Monday, 17 March 2014

Plugging Into An Ancient Craft

Although I have crocheted for the last decade, creating at least  a dozen queen sized bedspreads or afghans, wedding shawls, headbands, towels and hats, I have just started crocheting baby clothes. The images on pinterest of women crocheting or sewing are fascinating. It feels like I am plugging into an ancient craft, finding myself connected to generations of women and girls who have worked with their hands. It is delightful creating something out of nothing, clothes out of nothing more than balls of yarn using just a steel hook.

Inspiring designs.  For Easter, I am going to try my hand at lacy scarves and summer shawls for my six daughters and 2 daughters-in-lawspired by creative designs

Saturday, 15 March 2014

The North Wind Doth Blow and other Essential Nursery Rhymes

NURSERY RHYMES AND OTHER NONSENSE ARE ESSENTIAL TO EVERY CHILD’S DEVELOPEMENT. It is up to mothers to ensure their children are inundated with nonsense.
It is still winter. In fact, it is snowing today, even though the official first day of spring is in about two weeks. Unfortunately the birds do not know that this is an unusual winter; we saw a robin on the side of the road, right at the end of our driveway. I hope robins eat something more than earthworms. I quoted this little rhyme last year but I think of it every March since my mum repeated it to me every March.

The North Wind Doth Blow 

The North wind doth blow and we shall have snow,
And what will poor robin do then, poor thing?
He’ll sit in a barn and keep himself warm
and hide his head under his wing, poor thing.

This nursery rhyme is referred to as either the North Wind doth blow or The Robin. ‘The North Wind doth blow’ is British in its origins, originatING in the 16th century history. ‘The North Wind doth blow’ uses the olde English word ‘doth’. The purpose of the words is to encourage children to empathize with the plight of the robin.This English poem originated in the 16th century, so it would seem that I am not the only mother to have a childhood nursery rhyme engraved in her mind in order that I too will pass down this oral tradition.
The use of catchy rhyming poems to teach children and to preserve oral tradition is probably thousands of years old.
The problem I see in schools these days is that parents put pressure on even preschool teachers to equip their kids to get ahead in the world. The lessons and brain development techniques start soon after birth. By age 3, kids are learning to operate a computer, taking swimming lessons, learning to skate and attending a  French Nursery School so  they will be bi-lingual and fit into immersion schools by grade I. School is serious business these days with no time for delightful nursery rhymes.  The result is kids with little or no imagination, creativity or time for the arts. Society is  raising a generation of driven, pedantic thinkers trained to succeed. How terrible.
NURSERY RHYMES AND OTHER NONSENSE ARE ESSENTIAL TO EVERY CHILD’S DEVELOPEMENT.It is up to mothers to ensure their children are inundated with nonsense. Listen to Dr. Seuss

I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells.
Adults are just outdated children.
You make ‘em, I amuse ‘em
Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Let Me Guess: Daddy Dressed Her

When a writing prompt asked what was the weirdest thing about my health, the question stumped me until I realized that my good health is weird; I mean, I had nine kids but I am tiny with the best good cholesterol my doctor has ever seen and such low blood pressure that if it was any lower I would drop dead. not one but three doctors have repeated the same words. This good health is a pure gift.
My husband and I halfheartedly followed natural family planning but I am a rare case; I have conceived 5 DAYS
before ovulation. As my wonderful doctor once said,
“Ah yes, there was a woman in New Zealand who conceived 5 days before ovulation about two years ago. “
I raised my hand and said, “Add me to that list.” My body does not follow the rules.
I also deliver 3 weeks early because my babies would be nine to ten pounds. if I didn’t. Although I am tiny, my deliveries were all natural without drugs or ripping and tearing. After short labours, I feel great with little pain.I am blessed with comical circumstances surrounding many of my pregnancies and births. Take my eighth delivery.
 Our doctor had warned us to come into town immediately with my first labour pains because that baby was going to come quickly. Dr. H met me outside the hospital, helped me out of our old van, into a wheelchair and literally ran past admitting with a huge grin on his face yelling,
“Sorry. No time to admit her. I’ll do the paperwork for her after the delivery. See you later!”
He was still chuckling in the elevator over the shocked expression on the admitting clerk’s face. We moved slowly out of the elevator and Dr. H peered around the corner to check the nursing station. He sighed happily,
“Good. The head nurse is on coffee break and no one is in the natural birthing room. Olga is going to have a fit when she sees your stats on the board and that you are in here!”
He laughed loudly this time as we darted into the softly lit room. Michael walked in a little later, holding eighteen-month-old Grace, her pink, frilly sun-suit on backwards, straps crossed across her chest with her nipples peeking out. Even though I was in the middle of labour, I was embarrassed. The obstetrical nurse, noticing my reaction, looked over her shoulder at my toddler as she was held by my husband, turned back to me with one eyebrow raised and said, “Let me guess. Daddy dressed her.”
Ann Marshall pastel & paper collage

