I walked to get groceries yesterday. I was feeling a little sorry for myself, the cast is annoying me, and I feel all alone with my troubles. I had walked through the park and past a fence when something caught my eye – a slogan graffiti-ed onto a white fence.
And I remembered…
When did I first see this symbol and hear this slogan?
For me, it goes back to the Vietnam War, when I was a teenager.
When I thought the solutions were simple.
I never marched. I listened to the peace anthems, I avoided the television news and I thought war was like an episode of M*A*S*H – easily solved.
I was naive. How many wars have we had since then? Why didn’t I march?
Why did seeing this yesterday on a white fence (someone still believes) make me smile?
These are my stories. Will anyone ever ask for them? Will anyone ever care what my life was like?
I have no children to embarrass with my tales, my memories, and my life. I tell my stories here into the endless void.
Do you tell your children stories?
Do they know what your traditions are? If you light candles at the window, do they know why? I walk. Why do I walk? The stories are numerous.
Do they know your family history? Who was Uncle Fred? Why did he live with Grandma Smith? Who is Grandma Smith to me?
My father died this week. I know fewer of his family stories because I did not grow up in his house. I know more of my mother’s stories.
Grandma Smith was related to my father; I think she was his mother’s mother or step-mother. I do not know. I knew my father’s parents but not well even to be gifted with their stories.
I was a quiet child. I read more than I talked. I never asked the right questions.
There are gaps in my family history and now I will never know what he could have told me.
The first stories I read were fairy tales – we had a copy of the Red Fairy book by Andrew Lang – a Christmas gift from I know not who. I’d like to know.
I read somewhere once that you should tell your children both stories; that they need to know all of it. They need to know mother’s stories and father’s stories or they will go through life unbalanced and out of sorts.
I am the child of a broken home – I grew up in my mother’s house and don’t remember meeting my father until I was almost a teenager. My mother never spoke of my father and her parents hated him. His parents lived close by and stayed involved in our lives but kept secrets – like where he was. Plus, it was obvious that we were not the favoured grandchildren.
It doesn’t matter who my father was;
It matters who I remember he was.
I don’t know if my father attended the same elementary school that I did? Did he like to run up the fire escape? Did he climb up on the roof? I suspect he would have; he was that kid of boy – reckless and adventuress.
I don’t know!
I don’t know his stories. I hear rumours. I hear snippets – who died in the fire, how were they related to me – I know they were important to him!
I don’t know who he was as a child, a teenager, a new parent or why he felt he had to leave the way he did.
I don’t know and now I’ll never know.
My dad did not tell me his stories. My Dad did not read to me. But he understood why I read. He understood that stories were important to me.
I didn’t tell him out loud – instead I wrote him poems and sent them through the mail (accusations, recriminations, apologies - silent, deadly love letters). He never answered them but I have confirmation that he kept them and maybe treasured them. I wanted him to write back. I wanted him to tell me stories. He wasn’t ready when I was ready.
While we pay lip service to the virtues of reading,
the truth is that there is still in our culture
something that suspects those who read too much…
How Reading Changed My Life
My father fell and broke his leg days before I broke my wrist.
He had surgery and seemed to be doing fine.
My eldest sister and I just went to see him.
He told us stories.
He told us about throwing a sixty pound bag of potatoes at my mother’s mother. I could picture it happening – they were both stubborn people who needed to be right and neither would have given an inch to the other.
And he told a story that I already knew, a story that my mother had already told me, about me.
She tells my story, thusly:
I was born overseas on an army base. When mom and dad headed back to Canada they had trouble proving I was theirs – Mom had been pregnant when they left Canada and so had papers for my older sisters but not me. She says that they almost didn’t let me on the plane with them. She never elaborated further then this but obviously they let me on the plane because here I am.
He says the trouble didn’t happen until we were on Canadian soil. He said we were held up at Customs by the custom’s officer. There my dad stood holding me (a cranky, stinky, fussy one year old) as we were questioned about who I belonged to. My dad basically said to the custom’s agent “if you want her, you can have her” and the agent waved us through – because obviously no one wants a fussy, stinky baby to deal with.
What I note are the differences in their stories about the same incident – how she leaves the story unfinished and he makes himself the hero. The way they tell the story reinforces what I already know about my parents. How, at that point in her life, she was looking for someone as capable as her own father always was and how he (then and now) was always the hero of his own story – right and capable against all odds.
