Tag Archives: photography

Reluctant Cheer Mom Tears Up, and Other Random Events…

Here’s what’s been going on around Hammond River the last little while (this stuff is true…not like my recent Mark Twain post!).

1. Regular readers of this blog know that even though three of our four daughters are or have been cheerleaders, I’m not a fan.  Anna’s first competition of the year was Sunday, and her team was so amazing, I actually stopped thinking about how much my butt hurt from sitting on the hard bleachers, and teared up a little!  Here’s Hope and Jake before we left:

Hope and Jake before competition (photo by Jim)...apparently you can tie Jake's ears in a bow...

Anna’s team made callbacks for the first time in five years! I guess those ten hours of practice the week before competition paid off! Here’s the team during the routine:

Harbour View High Cheer team...Anna is the one under the middle red banner (photo by Jim)...

The girls were even better in the callbacks, but ended up fourth (several spectators around us were as shocked as we were…we thought they’d won!). We’ll get them next week!

2.  Jim’s been buying camera equipment on Kijiji to keep up with the girls’ competitions…we met a guy in the Wendy’s parking lot on Monday night to buy a flash meter (Anna’s comment: “That wasn’t sketchy at all!”), and then drove to another guy’s house to pick up a lens.

3.  Monday night, I learned that not having a plunger in each bathroom is a mistake…Hope flushed the toilet in the “kids’ bathroom” and it started overflowing.  I panicked, and it took several minutes for me to turn the shutoff valve off.  By the time I found the “good plunger”, Jim had already used the crappy one to unclog the toilet!  Then I got to wash the mats and the dirty clothes which had been on the floor during the mini-flood.  Note to self…do not put clothing in the dryer with rubber-backed bathmats…little balls of rubber will come off, and permanently attach themselves to very expensive hoodies…

4.  Speaking of sewage, we found out this morning that the lot next to our place has been sold (bad news).  This means that the landlord is redoing the septic field (good news!), but that our yard will be torn up (it will be flatter when it’s finished…good news), and we will lose the lilac trees by our back deck that the birds like to hang out in (bad news).  On the upside, they will be redoing the driveway so that it actually drains instead of a 20-foot puddle forming in front of our garage every spring…the bad news is that the neighbours’ new driveway will be through our front lawn.

5.  Hope made cinnamon muffins, but neglected to read the mixing instructions under the ingredients in the recipe.  They tasted okay, but were rather lumpy and heavy.  She redeemed herself last night with some delicious chocolate chip cookies, which she proclaimed were better than mine!  I actually agree with her this time!

6.  Anna baked chocolate chip muffins, and almost forgot to put in the chocolate chips…she ended up poking them into the individual muffins just before putting them in the oven!

7.  Jim and I went to see the movie Source Code last night while Anna went to a school dance…I’m not usually a sci-fi fan, but I made an exception for the chance to drool over Jake Gyllenhaal.  It was quite good, and had us on the edge of our seats a lot of the time.  While we watched, I ate a couple of Lowney Cherry Marshmallow Creme Eggs…almost as yummy as Jake G.!

Jake with his "Source Code" co-star Michelle Monaghan...photo from tom-samp-journal.blogspot.com

8.  Anna found out this week that a design she submitted for the Drama Fest at her school had been the one chosen for use on posters, brochures and T-shirts!  Her teacher wanted her to submit a short bio to be included in the brochure…I wrote it for her.  We’re very proud of her!

9.  We’re hosting Easter dinner for the family at our house this year…Jim’s parents are serving Easter Breakfast at their church, and his mom says she’ll be too tired to cook.  We’re still on the hunt for a turkey (Kaylee can’t eat ham)…will try to find one tonight.  We also need to clean up our house for company!  I’m looking forward to seeing everybody, especially my “Puddin’ Pop”!

"Oh, dear...how did that get there?" Elise tries fingerpainting for the first time...

10.  I got a Facebook friend request from musician Thom Swift a couple of days ago…I “Liked” his fan page…maybe he read this piece I wrote about his concert last summer…

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Flax, Fishing, Flickr, Flatulence, and Frustrations…But the Alliteration Stops Here…

It’s been another “can’t get out of my own way” week…here are some of the highlights:

1. Flax.  Spurred by my friend Suzanne’s success with homemade bagels,  I decided to give them a try.  I make bread a lot, but have only tried to make bagels one other time (with disappointing results!).  I eat a bagel (with jam) every morning for breakfast…my favourite flavour is “Sunflower Flax,” so I looked for a recipe for Flax Bagels online (thank you, Kristin!).  The recipe I used recommended dividing the dough into small balls before forming the bagels by sticking your thumb through the ball and stretching the hole a bit.  The boiling time was also quite a bit longer than Suzanne recommended: 5 minutes (I compromised with about three minutes).  One thing I learned is that I should have loosened the bagels from the cookie sheet right after I took them out of the oven…as they cooled, the sugar water stuck them to the tray like glue (even though I oiled the pan first).  Here are six of my 18 “beauties”:

Flax Bagels...they tasted as good as they look!

