Tag Archives: farm

Sharing My World 65

img_2937

Share Your World – January 23, 2017

Do you prefer juice or fruit?

I take medication (for Type II Diabetes) which helps my body deal with sugar.  I try to make its job easier by ingesting as little sugar as possible.  Fruit juice is deadly.  Natural sugars are still sugars, so I have to be careful with fruit too.  Thankfully I was never a big fan of juice (or all the other ways we mangle fruit) so I don’t miss it.  I do miss sitting down and eating a whole big bowl full of grapes though.

Did you grow up in a small or big town? Did you like it?

I grew up on a farm.  At the time I professed to not like it much at all.  Now that I’m older and wiser and living in a city I realize what an idyllic place it really was and how lucky we were to spend our childhood there.  But I would never go back.  Farms are a lot of work.  Plus there’s all that manure.

If you were to paint a picture of your childhood, what colors would you use?

All the colours.  Every last one of them.  Green trees, red barn, yellow brick house, brown garden dirt, blue skies, black and white cows, orange cats, purple lilacs, grey thunder clouds, pink spring blossoms, indigo nights.  Oatmeal coloured porridge.  Yuck.  Hey, it wasn’t ALL pretty.

Ways to Relax List: Make a list of what relaxes you and helps you feel calm.

  • sharing my world, because it makes me remember
  • making lists, so I won’t forget
  • playing mindless (non memory) games on my iPad
  • drinking coffee
  • drinking red wine
  • reading books
  • drawing/sketching/painting
  • binge watching whole seasons of tv shows on Netflix
  • concentrating on nothing but breathing
  • drinking more coffee
  • reading myself to sleep

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

Last week I mentioned the bag of marshmallows left over from Christmas baking and my intent to use them up by making Rice Krispy squares. I sent W on a puffed rice hunting expedition and he came home with the biggest box of cereal made anywhere in the world (just a guess, but geez…) so after I made the squares there was half a box of cereal left.  Then I asked him to get me another bag of marshmallows so I could use up the rest of the cereal.  He came home with TWO bags of marshmallows.  And thus we are back to our original state of one unused bag of marshmallows sitting in the cupboard.  I am not starting over.  They can stay there until next Christmas.

That little story really doesn’t have much to do with being grateful except for another interesting fact or two.  I gave most of the first batch of rice krispy squares to my daughter and granddaughter, but the second batch I have almost finished single- handedly consuming all by myself.  Yes I know I am being redundant in that sentence, but seriously, what is wrong with me.  W has ceased to be much help, perhaps feeling he has already done his part by purchasing ingredients.  Although I guess I should give him credit for bravely trying to finish up the brownies I was craving and made and which don’t interest me anymore because they are stale.  I really need to stop making stuff.

I am looking forward to dealing more satisfactorily with my random food cravings in the week coming up.  Or not.  Truthfully it’s something which just now popped in to my head and will no doubt pop out of it again.  Sometimes I think there’s no point in setting goals for myself at this stage of forgetfulness in my life.  I’m looking forward to winging it.  There, that one sounds attainable.

share-your-world2

What Makes Things Go

imageMy big brother was always interested in things that ran, things with wheels, mechanical and motorized and intricately put together devices and how they functioned.  He loved mechanical sets and model airplanes and taking things apart to discover how they were assembled in the first place.  My dad often said if anybody could figure out how something worked it was him.

He wasn’t always a hundred percent successful.  I had an alarm clock with a face painted in a woodsy scene with two little elves moving up and down on a teeter- totter with each tick-tock.  I begged him to leave it alone.  And then one day, there it was, in a million pieces with my brother poring over the parts, happily working away on something that wasn’t broken until he decided to fix it.  The little elves never played on that see-saw again.

Not surprisingly, with all that practice, he became an amazing mechanic.  We learned to never ask him anything about our vehicles unless we wanted to listen to an hours worth of baffling diagnostic mechanical information.  Once he warmed to his subject there was no shutting him down.  Might as well grab a coffee and try to keep up with your eyes open.

