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Posts Tagged With: farm

Somebody giving back in

Growing up us girls would help as Mom and Aunt Irene packed for the field: Mason Jars of lemonade or iced tea, a pot of stew or chicken & dumplings wrapped in newspaper +a wool blanket before tucking all of it into a box in the trunk of the Oldsmobile. Nothing about this was disposable, Corelle traveled to the field, too.  Real silverware, coffee cups and cotton napkins.  As we’d head out,  our cars smelling of stew, fresh bread and pie, we’d wave to the men in the field.  As a child it was an adventure; for them, it was a lot of hard work and careful planning.

~ a typical scene from my childhood ~

Feeding and caring like this is an act of love and they did it well.

Combining under a Harvest Moon ~

Upon our arrival, the men would take their break and drive over to meet us, dust accompanying their arrival.  They’d wash their hands and splash their faces using water from the Igloo cooler then sit cross legged in the stubble as they dunked fresh buns into steaming bowls of soup, stew or chili.   Conversations ensued about what was done, what was left and what was coming next. Before long they’d stand and into their bowls would land a slab of pie or a piece of cake or maybe both.  Leaning against the trucks’ end gate they’d savor dessert and coffee before handing back the bowls, giving thanks for the meal, and heading back to work.

an Emjayandthem(C) Flapper pie

We’d pack up and, with a farm dog in tow, head back to the house to plan for the next round.

Family in the field – from L-R : Grandpa, Uncle Harley, Dad and Uncle Jarl ~ An Emjayandthem (C) Photo

Thanks for the meal, here’s a song that is real, from the kid from the city to you ~ and Cheers to the unsung heroines of the Prairie ~ the women who made the breaks wonderful.

Dusty old farmer out working your fields
Hanging down over your tractor wheels
The sun beatin’ down turns the red pain to orange
And rusty old patches of steel
There’s no farmer songs on that car radio
Just cowboys, truck drivers and pain
Well this is my way to say thanks for the meal
And I hope there’s no shortage of rain
Straw hats and old dirty hankies
Moppin’ a face like a shoe
Thanks for the meal here’s a song that is real
From a kid from the city to you
The combines gang up, take most of the bread
Things just ain’t like they used to be
Though your kids are out after the American dream
And they’re workin in big factories
Now If I come on by, when you’re out in the sun
Can I wave at you just like a friend
These days when everyone’s taking so much
There’s somebody giving back in
Straw hats and old dirty hankies
Moppin’ a face like a shoe
Thanks for the meal here’s a song that is real
From a kid from the city to you
Songwriters: Murray Mclaughlan
Have you ever had a meal in a field?  
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Categories: Faith, Family, Food, Home, Life, Men, News, Personal, Seasons, Women, Work | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Random 5 Sunday – Coyotes, silence and Carpe Diem

It’s Sunday and I’m still in a bit of a fog after being “away” on vacation.  I went home to the family farm in Saskatchewan – to visit Mom, attend a wedding, and catch up with family.  Here are my random 5 thoughts from this past 10 days:

1. Lessons. Other travelers sure were chatty.  On 3 out of 4 flights I had someone older sit next to me and once they learned what I was up to every single one spoke longingly of their departed family members.  Some had a parent or sibling remaining, others had none.  It was not lost on me, as the youngest of 5, that time marches on and there will come a day when I don’t have them anymore.  Coincidences are just His way of remaining anonymous.

2. Time.  I found myself wide awake before 5:00 a.m. most days (that’s 7:00 a.m. in MI) and outside soon there-after. Hitting my 5 mile daily walking goal was a breeze. Most days I walked 6 miles before 9:30!  That time gave me the opportunity to visit with my brother & sister-in-law, chill with the farm dog & kitties, and drink in the intoxicating fragrance of freshly cut hay.  Ahhh.

