Canadian in Candia

August 3, 2009

My Crazy Relatives

Filed under: Family — Tags: , — Miriam @ 10:17 pm

My grandma’s funeral was the first time her 12 grandchildren were in one place at one time. It had also been a while since her 6 children posed for a picture together.

We were losing light pretty quickly. So I just snapped a few pictures. I didn’t bother arranging anyone.

Anyone want to venture a guess at who the two youngest of the bunch are?
Frankie's gang

It’s a little hard, they are a pretty good looking bunch.
Frankie's gang

How about now?
Frankie's gang

Yep the two in the center would be the convicts, including my dad. For further age grouping we have the two middle children (3rd and 4th) on either side of the youngest “kids”. And the two eldest (but by no means most grown up) are on the outside.

Strangest of all, they actually seem to like each other.
Frankie's gang


July 31, 2009

Grandma Frankie

Filed under: Family — Tags: , , , — Miriam @ 11:06 pm

As some of you may know my paternal grandmother died a week ago today. A lot has happened in the last week so I’m finally getting around to making this post. I think it is important that the posts that memorialize these kinds of events properly capture the person I loved, and one can never find the right words in these situations.

FrankieMy Grandma was known to us a Frankie.  She was not a Francoise but a Frances. She had a French last name but grew up bilingual in Quebec. Most of what I know from her childhood, I know from my dad and from my genealogical investigations. I know that her family owned and ran a hotel with the money my great-father had leftover after the depression. So she was raised to be a lady in an elegant environment and she was a very classy woman.

As a young woman she met the love of her life, Hector, married him and had a lovely family of 3 boys and 3 girls. My father tells me that she was raised in wealth, but her adult life was one of modest means. She raised her family in a home that most people would consider small for a couple now. When my father told me this, he said with great admiration “She never complained once”.

Her children grew up and started families of their own. She took up painting in her free time (more about this in a little bit). She became a grandmother twelve times over. And in all this joy she lost the love of her life. My grandfather died 22 years ago.  She never remarried.

As a child Frankie was a yearly visitor to our home. She would come spend a week or two with us in the summer spending her days reading and hanging out with us. One of the last years she came to visit she reported that she had spent the day reading with our husky Keanu lying at her feet.

My grandmother was an artist, and I believe it is important that I capture this part of who she was. I grew up in a household filled with her paintings. I could always proudly say that most of the paintings that adorned our house were by my grandmother. She did it as a hobby and she did it because she enjoyed it. I would like to think I get some of my artistic side from her, but I’m not even close to as talented (although my aunt seems to have inherited some creative genes).

I’m so proud of the paintings she has made, paintings that will hopefully be passed down from generation to generation, that I asked my dad to help me bring them to this blog. He took pictures of the paintings by Frankie that he has at his house. Please pardon the reflection on some of them and be aware that these paintings span almost three decades worth of work.  I find some of her water scenes to be magnificent.

Paintings by my Grandma Frankie

This was from a picture of me when I was 4 or 5 years old.

Paintings by my Grandma Frankie

Paintings by my Grandma Frankie

Paintings by my Grandma Frankie

Paintings by my Grandma Frankie

Paintings by my Grandma Frankie
This is one of my favorites.

Paintings by my Grandma Frankie

Paintings by my Grandma Frankie

Paintings by my Grandma Frankie

Paintings by my Grandma Frankie

Paintings by my Grandma Frankie

Paintings by my Grandma Frankie

Paintings by my Grandma Frankie

Paintings by my Grandma Frankie

Paintings by my Grandma Frankie

Paintings by my Grandma Frankie

Paintings by my Grandma Frankie

In the last few years her arthritis crippled her hands and prevented her from painting. Cataracts reduced her vision so she had difficulty reading. She had several broken bones due to falls. But her mind was sharp. So many people watch their family degenerate mentally year by year. We were so fortunate to have had her for 91 years and to have her so present when we saw her. We could truly say she died of old age.

We had a gathering in April where she was able to see her two great grand-children who live out West. I hope they will have a memory of her.

