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A Moment of Questioning

October 20, 2010

Perhaps everyone has a moment, or two, in life, where suddenly, the reflections that he or she has written about, are put into question and subjected to some serious scrutiny. Memories are often like this, as a person tends to wonder, if he or she has actually perceived everything correctly.

In other words, did that event really happen, like that? 

The way children perceive, including me as a young child, tends to be very ego-centric. In other words, everything focuses around that particular child. 

I don't have a lot of purely, ego-centric moments, where I was the exclusive center of everyone's attention, but there are a few times that I can remember, quite clearly.  

For example, I can recall several instances that took place, during the year, that I turned six years of age. 

July 23rd was my birthday and together, as a family, we celebrated  my summer birthday, with a home-made birthday cake and candles. 

For me, the highlight of my sixth birthday, was having my grandmother present to celebrate with us.

Grandma arrived, beautifully dressed, as usual.

She promptly presented me with a wonderful gift, a complete set of miniature, porcelain, doll dishes, the likes of which I had never seen before. They were absolutely beautiful! It was the first and the last time, that I ever received doll dishes, as a...

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Tags: birthday, doll dishes, porcelain, six years old, starting school


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A Defining Moment

March 29, 2010

There is nothing that defines a person's 'home', like spending Christmas together in a brand new house. 

I do not have a lot of recollections about spending Christmas in our new home, but there is one Christmas that I do remember very clearly.

It was wonderful! 

By this time, we were no longer living in the basement.  

Accompanied by our father, all the older children, dressed in winter coats and boots, went out to our Grandfather's back pasture to find a Christmas tree. Together, we searched and finally found a spruce tree that was seemingly perfect.

Dad proceeded to cut it down with his axe and Swede saw.

Watching my father and brothers trying to carry the tree home, was fun!

Setting up the Christmas tree in a huge pail of sand and then decorating it, was even more fun! It was so tall, that Dad had to tie it to the wall first, so that it would not fall over.   

Christmas Day arrived with Grandma and Grandpa expected to be there for Christmas dinner. Aunt Hilda and Uncle Arthur were coming too.

I wondered what all the fuss was really all about, but of course, I was still quite young and did not really understand the meaning of Christmas or the importance of family celebrations.

My older sister and I had been helping Mom with...

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A Moment For Children to Remember

February 4, 2010

There are special moments that children will always remember.  Here is one of mine.

It was time to move out of our grandparent's home. In order to do so, my father who was a gifted carpenter, began to build our new home, on four acres of land, located in the South Stanley area of Paiponge Township, in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Originally, this was our grandparent's property. Next door, there was a school house.

I recall being one of four children lying down in the entranceway to our new home, while my father and other men were pouring the concrete for the new basement floor.

Our little observation group included my older sister and brother, as well as our younger brother. I can picture my younger brother as being about three years old. He is a year and a half younger than I am.

The landing was a wooden staircase. To see between the steps, we had to lie down. We were very quiet, as we watched the cement being poured into the basement. 

Why is this important?

I recall talking to the man who owned the cement truck. This was many years later, as an young woman, just graduating from nursing. His daughter was also a nurse who...

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A Moment of Exploration

November 28, 2009

Children love exploring the world around them and of course, I was no different. My earliest explorations ranged from exploring the inside of my grandparent's huge farm house, to the farm buildings and then the farm itself.

I found the grainery an interesting place. That was where the wheat and oats were stored, dried and ground into flour and oatmeal, as needed.

I recall seeing two round, grey-granite grinders that were at least eight feet in diameter, located in the center of the second floor of the grainery. Each one was about two feet thick. One was placed on the top of the other.

The wheat was poured into the grinder from the top, ground and then collected in one hundred pound, white-cotton bags on the ground floor.

There was always a coating of white flour dust over everything, but even with the flour dust, there always seemed to be a distinct freshness to that part of the grainery.   

The milk house was rather unique too. It had huge, metal vats of along the north wall. Silver metal pails of fresh milk were brought in by Grandpa and the farm hands, after the morning and evening milking. It was then poured into the vats. Later, it would be placed into large, metal milk cans that were picked up by the milk truck every day.

Grandma always had fresh milk and cream, as well as newly...

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A Serious Moment

November 25, 2009

Children often go through times when serious things take place. They may not be old enough to know exactly what is happening, but they do observe what is going on. Quite often, it is imprinted on their minds. 

This is one instance that I can recall quite clearly, even though I was very young at the time.  

The south entrance to our grandparent's home had several long, gray-cement stairs. Straight ahead, there were double kitchen doors, with small glass panes. To the left, there was another doorway that led to a wash-up area for Grandpa and the other farm hands. The room had several, white porcelain sinks and coat hooks that they could use to hang up their work clothes. 

I was in Grandma's kitchen, when Grandpa came in, with blood all over his face. He had a huge cut on his forehead. When I called Grandma, she rushed into the wash-up area. I could see that she was worried about him.

"Oh, no! What happened?" I wondered. I could only watch. Later on, Grandma took the time to explain what had happened.    

Collecting loose hay was every farmer's task, during that era.

Hay was cut with a hay mower that was pulled by horses. It was allowed to dry for several days and then stacked by hand, with a three-pronged hay fork. The farmer's task was to pick up the hay with a wagon and take it to where it could be stored in one...

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A Rocky Moment

November 11, 2009

Childhood moments are kind of fun to reflect upon, even though many of the events of those days, will remain in the past. They don't have to be remembered, even on Remembrance Day, 2009.

