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I can’t believe it has been over four months since we welcomed our dog, Dot into our lives. It’s as if she has always been here. Although she was quite nervous at first, she has settled into living in an urban setting. I wrote about driving to the Andalucian mountains to get her here.

Like parents of a newborn, we have taken tons of pictures of her. Here are a few. Believe me, it was hard to narrow it down.

Enjoying her new toy.

Enjoying her new toy, but what she really likes to play with are our socks!.

She also likes playing with her ball with her new dad

She also likes playing with her ball

Please, dad, can you throw it again

Please, dad, can you throw the ball again?

She enjoys going to the beach

She enjoys going for walks on the beach

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But doesn't like to get her feet wet

But she doesn’t like to get her feet wet

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Sometimes she meets another dog at the beach and gets to play

Sometimes she meets another dog at the beach and gets to play

A play date with Havane, a Spaniel from France

A special play date with Havane, her friend from France

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She loves to play with other dogs.

Dot is popular with the neighbourhood children who bring her treats

Dot is popular with the neighbourhood children who bring her treats

She loves our special friend!

Our special young friend is a good buddy

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She loves her dad!

She sure loves her dad!

and she loves her mom too.

and she loves her mom too. She goes with us just about everywhere we go.

You can see she is quite a character and keeps us busy. Whatever did we do without her?

Today I am a special guest on Sally Cronin´s Living History blog. I hope you enjoy the story of my two great-grandmothers.

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

Living HistoryAuthor Darlene Foster shares the story of two great-grandmothers who despite the hardships they faced, worked tirelessly to give their families a home and provide them with the tools needed to survive and thrive.

darleneA Tale of Two Katharinas, a Legacy of Strong Women

“People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors.”Edmund Burke

I was fortunate to know both of my maternal great-grandmothers. They passed away when I was in my early teens but I remember them well. They were formidable elderly women with hearts of gold. One thing was for sure, you didn´t mess with either of them.

Both women were born into German immigrant farmer families living in South Russia and came to Canada at the beginning of the 20th century to help populate and develop the Prairie Provinces. They certainly did their part in populating the area as they had twenty-four…

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This week we said goodbye to a much-loved member of our family. Paul Frank Mehrer, my grandfather’s youngest brother, passed away at aged eighty-seven. The same age as my mother, they were always very close and lived in the same care home the past two years. It was always a pleasure to stop in for a visit and listen to his wonderful stories whenever I was in town to see mom.

 

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Mom and her uncle during my visit last summer

Uncle Paul was born on his parent’s farm on March 1, 1929, the youngest of twelve children. He spent most of his life on the homestead, farming it with his older brother Andrew when their parents retired to the city and continuing after they passed away. The place, near Hilda, on the Alberta-Saskatchewan border, was close to the farm my family lived on when I was a child. I recall the days of the threshing crews when my dad would help bring in their crop and the uncles would help dad in return. Mom would make a huge meal for the crew at the end of the hard working day. I can still hear the buzz at supper as stories were shared around the table. Uncle Paul, the shyer of the two uncles, didn´t say much then, but when he did it was interesting. He was always very nice to a little kid like me.

Great-grandparents Andreas and Katerina Mehrer and family

Uncle Paul is the little boy between his parents

He experienced all kinds of disasters his years on the farm; drought, hail, grasshoppers and severe storms. He tells a story of a time when a terrible storm hit, destroying a garage, two sheds, an oil shed and some corrals. He and his brother were afraid the mobile home they lived in would be destroyed as well and kept fully dressed in case they had to exit quickly. His main concern was for the animals and was happy to discover the pony had found refuge behind a combine and the two dogs took shelter behind the propane tank. It took all summer to repair the damage. Like many of his generation, he didn´t venture far from the farm. He did, however, spend a few weeks working on a nearby ranch, where he learned to round up cattle from the hills, ride over washouts and manoeuvre his horse on narrow trails. He also participated in an eight-mile cattle drive which he enjoyed. Uncle Paul loved his horses and rode whenever he had a chance.

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His horses were a very important part of his life.

He was a bachelor until age seventy-five. He retired and moved into St. Joseph’s Retirement Home where he met his love, Bertha. They married in 2004. His only wish was that his parents could have been at the wedding. They enjoyed the years they spent together until Bertha’s passing in 2013. Proof that true love isn´t just for the young. It is never too late to find the right person.

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Uncle Paul and Aunt Bertha, happily married.