Perhaps there no such thing as a true story,
just the echoes between different versions,
and the desire to know, that keeps us speaking,
and listening, at all…
Honey and Ashes: A Story of Family
Janice Kulyk Keefer
So, tell your children your stories. Even when they groan and moan and roll their eyes, they are listening.
As a parent, as a grandparent, in my role as an aunt – it is our responsibility to make sure that they know both sides so that they do not go through life unbalanced and out of sorts.
In even the best of caskets, it never all fits
- all that we’d like to bury in them:
the hurt and forgiveness, the anger and pain,
the praise and thanksgiving, the emptiness and exaltations,
the untidy feelings when someone dies (p. 191)
The Undertaking: Life Studies From the Dismal Trade
You think you’re going to remember everything! You live a life day by day by day and somewhere along the way you stop paying attention. In another lifetime I took care of other people’s children on a daily basis.
In the 1980s, I took care of two little boys from the time the oldest was three months old until he was seven and his younger brother was going to start Kindergarten. I quit to go back to university just before their little sister was born.
It was a Monday to Friday, four day a week gig and I would also come live-in when their parents took their annual ski trip alone. I knew these boys like they were my own. I was there to wake them up, to put them to bed, to take them to the YWCA for lessons, to travel with them on buses and in cars and to take care of them when they were sick.
Our day to day, weekly life set itself into a pattern. I would arrive before eight, they would have breakfast then watch Sesame Street from nine to ten on the days when we didn’t have to go anywhere while I made beds or started the laundry. Once a week we walked to the library, once a week we took the bus to the Y, occasionally I would attend a school event when their parents couldn’t, and every Friday we ate lunch out.
It use to be a treat to eat out. Every Friday was our day out, we’d leave the house, after beds were made, to attend gym classes at the Y until eleven and then we would go out to lunch, either at the McDonalds with the play area or to the food court at the Mall; where we went depended on whether or not we had the car or were on the bus.
When there was just one child we took the bus. After their second son was born, the parents bought an old car for me to use to drive the boys around. They were good people to work for. The car rides were punctuated with endless questions from the oldest boy and the nonsensical babbling of the younger one. I taught the eldest boy the difference between invisible and invincible (he was into the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). Invisible is when they can’t see you and invincible is when they can’t hurt you.
The things you remember.
So, what does all this have to do with collecting Muppets you ask?
Obviously, when you take kids out to lunch at a fast food place you have to buy that week’s toy. Twice in this case; thankfully there was usually a choice so both boys didn’t end up with the same toy. Of course they had to pick out their own. Thankfully, we got there just before noon so we would have our lunch and toys selected before the noon hour rush began.
During the late 1980s, Muppet toys were all the rage. McDonalds had them but not Burger King (my preferred eating place which is why my memory insisted that we were collecting Muppets at Burger King until I started searching the web for information. Thank the Stars for search engines!). In 1987 the Muppet Babies were all the rage.
I remembered Gonzo on a trike and that there was Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear and Animal as well. They were all on some kind of vehicle – trike, wagon, airplane, skateboard, rocking horse. The vehicles and the babies were interchangeable. At our/their house, Kermit used the trike more than Gonzo did.
Animal with his red wagon was my favourite. According to the Muppet Wiki (Beware! This link has instant talking ads), Animal was only available in Canada. There were also a Kermit and Miss Piggy with non-removable roller skates for the youngest children.
The boys would spent hours playing with the toys as I cleaned house or relaxed with a book. It was so routine. Week after week after week the same. The same questions and the same toys. It felt like it would last forever.
You think you’re going to remember everything! You live a life day by day by day and somewhere along the way you stop paying attention.
I miss those boys. I miss all of the children I use to take care of. Parents are privileged because when their children are all grown up they are still there to ask – do you remember?
Do you remember collecting Muppets at Burger King? No, it was McDonalds.
Do you remember walking to the library?
What’s the difference between invisible and invincible?
Do they remember me?
P. S. Muppet Mindset blog here.
P. S. S. This is how much snow we’ve had this winter (2012 – 2013), posted here so that I will remember how snowy this winter was!
I walked to work in the freshly fallen morning snow one day this week. The moist snow lay heavy on the ground; the world was muffled. All was pristine and quiet.
I marveled at the way the snow curled around the fence posts like snakes and I ruminated on ghosts.
