Category Archives: Childhood innocence

A Blast From the Past

Punishments. It is a part of the growing process when it is done correctly. I was punished as a child. I was given the strap. No wait a minute. My brother and sister hid the strap when we moved one year and I never got it. They say that accounts for the deficiency in my character. Ok, I had a wooden spoon whacked across my backside. I think. I remember the wooden spoon and I remember (sometimes) what I did to deserve it but I’m not sure where I got it. I do remember getting my mouth washed out with soap. Talk about a punishment! It was for spitting and I tell you, it was fifty some odd years ago, and I can still taste the soap and I have never spit again. Period. End of story. Prison wardens have nothing on my mother when it came to punishments. Wait a minute. That wasn’t the best punishment she ever dished out. There is an episode that my sister and I both remember. It was that severe. The anguish that it caused at the time and the pain it can still bring to mind…. My mother was an expert at inflicting just the right punishment. Read on.

My sister and I fought. This is no surprise to anyone with two daughters I am sure. She is older than I am and I always admired her. No wait a minute, I was a kid. I was jealous. As an adult it is admiration, as a kid it is jealousy. I don’t remember what we were fighting about. It was just something we did. We fought. But my mom didn’t care for it. I guess we must have been pretty loud because my mother opened the front door and left. She just left. Her own house. Our fighting had driven our mother away! Talk about a guilt trip! I followed mom down the street to a dead end. She was just sitting on the curb crying. Wow. Powerful imagery for a child. We had made our mom cry. Fifty some years later I can still remember the feel of that curb. Now I am sure my sister and I still fought in those days but we never again drove our mother out of the house. At least I don’t remember. (My sister and I are now adults and we don’t fight – but that is for another book).

 

Advertisements

Animal Tails

scan-11

Dog eats bird: Breaking News Ten Years Later

As a child I had a fascination with animals: all kinds of animals. At one time or another I had turtles, fish, birds, cats, and dogs. I always wanted white mice but my mother put her foot down over that one. Over the years I have had many birds along with the family dogs. One episode in particular happened while I was at school. I came home to find my mother at the door with a sad look on her face. My bird had died. My mother, being the kind soul that she was, buried the bird. I never thought to ask why I wasn’t invited to the funeral, or how the bird died. My mom wouldn’t lie to me or lead me astray, would she? Read on.

Ten years later my mother is regaling a friend with the story of this clever bird that would open its cage door and dive bomb our poodle. One day the bird attacked the family dog and, well, the dog grabbed the bird. The bird died. It gives a whole new understanding of the expression ‘dog’s breakfast’. The story continued. Evidently the feathers were so thick in the air you could have cut them with a machete. Ten years later and I burst into tears. Ten years. The poodle in question was sleeping on the floor at my feet. My mother didn’t want me to hate our dog so she told me the bird had just died. She didn’t actually lie; she just didn’t tell me the whole truth. The only reason I even knew the bird had died was because my mother couldn’t find another one to replace it. And she did try. Now I can appreciate why she would want to protect the child. Childhood is a fragile time. I understood death but not killing. Especially by someone I loved. And I did love that dog, killer that he was. Moms are so smart, I can’t remember the name of that bird but the dog was called Beau Brummel and I still miss him.

Beau Brummel

When we were growing up we used to take a drive almost every Sunday after Church. It was a great way to see what was beyond the boundaries of our home. On one such trip we stopped for lunch at a small diner in a town near Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Canada. After eating, my brother (11) and sister (9) wandered away and found a phone book. They returned to the table to inform my father that there was a dog kennel in town and that he had promised them a dog. That is how we ended up in a kennel looking at a litter of poodles frolicking on the floor at our feet. My father wanted a Shepard but the owner would not sell a Shepard to a family with small children because of possible biting problems with the breed. So we watched these poodle pups for a minute. In the midst of the ruckus was a slightly older puppy, 8 months old. No one wanted him because his front legs had been broken as a small pup and not set properly. As a result his front legs were not straight. He walked and ran just fine. His lineage may have been good but he wasn’t perfect, except to us. Beau lived to be 17 years old and he was a valuable thread that weaved through all our lives.