There are a few of photos of me as a child with a cat draped over my shoulder.  It’s a mystery to me why a kid thinks a cat needs to be picked up and carted about, or why a cat allows it.  We always had outside barn cats, never house cats until we were adults.  I was afraid of dogs for a long time with a recurring nightmare of a big black dog chasing me.  No idea where that came from.  Anyway, there I am, confused by how happy my brother is to be making a little wooden tricycle go when there are cats to be lugged around.

Often we had cats of unknown origin on the farm.  They may have migrated from other farms close by or been dropped off in the country as discarded city pets.  They kept the rodent population in check and more or less looked after themselves.  Once we had a litter of all white kittens which we happily named Snow, Snowflake, Snowball, Sugar, Winter…every white thing we could think of.  They all ended up being called “one of those white cats” because we couldn’t tell them apart.  Later we progressed to more sophisticated cat names such as Spooky, Pooky, Donovan and Trigere.

In his last years on the farm dad had two almost identically marked cats he called Daryl and Other Brother Daryl.  He claimed to know one from the other, but I’m skeptical about that.

Despite all the cats, or maybe because of them, I never became a cat lady.  Although I suppose there’s still time for that to happen, if I ever get to missing a big furry body purring in my face.  My brother had dogs as pets his whole life.  Could be, compared to cats, it’s just much more interesting to figure out what makes a dog tick.

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.
image
image
image
image
image
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.

Sharing My World 35

image
Oops….not those words….

SHARE YOUR WORLD – 2015 WEEK 42

Sunday seems like a perfect day to share my wacky words and world of wondrous-ness even though the questions are already a week old and probably no one cares what the answers are anymore.  The alternative is to simply post this cartoon and leave it at that, so consider this extra blather your little Sunday bonus.

Are you usually late, early, or right on time?

When I was MUCH younger and working as a medical receptionist for an ophthalmologist who performed cataract surgery, most of our patients were older at that time than the age I’m now.  So OLD.  Old people are early for everything.  The record for that office was a couple who showed up for an appointment 24 hours early.  They explained that they were doing a trial run to see where the office was and how long it would take them to get there.  They were thrilled that their calculations were so bang on and happily left promising to be back tomorrow.  Now I understand that perfectly.  We are going to do a trial run to the hospital where W will have his surgery, once we know the time, because then we can factor in traffic.  Do we have entirely too much time on our hands?  You betcha.  But I can’t remember the last time we were late for anything.  W likes to arrive right on time.  I like to be ridiculously early.  Especially at airports.

If you were or are a writer do you prefer writing short stories, poems or novels?

I fancy myself a writer of sorts.  Doesn’t every blogger think that way?  My novel-writing dreams are unlikely to ever come true now that I am older and wiser and have figured out how much work is involved in the novel-writing process.  I have written short stories.  And stuff that I call poetry.  But mostly I’m happy to stick with blog posts.  There’s certainly enough words recorded on this blog to fill a novel.  That should count for something.

Where did you live at age ten? Is it the same place or town you live now?

I lived on a farm near Port Elgin, Ontario, but the name has been changed to Saugeen Shores.  That’s where I went to high school, although that old high school is now a shopping centre.  And the barn where we lived has been torn down, and now I think maybe the house has been demolished as well.  Look at that – you leave and suddenly there’s no going back.  There’s still lots of family to visit in the area but I haven’t lived there for going on 50 years.

Would you rather be able to fly or breathe under water?

Even if I had the ability to breathe under water I would still die if you put me there.  That’s how freaked out I get even thinking about going down where scary water creatures dwell.  And if I could fly I would like to be like a hovercraft or a low flying humming-bird.  No extreme heights or speed.  Whoever is granting me this wish will now no doubt tell me to just carry on walking and riding in cars.

share-your-world2

Sharing My World 16

image

Share Your World 2015 Week 4

Where did you live at age five?  Is it the same place or town you live now?

The year I was five we moved from one farm to another one.  Of the first farm I have relatively few memories, except that it was close to grandmas, it was a very long walk from the house to the barn and I was not allowed to go there on my own, and in the house we could run around in a big circle from the kitchen, past the stairs, through the living room and back to the kitchen.  There was a hand pump for water in the kitchen and a dark shed (where the dog lived) attached to the back door.

