Messing Around with Computers. And Barns.

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I’m at my mum’s in New Brunswick this week and next. Escaping icy Ottawa by returning to the land of my forebears, where the snow is as high as an elephant’s eye. Ha. Not joking, actually. Still a change is as good as a rest. Isn’t it?

High snow banks in New Brunswick, March 2019
The old house is somewhere behind this massive snow bank.

Maybe. But not all change is restful. I’ve been going through lots of technology changes these past few weeks, and feeling the growing pains. I’m pretty used to this new blog format. I love it actually, I think that Brandon did a stellar job interpreting my wishes. The new format is more modern, clean, and bright. The idea being that black text on white is clean and easy to read; the gold/tan is supposed to give the template some warmth, and the punch of red… a little bit of zing. I’m also getting used to using the new WordPress “Gutenberg” editor, learning how to add links and photos, etc. And for the past week or so learning how to navigate, and even understand, Google Analytics.

Coming home to Mum’s added to my learning curve, though. When I’m away from home, I usually blog on my i-pad using an ap that can post to Blogger. But of course that won’t work anymore. So I did some research and found out that there’s a mobile WordPress ap for i-pads. But my old i-pad doesn’t have the capacity to download it, and, anyway, apparently the ap is not working well with the new “Gutenberg editor” on WordPress. Ok-ay. Foiled twice in that endeavour.

So I’ve been messing around with Mum’s new small, light laptop that we bought her for her 90th birthday. But wow… it’s slow, and glitchy, and doesn’t like talking to the WordPress dashboard. Turns out that Mum’s never liked her new laptop as much as she liked the old one, even if the old one was getting too big and heavy for her. Luckily she still has it. So I started messing around with her old laptop. Reinstalling stuff, updating everything. And it’s much better than the new one. Huh. Change can be frustrating, and doesn’t always make things better.

So, finally, I’m attempting this post on Mum’s old computer. And I’ve been messing around in her pictures folder too. Some of the photos are a graphic reminder to me that change, even when you know it’s for the best, is difficult. And sometimes sad. The shot below is of the old barns on the farm at home. The last days of the old barns as it turned out.

The  old hay barn and horse barn, leaning slightly and about to be pulled down. Douglas, New Brunswick.
The last days of the old barns on the farm at home in New Brunswick, April, 2012..

The old horse barn on the left was the first permanent building on this land. Built initially as a house, it had been used as a barn since the big house was built sometime in the late nineteenth century. It had huge, old hand-hewn beams, and in some places two-foot long cedar shingles attached with square-headed, hand-made nails.

I loved that old barn. I loved everything about it: the silver patina on the old shingles, the dipping roof line where we spied a barn cat one year batting at passing birds, the lovely square nails. The old horse collars that hung over each stall, the big dusty trunk that held all manner of horse halters and reins and paraphernalia. The long wooden flaps at the front of the stalls that you unhooked to feed the horses their hay and oats, the wooden feed box worn smooth by generations of lovely, clumpy-footed workhorses. The hayloft up the handmade ladder where my step-father would fork down hay, and where one spring he found a litter of black and white kittens. You see? I can close my eyes and conjure up every detail without even trying.


But after the death of my stepfather, the old barns fell into disrepair. And then one bad winter, strong winds stove in the back of the larger hay barn, collapsing its big back doors through which we used to drive the loads of hay, and pushing it into the other building. The decision became inevitable. For safety’s sake, they had to come down.

That’s my basketball net, and “Barney” painted by moi in the seventies.

I watched the whole thing vicariously via Facebook posts by my nieces. I even shed a tear or two. And when Hubby chastised me for being silly, saying that it couldn’t be helped, the farm was too much for Mum to look after on her own, I may have been a little snippy with him. Just because I knew it was for the best, didn’t mean it wasn’t sad.

Barney is down. End of an era.

Sheesh. I didn’t mean to wax nostalgic today. Just wanted to talk a bit about messing around with computers. But seeing those pictures of the old barns lead me into thinking about how weathering change, even when it’s good change, or necessary change, or inevitable change, is not all smooth sailing. Not always easy. I think about that a lot when I’m home. About change. And how the changes yet to come will be inevitable. And how shutting my eyes to them, or persisting in looking at the world through rose coloured spectacles (as I am wont to do) is perhaps not the best way to cope.

I guess I’ll have to work on that.

Meanwhile, I’m done messing around with computers for tonight. The kettle has boiled and Mum and I have a date with a new episode of “Father Brown.”

How about you, my friends? Any unwelcome, or maybe even positive, but still difficult, change you’re weathering these days?

P.S. Thanks to Krista Burpee-Buell and Tammy Burpee-Deschenes for the photos. xo

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19 thoughts on “Messing Around with Computers. And Barns.”

