Category Archives: Memories

Skating on the Thin Ice of Life

Skating on the Thin Ice of Life
 
“You’re skating on thin ice girl!”
 
Life is full of warnings, some overt and some less so. This one is pretty clear and was more serious than, “Stop, or you’re going to your room.” or even, “You’re cruisin for a bruisin.”
 
Skating implies movement, action, direction and a path or destination. Thin ice implies danger, warning, risk …high risk and a calamitous outcome if direction is not changed. Skating is smooth, continuous whether it is a forward, backward, figure eights, it is a confident motion that would seem not easily stopped or altered which increases the danger of being on thin ice. Once your motion carries you far enough there is no turning back and the only choice is to deal with the consequences of your action. This is a pretty good argument for thinking out plans beforehand.
 
But it strikes me that as we age skating on thin ice takes on a new meaning. Our footing may be ( literally ) less sure due to any number of circumstances including weak fragile bones or eye sight problems with depth perception, muscle weakness, blah, blah, blah. The older we get, the thinner the ice and our big rink just plain putters out.
 
 
Sometimes I think a zamboni is the only answer.
 
FYI….Wiki says…Zambonis do not really “melt the broken ice” in hockey arenas. The process of resurfacing the ice is the Job of the Zamboni at an ice rink between groups on the ice or periods of a hockey team. A Zamboni actually has a blade on it that cuts or shaves the surface of the ice (not much because the ice is only 1.5 to 3.5 inches thick!) This way the grooves and uneven surface from skaters is brought back to a more even surface. Then the Zam floods behind the cut with hot water (approx. 140 degrees) which fills in any leftover grooves or odd spots in the ice, freezes up and makes a fresh surface for the next group of skaters.

Offenheim Family and Google Searches

Offenheim Family and Google Searches

I love Google!  On Friday I posted about a talented musical family we met decades ago in the Haliburton Highlands.  Yesterday I was thrilled to receive an email from Sandy.  I removed personal family information but am posting the rest here so, as Paul Harvey says you will know, ‘the rest of the story’!

Hello Chris:
I received a Google alert this morning which had your very complimentary memories of Kia Ora and our young children at the lake.  Of course, you mentioned Sandy Offenheim and Family and our music, which you still remember.
 
Yes, it’s been 36 years since our first album of kids’ songs came out.  So hard to believe.  The wonderful thing is that now we have email, websites and the like and so people can locate me and order our 25th anniversary compliation CD, Let’s Play a Statue Game…Again..  and they do.  The orders always come with beautiful comments and happy memories, which makes me very happy.
 
You said you didn’t know what we were doing now, so I’ll fill you in.  After my music began slowing down, I went back to school and became an ESL: teacher for almost 20 years.  I retired from it 5 years ago and am now completing a 2 book series of chants, rhymes and activities for ESL.  I’ve been working closely with the publisher and we hope to have the first book out this fall.  Harold retired too and he is helping me with the book on all the computer stuff.
 
I’ve also been busy for 6 years working on a project with another woman for the ageing population.  We’re hoping to get that out….we have some pokers in the fire and are hoping…..
 
I must say that I was very impressed with your writing.  You express yourself beautifully.  Do you write professionally? I loved the way you described Haliburton.  Those simple, lazy days are amongst my most favourite memories of quiet, family times….before all the technology that so fills up children’s hours these days.  We were lucky to have that time up north.  I believe that Kia Ora was sold to a corporation some time ago.
 
I wrote a song “Dream by the Water,” which is on my 4th album Nicknames, while sitting by the lake.  It’s a haunting, simple song about the effect of that place on me.
 
Anyway, I just wanted to comment on what you had written.  Thank you for making my Saturday morning.  I really appreciate your thoughts.
 
