A Good Home, Family, Family Moments, Pets

The One & Only Jerome

If you’ve ever lived with a pet, or loved a pet, you already know that each one is a unique character, much like humans.

And if you have been owned by a cat, or been a servant/companion to one, you have a bag of stories to share.

Blog photo - Jerome CU

Pets usually become beloved family members. You may recall meeting some of ours here.

Our daughter Nikisha and son-in-law Tim have lived with two cats for nearly 18 years.  Jerome, aka Jerry, and Simon.

Blog Photo - Jerome sitting

Jerome and Simon have been a beloved part of all our lives — though in recent years, mainly through pictures and phone calls with us, since they now live in the US.

Blog Photo - Jerome and Nikisha

We still have a recorded phone message of Jerome meowing a strong “hello”.

Blog Photo - Jerome and Tim2

Jerome was, as Tim says, “a big orange cat with a sunny disposition” who met the neighbours and made friends before they did. “He had a knack for knowing when Nikisha and I were feeling down, and would comfort us.”

Blog Photo - Jerome on injured knee

“When I broke my leg, he would come and sit with me, sometimes on the broken leg, and purr away.”

Jerome was adventurous, outgoing and loved long walks.  Days after Tim and Nikisha moved house, he disappeared for several days.  We all launched a search, some of us doing so online.  My mother-in-law even put Jerome’s name on a prayer list.

It turned out that Jerry was trying to find his way home — to their former place. He was found and returned to the new home, tired and hungry.

Blog Photo - Jerome back safe and sound

Nikisha describes him this way: “An enthusiastic yet curmudgeonly host, he was always in the thick of every social event, though refused to give up his chair to guests as a matter of principle.”

Blog Photo - Jerome on Sofa 1

So you can understand that we have all watched with sadness as the cats have aged, and Jerome struck with diabetes and other ailments. 

We mourned along with Tim and Nikisha when Jerome died last week. Simon, his brother for almost all his life, was upstairs at the time, and began wailing at that moment.

Blog Photo - Simon 2

Nikisha says “It’s amazing how he knew almost immediately that Jerry was gone.”

If you’ve loved a pet, I know you’ll understand. If you haven’t, you may be surprised to learn how profound the loss is. After all, it’s saying goodbye to a beloved member of the family.

Rest peacefully, dear Jerry. Thanks for being in our lives.

 

A Good Home, Family Moments

Pride or The Lack Thereof

My good man doesn’t understand why I like my sister’s old clothes. She shows up with a bagful of clothing and I rummage through them like a kid with a treasure box.

The look on his face says: “At your age, you really should not be wearing your sister’s hand-me-downs.” 

I could tell him they’re not just any old cast-offs: they’re my sister’s cast-offs! But he didn’t have older brothers; he doesn’t understand.

Blog Photo - Cynthia coat - bag of clothes

I could say that wearing each other’s clothes goes back decades, to stories like this one: for her first big job interview, my sister wore the light-blue suit that I had just bought with all my savings. She got the job and I shared in her pride. We never forgot that moment or that suit.

I could remind him that my sister did me a favour by accepting my collection of shoes.

Many had been bought on sale in Italy when I worked there.  But some were bought closer to home, after the car accident.  They were a commitment: I would heal, would wear “nice shoes” again.

It never happened, of course, and a few years ago, I finally surrendered. But I knew those shoes had to go to a special person. Someone who wore the same size and would understand.

My sister understood. My sisters always understand more than I tell them.

Blog Photo - Cynthia coat full

They’d also understand why I bought this strange-looking coat, another thing my good man can’t fathom.

“Why are the sleeves different?” he said when I first wore it some years ago.

Blog Photo - Cynthia coatsleeve 1

Blog Photo - Cynthia coatsleeve 2

“And those buttons!”

I said each purchase contributes to funds for families in the Himalayas. That didn’t change his mind.

