on the length of time and type (sport fishing or conservation). If you are under 18 years old or over 65 you do not require a license but you must still follow the catch and possession regulations for sport fishing. For more information on the Outdoors Card contact the Outdoors Card Centre at 1-800-387-7011
Twice a year, in February and July, Canadian residents can participate in an Ontario Family Fishing weekend. You must still follow the conservation license catch limits and obey size limits and restrictions but you do not require a license. July 1st-2nd and July 8th-9th you can be a part of the Ontario family fishing event and take part in one of the many area clinics or derbies. To find one near you visit http://www.ontariofamilyfishing.com/events/. So grab your rod and reel, a picnic and head outside with your family for a fun day on or by the water.
If you’re new to the sport and want to give it a try before committing to a license, you can borrow a rod and reel and other gear as part of the TackleShare program at various provincial parks, conservation authorities and some libraries and community groups. In our area, Silver Lake, Fitzroy Harbour, Rideau River and Charleston Lake Provincial Parks host TackleShare programs. Sponsored by Ontario Power Generation, the program which began in 1998 has expanded to over 140 loaner sites. They’re easy to use just find your nearest loaner site at http://www.tackleshare.com/loaner-sites/, call and ensure they have what you need, complete a form and go fishing!
When and where you fish, what you fish for, what you keep and what you can use for bait varies based on the zone in which you are fishing. Ontario is divided into 20 fisheries management zones, our area falls into Zone 18. For a full list of what’s in season and the restrictions on what you can catch and keep in Zone 18 visit: http://files.ontario.ca/environment-and energy/fishing/2017/2017_FMZ_18_English.pdf
If you’re wondering where your favourite catch is hiding out there are a number of printed angler maps and fishing guides available at bait shops and retailers in our area. The Lanark County website has a number of online fishing maps which outline area lakes and show common fish species, lake depths and temperatures. With all this information on hand you’re sure to land yourself the catch of the day this summer!