Uncategorized, vacation

On a lighter note

It seems my posts got a little serious lately so I thought I’d try and find something a little lighter for a change. How about a little peek of our awesome trip to Silverwood theme park this week complete with photos!

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My daughter turned SIXTEEN last year and after much thought, she chose a family trip as her birthday present. Love that she considers family trips that highly as she was offered a horse, pet pig, and other such wonderful pets. In case you don’t know my daughter she adores animals of all shapes and sizes.

 

Pictured above: pet George the huge snail eating a banana that she befriended during our visit to Kenya. Hugs with her cat that randomly moved in and adopted us one winter. My daughter with her friends and brother proudly showing off their huge collection of slugs during a trip to the Westcoast. Just a few examples of her love of living creatures.

As you can see I was surprised she turned down another pet. I was actually extremely relieved! Two pets are enough for me as both kids are now getting ready to learn to be on their own. I have a feeling when they go the pets are staying! If you follow my Instagram you have probably surmised the dog has me wrapped around his little paw!

It turns out I didn’t take photo’s at Silverwood this trip. Maybe because I took so many when we went 7 years ago. Or maybe because the kids wanted to do their own thing and seem to keep a frowny face whenever the camera swings there way. I do have one priceless photo…

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So obviously that isn’t us. I thought it would be helpful to see it’s a rather steep descent that makes everyone scream…

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Just to explain the reason behind the next photo…

 

 

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Yes, that is me… hair straight back, eyes tightly closed, shreaking for my life and it hurtles past me with a rocking clacking racket at top speed. I kept that expression for the ride called Aftershock – the floor folds away from you before the ride starts!! No I didn’t have to ride it however my son couldn’t be telling his friends he went to Silverwood and didn’t ride it. The plan to go in it scared us so bad we couldn’t eat our dinner.

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My son – the back right already knew what to expect as the poor bugger road that alone when he was 9 years old. He was white as a sheet after that ride. He thought he was going to fall out of it as his butt never even touched the seat once the ride started. A thin bar he says, no seat belt he says, I thought I was going to fall right out of it he says…. so this time he felt much safer… His friend didn’t seem to feel very safe… He didn’t leave the wave pool for two days after that ride! My daughter like me likes to close her eyes and pretend it will be fine. The  ‘this isn’t really happening to me’ mindset. Her friend obviously goes eyes wide open terrified of what will come next. She was probably wondering what kind of family does this to kids calling it fun!

The following evening I thought it best to take the terrified young man for some kiddie rides so he doesn’t leave Silverwood with the taste of terror in his mouth. It took some bribery for him to even consider leaving the water park as he was quite certain we never needed to go to the amusement park side again! We went the swing, the frog hop (my children are pictured below – the middle two from our first trip ). The teen girls were also there in line to ride this cute little frog.

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And of course lastly kids the Ferris wheel. Complete with animal seats and umbrellas built for all sizes but meant for the kids and faint of heart riders. After the animal Ferris wheel ride, he was a happy young man, he came running towards me with an excited smile saying how awesome it was…. Until he remembered my teen son was also with him at which point he pretended it wasn’t quite that big a deal!

 

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My adorable daughter on our first trip. I asked her if she wanted to change before we go into the park. My daughter: hands on hips looks down saying, ‘ what’s wrong with this outfit? I’m wearing all my favourite clothes!’ I let her wear it. I mean really who am I to judge what looks good on the outside when she feels confident and happy inside and out?!

 

childhood, Uncategorized

How could she 

So here’s the question of my mid-life emotional crisis. HOW COULD SHE???

I look at my children who are now teenagers. Gangly, pimply, know everything and nothing. Pushing me away and then needing me. Hugging me then turning away from too much contact with “mom”. How they need me and manage to admit it once in a while. The fragile grip they have on adulthood. The guidance needed to help them become confident individuals that are happy and give back to society.

So how could she let me go at 13? How could she deny me at 14 to return? I sat waiting, praying, mentally in anguish begging ‘please let them say yes’. I wanted to come home.  So I sat waiting for the staff meeting to end. Waiting to find out what their vote would be. Would I be allowed to live at home again with my mother or would I be sent away?

What I didn’t know at 13 was that if you left you couldn’t just come back even if your parents were there. I left because I was angry at the lack of understanding over my grief. I left because I was overwhelmed with loss and fear. I left because I never knew if mom would do as she said. Would I come home to an empty house? I never knew if she would be locked in the house in the bedroom in the closet with daddy’s bloody clothes. Or if she would be gone with the little ones. The rifles and ammunition gone as well. Maybe it would be their bloody clothes I would have to add to dads. She kept saying it would be easier to do that. The fear was staggering at that age. She had already proved to me once that she would take the younger ones and abandon me.

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So I left. I said goodbye, got on my bicycle and peddled away. Six months later I wanted to return. I missed my siblings and mother. Mother seemed to be doing better now. It was then that I learned you can’t just move back with mom. That the commune has to vote and decide if I should be allowed home. Who fucking knew that at 13? I should have known. Even though no other child had left like I did I should have known. No other child dare ask the questions that I did. Dared to stand up when I thought things didn’t make sense or seemed odd. I didn’t realize what I pain in the ass I was to those idealists.

So some select commune leaders held a meeting to decide my fate. I sat on pins and needles. My stomach in my throat. If I chewed my nails they would have been bloody stubs that night. The unanimous decision was NO.

