childhood, Free thinking, Mind play, New years, Parenting, resolutions, Uncategorized, writing

New Years

2018 is almost upon us. A time for a fresh start to many. I didn’t grow up celebrating the new year that I can recall.  I would laugh when I wrote the previous years number down as we all do from time to time. As a youth holidays were always very hard as I strongly felt the pain and loneliness of not having a family that wanted me enough. Yet New Years never bothered me. It was a time to work for extra pay. Or for that guaranteed day off. I never got the big deal about it and to tell the truth still do not.

I do not need to wait for a new year to resolve to change or be a better person. That is something I endeavour every day and hope that we all do. Learning new things, pushing my boundaries, trying to be a better mother, partner, friend, employee, person as a whole is a daily effort that I do not want to ever stop trying for.

I started this blog in the late summer in hopes of using this platform as a tool to help me write. It is hard to write about the past. The stories do not fall out all nice in chronological order with proper grammar and language. The depth of emotion that was felt is not easily described.  The telling of stories with a friend over a cup of coffee or glass of wine does not a writer make.

I will not stop writing my story. I will not stop striving to be more active and out in nature. I will never stop trying to be a better mother, friend, person. I may stumble and fall but I will get back up again. New Years day or not.

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childhood, Free thinking, gardening, homemade, natural living, Parenting, Uncategorized

Buried carrots

As I stood at the sink washing the carrots from my garden I remembered all the buried carrots from my child hood.  Quite literally. You see when I was about five my parents worked the market gardens as they called them for the community.

If you haven’t read anything previous from my blog… I was born into a self supporting community. There are many titles that can describe the life I was born into. Today we will stick with simply self supporting. Other days …

We had large personal gardens and separate fields for community market gardens for income. Other things were started and some stuck. Sawmill, granary, bakery, cookbooks, juice, and charcoal to name a few. Adults from all over came to live and work in the community for various reasons.  Some came from as far away as China others from much closer.  They came for different reasons. To hide, get away, to learn a different way of life, to sober up from an addiction, to pursue a relationship with this particular way of being a christian. The labour was always welcome. New believers were accepted with open arms. Provided you adapt to the lifestyle of course.

I digress, back to the carrots. I remember how very cold it was. Stamping my little feet, jumping and swinging my arms to get the blood pumping.  My nose either exposed to the freezing cold or wet and humid behind a muffler. The beauty of the crisp fall did little to help me forget my frozen fingers as we sorted the wet carrots pouring out from the tumbling drum. Cold water, cold carrots, cold air. Cold that gets into your bones and never lets you warm up. Holding our hands over the fire barrel trying to thaw some feeling back into them. There were a few of us children ‘helping’ the adults work. We were given the odd coloured carrots, yellow or purple ones. I would pretend the carrot was a doll and make up great stories.  If it wasn’t so cold I would have been tempted to nod off as I waited for them to finish for the night.

Why they harvested the carrots and then buried them deep underground with a back hoe I can only guess. Twice the labour and a cold unpleasant work environment. They must have determined it was not the greatest way for it only happened that one winter. Buried carrots is a memory I will never forget.

childhood, Free thinking, natural living, Parenting, Uncategorized

Memories of christmas

Tis the season to reflect and give. Spend time with family and friends. Show a little extra love and caring to others. Give to the soup kitchens and homeless shelters; attend the toy drive or fill the bus fund raiser.  Enjoy indulgent foods, sip on mulled wine, egg nog, or make that special thing you having been wanting to try. Time for me to spend a little time reflecting on child hood Christmas past.

We celebrated Christmas but not in an extravagant way. I’m not sure if this was because of religious views taken or the very real lack of money. Either way It wasn’t a time of baking of treats and decorating the house and yard. It was a time to give and to reflect on the birth of Christ more than anything.

Don’t get me wrong there was laughter and joy ,carolling and excitement. Delicious food to eat if you didn’t know better (humorous probably only if you’ve eaten that food). Carmel popcorn balls, carob coconut balls, gluten steaks ( yes Gluten ), and roasted vegetables from the garden. We had presents wrapped up under the piano bench. The fern plant proudly acting as our tree. Undecorated to be sure. Wool socks and Pear soap for gifts were a ritual. As the years went by washing machine and rototiller were the big splurge gifts. I did love to rototill the garden. One of my favourite gifts I recall as a little girl was the flour sifter. Shaped like a measuring cup but with a handle inside the other to be squeezed. When I would squeeze it the inside liner would spin and flour would fall from the outer screen. Quite fun for a little girl when compared to the socks and soap.

