happiness

The Garden at Braeside (Grandpa Taylor’s Garden) part 1

I am taking a break from Copithorne history to share a story told by my Grandpa Ramsay about his childhood in New Liskeard, Ontario. My aunt sent me a cassette recording he made years ago (over 30 years) of a story he wrote about the gardens at Braeside.

The story my dad told me (and any Ramsay relatives who know the story better please correct me or add what I’ve missed) was that my Grandpa Ramsay was raised as an only child by a single mom in a big house called Braeside in New Liskeard, along with his grandparents who owned the house. So, Grandpa grew up as an only child surrounded by adults, and without a father (my understanding is that the father opted out of family life, not that he died). Dad used to say that Grandpa had told him that as a child he decided that what he wanted more than anything was to have a family of his own, and I have to say he more than accomplished his goal. Although we grew up on the other side of the country in a time when distance meant more than it does now, I have always felt loved by my “eastern family”. The few times we went out there when I was a kid, I remember Grandpa being very engaged with everyone. Us Ramsay cousins even have a “cousin chat” on messenger where we share information and have little catch-up visits.

My Grandpa’s mom (my great grandmother) was named Claire Taylor before she was married. The aunt who sent me Grandpa’s story of the gardens at Braeside has the middle name Claire, as do I. My niece is a Clare (or a Clair I can’t remember) which is close enough to make her part of this “Claire club” as well. My dad’s middle name was Taylor, as is the middle name of my son. We have a photo of Braeside hanging in our kitchen here at the ranch, and I’ve often looked at it and thought of Grandpa and his childhood.

Once upon a time, many many years ago, there was a little boy named Ralph and at the time this story took place he was about 10 years of age. when Ralph was three years old, he lost his father and so his mother Claire left the town where she and his father had been living and returned with Ralph with the home of her father George Taylor and his wife Mary Taylor. Claire’s parents lived in the small town of New Liskeard in Northern Ontario. It was in New Liskeard that Claire lived with her parents before she was married and where she taught school in a little wooden schoolhouse. The little town of New Liskeard lay in a huge wilderness area, only several years before this time had a certain group of people called pioneers com to settle in this new land. They built sawmills and cut down trees to clear off the land for farms. They also came later on to search for minerals because they had heard this land was rich in silver and gold.

New Liskeard was built on the shore of a large lake called Lake Temiskaming. Temiskaming is an Indian word meaning deep waters. Not only was it a deep lake, but also a very long lake, being 90 miles long from end to end. The area around New Liskeard had excellent soil for farming. George Taylor had left his home in Western Canada where he had been given a grant of land as a soldier who had gone to fight some Indians and half Indians and half whites called Metis in the NW territories years and years before. There he married a lady named Mary McGuire who was a daughter of a British soldier. He had to leave the area where he had lived and had his farm, which was near Fort Gary. A Fort which was established in the city which is now Winnipeg. So he returned to London, Ontario to live in order to educate his children. He was able to sell his farm for a good price and he was able to buy a nice home in London, Ontario and to open some businesses there. After he had been in London for quite a number of years and his children were growing up, particularly his boys, he had five boys and five girls, he had decided that he would have to find a place where his boys would have a chance to make a success in a business way. So he left his home in London, Ontario and journeyed up to the area which was later to be called New Liskeard, for he had a grant from the government in an area which was later to be called Ardour Lake. And he wanted to check it out to see if it would be good enough for farming.

After he had been there a short time, he bought a hardware store in the town of New Liskeard, and there he opened up what was called the George Taylor Hardware which was used to supply farmers and pioneers and woodsmen with the materials they needed to carry on their work. George Taylor was a very big, tall man with a black and white beard. He had big shoulders and was very handsome. His parents were born in Scotland and his ancestors had lived there for many, many years. He loved the Scottish words, and so he named the new home which he built in New Liskeard “Braeside” which means “hillside” in Scottish.

