Category Archives: art

Summer Time

Guilty as I might have been back in the day of raising my own son as a single mother, of providing special summer activities for him to keep him from getting bored, I feel the need to reminisce on my own childhood summers.

For the sake of transparency, I wanted to provide things for my son that I didn’t have so he had soccer, baseball, swimming lessons, drama camp…and oh yeah..I rented a cottage for a week, and I took him up north to visit my cousin’s cottage and he had sleepovers with his cousins and play dates with friends…(oh dear, I did  too much too didn’t I?…but I had my reasons….).

Today parents, the same generation of my mentioned son, are perhaps overdoing it a bit.

I’ve been observing carefully.

It isn’t just the parents at fault in this area. Some grandparents seem to be going above the call of duty as well.  Also, for the sake of further transparency ,I am not a grandmother yet except for the distinction of being a grandma to a six year old bulldog (or is she seven years old?…I’m not keeping track very well aren’t I?)

Back to me.

I was a farm kid so my summers were mostly farm based.  I was invited to my brother’s rented cottage when he had one, I stayed once with my aunt and cousin in Toronto for a couple of weeks and I often hung out in my early and formative years with my grandpa at his place when he retired from the farm.

Summer holidays were spent quietly working in the garden, playing with my dogs, puttering around, going to church regularly and spending long periods of time on my own, just doing ordinary farm things.

As a very little girl I recall the excitement of my cousin’s summer wedding being held at my brother and sister -in law’s farmhouse as it was a special and beautiful place for such a special country event. I even sang at the wedding and received a tiny fancy golden teacup that is presently displayed, after all these years, proudly on my fireplace mantel.

When I was about ten years old my grandpa passed away at our place in the summer and we had a large turnout of family at the farm for the garden funeral reception. This event both saddened and frustrated me as I was very angry about losing my very good old friend. I didn’t understand the pain.

At the moment I can’t think of anything else done for my sole entertainment  during the summer months except for family trips that my dear sweet Dad and Mom took me on when they had the chance to do so.

These trips were to the States for visiting with my brother away at school and then working there, a trip out east once to see another aunt and uncle and a family trip to Montreal for Expo 1967 .

My sister’s wedding was a fun summer memory but mostly planned around the farm lifestyle. The birth of my little niece was a pretty exciting summer event too. Playing with and supervising my baby brother as well as my nephews and niece during summer breaks were wonderful times and treasured moments of my formative childhood.

Finally a summer family trip out west in 1969 that came to a crashing and tragic end upon our return when we were given the saddest news imaginable that my oldest brother and a friend had passed away in an accident . We didn’t know until we walked in the door. This was before cell phones  and internet.

At this point, life changed completely for us but we carried on, somehow.

Much of this time is so painful I have blocked it out. Things I should remember like popular music or other events I have little recall of except in vague terms.  I was included, after the tragedy in another trip to California to visit my  brother and sister in law  and other family. A few years later, when I was almost eighteen my parents let me go on a special school sponsored trip to Spain, again I suspect as a way to help me overcome some of my grieving.

My parents didn’t go on any  trips though, not anymore.

So when I see today’s parents and grandparents overdoing things and trying to entertain the kids too much I just want to say that I understand why you think you need to do all these elaborate and expensive things but maybe reflect back on a simpler time.

Spend time talking to your children, tell them your own stories about your childhood, bring good books into the home, visit the library together, visit the older folks in the family and community, sit under a shady tree together, work in the garden, play with the pets together, make a picnic and go to a local park , teach them some important skills such as swimming, cooking,photography or managing responsibilities. Sing together, tell jokes, play games, walk in the woods, share your faith and beliefs, hug your children, love them joyfully and just be there for as long as you can be.

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under art, books, cooking, family relationships, food, friends, gardening, grief, health and wellness, history, inspiration, local traditions, motivation, pets, retirement, routines, social issues, storytelling, teaching, Uncategorized, weather, writing

What Goes Around Comes Around

The idea of a labyrinth was discussed a few weeks ago at my church during an informal service in the Sunday School room. We had coffee, activities, games and a discussion, Afterwards, we had lunch.  There was a Biblical reference to being guided to understanding in the worship part of the gathering.

One of my soulful neighbours often walks a labyrinth on her outings to the university and another ambitious one is hoping to create one in her garden. I have instead experienced a form of labryinth on my country drives, searching for inspiration and motivation for my writing.

I noticed the sameness of my path and that the circuit  chosen was repetitive. Often it seemed I ended up where I began.

As a writer I am a gardener, going here and there, digging at things, ignoring some monumental tasks, pulling a few weeds along the way and scattering some seeds of ideas and hoping for the best. With the seasons, my writing changes and I don’t quite know what will root and grow and what will dry up and wither away. Usually, I end up wondering ,what on earth do I want to say?

Slightly changing the path and broadening the scope of my travels still well within local communities I have encountered new people and struck up conversations about a range of things.  Connections with past experiences and familiar names and places came up. Sometimes new notions and sensations stirred the day and shook things enough that I felt I could write freely about my observations.

