Sunday Snap: Baby Picture

When I was a Kitten
Vivian

“The smallest feline is a masterpiece.” – Leonardo da Vinci

Photo Challenge: Off-Center

Once Upon a Time*

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Last week while I was sifting through old papers, I found this piece of writing from decades ago. Thankfully, we have all made peace since then . . .

Once upon a time, there was a girl from St. John’s.
At the age of fourteen,
she moved around the bay with her family.
She hated her curly hair,
adored her Persian cat,
and loved to get lost inside stories and songs.

When she grew older,
she fell in love and got married.
She was happy.
She had a beautiful little daughter.
Not long after,
she gave birth to a handsome son.
She liked to tease him and call him
her little “curly boy”
because he so much reminded her of herself.

A few times,
when she and the husband had terrible fights,
she had to take her girl and boy
to her parents’ house.
But the husband would always tell her
how sorry he was,
and she would go back because she loved him,
and wanted to believe him.

Eventually, she stopped believing.
She moved back to St. John’s
and started a new job and a new life.
She still had her beautiful daughter,
but she lost her curly-boy
to his dad.

She found someone
who reminded her of her love
for stories and songs.
She loves her cats,
still hates her curly hair, and
misses her son
with an ache that never goes away
and leaves her pillow wet with tears
every night.
Still, she knows
she is doing the only thing she can.

She hopes someday he will understand
how, once upon a time,
there was a girl from St. John’s
who couldn’t fight anymore,
and only wished for
a happily ever after.

~ Jennifer Kelland, 1995

picnic table in a winter garden

*Evergreen post from 2014

Sunday Snaps: Ten Years in This Old House

Last week on December 7th, Paul and I celebrated our tenth anniversary of living here on Perry’s Point in Newtown. We had left the city behind in 2010 for the rural life and a new adventure.

Our house, which was newly built for Paul’s grandfather Perry in 1923, was in dire need of restoration and renovation before we could move in. The work that went into these first stages is clearly illustrated in these photos.

The beginning: gutting out the old
This one and the one below show the rot. We’d started not a moment too soon. 
Yikes!
We chose to keep the original staircase and the three stained-glass windows.
Stripping down the old kitchen for new counters and cabinets.
On the left, a view of the living room through the wall where the old chimney had been removed. On the right is a view of the front hall from the dining room.
The old porch was dismantled to make way for a new one and a half-bath. Goodbye, old appliances!
Construction begins on the new porch and half-bath extension. Pictured: cousin and neighbour Wayne, one of our carpenters.
Wayne and Paul hard at work. Fun fact: Paul lost 25 pounds that summer and fall. That happens when you’re constantly working and running to the lumber yard and hardware store for new materials. He’s kept the weight off ever since.
“A little help from my friends.” Pictured: Paul, neighbour Ben (may he rest in peace ), Randy (our other carpenter), and my husband’s Uncle Harold.
Many hands make light work!
Three brothers (Paul’s cousins): Randy, Wayne, and along comes Winston to inspect. 😉
Getting a shot of the first new windows. Reflection of yours truly with the Atlantic ocean behind me.
The roofers came next.
Layer on top of layer…
Insulation, clapboard, and paint. Colour name: Dipped in Sugar. We’ve painted the house blue since then.
Getting there!
Back view. Looks bare before the deck was added. New backdoor window broke and had to be replaced.
Tons more to do, but getting hooked up to the internet can’t wait another minute. 

In 2023, this old house will be one hundred years old, which coincides with our 25th wedding anniversary. Sounds like a great excuse for a party!

Cityscape: the Big Apple*

In June of 2002, husband Paul and I took a trip by car to New York City. We were attending my cousin’s wedding in Nova Scotia that month, so we settled on a plan to extend our vacation afterwards and to take in some of Maine and Massachusetts on our way to the Big Apple.

View of Manhattan Skyline on our Liberty Cruise Boat Tour

With our plan already in place when 9/11 happened, we thought about cancelling the U.S. leg of the trip, but ultimately decided to go anyway. No trouble to notice the absence of the Twin Towers in the photo above, as well as the absence of the new Freedom Tower.

I will never forget our visit to Ground Zero.

View of New York from the Empire State Building
Atop the Empire State Building

In retrospect, I’m glad we didn’t cancel. It was a memorable experience all around.

