A couple more poems

In keeping with selling the cottage, I found a couple of poems that kind of relate. The first is called ‘Lake Winnipeg’ by Nan Emerson’s book Windsong and other verse that I mentioned from my last poetry post. Since our cottage was in a resort area on the banks of Lake Winnipeg, it seemed appropriate.

Lake Winnipeg

I can hear the waters talking:
Have they secrets, they whisper,
Whisper, whisper as they lap upon the shore.
I can hear their lazy murmur:
‘Ripple, ripple I am gentle.
Come and lie upon my bosom,
I will hold you soft and buoyant;
Catch and hold the sunbeams for you.
I am warm and I am sparkling.
Play with me quite close to shore.’

More persuasive grows the whisper:
‘Come a-swimming, come a-boating,
Come a-sailing far from shore.
I will toss my waves so gladly,
Little white-capped waves so merry,
I will dip and rock you safely.
I will take you swiftly, gaily.
Trust me, I am ever kindly.
I will lull you into dreaming.
Have no fear, come far and farther.
They are cowards who say beware.’

But the whispering voice grows deeper
And the ripples change to breakers
And the water’s voice to roaring.
‘See, my waves rise high and higher.
Rolling, tumbling on the shore.
They who trust me — I destroy them,
Dash to pieces all the sailboats,
Clutch them, toss them, hide forever
Those who trust me ‘neath my waters.

Swimmers lie upon my pebbles;
Bones there are among by boulders;
Fishes dart and play among them.
Ships I take lie bleached and broken.
And I laugh when in my rages;
Laugh aloud while gulls are screaming;
Shout and roar while winds are howling.
I’m the king of all the waters!

Then again I’ll coax and beckon.
Then again with gentle ripple
Little waves will woo and sparkle;
Come a-sailing, come a-swimming.
I’ve no secrets — though I whisper.
They are cowards who will not trust me.
They are fools who say beware.’

While it sounds rather harsh, the poem makes the point that, with Lake Winnipeg, you need to be careful. There are points along its beaches where a severe undertow has drowned even the strongest swimmers. On a personal note, it claimed the life of the teenaged son of one of my parents’ friends. Lake Winnipeg is very much like an ocean with strong currents and sudden winds that can come up abruptly, whipping the waves into a frenzy that can easily overturn small craft. As you can see with the accompanying photos, the lake can be rather harsh. When my daughter got married, the wind was quite strong and the waves were high. Lake Winnipeg has been notorious for sinking ships, especially during the fur trade years when the lake was the main route to Lower Fort Garry and the Upper Fort at the Forks. Despite all that, on a hot summer day when the wind is calm, its cool water can be a pleasant relief. When I was young, the sand was a fine white powder and before the hydro dam was built at the northern mouth of the lake, there used to be sand bars that stretched out a great distance. That’s not the case, anymore. Last fall saw at least 20 feet of the banks washed away by high water and wicked waves.

A Child's Garden of Verses

Now, for something completely different, a poem by Robert Louis Stephenson called ‘Farewell to the Farm’ from his book A Child’s Garden of Verses. I will only post the first two stanzas, which reminded me of saying goodbye to our family’s summer home:

The coach is at the door at last;
The eager children, mounting fast
And kissing hands, in chorus sing:
Good-bye, good-bye, to everything!

To house and garden, field and lawn,
The meadow-gates we swang upon,
To pump and stable, tree and swing,
Good-bye, good-bye to everything!

Well, Poetry Month is coming to a close, so this might be the last time I post a poem, unless the muse moves me or I come across one I really like. There were a few sites that I follow that posted some great poetry. I did enjoy reading what wantoncreation had to say about poetry and learned a lot about different types of poems, thanks to him. C. B. Wentworth posted some lovely poems along with picture prompts. Diane Dickson has also posted some nice poems during the month. If anyone is interested in reading them, just click on their names. 🙂

For those who have been searching for sites participating in the poetry challenge, which one(s) did you find posted the most satisfying poetry?

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Multiculturalism

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I’ve always been fascinated by different cultures, as might be evident by my books, Withershins and Spirit Quest. I was fortunate to grow up in a family that treasured tolerance and acceptance of others, so was free to delve into the mysteries of Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, or native spirituality, if that was what I wanted to do.


