childhood, Uncategorized

Writing my story

I used to love writing. I wrote a short story when I was maybe eleven years old. Now I find it hard to write. Maybe it’s harder now as it’s easier to remember the negative the hurtful than the nice memories. Or maybe after not writing for so long. Maybe it’s a lazy underused muscle. Maybe my avid love of reading has made my writer side lazy.

 

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I just noticed the fascination for the name Giggles started at a young age with me!

 

When I was young a few very hurtful and emotionally damaging things happened. We subsequently moved and I lost the fragile hold of budding friendships. Lost the comfort of what I finally felt was home. I had been betrayed by my family, my friend, abandoned by my mother. The realization that nothing is real. That love and family is just a word hits hard and maybe never fully heals.

I learned in that time that without a doubt the Biblical time of the end we were being taught was indeed very easily an option. The second coming of Christ, the second death for those not deemed worthy. The hunt and persecution of those in the wrong religion. Ours, of course, would be the wrong one. It was us that would be put to death after horrible torture once our family had turned on us. That was some of my childhood bible stories. Who needs stories of the monster under the bed when you have those.

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Back to my point about why writing is hard. Why it leaves me with a sense of guilt. Yet another excuse to not put my pen to paper. Or in this case fingers to keys.

Since we were isolated there was little for options of lashing out, acting out. I knew nothing of the world except what was deemed appropriate to tell. The basis of truth behind the stories built upon the tellers’ opinion. An opinion from someone who chose to leave the world for a commune lifestyle. See how that is a questionable source?

I wrote as I knew no other outlet. I wrote my pain and anger. My story, my fears, my heartbreak. I had pen pals – remember those? I think my mail probably was blocked to them.  No matter where I wrote my story, where I hid it mother found it. She would be livid every time. How dare I write even in fiction about our pain. Our deep embarrassing secret that really wasn’t a secret as everyone knew it. How dare I put to paper what should never be admitted. I kept writing and she kept finding them. ‘Never write down what you don’t want people to know’ she would say. What she didn’t want to face up to is more like it. Eventually, I let it go and began a new quest… BOYS!

childhood, Uncategorized

Baking bread

Growing up we made everything we ate. Even at one point grinding our own flour. We made our tofu, mixed our seasonings, stored our food for winter by canning, drying, and freezing. As a little girl I ‘helped’ with all of this. Of course, I began to want to do it on my own! My first cookie dough creation was ‘tasty’ to be sure. I was maybe 4 at the time.

By nine I wanted to make some money and came up with the idea to bake bread and sell it to the families. I realize the contradiction of wanting to earn money when we rarely left the farm and certainly didn’t purchase items very often.  The farm had a store that carried many items that making yourself would be difficult. It was a brilliant idea really. The families received a ‘stipend’ for working there and in turn gave it right back to the farm by purchasing from their store.

It was the juice boxes that got me. We didn’t drink anything but water outside of mealtime. A juice box was unheard of prior to this store.  A tiny box filled with juice that came with a straw that bent… I was hooked.

Smiley orangy juice box boy with its shadow and a straw on it

So here I was with a great idea to bake and sell bread to the local families. My mother even supported it once we had dad’s approval. She got out a piece of paper and we labored over the cost of a bag of flour versus the amount used in a batch of bread that yielded 7 loaves. We did the same for each ingredient. The cost of electricity was harder to decipher. Pretty sure she came up with a low sum like 0.50 a batch. Now we had the cost per loaf and just needed to add on profit. I sold the loaves for $1 each. Making one batch each Friday. After paying mom back I probably made maybe 25 cents per loaf but was happy as a clam.

I knew the recipe by heart. Add yeast to the brown sugar and warm water. While waiting for the yeast to rise, mix the dry ingredients. White and whole wheat flour and a pinch of salt. Once the yeast had risen to a proper head add oil and mix it all together slowly adding more flour until the dough was the needed consistency to knead by hand. Shape into a ball and cover with a towel to let rise. Half an hour later beat and knead it back down. Definitely one of my favorite parts. Then shape into loaves placing them into the pans to rise again while the oven preheated.

