Monthly Archives: August 2012

Tic-tic-tic. Ssssslide




“This is so cool.”

“Katya you are so lucky you have a type-writer!”


For the very wise blogger (Chatter Master, RoSy? Notsofancynancy?) who advised me to use the type-writer as a conversation piece, I say to you… “Thanks!”.

How very weird is it that the same instrument I used to write my high school biology reports is now this object of wonder.

“It’s weird because you have to press the keys down so far.”, said Ben (my oldest son)

“Does it ding?”, asked my daughter, Katya.

“What is it?”, asked my youngest son, David.

How very weird is it that the same instrument I used to write my English essays is now a finger magnet?

“Can we get new tape for it?”

“Does it work?”

What is it about this type-writer that attracts so many young people?  Funny how seeing the direct results of your digital motions striking a key can produce some kind of mark that seems to be so much more concrete than a computer screen can delight.  Maybe it is the tactile nature of the keyboard?  Maybe seeing how the tiny letter blocks that strike the ribbon and leave an imprint on the page is something that actually makes sense!

Whatever the reason, Mom’s computer – that she got from her father – is a hit.

So, it will stay in the living-room for a while longer.  The paper will remain as an invitation to, “go ahead – hit me!” with a key strike.

And I will look for new ribbon.

What a hoot.  Strike that- what a hit! 

Categories: Life After Dad, Life's Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

If Hats Could Talk: An Ode to The Straw Wonder

The Hat

It sat for many years upon a lightly “haired” head.

It heard the brum-brum-brum of Dad’s chainsaw deep in the woods.

It drank the sweat that ran from Dad’s brow as he planted potatoes in the blaring sun.

It shielded Dad from blow after blow from anxious and frustrated deer-flies that knew they were close to a fresh meal but just couldn’t figure out how to get it.  The powerful blow from a raised hat that swiped the air was never enough to deter the voracious winged predators.

It bore witness to the  screams the acres of raspberries directed towards Dad,  “Prune me, feed me, till me, pick me!”.

It smelled the maple that curled up and around Dad’s head as he smoked a batch of Billy Burgers for week-end guests.

It yielded to the grasp of Dad’s hand as he ventured out the back door of the house on the farm, hell-bent on beating those, “damned potato – bugs”.

It rested quietly on the shelf of the cedar closet Dad built for mom on the farm. 

It pines for Dad now on my sofa.

It beckons to Dad to be worn.

It pleads with me to not leave the family.

It sits.

It waits.

It sleeps – maybe even dreams.

It hats could talk… I know it would have tales to tell.


Categories: Life After Dad, Life's Lessons, The Farm | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

The Wool Blanket Makes A Recovery

Today was my first “real” day of emptying out the condo.

The easiest method, I have discovered, is to package the “things” up, bring them home, and then make decisions about destinations of the “things” from the front hall – where everything sits.

Here are some of my questions that I grappled with today… what do I do with…

– the wool blanket that Mom so carefully packaged in a “space saver” bag so that it would not occupy too much room in her tiny linen closet and not be eaten by moths;

– the Russian doll ornaments that my cousin sent to Mom and Dad for Christmas one year from Russia;

– the apron that Mom used as a template to teach my daughter Katya how to sew;

– the tea spoon rack full of souvenir teaspoons from all of Mom and Dad’s travels;

– the sweater that Dad wore with holes in the arms that coined his handle, “Poor Dirt Farmer” (okay, truthfully, I know what to do with that one!!!!)

–  the spoon set that was given to “Mr. and Mrs. Duff” to thank them for their service to the Cold Lake community;

– the Legion magazines that Mom so lovingly ordered and Dad so purposefully read to keep up-to-date on Legion-related news;

– the books that were dedicated to Dad from Mom and from Uncle Bill to Mom, and from Dad to Mom, and from … you get the picture;

– the jar of pickling spices that Mom used to make her wonderful pickles;

– the old type-writer that was Grandpa Malloff’s with which I used to learn to type;

– the commemorative plates for Mom and Dad’s 40th, 50th, and 60th, wedding anniversaries?

