That’s what this summer has been all about.  The sweat was from the sweltering heat of Greece, in the month I spent there, (thankfully, now that its August, and the hottest month for Greeks, I’m far away). Blood is from the work I’ve been doing recently, and the tears… well not many have been shed yet, but they are imminent.

Ok so lets start at the beginning. This summer, my whole family and I decided to cut our vacations short, and spend a couple of weeks in Boston in order to set him up at his residence in Berklee University. He’s so excited to be starting university and can’t wait to start “seriously jammin’ ” unfortunately things won’t be the same without him. Sure, I’ve still got my sister, and other brother… but it won’t be the same, we had a special bond. I can’t imagine what it will be like to wait for the bus stop without him. to walk to music lessons alone. To not have someone driving me out of my mind…

Anywho, that was kinda annoying, because it was really hard to pack him up and to unpack him.  Not to mention that there aren’t any elevators in his dorm, and did i mention he was studying music? Yeah imagine me and my sister struggling with half of his electric piano, up 4 flights of stairs… not to mention the drums which were just plain awkward to carry up, because, me with my stupidly small hands, i kept on being scared I’d drop one… not to mention that you couldnt see where you were putting your feet…

Once we got him settled in, he started work. They had some Jazz camp thing at the school. He took it and got half a credit for it. meanwhile I was on a plane…. alone… heading for Newfoundland. See… some of my friends tease us that we have friends/family everywhere… because we do! I mean we have an aunt in Boston who is going to be keeping an eye on my brother. Her two sons are both a few years older… about four or five and have already graduated Colledge/University and are settled into their own respective fields, but they are good friends with my brothers and I. We used to ski together alot when we vacationed in Quebec for the winters. but we haven’t seen them for about 5 years.  And we don’t go to that same part of Quebec much any more.

My grandparents used to have a little Chalet near a mountain there. The whole family used to cramp into the cozy house for Christmas. Short days full of skiing and skating, long nights full of skating, skiing, home made eggnog drinking, hearth heated walnuts (walnuts roasting on an open fire) and caroling. Some times, when the snow was solid, but the weather wasn’t too cold, there wasn’t much wind, and if there were no blizzards on the horizon, we would all don snow shoes, well most of us. the young ones used to jump in the sled and be pulled by our dogs. No they weren’t huskies or malimutes… ok my grand dad’s was but most of them were an assortment of large dogs, five in total, and we would harness them and take the kiddywinks for a sled ride (the sled was a invention of my grand dads. it looked, and more or less was made some what like a canoe, but had runners stuck tot he side to keep it sliding over the water, and just the bottom of the hull used to glide through the snow.) and We would go all the way to the neighbours, thermouses of warm eggnog stuffed down our snow suits, signing carols all the way. then when we got to the door, we’d knock, and sing some more. Pouring the eggnog into mugs for the grownups, and warmed maple syrup over fresh snow for the kids. Was it ever fun.

Then, four years ago, Gran died. It was May, right before mother’s day; a cruel twist of fate. The last time we had seen her was that winter. She had been ill, though not badly. She hadn’t come out singing, and she was going to sleep earlier. But her and I were still up early everymorning to go hunting for icicles. We both had a thing about icicles. She used to take a little hatchet, and me a butter knife until I was 8 and got my own small hatchet, for breaking off the icicles with. She used to chop down great big huge ones and pretend they were magic staffs. She even used to stick a snow ball on top. As I could never cut ones as big, and the butter knife wasn’t much use, i used to go more for the magic wand type. We always had a basket, lined with a red and white checkered cloth- the fraying remainder of a retired pic nic blanket from summers past- so that we could see it in the snow even when it was full of icicles and sunken into the snow with the weight of the ice. we used to pile them into the basket and skip home lithely through the woods, laughing, and singing all through the woods she knew so well.  If you had seen her then you never would have known she was ill. We still got home far before anyone else awoke. We would “marinade” the icicles in tubs of maple syrup, and she would hack the long ones into log-like shapes. Then, when everyone awoke, and was ready for their tea, warm milk, or eggnogg… they had a maple encrusted ice stirstick. it was an ingenious invention. It would cool the warm drinks just tot eh point of being able to sip them, and the maple syrup would  sweeten the drink. Gran and I, though, would love to just nibble on the icicles as is. And they had a huge freezer downstairs in the basement where they stored the meats and such. There we would store enough icicles to last her (and Iwhenever I was there) through the summer (when we’d make lemonade and put them in whenever there was company and everyone marvelled at icicles in july… and some times we would colour sugar with food colouring, and rub it onto the icicles… they were so beautiful. especially in the lemonades on a warm summer day in the forest). It was in April that she broke her leg. The doctor’s say that’s what did her in. Her body just couldn’t handle reparing such a bad break on top of the rest of what it had been dealing with (type two diabetes, anemia, and a cold that had lasted all winter).  It had started to hail outside and she ran out to save a butterfly that was flitting through her flower beds. For someone that loved winter so much, she was just as at home in a spring garden. It was the first butterfly of the year, and she couldn’t stand to see it get crushed when it was so near safety.  She managed to coax it into a jar with some honey and nectars and brightly coloured flowers… and was then coming back inside, up the stairs, pre-occupied with admiring the butterfly, with no hand on the railing, both tenderly cradling the jar, obviously trying not to let the hail it it and reverberate through the jar to the butterfly’s tender antenna. It was then, that she slipped on a step, littered with lethal pellets of hail. She fell backwards, broke a leg and an arm in the fall , aswell as the jar. My granddad had been watching his wife’s endeavour through the window, and immediatly called an ambulance. When he got home from the hospital after her death, by then it was may, he told me, crying over the phone, that the butterfly was there. It’s dainty wings flattened and shattered beyond self repair, on an organism too fragile to intervene with. Just like my gran.