One year was super exciting as we got a box in the mail addressed to us all for Christmas from moms sister. The wrapping paper was taped to the box and also glued to the box from the inside. We were laughing at how serious auntie took testing our ability to open the gift. Turns out she had gotten mom real Canadian maple syrup and the jar had broken in transit. The entire contents of the box was a dried syrupy mess. The lovely white and yellow sweater she had knitted me was now a brownish stained mess. I was heartbroken. The excitement of opening the gift had turned to disappointment that everything was ruined. Mom promised she would do her best to wash the sweater out for me so that it would be good as new.

I was probably ten the first time we got a tree. D – swore it fell off the back of a truck he was driving behind. I was so excited to finally have a Christmas tree. We strung popcorn onto thread for decorations. Popping as many kernels into my mouth as I put onto the string. Ribbon from the sewing box was brought out to add some colour. After that year I  think we had a tree a few more times. The plant for a tree had finally been replaced thanks to the jolly friend who insisted the tree fell from a vehicle on the highway and would go to waste if we didn’t take it.

Ironic to me dad’s reason for not wanting to cut down a tree. He said we didn’t need to cut one down as it would kill it. Fun fact about dad, he loved nature. Hiking, camping, canoeing, survival skills, you name it he did it or had it on his bucket list. We went survival camping a few times a year. In fact the first few years of my childhood we lived in a teepee in the forest for a week or two at Christmas time. The building of a teepee included cutting down a minimum of six trees per shelter never mind the boughs cut to make our beds and insulate the walls. Yet we didn’t cut a singular tree for christmas. Priorities I guess. ( this is where I want to say lol and put a wonky smiley face but apparently that isn’t proper writing )

Anyway it sure made for a memorable day when D came with a tree for us. I can still picture him with his thick dark hair all wild in need of a hair cut. Wearing his lumberjack clothing covered in saw dust standing in the kitchen saying if we didn’t take the tree it would just go to waste. Doing the good old guilt trip in front of the three kids – one old enough to speak up – that would be me! That Christmas was probably the first and third only time I celebrated with a tree, parents, and food.

I searched thru all the old photos but the slides. The slides I haven’t completed capturing with the projector. No where have I found photo’s of holidays accept below. The first Christmas not living at home. First Christmas since dad passed. For whatever ever else there is to say about mom she was a tough cookie that year taking a van full of Japanese teenagers, her 3 toddlers, and angry teenager out camping int the bush with guns!

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childhood, Free thinking, homemade, natural living, Parenting, Uncategorized

Birthdays

Since it’s my birthday today and I’m sitting in an arcade with my son whose playing games while we wait for his sister before going to dinner, it seems fitting to write about birthday’s since I’ve had a few now.

It’s funny I don’t remember birthday’s really, not very many anyway.  I don’t recall having parties as a child with friends over. There aren’t any photos of birthday parties so not sure if I had them and just don’t remember. There is so much I don’t remember. No one to ask really. I do have a photo of me with a cake for my first birthday.

On the back of the photo in moms handwriting is the date and, “First birthday eating popcorn, cake – banana walnut with date icing and banana ice cream on the side”.5972F22E-5A2D-4C33-A163-B01FCE6F6EDA 2

I know I got to choose my favourite meal and dessert on my birthday.  My seventh birthday is near the top for unforgettable childhood memories. I chose pizza bread for lunch, we didn’t eat dinner – two meals a day then. That was the year of the cold winter. More on that at a later date. I chose pizza toast. It was my absolute favourite meal. We didn’t eat real cheese as we didn’t eat dairy.  We usually we made it as rarely purchased pre-made food.  We blended cashews with water to make a paste, added some seasonings and skinned red peppers – voila cheese! I would carefully spread the pizza sauce over every inch of the bread and drizzle the cheese sauce on it. I’d sit outside  the oven door watching and waiting. My tummy rumbling with hunger as I waited for the cheese sauce to bubble. I loved meal time. We would sit and stuff ourselves as full as we could get for an hour for the next meal time would be in roughly seventeen hours. So there we were all seated at the table with our eyes closed for the blessing when the heavens opened up and ruined it all. I’ve never shut my eyes for prayer again!!

