Keeping the house, the kids and the hubby without breaking the bank, the earth, the people I love, or myself.

How to Fill a Saturday

(with more free things to do in the Niagara Region)

As always, you can click on individual pictures to view them in more detail.

Start out with a visit to the United Empire Loyalists Park (a playground) with all four kids. (Intimidating name for a playground. I really don't want to know what it means.)

Here, they could pretend to be Spiderman...

or ride a tongue from 10 feet high down to ground level.

Yes, some playground equipment designer has a seriously twisted sense of humour. One, which was not lost on my youngest son. Who, when disembarking from said tongue slide declared “Mommy! It licked my bum all the way down!" Oh, lord.

Next, a short walk over to the Stevensville Conservation Area where we hiked along Black Creek. This I think could be more appropriately named Strong-Coffee-With-a-Touch-of-Milk Creek. But I don't think they'll change it.

Black Creek runs alongside Mud Pond for a while. Okay, it's not really named Mud Pond.
We saw a few mallards in the pond. A few hawks in the sky.

The kids found the most adorable baby turtle between the creek and the pond.

Don't worry. We put him back where he'd be safe and hopefully able to live out a long and happy life.
Next, we headed down the road where an associate of my husband's has built himself a castle - complete with a moat. The building is still in progress but the moat is complete. Why the moat, you ask? The town of Stevensville wouldn't allow the owner to land his small plane on his land surrounding the ‘castle’, though they did note that he could land it on water. Hence the moat. Yes, he had floaters installed on his small plane and that's where he lands it.

On down the road and we get to Windmill Point Beach. Alas, no windmill. (We've been searching Windmill Point for the windmill and haven't found one yet.) The beach is a gem on its own. It’s small, quiet, and rather private. So much so, I’m almost reluctant to blog about it. Much of it is rocky -- great slabs of rock with spaces between where water has gotten in and been warmed. The beach was covered in small shells and the boys filled their sand pails with them. The older kids jumped from rock to rock in the surf, letting the cold water break against their feet and legs. Everyone had a blast. The younger two explored and found treasures. We all got our toes wet. The water's not quite 40 degrees yet, but where it was shallow and still it was warm from the sun….which on this day in April had us at 65F. If the wind weren’t so strong over the lake, I’m sure it would have been in the lower 70’s.

Happily, I was wearing my Propet water shoes, which my son got me for Christmas last year. Those rocks didn't hurt my feet! These are the MOST comfortable water shoes I've ever had. They're like second skin. I don't think they'll work for both hiking and water, as they seem to be made of a material that would break down from heavy wear. They're wonderful for the beach, though. My feet get sore too easily and I certainly couldn't walk on rocks bare footed. If you need water shoes, I highly recommend these. They feel like a cloud, lots of spring and though necessarily tight, not binding at all.

Each of these places is less than 10 minutes from our home. There are several more beaches for us to explore in this area yet. I think we'll be able to fill every Saturday without repeating an outing this year. Don't worry. I'll share!

Our day wasn’t finished yet. We headed home for a barbecue. With that, the day was done.

That, folks, is how you fill a Saturday.


Border Patrol MADNESS

Warning: this post contains adult language. If you can't handle that, don't read it.

Many things over the past several years have given rise to a desire in me never to return to my country of birth, to renounce my citizenship and never look back. Shrubby's and Dick(head) Cheney's abolition of basic human rights was a good start. The continuing erosion of the those rights further convinced me that that particular world isn't one I want to live in. A world in which children are detained for years and journalists are tortured thanks to the colour of their skin and the circumstances of their birth is a world to which I never want to be a silent partner. A country which makes it legal to detain others without access to legal counsel or contact from ANY OTHER LIVING SOUL for an indefinite time...again something of which I want no part.
These egregious human rights violations trickle down in other small ways. In short order, America became the bully of the world -- beating up the world's little people for democratic change.

This weekend I went back to Ohio with my family for a visit. I have been back and forth so many times in the past five years I managed to forget a document which I needed for my daughter to enter Canada. Major head slap here. Yes. Very very stupid of me. I thought I had that document. I did not. Because I did not have it, Canada would not let my daughter and I into the country. They gave me a slip of paper for each my daughter and myself showing that SHE AND I were barred entry and we were sent to the American border to return to America. Our plan was to go sit in a coffee shop in Buffalo for an hour to an hour and a half while my husband returned to our home in Crystal Beach, got the document and fetched us.

Simple, right?


