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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

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!

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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.

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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.

Brass band by a coffee shop

Brass band by a coffee shop

Carol singing in the mall.

Carol singing in the mall.

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.

Before the performance

Before the performance

Dancing n the town square

Dancing n the town square

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.

The Nativity scene made up of children

The Nativity scene made up of children

Guess what part of the Nativity Ana Lucia was

With my favourite sheep from the nativity scene

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.

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A special visitor

A special visitor

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.

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Mom with her great granddaughter and great great granddaughter.

Mom with her great granddaughter and great great granddaughter.

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.

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What´s not to love about this guy!

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Getting a kiss from an alpaca

Getting a kiss from an alpaca

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The wee ones

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Daughter, her partner and his daughter. Love my family!

Daughter, her partner and his daughter at the alpaca farm . Love my family!

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:

http://paradiseislandalpacas.weebly.com/

and here is a great video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPPW0_cJXRw

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.

Grandmother

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.

Gramma & Grampa Mehrer

Grandma and Grandpa with their  six children taken in 1950. My mom is standing next to Grandma.

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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.

Page in the family history book

Page in the family history book

 

 

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.)

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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?

Tonsiles, Darlene

 

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.

Great-grandparents Andreas and Katerina Mehrer and family

Great-grandparents Andreas and Katharina Mehrer and their children

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

April 1912
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.

Mom and her Uncle Paul

Mom and her Uncle Paul

Great Uncle Paul with a team of horses

Great Uncle Paul with a team of horses

The barn on the homestead painted by Great Aunt Hilda

The barn on the homestead, painted by Great Aunt Hilda

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?

11071564_10153267314708936_3092559696858088784_n[1] (2) A couple of posts ago I showed this picture of my great grandparents, Henry and Katharina Hoffman taken when they arrived in Canada in 1909. They came from South Russia with three children, had one on the way to the homestead in Alberta (my grandmother) and had seven more once settled. 11659330_398384047028968_6797137594108185426_n This picture was taken much later with the surviving children. My grandmother is standing, third from the right. 11659330_398384040362302_2468084364640730572_n This picture of Great Grandmother and Great Grandfather Hoffman at their 50th Anniversary, in 1954, shows all the children and their spouses. My grandparents are the second couple on the right. The only one still with us is Great Uncle Tony, married to my grandmother´s sister Ann. (First couple on the left) The descendants of these brave, hardworking people have been meeting every five years for the past 30 years at The Hoffman Reunion. The reunions are organized by a different family group each time. This year the reunion was organized by the Raymond Becker family, descendants of Great Aunt Lindina, one of the little girls on the original picture. It is a lot of work and they did a great job. I am so glad I crossed the Atlantic to attend.

Descendants of Henry and Katherine Hoffman at the 2015 reunion

Descendants of Henry and Katharina Hoffman at the 2015 reunion

It was so great to see all my many cousins, aunts and uncles.  We ate fabulous German food, caught up on news, reminisced, played cards and board games, looked at old pictures, shared hugs and ate some more. Being together was all that mattered.  Family pictures were taken and loved ones no longer with us fondly remembered.  I brought my 14 year old  grandson and my 8 year old great granddaughter, who had a fabulous time. I was able to take mom out of the nursing home for a couple of hours to attend. At 86 she was almost the oldest person there. 136 attended this reunion; out of over 250 descendants spread all over the world, that is a good turn out. The youngest was 11 days old, the oldest 91.

My great granddaughter with my cousin´s granddaughter. We think they are 5th cousins

My great granddaughter with my cousin´s granddaughter, 5th cousins.

Mom with her brother and sister

Mom with her brother and sister

Great Uncle tony at 91 with some of his family

My Great Uncle Tony, at 91, with some of his family

A popular event, after the German meal and Hoffman Olympics, is the silent auction.  Family members donate items and others bid on them to raise funds for the next reunion in five years.  The bidding is fierce as everyone vies for cherished items such as hand knitted afghans, homemade wine, jams, pickles and many other treasures.  There is much friendly competition, no one gets hurt and most leave with something to take home.

Hoffman Olympics sack race

Hoffman Olympics sack race

Emma making a home run at the baseball game

Emma making a home run at the baseball game

Fun and games

Fun and games

You can see my great granddaughter had a lot of fun and met many relatives she didn’t´t know she had.

Lining up to eat (again)

Lining up to eat (again)

Everyone takes turns cooking

Everyone takes turns cooking

Memories

Memories

Every time I attend these events, I feel so blessed to belong to such a large loving family that stays in touch with each other, no matter where we live.

Some of my grandmother´s family

Some of my grandmother´s family

Sharing fond memories with cousins

Sharing fond memories with cousins

Someone made a special cake Note: not all the pictures were taken by me. Some were taken by cousins!


Amanda in Alberta

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Amanda in Spain

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Amanda in England

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Amanda in Alberta

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Pig on Trial

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