Tag Archives: family ties

Summer Supper on Scotchmere Drive

Perhaps the best part of my special Saturday evening was not knowing I was going to the wonderful country church supper and suddenly finding myself there. Invited along by my sister-in-law and her friends I was included at the last minute. Unfortunately another,who held the ticket for the annual event had taken ill. Fortunately for me I was the one generously called as a stand in. With the most perfect late summer weather, a beautiful family farm setting, no mosquitoes, excellent food, great music and friendly company it was an unexpected treat.

The event at the McGugan Farm was a Pork and Corn Roast sponsored by North Caradoc St. Andrews Presbyterian Church. The setting (Strathroy, Ontario) was like something from a picture on a Canadian Country Calendar. Beautiful countryside, country road, huge shady trees, towering cornfields, lovely well kept heritage family farm, wide expanse of lush green lawn and a big drive shed set up for a feast. An estimated gathering of almost three hundred people gathered together to enjoy this home-style supper.  Very good music filled the air. It was the right kind of music, the kind that told a story and made you think back. One or two of the songs really got to me and that is why I think I was inspired to write this post on my blog. However, it was more likely the combination of all the elements I’ve mentioned that just seemed to be special and when I am moved this way, I write.

While thoroughly enjoying the tasty food, people watching, listening to music I constantly had the feeling that this was indeed something to share on my blog. After all, someone had shared with me so I could be there. Just being in the moment. Pies and butter tarts, homemade, ice cream on the side stretched out on a long table. Little kids, adorable, with families gathered. A hay wagon, tempting platform for the little ones to climb on. Lawn chairs in the shade. Tables set up in the drive shed. Food in bowls, platters, some nestled in icy buckets. Hot food, baked potatoes, beans, pork roast and corn on the cob and cold chilled salads.

Help yourself style with many helping their elders and their youngsters. The farm host, mingling and carrying a basket of raffle tickets, listening to my request to write about the supper. Buttertarts, like the wonderful buttertarts I shared with some folks there may have spurred me on as well. A wonderful country church supper all around and it was just what I needed. (Oh, and the peach pie… I can’t forget the peach pie. Yes, I had both.)

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Underground Formation

Third time starting this post. A most efficient way of prioritizing what I want to write about before the blog glitches up on me again and vanishes into thin air.My recent Young Writer’s Craft evening for our local library went well. Six children attended with ages ranging between five years of age to eleven years of age. Three sets of siblings consisting of four girls and two boys. Two parents, one interested and supportive relative(mine), the librarian and myself spent the evening with these kids. We played some sensory games, memory games,discussed some shared interests, evaluated favourite kinds of books, made some word banks, wrote some summer graffiti on a poster… intentionally,…. created some graphic illustrations and labelled them, created a group story, dramatized some lines from the story using different genre styles, shared a great book and some storytelling and examined some memories in a basket. There were cupcakes also. Some takeaways like little journals, stickers and pencils were the final touch. Every child, every parent and the librarian thanked me for my efforts. My relative invited me over for coffee and snacks. The Word Garden, although very tiny seems to have some strong sporadic growth and is rooted nicely and may produce a harvest yet.

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Yard Work, Digging Mostly

Keeping me on my toes, the gathering of two family members, a neighbour, my librarian and  her daughters, I went ahead with my night to meet and encourage other community writers.

The sensory games and  creativity ideas were tried. Some poetry, mine and another’s ( a professional) published piece were read. A story about the influences of the neighbour attending the event, upon my writing, was pulled for my stockpile and read in it’s entirety. We ate fruit and dessert squares. Another evening, led by me, encouraging young writers was planned for the summer.

In the meantime, stories and threads of ideas were revealing themselves, The group dynamics were interesting. From the mixture of a very small gathering came ideas of reading with very young children, the trauma of  caring for elderly pets,decluttering household contents and wondering about the unforeseen future, knitting, crochet, tatting, hooked rug making, church yard sales, baking, cooking, reading cookbooks, dealing with children, throwing away blackened pots of burnt spaghetti, recalling the chores of working with father in the barn milking the cows and going to the mill and cleaning the house, despising those awful hooked rugs so heavy to drag from the upstairs bedrooms all the way downstairs to air them and clean them while sister baked, studying French and setting up a writing blog …. one that the mom , the librarian, can’t read because it will be all about her according to one of the young daughters.

