Saturday, February 21

When I was a child, I lived in a house that sat on the corner of my grandfather’s farm. Lots of interesting things happened on that farm. Memories of that time are mostly sweet, but this week I want to share a memory that scared me half to death.

One spring when I was about nine years old, a flock of Canada Geese stopped to nest by the pond in the barnyard. I loved to go to that pond and watch the geese, gosling, ducks, ducklings and other creatures that made their home there. There were turtles, frogs, tadpoles, dragonflies, and at night the area was lit up by fireflies. And, of course, the Canada Geese made nests there.

I was a familiar sight to the domestic ducks and geese that lived in the barnyard. They paid little attention to the small girl who walked close to their nests and babies. The Canada Geese were not used to people being close to their goslings, and that’s were my problem began.

The day was bright and sunny and all the farmyard babies were being born. Seeing all the fuzzy creatures made me quite curious. I clambered over the fence and walked close to the pond.

Suddenly, I was facing a hissing gander that flew directly at me, beating his wings. I turned, screaming, dived under the split rail fence and ran for the house.

Grandma came out of the house on the run, a tea towel flapping in the breeze. She hurried toward me, her brow puckered, her eyes wide with fear. I ran to her and threw my arms around her waist. She stroked my hair as I sobbed out my frightening experience. Finally, my trembling ceased. She took my hand and we walked to the house.

Grandma assured me that the gander was only protecting his family and never really meant to hurt me. He only wanted to chase me away. When I dove under the fence, he quit the chase.

Looking back, I laugh at the incident. But many years ago, when I was a young girl, it was a very horrific experience. Never again did I approach a Canada Goose that was nesting. I had learned a valuable lesson about disturbing waterfowl when they were sitting their nest.

If you would like to join the I Remember When meme, please visit Speaking from the Heart. It's a lot of fun stepping back in time through our memories. ~Blessings, Mary~

Friday, February 20

Obama in Ottawa

President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper

It's the day that's been talked about since the announcement was made that Canada would be the first foreign country that President Obama visited. Yesterday, Thursday February 19th was that day. The President flew into Ottawa in Air Force One yesterday morning. Snipers stood on the roof tops of buildings. Barricades fenced off Parliament Hill. Police and security staff were stationed at their posts, which seemed to be every few feet. Royal Canadian Mounted Police, dressed in red serge, formed an honour guard. It cost 2 billion dollars to keep President Obama safe while he visited Canada's capital.

People lined the streets, holding signs. Some chanted, "Yes, we can." The President waved and smiled as he passed. He even asked Prime Minister Harper to give him a few moments to acknowledge the people.

Obama met with Harper to quell fears raised by his "Buy American" campaign, as well as for other reasons. He assured our prime minister that he didn't wish to send "signals of protectionism." He stated that he wants to "grow trade not contract it." He also said that he has no desire to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

When Air Force One touched down on the tarmac in Ottawa, it was a cold, blustery day. Obama was greeted by Governor-General Michaelle Jean and they shared a laugh as she escorted him into the airport's reception area. He and Harper greeted the crowd through plexiglass at the base of the Peace Tower, where about 2500 fans huddled half frozen in hopes of catching a glimpse of the lanky President.

As he was leaving Ottawa, President Obama stated the he looks forward to returning to Canada "as soon as it warms up." How could the people of Canada not welcome the US President with open arms? Though he feels security problems at the Canada/US border are a great concern, he wishes to try and balance security "with an open border that continues to encourage this extraordinary trade relationship."

Despite a blooper when he stated it's "a great pleasure to be in Iowa, er, Ottawa, the visit went well. He mentioned that he has a brother-in-law who lives here and added, "I love this country and we could not have a better friend and allie.

When Obama's motorcade, which included, "The Beast," departed Parliament Hill for the airport, it made a detour. The Presidential car made an unscheduled stop at ByWard Market, east of downtown. The President entered Oxxo Silk Market where he purchased a keychain with Canadian money. He was also looking for a snow globe. He said the gifts were for his young daughters, who collect memorabilia of the places that he visits.