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I did all of this alone as a nine-year-old for almost a year. Since no one was looking I used more white than whole wheat flour. I added extra brown sugar and oil to the batches. I had the best bread in the entire community and they loved it. The women would ask my secret and I just smiled and shrugged my shoulders. I knew what it was – adding extra oil and sugar. Less whole wheat and more white flour. You know the good stuff! I also knew not to admit that to anyone. Our diet was slowly getting better, we ate supper now, we had margarine instead of corn meal spread acting as margarine. We ate leavened bread and even had Mr. Noodles sometimes. But to admit to changing the recipe – well that would have ended my baking career.

questions, Uncategorized

 Do you have siblings

Such a common question. An easy way to keep a conversation going as you get to know someone. My answer has always been yes. However today I am realizing that even though I am the oldest I feel more like an only child. And am probably not far off really.

Being the eldest and old enough to feed them, change diapers, and babysit; it was more like being a little mother.  In a way, it was like having the best doll in the world. My dolly actually cried, peed, waved their arms, and had drawers full of outfits to be put into. Much better than any replica doll I ever found for my children. My ‘dolly’ had soft soft skin and smelt delicious like only babies do. My dolly would hug me and follow me around where ever I went. Forever a faithful shadow even when I no longer wanted one.

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Taken on one of my bi-annual visits a few years before mom passed

When I was dating a test question was always, ‘are you prepared to help me raise my siblings?’ It wasn’t exactly a first date question. Definitely came up if things ever looked mildly serious. My ex-husband used to wonder how the heck I knew I would be raising my siblings as my own. He must have thought I had some sort of psychic power. In hindsight, the man had no clue the kind of woman I was and certainly didn’t know how to walk the path I found the strength to walk. With a smile, I might add.

I had no idea my mother would pass much too young. Never once did I dream we would be orphans with me barely legally old enough to claim them as my own.

I did, however, believe for years that my siblings would question the lifestyle that they were born into and leave. Go in search of more. More knowledge, more answers, more choices. The same things I had searched for but didn’t know how. The same questions I asked and didn’t find the answer for until long past searching for them. Maybe my questions were unusual for no one seemed to have the answers. Or maybe in my shame and low self-esteem I was surrounding myself with those that wouldn’t know. People that had those same questions but didn’t speak them aloud as I did.

What I know now I didn’t even know to think of. The options I see now I was unaware of. Unable to find the way there. Blinded by fear and self-consciousness I hid in a haze. Playing like a grasshopper instead of being a worker ant. In case your unfamiliar with that analogy let me tell you the story I heard.

There was a grasshopper who played all summer long. Teasing the ant for working so hard when he could be playing as the grasshopper was. Come winter the grasshopper was cold and hungry and came to the ant begging for food. Now, who was laughing…?

So back to the sibling question I started with. I answer but never truly never from the heart for the answer is complicated. Yes is a simple answer. I lie, deflect, or discuss my baby brother who I adore as my own. Tears of love stinging my eyes when I mention him.

childhood, Uncategorized

Hitchhiking with dad

 

I would often go with dad on his trips to deliver produce. It was a part of the market gardening project. Those trips enabled us time alone to bond. On one of those trips, I tried bubble gum for the first time. Dad spent that 12-hour drive trying to teach me to blow bubbles. One time we ate so much watermelon we stopped to pee every half an hour. Another time we almost died thanks to airbrakes and power steering. So many memories from different trips.

The time I am thinking of is the time the truck died in the middle of nowhere. Before cell phones were common and useful.  If nothing else when in a jam dad always showed me to be resilient and positive. To see that no matter what, there is always a way. “When the going gets tough the tough get going” he used to say.

So here we were driving a large cube truck thru the mountains heading home. The trip had been successful. All the produce was sold. The survival camping gear he wanted was purchased and in the back. It was just a matter of the long drive home. A third of the way in the truck began to lag and sputter before coming to a halting death at the side of the road.

