happiness

Everyone Has Television (FGK-47)

Last summer my girl decided she wanted to paint her bedroom. It is the “blue room” at Grandma’s – one of the original bedrooms in the house. I tried to explain to her what a nightmare it had been 25 years ago when my sister and I painted the living room, dining room, and hallway. A nightmare because walls had shifted and the amount of repair work was unbelievable, but also kind of fun because it was like uncovering a time capsule. There were several layers of wall paper, then different portions of the wall were painted. We could even see where one time Grandma had painted around the furniture resting against the wall in a panic because she was having people over. It was an experience, but one I’d be just as happy not to do again.

The girl uncovered at least 5 layers of wallpaper in her bedroom, a mystery door frame, as well as a window on the wall joining her room to my room (Grandma’s room), which made sense as it had once been the end of the house. After several months of work and buckets of frustration tears, she decided to wallpaper over the walls. There was no way we were ever going to get the walls in good enough shape to paint them with our level of expertise. But now the room looks fantastic. There really is something to be said for how fresh walls change a room.

This letter was a little over 3 years after mom got polio.

Cochrane, Alberta

Oct 24/1954

Dear Margie

We’ve sure had a busy week. The paper hanger was out and hung paper in six rooms. Some of it I like and some I’m rather disappointed in, but anyway they look nice and clean. Somehow papers don’t always look the same on the wall as they do in a small demonstration piece.

The school children had their field day on Friday. Brushy Ridge came and competed too to add a note of interest. They did very well too but when the final totals were taken our school was a few points ahead.

Our new refrigerator came on Friday. It holds a lot more food than our old one did, especially in the freezing compartment.

This week the men almost filled the barn loft with hay. Then the children came home and they had a wonderful time playing in it. They built tunnels and houses and played hide and seek for hours. Boy were they dirty and dusty when they came in. They sure needed a good bath and clean clothes.

The boys were getting to be good shots with their shot guns. They bring in ducks or chickens every week and today they had to break the ice in the lake ahead of the boat so they could get the ducks that were shot down over the water. I guess winter can’t be too far of as the ice is forming thicker all the time.

Hector McDowell, who built our barn, was back last week and built a nice sun porch on the front of the bunkhouse. It is 22’x8’. Someday I may use this place as a cook house so I won’t have quite so much work every summer.

We weaned our calves this week and there sure was a racket for 3 days with their eternal bawling. This is about the last of the fall work so we are just about caught up. I’m so glad so I feel like getting out and visiting folks once again.

Everyone around here seems to be getting television sets. We can’t and now we don’t have 110 volt power. I’ll bet you’ll enjoy seeing the one at your home when you get back. George says it sure is a nice one.

Well so long for now. Hope you are already improving

Lovingly yours

Aunt Gertie

PS Last night George and I went to see “Seven Wives for Seven Brothers”. It was quite comical and we really enjoyed it. I want to see “Brigadoon” when it comes too.

Standard
happiness

To the Girls in Ward 234 (FGK-40)

Sometimes I forget how young these kids were in the hospital. I mean, when I imagine my mom, aunt, and uncle I often just imagine shrunken down versions of their adult selves, which is silly because childhood me was not just a shrunken down version of who I am.

It must have been weird to be one of the ones who was discharged and back in the real world while their friends on the ward were still going through daily routines involving the painful packs and stuck in the day to day reality of polio wondering how their bodies would recover.

Mom would be 80 now and as I read these letters I find myself wondering what happened to her friends from the hospital, how did their lives turn out? I hope they all found peace and fulfillment.

(Addressed to the Girls in Ward 234)

Calgary, Alberta

July 1953

Dear Girls,

How are you all? I’ve been meaning to write for a long time but never got around to it. Terribly busy you know! Ha!

Is Iserna (?) out of her cast yet? If she is I bet she’s really happy. How about Margie? Has she still got packs? I guess Lil and Isabel and Mary Ann are pretty nearly home. Is Annie still in bed or is she up at all?

I sure wish I could get up to see you kids but because I’m under 16 i have to follow the rules. However Miss Baxter is away so I’ll try and get up one of these days.

How did you kids like the parade? I didn’t see it – but I took in al the rides one nite. I thought the stage show was very poor but I guess most people liked it.

I hear from Helen quite often. We phone back and forth all the time.

When is Rose coming in? I bet you kids will really have fun this summer. I sure hope you get well soon and are all out for the fall.

