Posts Tagged With: philosophy

Rising to Significance

My neighbour, Barb, and I walk every Saturday morning.  It is not a long walk, but it is always “significant”.  There is a word / concept that we focus on during our walk and begin on one end of the spectrum with it and explore it until we are on the other side. Yesterday, our topic was the difference between success and significance. 

I found it very easy to wrap my head around this word when I began to think about what it would look like to be insignificant.  This concept was easy to explore as just the previous day I overheard a couple of my students talking about their childhoods.  Their conversation was so sad that I became quickly overwhelmed with emotion.  Both young men had been abused and neglected by their parents.  What had happened to them, when they were at a time in their lives when their families should have been supporting their development of self-worth, traumatized them into believing they were not significant in this world.  Consequently, their lives had been spent looking for significance – but in the wrong way. 

At school, both boys demonstrated they were, in fact, very significant.  Their thinking was deep – their understanding of issues was deep – their contributions were deep. They were far, far, far away from being “in”significant.  I remarked to both of them how impressed I had been with their thinking and that they were very wise for their years.  I had no idea what power this one little comment would be.  One young man responded, “That is the first time in my life I have ever had anyone tell me that.  If I had had encouragement as a kid – someone to tell me that I was smart – someone to tell me I was worthwhile, I would not have had so many problems in my life.  I have never thought I was smart.  I have always felt insignificant.”  As a teacher, I now expect great things from these young people – and I fully expect them to rise to the occasion. 

Another young lady in my class struggled with her life.  She did not have an easy childhood either.  Her role models were more impressed with a bottle of booze than they were with her.  Again, did she feel significant in her life?  Throughout the year while attending school, however, she found her value.  It was not an easy thing to find as it was almost like having to cut through impenetrable layers of insults her parents had wrapped her in.  I wouldn’t imagine her parents set out to make her feel insignificant – but it would seem that insignificance breeds insignificance – it is a culture.  Over the course of the school year, this young woman was made aware of her contributions to her own life, her son’s life, and her school life.  She gave more of herself to the school community and the community responded.  She became a leader.  She became significant.  She was invited to be the valedictorian. 

What are we to learn from this?  As a teacher, I feel like I can finally put a name to what I do in the classroom; I help people to see their own self-worth — to see that they are significant.  I help people to see they have value. 

Where do we first begin to realize our own worth?  How significant are we to ourselves, our partners, our families, our county, our planet?  When we can find our place in each of these levels – will we be more likely to feel a greater sense of empowerment?  If every person in the world rose to significance – maybe the world would be a better place to live.  Maybe government would be less corrupt, maybe the environment would be less stressed, maybe individuals would suffer from good mental health?

One thing I do know, however, is that one gets what one gives. Those young men and that young woman made a difference in my life.  When they began to realize their own significance, it became more clear to me what my role was as a teacher – and that I too, am significant. 

Categories: Life's Lessons, Teaching | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Forwards or Backwards?

Lessons my Dad taught me

David and Poppa

My daughter was excited this Christmas to open up one of her gifts from Mountain Equipment Coop:  a slack line.  I wondered where she would be able to attach it in the middle of winter – now that the basement poles are no longer exposed.  Of course, we needed to explore the possibilities anyhow.  My daughter is quite driven to find solutions to problems she has.   After there was a “no go” decision for the basement, she turned her eyes to the front yard… and voila.  The street-light was a good distance from the maple tree and it would be perfect.  The snow below would also serve to cushion the multiple falls that we were advised she would have initially.

With snow pants, boots, mitts, and all the winter garb, Katya was ready.  She hopped up on the slack line with great caution and focus.  And fell.  She tried again, and again, and again.  Finally, she called it a night and unhooked the line.

My husband and I watched from the front room.  I thought about how my mom and dad would have been so excited to see her tackle this new sport.  This was something new – something that they had not seen before… much like New Year’s will be for my family and I.  I recall I was anxious to leave the year 2010 (the year Mom passed away).  I don’t want, however, to leave 2012… the year Dad passed away.  Moving forward will mean leaving the past.

