Tag Archives: mom

The Kilbourne Vine Caper…

Note: Today would have been my mom’s 72nd birthday.  This was my second post, so there are a lot of people who haven’t seen it…I am rerunning it today in memory of my mom.

Mom and Dad didn’t follow the typical path of Midwestern young people of their time: graduate high school, get married, and start popping out kids…Dad did a Bachelor’s in Journalism, followed by a Master’s in Divinity, and dreamed of going “back to the land” (he was raised in rural Ohio).  Mom was a “townie” – an artist who also loved music.  They were becoming more and more disillusioned with Nixon, the Vietnam War, and the crime in our neighbourhood.  In the summer of ’69, Dad quit the church and he and Mom packed up our suburban house.  Off we went to Southern Ontario, Canada.  After renting a house for a year, we settled in an old farmhouse on 43 acres of land in Prince Edward County in 1970.

I remember having a vegetable garden for several years when we first moved to the County.  Mom and Dad bought a big chest freezer, and Mom worked hard freezing everything we managed to grow.

Mom never forgot a plant that grew near the house where we lived when I was born in Kilbourne, Ohio in 1961.  She didn’t know its proper name, but called it “Kilbourne Vine.”  It was pretty, and it grew wild – that’s probably one reason it appealed to her.

Fast forward to the early 1980’s…Mom, my brother and I were planning a trip to visit relatives in Ohio.  It was on that vacation that Mom decided to bring a piece of the past home with her: she wanted to plant some “Kilbourne Vine” in our yard in Ontario.

Having arrived at my Grandad’s house in Bellefontaine, we set out for Kilbourne one day.  We got there about lunchtime, and Mom guided us to our old house.  We waited in the car while she jumped out and rang the doorbell.  No one answered.  My brother and I were somewhat horrified at what happened next…my mom began pulling pieces of the “Kilbourne Vine” out of the yard!  We kept our ears open for the scream of sirens, as we imagined being arrested by the Kilbourne sheriff for pilfering plants without permission.  Mom came back to the car, showing us her prize in triumph.  We left in a hurry, hoping some nosy neighbor hadn’t alerted the authorities!

We made it back to Bellefontaine without incident…the next hurdle would be getting through Canada Customs.  Having made many trips back and forth to Ohio over the years, Mom knew that bringing plants into Canada was illegal, but she had a plan: “I’ll put it on the floor of the back seat in plain sight, and if they say anything, I’ll just say that I didn’t know you couldn’t import plants,” she said.  My mom the rebel!

My mom the rebel!

We crossed the Ambassador Bridge and pulled up to the Canada Customs booth in Windsor.  My brother was driving.  The Customs officer was female, in her early 20’s, and was looking at Jeff with love in her eyes…she asked three questions (none of which pertained to the plant on the floor), and we were through!

We arrived home, and Mom planted the vine in her flower garden.  It thrived in its new home.  Twenty years later, Mom took a piece of it with her when she sold our house and moved in with my brother and his family in Carleton Place, Ontario.

Mom died in September of 2007.  The urn with her ashes sits on a stone wall in Jeff’s back yard, with Kilbourne vine planted close by.

I have seeds from the Kilbourne vine…I will find a special place and plant it here, too, in Mom’s memory.

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Mom’s Incredible Spirit…

This past weekend, while others were dealing with the tragic memory of what happened on Sept. 11, 2001, I was thinking about my mom’s death on Sept. 11, 2007…this will not be a sad post, but a celebration of my mom’s life while she was here with us…

Mom will be remembered for many things, but I most appreciate her teaching me independence.  She left her home in Ohio to move 500 miles away to Southern Ontario, Canada…we had no family or friends in Canada at the time, but we moved anyway.  This was a huge step for Mom, who dropped out of university after a year because she was homesick (the campus was less than 100 miles from her home).  I think she often regretted doing that.  We continued travelling back to Ohio twice a year for many years after moving to Canada, despite what must have been very stressful trips for her and my dad.  “How much longer?” my brother and I would whine from the back seat.  In addition to lots of food to eat on the trip, she always packed little wrapped gifts for Jeff and I to open every few hours…nothing expensive, but something that would take our minds off the boredom of being in a car for 12 hours (my dad was/is a slow driver).  Many years later, I would move 2000 miles from home to St. John’s, Newfoundland.