Stevie the dog and the road to home.  An Emjayandthem (C) photo

Stevie the dog and the road to home. An Emjayandthem (C) photo

3.  Silence.  I hadn’t realized it until I was there but opportunities for meandering conversations with Mom don’t happen as frequently as they used to.  She doesn’t hear as well now and it frustrates her to miss out on things.  And as busy and restless as I tend to be, it was challenging to sit in the stillness with her.  But I’m glad I did because opportunities still came.   Case in point:  The day we left for the wedding city, a 2+ hour drive, I could feel her anxiety and sensed she might pull the pin on our plans.  It took several hours for me to get everything loaded up and once I had her buckled in I asked, “You ready, Thelma?”  Her response? “Let’s do it, Louise!” That – and a fist bump from my 85-year-old Mom – and we were off.   Traversing roads she hadn’t traveled for years I laughed when she chatted and commented the whole way there.  She told me, more than once, that she never could have gone without my help and thanked me time and again for making it so much fun. Priceless!

Me, Mom and my Sissy, Mother of the Bride.  An Emjayandthem(C) photo

Me, Mom and my Sissy, Mother of the Bride. An Emjayandthem(C) photo

4.  Milestones.  We had fun at the wedding but, as we suspected might happen, the excitement and schedule left her a bit weary.  Plans to go out for a birthday supper were changed to a gathering at home instead.  She got into her comfy chair, surrounded by kids and grands, and smiled all afternoon. We enjoyed take-out Chinese food and my sister’s delicious home-made chocolate cake with Opal’s Caramel Frosting .    Between the pictures taken and the smiles shared we all felt a pinch wondering how many more times we’d get moments like this. Not one to dwell on such seriousness, she polished off her Caesar (aka Bloody Mary) and asked that we move outside — it was too hot in the house and she wanted to visit where it was cooler.  In the dusk of twilight, we listened to the yips and yelps of nearby coyotes and Mom had her own “Carpe Diem” moment right there.

Mom's 85th 2015

Mom’s comment: “I’m glad there are 2 big candles instead of 85 small ones!!” An Emjayandthem (C) photo.

5. Appreciation.  Being away from Hubbs made me appreciate him even more. How I missed our daily conversations and comments and humor.  How I missed being able to chat with my boys and get regular updates on their lives. I looked around my childhood bedroom and laughed to myself that the same types of things “saved” there are “saved” in my MI home.  I am my mother’s daughter in a very big way! My first morning back in MI youngest boy commented that he’d always known I did a lot (around here) but he didn’t know how much until he had to do it.  “All I did was clean and tidy up and take care of things and water your plants and look after the pool and … wow you do a lot!”  So as much as I love going away, hey, it’s good to be back home again.

 

*I’ve missed all my blogging friends and am way behind on reading your posts. I’ll catch up as soon as I can – in the meantime – how’s your week been?

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Beauty, Faith, Family, Fun, Growth, Home, Life, Mom, music, Personal, Relationships, Seasons, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

The desire to be whole again

Next week I’m stepping away from all that is my world and returning to my childhood home: the farm I grew up on in rural Saskatchewan, Canada. The farm-house where I lived from birth till 19.  The yard where I played and coulees where all our adventures were carried out.  Mom’s still there, my brother and his wife are just across the way and sissy is up the hill.  Cows, farm dogs, wind, a wide open sky and conversations that meander in and out and go on forever.

an Aerial view of the family farm .. an Emjayandthem(C) photo

an aerial view of the family farm .. House and Homestead top left, barns and corrals lower right. An Emjayandthem(C) photo

A family wedding is the cause for celebration and I’ll be Mom’s date!   She with her Oxygen and a twinkle in her eye.  I teased her that we’ll “Thelma & Louise-it,” without the driving off the cliff part.  She snorted.  But when I told her that if we see Brad Pitt hitch-hiking I’m pulling over, she laughed out loud.  God, I love her.

themaand louise

Up to no good. Google.images.com

To say things there are familiar would be an understatement. The truth is, time has a way of standing still in your childhood home. And it’s comforting to know that some things still remain.

The kitchen radio, on from sun up to sundown, with farm reports and cattle prices, corny jokes and auction announcements.