I have always found New Year’s to be somewhat nostalgic.  It is a time to think of highlights, things for which we can be thankful, and things that we want to improve.  How important is it to not forget the past and to reflect?  I think it is vital to pause and reflect.  It is not easy, though.  Sometimes mistakes we’ve made – mistakes I’ve made seem unforgivable.  But these mistakes have also been such powerful lessons.  Mom taught me, for example, what not to do – and by learning from her – I was able to help Dad depart this world with dignity.

What lessons did I learn from Dad?  I’ve learned that everyone needs a purpose – no matter how old you are.  I’ve learned that that purpose can be as simple as what Dad had decided.  “My purpose, Stacey, was to make people happy.”  I’ve learned that to forgive people, you first have to be honest with them and tell them how you feel.  I’ve learned that it is vitally important to count your blessings.

It is a tricky balancing act – to not fall too far on either side of this line that sits between history and future – the stroke of midnight between 2012 and 2013… the “dash” between one’s birth and one’s death.  It is tricky, but not impossible.  And tomorrow, Katya will, no doubt, be back up on that slack line… finding her own balance – just like me.

Thanks to all of you who have supported my Dad and I through this blog – our sentimental journey.  I hope that this journey has allowed you some insight into your own lives.  And so, I will write the last post for 2012 and bid all of you, “Ta-ta for now. ”  (TTFN) from Bill Duff, (Dad) and I (Stacey).

All the best in the new year!

Categories: Family and Friends, Life After Dad, Life's Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Everything Will Be Alright: If I remember correctly.

One of the things I miss most about Mom and Dad is their infernal, eternal, and ever-so-clever words of comfort.

Mom:  “Stacey, you’ll be fine.”

(Never believed her!)

Dad:  “A hundred years from now, we’ll all be dead.  So what does it matter?”

(This one had me stumped for a long time!)

Mom:  “Just do your very best.”

(I wasn’t reassured as a child as I didn’t think that would always cut it!)

Dad: ” If they don’t like it – too bad for them!”

(Didn’t get that one at all!)


How I miss their reassurances these days.  It really doesn’t matter who you are or how confident you are – everyone needs a cheer-leader.

I have been juggling and struggling this week to find a balance between work, home-life, Dad’s condo, a visiting German student, and play.  Play-time has never been a priority for me as my family were strong subscribers of the Puritan work ethic.  Work first – then play.  And there is too much work to do to play these days.

Play. For a long time I didn’t understand that word.  I really thought it meant have fun at work.  I think I still do.  And I think a lot of my play is my work.  Others, however, have a more realistic version of what play means… I think.  And I get the impression that play means recreation.  In any case, I am struggling to redefine my definition so that everyone in my family is on the same page.

Anxiety.  This emotion seems to be two emotions attached to each other:  stress and anticipated failure.  I find myself anxious these days about a lot of things.  It happens usually when things pile one on top of another.  I forget to isolate the projects and so they blurr and give me an overwhelming sense of .. anxiety.  Dad’s condo. insurance – moving furniture, marking assignments, making muffins, cleaning toilets… you get the picture.

Comfort.  I long for Mom and Dad’s words, “Stacey, everything will be okay.”.  We offer these words to our children – or we ought to offer these words to our children… but how often do we hear them as adults?  Will everything be okay?  I know, in the long run, things always find resolution.  It’s the process that is sometimes derailing, debilitating, confusing, and frustrating.  But, as fate would have it – there is always a better resolution that falls than one that could really ever be planned.

Yes.  I miss my Dad’s casual, “Don’t worry, Stacey.  You worry too much.  100 years from now… ”

I know, Dad, we’ll all be dead.  Kind of puts things into perspective.

Patience.  Perspective.

Everything will be alright.