 

I hope you enjoyed this brief glimpse into my past  . . . .

 

Trick or Treat

 

Ghost b

Juan’s hand gently caressed her cheek until his hand cupped her chin.

“I love you my darling Persephone.”

She closed her eyes, her lips pursed in anticipation.

Juan’s mouth hovered over Persephone’s, his breath warm on her cheeks.

“My darling,” he whispered as he placed his full, quivering lips against hers. In that moment the world ceased to exist. Her breath caught in her throat, her arms encircled his neck and she . . . “

“Penny, sorry to disturb you but I have got to have that report on the boss’s desk by noon and I still don’t have your numbers. Wake up girl friend; you can’t daydream all day, work to do, work to do!”

Penny blinked rapidly. She couldn’t quite grasp that what she had just experienced was a dream. The reality was that she was sitting in an office in a cramped cubicle with a four inch pile of work in front of her that needed to be completed by the end of the day.

“I’ll, I’ll get right at it. I’m almost finished, I promise.” She stammered her words as she tried to make sense of things.

Penny Elizabeth Foster was an ordinary woman, in an ordinary job, in an ordinary world. What was extraordinary was her imagination. As she went about the rest of her day Penny smiled at a secret memory. Her Don Juan had taken her in his arms and made mad passionate love to her. The fact that that memory was actually only a dream was immaterial. To Penny her fantasy life was just as vibrant and vital as the real world.

So the rest of the day Ms. Foster did as was expected of her. She collated, she typed, she filed. She filled the endless minutes with minutia and with deadlines. Eventually the magical hour approached: the end of her day.

“Happy Halloween Penny! Are you getting dressed up to give out candies tonight?”

“Yes Eddy and no you can’t come over. Besides you would scare the neighbourhood children. Say hi to your wife, Eddy.”

The last thing Penny wanted was to get involved with the office romancer. Or at least that’s how he saw himself. She packed up her purse and coat and made her way to her car. It wasn’t a long drive home but it’s one she enjoyed because she didn’t have to listen to anybody else talk. She could continue her fantasies as she wished.

“Ladies and gentlemen we have a special treat today: Ms. Persephone Foster is in the front line up for today’s race. She is a world renowned stock car driver. She has won both the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400. Her mentor was the legendary Don Juan of car racing. The let’s sit back and enjoy today’s race. Gentleman and lady, start your engines!”

“Hey lady, the light’s green, move!”

With a grin Penny realized that she was still sitting at a green light. She chuckled and continued on her way home.

She had always enjoyed Halloween. It was a time when every one could indulge in their secret fantasies without being seen to be odd. Yes there were the ghosts and goblins and the scary monsters but there were also characters from history and whimsical creatures. That was the part Penny enjoyed most. Besides who couldn’t resist a child dressed up like a bunny? Yes she loved this day in the year.

So with her usual efficiency Penny set about getting the candy ready to be handed out to the children, or more specifically the ‘trick or treaters’. After all, the indulgence in fantasies or whimsy is not just for the children.

She had spent a great deal of time preparing her own costume. It wouldn’t do to answer the door in jeans. No, Penny was going to be prepared in a costume that was appropriate to her frame of mind at just this time. She had always liked the concept of a damsel in distress so she dressed herself in flowing garments reminiscent of Sleeping Beauty. If only her Prince Charming could come by tonight.

“Trick or treat! Trick-or-treat!”

The first of the ghosts and goblins had made their appearance and Penny was ready.

“Oh my goodness what very scary ghosts and goblins you are!”

As she handed out the candy to the multitude of children at her door Penny was reminded of her own costumes as a child. There was the cat with the long tail that kept dragging in puddles, or the space alien with the javex bottle for a helmet that was spray-painted gold. There was even a gypsy one year with all of her mother’s costume jewellery draped around her neck and her arms. Her mother had become quite adept at making costumes. It was something new every year.

