Monthly Archives: April 2012

My Crust

I feel like I’m sorting through ancient archives here – although some of the bits and scraps of paper are in less than pristine condition.  This is a little poem my dad used to recite to us, and then to his grandchildren.  I guess the crust wasting thing is genetic.  This paper  looks like it’s been picked up by someone with greasy sticky fingers.  Perhaps in the process of descretely discarding his toast crusts.  It’s the kind of family heirloom that is definitely worth preserving.  Sage parental advice passed down through the generations.  Never mind ranting about starving kids in Africa.  If you want your kids to do something they don’t want to do, scare the bejeesus out of them.  If this poem fails to do that, at least you’ve made them laugh.

My Crust

Last night I left a crust under my plate.

I thought nobody would see it there.

But, when it got dark and late

And I was all snugged in my bed,

I saw that very same old crust

Come creeping over my bed.

“Don’t you ever do that again!”

“I never will” I said.

“I’ll eat you up to the very last crumb

If you’ll only get down off my bed.”

D is for Damp

This is the scene that greeted me out the front door a couple of days ago.  If it wasn’t for bringing the paper in I would have been quite happy to just leave the damned door closed.  I’m not even going to talk about the S word in April.  What we’re dealing with here is a kind of sem-solid dense white rain. It’s annoying to slog through but it dissipates quickly.  Although not before some of it’s been soaked up by the bottom couple of inches of your pant legs and seriously messed with your shoes.

All this moisture is of course a good thing.  It’s working hard to turn our brown world to green.  The lawn people have been out and about with a similar objective.  All those bags decorating my front lawn are filled with nasty brown crap that they raked up and SORT OF carried away.  Now the bags are awaiting final pick up (which is scheduled for the middle of May but I’m going to pretend I don’t know that.)  Any day now.  That’s my new mantra.

Damp in this instance is merely dank and extremely dewy.  I will not let it be deadening, demoralizing, diminishing or disheartening.  (Why are there so damned many depressing D words??)  Sorry for saying damned again.  But think about it – Damp You!  just doesn’t have the same effect.

D is also for Draw Something, the App that teaches you very quickly that you have absolutely no talent as an artist and should not quit your day job to take up comic strip writing, even though what you have “drawn” is admittedly hilariously funny.  Just not something you’re likely to get paid for.

Here’s what the world outside my front door looked like early this morning.  I really should be venturing a little farther afield, but that would be risking personal dampness.  Because it rained again.  Look into that not so very distant area to the right across the street and you will see GREEN!  The grass is always greener on the other side of the street.  (And also in southwestern Ontario, but I’ve whined about that too much already.)  What this means is that our grass will eventually green up out of embarassment any day now.  I’m paying people to cut it, so damp it all, bring on the damp.  Just not the opaque stuff, please. I’m kind of done with that.

My Mother Was A Dreamer (Part Two)

The second letter my mother wrote to herself was on her twenty-fifth birthday, to her thirty-year-old self.  She’s a bit deleriously in love I think.

R.R. 4 Port Elgin

Feb. 17, 1942

Happy Birthday Margaret.

And how does it feel to be thirty?  Today as I sit in S.S. # 4 Saugeen on my twenty-fifth birthday evening, I do indeed wish you the very best in health and contentment as you leave your twenties.  But on this, my birthday, let’s look back a few years.  Yes, carefree Marnie of twenty, I have had a lot of dreams come true.  By June I will have finished six years of teaching.  Marnie never dreamed of a No. 9 Bruce with Mr. and Mrs. White and Helen, all the swell children there at school, and the Christmas Cake and other ways they showed their kindness.  The crocinole games and hockey matches and baseball games and even a high (or was it low?) dash cutter.  But it too is past and it’s funny that I should really be teaching in No. 4 after sort of wishing for that all along.  That’s one dream come true.

