Rain Stories

Rain was a popular subject for primary school children learning to read in the early 1900’s.  I am basing this assumption on these stories from the Ontario Readers Primer, authorized by THE MINISTER OF EDUCATION (that part was important enough in the book to print in all caps bold) published in 1920.

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How lucky am I to possess books that are almost a hundred years old? Even if the stories are blatantly sexist.  Wimpy little girl afraid of the rain vs. bold adventurous little boy having fun.

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In this case the smart males all seek shelter and the silly female goose doesn’t. Girls just can’t win.
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Isn’t that delightful? The pages are well-read, faded and stained, the cover is worn and falling apart and the binding disintegrating and barely holding everything together. It’s one of the things my mother felt was worth saving, and it is one of my treasures.

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.

Santa on a Saturday

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This is my favourite Santa. I painted him many years ago and gave him to my mom.  She hung him up for a lot of Christmases. When she died, somehow I got him back with little effort on my part.  He was a gift and I didn’t expect he’d ever come back to me.  But I’m glad he did.

I love the softness about him, and the impossible floaty star-shaped balloons.  And the fact that he might not even be wearing pants or boots under that too-long dragging coat, for all we know.

Most of all I love the warm happy feeling I get when I see him and remember my mother.  Maybe he made her think of me too.

It’s just a funny little old Santa who surprised me by turning in to my best Christmas treasure.

December It Is

Well look at me. I was going to take a well-earned day off from posting, but then I remembered that every day is a day off for me and do I really need to spend any of these days doing ABSOLUTELY nothing? Or could I just put that off until tomorrow or some other day.

And then as I was wasting time on Facebook looking at pages that I’ve liked in the past but which never ever come up on my news feed, I came across the following interesting thought-provoking stuff.

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Plus W mixed me a spiced rum and orange juice.  So I’m not completely responsible.

Back to the drawing board tomorrow.

One Crazy Little Chick

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When she heard that baby chicks could be hatched from incubated chicken eggs, it seemed like a simple enough procedure to find out if It was true.

Since her new winter boots always kept her feet nice and warm, she decided they would no doubt make perfectly excellent chicken hatchers.

She carefully snuck two eggs from the fridge, placed one in the snug toe of each boot, and promptly forgot about them for the duration of the long wait which came next.

She remembered well enough after she was asked to put her coat and boots on to go outside,  responding to the request by wailing and screaming at the top of her lungs about broken eggs and squished baby chickens and life being generally just dreadfully unfair.

Now, although she doesn’t know for sure if that was the first time her confused and exasperated mother threw up her hands and demanded to know what in the world was the matter with her, she can tell you with a great deal of certainty that it definitely wasn’t the last.

 

Five Sentence Fiction – Confusion

AMD and DFE

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My mother was diagnosed with age related macular degeneration (AMD) when she was in her late seventies/early eighties.  It’s a medical condition which results in the loss of central vision.  Put your two fists together between your eyes and imagine that what you see in your peripheral vision is all that you are able to see.  You will never go completely blind, but for this kind of visual impairment there is no cure.  It doesn’t get better.

There are lots of things I know about eyes and what can happen to them, so I go for regular eye exams.  People who say they don’t need to be seen by an optometrist because their vision is just fine are not being smart or realistic.  There are serious eye diseases that don’t have obvious symptoms to us but can be diagnosed and treated by an eye doctor before things progress to a stage where nothing can be done.  Yes, I am trying to scare you.  Did it work?

My last eye exam was six months ago, and I was supposed to see the doctor again in a timely manner for DFE (dilated fundus examination) or examination of the back of the eye after using dilation drops to open the pupil.  He suggested I come in for that on my day off, but only seriously irrational people come to work when they don’t have to, so I kept putting it off.  The drops sting and the slit lamp light hurts my eyes.  But I decided suddenly to stop being unrealistic and stupid last week and just get it done when the doctor was coming in and I was working and W was driving me home.  (Because he has decided it’s not good for my car to sit outside in a cold parking lot all day, he has absolutely nothing better to do, and he loves me dearly.  That last one I thought up all on my own.)

Since I am somewhat of a wimp, I administered my own drops, including a drop of Alcain in each eye which has a numbing effect so that the dilating drops are less uncomfortable, by which I mean they feel less like someone is stabbing you in the eyeball.  During the examination the doctor noted the presence of drusen, a normal thing that develops in the eye with age, but it can also be an early sign of AMD.  He prescribed a multi vitamin specifically for eye health and supposedly good for slowing down the degenerative process.

