Call a cottage day

deck chairs on a dock

On Friday, when the temperatures were forecasted to soar into the thirties, I said to Dave, “I’m calling a cottage day”.

You don’t need to actually own a cottage to call a cottage day. A cottage day is when you pretend you are at somebody else’s cottage, where there’s no laundry or chores calling your name and you spend the entire day lounging around, relaxing on the deck reading books, playing games, eating and drinking.

It’s a day where you give yourself permission to do whatever you want and not even think about housework or chores.

I slept in, read a magazine while eating my breakfast, did a few things around the house, then headed to the lake. I read my book on the dock, threw the ball endlessly for Benny in the lake, went for a long paddle and three long swims, before heading up to have lunch on the back deck.

After lunch, I took a nap in the screened porch, then we went to our local farmer’s market to stock up on fresh greens and bread for dinner. It was exactly what I needed and the perfect panacea after a busy week and month.

Years ago, after we got married, Dave and I had the great debate. Do we save and buy a cottage property, or buy a home on the water? Two big factors swayed us to our decision to buy a year-round waterfront home.

The first was we were both absolutely useless at home renovations, repairs and maintenance. The idea of maintaining two properties was just not in the cards for us.

The second was our decision to move out of the Greater Toronto Area to north of Kingston where lakefront properties abound. We made it a goal the minute we moved down here to own lakefront and bought our little piece of paradise six years later and have never looked back.

Now Dave’s favourite thing is to go fishing on Sunday nights after supper. When we’re out on the boat, he always says the same thing. “If we were up at a cottage, we’d be stuck in traffic right now driving back to the city.” Then he casts his line into the still waters, the setting sun casting a warm glow behind him, and turns to me and smiles.

The perfect end to the perfect cottage day.

This week’s #HappyAct is to call a cottage day. Enjoy!

Ten inventions that would make the world a happier place

Jetsons comic of the family of the future

The other day I read about a new invention: a tiny implant for your brain that injects medicine. Modern technology has led to advances in communications, medicine, and business. And yet, there are still so many basic necessities of life we still struggle with.

Here are ten yet-to-be inventions I’d like to see in 2018:

  1. A dryer that automatically sorts your socks
  2. A zip-up bathing suit top so you don’t have to wriggle out of your wet clingly suit like Houdini trying to escape from a straightjacket
  3. A teapot that doesn’t spill when you pour it
  4. A massage jacket that gives you a soothing massage when you wear it
  5. A device that could magically remove moles so no one would ever have to worry about skin cancer again…while you’re at it, a cure for cancer, Alzheimers and diabetes please
  6. A jet pack like the Jetsons so you never have to be stuck in traffic or drive your kids anywhere ever again
  7. A blender that doesn’t spout hot liquid like lava from a volcano
  8. A toilet paper roll that automatically refills itself
  9. A duvet cover that has zippers or buttons at both ends so when your husband tosses and turns and all the duvet winds up on your side of the bed and he blames you, it’s easy to fix
  10. A robot that will go around the house and pick up all the mitts, scarves, hats, markers, dishes and clothes that your kids have just left even though you tidied the house twenty minutes ago

Maybe for Mother’s Day, I’ll get my robot. In the meantime, if some smart inventor out there can work on numbers one to nine, that would make me happy.

Desperate times call for desperate measures

funny quote on houseworkWe are living in desperate times. No, I’m not talking about Trump, Syria or ISIL. I’m talking about the division of labour in our households.

Let’s just say I was not a happy camper last week. It started last Sunday. We got home from Clare’s hockey game. Dave went to lie down and do his exercises for his knee, Clare flaked out on the couch reading a book, Dave’s Dad sat in the sunroom reading the papers and Grace retreated into her lair to do homework and spend endless hours on her iPad.

Instead of curling up with the latest People Sexiest Man Alive issue, I did laundry, drained and scrubbed the hot tub, made supper and did the dishes. At one point I asked the kids through gritted teeth for help with sweeping the floors and folding some laundry.

Help. I hate that dastardly word. It implies the sole responsibility for keeping a household running is one person’s, with the others just “helping” out.

Then Tuesday came. After a 10-hour day, I came home to find supper not started, the wood not brought in and the dogs unfed even though my children get home 2-3 hours before me and my husband was at home all day (albeit still recuperating from his knee surgery, but well enough to make a salad I reckon).

I resorted to the most shameless, childish trick of all time—the silent treatment. I admit it. I’m not proud of myself, but I was angry, tired, and frustrated. The worst part was I had this utopian hope that with Dave’s surgery, the girls would step up their game and help with the cooking and cleaning. I was so wrong.

One brisk walk and one quiet night helped restore my equanimity, but I wasn’t happy with how I reacted and worse, knew it wasn’t a long-term solution. So the next day I came up with the idea to introduce a new rewards system, “Two Things a Day”. I made a chart and explained that everyone in the house had to do two things a day to keep our house running. If at the end of the week, the chart was full, there would be a special reward.

What a change. Yesterday morning, the girls did chores around the house without being asked. We had fresh sheets on the bed, swept floors, wood in the wood box and sand for when the snow and ice comes.

It’s early days yet. But I’m hopeful my evil master plan will work, and my family will accept that we are all responsible for doing housework and keeping our busy household running and I will be a happy camper once again.

Ed. note: When Dave and I first got married, we had to take a marriage course. The minister asked, what is the biggest source of most arguments in a marriage? People answered finances, family issues. I answered housework and the class laughed. Guess what? It was housework.

Take a break from sweeping away your luck

Dog with apron and broom
Bella in her apron ready to take on the fur balls she created

The other day, my youngest daughter Clare looked down at her fleece pants and said, “It’s like a big fur ball exploded all over me.” We looked down and her pants were half white from the mounds of white fur from our Great Pyrenees Bella.

This week, Clare was studying Chinese New Year in her class. One thing I learned about Chinese New Year is you aren’t supposed to clean your house on the Lunar New Year’s Day itself because it is said it will sweep away your good luck for the year.

I think North Americans have become obsessed with cleanliness. I’ve been in people’s houses where after they’ve cleaned off a few crumbs from their kitchen counter, they spray it with some kind of antiseptic. I’m not sure how we got to this state where we can’t even live with a crumb on the counter. It’s crazy.

What’s wrong with a bit of dirt and dust anyway? Personally, I think it’s healthy. Anyone who knows me knows I have these crazy theories, and one of them is cleaners and the uber-sterilized environments we’ve created in our homes have contributed to a higher incident of allergies amongst children. I know there’s all sorts of studies on this, but think about it, how can you build up any kind of immunity to the normal germs and dirt that surrounds us if you antiseptic it away?

But my biggest issue with housework is it just takes too much time and cuts into the things I really want to do on my weekend, like skate on the lake, toboggan, play the piano, and hang out with my family.

So this week’s Happy Act is to take a break from the dust and dirt. Hang up your broom and don’t worry about housework for one weekend. Enjoy the free time and feel good knowing you’re not sweeping your luck away for 2014.

Note: Not all Happy Acts I blog about will make you feel happy, so feel free to take a pass the odd week. I know some people who absolutely love cleaning. If that’s the case, roll up your sleeves and clean away—tackle a closet you’ve been meaning to clear out. Whatever makes you happy (or call me, seriously, call me—the fur balls are multiplying).

TIP FOR THIS WEEK: If you live in the Ottawa or Kitchener-Waterloo regions. Frank Warren from is speaking at Carleton on Feb 5, U of O on Feb 6, and Wilfrid Laurier on Feb 7th. You can read a bit about Frank’s blog on my About page, which I’ve just updated.