Growing up with a Hebrew school across the street from my elementary school, I acquired many Jewish friends. As I got older and learned about world history, I was horrified to learn about the Holocaust. I could not understand why anyone could let such an atrocious thing happen to the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins of my friends.

I wept for them.

Mississippi Burning (Signet)

I soon realized that this sort of bigotry was not new. In school, we read Mississippi Burning, about the racism in the southern United Stated between the white and black residents, there. I could not understand why people could hate another person merely because their skin colour was a little (or a lot) darker than theirs, any more than I could understand why one culture was persecuted because they had different beliefs.

I still can’t understand it.

When I read about how the Europeans treated First Nations peoples in North America and other places, like Australia, I was appalled that my ancestors were really no better than the Klu Klux Klan. I think that’s why I am glad to see so much Young Adult fiction on bookstore shelves, today, that deals with bigotry and racism. We need to show our young people the horrors that man can inflict upon another.

With any luck, they will begin to see that we cannot perpetuate the hatred.

Even as adults, we all should just let it go and embrace our fellow man (or woman) whether he/she has red skin, black, yellow, blue or purple. We must love our neighbours, whether they are Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim or First Nations because, when you get right down to the roots, the basis for all religions is peace among all people. It is only the fanatics that take a small portion of their religion and distort it so that they feel the need to exterminate ‘The Unbelievers’.

For those of you who feel as I do, I want to share excerpts from a few books I have on my own bookshelves (most by Manitoba authors, I’m proud to say) that illuminate bigotry for the evil it is and how it affects our children.

A Place Not Home

Eva Wiseman’s ‘A Place Not Home‘ is about a Hungarian Jewish family who must flee their country because they are afraid they will be killed. Here is an excerpt:

“Mother warned us not to make a sound. She covered us, even our heads, with the blanket. I wished I was invisible.

Father walked to the door hesitantly. ‘Who is it?’

‘It’s Erno Gabor.’ Father let him in. I peeked out from under the blanket. Although the voice was familiar, I felt afraid even to breathe. Dr. Gabor’s face was as white as snow; sweat was pouring off his brow. He looked very different from the last time he paid a house call, when I had whooping cough.

‘My God, Erno, are you ill? Kati, get him some brandy!’

‘No, no, I’m okay. I must contact all the Jews in Veszprem. I’ve heard rumors that some of the former Nazis are making a list of all the Jews who are left. They are planning a pogrom. They want to kill us all.’

Mother muffled a cry of terror. Father was ashen.”

The Kulak's Daughter

A Kulak was a term used by Stalin’s Communists who did not conform or ‘share’ with the community. Farmers were expected to give up everything they worked for during the growing season for the good of the country, but it was not shared equally. In ‘The Kulak’s Daughter‘, by Gabriele Goldstone, Olga’s father tries to hide grain stores but there are spies everywhere.

“One morning, when I got to school, everyone’s talking in whispers about Michael’s papa. He’s disappeared overnight.

It’s not the first time a black car we’ve nicknamed ‘The Blackbird’ swooped into a farmyard to arrest a kulak during the night. But it’s the first time it involves one of my classmates. People say Michael’s papa had an anti-communist attitude. We all wonder who reported him. I know it can’t be Michael. Michael would never report on his father. Would he? . . .

One day, when the dark, heavy clouds that have settled over November smell like snow, the storm hits again. It’s almost four weeks since papa’s disappearance. This time, the storm doesn’t strike as a fancy, important looking black automobile. It comes, instead, as a big, noisy transport truck.

We go out to watch as two OGPU officers, with long guns leaning against their shoulders, get out. I notice their clunky boots.

‘You must leave,’ one of them says, handing Mama a letter. ‘Deportation orders. Everybody out of here. There will be a train in Zhitomir. You must be on it by noon tomorrow. This farm land will be shared by all people. It will be part of a collective for the Soviet workers.’

He looks at us children. We’re standing right behind mama. ‘Bring food,’ he adds, ‘if you want to eat.’

Then he touches his royal blue cap, gives a nod and stomps back to the rumbling truck. Doors slam metal on metal and the truck sputters down the leaf blown trail.”

