Crafty Wednesday – preserving memories

I have been a little too busy lately to jump back into creating scrapbook pages, but between 2004 and 2008, I created several memory books – one for my parents’ 50th anniversary, one about my mother when she passed away and one of my Dad for his 80th birthday. Here is a little peek into my family history with relation to my early days of scrapbooking. It goes to show that you don’t need to be really fancy when putting a scrapbook together. There are many other ways you can pretty up a page. These books were created before I had my collection of stamps and fancy embellishments. Let’s start at the beginning.

First there was my dad:

You will notice that I made a collage of pictures with his parents and created a title – “Special times with Mom & Dad” using the ‘text box’ feature from Windows Word. I used a 12″ x 12″ blue patterned paper for the background and embellished it with stickers. You will notice there’s also a strip of antique-looking paper near the bottom.

 

 

 

 

A few years later, my mother came along. I think there was about 7 years difference in their ages. This page shows Mom & her sisters as children. I embellished the page with stickers (even the oval ‘frame’ is a sticker) and glitter glue. I have found that the glitter glue stays a bit tacky and will stick to the inside of the page protector. Personally, I would not advise using it.

The two pages above show Mom & Dad about the time they met at the office. Mom was actually nominated to be a beauty pageant contestant representing the floor she worked on. From this picture, it’s easy to see why.

Her picture was from the 8″ x 8″ album I made about her. I used a wood-look paper with brick strips on either side for accents. To get the shape of the journaling piece, I traced the shape, printed the comment and used glitter glue around it. I added a flower sticker and a butterfly sticker around the picture for embellishment. Dad’s page was the first of his 80th birthday book for which I used a 12″ x 12″ album. I liked the idea of making it like the old TV series, “This Is Your Life”. The page on the left (below) is also from Dad’s birthday album, highlighting a few moments from his twenties.

After working together for awhile, Mom & Dad decided to get married. The right-hand photo above shows a wedding picture and one from their honeymoon in Minneapolis, among others from that time. The photo directly to the right shows a page from my parents’ anniversary album – the construction of the house where I grew up. I made mats for each photo and arranged them on angles, embellishing them with stickers.

 

 

 

Soon after the house was completed, I arrived on the scene. (I’m the hand puppet!) I was tiny, barely over 5 lbs. A few years later came brother #1, then 15 months later came brother #2.

The page is embellished with stickers and graphics from my Printmaster Gold Publishing Suite disc, printed and filled in with coloured pencils.

 

Below is an example of how many similarly-themed photos can be bunched together. This represents a few of the 50 anniversaries that Mom & Dad shared. I embellished with stickers and printed labels from my word processor.

After Mom’s passing, I came across a box of material scraps that brought back a lot of memories for me. Mom used to sew a lot when I was growing up (curtains, clothes for her and us kids, even doll clothes), so I thought that I would put these items into her memory book so that people could see some examples of her handiwork. On the left (above) is a sample of the curtain material that made up the living room drapes when I was young – pretty ugly, by today’s standards but definitely memorable! The picture on the right shows her initial attempts at crocheting and smocking. When I think about the many hours she spent smocking my dresses, I wish I’d appreciated them more. She used to make clothes for my Barbie, too, and in later years, would knit or crochet outfits for dolls that were entered into a contest where Dad worked. The entries were then given to the Christmas Cheerboard which added them to care packages delivered to needy families in the city. These pages prove that when creating a scrapbook, it doesn’t have to be fancy. It just has to represent the life you are showcasing at the time, using whatever materials you have on hand. 🙂

The pages above show just how goofy our family could get at times. Mom & Dad were pretty fun-loving in their youth and that humour was passed onto their kids and grandkids, as you can see! Scrapbook collages are fun to do. You can find stick-on word bubbles that you can use to add funny sayings to your pictures, or simply print out the comments or journaling from your word processor.

And now, a final picture from one of Mom’s famous Halloween parties, embellished with stickers. She often used dry ice to froth up her ‘witch’s brew’. Mom enjoyed entertaining, a trait I have inherited. I love any excuse for a party. I remember some of those parties more than my brothers who were sent to bed early on those days. I usually got to stay up until the guests arrived so I could see them in costume. I have pictures of those crazy parties but probably shouldn’t show them as some of the participants are still around!

Scrapbooks these days are more than simple photo albums. The way they are set up can give future generations a pretty good idea what life was like for the person who created them and will be so important for family anecdotes. So many of my grandparents photos did not even have a name or a date on the back, so they have no context for us looking back. They are gone now, so those photos will probably end up in the trash because they are simply nameless people that we don’t know anything about.

I hope you liked this trip down Memory Lane and have picked up a few ideas on how you can dress up your photos so that future generations will know the important people in your life. 🙂

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Wonderful Readers!

