Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Welcome Julia of Petals and Wool!

Please welcome my sweet friend Julia from Of Petals and Wool! She is one busy lady and went to a lot of trouble to write this great story for my Blogazine post.

It seems like just saying Thank You is not enough but I do appreciate all of you and Julia for doing these wonderful stories.  So please sit back and enjoy Julia!

Maggie, what an honor for me to be asked to do a story for your Blogazine so this evening I'm all alone and no excuse to put it off any longer, but where do I start?I guess I'll condense my life as briefly as possible so bear with me.  Here is a recent bad self photo of me. 

I was born in November 1946, third child to what was going to be a very large family of 17 kids,10 boys and 7 girls, My mom got married at 16 to her sweetheart, my dad... Our house was small and always crowded but mom's motto was "There's always room for one more". We lived a sustainable life off the land in the country, with plenty of wild berries in the summer, apples and nuts, fresh fish and wild meat and vegetable garden. My mom baked fresh bread every day. We lived freely and there was never any fear of having someone who would hurt us. We were always outside, either playing ball over the roof top, skating on ponds in winter or swimming in the deep end of brook.

At 16 I left home to get away from a very jealous boyfriend who didn't want to accept that I didn't want to continue the relationship because of his insane jealousy and I came to Fredericton where I found a job the next day, baby-siting the 5 years old girl of an aunt of my aunt and looking after meals and laundry for  the rest of the family while the mother went away on business for a few weeks. She kept me on for 9 months as a maid until her older daughters returned home from school in another town. I fell in love with Fredericton, a clean, beautiful and quiet government and University city. 

In 1966, at 19 years old, 5 months pregnant  I got married to the man of whom I declared that "I wouldn't marry him if he was the last man on earth". He hadn't made the right impression on first sight.
Not having much money at the time I settled for a beautiful new wedding gown that was on sale for $45.00 because they were out of style. The new fashion wedding gowns were plain was and it wasn't for me. I was happy with my purchase.

The day before my wedding, we picked up the brand new car, got our hair done at the hair dresser, picked up the three tier cake, the flowers and other necessities and were on our way to deliver it to the church hall in another town  when the weather turned violent and snow was coming down heavily, there were snow drifts and white outs. The roads became impassable and we had to return home.

 Half way home we hit an abandoned white car on the road and smashed the grill of the brand new car. No one was hurt as my soon to be husband was driving very slow but I tasted the cake when my face hit the first tier and my sister in law who was in the back seat with my mom had a few flowers broken. Our hair all got wet by the time we returned home and had to put back our hair in curlers. My brother in law fixed the cake by taking the third tier off and he also fixed the bouquets of flowers. We were thankful that no one was hurt. All that mattered to me was that I was going to get married to the man I love... Nothing else mattered...

The next morning my husband got up at 5:00 am to plow the lane all the way to the main road and we made it to the church in the city and although not all the guests could make it, the important people were there. As we came out of the church, the wind had calmed down and the sun was shining and the sky was blue.

Since the reception was cancelled as well as the photographer, we had the reception at the big farm house and what a party that was... Lots of food, booze and good music, lots of gifts and lots of dancing till the wee hours of the morning. My youngest brother in law took some pictures. 

From 1966 to 1974, I gave birth to 4 kids, three girls and one boy, and I delighted in sewing all their cloths, making preserves and keeping house. My oldest daughter is 45,  a Dr. of Anthropology and teaches and lectures in Scotland and travels the world and does mountain climbing and hiking , my second daughter, 47 lives in Fredericton and has 4 kids and  is a master weaver and teaches at the NB College of Craft &Design, my son, 39,  is the herdsman on the farm and lives neighbor to us and has one teenage daughter and my youngest daughter, 37, is a Dr. of Chemistry and has an 8 month old baby and lives in Ottawa.

In 1977, we moved in our new house that we built with pine lumber cut on the farm land.  My brothers help with the building and I pounded nails and painted.  In 1983 I started teaching Hobby Ceramics in my basement for 10 years and then bought a large Ceramic business who was in financial difficulty because of mismanagement and I went into manufacturing greenware and bisque and selling supplies wholesale and retail. I had a registered business and had two employees.I was successful but very over worked. I did this for 10 years and decided that that I needed to slow down. Working all day in a basement wasn't good for my health.

We have been through a litigation  with my husband's youngest brother who wanted to have the farm and  he did all he could to make our life miserable and in the end his father settled to let him go and the company bought his shares  and when my husband's older brother retired he wanted to sell the farm but my husband wasn't ready to stop farming so this too went to expensive litigation. It's a good thing we live a simple and frugal life and had money put aside as lawyers are super expensive.

I intended to go back into ceramic later on as more of a hobby, selling finished decorative pieces as there was still a good market for this in our area. I was encouraged to go on a spiritual journey called The St Ignatius Spiritual Exercises that took me two and a half year to complete with a spiritual adviser and a lot of travel.My husband took the Exercise as well. I even travelled while on chemo every week to be with my spiritual advisor.  Then my faith was very strong. I did a lot of inner healing while on the Exercises. 

