10+ Years

Today would have marked my mother’s 75th birthday had she lived. It seems strange to me that it’s already been just over 10 years since she passed away. Recently I read a quote which really resonated with me. It simply read “Grief changes shape but never ends.” (Keanu Reeves) When someone dies you wonder how you’ll live without them. Then, as time passes, you learn that you can go on but you cling to the memories. I doubt a day goes by that I don’t think of my mom. It may be a fleeting thought or it may be more deeper and longer…a memory of something we did together. Although I miss her very much, I don’t really feel the stinging pain of loss anymore. It’s kind of morphed into something gentler, softened still more by the warmth of the memories.

This photo is one of my favourites. It was taken about 2 years before she passed away. She had come to visit and to see her first grandchild. She was unable to hold him without the aid of the pillow, but, as you can see from her smile, she was absolutely thrilled. I remember that moment like it was yesterday and I’m so happy to be able to hold on to it.

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Love you, Mom. Happy birthday.

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A Walk into the Past

enchantedapril

I am having a heck of a time writing SciFi/Fantasy fiction right now. You see, my head is firmly stuck in the past. In fact, so much so, that several days ago I considered starting a new story for NaNoWriMo that was more suited to my thinking right now. Of course, I realized that that wasn’t the wisest of choices since November is already half over so I am still plugging away at my original choice…somewhat halfheartedly.

Unfortunately (but sometimes fortunately), I have one of those imaginations which is in a constant state of flux and greatly influenced by my day-to-day activities. I don’t watch very much TV but ever since signing up for a membership with Netflix, I have become (I’m loathed to admit it) a binge watcher. I find shows that pique my interest and if they hold it for more than two episodes, I’m off. One show which took me a while to get into, mainly because I wasn’t used to the slower pace, has taken up quite a bit of my time lately. Not only have I become accustomed to the pace and am able to focus on every wonderful moment, but I absolutely adore the characters. That show is called Foyle’s War and when it began, it was set in England during World War II. To be frank, I can’t get enough of it and have almost run out of episodes (all 8 seasons on Netflix) to my deep regret. I’m considering going back to watch the shows from the beginning again to catch anything I might have missed.

Sam Stewart (Honeysuckle Weeks)

I know there were many things about the 1940’s which were not great. To name a few: living and trying to cope with all the effects of a brutal war was very difficult, dealing with disease and sickness, that we now have the cure for or have eradicated, was heartbreaking, labour was much more physically intense, and there were deplorable human rights (including the continued subjugation of women and Blacks). I think, however, we tend to romanticise it because it seemed that much more peaceful (ironically). Pace of life was slower (there’s something to be said for lack of technology), people were more civil to one another – and their use of language was impeccable, the clothes…yup the clothes…I’ve never been that superficial but you can’t help but notice that people attempted to look much more presentable back then, and people just seemed to have their priorities straight.  I think I would do alright if you threw me back to that time – in fact, I invite it. Where are my time travelers?

The closest I ever got to time travelling was when I acted with the New Edinburgh Players (directed by Ingrid McCarthy) here in Ottawa. It was an absolutely thrilling experience – lots of hard work but so much fun. The first play I did was Enchanted April (pictured at the top – that’s me in the pink dress) in 2009 which was set in England and Italy in the 1920’s and the second was one called Busybody in 2011, set in the 1950’s in England (the original play was set in the 60’s but we changed it). What was my favourite part – aside from the actual performance? The clothes! Of course! In Busybody I had the opportunity to wear an authentic, crinoline lined, silk dress from the 50’s (pictured below). As you can see, in the photo of Enchanted April, the costumes were stunning. That photo, in fact, was my inspiration for this post today. One of the actors in the play (the fellow reclined) posted this on Facebook this morning. It took me right back to 2009 and then beyond – the 50’s, the 40’s, and the finally the 20’s.

busybody
I’m not entirely sure where I wanted to go with this post except to say maybe it’s high time for me to write a novel set back in one of the earlier decades of the 1900’s. Wouldn’t you think? As soon as my SciFi novel is done of course. Must. Stay. Focused. Have a wonderful weekend everyone. 🙂

Oatmeal Squares

Oh Jeepers! I’ve just realised how far behind I’ve gotten in my posting. Well, time to remedy that. Some days nothing jumps out at me as inspirational but I guess some days I’m just not paying as close attention as I should be.