Zlata's Diary:A Child's Life in Sarajevo

Zlata’s Diary by Zlata Filipovic is about the conflict in Bosnia. A young girl with a normal life is suddenly torn away from her home because of the war. It’s a true story. She often directs her comments in her diary to her fish, Mimmy.

“Dear Mimmy,

BOREDOM!!! SHOOTING!!! SHELLING!!! PEOPLE BEING KILLED!!! DESPAIR!!! HUNGER!!! MISERY!!! FEAR!!!

That’s my life! The life of an innocent eleven-year old schoolgirl!!! A schoolgirl without a school. A child without the fun and excitement of school. A child without games, without friends, without the sun, without birds, without nature, without fruit, without chocolate or sweets, with just a little powdered milk. In short, a child without a childhood. A war time child. I now realize I am living through a war, I am witnessing an ugly, disgusting war. I and thousands of other children in this town that is being destroyed, that is crying, weeping, seeking help, but getting none. God, will this ever stop, will I ever be a schoolgirl again, will I ever enjoy my childhood again? I once heard that childhood is the most wonderful time of your life. And it is. I loved it, and now an ugly war is taking it all away from me. Why? I feel sad. I feel like crying. I am crying.”

In My Enemy's House

In My Enemy’s House, by Carol Matas

The scene takes place in Germany during WWII and begins with two girls hiding in the basement where a Nazi sweeper team finds them and throws them in a truck with other neighbours they have caught:

“Finally, the trucks stopped and we were pushed out. We were at the old castle. In front of the castle before the parapets was a deep ravine — what had been a moat. There were lines of German soldiers with machine guns. There was a long line of Jews. I watched as the Jews were pushed in front of the ravine, five at a time, and then the soldiers opened up on them and they dropped into the ravine. Little children, women, old men . . . Mothers begged for their children’s lives, babies screamed in terror, the old men chanted the Shema. Fanny and I were near the end of the line. I wished we were near the front. Then our suffering would be over.

Fanny said, ‘It’s the Zuckermans.’ I watched Chaike’s mother standing by the ravine, beside her three sons and Chaike. The machine guns exploded. They cried out and then they were gone. I felt woozy and I dropped to the ground, head between my knees.”

These are only a few of the stories that delve into the subject of war and hatred and the atrocities one group of people inflict on another, just because they are different or won’t conform to an expected  political view. I have a few more on my shelf that I still need to read, so I will review them another time.

Have you read any YA fiction that deals with this subject? How did the authors handle it?

Crafty Wednesday

While Hubby & Son were helping Brother and Nephew put up drywall on Saturday, Sister-in-law & I made a few cards. I was anxious to try out a couple of new stamp sets from Stampin’ Up, ‘Rue des Fleurs’ and ‘You’re My Type’. Since I like vintage things, these two sets were right up my alley.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are two cards I made with the ‘You’re My Type’ set which is basically just the typewriter with sayings that will fit onto the paper. For the green one, I used the polka dot embossing folder on the Cuttlebug. To that I added a 3″ wide piece of yellow plaid paper and a 1″ strip of peacock feather-patterned paper. For the blue card, I used a vine-patterned Cuttlebug embossing folder. The yellow strip is only 2 1/2″ wide. The blue pattern is stamped with one of the stamps from the ‘Rue des Fleurs’ set.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the ‘Rue des Fleurs’ set there were other pretty stamps like the flower-filled corset, a parasol with clocks hanging from it and a fountain pen with flourishes flowing from its nib. You can see them in the two cards above. The scrolled ‘Thanks’ is also part of the set. On the orange card, I stamped ‘Time to’ from a set called ‘Get It In Gear’ and haven’t yet decided whether it will be turned into a birthday card or a shower invitation.

Since my brother’s anniversary is coming up, I secretly made this card for them. The horn was also from the ‘Rue des Fleurs’ set as well as the 3 patterned pieces in the centre, which I cut out separately. I tried to use two different coloured inks when stamping the horn so that it was brown and the flourishes were green, but it didn’t show up too well. I used an edging embossing folder (and the Cuttlebug) to create the impressions on the top and bottom of the card. The hearts are from another new Stampin’ Up set called ‘Sprinkled Expressions’. It comes with the heart stamp, a flower and a star with sentiments that go along with each one. I used one of my sister-in-law’s stamps for the ‘happy together’. Again, I cut a 1″ strip of peacock feather paper from the Recollections Peacock paper pack. I love that pack, as it has so many beautiful paper patterns, some with glitter.

