Tuesday, 21 October 2014

My Mother's Hands

I have my mother's hands.  She had small hands; far too tiny and delicate for the hard work of caring for a home and raising six children. As a child, I thought they were beautiful and admit I was a little bit vain when I grew up and found I had inherited that feature from her. I remember my daughter calling to ask how much salt Grandma and I put in our pastry.  I told her to use the amount that fit in the indentation of her cupped palm.  She said that was not a good enough measurement for her because, "You and Grandma have impossibly small hands!".

There was no vanity today, though, as I looked at my hands.  The nails were ragged, chipping polish on uneven lengths and cuticles in need of a manicure.  Worst of all were the raised veins and dark patches on skin that was lined and wrinkled.  Age showed on my hands and no cosmetician was going to be able to change that.

Just as I was grieving the loss of pretty hands, I remembered sitting with my mother when she was about my age and her looking at the hand that held her ever present coffee mug.  She sighed and said she was sorry that they had become old lady hands.

I remembered how shocked I was. They were still beautiful hands to me. These tiny hands had rubbed my back when I was sick and cracked the shells off hard boiled eggs to make my favourite sandwiches. They had picked enough miniature wild strawberries to make jam for her family for a year and extra to give to her parents.

They had polished our white baby boots and my dad's shoes every single night.  She said it made her feel good to see the polished shoes all lined up ready for the next day.

They peeled so many potatoes, year in and year out, that the blade of her paring knife was worn thin and half the width it had been when she bought it.

They were helping hands to friends and family in need.  They were loving hands that painted old bedroom furniture and kitchen cupboards to make a pretty home for her family.  They taught Girl Guides how to tie knots and wrap food in foil to cook over an open fire. They turned the pages of books as she read them to her children.  They drove the car for miles in the middle of the night, while I held my screaming baby, to get her to sleep.

I remember them darning socks and sewing perfect, little stitches with a needle and thread.  While all her kids had new winter coats, she took an ancient coat of her own and cut it down to a more practical car coat length.  She didn't have a sewing machine and wouldn't have known how to use one if she had it.  It was done with a needle and thread.  I remember being amazed as she fashioned a jaunty pill box hat out of the leftover fabric.

As Alzheimer's ravaged her mind, she became quite dressy.  I think she was reverting to a time when she was young and had a closet full of fashionable clothes.  She wanted her nails done each week and it became a routine for me to give Mom her manicure. Together we sorted through the colours in her makeup case to find just the right one for the week.  We are not a touchy, huggy, feely family and the manicure made it okay to hold her hand and fuss over her.  The same hands that had held me as an infant and made me feel connected and safe were letting me connect with her again and make her feel safe.

No matter how much she ate, the disease was making her body evaporate in front of my eyes.  Her wedding rings had to be re sized until they were no larger than my baby finger.  Eventually, they kept falling off and getting lost and we had to put them away.

I thought of all these moments in my life and how much my mother's hands had meant to me.  I was ashamed of myself for rejecting them when I saw them on myself.  She taught me how to use them well and they have earned their veins and wrinkles and age spots.

I will get a manicure and, while it is being done, think of those last years when Mom and I talked over our coffee as I did her nails.  I will look at my hands with pride and think how lucky I am to ...


Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Rainy Days And Mondays ...

I should finish that lyric with, "always bring me down", but it didn't bother me a bit this time. ~

With a hint of frost in the air, this rainy day was a good time to bring in the herbs and geraniums that won't survive the winter outside.

You surely didn't think Clara Jane would leave me alone to do this job! ~

A few strips of burlap nicely covers a piece of plywood on an old garden table.  The plants get potted up in whatever I have on hand.  It doesn't matter what goes in front of that chippy old door; it always looks great.  It's kind of a no brainer, seasonal decorating crutch.

Nothing is trimmed up until the plants get over the trauma of the move.  In the middle, at the back, is a teeny, tiny bay plant that I am determined to grow into a real tree.  This  is the only place in this shaded house that gets enough sunlight to get anything to flourish and I'm hoping I can pretend garden all winter.

Just in case anyone is in doubt that this is a garden, I have a sign that my sister gave me for minding her pets while she was away. ~

It's seems like a good omen that the sun has decided to shine for a bit.  The $2 thrift store fountain is bubbling merrily and some daisy shaped tea lights are waiting for the granddaughters to arrive next weekend and see them lit.  The girls always do a thorough check of the house to see whatever new, pretty things are out.

It's a rustic look, but I like it. ~

Best of all is looking at the back lit window at night and listening to the fountain.  Or, it may be more appropriate for me to call it the cat watering station.  ~

This kind of day is just fine with me.  Those of us who live in a house with a metal roof love to ...

Listen  to the music of the falling rain!

I'm sharing this with A Return To Loveliness

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Dealing With Teenage Chickens

I thought I was making my life easier by getting young chickens instead of rehabilitating old lay hens. WRONG!  Why did I not think about those terrible teen years?  Shouldn't the teenage bench wrecking, paint scratching, into everything cats have clued me in to potential problems with young chickens? Apparently not!

The new girls were faster and smarter than I was.  They escaped from the quarantine coop.  Then, they escaped from the run.  I gave up gradually introducing them to the flock and let them run wild.

It was like trying to keep Bart Simpson penned up. ~

All of my chickens, young and old, are convinced the bugs are much better on the other side of the fence.  They scoot through to next door and hang out under their pine trees. ~

The neighbours did mention that they had to chase them out of the petunia beds but didn't seem too upset about it.  They thought it was cute that the chickens were trying to get into their pool area. So far, so good.

And then, the new girls started rampaging through their yard!

I blame Rukmini for it.  She's a saucy girl and doesn't listen to a word I say. She's the white gal getting ready to push Vivian and Anne away from the feeder. ~

Wherever Rukmini goes, Elizabeth follows. Isn't she the cleanest chicken you have ever seen? ~

Even though most of you voted to name the third girl Clair, I liked the idea of naming her after my friend Mel's daughter.  I never go with the popular vote, which is obvious by my voting Green Party. We only got one seat in parliament last election, so that tells you how popular they are in Canada.

So, Madeleine she is.  She's quite shy but that doesn't stop her from getting into trouble. ~

These three girls have earned me my first chicken complaint.  First, the woman next door told me they were eating the lower raspberries.  It's best to bluff your way through these things so I told her she was lucky she didn't have to bend over to pick the low ones.

The next week she told me they were flying up and eating the higher ones.  Ekes!

I do so want to be a good neighbour and told her I would keep them in chicken jail until the berries were done.  I was very good about only letting them loose when the neighbours were at work and wouldn't have a clue whether wild birds or chickens devoured the berries.  Don't judge me!  My chickens absolutely hate being penned up.

I left a peace offering on their porch with a cute chicken note. ~

Everything would have been fine if the neighbour hadn't come home from work early, while the chickens were roaming free.  She thanked me for the eggs and said I didn't have to do that.  I made a cute comment about the girls wanting to make up for their bad behaviour.

Then, the neighbour said she had some lovely berries on the bushes today and would have to get them picked.  At that moment, we both looked over at the berry patch.  "Oh my!", said the neighbour.  The damned chickens had come out from under the pines and were flying up to gobble the berries!

I didn't even bother to try and smooth it over, just called the girls home and put them in detention.

For all I know, they may have promptly invited this guy into their bedroom. ~

It's really best for all concerned to NOT know what teenagers are doing!