But far above them all is the one of really having the love of the only one for me in all I’ve known.  Through the years we’ve known eachother, our lives have in many ways been linked together even though at times we’ve seemed far apart.  For two years now we’ve shared a secret too precious for others to know and so real, we hope this year our dreams may come true.  That is why his Margie is so very happy on her 25th birthday.  And may it be the very special year for us if God wills.

And as I look into the future and see you in 1947 – if you are still Margie – if you still deserve his care and kindness – if you remember always the little things that help life for others – if you have not forgotten the place your Church should play in your life – if you can smile though life has not given you all you hoped for, then you have not disappointed me.

At twenty five you hoped for someone to call you Marnie now,  and though no one does, well you don’t seem to mind.  Even if your castles in the air have not all come true, I’m sure my dear you’ve had your share of life’s treasures too.  But if you can touch his hand and hold close his curly head, you have a priceless treasure, and that is my true wish for you, my dream girl of 1947.

New friends are probably near, but still there is, now and always,  Blanche, Lena, Vera (who I hope may soon be someone I’ve really seen) and Nina too though she now lives in Manatoulin Island as Mrs. May and Blanche is Mrs. Delbert Wheatley and Ettie is Mrs. Carmen Currie.  And Marguerite will always be someone very special.

Our family too is scattering and I’m wondering where we will all be in 1947.  Mabel is now in Toronto and Gomer in the R.C.A.F. in Toronto, and Edna at high school and Mother and Dad at home.  Many changes have taken place too.  Grandpa and Aunt Abbie both gone and Grandma still with us and very much her old self.

Can you remember the stormy 17th, dusk gathering as you sat writing by the fire at the back of the school, and now home to Jamiesons and maybe a word or two more from there.  There always seems to be things we regret and one of them is the 2 lb. box of chocolates that came yesterday.  But tonight, nothing can mar the happiness – a letter and card from Hank “Looking Ahead” and a telephone call from Dad and home.  Tonight what I wear or what I’m doing seems so very unimportant because life seems all bound up in a certain someone who is in Nobel and still says he does so love his Margie.  And though we are separated by miles tonight we seem nearer than ever, and if that love grows richer with life’s experiences you will, Margie, be very very happy on this, your thirtieth birthday.

Bye from Margie, on her twenty-fifth Birthday.

I don’t know why I know this, but the disappointing regretful box of chocolates was from another man who very much wanted to be in my mother’s life.  She was such a lovely and kind person I don’t think she knew how to get rid of him. Especially without giving away her special secret.

Five months after this letter was written, the “secret” was finally revealed to all and my parents got married.  They had at last saved enough money to buy their first home together.  It was the last year that mom would teach school.  And my brother was born in April of 1946, so I hope you will forgive my mother for not having time for something as silly as writing yet another letter to her future self  in 1947, when he wasn’t yet a year old.

My Mother Was A Dreamer (Part One)

Once again, going through old treasures, I have managed to create a brand new “page” in the family history spot on Breathing Space.  Here’s a short cut, which will save me blathering away about where you can find it, if you’re interested at all in obscure Ontario farm history.

History of the Farm

Growing up and being completely self absorbed, I totally missed seeing my mother as the wonderful young and vibrant girl she used to be.  Do any of us take the time to see our mothers in any other role besides that of ‘being MOM’ until after we’ve gone through the entire process ourselves?  Eventually we wonder whatever became of that person we used to be before life changed us into someone else.

My mom worked hard.  She was constantly busy, always doing something or going somewhere, always urging us to do things and go places and get things accomplished.  Sometimes I admired her energy.  Often I resented that she never slowed down long enough to really talk to me.  Although if she had I probably wouldn’t have listened anyway.  I spent a lot of time alone and thinking and writing in journals and dreaming about the future me – as different as night and day from my mother, is what I thought.  Turns out we were more alike than I ever imagined.