From there, President Obama went to a vendor and purchased a "Beaver Tail," which is a kind of pastry unique to Canada. It was topped with a chocolate and maple syrup "O." The media stated that the President said it was to eat later. Then he visited a French bakery and bistro where he shook hands and greeted people and had his picture taken with at least one employee. He wanted to purchase three shortbread maple leaf-shaped cookies decorated with red icing, white trim and Canada written in white. The owner refused the President's money saying the cookies were a gift.

Stephen Harper and Barack Obama didn't exchange gifts on this visit. One of Harper's aides stated that "when you visit a close friend, you don't need to bring a present."

It seems that President Obama's visit was a huge success. He has wooed the people of Ottawa and the surrounding area and has touched their hearts like no other President has in my lifetime. I certainly enjoyed watching this debonair man on the six o'clock news and confirming that Canada's long friendship with the US continues.

We are to get snow over the weekend. Get out and enjoy it. Spring will soon be here and that pleases me just fine. Enjoy the season while it lasts. ~Blessings, Mary~

Thursday, February 19

In My Writing Nook

I thought I'd let my friends and readers know what is happening in my Writing Nook. I have enrolled in a children's literature writing course and am attempting to complete my first assignment. The autobiographical letter is written and now I have to write a children's story. I have been mulling over ideas and am considering a story about a young girl, her brother and their grandparents who experience a tornado. I'm not sure where this is headed yet, but the story has to be completed in 500 to 750 words.

The one thing I have a slight problem with is that though I have seen a tornado, it was a very small one and we were never really in any danger. It was following the creek and it did turn toward the house once, but then continued to follow the creek. For a small tornado, it brought down a lot of brush and tree limbs.

I have a question for my readers, as I know some of you have been in the middle of such a storm. If you were in a storm cellar, of course you would hear the roaring of the wind and the debris being tossed around, but once it was silent in the world above, how long would you wait to come out of the storm cellar. I have one opinion that I value very much but would like to hear from others.

Enjoy your Friday. Jordan is sleeping over tonight while Brandon is still in Quebec and he had a lot of fun with Dakota. I will update you on what's going on with Dakota in a day or two. ~Blessings, Mary~

Tuesday, February 17

Vintage Thread & Sewing Advertisements

I enjoy reading old advertisements and today I ran across these.

An ad in a magazine for Coats and Clark's Thread.
This one is for Wilcox and Gibbs Sewing Machines. The company was located at 720 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia, PA. I wonder if that address is still there.
The two above are for Willmantic Thread. I have never heard of this brand of thread. Have you?

The one above is very pretty and has an old treadle machine like the one Grandma taught me to sew on. Just seeing that machine brought back a lot of memories.

Kerr & Co's six strand thread. Black is fast dyed, which means it won't run and it is specially adapted for all sewing machines.
J.P. Coats. This is the brand that Grandma and Mom used when I was young. Coats colored thread was guaranteed not to fade. It was the best thread available here at that time. However, I'm wondering if this advertisement is politically incorrect. I'd love to hear your opinion.
Clark's thread. That was another good one. If Coat's wasn't available, then Grandma and Mom bought Clark's but much preferred Coats. I think that the two companies amalgamated at some point. Both were good thread. Coats & Clark have a website HERE.

Belding Bros. & Co's Spool Silk Advertisement.

These types of vintage advertisements appeal to me a great deal. Possibly it's because I know the product, but advertising in those days was a form of art. I wish that today's advertising was more like it was back then, instead of being full of sexual innuendos and stupid men that pretend they are cats. I tend to avoid products that use that type of advertising. What about you? ~Blessing, Mary~

Monday, February 16

Home School Open House Quiz and Giveaway

Tammy at Lattes and Lollipops invited me to take part in the Home School Open House. She mentioned that I might like to focus on black history, since February is Black History Month.

I've made up a little black history quiz for the kids and their parents or caregivers to have some fun with. The winner will receive a copy of 7 Secrets of Highly Successful Kids by Peter Kuitenbrouwer. Adults are welcome to play along.

