Camp #1

I am writing this from Camp #7, where I have been living for four weeks as of yesterday. But more on Camp #7 later. I’m going to try and post about each camp I’ve spent time at, so this post is about Camp #1, which is where I found myself after I first left Edmonton, AB. back in late September.

I stayed with my cousins M and S from the 27th of September to the 11th of October. They live between Salmon Arm and Vernon in a manufactured home on an acte or so of land. M’s mother was my Mum’s sister and his dad was my Dad’s brother, so he is as close to me as any sibling and only a year and a bit younger. We share a love of antiques, old-fashioned ways, books, language and more. This made for a time of rest and the beginning of recuperating from the past couple of years.

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In my last post, I referred to the Best Squash Pie, ever! This was made from the flesh of a Boston Marrow, given to my sister and myself by a good friend who lives on an acreage west of Devon, AB, in the week before I moved. There was no time to make pie then, so it ended up travelling with me to Camp #1, where it was steamed, pureed (only took a couple ofminutes to puree, as it was not fibrous at all). The usual spices were added; cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and cloves. Then some brown sugar, milk, a couple of eggs and a couple tablespoons of cornstarch just to make sure it thickened up properly.And it did! We all loved it and it didn’t last too long . . .

Below is a photo of the squash. If you ever have the chance to grow them, I can highly recommend them for pie, but they are likely just as good as a vegetable, too.

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Food at Camp #1 was wonderful, as my cousins eat very much as I do when given the chance. Home-made everything, much fresh from the garden, the rest nearly all from local growers. Every lunch I had two open faced tomato sandwiches with bits of basil from the herb garden torn small and sprinkled on top. Then there were slices of cucumber and leaves of lettuce. Mmmmm

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Cousin M is retired, but his wife still works. Every day she would bring home produce and fruit that had been brought to share by her co-workers. The pear pie quickly became one of my favourite desserts.img_3966

This is the easiest pie to make, too: Pie crust was taken from the freezer and thawed, then flattened. The pears were peeled, quartered and cored, then sliced thickly on top of the bottom crust. A small handful of cinnamon hearts was sprinkled over the pears and the top crust put in place. INto the oven and a short time later we had this:img_3969

I was delighted to find that M & S had a couple of climbing nasturtium plants in the yard, as I’ve always enjoyed their peppery flavour, quite similar to watercress, I think. Often as M and I wandered around the yard looking at his plants or beginning to prepare for winter, I would pop a few leaves and flowers in my mouth. I like both in salads, too; the flowers are such a vibrant colour and really spark up a salad.
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M & S love outdoor life and often go camping. They alwasy keep an eye out for interesting rocks and some of those have made their way home and now grace the side yard.

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Aren’t they lovely?

While I was at Camp #1, Thanksgiving came along. Among the dishes were a local turkey and cherry pie made from cherries off the tree in the back yard, complete with the traditional lattice top. S and I did the top together, with me lifting strips while she threaded others through. Four hands make light work, indeed and sometimes there is no such thing as too many cooks!

I found so much to be grateful for that it was a wonderful day: family, friends, the times I’ve been so lucky to share with my parents since 1999. All of you in my Virtual Village, too. There were moments of sadness, of course, with so many of my parents’ generation now gone, but still I am grateful for the example and inspiration I’ve received from them. There will always be an empty space in my life, but it’s balanced by the fullness in my heart and mind. We will never see their like again, I think, but we are fortunate to have known them and learned so much from them.

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For years, this was the only photo I had ever seen of my maternal grandmother. The baby she is holding is my mother, so the photo would have been taken in 1923.

My mother’s parents, probably when they were engaged; my mother’s grandparents. This great=grandmother helped to care for my Mum nd her siblings after her own Mum died. I grew up on stories of Grandma C., but didn’t see a photo of her until many years later.She left Norway in 1900 with their daughters to join her husband (and, I presume, their sons) in North Dakota.

My Dad’s family on their arrival in Canada. My grandfather is at the back left, with my grandmother in front holding the baby, my Dad. The other photo is my Dad’s father in his Red Cross uniform. Mennonites did not believe in killing, so usually had other roles during World War I.

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The only known picture of my mother’s paternal grandparents, who remained in Norway along with two of their daughtes.

My Dad and M’s Dad, working together as they usually did for the first decade or so of their lives after the Army. M and I were not in school yet. The other photo is my Dad’s father’s ‘shack’ (what we called them in those days). The last place he lived before moving to the Interior to be near his three sons.