What are some of the hobbies that YOU like to indulge in whenever you get the chance?

Best Intentions

Today, I thought I could get so much done, but as usual got less finished than I’d hoped. Laundry was first on the list, but the repairman came early to fix my oven – again. This time a fuse needed to be replaced for $70 – without labor. That delayed things a little. I did get one load done and working on a second.

While the washer was running, I thought I could finally unpack my craft things that I took to my sister-in-laws over the weekend. I did get that done. Then I remembered something my sister-in-law had mentioned she should do with her miscellaneous stamps and inks – make a list of all she had. That was my next project. I stamped all the colours of ink that I own onto card stock and labelled them so I’d know exactly what colour would be best with whatever project I was working on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next, I stamped a copy of each stamp that didn’t belong to a set onto card stock and categorized them. This will help me when deciding what will be best for the person or event I’m making a card for.

After throwing the first load into the dryer, I went back to my craft room and I looked around. It has become so cluttered with stuff that I could hardly find the floor or the desk, so I went about organizing it. While I can now find my way to the file cabinets and the far end of the desk, I became quite distracted every time I found something that I’d brought back from my parents’ house. I wanted to make sure it was something we could not part with.

There were old photos of my grandmother’s church group. I spent about half an hour seeing if I could spot her in the crowd. She would have been 16 or 17 in the photos. I could not, for the life of me, figure out which one she was. I even got out the picture I have of her in her Scottish Dance outfit when she was about that age and compared faces. I still couldn’t do it. Should I toss it in the scrap heap or ask my aunt, her last remaining daughter, if she wants the photos? Maybe she can find her mom’s face amongst the 40+ others. Maybe Grandma was away the day the photos were taken and she just kept them because they were all her friends.

Next, I found a certificate for my Grandfather’s graduation from technical college. Is that worth keeping? Should my uncle have it? Do any of my cousins or either of my brothers want it? Why, oh why, did I have to be born into a family of pack rats and why have I been afflicted with the same gene?

I look around the room again. Still so much to do! Well, at least I got SOME of it done!

Do you have this much trouble staying focussed on a task, getting distracted by every little thing, or can you get to the task at hand and finish it relatively quickly?

End of an ERA

Ironically, the letters in ERA were my father’s initials. As we signed the final papers to give up the family cottage today, I realized my time as co-executor to my father’s will is almost at an end. The cottage was the last piece of his estate to be finalized. The act is affecting me more than I thought it would. (sniff, sniff!)

Dad (right) & his brother relaxing at cottage

My grandfather bought the cottage when my father was a boy. He and his brother spent many happy years there, swimming, playing tennis, golfing and just relaxing. On the left hand side of the cottage was a lovely screened-in porch. The huge windows on both sides of that corner caught even the slightest hint of a breeze, so it was often the coolest part of the cottage on those hot summer days. Before electricity was brought into the beach area, they used coal oil lamps and an icebox to keep things cold. When the power went out as kids we got a taste of living in that more primitive time.

First anniversary

My 1st beach trip

When Dad took Mom down there before they were married. My mother fell in love with it. It became her favourite place in the world, her refuge from the hustle of the city. Here they are on their first anniversary – at the beach. The summer  after I was born, I travelled by train to the cottage because that was the only way to get there. A crude road was built the following year, which made it much easier to access the beach area without using the train. I spent my first summer at the cottage and every summer following that. When my brothers were born, Grandpa built a bunkhouse for us. Then the resort finally piped water to the cottages, so my grandfather built a bathroom onto the cottage. It was a nice improvement! We no longer had to use the outhouse – except in emergencies (if the other facility was being used).

See the tire I’m using? Believe it or not, that tire is still blown up after all these years. It will be one of the mementos I will be bringing back with me on our last trip down to the cottage later this week. My brothers used it and my kids used it, so it is definitely something I want to keep for my grandson – even if it is bright pink!

