happiness

The Garden at Braeside (Grandpa Taylor’s Garden) part 2

I meant to add to yesterday’s story, that when Grandpa mentioned that he and his mom (Claire) travelled back home to Ontario after his dad left, that the home that they travelled from was in North Battleford SK- not a short distance.

I turned over the framed photo of Braeside and found Grandpa had written a little blurb about it. I am so grateful for those people who know enough to write the significance of an item for those of us who won’t remember all the details. Reading “lawyer scrawl” is a challenge. Often as a child when my parents would send in notes to the teacher I would be called up to the front to read them the note because they “couldn’t quite make out the handwriting”. So, if anyone sees where I’ve misread something in Grandpa’s note please tell me!

“This is a coloured photograph of the George Taylor family residence, built about 1903-04 by John Clarke and probably Len Hill. I have a picture of it under construction. It was named “Braeside” after Grandpa’s beloved Scotland (“hillside”). Grandpa had his own letterhead = Braeside, New Liskeard, Ontario on the best linen paper. I was here with my mother until I was 18 and left for college and again until I married. Grandpa Taylor died on the 19 August 1919. Grandma was the life tenant and mother the housekeeper. This picture was owned by mum.”

As soon as little Ralph was old enough, about 4 or 5 years of age, his grandparents would take him with them when they worked in their garden. They showed him how they planted the vegetables and the many beautiful flowers that were throughout the garden. So Ralph spent much time in the garden and became interested in all the life he found there. Birds were always to be found in the garden. There were many English Sparrows, Robins, Chickadees, Wrens and Blue Jays in the summer. Grossbeaks came in the winter to eat the cranberries. When Ralph was about 7 years of age, he was given a little plot of land all his own and he was shown how to get it ready for planting in the spring. He learned to spade it and rake it to get the ground all even. He learned the various ways of planting seeds like carrots, beets, and pumpkin. Potatoes were cut up and planted with their eyes still on. He also planted flowers in his garden. Snapdragons, pansies, asters, daisies, lupen and dalphiniums.

Ralph worked in his garden with his own little rake and his own little hoe. His grandparents showed him how to stretch a string across the length of his little garden and attach it to two cedar sticks, one on each end. Ralph took a third stick to draw a straight line in the soil, the depth required for the seeds. Usually about an inch or so deep. The seeds would all be dropped in at the right distances apart so they would grow up without being too crowded together. Many such lines were drawn for the different kinds of seeds to be planted.

Later he was taught how to remove all the weeds from around his plants and to water them very carefully. He diligently watched the potato plants. When potato bugs were spotted eating the new green leaves, he was taught to pick the bugs off the leaves and dispose of them in a can.

Ralph’s mother, Claire was out of the hospital and completely well by now. She worked as a housekeeper at Braeside for her father and her mother. Working in the garden was one of her favioute pass times. It was also under her supervision that the many beautiful flowers were planted around Braeside. At one time there would be as many as 500 gladioli blooming on the front lawn in every shade of red, peach, choral, yellow, and white. Cars would line up in front of the house to see the sight. The work of the large garden was getting to much for Grandpa Taylor and Claire to handle all by themselves. Grandpa Taylor was getting old and was often sick, and there was so much work to do. So he hired a man named Mr. Scott who lived just across the street from him. Mr. Scott was an Englishman who was about 60 years of age, and his job was to come and act as gardener. Mr. Scott would come over regularly to do work in the big garden and Ralph was frequently with him.

Mr. Scott had difficulty walking because his joints were very stiff. His work was very hard, digging up the soil in the spring, getting it ready for planting, and then helping with the harvest in the fall. So there were times when Mr. Scott was not smiling. He was very grouchy and not very pleasant to a little boy who was full of questions. Mr. Scott was probably suffering from a lot of pain, and it was only in much later years that Ralph understood the stiffness in his knees and hands as being what older people called arthritis, or rheumatism. Arthritis could be very painful at times, particularly when the weather was cold and damp.

But Ralph got used to Mr Scott and followed him around, and particularly watched when he was digging up the garden soil. The robins would be busy coming around looking for earthworms exposed by the digging. Ralph would often laugh when the worms resisted very hard at being pulled out of the ground. The robin with one end of the worm tight between its beak would start to pull the worm out of its hole and would have to lean way back. The worm in turn pulled back the other way to try and return to the safety of the ground. The result was a tug of war with the robin and the earthworm teetering back and forth in the struggle. Sometimes the robin would fall over backwards, almost backwards, after winning it’s prized catch. And sometimes the earthworm would escape right back into its hole again. The robin would cock it’s head and look at Ralph as if to say “the rascal got away on me”.

There were many birds nests around the garden and Ralph was interested to watch the robins gather up the worms to take to their babies in the nest. He would watch the little baby robins stretch their necks and open up their beaks as they were being fed. And Mr Scott would often stop a moment or two to watch the robins too. And occasionally he would laugh at the robins as they were fooled by the earthworms.

