Tag Archives: memories

Memories – December 11, 2017

Our memories of Christmas together go back 40 years and most are wonderful memories, a few sad, a few where a silent primal scream in the kitchen was in order.

As our daughter was born in late November, as soon as she had a voice and an idea of what a birthday was supposed to be, decorating was forbidden until the day after her birthday.  Usually the outdoor wreaths would go up the day after Thanksgiving whether it was the 23rd or the 29th, but the indoor decorations were left in the boxes in the attic or storage closet (depending on the house) until the 30th.

Early on in our relationship, a Santa collection was begun and as the family grew, so did the collection as it made a great gift from the kids or from hubby.  We lived in the Hampton Roads part of Virginia at the time and in the town of Portsmouth was a Nursery and greenhouse that in addition to selling Christmas trees, turned the entire property into a winter wonderland with animatronic displays of various themes, the Santa workshop, Candy factory, train displays, with one room of one building selling tree lights, ornaments, gifts, and hot cocoa.  Our first Santa and his Mrs. came from Coleman’s Nursery.

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Several of the more than 100 also came from there as I discovered the gnomes of Tom Clark and they became my favorites.

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At some point, a tiny village was also started and occupied the mantel when the children were small and later the corner of the hutch.

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Sometime in the late 1990’s, Coleman’s burned and they lost a lot of their displays, but vowed to rebuild.  In 2003, we heard that Coleman’s was closing and selling off their  remaining animatronics and trains and though we hadn’t been in a couple of years because it just wasn’t the same after the fire, we returned and came home with an addition to the village.  Most of the Santas and village pieces are dated by me and often have either where they were purchased or who gifted them to me.  One year at Coleman’s, we discovered that daughter, then maybe 4 was breaking out with chicken pox.  I always wondered how many children we infected that night before we realized, she never felt ill and fortunately didn’t get too many pox, but another memory.

There were Christmases when money was tight and we struggled to make sure that the kids got at least one major gift from their list.  Of course our kids were of the age to want Cabbage Patch doll or Transformers, sending us on merry chases to try to locate the gift that every other child of that age wanted that year.

One year, a small animatronic Santa with a working clock and tape player that played the Night Before Christmas Story appeared.

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He always sat in our foyer at Christmas, but has been stored away for more than a decade.  This year, not knowing if he even still worked, he was brought out for the resident grands and with a battery in the clock and a good dusting, he still works, including the cassette.

There were the sad Christmas times as I lost both of my parents in December, many years apart and the unwrapping of ornaments and Santas from them bring tears of love and sadness.

The memories, oh the memories.  I hope my children have mostly good memories of Christmas, I do.

Olio – 11/6/2017

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of things

It is truly autumn here, near 70ºf one day and 40’s to 50’s the next.  Sunshine and gloom, but more gloom than sunshine of late.

With the last of the harvest from the garden (still some chard and herbs), it was mulched down last week.  The 8 quart bucket of the last of the peppers brought in though I kept forgetting to buy ziplock freezer bags.  I avoid the use of plastic for the environment, but some things that go in the freezer don’t have another good option.  Son in law picked up a box for me yesterday and last night after dinner, daughter packaged and labelled while I chopped.  I didn’t specify how to label them and she tends to be a creative sort when not given specific direction.

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There are some interestingly labelled chickens in the freezer for the same reason.  It makes me smile each time I pull out one of the packages.

The shorter days have slowed egg production from about a dozen a day down to about 8 a day.  It amazes me that with 30 acres to prowl, that those 16 birds can foul their coop so thoroughly as quickly as they do.  This morning, I could smell ammonia again, so I opened the pop door, the coop door, and all three windows fully to hopefully dry some of the straw, but hardly got back in the house when thick gloom formed again.  A weather app check said rain was due before 10 a.m.  With the garden dormant and a winter to break down the hot fertilizer, I forked the fouled straw out of the coop and onto the dormant beds and spread new straw in the coop, closed the main door and lowered the windows to a ventilating crack.  Back in the house, only 8:30 and the rain has already begun.

I hope the rain will stop by early afternoon.  Jim and I have been working together for the past 8 weeks to improve our health.  This has included behaving better at meals and eliminating most snacks, altering the types of snacks we do eat, and walking daily.  We started with a bit over 2 miles at a pace the hare would laugh at, but yesterday we did 3 miles at 15.05 minutes/mile.  He is willing to go to the gym and walk the treadmill, I am not, plus we don’t encourage each other doing it that way.  I walk faster when I am with him and I think he does also, so I don’t like rainy days that interfere.  When it gets cold, he will go to the gym, I will layer up and continue to walk outdoors if it isn’t raining.  So far, though I don’t see much weight change, I have dropped a size in my jeans and had to purchase a couple of new pair yesterday as I was constantly pulling the old ones up.

