Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Wall

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I look at a board on a wall in front of my writing desk.   It is a point of inspiration and love.

Photos, notes, reminders.

The earliest photo is from the 1930’s.  My great-grandmother (Orphan Annie) and my great-grandfather James who died in 1940.

A newspaper clipping and photo of my paternal grandparents 50th wedding anniversary in 1973.  Photo of a dear cousin and her husband, both gone now much much too early.  And my parents gone in 1980’s.  A photocopy of my father’s army application filled out on a Friday the 13th in 1942 at the age of 17.

So many dead and gone. BUT interspersed throughout the board, the Living. Sons, grandsons, siblings, in-laws, and another dear cousin who is my mini me.

Life and lives.  Memories made and being made.  A wedding invitation for September 2017 of a dear nephew and his bride to be.

I love my wall.  I love the reminders of all whose paths transverse mine.

My Gratitude Wall.

This is just the starting point.  There are not enough walls to hold the photos of those who have gone, and those who live who warm my heart and spirit.

I am Blessed.

How J.B. Fletcher survived multiple shocks but was taken down by a table, a rug, and her very own lunch.

 

Once upon a time in a land far away lived a lovely lady, who had three very lovely girls, all of them …oh wait! Wrong story line.

Once upon a time in a land far away lived a lovely lady. She and I started our blogs years ago about the same time. I remember messaging her about widgets, something she had conquered and something I have long ago forgotten about.

The land far away is New Zealand and her philosophy and classy ways attracted me right from the start. She has been more dedicated about her blog, ‘I choose how I will spend the rest of my life’ than I, and we have continued our friendship over the years and miles.  Through thick and thin, of which there has been a lot.

Some of what she has survived, with great style I might add:  the sale of her home, a fire in a storage unit, a trip alone to Europe, a broken leg, the loss of a dear love, a head injury (which took months) and now another fracture.

She is a life coach who lives what she preaches, except she is not preachy of course, but maintains a positive outlook. She sets an example of a life well lived.

A few years ago I had commented that to me she seemed a lot like the character JB Fletcher on Murder She Wrote.  Style, beauty, common sense.

Anyway, on her blog you will read about her latest adventure caused by lunch no less.  It seems there was a fall, in a chair, the leg of which had been attacked by a rug posing as No Threat.  This had followed a previous number of earthquake shocks which were unsettling but survivable for her.

I think in addition to Angela Lansbury she reminds me of Reba McIntyre who sang, ‘I’m a Survivor.”

So keep on keeping on my friend. Get well, and continue to inspire! And a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS  from Canada

Meeting the Greats…

Genealogy intrigues me.

One definition I have found:

“Genealogy – Where you confuse the dead and irritate the living.” – Unknown

I guess that explains some of the looks I get when discussing my project. Yup, definitely annoyance.

You see the little bits I started with grew, and pretty soon I was feeling mighty special, having uncovered facts that no one else knew. Oh how wonderful to regale family and friends with results of my search and suddenly I found out I knew a lot. I could tell you see by the glaze that covered their eyes by the third generation hijinks. Such excitement, such a thrill! The dearest people caught my eye standing nose to nose until I ceased talking and said, “I don’t care.” Said with love but the message was received none the less.

I think searching the past is exciting, but I have discovered that my accomplishments really are for my own entertainment. However, when you write it down and people can absorb it at their own pace it is more palatable. So now I am writing it down, trying to get it in reasonable book form, which can be a little overwhelming.

Think about it. You start with your Mom and Dad. Now you look at the parents of both parents, and no you can’t do it all at the same time, which is really really frustrating.

If you have trouble making decisions it is almost impossible to attempt anything related to the old family tree. But being a big girl you decide to follow your father’s mother’s family. You know, Grandma.

But wait! Grandma also had two parents. Oh dear, which one to follow? In my case the decision was easy. You see we had our very own Orphan Annie and she is the one who had the most documentation to follow. It turns out when you are born in eighteen eighty-four in Hackney, an area of London, and then are documented as an orphan living in Stratford, Ontario, Canada at the age of FOUR years old, and you spend your life not knowing where you were born, or when, or who you parents are, you and your family spend decades searching. In Annie Frampton’s case, the search was productive.