When we entered the border checkpoint at 1:15 a.m., the guard barks: "CITIZENSHIP?!" My husband responds, "I'm Canadian; they're all American." And he's trying to hand the guard all our identifications. As he does, his own driver's license and birth certificate fall to the floor. He reaches for them and the guard freaks out. "WHAT ARE YOU REACHING FOR?!" ... 'my identification fell, sorry." "GIVE ME ALL OF YOUR IDENTIFICATIONS AT ONCE!" Well, what the fuck was he trying to do? Roy tries to tell the guard that he needs to return my daughter and I to the states because I forgot a document that she needs for entry to Canada and the guard didn't hear a word. Just started badgering us. Firing one question after another without pause for responses: "WHAT ARE YOU SO NERVOUS ABOUT? WHAT ARE YOU HIDING? WHY ARE YOU LYING?"


It's after one in the morning. We'd spent about 45 minutes on the other side having things explained to us in the most congenial manner. Perhaps the immigration and customs officers on the Canadian side were so pleasant because they knew we were in for a nightmare experience.
My husband tells the guard, "I'm frustrated and tired. I'm not hiding anything." I lean forward and say, "Look, we forgot a document we need and he......" The guard bellows at me: "DON'T TALK TO ME. ONLY THE DRIVER TALKS TO ME!" Well bull fucking shit. There was no fucking sign demanding absolute silence from all passengers. Kiss my ever loving fat white AMERICAN arrogant bullying son of a whore.

At this point, the armed bully leans into the back seat and barks at my nine year old, who is tired as hell and leaning against the door half conscious: "LOOK AT ME. I CAN'T SEE YOUR FACE!!!" My son was scared shitless. YOU BASTARDS. How DARE you scream at a child and frighten him in the middle of the fucking night just because you're on some kind of insane power trip. Take a fucking vacation you fucking moron.

Now three more armed guards come to the car. One is making fun of the border guard who "caught" this "carload" (carload of what I want to know. Carload of American fucking citizens you jack fucking asses.) They demand Roy's keys and go into the hatchback of our family fucking mobile --- a god damned station wagon containing easter baskets and dirty underoos from our 3 days in Ohio. They notice a bottle of ketchup on top of a bag containing an Easter basket (American ketchup is different from Canadian. I don't like Canadian ketchup. Now, I don't care if I ever have ketchup again for the rest of my ever loving life) and sarcastically says, "Wow look at all this food. That's a lot of food. What else do you have in here?" Oh for fuck's fucking sake. Let's see...we got legos and playdough, plastic easter eggs and jelly beans, the aforementioned underoos, some slippers and some child size 12 galoshes. Better dig through our suitcases, we're obviously terrorists or drug runners.

Fucking assholes.

Perhaps the vanilla wafers are a hot item. Maybe we shouldn't have some tear-free shampoo on board. Who knows, maybe that's the latest bomb making ingredient. Perhaps we had enough sugar on board to knock out a horse or a few unsuspecting border agents.


They remove my husband from the car and escort all 160 pounds of his arrow straight ass into customs with three armed guards. JEBUS FUCKING CRIPES. So while my four year old son, nine year old son, and 15 year old daughter watch their daddy being escorted away by armed guards the nasty assed guard who "caught" our car throws a boot between the front and rear wheels of the driver's side so that the car can't go anywhere. have our keys, asshole, you removed the driver --- WHERE THE FUCK ARE WE GONNA GO???? Oh, I know. I'm gonna haul my oversized ass into the driver's seat, hot wire the car and speed off with my kids inside. WHAT THE FUCK is wrong with you?

Let's stop for a minute. My daughter and I were barred entry to Canada. My daughter and I. Not my husband. Not my sons. My husband had nothing to do with this. But because MY DAUGHTER AND I were barred entry to Canada, the American border guards decided to jump on the one non-American in the vehicle and interrogate him for the next two hours.
Stop and think about this folks. Canada is America's largest trading partner. Canada is America's friendliest and most cooperative neighbour. I can imagine the conversation the border guards were having with each other:

"Well, the woman and her daughter were barred entry to Canada. Look at the man. He's not American. He's got a beard. I bet he's Muslim, you think he's Muslim? Let's throw him in a box and see if we can't lock him up indefinitely for being a terrorist."

You power mongering, fear mongering mongrel sons of mongrel bitches.