The first home I had was similar to this, but minus the shingles on the outer walls, and likely with a much smaller window or two. The home I’ve  spoken of before, where we lived when I was 5-7, was a shack like this, one small window, though, and it measured about 10 feet by 15 feet. That one housed my parents, myself and three little brothers. When we moved to the Interior, Mum was expecting my first sister, the one who moved to Edmonton for over a year to help care for Mum. Not many people would enjoy living like that today, I think, but those wee shacks still feel like ‘home’ to me and I would love to have one again.

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Spooky was found with a sibling, abandoned in the woods nearby. No one knows if they were dropped off by a person or if their mother was with them and killed by an owl or the like. The sibling didn’t survive, as they were likely barely four weeks old, but Spooky did and is now a couple of years old and full of kittenish fun. This tunnel is one of his favourite playgrounds.He is well named and took more than a week to warm up enough to allow me to touch him. M said he wandered around looking for me after I left, so I hope he remembers me when I return next year.

Myself and my two oldest brothers. I would have been close to six, D on the left nearly four and B, in the middle, nearly two. On the right, me and D.

Over sixty-five years between these two photos.

Like all the women on Mum’s side of the family, M’s Mum was gifted when it came to fibre arts. Above are the details from ust one of her doilies. It’s been washed, so is not properly stiffened. Back in the day, we used sugar water as a form of home-made starch. These pieces are awe-inspiring when starched and stretched out so that the points can be seen properly.

Details of another of her doilies. Again, if it were starched, the little triangular bits would stand up beautifully. I hope one day to find the pattern for both of these and make myself copies.

Our Dads’ father was a master carpenter. He made this chest for M’s Dad. Some years before, when our Dads married, he made similar boxes for our mothers. Those have a mirror in the lid that swings forward and supports the lid. Those boxes were meant for jewellery boxes and were handy for checking lipstick when going out. Those two boxes were fancier in design than this one and had lovely curved feet that Grandpa carved with his penknife. My Dad asked my Mum to leave hers tome, so once I’m settled I’ll be able to take a photo of it to share with you. For now it’s with my sister for safekeeping. This box is made from a thin plywood, but our Mum’s boxes are of cedar and painted a light green on the inside. In the closeup you can see the square pegs that hold the lid in place when it’s down, reducing stress on the hinges.

Well, that’s it for now, my friends. Next time, I’ll write about my trip to Camp @2 and my lovely, albeit short, stay there. Stay warm or cool depending on which hemisphere you are in. Big hugs to each of you.

Camp#4

Well, I’ve had more adventures and no time and/or wi-fi so that I could update you all. I am currently at camp #4 and will be making a quick trip to camp #5, then returning here.

It’s quite the adventure, if that’s the word, just getting ID sufficient that I can go to the States as planned (but a wee bit behind the expected schedule). More about that once I have some time. It’s enough to make one cry, except that I have been so blessed by friends and family. LOL

I have to go now; more as soon as possible, with pictures.

Love to all of you as you go about on your own adventures.

A New Chapter for an Old Book . . .

Welcome to my latest adventure! I felt a wee bit daunted at first, as you will learn, but I have decided that when life, and one’s gypsy wagon,  takes a decided turn round an unforeseen bend, it’s a good idea to let that pony stretch his legs, sit back  and enjoy the new vistas. . .

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There’s gold in them thar hills . . .

This is going to be rather long, I think, so you may want to stock up on tea and biscuits, cookies or what-have-you . . .

If you are wondering what led up to my current trail, read some of the latest posts on my first blog, A Random Harvest. I will continue to post there, too, about my creative adventures and my thoughts on whatever catches my interest from day to day. In the meantime . . .

The summer of 2016 was one of recovery, with infrequent attempts to sort and pack my belongings. In the beginning, I planned to move to Abbotsford, BC (where I was born), to be near to my only remaining Auntie, one of my mother’s younger sisters. However, during the summer she moved to Princeton, BC, to be near one of her daughters. In any case, I was unable to find affordable housing that had space for my belongings that have been languishing in storage in Vernon, BC, for lo these many aeons, as the vacancy rate is currently 1% and rents, even for a room with no bath or kitchen, are high.

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My last sunset at the condo

The deadline for moving was extended, but I knew I wanted to return to BC before the snow come. In the end, I decided to move my belongings from Edmonton to Vernon so that at least all my things would be together and hopefully easier to deal with once I found a place to live.

Procrastination has laid low many a fool, not least this one. I had plenty of time, it seemed, and then, suddenly, I didn’t. Fortunately for me, my RN sister pitched in beyond all reason and we managed to get most of my things at the condo sorted and packed.

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Downsizing: Two unbleached cotton knitting caddies I acquired from Lewiscraft, planning to dye them, add some Rosemaling, then use them for some of my endless projects. In the end, I gave them to a dear friend, who is also an avid knitter, crocheter, and all-around fibre artist.