Everywhere that Ralph went, his dog “Doc” would follow him. Doc was a water spaniel with long, floppy ears, and he was the same age as Ralph. Sometimes Doc would get in Mr. Scott’s way, and Mr. Scott would be cross at him. But both Ralph and Doc accepted Mr. Scott and were anxious to be friends with him. They would follow him about when he was hauling different things in his wheelbarrow, and they would run little errands for him when he asked them to.

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happiness

Canada Day 2019

We went to Canmore to watch the Canada Day parade – a tradition we started in 2014 when we were home visiting. It used to be a quiet, small parade and now it seems the word has got out – larger but still a lot of fun.

And the weather was perfect for it.

Then the boy was called into work which ended the rest of the party plans, which was unfortunate, but that’s life with one car when you live in the country.

Happy Canada Day. I love this country, I’m so proud to be a Canadian, and I’m grateful this is where my kids are growing up.

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happiness

Canada Day 2018

For the fifth year in a row the kids and I went to Canmore to watch the parade. Things didn’t go exactly as planned and we ended up leaving early, but still it’s awesome that we have these traditions. We also ended up missing my aunt’s annual party, but I’m learning to accept that life doesn’t always go as planned.

We still ended up having a nice and quiet Canada Day. I’m so grateful we live in this country 🇨🇦.

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happiness

Trust in me

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and reading the last few days about trust. It’s been a big one for me over the last few years – probably over most of my adult life. I don’t think that I went into my marriage having massive trust issues, but I certainly came out of it with more than my fair share.

What I realized as I was beginning to heal was that I no longer trusted myself. That crushed me – I felt like I had proven to myself over and over I was untrustworthy. After all, I had convinced myself to stay for years in a situation that wasn’t safe by telling my soul lie after lie about how things would change, or trying to convince myself that what he said was true and the reason he was so angry, deceitful, and absent was because of me. I have been working on changing that relationship with myself. Interestingly, it’s been at least as difficult a process as it would be to learn to trust and forgive someone else who had betrayed me. The good thing is I’ve been reading the perfect book Trust by Iyanla Vanzant – it’s giving me exactly what I need right now.

My exercise this morning in A Course In Miracles was to find the light inside of a person who had betrayed me. The only part of the exercise that was easy was deciding which person to pick. But you know what? He has a light inside too  – he may have covered it up with clouds of hate, anger, fear, rage, and whatever else – but there is a light in there, I’ve seen it before.

Here’s the thing. While I would like to think that he wouldn’t purposely leave his children without a way to have their needs met, that’s not true. No amount of wishing he is a different man than the one he shows me will change that – I know, I’ve spent years hoping he will change. And while I no longer go to bed at night scared he will make good on his threats to harm us, I still seem to hold out hope that he will turn into a decent person for the sake of my kids.

You know what that does? It messes with my ability to trust myself. I know he is trying to destroy me, I know he doesn’t care about the damage he does to the kids in the process. And yet I have spent sooooooo much energy trying to convince myself otherwise.

Here’s what I know for sure:

I have been depending on a man who has proven for years he’s not dependable

I have been trusting a man who has proven for years he’s not trustworthy

I have been wishing for him to change even though he’s proven he has no interest in being kind.

I know who he is and what he’s capable of and still I expect him to behave differntly

I expect him to do what I know he will not do and be who I know he is not

It is impossible for him to become trustworthy just because I want him to be

He has shown me who he really is and I have to believe him.

You know what telling myself all those lies has done? It has messed with my ability to trust myself. It’s affected the most important human relationship I have – the one with my own soul. It makes me betray my heart and my intuition to convince myself that I can trust him.

And he has very, very clearly shown that he has no limits to the pain he is willing to inflict not only on me but on the kids. My poor kids are devastated right now and it hurts me to the core of my soul.

So, I keep working on forgiveness, now for myself. I need to forgive myself for not trusting my inner voice, for not valuing the power of my intuition. Part of me knew as soon as mom died he was going to come after me again – and I was right, but I forced myself to ignore it. And now here we are.

With that, I feel like he’s had enough airtime in my life and on my blog. I am working on forgiveness, but I’m also standing up and saying that what he’s doing isn’t right. I’m doing it here, but I’m also working with the authorities to get them moving on forcing him to deal with the consequences of his actions. Part of me trusting myself means knowing that I’m not afraid to stand up for myself and for my kids. I’m not the same woman he used to beat down.

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happiness

Waterton wellness day

The girl and I drove down to Waterton for the day. This is one of my happiness places, and even if the visit is short like today it does amazing things for my soul. 

The beauty and peace of the place is really something that must be felt, but here’s a little sample of what it is like 


If I ever doubt God’s existence all I need to do is see the beauty He created in the world around us. I can feel His presence strongly in places like this. And that was good – I’ve needed to be rebalanced and regrounded. 

