Tag Archives: marriage

Getting It Done in ’71

imageSet your time machines to November 20th, 1971 and let’s talk about going away outfits.  I’ve heard they’re supposed to be stylish and sophisticated and perfect, carefully chosen ensembles you wear for the last dance at your wedding reception before embarking on your romantic honeymoon and the beginning of your new life.

Does anyone even do those anymore?  I’m so out of touch with what goes on at weddings.  I was completely out of touch at my own.  It would have made me so happy to get married barefoot on the beach or to simply elope.  W was all for that too, but our  families were both big on tradition and we got swept up in the kerfluffle.  I’m pretty sure my mother and my mother-in-law did more sighing and eye rolling at my lack of interest than I noticed at the time.  They kept asking me questions even though they hardly ever liked my answers.

Things we didn’t get quite right –

  1. There was no engagement ring.  We couldn’t afford one and picked out inexpensive gold wedding bands instead.  I would have lost a diamond.  I lost my wedding band three times.
  2. There was no veil.  I made a hooded dress with braided silver trim.  It cost about twenty five dollars.  I wanted my sisters hooded dress to be deep purple, but they couldn’t find suitable material in that colour, so it was royal blue.  Close enough.
  3. There was no hairdresser.  By the time this picture was taken my self inflicted bouncy curls had bounced their last and I looked more or less back to normal.
  4. The best man (W’s brother) and the ushers (my brother and a friend) all had different coloured suits and shirts and ties and probably socks, for all I know, because we told them just to wear whatever they had.
  5. The flowers were artificial.  It was November.  There was freezing rain. We had a church ceremony, a church basement supper, and a get together at my family farm house after that.  The dance was a week later a thousand miles away with the grooms side of the family.
  6. We forgot to book a room somewhere, so spent our wedding night at my girlfriend and her husbands house after banging on their door and waking them up.  Good thing they both had a sense of humour.
  7.  We had no honeymoon, unless you count a two day drive from         my home town to his.

Oh, let’s just stop at lucky number seven, shall see? There’s lots more but this is getting depressing, and besides, I want you to look at those going away outfits!  I must have pulled some random thing out of my closet because my face is saying “I’m married!  I don’t care!”  And W is wearing his university blazer (that’s confetti, not dandruff) but it’s hard to focus on his clothes because of those sideburns!  I can’t even.  I’m sure you can’t either.  Proof that love is blind is all I can say about that.

image
Weddings make me hungry.  Handbag under my arm, mouth full of cake, ready to blow this pop stand and set the world on fire.  Maybe starting with that brown and beige thing I’m wearing….

Advertisements

In Good Times and Bad

komatik 001

They  travel by snow machine pulling a heavy komatik behind them, for hours and hours across the tundra and the ocean ice towards the horizon, getting nowhere.

The sunlight reflecting off the ice and snow is blinding and the cold dry air makes her face feel like frozen leather, chilling her body to the bone.

This is not the life she imagined.

Back home at a dinner party he is animated in the telling of their great adventure while she sips her wine with fever blistered lips and a puzzled stare.

Roxy looks at one and then the other and back again, suddenly raising her glass to drink to the notion that theirs is surely a marriage made in hell.

Lillie McFerrin style=

Five Sentence Fiction is about packing a powerful punch in a tiny fist. This weeks word – Marriage.

Things That Last

IMG_0732

What do you see when you look at these two pictures?  This is the kind of thing that makes me go “Awwww….” because here’s a relationship that has survived a lot of years.  It looks like they worked at it and took care of it just as they also so obviously (to me) took care of each other.  And they are still together after all these years.  It’s very sweet.  I think they are very lucky.

When I saw this I smiled, and all these things went rushing through my head, so I flipped my I-Pad around to share it with W.  I thought he would make the same connections.

He stared at it with a frown for about three seconds and then he went on and on and ON about the car.  The make and model and year and paint job and tires and chrome and God only knows what else while I sat there in stunned silence.

When he finally wound down I said, okay, but what about the PEOPLE?  And he said, well, I guess they’re probably the original owners.

I guess they probably are.  I don’t know why I didn’t think of that.

Letter to Newton

Between my dad and his older brother Newton there was a gap of six years.  Dad wrote this letter in 1937 when he was twenty-three and needed some advice from someone older and wiser, with more life experience.