Sandy

To view Sandy’s web site click below.
 
http://www.sandyoffenheim.com/

 
To see Sandy’s interview  Click below
 
http://www.blip.tv/file/4016441?filename=ThatChannel-ThatChannelcomInterviewWithSpecialGuestSandyOffenheim208.wmv
 
To View Sandy on youtube click below

If Snowflakes Fell in Flavours

If Snowflakes Fell in Flavours
 
One or two years ago, thirty odd to be almost exact, I took my children to the Haliburton Highlands each summer to a cottage. It was a delightful little rustic dwelling with a wood stove and screened in porch right on Lake Haliburton with a shallow beach ideal for wee ones and a diving platform further out. When the odd storm came up we would wrap ourselves in blankets and sit on the porch and enjoy nature’s fury as the wind blew horizontal rain and thunder clapped and lightning provided a better show than man could ever construe.


 
Most times the weather was ideal with sun and gentle breezes rustling the leaves of mighty oaks, elms and maples that sheltered us in a world far from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. No TV or Internet just games, running, laughing and splashing ourselves into deep untroubled sleeps at night. The only goal was relaxation and community with other cottagers.
 
We met many people over the years but one family in particular remains a frequent memory. When we first met they were just ordinary folk on holiday and then they told us about their lives. Family singers and musicians were very popular then and this whole family sang and produced records.
 
I don’t remember if we bought the most recent LP (long playing record) or if they just gave it to us but ‘If Snowflakes Fell in Flavours’ quickly became a favourite often played once we returned home. Shortly after that holiday I flew out west to Vancouver Island to visit friends with two young children and took a copy to them.
 
The family of singers have no idea how much pleasure they brought to us and I have no idea what happened to them but for one summer the very thought of flavoured snowflakes brought smiles and happiness to a few of us across the country.

**Thanks to Google again.  A search shows the song  was by Sandy Offenheim and all my favs are there including Let’s Play a Statue Game.  The bio says that Sandy Offenheim is a Canadian teacher, children’s song writer and performer, who recorded four albums of her original kids’ songs with her husband Harold and their children, Nadine and Stephen while they were growing up.

Well I am glad I had that memory today and want to thank Sandy and her family for providing such wonderful entertainment.

Lower Than a Snake’s Belly on a Hot Rock

Lower Than a Snake’s Belly On a Hot Rock

This is a phrase I started using when I lived in South Texas and have no idea if I coined it myself or picked it up during some southern redneck exchange but I love it; the sound of the words, the feel, the completeness of it and Lord the warmth of it.

See I spit it out one day to express that I was a bit down and as soon as those words were out of my mouth a miracle of sorts occurred.  I laughed and chortles were chortled around me.  Heck I felt better!

With a smile in my heart I examined what it meant – such an odd thing to say I thought- but such a delightful truth.  I mean how low can you go and still feel good and feelin good is what I like.  Why through fear and sadness and joy I allow, no I make myself enjoy the misery or elation to the hilt.  I’m not exactly a drama queen although there are folk who may argue that point.  Hmmm maybe…sometimes but I prefer to think of it as exuberance.

Truth be told it was much more so in my younger years which probably  started, oh let’s see, around birth, having learned very young that I love to make people laugh.  Slip a little comment into a conversation and boom, instant mirth.  Sure makes the moment better.

“How are you?”

“Lower than a snake’s belly on a hot rock.”

I loved it and was just a shade miffed if  in fact I was swell and had to admit it by saying I am well.

Now I love rednecks and all folk of a different bent; unique thinkers, wordsmiths, otherworldly minds, rebels by choice or by genetic misfires who spurt out something different making you stop and realize you just heard something genius muttered.  I figure because they give us a different view, not locked in by anything they are all a breath of fresh air in a world of propriety and staidness.

Young children have a way of doing that.

Funny I love that phrase so much cause I hate slithering retiles.  Cannot even look directly at them, which by the way makes the last Harry Potter film difficult to watch, and is annoying to those around me as with eyes cast down I keep asking, “Is it gone yet?”

But just think about it.  Feeling so low you must stretch out and let the warmth soothe you.  Well out of that can only come renewal.  Embrace the moment that is.  If you must be sad, glad, fearful do it well then let it go.

