When I was a teenager, my mother was famous for her homemade apple wine. She used her own fruit, grown on a tree in our back garden. I can’t remember what my mother actually did with the apples. I just remember the glass demijohns of apple liquid which glopped away noisily on the pantry floor for many weeks. Eventually the demijohns were emptied, and then row after row of corked wine bottles, neatly labelled, took their place.

Andy also used to made his own wine. One day he invited me into his cellar and proudly showed me his collection. “This is last year’s vintage,” he said. “Would you like to taste it?”

I am an adventurous type person, and I like wine, so I nodded enthusiastically. Moments later, I was clutching my throat and whispering, “Water!" When I could once again speak properly, I asked, “Are you sure that's wine?” It tasted like paint stripper.

Of course, I have no idea what paint stripper really tastes like. We bought some once, but I wasn’t tempted to drink it. We used it to strip the paint off an old wooden framed lounge suite. We had big plans. I had a book about restoring old furniture. There were lots of glossy photos in it of chairs and tables and chests that had been bought for next-to-nothing at second hand stores, and then restored into items of exquisite beauty. We were sure we could do the same. We had big dreams. Actually that was all it turned out to be: a dream. Once the paint was stripped from the wood, we lost interest. We’re hopeless like that.

My mother would have finished what she started. In fact she restored a number of antique armchairs. She asked my grandfather for some tips: He was an upholsterer. Apparently he was a very skilled craftsman. He told my mother she had talent too. All around our house were various chairs she’d stripped and recovered with new fabric, after replacing the padding.

We've been considering having our old St Joseph’s lounge suite reupholstered. We’ve been thinking about it for ten years or more. Each year the lounge suite gets more and more shabby, and each year Andy says, “Let’s take it to the tip, and buy a new one.” And every year, I protest and say, “I like that lounge suite. It’s so comfy. Let’s keep it. One day we’ll get it reupholstered.”

But time has run out. We recently faced up to the fact that ‘one day’ will never arrive. We have ordered a new lounge suite, and my poor St Joseph’s lounge suite will be thrown out. The cats will be sad. The backing fabric of the sofa is loose and they like to climb inside and hide when it’s bath time. Where will they go next time they want to avoid being washed?

Once, a friend asked us why we wash our cats. I seem to remember the lady at the pet shop telling us to wash our long haired kitten, so we did. When the other two cats came to live at our house, they got a shock. Saturday afternoons are bath time. I doubt if these adult cats had ever had a bath before joining our family. They hate the water, and so they hide whenever they hear the laundry taps being turned on. You see, the laundry sink is also the cat bath.

I remember when the laundry sink used to be the baby bath. I never bothered with one of those plastic baths. It was much easier filling the laundry sink and working without bending over. We did have a special baby bath but the girls took charge of it. They carried it outside and then sailed over the seven seas in it. It made a great pirate ship. Don’t you just love how kids make up their own imaginary games?

I’d always regretted we never bought any of our children a proper cubby house. The girls would have loved one, or so I thought. Then the other day one of the girls, with a huge smile on her face, told me about the imaginary house they used to make together under the pine trees. “That was such a great game, Mum! That was the best house ever.” Yes, imaginary houses and games are the best.

Of course imaginary houses are useless if you have a family. Nothing less than a real one will do. Now there are real rental houses and real our-very-own-home houses. We used to live in the former sort of house until about 5 years ago. Then we were able to buy the one we are currently living in. I remember seeing it for the very first time. It felt like our home from the moment we stepped inside the front door. It was as if God was saying, “This is the house I have picked out for you.”

After we’d had a tour of the house, we went up to the village and had a look around. We visited the café and sat looking out the window, sipping our coffees. “Can you imagine walking up here and having coffee together?" I asked Andy. “Our very own café, only a short walk away.” That settled it. We bought the house. We have indeed walked up to the café a number of times since we moved to our village. They serve good coffee and delicious cakes, including huge apple pies.

My mother used to make wonderful apple pies. Apple pies, apple wine and reupholstered chairs are only a few of her talents. My mother is a remarkable woman. 

Me? Am I like my mother? No, I am hopeless. I can’t even find a way to end a long and rambling story about apples.

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  1. I remember the apple wine - and the barrels of beer, too! Funny how no-one really drank much - to look in the pantry, you'd be forgiven for thinking we were a family of alcoholics!

    Actually, you did end this story right. Even I, with my limited writing skills, know that a story goes full circle. You started with drinking apples and ended with eating them! Well done!!!

    Now, I'm waiting to see if Uglemor tells us what apple is in Danish:-)

    Perhaps, we can find you another alphabet to start when you've finished with this one:-D

    God bless, Sue:-)

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    1. Vicky,

      I think Mum might have made wine more for the challenge than anything else. You are quite right: I can't remember anyone drinking much alcohol at all.

      It was a bit of a circular story wasn't it. I liked your comment in your email: "It was like chatting around the table." I like that! I guess that's how conversations go... one thing leads to another.

      Another alphabet? No! I'm busy thinking about numbers!!!

