December 20, 2013

Sepia Saturday #208: Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree

Sorry I'm late, but too many things have conspired to make this an infamous holiday season. Not the least of which is that I'm sick in bed with the flu!

Merry Christmas from the Davison Ladies of old,

and the Mortensen Marrieds of today:

Christmas 2012: 

November 14, 2013

Sepia Saturday #203: The Woman in Black is back.

Ghostly treatment of a mysterious photo. 

Who is this lady? I am not sure I will ever know.  In my family-search on my father's side, I have come up with a few theories.  She might be my father's grandmother, Margaret (Maggie) Maglenon (born 1856, death unknown), in her later years.
Maggie had quite the life.  Before my grandfather was born, she had a son by a man called James Bailie, but they never married.  My grandfather, Joseph was born a few years later, by another man, called Davison. They never married.  Much later, she did marry—a man called John Stratton, who, according to the Irish Census, was 12 years her junior! They married when she was 41, and he was 29.
I'll tell you one thing, she must have been a handsome woman.
I have not one single picture of her, unless this is the woman herself, but the woman in this photo could just as easily be my great-grandfather's mother, Ellen Flanagan, born in 1841, whose death is unknown (at least to me).

Then again, she might be someone else entirely, but why, oh why, did my father have this picture in his little tin box that he kept on his closet-shelf along with all the other of his sparse collection? I wish I could ask him, but since this Sunday, he will have been gone five years already, that's just not possible.

Here's what the photo really looks like:

Just a sweet little old lady striking a pose.  I'll bet it's Maggie.

Click on the tab above and see what other folks are lurking in doorways.

November 8, 2013

Sepia Saturday #202: Snatched From the "Jaws" of Death!

It was the summer of 1976. I know this, because it was the Bicentennial of the USA, and my father couldn't get enough of the stuff they were selling in the States to mark the occasion.  But already, I digress.

It was also the summer after the blockbuster hit movie, "JAWS" had premiered.  Although my sister, Nancy was too young to see that film, I recall that my best friend Jane and I had filled her in on the gory details - the head dropping through the bottom of the boat, the woman in the opening scene taking the night-time skinny dip who gets cut in half. That sort of thing.

So, it shouldn't be too surprising when I reveal the story behind this photo taken on Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina in July of '76.

I had just turned 15, and was going through an "I'm so fat" stage—loping around with hunched shoulders in my new bikini. (There are photos, but you'll just have to imagine it.)  My sister was nearly nine years old.

When we got to the beach that day, it was a bit overcast, but that did not stop us from dashing out into the waves and, as we used to say, "getting ducked".  The water was nothing like we were used to in either the Bras D'or lakes of Cape Breton, or frigid Lake Ontario just south of our home; it was warm and wonderful!

So, we were paddling around and drifting a bit eastwards, as I recall (the tide was pretty strong), when all of a sudden my little sister starts screaming.  Her round face was all red, she was swallowing water, and in between gulps, shrieking her lungs out about a "shark".

Now, having seen the movie for myself, I high-tailed it out of those waves as fast as my tanned legs could carry me.  I didn't abandon my sister entirely, a hunky teen-aged life-guard was off his pillar and diving into the water to rescue her.

There was no shark. My sister had caught her foot in the submerged pilings referred to on the sign in the picture. She was "saved".

You would think I would have found this rather humourous since she was okay, but the fact that this young Poseidon had to come to her aid for nothing was absolutely mortifying in my eyes.  I wanted to bury myself in the sand.

My father, on the other hand, thought this was a great joke and wanted to mark it for posterity.  He could not resist perching my sister on the "shark" and taking her photo.

I don't ever recall her swimming at the beach again.  I don't ever recall wearing a bikini either.

Swim over to the Sepia Saturday blog and dive in to some more great stories and photos.

November 6, 2013

Sepia Saturday #201: To Grandmother's House We Go


As a child, grandparents did not figure largely in my day-to-day existence.  My mother's father died when I was only 4 years old, and my grandmother lived at the other end of the country on Cape Breton Island.  I only saw her when she came up to visit us in Ontario (usually in the spring), or when we made trips "down east" to visit mom's sister and brother and my "Nanny".

As for my father's side, I never met either of his parents.  Though both from Northern Ireland, they both died in England (living close to, or with, one of their  12 children who had left Belfast). My dad's father had died in 1951, while my father was in the British Army, and his mother died in Portsmouth, in 1964. He was already settled in Canada by then.

I never really had a "grandmother's house" to go to, except for the one at 9 York Street in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, where my mother was born and raised.