Love and best wishes always

Laurie

Standard
happiness

Speaking in Pig Latin (FGK-18)

When I was in elementary school there were several instances where either mom or dad sent in a note for the teacher. It became normal practice for little Melissa to get called up to the teacher’s desk so that I could read the note for my teacher, as I was the only one around who could read my parents’ handwriting. They both joked about how it was the downside of having gone to law school and taken so many notes, their handwriting suffered because of it.

I found a gem of a letter to share today. It’s one started by mom to her friend Rose. I don’t know who Rose is- anyone?? Anyway, I can confirm from this letter that the handwriting was not a bad habit picked up in law school, but was firmly established by the time mom was 13.

1820 Richmond Road

Calgary, Alberta

Nov. 21, 1953

Dear Rose

I’m sorry I didn’t write sooner but…

Thanks so much for all the magazines you sent me. We enjoyed them very much. I liked your letter too (what I could make out of it).

I have a strange feeling this is going to be a dumb letter so you’d better stop now and prepare yourself for it.

Honestly, if you knew all the things we did in here! Right now the whole ward is talking in Pig Latin and King Tuts it’s really fun. I’ve got so that whenever a nurse asks me a question I answer her in King Tuts then the whole ward starts it. The poor woman goes out feeling dizzy.

I wish you could see me now, I’m under a stack of comics we borrowed from the boys down at hall to give to the big boys for their checker game. We discovered we hadn’t read them so we are reading them now. We got the checker game anyway.

This letter made me laugh, I could see mom’s strong childhood spirit shining through in every word. It also made me think of when we lived in Quebec and the boy went to the all French school. He got so frustrated trying to learn French to keep up with his friends, that he spent recesses and lunch teaching his classmates English. I know this because I was called into the school and scolded for having such a rebellious son.

I’m familiar with Pig Latin, but don’t know about King Tuts. I’ll have to look that up.

Standard
happiness

A Real Hay Day (FGK-17)

Today is Mother’s Day, so I decided to post a letter to my mom from her mom. I can hear not only Grandma’s voice, but her “mother voice” throughout this letter. It’s so full of love, and also carries the mother reminders (did you write the thank you letters?), and also includes how she’s got mom’s back and is so proud of how well she’s doing.

I also had a little laugh, because it does not seem as though family conversations about the Stampede have changed at all in 70 years – lots of grumbling about how it’s not so great this year and we’re just not going to bother with it, then we all go down and have the time of our lives. Same. Thing. Every. Year.

RR2 Calgary, Alberta

July 9th, 1953

Dearest Margie

Just thought I’d scratch you a few lines so that Sheila can post the letter form the Old Timers Hut at the Stampede tomorrow ‘cause I hear they stamp them with some special stamp from there and thought you would like to have it.

Sheila and Ann rode up to the school and the rocks this morning while I made cookies and weeded the flower garden. It sure was a beautiful morning an the newly cut grass smelt so good. The weather is staying perfect for the Stampede and that is a good thing because there is a terrific number of tourists in Calgary.

Did you write and thank Aunt Annie for that nice box of eats yet? Hope my cake didn’t make you sick.

Marshall is busy plowing up in the homestead with Bill, and Ken and Dad are building a hay slide in Grand Valley. They are going to camp over there for the three weeks it will take to put up that hay and Mary is going to cook for them so Sheila and I will really be alone here. I have been trying to coax Sheila to go to Banff with me to take a course at the art school but she is not interested. Marshall is just not interested in the Stampede this year and doesn’t want to go at all, we have tickets for Saturday night by may not use them.

Is Smokey ever glad to have Anne here – he’s just showing off all the time. I took a snap of Anne holding him in your room this morning but I doubt it will come out very well, it’s none too bright in there now that the leaves are on the trees.

Aunt Ruth phoned this morning to say she heard Aunt Agnes’ Mother had died so Claude and Harry are coming back from the coast right away, they motored over together. I haven’t been talking to Winnie for a long time, have you thanked her for the mice yet? I guess I should phone her one of these days.

Marsh said that Shirley Norman is in the hospital again. He said there were 24 men there, the barn is over a hundred feet long, and they didn’t get it finished. He and Richard worked together and he said Hazel really did have a field day – they served them a swell afternoon tea – ice cream etc.

I owe Margaret Rowland a letter for ages now, I guess I should be writing her instead of you but I sure get terribly lonesome for you these days, just pray and pray that you will soon be able to walk and then you can come home for holidays at least. We sure have lots to be thankful for though – you are progressing really fast for the length of time you’ve had treatments.

Well I guess it’s time I made afternoon tea for Marsh & Bill, Sheila & Anne want to take it out to them I think so I’d better get to work. I’ve cut out quite a few things from the paper for your scrap book. I’ll take them in on Sunday.

