Archive for the ‘Family’ Category
At the beginning of this month we were blessed with a visit from home! My Aunt (mom’s sister) and her husband from Taber, Alberta and my cousin from Parksville, BC had been visiting my uncle’s relatives in Holland and took a side trip to Spain just to see us. We packed in as much as we could in four days. Since this was the first time for all of them to visit Spain, we tried to give them a good taste of our Spanish life. We ate churros, tapas, Spanish chocolate and paella, took a bus to an historic Roman/Carthaginian city, a boat trip around the bay of Cartagena, drove into the country, walked along the Mediterranean, enjoyed a family barbecue and attended a May Fiesta. My cousin couldn’t stop taking pictures.
Dinner at The Nautilus overlooking the Mediterranean. Every one enjoyed their meal and first view of the Med.
We had an enjoyable visit to the two thousand year old city of Cartagena. Evidence of its rich Carthaginian and Roman history is everywhere. Still considered an important naval base and shipyard, it is now also a stop for large cruise ships.We took a boat trip around the harbour to view the old walls of the fortress. The city has amazing architecture and a lovely pedestrian shopping area with many bronze sculptures waiting to be photographed. The bit of rain didn’t dampen our spirits as we explored this interesting place only forty minutes from were we live.
We stopped for lunch at a Valor Coffee Shop. Valor makes the best chocolate in Spain. You may recall my visit to the Valor Chocolate Factory last fall. Here is the post if you wish to know more. Our meal was delicious and included chocolate, of course! We finished with churros dipped in what else – chocolate, a Spanish tradition which they loved.
We also found some Roman ruins including an amphitheatre. An excellent day filled with history, architecture, the sea and chocolate!! My aunt purchased a spoon for her collection and my uncle a hat with Spain on it. Everyone returned happy.
Another day we took a drive into the country, through traditional Spanish villages, past lemon and orange groves and the occasional flock of sheep. A trip to Spain would not be complete without trying the tradition of tapas, so that’s what we had for lunch. The quests enjoyed the wide selection of small tasty treats. Something for everyone. That evening we had a barbecue at our place with my in-laws. A nice family gathering which included my home made paella and my mother-in-law’s trifle.
Their visit coincided with the Torrevieja May Fiesta, called Feria de Sevillanas. We were able to take them to enjoy this very popular fiesta featuring the traditions of Andalucia. My Canadian visitors were delighted to see women of all ages dressed in colourful, flamenco dresses and white mantillas. We strolled through the marquees and fun fair, watched paella being made and enjoyed the parade of dancers, Andalusian horses, riders and horse drawn carriages. My cousin sampled her first sangria with lunch on the esplanade.
My Aunt will return with a report to mom that all is well with me and my new life. She kept saying, “This is so wonderful, I’m so glad we came.” I am so glad they came as well!!
We were recently invited for lunch to the home of a distant relative of mine. Beth was born in Canada, married a handsome Spanish doctor and moved to Spain over forty years ago. They live in a three hundred year old home, owned by Vince’s family since 1941, when his grandfather purchased it. The house sits on an olive farm, or finca, and contains the original olive press which was operational up until the early 1970s. The living quarters have been modernized but much of it is still the original. There are many nooks and crannies filled with historical objects. It’s like living in a museum. In the kitchen is the original clay oven which Beth uses occasionally to make delicious roast lamb and potatoes.
Earthenware jugs, used to store olive oil, hide in one small room along with the metal measuring cup and funnel used to fill containers brought by customers. In another room, off the living area, the three hundred year old press sits as if waiting for the horse to walk around and around dragging the mill stone once again. The bags used to bring the olives in from the fields are still there as well.
In the yard sits an old pony cart. Vince recalls riding into Alicante on that very cart with his father. A trip that takes about ten minutes by car now, took an hour and a half each way then.
The ground floor, now the main living area, was where the animals were once kept. The family lived on the second and third floors. When renovating the house before moving into it fifteen years ago, they discovered a well in what is now the sitting room. It is still there but covered over. It may make a good wine cellar one day.
