Closed Eyes & Warm Heart

I had a significantly worse time at the dentist yesterday than I had anticipated.  My eyes were swollen nearly shut and my lips are double big, like that movie star with all the kids.  Sexy, I suppose, if they did not hurt so badly.  They found that the tooth which they intended to crown had to go… and it did not go well.  They had to keep me under for five hours while they yanked and pulled.  I am sore, groggy, dizzy, forgetful and irritable today.  Not a good time to get on the train to Toronto, then to Kingston, then get back to THO.  The trip from door to door takes about 6 hours which is more than driving (if the traffic flow is good) due to the always long and silly stop over in Toronto, wait times and so on.

This said, I am happy to say that the day before my surgery, my cousin Sandy was by to visit me and brought me this wonderful old photo of my Great Grandmother “Ma” Violet Henderson Compton.  I never saw a photo of her from her youth.  I honestly never imagined her to be so lovely because I never saw her before she was old, or before all the hardship she faced.  She was such a good person: sweet, kind, patient and I loved her dearly.  Still, if you will forgive me for saying this, she always looked sort of worn out even when she was dressed up.  I knew her history, that she married young and that she and my great grandfather “Dad” lost their barn to a fire just as the country headed forcefully into the Great Depression. I know that financially they did not recover until the end of the Depression from that single significant loss.  They moved from home in Kingston Mills when the barn burned, to another in Tweed, then to Odessa, then another in Glenvale, and then finally to another in Sydenham during those hard, hard years.  In those years the kids kept coming too, 11 in all, there was no good way to prevent pregnancy in those years.  Too, adding to her hardship, Dad, her husband was more of a poet who loved horses, then he was a farmer who loved to toil.  He snuck away into his room and spent hours reading himself blind, like me.  She was hand washing and bringing in water from the pump, cooking meals and suckling the rejected lambs.  I don’t recall ever seeing her sit down, even when she became sick.  She went from running, to laying down; a woman with no moderation.  I expect she never had time to reflect.

My grandma, also named Violet, spoke often of those times.  She spoke with particular sadness about the Glenvale house.

This small house was just as old then as it is now according to my grandma.  She admonished me for taking a photo of it, she said she only wanted to forget those times.  There were ten children and two grown ups in the house at that time because the youngest would be born later, and the land was such that Dad was not able to pull a living out of it.  It was all rocks.  The boys slept in one small room upstairs and the girls in the other small room.  Ma and Dad slept downstairs in the corner.  She said the wind blew through the house like it had no walls at all.  They cooked all summer and froze all winter.  It was a standard log house with clap boards nailed outside.  The house is a centre hall plan of about 600 square feet 30×20 feet with a sloped ceiling divided loft.  This was a very standard way of building a house about 200 years ago when those who built it settled here.

The joy that they had when Father Carey set them up on the Carey farm was clear.  Finally they had the space they needed and a very comfortable home.

Nice to see the new owners are restoring the Carey Farm to its original magnificence!  Imagine what it would have been like for them to move from that horrible little house to this beautiful well built stone one!  Goes to show you that Tiny is not always best.  Quality matters a whole lot too.

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Categories: Family, Materialism, Money, Off Grid, Ontario, Time, Tiny house, Tiny House Ontario, View | Tags: , , , | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on “Closed Eyes & Warm Heart

  1. I know you wrote this a long time ago but I just found it today while doing research on The Great Depression in Canada. Thank you for this little piece of history.

  2. Anonymous

    Wonderful story Laura…must be grounding for you to tell the story and touch your beloved Violet with your words and heart!

    • Is this my Jamaican sister? Thank you. If it is you I know that we share a special closeness with our people. xo L

  3. Carrie Whalen

    Your stories make me cry. I love the house and how wonderful that all 10 kids could have such a nice upgrade. Where does the time go ah? Before we blink we will be gone and hopefully someone will be so sweet as you to post some pics of us and tell a story of our lives.

  4. Anonymous

    You stories make me cry. I love the house and how wonderful that all 10 kids could have such a nice upgrade. Where does the time go ah? Before we blink we will be gone and hopefully someone will be so sweet as you to post some pics of us and tell a story of our lives.

  5. Very touching story, Laura. LOVE that you now have a picture of your beloved Violet. xo

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