So long for now dear – will see you Sunday

Loads and loads of love

Mom xxxxxxxx

The fancy stamp they put on the letter at the Stampede Grounds. 3 cents to mail a letter!!
Standard
happiness

Christening, pageant, banquet, and first steps (FGK-16)

I’ve found a beautiful letter from Auntie Gertie. You know, it’s funny how things evolve. I started this wanting to know more about mom and her life before me – stories were so rare about her life before and particularly during polio. But I’m finding that along with discovering more about who mom was, I’m really learning a lot about our community here in Jumping Pound, what rural life was like in the 1950s, and the power of love and faith. Somehow it seems fitting to me that I’ve found these letters and these memories while we are stuck at home because of Covid, and I couldn’t imagine writing this anywhere besides From Grandma’s Kitchen.

Cochrane, Alta

October 25, 1953

Dear Margie,

We’ve certainly thought about you often, especially since you were home at thanksgiving. I’ll bet you felt as if it was the best thanksgiving you ever had. Even the weather co-operated. Sorry we didn’t see you then, but perhaps next time you are home we’ll have a chance.

To-day we went to church again and it was a christening Sunday Service. Vernice Wearmouth had her baby christened and she had the hiccups so bad we all got the giggles. The babies were all good as gold and stayed right through the service.

Last Thursday I went to a pageant on the Growth of Christianity. It was held at Western High School. It was quite good, one scene had all real Japanese actors and I really enjoyed them. the girls were ready pretty. The play went back in history to the pilgrims who came over in the Mayflower and took us through scenes up to present times in such countries as Scotland, Holland, Africa, Japan, and ____?. The costumes were very interesting and added quite a lot to the story.

Last Wednesday George and I went to a banquet at the Nag-Hey(?) a rather picturesque restaurant built of pink logs. The main room has a huge fireplace at one and over which are hung crossed ski poles. On the walls are show shoes, skis, and other sports equipment such as fishing rods, etc. There are some beautiful pictures of Indians painted by Gerda Chiristofferson. the skin looks so real it makes you want to touch it. Back of the long guest table is a huge drawing of a bucking horse and various brands. At each side of this are old fashioned ox cart wheels. On the table is a church wagon illuminated inside by a green light. There are many curios about, stuffed animal heads, a snowy owl, a model Indian teepee etc. The one side of the room has very large windows that command a beautiful large scale scene of the mountains and the sunsets.

First of all we had cocktails or ginger ale as we preferred. Then we had a scrumptious chicken dinner. Later after a speech by Clarence and one by Edith Edge we had a sing song. Mrs Sam Scott played the piano. Then we had a dance. Everyone had lots of fun and it was sure fun to be out with friends again.

The W.A. had a fine Floral Tea a couple of weeks ago. Mrs. Whitburn lectured on how to arrange flowers and care for them. Later the bouquets were given to the holders of lucky tickets. Then we had a tea and ___ of home cooking. I sold tons of the lottery tickets. One was to Nellie Bapti and another was to Mrs. Barkley. Georgie Copithorne won a lovely bouquet of roses and mums. By the way my sweet peas stalks and holly hocks are still blooming. Every day I expect to seem them frozen down but so far they have survived.

Last Friday the school children had a very interesting sports day. They had standing and running broad jumps, high jumps, foot races, and relay races. Then they put on a first aid show, demonstrating various bandages. It’s as rather cleverly done. Each child went over a high jump and purposely fell. At a signal from Mr. O’Brien certain students ran forward and gaven the patient a certain kind of bandage or a firemans lift etc. Done that way in a natural setting the first aid was quite effective.

Mrs. Cornelius Buckley married Art Koher lately. This Wednesday Edith Sibblad is having a small shower for her inviting only her well known friends. It should prove a very interesting party too.

Patsy is 5 years old now. My sister Sibyl(?) had a birthday party for her in town. None of our children ever had a real birthday party with guests and presents before. They always had a birthday cake but that’s all, so you see Patty had a pleasant surprise on her birthday.

I made rather a pretty punch work cushion cover lately. The design is made by pink roses and is done on black velvet so it is quite effective. Punch work is fun to do and I enjoy it.

Well Margie it’s time to get supper again. Seems as if all I do is cook. Food disappears at an alarming rate around here.

We are all glad to know you are improving and putting on weight.

Love and best wishes to you form all of us

Aunt Gertie

Edna just phoned to tell me you got some new shoes and took several steps today. We are so thrilled. Do keep up the good work. We are really proud of your progress.