The resort area often had many different activities, like movies and dances at The Clubhouse, baseball and football games in the Sports Field. There were rummage sales and my favourite – The Masquerade. One year, our parents made this terrific costume that all three of us could use. As we walked past the judges, our ‘patient’ turned his head all around to see what was going on around him and we got some pretty good laughs from the audience!

playing Bingo

In the evenings at the cottage, we’d play cards or Bingo at the dining room table. On rainy days, we’d make card houses.

The summer I graduated high school, my boyfriend visited me often at the cottage and when we were married four years later, we spent the first week of our honeymoon there. When my grandparents passed away and my parents took possession, they enlarged it so that it would accommodate our growing family. This is what it looks like after 12 feet were added to the front. Inside, there are now two extra bedrooms and a sun-room with a bay window, where mom would sit and watch the variety of birds that ate at the bird feeders.

bird feeders as seen from sun room

They ran into problems with the contractor and turned to my hubby for help. He’s the consummate handyman and knows how to install plumbing and electrical stuff – and he knows his way around a saw and hammer. I think that was when our infatuation with the place began to wane. As kids, we were carefree and did not have the responsibilities of maintaining the cottage. Once hubby and I bought a house in the city, it was a chore to have to help finish off the first addition and then Mom wanted to expand the kitchen.

By this time, Mom was no longer working, so was spending more and more time down there. We never got the chance to be down by ourselves, which was kind of important to us as newlyweds. Once our children arrived, they enjoyed being at the cottage with Grandma and Grandpa, but we usually had to abide by Grandma’s schedule which didn’t correspond to our family’s, at the time. The kids would get hungry and cranky because of later meal times. We’d have to rush to eat and then fight traffic on the way home Sunday nights. The arthritis in my hubby’s ankles started to act up so much that walking on sand was getting more and more painful – and the golf course didn’t have carts to make it easier for him to get around. Gradually, we stopped making the trip. Occasionally, when the kids got older, Grandma would take them down on the weekend of our anniversary to give us some alone time, but that was about it.

Mom & Dad's 32nd anniversary

We might go down for the day to celebrate my parents’ anniversary or my other grandmother’s birthday and father’s day, but after Gram died, we hardly ever went out there. My mother’s health declined rapidly after her mom passed. Five years later, it was her turn. Three years after that, my Dad took his final breath. After his passing, there was a flurry of activity to de-clutter decades of stuff that had accumulated from two generations of pack rats. Since neither my brothers or I could afford the time and money to maintain a cottage as well as our own homes, or make the payments for huge taxes, we decided it would be easier to sell the cottage. It was also better than trying to update their house in town for sale. We thought the cottage would sell faster, too. Hubby and I bought out my brothers for the house in town so our daughter would have a place to live with her significant other, since she was attending university and their finances were tight. We couldn’t afford a cottage, too.

When the cottage didn’t sell that first summer, even after all the de-cluttering, we spent time the following summer de-cluttering some more and trying to figure out why nobody wanted this cherished abode that could accommodate 17 people when all the bedrooms, the bunkhouse and pull-out couches were utilized. My daughter was happy that it hadn’t sold by the time she was planning her wedding. It had been her dream to get married at The Clubhouse. It was a blessing that we still had the cottage to stay in while preparing for the big event. She made a beautiful bride! 🙂

Three summers later, still no offers! Not one!  Then, just before last Christmas, someone showed a spark of interest. What they offered originally was almost an insult to what we had originally priced the cottage, but the market had gone soft for vacation homes. We came down a little. They came up somewhat. When we wouldn’t budge any lower, they stopped negotiating, until a couple of weeks ago. They came back with another offer just below our last counter-offer, so we went down that little bit more to meet it and finally came to an agreement, more to be rid of the hassles and extra expenditures than anything else. As I reflect upon the deal, though, I feel a certain measure of regret. It will be tough seeing it one last time as we gather up the remaining treasures and say goodbye. 😦

Is there a place where you made precious memories that you now miss?

More poetry

Since it is still Poetry Month, I decided to make another post on that theme. Normally I would post this on Sunday, but I will be pretty busy getting ready for and hosting my writer’s group tomorrow, so you will get to see this early!

