Monday, January 24, 2011

The Dinner Table

When I was a youngster, there were many long Summer days that were spent with a large family who owned a dairy farm.

I don't  remember now how many children there were. But I do recall how I felt there was nothing in the World better than being in the company of so many children in such a warm family.

And so, when I was asked what I wanted to do when I grew up, my pat answer was to have as many children as I could. When I was asked why on Earth I would want a lot of kids, I always said I thought it would be such a lot of fun.

And it would have been. But the Universe had other plans. I was fortunate in that I had two children and yes, they were a lot of fun. I still yearned for more children, though, even when I myself couldn't have them. That's when foster children entered my life.

We did have a  huge lot of enjoyment then...sometimes there were not enough chairs around the dinner table to hold my family and the foster kids. But we managed...

And then life changed again. A marriage broke up, and I moved on with my two children, further along on the path of life. I remarried. My new husband wasn't all that fond of fostering kids...and so, I encouraged my two daughters to bring their friends home, possibly just so I could once again have a full complement of folks around the dinner table.

Again, life's path took a turn. My youngest daughter, Katrina, had a child, Brianna. It was a tumultuous time in the life of a family, even though Bree was the warmest, brightest light we had. Unmarried, Katrina found life difficult...too difficult. And even as I gained a grandchild, I lost a daughter...

Heidi and her husband took Bree and adopted her when, if memory serves, she was around five or six. My second marriage had gone the way of the first by then. And the deeply rooted thought of many children around the dinner table loosened. For a long while, it seemed Bree was the only grandchild I would have.

I met Graham, who also had two children. His son, Scott, lived with us. He was fifteen when I met him, a teenager full of  hormonal angst. Most of my foster kids were boys so I was not totally male ignorant. Coming from a family of girls, having only girls myself, it was still a revelation to me...Scott was very different from my daughters. But he bore out my notion that children brought a lot of fun. 

And then, wonder of wonders!! My daughter and her husband decided to have a baby...and Graydon entered our World. It began to appear, even if my dinner table did not hold only very young children, it was certainly always very entertaining.

Brianna is sixteen now.  Graydon will be turning four. Two children...a girl and a further graced my family tree. It was had to be, I thought. Graham and I are too old to have more children, even if I could.

But oh! Once again, the Universe thought it would shake up our now fairly complacent existence. Scott, now almost 25, and his girlfriend Kimeesha announced they were having a baby. Another child to bring fun and joy to our family dinners! How could anything be better than this?

Twins. Twins could be better.

Sometimes...sometimes our wishes and dreams and goals are derailed, along that long and winding road of Life.

All in good time, the Universe told me, all in good time. Having held the dream of being surrounded by children for so long, and for so long, having the dream denied...I had lost hope. I did not hold on to my faith which told me dreams can come true, if one holds onto them tightly enough.

Who would have thought, years ago, of the number of and on their way...who I now have to nurture and teach, to love and laugh with, to enjoy? I certainly did not. My realization, so many years ago, that my main goal was to be a mother to many children...well, it didn't happen quite the way I thought it would.

But the proverbial dinner table will soon require another leaf. And more chairs.

And in the wings, there is another leaf, another chair. Just waiting. Just in case.

Who knows how many children and adults will find their place around that table in the end?

All I know is...

It's already a lot of fun. With twin girls, the merriment will only grow.

My dream from so long ago is in the process of being filled.

Friday, January 14, 2011


At a meeting the other day, my friend and I had a short discussion about New Year's resolutions, goals and dreams. She said she doesn't make any promises to herself anymore; those are the ones that always get broken.

She told me any promise she makes to another, she ifs, ands or buts. Not the ones she promises to herself, however.  She said she was such an unknown entity to herself, she didn't really know what she wanted, anyway. Before I can find a goal...she said...I have to try and find out who that stranger is inside me...

"One of the greatest moments in anybody’s developing experience is when he no longer tries to hide from himself but determines to get acquainted with himself as he really is." – Norman Vincent Peale

We didn't have a long time to talk; we made a date for lunch. But the short conversation stayed with me. I recall saying to my daughter awhile ago that I didn't know who I really was, what my goals were, when she told me she would like to read more about me.

I've taken many long journeys inside, but they were all taken with the intent to heal, during my time in recovery. Once or twice, I have taken journeys within with the clear intention of learning who I was. How did I get here, why am I here, what am I doing here...what is my purpose?

These are the questions to which I wanted answers. I wanted those answers immediately...I didn't want to have to wait or work hard at all. And of course, with this kind of impatience, I got nowhere. I had some idea, as well, of the kind of courage it takes to go on that long, inner journey and face the nakedness of my own soul. I wasn't really sure I had that special courage...

I've learned, since then. Facing demons...the ones that stop progress, those embarrassing, hurtful, shameful ones, makes me cringe.  But I've stood in front of these demons and have made my peace. And I think I know myself as well as anyone, finally. But as to what my purpose is...I have yet to form a conclusion.

"The longest journey of any person is the journey inward." – Dag Hammerskjvld

Since I didn't come up with any answers, I did what I normally do when I'm stumped...I stuffed it away and thought, well, eventually I will know why I'm living this life. Eventually, surely, after a few  more revelations from lessons placed in my path by the Powers-That-Be, I will know, well and truly.