We had recently passed a tiny town and so stuck our thumbs out for a ride there. The first and last time I would hitchhike with dad. Once we got to town it was realized we would need to catch the greyhound home. That meant getting back to the truck for our things and of course the ever important survival gear.

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We stuck our thumbs out and soon enough a nice man pulled over to give us a ride. He was an off-duty police officer who was in no mood to help a man and his young daughter. He dropped us off at the truck and left not caring how we faired or interested in giving us any helpful information. This frustrated my father as we as Christians believed in ‘giving the shirt off our back’ so to speak. Helping others with a part of our values. As a man of the law who was to serve and protect his country and his people, it was saddening that he wanted nothing to do with that when he wasn’t being paid.

There wasn’t much that we needed to get from the truck. Our backpacks and the gear. I don’t recall what dad all carried. However, I sure do remember what I had to carry. Two sets of military down sleeping bags. These mummy style sleeping bags would keep you warm well below -20 C. I had one bag on each arm as shown in the photo below. We walked the entire way. No one wanted to pick us up. Dusk had long since turned into the dark of the night.  Hitchhiking wasn’t getting us a ride, the lack of traffic may have had something to do with that. We were in the middle of nowhere at night. Drivers probably couldn’t even see us until they were right on us.

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I probably complained the entire way. The bags were awkward and heavy. The cords cutting into my arms. Dad had no time for my complaints. We didn’t know what time the bus might pass by. It wasn’t even certain that the driver would stop. We walked all the way back to that lamp post. Hoping and praying that the greyhound to come by and pick us up.

 

 

Uncategorized

Cheesecake or is it

I haven’t posted in a while I know. My past had hidden behind my subconscious. It doesn’t want to come out and be poked when my present conscious is too busy. When things get busy, get complicated my feet walk one step at a time. Trying to smile and get from one moment to the next is all. Then all of a sudden at work last night a funny memory hit me. Not from my childhood necessarily but it stems from it.

One of my favorite desserts that mom would make was blueberry tofu cheesecake.pexels-photo-85766

Yes, tofu cheesecake in the same sentence! I would ask for it for every birthday. Once I left home I only spent one birthday with my mother. But that’s a negative weird story for another time. I never did much cooking on my own and certainly never attempted tofu cheesecake unless it turned out so horrible I blocked it from my memory! Which I have a niggling thought at the side of my mind… a little a tiny live photo saying I did and botched it something awful!

At any rate in my late teens, I had a friend my age from a nice blue-collar family who loved to spend time with me. How we even met is beyond me as she was a high school student and I was done repeatedly trying to attend school and live on my own. She was given a nice reliable almost new Subaru for her graduating year. One time we drove to the nearby town that was big enough to have mainstream restaurants.  We went to the Cheesecake Factory. It was a splurge trip for us to have a nice treat. She knew how I loved cheesecake and missed what my mom used to make.

There were so many choices it was overwhelming. I finally choose the mixed berry. I waited with barely contained excitement. My mouth was watering in anticipation of the delicious treat soon to arrive. It had been years since I had had cheesecake.pexels-photo-357748

What arrived was slightly concerning to me. A wedge of white and berry colored marble with a thin graham crust sat upon my plate. I gingerly took a small bite and was shocked at the unfamiliar flavors in my mouth. This wasn’t cheesecake. I didn’t know what this was but I knew for a fact it wasn’t cheesecake. I waved the waiter over and shared my confused disappointment as I had wanted the berry cheesecake. He assured me my plate held such item but I couldn’t wouldn’t believe this. I was led over to the large cheesecake display to search for what I had been looking for. Nowhere did I see mothers cheesecake. The thickened blueberries atop a creamy white spread over the granola crust.