  1. My mum is 87 next month, and she and her hubby are moving (finally) into an independent living situation and giving up their home. It definitely has its sad moments – more for her than me, I suppose, but I realize what it means. They have to sort through and get rid of a lot of ‘stuff’. When they married, she moved into his home of almost 50 years, so she’s pruned her possessions a lot over time. He, OTOH, has a much bigger job ahead of him. It’s time to give up living on three levels and get more help, but it’s still a big transition. She’s an optimist, though, and is looking forward to a new space and some fresh decor. 🙂

    1. That’s always a big job, isn’t it? When Mum moved out of the farmhouse, at 85, she packed everything she wanted to take, and we sorted through the rest. Some furniture and mementos to family, the rest stocked the local Salvation Army store. Took a year or so for her to feel at home in her new little house. Even though she knew it was best, what what she wanted, it was still difficult.

  2. Wendy from York

    It was very sad to see the collapse of your old barn full of memories . It’s always a pity to lose a neighborhood character & weathering is a good term for how we feel about the changes that batter us at times . I’m weathering tooth trouble just now . Broken bridge , root infection & dry cavity – horrid . So now some R & R in Scotland ( & perhaps soon some solid food ! )
    I didn’t realise how much work is involved in a blog change – you put me to shame

    1. So sorry to hear about your tooth problems, Wendy. Toothache is right up there with the worst… especially when you can’t eat or drink without pain. Hope lovely Scotland helps. Maybe some Speyside beverage as well?

  3. I started writing my memoir, and it’s been a rollercoaster. Parts of it are fun to relive, but in a blink, those same times make me so uncomfortable that I leave them and begin writing a new chapter. How did the great writers… before typewriters, before computers, manage to craft beautiful, eloquent paragraphs? Rewrites must have been a pain! Your old barns… I have a thing for old barns and the reclaimed wood. Ten years ago it was trendy to find an old barn, number the boards and carefully take them down and transport them to your land and build them again, but sturdy this time and perhaps make the barn just a part of the new home you’re building. Would loved to have done that with the barn/house on the left. xoxo, Brenda

    1. I’d love to write a memoir… but where to begin? A difficult and cathartic process, I’m sure. Wish we could have preserved more of the oldest barn in particular. Still I do have some of those old, long shingles and some square nails rescued by my lovely niece.

  4. I love old barns too, and can understand why you were sad when they had to come down. So many memories!

    The new blog format looks nice! My old laptop has been slowly having battery and trackpad issues, and I know I need to replace it soon. Just trying to hang in for another month until we find out whether (and how much) we’ll need to pay in taxes.

    1. I almost bought a new i-pad last week until a very nice salesperson advised me to wait until the next generation comes out in a few weeks. So I’m making do with old stuff. Anyway… too much change is just too much sometimes.

  5. The new format is easier for me to read, thank you!!! I’m having to give up on several blogs that use low contrast print.

  6. It’s been odd, after weathering the huge change from semi-rural island waterfront to urban condo, to be weathering so much more change as the neighbourhood switches density, six big construction cranes within a four-block radius, buildings and businesses we’ve come to know and appreciate being razed or relocated. And we haven’t been here three years yet! Change, the only constant…

    1. I know, you had several of the biggest stressors in the space of a few months… major move, retirement. Hope the denser neighbourhood is eventually a good change.

  7. What a sweet and lovely post Sue. Also, seems to me like you are pretty damn tech-savvy, as is your mother. My mom never even learned to touch a keyboard:( Huzzah for Sue’s mom!

  8. Hmm. Resonating here. Have just returned from Sussex visit to my mother, borrowed an old photo album to look through which got me thinking about the ridiculousness of time passing – over half a century since the pictures were taken, how can this be? During my long journey home – delays, delays, delays – it got me thinking. How I don’t really feel at home here where I live, despite having been up here for a long time now and how I can’t really be at home where I was any longer because that ‘then’ doesn’t exist any more, no matter how I search. Where’s home? Who knows. Time very definitely running out too. Blimey.

    1. I know what you mean. I’ve lived away longer than I did here in New Brunswick. Almost twice as long. Yet, I can still drive home to the farm from town without even realizing where I am, the road is so familiar. By the way, tried to comment on your last post about THE BOOK! But my little i-pad is misbehaving and it wouldn’t publish. Wanted to say congratulations and can’t wait to read it!

  9. Love old barns,smell of hay,memories…….
    Thinking about the changes and planning if possible is much better than unexpected ones (even good ones) -one lost something,gain something……and this is a circle of life
    Sue,if you wished to write a memoir,you have an excellent start in your blog posts,funny,emotional,sometimes bittersweet,but always interesting pieces of your past
    Dottoressa

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