“To become a ghost, Your Death has to be a surprise.” (p. 263)
(Bridge/by Jeri Smith-Ready pp. 233 – 284)
The first ghost I became acquainted with was probably Casper, the Friendly Ghost. My grandparents (my father’s parents) had a box of comics at their farm and they were mostly Harvey & Archie comics, all very family friendly. What I remember most about Casper is that he was good and had three rotten older brothers. Was there a girl ghost? I’m not sure. I definitely don’t remember any parents. At least, the Archie gang had parents and some gender diversity.
So, my first ghost role model was friendly, male and possibly an orphan. He was not at all scary and his brothers were annoyingly real just like my siblings.
And now, Casper even has a Facebook page!
The first ghosts I remember scaring me vividly were poltergeists. I read a lot of historical fiction when I was younger and there were many historical supernatural books geared to pre-teen readers (such as those written by Richard Peck). I read about the Fox sisters, one of the earlier spiritualist cons, when I was thirteen. This was about the same time that I was reading Carrie (and feeling as mis-judged and wishing I had maleficent supernatural powers). At the same time I came across a paperback that centered on a haunted gazing ball in a garden. I always can remember the plot vividly but can never remember the title (it’s Jane-Emily by Patricia Clapp). The cover picture still gives me shivers and it’s ghosts like this (ghosts who are active participants with needs and wants and yearnings) that stir my imagination with “what ifs.”
The first movie ghost I feel in love with was the sea captain in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, a sea chanty about death and romance. Here the ghost is a man who by the end of it his life regrets leaving his home and family and is fortunate enough to get a second chance. Perhaps I liked it because it showed a man growing into the responsibility of what being a husband and father meant. I grew up without a man in the house and must have longed for something!
I was haunted by what I could not foresee having – a responsible man in my life.
My current go to author for ghost stories is Joe Hill. I adore his novel Heart Shaped Box and short story collection praising 20th Century Ghosts. In Heart Shaped Box, a man buys a ghost off some online auction site and horror and fear is unleashed into his life. I’m intrigued by antiques and like to make up stories about their past owners. Remember my apartment is full of dead people’s stuff!
Tor is currently running a Ghost Week over on their site. They’ve compiled an A to Z list of ghosts.
V is for Vetala (Hindu folklore): Spirits who tend to haunt places of burial and charnel grounds; trapped between life and the afterlife, they can take possession of corpses and cause all kinds of crazy trouble for the living.
This is the sort of ghost I would become. A Vetala still haunting cemeteries, intrigued in death as in life with cemeteries and graveyards.
“I’ve forgotten how to take up space.” (p. 317)
(Leaving/by Ally Condie pp. 302 – 321)
Now, I watch Beetlejuice and contemplate my plans for Samhain and Día de los Muertos.
I enjoy the gothy humour of Lio and his other-worldly pals.
Later that day, the walk home was dull and colder. The wind pushed at my back hurrying me home to comfort and warmth. I gave no more thoughts to horror and fear.
I ruminated on ghosts.
All quotes from the Young Adult anthology:
Enthralled: Paranormal Diversions
edited by Melissa Marr & Kelley Armstrong
N.Y.: Harper, 2011
When Halloween was all about Grandma F’s popcorn (recipe here in the comments) and my best days involved eating carrots plucked straight from the garden.
When I could happily spent hours of every day shelling peas with my grandmother or devouring the raspberries in Jack’s huge raspberry patch.
When happiness was a cool Fall day, lots of time to do nothing and a gigantic mud pile (like this).
So, way back when, the nice thing about living at the Hahn house was that my mom had a humongous garden. Sometime around the beginning of October, after she had harvested, stored, frozen and canned everything there were still leavings left in the garden. Leavings perfect for mud pies and other recipes.
Recipes like those found in my favourite childhood cookbook: Mud Pies and Other Recipes: A Cookbook for Dolls by Marjorie Winslow. I first found the cookbook where I find most of my books, at my local library, but now I own a copy for myself – not a perfect copy, however, as this copy is a softcover and the library’s copy was hardcover.
I use to spend hours, in the back alley and my mom’s garden, making these unique dishes for my dolls.
Since, it is Thanksgiving weekend here and I am busy sponging off my eldest sister’s cooking and cleaning my mother’s house, I thought I would post a page from the book for you all to enjoy.