Mom, a year or two before moving to Canada...believe it or not, she was almost 30 in this photo!

Mom had dabbled with art before we moved (one of my favourite pieces is a pen and ink drawing of my great-grandmother), but she became a lot more serious about art after our arrival in Ontario.  She began taking night school courses in photography and filmmaking at Loyalist College in Belleville, Ontario.  She started using acrylic paints instead of oils, and experimented with abstract work.  It wasn’t long before Mom began hosting art shows of her work, one of which included a multimedia live show which went awry one night (https://writerwoman61.wordpress.com/2010/05/27/pianos-projectors-pop-up-toasters-and-pigs/).  She got a job as the graphic artist/photographer for the Hastings County Board of Education, which Mom enjoyed for ten years before being forced to give it up due to illness (I worked as her assistant for a couple of years part-time while I was in high school). 

Music was always important to Mom.  Her dad played the organ, and she had played clarinet and saxophone in her high school band.  When she was in university, she was a music major.   She was very proud of having “perfect pitch.”  Mom played piano by ear (with two hands!), and she could sing.  Her first love was classical music: Vivaldi, Debussy, etc.  In the 70’s, she discovered Simon and Garfunkel, the Carpenters, and Roberta Flack.  She loved Roberta’s voice: “Killing Me Softly” was one of her favourites.  I used to think my mom’s music was too mellow, but folk is almost all I listen to now!   Mom also loved to dance, and would often do so in our living room with the stereo playing.  

My mom liked to bake chocolate chip cookies…I always admired her confidence in doing it without a recipe…she never measured anything, just eyeballed the ingredients.  We wolfed them down three at a time!  Cooking was not her favourite thing…she had a tendency to put the heat too high because she didn’t like to wait for things to cook!  Mom wasn’t very adventurous with trying new recipes either…she’d stick to tried-and-true recipes. 

We had a garden for the first few years we lived in Ontario…Mom would stay up late at night blanching vegetables to put into our big chest freezer.  I remember bags and bags of green beans (kind of like my freezer now!). 

Our house that we bought when we moved to Canada was old, and covered in something ugly called Insul-Brick.  Later, wood siding was installed, which needed painting every few years.  It was my mom who got out on a ladder and painted our two-storey house!  She also did excellent carpentry work, undertaking home renovations and building a large set of bookshelves for the living room by herself.  Mom had her own tools, and she wasn’t afraid to use them!  If my dad took something apart, it was often Mom who put it back together.

Mom always loved small things…her favourite style of photography was anything that involved using a macro lens.  I think that’s where I got my love of bugs!  She had dollhouse furniture from her childhood, and her great-aunt’s bell collection (which she added to).  In later years, she collected small wooden boxes and Sherman costume jewellery.

Mom lived very frugally for all the years she was married to my dad – she could squeeze a nickel until it bled (Dad was often unemployed, and it would fall on her shoulders to feed our family of four)!  When we were small, Mom used to sew a lot of her own clothes, and ours (she never knew how to knit or crochet though).  After I moved out of the house, she used the closet in my old bedroom to store things she bought on sale: shampoo, toilet paper, deoderant, paper plates, toothpaste, soap, etc.  She never wanted to run out of anything, and it made her happy to get a bargain.  To this day, I always buy at least two of anything on sale (she used to buy 4 or 5!). 

We got a dog when I was in my early teens (we had an outdoor tomcat too).  Even though Mom wasn’t really a dog person, she came to love our chihuahua mix, Pixie.  The dog was pregnant when we got her, and gave birth to four pups soon afterward…mom helped pull each pup out…Pixie’s beau had been a much bigger dog than she was, and the pups were huge!  Mom was adamant that all the puppies would be given away, and they were.  One night, Pixie led my mom on a merry chase in her nightgown through the suburbs in Bellefontaine, Ohio on a visit to my grandparents’ house.  Mom didn’t want to wake up the neighbours by yelling, so she just ran after the dog until she caught her!   Many years later, Pixie had to be put down…Mom never got another dog.