Monday, 10 March 2014

Recipe For Me: One Part Guts, Two Parts Gift

How to create Melanie from scratch: A layer cake
I have dredged a few ingredients up from my core, as the result of dire circumstances and sheer necessity, others have been pure gift and a delight to embrace and incorporate into my life.
Baking Tin
Must be constructed from a shiny, iridescent hot metal called love which shines and reflects warmth even in a dark, cold room.
Bottom Crust
5 pounds of sheer determination ( guts), layered, alternately, with 5 pounds of sinew and true grit. Make sure the crust is firm yet still flexible so that it does not crack under pressure but rather bends when needed.
Sprinkle with pounds of humour and laughter. Both must be shaken on top of the crust and in each subsequent layer because laughter is essential to my survival. Do not omit this life-sustaining ingredient or my life will collapse.
First Layer
Add liberal amounts of creativity and intuition combined with circular thinking. DO NOT MEASURE. Large quantities of these three ingredients are vital. Do not substitute with logic nor linear thinking. Completely vital to my sanity and to the insanity of my husband. This layer is the thickest and most lively; it springs back into shape even when neglected for long periods of time.
Second Layer
Delight in children. Since I had nine kids, nine shakes of delight will suffice. The whole cake will fall into depression without delight.
Top Layer
Gratitude and thankfulness make up this layer, the more the better. This is a clear, gelatinous layer that receives light which permeates all the other layers.
Joy. This ingredient cannot be purchased and is pure gift.
Drink with a strong cup of tea, steeped at least five minutes. A must.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Happy International Women’s Day

For International Women’s Day,  I have collected quotes and images throughout history which celebrate the vibrant life of women, of women fully alive!
If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it.  Margaret Fuller
Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.  Louisa May Alcott
For what is done or learned by on class of women becomes, by virtue of their common womanhood, the property of all women.  Elizabeth Blackwell (The first woman in the U.S. to become a physician)
Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose. Helen Keller
Remember no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. Eleanor Roosevelt
Mothers are the people who love us for no good reason. And those of us who are mothers know it’s the most exquisite love of all. Maggie Gallagher

 God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers. Rudyard Kipling
I am sure that if the mothers of various nations could meet, there would be no more wars. E. M. Forster

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Embracing Reality With a Sense of Humour

 Ash to ash and dust to dust; yup that is what we reflect on today, Ash Wednesday. Since it is Ash Wednesday,how about some quotes on the reality of our human condition, seen through a humourous lens of course; it wouldn’t do to be morbid and depressing about reality. As my kids say, ” It is what it is, right?” You can’t do anything about reality except embrace it with a wry sense of humour.

If I had no sense of humor, I would long ago have committed suicide.  Mahatma Gandhi

A sense of humor… is needed armor. Joy in one’s heart and some laughter on one’s lips is a sign that the person down deep has a pretty good grasp of life.  Hugh Sidey
Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing.  William James
 You can turn painful situations around through laughter. If you can find humor in anything, even poverty, you can survive it.  Bill Cosby

A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs. It’s jolted by every pebble on the road. Henry Ward Beecher
Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not; a sense of humor to console him for what he is. Francis Bacon

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

The Flu While Flying Solo

candle Marianne_Stokes_Candlemas_Day_

A writing, soul sister who I met on Blogher, jokingly started  this poem by rewriting one of my articles . She chopped out all the flub words from a prose short story. I was swept up in the spirit of revision and kept writing. inerertoldher  writes at thegirls
I could feel my body relax
As I curled up
In my favourite chair.
1 through 4
Were all tucked in
Hubby had gone out
At last.
Smiling to myself
I began to read
Savouring the words,
Enjoying the
But, then I heard it.
‘The noise’
You know…
I threw the book
Ran upstairs
To my daughter’s room..
Too late.
Vomit.  Everywhere.
Poor baby.
Cleaned, changed,
Lovingly tucked into my bed.
To the laundry room
Heard it again.
images (21)
Too late.
Vomit.  Everywhere.
Poor Baby.
Cleaned, changed
Lovingly tucked into her bed
with the nice clean sheets.
Back to the laundry.
Heard it again
Take three, take four
Vomit. Everywhere.
Mounds of stinking laundry
Number littlest, # 4 woke up
Back to the baby…
One step, two step,
Where did he go?
I slipped and almost fell.
Number 4 had found 3 litres of oil
And dumped
ALL of it
He was rolling in oil,
Splashing with glee.
My mouth
Dropped open;
I almost cried
Hysterical giggles bubbled up
Then gales of laughter.
I leaned against the wall
Slowly sliding
Till I sat
Laughing till my sides ached
Legs stuck straight out
Slippery baby,
Dripping in oil.
Bathed him
Nursed  back to sleep.
Scooped up oil
Washed the floor
Again and again
Husband returned
Sent Flying
Arms Flailing
Legs Scrambling
Almost crashing to the floor
“Gee Mel, What happened ?”
I glare.
Throw up my hands and bellow