Originally, the plan was to rent a U-Haul truck, load it, drive to Vernon, unload and for my brother to drive the truck back to Edmonton and drop it off there. His plans changed, though, and so I changed my booking to drop the truck off in Vernon once we were done with it. I was rather surprised to learn that this meant an additional cost of nearly $300 plus having the insurance costs tripled from $20 to $60. Considering that the truck would travel only half the distance and so be at risk for a shorter time, this seemed unreasonable to me, but I was told that was the way the system was set up. It was too late to find another truck from a different company, so it was ‘grin-and-bear-it’ time. Then I was informed that instead of picking up the truck close to where we lived, I would have to pick it up way southside, across the river. How to get my driver back to her vehicle at the end of the day was an additional problem. I had a bit of a melt-down then and, to be fair, the local staff did all they could to make things work for me. In the end we picked up the truck at Fort Saskatchewan, north of Edmonton, and on the way to where my container lives in Thorhild County, an hour north of the city. It took an hour to get the paperwork and payment done, but finally we were on our way.

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Inside the container before beginning to load – not nearly as much ‘stuff’ as I remembered.

Friends met us at the container and we began loading. Over the winter some stacks had collapsed, as the container was never properly levewlled. So I decided to leave any crunched boxes as well as items that would survive another witer and to return in the late spring of ’17 to sort and re-pack what was left. I also had to consider the size of the unit I was renting in Vernon and not take more than would fit it.

Loading done, we all drove to the storage unit in Edmonton and loaded everything from there. My sister and I had spent a day there making suere things were packed well, boxes were full and taped (and labelled!) and the kind staff had given us permission to put all my things in an empty unit so that loading would be faster and nothing would go that should not. (many of my mother’s things were still in the storage).

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The U-Haul truck 26′ behind the cab, backing into the loading spot at the condo.

From the storage, we went to the condo and loaded everything that was packed and ready to go. My crew and I took some photos, then my friends from Devon took my driver to pick up her vehicle, still in Fort Saskatchewan.

My sister and I stayed up all night on the Sunday to do the final packing and instead of leaving at six am my brother, his wife and I left at nine thirty.

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Familiar hills of Kamloops. I never lived there; my family moved there after I left home.

We arrived in Kamloops around six in  the evening, too late to get to Vernon before the storage closed, so we had a good supper out and then found a motel with room to park the big truck (did I mention that the U-Haul was 26 feet long?). I was too tired to watch tv, opting for a hot shower and then straight to bed.

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I had been looking forward to a good soak, but as you can see the sides of the bath outside are barely over a foot high. A long, hot shower did the trick, though.

We ate breakfast on the road, thanks to Tim Horton’s. I had an ice capp (iced cappuccino; similar to a milkshake but with a caffeine kick) and suddenly I was aware of being on the highway of my childhood years. We stopped in Chase to see the house where we lived when I was ten. It was the original hospital for that town and I loved it dearly.  The third floor was a single room with many angles to the ceiling. We took a few more minutes to take photos of the house and of the school my two oldest brothers and I attended that year and the wee church, now a museum, where we first went to Sunday School.

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The side yard, where we would toboggan down the grassy hill in old cardboard boxes.
One fay, our mother brought all of us children out to stand at the top of the hill so that we could watch the passing of the last coal-burning engine pulling a long line of boxcars far below . That train was punctuated properly with a little red caboose. I still miss those cabooses . . .

Back on the road, my brother and the U-Haul were soon out of sight. My sister in law suddenly stopped and turned around, telling me that I had to see whatever it was that had caught her eye. It was the front yard of a local woodcarver, full of all sorts of carvings. I especially loved the horses and the three little bear cubs..

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In the wood-carver’s yard . . .

Once more on the road . . . this time past where the last house where I lived with my family used to stand. It, and the homes of our neighbours on either side, were torn down a few years ago to make way for ‘progress’. I wish I had a photo to share with you.

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BEautiful autumn colours are everywhere; this bush was at my cousin’s home.