Each year saw its share of ghosts and goblins, bunnies, squirrels and cats. It was exciting to see the wonder in the eyes of the children and the quiet fatigue in the eyes of their parents as they shepherded their children from door to door. But this year everything changed.

No one had rung her doorbell or cried “trick-or-treat” for about twenty minutes so Penny was starting to clean everything up. Another Halloween was over. There was something very sad about that. But then it just meant that one looked forward to next year.

BBBBBRRRRRRRRRRRRRINGGG

“Trick or Treat.”

The doorbell immediately got Penny’s attention but the quiet little voice that was saying ‘trick-or-treat’ was far more compelling. When she opened the door Penny saw an adorable little brown bunny or more specifically a very small child in an oversized bunny costume. As she leaned down she could see incredibly huge pleading eyes that were almost in tears.

“Well hello little bunny, here is some candy, but are you okay?”

Sniff, “I think I lost my dad. He doesn’t like to be lost in the dark. Can you help me find him?”

Penny immediately looked up to see if she could find this errant father. How dare he allow this small child to wander the streets without him! She was not going to allow this youngster to stay out here alone any longer.

“You come inside little bunny. My name is Penny what’s yours?”

“Miranda.”

Do you want me to call your mother?

“It’s only my dad and me.” As she spoke Miranda put her tiny little hand in Penny’s. This small child needed comfort and she was going to take it from whatever adult was handy. Penny was touched. She knelt down on one knee and embraced her.

“We’ll find your dad don’t you worry.”

Penny was trying to be comforting but inside she was angry. What could possibly cause a father to lose sight of this precious child! When she found this man she was going to give him a piece of her mind! But first Miranda had to be reassured.

Within a few moments Penny was sure that her new charge was okay. She was sitting at the kitchen table with glass of milk and a cookie. Penny was preparing to call the police but she was hesitant. She had heard stories about children going into foster care and essentially disappearing into a system that was not conducive to proper child care. So she hesitated.

As she looked across the room to this lonely child she felt an overwhelming sense of responsibility. In this day and age we are all responsible for our actions and we should never shirk that responsibility. Sitting across the kitchen table was someone who was asking for her help. She just could not drop that responsibility on someone else.

Penny was about to take the child out again into the dark. She would find this man, the father of this child.

BBBBBBBBBBBRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGG

Once again the door unexpectedly demanded attention. When it wasn’t immediately opened, insistent knocking followed. Penny approached the door hesitantly, someone was anxious to get in. A moment ago she had been anxious to track down an errant father on a dark Halloween night. But now? Who knows what Spirits are walking in the dusky light? Now she was afraid to open the door. The knocking continued louder, and louder. They say that on one night of the year ghosts are capable of taking form and interacting with the living. They say that on one night of the year evil lurks within reach of the innocent.

The knocking continued, louder. A voice was added to the banging; “Miranda, I know you’re in there, Miranda!”

With a relieved sigh Penny realized who was at the door: Miranda’s father.

With no further hesitation she threw open the door and then stopped. In front of her was the man that she had been dreaming about earlier this day, a man of strength, of character and a father. Upon hearing her father’s voice Miranda ran to him.

“I’m sorry daddy, I’m sorry I ran away! I’m sorry, I’m sorry! But this nice lady took care of me and she doesn’t have a husband.”

For just a moment no one said a word. And then the man spoke,

“I’m terribly sorry for what my daughter has done. She has caused both of us undo concern. I would like to make it up to you, my name is Don.”

Penny opened her mouth to respond but found that she was tongue-tied. In the doorway of her home was the man she had been dreaming about. She would have to say something witty and intelligent, but for the moment her mind was a blank.

