Stories

Fluff
Today I received the 2 books that a long time family friend sent. They are stories about my Grandfather’s brother. I emailed my Uncle and he is very thankful to be able to have a copy. Growing up my Mother told us stories about her Uncle. Her grandfather lived with them at the time and his death had a great impact on him. Growing up my grandfather would tease his brother because his initials spelled arse without the e. His brother married my grandparents and the material for her wedding dress was sent by her sister-in-law from Japan. I always thought that was special that they were included in that way. I had heard the story many times of how my grandfather kidded that they weren’t legally married since some of the pages of the book stuck together.

Janet and I were fascinated by family history. When my Dad was growing up there were very few pictures of him as a child. When his brother found some school mementos we learned that my Dad and his younger brother won awards for singing. Apparently my Uncle was know as “Eddie”. As children it’s often hard for us to imagine our parents as children. When I got my first camera I would take photographs at family functions and Dad would take some and put them in his album. My Dad was 36 when he was married so we knew he had a life before Mom but it was weird seeing a photo from a dance with his date at the time. We didn’t even know her name until my Dad’s sister-in-law came out and asked. Since I was the one who was the keeper of the photos my Dad told me that I would get his album when he died. Photos are a neat thing because you can see the family resemblance passed down for generations. My brother is the spitting image of my Dad’s father. I was told by the woman at the funeral home when Mom died oh you must have got your father’s nose. All 3 of us have a dimple in our chin but not one of us is left handed.

I was talking to my Aunt this evening to tell her that I received the package. In the course of conversation I shared a story of Janet being the one who jumped into the compost pile to stomp on the leaves. So she says “you must miss her a lot”. I miss them all everyday. This is the time of year when I remember raking leaves with Dad. Picking up sticks with Janet. Even the word for today reminds me of Mom making rhubarb fluff for company. I tried to look up the recipe online so I could include a picture but I couldn’t find it. All I know is it’s cooked rhubarb and something is added to make it “fluffy”. The funny thing is it was a “company” dessert. I used to ask her why she didn’t make certain things for us but that was just the way it was.

Stories are the way we keep our loved ones alive. They help to flesh out the person in the photo.

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Gratitude

Gratitude
I’m thankful for…
The changing seasons. I’m sitting in the room I use as an office watching the colours change on the trees outside my window. The brisk fall days. The bounty of fall harvest.
I’m thankful I don’t have to rake leaves!!
Variety stores when I run out of milk
I know I have used this one before but I’m always thankful for health care. I can get medications delivered and a flu shot for free. I’m also thankful for new discoveries all the time to treat and possibly cure diseases.
The written word. Janet and I would pick up a Sunday Star on the way home from church and Dad and I would work on the crossword together. It’s a place to get information but also to be entertained. I read blogs that make me laugh, make me think and sometimes make me cry.
Technology although I am terrible at remembering to charge it.
Monthly fire alarms which means I live in a safe building. Heat and air conditioning.
Friendly superintendents.

Yesterday I made a couple of photo cards for friends for Christmas. I know it isn’t Halloween yet but one lives in Australia and the other is going to be away for Christmas. I uploaded photos from time spent with them this year. The fun thing was I had a lot. Shopping for patio furniture, tea at Eldon House, belated birthday lunch. Of course there is also Canada Day and thanksgiving spent with my “family”. I’m thankful for friendship, photos and memories.

Orange goodies

Orange

I came across this picture recently when I was searching for a photo on my computer. Mom had to take a snack for her seniors group so she made cupcakes and bought these sugar candies at the dollar store to put on top. I thought they look so pretty so I told her to stand in front of her work and I would take her picture. She didn’t really want to but it makes me smile looking at it. She is wearing what I referred to as her church shirt. It was one of her favourites.

I’m glad I have this photo because it’s of the kitchen which is probably the only one I have. This was soon after it was painted…golden harvest I think it was called. I look at the photo and think it looks lived in. A lot of memories there. When people say the kitchen is the hub of a home for us it really was.

For me fall means soup. Roasted butternut squash (which is leftovers today) and taco soup. I love cooking in the slow cooker because it’s jusr dumping food in and waiting for it to cook. Waiting is the hardest part because the smells permeates the whole place.

Pumpkin pie, muffins, soup. There is something comforting about the sights and smells of fall.