I’m glad I spent some time with her last time I was in Quebec. She seemed well. We talked a long time about life, and my photography. She was content with her life and grateful for her children. It’s a wonderful last memory of my Grandma Frankie.

She will be remembered as a woman with an appreciation for beautiful things, and a wonderful sense of humour. Her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and art live on and are wonderful testament to who she was.

June 3, 2009


Filed under: Family, Photography, Uncategorized — Tags: , — Miriam @ 8:20 am

I caught a couple of pictures that I loved when I was in Canada a couple weeks ago.  Both my brother and one of my cousins were caught by my lens looking purposefully moody.

My brother with his tie undone and a moody face that looks like it’s on the verge of breaking into a laugh. I was complaining to him that I had wanted to get a picture of him when he was all dressed up but that I hadn’t gotten a chance.

This picture of my cousin would have been perfect if my uncle did not show up behind him just as I snapped the picture. As soon as he heard the camera click it ruined his moody looking demeanor.

I love getting pictures of people when they aren’t smiling. In real life the people we don’t and love have so many more faces than those we generally capture in images.

Do you like to capture candid images? If so what’s your favorite emotion to capture.

June 2, 2009

Erin’s Commencement

Filed under: Family, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Miriam @ 8:30 am

Erin's Commencement

I  dislike graduations.  I find them bittersweet.  They symbolize both a  beginning and an end. After all that time, all that effort and all that money, all you get a handshake and a piece of paper. And most graduation ceremonies seem unnecessarily long.

Erin's CommencementSaturday one of my best friends graduated from UMass Lowell with her Masters in Mechanical Engineering. I told her I hated commencement ceremonies, I even skipped my high school graduation.  But it seemed important to her that I, her adopted sister, be there for her big day.  So I went.

Erin's CommencementI sat with her parents and her real sister and watched all the honorary degrees and speeches.  Erin’s sister had graduated from UMass Amhearst a week prior.  I guess the President of the University system gave the same speech both times.  But Erin’s parents felt his delivery was better the second time.

Erin's CommencementThey called out the name of every graduate.  It took forever.  So many of the graduates left immediately after walking.  I found it very disrespectful. The Sheriff of Middlesex county, in charge of adjurning the Ceremony actually thanked all those who had stayed til the end to show support for all the graduates.

Erin's CommencementMy favorite part of University commencement ceremonies (lets face it the only part I like other than watching whomever I am there to support  beam as they get their diploma) is watching the parade of professors in a rainbow of robes representing the University where they got their PhD.

Erin's CommencementOf course then I did a photoshoot afterwards.

Erin's CommencementI even got a picture of myself with the proud grad.

Erin's CommencementAnd pictures with the family.

Erin's CommencementI even got the sisters to pretend they like each other.  I mean they are only 2 years apart.

Erin's CommencementErin’s always been a good sport about being a model for me.

Erin's Commencement
This is kind of a random picture, but I love how it looks like her mom is busy planning and Erin is busy dreaming.

Erin's Commencement7 years of University DONE!
Congratulations Erin! I’m so proud of you!!!

May 20, 2009

My Grandmaman

Filed under: Family — Tags: , — Miriam @ 5:29 pm

My grandmother Irene

My maternal grandmother Irene passed away on Monday, she was 92. The picture above of her and my grandfather was taken 4 years ago when I went to visit them for their 65th wedding anniversary.

My grandmother, or more appropriately “ma grandmere” or “grandmaman”, grew up in a very rural agricultural part of Quebec known as Gaspesie. I don’t remember ever going to Gaspesie, but I’m told it was a beautiful place near the Ocean.  She was an eldest child and spent a lot of her childhood helping care for her younger siblings.

On June 24th 1940, she married my grandfather, at 5 o’clock in the morning! I guess with the war going on in Europe the priest wanted to make sure they were married before he went on a trip somewhere so he told them to meet him at 5 am at the church. Their wedding reception was a meal at her parents house. They were together almost 69 years.

Over those years they had 9 children, 4 boys and 5 girls. In 1955, my grandparents decided to move to Montreal in order to better support their growing family. My grandfather has told me stories of the culture shock that came from moving to the city. When my mother was born in 1950, their small town only had one car… and it belonged to the town’s doctor. Montreal was a whole other experience.

