So that was Christmas…..

Is it seriously the 31st day of December?? 

Wow.  I’m thinking I should do some kind of Christmas blurb here before it’s suddenly time for the 2008 year recap.  HA!  As if the recap thing will materialize. 

Okay!  We had Christmas!  It was fun!  Our celebration began on the day we left here and headed north.  Weather was crazy cold, but the highways were mostly bare and dry.  Cannot complain about that.  Also no complaints about little people yelling “GRANDMA!” and running to hug me around the knees.  It made sense to celebrate a couple of days earlier than the 25th, so Santa co-operated and we got all the present opening hoopla and the big turkey dinner over with on the 23rd.  That gave us some time to tackle the leftovers, play with our new toys and visit and relax. Well, you know, as much as it’s possible to relax with 6 kids and 5 adults all talking at once.  I asked Kenzie on the way home what she and Kale did when they were off by themselves doing stuff, and she told me they did lots of things and had lots of fun.  I can’t be a whole lot more specific myself, now that we’re back.  Great food, 96% happy children,  a gingerbread house constructed and consumed, fun crafts, grandpa’s Christmas bonfire attended to, a barely serious game of trivial pursuit,  a ‘kids in the hall’ version of  ‘things in a box’.  And a good luck baby to remind us all how important it is to have a loving and caring family.

W. and I both have colds now, although his is FAR FAR worse than mine…..(serious eye rolling).  I’ve just completed day five in a row at work, something I’m not used to doing anymore.  Three consecutive days seems to be my limit.  It’s rather stormy and blustery out there today, so I’m happily anticipating spending tonight and the next four days indoors putting Christmas away.   

Of course I have lots more to say, and pictures to post, but thanks to my son I’m completely hooked on the Zelda Phantom Hourglass DS game.  It has been seriously eating away every spare moment of my time, and quite a few moments that I don’t really have to spare as well.  I have started dreaming about swords and jewels and bizarre monsters, and every so often feel compelled to talk out loud to the little guy on the screen who’s on his big adventure.  This sort of excitement was obviously lacking in my childhood, so I’m just going with this obsession until it runs it’s course.  And then I’ll be back.

Who Are the Old Aunts Now?

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This is my Aunt Marguerite and my mom posing in some bushes.  I honestly don’t know any more about the circumstances of this picture than that.  They are both looking rather pink and pretty. 

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Aunt Marie, Aunt Winnie, Aunt May and Aunt Marguerite in Aunt Marguerite’s kitchen in Dryden on Dingwall Parkway.  Anyone who has recently been in MY kitchen will recognize the giant spoon and fork that mom rescued from Marguerite’s son Murray as he was putting them into the trunk of his car after they didn’t sell at a yard sale, and which she subsequently gave to me and which I greatly treasure, simply because of whose they were and where they used to hang.

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Aunt Marguerite, Aunt May and Aunt Margaret (mom) on what looks like a fall outing perhaps in a park.  Who knows where.   

I can’t remember who said it to me this fall, but someone suddenly declared out of the blue that WE’RE the old aunts now.  Perhaps it was my sister Ann, one of the active members of the current Old Aunt’s group.  What a startling realization.  And then my son K. remarked that he would have known our cousin June was related to us, even if he’d met her on the street, the family resemblence was so great.  What a compliment to me and Ann, although maybe not so much to June, who was always a strikingly beautiful girl.  Now she’s a white haired grandma!  And  beautiful still. We are descended from a long line of splendiferous people, obviously.  Delightful, inside and out.  What a privilege it is to be an aunt!  What an honor to be an old one!!

(How in the world did this happen so abruptly with all of us unaware??)

Sotto Voce

Today I woke up with no voice to speak of.  Or with.  Well, a gurgley gravelly one only, and the more I tried to use it the worse it got.  So I gave up and came home from work halfway through the day.  No point in being there if I can’t even answer the phone.  I croaked my way through my two appointments before accepting defeat.  This reminds me of how I sounded right after my thyroid surgery.  Monotone and whispery in a startling kind of way.  So I spent a nice quiet afternoon cleaning the house and making lasagna for our ‘wandering’ dinner party tomorrow evening.  We’re going to four houses for different courses.  Appetizers, salads, main course (chez moi) and desserts.  It’s going to suck Christmas balls if I can’t talk.  However, if that’s the kind of thing I’m planning on saying, maybe it’s just as well.