At the age of thirty she acquired a notarized document stating the name and address of the orphanage she grew up in. This was an Annie MacPherson Home.

But this is not actually about Annie. It is about her mother and father, and her future father in law.

You see I figure if I get this down in print today I will be able to refrain from discussion at our annual brother and sister Christmas Dinner tomorrow.

It wasn’t until nineteen sixty-three, when Annie was seventy-nine years old that she was able to receive a notarized copy of her birth certificate from Somerset House in London. England did a good job of keeping documents of their people, even those that became orphaned. ** It is important the note that of the hundred thousand orphans sent to Canada, and many other parts of the Empire many children were not true orphans. The children may have had one parent who could not support them and so they were taken to work houses to be trained in domestics and farm work depending on your sex.

Annie was born on February fourteenth in eighteen eighty-four. Her father registered her birth four days later on April eighteenth. I have her mother’s maiden and married names and her father’s and their address at the time of Annie’s birth. But I am not sure how I find out about them. Where to look?

Her mother was Edith Frampton, formerly Davies. Her father was Francis Frampton and they lived at

4 Poole Rd. South Hackney. That’s it. That’s all I know about them.

Meanwhile, in Glasgow, in eighteen fifty-eight a young man Robert White went to Stratford England and signed up for the 100 Regiment Horse Guards. I have his official discharge parchment dated March 30, 1859 when he paid twenty pounds to be released from service. He was twenty-six and given honourable discharge. This man was the future father in law of Annie.

 

I don’t know where to find more info on Robert, however I was able to find him in Bright Ontario Canada some years later. He had met and married Leah Strickler whose family had a farm in Preston Ontario.. Unusual at the time, Leah and Robert only had one child. Were there others who did not survive? Unknown at this point. What is known that Robert was about fifty when his son James Henry White was born. And it was James who married Annie Frampton on December 20, 1899.

They married at the MacPherson House in Stratford, where Annie had arrived in 1888 with one hundred other children. Reverend J. MacKay was the Baptist pastor who married them and the two witnesses were Priscilla pointer and Lottie Butcher. (Yes I have the original marriage certificate.)

It was not until she was about to turn eighty years old that Annie Frampton White discovered her actual birthday and the names of her parents. Amazing huh?

I had a plan**

I had a plan. **

You know, best laid and all that.

Life got in the way and all that.

I want to say something but I do not want it to sound whiny or pouty or feeling sorry for myself and all that.

I think it may be unresolved anger. Or maybe it is very well resolved anger. How do you know if it is unresolved? Maybe by the number of **** used in words like da*n or is it d*mn. Nuts I can’t even curse properly in print.

In six days I have an appointment to see my oncologist. The plan was to tell him that even though I still have two years of drug therapy left I simply must stop taking the pills.

I am certainly much better off than many people I know but I am angry at ‘the attitude’. So you had cancer, radiation and medication and the follow up tests say it is all gone. Mine would be a success story. Except.

The complications and side effects at this moment are just too much.

Most are just annoying, but I have discovered that annoyances that are constant are debilitating and depressing.

I have a number of friends that went through, and are continuing to go through the same diagnosis, treatment and consequences, all within a short time of myself. For some the stage of cancer was worse and some not as bad, but basically we survived the surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and had positive results. So it looks like we survived.

But no one said the cure was worse than the disease. Well I guess it really isn’t but it sure feels that way. Would I have agreed to treatment if I had known what it meant?

October 7, 2013 surgery for breast cancer.

December 2013 to January 2014 radiation. Fair skinned – and I burned like a toasted marshmallow in spite of ointments and creams, and the radiation broke down one of the incision sites. That was fun.

Then a start on Arimidex, a drug to prevent the production of estrogen (since my tumors were estrogen producing) – to be taken for 5 years.

Now my doctor would say, ‘I explained all the possible side effects to you before I ordered the drug.’

Yes, yes you did.

But when you are sitting there in a state of shock over your diagnosis everything else that is said is just back noise. Your mind just can’t grasp it. And really, until you actually experience it you can’t possibly know, or guess, or imagine. It is all just a bunch of words.

