a peek inside the fishbowl

30 Aug, 2007

Message in a bottle

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Easy ways to make kids happy|Ottawa|Photography

message in a bottle 

1. Island Park Bridge, 2. Ready to throw!, 3. There they are!, 4. Watching the bottles, 5. Exploring the riverside, 6. “Look! I’m on an island!”

It’s hard being a mom when your body is playing host to THE SICK. It’s easier when you have a pair of kids who know how to entertain themselves. The girls have been most excellent this past week.

I spent a lot of time lying down, or just sitting, unable to do much of anything.

From time to time I trudged out to get the girls focused on some kind of activity, just to shake it up and get them doing something different. I felt guilty being sick, like I was ruining the last week of their summer holidays. What a mom, eh?


I don’t know where the idea came from, but we decided to do a message in a bottle.

I had actually planned on doing this some time ago. A couple weeks ago I swiped some plastic 1L pop bottles out of someone’s blue box and washed them out.

I know it would have been best if I let each girl write their own message, but frankly, I didn’t have the energy. The girls dictated and I typed. The message included our location, the date, and our email address. I printed two copies of the letter and the girls drew pictures on the bottom and the back of the pages, then rolled them up and tucked one in each bottle.

The other night we went down to the Island Park bridge to set them free. Sarah was a little sad about saying goodbye to her artwork.

It was pretty exciting. The girls dropped them off the bridge (it’s a long way down) and we watched them until we couldn’t see them anymore. It took a very long time for them to disappear out of sight. They reflected the light of the setting sun the whole way down the river.

We wondered where they could end up. The answer is: pretty much anywhere. It will be a miracle if someone finds one, but that’s part of what I like about this kind of thing… the not knowing.

Afterwards we went down the explore the river. I came home with a few bits of beach glass, some smooth river rocks, and goose poop on the cuff of my pants, but I’d say it was a great day overall.

30 Responses to "Message in a bottle"

1 | BeachMama

August 30th, 2007 at 6:48 pm


That is really cool. I have to say you have the best imagination for doing fun kids stuff. I hope someone finds them and sends an email.

2 | twinmomplusone

August 31st, 2007 at 8:26 am


you are such a cool mom

let us know if anything comes out of this

3 | Miira

August 31st, 2007 at 10:27 am


You’ve been recommended as part of Blog Day 2007!

4 | Helene

August 31st, 2007 at 9:11 pm


what a great idea!

5 | debra

September 1st, 2007 at 2:01 pm


When my girls were younger, we did this. We didn’t get a response, but how our imaginations soared!

6 | Sharon

September 1st, 2007 at 3:39 pm


Very cool…

I hope you get a reply if you don’t tell me and I send something just so they get a happy reply.

OK i’m a sucker!

7 | Sue

September 12th, 2007 at 10:32 am


Throwing a bottle in the river just sounds like litter. That river doesn’t need any more garbage tossed in it.

8 | Mark

September 12th, 2007 at 12:20 pm


Sue – it wasn’t garbage. It was two messages in a bottle. Someone will find them, read the message and recycle the bottle. If it was just an empty bottle, it would be garbage. In this case, it’s a transport system for a message. Possibly you didn’t get that part of the story.

9 | andrea

September 12th, 2007 at 2:03 pm


Sue, I prefer see it from an optimist’s perspective. It’s a floating bottle. Someone will find it and pick it up. :)

10 | Sue

September 12th, 2007 at 2:56 pm


Anything tossed in the river is litter. Its even illegal. Not sure I’d call it garbage but its at least ugly.

The idea is fun but the consequences were not thought out. She could have cleaned up another piece of trash at that location and made the activity more neutral.

Being a teacher to childen she needs to set a better example and use her head just as much as her heart.

11 | Mark

September 12th, 2007 at 3:29 pm


Sue, I don’t think it’s fair to judge the actions of persons life by a simple blog post and photos of a single activity. I can assure you that “she” sets an outstanding example to her children. And for the record after the bottles were thrown in, we all went down the river and removed quite a bit of broken glass off the shore and the riverbed.

12 | Sue

September 13th, 2007 at 2:09 pm


Mark, glad to hear other cleanup was done and it should have been part of the original blog. I’m sure edits can still be made to correct the omission.

Removing heavy items like glass are not as good as removing floating plastic items however. You should also be aware that the river is most likely full of e.coli so kids should not even be wading or picking up sharp glass.

To suggest I was unfair is a tad rude. The comment was valid while yours was just mean spirited.

Perhaps I’ll go join her mindset and buy some carbon credits now (tongue in cheek).

13 | a peek inside the fish bowl

September 14th, 2007 at 8:40 am


[…] Sue accused us of littering, in the comments of my August  30th Message in a bottle post. […]

14 | Sue

September 14th, 2007 at 9:24 am


I did not accuse but did suggest and the blogger finally confessed to knowingly littering. Thats more than mere semantics.

Keep up the light themes and tone down lest you loose a new reader.