1. Booker T. Washington was a famous educator and author and the first black person to have his likeness appear on a postage stamp. The stamp portraying Washington was issued in 1940 by the United States Postal Service - 93 years after the first postage stamp was issued.
Question: What year was the first postage stamp issued?

2. Harriet Tubman was born into slavery in 1820. She worked as a spy during the Civil War and was an abolishionist. She made a total of thirteen missions into the South to lead over seventy slaves to freedom.

What nickname was given to Harriet Tubman for her role in leading her people to freedom?

3. Mary Ann Shadd Cary first lived in the United States and then immigrated to Canada. Mary Ann became the first female newspaper editor in that country.

What was the name of the newspaper that she established?

4. Frederick Douglas was born into slavery in 1818. He believed that all people were created equal and worked to abolish slavery. He was the first African American nominated as a Vice Presidential candidate on the Equal Rights Party ticket.

On what special day was Frederick Douglas born?

5. Barack Obama was elected President of the United States on November 4, 2008 and was inaugurated on January 20, 2009. Write a paragraph, in your own words, telling me if you saw the inauguration on TV and what historical milestone was reached.

Have fun with the quiz and please post your answers in the comments. I will announce the winner of the book on Friday. Be sure to get your answers in by Thursday at midnight EST. An adult is allowed to help. All of the answers can be found online.

Sunday, February 15

A Day in the Life of a Taxi Driver


I've been asked to tell a few tales from my life as a taxi driver. Some of the tales aren't fit to tell. The life of a taxi driver is not an easy one. You have to put up with all kinds of people. You meet people from all walks of life and from all cultures. You are really vunerable, especially on the swing or night shifts.

I began driving taxi in 1982. First I drove in a little town not far from here. Then, I decided to get a taxi licence in the city I lived in. I succeeded the first try and yes, you do have to take an examination and have a perfect driving record.

In 1984, I bought a used car and took on the life of an owner-operator taxi driver. That meant all the money taken in was mine. Now that might sound great, but there was the taxi licence to pay for, weekly rent to the taxi office, which paid for the calls I received and also for having use of their name, radio and taxi light that was placed on the roof of my car. It could be taken off when using it for a private vehicle. It was attached by bungee cords. The other thing required was commercial insurance. At that time it went for $2000 a year. Big payments for a small town cabbie.

So that gives you some idea of what I went through just to get started. I worked the swing shift, which started at 11am and ended the next morning at 2am. Yes, they were 15 hour shifts. If things were slow, someone could book off early, but at that time I was a single mother and usually stayed. If it was busy, I would stay beyond my shift in order to bring in a few extra dollars.

A police call is a call that the dispatcher sends out to you when the police are involved and it seemed that I was always in the place to take these calls. Everyone hated them. You are going to pick up someone that has been involved with the police. He hasn't been arrested but usually has been charged. He often has been drinking and the police are sending him home by taxi. He's in a foul mood to begin with and not always easy to handle.

The call I'm going to tell you about today, was not a police call. It was a call where I picked up two elderly men. They were inebriated and were calling me names, laughing and being rather cruel. They wouldn't keep their hands off me, which is something I didn't tolerate. We came to a main intersection and I had had enough. I slammed on the brakes. I do mean slammed. The head of the man in the front seat bounced off the dashboard and the man in the backseat slammed against the passenger front seat.

I shoved the car into park, turned off the ignition, opened my door, got out, went around the car and opened the door. "Out," I said.

"But you can't throw us out," the man mumbled in a drunken voice.

"I can and I am," I declared. "You got five seconds to get your butts out of the car or I'm calling the police."

The men vacated the car and though I didn't get paid, it was worth it to just get rid of them. I wasn't about to take that kind of abuse from anyone and certainly not from a couple of drunken old men.

Another time, I will share another experience I had that was just a little more dangerous than this one. I could actually write a book, but wouldn't want my friends to read it because of the mature content.

Hope you enjoyed this peek into my life as a taxi driver. Have a great week and remember to take time for yourself. ~Blessings, Mary~