Let me take you back to that moment. There were probably 15 or more of us. Two full size tables set up like a T in the dining room. Three benches and multiple chairs. Two families plus the students that all lived in the home with us seated around the table. My little brother properly in his high chair instead of king toddler in the centre of the table. We all had our eyes closed listening to dad’s baritone rumbling the prayer of thanks. My tongue watering from the delicious smells wafting up from the table. When all of a sudden with a loud crack, snap, and woosh water came pouring from the ceiling all over the food, table, and us. It flooded the kitchen within a moment. The pipes had burst from the freezing cold winter. Unheard of in the hottest valley of British Columbia until my seventh birthday when I was dying to shove a piece of pizza into my mouth.

The disappointment and pain of hunger had tears threatening to spill. The fright of the ceiling giving way had me upset and unsure. Mom reassured me I would still get a piece of pizza as there had been a pan left warming in the oven for seconds.

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A fore mentioned brother sitting in the centre of the table. He would get so excited for that popcorn!

childhood, natural living, Parenting

First scary memory

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I took a self help course and they wanted to know  our first traumatizing event. What shaped us into who we are. I didn’t know what to say. My dad falling off a cliff, my mom passing away on Valentines for pete’s sake, or maybe all those other painful moments. So I focused on the ‘first time’ of the sentence. The first time I knew fear, bone chilling, teeth chattering fear. It is also when I met my stubborn, embarrassed self. The one who has difficulty admitting the need for anything I can’t do myself.

I was maybe 5 or 6 years old. Fall had already begun. The cool chilly nights. Darkness enveloping the world by dinner time. On this particular day a thunder and rain storm had begun to roll into the valley before we headed back up the mountain. A lighting bolt hit the mountain across the valley and started a fire. The hillside was bone dry  from the hot summer. It burst into flames spreading as only fire can. My father and the other men in the car needed to go to investigate. Apparently that could only be done by putting me in the hay barn alone in the dark to wait for their return. You can imagine how that went I am sure…

How many 6 year olds do you know that can wait alone in the dark watching a forest fire spread. I became certain he wasn’t returning. The fire monster surely had eaten him and I needed to do the only logical thing. Walk to the nearest home to find an adult. No flashlight, head lamps weren’t even a thing yet. Barely a sliver of moonlight to guide my little feet along the lane towards the road I needed to cross to find the nearest residence. I passed various paths and lanes that led to empty homes or sheds. My eyes had adjusted enough to see the large shapes looming out of the darkness. I was terrified a cougar or other creature would jump out and eat me or worse.

As I was walking along with the fingers of fear wrapped around me I began to think. I had left the barn. I had expressly disobeyed an order from my father. That became scarier than being alone in the dark. As a child you do not question your parents knowledge or authority. You blindly obey and follow with a deep love and devotion only a child feels for their parents. For our family is the centre of your life. So here I was a disobedient child far from the barn, far from home and to scared to knock on the door. Scared to walk out of the darkness to the warm yellow light beckoning from the porch.

Standing in the shadows I can see my friends home. The light beckoning thru the darkness to me. Yet how could I explain why I was there. I couldn’t very well say I had disobeyed. I didn’t know what to do. I was too scared to walk back to the barn. Too embarrassed to knock on their door. So I turned away and began down their long long driveway. Cold, scared, unsure of myself, and now worried about facing my father. I had no idea now where to walk to. It was my first taste of insecurity, fear, and embarrassment. I was at a total loss as to what to do besides blindly keep walking in the darkness.

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credit for midnight dreams photo used

Once I was back on the main road I began towards and elderly ladies home. She would know what to do. As I stumbled towards her lane a car pulled up. It was my father. He was so happy to have found me that the anger at my disobedience was overruled by his joy at finding me.

