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Words and Pictures

Updated: Jun 9, 2020

My life began in a small Nova Scotia town in the 1970’s, back when children played outside, and when parents were not considered negligent for sending them out without sunscreen; the days when butchering a pig on the kitchen table was a social event.

I grew up running through fields of lupines and riding rusty ole bicycles. Summers were spent making jewellery from dandelion stems and building doll houses from cardboard boxes. Sucking on purple clover for honey, and playing ‘pioneers’, inspired by episodes of Little House on the Prairie were all that mattered.

I grew up with the illusion that all men were the template of Charles Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie, that honorable family man who always did right by everyone; a man with integrity who loved his wife and children.

I grew up during a time when people grew their own food, when there was no need for community gardens. Daily chores included planting and weeding and harvesting and preserving. Our house had a back room which was not heated, used especially for storing apples, potatoes and carrots and turnips from the garden. Russet apples were my favorite.

Supper was served at five and my father was served first. He would sit at the head of the table, assuming his position as King of the house.

A favorite past-time was walking barefoot in the vegetable garden, feeling the warmth of the soil on the bottom of my feet; between my toes. I loved big fat worms.

The challenge in getting to the garden was walking through the tall grass, that in some places, grew up to my neck. The possibility of seeing a snake was probable. My mother was terrified of snakes and so was I. But I waded in the grass anyway.

I was an earth child, a child that would crawl under a massive forsythia bush to be silent with a tulip; a child that climbed trees for the view, and a child that waded barefoot in the brook. I only cut my toe once.

And once, I put a pitchfork through my six-year-old toe. My four-year-old brother warned me that I would cut my foot off if I tried to dig potatoes. I should have listened to him. My mother peeled away the blood-soaked navy colored knee sock. I soaked my foot in salt. No doctor required.

My brother was my companion by circumstance. He shared his Tonka trucks and I supposed I shared my doll. I was mortified when at the age of 5, he called me an asshole. We stood beneath the kitchen window. I had never heard that word before, but I knew it was a bad one.

In the 70’s, most women were housewives without driver’s licenses, so playmates were siblings. My brother was friend and foe. We fed on chicken feed from the barn and on apples from the trees. He was loud and active. I was shy and slow.

A fear of fire began at the age of seven when my house burned down. After the house was rebuilt, we moved back in, and the cream of wheat tasted like smoke. My mother said it was my imagination. Maybe she was right.

The seventies were a simple prelude to the eighties, a time of historical significance. The digital age was upon us. Everyone feared Aids. No way was I having sex! Nor were my friends. A good time could take you out. However, the fear passed.

George Michael and Michael Jackson took me to the land of make believe every Sunday on America’s top 40. Casey Kasem had the attention of every teen in America. His long-distance dedications to people with sad love stories made me question why some people who were in love could not be together. I would write down every song, wishing and hoping that I could go to New York City to meet Boy George and Cindy Lauper.

I followed my life quest to grow up and live happily ever after; a mommy and wife by choice at nineteen.

Victoria’s Secret was not optional for my muffin top figure. At twenty-four, I was left with two children to raise. With only a mind of my own and a young spirit that yearned to be free, I, like Robert Frost, took the road less traveled. And like Robert Frost, it has made all the difference.

My mother said I would learn her way or the hard way. I chose the hard way.

Despite name changes, I am, and always will be Angela. Most importantly, I am a writer. An interest in writing began at about the age of six when I started school. My father helped me practice my penmanship in my pink scribbler. He also proofread the letters I wrote to my grandmothers and pen pals, letters handwritten on whimsical stationary bought with my allowance at the local Variety store. Each envelope was sealed with pretty stickers.

Sealed with a lick, cause a kiss won’t stick. Sealed with love.

Do not bend. Photos enclosed.

My allowance was an earned privilege. Since my dad was a contractor, our yard was filled with building materials. He paid me and my brother to pick up nails from the yard at a cent a piece. I saw the pain in his eyes as he handed us the begrudged one-dollar bill. Collecting nails and money-back-bottles from ditches supported my letter writing hobby.

As a teen, my main concern was starting my period on the exact day that my mother had marked on the calendar. I was confused. My body had betrayed me.

Babysitting money supported a photography hobby- a 110 Camera, film, batteries, and the exorbitant film development cost. It was worth every cent.

As an adult, I have pursued a life of self-reliance and passion. The highlights of my lifelong learning experiences will unfold within this blog.

Welcome to my words and pictures. All are my original work except where mentioned.


Angela McMullen is a freelance writer who lives and writes in maritime Nova Scotia, where she is inspired by the rhythm of the Bay of Fundy tides, the pulse of long-standing forests, the expansive fields of the Annapolis Valley, the backdrop of North and South mountain ranges, and the distinction of the four seasons.

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