Blog Photo - Cynthia coat closeup

It’s been over-worn. When the zipper got stuck last week and I had to step into the coat, cane and all, in the middle of a restaurant, he wasn’t there. And a good thing, that: he’d have turned white with astonishment — a difficult thing for a black man to do.

Blog Photo - Cynthia coat zipper

“You did what?” he asked, when I mentioned it. 

“It was a struggle! And when I looked up, giggling, other patrons burst into laughter,” I blithely continued.

“And that didn’t bother you?”

“Of course not!”

You should have seen the look on his face. 

The issue, you see, is personal pride and dignity.  It seems I’ve lost all of mine.

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Dedicated to my sisters, and to my husband, who love me, no matter what.

A Good Home, Family Moments, Mishaps

The Ungodly Godmother

Maybe — now that I’m going to become a children’s book author — my blog should become more respectable?  I hope not. But just in case, I’m sharing this post before Myrtle is published!

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The “Ungodly Godmother” of one of our children drove hours on her first day off work to visit me after my recent mishap.

Time spent with her is a gift. She’s caring, smart, and makes us laugh. Updates about her life, her town, mutual friends — are all told in witty, ironic and ‘salty’ language.

It’s partly why our children have always loved her. The laughter. And because she was that rare adult who didn’t clean up her language when they entered a room. Thus the name she gave herself: “The Ungodly Godmother”.

Blog Photo - Cast with messages by Hamlin Grange

Before she left our home this time, she autographed my cast.

Not that I could see it clearly.  Too far down the cast, near my heel.

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We hadn’t been to church since I fell and injured myself.  I’ve missed the quiet Sunday morning rituals, the readings from the old Book of Common Prayer, in our tiny historic chapel.

Blog Photo - St Thomas Church Altar

So my husband and I were grateful when the priest called, offering to bring us communion.  

Father Tim spread a handkerchief-size white tablecloth on our coffee table, then placed two tiny gold jars on it, his prayer book to one side. He read a prayer for the sick, and Hamlin and I followed along as he read. He opened one gold jar and gave us the wafer (the bread), then opened the other and anointed our foreheads with consecrated oil.

The sacred ceremony complete, we got to talking about light and pleasant topics. You know:  politics, journalism, original sin.

Before he left, I asked him to sign my cast.

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“There’s room next to Liona’s.” My husband pointed to the space next to Liona Boyd’s signature and drawing of her guitar. 

Blog photo - Cast with Liona Guitar

She’s a famous classical guitarist and Father Tim, a fan of her music, happily placed his signature near hers, complete with the sign of the cross.

Blog Photo - Cast message from Fr. Tim

Days later, I saw my husband’s photos of the cast and made a surprising discovery.

To the right of Father Tim’s signature was Liona’s — yes. But to the near-left was the message from our dear friend, The Ungodly Godmother.

Blog Photo - Cast message from the UG

It said, simply: “Get this effing thing off!”

“Do you think he noticed?” I anxiously asked my husband.

“Don’t worry”, he said. “He’s a priest. He’s seen a lot worse.”

The Ungodly Godmother had struck again.

 

 

 

 

 

A Good Home, Architectural Conservancy, Author Cynthia Reyes, Barns, Canadian Families, Country Homes, Doors Open, Family Moments, Farms, Home Decor

Home at The Grange – Part 4

The house that the Elliott family built back in the late 1850’s fell into the right hands nearly 130 years later.

Blog Photo - Doors Open Nick photo of Apples and Wendy

It’s a good thing it did.

Blog Photo - Doors Open Nick early photo of family and chickens

In 1986, the place was so dilapidated that another buyer might have either demolished the house and barn, or renovated the character out of them.

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Blog Photo - Doors Open Nick early photo of Verandah etc

But the Boothmans had the vision, patience — and resources needed — to bring the property to new life, without destroying its character.

