Apples and Sweet Peas (2007)

Apples and Sweet Peas Window 1321616077 Apples and Sweet Peas Side View 1322507724 Apples and Sweet Peas Machinery 1322509914 Apples and Sweet Peas Front View 1322511380 Apples and Sweet Peas Broken Front 1321615039 Apples and Sweet Peas Barn at Front 1322504404 Apples and Sweet Peas Barn 1321618541 Apples and Sweet Peas Back View with Apples and Shed 1321618263 Apples and Sweet Peas Back 1321617921 Apples and Sweet Peas Apples 1322506632 Apples and Sweet Peas 1322512548 Apples and Sweet Peas 1322512246 Apples and Sweet Peas 1322511992 Apples and Sweet Peas 1322510820 Apples and Sweet Peas 1322508550 Apples and Sweet Peas 1322508056 Apples and Sweet Peas 1322505032 Apples and Sweet Peas 1321620759 Apples and Sweet Peas 1321620179 Apples and Sweet Peas 1321619667 Apples and Sweet Peas 1321619331 Apples and Sweet Peas 1321616653 Apples and Sweet Peas 1321616345 Apples and Sweet Peas 1321615531 Apples and Sweet Peas 1321615263 Apples and Sweet Peas 1321614687 Apples and Sweet Peas 1321614409 Apples and Sweet Peas 1321613115An old brother and sister lived at this house until they died. No family were left to carry on with it.

The fields were being used by a neighbour, rented or bought the land (I forget which now). He stopped along the road when he saw me taking photos. Was concerned about what I was doing. But, happy to tell me the story of the place after we talked to him. At the end of the conversation he suggested we pick all the apples we wanted from the trees at the back of the house. He even invited us to come back again and pick more.

I did go back a few times to this house. I met more of the family on another occasion. Later we dug up wild garlic and daffodil bulbs which grew in the long grass. Most of the daffodils came up (three years later) in our own front yard.

 

How to Become a History Buff

Peace, Love MuseumsI think our interest in history begins with our own family. Parents and Grandparents talk about their own past, their parents and even farther back in your own history if you are lucky.

The first thing I ever did myself was to record my Grandmother’s sister, Alice, talking about her life, her past and what she remembered from when she was a girl living in Ireland. In school we made family trees, but that wasn’t something I had done on my own initiative. I still have the tape recording, I just don’t have a machine I can hear it on. Technology isn’t always our best friend.

Many people get into genealogy and stop there when it comes to history. Not me. I have researched many people (mostly women adventurers and fighters of one kind or another) and places (mainly local history, places I have found through my own exploring). I also like to research the history of paranormal things and creatures like dragons. (Can you prove they don’t exist?)

Try the history buff quiz for fun.

How to Learn About History on Your Own

Narrow your focus.

Choose a time period, an event, a country, a building, a person or some other smaller area of history you want to learn more about. Narrow your focus a bit because history is huge as a topic. Every moment becomes history as we live it.

Start a journal.

Pick a notebook (or bring a laptop) to take notes, write down facts and information as you find them. Keep notes about the resources you have used too. You may want to use the same book, website, etc. again or find the author of the book for more information, even an interview.

Keep a pen and pencils handy. Along with the journal you might want to draw maps, sketch a face, or use colour pencil crayons to organize your notes. Consider a hand scanner which you can take to scan a document or pages in a book rather than giving yourself writer’s cramp.

Review your notes and pull things together in a report.

It isn’t enough to have a rambling collection of facts. When you put all your information together to create a report (just for yourself even) it really helps you see everything as a bigger picture. You also notice details which you hadn’t seen connected before.

Join a local history society or group.

It’s okay to go it alone when you can’t find anyone to share your interest. But, most towns will have a local museum and a local history society too. Of course cities may have more resources for you once you begin looking. If the person or place you are researching is something local then the historical society will likely invite you to present your research to the group at a meeting. (Of course, this is up to you to do or turn down if you just can’t handle public speaking).

