childhood, Uncategorized

Traditional holidays – what traditions?

Thanksgiving means something different to us all. One thing that remains the same is the circle of love. The knowledge it’s a time to be grateful for all that we have. Whether from family or more often than not friendship. You can pick your friends but not your family. The friends are the family you get to choose.

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As the years past my parents fell further and further from the celebration of mainstream holidays. Generations of passed down recipes and traditions disappeared. I have no idea if my grandmother had an amazing recipe for stuffing that was passed down through the generations. I have no idea if traditions were even a thing in our family. One day is no different than the rest. Christmas is not really Christmas for Jesus was born in the spring with the sheep. Not in the dead of winter. Easter is a pagan ritual accepted by the church when joining the satanic world with the Christian. Thanksgiving is for giving thanks or for taking the world from the Aboriginals. Really everything depends on how you look at it.

I was taught that the mainstream holidays are not celebrated on the original dates. That when Christianity overtook the mainstream, the leaders from the pagan realm and the Cristian met and compromised on the dates to celebrate different holidays.  That is what I was taught. Don’t get me wrong we did celebrate holidays and birthdays to some degree. Our haphazard way of celebrating will be in the book.

 

I recall being about sixteen renting my own little hole in the wall place. The first place of my own that I paid for with money I earned. Before that… well, let’s say I got around! Made amazing friends and memories and traveled from one end to almost the other of our country. So by sixteen, I was “ready and able” to earn money and pay bills so to speak.

I had previously spent a stint living with an uncle and aunties in the town I come back to.  The town I was now living in and renting my own place. The auntie has such a hard-on for me it was unreal. Stemmed from her dislike of her husband’s inlaws – my parents. My standing up to their son and moving out solidified her dislike to the point of locking her husband out of the house when he met me for a walk.

My point… My first Thanksgiving living on my own I spent walking to the local pool to go for a swim to try and take my mind off how alone I really was. I knew very few people in the town and the ones that I knew were with their families. My mother wasn’t keen on being around me. Work was closed for the holidays, as was the pool I found out when I got there.

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I had spent the pleasure of being a part of a Jewish family celebration that spring with a wonderful lifelong friend. I had never seen or been a part of anything like it and loved it. Her family was kind and welcoming. They didn’t pepper me with questions or sympathy of my upbringing. I had never met people like them before and was eyes wide open to take it all in. I never saw a celebration quite as warm and traditional after that for years. I now knew what it could be like, and  I yearned for it. That knowledge accentuated my loneliness knowing what holidays can be.

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Many many years later after becoming a mother, a divorcee, I still struggle with holidays. It is too easy to not decorate. To not make a big deal.  I have no traditions to pass down to my children. We are finding our own way of celebrating. We spent holidays at a rustic off-grid cabin in the bush, we shot off fireworks for Christmas eve, we tossed chocolate from one end to another as a scavenger hunt, we always tried to have our small close family together when work allowed.  We were invited to friends for a few Thanksgiving and Christmas. Those holidays were the beginning of not minding holidays. Of not having the empty feeling I felt in the pit of my stomach pushing my smile wider to hide the emptiness.  We celebrated in Kenya with my dear lifelong friend. That same dear friend that I spend my very first traditional holiday with. To me now, a holiday is what you choose to make of it.

 

Free thinking, Uncategorized

It could be worse

Man do I hate that sentence. It takes away from what you are feeling. As though you don’t have a right to how you feel. Just because someone else may have it worse. Sort of like how we ought to be grateful to have a plate of Brussel sprouts because the kids are starving in Ethiopia and they would love to have our Brussel sprouts! Cough bullshit cough 

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As the years have gone by I find myself looking for the silver lining for the good out of any situation. It makes it easier to be happy when I look for the good, the positive. I still catch myself thinking along the lines that it could be worse. It irks me because I have a right to feel whatever I may be feeling without having to give up those emotions for someone who is worse off.

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We all have to right to our feeling regardless of other less fortunate. Yes, we shouldn’t wallow. Yes, we should hold a hand out to help others. But we have the right to a cry day. To a big workout venting our anger or whatever else may be going on inside us.

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We have the right to our feelings and emotions regardless of what others are going through. Telling children, anyone that it could be worse shows you don’t recognize and value their right to their feelings. Don’t get me wrong there is a huge difference between feeling your emotions and living in an unhealthy rut crying the same song and dance routine over and over without learning from the experience. Those make me want to slap the cryer in the face with a chair. So don’t diminish your feelings just because someone else has it worse. Acknowledge yourself and take from it what you can at the moment.

childhood, Uncategorized

Idle hands idle minds

Growing up our time was scheduled. All of it. What we ate, what time we ate, how long we had to eat. The same with reading, praying, sleeping, study. It was all scheduled right down when and for how long.

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Ever read how to do mind control? How to make someone malleable to your ideals. It has some similarities. Once I was in the world, in a real school with access to a real library I read a lot. About cults, Satanism, mind control, sociology, psychology, and of course romance. I loved the worlds I visited in books. I still do.

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Back to the scheduled time and being busy. Once I was on my own and starting to get the hang of functioning as a responsible (adult) in the world. I began making money, paying rent, trying to cook for myself and learn how to be around people. I found out that they (the ones I knew) spent a lot of time sitting, watching TV. I didn’t understand it. I had difficulty following the humor as most show’s make references to things in life everyone knows as common knowledge. Unless you grow up locked away with no radio, newspapers, television, news or outside contact. A few years ago I was listening to a comic and got so excited because I GOT his jokes. I had been in the world long enough to understand the references. Seems like a small thing but it isn’t.

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I tried so hard to learn to sit and do nothing. To sit and watch television, to lay at the beach, to sit around talking. It was difficult and I’m still not very good at sitting still for long. I did have a few years where I was actually good at it. Although in hindsight that may have been due to stress and depression. That’s a story for a different time.

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Back to scheduled time … I always felt guilty if I wasn’t doing something. I still do – makes it very difficult to paint my nails! I fear missing out on life. FOMO they call it nowadays.  I don’t’ want to miss the warm weather, the cold weather, the snowflakes, the giant droplets of rain to dance in,  the sky, the clouds shapes. I just want to do and play in every moment until I need a rest. All those moments that should be spent doing not resting. I’m now starting to think that’s because I grew up with my time scheduled. Taught to be busy. That idle hands cause idle minds which then begets trouble.

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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.

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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

Hitchhiking with dad

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

childhood, Uncategorized

The funny thing about remembering 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!