Tuesday, February 25, 2014

New Beginnings

Oh what a few weeks it has been. The very best thing that I have done in quite some time is to delete my Facebook account. I cannot tell you the freedom there was in that for me. It was getting quite ridiculous actually. I couldn't walk past my iPhone without checking to see if someone posted something new. Although I do miss quite a few things about it I feel good about the result. Who knows? Maybe someday I will log on again but I hope not.

Another thing that has ended for me is this blog. Its story is told and just like some of you have said in the past, my child's story is hers to tell, or not. I am so glad to have documented her life from a tiny little soul until she turned ten on both this blog and my older one. Ten is a big age, you know!

As interests change for me and I change along with them, I feel steered in a new direction so I won't be writing in this space anymore. Thank you for your comments and your help and your presence. I will not be gone completely as I have started a new blog. It is about the natural world, the making of our homestead and all things country! I know this will not interest all of my readers and that is okay. If you might want to take a peek you can find it here.

Thank you again.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

On Love and Loss

My grandparents have been gone a long time now. My Papa died in 1984 and my Grandma in 1990. They weren't that old. Neither reached average life expectancy although their parents lived well into their 80's and one even over 100! Although they were relatively young when they died, they always seemed old to me. Ever since I could remember, they were old.

I loved being with them as a child. Often times we would get to go to their house by ourselves. Coming from a family with six children, having a chance to be an only child for a week was a big deal. A very big deal.

My grandparents were fancy folk. In my opinion anyway. My Papa wore a suit every single day. My Grandma, a dress, with a hat, and heels.

 When one of us kids got to stay at their place we were allowed to choose some favorite foods to eat. I remember choosing cream of celery soup, Bugles!, and they always had crunchy crust bread. When we were there we also got to look through Grandma's jewelry box. Oh the beautiful things she had.

 I also remember watching my Papa set his barometer. I have that barometer and I set it every day still. It was the inspiration for my own collection. And his stamp holder, I remember him taking stamps from it. I have that too and last year I was able to buy a roll of 50 stamps for it!

I remember drying dishes after meals. My Grandma had the water so hot I could barely touch the dishes to dry them without burning my hands. And I remember the cutlery drawer. Every piece of cutlery was laid in just so and we were expected to do the same. That must have made an impression on my way back when because to this day, my cutlery drawer is arranged just like it. In fact, I have Grandmas silver and a few weeks ago I decided to bring it out for every day use instead of just when our girls come home. I even put it in the dishwasher hoping for that lovely tarnished look. So far it hasn't tarnished but it will. I hope.

My grandparents were gardeners. Not vegetable gardeners, but flower gardeners. My Papa grew gladiolus and my Grandma grew lilies and mums. They took great pride in their gardens and one day my Papa's garden was vandalized and it made the city newspaper! He was a city alderman and ran for mayor so that could be why it was news. I also remember my Papa would water the lawn by hand. It took him hours to do and he always wore a fancy hat while doing it.

My grandmother was strict. Very strict. There was no doubt who was boss and we daren't cross her. We wouldn't even dream of it. We loved them dearly and respected them greatly. Although she was strict, she played with us all the time. We would act out stories. A favorite was the Bremen Town Musicians. She would sing us songs. Songs that I sang to my children and they now sing to theirs. Old songs, long forgotten my most, but not us.

My Papa kept peppermint Life Savers in the glove box. He would let us have one each time we were in the front seat with him. He took my to the corner store to buy Divinity cookies. My favorite back then but I haven't had one since he died.

The rare occasion that our Winnipeg cousins would come to Regina for a visit was special too. After the feast the grown ups went to the front room for liqueur and the kids retired to the den. All of us moaning and groaning that we ate too much. Always olives and celery stuffed with Cheez Whiz. The lot of us went on several summer vacations together, all in our own cabins. Grandma brought her "Rainy Day Box" which we always looked forward to, but not as much as actually seeing Grandma wear pedal pushers and Papa in his shirt sleeves! A rare sighting.

