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

I hoard toilet paper

There I said it. I collect toilet paper. And not that scratchy cheap no name stuff. Definitely not the Green planet friendly tp. That stuff is worse than the tp at the govt funded buildings. I mean Charmine, Cottonelle,  Royale, and other baby soft brands. If they are on sale it comes home with me. Stuffed under handbags, in the back of the closet, in the kids’ washroom.  I buy the kids’ Store brands or other sale but still quality brands because it’s cheaper and they have no sense of the word waste as teenagers.

I know why I buy it. I understand buying on sale is a good idea. That being thrifty is the way to become a millionaire. That is not why I do it. I have this fear hidden deep in the darkness of my consciousness. I am afraid of using paper thin, sandpaper rough, one ply tissue. The kind you would be able to steal from the local library. Sounds ridiculous right. Wrong. I was so broke – a whole different blog story there for another time… I was so broke I would sneak into the public library and stuff a half used roll into my backpack.

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I can still see clear as day me sitting on the toilet. My black canvas satchel with its cold metal buckles on my lap. Trying to get that giant commercial size roll out of the case without making noise or breaking it. The metallic taste of fear on my tongue. The desperate need for tissue at home.

So now I have toilet paper. Good toilet paper. So soft it’s a kittens fur wiping your bottom. According to commercials. Or maybe so soft bears love it. Hoards of it in my closet, in the bathroom, in the kids bathroom. And I bought more today because it was almost half price. I am sure it will be double when I need it. So I buy more. I buy it for the sale not because I can’t help myself. I tell myself I’ll be good and buy only one giant bulk bag, not the maximum limit. That would be silly right! 🙂 Then I stress all the way home if I should have bought more while it was on sale. Or if I spent too much buying things like toilet paper on sale when I didn’t need it yet. Either way, I end up with a stomach ache.

So there it is. Why I hoard toilet paper. And probably food on occasion. Definitely speaks to my dislike of wasting anything. Throwing away anything when it can be donated. For I will never forget having to steal toilet paper.

childhood, Uncategorized

Walking in the dark

After working the late shift the other night I climbed into bed with my 16-year-old daughter to visit and hear about her day. She had to take the late bus home that day which was a first. I asked if it was dark walking home from the bus stop. ‘Yes it was scary,’ ‘did you call your brother?’ I asked.  ‘No I used the light from my phone and walked fast hoping nothing would jump out at me,’ was her response.

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Her walk in the dark reminded me of the first place I lived after getting on my bicycle and riding away from the ‘farm’ at 13. That is another story for another time.  At any rate, I ended up in the same house I had lived in as a child, even had my old room back. Like that didn’t depress the shit out of me. The community school only went to grade eight so I worked at the bakery from 4 am till 1 pm Monday to Friday. The house I lived in was over a mile up a mountain. I watched the telephone poles be installed. There was no pavement, no street lights. Moonlight was my only guide if I was lucky. I would walk down the mountain using the path as a short cut. It was pitch dark usually. Occasionally the moon came out from behind the clouds illuminating the pathway. I was terrified of mountain lions, bears, and god knows what else. I have no idea how I managed to not only wake at that ungodly hour but to force myself into the cold darkness down that mountain.

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One day at church the elementary school teacher was speaking about things that made her day and my morning walk was one of them. She loved to wake up hearing me sing as I skipped along the path to work. Brightened her day waking to my cheerful song. Little did she know I was singing to keep the paralyzing fear from overcoming me. I had no choice but to get to work walking that path in the dark. Fear wasn’t an option.

Funny it hits me now that in all the things I have done in life:  fear or failure was never an option.

childhood, Uncategorized

Best mistake my father made

The best mistake my father made was to let me join him that one Christmas break watching the VHS tapes he picked up on brainwashing and mind control. It was an unintentional gift that has lasted me throughout life.

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I’ll never forget the families wanting to get their children back that wouldn’t leave. How they didn’t stop searching for them. Trying to get thru to the youth, the person that they knew and loved. How the person in the commune just didn’t hear the words. I mean really hear them. They would listen and try to explain to each other why the lifestyle was good or bad depending on who was talking yet neither party actually heard the other.

