She Dreamed of Africa – Friday Fictioneers

Good Wednesday afternoon, my readers… First Friday Fictioneers of the year!  I know, I know, it’s called Friday FICTIONeers but my sister and niece leave in one hour and, no, I know this is not a picture of a desert, nor a vast plain but hey… it’s what I’m seeing now and it’s not what we look at, but what we see, right?  Says so right down there ⇓

 Thanks to the comedic duo Rochelle and Russell for their collaboration this week.  Do join in on the fun!  Just click on the blue frog below to add your 100-word story to the party already going on.  Not sure about the rules and regs?  Click on Rochelle’s name and get them!

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She Dreamed of Africa

Tracy had no idea what her daughter would choose for their mother-daughter trip.  She should have known.  Sabrina had the travel bug ever since she saved all monies earned from baby-sitting and selling her necklaces to pay for her high school Guatemala trip.  Hers was a laser-beam focus when she had a goal.  No Cuba-style-butt-in-the-sand vacation for her!

“Africa?”

“Yes, Mom.  Tanzania.  Glamping Safari in the Serengeti! Then Zanzibar for the beach. We’ll learn how to surf.”

“Great white sharks in those waters, Sab.”

“So?  Can’t worry over stuff like that…”

“Can’t wait.  It’ll be a trip of a lifetime…”

The 2018 Annual Attitude of Gratitude: Bloggers Flood The Internet With Happiness & Positivity!

Dawn Quyle Landau of Tales from the Motherland has issued the 5th annual “50 Happy Things/Attitude of Gratitude” challenge and I am more than pleased to join in once again.  For instructions on the “how-to”, please click here.  Once you’ve figured out how to do it and have been inspired to do it (Why not?  How much can it hurt to bring forth things that make you happy?) click here to add your link.

There is absolutely no order to my following list.  I have set the timer for 15 minutes and this is basically stream of consciousness stuff (i.e. as it comes, I type).  All embellishments are added after the clock has run out and I’ve spell-checked my list 😉

  1. My boys – they remind me that I am human
  2. My home – protects me from the elements
  3. My family – all the way down to second cousins thrice removed
  4. My sisters – despite whatever goes on in life, they are there for me
  5. Mom – without her, I would not be
  6. Friends who are the chosen family
  7. Blogosphere – a world I could not have imagined ten years ago
  8. The friends I’ve made on the blogosphere – I cherish the connections I’ve made
  9. Going to Old Montreal for New Year’s Eve with good friends
  10. Getting on the ferris wheel for the midnight fireworks
  11. Friday Fictioneers – for teaching me how to cut the fluff and get to the point
  12. B – for pushing me to be a better writer while becoming a close friend
  13. My ability and joy of cooking
  14. Sharing my food with those I love
  15. My boys when they help me before I have to ask
  16. My computer – as a tool to connect and write
  17. Internet – bringing the world to my fingertips
  18. Brothers-in-law who help out for stuff that I just cannot do on my own
  19. Girlfriends – to share those things that you just can’t with family
  20. Blogging community – I keep learning
  21. Rochelle for her friendship and for trusting me with her lateest WIP (and any other writings)
  22. Julie for being my “culture friend” and my trusted date for stuff no one else is interested in
  23. Feeling part of my close knit gang
  24. Food – the diversity, the sensuality
  25. My taste buds – which permit me to enjoy all the flavours out there
  26. Good wine
  27. fun work colleagues
  28. New colleagues who seemed to really appreciate me
  29. Clients who appreciate me
  30. My legs for allowing me to take my walks
  31. My big-ass bathtub for when I need to get away from it all
  32. Reading – opening my world to other realms
  33. Writing, which allows me to let go of stuff
  34. Writing prompts that push me to do better
  35. My bed, where I get the rest I need or at least pretend to
  36. My hands which are capable of so much more than I thought
  37. Heating which protects me from the cold
  38. My capacity to love no matter how many times my heart is broken
  39. Being appreciated for what I offer
  40. My wit and sense of humour – keeps me sane
  41. Travel – I need to do more; experience other cultures
  42. The communities I’ve built – virtual and real
  43. Connections I’ve made with people from around the world
  44. A cozy fire, to gaze into, to snuggle with someone
  45. Zeke – who is not getting as much love as he should but will
  46. Eyes – to appreciate the beauty around me
  47. My smile, which seems to be what people remember about me
  48. My camera, which helps me to look at things differently and record the memories
  49. Being able to express myself and be open to others’ opinions
  50. Widow’s pension, which helps to make ends meet
  51. EI which permits me to take the time to rest between jobs
  52. Working a seasonal job which allows me to take the other seasons off
  53. Sense of smell, without it, I would never appreciate food and cooking so much
  54. My body – it may be quite as I would like it to be, but it’s mine and it functions
  55. Dishwashers – because sometimes, doing the dishes just blows
  56. My car – I can go anywhere when I want
  57. My resilience – even though it’s a word that bugs the shit out of me, it is the right word for me
  58. The close friends who will always include me in their happenings
  59. My ability to adapt to whatever life throws my way
  60. My boys – I am so proud of them both for the young men they are becoming
  61. That Iain has decided to go back to school to get a diploma in electricity
  62. That Aidan has decided to pursue an education in animation (yeah, yeah, it has another title that I always forget)
  63. That I know I can count on my sisters for anything
  64. My lack of cynicism – despite the world we live in
  65. My charm that can be helpful when I screw up
  66. Dark chocolate
  67. Camaraderie – that can be found
  68. Facebook – say what you will, I have kept in contact with many because of it
  69. Book, books and more books
  70. Potential for love – I’ve not given up

