Why do I write about my life? Why is it any different than yours or anyone else in this world? What is it that I want to share with you about my most amazing life?
I want to share with you my world, the world I grew up in, a world that was fun, exciting and educational. A world of family, travel, food and every now and again a bit of heartbreak. A normal world!
My memories of childhood revolve around growing up in an Air Force family, one in which we moved from state to state and country to country. No we weren’t rich or famous, we were just a normal family which gathered around a dining table for our meals, shared our daily stories and one in which there was always food on the table. And I remember the food, nothing fancy, just hearty home cooking the way it should be.
I wish I could remember more from the first five years of my life but like so many of us it is hard to recall those days so long ago. It all seems such a blur until I read an article, look at an old cookbook, smell something as simple as a ham and mayo sandwich, that sweet, creamy, smoky aroma that used to fill the kitchen in the mornings when mum was making our school lunches. Lunches that sat in our school bags or lockers all morning with no cold packs to keep them fresh. There was always a sandwich, a small bag filled with chips and usually some of mums’ homemade goodies like chocolate chip biscuits. Oh those were the days!
I don’t have any vivid memories of where I was born as we left there when I was only 6 months old. I do recall stories of my poor mum leaving the hot dry desert of Roswell, New Mexico for a little town called Kapuskasing in Canada. Mum was not at all prepared for the freezing cold of this new town with its snow and bears. But she was strong and she coped. She more than coped as she was a person who thrived on travel, change and people. All people, any people, as long as she could ask questions and feed them. That was mum!
But as I said I don’t remember those early years and find that my first real memory of childhood other then ham and mayo sandwiches is living in a trailer park in Petersburg, Virginia. Mum says we lived in two trailer parks in Virginia, having traveled down from Canada pulling a small caravan/trailer which we lived in for a couple of years before moving to a bigger one in a different park. This one is vague to me as I was still so young.
At about 2 years old this was the third stop on the whirlwind tour I call my life. Mum usually insisted we live in the town, around the locals rather than on the Air Force Base so we could integrate into the community rather than confining ourselves to just one class of people. We always met great people and here we managed to adopt (or they adopted us!) two wonderful people who we did call Grandma and Grandpa. They helped look after us when mum was in the hospital having my little sister. And we cherished them.
So we lived in the trailer parks, and for all my fellow Australians the trailer is not quite the same as a caravan, they are usually larger and static, once set up they don’t move around the country filled with grey nomads spending their inheritance. No they are actual homes in a community and from what I can remember they were filled with children and families who we became friends with.
We played all around the park, near the lagoon (my little sister called the lagoon a ‘Galoon’ which we thought hilarious) and the haunted house. I remember this house, the picture in my mind being dark, old, rickety and very scary (picture a haunted house in a Tim Burton movie) although mum says it wasn’t that bad. The worst thing was we lived next door to it. I don’t ever remember anyone living there so it must have been haunted (will have to ask mum about that!).
Like any normal family we caught the bus to school, went to Brownies and on special occasions went to Virginia Beach. At school we had special lunch days and had a lunch card which we had to use wisely as most days we brought our lunch from home. My favourite was hotdog day when you would walk into the cafeteria and that was all you could smell. You know there is a very distinct smell to hotdogs and then you mix that with the smell of good American mustard, ketchup, gherkin or sweet pickle relish and your tummy just starts to rumble! So hotdog day was the day to use your card and for a little extra treat I would buy a strip of paper with little candy dots on it. You would eat the dots straight off the paper. Pure sugar rush! Strange I know but it is a great memory and I will treasure it always.
When we got home from school there was always the smell of food cooking, maybe some chocolate chip cookies, pound cake or spaghetti (Bolognese). And this leads me to yet another very vivid memory. I have never liked rice or pasta (I do like pasta now but still don’t eat rice) and mum would make a baked rice pudding which she served with a bit of fresh cream (or half and half – you Americans will know what I am talking about here). The rice always sank to the bottom of the rice custard so I would eat the top custard portion and leave the rice. Mum always let me get away with this! But then again mum catered to all of us, making sure we had everything we wanted and needed.
So for a few years we were settled in our trailer and in our new community like any normal family, we had a home, we had friends and we had family and food. But best of all and something I treasured over the years was that we had the experience of travel, meeting new and interesting people and learning. Learning about people, places and life. And this is why I want to share some of my life stories with you. There will be stories of travel and stories of food. So stay tuned and I hope you enjoy each and every story and recipe of my lifetime journey.