FATHER’S DAY

My father was a gracious man. He never left the table without thanking the cook for the meal. Early in life he made a conscious decision to never complain. When he passed away after a few years in a care facility the staff said the appreciated his positive attitude and said he never complained.

My father lived through hard times. The death of his first wife left him with four young children to raise. He took pride in the fact he lived through the Dirty Thirties and was able to support his family while many others had to turn to the government for assistance.

Dad as a young father:

 my dad 001

He taught me many things. How to drive, how to identify birds, the enjoyment of history, and how to handle a firearm. He taught me a love for the Bible.

One of my fondest memories is the years we spent living ‘on the road’ with him and Mom as he working and camped far from town in order to build and maintain roads. We lived in a primitive bunkhouse. I don’t know how my mother coped but as children we saw it as a giant adventure.

A typical bunkhouse such as we stayed in:bunkhouse

I say much of this every Father’s Day in honor of my father. I will likely, without apology, continue to say it on a yearly basis.

My dad has been gone for a few years now but the lessons he taught and—more importantly, lived—endure.

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THE END

Writing a story always leads to ‘The End.’ But that isn’t the ending I want to talk about this morning. On Friday, June 10, 2016 almost 100 years of the Fords farming in the Chinook area came to an end. Our son has sold the place.

We attended the auction sale of the machinery and miscellaneous.

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The big old house saw many children of three generations grow up. It saw hard times and wonderful times. And it’s getting weary. I hope it receives more children and the noise of another young family.

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It was nice to see how green and lush the prairie was and to again be able to see three days in every direction. There’s nothing to compare with the wide-open spaces of the prairies. It seems to me the wideness causes one’s heart and mind to expand in an attempt to reach the horizon.

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The windmill has stood through all those years. Oh the stories it could tell—of boys learning to shoot a gun, of girls learning to drive a tractor, of moms and dads standing arm and arm on the doorstep watching the fields turn green, or admiring the baby calves running about.

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We are taking one memento home to park by our barn. Every time we look at it, in our minds we will be back on the hill staring out at the prairie and remembering.

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Yes, it’s sad to say goodbye.

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And yet, just as when I come to the end of a story and begin a new one, we look forward to a new beginning.

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THE ANNUAL SHAVE

Every year it must be done. The alpacas must have their winter coats sheared off. It’s painless and must be a relief for the animals.

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Though they are understandably curious as to what’s going on.

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There’s people who do the shearing professionally and have a table the animal is laid on and then with a foot pedal, the animal is turned from side to side. Sort of like magic. (It doesn’t make sense to me but then I am not mechanically inclined).

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The fleece is so soft especially from the youngest animals.

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The grandgirls love to take part. If only to pet a goat. Or see a newborn alpaca. Or play with their cousins.

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Tell me what unusual event takes place in your life every year.

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HOW TO RESEARCH

Writing historicals can require a lot of research. For fun, I thought I’d list a few ways I research.

1. Get books from the library. Thank goodness for search tools and interlibrary loans. I especially like getting books written for children. the information is neatly summarized for me.

2. Museums. Some are better than others. One of the complaints I have is so many museums do not include a date on their displays. I can see something that I think is interesting but without a date, I don’t know if the object was available in the time period I am writing.

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3. Maps. These give distances, land marks, etc.

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4. talking to experts.

5. Travel. I take hundreds of pictures when I am researching an area. I take pictures of pictures, pictures of pages of a book for reference, pictures of flora, etc.

Banff in July 045

6. On-line. I’m convinced you can find out anything on the internet if you use the right search terms. How far from point A to point B? When did the railroad reach a certain destination (a little more challenging)? How fast can a horse gallop compared to how fast can a loaded wagon travel? I’ve found copies of journals, old maps and so many helpful things.

What do I do with all the research?

1. I read and make notes. Things like distances, any details about daily living, significant events,

2. I create a map.

3. I create a time line.

It can be time consuming and challenging but once I have a handle on the information it becomes intrinsic to my story,

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INSTANT POT

It’s not often I get enthused about anything to do with making meals. I’m of the mind that I’ve been there, done that way too many times. But thanks to my good friend, Carolyne Aarsen (http://www.carolyneaarsen.com/) I’ve recently changed my mind.

She told me about the Instant Pot.

https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B0073GIN08/ref=pd_lpo_sbs_dp_ss_1?pf_rd_p=1977604522&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=B00FLYWNYQ&pf_rd_m=A3DWYIK6Y9EEQB&pf_rd_r=GC4JSEGV08Z0W4RMDNG2

This lovely little thing is electric pressure cooker, steamer, slow cooker. I guess you can even make yogurt in it but seeing as I avoid dairy products in any great amount I haven’t tried.

What I have tried and love is:

1. Baked beans. Instructions say you don’t have to soak them but I boil and soak an hour then it takes less than an hour to ‘bake’ them to perfection at pressure.

2. Stews. The flavor is beyond compare. I get comments (good ones) from even the hardest to impress.

3. Potatoes. I’d buy it for this alone. I set the pot to pressure and set the times (about 12 mins.) and walk away and leave it. No pot watching and NO BOILING OVER ON THE STOVE.

4. Scalloped potatoes. Yummy, fast and no mess.

5. Chili.

6. Today I am making a lentil chili mixture.

Did I mention it has a timer so you can set it to come on at a given time? Did I mention it has a keep warm feature. Last Sunday I set a casserole to cook knowing it would take about 30 minutes to reach pressure (I had the pot as full as it is to go) and 20 min. to cook. When it was done, the pressure went down and the warm feature kicked in. When we got home from church, it was cooked and hot.

There aren’t a lot of recipes given in the instruction booklets but there are plenty on-line. Mostly it’s a matter of experimenting.

Barely a day has gone by since I purchased this that I haven’t used it for something.

 

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ALBERTA STRONG

It’s Mothers Day but it’s hard to celebrate when almost 90,000 people are evacuated, fleeing a massive wildfire in Northern Alberta. https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=fort%20mcmurray%20wildfire%20evacuation

I am so proud of our community and our province as people pull together to help these displaced people…many who fled with only the clothes on their back. Our little community quickly filled many trailers and sent them north to help out.

The ‘angry beast’ as it’s been called, still roars. The fire chief says it will take a significant rain to put it out. Please pray for Alberta.

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FRUSTRATION AND DISCOURAGMENT

It’s been one of THOSE weeks. We all have them. When life is full of frustration and discouragement. When the day is far longer than our energy. The particulars are different every day. For me, this particular week has been never-ending renovations, a cold that won’t go away, family drama and too little energy.

I realize my trials are small compared to others. But I still struggle with them. Things that help—friends who cheer me on, the phone that allows me to reach out to someone, and sometimes (if I can drum up the energy) to get out of the house so the problems aren’t in my face.

I try to make a habit of counting my blessings and there are many. I especially try to remember that God has promised strength for the day. