happiness

Dances, Gum Chewing, and School Stress (FGK-24)

I love this letter. I had so many questions I wanted to ask my aunt and I never did. I always felt a certain kind of kinship with her that I hope she felt too. Her daughter (my cousin) said that my aunt didn’t just know God, she had a relationship with God – and that has stuck with me ever since. I always admired the faith that she lived her life by.

But on top of that, she was quite funny. She would come out with some one liners that made me laugh so hard I’d almost snort (the sign of a really good laugh). And when she writes here about the gum chewing incident and the hair incident, I was like “me too Auntie Sheila, me too”.

Her letter reminds me of the time when everyone living in Jumping Pound knew everyone else’s business. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it meant that there was an entire community of folk looking out for each other, even if sometimes it could be a bit stifling. I didn’t fully appreciate what it meant to have a tribe of people close by who love and care for you until I moved away. It really is a unique kind of community we have here.

This letter was mailed by my aunt from Mount Royal College (now University) to mom at the Junior Red Cross Hospital, but then the hospital address was crossed out and the ranch one written in its place. This letter was written 2 weeks (and on my future birthday) after the letter Grandma received from Iowa regarding mom’s loneliness in the hospital (You can read that here). I wonder if she was able to come home for a visit or something.

Auntie Sheila would have been almost 17 when she wrote this. She, my uncle, and many of the other kids in the community attended (and lived at) Mount Royal College for their high school years. What a change from riding horses to school every day in their younger years.

M.R.C.

Mon. Morn. Jan 26, ‘52

It was postmarked 1953, so I’m assuming perhaps she did the typical January mistake and missed a year.

Dear Marg,

I put in a perfectly useless weekend. I just got up at 12 o’clock Saturday morning! Wasn’t that awful?

The dance was really crowded. They made $175 ____ cleared. They just “sit” lights over the doors Friday afternoon so we’re really high-toned now.

We got there about 10:30. Mom and Dad came too. It’s the first time they’ve been to a dance for a dogs age. the dance was well under way when we got there. A square dance was in the making with Laurie Johnson calling. Peggy R tells me that Donna Butters (Johnson) had a son last November, news to me! She also told me that S__ R___ is engaged to D___ _____ but she was at the dance with H__ P___. God what a mishap!!! I had supper with Harvey B we sat with Bruce B and his girl, Aubrey Moore. She’s awfully nice. I don’t know what happened to Sonny (?) but none of that crowd were there except Anita ____. Shirley Wearmouth was there too.

I deleted some names here, I’m sure it was all in good fun, but I don’t want to be the one bringing up ghosts from 70 years ago lol. The other blanks I just couldn’t make out.

I had a dance with one of the oil drillers. I was sure a fool to get up with him. he had a great big wad of gum and was putting his whole heart into the noisy recreation of chewing it in my ear. He offered me a chew but I declined quite graciously. Between Scotch and Spearmint we made out alright. Jackie Arnell was there with earrings that must have weighed a ton. I had a dance with Bill Scott, Jan McPherson, Laurie Johnson, Bernie Barkley, Wayne Sibbald, Uncle Clarance’s friend mom didn’t know his name, Frank Edge, Marilyn MacMillan, and Don Edge made me so proud. I had quite a few dances with Jim but anyway they would dance beside us and keep telling us it was chilly and that we should dance closer to keep warm and kept going on like this!I was simply furious and I think Jim was getting hot under the collar. He was really embarrassed but it didn’t bother me. If they wouldn’t have kept it up it wouldn’t have been so bad.

I have a social studies exam tomorrow, an English one Wednesday, and Chemistry on Monday. Work! Work! I had to turn in a book review today. I read “A man Called Peter” in the book section of the Reader’s Digest. I don’t care. It might have been cheating but I just didn’t have time to read the kind of books they expect you to.