I came across a few more poems that I wrote awhile ago. They’re not great, but I thought I’d share them anyway. The first is:

THE ADDICT

Please can you forgive me
When all I can see
Are ghosties and ghoulies
And all sorts of foolies
And things that go bump in the night?

The things that I love
Are the flights up above,
Aliens, space ships
And fantastic night trips.
I read them constantly.

Along with those things,
I like dragons with wings,
Princesses and sword fights,
Wizards and white knights,
And anything strange or bizarre.

As you may have guessed
(And this isn’t a test)
My affliction, addiction,
Is for speculative fiction
Of which there is never enough.

I guess that is why
I gave it a try
And wrote down some of my own!

a digital image created by my son

I think I wrote this back when I first started writing seriously. It’s a silly little piece, but was a fun way to let you know some of my favourite genres to read and write.

This next one, I had running through my head as I tried to get to sleep one night. I had to get up and write it down or I’d never get any peace! I can’t quite remember what prompted me to write it. Perhaps it was an incident at work, or a show I watched about how parents sometimes don’t realize the affect they are having on their kids. It doesn’t have a title:

Parents argue.
Who cares?
Parents fight
Are they aware?
Small eyes open wide with fear
Angry words small ears will hear.

Swear words
Bite and sting.
Nasty words
Spoil everything.
Small minds begin to learn.
Small hearts begin to yearn

For silence.

Nan Emerson

While clearing out my parents’ house, I came across one of my grandmother’s books, ‘Wind-song and Other Verses’, copyright 1957 printed by Hignell Printing Limited, Winnipeg, Manitoba), a book of poetry written by a friend of hers – Nan Emerson.

Nan, her husband and my grandparents used to winter in Laguna Beach, California, so many of her poems reflect the scenery found down there. I doubt many have heard of her because she was published locally, but I was really surprised to find her book listed on Amazon! A couple of her poems really appealed to me.

The first, INSPIRATION, strikes at the very heart of poetry writing:

There’s a poem somewhere near
And it’s seeking help from me:
It is trying to find words
That will set its spirit free

If I listen with my soul
And my mind keeps very still
I can hear the rhythm start
Like the trickling of a rill.

If I listen with my heart
To the undertones of rhyme
It may swell out into thoughts
And to words that I call mine.

Within the pages of the poetry book, I found a sheet of stationary with her married name and address. On the back was a typewriter-written poem with her name beneath it, dated 1965. The poem is called FRIENDSHIP and made me think of my close friends with whom I have similar feelings:

Sitting alone in a garden
With the quiet hills nearby
And the shimmer of blue Pacific
Reaching out to the edge of the sky,
And the flowers all around me:
Too much beauty to comprehend.
Too much for one soul to garner
And I longed for a dear, dear friend.

A friend who could sit beside me
And share in the garden’s delight,
Or walk with me by the ocean;
Lift with me in the sea bird’s flight.
We would not need to be talking.
Just a glance and a touch of the hand
But she would feel as I would feel
The joy of the sea and the sand.

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She would share with me the pull of the tide.
We’d watch the red sun sinking low
And we would share the rapture
‘Til the last faint afterglow.
For a friend is one who doubles the joy
And halves the sorrow she shares;
Keeps us cherished and safe and warm in her heart
And carries our griefs in her prayers.

I feel fortunate to have many ‘dear, dear’ friends that I can say double the joy and half the sorrow, like the one mentioned in the poem. I’m hope they know how special they are to me.

Do you have friends that make you feel this way? I hope you all have many. 🙂

Train Whistles

I’m awake hours earlier than normal. Why, you ask? Well, let me tell you…

As I returned to bed around 4:30 after answering nature’s call for the second time tonight, I thought I might actually get back to sleep. Hubby had finally stopped snoring and I was hoping the kids songs that had been running through my head would finally hit ‘Pause’. I closed my eyes…and then, I heard it. The train whistle blew and I was suddenly back in my childhood home as a teenager. No, the whistle didn’t magically transport me back in time, it was just a very strong memory…

A memory where I was having another restless night and nearly falling asleep when the train whistle blew – at 4:30 in the morning. I remember the frustration, knowing I had to get up for school in a couple of hours, and that whistle just kept blowing as it approached each intersection on its way south to reach the main east-west line. I had many restless nights as a teen with the usual teenage worries: Would I ever finish that assignment as the due date looms? Why weren’t my grades better? Would certain boys ever talk to me? Why was I so tongue-tied around them? Why wasn’t I more popular? Why did I stay up so late reading that book?