*Photo Challenge: Cityscape by Nancy Merrill Photography

Baby Love

In the midst of the pandemic as well as my deep despair over everything that is going on in the world right now, comes a welcome respite of joy and gratitude.

My only sister and her husband became grandparents last night, to a perfect little girl who was longed for and whose mom went nine days overdue before finally going into labour late yesterday morning. I am brimming with happiness for them all.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, my nephew was only permitted to stay in the hospital during labour and delivery, so like my sister and her husband and her other grandparents, he now has to wait until mother and baby are discharged to be with them.

A side note: when this same nephew was a baby and my firstborn was a young girl, she absolutely adored him. How do I know? Back then, she had a locket. She kept a pic of him in that locket along with a pic of herself. I smile whenever I think of it.

I can’t help but recall how thrilled I was when I became a grandmother fourteen years ago, to a dear little bundle who felt like a gift from heaven for all of us. And now my memories take me back to the day my own daughter was born.
I became a mom when I was barely a woman myself. So young I was, a child having a child. It didn’t take long, though, for me to make my baby a priority and to fall in love in a way I never had before.

Eight years ago, I wrote a short poem about it.

Baby Love

Remembering that day in June
when you were small and pink and new
your needs so urgent, your helplessness
eclipsing all I’d planned to do

Your eyes, the bluest I’ve ever seen
gazed into mine, I drank you in
strawberry mark on your behind
that perfect dimple in your chin

The tiny o your lips would make
when, nursing done, you fell asleep
that newborn smell, the lightest heft—
who knew that love could feel so deep?

My firstborn with her firstborn 

What are you grateful for today?

Sad News

Maisie

On Thursday of last week, we had to say goodbye to our little Maisie. She’d been ill for several months, had stopped responding to her meds, and we knew there was nothing else we could do. We couldn’t let our baby suffer anymore.

Needless to say, we are heartbroken. Vivian misses her too. She roams from room to room — and outdoors — looking for her sister and lifelong companion.

We console ourselves by remembering Maisie had a full and beautiful life. No cat, ever, was more loved. She always had Viv to watch over her and keep her company whenever we were away. She reveled in the freedom to explore the outdoors here on Perry’s Point, but preferred to stay close to us when we sat out on our deck.

Maisie, you were much more than a pet to us. You graced us with heaps of generous love and affection and your sweet, unique brand of friendship for almost thirteen years. And your quiet dignity, even in sickness, will never be forgotten. You are pain-free at last.

Sleep well, dear angel.

Perry Boys – a Look Back

Given the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m having trouble concentrating long enough to compose an original post. So today I’ll share a post from exactly five years ago, a nostalgic look back to simpler times.

When my husband Paul was six years old, he and his family moved from Newtown – the little community in which we live now – to live in the capital city of St. John’s. Their parents relocated so that Paul’s oldest sibling David could attend the Vera Perlin school for his special needs.
On the day of the big move, Paul crawled up under the house – the actual house we live in now – in a show of protest. “Everyone should be able to live where they were born,” he argued through tears, but the die had been cast. He was pulled out and packed into the car with everyone else.

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On the very first day at their new school, Paul and his other brother Kevin, who is one year older, decided to walk home from school for lunch, despite being told to stay there and eat the lunch they’d brought. But when they saw other children going home, they wanted to go as well. Unfamiliar with their new neighbourhood, the two boys got lost, and Kevin started to cry.

Brave little Paul tried his best to console his big brother by distracting him. “Don’t cry, Kev. Look at the pigeons,” he said, pointing at a bunch of them as they waddled across the sidewalk, hoping the strange, tame city birds might cheer him up. It worked, and they ended up following a classmate to his house. Between the jigs and the reels, their dad had to leave work and go pick them up.

Let’s go back a couple of years when Paul was four and Kevin was five, to another time the younger boy displayed his wisdom. A new addition to the family of three boys had arrived, and this time, it was a girl! When their mom brought baby Julie Ann home, the boys crowded around to get a look at their new sister. Kevin’s eyes opened wide when her diaper came off to be changed. “Look, Paul,” he said, incredulous. “She ain’t got nar topper!” (penis)
“No, ya foolish,” Paul said, enlightened beyond his years. “She got whatever Mom got.”