Family History Mystery

My great grandmother, Annie Dolly (Dorothy) Frampton was born February 14, 1884 at 4 Poole Rd. in the Subdistrict of South Hackney in the County of Middlesex England.

 A certified copy of her Entry of Birth obtained in June 25, 1963 lists her father as Francis Frampton whose occupation was listed as Commercial Traveler.

 Her mother was listed as Edith Frampton formerly Davies. Annie’s birth was registered on April 18, 1884.

 A google search shows Annie Frampton born 1884.  A search under her father’s name of Francis only reveals the birth of perhaps one Francis born 1842.  I don’t know if this could be him as he would have been 42 yrs when she was born.

 The search for her mother shows one name of Edith Davies born 1847. It could be her as she would have been 37 yrs.

 It is unknown what happened to Annie or her family but four short years later there is a certified document from Dr. Barnado’s Homes: National Incorporated Association, obtained Dec. 14, 1944 stating that Annie Dolly Frampton came from England to Canada under the auspices of THE ANNIE MACPHERSON HOME, Stratford Ontario (which had amalgamated with the Dr. Barnardo Homes) July 1888.

 How was she orphaned?  What happened to you Annie?

In my research I came across excerpts from a book written by Kenneth Bagnell on the orphans who came to Canada and how badly they were treated. My heart breaks as I think of what it was like not only for four-year-old Annie but all the thousands of orphans who were imported for cheap labor.

Over eighty thousand children were sent over through different agencies.  Their intentions were good thinking to send the children to better lives.  Many years later the program was stopped when facts of abuse and slavery were revealed.

 Annie MacPherson’s part in the Bagnell’s story says the children were aged nine to eighteen but of course this cannot be accurate since my great grandmother was just four years old.

 Somehow she came to live with the White family as a maid where she married the only son.

 I have a very aged parchment certifying Robert White was born in the Parish of Glasgow Scotland.  The parchment is his military discharge paper.  He enlisted in the Horse Guards on April 17, 1858 at the age of 26.  He was honorably discharged March 30, 1859 after paying twenty pounds and had been in service for three hundred and forty-seven days.  I have no information how he came to settle in Ontario.  Yet.  He had one son, James Henry White.

 I have the original marriage certificate of James Henry White and Annie Dorothy Frampton dated December 20, 1899 in Stratford Ontario.  My future great grandmother was fifteen years old.

My great uncle Jack used to tell a story his father told him how after the wedding James’ mother told Annie to get out of the nice wedding clothes and get back to work. James reportedly said that his wife was no one’s maid and he promptly packed her up and headed of to a life together.

 My most immediate thought right now is: and we think we have it tough?

 “The little immigrants: the orphans who came to Canada – By Kenneth Bagnell”

 To be continued.

The Woman in the Cowl

The Woman in the Cowl

 Some folks tell a tale that is just a tale to entertain; a story that may or may not have bits of truth.  Some folks tell a tale and do not know for certain if it was a memory or something cooked up by imagination or need but is triggered by a passing comment, a situation caught in the frame of time.  A trigger.

 I know a lady who swears this story is true.

 Almost forty years ago in the month of March she and her husband planned to paint their small apartment to welcome the new season.  It was an early spring, no sign of snow or even March winds, and a hint of a hot summer approaching.  Gathering together all they needed they took brushes and rollers in hand and began their task.

 Within a very short time their young son, only a few weeks old began to cry and spiked a fever.  The woman told her husband the baby must be allergic to fresh paint.  They could not stop what they were doing and the only answer was for the mother to take the baby somewhere for a couple of days.  The young woman phoned her grandmother and asked if they might stay with them.  The grandmother agreed and said one of the two guest bedrooms had a crib in it and they were more than welcome and that she would not be home but the grandfather would be.

 

The husband drove his wife to her grandmothers promising to finish the painting that day and would join her later in the evening.

 

The grandfather eagerly greeted them and served the lunch he had prepared.  Mid afternoon the mother put the baby in the crib for a nap in the upstairs bedroom of the ancient house.  It was evident to her that the old man was also ready for a nap as his eyes grew heavy, so she excused herself saying she would like a nap herself and climbed the old wood staircase to the second floor planning to read while baby and grandfather slept.