One of the things we used to tease Mom about was her coordination (or lack of it!).  Her many mishaps included: hitting a solitary apple tree in the middle of a field on a toboggan; falling out of bed and breaking her nose; and tripping and sliding into the grocery store on her stomach (she tripped over the wheelchair ramp).  Mom regularly broke her toes jamming them into things around the house.  My daughter, Anna, and I inherited Mom’s klutziness… 

One thing I didn’t inherit was Mom’s self-consciousness when it came to aging.  She always looked younger than she was, and was proud of that.  She took great pains to always have her hair done and her “face” on, even after she got sick.  Mom never liked people to see her without makeup. 

Mom had an amazing memory.  Before she died, she wrote the story of her growing-up years in a book, illustrated with family photos.  It is truly incredible what she remembered, and a gift to have her story in printed form.

Mom always encouraged my brother and I in everything we tried (and we tried a lot of stuff!).  She came to the shows we put on in our back yard, and didn’t try to talk us out of whatever crazy scheme we’d come up with!  When I left home at 17, she let me go, and took me back after it didn’t work out!  She talked me through relationship problems…I could tell her anything without embarrassment!  Mom was never stingy with advice…she would give it to you (often unsolicited).

Mom loved her grandchildren too…she had four (all girls).  I’ll always remember her teaching my kids the “Pat-A-Cake” rhyme when they were little.  They called her “Gramma” (which is what my granddaughter calls me now).  I wish she’d been able to meet her great-granddaughter…she would have loved Elise!

My mom and Kaylee...late '80's...

As much as I love and miss my mom, her passing was the best thing for her…Mom lived the last 23 years of her life in constant pain.  Today, I picture her dancing pain-free in heaven, and watching over all of us…I imagine she’s happy that I’ve finally found Jim, who loves me and makes me feel truly special (I wish he could have met her too)!  If it wasn’t for Mom, I wouldn’t be the confident woman I am today…thank you, Mom, for all you did for me!  I love you, and will always remember you…  

Mom in one of her last photos...

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Wackadoo Wednesday…

I’m borrowing the word, “wackadoo” from my friend, Jane, not because she’s “wackadoo”, but because she is the first person I ever heard use this particular word!

I apologize for the long spaces between postings in the past week…we’ve been busy both at home and at the store, so I haven’t had nearly as much computer time (or thinking time) as I would have liked.  I think this posting will be another collection of random items:

1. My middle daughter, Anna, got braces last week…her 12-year molar on the bottom is fused to the bone (she’s almost 16), and needs to be coaxed through, as is one eyetooth on the top.  After the orthodontist explained that leaving things alone could lead to more serious long-term issues, I talked to Anna’s father, and we made the decision to cough up $4000 for braces (his insurance is covering the other $2000 – hooray for orthodontic coverage!).  Unfortunately, Anna grinds her teeth at night.  Braces were put on Tuesday, and by Thursday, she’d ground the little blue rubber cushions at the back of her mouth down to mere nubs (these cushions were to keep her from biting down on her bottom bracket with her top teeth and breaking it)!  Back we went, where the technician installed BIGGER cushions.  Those were totalled by Sunday, and since Monday was a holiday, I had to wait until Tuesday to call the orthodontist again.  Our appointment is tomorrow…maybe they could install stainless steel cushions this time?

They don't look like they cost $6000, do they?

2. As previously mentioned, this past weekend was a holiday weekend (for Americans who are unaware, we celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday the third Monday in May).  The weather was amazing – warm but with a nice breeze to keep from getting too sweaty!  I spent all day Saturday in the garden, except for a couple of hours we went grocery shopping and running errands.  I enjoyed listening to two birds having a conversation from two different trees – couldn’t see either of them, but it was fun to listen!  I hoed, pulled weeds, and finished planting (and replanting) all the vegetables.  At the top of the garden, I planted a full row of sunflowers I’m excited about – they only grow about 5 feet tall, but they come in 5 or 6 different colours – they’re called “Autumn Beauty.”  Beside the fence, I planted half a row each of sweet peas and morning glories – I’m hoping they’ll climb on the fence.  The flowers will be visible from our driveway out front too.

