Tag Archives: memories

New Home-ward Bound

The maple lined driveway of the farm on a frosty morning

Well, we can relax.  We found a house on Kijiji. And today we get possession of it.  Thankfully we have 2 weeks to move, which is great because it turns out I’d rather do other stuff – like write blog posts – than help move.

*Disclaimer – the pics in this post are kind of random – photo albums are already packed so not much to work with.

This major life event, causes me to reflect on our other homes of our married life.  All three of them.   When we got married, I moved half a block away from my parent’s home, into a cute little house we had rented. We thought it was a palace.  It was tiny, without a basement, and had two little bedrooms. When I put stuff away in the cupboards, I could also do a weather check, because there were huge cracks where I could see outside – that is unless they were too iced up.  Our castle had a “portable toilet”, which was especially pleasant since we hosted lots of parties with our 20-something pals, where mass quantities of beer were consumed.

We stayed there 3 years.  Hubby had always wanted to have a bit of property, so we found ourselves looking ½ hr north, at a 10 acre piece of land with a cute little bungalow.  It had no basement, but the toilet wasn’t portable so it had me at hello. The young couple who were selling it had built it themselves, and we were young and naïve enough to think that was a good thing.  In hindsight, Mike Holmes would have been apoplectic.  The young couple was extremely good at staging and had really nice furniture.  We were dazzled by the charming décor, and so excited at the prospect of our “hobby farm” that we failed to notice that the house itself kind of resembled a double-wide, and that parts of it were held together with fence staples.   The reason I know this, is because fast forward a few years, when we had 3 little kids, and those 3 little kids had 2 little friends over to play. It was a windy afternoon, and they were all 5 playing in the living room, and the drop ceiling got real literal and “dropped” on top of my happy little toddlers.  After that, helmets were mandatory as we searched for our new home.

By now my hubby’s appetite for land had become insatiable. He wanted a farm, and he had a list of attributes it had to have – bank barn, maple trees, creek, etc, etc.  We started looking another ½ hr north, and looked at so many places that I eventually stopped going with him because it was too hard to haul all the kiddies along.  One day he came home and said he thought he’d found the place. It was a January day, and I remember riding in the car to look at it and driving for what felt like hours through frozen tundra.  The house had been empty for a year, so the staging was a little less inviting than our first house.  Each room had a charming little pile of dead cluster flies under the window.  And there was a decided “hill” in the floor of master bedroom.

Winter morning view from the barn.

On the bright side, this place had two toilets of the not portable kind, and it had a basement.  So what if it was the kind of basement you don’t want to go into unless under threat of a Wizard of Oz category tornado.  I had chronic fatigue also known as numb-y mummy syndrome in the 90s, so robotically signed the papers, and we moved in on June 26 1992, with a 1, 3 and 5 year old.  My biggest concern was how I was going to keep them all safe, with a pond and a creek, and a barn with a ladder up to the rafters. I had visions of a well-worn path down our driveway from emergency vehicles, and being on a first name basis with all the 911 operators.  Hubby was enthralled with all the fields and dirt and trees that we could call our own.  He saw past the insulbrick and the long grass, and fell deeply in love with the maple lined driveway and the white board fence and the big red barn and the bush out back. He thought this was a great place to raise the kids.  Turns out, he was right. (I can admit that, because he hardly ever reads this.)

Move in day, June 1992. Note the well manicured lawn and my future fashionista sporting the toga look.

The hard farm life

After 20 years, we’re moving on.  It’s bittersweet – it’s a small town and most people have lived here FOREVER.  The folks in our community who eyed us suspiciously for the first 10-15 years, have started to warm up. (Mercifully we didn’t realize at the time how sorely we stood out at our kids athletic and school events.  We thought we were anonymous, and really we might as well have been wearing sandwich signs that screamed “stranger danger”.) Now ironically, we will  be making trips back to the old hood to visit. We will miss our pals.

Even though we’re empty nesters now, the kids are having a hard time with saying goodbye to the old place.  I tsk tsk them and tell them how great the new place will be … but secretly I’m dealing with flashbacks of 3 little curly headed imps fishing through the cracks in the bridge at the creek, or all 3 sleepily listening to Tom Petty songs while crammed into a tractor cab with dad as he plowed fields, or 3 teens huddled behind the driveway trees waiting for the bus, or countless family barbeques with spectacular sunsets.

I can’t think about that too long.  Instead I choose to focus on the fact that the place we’re going to has an unprecedented 3 normal toilets, and a basement that I will willingly spend time in, even without weather network alerts.

And the best part is, the family moving in to our old house has 3 little kids under 5.  The dad is visibly excited about the fields and barn and trees and bush.  The mummy is not at all numb-y, and is thrilled about calling our old farm home.  They think it’s going to be a nice place to raise kids.  They have no idea.

