wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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Forty Bloomin’ Years!

The white chrysanthemum is doing its faithful blooming again. It’s that time of the year. But this particular plant has a long history.  It used to belong to my mother. She died in March of 1982 at the age of 69. She had this very chrysanthemum hanging in a basket on her back veranda, and since chrysanthemums bloom in the fall, I can assume that she bought it some time in 1981 or earlier, at least 41 years ago.

My dad asked if I wanted to take the plant home because it would just die. He was no gardener. So the chrysanthemum came home with me in 1982. Every year since then, it has bloomed in the fall.  I think of my mother more often than just at chrysanthemum time, but when I glance at the flowers on my deck, I find there is some connection to her.

Last year I realized I’d been greedy about this plant and since it was crowded in the pot, I shared part of the plant with my sister. She now has some of this plant in her garden. I worried a little bit that by dividing the plant I might have killed it, but it came back as cheerily as ever this year.

I’d like to share some of my mother’s traits with you.

She loved her children.

She loved to laugh and tease in a kind way. And she loved puns.

She had a beautiful singing voice and loved music.

She could cook and bake great food without a recipe.

She taught us to keep ourselves and our house clean.

If one of us kids were in a nasty mood, she’d say, “Go find some place out of this room, and come back when you can smile.”

But if we had a problem that needed solving, she was always there to listen and most of all to give us a hug.

She made us pitch in to help with chores. I learned a lot about cooking from being her helper in the kitchen. I can still hear her telling me not to leave the wooden spoon in the pot or pan. “Don’t cook the wooden spoon,” she’d say.

She was kind to animals. We always had pets – dogs, cats, turtles, tropical fish, gerbils – and they had a good life in our house.

She was a “nurse” without official training, taking care of all our aches, pains, and illnesses, as well as those of our pets. When our cat had trouble closing its jaw, I watched as my mother reached way back into the cat’s mouth, and pulled a fish backbone  (a vertebra – like a tiny spool of thread) off the cat’s back tooth where it had become stuck. The moment the cat felt that the bone was removed, she licked my mother’s hand to say thank you over and over.

She encouraged me about school. Every single day, as I left for school, she told me, “Listen to the teacher and be good.”

About my schoolwork she told me, “Every day when you do your work, turn the page and look at yesterday’s work. Then start today’s work and try to do it better than yesterday’s.”

I never saw her lie down for a nap. There was always work to do. Sometimes at night if the bedroom light was on as I tip-toed past on my way to the bathroom, I would see her reading in bed, and as often as not, her eyes would be closed.  She’d had a full day.

She didn’t have a long life, but she sure packed a lot into the life she had, and she made the world a better place when she was in it.

So I’m always happy to see that her chrysanthemum, the very same plant, still blooms for her and has done for forty years.

 

 

 


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The Car Thief – a True Story

“The car sure is nicer to drive than my truck.” I relaxed into the velour seat back. “It’s like a luxury limousine.”

My mother-in-law smiled. “Harris loves his car. Keeps it in good condition.”

“He’s a real car buff, isn’t he?”

“Oh, yes. Always has been. Ever since we were married, sixty-six years ago,” Myrtle said. “He’s very fussy about his cars.”

“I’m surprised he let me drive it. But I guess he wants you to be comfortable .”

“That’s right. Now don’t take this the wrong way, but Harris thinks ladies shouldn’t have to ride in trucks, and I know you don’t have a choice.  But it is a long drive to Nanaimo and he thought we’d enjoy it more if we took his car.”

“It’s a treat to drive a car for a change. Feels like we’re floating along in a dream.” I was pleased that Harris trusted me to drive it. He had it all shined up on the outside and vacuumed inside. “You wouldn’t know it was ten years old. You still see lots of them around but not many in good shape like this one. It’s like a brand new car.”

“He spent hours on it yesterday,” Myrtle said.

“It’s our lucky day. Parking spot right by the door. Doesn’t look too busy yet either,” I said as I looked through the large plate glass window of our favorite bakery.

Lunch was delicious as always, and half an hour later, we came out of the bakery loaded down with bags of rye bread and buns.

“Hope I can still fit into some clothes after that lunch. Where would you like to shop first, Myrtle?”

“You lead the way. You always find good quality places to shop.”

“Hang on a sec,” I said. “Here. Can you hold the bread while I get the door for you?”  I fished Harris’s keys out of my purse. “I know one of these is for unlocking and the other is for starting the car,” I mumbled to myself as I fit one of the keys into the lock.

The door wouldn’t open. Myrtle stood by the car waiting patiently.

