Tag Archives: treasures

Timeless

 

Scanned christmas letter
If my spirit animal was not a sloth (sorry if I just insulted all sloths, some of whom in comparison to me no doubt look down right ambitious) I would have published this hundred and two year old treasure in a more timely fashion, on Christmas eve two years ago, when it was exactly one hundred years old.

Maybe I did, but I’m too lazy to check that out.

It is a letter written to my grandmother, by her grandparents.  Think about that for a minute.  My grandmother would have been twenty five years old in 1912, making her grandparents freaking ancient.  I’m also too lazy to look up their exact ages but it doesn’t matter anyway.  They were grandparents giving a Christmas gift to their grandchildren.  Time goes by and some things hardly change.

The gladsome time of Xmas has again come round and we the undersigned were young once but now are old.  We recollect the wants of  young folks and that often they must go unserved, therefore we thought it our duty to try to do a little for our young people, so concluded to enclose a trifle to each.  Providence having favoured more than normal we thought it but right to divide up a little of that with those whom Providence had used as instruments for our welfare.

Now enclose a trifle for you as a token of our love and esteem trusting that you will benefit in the same spirit as that in which it is given.

We wish you all the compliments of the season and many happy returns and may the Good Lord ever be with you to bless and comfort you. 

The transcription may not be perfect, but the sentiments are certainly clear.  Let me put that into “2014-speak”.

It’s Christmas!  Time for us old geezers (who surprisingly enough still remember what it was like to be young like you) to give you some Christmas cheer in the form of cash.  We’re doing okay, with some extra to share.  It may not be much, but it makes us happy to be able to help you out whenever we can.  Do some little thing for yourself that brings you joy.  Merry Christmas.  We love you and wish you nothing but the best, today and forever.

It’s been a long week off from all things bloggish, but this morning I made a pre-new years resolution to blog every day from now until the end of the year, thinking that was three blog posts, and then realizing it is in fact four.  Still, I think I can handle it.  Even though I’m ridiculously old and lazy as hell.  At least I don’t have to dip a fountain pen in an inkwell and compose something readable without spell check.  Horrors.

All the best of the season to you and yours.

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.

Junk and Treasures

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Before bed she watches her grandma scurry about the house making preparations for tomorrow, putting what appears to be worthless junk on the kitchen table, although she knows her mother considers these things priceless family treasures and will be thrilled to have them.

In the  morning she is still disoriented and exhausted after her long flight across the ocean, the drive to the farm and her restless night in yet another strange bed, with nothing better to look forward to now than a two-day road trip on her long journey home.

With a defeated sigh, she throws her things back in to her travel-worn bag, wishing she could stuff her bad mood and all her worries in there right along with them.

Once she gets everything downstairs she simply can’t stop laughing at the sight of her funny little grandma, giant fork under one arm and enormous spoon under the other, declaring herself all set and ready to go.

And just like that, all the irritation disappears.

Five Sentence Fiction  is about packing a powerful punch in a tiny fist. This week’s word: IRRITATION

Lillie McFerrin Writes
…and…
nano

Huffing and Puffing While the House Burns Down

Neighbor's House on Fire
Neighbor’s House on Fire (Photo credit: Aaron Landry)

Daily Prompt:  Burning Down the House

Your home is on fire. Grab five items (assume all people and animals are safe). What did you grab?

Gawd, if my house has to burn down I sure hope it doesn’t happen in the middle of the winter, because my five items will have to be two boots, two mitts and one warm hooded coat.  And this little blurb will win first prize in the most boring house on fire list of all time contest.  I like winning stuff, but not THAT much.

So instead I think I’ll have the house catch fire on a nice sunny summer day with no breeze, so it’s less likely that the rest of the houses on the block will also go up in smoke.  I try to be a good neighbour.  The fire department is super close to where I live and if I’ve been smart enough to call them at the first sign of danger, they will be here momentarily.  Hey, it’s my imagined scenario, and that’s what I want to think.  So I have maybe five or ten minutes to rush around in a totally freaked out manner before the hoses take me down.  The alarms are blaring, the smoke is getting thick, I need to make some smart choices and I need to make them in a hurry.