And So This is Christmas….

We have hit that “quiet time” in our yearly festivities.  It lasts a few hours and most members of our families try to take this time to nap to prepare for the last of the family shenanigans, or in my case, write a blog post.  After all, I managed to write 24 days in a row, why break it on this most special of days?  Besides, no matter how tired I am, I am afraid if I do nap, tonight’s sleep will be slow in coming.  And now I am feeling nostalgic.

Time moves forward; we can’t stop it.  Families grow, decline, grow again.  Children are born, grandparents (and parents) pass away, children grow up, fall in love, boyfriends and girlfriends come in and out of the picture; before long, those children are getting married (or hooking up), having children and the cycle continues.

Some things are lost along the way.  Things like the music.  As the older folk start dying off, so do their songs.  The next generation remembers some of the tunes completely, or parts of the lyrics of others and we sing what we know, faking the rest, then repeat the same verses.  We are now at the point where there are so few left from the singing generation and the songs have all but been silenced.  I still want to sing!  Rare are the occasions now where we do.  I am aggrieved by that.  My generation still has the memories of those family gatherings but the ones following us, don’t.  Is it our fault?  I don’t think so.  Times change.

Back when, before most of us had kids, we would assemble at my grandmother’s for New Year’s and spoons would come out and, if one of the old uncles was around, there’d be a fiddle, plus there was always at least one guitar… but didn’t matter if there was nary an instrument.  Because suddenly either Mémère or Matante Lucette would start the song and we’d all join in.

New traditions needed to be created when my parents divorced. Now we had to adapt to the new reality and spread ourselves to please everyone.  The Saturday before Christmas, Dad would make his bird and have us all over for his celebration, then Christmas Eve, over to my sister, Tracy’s, for a major party with both sides of the families.  Ugh… when I think of those smoke-filled rooms…  Next day, after each of us did our individual family thing, we’d schlep our stuff up north to Mom’s for Christmas dinner and a sleep-over.  Some years we’d make it to Mémère’s for New Years but that meant two two-hour drives up north within a week.  That quickly became old.

Traditions changed once again and, for the past, shoot, I don’t know how many years, our formula has remained the same.  Up until Dad’s death in 2013, we did the Saturday before Christmas at his place, then the Christmas Eve at Tracy’s – no more smoke and much more reasonable by being immediate families only – which still implies 25 people or more!