The bedspread from the Sears catalogue, the same one that’s been on my bed since I was in college.  Cheery and clean, waiting for me.

Mixing bowls nestled where they’ve always been, tin foil in the 2nd drawer, and a toaster you have to jiggle the cord for.  A big can of coffee sits on the floor near the fridge, just under that east window.  Ivory soap in the dish by the sink, the same one where Dad stood as he cleaned up at night.  I swear I can still see him standing there sometimes.

... Dad's

… Dad’s “shop” .. where I still expect to hear him whistling … An Emjayandthem (C) photo

Books in bookshelves, pictures on walls, throw pillows arranged just so.

And at night?

Quiet.  Dark.  No streetlights, no cars rushing by, nothing.  Just quiet.

Big deep skies with stars that go on forever and, if I’m lucky, the Northern lights will visit me, too.

image from canada-maps.org

image from canada-maps.org

In the morning, I’ll be up with the birds and outside as daylight arrives.  I’ll visit the cows and play with the kitties, feel the wind blowing, and the farm dog will tag along with me.  My soul will sing and my smiles will not be contained.

Laddy and Stevie... family farm; an Emjayandthem photo (C)

Laddy and Stevie… family farm; an Emjayandthem photo (C)

I know things have changed, she’s had some setbacks, but her spirit is as strong as ever. She’s loyal as ever to her Riders football team, debates the news, and is a voracious reader. Talking about my visit and our plans, she said with such longing,  “It’s going to go by so fast.”

me & mom MD 2014

Me & Mom, Mothers Day 2014. An Emjayandthem (C) photo

I know.

I know.

That’s why I already feel the pinch because to stop everything and spend eight days together, every day, every meal, every night, and roll in those moments when it’s just the two of us, let me tell you what: I love it.  I love that we get to laugh and talk and tell stories and secrets and be girlfriends for a while.  Yes I’ll get out of her hair and take a walk and stretch my legs and when I come back in there she’ll be .. waiting for me.  Bright eyed. Ready to pick up right where we left off.

And I’ll thank God for the opportunity to love the life I have but still be so very lucky that I can touch wood, kiss her face and feel whole again.

“The desire to go home that is a desire to be whole, to know where you are, to be the point of intersection of all the lines drawn through all the stars, to be the constellation-maker and the center of the world, that center called love. To awaken from sleep, to rest from awakening, to tame the animal, to let the soul go wild, to shelter in darkness and blaze with light, to cease to speak and be perfectly understood.”  ― Rebecca Solnit

 

Can you go back to your childhood home?  What’s the experience like for you?  Have you ever spent an entire week just hanging out with one of your parents? If not, I recommend it ~ you might be amazed what you’ll learn!

related posts:

Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Faith, Family, Friendship, Fun, Gratitude, Growth, Home, Joy, Life, Opinion, Personal, Quotes, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Memory lane across the span of three cupboards

My trip to the farm has come & gone.

Out of one world, into another, and back again.  Just like that.

Now I’m fighting a nasty cough, likely brought on by chats, the dry climate and a wind that never stops. Yep, “like trying to stuff 12 pounds of potatoes into a two-pound sack” we absolutely did just that.

So now I am here again, bridging my two worlds, and thinking of an epiphany  experienced in my childhood home: this was the first of all of my trips back “home” that “home” wasn’t there to be found … turns out, home is here, where I’m at now.

It was odd … sleeping in my old room, using the same coffee cup I’d favored as a teen, sitting in Dad’s chair .. and not feeling that familiar sense of home anymore.  It took me a while to see the obvious: I’ve grown up and moved on and I don’t really fit in there anymore.

I’ve lived more years away than I did there.

Once I got past that, I could lean into the visit.  And lean into it we did.   We spent most of our time just being together. Within touching distance.

Hugs good-night and good morning hellos.

Passing the jam.

Washing my hair in the kitchen sink, like I’d done as a girl.

Fixing the coffee and instinctively finding the grounds where they’d been forever (beside the fridge, on the floor, in a large tin can).

We finished stories and told new ones.

