Mud, Sweat and Tears

Mud, Sweat and Tears: Tales from a Country Vet by Bud Ings. Acorn Press.

From the back cover: “Ings’ memoir is a rich, often humourous account of his first decade as a vet, at a time when there were few vacations, no modern tools of the trade, and no request too strange to attend to. It’s also the story of a past era, when PEI’s farms flourished and the animals were not only the backbone of the economy, but part of the family.”

I checked this book out of the library way back in July (yes, I’m slightly behind on my reviews) so I could take it to PEI for our annual week of eating, reading, beachcombing and eating. In an interesting turn of events, however, my father—who generally limits his reading to the newspaper and curling/golf schedules—saw it on the coffee table and snagged it for himself. His verdict? Two thumbs up.

Well sure, I thought, Bud Ings is not only writing about the PEI of my Dad’s childhood, but they also share the same exquisite taste in adopted first names. Would I enjoy the book as much as Bud Cameron?

::suspenseful music::

I did enjoy it. Ings’ details of farm life on PEI in the fifties are interesting, but even better are his descriptions of his encounters with the farmers—true characters, every one. Celebrity and tragedy memoirs are both more popular, I know, but I really believe these “regular person” memoirs are priceless for a glimpse at a world now long gone.

Recommended for fans of PEI, veterinary medicine or rural life in the fifties.

beach bums

Well, this godforsaken heat wave seems like a good time to hide in the basement and look at the photos from my most recent expedition with the kids. Hint: It’s where the kids and I will move when (not if – when) The Boy Wonder leaves me for JLo. I hear she’s available now. And she’s totally his type, right?

Heh.

See, I can say whatever I want because The Boy Wonder doesn’t actually read this blog unless I stand beside his desk saying, “Did you read my new post?” every forty-five seconds. Which is no different from anyone else I know, actually. Sigh. Is it bad manners to break into the homes of my friends and hold their computers hostage until they promise to leave a comment validating my efforts? Thought so.

In any case, here are the kids in PEI, where, when they aren’t stuffing their faces at the dairy bar, they practically live on the beach:

 They dig and build and play and I beachcomb and it’s all very nice. This was my fortieth summer of hanging out on the beach in PEI and I’m still not tired of it. Never will be, I predict.

Here are Foster and Charlotte and something in a red pail:

 What could it be?

Hey, it’s Gordon:

 Gordon the crab, who was Foster’s best friend for the day. And no, I did not name Gordon after my grandfather. I can’t believe you would think I, of all people, would be so disrespectful. Foster named him and I immediately approved, knowing it would garner a tremendous stink-eye from my mother.

Heh. She doesn’t read this blog either.

We made another friend who (in a first, I believe) went unnamed:

 He (she? I’m not up on my starfish boy and girl parts) clung to our hands with the same fervor I reserve for Swiss chocolate bars.

See that little orange dot near the middle of its back? That’s called a madreporite. Its function is to circulate water through the starfish’s body so it can move around and be the best darned starfish it can be. Did you know that?

No you didn’t, liar. Give me a break. Only this guy would have known that and he doesn’t read this blog either. (And on a side note, may I say how awesome it is that there is such a thing as The Echinoblog. I seriously admire those who are so motivated to share their love of and expertise on such a particular topic. It’s such a refreshing change from my own unfocused flakiness.)

And finally, here are the kids masquerading as ocean creatures:

 Are there children who are able to pass by these cutout boards and not beg to have their photograph taken? I have never met a kid who could resist.

Oh, and one final pro tip: If you find yourself in Summerside on a Thursday evening, try the pasta buffet at The Loyalist Country Inn on Harbour Drive. The food is good, the price is reasonable and, best of all, kids’ meals are half price. Tell them Lori sent you.

And they’ll say, “Who?”

No, seriously they will. They don’t know me from a hole in the ground.

wedding bells

No, not for me, silly. I already made that mistake glorious decision last century sometime. No, my cousin Shawn (who is the youngest of the Cameron grandchildren, by the way, since my selfish mother wouldn’t allow me to hang on in utero for another four months) was married on May 21 – finally, as everyone felt obliged to tell him. Over and over.  And over. Now we can all start nagging him about when they’ll start a family. It’s good to prepare all this hassling ahead of time.

Here is Shawn and his lovely bride, Nikki:

Gorgeous, huh? Yeah, and Shawn’s okay too. Whatever.

As it so happens, some of my favourite people were also in attendance. People like Shawn’s parents, my aunt Lilianne and Uncle Louis:

 Lilianne has gone through more crap in the last few years than anyone deserves, let alone someone so kind and funny and big-hearted. She’s awesome.

Also awesome is my Uncle Cecil, seen here with my cousin Rachele (yes, yes, she’s awesome too) and my similarly awesome Aunt Viola:

 Vi and Cecil have been married a long, long time now and although Viola is in the grip of Alzheimer’s these days, Cecil looks after her with the care and love of a newlywed.  It’s all so sweet and sad I had to keep helping myself to the wine to maintain my composure. No, not really. My parents were there too and I had to behave set a good example. You know they’d be out of control, otherwise.