I was pretty good until April 2016. Hot flashes that had been gone post-menopausal for ten years came back with a vengeance. But I am woman. Hah! This is no more than a very uncomfortable annoyance. Not to mention embarrassing when speaking with someone in public and the hair at the back of my head drips water down my back.

I had three friends that went through all this a few years back and had NO side effects so I did not expect any either.

I am really angry about my cholesterol which has always been remarkably good. BUT stop estrogen production and that bad cholesterol goes sky high. ‘I will change my diet and exercise rather than take drugs.’

‘Chris it won’t change anything. Right now you have a one in three chance of having a stroke.’ So now I have a lifetime commitment to a Statin.

One friend who went through surgery and treatment four months before me started experiencing a lot of joint pain, and she would ask if I had any. Me? Not I.

But four months makes a difference. By April 2016 when the doc asked if I had any joint pain I said, No. at least no more than usual except my right wrist was painful, but I put that down to excessive Knitting or typing.

By August 2016 hand and joint pain was what I would call excessive with limited use of my hands. Pain in my hands and arms would wake me at night. I would wake up crying.

I got splints and called my oncologist who said to immediately stop the Arimidex and start taking Tamoxifen. But before he ordered it he said he wanted me to fully understand possible side effects and decide if I would continue. All I wanted was for the pain to stop. So I agreed.

Truthfully the pain remains in my hands but is less that before. I can knit and type without crying.

Then the other joints decided to join the party. But at least they are polite and let one flare-up finish before another starts. Most recently my right knee flared which lasted days, and I literally moaned and groaned with every step. Finally last Monday was a Normal Pain Day! Yea! But in the early morning hours on Tuesday I was awakened with fierce left hip pain. Now today, two days later it is just normal pain.

Some days I limp along, and some I can just go about my business, and some I have to go to bed for a couple of hours in the afternoon until the worst of whatever flare up passes. And it does pass. But I am angry. This ‘successful’ treatment is interfering with my quality of life. At my age anytime spent in bed or immobile due to pain is a major interference. I don’t want to spend a single second not ‘living.

I can handle pain. I can’t remember what it was like to have no pain. But these flare ups are above and beyond. I won’t take heavy drugs because that just fogs and messes up your mind. I know, I know, you say, the ‘quitcherbitchin’

It all comes down to quality of life.

Oh and more news. A friend who went through the same thing at about the same time has just been told she has lung cancer related to her radiation therapy. Oh I remember being told at the time, ‘Now radiation kills good cells as well as bad so there is a chance you could develop lung cancer.’

You hear the words, but they are only words.

So here it is a few days from my appointment. I decide to check with the Cancer Society and Support Groups. I want to know how reasonable my request to come off Tamoxifen 2 years early is. (One dear friend has been told she must be on it for TEN years, not five, and she is experiencing everything I am.

Anyway, apparently coming off the pill increases my chances of the cancer returning. The dreaded hot flashes in fact may not go away but may actually get worse. The joint pain in some cases gets worse with withdrawal. Oh and some report abdominal bloating. Sigh…..

D*mned if you do, D*mned if you don’t.

If I knew then what I know now would I…..?

I will say if you now anyone who makes a decision not to receive treatment, please just give support and love. There are consequences to every decision.

Handle with Discretion

“Though the big estates are interspersed now with middle-class homes, the overall impression is of money, carefully cultivated and preserved, vintage elegance harking back to a time when wealth was handled with discretion and material display reserved for one’s financial peers.” Kinsey Millhone’s observation in “C” is for Corpse

Sue Grafton is one of my rereads. You know, those books that become good friends, that bring you comfort and make you feel cozy all over just by picking it up? I highly recommend her alphabet series or anything else she writes, but it is her character Kinsey Millhone that provokes great thought for me. As I reread each book there is always something that stands out that did not the last time.

Yesterday was one of those A Plus days for me. The kind where wonderful things happen, one after another, and you end up driving along thinking, “I think I have everything I could possibly want in this life.”

And in that moment of absolute bliss came a mixture of emotion. I want to shout from the roof tops or stop every person walking along and tell them how perfect my life is, and then it occurred to me that so many people are in pain for one reason or another. There are problems, terrible sad problems.