Blog Photo - Doors Open The Grange House CU Hamlin

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Allow me to digress a little at this point, please…

Remember that the Boothman kids refused at first to to move with their parents into the family’s farmhouse? It was Hallowe’en 1986, and with a cemetery for a neighbour, the children were afraid the ghosts would come next door to their home. (See Part 2)

Blog Photo - Doors Open Clarington Photo Cemetery

That historic cemetery is also on the Doors Open tour this year.  

It was the Elliott family who donated the land for this cemetery and the church that once stood there  — Kendal’s first church, New Connexion Methodist.  It was later named for the Elliotts and their neighbours, the McLeans.  

Of the two neighbouring families, the McLeans achieved greater fame.

A McLean grandson, (James Stanley McLean), became founder and president of the well-known Canada Packers company.  Wealthy and influential, James and his wife built a stately Georgian-style house on 50 acres in Toronto.

Blog Photo - Doors Open Estates of Sunnybrook photo of McLean House front

They called it “Bay View” — which later inspired the name of one of Canada’s wealthiest neighborhoods, Bayview Avenue.

Today their former home belongs to world-famous Sunnybrook Hospital.  Renamed “McLean House” in their honour, the house is used for events — a fundraiser for Sunnybrook’s medical research.

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But let’s return to the main story of how the Boothmans saved the Elliott house and created a beloved home for their own family.  

In restoring and renovating the property as they did, Nick and Wendy preserved its history, and went far beyond.

They gave it a new life, deserving of a new name: “The Grange”.  The Boothmans have therefore created a legacy of their own.

Blog Photo - Doors Open Nick Panorama of House

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Three generations of the Boothman family — and their friends — have enjoyed The Grange.

Wendy remembers that “one of the children’s friends called and asked if he could get married here, saying: ‘The Grange is top of our list because of the memories and the setting. Is it doable?’ “

“Yes”, she replied.

In all, five weddings have been held here. Son Thomas, and 4 of the children’s friends, all held their weddings at The Grange.

Blog Photo - Doors Open Nick photo of wedding

Much has changed in 31 years.

 

Blog Photo - Doors Open Bernice Photo The Grange2

Wendy has launched a variety of ground-breaking projects. She’s assisted on some long-distance projects too. Born in S. Africa, she’s proud of helping her brother-in-law Mike with a project, led by Nelson Mandela, to develop effective volunteerism in S. Africa.

Blog Photo - Doors open MikeandMandela

More recently, she won, on behalf of Durham Region, the Guinness world record for the longest picnic table in the world.

Nick, meanwhile, has become a well-known author of several books.

Blog Photo - Nicholas Boothman Book 2

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The Boothman children have grown up. Wendy and Nick now have 5 grandchildren.

It’s the grandchildren’s time to explore and enjoy The Grange — this home settled by the Elliotts and transformed by the Boothmans, more than a hundred years apart.

Blog Photo - Doors Open Nick photo of Grandkids and kites.JPG

It doesn’t snow as heavily as it used to, and Wendy misses the snow. But she and Nick cherish their home, with its “peace and quiet, the gardens and the views”.

On June 10th, 2017, as part of Doors Open Clarington, The Grange hosts its biggest audience: hundreds of people from the area and far beyond will explore this storied home. 

Blog Photo - Doors Open Nick photo of Grandkids at mailbox

Wendy and Nick will warmly welcome everyone, happy that they took the risk, 31 years ago, of restoring a property that many would have rejected.

What an achievement.

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Photo Credits:

McLean House photo from The Estates of Sunnybrook

Photo 5 by Hamlin Grange

3rd, 6th & 11th  photos by Bernice Norton

9th, 10th and 12th photos by C. McSorley

14th photo by Marilyn Morawecz

Other photos provided by Nicholas Boothman

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To contact Doors Open Clarington:

Co- Chairperson Bernice Norton

905-623-9982

bernice_norton@hotmail.com

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Thanks to Doors Open Clarington and the Boothmans for research assistance.