Categories: Life After Dad, Life's Lessons, Mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Leroy Brown…

Just when you think you have escaped the music you didn’t like – a funny think happens.  A gentle wind breezes by (thanks Alice) and melts the ice so that you can feel again.  I used to “hate” this song.  I used to also hate “Snowbird” by Anne Murray. But – it is funny how music can evoke such emotions to help you rise above your own and appreciate it for another value.  Leroy Brown was one of Dad’s favorite songs to dance to – now, Mom never like it – FYI – but I still remember Dad swinging his arms and feet in tune to this music.  Hope you enjoy – I know I never did until I lost the one who appreciated it most.. and now.. well.. I sang along to it today.   Please don’t hate me. (grin)  TTFN!

Well the South side of Chicago

Is the baddest part of town
And if you go down there
You better just beware
Of a man named Leroy Brown

Now Leroy more than trouble
You see he stand ’bout six foot four
All the downtown ladies call him Treetop Lover
All the men just call him Sir


And it’s bad, bad Leroy Brown
The baddest man in the whole damned town
Badder than old King Kong
And meaner than a junkyard dog

Now Leroy he a gambler
And he like his fancy clothes
And he like to wave his diamond rings
In front of everybody’s nose
He got a custom Continental
He got an Eldorado too
He got a 32 gun in his pocket for fun
He got a razor in his shoe

(Repeat Chorus)

Now Friday ’bout a week ago
Leroy shootin’ dice
And at the edge of the bar
Sat a girl named Doris
And oo that girl looked nice
Well he cast his eyes upon her
And the trouble soon began
Cause Leroy Brown learned a lesson
Bout messin’ with the wife of a jealous man

(Repeat Chorus)

Well the two men took to fighting
And when they pulled them off the floor
Leroy looked like a jigsaw puzzle
With a couple of pieces gone

Categories: Family and Friends, Life After Dad, Life's Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


Dear Dad: 

I’m struggling to move forward and I’m struggling to stay put.  

There are so many changes and decisions I don’t know what is best.  

On a good note – even in death your blog is being well received.  I guess I don’t need to tell you how many people have read your stories because I guess you already know that.  

On another good note – Veteran’s Canada continues to be supportive of you.  All the equipment they supplied to you has been gifted to your estate and I have been “loaning” it to those in need.  I feel a bit panicky that this is the right path as I am now launching into another venture I have no idea of the destination.  

My greatest consolation right now is AM- 740.  I have always enjoyed your music, but never knew whether I was listening to it for you or for me.  Here I am – listening – but I am alone.  There is that strong sense of being alone – I can’t imagine how you felt when Mom passed away. 

On another good note, the Dancing Nannies are still busy working and I’m trying hard to figure out how to help them.  They have managed to stay alone in your condo for the past week – Dorothee really missed you and felt that you were still there often.  Too hard for her to bear – she is so young.  Ana misses you a lot – she feels like she has now lost two Dads.  I have, however, gained two new sisters and we console each other often.  We still pretend that you are in your pink chair and pour you a glass of wine.  I miss those toasts, Dad.  I miss you.  

I am trying hard to think of the good times and happy things, Dad, but it is tough.  WIth whom do I share memories of Mom, the property, my childhood, our grieving over Mom?  I hate change – and I love it at the same time.  There are new opportunities that are unfolding for my family and I – but I don’t know which direction to take. 

On a cool note – Ben saved a young boy from drowning, yesterday, while he was guarding at the beach. Dad, you would be so proud!  He is such a fine young man.  

David enjoyed VBS today and his art work is extraordinary. 

Katya just “chilled” with me. 

Kevin is trying to adjust to having me back in his life as his wife.  I’m not sure if he’s thrilled with this new “bonding” or not.  I’m sure that you and Mom went through that sort of thing when you returned from postings across Canada.  Wish I could share these things with you in person, Dad.  You were always such a good sounding board.  

Brian Marlatt keeps up to date with me and my ramblings and offers his support every once in a while.  I guess Fran and Floyd were hit pretty hard by you leaving us.  How about buying me a ticket to see them in BC this summer.. I’ll take that instead of the dress?  And please don’t suggest you have enough Canadian Tire money (grin).  I don’t think Air Canada respects that currency.  

What else can I tell you? 

What should I do with your condo?  I’d love to keep it – but I don’t know that I can do that.  I have always regretting that I couldn’t buy the property from you – and I don’t want to do that with your condo. There are many expressions of interest for purchase -but it’s SO hard to say good-bye.  What would I do without being able to go “home” to my second home?  There are so many memories there.  How do people cope?  

