Thursday, August 30, 2012

Fireworks, Friends and Farewells

There are fireworks going off in the distance.  The sky is black and the lights on the distant shore flicker and it is quiet in the house, except for the remote fireworks.  It is the end of the season and after a perfect week of the most spectacular weather I find myself wishing everyone who comes here could experience a night like tonight.  Peace and perfection.  There is something to be said for subtle beauty. 

The last week has been one of the most spectacular weeks far as weather goes.  I only wish I could put it in a bottle and take it home with me and bring it out whenever I need a breath of fresh air!  This is how I remember summer as a child, sunny and beautiful during the day and cool and crisp in the morning and at night.  Ahhh!  I find myself just wanting to sit outside and soak it all up.  My motivation to do anything inside has been taken over by the beauty of the great outdoors.  I would feel guilty working inside on days like this.  I have even resorted to pulling weeds in the garden... just to be outside!  TJ will be so proud!

who can work when it looks like this outside???

We had a bonfire on the beach tonight.  We had hot dogs and marshmallows, chips and drinks.  The cool wind blew and we wore jeans and sweatshirts and huddled around the fire when the sun went down.  It was a very intimate group, not too many people and not too few, just the right number.  I looked at the cottages all lit up on the point in the distance and wondered if they would all be dark in a couple of weeks.  How sad....the summer is coming to a close and the lights will go out. 
Will their lights go out in a week?

At home summer ends when school starts but there is no defining climate change to tell us the season is over.  Up here the weather tells us it is time to shift gears.  Oh, how I love that!  I love it in June when the days are long and the sun never seems to set, it is like the world is telling us to stay up and play and enjoy the summer while it is here!  As the summer winds down the days start to get shorter and the world is telling us we need to go to bed earlier and get the sleep we need for school or work. 

I have said more than my share of goodbyes over the past week.  "Goodbye, see you next summer, have a great winter, see you next year!"  Summer friends are special people.  Our summer friends see us at our best!  We are relaxed and happy.  There is no stress in our life because we are on vacation at the shore!  We all look so good too....we are tan and fit...because we have been outside playing for weeks and we are smiling.  A smile goes a long way, no one even notices whether we are tan or fit if we greet them with a big smile!  At least that's my approach....

I plan to squeeze at least two more weeks out of this summer up here.  It will be a relatively quiet two weeks but from what I have heard September is beautiful up here.  I hope it is true, this is uncharted territory for me.  I also hope that when I get back to Houston fall has decided to arrive.  What?? A girl can hope!

For now I'll just continue to enjoy the earlier sunsets!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Forced Growth

Have you ever put tulip bulbs in the fridge in October to "force" them?  We have to do this to tulips in the south if we want them to flower because the ground never freezes.  Does it hurt or is it just unnatural?  Not sure, but the result is always so rewarding and beautiful.

Have you ever had to do something you were not ready to do or something completely out of your comfort zone?  Like trying to grow tulips in the south.  I remember when I found out I was pregnant with our first child, I was not quite prepared but when the time came I muddled my way through those first months/years and grew into a mother.  It was not always easy and it required me to call on some skills I had never used before.  It was a new and scary role but very rewarding.

Life hands us roles that we are sometimes not ready to live.  We are put in situations we are not comfortable in and we have to find a way to make it through.  After all is said and done we grow and many times look back and nod and say a private "whew, thank you." 

The first English class I taught to non-English speaking people was out of my comfort zone.  I went in very apprehensively and after two years I find it has taught me many life lessons.  Something lead me to that ministry and out of my comfort zone.  That something also gave me the tools to use when I was lost and as a result I grew into a teacher.

Life situations we have no control over put us in places we never expected to be.  The death of a loved one or serious illness can put us in a place we did not plan.  How we handle this causes us to grow and call on resources that would have lain dormant otherwise.  We can surprise ourselves with our strength.  We grow, but not because we chose the path of growth.  We were given a little nudge, we were put in the refrigerator and then planted and forced to blossom. 