The disappointment was bitter in my mouth. I didn’t understand. What was the item I had been served made of? Why it was cream cheese with berry syrup laced thru atop a graham crust. Cream cheese in a dessert? Wasn’t cream cheese for bagels? I had had them for the first time when living in Quebec. Apparently, it was also creamed with sugar for cheesecake. That poor waiter must have had a hard time not laughing at my shocked dismay. I never tried cheesecake again for years. My childhood treat destroyed forever as now neither tasted good.

Maybe if I had known it wasn’t made with tofu but instead cream cheese. Maybe if I hadn’t been 17. Maybe if I hadn’t been stoned. I just might have been willing to have an open mind when tasting it. For almost anything, I ate in the world was different. It was nothing like I had had before. I knew that, expected that. But that time because I had an expectation of what I was getting I was disappointed. It took me a few lessons in expectations before I realized it is better to go in with an open mind. Be ready and excited for what may come. When you’re not expecting creamy white filling with thickened berries on top the swirled berries and cream can be delicious.

childhood, Uncategorized

I’ll never diet because… I was always hungry

One thing that seems to be a constant reoccurring memory is being hungry.

The first seven years we ate twice a day. Once at 7 am after worship and again at 1 pm. How that was enough on a vegan diet is beyond me. I must have been allowed snacks when I was a toddler for I was a cute chubby little thing. The diet I believe is part of why mother couldn’t conceive again for years. She had a miscarriage and then that was it for years. Raw vegan diet while working the farm just doesn’t jive with what we know is needed to sustain and provide energy to us. I still remember her paper-thin skin. The yellow jaundice tint to it when she was fasting and juicing bouts breaking up her regular diet of vegan, yeast free, primarily raw food. Under a 100 lbs and 5’5″. Images of her. Memories of the diets for health and religion keep me free of ever dieting or subjecting myself to the newest or reintroduced diet of the month.

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All three photo’s span about 15 years. Prior to religious diet and after years of it.

I recall as a little girl standing on tippy toes trying to reach the table salt and honey hidden in the very top corner shelf. I would alternate dipping my finger in the honey jar and shaking salt on my palm to lick off. Too sweet then too salty never satisfying my growling belly. One time I tried the soft heart shaped cat treats. Trust me on this – just don’t! I sat on the floor next to the water bucket in the pantry ladling water into my mouth for all I was worth. No matter how many ladles of delicious cold water I drank I couldn’t rid my tongue of that terrible taste. The soft treat had disintegrated into all the corners of my mouth filling it with that awful flavor.

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For as long as I lived at home I remember being hungry. Sneaking food whenever I could. At meals, we would stuff ourselves as much as we could. I remember food eating contests where mom would undo her belt and jump up and down to make more room. Still makes me giggle a little. Other times we would have contests who could put the most plums, or popcorn into our mouths at one time. Or who had the biggest mouth enabling them to fit the entire serving ladle into their mouth. Mom and I always won.

Now years later I try to stay active and eat healthily. I see my body and metabolism change as I grow older. The social media onslaught of eating plans and diets for various reasons and easy weight loss are everywhere. One thing is for sure. I’ll not diet and be hungry again. I will love and savor each bite of delicious food not taking it for granted.

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She looks much older than I at almost the same age.
childhood, Uncategorized

The funny thing about remembering 

A memory that has stuck with me since I was probably 5 or 6 is of Princess Leia being beamed out of the vacuum asking to be saved. Her image would fade in and out. Her voice sounding far away. In my dreams, I couldn’t actually hear what she was saying but knew it was important. She needed help, to be saved. How did she get locked in a vacuum? I’d best be careful when I used our vacuum. That image of  Princess Leia stuck with me even in when I was awake. I could feel the heartache, the desperation that she was feeling.

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Many years later I learned that the vacuum was in fact R2D2. A nifty little robot that in my sheltered knowledge could only have been a vacuum.  I will always remember that image wavering in out. Trying to get the message through.