Dad – my heart aches, yet I can’t seem to cry.  I’m happy that you are “free”. But seriously – I bought cauliflower today to make soup… and no one here eats it.  I am going through the motions .. in an effort to find peace.  

Yeah – so Nat King Cole’s “Answer me, my love”, just came on the radio.  I remember how you and Mom used to light up when you heard him.  Where was it that you saw him live?  Toronto?  How wonderful.  Where did all those velvet voices go?  

Anyhow, Dad, I’m still waiting for you to visit me in my dreams.  Remember I told you about Mom’s three visits and how her last one she hugged me?  When do I get your hug?  I could sure use one right about now.  

I know you would like me to thank everyone who is reading these posts and express your most sincere appreciation for supporting you and I in our journey to … where-ever it is.  

On another positive note, Jamie has expressed his trust in my handling of your affairs.  This takes a big burden off my shoulders and I feel more at peace with that issue now.  All you wanted, you said, was for us to get along.  We are both trying.  And for that, I know that you and Mom would be pleased.  

So, Dad, while I don’t feel so frozen anymore – I do feel that I have rambled.  How appropriate is it to ramble on on a public forum I don’t know – but there are some who have told me our conversations/ stories have inspired them to write their own family stories – and that’s good. We sure did have a good time doing that, eh?  Okay – it wasn’t fun at the time as I know I had to “hound” you a lot for stories when you were so tired.  But, seriously, you did enjoy when I read them back to you – and your grandchildren will not be able to understand their own heritage better – and know you as a person through your stories.  

To those of you who are reading this post and feel that I’ve crossed the line of insanity – you may be right, I may be crazy (to coin the words of Billy Joel).  But I am no longer so frozen.  


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Stacey:  “Dad, I miss you”.

Bill:  “Why do you miss me, just open your heart and I’m with you.”

Stacey:  “But I can’t talk to you anymore.”

Bill:  “What do you think you are doing now?”

Stacey:  “I’m making up a conversation in my head.”

Bill:  “Where do you think that conversation is coming from?”

Stacey:  “My head.”

Bill:  “Good ‘ol Stacey.  Your thoughts are always new.  They may be influenced by things that you have already experienced, but each thought is a new thought.  How do you know that I’m not telling you what to write right now?”

Stacey: “It doesn’t seem possible.”

Bill:  “Did you think I’d live for a year and a half once your mother passed away? ”

Stacey:  “No.”

Bill:  “And yet it was possible.  Did you think that you could arrange for me to live at home by myself?”

Stacey:  “No.”

Bill:  “And yet with the help of so many people who loved us so much, it was possible.  Did you think you could have the opportunity and strength to hold my hand while I died?”

Stacey:  “No.”

Bill:  “And yet it was possible.  Did you think you could make the arrangements to have me declared “dead” and have my body taken away and arrange my funeral and read my eulogy without tears?”

Stacey:  “No.”

Bill:  “And yet it was possible.  Do you think, then, that it is possible that I am with you right now?  I am still guiding you and influencing you, Stacey.  I will always be your father.  Your mother is with me and we are a team again.  You said to us once that “home” was where-ever we were.  Stacey, your mother and I are both with you – and you are home. ”

Stacey:  “Dad, I love you.  You have always been a good Dad.  You showed me how to live, and you showed me how to die.  I am no longer afraid.  But I still have one question.”

Bill:  “Can I have some money?”

Stacey:  “No.  I was going to ask if you could still buy me that dress you owed me… (grin):

Bill:  “grimace”

Stacey:  “When will Mom get equal playing time in my mind?  I’m afraid that she has taken a back seat and it scares me that I’ll forget.”

Bill:  “That’s up to you,  Stace.  The time will come – all things change with time.  And time heals all wounds.  Mom and I are with you and we love you.  Mom says, “our beautiful daughter – thank-you for everything you have done.”

Stacey:  “Mom must be there because you called me “good ‘ol Stace”. ”

Bill:  “I told you.”

