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Antique Children’s Book, Part 1: Kitty, Polly Parrot, and Cubby Bear

We’re taking a break from Nerdy Mom for today, to introduce you to the Antique Children’s Book my parents found among their inherited things. It is surmised to be a book that belonged to my mom’s dad when he was a child, so it’s getting on towards a hundred years old. And it’s more than a hundred percent bizarre.

This is the title: Animal Cutes.

antique children's animal book
Animal Cutes, for the animal at heart.

They can’t say “Cute Animals” because I’m afraid these animals just are not. That’s in spite of the eye roll I’m sure this kitty thought would be enchanting, along with its darling checkered jacket and blue bow. Then again, perhaps that bow is just tied way too tight, and this is actually a portrait of asphyxiation. Kinda like flowery children’s songs that are actually about the plague.

antique children's animal book parrot
Pretty Polly PARROT, perched at rest, Says “Hurry up and bring me my breakfast.”

This parrot looks jolly Scottish in the tam-o’-shanter and vest, but as above, I’m not sure “pretty” is in the cards for Polly. “Haggard” and “oppressed” come to mind more easily. She’s out of her cage but still chained to her perch, waiting for the right moment to snap that chain with her beak and make her getaway. “Breakfast” is the code word. It’s too bad she was ill-advised on the outfit, since Scots parrots are incongruous in any crowd.

antique children's book cubby bear
Cubby BEAR, all dressed in colors gay, Goes to Cubtown, in the woods, to play.

Okay, maybe Cubby is kinda cute. Those cheerful honeybee stripes… the festive tambourine… The look that says, “Bye, Mom! I’m off to the woods, nothing but gaily gadding about!” Mama Bear thinks it’s a picnic. Little does she know that Cubtown is a cult, and they’ve just set the forest on fire. And you don’t want to know what they do with those tambourines.

Turns out I’m still nerdy. Whadaya know. NaBloPoMo Day 7, signing off.

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100 Happy Days – Day 26: Purrr…

My poor kitties.

They are litter-mates. We got them in 2004 when they were wee kittens – Ramona the adventurous one, and Nicodemus the scaredy-cat. They used to wrestle hilariously and then fall asleep on top of each other.

Then, when we moved to our house in 2007, there was A TERRIBLE DISASTER. They were displaced to this completely foreign new home, travelling in the same cat carrier and… one of them peed. (It had to be Nico.) So then we had to “rinse them off” – or, in their eyes, “give them a taste of the Special Hell” – as soon as they arrived.

They were disoriented, furious, and humiliated. For the next two weeks, Ramona would not let Nico wander freely – she terrified him into the dark corners of the basement with her sheer imperiousness.

In the many years since then, she has not thawed much. They are basically never nice to each other, and usually only tolerate being in the same room if there are treats.

When I see them sharing a cozy space like this… I feel joy. By today’s standards, this is practically cuddling.

snuggly cats

 

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Autumnal Adventures, Part 1: Picking Apples and Petting Animals

It says a lot about autumn’s charisma that I still love it even though it means the end of summer. I adore the open windows, bare feet, long evenings, singing crickets, and picnic-table dinners of summer. But then there are fresh apples, brilliant leaves, woodsmoke, and cozy sweaters, so it all works out.

In the case of the Sunday we went to Westfield Heritage Village and Myers Apple Farm, it was actually not sweater weather, it was gorgeous summery weather. PLUS the autumn colours. Awesome.

It was one of a series of Harvest Sundays at the Village, with animators in period costumes, speaking in first-person (with only a few li’l anachronisms) about their lives as settlers.

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What a beautiful day for some high-quality heritage.

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A wee corn-husk doll from the small building known to have housed an Aboriginal family.

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Sometimes I think about having no such thing as plumbing. I am very grateful for plumbing.

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Remember how this post is partly about petting animals? Some of the animals were actually just skins with heads.

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Fun fact: this church had to be cut into pieces to be transported to the Village from Mountsberg. It’s been nicely reassembled.

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Ticket from the Jerseyville train station! Which was operational until the ’60s. (It also served as Avonlea train station in Kevin Sullivan’s productions of “Anne of Green Gables” and “Road to Avonlea”.)IMG_7142

Ahh. So picturesque that I had to take pictures.

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The druggist was the most interesting stop on the tour. He demonstrated how he made capsules and moulded pills; he showed how the turnkey works for pulling out teeth; and he explained all about the morphine, cocaine, and heroin that were used for pain management. In the good old days.

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In the caboose! No seat belts.

It’s a really nice time. They are open this Thanksgiving weekend too, if you live in the GHA or Wellington County.

And bonus – just down the road, you can pick apples!

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What a beautiful day for apple-picking. (And it really was – practically everyone went apple-picking that day. Or at least two other parties I know of.) And delicious apples they are, too. Empires and Spartans.

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There are also goats, chickens, sheep, kittens, etc., that are pretty friendly.

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AND, the best part of this whole day, which AB repeated to everyone who came close enough to hear: “THE BIG HORSE PEED!”

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I think she thought she might get lucky enough to see a mini horse pee too. No such luck though.