Port Elgin Ont

Dec. 5, 1937

Dear Newton –

I was informed that you wished I’d write once in a while.  I know for myself that I should but as usual am not prompt at anything.

I was informed also some time ago that Carl Gingrich is figuring on buying lot 8 and I’m keeping clear of it.

While cutting wood we came upon a nice little patch of birch.  What would you charge a cord for it.  It isn’t a very big strip, maybe twenty cords.  There has been several asking me if you would sell poplar by the acre and of course I didn’t know. 

I suppose you heard my old flame Alaine got the knot tied.  It makes me feel old all these kids getting married.

I am sort of contemplating the subject but it sort of frightens me.  What if I get the wrong woman or something?  Of course there have been several applicants but the job has not yet been let.  I’d like to get the advice of someone who has tried it.  There has been a lot of people heard I was getting married.  In fact one man wanted to make a deal with me to take over his farm in the spring.

It’s great weather for cutting wood now if it only lasts another couple of weeks we will have a nice little pile put up.

I suppose you have lots of snow up there.  Do you ever go over to visit Santa Claus?  I’ll bet he’s busy right now.  How’s Marie?  or I mean Mrs. McArthur because I shouldn’t get so familiar with one I haven’t even met.  Anyway, give her a kiss for me, unless it keeps you busy doing yourself justice.

Well I don’t know what else to say so I guess I’d better get ready and go to McConkey’s.  Write soon with information.

Hank

The letter was sent to Northern Ontario where Newton was newly married and teaching school.  McConkey’s refers to his oldest sister May and her husband for whom my dad was working at the time.

Perhaps on one of their family visits during the summer to our farm Aunt Marie or Uncle Newton brought this letter back to my dad.  It was mom who kept it in amongst her precious papers all those years.  I wonder what advice Newton gave my dad so long ago?  It was five years after writing it that he finally decided he was making the right choice and married my mother.

All his life my dad respected and admired and loved his siblings.  They were spread out all over the province, but it never stopped them from being close.

These little snippets of history, showing us who they were, help to keep the memories alive.

Guardian Angels

My astrological forecast for Friday the 13th:

Here you are, patting yourself on the back because you thought you were a contender, and instead it turns out you’ve got exactly what it takes to deliver the knockout blow. Don’t hesitate. Deliver the goods.    

I don’t understand that!  So it seemed fitting to add it here along with all the other things I was told today by a psychic medium.  She said that what I didn’t understand today would eventually all come clear to me, so I’m writing this down for the future much smarter me.

–  I have several guardian angels looking out for me – on further investigation the main ones appear to be my dad, my mom, my grandma, and my Uncle George.  I would have thought Uncle George had better things to do.

– There have been a lot of very indecisive people in my life over the past couple of years, but things are starting to clear up for everyone. Things are falling into place.  Money is not an issue.  A GOOD move could be in my future but it’s not a MUST move.  Things are settling around me,  My family members are getting their act together.  There are not a lot of problems, so I should just keep going.  (I got from all this that I was probably one of the most boring people she’d seen all day.)

– I am surrounded by positive energy and ready to make positive changes in my life.  Things will be smooth, there will be no real issures.  I will have room to breathe.  (I am falling asleep here. Your dead relatives are more interesting than you are.)

– The names she mentioned that do mean something to me – Harry or Harold, Margaret, Mary, George, Ken-something (-zie?) several Williams (possibly second or last names), Kris (although she wrote Chris, but that could be my neice’s boyfriend too), John and Julie.  (I just saw my cousin John in London and his wife’s name is Julie.)  She also mentioned Shawn, Michael, David, Doug, Jean and Cathy.  Who the hell are those people?

– It’s time to sort out my priorities and do what makes me happy.  I have been sitting on a shelf.  It’s time to get on with things.  (I protested that I kind of like sitting on the shelf, and she said I KNOW you do.  Get off it.  Get out of that box and out of your comfort zone.  There is a passion within you.  Find out what it is.)

– Magpies are very spiritual birds.  (Yeah, that surprised me too.)  When I see them they remind me of my mother.  But Cardinals also have special meaning for me. (I hope this is referring to two of my granddaughters and their beautiful names, and not something stupid like the two fake birds I have on my welcome sign at the front door.)

– She was surprised that I had no awareness of my dad’s presence in my life because it is incredibly strong.  He is always with me.  He is also looking out for my daughter who is strong and determined and getting it together.