I was shocked. I had had a friend on my side in that meeting. I had thought she would sway their hearts and minds. I was born and raised in this lifestyle. They made me! My dad had devoted his life to this lifestyle. He had helped build the world they wanted to hide in. Yet they said NO. I was even more shocked that mom accepted their decision. What kind of mother is that? This is Christianity at it’s finest moments. The golden jewel for their crowns.

I would like to think those adults as they grew old regretted turning me away. Realize how cruel to deny a child her mother. Send her to the streets. They made me for fuck’s sake. I was born into that. It wasn’t my fault my father taught me to not be a sheep. To think for myself, to ask questions, be inquisitive. He taught me to be an individual not afraid to stand on my own. To question and learn, to try and understand.

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I know deep down those people prayed for me. Felt they did the right thing. Maybe they never gave that decision another thought. Over the years they grasped on all the fabricated juicy gossip they could. Adding to it and spreading it further. Trying to condone to themselves what they had done. I hope there is a heaven.  And I hope to hell that at those pearly gates they are reminded of the young me. The child that needed love and understanding, not the boot.

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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

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.

 

teen years, Uncategorized

Forgiveness or forgetfullness

Forgiveness is such a complicated word. The words meaning hard to define. It is difficult to find the right adjectives to explain.  The meaning and reasons never the same. For each of us, it differs.

Let’s go back a few years… I was 16 and working my first real ‘wordly’ job. I had already begun to accumulate furniture. Free couch from someone’s front porch. Dresser my mom let me have.  Mattress from burnt out boys group home. I was all proud I had a job at a local fast food restaurant. I was given the position of ‘closer’ with a 50 cent raise even though I was the youngest employee. I wasn’t invited to visit co-workers homes. Maybe because I was the same age as their daughters who played soccer and went to after-school tutors. But I was respected for my work ethic, my positive attitude.

I would call my mother every Friday night. Collect from the slight warmth of the closed phone booth. We would catch up on each other’s lives. Hers filled with toddlers, efforts to find healing from her grief, and of course church. Mine with teen emotions, work, my learning curve, and overall trouble adjusting to a life she didn’t warn me of.

On one particular call she mentioned that Mr. W was passing through town in a few weeks and would love to take me for dinner. The W’s were family friends as their children attended the high school *1 that the community had. Many families who heard of mothers loss and grief tried to support and sent their many prayers on her behalf.

I was rather excited to be going for dinner. Seeing someone who knew my past life. An escape from my dull life of work and sitting in my lonely barren basement suite. I put on my best new to me clothes. Walked the dozen-plus blocks to the designated restaurant. The only one I really knew of. It sat beside Mr. Mikes all you can eat salad bar. I splurged on paydays and gorged myself on the food.

Mr. W and I had a quick hello hug and went straight in to be seated as it was a chilly late fall evening. No sense spending any unneeded time getting a chill. The lights were the proper dimness of an evening restaurant. The music quiet in the background. He ordered a bottle of wine for us and appies while we perused the menu. It was still such a rare occurrence for me to be in a restaurant. I was careful to never order anything very expensive yet not the cheapest for I wanted to maintain an unobtrusive middle ground at all times.
The evening was quite nice. We chatted reminiscing of a time gone when had a family and knew life no different from the sheltered commune. He caught me up on how the children were doing. Young adults now really. Attending a Christian college down south. Back then it was a time of snail mail. I diligently wrote many letters. Few returned them. Some grand friends I have to this day did. I kept those letters carrying them with me from place to place for decades. Hugging the friendship and love to me that they meant.

The wine finished, table cleared, and bill paid. We made ready to take our leave. He offered to give me a ride home as it was now dark and snow had begun to fall. I gratefully agreed and hopped into the front passenger seat. Before I had time to latch my seatbelt W reached over to give me a hug. But it wasn’t just a hug. It came with hands groping and a wet tongue reaching towards my aghast open mouth. My quick ducking, flailing arms, and wiggles to evade advances thankfully were not fought physically. Verbally, of course, I was berated for enjoying a dinner without wanting to give a proper thank you. Fortunately and sadly I was becoming quite agile at these piggish men. Those are different stories. I walked home steaming mad at this end to what had been a great evening for me.

The next time I spoke with my mother I shared my shock my anger my betrayal of this man who was to be a safe person. This is when the worst blow hit. My mother’s response was, ‘Oh I forgot to mention that about him.’ She arranged this dinner. The time, the place, the man and HER daughter who was but a child teen still in need of guidance, of protection. She FORGOT to mention to me she was setting me up with a known pervert.

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This is where the problem with forgiveness lies. The version that was being used at that time by those people. It was a forgive and forget motto. Oh, you said a swear word pray then forgive and forget. You had an affair, you hurt that child, you went to jail for abuse, you starved your children, the list goes on. We will have the congregation pray for you. We will forgive and forget. Although we will try to remember to not leave our children unattended with you. We will try to warn others not to leave their children alone with you and maybe your offspring for who knows. That is the forgiveness I grew up with from 10 to 13 when I walked out. Now as an adult I don’t give a shit when being told ‘I’m sorry’. I care about actions.
I didn’t intend this post to be a rant, however, I recently read an article on forgiveness. I also had this memory pop into my thoughts. So I have jumped ahead a good few years in my reminiscing. However, writing from the heart is more important than chronological order right.

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I would love to hear your thoughts on forgiveness. For it is a powerful weapon wielded by the ‘victim’ that takes away power.

 

 

 

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

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!