The list goes on.

And so they sit – in my front hall waiting for their final verdict.  And I am in no hurry – the rest of my family may have a different opinion – but for now – they sit and wait …

Today the condo moved from “there” to “here”.  Dad kept flickering the light.  I just wish I had established with him what the code meant!

Meanwhile – off to see a movie on a big outdoor screen in downtown Barrie.  I think I’ll bring the big wool blanket as tonight is expected to be rather cool… thanks Mom.


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The Dew May Kiss the Butterfly…

“The dew may kiss the butterfly,

A man may kiss his wife good-by,

The sparkling wine may kiss the glass,

And you, my friend…. farewell.”

Okay, I never liked this poem whose origin I never knew – but Dad would be called upon at EVERY celebration to recite it.

Funny how this poem’s most avid supporter is gone, the poem has now become “mine”.  I don’t know if it becomes me – but it makes people laugh.

Martin – if you read this post – I dedicate this to you – not to say farewell – but to say, “thanks”.  You showed up at the right place and at the right time.  And you know Dad’s light flickered in appreciation.  You were always a great friend to Dad and now a great support to my family and I.  Merci and… Sante!

The Elixir of Life

The table was set in the cemetery – a glass of wine for everyone. It was a celebration that Dad would have wanted and Mom would have prepared.

Categories: Duff History, Family and Friends, Life After Dad | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stop the Bus – I Need to Get Off!

It seems that my mind races like a locomotive in full speed that just won’t slow down.  Especially at night!

I know that some of you who are dealing with estates are going to agree with me that it can feel like one step forward and ten steps back.  There is so much to do. And in my Dad’s case because he was home until the end – there is more.

The paperwork seems endless.

Okay, so I can get through things (and I am oh, so grateful to have had the summer off to “rest”) but it makes achieving closure a little more tricky.

Consequently, for the last few nights I have dreamed extensively about Dad.  Not about anything good – rather – about his death.

It causes me to wake up early and not be able to get back to sleep.

Here’s the deal: I did my very best to care for Dad as did everyone else in his life.  He passed away at home in his own bed, surrounded by loved ones.  The trigger may just have been that while trying to empty out the condo., I have had to process so many papers that Mom and Dad had stored over their years together.  One of the things I discovered in the papers is that in Dad’s medical history, he was found to have a spot on his lung.  “Aha!” I thought.  Cancer – lung cancer?  That would explain his fatigue, his lack of appetite, his weight loss, his cough… and so on.  There would not have been any change in my course of care – but for some reason I struggle with this new “revelation”.  And it seems to come through in my dreams.

Why is it so dominant in my thoughts?  I am at peace with what happened and that he passed away peacefully.  Why has this new piece of information troubled me so gravely in my sleep?  Guilt?  Ignorance?  Guilty over feeling that Mom would have known what was going on?  I don’t know.

I found this pattern to have been the same with Mom.  My post-passing diagnosis explained a lot of the symptoms Mom experienced prior to her passing.

Is this human nature?  Or my attempt to be a “vigilant” and “capable” daughter?

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not regretful or feeling that I could have done anything differently.

I’d just like to get some closure and then some good sleep.

Does anyone know what I mean?



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The Malloff Clan: It’s a family thing!

Ron is “stinky”.

Betsi is the MIT (Matriarch in Training).

Mike is the financial planner/ engineer/ guy we try to make talk very loud.

Pam is the archivist.

Cathy is the Hollywood glamour.

Jamie is on holidays is Hawaii at this time.  sigh. He’ll have to earn his title next year.

Stacey is the youngest (of course that’s me so I like to give myself the most appealing title) who tends to glue the family together.

… and this makes up the front line of cousins.

These titles are all titles in training, of course.  And since the “Matriarch” is still matricizing (if that’s a real word?) we need to be flexible.

Helen, the matriarch, calls the shots.  She sets the date.  She arrives.  She approves.  And the rest of the clan bustles around to show our respect for her.  Who is the matriarch in training?  Well, that would be Betsi – it is age related, but I am not at liberty to share the age of the “MIT” – nor am I at liberty to share the age of our 90 -year -old matriarch.

