The “Story”

They sat, side by side, anchoring the material together alongside their sisterhood. Shaded from the autumn heat by the veranda, their cane chairs creaking as they stitched. The quiet conversation lost to the sound of the crispy colourful leaves rustling in the breeze. The scent of fall in the air hidden by the tantalizing aroma of the turkey roasting in the oven. Much earlier in the day the brothers had dispatched, with minimal wasted movements or chatter, that job. Now they were tidying up after the harvest season and anticipating how tasty supper would be.

Thanksgiving on the farm meant turkey and dressing but also apple salad, turnips and pickled carrots. The pumpkin pies, handcrafted by the mother, were cooling and the morning milk had been separated for whipping cream. The likes of which could not be found in a store, ever.

The farm sits nestled back from the road with the tall red barn beckoning the prosperity that these second generation farmers were enjoying.

100% of what I have written is conjecture except that implies someone like an expert witness who can draw conclusions. What I’ve written is a romantic vision of my ancestral home deep in the heart of Midhurst County Ontario.

The two women on the porch are my grandmother, Jean Boady Spence, and her sister Eunice. In the fall of 1916 they would have been intently sewing on her trousseau and wedding gown as her wedding was set for January 1917. Her mother, that my dad remembers as grandma Spence, would have been overseeing their activities. Were all four brothers still there, of that I’m uncertain. I’ve never done a World War I search to see if Ernest, Harvey, Jim or John served overseas but being from a farm perhaps not. I don’t recall any family stories from my dad or uncles about relative in the trenches.

I also know that my Bompa, Henry Norman Dunn, was born in Ontario and moved west with his brother, Jo in 1904. How he met my grandmother my mom and I do not remember if indeed we ever knew. We do know he went east to marry her and returned in the spring to Ogema, Saskatchewan. But sometimes the barren facts seem so sparse that I like to daydream of stories and scenes from their life.

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Which begs the question of why I never asked my Nanna her life story. She died when I was 22 so I had ample opportunity but somehow at the time it didn’t seem important. So now I am drawing out stories from my mom, looking at my scribbled notes from talking to my dad and hitting the internet to see what it says. Apparently it’s good to have a unique name.

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But now the details lay lost in time. Tidbits remain have forgotten half remembered by a few relatives. So much becomes blurred as time marches on and yet the old photos remain. Sadly there is no one to point out who is who. But is it important?

I find myself grappling with this question on a threefold front.

As a new grandmother I wonder what will be remembered of my life and times after I am gone. Will our grandchild(ren) know how her grandparents met or where they were married? What info will have been passed along and what will have slipped away into dust.

But I’m not being just morbid here because sharing and knowing your family history is like your own tree of life. And the second front demonstrates that. My dad’s younger sister moved to British Columbia in the early 50’s so her children didn’t get to do family suppers and holidays with a big family. They weren’t, intrinsically on an absorption level at the dining room table, exposed to the same amount of family lore. I started back down into the family tree because of a request from my BC cousin. Her mom is gone now and so when she needed some info for her son’s upcoming wedding she turned to the prairie cousins. I had the info because I’m interested and love the bigger “longer” picture backwards.

Which is why, on the third front, I’m saddened. On my mother’s parental side we’ve had world wide reunions since the 1980’s. The England Canada visiting started during the second world war with my Uncle, continued with his cousin to Moose Jaw and then my mom to England in the 70’s. Our Bowyer Bradford side was having a family gathering in Riverhurst and when two Ontario cousins and the English/Auzzie cousin showed up a world wide theme was born. Every five years we travelled somewhere; Australia, England, Ontario or good old Moose Jaw or Riverhurst. No one this year wanted to host in Ontario and I was seriously tempted to myself even though it would be hard from a distance. We created such good connections from our reunions and fostered ties that were forged before 1900 in Bottisham England.

Four generations of Bradford’s

I guess times change and people move on. If we keep the individual family connections up then Baby A will remember going skiing at her grandmother’s cousins place in Castelgar or Spencer will remember getting together with Felicity in Liverpool. Those threads of memory can bind us together.

Bernie

Inventor’s Idea?

It all started with an old picture and an ice pack. Which indeed seems kind of random even for me as I write this. The ice packs have been getting a serious work out at our house in the last week. The old pictures just hang around and get lost when you want them. But what do they have in common you ask? Why is she blattering on and not clearing this up? Boredom is that answer. Ice packs mean injuries which means down time which means I can ramble on about inventor’s ideas.

The temporarily lost old photo (( Ron found it!)) is one of my daughter standing in the crib. I pulled it out to compare Baby A with her momma at the same age. The momma said “what am I wearing?” to which I replied that it was a cloth diaper. The conversation then went on to how cloth diapers have evolved. Which lead me to think about inventors, ice packs and diapers.

Cloth diapers were and still are a more environmentally friendly option. What they weren’t back then was parent or baby friendly. Big squares of material that you had to fold in a specific way and then apply to a squiggly baby with pins. Then you pulled up a pair of rubber pants and hoped like heck that there were no major blow outs of either kind but you knew there would be. I mean neither item was very fitted. The storage and laundry details were smelly (think bleach) and not much fun.

Fast forward 25 years to the systems available today and it’s quite marvelous what technology has done for the diaper industry. The inner material, which I believe has some bamboo in it, is super absorbent and only requires two quick folds. The rectangular piece gets tucked up into outer shell which has an inner fleece type material. It is all held in place with little snaps that are super durable. Once used they go into a sealed container with a liner and then emptied via it into the washing machine. No need to even unstuff them as they agitate out.

To boot they come in an amazing array of fabrics from gender neutral solids to a fun selection of prints. I suppose it depends on your baby size but the friend who introduced us to the Apple Cheeks system (Canadian company to boot!) used the same size until her child was toilet trained. Baby A has gone from 3 snaps in to 2 snaps and she is 11 months and 18 pounds. I probably could go on at length about what an awesome system it is but Apple Cheeks isn’t paying me to endorse it and you would all get bored. Plus you must be wondering what this has to do with ice packs.

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Back at the ice packs. Have you ever tried to wrap your own wrist or elbow or shoulder or knee and ankle? The tensor falls and must be redone. The ice pack needs a wrapper which is either too thin or to thick and makes it so you can’t see which side is the “apply” side. I believe that I’m going to go upstairs (when my thumb works) and invent something. It won’t look like this and be as cumbersome to use. Yes my hand is in there and no you can’t really see it.

Maybe what we need has already been invented. Maybe not and I’ll be on Dragon’s Den looking for a backer to get them to market. LOL!

Bernie

Just because I can here is the link to Apple Cheeks — check them out if you know someone who is waffling about what kind of diapers to use. As stated above they did not endorse this post. It’s just me rambling on about moments that cause inventions. Like the ice pack wrapper bag. Hm — needs a better name.

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