I hope my sunflowers are as pretty as these...

3. While I was in the garden, Anna was painting Jim’s big birdhouse on the side porch – it’s absolutely gorgeous!  Will post pictures later…flowers and bugs and leaves, oh my!  There’s a potential for 24 bird homes inside. 

4. When I woke up Sunday morning, I was pretty sore, but put on my “holy pants” (see this post for a better description:  https://writerwoman61.wordpress.com/2010/04/05/getting-down-to-the-nitty-gritty/) and an old T-shirt, and went back outside to water our garden.  The outside faucet is at the front of the house, and the garden is at the side of the back yard.  This necessitates dragging the hose several hundred feet around the corner and through the gate.  Combine this with a nozzle that definitely isn’t worth the $10 I paid for it (a 3-year-old boy could pee with more force!), and 25 feet of useless “coiled” hose at the end of my 100 feet of heavy duty hose, leaking connectors everywhere…let’s just say I was ready to spit nails after the 45 minutes that exercise took!  I stripped off my sodden clothes, and went to town to pick up Hope at her dad’s, and do a couple more errands.  Saturday was Kaylee’s birthday, and I had invited her and her family over for supper on Sunday- I needed to pick up a gift card for her at the mall.  When I arrived at the agreed-upon store, there were signs up everywhere saying they were closing…after a frantic phone call to Kaylee, she suggested I just get a mall gift card instead.  The “errands” took about three hours, and I still hadn’t made supper yet!  I also wanted to make a strawberry-rhubarb pie for Kaylee’s birthday (cake doesn’t seem to disappear very fast around our house).  Instead of the lasagna I’d promised her, we agreed on BBQ – I tried some portobello mushroom/swiss veggie burgers I bought – they were yummy!  Everybody else had steak, hamburgers, hot dogs or sausage.  I made a huge potato salad too.  With store-bought crust, the pie turned out to be delicious.  My granddaughter was dressed in her new spring dress, which is totally useless for demonstrating her newfound crawling ability, but cute as a button!

Elise - 8 months old...

5.  Jim’s daughter, Brianna, got home late Sunday night after a whirlwind school trip to Quebec City.  She had a great time!  Brianna brought me home some little cheese spreaders with bumblebees on them – the kids were quite amused when I called them “ladybugs” – I was a little tired…

6. Monday was another beautiful day…however, I wanted to make spaghetti sauce.  I watered the garden again, and then spent the rest of the afternoon in the kitchen.  We were invited to Jim’s mom’s for his brother-in-law, Chris’ birthday supper…we enjoyed another BBQ with Jim’s whole family and the birthday boy’s parents.  Jim’s mom had made baked beans, which I don’t get to eat at our house because Jim doesn’t like them!  Shirley told me that the recipe had come from an 82-year-old man at their church…it was amazing!  Jim’s dad offered us a raised bed from their back yard, which I’ll use to put my perennials in.  Afterward, Chris’ parents followed us home and got some rhubarb from our yard.  Then I built a lasagna with the spaghetti sauce, and fell, exhuausted, into bed.

Chris and his dog, Bella...

7.  Anna woke me up from a sound sleep about 2 a.m.  Our dog, Jake, had been “acting funny” for about three hours, and had just thrown up.  I went downstairs and discovered that he was completely out of water – I had no idea how long it had been that way.  I curled up on the loveseat, where I dozed for the next 2 1/2 hours.  Jake seemed to settle down after that.  We still don’t know what was wrong with him, although I suspect the part pieces of Popsicle sticks I’ve been finding around the living room have something to do with his discomfort…

8.  Tuesday morning, I went in to the bookstore, photographed three boxes of books, edited and uploaded the photos to the net, and then appraised four more boxes of books.  We have more books than we have space for…I have no idea where we’re going to put them all!  Getting some good stuff though…was fun to see issues of Cosmopolitan magazine from the early 1900’s – nary a mention of sex – it was actually a literary magazine then!