That last part may have made me tear up a bit. Gosh, Aunt Gertie was a wonderful woman.

Standard
happiness

Cake with my mom

Today is my mom’s birthday – being home is still fresh enough that I am so grateful for the fact that we get to be here and celebrate these events with our loved ones. There’s still that weird hole in our celebrations where Dad is supposed to be, but we come together all the same.

We had a family supper that was enhanced with the presence of my niece and nephew. They have been life long friends with my kids and when the four of them get together it’s hilarious chaos. It made the party that much better listening to their strange brand of humour.

I have spent the day thinking about what my mom has given me over the years. She has always shown me constant love and support –  I grew up knowing unconditional love because of how my parents loved us. I knew that no matter what I did or how I behaved they loved me because of who I was. The older I get the more I understand what a rare gift that is. When times get tough, my mom is always one of the first people to come forward and offer to help – no matter what it takes. I have watched her dig deeper than I would have ever thought possible to help out her loved ones. It makes me want to give that same gift to my tribe. There is something magical about knowing that someone has your back all the time – forever – no matter what. She’s also funny as hell.

My happiness moment – gathered around the dinner table – laughing – loving – being together – celebrating my mom.

Standard
Uncategorized

Birthday time 

Today we celebrated my Mom’s birthday. I won’t tell you the number but it was a big one. In the past 11 years we have only been with her for one other birthday celebration, so it was wonderful to get to actually be in person with her on her special day. 

My Mom has taught me so many lessons about life. She’s taught me how to love; fiercely and unconditionally. She’s shown us her love through all our trials and tribulations. She’s taught me to love even when that seems like a difficult thing to do.

She’s taught me about strength. She’s shown me that it’s possible to beat the odds time and time again. She’s a living example that just because people tell you  that something  can’t be done does not mean that has to become your own personal  truth. She’s shown me that you can have tragedies happen and you can still keep moving ahead and achieve greatness and happiness. 

She’s now also Nana and is playing a huge role in the lives of my kids. I always say it’s important to have grandparents because it gives the kids that buffer between generations. It warms my heart that my kids can run over to her place any time they want for a visit. 

I’m so thankful that she’s my mom. She’s my mentor and my friend as well and she’s shown me how to be a better person. 

My happiness moment today was being with her on her birthday. Lucky me!!

Standard
Uncategorized

That Dharma Thing

I firmly believe we all have those things that we shine at. Things that we must do, that bring us joy, that make our soul sing because we know that we are doing what it is that we were put here to do. 

Some people know what that thing is from an early age and have the faith, the support, and the courage to do it no matter what obstacles are thrown in their path. Others of us are plagued with self doubt and fear and it takes us a bit longer to get on that path. 

If I could have a life redo I would go back in time to those moments where I wanted to follow a dream and I listened to the negative voices either from others or from inside my head who told me that I shouldn’t. The voices that said I wasn’t good enough, not deserving, or that the dream I had wasn’t ever going to be a reality. 

The first thing I would do is not listen to the voices that made me give up riding. Should it have mattered that I was being told that I would never make a living at it (I could have), that it would never give me a secure future (nothing about my future so far has been secure anyway even though I gave up and tried to take the safe path), that I needed to find a real job and grow up? Had I had the kind of self esteem I now wish for myself  and for my kids I would have never heard the external doubts and I would not have had the internal ones. 

Somehow I took all those messages and decided that my value as a human was based on what career path I would take and the amount of money we could produce. So I took a career that I didn’t really want and when I gave it up to be a full time mom (which I love) I became devalued again because I wasn’t doing something that was producing money. Forget all of the things that I actually do as a mom, there is no value to that. So then I struggled with the strong feeling that I was doing what I was meant to do, but also held the false belief that it had no value. 

Today we went out for a long ride through the fields. It just brings peace to my soul. I have a confidence when riding that I am just now learning to bring to the rest of my life. On a horse you need to be confident enough to have faith in what you are doing, and stay humble enough to know that you are a part of a team – and that the other half of your team is much bigger and stronger than you – you must work together through whatever comes up. A good way to walk through life. With humble confidence. With the knowledge that I am following my dharma. That I am good enough just because I am me and that I know I’m doing the right thing because I feel it in the depths of my soul. 

That is happiness. 

Here is a photobomb of happiness. Johnny the horse having a moment of FOMO (fear of missing out) and peeking through the fence as I took a picture of my niece. She rode today with Jenna and me, and it was so heart warming to see those girls giggling and enjoying their horses in the same fields I used to spend hours in as a child. Pretty sweet for me to enjoy this time on Princess the boy horse. 

  

Standard