Farming for a Living

There’s no such thing as a slow news day in a small town.  Not when you have long-term residents willing to tell you their story and dig up a couple of old photos to go with it.

This “news” article was published in the People section of the Port Elgin Beacon Times on July 28, 1999 when my dad was 85.  There are a few mistakes in it, the funniest one being where they say our youngest sister is “Barbara” which isn’t even close to her real name.  That’s okay, she likes to remain anonymous.

Dad was the 8th of 10 children, not 9, but his youngest brother died in a bicycle accident when he was just a boy.  Maybe dad chose to skip over that part.

Hope you enjoy this little slice of history.
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I lived here until I was 5 or 6 so my memories of it are vague. There was a hand pump in the kitchen for water, and we had baths in a big wash tub on the kitchen floor. The next farm-house we lived in had hot and cold running water and a bath tub upstairs. Now if people have fewer than four bathrooms in a house they are likely to complain. How times change.

The Little Red Hen

Another story from the 1920’s grade 2 Primer, written in cursive, so for that alone a true relic from the past.  I know that we had access when we were kids to these readers saved from my mothers childhood and although I don’t know who was responsible for all the underlining, I will plead guilty to the colouring.  That red hen was not red enough for me.

My grandmother was an avid reader, but I never saw her read a book without a pencil or a pen in her hand, underlining what seemed to me to be completely random words and phrases.  She would have loved hi-lighters.  Mom gave me one of grandmas “doctored” books as a keepsake.  It’s full of squiggly pencil underlining from beginning to end.  Maybe she passed this habit on to one of her kids when they were learning to read.

Anyway, here’s the story, underlining, bad colouring and all.  Sorry some of it is hard to see, but the pages have been around for almost a hundred years.  We should all look as good when we’re this ancient.

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The Other Three Bears

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Cousin “Baby Elaine”, Little Sister Ann, and me… Child of the Three Bears Skirt

I may not remember this moment (circa 1954) or why we called our cousin Baby but never referred to the littler sister that way, or posing with them all dressed up in skirts with straps, holding hands and no doubt being cajoled into saying cheese…but I will never forget that three-bears skirt of mine.

Just by looking at us you will understand how hard it was to compete for attention with these two gorgeous little Shirley Temples in my life, but I wonder if that day it didn’t bother me so much.  Because I was wearing the best skirt in the universe.  It was red corduroy with brown and white fuzzy appliquéd teddy bears, a birthday gift from a maiden aunt who always gave us birthday gifts to remember. Then she got married and had kids of her own and after that didn’t spoil us quite so much. She’s the one who cemented my love of all things red. There was also a shiny red faux leather purse another year.  But that fabulous skirt was still the best.  It was brand new, not a hand-me-down, mine first!  I put it on and wanted never to take it off again.

It was probably a very sad day when I outgrew it.  I expect it got passed  on several times to other little girls who loved it too.  That’s what we did with clothes, there was always someone else who could use them and when they were worn beyond repair the good bits got cut up for quilt blocks.  A favourite game was to sit with a quilt over your legs and  find grandmas Sunday dress or your brothers old plaid shirt.

Just so no one gets an overdose of nostalgia or cute I am going to try to limit my maudlin flashbacks to Fridays.  Once a week seems about right.

Here’s to a great weekend, and patchwork quilts full of memories,  and teddy bears,  and all things red.

Picture Stories

Yesterday I took a photo album down from one of my library shelves and flipped through it looking for a picture to scan to my iPad.  (I have recently learned how to do this….so now there may follow a series of these scans complete with my observations and thoughts and general rambling comments.)  Don’t say you weren’t warned.

We have a couple of albums containing photos from my and W’s childhoods, and then the books are for the most part neatly organized chronologically from before we were married up until we had grandchildren growing up.  By that time most pictures were being uploaded from cameras and saved to hard drives and I imagine some photo album manufacturers have gone out of business between then and now.  So these albums will soon be museum worthy. Unless museums cease to exist.  Or the house burns down.

The album I randomly selected is one of the last ones I put together I think.  It is such a hodgepodge of photos it made me think of my mother.  She stuck pictures in books to keep them nice, but in no discernible order whatsoever.  (We did ask her why, and she said it was so that whoever wanted one after she was gone would get a bit of everything in one book.)  This one I put together isn’t that diverse, but it is pretty mixed up.  I guess I am becoming my mother in more ways than I know.

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That’s not a bad thing of course. Here she is in 1936, 19 years old, wearing a pretty dress and sensible shoes.  She was in Teachers College in Stratford, Ontario.  I wonder if this was a professional photo, because it looks like the colours were touched up, or even added later.  That’s a tropical rain forest kind of green.  She was doing something with her life, having adventures, and in no hurry to settle down.  It would be six years before she married my dad, (he was off having his own adventures in the Wild West) and ten years before my older brother was born.  She had her whole life ahead of her.  I think she would tell you now it was a good one.

William Lyon MacKenzie King was Prime Minister of Canada in 1936.  School children would have been singing “God Save the King” because that year there were three of them – George V, Edward VIII and George VI.  The start of the Second World War was just three years away.

