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Monthly Archives: July 2013

10 on 50

me .. just before my 50th birthday bash!

me .. just before my 50th birthday bash!

I turned 50 last month and with that came 10 Thoughts on turning 50:

1) no I will never have Botox, it took me this long to perfect the perfect stink-eye – the one that can stop a kid in his tracks and make a husband drop the shovel as he’s digging himself a hole.

2) buy me a bladder/bowel control product as a joke and I’ll whack you with it.

3) bring on the AARP discounts!!

4) 50 is the new 40 and 40 is the new 30 so I’m really .. 8! 🙂

5) thank goodness for hair dye, sunscreen, vitamin D & laughter.

6) wrinkles only go where the smiles have been, right?

7) it’s not a hot flash it’s a simmer.

8) my give-a-d _ mn’s busted.  No whining. Unless it’s by me, of course!

9) 50 years till I turn 100 and…

10) Women outlive men — look out!

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”
― Sophia Loren

Your turn.  What has aging brought to you?

*This post inspired by my friend Lynette who’s soldiering through terminal cancer. Over cocktails last night she expressed her gratitude:  Her thankfulness for a life well lived, for time to get her affairs in order and to host one last summer party. She’s 55.

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Categories: Attitude, Determination, Faith, Family, Friendship, Fun, Growth, Joy, Life, Opinion, Personal, Uncategorized, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 47 Comments

Wash, dry, press, fold

ironingGrowing up on a farm, there was never a shortage of chores for us to do.  Uttering the words, “I’m bored” got us a one way ticket to Mom’s garden or out to the field to see what Dad might need.  We learned to keep that statement to ourselves.

Feeding the cattle, horses, pigs and chickens was a morning and a nightly routine. Summer days began with picking the eggs, watering Mom’s plants, mowing the lawn or weeding.  Weeding usually turned into dirtball fights and longing talks about the beach just down the road.

It seemed she chose the hottest days to preserve summer favorites: cherries, peaches, pears, crab apples, jams and jellies.   Of course we enjoyed the her efforts but, at the time, we just wanted to ride our ponies and our bikes and run through the coulees and not be bothered with all that stuff.

But the hardest chore, no matter the weather, was lugging baskets of heavy, wet laundry up the basement stairs and across the yard to the clothesline out back.

For many years, Mom had a wringer washer, 5 kids, and no dryer.

Imagine that.

Earlier this week, our dryer died after a year-long illness.  It just finally quit. Stopped.  Done.

Easy-peasy I thought, hopping online to order a new one. Free home delivery you say?  Sweet. Oh, I need to buy the power cord separately? Really? OK, into the shopping card it went.

So here we were, the three of us, Hubbs, me and youngest boy … hanging our clothes to dry.  No issue for me, I hand wash all of my clothes and hang them to dry, have for years.  Hubbs grew up with a clothesline, he knows this gig.  But youngest boy, well let’s just say he’s never experienced towels that hadn’t been fluffed in a dryer.  He’s never felt a crunchy clean towel on his sun-kissed skin.  Never had to iron.  That’s right, I said it out loud.  And I hang my head in shame.

You see, growing up, all that laundry had to come back into the house, too, and there it accumulated, in a pile in Mom’s bedroom until she had time to iron it.  Or had me do it.

And I loved to iron.  Why?

Because, like painting a bedroom, ironing provides me instant gratification. Cause and effect.  You can see the results of your efforts.  Smelling fresh air embedded into a cotton shirt, 15 minutes of zoning out and pressing allows me to stand back and marvel at my results.

And ironing afforded me something else: access to her.  If I stayed in the house and helped, I gained a birds-eye view to the heart of our home – Mom’s kitchen.  I was privy to lunchtime chats with Dad, evening meetings with local farmers who stopped by, and quiet moments while he read the paper and she did the books.   Opportunities to converse, be heard, be still, and savor. My heart smiles at the memory.

Our new dryer arrived yesterday, with the wrong cord, of course.  After the delivery guys left, I drove to the local store, got the right cord and hooked it up myself.  It works great and the towels are fluffy, once again.

But next to it stands the ironing board, ready for youngest boy who’s taking a lesson in instant gratification today.

“You can’t get spoiled if you do your own ironing.”

Meryl Streep

clothesline.jpg

Did you grow up with a clothesline? Do you remember the scents of summer in clothesline-dried clothes?  Do you iron? Yes? Never? Not a chance?

Categories: Faith, Family, Home, Personal, Random, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

on Grizzlies

Yesterday, I enjoyed a beautiful country drive on my way to a customer meeting.  The person I met with was Grizzly Bear-sized & intimidating.

Gruff & difficult, he talked over me and had plenty to say.

I listened, kept my cool and stuck to the facts.