The border bully barks at me to get out and drive the car to the customs parking lot. As I come around the driver's side I comment: 'this is all over a document which we do possess but do not have with us. Why are you doing this to us?" He barks to us: "We don't know what this is about!!!!" FUCKER. Yeh, we were barred entry to Canada because we had drugs and bomb making materials, guns and grenades and plans for several buildings and structures. Fuckers. They would have arrested us if that were the case. He barks at me to turn on the flashers and drive over to a guard who's standing in the parking lot of US customs. Well, guess what, I don't know where the flashers are. "TURN THE FLASHERS ON!" I'm sorry I can't find them. Why are we fucking nervous? I don't know. I'm forty fucking years old. My husband is a quiet man. I'm not accustomed to being yelled at and badgered by gun toting bullies. Maybe that's why I'm nervous. Maybe I'm upset that my kids have been subjected to this kind of trauma. Maybe just maybe this is a bunch of fucking bullshit and I'm just plain choking on it. I told him, "I'm sorry I can't find the flashers on here." He bellows at me to "JUST DRIVE OVER TO HIM, HE SEES YOU!!" Well, fuck you very much, I'll fucking do that your fucking fuckliness.

So I drive over and park. We enter a building that has one side of the room dedicated to hard plastic and metal chairs divided by a glass 3/4 wall. On the other side of the glass is a counter behind which border guards sit at terminals. My husband is speaking to one of the border guards at the counter and we all walk to him. The guard tells us to go sit on the hard chairs. On the tv is a news talk show discussing the Casey Anthony case. Just what my kids need -- to see and hear about this asshole idiot in Florida who killed her beautiful toddler. Think I'm asking them to change it to teletoons? Fuck no.

It's nearly 2:00 in the morning and we're all about to fall over. Why did we return so late, you ask? Well, we wanted to avoid a big wait at the border with returning travelers and we visited as long as we could with family. My family had a HUGE get together at my neice's house and nearly everyone was there. It was wonderful. We haven't had a huge gathering since my father died in 2004 and it did my soul good to be around everyone again (see my I miss Thanksgiving post.) Anyway, I didn't leave until we'd visited with the last person to arrive for about an hour. Then we gathered up our things and headed out on the highway at about 8 pm. The kids slept a good bit, but you know -- they're accustomed to a full 10 - 12 hours of sleep a night, all consecutively. They had a 3-4 hour nap, but here they are witnessing hell in motion at 2 am and my four year old is asking "when are we going home? I just want to go home" and I just want to cry at the helplessness of it all. The stupidity of it. The idiocy. The pointlessness of the attitude and badgering from the border agent.

So we sit. My daughter is fretting. She says this is all her fault. It absolutely is not. I'm the dumbass who forgot to make sure that that document was with our papers. It was not. That's MY fault and nobody else's. Poor kid. My nine year old is nervous as hell and my four year old just wants his warm bed in Crystal Beach.

Suddenly my daughter begins to cry. I try to comfort her and tell her it'll be okay. She asks me, "why is daddy locked up in that room?"


I look around and see that the back of the room contains a glass-walled lock down room. Signs are posted on it stating we are not to speak to detainees, they are not to use cell phones, etc. O MY FUCKING GAWD. WHAT THE HELL? I motion a question to my husband as if to ask 'what are you in there for?' and he doesn't respond at all. My husband, like most Canadians, has an inflated sense of respect for authority (over inflated if you ask me). If the sign says he's not allowed to communicate with those on the outside of the cell, he won't even blink at us. He makes no movements at all. I can tell HE IS PISSED. Oh is he pissed.


Let me tell you about my husband. He's the straightest arrow you'd ever meet. He's never been in any kind of trouble....even as a teenager. He's always chosen to avoid trouble. That's his nature. He's an honourable man with a well devoloped sense of right and wrong. He has never smoked pot or tried any illicit drugs. Not even pot. He's reluctant to take tylenol for crying out loud. He doesn't even lie. I'm not sure that he can. He swears so little that the guys at work have made a game of getting him to drop an F-bomb. One of his coworkers calls him the Royscout. And yes, my husband was a boy scout...all the way through till he was in his mid-20's and finished with the Rovers. In short, he's a good, honest, law-abiding family man.

And I'm mad as hell that they would lock him up and treat him like a criminal. Apparently the policy for the border patrol is that everyone's a scumbag out to hurt America until we prove otherwise.