Of course, if I believe as strongly as I do the statement that everything is exactly the way it is meant to be right now...then I'm already doing what I'm meant to be.

And then, during a visit to the hospital, I spoke with an elderly man who had been declared palliative. He was of sound mind and of a rather philosophical nature. As I sat with some needlework, he and I spoke about life and what it was all about. He felt it is over-rated, life is. He said he had lived a whole lifetime, and still he didn't know why he was here or who he was. Or what his goals were. And he wondered why he'd ever cared...

And then he laughed rather ruefully. Guess it's too late now...he said...guess I'll just enjoy the ride, what's left of it.

As I drove home, I chuckled to myself, as I wondered why I felt the need to know everything about this...acquaintance...who lived within. Wasn't it enough to know my place in the Universe? To know that I am unique and connected, firmly grounded in my own place?

Why don't I just accept what is present...who I am now, what I do and why I do it? If I am such an unknown to myself that I cannot make goals or intentions because I do not know what I desire or which path I want to follow...I would have to be far younger than I am now.

My friend and I will have a spirited conversation over lunch.

And I keep thinking...why not make it easy...leave the whole thing simple?

Why don't I just enjoy the ride...what's left of it?

Wednesday, January 05, 2011


I believe this is about the fourth post I have begun writing since Christmas, but with one distraction after another, I have finished none of them.

We are in the midst of converting a former kitchen and mudroom/entry way/laundry, both separate rooms, into one room. This will be the pantry/laundry room/mudroom. I believe, at one time, or even today...this room might have been called a scullery.

A scullery is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as a back kitchen, a room for washing up dishes, cutting up food, etc. In other words, an overflow kitchen. A scullery would have been where game Birds and Animals were prepared for cooking. The word is close to what our room will be intended for. It has a pantry in it, after all.

But sculleries have a bad name. In speaking with an older English client, I was told sculleries were the worst part of a home, where all the messy, dirty parts of keeping a home were done. I found a site explaining that the scullery maid was the lowest of the low, often found in workhouses and paid a very small sum.

But these days, as I tried to explain to my client, they even sell scullery sinks, which are very like laundry tubs. Our refurbished room has a new laundry tub in a cabinet, not a scullery sink, but I have no problem with imagination. There is also a very small cabinet, which was passed down to me many years ago. It came from an old scullery in Victoria. It will be repainted, leaving the old marks and dents still apparent. Graham will build a new top, out of Maple Wood we brought from the Coast.

The room will also have a linen closet. When we moved into this house, I remember wandering through, with a pile of towels in my arms. I asked...Where's the linen closet?... There was none. Our linens have been stored in one of the bedroom closets. In great disarray, I might add.

We'd taken out the dividing wall a month or so ago. But there was still drywalling and mudding to do. And there was a door to the crawl space which was taken out. There is a floor door now, giving us more space.

Moving the plumbing and electricity for the washer and dryer took some time. Then Graham built the stands for the washer and dryer. They are front loading machines and are meant to be on a stand, in order to reach the farthest points for that errant sock or hand towel.

I am accustomed to renovating...I have been a part of renovating each house I have ever lived in. Or a part of building anew. I'm not sure which one is worse, when it comes to anxiety and stress and just plain exhaustion.

But in only ten days, the scullery is almost done. There will be painting and flooring to do, but these are easy projects. I'm looking forward to moving in. I picture myself  coming in with arm loads of flowers from the garden, and cutting the stems on the long, stone counter to fit the vases which will be stored in one cupboard or another, all in order. It's a great vision!

A completed scullery means the World to me. It will allow me to be much more organized, with regards to homekeeping. There will be an ironing board always at the ready, with hangers and such all prepared to do their duty. There will be the pantry, where large foodstuffs, such as bags of flour and sugar and large boxes of cereal will be kept. The broom closet will finally be used as such, with the vacuum cleaner and all the other items used to clean this home in one place.

Our Dogs will now be able to come in through the garage, instead of through our bedroom. Since the washer/dryer will be moved and in their place, a bench for sitting whilst putting on footwear will be built, there will be ever so much more room for muddy, wet Dogs to come in and be towelled off.

Doesn't all this sound like a scullery? Without the scullery maid, unfortunately. I suppose I will fill those shoes!

This was a great project to do over Christmas and New Year's this year. With no travelling in the forecast, it was easy to concentrate on getting this room done, almost the final renovation we'll be doing in this house. The bathrooms will be next.

And after that, we will have finished what we set out to do when we bought this home. We've changed it completely...building a kitchen in a totally different spot in the house, painting each room, installing new lighting fixtures, changing the flooring throughout...and not to be forgotten, also building a woodworking shop for Graham.

Outside, we have built raised beds for flowers and vegetables. I discovered early on there was no point in digging the Earth where we live. There are far too many Rocks and Boulders. And we have gravelled a large portion of the front garden as well as the driveway, all the way to the Shop.

Only refurbishments to the bathrooms and changing the fence line to include the Shop are left to be done.

It is a good feeling, going into 2011 with most of the goals we set for our home met.

Even if there is no scullery maid...

Happy Belated New Year, everyone!!