Would my expression on joy be just that, an expression? Or was I thinking the world should just be happy because in that moment I was happy? Should I feel guilty at what I have and others do not?

I recognized that what I should be, and was, is grateful for my good fortune. I wondered how I could reconcile what joy I had with the poorer states of others. Loved ones, struggling, worried.

And then I thought of the above quote I had read yesterday, “when wealth was handled with discretion”, and it occurred to me that happiness and good fortune should be handled the same way. Not at all, SEE WHAT I HAVE? SEE HOW HAPPY I AM? SEE MY GOOD FORTUNE?

But with discretion, and gratitude.

Kinsey’s adventures are some of the best you will read, but her draw for me is where her head is at. What she thinks. What she observes. I think of her often throughout a day because in her I find a monitor of some sort. Not perfection but honesty that is clean, humorous, and core basic. I am not sure if that makes any sense to you but I do like how it rolls around my gray matter. I think I could write a book about the kind of person she is but Grafton pretty much has done that also with her book, “Kinsey and Me.”

What I realize is that our society is all about showing off what we have, what we do, where we go and who we know. The thought about discretion and being circumspect (another word that comes to mind in this), is appealing, and comforting, and proper somehow, though the idea of ‘proper’ seems to be shamed and scorned these days.

**In case you are wondering, no I did not win the lottery (yet), and nothing earth shaking happened, except a couple of very small things made me realize I am Blessed and Grateful. And I wish the same for all of you.

*** Yeah yeah I know, bad miserable days when nothing goes right will come again, but for now there is happiness!!

C is for Corpse

Ah That’s Better

The beauty of giving thanks my friend!

I choose how I will spend the rest of my life

I think WordPress is playing tricks again.  I posted this earlier today and several people commented on it but it has disappeared into the ether.  All that’s left is the beginning of the post on Facebook.  Don’t you hate it when that happens? And I just can’t remember all I had written.

Anyway I’ll try again.

After writing my earlier post I looked back and thought about my day:

  • I woke up to a warm,sun filled house
  • I woke up knowing that my friends and family are all on my side
  • I had a walk in the bush with my lovely Physiotherapist
  • We ended up at a local coffee shop where we encountered a friend
  • I have so much for which to be grateful not the least for being alive as i know where my accident could have left me.
  • And I know The Architect would not want me to be…

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Extreme Images of A Storm

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Late yesterday morning I saw this great broody cloud coming over the horizon like a huge intergalactic mother ship, I dropped what I was doing and sprinting past the long list of work I should have been doing, I collected my camera, jumped in the truck and went storm chasing. I love these images. The skies here fill me with awe.

Here are the best of the images in the order that I shot them. storm coming

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And then I looked back to the house.

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And said Oh my God. There is no way you can look at that image and not think that all hell will soon be rained down upon my little farm.  But this storm did not bring much rain or wind -just an ordinary storm with dramatic clothing.  Those of you on Instagram with me  (cecilia_bwg) will have seen this shot in real time. Thank fully this time I had…

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How My Town in southwestern Ontario Canada became THE site for German Prisoners of War Graves.

My hometown, Kitchener, lies in southwest Ontario, surrounded by three of the great lakes, Ontario, Erie, and Huron. Its location makes it easy to traverse to Toronto, Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Detroit, and lies just south of the beautiful north vacation lands of Algonquin, Muskoka and the Kawarthas.

All in all we are pretty lucky that whatever life style you choose to pursue it is available somewhere nearby. Big city, camp ground, fishing. We got it.

Kitchener at about 233,000 is a twin joined geographically with Waterloo with a population of approximately 133,000.

But Kitchener was not always so named. On June 28, 1916, 346 people voted to change from the name Berlin to Kitchener. We were two years into the First World War and the change was to prove loyalty and ‘stem backlash against a city with deep German roots.) *The Waterloo Region Record June 27, 2016.

