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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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dinner with the gibsons

[Update July 24: I pick up my new computer today! Hopefully the conversion from old to new will go smoothly, and I'll be able to get back online tonight.]

We're at the cottage with my sister-in-law, her boyfriend, and our niece Brittany. My mom-in-law was here as well, but had to go back to the city this morning.

With a child at the cottage, activities naturally tend to differ from when Jeff and I are up here along. They included:

- Cookie experiments: Brittany and I were cookie scientists. We mixed together a basic oatmeal cookie recipe, and then I laid out a number of small bowls filled with different ingredients such as butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, chocolate powder, marshamllow bits and whole marshmallows, and Smarties. I told Brittany she could add whatever she wanted, and then we would stick the experiment in the oven and see how it came out. Not surprisingly, the cookies ended up very high in extra ingredients and low on cookie dough, but it was a lot of fun. :-)

- Body Art: I bought a Body Art kit at Chapters last week. It came with five coloured waxy crayons which drew easily on skin (and washed off with water and soap), and a booklet of design ideas. Brittany and I took turns drawing on each other. Afterward we jumped into the lake to wash off.

- Singing: Brittany wanted to hear the Hockey Monkey song over and over and over again. I also taught her the Alligator Song I learned from Sara.

- Swimming: Ginny, Larkin, Brittany and I swam to Peary's Island (about 300 metres). Brittany was in her lifejacket. It was the first time that Brittany and I had swum that route...I've been somewhat paranoid about trying before since the water is pretty deep. I had aimed to try later in the summer after I had more practice (I'm starting to swim laps at the cottage), but there's nothing like the peer pressure from one's five-year-old niece to provide extra motivation. :-)

Unfortunately Brittany started feeling ill near the end of the day, and ended up nauseous with a fever. Larkin suspects she had been coming down with something already.

In the evening, we went over to Dan and Helen Gibson's place for dinner. Dan Gibson is the creator of the Solitudes record label. His company was the first to market recordings of nature sounds for consumer enjoyment, and also the first -or one of the first- to set up listening stations in stores so that consumers could hear samples of the recordings before making a purchase.

After dinner (Ginny, Larkin, Rick, and Brittany decided to head back to our cottage, but Jeff and I wanted to hang out longer), Dan played me some of his piano compositions. Unfortunately I had forgotten my flute; we sometimes jam together for fun. Their cottage piano is fairly ancient, originally from Mowat Lodge and likely played by Group of Seven painter, Tom Thomson. It's definitely a piano with its own personality (like my Underwood typewriter!), with a few keys that refuse to work.

Jeff and I secretly hope to be like Dan and Helen when we're older (Dan turns 80 next year). They both seem so happy, still very much in love, and have more energy and enthusiasm than a lot of people I know. We plan to visit them in Toronto later this year...I'm going to bring my flute and harp. Dan's been learning how to play flute recently.

We finally leave as darkness was beginning to fall. Paddling quietly across the lake in our canoe, Jeff and I can still hear Dan playing "Algonquin Rain" in the cottage behind us. On the other side of the lake, the fiery glow of the setting sun is just starting to fade on the horizon.

Everyone has already gone to bed by the time our canoe gently nudges the dock. Jeff and I have a sauna and a quick dip in the lake. As we float in the cool water, we can hear the loons calling to each other in the darkness, their cries echoing across the lake.

Today's Blatherpics:

- Brittany paints my toenails, picks a different colour for each nail. We are using a set that Annie and Sara got me as a gift when I was in Philadelphia. Each bottle has a picture of a different Looney Toons character.

- Giant cookie by Brittany, just before we put it into the oven.

- Cartoons I drew on Brittany's legs with a Body Art craft set.

- Dinner with Helen and Dan Gibson. Larkin's boyfriend Rick (who is also chef at Oasis) cooked pickerel...yum.

- Dan plays his newest composition for me.

Feel free to suggest a daily poll question.

Today's Poll:

Have you ever taken piano lessons?

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