The first Holiday Market is coming up and I am spending car time and evenings, knitting hats and fingerless mitts with small skeins of hand spun yarns.

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If the day is cool or windy, hopefully they will sell.  Each new item also goes into my online shop with the link on the side of the blog.

Lately, I have been missing my Dad.  It is approaching two years since he took sick and passed.  On Halloween, while looking for a photo of my daughter doing professional grade Darth Maul makeup on her little brother to show her son who she was doing as the Joker from Batman, I stumbled on this photo from many (maybe a dozen) years ago at a holiday meal at his home.  This is my sister and me with Dad with a silly smirk that I saw so often.  I’m not sure why my little brother wasn’t in the picture as well.

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I had much shorter and much darker hair back then.  This morning, while sitting and eating my breakfast, I was watching the birds on the feeders.  Please excuse the dirty window, I can’t go safely out on the deck to clean it.

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He always had feeders full for the birds and squirrels and most of the ones I can name when they visit are because of his lessons.

One of the things I really miss is our weekly call that always had a discussion of what we were currently reading and his recommendations of many excellent books I have read over the years because of him.  I did have a nice long conversation with my step mom yesterday though.

I think I will end with a picture of the best buds.

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They had been wrestling over a ball and she putting her whole head in his mouth, but then they they just collapsed into a puppy pile to snuggle.

 

 

 

 

A Bitter Sweet End

Sixty one years ago, when I was still a pre-adolescent, my family joined my aunt and uncle at the most beautiful place on earth for a week of vacation.  That turned into an annual tradition and as the families grew and met other families, it became a much anticipated gathering.  It is a place where many of the clan’s children and grandchildren were baptized and  weddings held.

Last year was the last year that my Dad made it to this lovely place alive, the last of the elders of that gathering.  The place is Shrine Mont.  This past week, many of us gathered in the same 8 room cottage to be together, commune in nature, and inter my Dad’s ashes in his favorite place on earth.  My stepmom, husband, and I are the oldest members of this surviving clan.  A daughter of one of the non related families came to visit for a day.  It was a gathering of my siblings, some of our children, and grandchildren, one cousin, and another daughter of yet another of the non related families.  As the elders of that group passed, the group fell away and we have not kept in touch with all of the other offspring as closely as we should, but many come back the first full week of August each year.  We all knew that last year would be the last time he saw Shrine Mont, though none of us wanted to accept that.  He even conceded to being driven down the hill to meals and back up to the cottage afterwards.  At 92, he was afraid to hike or walk the unpaved rough trails. Though his mind and wit stayed keen to the end, he needed some help playing cribbage, a game he loved and taught so many of us to play.

We visited, went through many envelopes of old photos, taking from them many memories, played cribbage and ping pong.  We had a toast to the elder fathers of the group that brought us together and who annually conducted a “scientific experiment” on which of the 7 springs had the best water as a mixer with a bottle of Jack Daniels Black label.  We held a teary memorial dedication for the bronze plaque permanently affixed to the stone wall around the memorial garden with his brother and sister-in-law and 5 of the other members of the elders clan, and we hiked to the top of the mountain to the cross on a tower to say our final goodbye.  This was a hike we had made dozens of times over the years with him.  Those that couldn’t hike it were taken up in a Gator and a Jeep.  Tears were shed, his favorite songs were sung, hugs were shared, and we said our goodbyes, leaving him in a beautiful spot he loved.

As my niece (who was unable to join us) stated in a post, we will smile and feel his presence as we cross the places where we share his memory.

Though it was miserably hot last week with hot humid days and no air conditioning, we were given permission to light the first fire in the new outdoor fireplace on the lawn, and we cooked hot dogs and roasted marshmallows as we have done for years in the cottage fireplace on cool evenings.  I’m sure he smiled down on us and asked for one cooked just right.

(I have deliberately not posted any photos from the week, as it was a personal, family time, but if you click the link above and linger on the site, you can see this wonderful spot.)

