The Goblins

The strangest birthday request that my mother ever made was for an outhouse. She’d been talking about wanting an outhouse for years, which made no sense to me, since she had two perfectly functional toilets inside the house. Who in their right mind would want to sit outside on a seat suspended over a giant stinky hole and either freeze her butt off in wintertime or inhale warm fumes in summertime? I thought she was nuts. But my dad, being the loving man he is, built my mom an outhouse anyways. He used rough-hewn pine boards, painted it dark brown, and cut a little half-moon in the door. Mom was delighted and named it “The Goblins.”


For the first few years, I avoided using The Goblins unless absolutely necessary, which was more frequently than I liked because the power goes out in Muskoka on a regular basis. At those times, I was actually grateful for The Goblins because using an outhouse is still better than hauling a pail of cold water from the lake and dumping it in to flush an overflowing toilet.

This summer, though, something surprising has happened. My interest in The Goblins has moved beyond a grudging acknowledgement of its usefulness in difficult times and closer to an actual attraction to the outhouse. In fact, I recently admitted to my mother that I’m “really into The Goblins” — and I don’t mean that in the sense of physical necessity. I can’t explain this change of mind, but now I look for reasons to escape to The Goblins for some quality toilet time. Sometimes I wonder if motherhood has addled my brain; am I that desperate for solitude?

When I head for The Goblins, I refuse to close the door completely because then it’s practically up against my nose. So I prop it open with my foot – width determined by how much action is going on outside – and peer out at the world. There’s something calming about watching chipmunks play tag, seeing little birds rustle in the dry leaves, and listening to the buzz of bumblebees in the flower garden. It’s a lot more interesting than staring at bathroom tile grout. If a person walks down the path toward the front door, I quickly close the door, engulfing myself in scary spider-filled darkness because the half-moon doesn’t let in much light. I have to be careful, or else the door will bang loudly and draw attention to my presence.

I like The Goblins because it is progressive and regressive at the same time — the former because it’s environmentally friendly and doesn’t waste a dozen litres of water with every flush, and the latter because it makes me feel like some historical, capable pioneer woman who’s homesteading in the bush. Call it weird if you like, but I bet The Goblins would work its magic on you, too, if you spent enough time in there.

Have you read these posts yet?
Raven the Cookstove
My Traumatic Childhood Overdose on Alfalfa Sprouts & Cream Cheese
Skinny Dipping


2 thoughts on “The Goblins

  1. When I was growing up, we spent summers in our cabin in the wilds of Northeast Washington, with no water or power, and the outhouse was a toilet with a three-sided enclosure and no door, so the sitter got a lovely open view of the forest. At night, it was a dark, creepy walk out there, but in the morning, quite pleasant. One year, we arrived to find a black bear’s claw marks all over the walls, like he was trying to rip it down. I also used to envision myself as a pioneer (still do) in that cabin. It’s wonderful.

    1. That sounds lovely. I have to admit, I am happy you responded to that post because Jason thought it was a little too ‘out there’ for my blog but I was stubborn and insisted it would resonate with someone!

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