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

 

lifestyle, Uncategorized

My parents’​ lifestyle change

Our lifestyle was determined by an author who wrote many books explaining what Gods meaning was in the Bible. What we ate, wore, the age men and woman could marry, social interactions, our daily schedule, our seclusion from society. Her word held in high esteem and studied daily.

Our diet was a big change for many. For many coming from a meat and potatoes, butter flavored mash, desserts, fast food, and other mainstream diets. Well, it was incredibly hard to adjust. The diet consisted of two meals a day, primarily raw for the first few years.  It’s no wonder that my mother couldn’t conceive after having me for years. I can only guess at how much weight she lost those first few years. It’s a wonder I was such a chubby cutie. I must have been fed more often although there are not many left to ask.

My mom had a story that they laughed about. When she and my dad were driving to the community after they were married she had a list of all the things she would need to set up the house for them. When I heard the story I would imagine them driving along in the forest green international pickup with its log camper on the back. The road curving and twisting as they kept driving farther north. I can feel the excitement she must have felt inside going to see the home they would share together. Starting a life with the man she loved above all others. Holding her list of all the things she needed to start life as a housewife.Shopping-list-coloring-page

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Turns out mom knew very little about the lifestyle she had married into. Dad had disappeared for a year and then called her up and asked her to marry him. He had found God and country living in the year he was gone. He was no longer a computer engineer for a well-known railroad company. He was now a member of a self-supporting community that lived by the good book and the books explaining the good book. She had no idea the life she had signed up for. On that first drive reviewing her list of things and finding only TWO items were approved. Yes, that’s correct only two items were approved for their new lifestyle and diet. Salt and flour.  Yes, that’s correct salt a flour!

She would laugh as she told the story. It makes me sad for I remember her 5 foot  5 inches  95 pounds. Her skin often yellow tinged as though suffering from jaundice. The stress of her God-fearing husbands’ judgment causing her eczema outbreaks to worsen. Her appearance as a 40-year-old woman was a far cry from the photo’s of her as a healthy dimple-faced 22-year-old from the wedding photo.

Over the years the diet had changed. Things like adding yeast, sugar, oils, baked and cooked foods. Even a light supper was added. Working the land, being active and outdoors tends to burn a high amount of calories. Eating vegan three times a day or less would make it difficult to intake enough calories.

childhood, 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 fundraiser.  Enjoy indulgent foods, sip on mulled wine, eggnog, or make that special thing you have been wanting to try. Time for me to spend a little time reflecting on childhood 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, caroling 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 favorite 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 the 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 color. 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 was 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 haircut. Wearing his lumberjack clothing covered in sawdust 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. Nowhere 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 into the bush with guns!

childhood, Uncategorized

Running away

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As I walked down the laneway pulling my suitcase in my little red wagon I began to think. I knew grandma lived far away in AB. I knew I would have to make sure the light was green to cross the street. What way should I go at the street, how many lights were there. Oh dear I couldn’t remember the entire route from our home a mile up a dirt road from a long road that came from a small logging town that didn’t even have a hospital. Realization hit hard and sad. I couldn’t actually run away for I didn’t know how to get anywhere.

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Yes, I still have Sally, a little dirtier maybe, a few scuffs and smudges but not loved any less.

I quietly snuck back into our yard. Dragging my wagon and suitcase far under the porch and sat with my back against the wall. Now this was just embarrassing. I couldn’t very well just walk back in like I wasn’t leaving. Admit defeat – never. Again the stubborn proud insecure little girl I had met the night of the lightening… She has been my saviour and my disgrace through out life. So there I sat in the dirt hidden by the porch waiting for my parents to miss me. Soon my tummy began to rumble, I was cold and bored. Obviously my parents didn’t love me or they would have come looking for me. I crept back into my room, put away my warm wool socks. Placed Sally back in her bed. And resumed my afternoon as though I had never had a little tantrum and run away to begin with.