We stayed up late.

We asked “whatever happened to so & so?” and we were there for the answers.

We settled into a routine and I became part of the landscape where Mom’s lived and loved for 62+ years.  The home I hope she can stay in for many more.

It’s not my home anymore and that’s O.K.

But it did take time to be able to see it.

It took even more to be able to admit it.

And oh, before I forget, I made a pie!

It was a bright sunny morning, the country radio station was blaring and I took over her kitchen to whip up a pie … and, the funny thing is,  I enjoyed the making as much as I did the tasting … look at all that meringue – yum!

That  experience of standing at her counter tops – listening to familiar radio chatter once more – using Mom’s “harvest gold” measuring cups and battered mixing bowls – all of it … made me smile.  The trip down memory lane happened across the span of three cupboards.

Flapper pie; an Emjayandthem (C) photo

Flapper pie; an Emjayandthem (C) photo

It also took this trip back to my roots for me to finally understand why I’ve never been a fan of surprises or surprise parties.

You see, part of the fun for me is the anticipation. Don’t deny me that, please.

Trips are like that, too.

Trips and pie.

Sometimes the process can be as enjoyable as the end result.

It was soon gone.

The Flapper pie was soon gone.

# # #

When was the last time you had an epiphany?

What did you learn?

# # #

My sister-in-law’s Mom’s Flapper pie recipe:

(while talking about baking pie, my SIL Colleen quietly mentioned her Mom had been quite a good baker in her day and had a great Flapper Pie recipe and might I like to have it? Of course I would! So here it is.  Thanks Colleen!)

Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup margarine
  • Melt margarine, pour into crumbs and stir in sugar.  Press into large pie pan and up including sides.

Filling:

  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Stir in microwave-safe pourable bowl; Microwave on high until thick.  About 2 min, then stir, then another 1-2 min, depending on strength of microwave.  Watch closely, must be thick but pourable.  Pour into shell.

Topping:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Whip with an electric hand mixer or whisk until frothy & forms peaks (to test, turn off mixer and lift beaters away from mixture. If a peak remains, you’re set. If not, keep going.  It took me about 5 min with the hand mixer set to high to get the peaks formed).
  • Spread over filling and bake in 375 F oven until golden brown, about 8-10 min.

Allow to cool at room temperature then cover with plastic wrap and keep in fridge – best served cold with some strong “Farmer’s Coffee!”

 

 

 

 

Categories: Faith, Family, Fun, Growth, Home, Joy, Life, Life Lessons, Love, Mom, Personal, Thoughts, Traditions, Women | Tags: , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Finding faith in the straw

originally published by Emjayandthem on December 23, 2010.

I was a college student, home for Christmas break.  Mid-terms over.  Days off and did it ever feel good to be home, home on the family farm where everything was cozy, comfortable and familiar.

Mom had the house glimmering, the fridge and freezer stuffed with baking, cheese ball, lefse, and assorted delights, and, as the youngest, it was just going to be the 3 of us until the rest of crew arrived for supper Christmas day.

It was Christmas Eve and Mom and I spent the better part the day cooking and singing along to Bing Crosby on CJWW.  We noticed the wind start to pick up, but, we weren’t alarmed or surprised, after all this was a prairie winter’s day.  Cold, always windy and a storm at a moment’s notice. No newsflash there.

When 7:00 rolled around and Dad still hadn’t come in from doing chores, Mom dispatched me to find him.

image from worldofstock.com

image from worldofstock.com

Great, I thought, with the insolent huff that an 18-year-old girl has perfected. I put on my snowmobile boots, parka, toque, mittens and scarf and, accompanied by the family pooch, headed out towards the barnyard.

Stepping out into that bitter air I nearly lost my breath.  Soon I realized it was much worse then I’d realized.  A pinch of dread gripped my stomach.  Boots, our yellow Lab, stayed close, stopping often and looking back as if to say, “you coming?”  It seemed to take forever to reach the barnyard, a distance of oh, 8 car lengths.  A distance I’d walked many times, nearly every day of my life.