That is happiness. 

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happiness

Canada’s 150th

We spent the day celebrating Canada’s birthday. 

First Canmore for the parade – this has become a really great family tradition 


Then to my Aunt’s house for their annual Canada party. This is one of those sacred family visiting times. 


After going home for a quick nap then it was off for the last family party 


The boy stopped me and said how much he appreciated having all this family around and how great it was to have so many things to do. 

And he’s right on. How lucky are we. What happiness. 

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happiness

The next step

I signed my final divorce papers today. Assuming he does the same, that part will be over and done with very soon. I felt incredible relief as I put pen to paper and let go of years of hope, fear, distrust, shame, loss, and sadness. It is over and I don’t have to ever go back to it again. Thank God.

I told my lawyer at the end of our meeting you know, three years ago I was going to bed with a can of Raid wasp spray beside my bed for protection because things were so volatile I was afraid of what could happen in the night. Now I live back around my family and I get to ride whenever I want, we are safe and our whole lives are different –  and I showed her a photo of Drishti and where we live. It was a pretty amazing moment to just let those feelings of the last few years of my marriage, the last year of the divorce, and the understanding of where and who I am now flow through me. A lot has changed.

I had to stop by my accountant and give him a letter from the lawyer about support payments. He said the government wants detailed accounts and that sometimes it can be a battle. I smiled (he knows enough of my story just from seeing my tax info filled with court orders) and said one thing I’ve learned over the last year is I’m not afraid anymore to go to battle – it’s what I do. He then said the kindest thing – well just know that this battle you won’t be going into alone. I’ll be there with you and you will be just fine. I mean, really there’s nothing to battle – I have all the documents to prove what I need, it’s just the difficulty sometimes of dealing with the tax department. Thank God I found this man, he has helped me sort through things for two years now with such kindness and patience.

I have learned two things over the last year. One is that I want to be completely independent and rely on no one for anything ever. The other is that I would not be where I am if I didn’t have the support of the people who love me and if I couldn’t have depended on them for help, love, and support (emotional and financial).

I could never survive without my tribe.

I thought there would be more sadness today, but I think all the sadness happened when I filed for divorce and was admitting that things were never going to be how I wanted them to be. Today there was just happiness and relief. It is the start of a new era, I get to make a new path, hope for a better future, build a new life.

 

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Wasn’t that a party 

We celebrated my uncle’s 80th birthday today with a huge party at the Hall. This guy has always been a bonus dad for me (I call him uncle-dad) and a bonus grandpa for my kids. He’s pretty cool.

It was a wonderful afternoon spent visiting with the community – friends and family – lots of people I haven’t seen in ages. And the Hall looked amazing, just like it is supposed to look with an old-time feel.

As someone who spent years floating as part of  a lost little pod of people in various places, I can’t express properly what it means to be part of this community, to know that we have this place where we are from, where we belong. Everyone has a family of some sort, but our family is really pretty unique – both in size and in the way it functions.

It is a deep kind of happiness, one that I carry with me all the time. An extra happiness was celebrating the birthday of one of my favourite people – I have always looked up to and admired this guy – I am really lucky that he’s my uncle.

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Hippie chicks in the mountains 

Today I was treated to a morning in Canmore with a dear friend. We had business to do, but afterwards we had enough time to walk the streets and have lunch. How lucky am I to get to be in the mountains two days in a row? 

It was beautiful and clear and the only issue we had was being stuck in traffic 


Yep, we got stuck behind a zamboni while driving through town. If that doesn’t scream I’m in Canada, I don’t know what does. 

I treasure this friendship with this dear soul whose crazy lines up with my crazy. We have a lot of fun together, but we get each other on a really deep level and that’s pretty rare. It brings me happiness and gratitude. 

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Catch a glimpse of joy. 

Catch a glimpse of joy. That was the theme of the sermon in church today and also was the theme of my day. 

Our ladies group sponsored a family for Christmas. The mom came and picked up the items today and seemed filled with many emotions.  The lady who has been helping me with my own project gave me a little hug and said it’s like seeing what your dream is going to gift people isn’t it?  And it is, my little dream is different but hopefully will bring happiness to  lives in small ways. 

After that we shared some of our needs for prayer requests. Sharing is important – for the support and to remember that everyone has  their crap they’re dealing with. It’s a really special group of ladies I found at that church. God guided me well. 

The youth group did their Christmas celebration and it was full of glimpses  of joy. It was fun to see the kids so fully engaged and enjoying themselves. I sat with my uncle and aunt which was a moment of happiness in itself. 

And then the joy of the afternoon when we did our family Christmas tree hunt. It’s one of my favorite events of the year. This  year we had a good sized group and the weather kind of behaved itself. A million layers helped. 

I talk about it all the time, but I am so grateful for my tribe. I don’t know what I would ever do without them. It’s so heart warming to know that we come from this family filled with so much love. 

This is what happiness looks like:

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