I am not that different from every other female person on this planet who owns a handbag.  I would grab that first.  Do you have any idea what’s in there?  More than five items vital for my survival, that’s for sure.  Wallet, credit and debit cards, drivers license, health cards, car keys, passport, phone, glasses, tic tacs, cheque book, lip gloss, hand lotion, six or eight pens, and a bunch of loose change. With that slung over my shoulder I feel empowered and virtually invincible.

My lap top and external hard drive count as one item because they are attached to each other. Also attached are all the cords and crap plugged in to the power bar, so it’s one big octopus-like item and I’m not leaving any of it behind.   Item number three is my kindle.  Then I will gaze for two or three precious seconds with a tear streaked face at my library of actual books and gazillion photo albums.  Sorry, sorry, can’t save you all, goodbye!  Then I’ll grab the little mini treasure chest that holds precious memorabilia from my ancestors – yellowed letters and ancient pencil drawings and old notebooks that have survived for so many years with different care takers and don’t deserve to meet their end today. Not under my watch.

Old Letter
Old Letter (Photo credit: Laineys Repertoire)

My arms are full but I can grab one more thing!  So I will do some more frantic running around and then decide to drop all this shit I’m carrying on to the seat of my grandmothers hundred year old rocking chair and with a mighty burst of adrenaline powered strength, lift and shove and struggle my way out the door with my five allotted items.  Yeah I know it’s way more than five things really, but I think cheating in my case is okay.   Because out on the sidewalk there are no other safe people and pets standing around wondering what the hell I’ve been doing in a burning house for so long.  W is away in the summer, so of course he would miss all the excitement.  It would not cross my mind to wonder if there’s something of his that needs saving.  I’ll just happily assume he’s taken all his own vital stuff with him.

So here I am, huffing and puffing with all I have left in this world on the sidewalk beside me.  The fire brigade arrives and…..I don’t know what happens next.  They unplug my toaster and throw it and the charred remains of my breakfast bagel on to the driveway?  The house is a pile of rubble and ash?  It was a false alarm, or a vivid nightmare, or a daily prompt that simply sparked my brain?

I hope I never have to face this kind of grim reality or make these difficult choices.  But I’m going to add a few snack bars to my handbag just in case.

Grandma’s Brothers/Letters Home

My Grandma Scott lost all of her younger brothers, (Jake, Herb, Carl, Walter, Iden and Jack), from the youngest to the oldest, one by one.  (My dad made a kind of not so funny joke about it once, that they passed on in order of importance, leaving grandma – the most important of them all – to be the last one standing).  Jake died as a young boy from illness or accident and Herb did not return from the war.   I don’t remember much about the other four,  since they seemed to belong to a generation so far removed from my own.  In amongst my latest ‘treasures’ are two letters from two of these brothers who served in the first world war.


The one on the left is from Iden, also on the left in the picture above (with Jack and Walter?)  who returned to Canada and his family and lived a long life.  The one on the right is from Herb, who never came home.

Willey Camp, June 2, 1918. 

Dear Sister – Well it is some time since I wrote to you so I will try and give you a bit of our doings here.  You will have to excuse me writing with a lead pencil but there is no pen or ink in this writing room and of course I would never think of buying them.  Often wished I had a fountain pen but that is out of my reach too.  It takes a regular financier to make ends meet from one day till another here.  I spend it all on eats.  We get very fair grub considering where we are, but of course there is nothing like having a few extra cookies or a piece of what they call pie (a lot of crust with a wee bit of jam or something of the sort on it).  The cookies are a lot like the wheat meal cookies that mother often makes only not half so good.  But we are glad to get something to chew at if for nothing more than to pass the time.  Say, I have been chumming with Willie Dobson quite a bit.  But he went to France last night.  He is a fine fellow.  Took quite an active interest in the church work that goes on here.  He also attended the college that they have here where they take up all kinds of work, all kinds of languages, and even agriculture.  I was sorry to see him go, as he was a fine fellow to chum with.  I had a letter from Jack Clazie a few days ago and also from Art Parr.  I guess you will know more about how the war is going than we do, as the English papers are not so full of it as ours are. 