The house in the picture above, is my mother's "grandmother's house". It is the house where her mother and her parents, and her grandmother, and her aunts and uncles once lived.  In fact, that is probably my grandmother sitting on the middle chair on the porch, along with a sister and brother. I'll never know for certain.

The house was, and is still, at 6 Cottage Lane. My mom and her siblings used to refer to it as "up home". It was really only a few streets away, but they spent a considerable amount of time there. Not only was it a "second home", but my great-grandmother, Alice McNeil was always known as "Other Mama" by her grandchildren.  She took care of them a good amount of the time, feeding and caring for them during school-hours.  Lunch was always, "up home". I think my grandmother was busy with the baby, Guy, who was somewhat younger than the rest. (I know my mother will tell me.)

I've been to this house a number of times and I could always feel that sense of comfort and warmth that permeated it's environs.  My great-aunt Clara ended up as the caretaker of the house, ultimately, but not much appeared to have changed over time.  One time, I got to explore a few of the bedrooms upstairs and dig in some of the drawers (I had permission) where I found loads of old yarn that someone had once been using for knitting.  Clara let me take some with me, and it felt like a real treasure.  I used it to make finger-crochet necklaces and bracelets. I had learned this in the Brownies. I remember the house smelled really old to me, especially since I came from a brand new, modern-day, suburban bungalow.  Even so, I liked the feel of the old place.

I too, felt a real connection to this house. It made such an impression that I wrote a poem about it once. You can read it here, if you like:  The Last Time I Was There

This is what it looks like, "up home" today:

I have much less vivid memories of my own grandmother's house - the house where my mother lived as a child and young adult.  Maybe it's because I was still quite young when I spent time in that house.  When my grandfather died, and my uncle Guy got married, my grandmother left her home in Glace Bay to go and live with them.  I lost the connection to the York Street house.  There is nothing there now except an empty lot.

I often wonder what will become of the houses we live in now. Will they still be standing a hundred years from now? Or will these places on the planet have been forgone for farther horizons? My guess is, they will not stand the test of time as some of the homes of our ancestors have.


Oops! I have almost forgotten that this was a Sepia Saturday post.  I must direct you to the many other writings on this subject of houses past and present.  (I've read them all, and they are definitely worth your time!)

Just click to move house!

October 30, 2013

Time Capsule: The Book of Me: Prompt #EIGHT

I am behind almost two weeks!

Initially, I struggled with this.  Maybe it's because I have no children, and I'm the last of my father's line.  My husband is the last male in his father's line.  I won't be leaving anything behind for anyone who knows me.

I believe in an afterlife that is better than this one, and so I look to that, rather than wonder what will remain.

Although I take some photos of my surroundings, I very rarely take photos of people.  My sister-in-law takes care of that.  I've seen my parents build up albums of pictures that just sat in their plastic sheets for years, or worse lay around in those paper folders that the camera shops would give you.

We have both, old negatives and even some ancient slides (no projector) that are in boxes, gathering dust.  They are kind of a time-capsule in themselves.

If pressed, I would want to salvage something that reflects who we were.

In a time capsule, I might put,

  • a recipe for a favourite dish that I created:  Acadian Chowder with cornmeal dumplings
  • a cd that we both love - the first one we listened to together: The Waterboys: "Dream Harder"

  • a photo of all of our cats when they were alive

  • a picture of the house where we used to live (the Hyggehus)

  •  my poetry book, "Shadowstalking"

  • one of my favourite books:  
  • a dvd of "Withnail and I" (my favourite comedy)
  • a dvd of "Young Frankenstein" (Kevin's favourite comedy)
  • a picture of my mom and dad, and one of Kevin's parents

  • one of my favourite stoneware mugs
  • an empty bottle each of Danish Aqvavit, and Bushmill's whisky (not that we are drinkers, but they sympolize family celebrations)
  • my rosary beads
  • a copy of G.K. Chesterton's poem, "The Donkey"
  • my choir hymnal with all my favourites marked
  • lip balm (since I cannot live without it)
  • a bar of dark chocolate (as above)
  • a pouch of fair-trade organic coffee (my husband makes this every morning)
  • some of my best photos: 
  • a hat, because I love hats
    Goofy photo.

  • the silver bracelet that I received when Kevin's grandmother died
  • the "Danish spoons"
  • the skeleton key to the doors of the Hyggehus
  • a photo of my Echo hatchback and one of our Kawasaki motorcycle (both long gone)
  • my favourite photo of Kevin and Me: 
  • a recording of our voices  (I guess I've gotten into this Time Capsule thing a whole lot more than I expected.) I think my time capsule will end up being more like a Streamline Trailer, just parked somewhere nearby in the woods.
Well, I AM all about the retro-stuff, so this is appropriate.