Good to see that the education system has become so much more sensitive to how overwhelmed students are now (insert sarcastic smirk here). I remember pulling “Cole’s Notes” off the bookshelf in a panic to hand in a book report, and I’ve now I’ve helped my kids google information they’ve needed for the same. The method may have changed, but the feeling of being overwhelmed and the impending doom of consequences of missing an assignment is exactly the same all these years later.

Well, I guess I’d better get ready for school,

Love

Sheila

PS Peggy and I might go across to bridge to get me a pair of stockings after school. All together I have 8 pairs of stockings. Such is life

PS I danced with Hank too

PS Had hair in my soup for dinner so I couldn’t eat it.

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Horses, school, and firecrackers (FGKk-4)

When I was a kid and I heard stories about my mom and her siblings riding their horses to school I was so jealous. It didn’t matter how many times mom clearly explained to me that they rode up hill in -30C blizzards both ways, or that the school house was frozen solid in the morning, all I heard was “horses”. Now that I’m older and a little wiser I have a lot more appreciation for the cold winter mornings when dad drove me to school (although I have my own hardship stories of walking to school in freezing temperatures uphill both ways to share with my kids).

When it was time for mom to start school, Grandma said they were a bit nervous because mom hadn’t been riding much by that point (she was 5) but knowing that she had her older siblings to look out for her, and their wonderful old saddle horse Buck to babysit her she felt relatively secure about sending mom off.

One morning in the summer before mom started school they got her on Old Buck (I never heard him referred to as just “Buck”) so that mom could practice riding around the yard while Grandma sat in the sun porch and did some sewing. Mom was slowly getting more confident and at one point yelled at grandma to look out so she could watch her trot.

She rode right up to the window and was yelling about how she could ride. Somebody must have rode by or the horses walked out in the field by there, that was it. And old Buck, he shook himself and sneezed and then whinnied away. When he shook himself it nearly took Margie to the ground and she was terrified she hung on for dear life. He never moved but he was shaking his head and looking at the other horses and that almost discouraged her from riding. She didn’t get off, she kept on, she wasn’t quite so smart. And so she rode Buck to school when she was old enough to go to school with the other two kids. Right across the creek, up the hill, I forget how many gates they had to go through to get to school. Marshall was at an age where he was into things too.

And then she digresses into a couple of stories about my uncle chasing off magpies and having a nasty fall in the half frozen corral. Gosh I wish I had known them all as kids.

Like a typical sibling relationship, mom wanted to hang out with the older kids and the older kids wanted her to hang out with her own age group. But she made friends with a girl her age who, according to this story, struggled with arithmetic (I completely relate). Their teacher at the time was a man who had been a Sargent in the army and he was rather strict:

He was teaching grade 1 then, arithmetic and Margie got it quite easily and the other little girl could not do it. He had more patience, he just kept going over and over and over. Finally he lost his patience and Margie was sitting behind the little girl, and he finally lost his patience I don’t know what he said but he just threw his arms in the air and swung around to face the blackboard and threw the chalk at the blackboard. And just as he did that, Margie had swiped out of Marshall’s pockets a firecracker and some matches – she was only in grade 1. I didn’t know they had them even. And she lit it and threw it down on the floor just as he shouted that he gave up and he nearly jumped out of his skin. And after preaching about the bombs going off, the rest of the school were just terrified

Dad laughs

Just awful. Oh but Marshall he was so mad at Margie

Dad: wished he’d done it himself

Grandma: well he was mad because she’d swiped his …. they were precious (dad: his firecracker) yeah, and they weren’t supposed to have them. I forget all the details but that was he was mad about, but they were all shook up because at the school that was very loud. He had a hard time surviving after that I think but there was never a dull moment much when she was around.

I’ve heard both the firecracker and chalk throwing story before, but never from Grandma’s perspective. In mom’s story she said the teacher said “I should throw a firecracker under your chair to get you to work” and since she had them…. well… they kind of were put to use. The version of the chalk throwing story I got was that the chalk was aimed towards the class not the chalkboard, but no matter how this story is told it never ceases to make me laugh.