I have never had much interest in cemeteries until recently when my quest for ten thousand steps a day took me to one nearby here in Waterloo where I currently abide (the city that is not the cemetery). That stirred enough interest to visit Woodland in Kitchener where most of my family and friends have final resting places. I’ll tell you about Woodland some other day, but for now I must relate my surprise on day when I came across this:

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Somewhere in the past I remembered hearing about people being interned during the war. I knew the Americans had interned Japenese after Pearl Harbour but I did not think beyond that horror.  In researching the above sign I discovered:

  1. Canada operated prison camps for interned civilians during the First and Second World War.
  2. Canada operated camps for 34,000 German Prisoners of War
  3. The camps at Lethbridge and Medicine Hat Alberta were the largest in North America
  4. There was a camp for Japanese Canadians in British Columbia
  5. The British Government did not want so many German prisoners in Britain as they posed a threat should hand to hand fighting take place in Britain itself, and would provide added support for the enemy if freed.
  6. In each of the Great Wars Canada hosted about two dozen camps across the country
  7. The CBC did a number of articles at the time that can be found in their archives.
  8. While it was generally felt POWs were treated better in Canada there are still some horror stories and some mysteries.
  9. I found out that people who had escaped Nazi Germany in the year before ‘the troubles’ and found their way to Britain considered themselves safe.  However upon declaration of war many of these people found themselves interned as a precaution in case they were spies. Many of them were sent to Canadian camps
  10. The scariest I think was a camp in New Brunswick which housed Jewish refugees from Austria and Germany.  They had been deemed by the British as ‘dangerous enemy aliens, and ended up in a camp with Nazi soldiers, the very enemy they were trying to escape. A wall was finally built to keep the Jews safe.

The 187 dead were brought together in 1970 from thirty-six sites across Canada. Kitchener was chosen since it had largely been a German city and located where family from Europe could easily travel to visit the graves.

I read that many died of ‘natural causes’ such as cancer but that just didn’t sound right. As I walked among the stark white stones I notice that most were between nineteen and twenty-five years old.  Then one day I found an article that said many of those in northern camps were put to work logging and that an unusually large number of ‘accidental’ deaths occurred. No one seems to have questioned this.

As I walk through this little garden of foreign death I consider that it does not matter that they were the ‘enemy’, but just young boys that died way too young and my heart breaks a little for our history.

And when I think of today and all the countries crying out that they will not accept Syrian refugees because there could be a spy or terrorist among them, my heart breaks for our current times.  Have we learned nothing?  I wonder.

 

World Access in Isolation

World Access in Isolation

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I should start by saying this is not a complaint. Merely an observation.

It seems almost paradoxical. The way of things today I mean. Everywhere you look people are focused only on the device in their hands. Out on the streets heads are bent as fingers fly across small keyboards. Are they even called keyboards anymore? No one makes eye contact anymore. Okay there are some.

I used to comment it was only the young people ( meaning anyone younger than I), but I notice on the streets, in stores, in cars (a no no) eyes are cast down and some of them belong to pretty old people. If you speak or otherwise engage and the head comes up, the eyes seem out of focus if they meet yours at all.

What I find strange is that at the very same time we have personal access to people across the world. Which in my mind makes this little planet that much smaller. Each week I come face to face in real time with my cousin in Scotland, my BFF in Winnipeg or Mexico or the west coast or the east coast or points between, wherever this Gypsy Road Warrior chooses to be, and then halfway around the world to my friend freshly recovered from an accident and still brave and back as good as new Judith Baxter whom you know as growingyoungereachday.wordpress.com who lives in New Zealand.

I am pretty sure the outcome of this will be a world of folk unable to engage in proximal reality, physically close together. Even with skyping or messaging our reality becomes that face on the screen. Social skills lost.

How will next generations be able to interact? Will they be able to tolerate another human in close proximity? Will they be aware of trees, skies, breezes, natural beauty at all?

Will they lose their humanness? I read a prediction from a very science type on Quora that ultimately that is exactly what will happen. I am also sure that if someone from the nineteenth century were to glimpse our world as it has become they might also deduce we had lost our humanness already.

Times they are changing, as the saying goes.

Having said all that, I am most grateful that those I love around the world are as close as ‘this’ and we can look in each other’s eyes and raise a glass of red wine as we chat about any old mundane thing that crosses our minds.