Tag Archives: sisters

Grandmas Were Not Always Grandmas

imageThis is my maternal grandmother, born in 1887.  Isn’t she gorgeous?  I’m guessing this picture was taken in her late teens or early twenties before she was married.  In the right lower corner there is a ghost hand about which she doesn’t appear to be overly concerned.  We believe the original photo was cut in half , so whoever was sitting opposite her remains a mystery.

I love her tidy dark hair, the high collared blouse and her high-waisted skirt.  That pensive gaze rivals the Mona Lisa.

And here she is, some seventy years later.

image

Still gorgeous, still smiling, but with a little less hair to pull back with pins.  She is posing with my brother, my sisters and me (on the right), four of her twelve grandchildren.  After this fleeting moment in time she had a lot more years of her life left to live.  An unforgettable lady.

“The more we love the more we lose. The more we lose the more we learn. The more we learn the more we love. It comes full circle. Life is the school, love is the lesson. We cannot lose.”
― Kate McGahan

The Other Three Bears

image
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.

My November, Day One

image
Look who I saw while out and about in the neighborhood yesterday! It’s JACK! We often see him hopping about in our backyard and then he scoots to the front lawn and across the street and disappears from view.

I guess this is where he goes. Or one of his destinations. This is a corner lot about a block from our house, with a big old tree which obviously is perfect for napping under if you are Jack. Or any jackrabbit….perhaps Jack is played by many different actors who all look the same.

I think it’s amazing how docile and trusting he is, and I might have gotten even closer but I didn’t want to disturb him. When I doubled back on my walk about 45 minutes later, he was still there. No dogs run loose here and cats are well fed, so he must feel safe.

Because the weather is still lovely for this time of year we had a lot of trick or treaters on our street last night.  Almost every one of them said thank you and happy Halloween.  One little guy with a big bag almost over flowing with junk told me he was on his sixth neighborhood.  Now that’s dedication.

Today we made our trial run to the part of the hospital where W has his surgery on Tuesday, so that will make the actual trip less stressful, avoiding construction and not being surprised by one way streets.  It’s an old people thing.  If you’re not in your sixties you probably won’t get it.  Now I’m hoping the snow will hold off a little longer.

It was also clock turning back day.  My little sister sent us this awesome “movie trailer” showing how traumatic Daylight Saving can be for some people.  Enjoy!

 

Rocks

rocks

A couple of days ago, Michele at Life As A Garden ….(she has a beautiful blog – you should check it out) (go ahead, I’ll wait right here)…..wrote this comment on one of my posts:

“You could be talking about rocks and I would find the reading interesting and entertaining.”

After reading this one lovely little sentence there were so many thoughts tumbling around in my head that I was unable to form a coherent reply.  Although that’s nothing new.

I love getting comments, by the way, which I read mostly on my phone, thinking I will go back to them later when I’m on my laptop and reply to them properly.  But time goes by and I don’t get around to it and I feel bad about that, so I try to convince myself that the commenter by now has totally moved on and maybe doesn’t even remember what he or she said, or more likely who I am, and how embarrassing would it be to post a reply now, RIGHT??  So it’s not personal.  It’s just me being a super procrastinator.

But back to those tumbling thoughts I mentioned.  Here’s a few of the highlights.

1.  Holy cow, somebody finds me interesting and entertaining.  Yay!

2.  Huh – she’s right.  I rarely write about anything earth shatteringly important.

3.  And, I’m not about to start doing so any time soon, or most likely ever.

4.  Because my best posts are quite often about completely stupid things.

5.  Hey! Wait a minute!  I have a story about rocks!

Way back in 1969 or somewhere thereabouts, my dad was Reeve of our little Ontario township and got invited to go to a Good Roads Convention in Alberta, all the way at the other end of the country.  He and mom decided it would be a great idea to take their three daughters on a road trip.  We would travel to the convention, and then continue on all the way to the west coast.  We were all excited to see the Pacific Ocean for some strange reason which totally escapes me now.

We borrowed my brothers car, because he was a great mechanic and always had cars that could be trusted to drive clear across countries getting great gas mileage and not breaking down.  For me, travelling has always been something one endures in order to leave one place and arrive at a completely different place.  I’m getting better at enjoying the journey, but not much. I should have taken lessons from my mother when I had the chance.

She loved every single minute in that car, pouring over road maps and reading aloud every sign we passed, calculating how far we’d go and where we’d stop for breaks and gas and where we’d sleep.  She wrote down what we spent and the weather we encountered and what we had for breakfast, for all I know.  And every time she stepped foot out of the car, she picked up a souvenir rock.