The temperature outside is only minus 17, but it feels like minus 36.  (I read that on some weather page.) There’s a bitter wind, the car takes too long to warm up, and my fingers go numb on the steering wheel.  Time to ditch the gloves for mittens.  I’ve started wearing big fuzzy socks in the house, and an extra sweater almost all the time, and putting the hood up on my coat.  And wrapping a big scarf around my neck!  These are all little old lady things !  And now I’ve got a scratchy throat and a witchy voice.  Next thing you know I’ll be frightening small children.   

It’s been very weird for me to be so silent for so long.  Apparently I hum a lot and say things out loud when I’m by myself – habits I didn’t realize I had until my voice took this sudden hiatus and refused to make noises that sound human.  NOT a good time to be singing along with the Christmas cd’s.  I’m optimistic that another night’s sleep will put it all right again.

The House in Town

After mom and dad left the farm they moved to a little white house in town, on a great big lot, complete with garden plots and flower beds and a big old barn shaped storage shed/garage.  Dad warned us that we shouldn’t come in the back door too fast or we might just go right out the front door and miss the whole thing.  It was a lot smaller than what they were used to, but I think they found it much more manageable, and quite enjoyed their time there.  The house had two bedrooms, an open area dining/kitchen/living room all on one level;  a smaller sort of tv room, laundry room and bathroom two steps down;  a small entry way in the back and a nice deck in the front.  There was a beautiful weeping willow tree on their front lawn and a short little driveway to a quiet street.  The back of their property bordered on a section of the “Rail Trail”, a pedestrian walkway created where the railway tracks once ran.

We really thought with such a downsize that they’d have less company, but I don’t think that was the case.  They positively thrived on having visitors and always welcomed anyone and everyone who showed up on their doorstep.  

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The living room was incredibly pink, and bright and airy. That’s my mother-in-law and her sister (who lived in Clinton) beside mom on the couch, and dad on the chair in front. 

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And this is the two of them beside the deck.  Both pictures were taken by my father-in-law.  I think it’s quite amazing that they all liked and visited eachother so much, considering that the only things they really had in common were two children who married eachother.  And mutual grandchildren and great grandchilren, of course. 

In that small little kitchen and with her greatly diminished eyesight, my mom could still create a small feast.  No one ever left hungry.  I think they were there for about six years.  I remember my last couple of visits were just with mom, because dad had moved to the care centre.  I know she didn’t like being there on her own, but just the same the decision to leave it and join him was a very difficult one.  The move from the farm was hard, but somehow I think the move from this little place was even harder, because it meant giving up so much more of their independence. 

The house now belongs to one of my brother’s sons, and they rent it out to a single guy.  One day they hope to move there, tear down the old house and build a new one.  I expect the barn will also be history.  Along with the pink carpet and the pink curtains and the whispy white sheers that let the sunshine pour in.  But those things are vivid images in many people’s memories and can’t be so easily obliterated.  The little house in town will always be a small part of who my parents were, if only in the minds eye.

My Lightning Quick Modeling Career

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Here’s something I had completely forgotten about.  It’s a clipping from a Safeway flyer that I sent off to mom several bazillion years ago.  Shortly after we moved to the ‘big city’ I was stopped mid-grocery shop by a camera toting fellow who asked me if I’d mind posing for a couple of photos for a pharmacy ad.  So I did what he told me to do (taking directions very well, if I remember correctly) and this is the final result.  No hollywood agents ever called.  No royalties poured in.

I like mom’s little explanatory blurb.  Like I was always being photographed wherever I went.  Perhaps I was chosen based on the expensive ski jacket, or maybe the wild frizzy perm.  Or just the fact of being completely ordinary, and in the right place at the right time.  At any rate I was too stunned by this strange request to figure out how to refuse it.  And I worked cheap.

Christmas Letter, 1912

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When my sister and I were going through some of the many interesting things mom had tucked away, we came across this letter written to my Grandma Scott, (Mae Leeder) from her grandparents,  dated December 24, 1912.   As far as I can make it out, the letter reads: 

Dear Mae

The gladsome time of X-mas has again come around and we the undersigned were young once but now are old.  We recollect the wants of young folks and that often they must go unserved, therefore we thought it our duty to try to do a little for our young people so concluded to enclose a trifle to each.  Providence having favoured more than usual, we thought it but right to divide up a little,  and that with those whom Providence had used as instruments for our welfare.