I remember mom telling me that if any one of the three of them did the least little thing “wrong” at school, as soon as the day was over there was a mass rush to bolt out of the classroom and be the first one home to tell grandma what had happened. The fear was that if you didn’t get your story out first, she wouldn’t believe it. But the one “riding to school story” that I’ve always had mad respect for was when my uncle tied his toboggan to his horse and took it to school so they could sled. Part of me has always thought that being on that toboggan would be the ride of a lifetime. And as someone who has been dragged in a a calving sled behind a quad by my uncle I still believe this to be true. Like I said, I sure wish I had known this trio when they were kids.

Then Marshall got a new horse. We went up to Johnson’s and he had some lovely horses, they had show horses and other kinds. And he picked a lovely little horse for Marshall, wasn’t too small. Marshall figured he needed a new horse. One day, I always watched out the window and could see them from the time they emerged from the bush out in the field, and then they followed the road down to the gate -they had a lot of gates. Margie had persuaded Marshall to let her try riding that horse of his and after riding Old Buck she hadn’t practiced handling a horse too much because Buck knew what to do more than she did. I looked out the window thinking it was just about time they were coming out of the bush about a mile away. And this black streak came out of the bush and headed way off over to the corner where the gate was to get through. And I was frightened, I wondered what in the world had happened, wondered if they were dragging a stirrup of something. Margie had persuaded Marshall to let her ride his horse and the horse knew he had somebody pretty green and he just had a real good run after standing tied to a tree all day that was just what he wanted to do. It was horrifying watching it. I could see the whole show from my window. No wonder my hair is getting white.

The kids could tell more stories about that little school there. But it was good training in its own way. You learned a great many things that you wouldn’t learn in the city schools. All through Margie’s life she went through the good things so vigorously. She would be very tired at night.

The story changes now to to the time when things changed out here forever. I’ve really enjoyed the “before polio” stories, I feel like it’s given me a stronger sense of mom’s adventurous side before she got sick. I haven’t listened to any more of the tape, so what happens next will be a surprise to me as well, but I know that we are in the polio stage of things.

I’ve mentioned this before, but as sad and traumatizing these years are that are coming ahead in mom’s story, they also are ones of faith, strength, grace, and courage. It took a lot, not just for mom but for her entire family to decide that she was going to learn to thrive in extremely adverse circumstances. It’s a story of hardship and pain, but it’s also a story of love and faith.

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Climbing trees and ladders (FGK-3)

I’m back to the interview Dad did with Grandma. Many of you who knew mom likely know the story of the time she climbed the ladder to the roof of the big garage. I’d heard the story told many times by mom, and later my uncle told it at her funeral. Some of the details differed, but both ended the story with the fact that mom climbed the ladder and my uncle got in trouble for that (mom’s version was a bit more gleeful about him getting in trouble than was his).

Here’s grandma’s version of the story, which I assume must have been told to her by my grandpa:

When she started to walk, she never stopped, she ran. And I had quite a time getting her taught not to go down to the creek. She was about two years old going down to the creek, and about then Percy thought he’d build a big two story garage we have out here. Great big thing, the upstairs was for storing lots of things, and they held a lot of tractors and cars and stuff.

He’d come to the time to shingle it, and of course the kids wanted to climb the ladder. Marshall, gosh he was big compared to Margie, he thought he was a big guy, and Margie was about 3 years old then I’d think. So finally Percy had to move in and let him help with the shingling, I forget what job we gave him but he was on the roof, that’s all that mattered to him.

He was up there on the roof, up near his dad, and really up on the peak of the roof. He looked around, and he was a little kid looking over the roof, “dad” he said “look” and Percy did and had 40 fits, it was Margie getting off the top of the ladder and was going to go up on the roof. Percy said “Marshall, don’t say a word you’ll get caught” because every time they got together they fought. Margie would try to do something wrong and Marshall would try to stop her because it was dangerous, and there was a big drop. He <Percy> said, “if you can sneak over close, hang onto some part of her till I get there”, and he had 40 fits getting slowly down casually without a fight without anything happening. But he finally got her It was a long ladder to the top of that roof, to go down the ladder (laughter). She didn’t climb a roof again. That was very dangerous.