Speaking of Rachele (who is Shawn’s sister and my MUCH older cousin – coughbytwoweekscough), here she is with her family and the bride and groom:

 There must be some mistake with this photo because Rachele’s son Joshua, on the far left, is still a toddler (…in my mind…) and his sister, Savannah, beside him, is still a newborn. That’s just the way it is. There is NO WAY this much time has passed and I am this old. Impossible. These holographic images of them from the future are cool, though. Kids are so talented these days. The gentleman in the pink shirt is Rachele’s husband, Robert, and I bet he would like me to add that the pink shirt was not his idea. I believe his exact words were, “It was hanging in the closet, so that means wear it.” Wise man.

Considering Shawn was wearing a pink striped tie, I’d say he’s learning too. I have yet to achieve this level of sartorial compliance with The Boy Wonder, so I raise my (empty again) glass to you, ladies. May we all live happily ever after.

April break

The kids and I zipped over to PEI for a few days last week for the funeral of my Uncle Emmett – RIP – and because I am the meanest of all Mommies, I forced the kids to actually learn something during our trip by dragging them to a couple museums. They were really broken up about it, as you can see:

 Here they are at the Acadian Museum in Miscouche, which was “really good,” as Charlotte proclaimed on our way out. It is good – informative, visually interesting and well laid out. You should go.

We also liked Founders Hall in Charlottetown:

 The statues of the Fathers of Confederation were a particular hit. Founders Hall is the perfect example of how museums can be fun and educational at the same time.

Because I aspire to be an absolute monster, I also dragged them to the beach:

 That’s Foster running toward that bit of ice jutting out, from which he launched more chunks of ice in an attempt to either (a) splash frigid water all over himself or (b) fall into the frigid water completely.  Contrary to my expectations, he did NOT fall in, but ended up so wet he might as well have. As we were leaving, he came to me clutching an armful of ice chunks and said, “I guess I can’t keep these, huh?”

See how smart he is? All this homeschooling is paying off.

This is my co-pilot at Cape Jourimain in New Brunswick:

 To escape the children’s incessant nagging for Tim Hortons donuts, I abandoned the vehicle and was sprinting towards the Confederation Bridge yelling, “Let me back in!” when I realized I had left my MP3 player in the car. Shoot. It was a tough call, but I returned to the car and continued driving home.

And yes, they got their stupid donuts. (But I ate a maple glazed. You know, just to show them who’s boss.)

vacation photo album

My apologies in advance for what will be a photo-heavy post; you know I just can’t help myself when it comes to a camera. Thank God for digital. Okay, here we go. Our annual trip to PEI.

The kids and Mia on the Caribou-Wood Islands ferry:

Charlotte striking a pose at the gorgeous Greenwich National Park:

One of the wild roses that line the trails at the park:

Anna and Charlotte on the beach at Greenwich National Park. Check out the sand dunes, which are at least twelve feet high:

Naufrage Harbour:

Lobster traps:

And fishing boats:

Here’s Charlotte at a quiet little beach on the north shore:

And Foster and Mia on the same beach:

This is the lighthouse at East Point, which was built in 1867:

Mia loving/hating the beach:

Ripply sand, just because it’s my camera and I can shoot whatever I want:

A snail:

Charlotte and a starfish:

Wool spindles at the awesome MacAusland’s Woolen Mills in Bloomfield:

Some old spinning machinery:

Another neat machine that plies the spun wool, I think. And look! A black rotary phone on the post:

Here’s Foster watching a snail:

As the tide was coming in one morning, the kids and I engaged in some super-high tech time lapse photography. Here they are, with Jam:

And here they are exactly ten minutes later (I’ll spare you all the photos taken at one minute intervals in between. And don’t ask me what happened to Jam. I think she got bored and wandered off.):

A crab shell, because why not?:

Mia in glistening evening light:

The obligatory sunset shot:

Here are the kids at Port la Joye/Fort Amherst:

And the lighthouse behind them:

A nice view from Fort Amherst:

The kids and Mia trying to distract me from the view:

A shiny shell:

An egg case, probably from a dogfish, which is a type of shark, so let’s say I wrestled this from a shark:

Bumpy clouds:

Foster after swimming in the ocean:

Anna and Charlotte also after swimming in the ocean:

Foster against the cliffs, which are blazing orange in the evening light:

Foster and Anna:

A purple jellyfish:

One of my better attempts at drive-by photography:

Everyone who knows me knows my love for PEI knows no bounds and I’m happy to report the kids are getting there too. Every year they’re a little more reluctant to leave and look a little more longingly at houses for sale, saying, “We could live there, right?” Hear me cackling and rubbing my hands together? My plan is working.