Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Harrison Five, Good Times and Hardships

I'm fairly certain my parents didn't PLAN to have five children, but that's what they got. And what would we have done if our "little" Jane hadn't come along twelve years after I was born? She was my real live doll, I carried her everywhere.

The photo shows us all in happier times, at a reunion at my home in Muskoka. Jane is far left, the youngest, then Dale who was born after me. Kim was the second son, born after Gord the brother with his arm around me, now the matriarch of the family. Why does that word make me feel ancient? We were all getting ready to say good-bye, my husband was taking the last photos of the day.

My sister Jane, Kim and Gord plus his wife Pat all had a 3 hour drive home ahead of them while my sister Dale lived just around the corner from us. We had a weekend full of good food, lots of laughter and perhaps the odd drink or two...who is counting? That was about four or five years ago.

Time marches on and not always with the beat we want, but sometimes with much joy and excitement. Jane and I purchased properties in Prince Edward Island and plan to retire there. We are so anxious to live out the rest of our lives on the island our hearts have grown to love so.

Our brother Kim, unmarried is a wonderful artist. But between the rest of us siblings, we have 7 grown children and 5 grandchildren. Plus I have two step-children, one of whom has given us our dear granddaughter Claire and her brother is getting married in September in Victoria, B.C. And before I forget, sister Jane has one step-son.

So one can imagine with a family of this size many happy and unhappy occasions can occur. University graduations, new jobs, new apartments, moving to different countries, cities, all happy occurances. But also with this many siblings and off-spring very unhappy things happen too.

My step-daughter was involved in a horrendous car accident 12 years ago this August. She survived thankfully but has some memory issues..My own daughter was involved in a car accident when she was 21 yrs. old, had a closed head injury and has memory issues. Other members of the family have had minor car mishaps and thankfully are fine today. Now we watch anxiously over our grandchildren.

But this past Sunday a mishap happened with my sister Dale's son Jonathon that has turned our world upside down. He was involved in a terrible motorcycle accident and was air-lifted to a hospital in Toronto. I know he will get the very best care there,  they will do all that is humanly possible for him as that is where Jim's daughter was taken and we witnessed the wonderful care she received.

Jon as I call him has a long road of recovery ahead of him, a broken hip and femur on the same leg, broken ribs and two vertabrae in his back. After a ten hour operation, he has a pin in his hip, a metal plate in his lower back, a metal rod fixing his femur.  Yesterday a Halo Brace was installed on him. This brace I believe will remain for 6 months. He is still heavily sedated although they are cutting back  but he has yet to speak to anyone. It is a day his parents, his only brother and all of us are waiting for with much anticipation.

His parents and brother are staying down in Toronto at this time and the rest of the family waits anxiously for updates on his recovery. There is much prayer being said on his behalf and we so appreciate it. I find I'm having to unclench my  jaw every few minutes, the strain and tension of waiting to hear what the next report will bring.

Little do we know what each day will bring us. We go along our merry way perhaps taking for granted many blessings we have in our lives, perhaps leaving quite a length of time before we email, phone or get together with family members. A tragedy like this always links us all closer together, we stand united behind the injured person. We wait with baited breath for some word about our dear loved one.

Jon is a strong and determinded young man closing in on forty years of age. He has a young teen-age son he wants to guide through life so we are all rooting for him to make a full recovery, to walk out of that hospital one day ready to get on with his life. It's all we can ask for.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

I'm a Beach Comber, a Scrounger, a Bargain Shopper

My sister-in-law Caron and I are looking at something she found on a beach in P.E.I. in 2008. Everytime I visit with Caron and her husband on the island we try and squeeze in some time for beach of our favorite activities. I bought a lovely white enamelware canister set years ago just to store my beach glass..Caron and I hope to make jewelry with it someday.

My husband likes to refer to me as "cheap" but I prefer to think of myself as trying to be very economical. If I can buy something we need or in previous years "want" at a yard sale, or see it sitting free in the recycle building at the town dump or buy it cheaply at the downtown Salvation Army then I'm more than pleased.

We also have in our town a ReStore, a very large building full of great stuff and all the money raised goes to Habitat for Humanity which build homes for people who might otherwise never have the privilege of owning their own home. Also I feel good knowing all the money I spend at the Salvation Army is helping so many people in a multitude of ways.

I used to buy a lot of "stuff' because I liked it or wanted it, not necessarily needing it..Now I'm become a much more discerning shopper. Or at least I like to think so..I remember my father being a big yard sale shopper and when we cleaned out our parents home, finding boxes full of things in the basement purchased at yard sales. But he commented to me at one time he was becoming much more discerning over the maybe I'm taking after him.