“Must be the other key. Don’t worry. I’ll have it open in a sec.” I flipped the keychain around and tried the second key. It too, was sticky going into the lock. “Maybe I had it upside down.” I turned it and again jiggled it in the lock. No luck. “That’s funny.…”

“Anneli. What does that man want?” Myrtle pointed at the bakery window.

A middle-aged man inside the bakery was leaning over the bench seat, banging on the window with the palm of his hand.

“I don’t know but he looks mad at us.  Why’s he pointing at the car?” I looked up at him with a puzzled frown.

“Now he’s pointing at himself.”

I looked at Harris’s keys, then at the angry man at the window. He was still pointing at the car and at himself. I turned to look at Myrtle and that’s when I saw it. Parked next to the vehicle I was trying to enter—Harris’s car.

*****

If you are interested in easy writing tips, please visit my other blog https://annelisplace.wordpress.com/


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Being Thankful

What do we have to be thankful for?

That depends on your perspective. We need food, water, shelter, and enough warmth for comfort. To varying degrees most of us have that and we are grateful for it.

But it is all secondary, if we don’t have our health. For those who are not in good health at this time, we can be thankful to live in the days of modern medicine for making our illnesses bearable. Without modern inventions and medical discoveries, many of us would not even have made it to adulthood. The smallest infection might have killed us in the days before penicillin, and appendicitis would have claimed countless lives before the days of operations and anaesthetics. Childhood diseases would have taken their toll.

This year’s Thanksgiving may be bittersweet. Actually, forget the sweet part – it will be bitter for those who have lost loved ones, many of them to Covid. But we have to muster a positive attitude and continue to strive to beat this virus.

This is one of the hardest times for some of my generation. We missed the World Wars and most of us were not affected greatly by the smaller wars that followed. We have lived fairly free of world scale disasters … until now.

At first everyone was extra careful about social distancing and wearing masks, using hand sanitizers and washing hands, but I see all around me that people are giving in. They are tired of being careful, tired of being isolated. But, as in any battle, if you stop fighting before it’s truly won, the backlash can be devastating.

We are almost there in the push to beat back the virus, so I hope that people will not become too cavalier about relaxing their precautions until we are clear of this pandemic. Take care, especially at times of celebration, like Thanksgiving and Christmas.

One day soon this ugly virus will be eradicated, and we will truly have something to be thankful for.

Have a happy Thanksgiving, America, and take care to stay healthy.


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Composition isn’t Everything …

but it sure helps.

After the snow that, thankfully, stayed up in the hills, I wanted to take a picture of it. As always in photos taken from my house, the power lines ruin the composition for me.

I got thinking about the composition of photos and when I received this photo of my nephew, I had a chuckle over the post that seems to be growing out of his head.

Going way, way back to about 1975, I found this photo of when the Captain and I lived on the Queen Charlotte Islands. My parents came from Vancouver Island to visit us. At the beach,  my mother and I decided to take pictures of each other for posterity. It was one of those rare times when it wasn’t raining and the sand was relatively dry, so she sat on the sand and pointed her Brownie camera at me, and I lay on a log, posing as I prepared to take a picture of her. We laughed when we realized that with the cameras in front of our faces we wouldn’t get much of a picture so we had to take turns. In the photo you see I’ve lowered my camera while she took my picture, and then it was my turn to take hers. We had the giggles and I think that’s why she couldn’t hold the camera steady and ended up taking a picture of her own boots. (For the purposes of this blog post, I’ve taken out my face, but I was grinning a lot in the picture.)

Later she sent me the photo and I laughed all over again. Not the greatest composition, but it was unique.

My mother died in 1982, and this bad photo of her gumboots is one of my special treasures because of the happy memories it evokes.

Don’t forget my other blog, anneli’s place, if you are interested in informal writing tips.


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Railway Travel Once Upon a Time

Several years ago I went back for a visit to Dawson Creek, where my family arrived in a railcar like this one in 1953. I was shocked to think that the railcar was now a museum piece.

What did that make me?!!

Below is a picture of my older sister and one of my brothers (being goofy) as we cross Canada from Montreal to Dawson Creek, B.C. in 1953 in a railcar like the one above. The man on the right is no one we know.

Notice the very uncomfortable-looking bench seats!

This year on the way home from the snowed out trip to Montana, I saw a railcar that made me re-assess what “old” really looked like.  I don’t know the vintage of the car below, and I presume it carried something other than people – possibly grain, but not livestock, as I don’t see any windows to allow animals to breathe. In the background on the right, are other “old” railcars, some of which might have been passenger cars.

By rail was the way to travel in those days. No driver’s licence needed. You didn’t have to watch where you were going, unless you wanted to. Possibly, even the conductor had a snooze for a few minutes while crossing the many miles of prairie.

Have you traveled by train? What did you think about it?