Rounded—photo challenge

Rounded

What could be more round than the Skydome..er Rogers Centre. It will be 10 yrs next year since this photo was taken. I remember Mom and my brother trying to figure out who would be pitching for the game and thankfully it was going to be Roy Halliday. The BlueJays were playing the Yankees and tickets were hard to come by. The game was 2 hrs and 20 minutes and would have been shorter but the last guy kept fouling them off until he finally struck out.
I rarely watch baseball anymore. I guess because it was a shared pastime with my parents. It was fun sitting at the game thinking of Mom and Dad watching it on tv. They had the running joke that they would look for us on tv..out of a crowd of 50,000.

Halloween

Identity
Halloween is the one day or the year when we can take on a different identity. This picture was taken when we were 7 years old. My grandmother made our costumes. The cape was one my Mom wore when she was pregnant and Janet’s was probably a coat of grandma’s. I don’t know where she got the wig. It was the best costume she ever had. We weren’t that inventive and this was before you could buy a costume off the rack.
When I went shopping with a friend a week ago she was looking at a rack of costumes. It made me realize that there is definitely gender specific costumes. Princesses, Spider-Man, lady bugs. I had never really thought about it until she was looking for one for a boy.
Growing up we lived in a neighbourhood with lots of kids our age. There was a house down the street that decorated for Halloween complete with spooky music. It was so creepy. There was a guy a few houses down from us that dressed up with his daughter every year. One year he dressed up as a woman. He was one ugly woman but Mom talked about it for years.
When we got to the age where we were too old to go our trick or treating Janet and I took turns giving out candy. It was fun seeing what the kids dressed up as. When we were young we could hardly wait until after dinner to go trick or treating. We always ended at my grandparents building. They would sit in the lobby with a bowl of candy.
I was a witch, a princess, a cow girl. The cow girl would be furthest from my true identity as Mom used to say I was a total city kid.

Items to pass on

Cacophony
Last night I got a call from an Aunt on my Moms side. I couldn’t figure out who was phoning long distance at 7 o’clock at night so I let it go to voice mail (as there was no name listed for call display). A long time friend of the family and neighbour found some books written by or about my Moms Uncle. He was a missionary in Japan and died on a ferry. According to witnesses he gave up his life jacket for someone else. His sister helped a man from Japan publish a book about him.

In the course of conversation my Aunt and I got talking about going through stuff. This woman was going through things probably deciding what to keep and what to give away. She is the only remaining sibling in her family and has oodles of photo albums. I have baby albums, a wedding album and an album Mom started on family history. When my Grandfather died he wanted a buffet and table to stay in the family. My Mom and uncle both had furnished houses and could not think of what to do with it. Thankfully a cousin had newly married children who could use it. My grandmother had silver candlestick holders. All of her dishes were packed up for us to use someday. My brother and I both bought new. It made me sad when I ended up donating the whole lot to the diabetes association.

When I was cleaning out the house preparing to move at first I kept thinking of each object as theirs. As time moved on I had to be emotionally detached in order to get through it. I had to be “brutal”. It sounds like a harsh word but it’s the truth. For my grandparents things we had some great idea of having fancy dinners complete with candles or big breakfasts where we could use the fancy jam jars.

I don’t need stuff to keep their memories alive. I can picture my Dad in the garden or my Mom baking. The time I was making my bed and Janet came up behind me and I jumped 3 ft. How she laughed.
Love is too huge to be contained in a box.

It’s the little things

Release
Yesterday morning I was coming back from taking a bag of garbage out to the bin. I noticed that there were furnace filters in the bin so when I heard my super calling my name I knew it must be that time again. It reminded me of my Dad warning us when he was going to change the storm windows.
After my Dad died changing the furnace filter was a job I didn’t like doing. It’s not difficult it’s just the task of going to Home Depot to buy one and having to write down the dimensions so I had the right one. My Dad would buy 2 so he had one ahead. I wasn’t sure how often you were supposed to change it so I did it in the spring and fall. You are supposed to check the smoke alarm batteries too but they only got changed when the battery beeped to tell you it was dying. And they never went out at the same time. Inevitably it would be a couple months later. Thankfully that is an item you can usually get at the grocery store.
This would be the time of year where I would have to winterize the lawn mower and put the cover on the A/C. There is a sense of accomplishment in crossing off the items of the list but it is nice not to have to do any of those things anymore. I will have to bring my patio cushions in pretty soon but I am happy that I got a lot of use out of them. It’s nice to be able to have the windows open in the fall.
Yesterday I happened upon a segment on one of the news channels about home ownership. They always talk about the financial aspect of it and how it’s an asset but they never talk about the cost of maintenance, snow shovelling and getting someone to check on the house when you are away. When Mom and I went on a cruise over Christmas it was the first time we had ever had to have someone check on the house. Mom phoned to cancel our newspaper and unfortunately it didn’t go through. Our neighbour brought it into the house. Having to set timers for the lights so it looks like someone is home.
After my Dad died there were a couple of major items that we had to replace…a washer and dryer and a laundry tub. We used companies that my Dad had used and thankfully the whole process went smoothly. But it was weird having the responsibility. I have had a couple minor things that needed fixing since I’ve been here…kitchen faucet and new flapper. One day my a/c wasn’t working and the guy came the same day. That would never happen in a house I would have had to wait until after the holiday.
Tomorrow is farmers market day and I may even get one more weekend of being able to sit outside. As the title says…it’s the little things.

