Catching Up At the End of Summer

It's been ages since I've posted, and I have so much to talk about I don't know where to start. I want to talk about what we've done, what we're planning, and how everyone is doing right now. Perhaps chronologically is the way to go.

When I last wrote it was mid-June. The girls were supposed to have swimming lessons for the first two weeks of summer vacation, and then Delphine was supposed to go to day camp at Riverdale Farm for a week, but both things were cancelled on account of the Toronto city workers' strike. We couldn't spend long, lazy days at the park because the bathrooms were closed (city workers' strike) and we couldn't take the ferry to the Island and go to Centreville (city workers' strike) so we tried to find fun other ways. The library remained open through the strike, and we could go to the park for a couple of hours at a time. We went to the ROM and the Science Centre, and Cordelia and Delphine played with friends and neighbours. Honestly, the three of us are pretty good at just kicking around together. Blake joined us for some fun—one of the perks of freelance work is that you can spend odd weekdays with your family and make up for it by working on the weekend.

One Friday in June, Delphine hosted a t-shirt party. She had received a "sticker club" chain letter, which I didn't let her participate in for various pedantic reasons. She was disappointed, but after a conversation with Blake she decided she would host a party where each guest brings a t-shirt (or two). At the end of the party, each guest gets to take home a different t-shirt. Some of the guests were perplexed, some were really into it, and one girl took home the same t-shirts she brought, but everyone had fun and they all went home happy.

The girls and I went on big Expedition to the lake one sunny Tuesday. We took the bus, then the subway, and then a very long streetcar ride all the way to Woodbine and beyond, to the beach at Kew Gardens. The girls spent a merry morning playing with pebbles and water, and befriended a little girl while I chatted with her dad. We were all getting along famously so we headed over to the playground together, then took a walk to an ice cream shop before heading home, grimy and exhausted, at about four in the afternoon. We ended up getting together with that same little girl and her dad the next week, but then they went back home to Calgary.

Just as the Toronto city workers' strike ended the girls and I headed out to visit my mum in Saskatchewan. We were there for two weeks, and had a grand time. The children love being at Granny's house, where there are lots of things to look at, and unlimited television and cookies. (Although even my mother was getting sick of kids' TV by the end of it.) Thanks to the indomitable Shirley, my Big River fixer, we went to a beach at Nesslin Lake, visited a cattle farm, and went fishing. Cordelia caught a fish and Delphine learned how to hold a fish up to have your picture taken with it. (You have to stick your thumb and finger into its eyeballs, which she did with aplomb. She is not squeamish and she's quite pragmatic about the fact that things have to die if you want to eat them.) I caught a few fish, too. I rather enjoy fishing. One day I'll have to try and fish around here.

I think my favourite thing in Big River, apart from the fishing, was walking in the woods at Nesslin. We went for a walk in a beautiful moist forest, rich with fungus and moss and berries. The forest floor was dense with life, and made me realize how sterile a traditional garden is, with its empty brown strips of soil between plants. I would like a garden with the ground alive with fungus and tiny vines and mosses.

We also got to visit a real straw bale house at Ness Creek, which seems to be some kind of hippie retreat (with wireless internet!)

As soon as we landed in Toronto, Andy met us at the airport to take Delphine and Cordelia to the cottage for a few days. (Blake and I weren't invited.) A fine time was had by all—the girls played on the beach for three days (getting nut-brown in the process) and ate corn on the cob for supper, while Blake and I played at being childless. We went for coffee, we went for lunch (it was supposed to be brunch but apparently no-one in our hard-working neighbourhood serves brunch during the week), we saw a movie, and Morgan treated me to a pedicure. I spent quite a lot of money on used books, as you've seen. I also bought a tube of lip gloss and some hair dye, which was more fun than perhaps it should have been. It's unspeakable luxury to be able to go to a store, be it a book store or a drug store, and spend as much time as you want browsing, considering, reading labels and jackets, without having to hurry up and pick someone up, or rush because the children are getting restless. Twenty minutes considering lip gloss! Can you imagine?

We had the girls back last Friday morning, and spent the weekend not doing much, to everyone's relief. This Monday brought more excitement with the start of day camp. It's not a fancy, themed camp, just a week at the child care centre where Cordelia went to nursery school. It's all day, though, which is the longest Cordelia has ever been in the care of someone outside the family. Delphine has been having a fantastic time—one of her best friends is also enrolled in the camp—but Cordelia continues to be very sticky. She's been a mummy's girl for at least six months now and this week has been especially pathetic. She cries at breakfast: "I wannoo stay wif you! I don' wannoo go to camp!" Then when I drop her off she won't let go of me. Once I extricate myself and leave the room she collects herself within a matter of seconds, apparently, so I'm not concerned for her long-term mental health. And I have to agree with her that six or seven hours is a long time to be away from your Mummy, especially later in the day when you start to get tired and grumpy and the organized activities peter out. Kindergarten will be much easier since it's only two and a half hours. That's barely enough time to miss me.

Tomorrow is the last day of day camp, and then we have two weeks of not-very-much before school starts. I'm not expected to buy school supplies for either girl, and they both have plenty of clothes, so we don't need to go shopping. We are scheduled for trips to the optometrist and the hair salon, and I want to go to Centreville, and see an IMAX movie at the Science Centre, before the end of summer. Between that and catching up with friends we haven't seen for ages, the next couple of weeks will be agreeably busy but not frantic.