After a wonderful weekend at my sister’s guest house in northern Ontario, I returned to the Bullvine refreshed, rejuvenated and enlightened. While there, I thoroughly enjoyed one of those sessions that can only occur when four adult women have their feet up in a gorgeous garden with favorite food and beverage at hand — I discovered that it’s possible that I have control issues. What? As much as I tried to steer (or control) the conversation, I had to finally admit that, despite my sense of adventure, I do like to know what’s happening, when it’s happening and why. Each visitor that joined us was told of my surprise at the label and, having known me and my family for many years, they unanimously laughed out loud. So I smiled and made a note to look into this later!
I also smiled when I returned home and the first email I opened was from Andrew who asked me to write something humorous to wrap up introduce the month of July, national celebrations and summer holidays on the Bullvine. Obviously here was someone who knows the inner me. So… I went to my desk. Opened my computer and checked the recurring list for the 29th of the month which read– “#1. Laugh out loud!” Trust me — the milk I had been enjoying with my breakfast splashed out my nose and all over my papers. There at the top of the page was the name of my daily list, “Control Journal!” I kid you not. I have had this list for many, many years and yet, when confronted by my mother, sister and niece, I found the idea of “control”, when applied to me, somewhat hard to admit. However, in honor of happiness inspired by a new month and a new perspective, I am ready to raise a glass and confess all.
“My Name is Karen. I have a drinking problem.”
Let’s set the scene by admitting that my drinking problem starts with my husband. Murray –definitely drinks too much … milk. Far too often my kids and I have caught him at the Dairy Queen!
I over indulge too. We try to hide it but family members often smell chocolate milk on our breath. The neighbours are beginning to suspect. Our blue box overflows with empties.
I remember that for me it started with my grandmother. She had great ideas for recycling stuff for crafts. We had chandeliers from milk bottles. Place mats from braided plastic milk bags. I loved her and quickly realized that somebody had to drink the milk in order to get those empties. No wonder I too grew to look to milk containers and dairies for creativity. At my High School Prom the ceiling decorations were tin foil streamers left from making the lids for glass bottles!
For Murray it’s all about supporting the dairy industry. Is it stealing if he pockets the creamers from fast food restaurants and buffets? Or is a grandfather supporting the small motor skills of his grandchildren as they learn to take the foil off of the creamers. For all he knows, it might be keeping him from losing his own dexterity!
“The Milk Stops Here!”
Our kids have been aware of the family problem and, in their own way, have done everything to stop the trend from spreading uncontrollably. Two of our three offspring have married lactose intolerant partners.
Of course, I can stop any time that I want to!”
It wouldn’t be easy but I could do it. However sometimes when I reflect back on all the milk I drink, I feel proud. I look into that cloudy empty glass and think about the dairy farmers and dairy cows in the alleys, barns and milking lines. I think of all their hopes and dreams. If I didn’t drink this milk, they might all be turned out to pasture. No work. Their dreams would be shattered. Then I say to myself, “It is better that I drink this milk and let their dreams come true than be selfish and worry about quitting.”
“Milk has left its mark on our family!”
Even though we are getting further away from actually producing milk, our children and grandchildren still recognize their dairy heritage. Maybe it will be better for them. When our children were little the milk came fresh from the barn. Sometimes too fresh. When they complained about being teased at school, I urged them to adapt. Explain the benefits of dairy living. You can call it, “Show and Smell!”
Some families say, “Hello. How are you?” We say, “Got milk?”
There were early hints that I would be attracted to a milk producer. Even though my father moved off the dairy farm when I was born, our house was decorated with milk cans, milk bottles, and milk crate shelving units that reminded him of his milk producing youth. One of the best home movies was created on one trip to the islands which gobbled an entire reel as he battled with the coconut that would not yield the milk he sought. Needless to say, he was unusual in his preference for milk. He loved Bailey’s Irish Cream …. Without the cream!
“Our mom always cried over spilled milk!”
Milk creates strong bones but doesn’t necessarily create the ability to prevent spills. The old saying goes don’t cry over spilled milk but I remember one time when the problem went way beyond spilled milk. Uncle Mortimer was somewhat creative in his dairy farming. He loved milk but he didn’t like that the milk fresh out of the udder was hot. So he came up with the idea of keeping his milking gloves in the freezer overnight. The first – and last– time he tried his, the cow shivered uncontrollably. She kicked the bucket …. And so did my uncle Mortimer. That was one time we ALL cried over spilled milk!
“Not all our family milk stories are bad.”
Cousin Billy Bob’s mother cured everything with Milk of Magnesia. She got quite a bit of attention, by whipping out her blue bottle to help every situation. One day Billy-Bob was reading a book when he should have been taking the milkers off. By the time he got his mind back to his job, the cow was so upset she kicked him. Aunt Milly found little Billy-Bob knocked out cold. He doesn’t actually remember what happened, however, unlike Uncle Mortimer, he survived to milk another day. He loves to steal Aunt Milly’s thunder and often entertains with s his “milk of amnesia” story! Unfortunately that family’s love of fresh milk must be cutting into their profits. What other reason would they have for posting this sign in the milking parlor, “NO DRINKING DURING MILKING HOURS?”
“The Psychological implications of Milk Mania”
For some of our family being crazy about milk has been shortened to just being crazy. How else can we explain our moo-d swings? When I was young, my imaginary playmate was a calf. They had to take me to a psychiatrist to have me de-calfinated. The same thing happened to my cousin Molly (she called herself Molly-Moo). She spend so much time in the fields trying not to think about cows, she starting thinking she was a horse. Now she doesn’t know if she’s been cured or if she is milk dud. Either way, she’s an udder failure!
“Our family stands up for milk!”
We never know where the next milk joke will come from but we are all ready to recognize dairy comedians. After the more we laugh, the less time we will have to drink milk. Some comedians have one liners, we have milk liners. We don’t drive the punch line, we milk it for all it’s worth!
The Bullvine Bottom Line
Without question, for our family at least, the greatest historical breakthrough came when someone saw milk coming from a cow’s udder and asked, “Why don’t we drink that?” Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with cookies. My name is Karen and I am a heavy milker! See you at the Milk Bar!