Stacey:  “Can I talk to you again sometime, Dad?”

Bill:  “Anytime you like.  I am always here…. and so is your Mom.”

Stacey:  “One last question, Dad.  You know how we talked about Mom waiting for you in Heaven with a table set and a feast well prepared for you?  We thought she’d make roast beef with Yorkshire pudding.  Is that what she made?”

Bill:  “You’ll have to wait and find out for yourself, Stace.  When you are old enough, I’ll tell you.”

Stacey:  “I love you, Dad.”

Bill: ” I love you too,  Stace.”

Stacey:  “TTFN”

Bill:  “TTFN”

Categories: Life After Dad, Life's Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

June 27, 2012

I thought that November 12, 2010 was a day that would never be replicated in terms of its importance. 

I was mistaken. 

November 12, 2010 was the reason that June 27, 2012 was so incredible. It is as though the first date prepared me for the second date – just like Mom prepared me for Dad. 

I’m not sure whose voice I should be using now.  If I write in first person, I would be writing as “Stacey”.  If I write as the ghost – I am writing as “Bill”.  My confusion comes in that I feel I am both.  And I feel that I am also “Paula”.  Now, these two people – Bill and Paula – Mom and Dad are the voices that I feel rather than hear.  

Tonight, Dad (Bill) passed away.  But, my God, he still has a voice. And what is weird is that now, more than ever, I feel that Mom has been given an equal voice.

It was magnificent.  I have never experienced anything like it.  Dad opened his eyes ever so slightly, and then they closed.  I’m sure it was a reaction of sorts – but it was enough to alert my brother and I that Dad was leaving us.  All I remember was holding his hand and reassuring him that we were there.  It was beautiful.  He was surrounded by care-givers that were “off -duty” but had come to see him anyhow.  Whatever possessed them to come at that time, God only knows – but it was Dad’s time. Not more than 5 minutes after they arrived, along with the nurse who had only come to “monitor” Dad’s progress, did Dad pass away.  There was no grand breath.  There was no grand inhale.  It was quiet.  Yes.  It was grace.  Dad had dignity.  I promised I’d keep him home and give him Dad a different journey than Mom – and I did. I kept my promise.  Mom was there today.  I felt her.  She is with me right now writing this blog. I’ve never edited a post so much as I am now.  My words are her words – they are “his” words too.  

I cannot begin to express my gratitude to everyone who supported our family through this final journey whether it was in person, in spirit, in words, or in faith.  

When one dies at home, and in peace, there are no words that can express the soul.  

I’m sure Dad would say, “Nothing”.  I don’t think words in His world are needed – what a majestic feeling it must be to leave the “surley bonds of earth”.  Dad would want to express his appreciation for a death well lived.  Today was a testimony, not only to a man whose life was well lived, but to everyone who was connected to Dad to make his life possible.  It takes a community to raise a child and to close the chapter in one person’s story.  

I don’t know how to tell you how I struggle for my voice tonight.  I can’t find the words.  I can’t find the direction.  But, yet, I am at peace.  Dad is at peace – and I think at long last, Mom is too.  We have harmony.  

Please allow me this attempt to speak my father’s voice. 

“I am.  I am no longer tired.  I no longer need assistance to walk, to eat, to read the newspaper.  Don’t get me wrong – I loved the help from my dancing nannies and my other blessed caregivers… but I am now free to soar on my own.  I am independent – just as I was when I was young and vital.  But now, I am wiser – to know that no one soars alone.  There are those who give as there are those who accept.  The trick is knowing when and which is your time and calling.  I have accepted care for so long now – I am ready to give.  But in the next world, I cannot give as you would expect.  I don’t know what to do yet – Paula will tell me.  And in turn, I’ll teach my children.  This, is our legacy.” 

It is late, and although my mind is spinning, I know I’ll sleep – Dad no longer yearns for Mom.  

Where are they?  I don’t really know – but what I do know is that I am able to say that I was a good daughter  – or in Dad’s words, I am now, “Our beautiful daughter.  Thank-you so much for everything that you have done.”  And that’s all I would ever want.  