We were all encouraged to appreciate and exclaim over the special characteristics of each unique chunk of the landscape that mom tucked away in the trunk or under the seats or in the glove compartment all the way to the coast and back. I thought she should write on them so she’d remember where they came from but she said that would spoil them.  I didn’t know that was possible, but I guess that’s how you spoil a rock.

The other thing we collected was a glass bottle full of Pacific Ocean water, complete with some kind of goopy green seaweed and a few shells and some sand.  If we had only kept the bottle sealed we might still have it hanging around somewhere looking all murky and mysterious.  But a couple of weeks after returning home we realized it smelled really bad and dumped it down the laundry tub drain.

You may be wondering what mom did with all those precious rocks she collected, and the truth is, I’m wondering too.  I’m wondering if the fun was in the collecting and she really had no firm plan for them at all.  Maybe she lost track of their numbers or just got tired of hauling them out of the car when we were unpacking.  Or she may have meant to go back for the rest of them and never got around to it.  (I did get a few of her genes).

My brother brought dads car back and picked up his own and drove it home. He probably took it to a car wash to clean it off and vacuum it out, because it wasn’t too long before we got his phone call, wanting to know why the hell his car was full of rocks.

Well you really couldn’t pretend not to know.  We told him they were moms, and he should bring them back, because she worked so hard to gather them up and haul them thousands of miles.  But Dad told him to just throw them out, so that’s what he did.

The funny thing is I don’t know where the rest of them ended up – did mom take any of those rocks out of the car?  She certainly never mentioned them again in all her ‘wonderful trip’ stories.  I guess it’s just one of our family mysteries which will remain forever unsolved because probably no one but me even remembers it.  Hey, it’s a story about rocks.  I didn’t say it was going to be exciting.

Anyway, thank you Michele for your inspirational comment.  If you never say anything to me again for fear of getting me started,  I totally understand.

Tea Party

Cin’s Feb Challenge:

Day 8 – Tea Party

Day 9 – Brag about yourself or something you are doing

004
For most people (I think) it’s an uncomfortable thing to brag about yourself, and I believe that I don’t do that a lot.  However, I could be wrong, because isn’t this blog just one great big brag session??  I guess it is what it is.

This is a picture I painted in 1997.  Yes.  Seventeen years ago.  Amazing fact – it has survived seventeen years worth of de-cluttering.  I spent a lot of time on all the fiddly details and it was one of my first tole paintings ever, but that’s not why I love it.

It reminds me of the relationship I have with my younger sister Ann, the one closest to me in age.  (There are almost ten years between me and our youngest sibling, and a fifteen year old doesn’t set spending time with a five-year old as one of her priorities.)  So the tea parties I remember are the ones where Ann and I played at being civilized grown ups for as long as we could stand it, before taking off outside again to act like the little hooligans we really were.

My hair was dark and straight as a poker and I was always jealous of Ann’s Shirley Temple curls.  Mom dressed me in red while my sister got to wear beautiful blues and chocolate browns.  I would (of course) be the one in charge of the tea-pot and the slicing of the cake, because I was older and bigger and incredibly bossy. I’m not like that AT ALL anymore.  Just ask my sisters, and they had better agree with me.

One of these fine days I will get back into painting.  For awhile I rented a display space at a little store called “Rose Tree Cottage” and sold a lot of my stuff there.  I still have the records somewhere of all the things I painted, and they number in the hundreds.  When it became more like work and less like fun I just stopped doing it.  When I have all kinds of time on my hands and no job to go to I will set up a little ‘studio’ again and see what happens, and what magical memories are still stored away in my old and muddled up mind.

There are all kinds of flaws in this tea party painting.  I could point them out to you if you haven’t already noticed them, but sometimes I think it’s the imperfections in things that make them good.  And dear.  And worth hanging on to for seventeen years.

Wear Red Shoes

IMG_0264

It’s Red Shoe Day Two at Breathing Space.  I would like to scratch off the bit of advice up there that says to wear more skirts, but other than that, this is a great list.

I had shiny red mary-jane buckle up shoes when I was a kid.  There was never a pair of shoes before or since that I loved so much.  My sister and I got matching red shoes at the same time, so mine were handed down to her and she got to wear red shoes for twice as long. Or maybe not, because she was very hard on shoes.  That’s what our mom told her to explain why she had to wear sturdy brown oxfords to school.  They were so ugly we both had a good cry over the unfairness of it all.

