Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 08.31.16
Stanstead, Quebec


How I spent my summer staycation

Normally I would keep a journal of my annual vacation travels, but this year we stayed put. What to do?

One option might be to post a Yelp review of my Ultimate Staycation Package. ("Directions were spot on: walk downstairs, turn left at the laundry basket and enter the kitchen. I appreciated the Unlimited Fridge Access and the Pants Optional Policy but customer service involved far too much eye-rolling. Also the house had a funny smell. Or so I'm told. I didn't notice.")

Alternatively, I could simply run through the highlights here.

July 29-August 1: My wife's family gathered in our back yard: 27 people, 7 tents, 1 Slumber Queen, 5 beer runs. The assembled included several twentysomethings who seemed to be training for the Alcohol Olympics, specifically the shot put. ("Shot put in mouth. Shot swallowed. Shot good.") We may have violated a number of municipal ordinances regarding noise, open fires and maximum occupancy.

August 3: I finally saw my new family doctor and underwent my first complete physical in many years. Rarely have I been so concerned about choosing underwear. And, yes, I did get the whole exam, and, no, I won't be joking about it. Men, there is a very good reason to have your prostate checked, though right now I can't put my finger on it.

August 4: Began prep work for painting the house, which involved a lot of scraping and priming. Music made the time pass pleasantly, thanks to my iPhone, a Spotify playlist ,and a Bluetooth speaker. I coaxed son James to join in the work and he made it to PIL's "Rise" before he went inside to retrieve his headphones.

August 5: The opening of the Olympic Games, an elite sporting event that brings people of all nations together in the common cause of rooting against the Russians.

August 6: Dropped iPhone in a bucket of water while changing Spotify playlist. The speed at which I snatched it from the water was a gold-medal performance.

August 5, 12, 18: I helped Deb deliver meals on wheels. I have nothing funny to say about this but I think it's important to point out from time to time that I'm a good person.

August 8: Travelled to Sherbrooke to have Abby's braces repaired after a fluke shirt-snagging incident. I bought a pink shirt. No connection.

August 9: Deb and I took Abby and her friend to the Bromont Water Park, where I came to the realization that, while tattoos may be socially acceptable, they remain the velvet Elvis of body enhancement. This, of course, didn't stop me from pondering, as always, what kind of tattoo I would get. I think it would have to represent something that had great meaning in my life. Probably a coffeemaker.

August 10: More family visitors, but this time well within the municipal code.

August 11: In Montreal for Abby's medical appointment, I visited the Apple Store for the first time (non-iPhone-related). What a marvel of streamlined chaos. Such helpful, wonderful, cultish employees. And an entire inventory that could be stored inside three kitchen drawers. Deb didn't share my enthusiasm. She wore the expression of someone awaiting a biopsy result.

August 13: With poor weather outside, painting moved inside to the bathroom and our bedroom, where we learned what happens when you apply latex paint to an old ceiling in high humidity. Hint: it involves blistering and swearing.

August 15: Let's just assume that when I'm not doing anything else, I'm still prepping the bloody house.

August 18-19: Deb and I enjoyed a night away tenting in complete serenity under a full moon on the banks of the Missisquoi River. The next morning was spent kayaking down the river, and by "kayaking" I mean "gently floating downstream in shallow water with occasional paddling to avoid a log." In other words, decidedly not an Olympic event, but the only real vacation moment of the month not involving primer.

August 20: Finally applying paint! Not sure about the colour.

August 22: Back to work. A moment of silence for my plants...

August 24: Man, I have to get that blood work done the doctor ordered. I've been putting it off. I'm not afraid of the needle. I'm afraid of not being able to snack for 12 hours. I'll do it eventually. It's more of a September chore anyway. Maybe after the painting's done...