The new farm, to my five-year-old mind, was utopia in comparison.  The run in circles was twice as long, through the dining room, past the stairs, through the living room and into the kitchen, past the basement stairs and back to the dining room.  We could also run up the front stairs and down the back ones, and from the front lawn to the side lawn to the back lawn, across the driveway and another side lawn and back to the front.  Obviously, running around in circles at this stage in my life was extremely important to me.

A lot of family still lives in that area so I go back to visit frequently, but I haven’t lived there, or in that province, for over 40 years.

Did you grow up in a small or big town? Did you like it?

Our farm was in the midst of many small-town Ontario towns, but I consider the one where I went to high school as my home town.  It was on the shores of Lake Huron, had amazing sunsets, and filled up with beach-going tourists in the summer.  I liked it just fine.

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Hey, I still haven’t decided.  I was very good at running, with all that practice, and won lots of races in elementary school, so being an Olympic runner crossed my mind.  Then I became a lazy teenager who ran one relay race at one track and field meet (we came in second) and my ambitions shifted to obtaining my driver’s license and getting the hell off the farm.  After that, my plans were always rather vague.  University, teachers college, meeting interesting men, going to parties.  (I wonder for priorities sake if I should have put all that in reverse order.)

You are invited to a party that will be attended by many fascinating people you never met.  Would you attend this party if you were to go by yourself?

Sure.  I will be one of those fascinating people in attendance.  Just hopefully no one asks me what I want to be when I grow up.

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

I am grateful for our amazing weather, pretty much unheard of for here in a normal January.  I know there’s a lot more winter to come, but this has been a lovely little break in the middle.  A long cold month which usually drags on forever has turned out to be pleasantly quick in passing by.

Next week I’m going to see an audiologist.  All that running around in circles as a child probably damaged my ear drums somehow,  and I’m paying for it now.  I think I can hear just fine until people mumble at me on the phone, or garble some strange nonsense from another room, or when I decide I can’t understand what people in movies are saying without subtitles across the bottom of the screen.  Yep, it’s time.

share-your-world2

Who Says You Can Never Go Home Again?

“Home wasn’t a set house, or a single town on a map. It was wherever the people who loved you were, whenever you were together. Not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.”  Sarah Dessen, What Happened to Goodbye

The west veranda at the farm.
The west veranda at the farm.

This is such a simple picture, and yet it brings back a flood of memories for me, even though it was taken on a day when I’m sure I wasn’t even there.  My dad was the only one in his family who made his living by farming.  His siblings were teachers and nurses and professionals, and ended up living in towns and cities.  And all of them – every one – came to visit him and mom here with their families.  If they hadn’t, we would never have known all our aunts and uncles and cousins so well, because running a farm means almost never getting away for trips much longer than a day.  But if the relatives wanted to come and stay?  They were welcomed with open arms.  We had lots of room and the doors were always open.  No offer of help was every refused.  You might end up peeling the potatoes or shelling the peas for your dinner, but you never went away hungry.

The garage is on the far left, then dad, mom, the window to the den, Aunt Lorna, the main door, Aunt Marie, the edge of the big kitchen window, extra lawn chairs, a strange looking wooden whirly decoration that twisted in the breeze, flower beds gone wild.  That little thing hanging on the bricks that resembles a bird house is a box that held a pencil and some notepaper.  On it was written “If at home you do not find us, leave a note that will remind us.”  I once pointed out to my mother that it didn’t make any sense.  If you were away from home, surely you knew that already and didn’t need a reminder of it.  I was just being a mouthy teenager.  But I still think the message is stupid.  And I don’t know why I’ve never forgotten it.

The view to the west was of maple trees bordering the laneway, the bank down to the pond, and fences and fields as far as you could see.    Those numerous round white dots that look like holes are actually real holes in the photograph.  It’s been pinned up to a cork board and shuffled around a lot, stuffed in a box, lost for awhile.  And then it made its way to me.  In this shot it looks like the veranda floor has had some repairs and a new coat of paint.  I remember it being a steely blue grey with loose boards you could lift up and hide things under.  I don’t remember dad ever saying he was tired of nailing them back down.