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Why is parenting so effing hard?

I think I may have sounded, in yesterday’s post, like life with my kids is idyllic and wonderful and effortless. I was glad to have the writing to focus me on the parts I love about this parenting gig, because yesterday was actually a rather difficult parenting day.

How is it okay that the most intricate, least predictable, most emotionally draining, least perfectable job in the world HAS NO MANUAL? No training, no license – just do it. Just make it happen. RAISE THOSE KIDS.

I mean, people offer classes you can take. Experts have written books you can call manuals – but my daughter didn’t come with one for her. I read manuals I consider very wise and useful, and still, I’m full of questions every minute.

Like, why is my baby waking up when she’s still so tired? Why does she fall asleep and then her eyes pop open as if she’s ready to go? Why, when I can see that sleep-window opening, is it still so hard to get her to sleep sometimes? And even harder, the more tired she gets? SHOULDN’T SLEEPING BE ALL BUILT-IN AND WHATNOT?

And as it turns out, my three-year-old provokes even more questions… Why does he retain every syllable he hears about cars and Smarties and friggin’ leatherback turtles (if Diego talks about it), and then release to oblivion every word I tell him about the dangers of choking if you run around while eating? Why does he insist on the whiny voice even though it doesn’t get him good results? Why won’t he try just ONE TINY BITE of something OFF the list of thirty separate foods that must be consumed separately? Why does he wake up, baby-like, before he’s done sleeping? Why is he being a turkey and doing exactly what we just told him not to, when we RAISED HIM BETTER THAN THIS? Why is he not listening again?? IS THIS NORMAL???

If it seems like I’m overusing my caps lock all of a sudden, too bad. Those are the CAPS that go through a mom’s head when she’s trying to keep her voice reasonable, confident, and loving, so that the baby/three-year-old will think you know what you’re doing.

As I’ve said before, at least we know why they’re so cute-looking. Keeps us from stuffing them into small soundproof spaces that latch from the outside.

Let’s not forget the questions for – and about – myself. Why didn’t my maternal instincts cover this? Why wasn’t this technique part of my womanly intuition? Why did I sign up for this again? Why am I not better at this? How does ANYONE do this with MORE THAN TWO CHILDREN??

I know, I need to loosen up. Sean and I were discussing the other great primates and how they do things – they seem pretty laid-back about parenting. They go with the flow. They’re ALL instinct, and it works just fine.

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Photo by bartdubelaar

Of course, they don’t have dishes to do, they don’t have to make sure they have a clean nursing bra, their older kid is fine by himself because he’s supposed to be a crazy ape anyway, there are no diapers, no toys underfoot, no grocery shopping… and no addictive NaBloPoMo blogs to read. (Darn you, you fascinating people.)

Maybe if I had a clingy-fingered baby and lots of chest and back hair, I could find a way to be supa-chill about this whole parenting thing too.

Of course, in that case, I’d probably have a few other issues.

Being human is so complicated.

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P.S. Now my daughter is smiling at me, ridiculously fetching. …What was I upset about again?


 

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Apple Farms: Almost as good as the fair.

Last weekend, we went to the apple farm with Papa and Auntie Em. I was hoping for a late Pick-Your-Own opportunity, but the farmers said that since the frost, they weren’t recommending picking from the trees. (Even though the apples on the trees looked beautiful to us.)

E and Mommy at the apple farm

We sold E on the outing by telling him there would be animals there. And indeed there were! Though he didn’t care much about the apples, he did get very excited about the horses, the rabbits, the pigs, the chickens… and the tractors. (Well, truthfully, he was a little scared of the horses.)

horse at the apple farm

E at the apple farm

lop-eared rabbits

When Daddy and our friend K arrived, having been on another errand, E ran around excitedly, telling them, “I’ll show you the chickens, okay? I’ll show you the tractors, okay?” He’s big on showing people stuff. As soon as you show him something, he’ll turn around and show you, as if he discovered it. We humour him because it’s so cute when he makes his eyes really big.

We’re glad we live in a region with lots of agriculture, where we not only have a local farmers’ market but lots of smaller places you can get fresh-from-the-ground produce. E likes seeing vegetables he recognizes, and he enjoys the ambience in general. (Last time we went to the market in town, he was heard to say, from his vantage point on my back, “It’s lovely at the market!”)

So this was a pretty cool adventure. Good ol’ autumnal family fun.

Naturally, E zonked right out on the way home. Thanks for the photos, Emi!

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What a cool planet.

Here is one thing I love about this time of year, one aspect of November that never fails to uplift me when I catch sight of it: the dizzying, humbling spectacle of hundreds of birds flying in synchrony. It tops my list of “Things I Would Miss About Planet Earth If I Were Abducted By Aliens”.

This montage was created by Dylan Winter, travel journalist and wildlife cameraman. It’s absolutely incredible, mesmerizing. You’ll forget what you’re watching and start thinking deep thoughts about the spiritual and artistic commonalities to be found in the strata of the natural world. I bet.

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If you own or have ever owned or liked or known a cat…

…and you could use a laugh, watch this!

And then take a look at more of simonscat.com. SO GREAT.

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