Her life has not been easy. She had to manage her finances carefully to support her family but succeeded. She had to watch three of her children die before her, one as a toddler, one as a teenager and one as a relatively young adult, but she survived. I can’t say that I knew that much about her because I lived so far away, and she preferred that I talk about my life than talk about her past. But I know that she has sacrificed and worked so hard to raise her children right.

We will miss her, but I know my grandfather will miss her the most. She was his whole life.

So I will be going to Quebec this weekend to celebrate her life with my family. She was never rich, she was never famous, but she left behind 2 sons, 4 daugthers, 16 grandchildren and 11 great grand-children. She leaves behind a legacy of intelligence and strength. And she was loved.

May 17, 2009

Family Photo Attempts

Filed under: Family — Miriam @ 7:08 pm

The other day I came home to find my husband and dog playing in the yard together. I decided to try to get a picture of the three of us together using the self portrait with your arm out method.

Family photo attempts
Attempt #1: Adam is trying to get Cooper to look at the Camera but isn’t himself. And Cooper’s a little blurry.

Family photo attempts
Attempt #2: Adam looks great and I would have looked fine if Cooper hadn’t decided that very moment that I needed my eyeball licked.

Family photo attempts
Attempt #3: The two humans look human, but Cooper decides not to participate in our family time. So I gave up.

Come to think of it though, attempt #2 is kinda typical of our little family.

May 6, 2009

Ode to my Brother

Filed under: Family — Tags: , — Miriam @ 1:59 pm

Mike, Mir and Adam in Montreal

I was looking at my Flickr account trying to find inspirations for future blog posts. I’m making a list so I can continue my chattering even on days when I feel I have nothing to say. Then I found this picture of my brother, myself and my husband on Mont Royal in Montreal. I starting thinking that I miss my brother. This is me, Miriam, I miss my brother. Do you read that mom? I wish he lived closer, heck I wish he lived in my house.

Why is this so astounding? This is a fairly recent development. As teenagers our relationship worked because we generally stayed out of each others way. I had a room upstairs in the North East corner of the house, his room was in the basement in the South West corner. We went to different high schools, played different sports. We hung out in completely different crowds. In short, I was the nerd who was so heavily involved in rowing that I didn’t have time for anything else. He, I perceived, was a slacker or at least a slow bloomer.

When I went to college, he was so involved in his friends, work and social life that we rarely saw each other on my short and rare visits home.

Since I’ve moved to our new house, my brother has come to visit me on long weekends a couple times. I’ve grown to appreciate that he’s a different person than me. He may be taking longer to find his way, but he is slowly figuring things out. He lives his life at a less hectic pace than my own, lets things bother him less and his dreams take longer to fully express themselves. But soon he’ll be a certified Electrician. He talks about someday owning his own business and maybe teaching. He lusts over my house and dreams of buying one of his own. He enjoys doing neat tricks on a Mountain Bike that would lead me to break every bone in my body. And he has a network of hardworking friends who really enjoy his company. I’ve realized that I never really knew him in high school. He could have been doing all sorts of neat things and I really wouldn’t have known.


So after 24 years of coexistence on the planet (his birthday was a week ago, I probably liked him that first week) I can finally say that I like my little brother. I think this was the hope my mom had in having a second child, that we would like each other. I can’t wait to hang out with my little brother again.

I should have saved this post for Mother’s Day, or posted it on his birthday. But the spontaneous urge to write has taken over and I’m posting this on a random day in between both.

April 14, 2009

Painting of my wedding dress

Filed under: Family, Life — Tags: , , — Miriam @ 4:30 pm

IMGP8056, originally uploaded by mbarsalou.

So I was in Quebec this weekend. I got to visit my father’s side of the family in a large family Easter reunion. My aunt gave me a very special belated wedding present, a painting she painted based on a picture from my wedding.

At my wedding reception

At my wedding reception

I’m very excited to put this painting up. Not only is it painted by my aunt, but it has a story, it’s a painting based on me and my very cool wedding dress.


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