So I approach the counter and ask to speak to a supervisor. I want to know why my husband is being detained. I want to know how in good conscience they can treat their OWN people this way. I want to know how any one of them would react if their children were badgered and verbally assaulted the way my sweet little boy was. And of course, those are the questions I ask. The bully who supervises the other bullies tells me " we haven't mistreated any Americans." Are you shitting me? I told him that barking at children and badgering us, making demands and accusations is absolutely mistreatment of Americans and the most innocent ones, at that. I asked him if they were barred from the employment of their own common sense in their line of work. We're a family ... children and mom and dad ... we're driving a 12-year-old station wagon chock full of Easter basket goodies, colouring books, and toys that can occupy small children... sometimes it is exactly what it looks like. He tells me, "Ma'am, I don't know what a terrorist or drug runner looks like." Oh really. I would think you'd have a much better idea than I. I'm willing to bet they don't drive station wagons with small children in tow who's eyes are wide with the trauma they're experiencing for the first (let's hope only) time in their young and well-protected lives. He tells me he doesn't know if my husband has been living illegally in the states. I laughed at him and told him, "he's a man who works 50 hours a week in Stevensville, Ontario. He doesn't have enough time left over to SLEEP in the states let alone live there." For crying out loud. Border bully supervisor tells me he doesn't know what illegal activities my husband's been involved in in the states. I laughed at him again. Not even jaywalking. Border bully supervisor tells me that they conduct themselves in a professional manner. Guess what? Rudeness, arrogance, berrating children --- not professional. I told him that this is ridiculous. I forgot one document which my daughter needs to cross into Canada or we wouldn't even be here. He tells me he doesn't know that. The two slips of paper handed to him by us clearly note that it was my daughter and I who were barred entry to Canada, not the boys, not my husband. Well, he tells me, 'your husband will continue to be detained until we know that he's not doing anything illegal in the United States.' Holy fuck. So I ask, what will you have my daughter and I do, walk to the nearest hotel in Buffalo while you get your heads out of your asses (okay, I didn't say the last half of it). He tells me, "We're not cruel, ma'am." Seriously? This is feeling pretty fucking cruel and unnecessary to me let alone to my three AMERICAN children who don't deserve this treatment from anyone anywhere! Professional manner my ass. I told him the document Canada customs & immigration handed to us showed that my daughter and I were barred entry for lack of proper travel documents (no, our passports are not enough). He tells me, "We don't talk to the Canadian officers." I tell him it would do him some good. They could take some lessons in professional behaviour from people who manage NOT to berrate and belittle and badger the people they won't even allow into their country.

They want to know why I use my sons' American citizenship when crossing the borders (as they're also Canadian citizens). Why, indeed. Hell, if I hadn't, they'd have been put in lock down with my husband. Imagine the horrors then.


So we wait. Until 3:15 a.m. While a guard interrogates my husband. Tells my husband he's going to lock him up because he knows damned well he's been in the United States more recently than 2007. Ummmm, no he hasn't. Guard tells Roy he's going to jail because the guard knows he's hiding something. This goes on and in despite the fact that they can find no police history for him in their massive databases, no history of any kind except the occasional visit to the US over the past ten years.....every single one of them laid out on their tidy little monitors.

Maniacal power mongering assholes.

I don't ever want to go back. These are the people who are the greeters on the doorsteps of our country. These are the people who welcome visitors to our country: "Hello. Welcome to the rudest country on earth. Get the fuck out."

When finally my head hit a pillow after 4 in the morning and I slipped immediately into unconsciousness I had nightmares about my husband being detained, my children being screamed at and run over (yeh, I don't know where that came from either) by border guards.
I don't ever want to go back.

Eventually I'll start to miss my family again.


Never again.

Fuck the low prices. Fuck the massive selection. Fuck the cheap gas. Fuck the quantity of health care (note I didn't say "quality"). I'll stand in line to pay more for fewer items and I'll stand in line and wait 2 years for necessary surgery because I don't ever want to deal with those sorry bastards again.

Eventually the PTSD they've triggered in me will settle down and I'll want to return to visit my family. I think I'll probably need to be medicated to make that crossing again. My daughter probably will, too.

I think I'll have my daughter's permission to live in Canada tattooed to my ass so I always have it at the ready. Though it's the American border guards I'd most gladly present this form of documentation to.

How much you wanna bet this little ole post of mine lands my ass on a watch list? Yep, that's the pleasure of living in a police state. I want no part of it.


About This Blog

Saving money. Saving graces. Raising children, husbands and, sometimes, cats. Laughing. Living. Thinking. Doing. Life in the Niagara Region of Ontario.

About Me

I am a happily married woman with four children and various cats and kittens (fosters). I love to read and my favourite authors are George RR Martin, Thomas Hardy, Raymond Carver, PD James, Kurt Vonnegut, J. K. Rowling, and Margaret Atwood. I know there are only three women in that list (and none of them American), so if you'd like to suggest some I'm willing to give them a shot! And yes, I am an American living in Canada. (Hence the nick -- CannedAm.) I like it here. There are things about the states that I miss, but my love is here and this country has things to offer that my own does not. Things that make my quality of life much better than it ever was in Ohio. Guess I'm stuck here. Though there's a nice spot in the Appalachian hills where I'd love to spend my retirement.

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