Well, this is Sunday again and you don’t know how much I wish I were going to church with you today.  If the Saints back there only realized the privileges that they have they would not miss many meetings, I’ll tell you.  I know I did not go as I should have, but I now see my mistake.  If only I could have realized it, how much better it would have been.  As it is, I go by myself and study a lesson from both Quarterlies and by the way I never got any new ones, either, but I do the best I can.  I have just attended the Bible Class that they hold in one of the Y.M.C.A.’s.  They sing quite a few of the hymns that are in our hymnal and oh, how it makes me think of home.  Well, how is everything going back there?  I guess Margaret is getting to be quite a little girl now.  Say, do you know I have not had any good mail from back home for about two weeks except a couple of letters from May.  I often looked for the Times but never got it, but I guess that is the luck of a soldier.  Well, I guess that unless something turns up, I shall soon have to go to France.  Very likely in a week or two.  So I hope that you will pray for me.  Tell Father and Mother not to worry.  I know it is hard and that if Pa and I could have understood each other better it would have been better for me.  But whatever you do, don’t forget church above everything and if it is the Lord’s will He can protect me here as well as there.   – Your Brother Herb.

If there was further correspondence from Herb it has since gone missing.  This letter may well have been the last one my grandma got from him.  By the creases and the folds and the faded pencil I can tell it’s been well read.  I wonder what else Herb might have thought to say if he knew his letter would be saved for a hundred years? 

…on the train somewhere, Sunday, July 28, 1918. 

Mr. & Mrs. W.J. Scott, Port Elgin Ont.  I am trying to write this as the train is going – we are still going East – are just running into a small place named St. Clet.  Am not sure where it is but believe it is in Quebec.  It has been very level country for awhile back and some fine places but early this morning it was some poor country that we passed through.  The talk at present is that we are going to sail from Montreal and that we are to get our letters off as soon as possible but no one seems to know for certain where we are going.  The kids come up to the train whenever it stops and take the cards and letters the boys have to mail.  We are being well looked after and are getting as good if not better meals than we did in London.  Had porridge, oatmeal, potatoes and scrambled eggs and bread and butter for breakfast, and coffee.  We had supper before we left London last evening and had another on the train;  then about bed time they came through with a box of oranges and we each got one.  So they are looking after us pretty good.  I am not particularly struck with the country we are going through.  The farms are narrow and long and a lot of the land is rather low.  Some of the crops are heavy and are going down and some are very light.  Say, did you send those papers?  I did not get them but was up to the orderly room to see if they came just before I left.  You ought to see the girls shake hands with us at some of the places we stopped at, and old women too, and the cheering we got.  They just now came through with a basket of Duchess apples, and they are sour and green, but I guess they are good for us.  If I get time I will send more word home before I sail.  I am feeling fine I guess.  This is all for this time, we are crossing some large river, I believe it is the St. Lawrence, very beautiful.  Good bye.  Iden.  P.S.  Just passing MacDonnell College – very fine sights, like O.A.C. at Guelph.

Iden and Herb Leeder, 1918

This is how I remember my “old” great uncles, Grandma’s brothers in the 1950’s.  Jack and Walter on the left, Iden and Carl on the right. (In the middle is her husband, my Grandpa Scott, and lurking in the background, a son-in-law, my Uncle George.)   I was five or six when this picture was taken so to me they were all quite ancient and thus relatively insignificant in my sheltered little life.  It took growing a tad ancient myself to get to know a little bit about them and to appreciate who they were.

Postcards Home

In 1936 my mom was attending teachers college in Stratford, Ontario.  The love of her life, my dad, was off to see the world.  Well, western Canada, actually, but in those days, worlds away from home.  He and a buddy headed west to find work and adventure.

Amongst the treasures I gleaned from home this visit were pieces of correspondence between my parents, and letters they sent to, or received from other people.  Interesting stuff.  And amazing that it has survived all these years.


This was written on the 15th of May, 1936.

Dear Marg,  We reached Grand Forks North Dakota at two o’clock Friday.  We’re getting along fine now.  Hope you’re keeping well.  This is a big city.  I don’t like it.  The surrounding country is prairie.  Love Hank.

“Getting along fine now” suggests that things might not have been quite so fine before that.  Imagine two young men with minimal mechanical abilities setting off across Canada in a Model T Ford.

It may have looked like this new, but after thousands of miles and many flat tires and gravel roads later, perhaps not quite so lovely.

On the 30th of May, fifteen days later, he sent this postcard from Calgary.