Every day at about this time, I’m usually preparing a snack for the ravenous hoard who will be arriving home from school in an hour. By 3:30 there are 7 kids in my house and 3 of them need gluten-free foods.

Gluten-free isn’t really a problem these days as there are loads of good options in the grocery store and a kazillion recipes on the Internet to choose from. I usually opt for the easier recipes though and sometimes it takes a while to find one for which I have the correct ingredients.

Today it suddenly dawned on me that my favourite treat from when I was a kid is actually gluten-free – my mom was  way ahead of her time. I quickly threw the ingredients together and felt very happy reclaiming this treasure from the past. The fact that it’s gluten-free is definitely a bonus but isn’t the reason for today’s post. Just happy memories.

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For the recipe and to read another person with fond memories of these squares, see this article by Gwendolyn Richards in the Calgary Herald.

Sentimental Beauty

I wasn’t feeling 100% today and most of the winter I feel cold. I have this blanket that was made in Scotland and sold through the Hudson’s Bay Company years ago. The kids can’t stand it because it’s mohair and wool but I find it very cosy. Not only does it make me feel physical comfort, it also comforts me in a sentimental way. The blanket used to belong to my grandmother. It’s a beautiful feeling to be comforted by someone who has long been departed but who still lives on in our hearts.

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Thoughts on Father’s Day

With my dad and sister 1974.
With my dad and sister 1974.

Well, it’s Father’s Day and, as usual, I’m spending it away from my dad. Life has taken us in different directions, physically. It’s probably been a couple of years since we’ve seen each other, a fact I rather regret. You see, it’s not intentional, it’s just that I have kids and he is getting older so time and ability to travel, on both sides is, limited.  As I write it and re-read it, it sounds kind of lame, really, this reason for not getting together but it’s the truth. We don’t talk often on the phone either. Maybe once a month; twice if we’re lucky.

With all this in mind, you might think we were estranged, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, I think of him often and fondly. I think he does the same but also with that parental worry attached, as every good father does. When we talk on the phone it’s always a pleasure for me. Hearing my father’s voice is like snuggling up to a childhood stuffy or blanket. It’s so familiar and so comforting…even if he’s reprimanding me in his very subtle, between-the-lines kind of way that he’s very good at.

Yesterday, I drove up to the cottage by myself. I needed to mow the lawn and vacuum amongst other small projects. It was one of those perfect June days; sunny with fluffy clouds in the sky, a warm breeze, crickets and birds singing in the grasses. As I drove along the winding roads of the countryside, I could feel every tension in my body release and I suddenly wondered why. I wondered why it was here, in the middle of nowhere, and nowhere near home, that I felt most at home. I didn’t grow up on a farm but rather a small-sized city. My dad was a history teacher at one of the local highschools. The countryside was a place through which we traveled to get from town to town.

Or was it? Suddenly an image came to me which brought a smile to myself that I couldn’t turn off if I’d wanted to. It was of my dad in a bright orange Cat Diesel Power cap rested just on top of his mat of wavy hair, which, if you knew my dad, was the antithesis of who he really was. But my dad always enjoys the dramatic approach to things; the eccentricities he can conjure. Anyway, that hat marked the days of the auction sales! My mom and dad were both antique enthusiasts and enjoyed running an antique business on the side. Almost every Saturday of the summer we rolled over the hills and through the valleys of Perth, Waterloo, and Oxford counties in our stationwagon (my sister and I sitting unbelted in the very back) in search of sales or for the purpose of setting up at table at a  flea market or antique show.

Auction sales were always  at farm estates, big beautiful open spaces with old homes and old barns. There was always a fence or a tree to climb, and an adventure to be had. My sister and I roamed like gypsy children while mom and dad focused on the goods for sale. I think it was a time when we were the freest. Mom let down her guard a bit and dad seemed happy to just be away from the classroom as a completely different persona. Certainly, my sister and I weren’t always agreeable about going back then, but I’m happy to look back fondly on it now. It really was some of the best times of my childhood and that explains a lot.

So there you are,  Dad, you can dress up all you want but you see how you are in my memories?! 🙂 As a parent it goes to show you that of all the things you do for your  children, the things you do to make yourself happy, if you can include your children, can created the fondest and longest lasting of memories. I’m glad you didn’t abandon yourself, Dad. I’m glad you side a bit on the eccentric. I’m glad you are you and you’re my dad! I’m glad I have you to think about. Thank you and Happy Father’s Day! I love you.