I spent the rest of my shift looking stoned with enormous pupils and extremely blurred vision.  Apparently the numbing drops enhance the performance of the dilating drops so that the effects last longer than they would normally – up to four hours on average.  I did not know this, but I will remember it for next time.  Looking at the light from the computer was almost painful.  At some point in the evening I wandered off to the pharmacy in search of the miracle vitamins which contain Omega-3, Lutein, Zeaxanthin, vitamins C and E, Zinc and Copper and FISH OIL.  Specifically, anchovy and sardine fish oil.  Blech.

I take a lot of vitamins, including C, B12 and magnesium.  And lots of D because here we sometimes forget that the sun is an actual bright round yellow ball in the sky and not just some mysterious source of indirect light that temporarily dissipates the winter gloom once in a while.  (Ha!  See how I subtly worked that little weather related complaint in there??  We’re also getting another crazy snow dump today, but telling you that doesn’t have much to do with eye problems unless we get ourselves started on snow blindness, and this thing is already too long as it is.)

Anyway, after checking out everything else I’m taking and regulating dosages accordingly like I’m some kind of pharmaceutical graduate, I am now popping two gigantic red gel caps in the morning and two more at night as an AMD preventative measure.  These stupid pills absolutely STINK.  I have learned to open the bottle at arms length without inhaling and tap them out onto the counter and not into the palm of my hand because the fish oil smell clings to my skin.  I hold my breath while I swallow them.  I have asked a co-worker to please be up front and honest with me and let me know if I start to smell like a dead fish.

The things we do for health and longevity.  I know there are much worse scenarios that can happen to you than AMD and that it isn’t necessarily hereditary and that fretting about it does no good whatsoever.  If it happens, it happens, and I will try to cope with it the same way my mother did, with acceptance and grace and a wonderful optimistic attitude.  And possibly fish breath, which probably will keep people with contagious germs far away from me.

There’s always a silver lining to every fuzzy cloud.

Play

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There was a childhood game we played on our front lawn at the farm, on warm sunny afternoons when a sufficient number of cousins showed up to join us. It was better than Simon Says, Hide and Seek,  Red Light or Mother May I, although we gave all of those a thorough going over too.

If this game had a name, I don’t remember what it was.  Everyone played a role, and the ‘play’ had a predictable plot that hardly varied.  And yet we repeated it over and over.  There was a parent (usually a mother), a wicked old witch, and the rest of the cast were the children.

The mother gave each of her children a name, based on some previously agreed upon category, the most popular being ‘fruits’.  These names were not shared with the witch, so Blueberry, Banana, Lemon and Purple Grape had to keep their identities to themselves.

After making the following little speech –

“I’m going down town to smoke my pipe and I won’t be back until Saturday night – DON’T LET THE OLD WITCH IN!” –

the mother would saunter off to the sidelines leaving her children home alone (on the front veranda) to fend for themselves.

Enter the old witch center stage, respectfully knocking on the door and asking to come in.  Well of course the children say no because they are good little children who always do what mother says.  Then the witch explains to them that she is making a pie and needs to borrow some fruit.  Do you have any apples, she might ask.  She continues to guess until she hits on the name of one of the children, and then off that child must go (across the lawn to the snowball bush beside the lily pond) to where the wicked witch resides.  Here the witch changes the child’s name to a category of her own choosing – birds, for instance, and Blueberry might become Sea Gull in the blink of an old witch’s eye.

Mother saunters home, noticing immediately that one of her children is missing.  The kids are afraid to tell her the truth and make up various stories as to where their sibling might be, but eventually they have to admit that the old witch got her.

Mother and children don’t learn much from this, and keep repeating the same mistakes of going down town and answering the door until all the children have been kidnapped by the witch and all their names have been changed.

Now it’s the mother’s job to march across the lawn to the snowball bush to confront the witch with her crime.  The witch tells her that the only way to get her children back is by guessing their new names. There are no fruits here, only birds.  If mom looks ready to give up, the kids or the witch can give her hints. Maybe the witch is having second thoughts about all these kids cluttering up her living space and making all that noise.

One by one the children are released and returned to the front veranda, renamed as farm animals this time, and on the game goes until all of them begin to suffer from identity crisis issues and start asking – “hey, wait, who am I again??”

Why did we love this game so much?  Why was the mother so negligent, and the witch considered wicked?  She was just taking abandoned children to a safe place after all and never harmed them.  Unless naming someone Watermelon can be considered a horrible thing.

I know there are many variations of this game, although the pipe smoking rhyme seems to be the one thing that doesn’t change.  Did you ever play this?  Or was there another childhood game that you loved and will never forget?

Cin’s Feb Challenge/Witchy Rambles