Family History

I love doing family history,
Though it almost drives me mad:
Was it THIS Samuel or THAT Samuel
Who was Mary Margaret’s dad?
What happened to the records
that were supposed to all be kept?
Did the registering clerk get weary
and just lay down his pen and slept?
And Oh, why did those four families
who all shared the same surname
insist on calling their sons John,
and their daughters Ann, as they came?
Why aren’t the family Bibles
with their names and dates all there,
come a-landing on my desk one night
to let me have a share?
Why do so many queries
run down a dead end street,
till my fingers on the keyboard
are more tired than my feet?
Why then do I continue
along this arduous way?
Because when I’m immersed in family history
the hours just fly away!
And if I only find two people
who fit in without a doubt,
my family history heart stands up
and gives a mighty shout!
So it’s good to forget the clock
and riffle through the pages,
then when the puzzle is complete
to know my family from past ages!
But be warned to not begin this hobby
unless you’re happy to get caught,
in all the whys and who’s
and every should and ought.
There’s no virus that’s quite like it
for taking a quick, tight hold.
But the joys that it can bring you,
are brighter far than gold!

Emotography Week 17

Lichen wool rug cropped


The rug got wet, then flung out to dry,
As I walked past, it caught my eye.

The sheep was sheared, fleece soft yet rough,
Carefully washed till clean enough.
Tanned till smooth across the back,
But supple so it would not crack.

It was proudly placed down on the floor,
In front of the chair, just by the door.

But daddy spilled a glass of water,
Followed by soup from little daughter.
So baby got cross and dropped his bowl
And juicy fruit began to roll.

Poor mother stared in sad dismay,
And didn’t quite know what to say.

So instead of words the deed was done,
Rug washed and spread out in the sun.
And there I think my story ends,
But perhaps because you are my friends.

I’d better not lie about this mat
Or carry the truth round under my hat.

Its true it was flung out to dry,
And true of course that it caught my eye.
But this is the truth you’ll know from hence
It was lichen growing on the neighbour’s fence!

Mind Pictures

{Concluding part}
The roles of male and female were clearly defined and I cannot remember hearing any of the women of that generation bemoaning their lot. Nor, I might say, the men either.
My mother always wore an apron at home while doing her chores-which were almost non-stop because we were a large family. In the late afternoon/early evening before my father returned for his meal at the end of his working day, my mother would replace her apron with a clean one and comb her hair afresh. I now appreciate her example of physical appearance as pleasing to my father. That she, being weary from her day’s toil, which was not yet finished, took the time and made the effort to do this, impresses me greatly. I feel a touch of love there in those simple actions and am grateful for it.

Life was not all work in those “back-there” days and as children we enjoyed lots of play in the fresh country air, most of which we engineered from our own minds. I remember collecting buckets of the wild growing blue bells {a kind of inedible berry} with my younger siblings and leaning over the top side of the bridge, tipping them into the river we rushed to the lower side of the bridge and watched a purple blue tide roll by.

Before we learned to swim our mum would sometimes take us to a part of the river where sloping stones held a pool in the bottom of their meeting together. We were allowed to soap the stones and slide down them into the pool. In time all we nine children learned to swim and enjoyed many happy times on hot afternoons at the river, often with mum and dad there too.
{My dad always swam with his shoes on, and my uncle with his hat on!}

We lived near the site of a large sawmill and dad and the older boys would strip some slippery bark sheets off a tree and we would sit on them and swoop down from the top of the huge pile of sawdust to the bottom in a wild ride, only to troop back to the top and do it all over again. At night there were board games like Ludo, Snakes and Ladders, Draughts and so on, and dad and the “big boys” often played cards.
{There was no TV or computers of course, and no electricity in our district until I was in my late teens.} We also played verbal word guessing games, either for spelling the words or defining their meanings. We used to have a “bobs” set which we played on the quite long kitchen table-it was long because we all had a seat there for our meals.
Bobs was something like billiards, yet nothing like it, I suppose the only real similarity was that one had to shoot balls into holes, but numbers counted so if one was smart enough to get the right ball into the right hole then a better score was reached. {Depended on whether one was too small to reach the table top and hold the cue maybe?} At one time we also had a table tennis set-kitchen table again handy!
I remember building a ride-on buggy with two of my younger brothers and we had lots of fun running it down the hill, as one of us sent the other off with a push.
Taking turns was not an option for us, it was an expected behaviour.

Our parents passed on to us a love of reading and that was the main relaxation during the evenings in quiet times. I well remember when my mum and I were alone for lunch at the time the older siblings were at work and younger ones at school: we would sit one each side of the kitchen table and as we ate we each had our books propped up!
My love of reading has never diminished and I enjoy the companionship of a multitude of characters who enter my life through the pages.
My mum had a lovely voice and one beautiful memory I have of her is when she took us for a moonlight walk, and coming home we all sat on a log as she sang us a lullaby.

Hard days, some may say these were, but they rest happily in my mind, and memories bring back the love of good parents who cared for us all, and taught us to live in ways that brought happiness not only to us but to others as well.

{There is much more I could write but having written a lot in my personal memoirs I will refrain from doing so here}

More Mind Pictures

{Continued from yesterday’s entry}

Men of course also worked extremely hard, my own father as a sawmiller and later as a small-fruit grower. The modern sawmillers of today have their work streamlined by machinery, whereas in the yesterdays of my childhood it was hard “hands on” labour. My father was the “header in” at the sawmill he owned, this meant that he pushed huge billets -logs cut from a tree and shortened into various lengths- along the bench and into the big circular saw. Someone on the opposite end of the bench grabbed hold of the billet as it came through, he was known as the “tailer out” and as they grew old enough, they would usually be one of my brothers. The billets having been split in this way were passed through continually until the whole were cut into whatever length boards were required for the orders. Very large logs were pushed through a “breaking down” bench first and then in more handable size transferred to the other bench. Someone used a smaller bench and saw, where the boards were cut into shorter lengths, especially those required for making cases for apples to be packed in. The person who operated this bench was called the docker. Trees were felled by axe and crosscut saw, where two men each held an end of the saw and pushed and pulled as required to saw down the tree. Before the sawing began the axe was used to cut a “front” in the tree so that it would fall in a certain direction. Horses were hitched to the fallen tree and pulled it into the mill. One of my brothers was usually the horse driver.
Thus our parents taught us the necessity of work, and of work on a regular and thorough basis.

When I was in my teens our father had cultivated a small-fruit farm, growing strawberries, raspberries, black currants and loganberries.
Each of we children still living at home were expected to work in picking the fruit in the ripening season. There seemed to be an endless succession of golden sun and blue skies days-sometimes too hot!-that we enjoyed during this time. Our dad was a fair taskmaster and paid his children the equal amount that other pickers from outside the family received. Each day after we had finished-and some of those days may have started at 5 a.m. and ended at around 7 p.m. or after- the fruit was weighed, and each person’s tally entered into a book which was the season book for that year. At the end of the season when our dad had received his cheque from the fruit processors we were duly paid. I can well remember the wonderful shopping trips that were planned mentally over the six to eight week season and the culmination in a trip to town, over forty miles away.

{to be continued}