The next time you find yourself in a place you wish you did not have to be just remember tulips in the south.  They go through the discomfort of six weeks in the refrigerator and then once planted are able to blossom into some of the most beautiful flowers ever seen.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Their Last Day

The kids have come and gone.  It was a fun two weeks!  They came in waves and left in waves.  Of course we never get to do everything we want to do when we are together.  Each of us has our favorite things about the shore and we each want to have the best time possible.  The only problem is that it is impossible to do everything you want to do and then everything everyone else wants to do and still have time to do nothing, which is what we all really want to do when we are here.  Well, at least I do.

The grandsons were here for almost two weeks and they are at such cute ages, exhausting ages, but still super cute!  They were here long enough to really get into the rhythm of the shore.  I fear this rhythm will not play out well at home though.  Life is so much more structured with so many more rules than the shore.

On their last day I decided to take lots of pictures and capture them just doing stuff.  I want to remember just how cute they were this summer.  Luckily they were doing lots of fun things that were photo worthy.  So without any further adieu...their last day.

There was pea picking with Mommy
They did a little climbing

Christopher went down the slide

And he went up the slide
They raced cars on the deck

They had a picnic lunch outside

It was so nice outside that Daniel wanted to have his rest on the deck.


                    There was walking in the water with Mommy    
There was swimming with friends

They scowled at the paparazzi and ate snacks on the beach

At the end of the day they walked down the beach to the rocks and climbed around for a while

And then they Razzle Dazzled our favorite place in the world!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Blame it on the Sun

We have been here for 51 days so far and it has rained on only 8 of those days.  Well, 4 of those days were just sprinkles and the other 4 qualify as real rain.  To say it is dry would be an understatement.  I don't remember a drier summer in a very long time.  Along with the sun comes the uncontrollable urge to seize the day and be outside which is not conducive to blog posting, sorry.  Blame it on the sun.  We need a rainy day just to catch up on our lives.  Kind of like a forced "time out".  So, you guessed it, it is raining today!  Our dry sunburned skin is thanking us for the break.  Sometimes you just need a rainy day.  I hope I am not regretting this post in a week when we have been cooped up inside because of all the rain.  Sometimes it goes that way, you know?!

First candle sunset I've seen, it was very cool!

Life has been very busy since the last post.  It's just that time of the summer.  Lots of cousins at the shore to play with and visit, The Games weekend and all of my children and their children and spouses have been here.  I have been hard pressed to pay attention to everyone here at the shore much less sit for a while and create a blog post with coherent thoughts.  Happens every summer!  We live for this one week and when it gets here we wish we could add a few hours to every day and have super human powers that allow us to do everything our heart desires in those hours.

My intention was to post pictures of the past week but due to technical difficulties my SD card is currently at the photo shop hopefully having all the pictures recovered.  Those precious moments have all been mysteriously erased from the card!  No pictures of the entire family in front of the farmhouse, the grandsons playing on the beach, the sandcastle contest, Daniel winning his "first medal ever"!, lobster dinner, and all that sunshine!  I sure hope they can work a small miracle and recover the pictures.  Technology....

One thought that crossed my tired mind the other day, while I was wondering why I was so tired was....doing stuff up here seems to take two or three extra steps.  Example:  laundry.  To do a load of laundry I first go upstairs and gather the laundry in the basket, then go into the basement where the washing machine is and load it and come back upstairs to wait and get a few other things done.  Once the clothes are washed it is another trip to the basement to put some of the clothes in the dryer and then take the rest up and hang them on the clothesline.  After they are dry it is back down the steps into the basement to get them out of the dryer, get the ones off the line, fold everything and then upstairs to put them away. That is about seven or eight sets of stairs just for laundry.  Don't even talk to me about mowing the grass.  How many calories do you burn doing laundry?  Is it worth a glass or two of wine?  How about an ice cream?  Surely the extra steps are helping me break even on the butter consumption.  No? 