Great-Uncle Paul was a kind man, who always had time for his many nieces and nephews. My daughter, his great-great-niece, visited him a couple of months ago and he immediately knew who she was. Everyone loved to spend time with him as he always had such interesting stories to tell about the old days. During my last visit, he regaled me with a story about my dad and how he could tell how many cows were in a field at a glance. Those old cowboy stories are like gold to me.  There are so few of his kind left to share these stories with us.

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Uncle Paul and his sister Aunt Meta at the 100 years in Canada celebration in 2011

Great-Uncle Paul was the last of my maternal grandfather´s brothers. We still have one of his sisters, Great Aunt Meta, at 92. It saddens me to see this generation disappearing but I am also happy to have had these remarkable people in my life. I am sure Uncle Paul is sharing stories with his brothers at this very moment. Rest in peace dear Uncle Paul.

Two weeks ago we took a drive to Malaga on the Costa del Sol and drove up into the mountains to the small village of Sedelia. We encountered stunning scenery along the twisting road, a small church and a traffic jam, of goats!

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A typical traffic jam in the Andalusian mountains

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medieval bridge in the mountains

Medieval bridge in the mountains

Tiny church in the middle of nowhere

Tiny church in the middle of nowhere

We stayed in a lovely bed and breakfast with a stunning view and had dinner at a cosy restaurant in town. It was all very picturesque and a nice little get-away.

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A room with a view

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Restaurante Lurena, excellent food

The village of Sedilia

The village of Sedilia

Can´t get enough of these charming mountain villages

Can´t get enough of these charming mountain village streets

There was a reason for the trip though and that was to meet Dot, an eight-month-old Bodeguero. Dot came home with us and is now part of our family.

Dot didn´t make a sound on the five hour car ride to her new home.

Dot didn´t make a sound during the five-hour car ride to her new home.

Dot was quite shy at first as she lived in the mountains with an elderly man so was not used to people, traffic and houses. But she has settled in well and makes friends easily. (both the human kind and the canine kind)

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She loves going for walks and car rides! On the weekend we took her to a car show and she was very well-behaved.

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She makes friends everywhere we go. She loves to go for coffee with us and is a big hit at all the coffee shops.

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We took a drive in the car to a biker bar for tapas. Dot made friends with a boxer. (the canine type)

A Spanish biker bar.

A Spanish biker bar.

Making friends

Making friends

Relaxing on the terrace

Relaxing on the terrace

What do you think? Is she settling in and at home with us? Did we make a good choice?

In case you are wondering, she was already named Dot because of the large black dot on her back. I like to think it is from the delightful children´s book by Peter Reynolds, The Dot . You knew there had to be a literary reference!

 

Hugh’s Views and News challenged us to post a photo of something ‘Vintage.’

 

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I took a picture of this vintage photo given to me by my great aunt. It was taken in the early 1900s. On the back, in handwriting, it says, “The Old Maids,” a term used for unmarried women at the time. According to my aunt, these two women were my great grandfather’s cousins from North Dakota. There is also something written in German in faded ink, but I don’t know what it means. No one seems to know their names and those who did are long gone. I am intrigued by them and feel they have a story to tell. One day, I plan to write a story and give them names. Thanks for this challenge Hugh.

Check out Hugh’s Views and News and join the photo challenge fun.

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.

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Happy to be with  family and show them around my corner of Spain

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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.

My cousin meeting a friendly sailor

My cousin meeting a friendly sailor

Aunt and Uncle making a freind

Aunt and Uncle making a friend

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Croissants filed with strawberries, bananas and chocolate. Yummy!

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.

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My outgoing cousin soon made friends with Romans wandering the streets.

 

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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.

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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.

Aunt Peggy at the tapas bar.

Aunt Peggy at the tapas bar.

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.

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All ages get in the spirit of the fiesta

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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!!

Breakfast at my home in Spain. Love my family!

Breakfast at my home in Spain. Love my family!

Finca Lo Reig

Finca Lo Reig

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.

Original clay oven in the kitchen

Original clay oven in the kitchen

Clay oven outside

Clay oven from the outside

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.

Olive oil jugs

Olive oil containers

Measuring cup and funnel

Measuring cup and funnel

300 year old olive press

300 year old olive press

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.

Pony cart

Pony cart

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.

Sitting room with original tiles on the wall. A well is under the corner cabinet.

Sitting room with original tiles on the wall. A well is under the corner cabinet.

The wood beamed ceiling

The wood beamed ceiling and chandelier

The attached goat house is also filled with interesting items including an old Spanish saddle.

corral and goat house

Corral and goat house

Spanish saddle

Spanish saddle

I love the windowsills. Do you see Don Quixote hiding there?

I love the windowsills. Do you see Don Quixote hiding there?

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!

Family in Spain

Family in Spain


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