Mick started a tradition of making Christmas brunch for family and friends – I can’t even remember when it started!  It was like a rotating door:  some would arrive, stay awhile, eat, chat, leave and more would come in.  This, too, changed over the years and became smaller with mostly family with a few friends who pop over.  After Mick died in 2014, Iain took up the mantle.  So very cool to watch him do what needs to be done to keep this tradition going.  And he won’t admit it but he is so proud to do so.

Then supper at Lisa’s for the classic turkey dinner.

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We interrupt this post because the internet decided to go wonky on me and I had to leave for turkey dinner at my sister, Lisa’s.  So much for posting for a 25th day in a row!  It is now very early December 26th…

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So how was Christmas 2018?  It was a wonderful time!

Differences were set aside to embrace the spirit of the season.  Food was shared, drinks flowed, laughter was heard.  Three gatherings in the three sisters’ houses with the same core people in two days and we wouldn’t change a thing.  Well, except I would have liked to have won at Texas Hold ‘Em but at least didn’t lose my money!

Our new traditions having been holding strong and we’re enjoying them, knowing that there will be changes in the future as that is the nature of life.  New people shall arrive, others shall leave and so it goes.

I still wish we would sing, though.

My all-time, never to be excluded Christmas song is Mahalia Jackson’s “Silent Night”.  Thank you Dad, for bringing her into my life.

Roots – Friday Fictioneers

Good Wednesday, my readers.  I hope you’ve been enjoying my Advent Calendar posts.  I am loving doing them, tell you what!  That said, Friday Fictioneers is here and I love doing participating though must admit I was stuck with this one.  Didn’t want to go down a road I’d already travelled.  I know there is some kind of pun in there in view of the photo… 😉

Always a thank you to our Mentor from Missouri for holding this weekly party.  Thank you Rochelle.  And thanks to Adam Ickes for allowing us to use this photo (for some, a second time).

Do join in on the fun, why don’t you.  Just click on the blue frog below and add your link to your 100-word story inspired by this picture!

©Adam Ickes

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Roots

“Going through some old paperwork, I found a hand-written genealogy tree from my mother’s side.”

“Cool!  Find out anything interesting?”

“I already knew that both sides trace back to France.  I’m twelfth or thirteenth generation Quebecer!”

“Anything for your father’s side?”

“Nothing, though I know he was a Scottish Highlander.”

“That’s something.  What else did you find?”

“Mom’s always claimed that there was some Indian—”

Indiginous….”

“Right. Native. First Nations.”

Indiginous.”

“Got it!  Other than Mom’s great cheekbones, there’s nothing official.”

“Great bone structure is not proof enough!”

“Exactly.  I’d love to find out that I am a true Canadian.”

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In Their Care – Friday Fictioneers

Good Wednesday evening, my Readers!  It is that time of the week where Rochelle, our feisty leader, sends us a photo (thank you, Nick Allen, for graciously allowing us to borrow it)  and we must use our grey matter and imagination to come up with a story that inspires, excites, entices, horrifies, or just plain amuses you.  From around the world comes all sorts of wonderful stories.  I kid you not!  Just click on the blue frog below and you’ll have access to anywhere from 70 to 100 stories!  Including this one.  Hey… how about you add yours?  Click on Rochelle‘s name and find out the how-tos and then add your story to the list!

 

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In Their Care

As a self-sufficient and capable man, he was no stranger to the myriad tools stored neatly in his huge shed.  From saws to planers to drills; name it, he had it ~ all bearing a well-worn patina.  Also parked neatly were a lawnmower/snowblower, a four-wheeler and a big log-splitter.  The man could take care of himself.

Until he couldn’t.

His grandsons minded the place for him. They drained the gas from the vehicles, sold off his tools for peanuts, turned the house into a pigstye.  The lawn had become one giant junkyard.

All that was left undisturbed were his oil cans.

 

Sunday Musings

I used to do a Gratitude Sunday/Sunday Gratitude/Weekend Coffee Share, in which I gave thanks for whatever happened during the week.  Somehow these posts have fallen to the wayside.  I think it’s time I brought it back, different format, though.  Doing challenges like Pegman and Weekend Writing Prompt are all fine and dandy but as a result, I was feeling a loss.