 Checking on the infant who was sound asleep she closed the door to the room and lay on the bed to read.  Within minutes she could hear the tell tale sound of someone pacing back and forth across the linoleum floor outside the door.  She thought it strange, if it had been her grandfather coming up stairs she would have heard the creaking of the old staircase.  She opened the door but no one was there.  Closing the door again she lay down on the bed just to hear the pacing more frantic now.

 Perhaps she had just not heard her grandfather coming upstairs.  Checking the other bedrooms and the bathroom on the second floor she realized she was alone and decided to check the main floor.  Her grandfather was sound asleep in his chair.

 Returning to the bedroom she lay down again.  This time she left the door open.

 The afternoon progressed quietly and in due time the grandmother came home and preparation began for dinner.  The young mother forgot about the strange events of the afternoon.  When her husband arrived late evening and following more visiting and catching up the couple retired for the night.

 About midnight the young woman awoke and sat up in bed.  It wasn’t pitch dark as moonlight shone through the old lace curtains illuminating shadows.  As she looked toward the crib at the foot of the bed to see if perhaps her son had stirred waking her she saw a dark form cross from the doorway to the crib. It appeared to be a woman shrouded in a long gray cloak with a cowl preventing sight of her face. She was small, perhaps about five feet in height and slim in spite of the cloak.

 

The woman went to the crib silently and leaned over the side. The mother realizing she was awake became frightened and screamed out.  The dark woman’s head snapped up towards the sound and she disappeared.

 

Taking the baby into bed with them the couple slept till morning.  When she told her grandmother about the strange occurrence during the night the grandmother gave reassurances that nothing in the house would ever hurt them.

 Over the years the family related stories about their experiences with the woman in the cowl but no one expressed on going fear once they realized there was no threat to themselves, and while the woman continued to visit her grandparents regularly she never again stayed overnight.

 I was that young mother.  Whenever the memory surfaces I find myself feeling badly because I soon realized too late that the ghost, if that was what it was, just wanted to see the new baby.

 

“When Men were Men and Women were Women” and Nursing Students Were Young Ladies.

I have no idea where this saying came from except it is pretty old. I think I heard it as a child in a song about the early west, when…  Thinking of things old got the memory blister starting to bubble and boil.  Again.

Some people came to see to see my apartment the other day and one of the girls looked at a print I have on my wall which depicts a modern day nurse with a young patient and In the background there is an apparition of a medical scene with a nurse but the ghostly scene is as it would have appeared probably fifty years prior.  She asked if I was a nurse.

Friends of mine who were in the teaching profession have the same type of pictures but the depictions are of classroom scenes present and past.  Tonight when sleep dodged my tired brain my thoughts went back to what it was like when I was a probie in 1966.

Male nurses were rare.  I don’t think in three years of training I ever met one.

It was expected that ‘young ladies’ who entered training did not have part time jobs, because after all we were young ladies.

Our uniforms and caps were washed and starched heavily by the hospital laundries.

Nursing students lived in residences that had connecting underground tunnels to the hospital.

We had a Housemother whose apartment was on the first floor close to the reception area.  If we left the residence we had to sign in and out and mark the times.  Very strict curfews!  Young men calling to take a student out on a date never got past the reception area which did have a seating area.

Nothing was disposable.  Everything was metal or glass including syringes.  Needles were resterilized and you had to look for burrs on the end of them which occurred after multiple use. (Very difficult and painful entry for the patient if you missed one!)

Morphine came in pills which we had to dilute in saline and draw up for injection.

Doctors were very much the boss and we the handmaidens.

We mixed and applied mustard plasters for chest congestion.

There were no nasal cannulas or masks.  If someone needed oxygen they went into an oxygen tent which was moist, noisy and cold.

First years were at the mercy of the older students in subtle ways.  On my first day there was a lovely reception held for us and our parents.  Cake and tea for the adults.  We had a delightful punch the middle years had made for us.