Tonight, once nature woke me the first time, I ran through my day, beginning with work and the autistic girl who loves music so much that we listened to her favourite songs, over and over and over – and they were still playing in a continuous loop in my head. I thought about the sink full of dishes and the specific papers I would need to find in preparation for our meeting with the estate planner. I remembered the aging bananas on the counter that need to be made into banana bread in the morning. I thought about what to serve my fellow writers (besides banana bread) when they came over on Sunday for our monthly meeting – and in between these thoughts I was nudging Hubby so he’d stop snoring, hoping that I might get to sleep if I had a little peace and quiet.

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As the train whistle faded off into the distance, I wondered whether my daughter, who now lives in my childhood home, would hear the train as it moved past her. I realized, then, that I have lived near train tracks all my life. The house where I spent the first 19 years of my life was nestled between two sets of tracks. There was a line that ran behind our house and another set of tracks, including a shunting yard, four blocks east of our street. Every spring, a railroad official would come to our elementary school to warn us of the dangers of playing around train tracks, so I learned early to respect the tracks, to watch and listen for trains. The best times were when the Prairie Dog Central would pass by our house. I loved seeing that old train. My parents once arranged for us to take a Christmas excursion on it up to Grosse Isle, where Santa hopped on board and gave us candy for the trip back to the city. Whenever we’d hear that old train whistle, so different from the modern ones, we’d run out to the back fence and wave at the engineer as he drove past. See him waving back?

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Although the line that used to run behind my old house is now gone, the other set of tracks is still there, taking up the load. The line that runs a few blocks from where I live now is the same line that runs through my daughter’s neighbourhood. When we first moved across the river and 30 minutes north of my childhood home, the friends who remained thought we lived so far away from them. Hearing that train whistle tonight made me realize, we haven’t moved all that far away. My childhood home and my married home, where we’ve lived for the past 31 years, are only 30 minutes apart and still in the same city.

I guess I am just an old homebody who is most comfortable in familiar surroundings. I can’t imagine picking up roots, like one of my brothers, and moving half a continent away from family and friends. Although my other brother moved out of the city, he’s less than an hour’s drive away and we still get to visit fairly often. Ironically enough, there is a rail line not far from them, too! I wonder if he hears the train whistle early in the morning and remembers our childhood home, like me?

Do you have a strong childhood memory that rises up at the sound of something familiar?

(PS: I’ve linked the train pictures to the sites where I found them, if you’d like to learn more about them.)

Belated Crafty Wednesday

Or in other words, Crafty Thursday! Well, I have a few more cards to share with you.

The first was made with the the new Tim Holtz die cutter I got for my birthday – Bird & Birdcage. I used gold glitter card stock for the cage, to which I added gold ribbon, and I added feathers to the bird. For the background, I embossed it with the Swirls embossing folder and my Cuttlebug. Inside, I used a piece of sheet music and curved the corners with a punch. The stamped bird is from Stampin’ Up‘s Confucius stamp set. I believe the Happy Birthday is Stampin’ Up as well from a sentiments set I got a long time ago. I like the swirly look to it and use it a lot for birthday cards.

The next card was for my niece’s wedding. She really likes Betty Boop so used the black & white theme with red accents. That’s why I chose the red background. I stitched across the top with pink embroidery cotton. The stamp is a discontinued wedding flourish that I first stamped with Versa Mark (sticky pad) and added black embossing powder. Add a little heat and the powder forms a shiny raised impression, to which I added black ‘jewels’. The ‘love’ is also made with black embossing powder on pink card stock.

 

The inside contains a sentiment that I created with MS Word. I added black, heart-shaped jewels to the sentiment. The hearts were black-embossed on pink card stock. They are from Close To My Heart’s ‘Love Life’ clear stamp set.