yesterday is history

Where to Learn About History on Your Own

  • Visit museums and libraries and talk to the staff there. Let them know about your interest in history – they usually have suggestions you wouldn’t have thought of.
  • Get on the mailing list so you will know when a new exhibit comes to your local museum or library.
  • Visit the art gallery and look at paintings/ illustrations from the time period you are looking at.
  • Make the trek to bigger cities and visit those museums and libraries too.
  • Look at genealogy. It’s a lot of information but a nice way to track down ancestors and find out where the bodies are buried, literally.
  • Get online and track down other people who share your interest. Read their websites or weblogs. Leave comments or notes for them. Ask questions. If they really seem to know a lot ask if you can send them some questions, even interview them through email.
  • If your interest is something local, get out there with your camera. Take photos of the places where history happened. Talk to people like urban explorers or look them up online and see the photos they have taken too.
  • If your interest is Medieval history talk to people who like Renaissance Fairs and create their own costumes to wear based on the authentic clothing worn in the time period.
  • If you have an interest in prehistory, find out about anyone who has been digging up history in the area you are researching. Try to find them online and get information from the source.
  • Read fictional history books too. In most cases the authors will talk about their research and any liberties they took in changing history for their fiction. Meanwhile, you will be reading an account based on all their own research of the time period, the place or person you are researching too.
  • Keep an eye on the news, online and through the television and radio too. History happens all the time. New finds and discoveries come up in the news more often than you may think.
  • Talk to people who were there for history in this century. Read biographies from people in earlier times. You may even find autobiographies which they wrote themselves versus a biography which was written about them.
  • Watch for TV programs, documentaries, coming up for your history interest. Talk to your librarian and see if any documentary can be ordered in for you. Talk to the people who were interviewed in the documentary and, of course, the people who created the documentary would be a great source of information. (The narrator is not always a great source, look for the people who produced the documentary).

Where to Find History Online

On This Day in History…

Where the Wild Things Are: Yule or Christmas

Originally posted to ‘BackWash: Where the Wild Things Are’ newsletter, November, 23, 2003.

Christmas, by that name, is a Christian holiday, Christ’s Mass is how it started as far as I remember. Also, if you want to get technical, holiday is also a Christian word, coming from holy day, the long, extended version before the remix.

I was thinking tonight, do you call it Christmas or always religiously, in a semi-fanatical way, call it Yule? To me, I don’t think the small things are worth fighting against the tide over. I don’t mind calling it Christmas or a holiday. I know what it means to me. I know where it comes from, historically and spiritually.

I also know how I celebrate it. I don’t go to a church, not one recognized by the average Yellow Pages phone book. I live in my ‘church’ it’s always with me and all around me. Mostly, I just like being outside. That’s when I feel closest to everything that matters and makes me feel good.

So, for me Yule or Christmas, is about time outside as well as our family traditions. The Christmas tree, singing carols, the exchange of new pajamas on Christmas Eve, the big dinner, making bread together, driving around admiring the fancy coloured lights, and so on. My favourite things are fresh, new snow on Christmas day and admiring the tree all lit up and decorated with ornaments we’ve made and kept from year to year and relatives past.

However you feel about Yule, remember the spirit of the season. Don’t insist people recognize you as Pagan, call it Yule whenever you might be listening and don’t make someone feel their Christmas is less than your Yule. Play nice. Religious tolerance works both ways.

Where the Wild Things Are: Can you Be Yourself and Be Pagan?

Originally posted to ‘BackWash: Where the Wild Things Are’ newsletter, August, 24, 2003.

Being Pagan isn’t about putting on a show. It’s really a very personal thing, a choice you might keep to yourself forever or reveal to your family or friends. They call it coming out of the broom closet cause that’s kind of cute. But, you were never in a closet. Being Pagan is about being free, living with the Earth and respecting our history/ traditions. How can those be bad? Why would you have to keep that under wraps?

I think people think they have to prove a point or show off when they yabble on about how Pagan they are. In the case of craft names especially, those were meant to be secret, from everyone! But here and there you can find Pagans using their craft names more than the name on their birth certificate. Some rationalize it and say that’s their public craft name and they keep a secret one, privately. So, why the show?

Can you be yourself and be Pagan too? I think that’s what it really comes down to.

If you have to dress a certain way, display certain objects around you and change your name to fit in, where do you really fit in? Being Pagan should be comfortable, part of who you already were. It should add to you, not reprogram you.

Think about your own Pagan or Wiccan lifestyle. Are you putting on a show or are you just being Pagan cause that’s part of who you are? If you have all the toys and gadgets chances are you’re really missing something. If you’ve copied tons of spells from the web but never written any of your own, chances are you’re missing the point. Reorganize, rethink and stop to breathe, find out what part of yourself is Pagan and relearn. Get back to the essentials, rediscover being Wiccan and have fun again. You can’t be having fun if you’re always trying to catch up to some ideal of what being Pagan should be. You are Pagan, you made that choice, so just go ahead and be Pagan. No song and dance required.