Some ingredients from my backyard -
For me, October is all about happy memories and joyous times.
I am working at being thankful on this lovely long weekend.
Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow Canadians.
I was about eleven when I went to my first auction. Uncle D took my younger brother and me along with his two boys, who were around the same age, to the permanent auction building outside of Watson. It involved a half hour car trip and a Saturday mostly alone for my mother – this was a treat for my mother as well as for us. We owned no car so seldom left town; perhaps once a month on average, more in the summer, less in the winter and oh, too often for dentist and doctor appointments.
The auction building was huge. The building seemed huge but it wasn’t much bigger than the ice rink back home. It smelled of livestock and sawdust which made sense as this was a farm auction. There would be cows, pigs, sheep, and rabbits for sale along with farm machinery and the occasional antique. I liked staring at the cows and petting the horses. I liked being in the middle of activity and having everyone ignore me as I read my book, I always took a book everywhere with me (then and now).
My baby brother bid on and got a rabbit. A rabbit and a cage; I don’t remember what colour the rabbit was but dusty brown is what lingers in the back of my mind. I have no idea where the money came from. I’m thinking baby brother whined long enough and our uncle bought it for him.
Mom was not happy when we got home. She did not want a rabbit, the responsibility of a rabbit; this was during a short time in my childhood when we were totally pet-free. Being pet free didn’t last long, father was always trying to give us pets – he bought us gerbils then when they disappeared he brought us a dog. We also had fish for a while (another “gift” from father).
Disappeared – such an innocuous word. The rabbit and the gerbils didn’t “disappear”. They were liberated, set free, aka released into the wilds aka a small grove of trees, surrounding a farmhouse, just outside of town. I hope the rabbit adjusted and had a long, hoppy life. I suspect the gerbils died during the first heavy frost.
This is why you don’t give a child a pet unless the parents also agree to it!!
I like old stuff. I like looking through other people’s stuff and making up stories about them.
Where were we? Ah yes, auctions.
The summer I came back from finishing university there were a lot of street auctions in my small home town as the older residents moved on and out. A street auction is when an auctioneer sets up shop in front of the residence and sells everything you want gone.
I bought a lot of tea cups that summer. Tea cups are one of the things that I like to collect. Old china tea cups are delicate and elegant, something I’ve never felt that I am or ever will be. I use to envy my classmates with their elegant kitchens and grandmothers’ tea cups sparkling center stage. My grandmothers had tea cups but we were not allowed to use them. I only could admire the tea cups when I was dusting them.
When I was young and quiet and perfect, my mother and I use to go over to Grandma F’s (a neighbour not my real grandma) for afternoon tea. Grandma Katie would make me chamomile tea (with lots of milk and sugar) and we would use her best tea cups. I felt grown-up. I thank the stars that tea cups make me think of this kind old lady who didn’t worry about cups getting cracked or broken. I want to be a little old lady like that but I have miles to go yet – I still hold on too tightly to my most precious things.
I worry about my books getting ripped, my tea cups getting broken and my toys getting wrecked.
This is my favourite tea cup. I like that there is an extra saucer for dainties. I use to use it a lot but not lately. Lately, I’ve been stingy even with myself. I’ve been worried that I’ll break it and then I’ll have nothing left but memories.
I keep hearing don’t touch, be careful, you’re not good enough to use something so perfect; you’re too poor to have nice things.
Isn’t it amazing how much class issues dictate our lives in this, our supposedly, class-less society.
Where were we? Ah yes, auctions.
I like them all. I like rink auctions, auctions held in auction houses, art auctions and estate auctions.
I only wish I had money to waste right now. I want a card catalog but the one at the local antique store is almost 6 grand plus too large but oh so majestic in all its oak-ness. I covet it.
I would like to spend the summer perusing auctions but I will make do with just starting the summer with one.
I was at a family auction yesterday. It was a lot of hard work. It was also fun.
Where were we? Ah yes, auctions.
You’ve seen this picture before, click on it to be taken to January’s post about the colour “Yellow.”
It is Easter Sunday today. I will go to church today. I will wear jeans and a sweater (probably).
I will not feel pretty.
Dressing up for Sunday service use to make me feel pretty.
I was a child in the 1960s when dressing your family all alike was a trend.
For an example, see the first picture of this post; my younger brother probably had a shirt made of the same material.