 

 

 

 

For our ‘Sweet Sixteen’ nephew, I created this card using a background from a calendar my brother’s wife gave me a few years ago. It was a ‘Scrap Booker’s’ calendar that contained 365 pages of elements you could use for making cards or scrapbook pages for all occasions. The page I used had masculine colours and the swirl looked like a six, which seemed appropriate for the occasion. The ’16!’ was embossed with blue embossing powder. The stamps are from CTMH’s ‘Varsity Alphabet’ set. The base paper that I used was a crackled-look paper from a set I got years ago – so long ago I can’t remember the name of it! I found some pearlized buttons to put on the black-net ribbon.

 

 

 

On the inside, I used the left-over piece from the calendar page and embossed the ‘Imagine the Possibilities’ (from SU’s ‘Word Play stamp set) and the ‘Happy Birthday’ in blue. The Happy Birthday I punched out using a 2 inch circle punch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The girl who got married (above) was also celebrating her birthday at the Easter gathering, so this is the card I made for her using the same red/white/black colour scheme. The background was embossed using the Cuttlebug and the ‘Victoria’ embossing folder. This has to be one of my favourite patterns for the Cuttlebug. I used a 3 1/2 inch scalloped circle punch, I cut out the base for the CTMH bird from the ‘Find Your Style’ set. The silver ‘feathers’ are rub-on transfers from one of American Crafts ‘miniMARKS’ transfer packs that we got as one of the specials offered by the owner of The Scrapbook Cottage during our scrapbook weekend in March. The ‘soar’ is also part of CTMHs ‘Find Your Style’ set cut out with a 1-1/2 inch scalloped oval punch. The final embellishment is the black and white polka-dot bow.

On the inside, I added a feather, then put on the black-embossed ‘Happy Birthday’ sentiment, cut out using SU’s 2-3/8 inch scalloped circle punch. The sentiment ‘Go confidently in the direction of your dreams’ was stamped with black embossing powder and painstakingly cut out using a sharp pair of pointy scissors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The final card for this week was fun to make, especially when I made one  for each of our grand nephews born on the same day! The background is a wallpaper sample from which I cut a few matching leaves to cover the giraffe and the ‘photo hunter’ using ‘pop-up’ sticky strips. The giraffe is from the ‘ZOO’ Recollections stamp set that I stamped on a beige patterned paper. The ‘hunter’ is from my Publisher’s Gold clip art disc. It is normally a black and white image, but I used coloured pencils to brighten him up a little. Inside is more wallpaper in a kind-of African pattern. I printed the sentiment from the computer. It was stamped with a bargain-bin ‘Happy Birthday’.

Hope you enjoyed this week’s installment, even if it was a day late! 🙂

Tilly Greenway

I’ve just finished reading ‘Watchers‘, the first book in the series ‘Tilly Greenway and the Secrets of the Ancient Keys‘ by Essi Tolling and I must say it was a wild ride! It had everything a lover of YA fantasy might want. Let me tell you a little about it:

Myth and legend come alive in modern-day Great Britain. When disaster strikes London, Tilly Greenway and her brother Zack are evacuated to the countryside where they are contacted by a mysterious man, a Guardian named Ambrose. He tells the children that they must undertake a perilous quest in order to undermine a plot by a secret organization. The Watchers plan to control humanity with technology implanted into every citizen’s brain. An archeologist has uncovered ancient texts, which she shows to the children in the hopes that, together, they can solve an age-old mystery and find the keys to unlock the magic that will save the world. As they attempt to complete their mission, Tilly and Zack discover mythical creatures that assist them on their journey.

Watchers‘ is a fast-paced adventure that pulls the reader along on a fantastic ride through England and Wales, delving into the mysteries of such places as Silbury Hill near Avebury and Stonehenge, Skenfrith Castle and the Chalice Well Gardens, unraveling history to save the future. The author has a wonderful way with words, allowing you to see beauty in all those fascinating historic places. I would highly recommend this exciting first book and I can hardly wait to jump into the next in the series. If you do decide to read ‘Watchers‘, be prepared to meet a dragon or two – and who doesn’t love dragons?

Has anyone else read this book? What did you think of it?