September 02, 2009

What I did on my summer vacation

As published in The Erin Advocate

One of these years, I am going to have a truly relaxing vacation. It always seems that by the time I get finished all the things I have to do, and a few of the things I want to do, there is hardly enough time to sleep, let alone relax.

My vacation started with the Spirit of the Hills Family Fun Day, singing with the Young at Heart Choir. It was our public debut, in the attractive Hillsburgh Historical Park, dedicated to Nazareth Hill and his fellow pioneers, and we had a lot of fun. We are not professionals, but when the little kids start dancing in the park, you know you are doing something right. Thanks to the Hillsburgh Lions for the excellent peameal bacon on a bun and a friendly welcome.

Then I was off to a half dozen Doors Open sessions, which loaded me up with more Erin lore than my brain could hold, and left my feet tired and sore.

Then there's septage. I cringed recently when editor Joan asked me to consider a column on septage, a complicated issue that can really bog you down. I am not looking for sympathy, since the torture is self-inflicted, but I did spend a bit of my vacation digging into Erin's septage problem.

For those new to life in the outer reaches of the Greater Golden Horseshoe, septage is that sludge that is pumped out of your septic tank and spread on farm fields if weather conditions are right, unless the ground is frozen, in which case it has to be trucked to towns far, far away, until they decide they do not want it anymore, at which time we will be in some serious septage.

I will fill in more details in an upcoming column, but in the meantime, here is a tip for anyone whose septic tank is due for cleaning: do it sooner, not later.

Then it was time for camping, the vacation activity that last year I swore I would not be doing this year. Jean had bought an easy-to-assemble dining tent to replace the one we joyfully flung into the dumpster last year, and a canopy with a sturdy frame, so I would not have to climb into trees with ropes, trying to create a tarp ceiling for the camp site.

Still, it is a day of hard work to pack up the utility trailer, travel to Lake Huron, and assemble our new home, complete with bar fridge. The next morning, preparing for a day of relaxation, we got a phone call from my son Michael to whom we had lent our '97 Eagle Talon so he could join us camping.

The car had died on the 401 near Cambridge, so I ended up spending half a day to pick him up and Jean spent a half day getting him to work two days later. (It was the timing belt, so now we are vehicle shopping.)

Then there was the torrential rain, which created a small river that flowed through the bottom of our tent, forcing us to relocate it, then load most of our clothes and bedding into several dryers at the Goderich laundromat.

Before the full-day trek home, I did have time to read a collection of newspaper columns by humorist Dave Barry, which was fun, but a bit like work, since I kept wondering if I would ever be that good a writer. If I could get better, and find a topic other than Erin, maybe I could get myself syndicated.

Next, I spent a day in the pulsating blob known as Toronto. I saw the Dead Sea Scrolls at the ROM, took a tour of the legislature at Queen's Park (which is like a museum), checked out the grandeur of St. Michael's Cathedral (also museum-like), and caught a high-speed chess game on the lawn of Metropolitan United before heading to a Fred Eaglesmith concert.

The next day, I got back to my regular job, which was a good thing, because I needed a rest.