Doing What I Love the Most

An early start to a busy day, fueled by my super oatmeal with chia seed, walnuts and honey, I’m saving the eggs for the family visit and to send some home with our student family. Prep work for their visit requires a good house scrubbing as Son#1 shows signs of allergy to the pups. Beds which are left unmade to discourage stink bug hiding, must be given clean sheets, blankets and quilts. They are threatening us with accumulating snow on Wednesday or Thanksgiving, so wood must be stacked on the back stoop for the wood stove and the garage or front porch for the fireplace.
While Mountaingdad still slumbered, bread was started. I had nearly forgotten what a pleasure it is to make bread. I used to make all of our bread but we have been buying artisan loaves at the Farmers’ Market for a while now, but it is up to $9/loaf and with five of us eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner for 4 1/2 days, it seemed much more economical to make it. Two loaves and a pan of rolls are in the works.

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The kneading bowl was a Christmas gift from Mountaingdad, handmade in November 2006 of cherry wood by Glendon Royal. It was often used in the past and brought out of display for bread making today. There is too much dough in it to allow a good initial mix and rise, so another treasure was put back into use.

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This enormous hand thrown pottery bowl was thrown by Rob Podd of the Poddery. It is one of my early pieces from them. We met them at a craft show as they were just getting started and with our purchase of a small dish were given an invitation to their first annual kiln opening to be held the weekend before Thanksgiving which falls on or near my birthday. It became a tradition to go for my birthday and let me pick out a piece of pottery as my gift. There are mugs, a honey pot, plates, bowls, pitchers, and casseroles added a piece at a time over the years, all treasured, used and loved. This piece isn’t dated. Later at the request of the opening guests they began dating each piece. The scramble to get a piece warm from the kiln was fun as folks leaned and shouted to be able to have first refusal on the next piece touched. I don’t know if they still hold the openings or not, we live too far away now for the annual visit and I have all the pottery I need. We only missed two openings, the year I was over due with our daughter and hubby dared not take me 2 hours from home and the hospital and the year they didn’t have it because Karen was due momentarily with one of their children.
Such memories. The bread is rising for most of the day to make it light enough for the grandson’s tastes. Sandwiches, French toast, dinner rolls for Thanksgiving, I await drooling over the thought.
It is time to get back to mopping, scrubbing, sweeping, bed making all while enjoying the bergamot and vanilla infused water in the tiny sauce size crock pot simmering and filling the house with delightful scents until the bread can fill the house with it’s enticing aroma.

Curmudgeon

I was fortunate to have my paternal grandfather in my life until I was in my early 30’s.  When I was a teen and my great grandmother was in a geriatric ward for a couple of years, he would tell me tales of his young life.  He grew up in a railroad family and was known to “ride the rails.”  As a young man, he injured and lost one of his eyes with a pocket knife accident and had a glass eye. Though he had an interesting young life and was probably a bit of a bad boy, he was a gentle, hardworking man that owned his own business and raised two sons that both far exceeded his 8th grade education, both getting University degrees in engineering.  As an older man, he was a bit of a curmudgeon.

I was the first grandchild and always felt a special bond with him.  As a young adult, I would go to the farmers’ market then take baskets of peas or butter beans to my grandparents home and my grandmom and I would shell them for dinner and for the freezer.  More than once, Pop as all of us grandkids called him would sit on the porch with us and would pick up a handful of beans and start shelling.  My grandmom would comment that she had never seen him do that before.

I had a young kitten and once asked them if they would keep it for a week while I flew to Hawaii to met my husband on R & R.  They had no pets as Pop wasn’t fond of them, but indeed they did keep my kitten.  One of the things he disliked was having the cat rub around his legs as cats are prone to do.  It is strange that as I am aging, I don’t like a cat to rub on me and though we have two outdoor cats and two dogs, I don’t like them to lick me.

Once I asked him if he had seen a comic in the paper and though he was reading the paper, he told me he didn’t read the comics.  I couldn’t believe that anyone didn’t read them, but other than the occasional one that my husband points out to me, I no longer read them, none of the good ones are in print anymore.

When my first husband and I started having marital problems, it was obviously distressing to him.  After I divorced and met my current husband, the love of my life, my grandfather took him aside and informed Jim that if he ever hurt me, that he would have to answer to him.  As it turned out, when Pop had a heart attack at home and my grandmother called me to come to her, I was a city away at work.  Jim was close by and he hurried to their home to help my grandmom while the medics were there and until I could get there.

Recently, I have thought of him many times, when an impatient driver behind us honked his horn at Jim, I was reminded of how Pop would continue to sit, roll down his window and point over the top of his car; as I fuss at the cat for rubbing against my legs on the porch or as one of the dogs tries to “kiss” me; when Jim points out a comic in the paper that he thought I would appreciate.  Perhaps, I too am becoming a curmudgeon.