(Super) Northern Living

 

 I live in the north, or so I thought until my brother decided to move to the “super” north. Okay, so it’s only about 1.5hrs north of where I live, but it’s far for my standards and remote enough to make my Caledon country lifestyle look like a crowded cityscape. However, since he has a beautiful home, and I happen to be very fond of him, I plan to visit often. And with these frequent trips, I figured I should devise a plan for survival.

Tips for Surviving the Super North

1. Indoor Plumbing

There’s just something about the open wilderness that makes you forget about the worries and stress of the city/ my life. That is, of course if this wilderness included plenty of sunshine and indoor plumbing. Living like the first men who walked this earth might sound like a party for some people, but I am not one of them. There’s no sense in kiboshing your hard earned relaxation with the thought of when your next hot shower will be…or cold one.

2. Have a plan-of-action for your long drive.

I’ve decided that I’m good to drive about an hour north. Once I pass that one hour mark and have another half hour of driving through empty fields, I get a little stir car crazy. This often involves a lot of shouting and contemplating abandoning my car on the side of the road and taking a nap. So far, I’ve chosen to power through the drive. To avoid this car fever, it can be helpful to bring a friend along for the journey. I also try to break up the drive with rest stops. You wouldn’t think that a rest stop is necessary for what some folks might consider a seemlingly short drive, but you would be wrong. Fortunately, my route is filled with several conveniently located Starbucks to choose from. I also find that jamming out to some good ole country tunes helps me to get in the small town country mood. 

3. Take the time to fully explore the small-town nuances!

The local paper is a goldmine for neighbourhood gossip and local events. Fun fact, there’s an upcoming Butter Tart Festival that’s sure to be a sweet hit. They also include a two page spread highlighting garage sales in the area so you can plan your Saturday morning accordingly. And don’t forget to take a trip to the local Walmart. Oh sure, it’s just Walmart. I’m sure you have one in your town. Wrong! Here, people walk around unironically wearing cowboy hats. 

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Grown Up Easter

Celebrating Easter as an adult is tricky. Society leads us to believe that Easter is for kids. It’s all about the furry little animals and egg hunts. If the kids in your family have grown past Easter eggs hunts, what do you do?

Planning an Easter egg hunt can be a lot of work. Most people would assume that this leads to the end of Easter egg hunts. Not in my family. Apparently, the alternative involves my grandma throwing a salad bowl full of eggs in all directions while the grandchildren run to collect them. Eggs are thrown everywhere. There’s really no telling where they’ll land. The floor, the dinner table, your drink. She really can’t see so well.

Even though we’ve grown, the tradition continues. However, we’re not collecting eggs to enjoy a sweet treat as much as we are trying to keep them away from the dogs. Although the dogs seem very excited at the thought of their own hunt, it wouldn’t really bring quite the Easter surprise everyone hopes for. Also, don’t forget to check your drinks for stray eggs and broken glass. Enjoy!

From My Crazy Relatives to Yours

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It’s Christmas time again. Well, it was. With grandchildren having their own children, our group has grown to about 40 people. Let me tell you, even when you know most of them, 40 people in your basement is pretty overwhelming.

Vivid Dinner Conversations

Each dinner is filled with unique, fascinating conversations. However, my family’s definition of “fascinating” tends to be different than most. This year, my uncle decided to tell one of the young ones a fun animal story. Kids like animals, right? I don’t know why she had such a terrified look on her face at the end. His mouth didn’t move to the side of his face. He just started keeping extra teeth there…for emergencies.

Spot the Uncomfortable Grandchild

Having old immigrant grandparents, you’d probably think my family get-togethers are filled with interesting stories from a time now read about in history books. Well, you’d be wrong. Yes, my grandparents lived in an extraordinary time; however, these are not the stories they decide to share with me. Instead, they love to sit me down and talk about the wonder that is the ocean. I bet you didn’t think someone could talk about the ocean for a half hour. Well, my grandfather can, and he sounds nothing like David Attenborough.

Thankfully, I have amazing cousins who keep an eye out for trapped grandchildren and come to their rescue. Although, when it was my turn to rescue my poor cousin, I was not so successful. I’m going to have to come up with a backup next time my “Oh hey, I think your mom needs you upstairs” gets shot down…

What Has Uncle Joe* Read About This Year

Speaking of uncomfortable conversations to avoid, I have this uncle. Lets call him Uncle Joe. Uncle Joe reads a lot of “educational” books. I use the term educational loosely as most of them are filled with crazy medical theories that make you want to scream, “No!”, but there’s no reasoning with, “It’s 100% true. I read it in a book.” Ok, Uncle Joe, wheat is the root of all diseases…and evil. Good luck with that…

This year did have a surprising twist ending, though. Unlike the usual, “When are you going to settle down and start a family?”, my grandmother told me, “Take your time. There’s too many people here already.” Okay…Good to know.

*His name has been changed to protect his identity.

I Got Jury Duty…Again

This is the second time I’ve been “randomly selected” for jury duty. Surprisingly, it’s not as exciting as TV would have you believe. It’s a lot of waiting and standing around. If you’ve ever wondered what jury duty is like, it’s basically like waiting at an airport terminal for a plane that’s delayed, indefinately.