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Filed under Family, Farm Life, Home and Garden, Memories

Time Marches On

"Totes" - not just an expression of agreement, but a sophisticated filing system for borderline hoarders

This has been a long span between blog posts, but I have a good reason.  We’re moving … for the first time in 20 years.  No more farm life for us.  When we signed the deal way back in September it seemed like a great idea.  “On to the next chapter”, we agreed, and high-fived to seal the deal.  But as our closing date of March 15th looms, a few troublesome realities have cropped up.  Like for example, before cutting us a cheque, the people who bought our place expect us to leave … and to take all of our crap.  Did I mention we lived here 20 years?  We have accumulated a lot of crap. 

We’ve always lived by the tried and true “let’s keep it and decide later” school of organization, and we have a giant barn, which served as great storage for innumerable Rubbermaid containers full of papers.  Each year we socked a few more away.  Out of sight, out of mind. Plus, being classic helicopter parents, we thought everything our kids ever created was brilliant and we kept every single piece of paper they produced from nursery school until roughly, yesterday. Believe me, they were quite prolific.

We’re now trying to get it down to one tub per offspring.  We can be found each night, rummaging through the dusty totes. We had a lot to get rid of , so did get progressively more discriminating and established new ground rules.  All school worksheets – gone.  All the math notebooks and tests – gone (It didn’t stick anyway).  All “that doesn’t even look like a horse” drawings – gone.  Can’t tell which kid did it – gone.  Anything in French – gone.  All “participant” ribbons – gone.  Assignments with any teacher comments that contain feedback that resembles criticism – gone.  I prefer to remember the happy times of enthusiastic and unbridled achievement…. so pretty much anything the boy did between grade 10 and grade 12 (both years) – gone.  

In the “keep” pile, are multiple, multiple “Lifetouch” sheets with 24 school pictures in the same pose with each kid, for each year.  Not sure why we always went with the “25 prints” package, when we only had one set of grandparents.  Also, not sure WHO dressed those kids and did their hair on picture day, but it was someone with a cruel sense of humour for the most part.  Also “Keep”:  any piece of paper/macaroni craft/tissue, that says “You’re the best Mom/Dad/Parents …  we do need that  validation and we’re not above digging through a dusty tote to get it. Plus, I want that evidence handy, and strategically on display when they are making our elder-care decisions.

Our ticket to the "Good" old age home

Something else I kept were multiple copies of the local newspaper if our kids made it in.  Cleverly though, I kept the whole paper, so have spent a good portion of my time this week thumbing through 10 – 20-year-old newspapers looking for likenesses of my kids or their names in small print, so I could reduce bulk and just rip the page out, which apparently I was just too busy to do in the 90s, because then it would have been too dangerously close to scrapbooking.   This has proven very time-consuming though, as I am easily distracted and inevitably end up poring through the classifieds, and beating myself up that I didn’t buy EVERYTHING at those prices.

There were other Rubbermaid containers too, filled with fun facts, by way of receipts. My wedding dress cost $279. Our honeymoon for two weeks to Bahamas all-inclusive cost $1080, for both of us.  Fuel to fill up our oil tank was 39 cents a litre when we moved into this place.  We got our septic system pumped for $70 in 1989.  Additionally, we had the good sense and foresight to keep a little brown envelope with somebody’s extracted teeth in it.  Also, I worked with someone somewhere whose name was Pat(?) who was sooo “sorry to see me go” that she/he bought me a card.  I have no memory of this co-worker, but ironically, I was able to name  every kid in a yellowed and ancient looking photo of my grade 1 class.

Yes, life has become a fun-filled, time consuming, teary eyed meandering trip down memory lane. Because we’re easily distracted  procrastinators by nature and we have to examine each piece of paper thoroughly and play the arguing remembering  game about the timeline of events of our lives thus far, we haven’t had time to exactly hammer out some details, like exactly where is going to be our forwarding address.  But we’re not too worried about it.  We don’t have to be out until March.  And luckily, it’s a leap year, so we’ve got that extra day in February. 

This year March may come in like a lion, and go out like a middle-aged couple and a dog  and 3 cats living in a van, down by the river.

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Filed under Family, Humor, Kids, Memories

Side by Side – Practically

Well, time sure flies, because once again this week it was our wedding anniversary.  And while this one passed without major “incident”unlike some of them, in reflecting, it seems that it was evident early in our life together that romance was going to take a bit of a back seat to practicality. 

For example, back then, who got married on December 1st, except of course people who were putting together a quick wedding and couldn’t wait until June because they would be a family by then?  We did – for the romantic reason that back in those days I worked in an accounting office.  In 1979 the tax laws were such that a husband only had to claim the wife’s income from the date of marriage – so he actually got to claim me as a dependent for the whole year, meaning that our income tax refund paid for our 2 week Bahamas honeymoon.  Now that’s Amore.