When Grandma ways that Marshall was big compared to Margie, let’s remember that if Mom was 3 my uncle was only 6, so “big” is relative.

Remember where Grandma says “She didn’t climb a roof again”? Well, right away we move into more stories of her climbing like she’s Spider-Man.

She was always climbing things. Another time I’d call and she’d answer, and I’d call and she’d answer and I’d call I’d walk towards the sound, and she’d answer right close and I couldn’t’ find her. I was in the trees by the house here and I couldn’t find her – those are really tall trees. How tall would you say John?

Dad: oh 20-30 feet

Grandma: at least that I would say. And she’d answer so close I just automatically looked up, and she was having a great time. She was at the top of the tree hugging it looking down, laughing and talking to me. I couldn’t think of how I was going to get her down the tree. I can’t remember now, it was so long ago, how I gradually got her down, it was awful.

Dad: she was quite content up there

Grandma: Yes

And she was always climbing. The house that Percy’s dad and sister lived in was a two story house and high, that big White House there, and at the bottom of the roof, down under the roof, there was a horse trough that used to collect the rain water and it was usually pretty full. And I couldnt find her another day, she was always running around. She would be three or so then. 3 of 4. And finally I found her on the top on the peak of that roof, not the lean to, but the high house, and the highest part of the house. And at the bottom, she got down to the other roof, the lean to, and that was steep too very steep. If she had slipped she’d have gone into the horse trough full of water

Dad: laughs

Grandma: I’m surprised I didn’t go grey right then you know, it was terrible

Dad: better to fall in a horse tough of water than on the ground

Grandma: well… yes but…

Dad: when we got married, one of the ___ gave a toast to the bride, he had a lot of stories, like you told now, about Margie climbing. I’d never heard those stories before and I havent’ heard then since <and I never heard these stories until I found this precious tape>.

Grandma: well

Dad: I made the comment at the wedding following that that she’s always been climbing through her life (gma laughs). Not physically climbing any longer but she was always climbing.

Grandma: Mentally then that’s right I guess. That’s a nice thing to say.

It seemed as though her life has always been eventful you know. I was lying awake thinking about her the other night. I sure wish I’d have written down a diary, but when would you have had time to? With the gang, the men to cook for and keeping house and raising kid. I had two others besides. Oh well.

And these are just the times she got caught, I’m sure Mom climbed everything in sight out here when she was a kid. Which kind of explains my “Monkey Club” years where my cousin and I spent our days climbing and swinging around trees.

Tomorrow I’ll write about mom and her horse Buck and how she and her brother and sister rode to school. The segue between her climbing and her going to school involved a comical spat between dad and grandma:

Dad: Tell me about her going to school

Grandma: I was starting on that (dad: sorry) you’ll have to be quiet (both laugh). If you think of anything speak up though (dad laughs).

Dad and grandma had such a close relationship. From what I saw he treated her like a mom and she treated him like a son. They respected and loved each other, and each had the other’s back, but that didn’t mean that they didn’t sass each other once in a while.

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Magic Carpet Ride (FGK-2)

I kind of thought maybe carpet bags were something that only Mary Poppins carried around. But I discovered this bag hidden in a closet, and it’s full of odd assortments of mom’s throughout the 1950s. There were lots of old newspapers, both clippings and full papers stuck in here (as an aside, no wonder Mary Poppins used one of these bags, I was beginning to think it was bottomless – it’s amazing how much stuff fit in there).

A lot of it was about the royal family, and it seems mom had the same kind of obsession with Princess Elizabeth that I had with Lady Diana (who am I kidding, I’m still kind of obsessed with her, she was an amazing woman, but I digress).