The house was very large to accommodate his family of 10 children, 5 boys and 5 girls. it was built of red brick with a slate tile roof and contained many bedrooms on the second and third floors. The site of his home was chosen for the rich soil in that area, which would be perfect for gardening.

In front of his home, Braeside, there was a beautiful terraced lawn. Birch trees and Manitoba Maples were planted all around the boundaries of the land. On the south side of the house was a large area for the garden. That’s where the soil was the very best, consisting of sandy loam. His soil was perfect for growing apple trees, cranberry trees, and flowers and vegetables of many kinds. It was in this garden that one would find gooseberries, red currants, black currants, white currants, raspberries, and strawberries, potatoes, and rhubarb, peas, squash, carrots, onions, beets, cabbages, tomatoes, and pumpkins, and swiss chard also grew there.

Not long after Ralph was born, his mother Claire took ill and when she returned to her parent’s home in New Liskeard, she had to go into the hospital for a stay of about 2 years. Ralph was cared for by his Grandpa and Grandma Taylor who were quite old even then.

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happiness

Refilling the garden

The other day I was gifted a bunch of old fashioned perennials to put into my flower garden and since it finally stopped raining today I was able to plant them. They fit perfectly with my old fashioned house and our happy new(ish) life. This house has brought love and life back to us and I hope we have been able to do the same to it. It’s got such a great energy and vibe – generations of love live here. This is happiness.

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Garden time 

We got our vegetable garden planted today at long last.  This garden brings a lot of joy for the whole family as we enjoy the benefits of it all summer long. Aside from the food that tastes like food, I find a lot of heart healing goodness in caring for the garden. 

I remember how my grandparents and parents taught me to care for the garden, and enjoy the quietness and soul renewal that comes from weeding and caring for it. Until I totally lose control of the weeds which happens at least once a summer. But that’s part of it too, it’s always salvageable and I can always being it back to its glory. 

I am so grateful we have this garden. It is happiness. 

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Time to weed out

My nephew came over and tilled my vegetable garden, which makes me one step closer to having things growing again. I love my gardens – both the vegetable and flower – they bring me a lot of happiness and peace.

My only problem is I always want my garden to look like this:

Somehow it never does – but still it makes me happy.

I had a friend talk me off the ledge today and remind me of where I want to put my energy. I was having an episode about the fact that Mr. X has missed 2 months of support payments, knowing that this would have a huge impact on the lives of all three of us. I know the intention is to destroy me, but I think he forgets along the way that it causes damage to the kids as well. I was texting her and saying  that I was angry, frustrated, and disappointed and she said:

Making you judge him and be mad is your remaining relationship with him.
Break up with it
It’s not a good relationship for you
She is right – it is not a good relationship for me. I have extended too much energy towards him in anger because he’s let me down over and over, for years and years. It’s the last bit of energy I give to him, but it’s energy that I could be using for more positive things. He is not going to change, he has shown me time and time again who he really is – it is time I believe it. I have to have faith that the enforcement in place and the court orders will eventually force him to make the required payments. And until then we live as we are – on miracles, and faith.
Having the friends I do – women who have gone through or are going through the same situation and doing it with such dignity and grace – that is happiness.
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Trust the journey 

It’s been a weird week. I’ve had these gut feelings come up and make me question myself and choices I’ve made. I’m so hard on myself sometimes. Some of the things going on had me feeling so overwhelmed and like I was making bad decisions all over the place. 

So I slowed everything down and got back to praying and meditating. And weird things started happening. I had people appear suddenly offering friendship, I had questions asked to me about Ayurveda, I had questions answered about whether I’m doing the right thing. 

I had a conversation with someone this morning that I kind of expected to go badly. I was really anxious about it, and wasn’t in a very good headspace to begin with. 

Instead of what I was expecting, I was given a talk about how I needed to honour my journey. This is someone who came into my life when I was completely broken and he’s been one of my teachers as I’ve been on the path of healing. 

