I visited my mom this weekend. We had a family gathering with her brothers and sister, plus my cousin Erin and her family. Everybody brought something to eat: Uncle Ron brought two roast chickens and a ham; Aunt Sandy brought her cabbage salad; Aunt Pat and Uncle Jim brought bean salad, butter tarts and lemon squares; Erin brought pasta salad, vegetables and homemade hummus; I brought scalloped potatoes and a selection of kielbasas from Benna’s on Roncesvalles; and my mom provided some sliced meats and cheeses plus a giant white cake from Costco and three coconut cream pies.
I love hearing my mom and siblings talk about growing up in Strathroy. They told a story about how my grandpa Gus tried to get car insurance in his 70s but the broker told him he was too old. Grandpa Gus grabbed the young man by the collar of his shirt and lifted him off the ground. In the end, he got his insurance.
When I left Sunday morning my mom performed her usual ritual of offering me everything but the kitchen sink to take home. “Do you want to take home these nice buns? What about the nice rye bread? Oh, take home the ham bone and the leftover potatoes. Do you need bottled water? Some butter? What about laundry detergent?”
In the end, I left with some nice plums and one of those coconut cream pies, which I knew would come in handy for the cottage. I picked up the Beast at 6:30 p.m. from work and we made the two-hour drive to Muskoka, where we’ll be holed up until Tuesday night.
We talked the entire drive up, save for the last half-hour when the Beast searched AM radio for the ball game. I found out that in the two days I was gone, the Beast consumed the following: a bag of chips, crackers and cheese, buttered white bread, a can of beans and vodka.
“I’d be a mess without you,” he said.
When we arrived just past 8:30 p.m, I got the macaroni and cheese in the oven–the first dinner I ever cooked for the Beast, coincidentally, nearly 10 years ago. Because the cabin isn’t winterized, he got a fire roaring.
I checked the fire after dinner and burned my fingers on the wood stove’s iron doors. Iron is a very good conductor of heat. I couldn’t wash the dishes.
It was so cold and glorious going to bed. The Beast woke up at 10:30 a.m. I slept in until 10:50 a.m.
Foodie: I can’t believe I slept so late! Do you know how much you were cuddling me in your sleep?
Beast: I wasn’t sleeping. I was trying to wake you up so you’d make coffee. There’s something you should know: I do that every morning.
Foodie: Really? I had no idea. [Pause] This coffee tastes like hot water.
We read for a few hours and then got dressed for a nature outing. We canoed across the lake.
On the other side, we crossed the railroad tracks and hiked to another lake. I collected acorns along the way.
Foodie: Is that a waterfall? It sounds like a waterfall.
Beast: It’s a vigourous creek.
Foodie: I’m pretty sure I can find it just by the sound. I’ll lead you to it.
Beast: I’m glad I’m with a tracker. Your Native American name would be Two Phones.
Foodie: [Pause] Oh that’s hilarious! Two phones. Because I have two phones. That’s wonderful!
The Beast suggested that we cross the babbling creek by hopping along a serious of above-water rocks. He went first, with the grace of a gazelle.
Beast: Do you need help?
Foodie: Oh I’ll be fine. I grew up in nature, remember? I had a cornfield for a back yard. I am one with nature. I could be lost in nature for days and survive just fine.
Then I fell into the ice-cold creek.
My feet were frozen but before hypothermia and frost bite set in, we walked a ways along the railroad tracks.
Foodie: We should take a photo of ourselves and use it for our official engagement announcement if we ever get married.
Beast: I’ll write it: “Put your diapers on because you are about to shit your pants! They’re getting engaaged and it’s going to be “FAB!” That’s right: FAB for Foodie and the Beast?”
Foodie: Yeah! Hahahaha! “Take your pants off because you are about to piss yourself because FAB.” Hahahaha! [Pause] Do you like how I always just repeat your jokes and make them mine but they’re never quite as good?
Beast: “Everybody put a condom on because you are about to explode in your pants! That’s right, Foodie and the Beast are getting married!”
When my feet started to hurt, we returned to the canoe to go home.
Foodie: Oh look at those red berries on those branches! We should get some for your mom.
Foodie: Why not?
Beast: Because you have wet feet and because I already refused to get any for my mom.
Foodie: Why would you do that? Your mom loves red berries for her autumn arrangements!
Beast: I told her no because she has some sort of rash all over her face–probably from poison ivy or poison oak–that she got from collecting red berries last time she was at the cottage. There is no way I’m listening to her and getting a swollen face.
Foodie: But they’re so close!
Beast: Fine, but don’t blame me if your feet fall off, or you get a rash on your face.
We came home with a collection of berries and acorns. I took off my soaking wet jeans, socks and shoes, dried my feet and put on three pairs of clean socks.
Tonight, we will have meatloaf and a bottle of Barolo. The Beast joked that he might intentionally burn his fingers so that he won’t have to do any dishes.
I planned this little mini-break because I needed a bit of a recharge. The new job has been great, I think. Actually I have no idea. Everything happens so fast. I feel like I need the luxury of hindsight. A little distance. It is odd when an element of your job is to really put yourself out there, which–judging from photos of my childhood and this blog–I’ve never had any apprehension doing. Still, the anxiety of upsetting somebody, or disappointing others, by saying something or behaving a certain way, has caused me some anxiety. I feel more thin-skinned than usual.
Erinn keeps asking if I’ve been “nized yet”. That’s her short form for “recognized”. I love Erinn’s short forms. Besides the woman who works at the convenient store across the street from the CTV building at Queen and John, I haven’t been “nized” for the The Social. But at Fashion Week, while shooting a segment for the show, a young woman approached me in the crowded entrance. She said she recognized me. She apologized for interrupting the shoot and although she never does this, she just had to say something because she loves Foodie and the Beast.
Foodie and the Beast! My head nearly exploded.
I’m warm now, sitting in the sun-soaked screened-in porch, wearing a poncho, while the Beast reads Out of Africa on the sun-soaked dock.
All I can hear is the wind in the trees and a train in the distance. Also, a bird. And I’m imagining, after the meatloaf and Barolo, that the Beast will let me wash his hair in the twilight of night.