“Oh geez did I disturb you? The boss won’t like ya sleeping on the job! Look a bunch of us are going over to the pub after work, it’s been a rough day. Why don’t you join us? Nobody hands out candy anymore, the kids all go to each other’s homes for parties; parents are too afraid of serial rapists and poisoned candy. Penny are you okay? You look like you’ve seen a ghost! If you want to come to the pub we’re leaving in twenty minutes.

Penny blinked her eyes repeatedly. She was still at her desk, she was still filing and she was still single. Trick-or-treat?

booHALLOWEEN 2

  ~HAPPY HALLOWEEN~

I want to be an ‘ism’!

 

dec 2012 006

 

Think about it. ‘Isms’ have thousands if not millions who believe in them. Everyone knows at least a couple of witticisms. Some people believe them so much they live their life according to their wisdom. Volunteerism is regarded throughout the world as one of the better things human beings do. Millions of people love ventriloquism and so many are very much into vegetarianism.

There is tourism and synergism, survivalism and cannibalism. Oh, wait, not that one! Here’s a good one:   heroism! Yes, that’s better. Whew! How about absurdism or activism? Altruism and realism. Yes I want to be an ‘ism’. My daily quips could become Qu-isms! Isn’t that kind of cool? Cosmopolitanism or Cubism, eroticism, antidisestablishmentarianism. Now that’s a mouthful!

While I was wandering around looking up ideas for ‘ism’ I discovered that there are a lot of fun silly words that use that suffix. I also discovered some not nice even heinous, horrible words. Like plagiarism or narcissism or racism and terrorism. These are definitely words I do not want to have any contact with. As horrible as these issues are we must never dismissed them. They are part of our everyday lives. We must work within ourselves and in our communities to eradicate the negative isms. But that doesn’t mean we have to stop having a little fun. So I still think I want to be an ‘ism’. Wouldn’t you?

A Simple Wooden Spoon

IMG_0760

I decided that I was in the mood for some homemade soup. One of my favourites is potato and bacon. Usually the kind of thing you want on a cold snowy day but I had a hankering for it.

As usual I got out my soup pot as well as the ingredients and utensils I would need. And then I stopped. In my hand was a wooden spoon. It wasn’t just any wooden spoon. This particular utensil had been a part of my life for close to 50 years. That was amazing!

When I was a child I was wilful and disobedient. I had one hell of a childhood! The corporal punishment usually inflicted was a few whacks of the wooden spoon across my buttocks. I’m afraid my backside and that piece of wood got together way too often. But I grew into a responsible adult so maybe it wasn’t all bad.

It often amazes me how we constantly reminisce about a time in our lives that is long past. There’re those who say the past should stay in the past. I don’t think that’s possible. We are the people we are today because of the actions that were taken before. The people that we met, the activities we engaged in, the failures we had. All of these things contributed to the person we have become.

What is it about who you are today that you like, love and hate. Nothing in this world is perfect and yet our memories often show us a past that seems to have been perfect. When I remember my childhood, I remember the good bits. I remember the love. I remember the support. I remember the laughter. There was a lot of laughter. I know my life wasn’t perfect. Isn’t perfect now. But I hope I will always remember easily the love and the laughter that is and was perfect.

I don’t want to forget the bad bits nor do I want to dwell on them. I was called names and beat up for simply being different. But that taught me tolerance and understanding. We are all different in someway. We should embrace that, celebrate that. I had spectacular failures and I had outstanding successes. I learned from all of my experiences and I am a better person for it.

Oh and that recipe for the potato soup? In case you’re interested:

Potato soup

One bag frozen hashbrowns

One can Cream of mushroom soup

4-6 cups chicken stock

1 cup cheese

One cup bacon bits

 

Directions:
Put the potatoes in the crockpot. Add in the chicken broth, cream of chicken soup and half of the bacon bits. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.
Cook on low for 8 hours or until potatoes are tender.

Top with cheddar cheese and some additional bacon bits.