Now as a parent myself I can see them watching me walk down the road. Keep an eye as I snuck back. Waiting with a smile of amusement for me to give in and move on with my afternoon. Sometimes the best way is to have patience. Not to push and push until everyone is past their breaking point. I have learned  it is best to pick your battles.

childhood, Uncategorized

First scary memory

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 lightning 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, headlamps 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 center of your life. So here I was a disobedient child far from the barn, far from home and too 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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Once I was back on the main road I began towards an 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 despair, the band of agony, the ray of hope that it’s not too 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, Uncategorized

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.

childhood, Uncategorized

Dreaming of snow

When I was little I loved snow. I loved everything about it. Falling backwards to make an angel. The careful gentle reverse crab move trying to get up without leaving a mark. Lying back and watching the beautiful flakes swirl around me landing on my nose my eyelashes my tongue.

When the snow was wet enough getting on my knees and rolling my snowball into a giant chair or snowman base. Jumping off our roof into the big pile left from clearing the roof and road. Till I knocked the wind out of myself. Then I stopped jumping off the roof. One time we even dug an igloo into the giant pile of snow from clearing all the roads.
But best of all was the sledding. I could sled almost sled all the way to the bottom of the mountain we lived on. Dad would wax the bobsled runners and we’d be off. It was always a discussion which way was best for speed and control. To lay down or sit up. I liked sitting so I could see better as the snow didn’t blow into my face blinding me. The set back was that steering with my feet was difficult. Part of the trouble may have been I was six or younger and dressed as the abominable snowman in all my snow gear.

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Once I got to the first corner where our road began to slope downhill I would give a little run and flop down on my belly. The trick was to go fast enough that I wouldn’t slow to a stop when the road flattened out. But not so fast that I would slide off the road into the ditch. There were steep twists and turns followed by a couple long straight stretches that flattened out before declining again into sharp corners. The speed needed to make it thru most of the flat was terrifying on the corners. I usually had to walk two spots no matter how bravely I sped around corners and downhill.

One time dad and I went together and tried to make it the whole way. Mom was working at the bottom with some of the ladies. If I had to guess I’d say they were carting sheep wool for quilting. Best childhood quilt – love that one. Anyway she was not impressed to find me with him crying and bleeding with my face a terrible ice rash from wiping out on suicide corner. That last corner at the end before the nice long lazy stretch was a killer. No matter what transportation being used. We wiped out badly and I lost a good bit of facial skin that day. I don’t recall using the bobsled again after that. Not sure if they disappeared or just that we moved the next year to the hottest valley in BC.

childhood, Uncategorized

My first home

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The first home I lived in was up on the side of a mountain. About a mile up a curvy bumpy dirt road with a corner dubbed ‘suicide corner’. I remember my dad driving the volvo backwards up the hill the entire mile or two with people sitting on the hood and bumper to give traction when the roads were really bad.

The view I grew up with those first few years had a big part in shaping my love of nature. I will always remember the lush green valley with the river snaking thru it like a path to the world. Few house were visible as far as the eye could see. Even now decades later there are few houses or farms to be seen in that valley. Untouched beautiful nature.

I must have been almost 6 when the phone lines were installed. I sat and bounced waiting and watching as each telephone pole came closer and closer up the mountain side. Imagine my excitement to lift the receiver and put my chubby little finger in the dial turning it round back all the way to the number I needed. Hearing the sound as it turned round back to start ready for me to spin it to the next number. It was so exciting to be able to call my best friend the lived at the bottom of the mountain. Sometimes I would carefully lift the phone to see if someone else was on the party line.

Our house was a big three story cedar home with large windows over looking the valley.  Scorch marks burnt into the large beams from when a fire started from the wood furnace threatening to burn the house to the ground.   There was a great stone hearth to sit by with a roaring fire on the cool winter evenings. I have fond memories of playing at that hearth.  My mother would sit at the old singer sewing machine across the room from the fireplace. Her back to the room her gaze looking out at the valley. I wonder what her thoughts were as she would sit and sew with me laying at her feet.