While I was trying to think about what to post, today, I noticed that I had been nominated for the Reader Appreciation Award, by wantoncreation. I want to thank him very much for the honour! He has an amazing blog with a variety of interesting topics and always makes me smile. I can’t help but comment on his content, so I guess that’s why he nominated me for this award.

Isn’t it pretty? It’s perfect for today because we finally have some sunshine!

Apparently there are several variations on the rules of acceptance, so I will follow Matt’s lead and tell you about what I have been up to lately. As you may have read, yesterday, I finally had my root canal done on my  broken tooth. It’s still a little tender, but I think I’ll survive! 🙂

This morning, I was preparing for a wedding shower/roast for the daughter of our close friends. I’ve known the girl since she was born, so have a few stories to tell. One of the things I loved about her when she was little was that she looked like she had just stepped out of an Eloise Wilkin picture. If you’ve never seen an Eloise Wilkin illustration, here’s an example. As a matter of fact, I bought this book for the bride-to-be when she was about 3 years old because the character looked just like her!

 

 

 

Another thing I was doing this morning was going through some old photos of the street where I grew up and the friends I had there. I’m hoping to meet with a woman who used to live across the street from us. I haven’t seen her in a very long time, so thought I would bring along a bunch of pictures to jog our memories. Here’s one of me taken on the street when it was still brand new.

Here’s what the street looks like now. It’s amazing the difference 50+ years makes!

 

Other things I have been doing, lately (besides blogging), are working a little more than usual, and partaking in many social events, such as the shower mentioned above. Last weekend, I went to a baby shower, played with my grandson and celebrated our anniversary with friends. I try to get to Tai Chi when I can and have lunch with friends when I’m not working. I recently started Twittering and last night I signed up for Goodreads. I still have a lot to do to get the site up and running, but at least I’ve started it and plan to add an author’s page to it eventually.

I apologize that there hasn’t been much about my writing lately, but I’m hoping that will change once the summer break arrives at the end of June. Tomorrow, I will be starting a new post ritual – interviews with other writers. My first one will be with someone who interviewed me for her blog. I’ll mention more about that when I know when she will be posting it. In the meantime, I know there are many writers out there who have been following my blog so I will be asking each of you if you would be interested in being interviewed for an upcoming blog post.

Now I should proceed to mention those readers who I appreciate. I have enjoyed and appreciated every comment ALL of my followers have made in response to my posts, but I will try to restrict the list to those who comment most frequently. In order not to overwhelm those I would have mentioned here that were already nominated by wantoncreation I will not nominate them again, but will direct you to their blogs so you can check them out: Green Paw-paw, Diane’s Story Site, Eternal Domnation, Storyteller in the Digital Age, Roshrulez’s Weblog, Friffle Thoughts and Easyondeyes, J.Keller Ford.

Here are the others who have most frequently commented on my posts:

C.B. Wentworth

Traci Kenworth

My First Book

Ramblings

Byroisinealy

Laurie Buchanan

 

Again, I want to thank ALL of you who have dropped by and ‘liked’ my posts or made a comment! I wouldn’t keep blogging without your support! 🙂

 

Crafty Wednesday

While I was making an anniversary card for Hubby, I thought back a few years to our memorable 25th anniversary and thought I’d share some of those 8-year old memories with you. The pages were some of the first I scrap-booked so they’re not quite as pretty as others I’ve made since I took classes on how to make them more interesting. I’ll start with the card. I apologize if the photo quality is not as good as usual. My Mac doesn’t acknowledge the card reader we have for our  Rebel camera, so I use our old computer to process the pictures with Photoshop, then transfer them to a flash drive and input them to this computer. Well, as luck would have it, our old computer is a little fried. As a result, I used my movie camera which has the capacity to take stills, but they are only 5mp as opposed to 10mp with our other camera. I hope you’ll get the idea anyway.

First the card for our upcoming anniversary: The main part of the card is white card stock. The front was embossed with a Cuttlebug embossing folder (curly frame) Using a heart edging punch I created the top and bottom  of the purple card stock and stuck it onto the card base with double-sided sticky tape. I stamped the lacy pattern with cream-coloured ink and the Recollections clear lace stamp. The trumpet and pen from Stampin’ Up‘s Rue des Fleurs set were stamp embossed with the Versa Mark sticky stamp pad and black embossing powder on white card stock. I cut them out and used pop-up strips to secure them to the card. The sentiment was printed from MS Word and attached with a glue runner.

I used rectangles of woodgrain paper to back the corner photos and a brick-printed paper for the centre one which shows the head table.

For our 25th anniversary, my in-laws planned a great party for us. They knew we had plans to fly to Las Vegas for a few days, so they made sure we had a wonderful send-off. We expected just dinner with a couple of close friends like we do each year. I wasn’t expecting a whole room full of people! Hubby said he suspected something like that, but I was clueless (What else is new? lol) We all had a great dinner. Then there were the speeches, like at a wedding. Some were more like a roast, though! Finally, our niece, who sings in a band, gave us all a personal concert.