I recently read somewhere that lapses in memory can be a sign of a traumatizing event or abusive action in your life. I can easily come up with a list of painful events, as we all can. I could surmise for days what may or may not have been the cause of my very spotty memory. I wonder though. If we do not reminisce, revisit our funny stories over the dinner table with family or friends lead them to fade away. If you never talk about that time you fell into the creek, broke your finger, kissed that boy, or snuck into the orchard with the girls then how will that memory not fade away into the deep recesses with no reason to be brought forth. Going so far back that it totally disappears.

There are years of my life that have such few faded memories. People I don’t know, entire friendships have disappeared. Adventures and laughter swallowed by the abyss of my forgotten past. I don’t know how it happened or when it happened. If it wasn’t for people having found me as an adult I wouldn’t have even know anything was really amiss. I mean we all forget some things. But entire friendships, entire summers, years that have gone? It is a bit disconcerting. Enough to bear upon my mind wondering where they have gone. A different viewpoint could be that our memory is like a revolving tape. A loop per say that goes round and round. The information is written over if no longer current.

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I realized I have been floating on my own from place to place since I was thirteen. So there were no family meals or trips. No annual get together where we spent time laughing, cooking, eating, pestering each other. Teasing each other over our mistakes and slip-ups that only the close the family know. If you don’t reminisce how do you remember? If you don’t have that pesky brother or sister who knows the embarrassing, the funny, the serious, to constantly remind you how will you never forget. I didn’t have any of those things so I could easily forget it all. Not even knowing that is what I was doing.

lifestyle, Uncategorized

Friday means

Friday means the end of week preparations. Cleaning the house, and the making of Sabbath meals.  No work was to be done on our day of rest. No cooking or work of any kind. It is to be a day of rest and contemplation. One of my chores was mowing the lawn. A chore I loved and detested equally. I got the use a piece of machinery which was awesome. The area considered lawn was primarily thistles and some type of oversized grass that looked and felt more like a pincushion weed. If you stood far enough away to look at it when it was cut it looked like a lawn. However, rolling and playing on it wasn’t comfortable. The grass wasn’t soft as a thick lush lawn would be. The grass made my skin itch as I was allergic. It wasn’t soft like a blanket as my lawn is now. I knew it wasn’t something to be barefoot on much less play or have a picnic on.

Part of my happiness with mowing is that it was better than having to wash the land rover and suburban. I hated washing them. Don’t get me wrong; hose with water and soap suds would generally be loads of fun in the summer but not when dad kept finding these invisible dirt marks. I swear he made them up just to keep me working longer. Seriously how many times can I wash a vehicle and it still be dirty? Apparently a half dozen plus! Now as an adult washing my own vehicle I understand the reasoning. I can see the smudges of dirt that the car wash or my sponge misses. I certainly couldn’t see it at as a youngster.

Sabbath was the day of worship. The seventh day that started at sundown and ended at sundown. Ironically I don’t recall anything about Sunday. I would guess there was no school but I am sure we worked or did something for two days of rest seem unlikely. We would attend vespers both evenings for a couple hours. It was a little more relaxed version of church. Hymns were still sung, prayers said, and a Bible lesson read and discussed. Everyone attended together. Men women, children, students, elderly. The married, the families sat together. The single sat in groups but separated by gender. It wasn’t appropriate to sit together to be near each other if not married. Unless working or in a class of course.

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Sunrise at Mombasa beach Kenya

It was this way for as long as I could remember. Every week the same unless going on a camping trip. Clean the house, prep food to go in the oven while we were at church, go worship with the rest, enjoy an afternoon hike and then back to work. Day in day out. Week after week, year after year. No unlike the Monday to Friday grind many of us work to put food on the table and a roof over our heads. The difference is that there if you decided to head out for a trip or adventure it could happen as long as the gardens had water anything was possible. Life here in the world isn’t as kind or forgiving in that aspect. Often no vacation pay for many. The boss won’t let you have a day off except for the planned week you picked the year before.

I couldn’t resist using photos from our three-week adventure to Kenya. Amazing family trip and such an eye-opener for my children. Such a long way from the Saturday’s spent on that solid wood unforgiving church bench.