At the conclusion of the evening another neighbour arrived. A young mother returning her library books, noticing us finishing up the brownies and the fruit tray, realizing we were a bit over the closing hour at the library. Familiar to me, a neighbour, we often say hello. I knew she was a fellow teaching colleague on maternity leave and an artist. Now I know she writes a blog. From just skimming through some of her blog posts I’ve also discovered that her husband is a poet.

All in all, a successful gathering . A very small community gathering of supportive people just planting the seed and nudging together the warming circle of stories, ideas and creativity.Tending a word garden takes effort and patience and with a sprinkle or two of interest it might even take root.

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Pretty Much It

Neck high in the snow drifts is just one problem for a short and stocky bulldog. Over the head scary snowdrifts bank the roadway but smell very nice due to high squirrel traffic. The laneway is short and filled with two cars but it has a build up of ice that slows grandma down when she agrees to a outdoors session. At the end of the lane is a nice little brown collie and shepherd mix dog that has the privilege of sometimes running around loose to play and provides a fun break from the day to day short walks. The rest of the day is a bowl in the morning and one at night, Sleep periods in the sun on the old brown chair, play with the treat kong for a few minutes, brief business trips out the door, sleep periods on the warm floor intermixed with sleep periods on the soft white blanket on the couch and sleep periods on the wooly blue blanket on the best recliner. Spurts of sudden activity randomly engage the little bulldog girl when the ninja cat appears from behind the bedroom door. Grandma is close by, cooking things, doing laundry, tapping on the keyboard of her computer at all hours or sitting, resting, reading and drinking tea.Life in the country is pretty much as expected.

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Catching Up With Appearances

The last couple of days I’ve been getting ready for visitors. Preparations involve cleaning, tidying up, decluttering ,shopping and watching the weather forecasts. The cleanup should have been ongoing like a routine already established but it is easy to overlook cleaning when I’m mostly reading during the day and watching international cooking programs well into the night.

Suddenly, with the realization that things need doing and how I have interspersed my reading through the day and food show watching during the evening with laundry, scrubbing the shower with a toothbrush, polishing up the cutlery, hiding old pots and pans, considering buying new pots and pans, buying nice fresh stuff to eat rather than making do with whatever surfaced, cleaning out the refrigerator, attempting to de-ice the sidewalk, buying extreme de-ice melt salt, giving up on improving the miserable chunky ice on the sidewalk and realizing that although things are significantly cleaner, better organized and presentable I could go on like this for several days before reaching the desired level of whatever I hope to achieve.

Considering that the weather is turning slightly foul and my visitors are travelling a far distance it is chancy whether or not that they will arrive tomorrow or postpone until next week. Either way, until they get here I can continue to move piles of neglected tasks around, scrub more corners with a toothbrush moderately improving my environment while finishing up reading the current three novels I’m engrossed in and binge watching foodie programs.

If this pace is maintained I will soon be worthy of starring one of those trendy home makeover programs that shame the  messy culprit with the before scenario and then praise the final results. Not only that, but another showcased skill  I could aspire to also would be a so called expert on cooking in New Zealand, Iceland, England,France, Singapore,  and diners and dives in the States, lifestyle and cooking tips from Toronto, Canada and  a soon to be informed individual on African cuisine. Not only that but I could discuss the merits of older style books by Thomas Hardy,Margery Sharpe, Willa Cather and Laurie Lee, just to name a few. I think the program would have an appeal, especially  among those of us truly glad to have visitors, only once in awhile.

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Independent Spirit

Late November and heavy

sky just holding

off the rain so that the barn swallow can fly

carrying

so gently on its back

a tiny fairy girl I once knew

as a little one

running along with her sisters on a country road and in the school house lane

orchards on one side, towering evergreens sweeping us kindly with low branches as we played and imagined our stories over and over again using our own words and changing very little when they were told again because of the simple beautiful comfort of knowing each other

today the rain just held

back its tears long enough

for the songs

to make us smile once more and make some feel

the reaching back

to gathering together today for the sake of family, friends and art

a silver butterfly as a spirit

today to connect

with the symbolic appreciation of her monarch of familiar earthy colours

to take the time

to look for the butterflies and let the milkweed grow enough

at the side of the road and in the rough garden patch

all the while thinking that she was right

in wishing and hoping and expecting

that we need to take better care of each other

barn swallows and butterflies and giving each other the chance

peace, our only chance

forever this is home

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All Seasons Meaning

Little child and I together

for the afternoon

with an age difference of about sixty years and we got along just fine

with the bag of folktales

artfully rendered books about nature, poetry, faith, mystery and fun

With the wind howling and tearing

down

the fence and vines outside and the sky

dark with power

Together

we sat together

a two year old and another much older and met

together

in the place of books

A friendly and quiet place

with gentle words and warm comfort

finding things

together

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Thankyou, Ruth!