The Magic Carpet Bag
I had to add this one in because I thought it was funny they had to mention Queen Mary was still alive.

As I said, it’s the most random bag of goodies. Here’s a photo of my aunt – I believe when she graduated from nursing school. There was also a letter from my uncle to my grandparents who were away on vacation somewhere. The letter was full of how much he’d fed the cows (down to the weight of both the feed and the cows), and how day to day things were going on the ranch.

You know, sometimes I wonder why we keep so much old junk around. But I think maybe it’s for moments like this. So we can go back through our past to figure out who we are.

Mom would have been 16 when this caricature was drawn. The same age my girl is now. It took me a long time to figure out how I felt about this picture. Part of me thinks mom would have hated it, but then she kept it for all of this time, and the tape on the sides tell me she probably even hung it up. I think it represents how she took on life after polio took her body. That brain of hers was amazing, she was a lifetime learner, and who she was… what was inside her… it was so impressive and took up so much space that it was usually what people noticed first before the chair.

Mom took her exercise routine seriously. She knew that the only way to have her body work for her was to work with her body.

I had to add these slippers in, it’s unfortunate that you can’t tell from the photo, but they are the MOST uncomfortable slippers that have ever been invented in the history of forever (maybe not, but they’re super uncomfortable). While the blue fuzz isn’t that bad, the outside is some sort of bristly, cable-like, woven threads of yuck. It makes me appreciate my comfy, warm, UGG slippers.

Mom did high school at a boarding school in Florida, and this menu must have come from there. I had to do a closeup of one of the dish write ups because it’s a story telling menu and I thought it was kind of fun.

But, my friends, I saved the best for last. My parents loved it out on Vancouver Island, they even had a home that was to be their retirement home (best laid plans and all) and we spent a great deal of time enjoying what Vancouver Island has to offer. After they sold the house in the 80s, they continued to vacation there regularly, and before Covid I was taking the kids out every year for Easter- it’s a place that holds a lot of love for me and my family.

Anyway, one year when I was about 10, my cousin came with us. Either Victoria was safe enough, or my parents were naive enough that we were allowed to run the streets by ourselves. We found a joke shop and thought it was the best thing we had ever discovered. Along with a whoopee cushion (that did not go over well at all with my parents but we found it hilarious), we bought several licenses that gave us permission to do things. Among them was a license to burp, which like the whoopee cushion we found hysterical but mom did not.

It is nice to see though, that at some point in her life she also decided she needed a sarcastic and sassy license.

Now, if you’ve ever driven with certain members of my family (I’m not naming names, but you know who you are), you’d understand the necessity of a license like this. So, perhaps it was less of a joke and more of a not so subtle hint 😉.

Along with the magic carpet bag, I found all of the letters and cards that were sent to Mom while she was in the hospital. I spent most of yesterday crying and reading them. There was so much love sent to mom, mixed in with details of ranch life in the 1950s which I’ll talk about later on.

But tomorrow I go back to the tape. I’ve got a few stories about Mom’s love of climbing things to share.

Thanks to everyone for the love and support, I hope you continue to enjoy these stories.

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From Grandma’s Kitchen (FGK-1)

The kids and I moved into Grandma’s house three years ago, a few months after mom died. This house is full of family treasures of the sentimental kind. There are letters and cards, knickknacks, old kitchen items, even empty boxes of items purchased over 50 years ago (because you just never know).

In fact, years ago when I was a teenager (so late 80s) Grandma found an old tin of butter from the war in the basement. Seriously, you never know what you’re going to find.

Then there are all of mom and dad’s things. 70+ years of all of their treasures. And, because it’s “grandma’s house” and “mom and dad’s house” there are all of our childhood things and those of our children as well.

I guess what I’m saying is I had a full house of things to move into a house that was already full. And to go through things requires time, emotional energy, and my sister. The last 3 years have been busy, forget the past year of not being able to gather together. So my stuff is still in boxes sitting in with all of the treasures from other generations. It can get a bit overwhelming to say the least.

