The Blue Mouse

The weather has warmed a little, but is still far below the average temperature for this time of year. The wind is up though, so the wind chill is still significant. The sky is cloudy and grey. Without the warmth of the sun coming in through the south windows, and with the wind whipping away any heat that escapes the house, it is chillier indoors, but still comfortable.

Attila is outdoors through all of this weather, outdoors all day long. The wind chill is significantly more intense at his workplace, because he works right on the waterfront, where the wind picks up speed across the open ice before hitting land. The country house is located in the lee of a ridge, and is surrounded by forest, so that the wind chill is never as severe at home.

Work continues on my family history book. I have finally decided to use Scribus to create the digital copy, and now have a working draft of the book. This is the first volume, which covers the first three generations of the family from arrival in Canada from Scotland, in 1820. None of the individuals in this volume will be people I have met. My Grandfather would have met his paternal Grandmother, who is of the third generation in this volume, as he was two years old when she passed away.

The second volume will begin with the second generation from arrival, focusing on my direct family line, and will be a much longer volume than the first.

The pictures are slowing me down considerably, they are so challenging to edit for size and resolution. Still, a little bit each day!

My Granny and Grandpa, on their wedding day in May of 1929, in Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada. A photo for Volume Two of my book.
Granny grandpaWeddingDay1929

I received an email from my Uncle (through marriage to my Mom’s sister) in North Bay, Ontario. He is recovering from a “heart event”, his first, at the age of 87. His mother lived to the age of 95.

When I was a little girl, my younger sister was everyone’s “favourite”. She was cute, and small and cuddly; the “little angel” of the family. I was a big baby, almost ten pounds at birth, and injured at birth. I was big, and I was in pain, so I would never have been small and cuddly, although I was as cute as any other baby. Until my sister was born I had no idea that small and cuddly were desirable. The only family member who favoured me was my Uncle, he told me I was his favourite. At the time it meant a lot to me, although as the years have passed it has lost its meaning. Still, the sentiment I feel for my Uncle remains intact. He made me laugh, and he made me feel special, during a vulnerable period in my life.

My Aunt met my Uncle when she was teaching in Kirkland Lake, Ontario. He was a handsome mining engineer. Her cousin, whom I spoke with last summer, remembered how excited and thrilled my Aunt was to be dating such a wonderful, handsome man. My Aunt and Uncle married at my Granny’s house, my Mom the Maid of Honour, my younger sister and I Bridesmaids; I remember it well. My Granny decided that my younger sister, my younger brother, and myself, would be Baptized before the wedding ceremony, by the Minister of her church. My brother was quite young at the time, and was horrified by the man “throwing water on him”; he kicked the minister and hid under the dining room table. I don’t remember if my brother was officially baptized or not! We were children with a real sense of independence, and of self determination; often to my Mom’s dismay. I know how challenging it is to be the parent of a “free spirit”!

Paying bills today, it is not a favourite pastime! A vacuuming “accident” occurred this morning, that can only be mentioned in print, otherwise it is a secret! Diesel’s fabric mouse, the blue one, he has an orange one and a blue one, has been eaten by the vacuum cleaner! Diesel doesn’t know, and I am not telling! He still has his orange mouse. The 1961 model Electrolux vacuum cleaner has more suction than I am used to. It found that blue mouse behind a curtain, and gobbled it up whole, without even swallowing. The don’t make them like they used to, vacuum cleaners!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

Little House in the City

-11C (12.2F)
Date: 10:00 AM EST Saturday 21 February 2015
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 102.0 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: -10.5°C
Dewpoint: -15.5°C
Humidity: 67%
Wind: S 25 gust 35 km/h
Wind Chill: -19 (-2.2F)

Country House

-12C (10.4F)
Date: 10:00 AM EST Saturday 21 February 2015
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 101.7 kPa
Visibility: 8 km
Temperature: -11.8°C
Dewpoint: -13.9°C
Humidity: 85%
Wind: SSE 13 km/h
Wind Chill: -18 (-0.4F)

Quote

“An intellectual is a person who has discovered something more interesting than sex.”
Aldous Huxley
1894 – 1963

Bereavement

Friday, August 8, 2014

I was thinking this morning, in the early dawn, just after 5:00 a.m., as I lay awake in the motel room, waiting for Attila to awake, that a decent analogy for my life can be made by comparing it to vehicular transportation.