Saturday, 1 March 2014

The Joy Of Gardening With Little People…And A Goat

It is cold outside,-21C with more snow on the way but this story on gardening was due for Catholic Attachment Parenting Corner and I NEEDED to post a feel good gardening story!
Ah, Spring time. For me springtime means gardening, gardening with little people.
The joy of gardening with children can be experienced in pots on a balcony, in a garden the size of a sandbox, in a community patch in the inner city or in a country garden. Often farmers will rent space to city dwellers to garden. No matter how large or small, children will be just as delighted with the joy of raising their own food and tasting delicious fresh vegetables. Gardening is pretty basic. Stick the seed in the dirt, keep the seed moist till it is rooted ,regularly water the growing plant in the sunshine, weed it and sit back to watch nature take over.
Daisy ou Goar helps weed
Daisy our Goat helps weed
Since we have lived for 34 years in the country, our vegetable rows  were 75 feet long. The sheer volume of produce we grew was our insurance that the raccoons, groundhogs, rabbits, deer, mice and bears would not eat it all. We also grew enough vegetables to barter with neighbouring farmers, sold some on the road side or simply gave our surplus to our generous family and friends.
 The garden was always the children’s domain as well as mine because I wanted them in the garden, connecting with the earth.Although our gardens were lush and colourful, they were hardly gorgeous show pieces. The toughest  perennial flowers were the only ones that survived at our house, ones that could withstand being yanked, stood on and sat on.I am an avid gardener but as I had more and more children, I soon realized that if I wanted the kids to enjoy gardening, I had to relax and let the kids help without stealing all their joy away by controlling every little step of the process. That meant crooked rows, unevenly spaced plants, seeds that were planted too deep or too shallow.Children love to dig in the warm earth, especially toddlers who will dig holes everywhere with a small plastic shovel. One year the dog even joined in, shoving us aside with his front digging wildly and dirt spraying everywhere he actually did save us work.Sometimes Daisy, our goat, was allowed to help weed, much to her delight.
When children take part in planting seeds, watering growing plants and picking fruit and vegetables, they became attuned to the rhythms of nature. They will marvel at the power packed in a tiny seed because after planting one bean seed, they soon ate handfuls of green beans  they picked themselves. Let your kids pick and eat beans, snow peas, raspberries, strawberries and carrots straight from the garden as snacks. Actually eating what you have grown is fun. Now, after a lifetime of eating garden ripe tomatoes, corn picked as the water in a pot comes to a boil and huge plates of fresh green beans with butter and salt and pepper, store-bought garden produce tastes bland to our university kids when they live in dorms.
Let your kids make games out of their jobs, stage competitions when they pick potato bugs, let them have water play after they help water the garden and help make rhubarb jam or freeze strawberries, currants and raspberries. Gardening won’t just be a hobby; it can be a large part of their childhood.
For example, I usually recruited the older children to pull vegetables for dinner every afternoon.
Of course the toddlers and preschoolers always jumped at the opportunity to tag along. It was an adventure to walk through our jungle of a vegetable garden because a tiny person could lose themselves among the tall plants and weeds . This transformed the daily ritual of picking vegetables into an exciting adventure.
One particular day, rain had poured down for days, soaking our heavy clay soil; when everyone trooped out into the garden wearing rain or barn boots , they were soon coated with sticky clumps of clay. As one of my boys struggled to pull out a huge carrot, his boots sank so deeply into the mud that he couldn’t lift his feet.
Everyone began giggling as Matthew struggled to extricate his younger brother. David was finally set free but left a boot behind.
Of course, as he stood on one foot, attempting to free his boot, he fell, landing in the mud. Matt was laughing too hard to help again.
Of course, the next rescuer slipped and landed on their bottom with their feet straight out and their bodies coated in sticky clumps of clay.
It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out what happened next. The result was a bunch of laughing kids, covered from head to toe with mud.
They startled me when they came to the door and even I had to laugh while I shook my head and tried to figure out what to do with all of them. Since it was hot enough, we started the clean-up outside. I peeled off ruined outer clothing, washed feet and legs in a buckets of warm water and then the older kids ran inside, one by one, to shower and  I carried a toddler and two pre-schoolers into the tub to bathe. It took three tubs of bubbly, warm water to cut through all that clay.
I laughed yes but I did add,
” Remember, only one mud bath per year!”
It actually  become a yearly tradition.