Inspiration can come along in many ways and today it was in the country library. It was a combination of several things such as the neat and orderly setting, the book lined walls and the familiar folk gathered there . The author we all celebrated there today is a gentle speaking, delightful senior that held our interest and also charmed our hearts with her book launch.

This writer has been writing a variety of articles and material for many years. She is published and has been nominated for awards. Today, she read from her most recent book which just happens to be historical fiction. It is rich with material from her own heritage as well as her knowledge of farming in the pioneer days.

The energy in the library, as she lead us through the chosen excerpt from her book was the kind of sensation you feel when something meaningful happens on a very good day and all seems for the moment peaceful, calm and positive. Being part of the group there today and enjoying the overall experience I came to the realization that she had given me a boost as a writer but I think there were connections  with everyone gathered there.

Respectful admiration, community and family support, good humour, down to earth conversation and practical discussion were the artistic vibrations resonating in the small but packed to the gills rural library today. Chairs had to be brought in from the nearby hall to accommodate the crowd, all of her books were purchased, signed and her own son gave up his own copy to a delighted fan and it was all topped off with a delicious cake ( made by her daughter, no doubt) and glasses of cider. We were all there to celebrate the love of writing that this author shared with us.

That is what I felt in the room and I can best describe it as inspiration. A young person in attendance today shared her appreciation of this author with me and it was glowing, enthusiastic and appreciative. Now, that’s energy!

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Leftovers Again

Extension cords in a bundle are heaped on the mudroom bench and three garden rakes lean against the wall in the television room. A truck load of new lumber wrapped in places with duct tape and hammered with a few nails landed in my back yard and helpful neighbours have carried it away to repair their own projects. Other things such as a fat suit and a play sword have just been returned to a dance group. A few useful things such as a small carpet, flashlights and a one dollar charity shop lamp ended up in my son’s apartment. Some things were trashed and some were donated. A few boxes of things are still in the car. A rehearsal hall fan, purchased by me is stored away,somewhere. These things, related by their usefulness in a recent play directed by my son seem almost charged still with some kind of weird energy, like the props and costumes in my years and years and years old dramatic play collection, now totally dispersed. My long acquired collection was for school kids. This recent collection was for theatre.

Something else has arrived here waiting to be dealt with when the energy builds to face it. A form of anti-climatic mood lingers around the place like a distant relative, familiar, welcome enough but a bit tiring after an over extended stay. Time for it to go, run along, clean up after itself,” toodle-loo” and close the door. Routine needs to be enforced and motivation in the form of new projects, hard work and completed tasks should alter the clingy mood sighing to itself in the little piles of stuff in the mudroom and also in the back of the car.

Tomorrow is a new day. Up at sunrise. Clear the decks. Green tea (gag/trying to be healthy), journals, coffee ( finally), emails, scrambled eggs ( with hot sauce) and toast, garden rakes and extension cords. Then clean the car and put the boxes in the mudroom to sit for days and days and days.

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Second Cousin

When it was visiting hours it was the same as any other time except for that time when you brought the pretty pink geraniums in a white plastic pot. Speech denied itself except for a p…ppp…ppp…sound. You seemed to understand and nodded and it was enough to remind you  whenever the pink geraniums bloomed. Maybe you try to keep the slips of geraniums now over the winter but most likely you just buy some new plants in the spring.

When you were just a small child there were times for visiting together under the old maple tee  at the front of the farmhouse. There was time for a nice lunch of cold oatmeal cookies from the freezer, cucumber sandwiches and homemade lemonade made from the concentrate from the travelling salesman. Kittens from the barn with sweet wee faces and picky little sharp clinging claws on your school jacket were the most fun to play with after lunch was cleared away. You sometimes made up spoofy stories about elves in the bush or under the bridge by the school grounds.

You have the big dented kettle high up on your kitchen shelf to remind you. It was for all things and was kept boiling for washing up at the stone sink, making tea and sterilizing jars. Parsley tea wasn’t your favourite but now you seem to eat the raw parsley from your garden hoping it is medicinal and the right thing to do.

Age doesn’t matter when you play with a friend having a nice lunch under the old maple tree, cuddling a wee orange kitten. You did all the talking then, a little storyteller. Describing the stories and songs from school and tales about the other kids. You know, don’t you that when you brought the pretty pink geraniums and speech was denied, eyes watered with tears and held yours.

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