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
Marcel Proust

Maybe that loss is being felt because I’m frankly exhausted  – a term I find gets overused by those who are merely tired.  We seem to have entered the age of extremes so why should one not be exhausted instead of merely tired.  I must admit defeat.  I am bloody exhausted.  A co-worker and I were talking last night before the big 260-person benefit evening, that this October, in particular, has been particularly grueling.  It’s supposed to be the slowing down of things at the golf club.  Instead, it has been one event after another and we are just plain exhausted.  I just did a nine-day run and frankly, today could not come soon enough!

So what did I do on my one day off that is supposed to consitute my “weekend”?  Well, once I got up at the crack of 11:00 am (I worked until 1 am the night before…) I made myself a couple of coffees and had a bite to eat.  Then.  I have a fabulous brother-in-law, Sébastien, who changed my tires for me.  As I sat there watching Sébas and his son, Nicolas work together, joking and ribbing each other, innuendos galore, I could not help but smile.  I then drove home with tears in my eyes.  I couldn’t help it.  I couldn’t help but think that my boys did not get long enough with their father to learn stuff.  I will never forget Iain telling Mick, lying comatose, that he couldn’t leave yet as he still had so much to learn from him.  Broke my heart.  It’ll be four years and I can still hear this clear as day.

Could not decide between the following two quotes, so have included both.

“Boys do not long for fathers who will usher them through the gauntlet of psychological disconnect. They long for fathers who have themselves survived intact. Boys do not ache for their father’s masculinity. They ache for their fathers’ hearts.”
T. Real

“You can’t love your mother or father if you don’t also have the capacity to grieve their deaths and, perhaps even more so, grieve parts of their lives.”
Glenn Beck, The 7: Seven Wonders That Will Change Your Life

I got home, unloaded my summer tires and Iain was clearing out the shed.  I asked him if he wanted to come with me to the market to get the goods to make salsas and jellies and he said that nah, he had some stuff to do…

“God know that a mother need fortitude and courage and tolerance and flexibility and patience and firmness and nearly every other brave aspect of the human soul.”
Phyllis McGinley

I hid my disappointment and went to the market.  It’s amazing… Just yesterday – I swear it was yesterday – it was September.  I had told myself I would get all the stuff necessary to make salsas, that we’d go apple picking and visit David at his Britannia Mills mini-farm to pick up hot peppers to enhance our goodies.   Well. So much for that.  Here we are October 21 and my hopes for getting anything besides pumpkins were, to say the least, slim at best.   Luck was on my side.  I snagged a couple of boxes of not-so-beautiful tomatoes for ten bucks, plus 2nd rate apples that are “not fit for sale” for $15 instead of $22, as they are not perfect (pffft!), a box of bell peppers, a couple of braids of garlic, onions, a couple of pumpkins, some honey – because, when in these markets, everything looks fabulous.  Was so bloody cold, I forgot to take a pictures of the market!  Darn.  Iain did go to David’s on Friday, so the pepper situation was taken care of.

Goodies to make more goodies

Home once again, I unloaded my stash and Iain was washing his car.  Brought in the goods and he moseyed over to see just what I had managed to find.  Was as pleased as I was so…  I canna lie, there was a liltle bit of pleasure on my front – again hidden.

I started chopping veggies for the salsa, asked Iain which peppers he wanted me to use and made two different batches of salsa.  I took it as a good sign when I went up to his room where a serious video game was going on with Aidan and his friend, gave him a spoonful, he took, coughed, and said “Was not expecting quite that much heat!”  Mom still can rock it.

While working on my second batch of salsa, Iain came in to chop peppers and ingredients that he planned to turn into hot oils and  sauces.  His dehydrator has been working on drying out one of the peach somethings (not sure if they’re ghosts, morughlas, reapers or what – all’s I know is they are friggen hot) so he can turn them into chili powder – not anything you’d find in your standard grocery stores…

I looked at him and said, “I know you don’t like anything mushy, but I really enjoy when we work on something together.”  I just got a look.