By the time I left, he apologized for being “so hard on me” and even thanked me for my time & assistance.

Dad was a Rural Municipality Rep. for thirty-some years and, in that capacity, he taught me 4 key things to remember when you encounter folks like this one:

1) smile,

2) keep your cool,

3) know your stuff &

4) let ’em talk themselves out.

People … they just want to be heard.

just listen

How about you?  Ever encountered a Grizzly bear (in a suit)?  How did you handle it?

Categories: Attitude, Determination, Faith, Growth, Joy, Life, Men, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Women | Tags: , , , , , | 28 Comments

on Dreams

Dorothy dreamed of flying over her Kansas home; with the help of family and Hospice, this 92 year old did.

What do you dream of doing?

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Confidence at any age, Faith, Family, fear, Fun, Gratitude, Growth, Joy, Life, News, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Women | Tags: , , , , , | 18 Comments

On kindness and casseroles

Hubbs always tells me I give too much away. And he’s probably right.

I do. I can’t help it, that’s how I was raised, it’s what was modeled for me from my earliest days.

When someone’s hurting, you help. When someone’s sick, you help. When someone’s struggling, you help.

The thing is, he loved that quality about me, when we met.

Nowadays, I am not so sure.

Yes, he’ll take the accolades that come our way when I do what I do … for others.  But I think that, sometimes, he wonders what’s left in there for him. He has a point, and I get what he saying:   Save some of you …  for me.

But the thing is, it’s not that complicated, convoluted, or otherwise.

It’s actually very simple:

I do what I do because that’s how I cope.

That’s how I cope when I get the news that someone I love is dying, when someone I love is trying to survive divorce, when someone I love needs a reminder that there’s still good in the world. That there are still people who will do for others … if they can.

Cooking up something comforting and lovely allows me to do something when circumstances dictate there’s nothing that can be done.

Don’t get me wrong, he’s not unfeeling.

He’s just never cooked a casserole. 🙂

He’s never experienced another telling him how much they enjoyed what his hands created.  How wonderful it was to have home-made loveliness to wake up to. How nice it was to not worry about cooking a meal.

He’s never had someone tell him how they tucked away the last piece of cheese ball to savor late at night after the chemo and through the tears when they could nibble and cry without someone there watching them.

He’s never seen the smiles Heath Bar brownies can bring to a new mother smiling through gritted teeth as a new baby wails in the background.

He’s never known it. Never done it.  How could he know?

I can’t blame him,  because if you’ve never done it, you couldn’t  possibly know that all casseroles call for one  readily-available ingredient:  kindness.

# # #

chicken spaghetti; google.images.com

I made 2 pans of chicken spaghetti last night .. recipe on my blog 🙂

How do you cope when people you love are hurting? Do you cook, clean, putter in the workshop, drink, smoke, walk, what?

Categories: Faith, Family, Food, Home, Life, Men, Personal, Recipes, Thoughts, Traditions, Uncategorized, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , | 36 Comments

Let’s say this together, shall we?

Maybe it’s the heat, I don’t know, but this one made me laugh out loud.

Thank you David Kanigan for the giggle.

Happy “Hump” Day, friends.

funny-prayer-god-quote

Categories: Faith, Family, Friendship, Fun, Humor, Joy, Life, Men, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Women | Tags: , , , , , | 14 Comments

Christmas in July

So a cousin has been busy posting photos to our family Facebook page.  The page was started last year and surrounded a reunion I didn’t attend. I didn’t go for several reasons but the main one was that Mom had been ill, seriously ill, and I had a feeling I’d be going up to see her anyways. Just not to picnic. And I was right.

So anyways, back to the pictures.

There’s been some neat vintage-y ones. Some of Grandpa’s farm and barn, where this same cousin spent many a happy summer. And where I spent nearly every day of my childhood.

And then came the photos of Christmases from years past.

Of Grandma’s Christmas table.

That gloriously long table of tables that seemed to stretch on forever; she’d decorate for days, arranging everything just so. Every plate and piece of silver was shined till it sparkled.  Candles were lit, wee glasses of tomato juice poured, and scattered throughout were miniature trees and shiny delights, crystal pieces and breakable knick knacks that children weren’t supposed to touch but usually did.  Plates of lefse, bowls of corn and potatoes.    Everything absolutely glimmered.  To a child … it was pure magic.

one end of her table

one end of her table

What’s funny to me now is realizing that neither Grandma nor my Mom and Aunties are shown. The only ones sitting are the Dads & kids.  That’s right, the women were in the kitchen, getting it done. Funny how things really don’t change all that much.

that's me in blue, and no surprise that I'm sitting between my sister, Pat, and my Dad.

that’s me in blue, and no surprise that I’m sitting between my sister, Pat, and my Dad.

