Hemmer Foot

“In like a lion, out like a lamb.” That is what I always heard about the month of March.

Poppycock! This saying has proven inaccurate every single year of my life, so my poppycock assertion is wholly anecdotal, based on a small sample size, me, and yet I believe it.

March is to be a cold and wintry month, even the Farmer’s Almanac says so; Long Range Weather Forecast for U.S. & Canada from the Farmers’ Almanac.

This calls for a celebration, to celebrate that we are going to make it through March! The first thing that came to my mind was spring fertility, but at my age, and with my predilection for faithful monogamy, an orgy is out of the question. It does conjure images though, a seniors spring orgy in central Ontario, complete with chaise lounges, belly dancers, and grapes. I will leave that sort of pastime to our government, and the corporations that rule Canada and the world, although the visuals on that are even less appealing. I think Attila and I will stick to watching Netflix and enjoying a turkey dinner with lots of vegetables, and maybe even a few quiet evenings watching the snow melt.

This winter, although it has been the most severe weather we have encountered since moving to the country house, has been the most bearable to date. Only now am I beginning to notice occasional, sudden mood drops, symptoms of cabin fever. This is very late in the season to be experiencing these symptoms, and I am quite pleased by that. I know what these drops in mood are, and spend no time scrambling to resolve the feelings; the cause, the weather, is beyond my control. I keep busy, I try to stay connected with people I care about, and hopefully a change of scene sometime in March will get me through without too much suffering. Everyone around and about in this neck of the woods is well and truly tired of winter! So, it isn’t just me that has to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and is making the best of a difficult situation.

The apron project is proceeding. The hemmer foot arrived on Monday, Attila brought it home from the Post Office when he came home for lunch. I spent the afternoon figuring out how to use it, which, thanks to this YouTube tutorial, How to do a Rolled Hem on Sewing Machine, took very little time. I finished the hemming yesterday, and today I sewed together the shoulder seams and sewed on the cap sleeves. I am not following the pattern instructions anymore, as I abandoned them at the point they instructed the application of expensive bias tape. Each step now, has to be custom designed, so I take my time and ruminate over every “next step”. I hope to finish the apron by the end of the week.

It is the little things that make life bearable I think. Like Attila stopping in at the Post Office, on his way home for lunch, to see if my hemmer foot had arrived. What a kindness, a sweet consideration, to be cherished. When my mood drops these are the things that pop into my head, then I distract myself with a project, in case my mind wanders into unwelcome, climate induced, territory.

This week I have been approached by a glossy magazine feature writer, inquiring about an interview and photos concerning my beloved Grandparent’s General Store. This may or may not pan out, but it has been fun to contemplate. I love thinking about my Grandparents, and sharing fond memories of them with family members. This interview may or may not translate into a story in a glossy magazine; certainly my version would not translate well into the mass media, but I would not be writing the article, so no worries there. Not much of smoke and mirrors, bells and whistles about me or my writing.

As I was thinking about my Grandparents, my mind wandered to the great adventure that my GGG Grandparents undertook as they left Scotland at 8:00 a.m., on a Sunday morning, the weather fine with a fair wind, from the East Quay in Greenock, in July of 1820. The company of passengers were reported to be in fine spirits as they turned towards Canada, the Quebec port, and the future… the future that I am a part of.

I think about the role of Government, and the wealthy and privileged, who formed the structures of power in which my ancestors struggled to survive. I am heartened to read “About the months of April, 1820, a considerable number of individuals and families, formed themselves into societies, for the purpose of petitioning Lord Bathurst and His Majesty’s Ministers, for liberty to emigrate with their families to Upper Canada, and that Government would be graciously pleased to grant them one hundred acres of land, free of any charge, along with aid in money, implements of husbandry, and building materials, to enable them to get over the first years, until they could raise a crop for their support. The petitions of these Societies were presented by Members of Parliament, who knew the distress which existed in Glasgow and the neighbourhood at that time, and were well acquainted with the situation of the petitioners.”

Maggie’s Wee Rant: This is so very different from turning people off the land, to replace their way of life and subsistence farming, with commercial and corporate land uses, including mega-mono-cropping, like rubber plantations, tender fruit plantations, for example. I have been aware for more than forty-five years that plantation farming around the world has transformed healthy communities into labour dependent economies, teeming with poverty, subject to abuses of power, and dominated by commercial and industrial interests for profit. Economic theory sounds so very appealing, this competition and highest and best use line of economic logic. Theory is like a loaded gun, in the hands of the wrong people it can lead to some very unhappy outcomes. The black box of economic theory is greed.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

SNOW SQUALL WATCH IN EFFECT
-19°C
Date: 6:19 AM EST Wednesday 26 February 2014
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 101.1 kPa
Visibility: 15 km
Temperature: -19.1°C
Dewpoint: -21.2°C
Humidity: 84%
Wind: W 8 km/h
Wind Chill: -25

What’s Coming Our Way:

Wed 26 Feb Chance of flurries 60%
-14°C
Thu 27 Feb Flurries
-17°C*
-14°C
Fri 28 Feb Chance of flurries 30%
-15°C
-30°C
Sat 1 Mar Chance of flurries 30%
-6°C
-19°C
Sun 2 Mar Chance of flurries 30%
-11°C
-13°C
Mon 3 Mar Chance of flurries 60%
-10°C
-23°C
Tue 4 Mar Sunny
-9°C
-23°C

Quote

“…there, after I had toiled until I could toil no more, I would have the mortification of being a burden… here it is a fair prospect of independence…”

GGG Grandfather Andrew’s letter home to his sister in Glasgow, dated from Upper Canada, 24 August, 1821.