“Isn’t this the truth of any good mother? That in all of our lives. We worry only about those we brought into this world, regardless of whether they loved us back or treated us fairly or understood our shortcomings.”
Adriana Trigiani, Big Cherry Holler

I know I can never fill in their father’s shoes, nor do I want to.  I can give them what I can.  I can be there for them in my capacity.  There will always be those moments where I’ll think, “Damn, Mick should be here teaching them this lesson” but that is, I know, futile.  And I can hope that I’ll be enough.  And that one day, they will think back and say – Mom was there when we needed her and did the best she could.

Time to ‘Fess Up.

It’s true.  I cannot lie.  I am lazy.  No, no, don’t bother, ye who get “exhausted” reading my posts about all the things I have to take care of.  No, no.  That’s me being pushed against the wall, forced to take care of whatnot and whoseit, truth be told.  I so love a clean house.  Hate cleaning it.  I love a beautiful garden.  Hate weeding it.  Love a clean car.  What is UP with men getting all excited to clean theirs?  I think my mother rubbed off on me!  She always says she was meant to be a “Poule de Luxe” – which literally translates to a “Luxury Chick”  I could  be A-OK with sitting on my arse, book in one hand, something cool and refreshing in the other and while away the hours while someone else does the work.  Of course, I would never have that satisfaction you get from a job well done.  Or done as well as it could be.

I do this to myself EVERY SINGLE YEAR!  I take a stroll around my front yard and note the roses are surrounded, kept from showing off.  Those evil weeds just keep coming back.  I do have to hand it to them.  They are so very clever, insinuating themselves around the bases of plants that will gladly rip my skin off as I bring an end to their existence.  Of course I could use a claw-thingy (oh look, it’s called a “Cultivator” – thank you Google), and I do… but let’s face it, you can’t remove the corpses with other than your hands, encased in gloves, or not.

Having finally cleared out the weeds, I walked around my little “patio” in the front and was promptly refused access by the overgrowth of some tree – sorry.  I have absolutely NO idea what each and every plant is except for the lilac – and that’s coz I love them and I planted it there.  Anyway.  I sure hope my timing was okay but I spent a good hour pruning said trees and bushes so that I could, if I so wanted to set myself up to, sit on my little patio and watch any passersby pass by.

I can tell you.  I foolishly (or not) did not take any before pictures, but it shore to look perty now…

Now that I am looking at the picture, I am reminded that my, ummm, “shaping skills” must next be made to work on hedges and other shrubs… that one in the patio pic, in the back… looks like it’s having a bad hair day, morning-after-the-night-before style, don’t you think?  Maybe I should leave them to the experts.  Like when I call them, because I so want to spend more hard-earned dinero on this house before selling it, to trim my cedar hedges.  Mick used to do it every year but, since I need to pay, I think ever two is just fine.  Which means it’s this year.

Speaking of Mick, lemme just apologise to him right now – again.  He used to do almost all this stuff by himself.  The trimming of trees and laying down of mulch – reminder to self:  GET THE BLOODY MULCH so I don’t have to break my back for the rest of the summer.

And, finally, I get to the point of my post.  Talk about taking the scenic route…

Why, oh why, did your work ethic NOT rub off on us, Mick?  OK… maybe it was too late for me, (old dogs and all that) but could you not have been that little bit more influential on your sons?  They really did not have to take after me in this certain aspect.  OK… Maybe I’m being a little harsh on myself, maybe I’m not lazy per se, just not particularly organised, or rather, consistent.  It would definitely make my life a lot easier if I were.

So, I’m trying to change things up here.  I’ve been trying to show the boys that doing a little each day keeps things less discouraging.  That, I, too, work a full-time job but still get shit done.  That it’s okay to have moments to relax (post on my fabulous yesterday to come tomorrow) but that there must be times spent doing one’s share.  Would be insanely fabulous if they could do so without my having to nag and complain.

Trying to have MY newfound work ethic rub off on them…

… or something along those lines… 🙂