Most people tell you that as long as you present a half-decent reason, they’ll excuse you from jury duty. These people are wrong. Even if you work at an institution that works heavily with lawyers and your boss tells you that as long as you tell them what you do for a living, they’ll excuse you. He’s wrong. However, these people aren’t monsters. If you have a legitimate excuse, they’ll let you go home. Make sure you check your mail, though. Your deferral letter should arrive within the next few weeks.

The first fun-filled jury duty activity is the informational video. This video is filled with people telling you how much they love jury duty and how it’s a priviledge to be chosen. They also lay on pretty thick how it’s the most wonderful legal system. Don’t worry, they chose the best actors for this video. They’re very lifelike and convincing. “Even though I didn’t get paid, I would jump at the chance to serve on another jury. It gave me a deep appreciation of our legal system.” Yeah, okay… And now the video’s playing in French. Oh right, this is Canada.

You always can pick out the veteran jurors by their big books. They’re not fooled into thinking they’ll be in and out in 10 minutes. Speaking of long waits, “They’ll  be with you shortly,” has lost all meaning.

My First (Authentic) Halloween

Dr Agon

Growing up in the country turns experiences like Halloween into a challenge. Living on a rural road with houses great distances from each other makes trick-or-treating tricky. Okay, maybe not so much tricky as it is dangerous. Only the brave or those with parents willing to drive, venture out that way. And with the lack of trick-or-treaters brings the lack of prepared homeowners who aren’t expecting visitors. If you’re able to get a front door to open, you’re more likely to end up with a box of raisins or a can of coke. Needless to say, I often travelled to the neighbourhood of friends or family to collect candy from strangers.

When most people grow older and stop trick-or-treating, they naturally transition into handing out candy. Problem. I still live in farm country.

Then this year happened. I received the rare opportunity to hand out candy to young, costumed travellers. Here are a few things I learned through my experience:

  • One piece candy is free. Two pieces of candy is earned with an exceptional costume or if you’re a baby. Three pieces of candy if my brother successfully scares the kid into wetting themselves.
  • Kids trick-or-treat for more than 30 minutes, so maybe don’t start shovelling out handfuls because you don’t think anymore kids will arrive.
  • Watching kids get the crap scared out of them by the life-like zombie (aka my brother who also grew up in the country and is clearly making up for all the years he felt deprived of this magical holiday) in the yard is more fun than handing out candy.
  • Some kids are dedicated enough to trick-or-treat in a little rain.
  • Choose a costume that keeps you warm or you’ll just end up covering your creation with a winter coat. This is Canada at the end of October, remember?

Forever Loading: The Slow Internet-Havers Lament

internet_construction_workersHello, out there. I’m sure many of you are reading this through the wonderful world of high speed internet. I’m here to tell you there’s a whole world out there you thought died long ago. Sadly, there are still people (like me) who live with the struggle of painstakingly slow internet.

No, it’s not dial-up. At least with dial-up, there’s consistency. It might take a good three minutes for anything to load, but you know eventually, it will load. With slow, wireless internet, everyday is a surprise. No, not the fun kind. One day you might think all your (internet) problems are solved and the next, you’re forced to pull out the ‘ole DVD player.

As you more fortunate individuals speed through the 21st century, others less fortunate are forced to stare in the face of the spinning wheel of death. Sure, the country looks nice, but it comes at a price. The price: high speed internet. People will tell you that you can enjoy the crazy fast download speeds as any city-dweller enjoys. They’re wrong. What they’ll (conveniently) leave out is to even catch a glimpse of instant downloads, you need to build a 60 foot tower in your backyard. And even then, there’s no guarantees.

The worst is the false hope created by the appearance of a supposed connection… just to later learn that it was a figment of your imagination, that the connection wasn’t actually strong enough to do anything. You sit, watching those “three bars” taunting you, like a carrot on a stick, just out of reach.

A Polite Ode to Canada Day

great_white_north_1Today is Canada Day. For you non-Canadian readers, every July 1st, Canada pauses to think about what truly makes us Canadian. We celebrate that fateful day where the Britain politely asked us if we wanted to be an independent country and we said sure. To commemorate this polite entrance into independence, most of us head up north, sit on a calm lake (or the dock in front of it), and think to ourselves, “It’s nice I didn’t have to go to work today.”

Unfourtunately, this year, Canada Day falls on a Wednesday. So unless you have some vacation time stored up, it’s back to work tomorrow. Needless to say, there’s not a whole lot to do with one day off in the middle of the week, especially when everything’s closed.

Right now, I’m sitting on my front porch watching the neighbour’s dog chase a fly. Some dogs are brighter than others…So maybe my dog’s not the sharpest tool in the shed (she may have tried to run through a sliding glass window), but she doesn’t chase flies! And there she goes. Master calls. Oh look, it’s starting to rain. I wonder how long it will crawl up those steps before I have to go inside. There it goes. Well, that didn’t take long.

Ok, so we’ve moved inside. Sorry, as I was saying, Canada is a pretty great place to live. Where else can you drop your wallet in the subway, have people help gather your things and not steal anything. Yeah, I checked.

Sure, Independence Day is flashy and full of heave ho (I assume), but sitting calmly and being politely grateful is kind of nice.

To check out a few more reasons why I love living in Canada, click here.