2. Fishing.  One of Jim’s work colleagues invited him to visit his ice-fishing hut this past weekend (we wanted to go, but were too busy ferrying kids around – maybe next weekend!).  I’ve loved to fish since I was a kid in Rednersville in Prince Edward County, Ontario…the best part of fishing is digging for the worms!  My younger brother and I would buy fish hooks at our neighbourhood store (2 for 5 cents), and take our rods down to the Bay of Quinte.  Mostly, we caught sunfish, perch, and large and small-mouthed bass…we always threw them back (the only fish we ate then came in stick form, and the Bay was known for its mercury contamination).  One day, I caught a big catfish. Unfortunately, it had swallowed my hook…I tried and tried to get it out (I even went home and got Dad’s needle-nosed pliers!).  After an hour-and-a-half, I reluctantly cut the line, knowing that the fish would probably die…what a decision for an eleven-year-old!  I was a guilty mess for the rest of the day!

The last time I was fishing was about seven years ago, when Hope was five…we took the kids to a Fish Farm, where they had a pond stocked with speckled trout.  You could catch as many as three fish, and pay, based on the weight of what you caught.  Hope has a rather short attention span…she was done in about three minutes.  I took over her pole (Anna stuck with it!).  We got our three fish, and took them home.  Once they were cleaned and filleted (a part of fishing I refuse to do), I stuffed them with fresh mushrooms and baked them in the oven…yummy!

Jim and I got fishing licenses the first summer we lived at Hammond River, but never ended up going fishing…maybe this summer!

3. Flickr.  Anna got a spiffy new camera on the weekend, the Nikon D3100.  The plan is for her to start building her portfolio for her post-secondary education (she graduates in 2012).  She’s been borrowing Jim’s zoom lens and taking photos of our back porch wildlife.  Anna has a new account on Flickr if you want to see more (link also under “Photos” at right).

One of our kamikaze squirrels...someone should tell them that plastic isn't good to eat! (Photo by Anna Matheson)

 

4. Flatulence.  The other day, I was having a spirited conversation with a customer at the bookstore about the beauty of structural details in old buildings.  We were standing in front of the “Technical” section…I heard a series of small explosions as he stepped quickly away from me, excusing himself.  Whoo-eee!  I don’t know what the man had for breakfast, but my money’s on beans!  I bit my lip, trying hard not to laugh…it doesn’t take much to get me going…I wonder sometimes if I was a 10-year-old boy in another life!

5. Frustrations.  We had another snowstorm yesterday, which dropped another foot on us, and gave the kids another snow day, their fifth one this winter (it came at the end of the high schoolers’ exams, and two “turn-around” days, so the older kids had a whole week off!).  Since Jim had a doctor’s appointment in the afternoon, his boss suggested he work from home in the morning.  I decided to take a “snow day” too.  I stayed in my jammies all day, stepping away from the computer every once in a while to break up arguments in the family room (and load the dishwasher with millions of cups and bowls!). 

Jim left for the doctor’s office around two…the snow was a blizzard by then!  He texted me to let me know he’d made it to the office, and then called once he was finished with his appointment.  He advised that he was going to pick up a prescription and then return home.  My dad called at 4:00 from the bookstore to say that he was planning to close early and come home…he wanted to know how the driveway was.  I told him our plow guy hadn’t come yet, but he’d probably make it in if he hurried!  Fifteen minutes later, Jim called to tell me the transmission on the car had died a mile down the road…he was waiting for a tow truck, and directing people around the car, which was still in the roadway.  Luckily, our neighbour who lives in the house near where he broke down invited Jim in to get warm while he waited…he usually wears several layers of clothing (he once went to work with two pairs of pyjama pants under his jeans), but had left the house in a hurry in the afternoon (at least there was a toque and gloves in the car!).  He finally got home about 5:15…the tow truck driver had kindly dropped him off (for just over $140, it was the least he could do!).  So our Toyota is sitting at the transmission repair place in Saint John waiting for parts, in line behind several other vehicles whose parts were delayed by the snowstorm.  Did I mention we just had our van towed to the garage on Monday to have the problems with the power steering and the blower fixed (tally for that is over $1000 so far – they found some rusty lines)?  Thankfully, Jim’s parents will lend us a car until we have at least one of our vehicles back!

I got to bed late last night after a long distance phone call to a dear friend who’s going through a big crisis in her life.  Apparently, I neglected to set my alarm, and woke up an hour late this morning (and spent ten minutes looking for Anna’s cheerleading shorts, and then her coat).  I’m hoping people won’t notice that I haven’t had a shower…

At least I’m not farting…

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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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