– It is safe for me to travel by air.  (If she’d said it wasn’t safe, I wonder if I’d be looking at a bus schedule right now.)  I will be taking a getaway trip to the U.S. with two other women and will have a great time.  Money will allow it – no worries.  (Vegas, here I come?)

– My thyroid problems are under control.

– My brother is doing well.  He is very strong.

– There is an ending of a marriage coming up, likely a divorce, excessive drinking is involved.  I will be giving very good advice to the couple involved.  (No doubt without being asked for any.) (I think the end of a relationship is a very sad thing.  Drinking could actually help the process.  But perhaps this is not the good advice she had in mind.)

– The ‘animal’ card I picked was a beaver.  She turned it over and laughed and told me it was perfect and meant I must get busy.  I think a beaver is about the last thing on earth I want to identify with right now.  Or maybe ever.

Finally she asked me if I had six months to live, (don’t worry, you have much longer than that) what would I do?  I said I thought I might just keep on doing what I’m doing.  I like to write.  I like to read.  I sometimes paint.  ( I bore the pants right off psychics with my problem free existence….) She threw up her arms and shouted “THAT’S IT!  You must paint!  You are filled with a creative passion!  Get out of your comfort zone and do what you love to do!  (And please, get out of my cottage now and send in somebody whose aura won’t put me into a coma.) (Or something like that – it’s my own psychic interpretation of how her day was going.)

I suppose over all I really can’t complain about our little chat.  I just think a psychic should be able to freak me out a little better than that.  But it appears my guardian angels have been vigilant and are doing a bang up job.

W is for W

It’s the first official day of retirement for W (second time around) and already midway through the day he’s showing signs of withdrawal and inability to cope.  If he says “Well, this is really weird” one more time I’m going to lose it.  He’s been off somewhere doing stuff no less than four times already.  Right now he’s driving across to the west side of the city to get a part for something because the exact part he’s after apparently does not exist here on the east side.

When I booked my two week trip to Ontario W assured me that he would still be here to pick me up from the airport when I got back on the 17th.  Of course I was way too smart to believe that for a minute.  Now that the ice is gone and Dan has been phoning and he has all this time on his hands, his own departure date gets bumped back daily. If he sticks around for Easter weekend I’ll be very surprised.  He can’t go until the furnace is installed though and I’m not sure if that’s going to be completed today or not, but the guy is still  banging around down there in fits and starts, because he keeps driving off to retrieve things he needs too. They both have some kind of parts neurosis.

W is also for WARP.  Lots of things can be warped – your mind, your sense of humor, your imagination, your values, your floorboards.  You can warp a ship into position, and travel at warp speed.  You need those warp threads to go with the weft or woof ones to weave.  Space and time and light can all be warped.  It’s a very handy word to use if something is twisted, distorted or perverted.  Also useful for insulting someone without being overly specific.  My husband is WARPED could mean anything.

I’m not exactly moving at warp speed getting myself packed and ready to go although I’ve done several things that could have waited.  Like wash my car.  We got splatted with a super huge mud spray yesterday which covered the windshield so thoroughly that we couldn’t see for a few seconds.  But now the car is all cleaned up for two weeks of being parked in the garage.  And the beauty of staying at my sisters house is that I can borrow whatever I forget.  I’m not sure if she’s aware of that but she’ll find out soon enough.

So after the wee hours of tomorrow morning, I won’t be seeing W for about five months!!  I’ve always said this is the reason our marriage has lasted so long.  You can be married for forty years if you spend half that amount of time never really knowing for sure where the other person is.  It’s worked out well for us, anyway.

Okay, this stupid suitcase is not going to pack itself.  Time to get serious.  Five a.m always gets here faster than we anticipate.

Taking Risks

I guess if it takes a whole day for me to come up with some kind of risk I’ve taken that I’m happy about – and I can’t think of anything – I probably should accept the fact that I’m just one of those boring people with a very low risk tolerance.

I don’t like to gamble or make bets, or stick my neck out, or take shots in the dark. I’m not good at speculation or determining the odds. I just go with my gut feeling on most things, and then they turn out however they turn out.

I get in my car every day and drive. That’s putting myself in mortal danger; but so far I haven’t died because of it, even though it’s a kind of Russian Roulette.

I had a herniated disc operated on and got to say good-bye to chronic back pain, even though there’s always risks involved in any surgery and in this case there was a small chance that the pain might be worse afterwards than it was before. Didn’t happen, so good choice. Glad I risked it.