There were the tears…

Haha, *sniff sniff*, I’m at an internet cafe, and I’ve attracted quite a few stares for my unabashed and unchecked tears and open weeping apparently without cause. The teen behind the counter, I’d guess he’s about my age, seems rather frightened… poor thing. I keep having to tell him it’s nothing to do with his service (since I haven’t ordered anything but an ice tea- ice cubes, not rods.- which I got just fine).

I can’t believe I’m sitting here, in an internet cafe, with tears running down my face, worrying about my Gramps, reminiscing about my Grams, and laughing at the situation.

Anyways, back to summer and the present.

Actually… no the past for another second.

So the next year my Gramps started renting the chalet. In the winter, a near by ski resort pays him well for its use, from November till March. From April till September, Camper, Back packers and all sorts of young folk rent it. The woods are lovely, and the leck out back is too. I’m glad more people get to enjoy it’s beauty, though I miss our old Holidays as family. But atleast this way its only empty for October. When its too cold to camp, but too warm to ski.

With his pension, and what he’s making from the Chalet’s rent, since he payed off the mortgage LONG ago, he’s renting a place in Newfoundland, near St. Johns…. actually, I don’t know if it’s closer to St. John’s or Argentia. But either way he is near plenty of good hospitals, and there is a Rest Home not far away, either, and they made a deal with my dad to send out a care taker twice a week to check on him. Despite being 80, my grand dad is full of energy, spunk and quite independent. He still drives, though he prefers to walk, and he is quite agile and lithe for his age.  When we asked why he was moving so far away, he said he wanted a place full of beauty, to remind him of Grams, but without the painful memories and pitying stares of the locals. Here, everyone is so nice, and they know him, and about my Grams, but they understand. They let him live his life the way he wants. Many of them admire him, and upon learning my relationship with him, spoke of what an inspiration he was. I’m just so glad to be here with him.

And it’s a good thing I’m here. Outside, his place was beautiful, and the scenery was breathtaking. But inside, the place was drab. I took his car to St. John’s, an bought some brushes, and rollers, and 3 big cans of paint and 2 small, not to mention a bag of polishing rags and wood polish and metal polish, and some floor cleaner, a new mop, Windex and paper towels and another of sandpaper. Forget about packing! The first thing I did was wash the windows. Next, I painted the shutters. I wasn’t all that thrilled about doing the upstairs windows and shutters from the outside… seeing as I’d need a ladder and it was quite high… and I’m not the biggest fan of ladders. So I waited until the afternoon hopping the sun wouldn’t be so bright… In the mean time I sheperded my grand dad out of the house with a pic-nic on the deck while I mopped down all the floors. When I let him back in, once the floors were dry and he wouldn’t muck them up, he was astounded at how easy it was to see with clean windows, and shiny, polished floor. I was glad I brought my work overalls and ignored my mom, cause I ended up using them alot. After Lunch, I put off getting on the ladder again, and instead crawled along the deck with goggles on my eyes and gloves on my hands as I sanded down the deck. I say it was built about a hundred years ago, and wasn’t maintained for the past fifty. Now, as the sun was setting behind the trees, I decided to paint the deck. The shutters were a nice evergreen colour which stood out beautifully against the white wash of the boards. It was while I was doing them that I realised the exterior would need a scrub and wash and another layer of white wash. For now, I would just contend myself with painting the deck its warm chocolaty brown. it was a red based brown and looks beautiful surrounded by woods.

When I was finally done that, I showered numbly, and went straight to sleep… exhausted and smelling of good old fashioned work.

But when I awoke the next morning, to my dismay, the ladder was still waiting propped against the house. I was starting to climb it, when much to my suprised, like a blast from the past, a teen came riding round the corner on a bike with a basket full of papers. He rung his bell at teatering leaning against a window pane with a paintbrush in my mouth and a can of paint ballanced precariously on the windowsill. and then he laughed as I nearly toppeled over. I was properly furious by then. But in the end he offered to stop by that afternoon and any other if we needed any help fixing up the house. he offered to do the windows, so i guess i couldnt stay too mad for too long. Anyways he did the windows while I did the walls inside and then he and my grand dad started washing the walls outside… Then they came in and we started doing other walls. The next day we put second coats on all the walls and white washed the outside. It was rather fun with them helping.

Also, with them helping, and some more local teens, Gramps and I finished all the preparations! I would say quicker than we expected but the truth was that we weren’t expecting to pull it off.

Now the house, and thankfully the weather too, are nearly ready for the wedding on Wendsday. Its been a bit cloudy lately, and the forecast says it will be tomorrow and tuesday as well, but that wendsday should be sunny and warm, feeling like 25 degrees C. THen after that it gets a bit rainy again, which I love but no one ever seems to want for a wedding. My cousin, the bride, is getting in tomorrow, and I can not wait. Its so excitting!

The ceremony is taking place on the little jetty that bridges off the the shore. Its not on my grand dad’s prperty but his neighbour said he could use it. and then there will be a reception on my gran dad’s lawn. Its very homey and pic nic-esque, and it works since its a small ceremony. She came to visit Gramps last summer with her fiancee and fell in love with the place, and they both agreed they would do the wedding there.

Oh well! Gotta go! Times up! Gramps needs me back at the house to settle some details!

Now you see why its been such a busy, sweaty, bloody, soon to get even more teary summer?

the power of three

Three beautiful summer blooms I found outside the library on my way into town. I love the delicate serenity of the roses contrasting with the hard brick background.

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