So this summer I have set aside time to deal with the treasures and the trash. I have felt for a while this is a crucial part of what I am supposed to do. Like this is an important part of the puzzle that is MElissa. I need to go back and find where I came from, to learn as an adult about the adults who raised and loved me.

And so, I’ve decided to blog this summer “From Grandma’s Kitchen” as I share some insights about the journey of clearing space in this home that I love so much.

It started yesterday. I walked past the “junk room” and I saw the ribbon of a cassette tape lying across the floor. Damn cats. I went in to grab the tape and throw it out, hoping it wasn’t anything important. I’ve looked through the old tapes many times because I’ve been looking for tapes made by my Grandpa Ramsay to no avail.

I followed the broken ribbon to the tape and grabbed it. It was an old theology tape made by one of our family friends (and probably would have been interesting). But then my eyes went to a tape randomly sitting beside it. As I’ve said, I’ve looked on this dresser many times before and I’m sure I never saw this tape lying there.

It was written in Dad’s handwriting and it said “Edna C….. Margie Bio”

And what it is is Dad interviewing Grandma about Mom’s childhood and her time in the hospital with Polio.

The Forgotten Years.

Or more aptly put: The Never Spoken Of Years.

There was always so much pain and trauma surrounding the time when mom got sick that it was a taboo subject in our home.

And yet, as I get older I find myself wanting to know more about mom and the rest of the family in those years. Because something big happened. Not only did mom almost die, but at some point she and everyone around her decided she was going to live and that she was going to live an important life. And everyone supported her until the day she died.

And that takes a special kind of love, character, strength, and most importantly faith.

I’ve just started listening to the tape, and I’ll share some of what I hear as I go along. But this part has stuck with me since yesterday.

While mom was in isolation, Grandma was told by the specialist who had been flown in from Australia that she needed to say goodbye to mom. Here’s Grandma’s recollection and response to the doctor:

And then the epidemic in Australia subsided and the doctor who was a specialist in Australia on polio was sent for to come to Canada. And she was quite a nice lady. The isolation hospital phoned me and asked if I’d meet her one day. She met me on the doorstep and she said that this is something that isn’t supposed to be done but they are obliging me to come to see my daughter because she is not going to live. And she knows that would comfort you a little to see her. So I walked with her through the rows of sick people and the girl in a bed beside her was in an iron lung. And she was too sick to talk or anything. And she (the doctor) said now I”m going to talk to you and you are not to even expect her to live nor to wish her to live. Believe me I’ve seen enough cases to know what I’m talking about

I said well I’m going to do just the opposite of what you’re telling me, I’m sorry. I’m going to expect her to live I’ll pray that she will and I’m going to get a lot of others to do that. And we have been, my friends and my church. She said well that’s very foolish because you’ll be disappointed and I was trying to ease your pain, so it wouldn’t be such a shock to you.

So I thanked her I just walked on then from one church to another where I could walk to move in Calgary and just spoke to the minister in each one of them. It didn’t matter what the church or the religion was and asked them to pray for her. And of course our church said they would, all of them did in Cochrane.

The power of prayer. And the strength and courage of Grandma to go ask strangers to pray for her daughter. It humbles me. And of course we know that while mom was left with some major physical impairments, never let anyone tell her she couldn’t do something. And it’s easy to see the apple didn’t fall far from the tree – no one was going to tell Grandma no either.

And aside from the power of this amazing story, the gift from God that I am able to hear these stories that I’ve longed to know for so long, I got to hear Dad and Grandma’s voice. From what I’ve gathered from the tape, they did this interview here in Grandma’s kitchen, in the same place where I am sharing it with you.

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Power of Friendships

I have to pick up my mail at a drug store in the city. At first this seemed like kind of a pain, but Mercatos West is right beside it, and now when I need to pick up a parcel I usually walk through their deli and grab some fresh pasta (or a slice of chocolate cake that is to die for, let’s be real, we all know I get the cake every time).