Then in mid December 2002 I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer and told that I would probably die from it. I had a radical mastectomy and had  aggressive chemo  treatments  and then radiation.  My immune system was destroyed so it was either a bone marrow transplant or very expensive medicines that I would have to learn to inject myself.  Every  1 cc. of  Eprex  cost $800. and my hand would shake because I was so afraid to mess up and waste the med. The Nupogen was injected for 5 days and if I remember correctly, cost $96 a shot. These were given to built up my red and white blood cells 48 hours following every chemo treatments for 6 months. Even with my private health insurance that paid 80% of the cost, my out of pocket expenses were a lot.    Then My radiation required me to travel to another city for treatments. 

Having gone through the Spiritual Exercises had prepared  me for this difficult journey. Because I was in a god place spiritually, I had accepted that I was ready to die if it was the will of God and ready to live if this was His will.  When I surrendered to Jesus, I was filled with a peace that is hard to describe. I was ready to live fully each day that I was given. I enjoyed even the smallest thing people did for me. I had a lot of support from family, friends and my church community. They donated some money and had fund raiser for me. Even my own family who lives in another part of the province raised money for me. We couldn't have gone through the expenses on our own and we couldn't apply for assistance because we were self employed. 

In the spring of 2009 we had a devastating flood and our cattle had to be evacuated to another farm an hour drive away so twice a day it was two hour drive to go and come back to milk the cows. The stress on the cows was evident and their production went down a lot. We lost lots of our hay and silage. Lots of damage to equipments and buildings, erosions of road and land.  The government compensated a small amount and our real  lost was great.We had hay donated  from generous farmers as far as Ontario.

Personally I lost about $30,000.00 in ceramics molds, shelves and equipments that were in the basement. Luckily because the water  level was one inch below the window sill, the insurance paid. If the water would have entered through the window, they would have not paid a cent. 

On January 31, 2010 one of our bedding barn collapsed under the weight of snow and trapped 70 of our milking cows. They had been milked that morning and had returned to the bedding area.  My husband had returned to the barn and found the rafters coming out through the windows. The 911 call was made and also to me and my son and one other farmer. Within minutes there was help from the fire department, the farmers in our area, reporters, curious bystanders. We only lost 3 cows in the mishap. The media were constantly looking for a story. We were not in the mood for being on TV or the newspaper and radio. But they were relentless. We were in shock.

 It took only two months in February and March to rebuilt the new barn with the help of volunteers. Even with the red tape of demolition and building permits and and engineers, every thing went like clock work. An amazing show of support carried us through this difficult time. Every day I fed the workers and never knew how many would show up but somehow neighbors and the community brought food at just the right time and we never once ran out of food. Some days there were 15, the next 6, another 20, another 3 and so on. We were grateful beyond measure for all the assistance we got. 

I wasn't very brave when it came to cows but I was called out of my deep sleep at 5:00 am one morning by my husband who needed me to care for a frost bitten calf that was born in the cold pole barn in  February. The mother had given birth  before her due date. The calf had dropped behind the gate and she couldn't reach her to lick her clean and keep it warm. The wet calf quickly was covered with white frost. I cared for it and  it survived  and she is now pregnant.  It happened another time and again  I was awaken at 5:00 am but that calf died. I was devastated. I started to care for the calves and since I did such a good job, I was hired. I'm still caring for the calves, small one and big ones.I clean at the farm and clean the pens, I paint walls, I do office work, like filing, opening mail, online banking, payroll deductions, bank deposits, write cheques, calculate the HST tax refund every three months, housework, yard work like gardening and mowing the lawn, meals, laundry, grocery and as if that wasn't enough I started a blog to challenge myself. My blog is called Of Petals and Wool because I like to garden and design and hook wool rugs.

My life is very challenging but never boring. I hope I didn't bored you with this long story.   JB
Thank you honey for writing such a wonderful story for all of my friends to enjoy. I have to say I learned a lot about you today that I did not know. Like you owning a ceramic shop for ten years. Wow I use to own one too and loved it.
Isn't it great to learn about our fellow blogging buddies. Julia always inspires me to do more when I visit her site beccause she never slows down. She is like that pink bunny in the battery commercials during the holidays. She just goes and goes and goes. What an amazing woman and friend!
If you want to be the next guest on here please send me your story to If for some reason you have already sent me a story and have not heard from me please let me know because sometimes this happens and I feel bad about it. So don't think I am not publishing your story it's because I don't have it.  Remember everyone has a story to tell so send me yours.
This has been a tiring week for me. My renters are moving out of my home in town so I am dealing with that and then Gretchen leaves Friday afternoon from here so l am already crying over her leaving.

I have  tried to visit the Round Top/Warrenton show several times with friends but my back just would not let me browse a whole lot. I did take a few pictures that I hope to share with you soon.

Saturday I did get to see my darling family over the weekend and oh how I laughed with those two grandbabies. What a hoot they are! God really blessed us when he gave us grandbabies.
Sending you lots of good wishes and love



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