The beautiful red shoes made the most delightful racket when we walked.  I remember clomping around on the hardwood floor in the living room until mom told me to stop.  Then I clomped up and down the staircases instead.  I thought tap dancing shoes must be the most marvelous of footwear.  I had no desire to learn how to dance, but I might have professed an avid interest in it if I thought that would get me even noisier shoes.

Is this where my love of red began? And are little girls born with a thing for shoes?  I think the answer to both these questions is a big loud yes.

Sisters Are Forever Until One Pisses the Other One Off by Writing a Book

Daily Prompt:  Coming to a bookshelf near you:

Write a summary of the book you’ve always wanted to write for the back cover of its dust jacket.

Before the Lights Go Out by Lara Beckman (not her real name) (also this illustration is not the actual dust jacket and the two people on it are not even sisters)

English: The author Madeline Brandeis (1897–19...
English: The author Madeline Brandeis (1897–1937) and her daughter Marie on the dust jacket of her book “The Little Swiss Wood Carver”, published in 1929 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before the Lights Go Out  is a brilliant collection of timeless stories, illuminating moments in the ordinary lives of two sisters who experience the same growing pains in childhood, but whose adult lives unfold in astoundingly different directions.  There are twists of fate, chance encounters and life altering moments as their two pathways seem to diverge more often than they cross.

Their strongly based family connection and shared history is not something either of them can escape and although they both get lost or go temporarily missing in action over the years their lives continue to sporadically intertwine in delightful ways.  There are beginnings and endings, arrivals and departures; accidents, misfortunes and tragedies, always interspersed with large doses of good luck, good times and miracles.

The sisters chronicles are profoundly memorable, funny, authentic, sometimes irreverent.  Prepare to be amused, shocked and amazed at how strange and extraordinary two ordinary lives can be.

Author’s Note:  Although these stories may strike random family members as being autobiographical in nature, I assure you they are pure fiction and more or less completely made up, based so losely on fact as to be irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.  I swear.  Really, I’m almost totally serious about the fictional part.  So stop worrying about it.  Your secrets are safe with me.

More From The Autograph Files

Of all the autographs in these three little books, I think these are the two I like the best, simply because they’re from my mother’s sisters.

I must assume they knew her well.  There are other gems:

***

In the parlour there were three, He, the parlour light and she.

Two is company without a doubt. That is why the light went out.

***

Always do a deed of kindness, Never say you don’t know how.

If you ever see a cowslip, Quickly run and help the cow.

***

If in heaven we do not meet

Hand in hand we’ll stand the heat.

***

Think of me when far away and only half awake.

Think of me on your wedding day and send me a piece of cake.

***

Love many, trust few, But always paddle your own canoe.

***

All things are not as they seem

Skim milk masquerades as cream

Black sheep dwell in every fold

And all that glitters is not gold.

***

Many a ship was lost at sea through lack of coal and rudder.

Many a fellow lost his girl by running after another.

***

Life is but a one way street – we have to trust to luck.

If we can’t thumb a swell sedan, we have to climb a truck.

***

Drifting down the stream of life in your little birch canoe

May you have a very pleasant time and room enough for two.

***

It’s hard to lose a friend when your heart is full of hope

But it’s harder still to lose the towel when your eyes are full of soap.

***

When you get old and ugly, as people often do

Remember that you have a friend who is old and ugly too.

***

There was a terrible hurricane and all the world was shaken.

A little pig turned up his tail and ran to save his bacon.

***

As over lifes road you jog along, May you always have room in your heart for a song,

Always a rift in the clouds so gray, And many and many a perfect day.

***

And finally, one from her future husband, always a wealth of information, who would have been embarrassed to write anything too personal for others to see.

Where You Want to Live

Today we drove to Owen Sound – Where You Want to Live.  It’s either that or “the scenic place” that’s their city slogan.  I’d research it further if I thought anyone cared even slightly.  We went there to meet sister number three for lunch. But also to shop, which we got out of our systems first.  It’s a great way to work up an appetite.

I hate trying things on, but it’s a necessary evil I guess, and slightly less painful when there’s someone with me willing to offer a second opinion.  I got a few things I needed and several  things I didn’t.  The line between necessary requiremment  and intense craving tends to blur when I’m in a store full of nice things.

I got to see my baby sister’s new house and all the improvements they’ve made and all the works in progress.  They’re in a nice area on a quiet street but still close to work and lots of shops and restaurants.  After the house tour it was a short drive over to Kelseys.

I’m usually very careful not to order anything spicy when I go out to eat, but today I was more brain dead than normal and asked for a Sonoma Valley Salad which consists of california greens, red peppers, tomatoes, croutons, feta cheese, raisins, seeds, nuts, spicy honey citrus dressing, and Thai popcorn shrimp.  Did you notice the word SPICY in that delightful little description?  I don’t know how I missed it.  But despite the fact that my lips went numb it was actually very good.