Personal bits:

 

I do this on top of my stove. I use extra old white cheddar cheese. I occasionally add leftover chicken bits. The amount of chicken stock you use denotes the consistency of the soup. I like my soup rather thick so I use less stock.

 

I hope you enjoy!

100 Miles

Feb 22 2014 027

 

Reading another’s blog about his childhood made me nostalgic for my own. Here is another glimpse back to those halcyon days.

My parents and I once took a month long vacation took while we were living in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada.  I was probably 9 or 10. We packed the car and started out okay until we hit a particular section of highway that is 100 miles long with nothing but trees the entire way. It was a two lane highway so some passing of vehicles was required.  It was also popular with trailers which of course drive slower then most cars.  We had successfully passed several of these vehicles when we encountered a problem just as we came alongside one of these trailers. No acceleration. Fortunately my father had just enough power to finish passing and pull over on to the shoulder. A kind soul passing by stopped and between him and my father they determined that the accelerator cable had broken.  This stranger promised to stop at the next town and send back a tow truck.   We made ourselves comfortable.  Soon another stranger going in the opposite direction stopped to say that there was no tow truck so he would stop at the previous town and try to send one back from there. Eventually the same news came back: no tow truck available. Never one to admit defeat my father was able to rig up a solution.  A trusty coat hanger attached to the accelerator was threaded under the hood of the car to the driver’s side window became a makeshift solution.  My father wrapped socks around the coat hanger and pulled on it to accelerate.  Sounds good, with a few caveats.  It was hilly terrain so the car had to go at least 100 mph downhill to get up the next hell.  My mother sat close to my father so she could jam the gear shift into neutral if necessary.  It was a very long run to the next town I must say. When we did finally make it, the local mechanic was amazed by the ingenuity but didn’t have a replacement cable.  He did however rig the coat hanger through the floor board so it was much easier the next day.  It was replaced later.

The Cabal

IMG_0764

 

The dishwasher whispered

To the toaster one day

There’s crumbs in my workings

In an irritating way

The toaster responded

With a mouth full of bread

The faults not my own

It’s the humans I said

The kettle then screamed

My ass it’s a glow!

Stop bickering this minute

My lid’s gonna blow!

The oven just smiled

A long gentle burn

He knew what was coming

He’d just wait his turn

Then a cold laden breeze

Filled the room with despair

With the fridge door ajar

They knew who was there

“Breakfast is ready”

Came the bone chilling call

And the hoards then descended

On the appliances’ cabal

Lover’s Lane

IMG_0661

Adeline sat quietly, enjoying the warm sun on her face. It was one of those rare moments when she could sit on her porch with no interruptions and reminisce quietly.

“Grandma, grandma!”

“Gran!”

“Oh wait me!  Not fair!  Grandma I coming!”

The silence of a few moments ago was shattered by the arrival of three tow haired children of varying ages and variable vocal capabilities.  They had several things in common: hair colour, freckles, parents and an innate ability to force the world to focus on them.

Adeline may have been jolted out of her reverie but she looked with fondness on the three grandchildren approaching her at a run.  They arrived windblown and excited.  Once all three had wrapped themselves around their grandmother and kissed her at least a dozen times each, they settle down and with one voice asked one question: “story gran?”

The three children were not the only ones out of breath. Adeline smoothed her tousled hair and sat back with a grin.  She knew exactly where this was headed.

“Well now I don’t know if I should tell you a story.  I’m quite sure it would be beneficial to have an in-depth political discussion on what is happening in the world today.”  She looked at the puzzled faces in front of her.

“No Gran we want you to tell us the story of how you met grandpa.”

Adeline looked at the eldest of the three children.  She wondered how she had thought to ask that question.  Elizabeth was intelligent and very sure of herself.  It was an odd trait to have in a child that was only twelve years old.  Her sister Anne and brother Stuart were ten and five respectively.  And both of them were looking on eagerly waiting for their grandmother’s reply.

“Well now I don’t know . . .” started Adeline.

“Daddy said it was one for the books.  Did he mean you should write about it and let everybody know?”