In the videos, it was explained how they got these lost souls, these people who were searching for something more. How that lifestyle was appealing and dominated all other choices. Why they stayed and believed. One young woman maybe early 20’s stuck in my mind. She wanted to leave but couldn’t get away. They kept at her until the methods worked and she became pliant to their lifestyle suggestions. Or maybe she just gave up and gave in fro sheer exhaustion.  Another young woman felt the opposite. She refused to leave she wanted that life regardless of the hurt and abandonment her family felt.

What made them pliant, willing believers? It wasn’t  beatings, rape or physical abuse like you may assume. It was segregation, hunger, lack of sleep, heavy physical labor that finally made her pliable to them. This is where I connected the dots that I was right. That it was wrong how I was being raised. Don’t get me wrong here. The community I was born into was nothing like Wako Texas and other extreme sects. It was a community built to live off the land, to be self-sustaining and off the grid. However, as with any good values, some extremists thinkers were a part of it. Of course, the deep religious beliefs didn’t help.

Earlier that year I had gotten in trouble for something I’ve conveniently forgotten. In the ensuing teen outburst and tantrum, I went for the phone to call child services as ‘it was wrong to be raised like this’. The consequence to that was to be locked into my room for a few days on bread and water twice a day brought to the door and escorted bathroom breaks a couple times a day. The hook and eye lock I had installed at the outer top corner of my door to keep my little sister out now had backfired for that is how they locked me in.

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I was livid. How dare they treat me like this. Make me a prisoner, lock me up, the injustice of it all. True to teenage form I got over it. I wrote the thousand word essay on my wrongdoings and after my allotted days I handed it over. And was promptly in trouble again for plagiarism for how could a 12-year-old write a decent essay? One who grew up with adult conversation and companionship, with books, sermons, and discussions, not friends, preschool, playdates, and television that’s who. Needless to say that disbelief in me further solidified my resentment. The resentment that had been building for a while and would continue until it burst out.

Many years later I was at a self-help weekend retreat. Similar methods were used. We had to stay at the hotel at night and weren’t to return home or be in contact with our friends and family. We shared rooms with strangers. Were woken early to hike a nearby hill prior to breakfast. We spent days digging deep into our painful pasts, resurrecting the scars that brought each of us to this workshop. I saw the signs and smiled to myself. I joined in all the exercises for you will only gain what you’re willing to put in. I believed there were life skills to be learned regardless of the red flags. I wanted to heal any issues I had so I could have the emotional tools to be a good single mom to my young children. I wanted to be able to provide the best childhood I could to them and mine wasn’t exactly role model history. So I did my best and ripped open my scars baring them to these strangers. I learned to accept myself and love myself. Near the end of the weekend, we were divided into small groups and given an assignment for the next day. We were given a song and told to come up with a performance. The stress of a public display, to dance and screw up, to fail in front of everyone was terrifying. The feelings of insecurity and fear. Clammy hands wiped on thighs,  nerves strung tight, we were all on pins and needles.  Thankfully my group didn’t have to go first and we were part of the big circle watching the performance. It was then that I noticed and saw exactly what was wanted what was being done.

It wasn’t a dance or performance. The leaders wanted you to jump and move in such a way your adrenaline would pump through you. That the fear and insecurity would be overwhelmed by the physical motion. Then you immediately stop close your eyes and fall back into the arms waiting for you. Your bodies natural reaction to the adrenaline the rush of emotions, the immediate calm with all those hands holding touching you that you had bared your soul to cried with was an emotional break. Shaking crying and the high from the release. It was an addictive feeling. Like the high of a drug that envelopes you with warm lethargic joy, love, happiness. Yet this was legal, expensive but legal. For those that didn’t realize what it was, what gave them those awesome feelings that would become an addictive retreat.  then came the pitch for the next retreat at an even higher price! Thank you, dad, for teaching me what you did!!

childhood, Uncategorized

Fear or was it

I know I have been writing about my single digit years but last night I remembered something and thought to share. My teen daughter is totally loving scary movies and Insidious 4  came out recently. She just had to see it with her friend, another avid fan. As I was driving them home from the movie they talked how they wouldn’t be able to sleep a wink. That they would need large cups of coffee to start the day at school. It made me smile and also  reminded me of when I was so terrified I couldn’t even close my eyes.