We were poor. We got new dresses two or three times a year, Easter, the first day of school and Christmas. They were not store bought dresses, they were home sewed. My mom would buy the pattern and materials and her friend would do the sewing.
I think the reason slips evolved and stuck as a necessity, even when someone’s already wearing so many layers that she doesn’t need them for modesty, is that traditionally, dresses were not washed very often. A slip (or, in previous centuries, a shift) could be washed and dried often and easily, and it would keep sweat off of the dress, so that it wouldn’t need to be more than brushed off after being worn. If you only got a new dress once every few years, it had to last!
Pretty. New dresses use to make me feel pretty.
Dressing up use to make me feel pretty.
Even though, I could wear the same dress (basically) nine years in a row. I was tiny and wore my sisters’ hand-me-downs. Thus, that yellow dress above was something I wore until all three dresses were worn out.
I don’t remember getting a choice of what kind of dresses I wanted to wear.
Still, getting dressed up for Sunday service use to make me feel pretty.
I would get up on Sunday morning, put on a dress, tights and black Mary Jane shoes. I would get to wear the necklaces my father’s parents bought me on special occasions (they would buy us necklaces for Christmas and on our birthdays). I wasn’t allowed to wear jewelry anywhere but church. I was a fiddler; necklace chains always broke on me and would get lost.
Still, in spite of all the fuss, I felt pretty.
Until I turned thirteen and noticed what everyone in my peer group was saying. They said that my dresses weren’t stylish and that I didn’t know how to dress.
They weren’t wrong.
I’m not a style guru. I’m not a trend setter. I’m a plain and tall woman with plain taste.
Now, I wear dresses maybe once every decade or so. The last dress I bought was black and makes me feel too tall because the hem falls between my knees and ankles – in the catalog the hem hovers right over the model’s shoe top.
I need a Fairy Goth Mother.
I need a stylist to teach me how to dress.
Or maybe, I just need to ignore everyone’s fashion advice and wear what makes me feel pretty.
Growing up, I spent one month out of the summer living with my dad and step-mom in Banff, Alberta. This was before Banff was a major commercial tourist destination. Back then, Banff was more than a small town but not so much more that we were never allowed to wander around alone.
My older sisters would come to work, usually as hotel maids or shop assistants and my younger brother and I were expected to stay with and get to know the half-siblings. It made for interesting sibling rivalry at times. I was use to being on my own. At home, my older sisters and younger brother had their own lives and friends. I was the quiet one. I spent a lot of my time hiding and reading.
At home, I had my favourite places to read: in closets and under beds. There was less room at dads’ to hide and more people to hide from. Yet somehow, an old army tent became just that – my perfect reading/hiding place.
It was a big tent. It was army green. I, my baby brother, my three step-siblings and the three or four children my step-mother babysat could all fit in it when we wanted to. It took up the entire front of the backyard with a swing set behind it. It looked just like this picture (below) except it was a much darker green.
I could spend hours alone in that dusty, hot tent, thinking, daydreaming and reading. The others, all younger than me, would wander in and out, play on the swings, run around the yard and retreat (finally) to the relatively, cooler house.
Then, blissfully, I would be all alone. The quietness, the greenness of the tent would envelop me as if I were in the middle of a vast forest or under a deep green lake. I would float, dissolve, and get lost in the absolute warmth and quiet.
It’s ironic how happy I could be in that tent in the backyard. I am not a camper. I’ve camped. My sister and her husband and infant son drove me to university (the first time) and we spent the weekend before camping outside of Banff. It rained and rained and rained. The baby cried all weekend. Ironically, that baby camps now as an adult very regularly – he’d live in a tent, I’m sure, if he could.
We, my ex & I, camped on our honeymoon trip – a week, by car from Saskatchewan to Lake Erie and his relatives in Ontario and back again. It rained. All week. I wept like a baby the last night and he paid for a hotel room.
I do remember one good camping trip. My dad took all of us (two adults, 8 children, a baby and a dog) to camp beside an icy blue lake just above Canmore, Alberta. The adults with baby slept in the van and we children got the tent. I slept on a rock (pebble) all night.
But I remember the stillness and the beauty of that lake. The perfection of a quiet night alone with just us (family) and the wilderness and running down to the lake with my siblings feeling as if we were all whole and perfect. Family.