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10 Responses to Hemmer Foot

  1. Bex says:

    Maggie,

    When you get a chance, watch this short video regarding “The Lewis Trilogy” author, Peter May.



    Have you read anything of his?

  2. Maggie says:

    Whoa! Thanks Bex! No I have not yet read any of Peter May’s books, but that is about to change! I will check the library for a copy for my Kobo, not optimistic there though, because they usually only one copy of popular books and the hundreds waiting in line to read them, 300 people in line in front of you, with two weeks each, it adds up to waiting years to get access to a book. Anyway, it is worth a look. Have you read the The Lewis Trilogy? Does Peter May rely on shock and violence for effect?

  3. Bex says:

    No I have not read it but I ordered all 3 book yesterday so I will keep you advised on them once they arrive. They are coming from the UK, however, so a middle March date for arrival was given… the video of Peter May was excellent, didn’t you think?

  4. Maggie says:

    I am on a waiting list of one at the library, so I should have access to the first volume within the next two weeks. The video by Peter May was fun and effective in attracting my interest, I wouldn’t be able to resist picking up his book after watching it!

  5. Tom McCubbin says:

    I’m off Scotch ancestry too, my people coming to Baltimore in the 1700s, and slowly migrating west with each new generation. The times must have been harsh in Scotland for them to be so determined to leave. I’m afraid us Scots have about run out of places to go. We’re just going to have to stand and fight.

  6. “… quiet evenings watching the snow melt.” I hope you meant for me to laugh. I totally get it.

    Sewing – I draw blood just trying the thread a needle. It’s pathetic. So I’m always impressed with those who create with cloth and thread and needle. Bravo!

    My Irish kin fled the sod of poverty.

  7. Maggie says:

    I think times were very harsh in the 1810s and 1820s, my ancestors hated public assistance, even though at that time those that needed it due to economic forces were not held in contempt by their own government and fellow citizens. I guess standing and fighting is how the whole world is going to have to deal with the dire consequences of economic downturns and the whimsy of capital.

    I would love to travel to Scotland, just to visit. I have been working on trying to connect with the branches of the family that stayed in Glasgow, but no luck so far. The Scotland records cannot be accessed without a lot of $$$$, which I do not have. The thing is, their records, like all records, need to be explored a bit to gain any competency in doing research with them, I just can not afford to spend $$$ to learn their system, find out what records will provide me with the information I need, to climb the wall I’ve run into on the ancestors who stayed back in Scotland. Who knows, one lottery win and I am in!

  8. Maggie says:

    Reenie, I have some Irish ancestors as well, but they came to Canada after the famines, and took up free land grants to farm. A lot of public records were destroyed in Ireland, when the building housing them was burned down during political unrest. Research is impossible to carry out on the Irish ancestors, so I know little of their lives before they came to Canada.

    I began sewing at the age of 13 years. The project was a bit too much for me, not the skill side of it, but the patience required to do a good job. At that time I would have preferred a replicator to instantly produce what I wanted, no patience required; but Captain Kirk’s ship had not been dreamt of back then. I studied couturier clothing construction techniques at college, which demanded the development of patience, and precision. I moved onto other interests after graduation, and have sewn for myself and my family through the years, making some use of those skills.

  9. I just finished reading a very so-so book called Orphan Train – about the orphans of NYC who were rounded up and traveled my train to the Midwestern states. There were tens of thousands. The book is fictionalized and in my opinion not well done, but the truth of what happened is shocking and disgraceful. Some children met with kindness, but so many more were dropped into indentured lives of hard labor and insensitivity and brutality. In the US the Great Depression seems to preempt so many other significant events – like the Dust Bowl and orphan trains. I make this rambling comment because of your mention about the difficulty one encounters when trying to trace one’s heritage. So sad.

  10. Maggie says:

    Reenie, that is such a sad story. Shipping children off to perform indentured work is such an odious form of “generosity”, but at least it is a few steps up from “the final solution”! For example “The clamour within Brazil over the plight of its meninos da rua, its street children, had been growing since its return to democracy in the mid-1980s. Then, in July 1993, the whole world’s attention was drawn to the issue, when eight children sleeping in a square in the centre of Rio de Janeiro were massacred by off-duty policemen. The ugly details—those who tried to flee were hunted down and despatched with a bullet in the back—and the apparent indifference of the authorities guaranteed massive media coverage. Soon the world had read of packs of feral children roaming the streets of Brazilian cities, hunted down like rats by exterminators hired by shopkeepers fed up with the children’s pilfering.” Source: http://www.economist.com/node/457178

    During World War II children were shipped to Canada for “safety” reasons, to work on farms across Canada, they were called “Home Children”, and their experiences seem to mirror what you describe for the Orphan Trains. I have come across several Home Children who were shipped to the district where my grandparents and ancestors lived in Canada. Fortunately these communities welcomed these children as their own, and now the histories of those children are woven into the communities where they were sent, and eventually adopted. I think my Grandparents community was exceptionally humane, but not perfect by any means.

    With such things going on it amazes me that our species ever considers itself to be “civilized”!