After dinner each night, Grandma and Papa would read the mail and read the newspaper. They would talk back and forth to each other about this happening or that news item. They seemed so wise and I suppose they were. Every night they would pray the rosary together out loud. If I close my eyes and try really hard, I can still hear the drone of their voices. I hear the way my Papa would emphasize the word BLESSED are thou among women and BLESSED is the....

One of my worst memories was when I was 16 years old. He had just found out that I was pregnant and when he came to the house for a visit I was in the bathroom near the door curling my hair. I saw his reflection as he looked at me with tears in his sad blue eyes. He walked in a put his hand on my shoulder and said he loved me and walked away. Ouch. When he died, Paul and I were married and were expecting another baby. He didn't live to see her but I think he was happy for me.

After he passed away my Grandmother would come to my house every week to spend the day with me and help with my three little girls. They, too, have the memories of her singing and acting out the same stories. Paul gave her her very first ride in a pick up truck and her first trip to the dump! One time while I was at her home she was looking for something on her dresser. She picked up a little angel with a green dress and she started to cry. She put it down gently and told me this story:
     "Many years ago when we were just starting out and had very little money, Grandpa came home with a this silly little angel. I was angry at him because we shouldn't be spending money on frivolous things like this. He told me he saw it in a shop window and he wanted me to have it. Now this little angel means so much to me."

After she died, I got that little angel. As you can see by the pictures I have several of the things that remind me so much of them. This little angel's wings were broken and glued on so many times over the years and after so many moves I had lost it. I was telling my daughter that this was one regret that I had, having lost this little angel. A few months later, at Christmas time, I unwrapped a gift from that same daughter and it was the angel. She had it and she gave it back to me.

All of which is to say, this angel taught me several things. One was that I never appreciated how hard it must have been for my Grandma to have lost her husband. I figured he was old and so that is what happens. She should have expected it. How very wrong I was. Two: It teaches me still not to bother worrying or fretting about things that don't matter because, well, they don't matter. Three: It teaches me to live each day to the fullest, to love more deeply and to take joy in the simple things.

Now this little touchstone sits on my window sill over the kitchen sink. I think of these things and of my Grandma each day as I wash dishes. It is a silly little wingless angel and now she means so much to me too.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

If You Build It They Will Come

I have been rather disappointed with the lack of birds out here on the farm. Actually, I am rather happy about the lack of Grackles and Sparrows. Those birds were the bane of my existence back in Delisle. They were known to empty out a feeder in a day!

This past summer we had Goldfinches by the dozens and Hummingbirds galore. That was extraordinary, watching a hummingbird try to spear another at the feeder. We had little else. The usual suspects who don't eat from feeders were around too. Robins, Magpies (eeeww) and Ravens.
What I missed were the songbirds.


The finches left in November and there is still a pair of Robins flying around but little else. Until... I moved the feeders from out in the open to a stand of Saskatoon bushes. Now my feeders are the place to be!  White-breasted Nuthatches, Chickadees and several species of Woodpeckers all come daily. The Cedar Waxwings are doing a fantastic job of clearing off the old chokecherries and saskatoons, making ready for the new crops to come.


The birds are also just loving the deer bones. Who would have thought? They chip off tiny bits of meat that the dogs teeth can't get to and then they go for the marrow. Very interesting how nature takes care of itself.  Nothing is wasted.


I look forward to the spring when the birds return from their winter homes. Until then, I will fill feeders and enjoy the antics of those who remained behind. And soon, very soon, the Great Horned Owls enter their mating season and I will be once again serenaded by their haunting calls.
Oh bird watching, I love you. Wonder when I became such a geek?


Monday, January 27, 2014

Catching Up

Well that was a long non-blogging break. I will catch you up on all the details and then resume business as usual.

January 3rd Paul came home from work early. He had a fever and the chills and felt just lousy. Saturday morning offered no improvement and then I felt it coming. My muscles started to ache. So I did what I always do when I feel something coming on. I go for a long walk outside. Fresh air and a little exercise always seem to do the trick. Not this time. By the late afternoon I knew what was going on. The flu. 