The other day I was standing in line at the drug store waiting my turn while two older ladies were paying for their items. One went without any issues. When it was the second lady’s turn she couldn’t remember which card she used, or where to find it in her wallet. She was laughing, her friend was laughing and grabbed her wallet, but leaned over and helped her friend find her cards. Then the lady couldn’t figure out how to tap her card and burst into laughter again and announced this is what happens when you don’t leave the house for a year.

They grabbed their bags and continued to giggle while they left the store.

There is something about the older woman friendships that has always intrigued me. I want a circle of women with whom I can laugh and grow old – or perhaps laugh at how we are growing old – as we become adults there’s so much emphasis placed on “adulting” but not on how vitally important it is that we have fun and maintain happy and healthy friendships.

Maybe it’s because I was a teenager watching Rose, Blanche, Dorothy, and Sophia eat cheesecake while supporting each other through life, but I always had a huge expectation that we would always have time to make for our friendships.

So, here’s to our old friends, our new friends, the dear ones, and the ones who drive us nuts. The older I get, the more I cherish the bonds I have with the amazing women in my life!

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Facing a bully

It should come to no surprise to those who know me that angry men intimidate me. I think as a single woman this would probably be true anyway, but I lived in a war zone with a man who raged at and threatened me on a regular basis, so there’s a lot of trauma that I’ve been working through since I left (thank goodness for therapy).

Yesterday when we were driving home we saw that there were tons of swans on the slough, and that there were tons of people stopped to watch them. It’s a happy sight for the most part, the swans have been missing the last few years, and since we have all been home more I know they bring joy to so many people.

As we drove by, there were a few people climbing the fence to go in the field to get closer to the swans. Trespassing isn’t really a great thing at the best of times, but there were two newborn calves right beside where everyone was climbing and it’s not a good idea to get between a mom and her baby.

So we stopped and asked the people to please stand on the outside of the field. They were super polite and apologetic – and like I said, I get it- seeing the swans is so exciting and we need a pick me up now more than ever.

But, as I was chatting with them, a man who was probably 10 years older than I am walked by us and started climbing the fence. I asked him politely to please not go into the field. He looked at me and kept climbing. I asked him again, and he said well, he was just going to walk along the road (in the field) then. I said no, the road was IN the field which made it trespassing, and pointed to the calves right beside him and explained that it wasn’t safe to be in the field with the calves.

He then asked me if I owned the land. I said yes (I don’t but it’s family land and I live right beside it). He said he didn’t believe me, and started yelling that he could do what he wanted because I was lying. I pointed to my house and said I lived right there and that he was welcome to follow me home if he didn’t believe me (while crapping my pants because who wants a crazy person following them home?). He said the only way he would stay out of the field is if he had proof it was my land. I responded by saying if it wasn’t my land why would I be standing here being an asshole? He stood there glaring at me for several more minutes before taking a quick photo and leaving.

As this was going down I heard the other people standing there laughing, and heard them comment what a rude person he was and how there was clearly a gender issue going on. I have to say, as things got deeper I was pretty glad I wasn’t there alone because that man was going out of his way to intimidate me.

So, here’s the happiness moment in this. First of all, I stood my ground to the man who was trying to intimidate and bully me. Secondly, I had some great conversations with the other people looking at the swans. Thirdly, the people besides “angry man” who were there were really kind and nice people who genuinely seemed to enjoy being out watching the swans. Finally, I got to see swans and calves which really along with crocuses (still haven’t seen this year) is my sure signs of spring.

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happiness

Born on the Fourth of July

Despite being a huge Tom Cruise fan in my younger days, I never watched Born on the Fourth of July. I think at that stage of my life I was much more interested in Cocktails and Risky Business than I was learning the story of a Vietnam Vet.

I chose to write about Ron Kovic for a paper I’m doing on trauma. I figured that since I’ve been fortunate enough to never experience war and the story was one that happened to a man in the 1960s that it would be less traumatic for me to watch.