We have a legacy.  Our heritage is Russian.  And we are all born from the four Malloff family members  who grew up in Yorkton, Saskatchewan… Bill, Anne, Helen, and Paula.

We are now working to unite the second, third, and fourth generation off-spring from this original clan.

What is it that makes this family so unique?

We are artists, engineers, teachers, accountants, fitness experts, computer geeks, humanitarians, jokesters, golfers, curlers, bikers, walkers, talkers (that’s Betsi!), musicians… and more.  We love family.

We are from the East, the West, and the South.

We drink Bailey’s, vodka, rum, wine, Dubonnet, Disaronno, and water.

We cheer, “Salut, Nusdarovia (however you spell that in English)”

We never "Rush" this encounter!

The family gathers on the back deck to pose for the annual photo.

We are passionate.

And we are family.

We all have a role to play.

We just don’t know what it is yet.

Maybe we will never know – and maybe it will always shift.

But the Malloff clan… it is a family thing!

Categories: The Malloff Clan | Tags: , | 12 Comments

Sunset on Helen’s Mountain

Okay – it isn’t exactly over Helen’s mountain – but if it were I’d imagine this is what it would look like.  I actually took this photo one night after the day had been so terribly hot and humid.

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Helen’s Mountain

Never climb mountains alone.

The flowers remain on the dining room table, as fresh as the day they arrived. The table, however, is empty where there was, only days ago, a cornucopia of never-ending goodies.

The best part about the Malloff reunion (Mom’s side of the family) is the arrival of the clan and everything afterwards.  The worst part is when they leave.  I get the sense of what it feels like to be “empty-nesters”.  Yuck.

Leaving Auntie Helen, Mom’s sister, at Toronto International today was like losing Mom again.  The two could not be more different – nor could they be more alike.  Nonetheless, it was our clan’s matriarch, Auntie Helen, who brought everyone from across Canada and the US to celebrate our family.  This reunion happens once a year but this year was the first when neither my Mom nor Dad were in attendance.  Well, at least they weren’t here physically.  The were certainly here in spirit and we never once forgot that.

The day before she left I took Auntie Helen to visit Mom and Dad’s final resting spot.  It was then when Auntie Helen said good-bye to her sister and life-long friend.  She gave a kiss to each name mounted on the outside of the niche housing their remains.  Time stood still.  She asked for some time alone and I could hear her talking once again to Mom and Dad.  It was her time for closure.  Each person has to have closure and each in his/her own time.  My son David and I sat on the bench by the main path and an older gentlemen must have caught us wiping away each others’ tears as he kindly offered us some flowers to give to whoever it was we were visiting.  He didn’t know.  Our tears were not for our loss – but for Auntie Helen’s loss.  I remember how difficult it was to see Dad grieve the loss of his bride of 61 years.  And that was tougher to take than it was for me to even lose Mom.  This was no different.  I can only imagine how painful it must be to lose a sister that you have know for 84 years.  Actually, I can’t.  But I do know that Auntie Helen mourned in peace and with grace and dignity.  She placed a carnation for Dad and a white rose for Mom.  Dignity.  She wished them, “good-bye”.  Dignity.

We then went to visit the old property where the owner graciously invited us in to tour the home.  There had been many renovations completed and in spite of the changes, the spirit of the old place still seemed to be there.  Tina, the new owner, invited us to go back into the woods if we liked.  So we did.

Slowly, we moved through the bush and reminisced about each nook and cranny.  Auntie Helen had been there so often, she knew it just as well as I did.

Through the woods and around the corner – there it was… her names-sake, “Helen’s Mountain”.  It really was a very tiny incline no more than 2 metres – and very gradual.  But this mountain had been a challenge for Auntie Helen years ago during her virgin voyage on cross-country skis.  She was terrified of the incline – which was a decline from her original approach.  She took off her skis and walked down the slope.  Well, the story was told so often about this scary spot that it eventually had to be re-named, “Helen’s Mountain.”.