Margaret and her friend Blanche in Red Bay, circa 1937

Mom wrote a letter to her future self on her twentieth birthday. I’m so glad I found it.  I think it’s a beautiful thing to have kept all these years, because I’m sure it reminded her of who she was and made her proud of the person she became.

(page one, Febuary 17, 1937, to her future self, to be read on her 25th birthday February 17th, 1942)

To Margaret –

With a smile, I write to you – myself at twenty five.  Remember me kindly, my dream girl in your castles in the air.

It’s noon in Red Bay School.  A beautiful sunny day for my twentieth birthday.  A scattering of snow reminds one that it is winter and nothing more.  Lest you’ve forgotten let me remind you of Findlay, still eating his lunch and chatting with the others, a sandwich in one hand, an apple in the other – Isabella always moving, chattering, teasing, the best often comes in small packages.  Irene, brown eyed, interested, maybe worried but always in on everything.  George, always the same, quiet.  Betty, kind neat and attractive and soon there will be Lillian, helping and ordering.  And later Hazel, certain and dependable and kind.  The piano, The Honour Roll, our car contest, the display at the back.  Do they still bring pleasant memories to you yet?  Do you remember the dark, heavy dress, the red and white three cornered colar?  I’m wearing that.  Mrs. Reed likes it so well and it’s for tonight too.  No one knows it is my birthday.  Remember why?

Did we go to Mac and Maries?  Will we understand eachother?  Have we drifted far apart?  I’m hoping, hoping – you’ve both found happiness!

I’m reading Doctrine and Covenants, Reading friends, true ones I know, sweet happiness and maybe tears too have made me different.  Dear Pal, you haven’t changed, have you?

I dream of you and my dreams come true.  I pray that passing years on you have made a heart that’s truer gold and only noble aims enfolds, a voice that’s gentle and kind to help those whom you meet and understanding mind to meet each varied moment, and hands that strive for other’s joy.

As I look at you I shant look for beauty that is cheaply bought, but may I gaze at inward beauty shining through your eyes, your smiles, and reflected on the faces of those you love.

I hope you’ve chosen worthwhile things in life.  I don’t know what to call you.  I hope you’re still Marnie.

I’d love to ask you many things.  If you could only tell me secrets.  How I’d love to know about so many friends!  Blanche, Lena, Nina, Marie, Ettie, Oley, and oh so many more.

I wonder where you are?  Do you love to go home, the same as ever?  How changed those at home will be too.

Maybe you’d like to know how much I weigh.  I guess you’re keeping yours a secret!!?  Well I’m 137.  My hair with a couple of waves on the top, slightly shingled and just down to the ears.  My white sweater has been worn only twice, you know the Marion and Marnie one.

And now as I close the pages of a teenage reverie and enter into my twenties, I set my goal on you, my dream girl of 25.  You haven’t disappointed me, have you?  Let my theme songs “I will be true”, “I need thee every hour” and “Blest be the tie that binds” be fragrant incense which lifts me always closer to thee.

Goodbye from yourself on your twentieth birthday.

Holy Thursday

This blog entry is reverently dedicated to my angelic friend Laura (who so humbly requested it) and is in no way meant to be blasphemous or disrespectful of any creed, cult, doctrine or religion.  She’s Catholic and thinks my Holy Thursdays are funny, so I’m confident that God probably won’t strike me dead for my veneration of them.

Yes, today is yet another Holy Thursday in my life.  All my Thursdays are now hallowed days. There have been so many of them, I wish I’d kept a running count.  But their blessedness kind of crept up on me.

In the beginning was the work schedule.  No matter what has been done to our week of seven days, for most normal people five of those days are work days and two are not.  For me, three are not. And one of my three non-working days has always seemed to end up being Thursday to accommodate everyone else’s work week.  Didn’t seem to matter how it was set up or if we all kept the same days or if there was a rotation – Thursdays were always and forever mine.  I never asked for them. Really, I never did.  I could almost swear to that.