15 | andrea

September 14th, 2007 at 9:47 am


Sue, I don’t write for you. I write for me, my family and my friends. Truly I do.

16 | Jennie

September 14th, 2007 at 10:48 am


There is nothing wrong with helping children create a little imagination. I think that a message in a bottle is fun and hopeful. I’m sure it will be picked up by someone in the and really make their day.

17 | Jennie

September 14th, 2007 at 10:49 am


..by someone in the ‘future’ and…

sorry I seem to have forgotten a word.

18 | Sue

September 14th, 2007 at 10:53 am


I realize the blogger does not blog to me personally. I do not know the blogger.

My impression of the blogging so far is one of insight into the life of a person and their take on things I also ponder about. A message in a bottle is an activity I would also enjoy but I find a flaw with this particular execution and pointed it out as a comment rather than anything blunt.

Reading between lines is best something for secret agents or silly games.

Its a public forum, need anything more be said?

19 | Sue

September 14th, 2007 at 10:57 am


Its a public forum, need anything more be said?

20 | Wes

September 14th, 2007 at 11:01 am


Andrea writes:
“Sue, I don’t write for you. I write for me, my family and my friends. Truly I do. ”

You are posting in the web. If you want to write only for your friends and family, get an account on FaceBook.

21 | Julie

September 14th, 2007 at 11:21 am


What is happening? I think I’m right in saying that no one likes to be judged. Pointing out an oversight, or offering insight might have come across with a little more respect, but accusations are not cool. Whenever intelligent people chose to spend their time reading what others write, they run the risk of differing in opinion. Sometimes you can learn something from someone, and sometimes it’s the other way around. Tone is everything, and judgemental language is unecessary.

22 | andrea

September 14th, 2007 at 11:33 am


Sue, I don’t know why you’re referring to me as “the blogger,” like I’m not here or something. My name is Andrea. And this is my space. I started writing here in the summer of 1999, for family and friends. This is a public space, but it’s still my own. It is an extension of who I am.

Anyone is free to read along and share their comments.

I believe in the marketplace of ideas. There is room for everyone here, and I welcome all comments. But I don’t welcome rude comments posted under the cloak of anonimity.

When I said that I write for my friends and family I meant that I write with them in mind. I certainly don’t tailor my writing for the anonymous masses that are lurking in the shadows. I express myself freely, and I hope that my honesty is appreciated by the people who come here.


23 | Mark

September 14th, 2007 at 12:15 pm


Wes: Since this is the web, Andrea is free to write for whomever she pleases. It’s really noone elses business who she writes for. That’s what makes the web so great. To suggest that she go get a facebook account because she has an opinion that is not shared by others is a little harsh. Even columnists in newspapers are free to give their opinion even if it is in opposition to a majority of their readers. This is just a nice family blog for cripes sake.

24 | Yaris

September 14th, 2007 at 3:04 pm


Nebav se s idiotama! To je ztrata casu. A pokud je to anonym – tak teprve ne!!! Veci delaj tak, jak jim rozumis a nenech si dotoho kecat!

25 | Kristina

September 15th, 2007 at 1:32 pm


:waves: Hi – romantic litterbug here! I have tossed bottles into the Atlantic Ocean in Maine, the St. Lawrence near Morrisburg, the little Rideau Lake near Westport …all contained unanswered but poetic notes to potential readers on distant shores.

Of course, that was back in the early 80s. Perhaps times were simpler then and people still had imaginations?

26 | Sue

September 17th, 2007 at 1:16 pm


I refer to the blogger as “the blogger” as thats a common term. The grammatical person I use is just my style.

I am also intolerant to rude comments and choose not to supply my home address or phone number. Not sure why anyone would want it anyways.

Public displays should be tailered so they do not contain illegal activities. You admitted to knowing littering. Time to correct your oversight.

I still say the blog could be edited to point out the littering aspect of it and how you cleaned up other nearby trash to make it an almost neutral activity.

Its quite tiring to keep defending my inital comment. Can we move on please?

27 | Laura

October 2nd, 2007 at 3:22 pm


Hi –

I am usually a quiet visitor who enjoys your writings. Today though I thought you might find the article called ‘Wedding vows in bottle bring déjà vu’ in today’s Toronto Star interesting.

28 | a peek inside the fish bowl

April 24th, 2008 at 10:45 am


[…] Do you remember when we put a message in a bottle (two bottles, actually) and threw them in the Ottawa River? It was in August 2007… well one of them has been found! (!!!) […]

29 | Message in a bottle at a peek inside the fishbowl

July 28th, 2008 at 7:11 am


[…] The original post (with some conflict in the comments) and the follow up. I still can’t believe it. Filed under Misc. life | […]

30 | B-mail >> a peek inside the fishbowl

April 18th, 2010 at 6:59 am


[…] summarize: we filled two plastic bottles with two messages and dropped them in the Ottawa River. One of them was actually found. In hindsight we should have known that the Island Park bridge – […]

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (23) and Sarah (21). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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