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  2. Oops - I'm a dummy! It says what apple is in Danish at the top of the post! Now, there's a little piece of information for your reader response survey - I skimmed the title. Too eager to read the wonderful post!

    xxx

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    1. Vicky,

      I was thinking of writing about the length of a post... a lot of people rush through a post if it's too long. But I didn't expect anyone to skim through the title too! "Too eager to read the wonderful post!" Well, that makes all the difference. You are forgiven!

      Delete
  3. I am not only thrilled to find an extension (YAY!!), but I love everything you wrote... moving seamlessly from one thing into another and taking us all on a fun journey with you, all the way 'round to apples again. Thanks for starting my day off right :)!

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    1. Nancy,

      Thank you! I had a bit of trouble coming up with a subject. I couldn't find many Danish words beginning with this letter. And then I only had a couple of different unrelated apple stories to work with. I think I cheated!

      I am seriously thinking about your number challenge, not as a daily blogging challenge, but maybe as a weekly or monthly feature. I wonder if anyone would like to join me. How many number stories can you think of?

      Delete
    2. I've had the same thought since mentioning it to you - not daily numbers, but maybe monthly. Or even weekly during not-so-busy-weeks. I even have a title for one post (fortunately, it's about the number one!), but no story to go with it :). But I've found before that it's when I start clacking away on the keyboard that thoughts come along. Hmmmm.....

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    3. Nancy,

      A title and no story! Don't you just love good titles or good first sentences? They beg to be used. The rest of the story will appear as you start 'clacking away'. We will have to do this! So glad your title is for number one. Just imagine if it had been for 87. You'd have had to write a lot of posts just to get to that one idea!!

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  4. You are not hopeless. You are you. And inspiring woman! I am enjoying reading your stories from your life. Have a Blessed Day!

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    1. Lisa,

      My mother is truly wonderful and I have never matched up to her, but it's lovely to hear you don't think I am totally hopeless. Thank you for spreading some joy with your kind words.

      God bless!

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  5. Wonderful. An apple a day keeps the doctor away, especially if the apples come in your thought- and laughter provoking form. In the Owlery apples are used for eating (obviously), cakes, drid apple rings, juice, and jam, but we never tried making apple wine. It seems we've not missed out on anything good ;)
    I have had a few cats, but never washed any of them. One of the cats used to walk the rim of the tub while we were bathing, it was a big, red tomcat, not unlike Garfield, but it was before his time. One day a part of the rim was very slippery due to some soap, and the cat slipped and fell in. In his chock he put his claws into my stomach and thighs and went almost straigth upwards from there. He hid under the sofa and was not seen again until his fur was totally dry. That experiment in cat washing earned me a batch of well deserved claw marks.

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    1. Uglemor,

      I had this awful thought just after I posted this story. What if the Danish word for apple isn't æble? Well, it seems it is!

      Apple wine IS good. It was Andy's wine that was horrible. I can just imagine you with your demijohns making a supply of special label wine.

      I love your cat story! I am so sorry though to hear about the claw marks. Yes, cats really do dig their claws in when they are frightened. The girls usually end up with claw marks up their arms every washing day. Cats are so funny when they are wet. They look so thin and sorry for themselves. Ours hide too until they look respectable again.

      Thank you for inspiring this Danish blogging extension!

      Delete
  6. Apple wine...yum! Sounds good to me. My brother and sister-in-law live on property that butts up to a winery. They've got vineyards in their backyard and it is so beautiful where they live. Cute story and fun memories you shared. I have a bad habit of starting and not finishing projects...sometimes it's better if I just never start!

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    1. Valerie,

      It's so nice to see you in the blogosphere again. Did I see you have posted photos of Mary Catherine's First Holy Communion day? I will be over soon to enjoy!

      How beautiful it would be to live next door to a winery. I'd be visiting all the time to buy just one more bottle from the cellar. We actually live in a wine growing area. There are a number of vineyards close to home. The grapes were harvested only recently. We can always tell when the grapes are almost ripe because the vines are covered in huge nets to keep the birds off. Birds... a big problem!

      Maybe starting projects and not finishing them is common. Perhaps I should post about my projects like Uglemor does, so I feel obliged to work on them.

      I'll be over to visit later!

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  7. Impressive Sue! I would love to know how to reupholster like your mom and grandfather. I bet you could do it if you tried... probably runs in your genetic code! Apple wine sounds interesting. Would that be made from red apples? Green or yellow?

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    1. Noreen,

      I suspect modern day upholstering is very different from when my grandfather worked. But those old techniques are needed when very old furniture is restored to its original condition. That was the sort of work my mother was doing. I bet there are books about such things. You could give it a go! Do you have many antique and second-hand shops near you where you could go browsing?

      My mother used green apples for her wine, if I remember correctly. I've no idea what variety they were. Just apples from our own tree!

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  8. So funny you should mention children's imaginations and play houses. Today I wandered outside to say Hi to the girls and there they were under a sheet cubby made with their bikes and our outdoor table. I am really not sure why we made them a little play house ... it never gets used! Spiders live there apparently.

    Great story as usual.

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    Replies
    1. Lisa,

      Your story made me smile! Yes, kids like to use their own imaginations. It's only parents who think the 'real thing' is better! My younger girls still like to make cubby houses with sheets and blankets and anything else that is lying around.

      Thank you for reading my story!

      Delete

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