I asked Auntie Helen if she wanted to tackle that mountain one more time.  She jumped at the opportunity – and so, with cane in hand on one side, and my son David on the other, she approached the mountain, walked half-way up, turned and posed for a photo.  She did it.  One fear conquered.

We climbed back into the car and made our way home after a stop at Brown’s Farm and once more to Mom and Dad’s condo.

I guess each of us has a mountain to climb and Helen, during this family reunion not only tackled one, but she tackled yet another – the loss of her sister and brother-in-law who were my Mom and Dad.  How did she do it?  Well, it certainly was not tackled while she was on her own.  The mountains Auntie Helen climbed this past week were climbed hand-in-hand with family – family of both past and present.

Categories: Family and Friends, Life After Dad, Life's Lessons, The Farm | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Auntie Helen enjoyed hearing this story. Thought I’d re-use it for now – busy with the Malloff clan.

High Flight

I guess I should have known that the racoons would eventually figure things out, but who knew they could be so clever?

Life in the cabin in the woods, as I had mentioned previously was quite rustic.  Since we had no electricity (which also meant there were no utilities bills to pay) we also had no refrigeration.  This gave us quite a challenge to overcome as we lived in the cabin during the summer months of July and August and the nearest store was a 15 minute ride to Barrie.

I rigged up a big “ice-box” kind of contraption just outside the cabin and kept it full of ice.  It was here where we stored our fresh produce, meats, and any other perishables.

Paula used a wood-oven stove to cook our meals on.  It was Jamie’s job to gather and split the wood to fill the wood-box so Paula could…

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Stacey:  Was that you the other night in the flickering of the light?

Dad:  What do you think?

Stacey:  Well, I’d like to think so – but I am so hesitant to trust my instincts.

Dad:  I understand.

Stacey:  So, was that you?

Dad:  Of course it was.  I am always with you.  As is your mother.

Stacey:  But – I changed the bulb on you.

Dad:  You had to  – I burnt it out.

Stacey:  Right.

Dad:  So, are you okay with everything.

Stacey:  No.  And yes.  I miss you Dad.  I miss our talks.  You and I talked so much about life – about Mom.  You and I shared stories that no one else shared.

Dad:  So – talk to me.

Stacey:  Auntie Helen is coming this week – with the Malloffs and I’m afraid that I can’t do the job of hosting that you and Mom used to do.   I don’t know how to do it without you.

Dad:  Stacey, don’t worry.  Your cousins will help.  Helen will be happy to be with everyone.

Stacey:  But this is the first time you and Mom won’t be around.  Mom wont’ be there to bake her apple pie muffins, or cook her borscht, or to just make our cousins feel welcome.  And you won’t be there to tell jokes or stories.  How can I take your place?

Dad:  Stacey, you will be fine.  I’ll be there – and so will your Mother.

Stacey: Will you make the light flicker?

Dad:  You’ll see.

Stacey:  So, you are going to leave me hanging?

Dad:  Have I ever?

Stacey:  No.

Dad:  Well then?  Play some music – dance – laugh – remember your Mother and I – and we will be there.

Stacey:  Dad – it’s so hard.  I don’t like it.

Dad:  You had us for almost 50 years, Stace. Remember the good things and be thankful.


Dad:  You have  a wonderful family.  And they will help you.  Play music and dance.

Stacey:  Okay, Dad.   Say, “hi” to Mom for me.

Dad: I will.

Stacey:  Tell her I love her.

Dad:  She already knows that – but I will.  I have to go to bed – and so do you.  TTFN

Stacey:  No brandy?

Dad:  Not tonight.

Stacey:  Tomorrow?

Dad:  I’ll have one with the family when they get there.

Stacey:  Promise?

Dad:  Okay.

Stacey:  TTFN, Dad

Dad:  TTFN

ps – Nice job on the Lobster Air post – I didn’t know I was so eloquent!  Grin.  You didn’t tell them about the lighthouse operator’s daughters did you?

Stacey:  Not yet, Dad.  Not yet.  TTFN


Categories: Life After Dad | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

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