Dear Margaret, We’re in Calgary.  We can’t keep still in one spot.  We’re heading for Rimbey for a while.  It’s about 250 miles.  Send mail to Newton and I’ll get it.  I hope you’re taking good care of yourself.  I’m having the time of my life.  Although I sometimes get rather lonesome.  We worked for about a week.  I’ll write later.  Love Hank

Dad was travelling with a friend from home, also off on an adventure, kind of like the ‘work as you go’ holidays people go off on today.  Except they go to Europe or somewhere slightly more interesting than Rimbey, Alberta.  Dad also kept in close touch with his family back home, thus the reference to Newton, his older brother.

There was work in Rimbey and I know that he stayed there for awhile.  When my parents came here to visit us in the 1990’s we drove them out there to look up the people he knew way back when.  Obviously they made quite an impression on eachother.

It’s unfortunate that I didn’t pay closer attention to the details of the stories dad used to tell us in bits and pieces about his time “out west”.  I was more concerned about the fact that they were so far apart for so long and either one of them might have married someone else.  Apparently both of them were worth waiting for.

Honey I’m Home!

I love my sister and her husband.  They put up with me for two whole weeks without hardly complaining at all.  Well not in front of me, anyway.  Got all packed up this morning and we drove back down to London and met my brother for lunch at Swiss Chalet.  We were first ones in when it opened at 11:30 a.m.  By about noon the place was packed.  On a random Tuesday morning.  What the hell is that all about? Mid week chicken craving sweeps London.

I really do hate goodbyes.  This is my brother’s last treatment week in the city and then he has different treatments scheduled in the hospital in Owen Sound, so he’ll be able drive to and from home for those without the added expense of staying overnight.  Once this is finished we’ll all be anxious to know the results.  Right now it’s an on-going battle and he’s fighting the good fight.  It’s wonderful to see him so positive.

Then it was off to the airport and another goodbye.  Last hugs are the longest.

In Winnipeg it took us over twenty minutes to get off the plane because the tunnel they were trying to connect to the plane from the terminal got a tire caught in a rut and they couldn’t get it out.  Almost had to go to another gate, but they managed finally to get it moving again.  So it was another speedy trip to make the next connection with very little waiting around.  As much as I’m happy to be home, the descent was pretty depressing.  Like heading into one gargantuan flat mud hole.  I didn’t know there were that many shades of brown.  The only green I saw was some warehouse roof and a couple of pine trees.  (And there is still some snow on our front lawn.)

But W was here to pick me up!  The weather has been too cold on the island to make it practical to go there yet.  He’d probably freeze the water pipes or something disastrous like that.  So I guess I’m stuck with him for a bit longer.  Nice to get to listen to some of the satelite radio stations before he whisks it away for the summer.

I’ve brought back lots of treasures – a few pictures, some old letters, miscelaneous books and other random bits of memorabilia which I’ll start to sort through tomorrow.  As much as the holiday was great fun, it’s nice to be home.

The Last Supper

What I seriously needed on my last night in Ontario was a trip to Lord Elgin’s restaurant for all you can eat fish and chips.  I hope you can imagine how high my eyes are rolling.  Not that their fish isn’t absolutely delicious, but I’ve eaten enough food in the past two weeks to feed a small country.  But they really do have the best halibut EVER and they encourage you to eat lots of it.  So it’s only polite to oblige.

It’s been incredibly hot all day but the wind has been blowing a gale.  There have also been power outages on and off all afternoon.  After dinner we went on a tour of the countryside.  It’s quite amazing how many wind turbines there are now in North Bruce.  It’s definitely not the landscape of my childhood.  Hard not to get mixed up in all the controversy surrounding their construction and operation.  I wonder if people made such a fuss when power lines were being put up everywhere.

It’s still a beautiful area and it’s interesting to see how things have changed.  Of course there are some things that seem to never change too.  We drove by the farm where we grew up, the little red school house that’s been converted into a home, and along country roads that used to be gravel and are now paved with brand new houses in the strangest (to me, anyway) places.

My sister and I were able to go through boxes and scrapbooks and photo albums yesterday and today, and I have gleaned a whole bunch of treasures from things that were moms.  I’m sorry my sisters house has been the storage place for everything and it does seem a bit incredible that the process of sorting it all has taken such a long time.  Some things have been too hard to throw away until now.

One last lunch with my brother tomorrow in London and then I’m heading home.  If there’s snow in Edmonton I’d rather not know about it until the last possible minute.  I’ve decided against wearing flip flops though, just in case.