February, 1909 Cosmo...What...no cleavage?

9.  Tuesday was also my mom’s birthday – she died in September, 2007.  I wish she could have met Jim, his kids and especially her first great-granddaughter, Elise!  I miss her every day, although I’m happy she’s not in pain any more!

Mom...

10.  Today, I’m at the store.  I appraised two more boxes of books, and Anna helped me hook up a new printer that I bought.  I have a new project which I’m excited about and will talk more about later.   We’ve had two more people offer us books today – we don’t have room! 

I’ve enjoyed reading my blogging sisters’ work this week – some deep thoughts there – check out the links at the right…I’ll try to get back here on a little more regular basis, but if the weather’s nice, I’ll be outside!

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The Kilbourne Vine Caper…

Mom and Dad didn’t follow the typical path of Midwestern young people of their time: graduate high school, get married, and start popping out kids…Dad did a Bachelor’s in Journalism, followed by a Master’s in Divinity, and dreamed of going “back to the land” (he was raised in rural Ohio).  Mom was a “townie” – an artist who also loved music.  They were becoming more and more disillusioned with Nixon, the Vietnam War, and the crime in our neighbourhood.  In the summer of ’69, Dad quit the church and he and Mom packed up our suburban house.  Off we went to Southern Ontario, Canada.  After renting a house for a year, we settled in an old farmhouse on 43 acres of land in Prince Edward County in 1970.

I remember having a vegetable garden for several years when we first moved to the County.  Mom and Dad bought a big chest freezer, and Mom worked hard freezing everything we managed to grow.

Mom never forgot a plant that grew near the house where we lived when I was born in Kilbourne, Ohio in 1961.  She didn’t know its proper name, but called it “Kilbourne Vine.”  It was pretty, and it grew wild – that’s probably one reason it appealed to her.

Fast forward to the early 1980’s…Mom, my brother and I were planning a trip to visit relatives in Ohio.  It was on that vacation that Mom decided to bring a piece of the past home with her: she wanted to plant some “Kilbourne Vine” in our yard in Ontario.   

Having arrived at my Grandad’s house in Bellefontaine, we set out for Kilbourne one day.  We got there about lunchtime, and Mom guided us to our old house.  We waited in the car while she jumped out and rang the doorbell.  No one answered.  My brother and I were somewhat horrified at what happened next…my mom began pulling pieces of the “Kilbourne Vine” out of the yard!  We kept our ears open for the scream of sirens, as we imagined being arrested by the Kilbourne sheriff for pilfering plants without permission.  Mom came back to the car, showing us her prize in triumph.  We left in a hurry, hoping some nosy neighbor hadn’t alerted the authorities!

We made it back to Bellefontaine without incident…the next hurdle would be getting through Canada Customs.  Having made many trips back and forth to Ohio over the years, Mom knew that bringing plants into Canada was illegal, but she had a plan: “I’ll put it on the floor of the back seat in plain sight, and if they say anything, I’ll just say that I didn’t know you couldn’t import plants,” she said.  My mom the rebel! 

My mom the rebel!

We crossed the Ambassador Bridge and pulled up to the Canada Customs booth in Windsor.  My brother was driving.  The Customs officer was female, in her early 20’s, and was looking at Jeff with love in her eyes…she asked three questions (none of which pertained to the plant on the floor), and we were through!

We arrived home, and Mom planted the vine in her flower garden.  It thrived in its new home.  Twenty years later, Mom took a piece of it with her when she sold our house and moved in with my brother and his family in Carleton Place, Ontario.

Mom died in September of 2007.  The urn with her ashes sits on a stone wall in Jeff’s back yard, with Kilbourne vine planted close by. 

I have seeds from the Kilbourne vine…I will find a special place and plant it here, too, in Mom’s memory.

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