We had a lovely visit.  We keep in touch by e-mail, but nothing beats face to face to get all caught up.  Then we drove over to her significant other’s place of employment to say hello to him as well before heading home.  You can tell when someone is over the hill when they insist on driving home before it gets dark.

And also the fact that they’re exhausted after doing more than one thing on any given day – that’s another giant clue.

What Will You Remember?

“What do you want to be remembered for, Ainslee?” Lara asks the countryside flying by the bus window.

“Why, am I dying or something?” Ainslee pouts and frowns at her sister. “Why are you asking me that?”

“We’re all going to be gone someday, I was just wondering what memories you’d like your girls to carry with them for the rest of their lives. What kind of mothers you’ve inspired them to be. What things about you Matt would cherish forever.”

“Pfffft. Matt is NOT going to outlive me, so that’s nothing to waste my time worrying about, how he’ll pine away missing me. He’s got so damned much life insurance it would be a crying shame if I didn’t end up collecting it. And the girls becoming mothers? Man, I can’t even picture that. Dani is so headstrong and bossy and independent, who could live with her? And Allie with her portable medicine chest. A hypochondriac mother is just wrong on so many levels. She worries herself to distraction about her silly cats. Maybe that’s all the responsibility she can handle.”

“But Katie is the most like you used to be. Wild and a little crazy now, but she’ll get over that, just like you did. Someday she’ll have children her grandma will love to distraction. What kind of legacy would you like to leave for all of them?”

Ainslee frowns and sighs and forces herself to consider. Lara is always trying to make her think about stuff and it just goes so completely against her impulsive nature to sit down and thoughtfully consider things for no reason that she can fathom. Unfortunately, at this particular moment she must remain in her bus tour seat and is at Lara’s inquisitive mercy.

“I would like them to remember that I was fair, and giving and happy and that I loved them. I was a good mother. But that I was a person first, with an interesting life quite apart from them. That I went off to Scotland with my sister and sat in a bus and hardly thought about them at all except when I was forced to agonize over my imminent death and their uncertain futures.”

Lara laughs and nudges Ainslee with her elbow. It’s a good answer, she thinks. And now Ainslee insists on hearing her answer, which is only fair.

“I guess I just would like my sons to remember how much I loved them. I think that would be enough.”

“Loved them?” Ainslee snorts. “You spoiled the little buggers rotten is what you did. It’s a miracle they turned out so close to normal. I bet their wives curse you daily though, for what those boys must have come to expect from the women in their lives.”

Lara looks stricken and Ainslee laughs at her and tells her she was only kidding her. Lara knows how true it is though. She always felt Stan overdid it with the discipline, needing to be seen as the strong and stern parent so that she felt bound to offset his harshness with her own softness. And yes they got away with a lot behind their father’s back.

“And what about Stan?” Ainslee prods her.

“What about him?” Lara rolls her eyes. “He’ll have a couple of rums and tell a couple of stories and then he’ll forget about me and get on with his work and his life.”

“Are you kidding? You are Stanley’s ROCK Lara. He’ll be positively adrift without you!”

It’s Lara’s turn to snort. “I’m more like a boulder around his neck I think. My gravestone will read ‘here lies Stan’s Albatross’. The woman who spoiled his sons and didn’t like to dance.”

“I think that’s entirely too much information to be putting on a headstone, unless it’s ten feet tall. And you just couldn’t be that ostentatious if you tried. Oh My God Lara!” Ainslee practically screeches as she leans around Lara to peer out the window, her eyes like saucers. “SHEEP!”

And indeed, there they are, hundreds of them, more than they could have imagined all standing around looking bored with their little black feet planted firmly on a rolling green field. Although they have been on the lookout for sheep ever since they crossed the border into Scotland it’s still an amazing sight to see all those cottony white dots scattered everywhere.

Ainslee sits back in her seat and announces that they look like maggots from this distance. Crawling maggots on a dark green lettuce leaf. The image makes Lara laugh and she makes a mental note to pass that one on to Ainslee’s daughters for posterity.

“I was so excited to see them and then there they are looking positively gruesome. Let’s get some pictures!”

They snap a few blurred shots through the window as the bus speeds away. In a few days the sight of sheep will be so completely ordinary and repetitive to them that they will not feel bad at all when they sit down on their hotel beds one evening to begin the arduous task of deleting them from their memory sticks. Getting the images out of their heads is another thing altogether.

Powered by Plinky