Monday, March 28, 2016

What makes a memorable holiday?

 What? Chickens in the attic?

Easter has come and gone with all the implications and celebrations associated with it. All weekend, I've thought about my most memorable Easter. Kids today gather chocolate eggs and fuzzy, stuffed chicks. Our eggs were hard boiled and painted by us. Our chicks - well, here's the story.

I was about eight years old. We lived in a three-story, wood frame house with extra staircases, and polished oak floors. Off the formal, echoing, main hall, the kitchen offered warmth and food. A brick chimney ran up one wall, wonderful smells emanated from the stove set in a nook at the side and sunlight poured in big windows along the back wall.

Cast-iron radiators used to dry mitts, and supporting a wooden top that held Mom's big Oxford dictionary, ran under the window. Outside, a steep hill ran up to a plateau that held my father's garden. We were a minister's family and luxuries were few and far between. But my parents managed to make our life rich and happy.

Mom ironed paper bags for art paper and taught us to make African villages out of them. Dad, well he did things stemming from his Manitoba-farm background. Plants and flowers filled tables in every window in the house and vegetables grew thickly in the upper garden. He scythed the hills by hand with huge swishing sweeps and taught us to weed.

Easter in our house centered around the church and the traditional Easter services. My parents usually hid the eggs we'd colored and gave us small baskets filled with bright colored fake straw. We had fun. We didn't know anything different.

All of those details are fuzzy and some bits are filled in with tradition rather than what I remember. However, the one year that stands out is the year we burst into the warm haven of the kitchen to find real baby chicks keeping warm on the oven door. When I close my eyes and remember, a welling of excitement and wonder still floods me.

Dad grew up with various winged fowl on the farm, but we were in the middle of town. We weren't allowed to build a chicken coop in the backyard. But Dad had a plan. As those chicks outgrew the various boxes and their yellow downy feathers were replaced with russet and brown and golden feathers, he built them a chicken house--in the attic.

The third floor had two finished rooms with softwood floors. He covered the floor of one room with cardboard boxes. One layer of flattened boxes running left to right and another layer running front to back creating a sealed layer. Next came an old-fashioned screen door to replace the standard door on the room.

We then transferred the half-grown chicks into their new home. I'm not sure how long we kept them , but it was quite a friend-maker. No one else had chickens in the attic.

Summer came and we transported the chickens to a friend's home in Cape Breton. Roddie and Jessie had a flock and ours were added to theirs. Jessie would tell us that our morning eggs came from our chickens. At the time, that seemed reasonable. Now I know it might have been a bit of a stretch.

What is your most memorable holiday event? Do you think that in the fifties, we had it worse or better than the kids today have it? Or was it just different?

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Finally Doing IT

Fulfill that dream....


Learn to fly...

Recently a friend told me she'd called the flying club about taking a trial flight with the view to taking flying lessons. It was something the young her wanted to do. I have another friend who did the same thing after her divorce.  Flying, soaring in the wild, blue yonder, is synonymous with freedom. Not so much freedom of the body, but freedom of the soul, the secret, inner us.

Look back...

I asked the question,  "What had I wanted to do when I was still young?" Before the so-called reality of the world made itself known, before I hit puberty and grew up. My mind ended back in the ages 8 to 10. I was on a swing with the neighbors' one-year-old on my lap. I was singing to her, making up the words as I went and my whole being, experienced bliss.

...and remember.

I remember being fascinated with symbols, alphabets and words. I learned a secret code with my brother. I was given the Korean alphabet, and I practiced making the letters. I learned the two-handed alphabet from a deaf cousin. I loved Latin because it helped me with my words. I wrote because my words painted stories. I write mystery novels to entertain others.

Find a way...

This morning, as I read through my Facebook, I saw a video by a deaf woman on why trying to integrate deaf children into the hearing world and denying them ASL (American Sign Language) does not work. It ends up isolating them. ASL is the language that allows them to learn and be included. I have enough French and Polish to say hello, thank you, my name is {Mary}. Why not be able to do at least that much in ASL?

A tiny voice in my heart said, "It's not too late."

This morning I looked up ASL lessons on YouTube. There are plenty.  For now - that's where I'll learn. In the future I hope to find a class where I can interact with others for practice.

Excitement floods in my middle as I accept that, even though I am 5+ decades into this life, I can still learn the things I wanted to learn way back when. I owe it to my childhood self to at least try.

What was your dream?

Sit silently and remember being eight, or nine, or ten. What pleased the young you? What dreams did you hold in your heart, dreams that got buried in life's happenings? Can you find a way to fulfill that dream, to feel the bliss that comes with accomplishing it?

Or at least trying. Share with us if you like.

Follow your dream and soar.


Thursday, March 3, 2016

Has the FOO hit you?




What were your dreams?

What were the family expectations for you?

  •  I wanted to write mystery stories like Nancy Drew books and Miss Marple stories.
  • Heck, I wanted to solve mysteries like Nancy Drew and be a detective.
  •  I wanted to fix my bicycle myself—not a girly activity in the 60’s—and be a mechanic.
  •  I longed to drive crazy-fast and be a race-car driver.
  •  I loved to play-act and wanted to be an actress.


That’s nice dear BUT:

  •  you can’t make money at that
  •  girls don’t do that
  •   <laughter> don’t be silly, ordinary people like us don’t do those things

I hated the word BUT. However over time, I conformed to the expectations that came with being a small-town minister’s daughter in the ’50’s and 60’s.

I took figure skating lessons, but never took any tests to get the badges. Testing was on Sunday and we had to pay for them. At that time, exchanging money for goods or services ON THE LORD’S DAY was frowned on. Minister’s daughter had to set an example. No Tests.

 Another phrase I heard often was, ‘what would people think of your father?’

  • ·        if you go the Elvis movie
  • ·        if you date a Roman Catholic
  • ·        if you stay out at that party until midnight?

And you should have heard the lecture I got when I went to the Homecoming Dance with the captain of the football team. The young man with the wildest reputation in the school who (supposedly) had a condom in his wallet. (And no, I never confirmed that last bit.)

Looking back, it’s no wonder that I’ve worried about the opinions of the omniscient “they.” That fear slowed me down.

I see the next generation breaking into a variety of fields, excelling at their work, branching out and being the best they can be. I’m happy for them, I’m excited and I’m proud of them.  The world has come a long way since the 50’s. Thank goodness.

The FOO may have slowed my down, but it didn't stop me.

I’ve had my successes in spite of the FOO

  •  First female real estate appraiser in Nova Scotia, drawing down a “man’s” salary in the ‘80s
  • Teacher, trainer and public speaker in a variety of areas
  • And in recent years, author of two published mystery novels.

I sometimes wonder what I could have accomplished if the FOO had supported me in those early dreams. But I am who I am, and I am happy with me! In retrospect, I learned different lessons and those serve me well in many other ways. I have no regrets - it's been a heck of a ride through life.
But there is no doubt, the FOO shapes us.

What did your FOO visit on you?

Did it help you or hinder you? What advice do you offer to others?