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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

In which the Accidental Farmwife becomes a hunting widow. For a day or two anyway.

The Farmer’s father is 89 years old. And he’s determined to go to his traditional hunt camp again this year. With his mobility a bit compromised, it might be foolhardy for Wally to go hunting on his own again but he really doesn’t like to miss it. So the Farmer is going with him. Hopefully the two of them will enjoy their time together and no one will get lost in the woods.
A lot of hunter’s wives are used to their men going off into the bush for a week or two at the beginning of November. Some of them even look forward to it. They plan girls-only get-togethers, shopping trips, ladies’ lunches and movie nights. A ‘hunting widow’, as she is called, will take advantage of the solitude and spend her days at home without worrying about her man’s schedule, his favourite meals, TV shows, or comfort zones.
One of my friends plans home decorating projects for when her husband is away on his annual hunting trip. The year it was really warm in November and the deer weren’t moving, he called to say he was bored and coming home early. She told him he had better not, or she would put him to work. So he spent a few more days in the woods, reading a book.
I am not accustomed to my man going off on his own for several days at a time.
If the Farmer isn’t home, I am cold all the time and I don’t sleep well. I have to leave lights on and I stay up way past my bedtime, watching useless movies on Netflix.  
Now don’t get me wrong – I truly enjoy my alone time. But the Farmer and I have formed such a secure, routine partnership, I feel quite unsettled without him. Like I’m walking around all day with just one shoe.
The Farmer went away in May, on a business trip with the college. I managed. We Skyped twice a day and I kept busy so that the days would go by quickly. I guess I will do the same this time.
I will invite friends over for a sleep-over movie night with sushi and cocktails and chick flicks. I will sleep in and stay up late, work on my book and read others. I will appreciate the fact that my husband has his own interests. We are both very independent people, thank goodness.
So I’m a hunting widow this year! But it certainly isn’t going to be lonely. We have three international students living with us, after all. I have to get them to their various activities, keep the house clean, keep them fed and entertained. We’ll go to the movies and the hockey game and have a great time.
I think I’ve got it all under control. This farm pretty well runs itself. As long as the water to the barn doesn’t freeze or otherwise break down, we’re good. If it does, I will have to line up a row of barrels and fill them with water, twice a day.
I hope the snow holds off and we don’t get an early storm while the Farmer/Hunter is away because I can’t drive that decrepit old tractor to bring the cows hay. I would just have to open the door to the barn, climb up onto the hay bales and roll one out for them. Which wouldn’t be so bad, I guess. I’ve managed in the past. The farm survives without the Farmer. For short periods of time.
So I guess we’re good. I’m even looking forward to it. I can take the girls into the city, visit friends I haven’t seen in a while and not worry about rushing home to make dinner or keep company with the man of the house. It will be a novelty, and it will wear off, because I like my routine.
Yep, we’re good. As long as the Farmer is home in time for Sunday dinner. Because that is one thing that just doesn’t happen without him. I love houseguests but get stressed when things have to happen on schedule, like a coordinated dinner for 20.
He has a free hunting pass until Sunday. Or I’m cancelling dinner.
The nice thing about the Farmer going off for a weekend hunting is that I can bank those points toward a nice weekend away in Montreal or Toronto with my girls. We can go Christmas shopping, take in a concert or show, enjoy girl time and not feel guilty about leaving the Farmer home to fend for himself. Because if I can survive solitude, so can he!
I will just have to leave bowls of cat food and water all over the basement for Sammy and Sheila because he isn’t likely to remember to feed them unless they trip him on his way up the stairs.

“The Farmer’s Wife” hosts the afternoon drive at 97.5 Juice FM on weekday afternoons.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

There is a woman who embodies everything I have ever wanted to be. The positive energy emanating from this person just swirls around her and fills the room. Her laugh cracks through the air and she is very quick to give you a big, warm smile, even if you have yet to be formally introduced. She isn’t happy because life is easy and good. She is happy because she is content with what she has. She is grateful, and blessed. I want to learn that trick. Maureen Kathleen Theresa Cullen Leeson is my mother, and we are celebrating her 70th birthday this week.
Mom was born and raised in Ottawa. She spent a fair amount of time in a house on Donald Street in the east end. Her mother, my grandma Vicky, raised five kids – four boys and one little girl – on her own. She took in boarders to make ends meet. Mom says they were poor growing up. She remembers going to the home of a more well-to-do friend one day after school, and being amazed by the bowl of fruit in the centre of the kitchen table. She told herself, when I’m married and have a family of my own, there will always be a bowl of fruit in the centre of the table. And so there always was.
My mother must have inherited her tenacious spirit from my grandmother. She had to be resilient, with four rather wild brothers sharing the small home. Many times my father would say, “it’s amazing your mother turned out normal, growing up with brothers like that.”
My childhood memories are full of song. My mother woke up singing. “Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day. I’ve got a beautiful feeling, everything’s going my way” – and she meant every word. I thought she surely must be one of the best singers in the world. She seemed to have a song for every occasion. The radio was always on, right beside the kitchen sink, so she could sing while cooking and doing the dishes. That too, was passed on from her French Canadian mother.
Mom taught us to be resilient too. I remember the first day of Grade 6, or maybe it was 5, when I was wearing a brown polyester A-line skirt and a lemon yellow tee-shirt and I thought I looked just fabulous, with my little pixie haircut and Mary Jane shoes. Until I got to school and someone told me that yellow doesn’t go with brown and my hair makes me look like a boy. A skinny, brown boy.
I was pretty upset when I got home and didn’t want to talk about it but Mom eventually got it out of me. “That’s ridiculous,” she said. “I studied the colour spectrum in my Interior Decorating course and yellow goes perfectly well with brown. That person just doesn’t know any better.”
Later, when I ran off and got married at 19, and later when I had serious trouble in my first marriage, and even when I decided to move to Asia, my mother was always there for me, showing support without meddling. I know she worried a great deal about me and my impulsive decisions, but she remained a steady, positive force I could always depend on. Never passing judgment.
My mother is abundantly generous. Whether it’s the loan of a vehicle, or extra place settings for Thanksgiving dinner, she always thinks of what you need and offers it, before you even realize you need it.
I’m constantly asking myself “What would Mom do?” Because in any given situation, that would be the right answer. It’s a safe bet, anyway.
Live life to the fullest. Speak your mind. Go out of your way for people. Enjoy a good glass of wine each night. Greet each day with a smile.
We celebrated Mom’s 70th with a professional family photo shoot. She is still the same classic beauty with the demure smile, the stylish dress, the matriarch of the family. She is the glue that holds us together.
My whole life I’ve been told I look and sound just like my mom. I didn’t see it much before but now I see it more and more every day. And that’s just fine with me, because there isn’t anyone I would rather be like, in this world. Happy Birthday, Mom. We love you.