I got married and had children. That was kind of courageous, or ridiculously foolhardy, take your pick. So far I’ve survived it.

I like things to be safe and secure and certain and calm and predictable. The fact that they rarely are is not my fault. I don’t go looking for trouble or danger or thrills and I’m content to let them pass me by.

Sorry, I’m putting myself to sleep here. So I’m going to risk turning in now. I’ll get into bed and close my eyes and take a chance on waking up in the morning. I’ll also gamble that the house won’t burn down or blow up or fall over during the night. That’s about as adventurous as I care to get.

Goodnight. Sweet dreams. (Or horrific nightmares – life is one big crapshoot.)

Powered by Plinky

Cambridge Bay 2

July 18

Cambridge Bay II

Life went on at about the same pace for the next few months.  Alternately hectic and lazy, mostly depending on the kids and how they were and what they needed.  W. continued to go on trips and never be around.  I depended on myself and my friends to look after my babies and keep myself sane.  My mom and dad decided to make plans for a trip all the way to Cambridge Bay from Ontario to visit us for a week in June.  At least I had that to plan for and look forward to.  I went to the drop-in for moms and tots, talked on the phone, visited, took the baby for his check ups, washed, cleaned, wiped runny noses.  I lived through teething and toilet training and roseola infantum.  I often felt overwhelmed dealing with all these things mostly on my own, with my mom so far away and trying to tell W. about it by phone.  I still had a few bouts of feeling not in control and incredibly sad, but I always made myself snap out of it.  I had two beautiful children who needed a mother who wasn’t depressed and crazy.

When the snow finally melted we were stranded once again, not being able to use the snowmobile.  Someone gave me an old stroller and I was so grateful I nearly cried.  I used it to pack the kids into and walk to the Bay for groceries.  I nursed D. through colds and sore throats, and sat up all night with K. after his first immunization needle.  W. went off to some course in Lethbridge for 2 weeks and I impressed myself no end with how well I could cope on my own.  Finally it was June and he arrived home on the same day as my parents flew in, so we all were at the airport to meet them.  I was insanely happy to see them.  They spent a lot of time with their grandchildren, and we talked and talked and talked.  The visit was over much too fast.  The day after they left W. started talking again about taking some 2 or 3 day trips and maybe going away for a month in the summer when the ice went out.   He told me he really didn’t appreciate me giving him static about leaving.  I wanted to strangle him.  I told him he might as well just leave and never come back because I was not EVER going to get used to this.  I told him he would not last two days if the roles were reversed.  That prompted him once again to try to spend more time with D. and K. but he always got frustrated and would invariably think of other things he had to do.

That summer we had some strange visitors – a couple of photographers from England and some kind of duck egg collector from Scotland.  W. invited them to stay with us.  He was also always inviting people over for meals and evenings whenever he was home.  Those were really the only times I ever learned about anything he was doing, when he talked to other people and I got to listen in.  We really didn’t tell each other much of anything anymore.  Then he went off doing some flying musk ox surveys or something wildlife related like that.  After that he flew off to Yellowknife to either attend meetings or have a vasectomy.  Maybe it was both, I don’t remember.  It’s all a blur.  Because around that time a letter came in the mail from some girl in Lethbridge.  It was addressed to W., although there was no box number, and there was her name and return address in the corner.  I had no idea who she was, but just the envelope made me sick.  So I opened it and read what she had to say.  She called him some silly nickname, talked about her family and her tan, and how everyone said hi.  Then she blathered on about hickies and presents and her sex life.  It was truly bizarre.   And it made me temporarily lose my mind.

I tried to reach W. in Yellowknife about six times, and finally left a message for him to call home.  Then I packed my suitcase with everything I could cram into it, and searched the house for my credit cards and my cheque book so that I could make flight reservations back to Ontario for myself and my kids.  I honestly could not find them anywhere, although I turned the whole house upside down and finally in frustration I called Trudy and told her the whole sordid story.  She sat down and had three drinks in a row listening to my tale of woe.  How funny was that.  I’m the one who needed a drink.  Then she came and picked us up and we went to the library.  She kept telling me to calm down and think this through and not do anything rash.  I was at the fucking library – how rash was that?  We laughed until we cried.  She said she had a hard time believing that W. would do something like that – he loved me and his kids and just didn’t seem like the type.  Deep down I thought she was right, but really, what did I know anymore?  When I got home I resumed my search for my wallet, but it was half-hearted at best.  Finally W. called, a bit frantic sounding, sure that something had happened to one of us.  I assured him that we were all just perfectly fine, as usual, no thanks to him, and could he please tell me all about his escapades in Lethbridge?