Well, I was wrong.

After Ron Kovic is shot he gets sent to hospital in New York to recover. There were men lying in rows of beds completely at the mercy of the medical staff, many unable to move or advocate for themselves. It was easy to see that the staff was totally overwhelmed and were being asked to preform way beyond their abilities.

And I thought of my mom at 11 getting polio and being in a ward similar to that. She used to describe hearing the iron lungs and how terrifying that sound was, and how it was even more terrifying when the noise stopped because you soon learned what that meant.

The doctors came and told Ron that he would never be able to walk again, and they then showed him with absolute determination dragging himself on his crutches. They told my mom that she’d never sit up again until she sat up. They told her she’d never walk again and so she learned to walk with her crutches.

Although mom didn’t talk much (like never) about what things were like when she was sick, I grew up with what I thought was an understanding of the basics of what it was like.

After watching Born on the Fourth of July I now see that what I thought I understood wasn’t even the surface of what actually was. It’s given me a whole new appreciation of who mom was and how hard she worked to create a new life after losing so much.

Because at one point while she was in the hospital she had to make choices. She had to decide how she was going to be, what limits she was going to push, and who she was going to become. And she fought every single day of her life to push through and past the limits that were put on her.

Watching the movie was traumatizing for me, I cried the entire time I watched it and then had to just lie on the couch quietly for a few hours longer. I’ve never been that affected by a movie before, and I feel extreme gratitude for the lessons that it gave to me.

Fortunately I didn’t follow up that movie with Inside Out to fully examine my feelings.

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happiness

ICarly

When my kids were little they loved Drake and Josh, and then iCarly later on. I remember it was a huge event in our house when they showed the last episode of iCarly . We even entered into a draw to win some of the set furniture (didn’t win any though).

As the years have gone by, we’ve tried to find either DVDs or ways to stream these shows and have always come up empty.

Until now. Prime has iCarly on it and we started watching from the beginning last night.

I know the general theme of the show, I remember certain episodes. What I didn’t know was that my girl knows every single moment of every single episode. It was amazing and heart warming to watch her turn into this happy little kid watching one of her favourite shows.

I understand the feelings though. Through COVID, and before actually – when we had limited internet data, we’ve watched Family Ties, Facts of Life, Golden Girls, and (God help me) I sometimes secretly watch old episodes of the Love Boat when I’m all alone and there’s no one to witness my shame.

There’s something calming about watching shows you’ve known forever and you know how they’re going to turn out. I remember one time reading that a good way to calm your anxiety is to watch a happy type show that you’re familiar with because you know there won’t be any suspense or surprises as you go through.

But mostly we watch because we love them. Even I love iCarly, Sam, Freddy, Spencer, Gibby, and the rest of them. I loved that in their teen years they still want to spend time with me watching tv (granted being home 24/7 for a year probably helps that lol).

I’m so excited that we’ve started our iCarly binge. I still haven’t found Drake and Josh, but I’m hopeful that one will be next!!!

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happiness

Little Abu

We had a health emergency with little Abu yesterday that put us all in a small state of panic (she’s going to be ok). Abu is Aladdin’s sister and littermate, they lived together with their mom in the abandoned house before they were rescued, to say she was bonded to him is an understatement.

Man, it was hard taking her to the same clinic where we let Aladdin go to his happy hunting grounds, I cried during her intake.

But you know, little Abu is a trooper. Besides the emergency, it turns out she’s in great health, and she won over the hearts of the kind people looking after her.

Abu may not have bonded with the other cats quite the way I’d have thought, she didn’t really need to since she had Aladdin. But, she has developed a strong bond with her two giant canine friends. I think they knew something was up because they both spent some extra time with her yesterday. It’s quite cute to see this little round ball of cat fur all curled up beside one of her dog friends.

The power of love is quite incredible. Us humans love Abu to bits, but our animals have these profound relationships with each other that I learn so much from.

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