Bunching my scarf up against my face and thrusting my shoulders forward, we trudged  through the snow.  I could make out a light in the distance and I assumed Dad was in one of the cow barns.

my Dad, Lloyd

my Dad, Lloyd

As we got closer, I heard a strange noise. The wind was whipping at me, making biting attempts at my face, while the dog pressed his flanks to me as if to press me forward.

As we neared the barn entrance, I heard that sound again.

A high-pitched whirring.

What the ?

Battling the winds, I braced my shoulder against the ancient door and gave it a shove with everything I had. It moved. Barely. But enough that me and the dog could squeeze through.

I stepped into the warmth of the barn to find Dad there, kneeling in the straw.  Hearing that weird whirring sound again, I finally figured out what it was: a hair dryer.  A cow stood just behind him, watching as he calmly defrosted the ears of a calf who’d been born head first into the snow.  She licked her baby as he cooed comforting words, gently blowing warm air all over the shivering tyke.  The light of the barn shone down on us and Dad gave me that shy grin I knew so well.

“Well if you’re gonna stand there you might as well be useful.” And, with that, he handed me some towels.  I moved a little too quickly and the new mother stepped forward, unsure of my intentions. Dad put his hand up to steady her.. and me.. and with a “shhh … it’s OK now, we’re just here to help.”  I waited …then slowly moved into place, joining him in the straw.

A few moments passed before he stopped and said softly, “You know it was a stable like this where the little Christ child was born. There was no room in the inn and guess where they had to make their home? Out in the barn with the cows and other animals. And no one ever talks about them, how they provided the heat and how they helped make sure He wasn’t cold.”

My Dad.  The man who tended to the animals and who kept us all safe and cozy.  The man who worked the farm every day of his life;  the man who tidied up and went to church to appease my mother but really .. . he already knew God.

He found Him where he was.

No Christmas Eve has ever impacted me like that one did.

* * *

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16

Categories: Animals, Faith, Life, Relationships, Seasons, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

And a slow healing began

Something I love about traveling is meandering around in a new environment.  Going home to the family farm in Saskatchewan is no different. No, it’s not new, but it’s new to my soul in a way that says, “C’mere kid-in-the-city  … breathe this, relax a minute and for goodness sakes, touch home base already.”

Because I live in the Eastern Time zone, my bio-clock is hours ahead of the prairies which, by the way, don’t change their clocks for anyone.  There’s no particular reason that I know of, just didn’t see the need to I suppose.

But, because of that, I found myself up hours earlier than Mom. Fine with me; I’d start the coffee and quietly slip outside into that sweet morning air.

What a gentle and lovely way to wake.

Mom’s flowers

I’d walk around and listen for the songs of the songbirds, embrace the wind and the sounds of my shoes crunching on the gravel below. And then I’d stop and hear not a thing more.  Ahh.

Old & new and bright red, too!

I’d stop by the old barn and make a few new friends.

too scared… not coming closer

this one was braver than most.

2 – count ’em – 2 babies to feed

I’d meander on over to Dad’s workshop and stand for a moment, feeling like he could walk in humming a tune at any time now.

… right where he left things

I’d marvel at the original family homestead and wonder about how cold those Saskatchewan winters must have been in this house.

imagine wintering in this?

Later, after supper was done and I had Mom tucked into her favorite chair, sometimes, sometimes I’d slip out once more and find myself in the golden hour. (And yes, I thought of you, Dianna ),

.. we used to pretend-drive in this

and play “Cops & Indians” out here .. on horseback ..

and then, then I’d make my way back to the farmyard, winding East, and notice how a golden sun happened to bathe a golden horse.

.. heavenly

Quickly, the sky would change and a shiver would sneak up my arms.  I’d take one last peek West and say “so long” to the sun.

one of God’s many paintings

And the next day, I’d get up and do it all over again.

“Then I discovered the prairie, and a slow healing began.” – Stephen R. Jones, The Last Prairie

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Home, Joy, Life, Personal, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 50 Comments

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