My life is like driving a tank. Most lives in North America are like driving mid-size sedans. The lives of the wealthy resemble sleek, stealthy, black sports cars. The lives of most humans on earth resemble foot transportation.

Back to the tank analogy. My life began with a sturdy frame, good health and freedom from physical want, which meant adequate food and shelter. Early on this frame began to take on protective layers, metal armour to withstand the conditions in the environment. Each phase of new experience added a newly forged, steely layer. Each layer added weight and bulk, making maneuverability more difficult with each passing year. To keep the tank moving required love, determination, focus, and faith. And so it went, over the years of my life, as each layer of circumstance added bulk and weight to the journey.

There are roads that tanks cannot travel. Some of those roads are too narrow, and some too delicate to support the weight of a tank. And yet my tank of a life has been able to move down many avenues of opportunity.

When Attila’s Dad passed away last February, his two brothers decided to have a small, and immediate funeral in Florida. Attila was not able to leave work and travel from Canada to the United States at the time. His two brothers assured Attila that they would organize a second funeral in Canada, where his Dad was born, grew up, and raised the family. The brother’s however, did not follow up on this, and nothing was organized. This left Attila at loose ends in regards to formally mourning his Dad.

So, a month or so ago I began to research Attila’s paternal family history. I wrote to a local genealogist in the area where Attila’s Dad was born, Kirkland Lake, and inquired about resources for research. The genealogist was nothing short of amazing. She had collected records that I never would have found on Ancestry, or even in a library. Using her vast knowledge, and careful archiving of records, she found Attila’s Grandmother, for whom we did not even have a surname. She also located the farm where Attila’s Grandparents had lived, and Attila’s Grandmother’s grave.

Taking his bereavement time, Attila and I headed for Kirkland Lake on Wednesday morning. We found a lovely motel on the beach, where we stayed for three nights. It was a one hour drive from Kirkland Lake, situated on the shore of Lake Timiskaming, overlooking the water. The rooms were reasonably priced, and the beds were very comfortable. The wifi didn’t work in our room, but it did work in the breakfast room, and from the sitting area in front of our room.

It was a long drive. The scenery along Highway 11 was beautiful, so that the long hours in the car passed pleasantly. After we arrived in at the motel and settled into our room, we sat outside in the chairs provided, enjoying the view of the Lake, and distant shores of Quebec. Eventually people began to arrive at the yacht club located across the road from the motel. Apparently every Wednesday evening the sailboats are taken out into the lake for a “race”. It was beautiful to sit in the breeze and watch the sails on the water. Later, there was a free concert in the pavilion on the water, just down from the motel, so we walked over and enjoyed an evening of toe-tapping live music.

The next morning, Thursday, after a pleasant breakfast provided at the motel, we headed north to New Liskeard, where we purchased a local map, and accessed the internet in the McDonald’s parking lot. I called the local Genealogist, Cathy, and we made arrangements to meet the same day in Kirkland Lake.

What followed was the most amazing day! We met Cathy, who took us to the Harry Oakes museum, where we purchased a history book, inscribed it with a dedication to Attila’s Grandmother, and donated it to the local history library. We then insisted on taking Cathy out for lunch, and were delighted when she called her husband to join us. As it turns out, Cathy’s husband knows my Uncle, a Geological Engineer, who was born and grew up near Kirkland Lake. He had been working with a friend, who came along, making it a five-some. Cathy led us to an excellent restaurant called Franny’s, where we had wonderful meal. I brought my own food in, and the owners and staff at Franny’s made me very welcome.

After lunch Cathy arranged for us to meet Helgi, a Finnish Canadian who knew of Attila’s Grandparents. Attila spent happy hours listening to wildlife lore, and learning about the land that his Grandparent’s had owned and farmed. It was difficult to end such a pleasant visit, but we eventually pulled ourselves away, and headed over to Cathy’s house.

Cathy is an incredible Genealogist for the area! She has meticulous records, collected over many, many years, and organized for quick and easy access to information. She printed a map for us, of the Township where Attila’s Grandparent’s farm was located. We spent an enjoyable afternoon with Cathy, chatting about family, and genealogy. We discovered that some of her ancestors lived in the Parry Sound area, and I had the family recorded in my genealogy database! She had collected several binders of information on the Parry Sound area, which she gave to me, as she seldom refers to them. I assured her that any Parry Sound queries she might have, I would be very happy to share whatever I know. I would like to keep in touch with her.