Since we have so much time on our hands (I crack myself up!) we decided to build a gigantic deck at the cottage this year.  TJ has ambitious goals and has been known to overestimate his family's building dedication and capabilities a time or two.  "We can knock this thing out in a day or two", he said....a week ago.  He forgot to factor the labor force he was dealing with when he made this proclamation.    We are nearing completion or at least partial completion but it wasn't easy!
Deck building 101

What we have been doing instead of sitting on the beach and visiting, at least one of us is smiling....
If you build it they will come!  Especially if you have chips!
Things are getting a little quieter lately as people head back to real life.  I don't feel like I have been fully engaged in the shore life this summer, I am usually much more socially "out there".  Not sure why this has happened, but some of it may be because there are a few of my favorite hanging out buddies/sisters who were not here this year, it just does not feel the same without the usual suspects.  Not to discount the crowd that was here at all!  There were some good times!  Who does not love a good disco party?!

One of the "best costume" winners!  Stayin' Alive!

I am sure the next post will be full of inspiration and great recovered pictures.  Right now though, I need to go down to the basement to put the clothes in the dryer!  Later!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

This Is Not "Real " Life

Tonight we had a book club meeting and at one point a few of us realized there are a lot of things about this place that would never happen in "real" life.  The conversation that prompted this realization was about a wallet that apparently had  been missing since the weekend but went unnoticed until today, two days later.  In "real" life none of us could get through a day, much less two or three days, without missing our wallet.  Life is like that up here...unreal.

In what reality can you go to a book club meeting with people from as far west as Calgary, as far east as Halifax, as far south as Houston and as far north as.....Edmonton? and all points in between?  There are so many aspects to life in this place that just are not "real" life.  Multiple generations sit on front porches every afternoon and just visit.  A busy day consists of mowing three yards, walking the dog on the sandbars, attending a margarita party, playing a little sandbar golf, sitting on the beach and visiting with friends and relatives, eating dinner and then attending book club until almost midnight, oh and throw in a load of laundry just for good measure. Then fall asleep with the windows open and the curtains blowing in the breeze and sleep like a baby!  This certainly does not happen at home in "real" life.

In "real" life there are not things like the Mini Olympics.  The mini Olympics began in 1976 when the Olympics were in Montreal and in the spirit of the games the people of the shore decided to start some games of their own.  It is one of the few times in the summer that being a Brown or a Christie does not matter.  Three kids between the ages of 6 and 16 form teams and compete in games such as the basketball free throw contest or the spoon and golf ball run or broad jump or other random but fun games.  There is a very nice engraved trophy to which the winning team gets their names added, for posterity.  I think even a few of my kids have their names on that plaque! There is a lot of history there!  This is not "real" life!  It is our own little idyllic environment, our own Camelot.

This year's winners holding the plaque...future Olympians?!

It has always been a challenge to describe this place to people who have never been here.  What is it that makes it so special?  Is it the people or is it the place?  Probably a little of each and then add some trust, respect, laughter, intelligence, activity, energy, history, family, freedom, creativity and sheer joy.  It is like living in a huge commune.  We watch each others children and feed the ones who happen to be with us when it is time to eat.  The children grow up trusting everyone and having unusually wide boundaries and independence that would be unheard of in "real" life... because it is just too scary and dangerous.  There is something to be said about being able to spend several weeks in an environment that is safe. 

This place has seen babies take their first steps, children have their first sleep-overs, young boys and girls share their first kiss, young people drink their first beer....  best friends for life have been established here.   

Just a short list of "things that would never happen in real life"  and then I am opening the floor to my readers to add to the list!  Send a comment of something that happens here that would never happen in "real" life!

-saying something to someone at one end of the beach and hearing it again by the time you make it to the other end of the beach!
-driving a golf cart down to the beach or to a friend's house or wherever you are going (Ok it happens in places like retirement communities but this is no retirement community!)
-living in a house that about ten other people around you say they lived in at one point or another
-going days without seeing someone using a cell phone!!!
-seeing half of the people you know in the grocery store on a rainy day
-when the sun comes out after an entire day of rain and knowing that the sunset will be spectacular!
-forgetting what day it is much less what the date is
-sunny days mean laundry days
-kids just playing all day...every day

Let the summer commenting commence.  This is not "real" life, it is better!
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