There were a few gifts, but mostly we got money in the cards. I kept track of how much we got from each person so when we were at the slots or tables in Vegas we would say, “Ok, this was from so-and-so. If we win big we’ll split it with them!” Unfortunately, we ended up losing it all, but sure had fun while it lasted! We were supposed to board the plane at 7 am. However, the flight we were supposed to take was stuck in Chicago due to a storm and wasn’t going anywhere. We were booked on a later flight, leaving at 2 pm, the time when we should have been arriving. To top it all off, we had a 6-hour lay-over in Denver – not long enough to go explore the city, just the airport. By the time we got into Vegas, got our bags, went through Customs, picked up our rental car and arrived at the hotel, it was midnight! We’d completely missed our whole first day. 😦

Hubby couldn’t sleep, so went down to the casino and played a few hands of Black Jack before coming to bed. Despite that, we were up early, enjoying the hotel’s buffet breakfast. We stayed at Circus Circus. We explored the nearby hotels that first day and went to see La Folies Bergere in the evening. It was a little risque but Hubby was entranced!

 

 

 

 

The next day we went to the main event – the main reason we went to Vegas in the first place – to see Star Trek The Experience. Back then, it was being held at the Hilton Hotel. When we stepped out to the main street, we could see the hotel. It’s only a block, we thought., so we started walking. For those of you who don’t know this, a Las Vegas block is not like an ordinary city block. It’s about 10 times longer! Hubby could barely walk by the time we got there! (He broke both ankles 30 years ago & now has severe osteoarthritis, which is very painful) We had some time before the first show started so played the slot machines for awhile. I did pretty well on just one quarter, but eventually lost.

The Star Trek Experience began with an interesting Museum chronicling the ‘history’ of the Star Trek Universe. There were models overhead of the Enterprise ships, Voyager and Deep Space Nine. Costumes from all the series, technological devices (tri-quarters, communicators, etc) were displayed along the walls. I even got to meet a ‘real live’ Klingon! We had our pictures taken and at the end of it all, we were able to choose which ‘crew’ we wanted to ‘join’.

I chose the crew from Enterprise.

Hubby became a Borg. Can you spot him here?

 

 

We boarded a ‘shuttle craft’ and wound our way through a space battle that felt so real! Later, we were almost assimilated! All-in-all it was loads of fun!

What adventures have YOU had?

The long-awaited scrapbook pages

Here, the hidden pictures are revealed. Each photo is a 2 1/2Here, the hidden pictures are revealed. Each photo is a 2 1/2It was a rush to get this done this morning before heading out to work, so please bear with me! For the last class, we were required to bring pictures, because we couldn’t completely build the pullout section without them. I chose pictures from a weekend three years ago when friends joined us at the cottage. I thought it would be fun to look back on them and use them in an album reserved for cottage memories. We used the Close To My Heart‘s Workshop on the Go entitled Victory. Here’s the two-page layout that our demonstrator designed for us:

Do you see how the photo strip continues from page one to page 2? Only the left-hand side pulls out, though.

In this close-up of the first page, you will notice the pullout strip at the bottom. The instructions for this can be found in the Magic book. Look for ‘Hocus Pocus’. It is basically a three-part process with a bottom strip containing one fixed picture beneath the last picture. The middle strip contains 4 photos with the third one covered until you pull out the strip. Over both the middle and bottom strips is a strip of thick clear plastic (cut from either a sheet protector, a heavy Ziploc bag or a transparency) The top strip of card stock has had three ‘windows’ cut out of it to reveal the pictures on the middle strip. The plastic strips help the middle strip move in and out easily.

Here, the pullout is in the open position. Each photo used in it is 2-1/4 inches square. The top section shows a 5×7″ photo on a brown background (10-3/4 x 8-1/4″) placed on an angle. The Upper Case letters were stamped with the CTMH Varsity Letter set. The smaller letters were from a Recollections set. In the upper right-hand corner, I stamped “Adventure is a state of mind” from the Pure Adventure set. The “best of times” phrase is from the stamp set, which was included with the Workshop kit. The metallic stick-on square also came with the kit.

The second page includes the journaling – the details of the ‘adventure’ being portrayed by the pictures. Again, the square stick-ons were added to each strip of journaling. Both of the large photos are 5 x 7″. The small one on the blue strip is 2 x 2″. The background paper was cut 4-1/2″ from the bottom and flipped around (it’s two-sided printed paper) to create a layered look without the bulk of two different papers. The blue strip is stuck over the two pieces, holding them together. The back can now be used for more pictures.

 

Hope you found this worth the wait! 🙂

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?

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?

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.)