Cheers, Dad – on this night – and TTFN! 


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Finding my Purpose

I made it through the night.

My daughter slept at my feet and my nannies took turns helping with my meds. I have no pain.

I wish this kind of exit from this world for others.

My birth seemed to be more difficult.  I was so small that no one expected me to live.  My aunt put me in a shoe-box and put me in the oven to keep warm.  Imagine.  Over ninety years now I’ve been down off the shelf and living – really living.

My last few years have forced me to be so much more contemplative.  I have listened and hope that I have helped to make people happy.

My daughter and I used to have a lot of sleep-overs in the latter years.  She and David or she and Katya, or she and Ben would come and have a “party” with me on a Friday night.  That would give my nannies a chance for  a REAL week-end.  Stacey and I would talk about our new situation without Paula.  We talked about my purpose.  I needed to know my purpose in life.  Why was I the one who stayed?  I was always the one who was ill – not Paula. I think I concluded that Paula had done enough.  She was tired.  She nursed her whole life and especially me during the last few years.  She needed a rest.

My purpose – I concluded was to make people happy. I hope that I’ve succeeded.  My daughter seems to think I  have.  I have always been so appreciative of the help that people have given to me in my “golden” years.  Without the help of my care-givers I would not have been able to maintain my dignity.  I hope they know how much I have appreciated them.  I tried to tell them.  I tried to help bring families together – to offer what words of wisdom I could and I tried to bring people dignity.  Always forgive.

And smile.

It is time to rest.  I’ll write more today to let you know my progress … and hopefully to make you smile.


Categories: Family and Friends, Life's Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Who Has Seen The Wind?

"Sunrise, sunset"My favorite quote, written by W.O. Mitchell: “Who has seen the wind?  Neither you nor I.  But when the trees bow down their heads, the wind is passing by.”

Every morning, when Paula and I lived on the farm, we would be given breath.  We sat at our breakfast table and looked out through the sliding glass door to a most magnificent landscape.  The cedar trees were gracious.  They must have been nearly my age today – even then.  Two of them sat side by side in some random act of kindness.  These cedars hosted a variety of birds and species of critters that one could not imagine nor capture merely by eye.  The morning gross-beaks were the most frequent flyers in these trees.  They would arrive en masse in the winter – disappear into the cedar trees and then emerge as though in an ambush – for the sunflowers seeds Paula insisted I put out for our guests each morning.

One morning we were watching our outdoor program, when a hawk flew right into the window.  God he was magnificent!  He hit the window with such a powerful force that Paula and I thought for sure he was dead. Paula was in a dither.  “Bill, what are you going to do?”.  Funny how these types of wild-life incidents became an automatic personal responsibility.

“Nothing.”, I replied.  “What can I do?”

“Save him”.  Paula insisted.

Well, I don’t know anyone who has given mouth to mouth to an hawk before but I think Paula would have been grateful if that “hawk-man” exchange could have been me.

Needless to say, I didn’t give the hawk beak-to-mouth, but I did go outside to check on the thing.  It was still breathing – the talons were HUGE.  I knew that whenever those things must have hooked a mouse there was nothing that that wee mousie could have done but give a squeal.

I came inside and Paula immediately said, “Is it okay?”

“I think it just stunned itself, Paula.” I replied.  It will be okay.

My words seem to ease her tension for a while.  “Besides, there is really nothing we can do.  It’s had a wonderful life here on the farm – it was free to soar in the air and take its pick of fine food – it was free to nest in the back 40 and to have a family.  What a life.”  Oh, how I always wished I could soar like that hawk.

But, it was not this hawk’s time to go.  Almost in an instant, the bird “snapped to it”.  There was the initial wobble, and then – it was gone.  I don’t know if it was the wind – but the cedars shuddered – I think the hawk took full advantage of those cedar trees for some necessary R and R.

What a spectacular view Paula and I had.  We never did see the hawk again – but our morning breakfast at that table by the window were never the same after our magnificent visitor had graced us with a view from our own chairs.