Fearing Athena would catch our illness, I basically quarantined the little lass. I kept her bedroom door closed and the window open while she wasn't in it. She played in different rooms that the one we were in at any given time. I boiled water on the stove for 3 days to bring up the humidity. (Our central humidifier is not working. That is another story for another day. Suffice it to say I am angry about that.) It worked because despite my nagging question ten times a day of "how are you feeling?', she never did get sick. (Huge sigh of relief)

This illness really took a toll. I have NEVER been sick like that. My main symptoms were extreme fatigue and muscle pain. I am pretty sure it was the dreaded H1N1. At least I am immune now. It took me a full week until I felt like I had my energy back, and then I got a cough. It wasn't a bad cough and I didn't cough at night but it was enough of a cough to make me feel as if I did about a thousand sit ups and it lasted long enough to make me worry about peeing my pants when I did cough. Ahem. Yesterday, a full three weeks after I first got sick was the first day that I didn't cough. That was a long illness. I did have some time to knit when I could muster the energy. I made myself a hat which is now known as my "flu toque".

On top of this flu story, Paul went away on a trip to the Dominican Republic with our son-in-law. I was feeling horrible when he left but I didn't want him to cancel as he has never been on a hot vacation and has been bugging me to go for years and years. I am not a traveller. I don't like airplanes, hotels, hot weather or eating at a buffet. He wanted to go in the worst way. So I told him to go and he did. He and Jordan had a great time together. It was so nice of our daughter to suggest he go with her Dad. Quite a sacrifice on her part. But, after four days in, the guys were ready to come home. They missed us like crazy! :) We missed them too. Paul told me I would have hated everything about the trip. He would never ask me to go again. Even the wine wasn't good!

One of the blessings we had while Paul was away was that our weather was well above normal. We have been above 0C for two weeks! It was nice not to have to struggle with cold and snow while I was still sick and all alone. I must say though that it seemed each night when I went out in the darkness to put the dogs to bed in their kennel, the coyote pack seemed closer and closer. Their howls and yips seemed right beyond the tree line. I am sure they were no closer than they are every night but when you are alone in the wilderness your imagination tends to run a bit wild.

Athena also turned 10 during this time. 10!! Her cousins came up to spend the day with her and it was the highlight of her week.

Athena has started home school skating. She skates every Friday afternoon. As luck would have it, there are four girls between the ages of 10 and 12 and the rest are teenagers. She has made friendship bracelets for them already. They skate and hold hands and talk and play. Even the teenage boys give them pulls with their hockey sticks. Like I always said, home schooled kids are the best!

We had what was probably the best home school week we have had in 4 years last week. Everything ran smoothly. We accomplished a lot. We even started some subjects that have long been put on the back burner. It was encouraging and invigorating and I hope we can continue that momentum in the winter weeks to come. The long and short of it was we had a loose schedule and added lots of fun stuff. We learned to do the "Can-can" in her classical music course, we watched an excellent documentary on wolf pack behaviour and I am reading aloud a new book which she adores. The Indian in the Cupboard. My voice was still all crackly last week and it was difficult to read without gulping down copious amounts of water but I carried on. This next week will be better in the voice department.

Today the weather has turned cold and it isn't warming up any time soon. Time to settle in and really get a lot of learning in. When spring arrives in a few short weeks we will want to get on with our outdoor projects. Now is our time to hibernate, so to speak. To gather for extended warming meals, to read for long stretches of time, to watch some movies and eat a lot of popcorn. Downton Abbey is calling out to me. I have only watched the opening episode of Season 1 but I was hooked from the start. Winter is also a time for planning for all that we hope to do and be and accomplish when winter slowly turns into spring.

PS I ordered my first chicks! I am so excited. 4 Barred Rocks, 4 Buff Orpingtons, 2 Ameraucanas and 2 Chanticlers. Lets hope most will be hens. Not sure what I would do with roosters!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 In Photos

What a year it was!
Selling, buying, building, moving!
More wonderful than I could ever imagine.
Sad goodbyes.
New beginnings.
Full of promise and wonder.
And now as we turn the page into 2014,
I am full of hope for the future of my family
and of this little homestead we have finally named.
Creekside Farm.
(We have a creek running on
both sides of the property.)
Happy New Year.