But then, a day later, this picture appeared!   This one, with Grandma standing, depicting her shy smile and the pride she took in all efforts.

Everything on that table was prepared by her, for us.  She didn’t allow anyone to bring a thing.  They could help serve and clean up but that was it.  Grandpa, with his purple tie, is of course at the head of the table.  I remember him nowhere else but there.

Christmas 1973

Christmas 1973

Imagine my delight when this snap appeared!

Grandma and Mom in the kitchen together

Grandma and Mom in the kitchen together

You see, I only have formal photos of Grandma. Photos at weddings, in dressy dresses, Grandpa in a suit. The trace of a smile.

Now this is how I remember my Grandmother.  Always wearing a dress, glasses resting on her rosy cheeks and her naturally curly hair tucked back with a comb. Her ample bosom and loyal apron; she gave the best hugs and smelled of vanilla, sugar and Cinnamon. This photo made my heart lurch forward; it brought forth a longing  for her that is so deep, so intense that I can taste the tears that collect in the back of my throat.

And when I look again at that picture I see my Mom’s beautiful smile, her cute figure and sparkly necklace.  She was only 43 in this photo and I smile and cry when I realize I wear necklaces like that one, too.

There’s a sign just behind Mom that reads, “Smorgasbord is now ready, help yourself.”

Here’s what’s so lovely to me about seeing that sign: it now hangs above my stove 1,400 miles away, in Michigan.

100_1634

No wonder I feel her with me when I cook!

And when I think about the gift that a few dusty old photos have given me, I can’t help but smile at the bond that always connects us.  The one that winds through generations and has the ability to transport us back to warm hugs on a winter’s day and kind words and Ladies who wore aprons and generously let small girls help them in their kitchens. And that, that to me, is like Christmas in July.

Have you ever been transported to a moment, a feeling, a scent, via a photo?  Do tell.

What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.”
― Karl Lagerfeld

Related:

Categories: Faith, Family, Holidays, Home, Life, Mom, Personal, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Why do you go away?

It’s quite a question, isn’t it?

Today I’m traveling for work.  3 hours of flying, headed to the Rockies; landing, luggage and a 45 min jaunt to the hotel, possibly in time for a quick nap, time to touch up the curls, the lipstick and -BAM – our conference starts. Time to be on my toes.  To be sharp. To engage.

But that’s not why I like it.

I like it for the humanity.

Starting at the airport, I like to see who ends up next to me on the plane.

Will they be a talker?  A worrier? An ignore-er?

Will I read my book? Think?  Write blog posts in my head?

source: johnnycupcakes

source: johnnycupcakes

Will there be delays?

Issues?

People who are ticked off?  People on holiday?

People who are sick?  Sad? Lonely?  Joyful?  What?

I also consider what I’ll learn.

What I’ll come home with.

Who I’ll meet.

I like to see who does what.

Who shines.

Who doesn’t.

Who tries.

Who won’t.

I like to listen .. to the presentations, yes, but also to the conversations at breaks, dinner and over cocktails.

I want to see how my team’s coming together. How we feel, how they’re doing.

But mostly, mostly I go away … just so I can come back.

You?

“Why do you go away?

So that you can come back.

So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors.

And the people there see you differently, too.

Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”
― Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky

 

Categories: Faith, Family, fear, Growth, Home, Life, Life Lessons, Personal, Random, Thoughts, Travel, Work | Tags: , , , , , | 14 Comments

Fruitful abundance

It’s Cherry season here in Michigan.

Yep, earlier this week, my favorite neighborhood orchard ( you can say that here ) announced the Cherries were ready for picking.

photo courtesy of Robinette's Apple Haus

photo courtesy of Robinette’s

I am 50 years old and I still can’t believe that we live less than a mile from a cherry orchard.

You see, when I was a girl, every summer  Mom would place an order with “the Fruit Truck,” the one that brought fresh fruit through the Rockies to us fruit-deprived folks out on the prairie.  That trip originated in B.C., in the Okanagan Valley.   She’d order cases of peaches, pears, plums, apricots and cherries and we’d wait in anticipation of a dining room table covered in sweet, heavenly goodness.     She canned much of it but we enjoyed our fair share, too.

Oh how I remember those trips home from the store, my siblings and I sneaking handfuls of cherries from the box in the Oldsmobile’s back window.  Gulping them down secretly, thinking no one would know, would never suspect our cherry stained faces or fingers.

Cherry season takes me back to being 9 again; to lazy summer days, fans running, flies buzzing, and horses standing still.  It takes me back to weeding the garden, swim lessons, and sleeping in the tent.

Cherry season brings me to the tastes of my youth; to moments enjoying life’s simple pleasures.  To corn on the cob with butter, peach pie, a roasted hot dog on a sticky summer’s night, and watermelon for breakfast.