Who has seen the wind?  Neither you nor I.  But when the cedars bow down their heads, the wind is passing by.


Categories: Life's Lessons, The Farm | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Billy Burgers and Polly Dogs

This was a post that my Dad and I created a year ago. Actually – I created it on behalf of my Dad as he was “out of stories” at this point in his life. I remember, though, how wonderful it was that I could pull stories out of a hat – based on what I knew so well about my Dad and how he felt about life – in this matter – Billy Burgers and Polly Dogs. I think this was one of the last posts that I read to Dad that he actually “edited”. How lucky I was to be able to share these days with him – and time with both Mom and Dad to know these stories intimately. Anyhow – I re-blogged this one in memory of Mom and Dad – Hope you enjoy! – Stacey (the ghost writer)

Most people would agree that there are some pretty “beefy” BBQs on the market these days.  What would life be like without these super models?  Well, my friends, I have a confession to make.  I have never been a fan of these new tools of the trade. I am a pioneer and to this history I have remained true. Especially when it comes to barbequing.

Paula, my beautiful wife, loved to shop.  She also loved to cook.  But I, however, was the master of the outdoor grill. Paula and I entertained a lot when we lived on the farm.  Every week-end there would be at least 4 or 5 people who would come to experience the “country life”.  This would include a swim in the pool, some of Paula’s famous veggies with sour cream and onion dip, some “body builder” (home-made wine) and for dinner…Billy Burgers and Polly Dogs.

The secret to a great burger was the way it was cooked, although I must admit that Paula did mix the burgers from scratch with her secret recipe!  Early in the afternoon, I would gather some twigs from the bush – I’d recruit the company to help to add to their “country experience” – and some larger kindling.  I would pile these strategically on my little, round, BBQ and set a match to the whole works.  While everyone else was cooking with charcoal and gas – I cooked with wood.

My favorite type of wood to use was maple.  Boy, that would give the burgers a good flavour.  The trick was to get the fire going nicely so that you could get some good coals.  After about an hour or so, I’d set the grill down – cover the lid and let the heat build. The coal had to glow. No flames were allowed.

I never got over how surprised our guests from the city were that you could use wood to cook food.  Imagine! I guess they were just too spoiled from having indoor cooking surfaces.  Really.  Wood stoves were a part of my life.

In any case, in a ceremonious way, the burgers were presented by Paula to the BBQ and on they would go.  I’d get them seared on both sides and then – lower the lid to get them smoked over the maple.  Sometimes the wood would be wet and we could hear the sap sizzle as it evaporated out of the wood in the heat.

The Polly dogs were our guests other “smoked meat” option.  Truthfully, they were just hot dogs, but boy did they taste good when they were cooked over wood!

A little cheese and a few condiments made this meal complete.  Paula’s caesar salad was always a hit – her dressing she made from scratch.  And, yes, it was made in a different blender than the one I used to make “Beetle Juice” from.

We all had a great time on the farm.  It was so different too eating in the great outdoors.  The bug zapper took care of the dusk mosquito attacks – or at least until they got so thick that we all had to rush inside for a reprive.

While everyone else hid indoors, I’d start another fire in the bonfire pit.  It was a good way to get rid of all the scrub brush that I had hauled out of the back 80 acres during the day.  We’d tell our guests that the mosquitoes knew there was fresh city blood coming that week-end and that’s why there were so many of them around.  City blood was always sweeter. (grin)

One of the best memories I have of those bonfires was the singing and dancing that we did with the help of a couple glasses of body builder.  My wine was a little stronger than the average wine and sometimes it was a little challenging to restrain our enthusiastic guests.  With the help of my collection of hill-billy band instruments including a mouth organ, string – bucket, and washboard, everyone had a good time.  Remember, “Oh, Susanna’s the funny old man..?”

The next morning – all that was left of the celebrations were a few groggy heads, tipped chairs, and good laughs.

The billy burgers and polly dogs were indeed a hit – but without our good friends to share these tastes and times – no one would have been quite so  “fired up”.

Cheers to the memories!

Categories: Family and Friends, Life's Lessons, The Farm | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

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