The attached goat house is also filled with interesting items including an old Spanish saddle.
Vince gave us a great tour of the house and property and was proud to share his heritage. We were treated to a fabulous meal in front of the original fireplace. I couldn’t help thinking about all the meals that had been shared in this house over the years. I’m sure the same warm hospitality we experienced has been extended to many over the centuries. I was so happy to know I have family here in Spain!
This will be our second Christmas in Spain. Last year our boxes hadn´t arrived so we decided not to decorate the place we were renting. (The first time in my life I didn´t decorate for Christmas) This year we have our own place and hubby cleverly packed some Christmas lights in his boxes. He went all out and decorated the terrace and even the palm tree. Ours is the only place on the block decorated and the neighbours love it!
We bought a small artificial Christmas tree (another first). I then realized I didn´t pack any ornaments. They went to our daughter´s place so they are in good hands. So I picked up a few things at the local dollar store and decorated it. I think it looks cheerful and makes the place very cosy.
Christmas in Spain is not the crazy commercial event it is in North America. The malls are decorated for Christmas but are very quiet with tons of parking spaces and no line ups at the tills. It didn´t seem right. I wanted to scream, “What is wrong with you people? Don´t you know it is only two weeks before Christmas??” Then I remembered, that is why we moved here. So we joined the others and relaxed over a cafe con leche.
There are many Christmas Fayres, brass bands playing around town and carol sings. Most events are in support of a charity. We attended a fun Christmas Fayre in a small town square last weekend and watched our wonderful eight-year-old friend, Ana Lucia, dance.
She was also part of the Nativity scene that assembled as a talented man sang “When A Child is Born.” It was very moving and made me feel full of the Christmas spirit.
Our young friend came for a visit with her parents to see the Christmas lights, the tree and sample some Christmas baking. She sends a Christmas greeting to my family and friends in Canada and all over the world! It just isn´t Christmas without kids and I´m so happy we have Ana Lucia in our lives. She is bi-lingual and helps me with my Spanish too.
I Skyped with my soon to be 87 year-old mom last week from her room at the retirement home. My brother set it up for her and my lovely granddaughter arranged it. My grandson and great granddaughter were there as well. My son stopped in for a surprise visit and we had a Skype party. It was great to see Mom so happy. The next evening my granddaughter and great granddaughter attended the Christmas dinner with mom at the home. Mom had a great time, as you can see, and enjoyed a glass of wine.
I am enjoying Christmas on both sides of the Atlantic. There is so much joy in my life my heart is bursting.
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas full of Joy and Peace!!
Gabriola Island is a wonderful place to visit and since my daughter lives on a nearby island, I have had many opportunities to spend time on this peaceful paradise. On one occasion we visited an alpaca farm, much to my delight. I love camels and llamas; and alpacas are also part of the family of camelids. I was surprised to find that these creatures are so unique and loveable, with individual personalities. Here are a few pictures from my visit to these delightful creatures prized for their fine wool.
Children who love animals volunteer at the farm and are happy to show you around. You can purchase lovely alpaca hand made items in the shop.To learn more about Paradise Island Alpacas here is the website:
and here is a great video:
Have you been to a farm with unique animals?
I don´t consider myself a poet. I have far to much respect for poets to include myself as one of them. But I once composed a poem about my dear grandmother, although not that good, conveys how I felt about her. A cousin found it in a family history book and sent it to me recently. I thought I would share it.
I feel her blood running through my veins
I see her in my dreams
In my daughter´s determination
She often comes to mind
when I am baking
I still feel her soft warm hugs
Hear her reassuring words
Letting me know I am loved
I feel her frustrations
Dreams that didn´t work out
The power of her love for her family
The lack of love for herself
Her confusion enters my mind
Her craziness stirs my soul
We lost so much when she left us
She left us with so much
Darlene Foster, 1999
My grandmother, Lydia (Hoffman) Mehrer, was born in 1910 and passed away in 1978 at only 68 years old. I loved her so much and miss her everyday.