Grocery shopping

Express
When I saw the word for today it made me think of the express lane at the grocery store. Last Saturday I went shopping with a friend of mine. We started at a home store then clothes shopping and ended at Loblaws. As soon as I walked in the store I was overwhelmed with all the departments. It didn’t seem to flow the way a grocery store should. The big stores lay it out this way so you will buy more and it worked since I was only intending to buy milk, eggs and some meat. This store didn’t have an express lane but they have self checkout. I’m a big proponent of going to a human being for most service items. I say most because I actually prefer using a bank machine because inevitably “they” try to sell me something.
I used to like going grocery shopping with my Mom. The cashiers would make fun because we had what they termed a large order. So many people go twice a week but we did one big order a week. I find grocery shopping by myself a chore. Because I moved I had to find another grocery store to go to and then learn the layout. I thought I would go to Valu Mart but it’s small and the quality isn’t good. I was talking to my grocery guy about going to Loblaws and throwing in items that I didn’t really need and he said he is often told that having groceries delivered cuts down on impulse buying.
I do know of a couple of people that pick up items through the week so probably go 3 times. Both have told me that they never sit down and actually add up what they spend in a week. I was watching Rachael Ray and she had a woman giving suggestions on how to cut down your grocery budget. It only works if you live in a house. I can’t buy in bulk I don’t have the room. Nor can I freeze much either.
At the same time there is something special about a leisurely dinner spent with a friend. Or even just coffee. A chance to express our thoughts and feelings.

Brave

Brave
This morning I learned that Gord Downie passed away. I don’t follow his music but I would have to be living under a rock not to know he had cancer. I was amazed at how much he did after his diagnosis. He was brave in showing the effects the cancer had on him (his memory). My Aunt loved the band and had a crush on him. Her profile picture is of the two of them…crossing an item off her bucket list.
Cancer sucks. But every person that has it is a fighter. My Dad chose not to have surgery and there is bravery in that. For me I had to be brave for my Dad. I was so scared because I wasn’t ready to lose another family member while I had barely processed losing my twin. Somehow all of us find a strength we never knew we had.
For me it took courage to be honest with people. To use yesterday’s word it’s a risk opening up to other people. Being vulnerable and asking for help. Being brave meant facing my fears head on even though I wanted to run away. Being brave meant standing up for myself. Having the courage to know I may have to go it alone for a time. Growing up I had someone who always had my back. I think it’s like a muscle the more you use it the stronger it becomes. My friends always knew I was strong it just took me time to believe it too.

Bold choices

Risky
I was thinking about this word today and I don’t think I’m a risk taker but I think it depends on the way I look at it.

The summer after my Dad I redid my room top to bottom…new carpet, paint and furniture. I took a risk with the colour and a friend called it “school bus yellow”. It’s actually called yellow raincoat. The painters kept asking me “are you sure?”. My Mom wasn’t sure until the furniture went in and then it grew on her. To me it reminds me of the colour of a sunrise. It was at a time when my world was very grey. Even on a cloudy day my room was sunny. My sister painted her room peach. My Dad wasn’t sure of that but she loved it.


For some people having a red couch might be considered a risky colour but I always knew it was what I wanted. Janet’s favourite colour is red and I can imagine her sitting beside me. It brightens up the builder’s beige.


Of course bidding on this quilt was scary. I had never bid on anything in my life in a live auction and all I could think was how much money it was going up to. The reward was worth the risk. Our favourite colours are in that quilt. A twin told me that she went out and bought something that she had been eyeing when she got home. When we lose people we love we realize life is short buy the things that make you happy.