Were you ever out in the Great Alone, when the moon was awful clear,
And the icy mountains hemmed you in with a silence you most could HEAR;
With only the howl of a timber wolf, and you camped there in the cold,
… … … … … … … … …
While high overhead, green, yellow and red, the North Lights swept in bars?
Then you’ve a haunch what the music meant . . . hunger and night and the stars.
The Shooting Of Dan McGrew
I can’t give you a picture that I’ve taken, of the aurora borealis because my camera is not that good (or maybe I’m not that good of a photographer). I’ve heard the aurora borealis has been very active this winter but I’ve not been out late enough or far enough from the city to see any. I miss seeing the lights. Growing up, in a small town, walking home (after midnight) from babysitting I would see the northern lights at least once a winter!
It has been a tense week. It has been a tense year and I am yearning for hideaways – for caves and tents. I am hibernating this weekend, sick and not daring to wander far from a bathroom. On Friday, I closed my curtains and left the world outside as I read and pretended that being a child would be easier than having to be a responsible grown-up.
I wrote the following in the spring of 1996…
I see it in something as simple as how we eat an apple. I go down to the core, biting at the flesh until all that is left are the seeds. He – he takes a bite here, there, leisurely enjoying the taste, leaving a core an inch or two thick. I gnaw at bones, sucking marrow & fat from them. He cuts away the fat. Why this difference? Is it class based? Does my body feel a hunger my mind does not remember? I take a workman’s lunch to school – a piece of bread, a hunk of pepperoni, an apple. He brings sandwiches, yogurt, and an apple.
I slowly process my life through observation and thought.
My grandfather (my mother’s father) was a traditional man.
In his opinion, there were certain things that men did and certain things that women did.
Men would cut grass, sharpen knifes, and work outside the home.
Women keep house, raise the children, and tend to the farm animals.
When my grandfather immigrated to Canada, one of the most humiliating incidents in his new life as a farm labourer was needing to have my grandmother show him how to milk a cow. In the old country, this was women’s work.
I also think that there were class differences between my grandparents.
My grandmother was a peasant farmer’s daughter, and one of many children. Her father married three times because of various tragedies – one wife died in a fire. I imagine a lifestyle not unlike Tevye’s farm existence in Fiddler on the Roof; though my grandmother’s family was Polish Lutherans not Russian Jews.
My grandfather came (I think) from a classier background. Was his father a store keeper or a tradesman? I don’t know. My grandfather, besides making his living as a farmer, was also a skilled carpenter and furniture maker. Where did he learn these trades?
I think he learned farming, from his brother-in-law, after he immigrated to Canada not before. Canada, at that time, wanted farmers and after getting sponsored to work as a farm labourer eventually my grandfather was able to afford land of his own. He kept farming but also spent time helping to build churches.
From the stories I remember him telling about the old country, he was a learned man and a traveler. He knew four languages (German, Polish, Ukrainian, Russian) before he learned English and could read German before reading English. I know this because his childhood bible was written in German. During WW1, he fought for the Russians – not his choice. He told me he was conscripted. He told my eldest sister that he decided to leave the old country (we assume Poland as this is where his children were born) because he saw a man shot to death on the street in front of him. By who, the police, the state, I do not know. My mother’s parents did not tell a lot of stories or maybe I was too self involved to listen and hear.
What I remember is that he would not let me cut the grass. I spent my days at his house helping my grandmother in the kitchen and picking raspberries.
What I remember is that he was always brisk and annoyed with me. I had to sit in the front of the car because I got car-sick and this annoyed him.
What I remember is the rocking cradle he crafted and painted for my baby doll. I still have it. It still rocks. He also made us a child’s table and chair. I only remember the one chair. I sat on it, when I was thirteen, and broke it.
What I remember is a tall, strong, brisk man who seldom smiled but always did his duty.
What I remember is a man who sharpened his own knifes but would not teach me how because I was a girl. My knives need sharpening and I wish I knew how to. I wish that my grandfather had seen that I was confident and capable enough to teach how to sharpen knives.
Girls do not, girls did not; things were changing to quick for him when I was a feminist teenager in the 1970s. I wonder what he would think of his great-granddaughters having and being able to use their own tools. My eldest sister gave all of her children – girls & boys – a toolbox of their own when they became teenagers.
What I remember is watching my grandfather eat an apple. His favourite apple was the McIntosh.