See, here’s the thing with me.  Someone will say something to me, like “I know you love the smell of Mr. Clean” or “I know you would like to work every weekend” and I’ll be so stunned by the statement that I don’t immediately refute or endorse it.  Because I’m wondering how in the world that conclusion was reached and if I actually made that exact statement myself at some point or other, and simply don’t remember.  Because there are things that come out of my mouth that are based very loosely on fact, may or may not be true, and often are meant sarcastically but taken seriously.  It’s a gift I seem to have no control over.  So although the smell of Mr Clean makes me nauseous and working evey weekend for now is fine but for the rest of my life sounds like some kind of hell on earth, since I didn’t immediately deny or contradict these statements they are now the gospel truth.  I think that’s how some doctrines are born.  Although I could be wrong.

Anyway, for the last couple of schedule changes it has been pointed out to me that it’s been painstakingly arranged so that I can be assured of having Thursdays off forevermore.  It is written in stone.  Thou shalt have Thursdays off.  Many schedule variations have been scrapped to accommodate me.  I wish I knew why, but I don’t.  Suffice it to say I have been persuaded to believe that Thursday is my Sabbath and I must keep it holy.

It’s a day off from work!  By definition that makes it blissfully devine.  Heavenly.  Downright paradisiacal.  I’m getting all spiritual and rapturous just thinking about it.  If they take it away from me now, somebody for sure is going to hell.

Timely Advice

YourTrueNature.com

This is the advice my calendar is giving me for the month of April.  It doesn’t know that there’s nobody here who would be dumb enough to plant anything outside until the end of May.  And even then there could be the odd freak snow fall.  As long as nothing has acutally sprouted yet, you might be okay.

There’s also advice from a ladybug.  Spot new opportunities,  Spend time in your garden.  Be well rounded.  Enjoy the wonders of nature.  Keep family close by.  Be simply beautiful.

And, advice from a Bluebird from last month:  Rise early.  Spread a little happiness.  Keep a song in your heart.  Think spring.  Be colorful.  Feather your nest with friendships.  The sky’s the limit!

There!  All the timely guidance you can stand for one day. 

Postcards Home

In 1936 my mom was attending teachers college in Stratford, Ontario.  The love of her life, my dad, was off to see the world.  Well, western Canada, actually, but in those days, worlds away from home.  He and a buddy headed west to find work and adventure.

Amongst the treasures I gleaned from home this visit were pieces of correspondence between my parents, and letters they sent to, or received from other people.  Interesting stuff.  And amazing that it has survived all these years.


This was written on the 15th of May, 1936.

Dear Marg,  We reached Grand Forks North Dakota at two o’clock Friday.  We’re getting along fine now.  Hope you’re keeping well.  This is a big city.  I don’t like it.  The surrounding country is prairie.  Love Hank.

“Getting along fine now” suggests that things might not have been quite so fine before that.  Imagine two young men with minimal mechanical abilities setting off across Canada in a Model T Ford.

It may have looked like this new, but after thousands of miles and many flat tires and gravel roads later, perhaps not quite so lovely.

On the 30th of May, fifteen days later, he sent this postcard from Calgary.

Dear Margaret, We’re in Calgary.  We can’t keep still in one spot.  We’re heading for Rimbey for a while.  It’s about 250 miles.  Send mail to Newton and I’ll get it.  I hope you’re taking good care of yourself.  I’m having the time of my life.  Although I sometimes get rather lonesome.  We worked for about a week.  I’ll write later.  Love Hank

Dad was travelling with a friend from home, also off on an adventure, kind of like the ‘work as you go’ holidays people go off on today.  Except they go to Europe or somewhere slightly more interesting than Rimbey, Alberta.  Dad also kept in close touch with his family back home, thus the reference to Newton, his older brother.

There was work in Rimbey and I know that he stayed there for awhile.  When my parents came here to visit us in the 1990’s we drove them out there to look up the people he knew way back when.  Obviously they made quite an impression on eachother.

