Cottage 2019

Every year my family goes to the same cottage,

And every year I take many, many photos.

They are essentially the same photos, year after year.

Same place, same people.

But I love each year’s photos in a separate way.

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Sometimes I wonder why we have chosen this-

going to the same cottage for 20+ years.

Are we not depriving ourselves of new and beautiful things?

Maybe,

But also,

We get around in other ways at other times.

And there is a benefit to going back to the same place,

I think (speaking from the perspective of desiring a relaxing vacation).

You know what to expect.

What to look forward to.

What it will smell like.

You know that outside is never far away at the cottage.

(It’s even in your bed by the end of the week- hello, sandy sheets.)

You know generally what your daily schedule will be like-

Go to the water early-ish in the morning to sit or write,

Go to the water mid-day to swim and read in the sun,

Go to the water in the evening to walk the beach, skip stones, climb on the big rock, and watch the sun set.

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You know that on Thursday,

Everyone will debate about whether or not to go to the flea market,

Even though we already know that of course we’re going. We always do. 

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You know what will be the same, and that is comfortable.

But you also notice the differences-

the new deck chairs,

the higher water level,

the new cottages that are being built down the road.

We and the cottage are always different versions of ourselves than we were the summer before.

The things we’ve learned and seen.

The things we’ve loved and been hurt by.

The things we’ve hoped for and the the things we’ve been afraid of.

These things shift, from year to year.

We just pack it all up, squash it into our cars and our vans,

And take it with us to the cottage,

where there aren’t really hiding places to tuck it away.

There is, however, plenty of space for airing things out

by the water

around the table

and on quirky couches.

It’s never perfect,

And sometimes things hurt,

Like walking over a few feet of rocks to get into deeper water

Or realizing that you still have the tendency to eat when you aren’t even hungry

Or that you are actually still selfish,

even though you had decided ahead of time not to be. Gah. 

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If you look at this picture the right way, it looks like Ricky is running underwater. Can you see it? I love it. 

It’s always hard to leave,

And as we get closer to home,

there’s more traffic and concrete.

But somehow, I feel more ready for the fall- even when I don’t know what it holds for me. I feel braver, and like the possibility is beautiful, and I feel like there are many impossibly beautiful things that I might get to be a part of in this life.

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We visited the Tiny Marsh. There were many bullrushes and mosquitoes. 

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Do you know what I see when I look at this picture? I see autumn. Right there in the trees. It’s lovely. 
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I think this might be my favourite of all the pictures I took this week. Grey and gold- isn’t that just the way life is? 

 

What about you? Do you prefer vacationing in new places or in familiar places? 

 

Christmas 2018

Christmas 2018

Well, Christmas 2018 has come and gone.

And it was lovely.

I keep looking at pictures and going over the memories and smiling to myself. Ricky and I had a lovely drive home to Toronto last night, reminiscing and reflecting.

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In the weeks leading up to Christmas, I felt much more relaxed and had a lot more time to prepare for Christmas than I have in other recent years. I loved putting a bit more thought into the gifts that I bought, buying them in a more relaxed frame of mind, and wrapping them up NOT at the last minute.

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Although I confess that my heart ached a little bit to miss out on the Christmas activities at Countryside School, I did enjoy celebrating Christmas with the little kiddos who I work with now. There are many moments where I forget how very “new” to this life my current kiddos are, but I was reminded of it when I gave them their Christmas presents from me.

They did not even know what to do with those wrapped packages. (After all, they have only experienced one or two Christmases.) So I got them going and they soon caught on to what they should do. A favourite moment of mine was when one little boy had his gift partially unwrapped and realized what was really going on here.

“Hey! HEY! There’s something inside here, Auntie!” That’s what he said. I imagine that Christmas Day was pretty exciting for him.

I gave them each a book as their Christmas gift and found it amusing that they did not realize that these books were theirs to keep. They kept trying to put their books on the bookshelf in our library area. Apparently, I have ingrained in them that books belong on the bookshelf.

On Friday, Ricky and I spent the day preparing for Christmas. In the evening, we had our own lovely little Christmas dinner, opened presents from each other, drank coffee late into the night, and also watched Netflix movies late into the night. (Those last two things may have been related.) Ricky gave me a letter board and a bullet journal. I am very excited about both of these things.

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He wants to be a #lifer with me!!!

I made ginormous peanut butter balls at some point. I forget when it was exactly. I made them ginormous for two reasons. 1) Because I love them and bigger seemed better. 2) Because I am not a patient person with any sort of fiddly job and rolling larger peanut butter balls meant getting done faster. I thought that they couldn’t possibly be too big. But they kind of are. Whoops. They’ll last us awhile. And if you’re ever in need of an overwhelmingly large giant peanut butter ball, you know who to come to.

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Please take note of my “keeping the chocolate melted” invention. It got the job done.

On Sunday after church, we went to Ricky’s family’s house, where we started our Christmas celebration with a delicious meal. Other activities included the annual book exchange, playing games (boys against girls, often), delightful and thought-provoking conversations, watching It’s a Wonderful Life, and reading. I failed to take a single photo of these things happening, and I feel sad about that, and will do better next year, I am sure.

On Monday evening, we headed to my family’s house for the traditional Christmas Eve pizza. We also caroled for some neighbours and watched a Christmas movie. Christmas Day included aunts and uncles, a dog named Bonnie, a puzzle, lots of food, two ukuleles, and three diffusers. (Mom gave me a diffuser, Wendy gave Mom a diffuser, and Uncle Mark gave Wendy a diffuser. As far as I know, no one gave Uncle Mark a diffuser. The two ukuleles belong to Wendy and Renee.)

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Don’t let Kenton’s grumpy face fool you. He made many hilarious comments over the course of Christmas and seemed to be in fine spirits. 
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Look at that cute husband who’s so pleased with his shirt from Renee. 

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All in all, it was a

Perfectly

Lovely

Christmas,

Sprinkled with bits of

Heaven

And

Humanity

All the way through.

 

And what to do with the feelings of being unfairly, undeservingly blessed?

The food, the family (not just one, but TWO), the friendships, the freedom.

I am so grateful for what I have and for what I know to be true.

So many people all over the world don’t have this.

It just doesn’t seem right, and I don’t know exactly what to do about it.

 

But onward I shall go.

(Bullet journal in hand.)

Notes from the Cottage 2018

At the cottage, you can’t worry about wet dresses and frizzy hair.

You can’t even worry about that strip of your leg that you apparently completely missed while shaving. (How does that always happen?)

You can’t feel worried about moving or new jobs. (You may think about these things, but not in an obsessive, anxious way.)

It is not resting to worry about these things.

At the cottage, you can sit with your toes just-so in the waves and notice how the water brings plain old ordinary rocks to life and think about Jesus and Living Water.

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Photo credit: Ricky Martin

At the cottage, you can go down to the beach early in the morning and feel envious of the nearly seamless transition from the rocks to the water. I handle transition a little bit more… choppily. But then again, water usually does too.

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At the cottage, you can watch the blue jays, chipmunks, squirrels, and bunnies.

And if you happen to get sick, and spend the better part of three of your precious cottage days on the couch, well- I guess that’s just the way it is that year, and at least you have such a lovely family who take your turns doing dishes and go to Walmart to buy you apples and billions of probiotics and write you nice notes and draw you wonderful pictures.

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Not all of life is brilliantly beautiful, and that’s okay. Calm and ordinary can be beautiful too.

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