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.

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

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.

 

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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.

 

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

Photo used from

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

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, 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

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.

childhood, Uncategorized

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.

childhood, Uncategorized

A child of

One of the scariest questions for me is ‘where did you grow up’. I know people are just making polite conversation but the answer takes a big decision. Do I give a pat answer or the truth…

I grew up in BC I say. Sometimes I will just name a few towns I lived in. Other times I will further explain… A small community outside of a very small town. One you didn’t leave unless you weren’t coming back.

As a child of a commune the world seemed overwhelming and scary. I jumped into it at the tender age of 13 with both feet leaving behind all I thought was wrong. Years later I miss some of what was good that I was too young to value. Now from time to time I reminisce and wonder at the past while loving the present. So different yet not.

I will try as time goes by to tell the story one memory at a time or question at a time. We shall be friends this history and I. Maybe you and I will become friends as time goes by.