It’s unfortunate that I didn’t pay closer attention to the details of the stories dad used to tell us in bits and pieces about his time “out west”.  I was more concerned about the fact that they were so far apart for so long and either one of them might have married someone else.  Apparently both of them were worth waiting for.

It’s In The Cards

Every day I get a tarot card reading in my e-mail.  Most days they’re funny.  And then there are the days when they acutally make sense and sound down right prophetic.  Like this one for instance:

You are about to enter a new phase in life.  You may find that you attract a lot of unusual friends.  Some kind of shared experience or interest could bring you together with people who are strongly interested in making changes in the world.

I’m all for new life phases and improving the world. And now on the lookout for weird people to share all that with.  Of course I didn’t meet enough of them on day one, so I started to rethink the whole thing.  And the cards sent me this:

You have mixed feelings today.  On the outside you are projecting warmth, compassion, empathy and confidence, but inside you have some strong doubts, particulary where it comes to your path right now.  Don’t let momentary challenges get to you, they will pass.

I mean seriously, are they tuned in to me or WHAT??  So I thought it would be a good plan to just keep on projecting all those positive emotions and feelings until I actually started to believe in them myself. And also maybe keep it up until I have that epiphany about changes to the earth.  Or whatever I was going on about the other day.  Finding my path.  OMG, how am I supposed to find my path?

If you slow down and let yourself think about things calmly you may find that you come up with a strong and positive way to make a solid improvement in your ambitions today. You have a lot of creative ideas today, but may not believe in them. Trust yourself. It always seems impossible until it is done.

An improvement in my ambitions?  I don’t really have any ambitions – except perhaps the ambition to be ambitious about something.  As for creative ideas, I finally finished a project that I’ve had on the go for about a year.  It’s never a good idea to rush things in my world where self doubt reigns supreme.  There isn’t a really good “before” picture because I forgot to take one until somewhere in the middle.  This little chef with a shelf from the island cottage is probably 50 plus years old.  He was painted red white and blue and covered in greasy grime.  The wood stove got too hot one day and his yellow plastic salt and pepper shakers melted.  I took pity on him and brought him home to give him and his tray a makeover.  I’m always doing things like this, completely negating any antique value things might have in the interests of making them look less like pieces of crap.

He’s sideways because the pieces aren’t put together yet.  I was afraid that because I had to sand them so much they wouldn’t fit snuggly enough in the end. 

But he turned out okay I suppose, just like the cards predicted.  (That’s how I interpreted their message sometime after the fact.)  You know, where they said it seems impossible until it’s done.  Done or not, I’m certainly done with it.  A year is a bit long to have something on the go.  W leaves tomorrow and he’ll be taking this little gem with him.  I sure as hell don’t want to look at it anymore.

I went back to work today, after a month away from it. The cards made these suggestions:

You can learn a lot from your friends and companions today. They will be excited, full of strange and interesting ideas. You may find that people have very unusual ideas, particularly the older males. Be careful when dealing with older men today.

HAHA!  That certainly put me in a good (less serious)  mood!  And made me eye every old man who came in with apprehensive suspicion.  I was very careful.  I did not sell anything to any one of them, just in case.

Summer Place

There’s a summer place

Where it may rain or storm

Yet I’m safe and warm

For within that summer place

Your arms reach out to me

And my heart is free from all care For it knows

There are no gloomy skies When seen through the eyes

Of those who are blessed with love

 And the sweet secret of  A summer place

Is that it’s anywhere  When two people share

All their hopes , All their dreams ,All their love.

There’s a summer place

Where it may rain or storm

Yet I’m safe and warm

In your arms, in your arms, In your arms.

Theme From A Summer Place (Percy Faith)

If that doesn’t put you seriously in the mood for summer I don’t know what will.  We’ve spent a lazy day doing not much of anything except enjoying the sunshine.  Work can wait until tomorrow.