Apple of my Eye

–       Work is the curse of the drinking class.

Says Dad when I tell him about my serving shifts at a couple local diners.

Born in 1930, Dad’s first job was taking over his brother Tommy’s paper route in Prince Rupert. After two weeks of some ‘god damned’ woman’s constant complaints preventing him from getting his bonus, Dad handed in his bag, told them to stuff it and started selling papers on his own.

Thirteen and bold as brass, Dad would march past armed guards into the American barracks to sell papers. Next, he’d make his way to the soldiers store and fill up his school jacket pockets with Hershey bars and cigarettes, looking like the Hunchback of Notre Dame as he left. At school, he sold the 10 cent chocolate bars and 20 cent packs of cigarettes for twice the price, sometimes making more money in a month than his father, a captain of a ship.

–       He taught me the trade while he was learning it himself.

Frank Zaske, Dad’s first apprentice used to say.

When Dad came out of high school, he went to work on the construction crew for the lighthouse on Portlock Point. He worked there until November. During that time, Louis Jarvis had shown him how to build a single flue chimney. When he came back into Victoria, he went into business as a bricklayer. He was 19 years old.

–       At one time, I was the biggest masonry contractor on Vancouver Island.

Says Dad telling me about the schools he built all over the island in the 50s.

As a child, I have memories of hard hats on my little head, cement mixers and tough guys respecting Dad. I remember charge accounts at gas stations and Capital Iron and his wallet full of bills.

Dad succeeded in his pursuit for happyness. He was a big apple in his time and region.

In our backyard, we have a Sparton tree that my nephew recently harvested. Our apples are crisp and sweet but I find myself mildly disappointed with our tub of tiny apples, unsure if size counts.

After a decade of making decent money and putting my degree to use by teaching English as a Second Language, I have returned to the skills I learnt as a 17 year old mourning drop out while serving pizza to drunks until five am.

With a ponytail, red lipstick and a smile, I can now be seen pouring morning coffee into the cups of small town islanders part-time for tips.

At 35, I am not a big apple.

Isolated on the farm and falling into a simple life routine with Dad, I don’t want to give up on the possibilities of my life but I do want to feel satisfied with the life I have.

I know from my limited experience in the music industry that a big apple to me quietly feels like a small apple compared to someone else. And so it goes.

I also know that the happiness I pursue comes at times when I am at peace with where I’m at, when I am already enough.


Dad yells at six o’clock on Sundays. Holding hands, our family and friends swing arms as we sing – ‘Johnny Appleseed’.

It’s how I feel in my skin and the relationships I nurture that count in the end.

The Lord is good to me.

Johnny Appleseed.





About Morbid Optimist

My name is Katryna Mary Brooke Ormiston. I am 35 years old and after living in Vancouver for a decade, I am returning home to my 81 year old father’s hobby farm on Vancouver Island to care for him in the final stages of his life. This blog is to document my journey, process my experiences along the way and hopefully share and feel connected to a community beyond the three and a half acres I find myself on. A message in a bottle in the cyber-sea.
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3 Responses to Apple of my Eye

  1. Mary (Bagnall) Stairs says:

    Start getting all these stories for your book… write so well!!!big hugs to all the realtives who never heard of the cousins “down east!”

  2. Jessie says:

    I love this story.
    You are always a big apple in my life.

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