He told me he was there to walk the journey with me, that I needed to remember how much I had worked through, and that it was a testament to my strength and character that I was where I was now. In a time of such self doubt, I really needed to hear that right now. I may now meet everyone’s approval, but I can feel in my gut I’m being true to myself. 

Those kind words were more than a happiness moment, they helped me pick myself up and keep walking on my path. 

As a bonus happiness moment I had the girls help me in the garden today. It’s time to get out what we can before everything freezes. They pulled carrots and onions, and dug potatoes. The potatoes hold a special place in our heart because they are ones that my great grandfather brought over from Ireland almost 150 years ago. 

The purple potatoes. I wonder what he wound think of his great – great granddaughter digging them up outside of the house he built all those years ago. Our roots run deep here. 

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Mud!

We had a very tiny window of summer this morning when the sun was shining and the rain clouds had been banished. I grabbed the opportunity and spent some time pulling weeds in my vegetable garden. I’m finding that time quite meditative as it allows me time to clear my head, align myself with my Source, and find some gratitude for what is growing. I love it. 

I also tend to get frustrated because I discover while pulling stubborn quack grass and dandelion roots that I am nowhere near as strong as I would like to be. I am so much stronger than I was, but I have a long ways to go. 

Today though was so much easier. The ground is so muddy that the weeds came up with way less effort than what I normally have to give. It was so much more satisfying with so much less work. I had a great happiness moment listening to the radio while clearing out my garden. I’m so happy to see things finally getting to the stage where they can be eaten and enjoyed. 

I had a bonus happiness moment later on when I somehow ended up in the middle of a game of tag with the boys. It was so fun to watch them run and laugh and play in the park. I love that they wanted to include me in it. 

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The lawn and the couch 

A double happiness moment on a day that seems to have spilled into the next one. 

Jacob and I attacked the yard a bit this afternoon. It was so dry nothing was growing and then suddenly it rained and everything went out of control. I am making headway on the weeds and our beautiful yard is looking loved again. I have so much gratitude for this old house that has provided so much security and comfort for us it’s nice to love it back where we can. 

I spent the evening at his house watching reruns of Friends and talking and laughing. I am so thankful he walked into my life. 

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By the garden 

I’m sitting outside by my garden enjoying some evening sun before calling it a day. I love how the seeds I planted and cared for are turning into plants and starting to flower. I have yearned for a garden for years. We were too transient and never had the right spot to really enjoy this kind of space. 

Watching things grow here is also kind of how I feel about my life in general. I planted the seeds of prayer and hope for a better life a few years ago and finally I’m starting to see the rewards of that. Things are growing and flourishing. We are smiling and laughing more. We feel safe and secure back in our tribe. It’s good or the soul. It is the benefit of all of these happiness moments – every single day, even in the crap days. 

I love this space I am in.  Being here makes me happy. That which makes me feel at home brings me a soul bliss happiness moment. 

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Water balloons and Sunday afternoons. 

Jenna and I finally got the rest of our flowers in (not that we are finished, just that the rest of what we had bought is in the ground). When we were done we put the hose to a Rubbermaid and made water balloons. It seemed like a good idea at the time…. not so much when they ganged up on me when it was done. 


And then it was ON! I threw the container full of water on the boy and he spent the next hour trying to get me back. Finally he cracked one over my head and he considered that a victory. It was a silly, crazy happiness moment. 

I realized today as Jenna and I were gardening that I am finally starting to see results showing up of dreams I planted in my soul a few years ago. Instead of running from pain and fear I now am running towards joy and freedom. It changes everything. 

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It’s tomato time 

A very simple and pure happiness moment today. Jacob and I bought a tomato plant. It’s gardening season and we celebrated by eating a couple of tomatoes that were already ripe on our plant. 


It seems the Grinch is going to keep on trying to steal Christmas from us, but we will continue to hold hands and sing. 

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