I now enclose a trifle for you as a token of our love and esteem, trusting that you will accept it in the same spirit as that in which it is given.

We wish you all the compliments of the season and many happy returns and may the Good Lord ever be with you to Bless and Comfort you. 

Yours truly, Grandpa and Grandma

My imagination of course runs wild with something like this and I want to fill in all the blanks.  Were these people always this stuffy and formal, or in 1912 was this a perfectly normal way to say Merry Christmas to your grandaughter?  Mae would have been 25 years old when she received this letter and ‘trifle’, and would not marry for another 3 years.  She was the eldest in her family, and the only girl, with five younger brothers.  The ‘each’ no doubt included her siblings.  All of them are credited with contributing to their grandparents’ welfare.  But somehow I think perhaps Mae did more than her fair share of contributing, having not yet been swept off  by a husband who, along with her future family, would eventually take up the bulk of her time. 

Grandma told me once that she waited around for a long time before grandpa came along, because she wanted to make sure she found a man who could WORK.  And yes, she said that word in capital letters.  No lazy bums for her.  And I don’t remember my grandma ever being idle.  If all her own work was finished, she’d go gallavanting off somewhere to help somebody else with theirs.  I guess she knew there were rewards to be reaped, no matter how ‘trifling’. 

This letter was obviously treasured for it to have survived intact for so long.  My mom had it glued into one of her many scrapbooks of memorabilia.  And now it’s mine to keep safe for awhile.

Bbbbbrrrrrrrr…….

I’m feeling very wimpy these last few days, temperatures having plummeted to -13 C.  Really, for someone who has survived many -40 days and even weeks, I need to just suck it up, don’t I?  But it still feels cold.  Could ultimately be age related, I’m thinking;  and then refusing to think any such thing.  And there’s ice all over the place.  Not nice.  Strangely enough, this weather has made me get off my butt and do some Christmas prep.  Thus the reason why I have been neglecting this site.  And now that I have some time, WORK rears it’s ugly head and interferes. 

I’ll be back.

It’s Snowing!

What an interesting couple of days off I’m having!  A comment on my ‘ancestors’ page has opened up a whole new little world of interesting people I’m related to – names I’d heard over the years from my mom, but never took the time to clarify exactly how the various relationships came about.  The lovely person who contacted me has a great great grandfather who was my great grandfather’s brother.  I hope I got that right.  Her grandma knew mom well, and apparently wrote to her when she was in the care centre.  Mom would have been absolutely delighted to know that we’ve made this small connection.  And now I’m wishing I’d paid attention when she talked about these Scott family relations, because this family tree stuff is quite fascinating. 

Our Christmas tree is up.  After an entire day of messing around on the computer I let my feelings of extreme guilt about not caring that it’s December already get the better of me at last.  I’m not sure that sentence made any kind of grammatical sense, but long story short, the tree is in the living room and covered with sparkly things.  I’m making a solemn promise to myself that this is the last time I’m going to wrestle with a tree of this size.  I’ll try to find a smaller more manageable pre-lit one in the post Christmas sales and never again fight with strings of lights and stupid bubbler things that W. loves dearly and I don’t.  They’re too heavy for the branches, won’t stand up straight and half the time don’t bubble anyway.  And another startling discovery I made yesterday is that a glass ornament will shatter if it drops onto a laminate floor.  Sigh.  One point for carpeting I guess. 

The ‘proper eating’ plan I implemented way back whenever that was is still happening, surprisingly enough.  It’s quite amazing how much better I feel physically.  And even mentally, since I’m no longer tired of complaining that I’m tired.  Because I’m not so much.  Except when I sit up reading until 2:00 a.m.  

And that ‘snowing’ comment I started off with – well, it’s not anymore.  There’s a skiff of the stuff on the driveway and that’s it.  I was hoping for more so that I could happily write my Christmas cards in some kind of proper snow induced mood.  But nature is not co-operating. 

I can’t believe I just more or less wished for snow.  Time to get out in the cold and give my head a good shake I think.  And not wait until the day is nearly over to get a few things accomplished.