Even as we departed the next day on our honeymoon, our dreamy, romantic resolve was tested.  In an ironic twist, we were the only married people on a plane load of “PWPs” – Parents without Partners.  And man, THOSE people could party.  It was the one week a year they got away from their kids. We weren’t even off the tarmac and they were  sitting on each other’s laps lighting up smokes (you could do that then), blasting music and conga-dancing down the aisle  – and making snide comments about how we were sure to become “future members”.

 Then fast forward a couple of years to an anniversary that we decided to celebrate by going to a romantic lodge in Haliburton.  We made our way to the quaint destination, and when we booked in, we were informed that we were the only non-members of a family reunion that was taking place at the lodge. They had booked all the rooms plus the cabins.   We both got dressed up into our nice evening wear to go have our anniversary dinner in the dining room downstairs, and found it completely full of the very loud, very boisterous “Mc-Something” clan.  We attempted to hold hands and gaze lovingly into each other’s eyes, but it was somewhat diminished by the fact that the family reunion people had selected this night to hold a “funny hat contest”.  It’s hard to sustain that come hither “look of love” glow when you’re interrupted and asked to pass the salt by a man wearing toilet paper roll antlers at the next table.  We finally adopted an “if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em” attitude, and instead of spending the rest of the evening reminiscing about our wedded bliss, we cleaned up at their Euchre tournament.

One downside of a December anniversary is that you are also competing with the Christmas party crowd.  Another time – our 10th , we went to a very nice upscale restaurant in our town, and it was SUCH a big deal because by now we had a couple kiddies so we usually only dined out under golden arches.  This night, with Grandma babysitting, once again we’re all decked out in our finery, and they sat us in a room at a cute little table for 2, right beside a long table that sat about 24 people from a local firm celebrating their Christmas party.  There were non-stop speeches and service awards all night.  (It sounded like a nice place to work.  I made a mental note to send them a resume.) Ever impressionable, I found myself wishing I had thought to get hubby a 10 year plaque. 

Of course there have been lots of anniversaries since that one – and this year we took practical to a whole new level.  I stopped at the drug store the other night to pick up an anniversary card, and lo and behold, found my beloved in the same aisle, on the same mission.  But he had already been to one store and come up empty handed.  He explained that there were none that expressed his feelings.  I completely get that.  He likes to get the sentimental cards, and couldn’t find any that said “I love you, moreso when you aren’t being a bitch”.  And as per usual, the ones I looked at for him all had me gagging and laughing out loud, – not because he isn’t wonderful, but I’ve just never been able to pull off a “You complete me” with a straight face.  My go-to card usually mentions something about stealing the covers, or pictures of a couple of cute dogs snuggled up together, and the sentiment is implied and unspoken. So in this instance, instead of actually purchasing cards, we just pointed out to each other the ones that we would have purchased. (I went the high roller route and chose the pricey “sound” one that blared Shania Twain’s classic “You’re Still the One”.)  Then we spent the $10 on lottery tickets instead, and left the store.

Then yesterday, on our actual anniversary, we very practically went to a restaurant where we’ve accumulated a substantial number of “VIP” points, and we need to use them up, because we think we won’t be going there much in the future.  First we had to wait at the bar because neither of us even thought of making a reservation. The romantic ambiance was established almost immediately, as they had an Ultimate Fighting show on the bar tv, and there were numerous scenes of heavily tattooed, bald and buff fighters with cauliflower ears and blood coming out of their mouths.  Romantic AND appetizing.

The hostess then sat us in a booth beside the entertainment (that’s new), a 70 ish Scottish man with a guitar who started up the minute we were seated, singing loud mournful ballads, with the odd Jimmy Buffett and Roger Miller thrown in for good measure.  Conversation was out of the question.  So, not wanting the evening to be a total bust, in my mind the evening focus shifted from romantic dinner to mouth-full sing-alongs of “Those Were the Days”, and “Trailer for Sale or Rent”.  Hubby was unphased by my impromptu booth-side Karaoke. After all these years he knows that if there’s music and I know the words, I can’t resist.  And truthfully, knowing the real words isn’t a deal breaker.

At the end of our day though, we carried out our ritual of getting out the wedding album and looking at the skinny bride with the sausage roll flipped hair, and the dress that copied the one in the Rocky movie, and the lean groom with the jet black hair, mutton chops and Magnum PI moustache.

Those Parents Without Partners may have been half right.  After all these years, we may be a bit lighter on the romance – but we are PWPs. Partners who are Practical.

 

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Filed under Humor, Marriage, Memories