We continued on through Salmon Arm, then turned east towards the Okanagan. It wasn’t long before we came to where one of my paternal cousins lives, still in the farmhouse her parents bought back in the 1950s. When my parents, my three brothers and I moved from McConnell Creek near Mission, the first place we lived was in two motel units rented monthly for the winter. They were called “Uncle Tom’s Cabins”. No political correctness back then. When our family had to move as the rents went to daily rates, I stayed behind with the motel owners, Mr. and Mrs. Nash; I slept on their sofa and they made sure I caught the school bus each morning and made it home safely each afternoon. They must have been in their 70s then, but perhaps a bit younger. When one is only seven years old, most grown-ups look pretty ancient. Mrs. Nash had lovely white hair that fell past her waist when she let it down at night and brushed it. I envied that hair, even then. I remember that they drove a Studebaker saloon car, one of the few cars of Canadian origin. And Mr. Nash had a large grindstone with an old tractor seat to sit on so that it could be pedalled as he sharpened his knives and other tools. My two oldest brothers and I vied for the privilege of doing the pedalling. Shades of Tom Sawyer . . .

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The road up the hill ahead leads to the pastures; I used to come here at age seven and help  my baby-sitter’s brother bring the cows home for milking. In winter we went up this hill to skate.

Across the highway was a farm whose farmhouse stood halfway up the hillside, with the barn off to the right. My mother made friends with the farmer and his wife, the Lotts, and sometimes their daughter May would care for us so that Mum and Dad could go to town and do the shopping. It was on one of my visits to the farmhouse that May let me help to make my first batch of cookies (biscuits to my English-type friends). The first thing she showed me was how to break open an egg. I was a bit enthusiastic, though, and most of hte egg ended up on the floor. She just laughed kindly, cleaned up the mess and brought out another egg. The second one broke into the bowl as it was meant to do.

That winter, I would sometimes go up to the farm and try my hand at skating on a frozen pond at the top of the hill. That was where I had my first experience with frostbite and I still remember how it hurt as my feet began to thaw by the fire.

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The original barn, still in use.

Spring and summer I was up there, too. The life of a farmer appealed to me from that day, but with farmers on both sides of my family, it’s not too surprising. May’s brother Norman was as patient as his sister  and would often take me with him to bring the cows in for milking. Sometimes he rode his bicycle and would let me sit on the bar so that I didn’t have to run to keep up. I remember once he grabbed the tail of the last cow and let her pull us up the last of the hill, but he wasn’t supposed to do that.

It wasn’t long after we left the motel that my Dad’s oldest brother and his wife bought that farm, so I spent many visits there over the next decade or so, until I left home to go to Uni in Victoria on Vancouver Island. I went back for the Christmas holidays that year and then my parents and siblings moved to Kamloops and I never went back again. Until last Tuesday afternoon . . .

The farmhouse is the original building, but has been so renovated I didn’t recognize it at all. It’s very lovely, inside and out. My cousin wasn’t home when we stopped by, so I left a note in a boot by the door and we continued on to Vernon with no more stops. In the meantime, another cousin, the one whose Dad was my Dad’s next older brother and whose Mum was my Mum’s sister, caught up with us at the farm and followed us to Vernon, where he helped with the unloading. He’s a great guy and my closest relative outside of my siblings.

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Nearly done and most things are organized.
Yarn and other household necessities at the front, of course.

The truck was unloaded quite quickly and we all had lunch in a local restaurant after dropping off the truck. The Vernon Red Robin has the best fish and chips, ever (just in case you happen to be passing through and feeling a bit peckish)!

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dropping off the truck, just a couple of blocks from my storage place.

My brother and his wife went on their way, looking for a home in the area, as they are moving back to BC, too. My cousin and I drove back toward Salmon Arm and on the way we stopped at the cemetery where our paternal grandfather and my cousin’s parents are buried. Next year we will lay the ashes of my Mum. Dad and oldest brother to rest not far from them. They were very close all their lives and it’s good to know they will be close again. My cousin located a site that has a clear line of sight across the valley, past the second-last farmhouse (where we lived when I was twelve) all the way to what we called ‘the big house on the highway’. Both houses are gone, but in my memories they live on forever. They were the last homes where our family was all together and for that reason, too, the site seems fitting. The road past the cemetery, Foothill Road, has a farmhouse not too far away, that is where we lived when my RN sister was a baby.

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View from the gravesite across the valley to the last place our family all lived together.

This week everything has seemed surreal. I was unaware that I was coming down with some bug or other, which didn’t help much., either. But driving on the familiar roads and highways, all paved now but gravel when I lived here, seeing the unchanging skylines, the hills, the forests, the meadows, even many of the homes, it seems that nothing has changed. But of course it has. New buildings, old ones gone, developments here and there. and unfamiliar businesses; all bring home to me the passing of not only years, but decades.

Much has happened here since I arrived and future plans are still fluid, but coming together. But I’ll save that for the next post or two.

I have to go tend my ponies now . . . The stars are bright over my wee campsite, aren’t they? I hope you will stop in again for story-telling, music and dreaming.

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. . . and maybe a luscious, silken piece of the best squash pie ever!