On Friday we drove back to Kirkland Lake, purchased some flowers at a local store, then located the cemetery where Attila’s paternal Grandmother was buried. After consulting with the very helpful man in the cemetery office, we followed the map that he provided and easily located the grave.

It was an emotional time for Attila, kneeling before his Grandmother’s resting place, bringing her flowers. We stayed at the cemetery for quite some time, sitting under the trees beside her grave, talking about the things we knew about her.

Attila brings flowers for his Grandmother’s Grave
AttilaGrandmother

After leaving the cemetery, it was time to find out where Attila’s Grandparents had farmed, and where Attila’s Dad spent the early years of his childhood. To do this we drove south and turned onto a gravel road, heading into the bush. We drove many miles, and in places the road was so riddled with potholes that we had to inch our way forward. At one point we came across a vehicle, and a woman at the side of the road who was picking blueberries in the forest. Her father was with her, so we asked him directions to the Eby Pothole, which is just south of the farm we were looking for. He told us it was another four or five miles further.

The road did not improve, so we slowly proceeded and finally came upon the Eby Pothole. The gentleman had been correct, we couldn’t miss it. After examining the condition of the road beyond that point, we decided against driving further. Our car is low to the ground, so that it was possible we could become stuck in one of the road potholes. We were a long way into the bush, and had no desire to be stuck out there!

The Eby Pothole. Not exactly prime farmland!
Ebypothole

We could see that the land in the area was ill suited to farming. It must have been difficult to have wrestled a living out of the landscape!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Attila and I arrived home on Saturday afternoon. Our drive from the Timiskaming area to the Muskoka’s was through a varied and beautiful countryside. The lush farm country around Earlton and New Liskeard slowly gave way to the ancient rock formations of the Canadian Shield. We stopped at several picnic areas, to rest and refresh. We stopped in Katrine for lunch. The parks were full of families picnicking. No room there for us. No matter, after parking in a shady spot, we lifted the trunk of the car, set up my lawn chair, prepared a quick cold meal from the cooler in the back of the car, and enjoyed a quick and satisfying lunch.

After arriving home we unpacked the car and began the post trip chores, washing laundry, cleaning out the coolers, unpacking the bags, etc.

Attila spent the rest of his evening splitting and stacking firewood.

Today, Sunday, Attila spent the morning splitting and stacking firewood. Then we packed the car for a visit to the camp lot. This trip was focused on base of the very mature tree beside the new driveway. The roots were cut on the driveway side, to accommodate the new entrance. With us we brought plants that had overrun the driveway at the country house, Hosta Lilies, Ajuga, and Echinacea. Attila scoured the camp lot for large rocks, gathering them beside the tree with the cut roots. I began to fill buckets with top soil, left by the contractor who put in the driveway for us. The rocks were stacked around the trees exposed roots to build a small stone wall around the disturbed area. I filled the area within the rock wall with earth, Attila did the planting, and I watered the transplants. It looked wonderful!

While we were working, Harriet and Hogan arrived for a visit on their ATVs. We sat chatting, looking at the view, for some little time. Then they were off down the track, returning to their cottage for the evening. They had a fishing trip planned for later that evening. We went back to working on our rock garden. Then Attila loaded as much firewood as he could manage into the back of the car, we packed up our things, put away our chairs and the assortment of items we leave at the camp, and were on our way home.

As I write Attila is moving the firewood to the woodshed.

What a nourishing and enjoyable time we have had these last five days! A colleague of Attila’s asked him how he managed to get a “holiday” in the summer! Attila, full of humour and honesty, said, “someone had to die.” Attila felt well satisfied that he had honored his Dad’s memory by taking this trip.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

24°C
Date: 8:00 PM EDT Sunday 10 August 2014
Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 101.9 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 23.5°C
Dewpoint: 15.9°C
Humidity: 62%
Wind: W 4 km/h
Humidex: 28

Quote

“The words ‘I am…’ are potent words; be careful what you hitch them to. The thing you’re claiming has a way of reaching back and claiming you.”
A. L. Kitselman