I was thirteen and had just left the community. I was done with the overbearing control that was welded with the expectation that no questions would be asked. I was currently sleeping on the floor in the guest room across the hall from my aunt and uncles bedroom. Dad had been dead a few months now and life was supposed to be back to normal but I just couldn’t.

I was angry, depressed, and lost. Life didn’t matter. The world should have stopped the day that he died. Instead I was on the floor in a strange room, with a strange family that was ‘family’. My future was being discussed in hushed tones without any thought of talking to me.

My heart race as I lay on the floor in the dark, the hall light slipping in through the unlatched door. It felt as though there was a giant boulder on my chest. The weight was unbearable. It was hard to breathe. The weight of it was suffocating me. I closed my eyes hoping to sleep to ignore this awful feeling. But when I closed my eyes all I could see was my fathers body all mangled and broken. His body choking on the blood and lacerated organs. I would open my eyes wide and try to think of giant fluffy puppies. I would close my eyes and the image of his body laying there eye bulging out would pop into my mind. Like a vivid picture, as though I was there. I would gasp air trying to breath trying to think of anything but that. In exhaustion my eyes would drift closed and his body would be falling and  falling and falling crashing down. His voice calling out to me would jerk my eyes open again. There was no escape from the pictures in my mind or the weight of pain and agony on my chest.

I slept with my Bible open on my chest for months. The only way I felt remotely safe enough at night was with my Precious moments Bible on my chest. The actual weight ( in hindsight it is similar to a weighted blanket ) of the Bible eased my constricted chest. Helped me take in a breath and try to block out those horrible images.

This went on for days, week, months. My depression depended. My anger grew. No one reached out to me, instead they worried and prayed. What happens is Gods will.  As an adult with children, having made it through I just would love to go back and  shake some people and say  ‘WAKE THE FUCK UP’. Actually there is much more I would say but I will leave it at that for now.

 

childhood, Uncategorized

Why did I bite the man

How come you bit him my parents asked. “Because he said I could,” was my simple answer. Earlier I had been sitting on the stairs coming up from the basement. I wasn’t allowed downstairs but I was halfway so technically I was obeying. The men lived in the basement once their cabin burnt down. We all ate meals together and worked together as a whole.  This man that I recall feeling close to yet had loathing for had come by me on the steps. Maybe I was waiting for him. Hard to know what my little five year old brain was thinking.  I have no recollection of asking him. The only memory I have is sinking my teeth into the soft flesh of his hand between his thumb and forefinger. Once my teeth clamped down I just wanted to keep biting harder and harder not letting go. A voice in my head said I couldn’t. It would hurt him I thought. I need to let go I thought. Yet my jaw was locked into the bite. I don’t recall him making a sound. I just clenched my jaw, sunk my teeth in trying to hard not to go too far. Not to bite too hard. My teeth marks were there to stay. Little teeth indentations in dark shades of purple. I don’t recall having any repercussions from that action. I suppose the fact that I had asked permission and he’d said yes was enough. As a youth I wondered what would have caused that want in me as a young child. Did he do bad things to me? I would never know.

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As a youth of the streets my mother would cry out for prayers for her wayward  daughter. Why was she gone, why did she deny the Lord, why was she a herion addict and drug user, as loose woman. Ironically I never touched herion, didn’t really do hard drugs, didn’t drink often and always choose to do it safely where some pervert couldn’t get me. My mother and the leaders of the school never once mentioned I had been denied return to the fold. Never admitted to the community I had come back begging to live with my mother to be one of them again. Promising to be a devote follower and never question them again.

So I wondered. Mother wondered. Others wondered what could have happened to me as child to cause me to turn my back on God, on life in the community, on my family. Who could have hurt me so. Was it the man that I bit, some other man who lived in our home. No one  not even me thought maybe it was being turned away from my own mother. Being sent away as an unwanted bothersome thing. No one thought what internal damage that trauma might cause my already aching heart.

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I will never know why I bit him. Maybe it doesn’t matter. I may never know why I did many of the things that I did. I now know that the biggest hurt of all even more than my father, was being turned away by my own mother and the community I was born into.

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childhood, Uncategorized

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, Uncategorized

Buried carrots

As I stood at the sink washing the carrots from my garden I remembered all the buried carrots from my childhood.  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 labor 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. A 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 colored 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 backhoe I can only guess. Twice the labor 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, 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

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!