Now before you think I’m beating up on my brother-in-law, I’d like to share one more tale. Okay, two. When Paul was about nine and enjoying his summer vacation in Newtown, Kevin saved him from drowning. Paul was diving with some other boys off of Burnt Island, but he tired in the deep water and panicked. Kevin grabbed him by the hair on top of his head and pulled him to safety.

newtown

Years later, when Kevin was just beginning his teaching career, he and Paul were driving along in St. John’s one evening. Without warning, Kevin pulled over, stopped the car, and jumped out. He’d spied two teenage boys in a fist fight near the local hockey rink, and he wanted to stop them. Paul watched as he parted the boys, reasoned with them, and ended the scuffle.

It was a day he never forgot. Where most people would just keep going and not get involved, Kevin stepped in and tried to solve the problem. It made Paul really proud of his brother.

Paul confessed there were other boyhood fights where Kev stepped in and rescued Paul himself, fights my husband started and couldn’t finish. I would say he’s grateful for those too. And so am I. 🙂

L to R: David, Paul, Julie, and Kevin
L to R: David, Paul, Julie, and Kevin
Thirteen-year-old Paul

Originally posted on March 24, 2015 here.

Reflecting on the Little Things

For me, this winter has been a time of deep reflection. The dormant months are ideal for slowing down and looking inward, giving one a chance to rest, to heal, to quiet the mind and to focus on the spiritual side of life.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about and missing my mother more than usual. She has visited me in my dreams quite often in recent weeks.

I wonder why.

I suppose I could chalk it up to growing older and becoming infinitely more aware of my own mortality. Or maybe she knows I need her more right now.

Today, I dedicate this post to you, Mom. I wrote the following piece in January of 2012, ten months before our final goodbye.

 

The Little Things

 

You always hear people say that we shouldn’t love the material things in life, and usually I am inclined to agree. However, in one particular area of my life I must beg to differ. Sometimes we have certain items that are so very precious to us because they keep our memories bright.

My mother is now in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease. She has changed so much in the past few years, from a vibrant, independent and beautiful woman, into a person who needs constant care. She can still smile in recognition at me but can no longer carry on a conversation of any sort. We are losing her, bit by bit, with every visit and every passing day. This is probably why I hold on so tightly to a few items that came from her.

As I write this, I am wearing a pair of wool slippers that my mother knitted for me. They are teal blue and white with little bows sewn on the top. I found them a couple of months ago when I was sorting out some storage items, and even though they are a little tight, which was the reason I had put them away in the first place, I’ve worn them ever since, stretching them so they would fit. Just knowing that she had made them for me gives me comfort.

While I was looking for Christmas baking inspiration a few weeks ago, I came across a recipe for cherry cake in my collection, written in Mom’s elegant handwriting. I remembered her making that recipe many times over the years. My heart ached with loss as I read it, but I knew I had to use it. Now that Christmas is behind us for another year, I still have some of that cake left, and I savour every bite.

And on my right hand, I am wearing my mother’s wedding band. It had been sitting in a little box in my dresser drawer for months, waiting until the day it would go on her finger for the last time. So for now I am wearing it because it makes me feel closer to her, and to Dad as well.

So please don’t try to tell me that things aren’t important. Sometimes it’s the little things that we need to hold onto, the touchstones for our priceless memories. Sometimes it is all we have.

Our lovely mother in her younger days

Tree in Autumn*


On the cusp of her dark autumn

November gathers and descends
once bright in October’s glow
her fallen raiment of gold
now flies upon the wind.

Stiff limbs scrape the starless sky
mute shadows fill her spaces
so no one sees the cracks
wrought by her many seasons
of frost and limp regret.

©J.K. Perry

***

*Photo taken November 14, 2019 in Grand Falls-Windsor

Nighttime and Here I Stand:
2 titles in #2019picoftheweek challenge. For details see MariaAntonia

Weekend Visit

For the Labour Day weekend, my daughter and her family came for a visit. The weather was gorgeous, so we spent most of our time outside walking sandbars, trails and beaches in the area.

I wish I could take credit for the photography, but these were among the pics my daughter took.

Then and now: J on our backyard beach showing a tiny crab. Age 3 vs. age 11.
Walking the sandbar between Newtown and  Bennett Island
Hermit crab on Bennett Island
A walk on Cape Island Beach in Cape Freels along the Random Passage Trail
Beautiful Cape Island Beach
Sunset on Perry’s Point
Of course, Maisie and Vivian swooped in on their favourite spot. Who cares if someone else owns it?

We had a fantastic weekend together,
but I’m greedily hoping for nice weather all month.
I’m not ready for summer to end! Are you?