On arising to knocks on the doors the next morning we hustled off to the large bathroom to get ready and everyone of us believed we might be dying.  The punch had been spiked with Pyridium a drug typically used for urinary tract infections, a side effect of which is red urine.  Some people see red, we peed it.

They were fun years of learning, of laughing and more than once crying.

They were great years, Pyridium and all!

10 Please Come Back TV Shows for Mama Kat

Well that Mama Kat hit it pretty good this week with her list of prompts which includes 10 TV shows you’d like to see back. I figure the list will reflect the age of each blogger and therein lays a lot of the fun!
 
My Wish List is:
 
1). Annie Oakley 1954-1957 and starred Gail Davis as a big sister to Tagg her brother who were orphaned and lived in Diablo Arizona with their uncle who was the sheriff. That girl could ride, shoot and each week captured some outlaws all the while wearing exactly the same fringed cowgirl outfit and being adored by the deputy Lofty. She was savvy, smart, and set a pretty good standard for young girls everywhere.
 
2). Father Knows Best 1954-1960 and starred Robert Young as the all wise Jim Anderson. Jim and his wife Margaret parented Bud, Princess and Kitten. Both parents and children made mistakes and learned from them and each show taught us something about values. It’s funny that I heard criticism in later years that this series created unrealistic expectations for those of us growing up. I guess it was better to have shows like Married ..with Children that taught kids and parents to be rude, crude and mouthy.
 
3). The Ed Sullivan Show ran for an incredible 23 years from 1948-1971. We watched it every Sunday night. Other than the jugglers and plate spinners it was the best entertainment anywhere. That’s where I first saw Elvis, the Beatles, The Rolling Stones. No chat just pure live performance.
 

 

4). I love Lucy in it’s original purest form ran from 1951-1957. What’s not to like…ditzy wife, good looking husband stirred together with the original BFFs Fred and Ethel.
 

 

5). Bonanza 1959-1973 starred Lorne Greene as Pa Cartwright with 3 adult sons; Adam, Hoss and Little Joe. Every teenage girl loved Little Joe but I never went for the obvious cute guys. It was Adam, Pernell Roberts dark and brooding in black that rang my chimes and covered my bedroom wall and ceiling.
 
6). The Andy Griffith Show 1960-1968 was just such a laid back wholesome break with Andy, Opie, Aunt Bee and Barney at the core. Barney as Andy’s deputy could not be trusted with a loaded weapon and was allowed to carry only one bullet – in his pocket.
 

 

7). Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In 1968-1973 was the best consistently comedic show of all time and truly was a laugh in. We got to meet Goldie Hawn for the first time and added new phrases to our every day language like, Sock it to me, Verrry interesting and Look that up in your Funk and Wagnalls.
 
8). The Saint, The Avengers, The Man from U.N.C.L.E All classy spy and anti spy adventures! Whatever happened to class and finesse??
 

 

9). Hawaii Five O 1968-1980 the original with Steve McGarrett sayingBook em Danno weekly. Nice scenery, nice cops.

 

 
 
10). Ben Casey 1961-1968 with Vince Edwards made hospital whites very very hot as well as a large portion of the female audience.
 

 

 

Thanks Mama Kat what a nice trip down memory lane!

First Failed Flush of Love – Actually

Ah First Love

First Failed Flush of Love Actually
 
These slightly overcast hot humid July mornings sometimes serve up, in addition to a light sprinkling of temporary rain, a particular memory from a land far away, a time long ago. Actually a time long ago not so much on the land faraway, except it does seem in my mind to have been a million miles away. A land distanced by time I guess.
 
We were going on vacation to a cottage probably somewhere in the Haliburton or Muskoka region of Ontario where lakes meet forest meet city dudes for a limited week or two each year. It had to have been the late fifties, a time before, air conditioning, seat belts, road service and car radios that could receive signals outside a city limits.
 
Cars broke down all the time, or at least threatened to, but were easily fixed with a patch, hot air, or a good smack along it’s frame. I remember one trip where the engine kept overheating and the only solution was to drive with the heat blowing on max on the hottest day of the year.
 