Landscapes of small rural villages have opened up into more complex backstreets and hideaway spots. Large swooping connections of country roads revealed some flat farmland giving way to rolling hills and valleys. Houses of all descriptions and rural business endeavours have suggested the thousands of stories of hopes and dreams available to a perceptive writer. However, bulldozers and construction crews were sometimes found inconveniently ripping up sidewalks and main streets discouraging my path in going any further off the beaten path. Dark storm clouds overhead reinforced the merit of turning around and navigating along familiar roads.  The labyrinth had enlarged itself but directed me home once more, back to safety.

Signage along the way home sought to encourage the wayward traveller to take advantage of what was offered. Two handmade signs, along the same village roadway were of special note. One sign outside a rural antique store said” We Have It All” and just around the bend another sign read “Jesus Lives! Roosters and Bunnies”. Both signs made me smile. I didn’t stop at either place although I did slow down and consider their messages. They are probably of no use to me whatsoever, but I will plant these ideas somewhere, wait and see.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under allegories and parodies, art, books, family relationships, friends, gardening, health and wellness, history, humour, inspiration, motivation, retirement, routines, social issues, storytelling, teaching, Uncategorized, weather, writing

A Charming Path and Smiling Eyes

Last night I was at a historical night about my rural community. Today I sought out one of the still existing landmarks from the past that I learned about at that meeting.

In Carlisle, just about hidden from the main road outside Ailsa Craig, Ontario I found the small red brick Victoria Inn. How I wish I could own such a place! It is quaint, historic , on a lovely grassy lot and beside a babbling brook.

I can imagine carefully restoring it and pretending to be one of the Bronte sisters or something along that line. Such a cute little village off the beaten track! I struck up a conversation about the interesting landmark with a local fellow getting his mail and we chatted about a variety of things. It turns out I taught his young son back in the day! This man had moved his family out of the city and found this special charming place on a whim. Lucky him!

Just down the road, in Ailsa Craig I was touring around and was impressed with the beautiful grand homes as well as the lovely cottage like places along the side streets. A simply lovely old chapel caught my eye.  A heritage Inn, now a home (I assume), with signage declaring it to be The Falstaff Inn, also captured my attention. So lovely to find these unique places ! Driving around a bit more I finally found the enchanting looking pottery studio I’d heard about but will return to as it wasn’t open today.

Just  a skip or two away from there I noticed a sign pointing the way to The Ailsa Craig Arts Centre. Well, naturally I stopped the car and went in to see what I could find in there.This is what I do.

I was greeted by a volunteer, Belle, and spent about an hour enjoying myself immensely learning about the activities going on in the modern and fresh space. Quilting, painting, photography, writing and other artistic endeavours were discussed. I was shown a wonderful sample of these projects, crafts and art forms.

One on the go project, Fidgety Aprons, I found to be so creative and wanted to hear the story of their construction. These aprons are designed for people in memory care at nursing homes. Sensory items are attached to a variety of colourful materials and provide comfort to anxiety ridden hands. This item is done by volunteers and donated with genuine respect and kindness.

As I was on the point of leaving I was shown another gorgeous  quilt stored in a quiet reading area and was told some tidbits about it’s construction.  It is a story  worth it’s own post, so I will save writing it for later. All I will say about it now is that it is about bears and the legacy of someone with mischievous tendencies.

Saying my goodbye at the door I was pleased to meet another friendly member of the art centre arriving. She introduced me to the rather impressive gentleman accompanying her as a viking! This viking in fact looked the part and yet had impeccable manners and smiling Irish eyes. He will be involved with the Quilts of Iceland Festival soon to be held this May in Ailsa Craig and take part in some Viking reenactments.This little village has international quilt art contacts and takes it all in stride!

As it turns out I was also informed that the potter I’ve been trying to track down was also just upstairs at the Arts Centre. She was involved in a presentation about Haiti and had made a Haitian soup for the participants. What an impressive and creative hub of activity I had found myself in by just going off the usual beaten path.

I left with some information about their writing group, a local author and with a smile on my face.I had lucked into such a welcoming and interesting group of arts loving country folks. It felt like finding more of one’s tribe.

On main street in Ailsa Craig I ventured into The Crown and Turtle Pub (turtles are an old Ailsa Craig symbol and another story  to tell another time) for lunch. I enjoyed  a tasty and hot soup and sandwich special as I made some notes on my day.

The pub is a cosy Irish Pub with a deep burnished glow decor. There is a corner snug named for some renowned patron.  A wooden bar with all the glow of a mirror, glassware and authentic pub hardware sets the scene and an appetizing menu for meals is available. My server was welcoming and my meal was ready quickly. An outdoor area is also part of the pub I was told by my friendly server and most likely fills up on nice summer days and evenings.

I thought it would be a good place to visit again with my son if I can convince him to come along on one of my off the beaten path adventures. It must be fun to be a regular there and enjoy the pub scene with the locals. I noticed the Irish Viking fellow there as well so that tells you something.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under art, family relationships, food, friends, health and wellness, history, inspiration, motivation, retirement, routines, social issues, storytelling, teaching, Uncategorized, weather, writing