Friday, June 30, 2023


At three a.m., I was grumpily half awake, thanks to an intermittent knocking sound coming from the front of the house. I was pretty sure it wasn't the police, and I wasn't alert enough to contemplate who else might be at my door, For an hour, I ignored it. By four a.m., I thought I'd better get up and investigate, since I clearly wasn't going to be able to fall asleep again. I had a memory of a similar night, a year or two ago, when just before bedtime I'd heard what sounded like a motor running just outside my front door. So I had a sense of what I'd be confronted with. First, I knocked hard on the doorframe, wondering if that would startle any unwelcome nocturnal guest. No dice. Then I turned on the porch light. The knocking sound stopped, briefly, and then resumed. I opened the door an inch or two, with my foot poised to prevent it being pushed open any farther. Peering through the gap in the door, I spied an intruder. It was the same sort of intruder I remembered from my previous encounter, and it appeared to be chewing its way into my house. "Hey!" I shouted. No reaction. So I closed the door, went to the kitchen for a saucepan, filled it with cold water, returned to the front door and poured the water over the porcupine. That succeeded in making it back up, try and squeeze itself through the iron porch railing and climb down onto the garden that borders the entrance to the house. It deposited a few dozen quills as a parting gift. It will take me quite a bit of sanding, priming and painting to repair the scene of the crime. People tell me they're actually looking for salt. This is one of the reasons I don't salt the porch or driveway in winter. Personally I think it had heard breakfasts are pretty good here at Five Acres and it didn't want to be late to the party.

Thursday, June 29, 2023


Ever since I'd finished restoring the little boathouse, I'd been joking that I'd pay a thousand dollars to anyone who agreed to spend the night in it. Don't get me wrong: there's nothing wrong with the boathouse....during daylight. But who knows what it's like in there at night? No one ever goes there after dark. My policy is: during daylight the land is mine. Once night falls, it belongs to the creatures of the night. I am not a creature of the night. The boathouse has electricity. It even has a space heater. There's a chair, a coffee table, and a chaise longue to lie on. The windows are newly screened. In a rustic way, it's slightly charming. I'd been reading a book about a young woman who lived in a lighthouse in the 1830s. I've always been very attracted to lighthouses and I'm sure I'd be the ideal person to live in one. And so on June 22nd while I was weeding the vegetable garden, I asked myself why I hadn't slept in the boathouse yet. I had no good reason not to. I could make myself a thermos of tea, bring my wind-up radio and a blanket, a can of insect repellent, my book about living in a lighthouse, and my phone, just in case. I headed down to the boathouse about eight-thirty p.m., turned on the lights, and arranged my supplies on the coffee table. I dispatched three mosquitoes to wherever mosquitoes go. Then I closed the door behind me. In the four years and three months I've lived here, I've never noticed that there is no lock on the boathouse door. Even if there were, two-thirds of the door is glass, so no lock is likely to be of much use. So I settled in for the evening, turned my radio on, spread out a coverlet on the chaise longue, took off my rubber boots, put them by the door so any burglar who broke in would trip over them, and crawled under the covers.
Neighbours texted to ask if I could hear the coyotes howling. Actually I couldn't. I heard the occasional bullfrog, but just in case, I googled, "Do coyotes have opposable thumbs?" They don't. They probably couldn't open the boathouse door even if they did. It's pretty stiff. After a while it felt a bit damp and stuffy in the boathouse. I didn't want to get up and open the windows, so I reached over and turned on the space heater. That's when the electrical circuit breaker switches blew and I was plunged into darkness. I began to wonder what I was doing. I wouldn't have minded a snack, but I hadn't brought anything to eat as I'd already brushed my teeth. As darkness settled in, the fireflies appeared outside the windows. They looked rather festive, and surprisingly large. But you can't read by the light of a firefly, so I turned the radio down to low and lay uncomfortably on the chaise longue. Normally, it's a comfortable spot to relax for a couple of hours on a hot day. This was not daytime, nor hot, and I wasn't the least bit relaxed. Eventually I fell into a shallow sleep, and the hours crept by, very slowly. At first light (5:45 a.m. if you must know), I was up, gathering my belongings into a bag and jamming my feet into my rubber boots. I didn't even bother to reset the circuit breakers. I practically ran up to the house, unlocked the door and ran myself a warm, fragrant bath. And then I fell asleep on my massive green leather sofa. There is, truly, no place like home. And, in case you care, I spent my thousand dollar winnings on a new one horsepower electric pump for the swimming pool.

Tuesday, June 20, 2023


Last week I was really busy chainsawing pine logs into fireplace-sized pieces and whacking the tall grass and weeds at the south end of the property with my trusty weedwhacker. By the time I got back to the house, I was so exhausted that I barely had time to eat a snack and brush my teeth before I dumped my grimy clothes into the laundry basket and dove into bed. I remember the precise time - ten p.m. - because of what was on the radio at that time, when I suddenly felt a sharp stinging sensation on my backside. Damn! A mosquito! I thought, and decided to roll over onto my back, crush it to death, and deal with the corpse in the morning. As it turned out, I never made it to morning, because I felt so restless and unsettled that by three a.m. I was up again, in my dressing gown, cleaning the living room. That's never a good sign. Once the living room was polished and dusted within an inch of its life, I wondered if I could fall asleep again. I decided a hot bath might help. So I ran a fragrant bath, took off my dressing gown - and that's when I remembered that we're supposed to regularly check our skin for the presence of ticks. And that's when I remembered the "mosquito bite" of the night before. If you've never seen an insect half embedded in your skin before, let me assure you that the sight of it is not conducive to sleep. My sister in Kingston is an avid hiker, and she's had a tick bite before. She mentioned that if it's still alive, rubbing a dab of dishwashing liquid on it will cause it to back out of your skin in a hurry. Mine appeared to be deceased, so I got the tweezers, grasped it firmly as close to my skin as possible, and pulled it out, hoping to get it out all in one piece. I succeeded. After photographing it, I did what any normal person would do: I posted it to Twitter, asking for a firm identification, ASAP. Results came in immediately. Deer Tick. It might carry Lyme Disease. Get antibiotics. I had a hot bath and slept until the pharmacy in our little village was open. Within an hour, I had my antibiotics and was safely home again. I've been incredibly low-energy since than, but the pharmacist has been very attentive, following up with me to ensure I'm okay. Tomorrow I'm going in to the city for my last haircut before my beloved hairdresser, Tania, gives birth. I won't regale her with any descriptions, or any photos. But I'll show you, because you're not likely to go into labour.
And because I'm there, I'm also going to have lunch with my favourite airline pilot. In a restaurant. Far removed from other people. And insects. Thank you for watching my Tick Talk.