There were seven of us that year, two parents and five kids and I cannot remember what kind of car it was but it easily accommodated four or five wee bodies. I’m thinking we were between twelve and six years old. I was the oldest and considered myself a diva of sorts without knowing that word existed, and for sure possessed that false prepubescent sophistication where really, nothing associated with family was good enough for this princess and Mom and Dad became Mother and Father and really, what kind of car we drove and where we went was below my level of interest..sigh.
 
I don’t remember much about the cottage except it must have had walls, enough bedrooms and probably and indoor loo as that is one memory that would have caught my royal attention.
 
One day on the beach, no, not white sand, probably a stony beach with large rocks lining the shore, I found myself talking to a boy. There was none of the discomfort or awkwardness that preteens often start to feel, just nice pleasant conversation. It turned out that he lived very close to my house and knew my brother. Then the conversation took a turn that screamed, ‘hormones at work here!’ but of course I would not recognize that message for a few years.
 
“How old are you?” he asked.
 
Not sure what to say here as all of a sudden it occurred to me that I did not want him to know I was just a silly kid (it seems the diva devil flees in the face of true love). After a pause I countered brilliantly with, “How old are you?” feeling much like Baby must have felt when she uttered the words, “I carried a watermelon.”
 
“Fifteen,” he replied, head down, hands in his pockets and kicking dirt with his right foot.
Whew, I knew it was safe to lie since he obviously was not fifteen.
 
“Well I’m fourteen,” and he nodded. He said that his family was going home the next day, (and mine still had a week to go), and asked if he could call me for a date sometime.
 
Our week passed and I soon forgot about the encounter but a few days after returning home I got a phone call. Now phone calls back then were rare. No one actually phoned unless there was a specific purpose to said call. And there were party lines so every conversation could be heard by most of the neighborhood.
 
Anyway, the call came on a Saturday morning and he asked if I could go to the matinee that afternoon with him?
I asked my Mom, and explained who this fellow was, and my brother corroborated his decent character, and Mom said yes.
 
I was a bit in awe at the potential of a first date but was pretty cool and calm about it, while my mother made me put on an actual dress and comb my hair (I was pretty much a tomboy like Trixie Belden then so gave no thought to ‘dressing up.’
 
Then I waited. And waited. And waited. I was not particularly upset, just a little confused maybe but I had not invested any hopes and dreams in this guy so it was no biggie, although looking back; it probably was for my mother.
 
Later that day a hurried whispered call came from my suitor who apologized for not showing up because his Mom had gotten mad at him and grounded him. He sounded totally humiliated and embarrassed.
“No problem,” said I, quite sincerely and meaning it. And then I promptly forgot about it, except every now and then on a hot humid overcast, July morning, my mind does that little time travel thing, where I find myself standing on a stony beach.
 


*The ‘Actually’ series are stories of childhood and family and memories.

Thanks to Photobucket for providing photos.

Granny Nanny Kitty Care

Granny Nanny Kitty Care

Pulling back the shower curtain, still singing a fav shower song I found myself face to face with two whites. one on the toilet and one in the sink.  Not the Jaws kind, the purring kind.  The family is away at the cottage and Granny Nanny stopped in for a couple of days to keep them company.

They are a pretty independent sort as most felines are who manage quite well with their own company but it never hurts to remind them they are blessed by human companionship negating the need to turn to the dark feral side.  And of course to clean the litter and top off food and water.  They say very little but stretch out on their backs for a good tummy rub.

Now, sitting on the patio with morning coffee, basking in the quiet it almost feels like cottage country here, the only sounds are birds chirping to each other. I imagine at this moment the Haliburtons are waking to the sound of two children and one dog stirring ready for a day in the woods and on the lake.

Until one sits in nature’s quiet it is impossible to imagine the amount of noise and hustle and bustle we have in every day life. And for the moment birds,flowers and leaves gently moving to nature’s rhythm under a blue cloudless sky fill my senses and soul with peace.

At the Cottage