daddy’s girl

“This tug-of-war often obscures what’s also happening between us. I am your mother, the first mile of your road. Me and all my obvious and hidden limitations. That means that in addition to possibly wrecking you, I have the chance to give to you what was given to me: a decent childhood, more good memories than bad, some values, a sense of tribe, a run at happiness. You can’t imagine how seriously I take that – even as I fail you. Mothering you is the first thing of consequence that I have ever done.
― Kelly Corrigan, Lift

a few sunny days here on the farm and combines are roaring everywhere…  these last few days have felt like harvest…  I come back from a morning run feeling itchy from the dust still clinging in the dewy morning air…

combine lights dance like fire flies out my window at night…

porcupines, skunks, deer, moose and geese are all on the move… cutting the grass I found three dead muskrats that my dogs proudly left for me…

and after two weeks of my boys being gone to boarding school I have whittled down my crying to generally once a day…  3:40 pm …  the moment all three of my children should be getting home and it’s just one small little girl with mounds of strawberry, blonde hair piled high on her head that I see wondering in off the bus…

in my last text to my dad, I asked him how he ever was happy again after I left home… I was curious to know how he was able to get up in the morning and make sense of the day without his little ‘ray of sunshine’ there to make him smile…  he still hasn’t responded (you know how busy retired life can be) but I’m sure his answer will be that he still struggles to this day to find joy when I’m not around…  (by the way, ‘ray of sunshine’ was a name I made up for myself…  he called me Catherine… my given name)

life goes on… and I am still trying to figure out how to mother my boys from a distance…  tending to teenage boys involved a lot of cleaning, folding laundry, picking up towels off the bathroom floor, flushing toilets, odour control of sporting equipment, odour control of them, grocery shopping, feeding them, dishes, feeding them… feeding them…  and now that has been ripped away from me

fortunately there are farmers to feed… it honestly would have been too painful to cut it down to just Sienna and I…  we need to ease into that…

it was with great enthusiasm that I cut kohlrabi and radishes to add to the pasta salad I was taking out…  until I had a Hutterite stop by to try to sell me a turkey and asked what I was making for supper – only to be told that no one likes pasta salad… and when he spotted a zucchini he informed me that those can ruin a cake pretty quickly…

kohlrabi pasta salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb medium pasta shells
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 4 small kohlrabi, peeled and chopped
  • 8 radishes, diced
  • 1 cup mayo
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • few dashes of sriracha sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, (or 1/2 tsp dried dill)

Directions:

  • bring a large pot of salted water to boil
  • add pasta and cook according to package
  • drain and rinse under cold water
  • pat dry
  • in a large bowl, combine pasta with bell peppers, kohlrabi and radishes
  • in a medium bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients
  • pour over the salad and mix thoroughly
  • chill in the fridge for a few hours or overnight before serving

when I was in grade 3, my life goal was to be a ‘Weather-Woman’…  for a news crew…  I was thinking perhaps CHCA-TV out of Red Deer, Alberta…  so I wrote out pages upon pages of news updates (it was during the Calgary Olympics of ’88, so it was mainly weather and Olympic coverage) 

fortunately enough, my dad was ahead of the game with technology and we had a news crew style RCA video camera…  he got it out of the giant briefcase it was housed in and set it up on the tripod, focused in on me sitting behind the piano bench, ready to give the news highlights for the evening…

this is the thing about being a parent…  you actually love everything about your child… even the weird things… especially the weird things…

I never felt any pressure from my dad to do anything neat to catch his eye…  in fact, I was under the impression that he was just as proud of me for doing the news that evening as he was when he was videoing me running at track and field… or butchering a song at a piano recital…

this is what I have realized over the last two weeks of the boys absence from home… it is what I remember about my dad and still to this day feel around him… it never has been about what I’ve been able to do or accomplish or work for… he has always wanted to sit with me, listen to me, laugh at my jokes, play a game and talk to me…

not only did my dad want to be around me… he wanted to record it all on a giant video camera…

chili with ground beef and italian sausage

Ingredients:
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 cup onion, chopped
8 oz smoked sausage
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (4 oz) can mild green chile peppers
2-3 tbsp diced jalapeno peppers, seeds removed
2 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp montreal steak seasoning or seasoned salt
2-3 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
freshly cracked black pepper
extra salt to taste if necessary

Directions:
brown the meat and drain
in an Instant Pot, saute the onion in some olive oil and then add the pepper and garlic
add the remaining ingredients, including the browned meat, and set on slow cook mode for at least 2 hours but preferably longer!

well, dad finally responded to my text with “yes, it took awhile for us to get over the trauma of seeing you leave home, Catherine and this trauma was only exacerbated by the fact that Princess Diana and Mother Theresa both died at the same time you left.

 the use of the word ‘trauma’ in his text was presumably a bit tongue-and-cheek, although these things can be hard to pick up on in the modern age of texting…  I do believe that he was deeply saddened with the passing of Princess Diana and Mother Theresa however…

cheddar cornbread muffins

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp melted butter

Directions:

  • preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • line muffin tin with paper cups and spray them with cooking spray lightly
  • in a bowl, combine the dry ingredients and whisk
  • add the egg, milk and butter and combine till well mixed
  • scoop into the muffin tin
  • bake for 17-20 minutes until golden brown
  • if desired, brush the tops with butter and serve

back to my news broadcast…  my dad made a highlight reel of the countless hours of footage he was able to compile of me and my brothers throughout our childhood… this made the cut and the weather forecast I delivered was “it is getting warmer out, but it is still very cold… it might snow or rain”  pretty much nailed the weather…

the highlight reel had me believing I was a far better basketball player than I actually was… the compliation also reveals that my dad really did video us doing just about anything…  he truly enjoyed us kids for who we were because the footage is far from extraordinary…

as I was sitting with the farmer as he was combining a partially hailed wheat crop, I noticed that the variety of wheat was Brandon (this being my oldest boy’s name sent me into a bit of a cry) … some say distance makes the heart grow fonder but I was truly fond of them when they were close to me… when they were home… distance just breaks the heart…

and as I try to figure out how to be a Mom to my boys who are away, I realize that I once again am turning to the advice of my parents…  as long as they aren’t too busy to respond to a text…

and this gives me hope…  so now on we go with harvest…  well it is now raining this morning…  as a ‘Weather-Woman’ once said, “it might snow or rain”

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