It would be fun to pop back in time and let her know that this photo moment would be preserved for the next 90 years and end up on a picture album page shared with a few of her great-grandchildren.  But looking that far into the future might have felt like tempting fate.  And she would have pooh-poohed the whole idea and thought her dress was just this old thing and her hair was a sight and it would be ridiculous to keep anything for that long and that nothing about the picture was really worth saving at all…..

But here it is.  And I’m ridiculously happy to have it.

Art du Jour 78

Sketch of a little dog I never met.

Sketch of a little dog I never met.

My life lately has been one big series of breaks. I’m running out of reasons (excuses) to take them. Maybe I’m just resting up for non stop November blogging from hell. (That’s not exactly what it’s called, but close.)

A couple of weeks ago I flew/drove/crossed a river by boat to spend several days on our little island in gorgeous fall weather. My sister and brother-in-law drove from the other direction and all of us helped W close up camp for the winter. It’s a two-day drive for both of us to get home. And then straight away I drove 5 hours north to spend some time with 4 of my grandchildren. Not sure how useful I’m being, but I’m here for a couple more days. Number one grandson turns 14 tomorrow.

W is busy at home preparing himself with appointments and paperwork for his hip replacement surgery. We are hoping it will be scheduled for early next month if not sooner. I will be his chief post surgery care giver. How scary is that? Not for me, for him. I’ve got my own scary stuff going on with two ultrasounds and a mammogram booked for next Friday. October is health month at our house. Flu shots are coming up too.

For the next three months I’m on a diabetic medication because blood work revealed that my blood sugar levels are all out of whack. I hardly ever eat sugary things, but I guess sitting on my retired ass for a year has messed up my metabolism or something. There’s always something. So yeah. Working on that.

So that’s my missing-in-action excuse list for now. The sketch is from a photo. I will get back to working in my “art studio” soon, and back to reading your blogs. I miss those things.

I have all the paraphernalia at home to check my blood sugar levels.  It involves sharp things and a bio-hazardous waste receptacle, so when I work up the nerve to start using all that, I will share the experience with you.  Self inflicted pain coming up.  Woohoo.

Have an awesome October weekend!

 

Sharing My World 34

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Share Your World 2015 Week 34

Was school easy or difficult for you? How so?

By the time I started formal school (before there was pre-school or kindergarten available to us, in a one room country schoolhouse a mile and a half walk from our farm) I was six years and four months old and fairly bursting with enthusiasm to know everything there was to know.  Like a greedy little sponge I soaked it all up and chalked up the A’s.  I remember it being academically easy breezy all the way through grades one to eight.  High school showed me how socially awkward I could be (there’s some skills that are hard to teach) and that I might not be as smart as I had always imagined. Oh, I continued to get marks in the 90’s, but suddenly I was 15th in a class of thirty brainiacs.  Middle of the road!  What? Yep, it’s a big world out there, full of people with all kinds of mad talents.

Teachers College taught me that I did not want to teach.  By the time I got around to going to University it had finally dawned on me that no one really cares whether you pass with a 95 or a 65, except maybe your professor.  Or your mother.  It was kind of nice to slack off and stop trying so hard.

Then I got married in a time when it was normal to set your own goals aside and support your husband in achieving his.  So I worked and had babies while he pursued his career.  I didn’t resent it, I was too damned busy to worry about such things.  We did what we did for each other and our kids.  In comparison to real life, school was just a fondly remembered walk in the park.

However, going back to school when I was about half a century old was not easy at all because of the self-discipline involved in getting my lazy brain to perk up and learn new skills.  I spent four years working full time while taking the optical courses required to become a licensed optician and contact lens fitter.  And yeah, I got 90’s!  I guess it all came back to me.

Now I am retired and the only tests I want to take from now on are the moronic ones on Facebook which make you question your sanity for even reading them.

What is your favorite animal?

I like giraffes, zebras and elephants.  As well as wallpaper borders which prominently feature them, in case you failed to guess that.  I also think tigers are beautiful, fierce and majestic.  However, if any or all of these favourites were galumphing about in my backyard and I had to clean up after them, I might like them slightly less.  I will try to be happy with the magpies and the squirrel.  And the occasional wandering house cat.

If you had to have your vision corrected would you rather: glasses or contacts?

Well I could write a book on this one, but I will take a stab at being precise and brief instead.  You might not have a simple choice  of either/or, depending on your prescription.  So go with whatever your eye care professional advises for you.  Because she is undoubtedly incredibly smart and probably scored 90’s on all her exams.

List: Name at least five television shows (past or present) you enjoyed.

Like the rest of this post, in random order and all over the place:

  1. Once Upon a Time
  2. Suits
  3. Doctor Who
  4. Damages
  5. Sense 8
  6. The Good Wife
  7. White Collar
  8. Covert Affairs
  9. Bones
  10. Psych

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I meant to have some art ready for your perusal by now, but the thing I’m working on is half-finished and needs to cook.  Or sit at room temperature while I ponder what to do with it next.  So, any day now.  I am grateful for having no deadlines.

Next week, who knows?  I live each day as it comes, savour and bask in the pleasure of now, and try not to let my mind wander too far in to the murky depths of the future.  In other words, I will know what I was looking forward to when it gets here.  This way there is little room for disappointment.

It’s a gorgeous sunny late August day, and time for my mail walk.  Or saunter.  Yes, I think this might be a good day for a saunter.  I’m giving myself an A for that decision.

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