A Living Wake

I read about Derek K. Miller’s living wake in his blog. Derek died May 3rd. Jade Walker posted a link to his blog and that’s how I began reading and eventually came to the post about his living wake. It’s a good idea. I’ve always thought a funeral was kind of sad because the person everyone was there to think of, give tribute to, is not able to attend.

I found another post about a living wake on Care Pages, a wife held a living wake for her husband who had terminal cancer. Of course, a living wake would only work for someone with cancer or some other disease which gave them a limited time to live. I wouldn’t want to know when I am going to die, if it were sudden, but having the time to plan and say good bye would be comforting if you knew your time was short.

A living wake is not a life celebration, where people attend after the death to remember the deceased. However, part of the living wake would be to remember the life you have lived, the people you met along the way and your accomplishments, happy moments, etc. Knowing this was the last time for so many things I’d want to take time to plan the living wake and make sure I wouldn’t regret anything I wish I had done at the time, later.

I didn’t find information about planning a living wake so I am thinking of ideas myself and putting them here for anyone who finds this useful.

  • Every holiday, family birthday and occasion can be packed into the living wake. Have a birthday cake,  decorate the Christmas tree, hand out Valentine chocolates, wear New Year hats, cook a turkey and so on. Set out photos of family trips and milestones.
  • Invite as many people as you can find. Host the wake outside if you can or find a place easy for people to get to and drop in. Don’t make it a long event, but something where people can drop in, sign a guest book and visit awhile. Chances are the person the wake is for won’t be a fall of fire and will need to keep it short or take a few breaks to regather energy.
  • Make sure you have something people can take away with them, a signed photo, a poem, something to remember the occasion and the friend/ relative. Also, have them all sign a guest book so anyone who does not get to visit can still leave a note, maybe even a last gift if they happen to bring something.
  • Serve food which can be nibbled on. A mix of hot and cold like salads would give people something to do with their hands when they don’t quite know what to say or do.
  • Set up a display with photos over the years: baby to child, to teenager to adult… have a laugh at old fashions and hair styles and a favourite raggedy old sweater which everyone will remember the family/ friend wearing far too often and far too long.
  • If people will understand the humour, have a roast where the friend/ family member gives some parting shots to everyone who attends (or anyone they have something they want to say).
  • Use digital photos and video to record the event and play the video, show the photos so people can see them as the wake goes along. Let people share them by emailing the best/ favourite photos to each other before they go home. They could be put on an account on Flickr or Facebook to be distributed quickly.
  • Let people stand up and speak if they have something they would like to say, maybe something they have planned or thought of while wandering around the room. Some last words of their own. The plan is for everyone to say goodbye while they can still be heard after all.
  • If there are belongings which will be distributed in a will later why not give them now, when the  stories can be told about the belonging rather than people trying to remember how it all went later. You could even type out notes to go along with each thing and include the story behind it, the reason it’s being given to that person in particular and any other details about how it works and how it was used.
  • Think about favourite music, books, films, any favourite things which you could have at the living wake in person or represented on a bulletin board or some other type of display.
  • Write a short biography with personal notes and commentary added in. This would be a good way for everyone to remember happy times, old jokes and old stories.

What other ideas can you think of?

The House on a Hill



I pass by this old house each time I drive to Newmarket to visit my family. The house is on the outskirts of Bradford, on a hill, across the road from the Husky Truck Stop. This time I brought my digital camera and took pictures. I started just at the wooden fence surrounding the place. I couldn’t see an easy way around it. After a few minutes I crawled under the fence in the driveway. I wish I had gone inside the house too, but I was alone so that didn’t seem like a good idea. Not that anyone was there, there were no recent tracks in the snow other than my own. An abandoned house isn’t safe and this one has been empty a long time.

The funniest thing that happened was losing my car keys. I had stuck them in my bra cause I had no pockets. At some point they had fallen out and I only noticed when I was back at the car, ready to unlock it and go.

My favourite picture is that one with the broken piece of chair. I love the house though, the look of it and how it sits on the hill.

So there’s my little adventure and my first use of the digital camera. They turned out better than I expected. It was cold and my hands were a bit shaky but none of the photos are blurred or out of focus. I don’t think they would have turned out so well if I had used my 35mm camera.