I have to give him credit if he really was guilty of anything for being completely believable in his bafflement and anxiety.  I had never known him to lie about anything before.  In fact he has always been quite brutally honest even when the truth could use some softening.   He was desperate to come up with some kind of explanation for this girl he had never heard of sending him a letter.  There were some guys from the Yukon who did a lot of bar hopping and joked that when you picked up chicks you should use somebody else’s name.  Maybe somebody used his name.   He begged me to not do anything crazy and to wait for him to get home.  Well.  Wasn’t that just becoming the story of my life.  What choice did I have, really?  When I hung up the phone I read the letter again, looking for any little clue or reference to anything that could be linked to W., but it was just such generic stupid little-girl babble that I gave up.  W. came home bearing gifts and was the most attentive and loving I’d ever seen him, begging me to believe he would never do anything to risk losing me.  I guess I could have worried about it and analyzed it all to death forever, but there was really no point.  So I accepted his explanation and we threw the letter away and never talked about it again.

So, did things get better after that?  Well, sort of.  I found my credit cards and cheque book and wallet in the bottom of D.’s toy box.  We celebrated her second birthday.  I got offered a job teaching grade six at the school right across the road from our house.  A teacher they had hired backed out at the last possible second,  and they were desperate to fill her position.  I said yes without hardly thinking about it.   W. made plans to go by boat to Bay Chimo.  I can’t remember why, but I didn’t have time to worry about it.  The school year started in mid August.  I had a babysitter who didn’t show up two days out of three, so I had to get Trudy to look after my kids.  Thank God she decided she liked doing it, and was nothing if not reliable.  Even when both of them got sick, which they did during my second week.  And then one day the RCMP showed up at my door to tell me that W. and his “guide” and a federal fisheries officer had never showed up in Bay Chimo and no one could find them.  I don’t know why I didn’t just shoot myself and be done with it all.  It took them two days of flying to finally find them, out of gas, with no drinking water, almost out of food and totally lost.  Turns out their “guide” was a kid who had never even been to Bay Chimo and just wanted to go for a boat ride.  You would think that one would have been the trip that finally cured W. of his need to travel by land and water to desolate places, and that he would start taking planes instead.  Not even close.  He went everywhere he could think of, for the most obscure reasons.  All work related.  But he did learn to use a radio and stay in contact with people daily.  I constantly got phone calls from people telling me they’d talked to him and where he was and what he was doing.  I know that was at least a step in the right direction.  Two more times he got stranded and had to be picked up by the RCMP.  Once was on a denning survey, and once on a polar bear hunt.  How boring it would have been to have a husband with a desk job.

We finally got home to Ontario for two weeks that Christmas.  Hectic but very therapeutic.  Both kids were sick with colds, but otherwise little angels.  I’m their mother, and I would know that.  When I went back teaching in January, I handed in my resignation as of May that year, and felt like a thousand pound weight had been lifted from my shoulders.  I won’t say I hated it, I loved the kids in my class and we had a lot of fun, but I spent so much time worrying about them and torn between them and my own babies, that I knew I had to give it up.  D. and K. were becoming little people with little personalities, and I didn’t want to miss any more of it. The principal at the school practically begged me to reconsider, and gave me such a glowing letter of recommendation that I was stunned.  I thought about it seriously while I finished out the school year, but I didn’t change my mind.

That summer we packed up our kids and went home for my sister’s wedding, and then spent three weeks at our camp.  After that we flew back to Cambridge Bay and packed up everything, and five days later moved to Inuvik.  I can’t say I was sorry to see the last of that place.  There were lots of good times, but I think all the missing husband scares probably took a few years off my life.

One of my very favourite memories of our time there is of a morning when a bunch of us got together for breakfast;   ladies only – no husbands, no boyfriends, no kids.  If I had to put names to faces and vice versa I would not be able to do it now.  All I remember is the fun we had making the best crepes I have ever tasted in my life, the decadent fillings, the real whipped cream, the delicious coffee.  But mostly it’s the laughter that has stayed with me all these years,  and how we all felt practically normal in this so very NOT normal place.