A picture of her and my grandfather shortly after they married in 1928. Grandpa kept this picture in his wallet for years. I have a copy hanging in my office above my computer to keep me going.
Grandma and Grandpa with their six children taken in 1950. My mom is standing next to Grandma.
I was the first of her 32 grandchildren. She was a wonderful grandmother who loved us unconditionally and made us all feel special. I consider myself blessed to have had her in my life.
My children and grandchildren still have them; but there are not many my age that are still in possession of their tonsils. For some reason, they were removed when we were children. I was about twelve years old when my younger brother had to have his tonsils surgically removed, so the doctor suggested we all have it done. Did we get a family discount?
I remembered overhearing a story about a child who bled to death during his tonsillectomy. So when it was my turn, I was convinced I would have the same sad fate and was very frightened. Coming out of the anaesthetic, I saw a blurry image of my mother bending over me touching my wrist. I guess she had the same concern.
Having survived the operation, I did what any aspiring writer would do; wrote a letter to my aunt who was my age, and my best friend. She had undergone the same operation a few months earlier. She has, amazingly, found the letter I had written to her. (I love that our family saves things like this.)
I no longer have readable penmanship. However, I still have terrible spelling and use the word lucky a lot.
Do you still have your tonsils? Do you remember having them removed?
I shared information about my mother´s mother´s family (Hoffman) so I think it only fair I share something of my mother´s father´s side of the family (Mehrer). Both families were German immigrant farmers from South Russia and came to Canada at the beginning of the 20th century to help populate and develop the prairie provinces.
While in Calgary last month I stopped in to visit my grandfather’s only living sister, Meta, and her husband Lex. They still live in their own home and put out a garden every year. At 91, Great Aunt Meta is in great shape and shared a wonderful story about her parents, my great grandparents, when they first settled on the homestead in southern Alberta.
As told to me by Meta (Mehrer) Davis
Father was out turning sod, when he had some trouble with the horses. He called to Mother, who came across the road, leaving the little ones in the house, thinking she would only be a few minutes. It took a long time before she returned – to an empty house. Panic-stricken she rushed out, calling the little ones but all that greeted her was silence. After searching the yard she returned to the house wondering what she could say to their father.
In the Kitchen, on one of the walls there were six large hooks on which to hang heavy garments. On one of these hooks hung the long, black wool coat that Dad had brought from Europe. A long bench sat underneath. As she entered the kitchen she noticed a slight movement of the coat. She pulled it to one side and there sat four little people, sleeping and perspiring. John holding the baby and a little girl on each side of him.
He explained to his mother that she was gone so long that he decided to keep them safe in case someone came to take them away.
Note: It was not uncommon for children to be abducted in Europe in the 1800s and John had heard these stories. Their ages at the time Baby (Frieda) one year old, Martha 2 ½ years, Beth 4 years and John 5 ½ years.
It was my dear grandfather, John, who protected his siblings all those years ago. He is the gentleman sitting on the far left in the family picture. Aunt Meta is standing beside him. He married my grandmother, had six children, thirty-two grandchildren and many great grandchildren. I remember him as a kind and caring man, always making sure his family was safe.
I also had the opportunity to visit my grandfather´s only surviving brother, Great Uncle Paul. (He is the little boy between the great grandparents in the family picture above). He is 86 years old, the same age as Mom. He also lives in the same care home as my mom so she gets to see him often. He, along with his brother, Great Uncle Andrew, farmed the original homestead, until fairly recently. He also had many interesting stories to tell me.
I wrote about the 100 year celebration of the Mehrer family here if you wish to learn more about this side of the family.
It was so wonderful to spend time with my grandfather´s siblings and hear stories about him and the family. I just wish I had spent more time with him when he was with us, as Grandpa loved to share stories.
Do you have any old timers in the family that enjoy sharing stories of the past?