I now can understand his fear. The horrible feeling you have when you think you may have lost your child. Only a parent can understand the grip of dispare , the band of agony, the ray of hope that it’s not to late. That your child is safe and you just have to get to them. That fear is much worse than the fear I had as a little girl. It just would take me 30 years to realize that.

childhood, natural living, Parenting

Gardening of my childhood

Gardening was a very big part of my childhood. We grew and bought enough food to keep us thru the winter. We had orchards, vineyard, and a huge garden the size of most suburban yards. We froze, canned, and dried fruits and vegetables in four digit numbers. Our dehydrator was the size of a refrigerator with sliding screens from top to bottom. We even made fruit leather. We had two deep freezes, large army containers filled with beans we had grown, and a cold room filled top to bottom with single and double quart mason jars. And don’t get me started on our canner. It was a huge square metal tub on legs in the yard. It had wooden wracks on the bottom to keep the glass jars from touch the bottom and shattering from the heat. We built a large fire beneath and kept it burning all day for weeks on end. Canner is pictured below behind the jars of pears fresh out and cooling from their session. Thousands of pounds of peaches, apricots, pears, tomatoes, and home made applesauce were processed each summer.2272_139595780496_3427_n

We planted beans, corn, broccoli, brussel sprouts, you name it we grew it. No sprays or pesticides were used. All natural methods only. One particularly gross therefore memorable thing mom used was cannibalism. Okay maybe an explanation would be enlightening. These weird worms were eating the brussel sprouts so mom took a few cups of them and blended them up with a few other ingredients. Then she poured them around each plant. Apparently the worms wouldn’t eat their own kind. That memory is burned into my brain. Every time I use a blender I think of it. It was until recently when I got a margarita maker that I began to have slightly happy feelings for a blender that didn’t remind me of worms!

The first picture I posted on here was of me barely 3 years old. I was holding giant potato that I had helped to plant that spring. I was so tiny that the way mom taught me was one two potato. You see my feet were so tiny I would take two toe to heel steps then drop a potato. Rows upon rows of them.

We grew giant fields of corn, delicious sweet juicy corn. On the way back up the mountain for lunch the others in the car would be husking them tossing the husks out the window as we drove. The pot of water would be boiling and ready for the husked cobs when we arrived.

My cousins came to visit once when I was about 10 or so. They had never scene a lifestyle like ours much less a garden. They had no idea that corn came from a plant in the field. I remember feeling quite sad for them to not know this. Running thru the rows of vegetable, sneaking a pea off the vine or a carrot from the earth and eating it to me was as important to my childhood as breathing air.

One taste I remember clearly once coming to the world is the taste of tin. Yes, I meant to say tin! I had never had processed or canned food from a grocery store really. The first time I tried peaches from a can I was so disappointed that I never bought them again. They didn’t taste sweet like a peach, they were hard almost with a crunch, after the sugary sweet of the glucose the tang of tin long remained on my tongue. When I had my children I canned peaches to use for baby food as I didn’t want to use the sickly sweet fruit and baby food available at the time.

Free thinking, Mind play, natural living, Parenting

Losing your decisions

It’s funny. When you have to follow a routine; wake when your told, eat when your told, work, pray, read, free time when your told. When all of that is decided by ‘them’ there is no choice. On occasion I  was offered a choice and then had to do what they wanted me to do. When I asked why I had been offered a choice that wasn’t really there I was told I was to make the ‘right’  choice. My choice was only a figment, a tease, a mirage of options.

I asked many questions. I was a curious child. I  wanted to understand the world around me. The world that was created by them.That kept us in and separate from the evil. As a youngster I’m sure my questions were exhausting and annoying as any child’s are. The adults worked the fields, bakery, mill, and many other physical jobs required to keep the ‘self-supporting’ community running. I would ‘help’ and join in at the various jobs or sit and play with the odd coloured carrot or corn cob found.  As a pre pubescent teen my questions began to seem disrespectful and rebellious. At least that is what they said. I tend to think my questions began to be a concern for some.

If my father had lived I wonder if he too would have begun to question this blind following. This lifestyle he embraced and led others to join. The simple life that hid dangers, that wasn’t as simple as intended. Sometimes I wonder the things we would have had in common.

But I digress…

When you grow up with no real choices it can be overwhelming to have to make one. Much like walking into a market after spending time in a 3rd world country where they don’t have entire aisles devoted to different brands of the shampoo.

Choices can be scary. What if I make the wrong one. Which one should I make. When you never made any and then all of a sudden have to decide everything it can be daunting. Especially when there is no history no knowledge or experience of how to do so. It was  frightening to me as a teen all alone in the world. Those are different stories. Stories that may have been different had I been given choices. Taught how to make right and wrong decisions. For how can we learn without making wrong turns and learning from them.