Adeline eyes opened wide, “I’m sure that’s not what he meant!”  She whispered to herself.  To the children she spoke clearly, deftly ignoring the question.

“Well, I’ll tell you a story about your grandfather and me.  It’s about how we met, umm, but you know I can’t tell you everything.  Your grandfather and I have to keep some secrets from you three.  At least until you’re older.”

Adeline was smiling; she hoped the children didn’t notice that she was also blushing.

”Well, it all started when your grandfather arrested me.”  Before she could utter another word the children erupted.

“Oh gran you were a criminal!”

“I’ll bet you robbed a bank!  Mama says they’re the criminals!”

“Grandma were you a prostat…, a prosta, a Protestant!”

Adeline smiled and calmed the children. She thought it best that she not tell Stuart the word he was looking for was a prostitute.

“Absolutely not!  It wasn’t that kind of arrest. Now if you want me to continue you must be very quiet.”

Three fair heads nodded vigorously.

“Your grandfather was a Ranger. It’s like a policeman.  He worked the local parks and made sure there were no criminals or any criminal activity.  He also made sure that those who came to enjoy the parks were not harassed.  Unfortunately I was in the park to harass someone.”

It was at this point that Adeline stopped to think.  Should she tell the three rapt faces the complete truth or should she perhaps edit the circumstances to fit her audience’s age group?  Edit, it was the adult thing to do.

“I had recently broken up with my boyfriend.  Actually, I was about to break up with my boyfriend.  You see he was at the park with another girl.  She was supposed to be my best friend but she had stolen my boyfriend.  It was my intent to catch them together and embarrass them.  You see the particular spot they had gone to was known as Lover’s Lane.  It’s where everybody went when they were dating.  It was secluded and quiet.  Aaahhhh. It was a great spot to watch the stars.”

Adeline paused for a moment to remember the circumstances.  She had left out the bit about the can of black paint she had planned to pour on her boyfriend’s car.  That would definitely have been illegal so she really didn’t think it was a good idea to tell the children that part.

“Grandpa Oliver stopped me from making a very terrible mistake.  It was wrong of me to try and get revenge for my hurt feelings.”

“So is that when he arrested you?”  Elizabeth always got to the point quickly.

“He really didn’t arrest me.  He just threatened to.  He let me tell my story and he let me cry and rant.  He bought me a soda and we had a wonderful evening just talking. We’ve been together ever since.”

Adeline sat back and wondered if she could get away with that being the end of the story.  The children’s reactions were typical for their age and sex: Elizabeth pretended to swoon, Anne made a declaration, “Boys are not to be trusted!” And Stuart was all curled up in a ball with his thumb firmly embedded between his lips.  He made the cutest little sucking noises that for a moment everyone concentrated on.

The moment was shattered when the front door was opened by the one person they had all been thinking about.  His booming voice roused even sleeping Stuart.

“And what are you all doing out here?”  His smile belied his apparently harsh words.

Stuart merely sat up and rubbed his eyes but the two girls attach themselves to their grandfather’s open arms.

“Oh grandpa you arrested grandma!  Did you frisk her?”

“Did you throw her in the clink grandpa?  Does she have an arrest record?”

Oliver looked at Adeline over the top of children’s heads.  He raised an eyebrow.  She quickly shook her head, blushed and looked down.  Oliver nodded his head and heaved a sigh of relief.

“I think it’s time all three of you were in washing your hands for dinner.  Otherwise I’m going to have to arrest you and put you in the shed without your supper!” Oliver smiled as he said the words.  No one believed his threats but all three immediately jumped up and ran into the house.

“You didn’t tell the whole truth did you my love?”

“Oliver there are some things that are no one else’s business.  Besides I think I would like to be arrested tonight. Are you up for it? I could meet you later in the shed?”

The two old friends sat side-by-side holding hands.  Forty-three years of marriage had not dulled their sense of fun and mischief.

 

The end