It’s a summer afternoon, dinner is over, the dishes have been washed and put away, and it’s just too nice to sit inside.  If there are kids around, they’re off climbing trees or throwing sticks for the dog, or gathering firewood for the bonfire in the backyard after the sun goes down.  I can almost hear dads voice, saying something profound in a lazy off-hand manner.  Mom saying “Oh, Hank”, and laughing,  Aunt Lorna’s droll observations (we never knew if she meant to be funny or not) and Aunt Marie’s infectious giggles.

The farm was sold years ago.  We drove by it last October and saw the changes.  The front veranda has been closed in, the barn is being torn down, the gigantic garden has gone to grass.  The house is so old I’m surprised it’s still standing.  It’s just another old building to me now.  It hasn’t been ”home” for a very long time.

And yet in my heart it will always be home whenever I remember all the people who were part of it, and who made it come so alive with laughter and fun.  I’ve had a lot of homes in my life and I carry parts of every one of them with me. The pictures in my head are as vivid as the real ones.  I can visit them anytime I choose, simply by remembering the people I loved who lived there with me, and loved me back.

Pictures From Moms Kitchen (Part Four)

This was the most special of occasions, because it was the only time we ever celebrated our daughters July birthday at the farm.  Our son has his birthday in February and we were never off to Ontario at that time of year.  But you don’t have to be the guest of honor to have a good time.

I’m just here for the hat and the food.
Make a wish! Ask for one of these awesome Gretzky shirts!
Hanging out on my birthday with my baby cousin and the headless man.
Oh. My. Gawd. Getting money for your birthday is the Best. Thing. Ever.

Time marches on, the kids keep growing up, the bricks days are numbered and will be coming down.  Yes, sadly, no longer will we pose in front of the faux brick background.  The wallpaper gets replaced, along with the orange curtains and the orange back splash.  On to a lighter and brighter tomorrow.

The great meals and the card games continued, but our family showed up less and less often – that’s what happens when you live far away. The rest of the family was nice enough to send us photos.  And nice enough NOT to say look at all the fun we’re having without you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mom and Dad loved to play cards, and UNO was a game that even the littlest guy could play. (In that last picture, does he not look like he’s never had quite so much fun ever before in his entire life?)  When there were so many people around the table and so many skips and reverses, you could stare off into space or take a quick nap before the play ever came around to you again.   These get togethers and card games went on until finally there were those among us who grew wise enough to win against grandpa.  Well, sometimes, anyway.

There was a new house, a new location, a new kitchen, but the games went on.  There are some things you never want to outgrow.

Pictures From Moms Kitchen (Part One)

The end of our wedding day, in moms kitchen doorway.

Finding a few favourite pictures taken in moms kitchen has turned into a treasure chest of memories.  We spent a lot of time there whenever we went to visit the farm.  It’s a place we didn’t appreciate enough when we were growing up, and then a place we could hardly wait to return to after we moved away.  It was where our family (which grew) sat down to eat the best meals ever.  It was all about us, until it became all about our kids.

Our baby daughter with my brothers oldest son.
Only at grandmas could you get away with crawling around on top of the kitchen table.
The kitchen wall paper was faux brick for a lot of years.  I think my love of red and orange must have come from my mother’s side of the family.  It was a strange old house – on the other side of this window was the built on “back kitchen” where mom put the old blue cupboards after she got new ones, and all kinds of old tables and cabinets and chairs that were almost worn out.  You never threw anything away until it was completely worn out.  It got shuffled off to the back kitchen where it could sit for years, waiting for that to happen to it.
My daughter, my brother, his boys.

I love the look on my brothers face – he was a man who loved his sons.  I don’t think it was ever a difficult thing for them to love him back.

The back-splash of orange flowers I remember  vividly.  Because it was vivid.  That space between the top of the cupboards and the ceiling was always covered in a hodge podge display of things that weren’t useful but were just too nice to throw away.  Gifts from well-meaning people and antiques belonging to grandma.  There were ceramic roosters on the other side.  I don’t need a picture to remember those.  Sometimes on a visit we’d climb up there for mom and wash and dust everything and check out the names on the bottom of things.  Grandma was great for writing the names of her relatives on adhesive or masking tape and sticking them on things she thought they might like to have after she was gone.  It’s a great system – certainly easier than writing it all down on paper.  Mom carried on that tradition.  My own cupboards go right up to the ceiling with no space on which to put things.  There are some traditions that aren’t that hard to give up.