Now when I enter the Salvation Army I head right to the children's toys in case I can find some great toy or book for my granddaughter. As she grows older, she is now 18 months old, she is losing interest in some of her earlier toys..She is very absorbed now in playing with a toy high chair I purchased for 99 cents at the Salvation Army and carried home..she puts a teddy bear in it and feeds it numerous cups of tea out on the deck with warm water until teddy has to have the water wrung out of it. I've purchased many little outfits for her there so when she arrives I put her into "my" clothes so she can get wet or dirty and go home in her original clean clothes.

She is interested in rabbits or bunnies right now so yesterday I found a stuffed one and a cute little pink purse to carry it around it. Found a great pair of shorts for myself and a gorgeous scarf. Several weeks ago I found a lovely skirt which I will take to a wedding I have to attend in the fall in Victoria, B.C. I get quite excited when I find clothes there with the tag on from the store who donated it, still intact..found many brand new items, never worn for under five dollars. Who wouldn't get a thrill over that!

After all as one lady told me one day when we shop at the Salvation Army we are really "only borrowing" the items as a few years down the road we usually tire of them and return them to be recycled again. This year alone I've probably taken over a dozen bags of items back to the store and I often see them hanging on the racks or on a shelf..

Since we will be moving in a few years I have been trying and not too successfully yet to get rid of more things from the house. Which means I must put a bit of a curb on my shopping..and I don't know why but I seem to have been born with a "shopping bug" in my system which has been very hard to eradicate..I have done really well this year tho, only spent one day touring yard sales while in P.E.I. in May with Caron and since returning back home although I read where they are each week in our town paper have kept that's a big thing for me..look at all the bargains I'm missing!

Sometimes when I put things in a bag for the Salvation Army or send it to the dump I feel bad that I don't have the money I spent on that item..but I have to think: "did it give me a lot of pleasure?" and if the answer is yes, then it was money well spent.

When I enter stores and look through the weekly flyers that come each week and see "Sale" signs, I make a beeline to look over the merchandise..but now I must ask myself, do I need it or have room for it? There was a huge sale on different varities of wool this week in a nearby town which I had to go to for an eye exam. So I purchased several new crochet/knitting books on sale for a dollar plus wool to keep me going hopefully through the coming winter. My girlfriend who was with me at the time happened to mention that the four large balls of cotton yard that I'd purchased to knit a blanket is the "perfect' color to go on her couch upstairs in her one Christmas present is looked after. Perhaps more than one as I'm going to make my granddaughter a hat. Just finished making myself a cotton hat and I'm quite pleased with it.

I find it very difficult to watch tv without having busy hands either crocheting or knitting. Being a huge reader I also purchase most of my books second-hand, then recycle them again. Nearly all my library of gardening books have come by way of second-hand stores. I do get a thrill from buying something brand new but my clothes closets are rather bulging now so off I go to see if I can recycle some clothes and remember NOT to repurchase them when I next go to the Salvation Army!

Monday, July 16, 2012

My Brother Came For a Visit

It is still sweltering in Muskoka. We are entering our 3rd week of a continuing heat wave. I never thought I'd wake up in the morning thinking: "sure hope it's cooler today". I'm beginning to think heat of this kind for too long could drive me crazy..there is just no relief  from it except sitting in front of a fan or going into our little 15 foot, blue rubber pool..

Some areas around us have received some rain..we have had not a drop as yet. Our lawn is burnt brown so rather rough and scrunchy to walk on. Our granddaughter did well to go in her barefeet this past Sunday. The deck is so hot we must wear sandals up until the point we enter the pool.

We had a busy weekend, but a fun-filled time. My brother Gord and his wonderful wife Pat drove into our laneway this past Thursday a little after 5 p.m. In case we all voted to go downtown later to hear the live music performed at the small wooden gazebo in the park, I asked my husband to bring home pizza for supper. As it turned out, we opted to stay home and go into the pool instead.

I have two brothers and one might say they are brother Gord who is a few years older than my brother Kim is very gregarious, loves to talk and has a way of making my husband laugh out loud a lot! One tends to either laugh with my brother or at him. He is a former school teacher so he has an easy way about him with adults and children. We don't see each other often enough.

The men took in the Pioneer Power Show Saturday afternoon while Pat and I had great talks while cooling off in the pool. We all to met up later in the afternoon at a popular Pub downtown that only serves craft beers, which my brother really enjoys. We got into a conversation about styles and types of beer glasses and jokingly I said: "my beer glass is too big and heavy to carry out"...the young man working there heard our comments and before we left handed me my glass, washed and dried to take home..I think we rather entertained him for an hour with our somewhat loud laughter and comments..

We had a great b.b.q. in the evening and then returned to where the Pioneer Show was held as there was an old fashioned barn dance..little did we know we should have taken our own chairs and a cooler of water and was a very hot evening and nothing was served there. It was an old barn that had been moved and rebuilt on that site so there were a few benches built around the inside, but it was cooler outside. We enjoyed many dances but decided to leave when the square dancing started  as we aren't talented in that department..