Remembrance Day brings back recollections about the early days of my life, just after World War 11. Grandpa and Grandma had decided that their two sons were needed on the farm and thus my father and uncle did not enlist to go overseas, with the other young men from the area.

Their decision was based upon the experiences of their own families in Finland, with respect to war, as well as World War 1. Grandma's father had lost one arm, in the war, in Finland. Grandpa, the youngest son was put on a boat to come to Canada all by himself. All of his eleven older brothers had been  forced to enlist.  

Here in Canada, Grandpa's farm consisted of a section of land (160 acres), that needed to be worked. It was a dairy farm and over time, proved to be one that was well run and profitable. 

Grandpa had a total of thirty dairy cattle, which for that era, was a good-sized farm. 

At that time, it meant milking the cows by hand, early in the morning, as well as in the early evening. The milk was strained and then put in large, silver milk cans, that...

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A Distinctly Finnish, Family Moment

November 8, 2009

Being of Finnish descent, I recall some moments from my early childhood, that could be referred to as distinctly Finnish, family moments. 

I am not certain why this particular moment remains so firmly etched in my mind, but it was probably because it was my very first experience, in the steambath.  

Grandpa's farm had a fairly good-sized steambath, on the far side of the oval driveway, next to the workshop that housed his forge. Beside it was the big grainery; the milkhouse was located right next to the house. 

On the farm, Saturday night was always steambath night for everyone, including family members, farm workers or friends, who happened to be visiting. Grandma always had a house full of people. 

Grandpa would build an extremely hot, wood fire, late on Saturday afternoon. 

I don't recall exactly where the fire for the steambath was built, but I think it may have been in the workshop, connected to the steambath. I do not remember a stove in the steambath, but I do recall Grandpa using his hammer and anvil, to repair wagon wheels in the forge and that fire was probably the source of the heat, for the steambath.

Anyone who was at the farm on Saturday night, was always invited to take a steambath. 

As one entered the steambath, there was a change area with huge, metal coat hooks on the walls. There was also a stack of clean towels. 

Inside the inner...

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Tags: family, finnish, steambath


Posted at: 01:25 PM | 0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink

Family Moments

November 7, 2009

Family moments are always special! 

I can remember a few of them, from the period of time, when we lived on my grandparent's farm. 

One of them was a wonderful Christmas celebration, during the first few years after World War II. I was still a small child at the time, but I recall this occasion as being a happy time for everyone.

Many family members, some who I did not recognize, were gathered together in Grandma's dining room for an old-fashioned Christmas dinner, complete with all of the trimmings. 

In my mind's eyes, I see a number of family members seated around the huge, dinner table. Some of the ladies were in the kitchen, helping Grandma. There were a few, older family members present and some neighbors too. A group of them were standing beside the Christmas tree, talking to one another.

What I recall most clearly about this Christmas celebration, is the fact that Aunt Hilda and Uncle Arthur were present. This is my earliest memory of them.

Aunt Hilda was a gracious, soft spoken and kind-hearted lady of British descent, who worked at Chapples, a department store located in what was then known as Fort William.  

Aunt Hilda loved children and enjoyed spending time with us, at Christmas. Not having any children of her own, we were the only, little children present and of course, she spoiled us by bringing hard Christmas candy.

We loved that! 

Aunt Hilda adored...

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Tags: celebration, christmas, christmas candy, christmas dinner


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A Moment On The Run

November 6, 2009

I can remember the moment when I first learned to run, as a small child. It must have been in the springtime, as I recall running in and out of Grandma's kitchen, not running outside.

Grandma was a wonderful cook and there were always people around her kitchen table. Some of these people were family members, others were farm hands or neighbors, who dropped in for coffee. She made good coffee and served it to everyone, with fresh, homemade, Finnish bread and cinnamon buns.

She also sold milk and eggs to some of them, as I recall. 

Grandpa used to love his hot coffee and would often sip it, from his saucer, much to Grandma's dismay. Every once in a while, I would get a little sip of his coffee too or a bite of his coffee-dunked, cinnamon bun. It was so good!

Next to Grandma's homemade bread, I think that my favorite dish, was her brand new potatoes, smothered in homemade butter and fresh milk. They were delicious!

One of Grandma's frequent visitors was a middle-aged man, named Bob. Grandma loved him, just like a son. Everytime he dropped by, I would be on the run, as he would quickly grab me and plunk me on his knee. He was such a teaser! 

"You look just like your Grandma! I'm to catch you, take you home...

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Posted at: 11:17 AM | 0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink

A Creative Moment

November 3, 2009

Every moment in the life of child, contains a creative element to some degree.

We don't always perceive the creativity in a child immediately, but the vast majority of children do harbor an element of creative genius, somewhere deep within. There is invariably the need and desire to explore, as well as to create, at the same time.

Some of this creativity is triggered by curiosity or by the example set by others. Sometimes, a creative moment just seems to happen with litle children.   

One of the stories that I am told is that of my very first haircut, one of my older brother Eddie's creative moments. 

I am not certain how old we were at that time, but I recall being just a small child, big enough to walk into Grandma's bedroom. Being a whole year older, he was the person in charge and immediately sat me down on a footstool, beside her bed.    

Eddie always had a wonderful, innocent smile on his face, unlike my older sister who was more likely to be frowning. How could he possibly do anything wrong, wearing a smile like that?

I did not realize it, but he had already made the decision to cut my hair with the silver clippers that Grandma used to cut Grandpa's hair. I have no idea where he found them. 

Needless to say, I was the perfect candidate for his creative moment.

I did...

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