My family here doesn’t get it: they’ve always lived with fruitful abundance.  They don’t understand when I skip the candy and the chocolate and head to the pool with an armful of fresh fruit instead.

Visiting home last summer, I smiled when I saw the bowl of apricots on my brother’s kitchen table, the peach pie at my sister’s, the cherries at Mom’s house.   There’s a kinship we share, and it’s one that was enhanced by fruit.

What summer treat takes you right back to your childhood?

Categories: Faith, Family, Food, Home, Joy, Life, Personal, Seasons, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

The greatest dysfunctional family, ever

Every day, we fight about how to make this a better country.  And while we may disagree on how to get there, Independence isn’t about always getting what you want.

It’s about thinking what you want. Saying what you want. And always being able to stand up for what you believe in.

Happy Independence Day to our beautifully conflicted, argumentative, always-fighting country.

You’re the greatest dysfunctional family in the world.” – Brad Meltzer

Are dysfunctional families actually functional?  (Photo from "Little Miss Sunshine")

(Photo from “Little Miss Sunshine”)

Think about it: are dysfunctional families actually functional?

Categories: Attitude, Faith, Family, Forgiveness, Friendship, Joy, Life, News, Opinion, Quotes, Random, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 20 Comments

On being a citizen

image from photos.igougo.com

image from photos.igougo.com

What does being a citizen mean to you?  Really mean?

Does it mean you can vote?

Does it mean you belong?

What does it mean?

To me, it means a defining moment in my life.

It represents the moment I stepped away from what my family might think and into what I thought.

To me, it means the opportunity to have a voice.

To have a say.

To count.

Sure I’d had responsibilities all along (taxes). But I’d never had a voice to go with it. (the ability to vote)

Yes, as a Canadian, I had those rights already. But as a Canadian woman living in the United States with her husband and sons, I always had an underlying feeling of being in limbo. Of belonging to one place but living in another. Of feeling .. disconnected.

But not anymore.

Why?

Because I’m a new citizen; Five years ago, I stepped up with 78 others  (from 34 different countries) to take the Oath of Citizenship.  It was one of the proudest and most emotional  moments of my life.  (more about my journey here.)

The thing is … I could be a citizen for 40 years and I’ll still choose to say that  I’m a “new” citizen.  Why? Because I don’t know how else to communicate the significance of it all to me.

God Bless America, Land that I love

Stand beside her,  and guide her

Thru the night with a light from above

From the mountains..to the prairies

To the oceans..White with foam

God Bless America!

    My Home Sweet Home

Happy birthday, America …. from a grateful citizen.

A great day - the day I became a citizen!

Teary-eyed at becoming a citizen!

Related:

Categories: Faith, Family, Gratitude, Joy, Life, Share, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Oh, Dominion Day!

Just like it’s neighbor to the South, Canada has it’s own summer celebration to be proud of: Canada Day.

When I was a kid growing up in rural Saskatchewan, the day was referred to as “Dominion Day.”  Renamed “Canada Day” in early 1980’s, the end result was the same:  a patriotic day of red and white, parades, floats, cook-outs, ball tournaments, pies, visiting and beer tents.  Did I mention the pies?

Landing the first day of July, it was a day that Dad came in from cutting hay in time to wash up and head to town with the rest of us. He and other farmers enjoyed the cool air of the Hockey Rink in summer, a fan set strategically near the side door; we all enjoyed the smell of roasted chickens, burgers with onions and pie. Did I mention the pies?

Sometimes we’d get there in time to see the parade and sometimes we’d stay for the fireworks but we always fit in the visiting, the playing, the eating and the pie.  Did I mention the pies?

one end of the pie table.

one end of the pie table.

Sometimes we kids might spend the entire day at the lake.  You know those kind of days — the kind that leave your shoulders crisp and your heart full.  Those were the kind of days that were  usually far too hot for sleeping so we’d stay up and play freeze tag under the glow of the Northern Lights.

image from canada-maps.org

image from canada-maps.org

Mom tells of her and her sisters wearing matching red and white dresses and all of them taking the train to see King George VI.  I think this happened on Dominion Day, although I’m not sure.  King George IV and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (later known as the Queen Mum) had two daughters, the first being Elizabeth, our now longest reigning Monarch.  Every Royal who visits Canada seems to visit on  Canada Day. And why not? Talk about a festive backdrop!

William and Kate at Canada Day, 2011 (wikicommons.org)

William and Kate at Canada Day, 2011 (wikicommons.org)

I don’t live in Canada now and it’s been a few years since I’ve been home to take part in the festivities so today, I’ll look wistfully to the North, hum “Oh Canada”  and quite possibly find myself some pie.

Happy Canada Day!

Oh Canada!

Categories: Faith, Family, Food, Home, Patriotic, Personal, Share, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

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