Sunday morning got wild when our granddaughter and her mother showed up just at breakfast time, I of course no longer wanted to be part of making breakfast, just wanted to play with Claire..but I kept my focus (and that isn't easy for me) and we all enjoyed a great family time around the breakfast table. Gord and Pat are very fortunate to have twin granddaughters so they enjoyed little Claire very much. Claire doesn't make strange with people she doesn't know and gave us all one of her special hugs and kisses.

Everyone left for home around 1 p.m. so hubby and I spent the rest of the afternoon in the pool, relaxing and reading. Already I miss everyone. I hadn't seen my brother and his wife for two years and we hope to arrange a get-together again in the fall. Perhaps take a boat ride over in Gravenhurst on the famous steamship R.M.S. Segwun. One of my girlfriends and I make it a tradition to go out once a year on the Segwun which is celebrating 125 years this year.

We were much relieved when Pat called to say they arrived home safely, driving through some heavy rain in spots. It usually takes four hours to drive home from here but weekend traffic is double with Cottage traffic heading south to Toronto. I'm already anticipating the fun times we will have if they return early October, more good food, laughter and adventures. I have four siblings and every one has such a different personality. We are each a piece of a puzzle and with a bit of work, it all fits together.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Heat Wave in Muskoka

I realize there is a heat wave in more than our area, but as I live here, this is what I know..We are in the midst of a heat wave that just keeps coming day after day..I have written off the garden, it's too hot, too dry..My husband keeps trying to water it, but it needs far more than he is giving it.

The soil in the garden, flower beds and lawn is like powder, a big wind would blow it question is: "how can the weeds keep growing and be so healthy?"..We seldom use the hose on the flower beds, we have two large rain barrels and two tin wash tubs at the end of two down spouts so we use all the water they contain. But last night I took pity on the front yard perennials and actually used the hose. Everything is sad and drooping.

As I sit writing this I think back to our looooong winters here, we can get frost as early as mid-September making the gardening season very short. We often have snow on Halloween night. I remember one year it snowed on Mother's Day in May. Even though all the snow can be melted in yards in April, a walk in the woods will reveal clumps of snow hidden from the sun.

Around February I start longing for spring, for the sight of tulips and daffodils, something, anything GREEN! I have been known to shovel across my front yard to my three burning bushes so I can clear the branches that are either being held hostage by deep snow or ice. I'm sure the neighbours are talking about that crazy women shoveling her front yard!

What seems to have happened the past couple of years is that April is warmer than May..I get most of my gardening clean-up done in April raising my hopes, then a cold wet May. But for the past two years we have been in P.E.I. in May and this year is was a glorious May, not so the year before.

What do we long for all winter? To throw open the doors and windows to smell fresh spring breezes, air out the house, hear the first robins. But in reality I sit here with drapes closed, the doors shut and fans blowing the warm around and around. It's like living in a box! A box with curtains no less..thankfully we have a screened in gazebo out on our large back deck and as can be seen in the picture I posted a large, blue pool which we put up each June. As we pay for our water useage, it costs more and more to fill it each year. But it is well worth the money, or so we tell ourselves to be able to cool off many times a day. Yesterday I enjoyed it's cooling waters at least 3 times although the temperature was up to 82 degrees so we left the top off last night..

The neighbours who have an inground pool and cover it at night had a temperature of 92 degrees. Off came the cover only cooled down 3 degrees. I will soon be checking our pool to see if it dropped down a bit. On these hot days of 35, 37 and 40 degrees, the pool around 78 is more refreshing.

I introduced my granddaughter Claire to our pool several weeks ago, at first she wanted back out again, "no, no," she uttered..then I put in her one leg and told her to splash it..this was fun until she splashed herself in the face. So I handed her over to mommy but later took her into the pool again and she immediately twisted herself so that both her legs where in the water splashing....We also have a small plastic pool for her but it won't be long and she'll want to be in the big one all the time..she loves to play on our deck with a pail full of water, her measuring cups, tea set and teddy bear in his high chair..she will spend an hour feeding teddy bear cups of water, so much water in fact we end up squeezing teddy bear out..

If we had a button we could push to order the weather we wanted in our own yards, mine wouldn't be so hot, there would be fresh breezes and no humidity. Some days I find it hard to breathe. Yes, I wanted warm weather all winter but as I get older I find these high temperatures harder to endure. The weeds don't get banished and the flower beds get ignored but I get a lot of books read! My husband doesn't even want hot meals, he comes home from work hoping for a sandwich. My kind of guy....

When I wake up I think how will I bear yet another sweltering day, it almost makes your mind go crazy until I remember I have the pool and can submerse myself in it as many times as I want. I look longingly at the weather report on the computer every morning hoping it see it might rain and keep our burnt grass from getting worse, help the flowers to lift their heads again and allow me to once again open all the doors and windows. We are never satisfied are we?