Little sister, grandma and W, with nephew Andy bottom left: Christmas dinner circa 1974

I can tell it’s Christmas because of the plastic holly and the tree shaped candle.  But every meal at moms was like a Christmas feast.  Small people were supposed to sit on the bench on the far side of the table, but obviously on this day we got a little mixed up. Funny, no matter how many people showed up to eat, there was always room at the table, and  left overs for later.  It was a magical place.

Ontari-ari-ario

No matter how long I’ve lived away from this province, coming back always feels like coming home.  We had one of those early early mornings again, getting to the airport before 5:30 a.m. for a 6:30 departure. I’m always amazed when the plane is full at that ungodly hour.

The new and improved Winnipeg Airport is a lovely change but finding my gate for the next leg of the flight was a bit of a challenge since they didn’t bother to fill in that little detail on my boarding pass.  That’s why they have big monstrous signs so you can figure these things out.  By the time I got to the gate they were already pre-boarding.  Beautiful sunny weather everywhere except in London where it was windy and overcast on landing, but the sun came out in the afternoon.

We met my brother and went out for a couple of drinks and a nice lunch.  He’s doing amazingly well, and looks so good for everything he’s been through.  He’s on his third week of treatments and is able to come home on the weekends.  One of our cousins who lives in the city joined us for lunch.  We all have crazy happy memories of summer visits to the farm and it was great to catch up on where our lives have taken us.  It really doesn’t seem that long ago that we were kids but when you’re talking about your grandchildren that should be your first clue that you’re the old people in the family tree now.

A frozen mango bellini and a glass of wine later it was time to go.  And here I am – all set up in my bedroom connected to the internet via my phone and getting in my daily post before I turn into a pumpkin.

I love my family.  It’s going to be a fun couple of weeks.

A Favorite Food from a Restaurant in My Hometown

My mother was the best cook I’ve ever known. We grew up on a farm eating home-grown, home cooked meals. What restaurant can compete with that? I don’t think I even realized our hometown had restaurants until I was about 10 years old. Mom once took us into a small diner partway through a shopping day, just to get us all something to drink, and my sister and I were awestruck. We started nudging each other and whispering that it was just like what people did on tv! Then I imagine mom felt sorry for her poor ignorant and deprived offspring and went all out and ordered us something to eat as well. I have no memory now of what we ate, but I know we talked about the experience for days.

When I was in highschool we used to walk downtown to the Lido Cafe, a Chinese restaurant where it took all of our cafeteria lunch money to get one egg roll with plum sauce. But the whole point was to get away from the school, maybe consider skipping a class or two, and see how many cigarettes we could smoke in half an hour. The food was hardly a consideration.

Eating out has always been more about the people I’m with, the ambiance and the atmosphere, the service and the presentation. Plus I like just about anything at all that somebody else prepares, so it’s hard to nail down a favourite.

When I was a teenager, there was a concession stand at the beach though, that made the absolute best french fries I’ve ever eaten. They were made with fresh potatoes, peeled and chopped right there behind the counter. Some one told me they had three different fryers with oil at various temperatures, and every batch had to go through each carefully timed stage. The wait was worth it.

The fries were hot and crisp and salty and the oil and vinegar soaked through the paper cone on our way back across the sand. Before we were even plunked back down on our beach blanket the gulls would be circling, screeching, ready to dive bomb and scoop up whatever was dropped.

But do I really remember how they tasted? Or were they that good because the sun was hot on our sun lotioned skin, the breeze from the lake was warm and fresh, the sand felt soft between our toes? Was it because there were always guys with a football or a frisbee showing off while they waited for us to join their game? And later when we were hot and out of breath, the water would feel amazing?

The company, the atmosphere, and the presentation – that little concession stand on the beach had it all. I’ve had excellent seafood meals in posh places with exemplary service and fabulous wine. But the sun and the sand were missing. There were no screaming seagulls. The fries were tasty, but without that subtle hint of Coppertone, they’re just not the same.

Powered by Plinky