He would use the penknife, he carried with him everywhere, to peel the apple. He would start at the top of the apple, close to the stem, and work his way down and around. I remember the peel coming off in one long curl but it couldn’t have always. I have experience now peeling apples and know how impossible this is to do.
Once the apple was peeled, he would cut out a section and eat it, piece by piece, until the apple was gone. It seemed so elegant to eat an apple this way rather than biting at it tearing out chunks with your teeth as we children did.
I know now that, for him, this was also a practical way to eat an apple. He had false teeth and biting a whole apple would have been risky. I know this now because I am older and prefer to eat my apples in pieces as I worry about my teeth (not false yet) thinning out and cracking apart. Oh, the perils of getting older. The perils you don’t see until you are right there, still wanting to enjoy apples and wondering about the folly of toffee sticking to your cavities.
Is that a birthday? ’tis, alas! too clear;
‘Tis but the funeral of the former year.
The paired butterflies are already yellow with August
Over the grass in the West garden;
They hurt me. I grow older.
We thought we were running away from the grown-ups, and now we’re the grown-ups.
You know, when I first went into the movies Lionel Barrymore played my grandfather. Later he played my father and finally he played my husband. If he had lived I’m sure I would have played his mother. That’s the way it is in Hollywood. The men get younger and the women get older.
Watching my Grandfather I learned many things. I learned about gender roles. I learned about yearning.
I should have listened better. I should have asked more questions. I should have asked him to teach me how to sharpen knives.
I remember watching my grandfather eat an apple and offering me a piece/offering me peace.
We are too soon gone no matter how long we are actually here.
I am old. I am feeling old. This winter, my right knee has been acting up almost every day. This is new. It used to be that my right knee would on occasion (once a year maybe) freeze up on me. I would baby it a day or two and than I would be fine. But this year! Arthritis runs in the family and my mom has had both her knees replaced and I really don’t want to go there (not for decades). Oh my achy bones! Everybody (all together now) say, with a sigh, “Poor me.”
My body has never been perfect. I was a scrawny kid and an iron-deficient teen. From the age of thirteen on, it was almost a given that I would sprain an ankle sometime during the year. The one constant in my first aid arsenal is a tension bandage and I know (without thinking about it) the best treatment for a sprained ankle – RICE it; that is, Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate.
Getting older is annoying in the littlest ways. What I know about my body changes daily and I had just started to figure it out. Finally, my body was getting enough iron and my monthlies were fairly regular. Now it’s like I’m back at the beginning as the pain/annoyance factor equals how my body reacted when my monthly cycle started. All the literature I read says that this means I’m entering Peri-menopause (o joy, o fun).
I didn’t want to be this type of little old lady – complaining of all my aches and pains and concerned about ice and falls.
When I was in my late twenties, I lived downtown on Third Avenue. I was in the right-side front apartment on the third floor. A little old lady lived in the left-side front apartment on the first floor. The apartment building mostly consisted of university students who moved in in September and out in April.
About once a week, this little old lady (click on the link to learn more) would trudge up to my apartment and knock on the door. She would stand there with a can and non-electric can opener (see pictures) and say “please, could you”. She didn’t say much else. Even though I found her annoying, I helped when I could. I was young. I was callous. I preferred to solve my own problems and let others solve theirs. I just wanted to be left alone! Hopefully, I didn’t convey that attitude to her. I’m sure it was hard enough, for her, to just ask for help.
Now I have the captain’s voice from Wall-E echoing “Man-u-al”.
I also understand why everyone else owns an electric can opener.
Jars & cans have become a weekly annoyance. Commercial jars are not just hard to open they are also annoying as one must first remove a plastic seal before commencing to twist the lid off. At least with my mom’s canning jars all I usually have to do is soak them (upside down) in about two inches of hot water and they’ll open right up.
I have found that turning a jar upside down and banging on the counter will break the seal but I’m always worried that I’ll also break the jar and then I’ll have a mess to clean up. My first solution is always to bang on the edges of a stuck lid with the handle of a dinner knife hard enough to leave dents. Again, this usually breaks the seal and I then can open the jar.
I may be old and weak but I still have my smarts (tapping my head).
I’m starting to get it. Why old people are always going around muttering annoyingly, I mean.
This is now me. A cranky, annoyed old lady muttering evilly half under her breath about the things she no longer finds easy to do (like opening a jar or getting a pill out of a new package for the headaches that simple tasks cause).
Which is better than the alternative (which would be – not getting older)!