 

 

childhood, Uncategorized

So many contradictions​

When I was little I was shy and afraid. I didn’t want to draw attention to myself or be noticed as different.

When I was little I felt no fear, I could climb the highest tree, ride the fastest sled. I was invincible.

When I was little I did not know about perfection or imperfection. We were all beautiful on the inside. If not I could feel something bad when close and didn’t like you.

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I had an idyllic childhood. Free-spirited, running wild, loved by my community family.

I had a traumatizing childhood. So many different people came and went. Some good some so very not.

I grew up in a huge family. Encircled by love, prayer, and family.

I have no family. I am an orphan. Wiped from the church records, forgotten like a mistake they don’t want to be reminded of.

As a little girl, I loved nature and would play to my heart content in the woods.

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As a broken-hearted girl, I wept atop a tree terrified to come down and walk the miles home thru the woods.

Loved beyond bounds, tossed away with the trash. Taught so much, yet so little. Prepared for the time of the end. Unprepared for life before the end.

These memories confuse me, amuse me, hurt me, and hug me. Maybe a thread of words will appear and find a flow.IMG_0855

 

childhood, Uncategorized

Is it wrong to play with Barbie

When I was a little girl I was not allowed to play with Barbie’s because my parents didn’t want me to think I should look like her. Didn’t want mt to try and look like her. I never thought much about it other than it was another thing I was denied. I didn’t care much to tell the truth as I didn’t really see the fun in a doll that couldn’t do anything other than changing her clothes and hang out with Ken.

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I had better things to do like climb a tree, paddle in the pond, ride my bike, walk around with my bow and arrow’s on the hunt for the next great target. Who wanted to sit down with a tiny adult doll to awkwardly put clothing on it. Repeatedly. An over the shoulder molder holder shouldn’t be this hard to put on a doll or body for that matter. I love that bit from the movie Beaches. I showed my daughter the video and her facial expressions had me laughing so hard.  I digress. Barbies were boring to me other than of course one more thing I couldn’t have. I don’t think it was ever explained that I was beautiful the way I was. That any body type was to be loved. It would be unchristian to think of oneself as attractive more than necessary.

 

otto titsling bette midler

 

Growing up we didn’t wear makeup, cut our hair short, or bother with fancy clothes. We dressed for what we were doing. Gardening,  wear layers so you won’t get too hot. Working in the mill don’t wear too lose of clothing or it will get caught. Raining out, wear raincoat and boots. Camping in the winter, wear layers with wool against your skin. Cayenne in your socks if you want to keep extra warm. The actual style wasn’t the main focus. Look modest and appropriate. Dress nice for church. Being off the grid so to speak we were behind the times. We also were a ‘get your wardrobe once a year’ unless something is needed kind of family. We usually shopped at the thrift shop on our yearly trip down south. The Sears catalog was for window shopping, cutting out to paste the pictures, and lastly for fire building. It certainly wasn’t to order from.

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My daughter has played with Barbie’s. Oodles of them. The jet, car, motorcycle, and a dozen girlfriend Barbies with a couple Ken’s to go around. She didn’t care much about them and cut off all their hair. My daughter also played in the lake, slid in the mud, camped in the bush, and overall got dirty playing. She played with makeup and hair stuff learning what its like. Turns out my daughter like the feel of makeup on her face as much as I do. Mascara usually about cuts it with us.  I hope that she will always be comfortable with herself dressed up for a night out and for playing in the mud.

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Today though I think back to that and realize what their intentions were.  It seems modern society keeps wanting to portray women shaped like Barbie in magazines, television, social media platforms. Looking a certain way seems to be advertised as the key or the link to happiness, popularity, dating, career. Lifestyles are built around trying to dress and change your body to portray this. So many women and girls I see online posting before and after photos. Some are extreme changes. Some obviously for better physical health. Some looked amazing the way they were. Before diets, constant work towards a look other than what they naturally have. I am incredibly happy to see there are as many women who love themselves the way they are. Knee deep in life enjoying every moment the best they can the way they are.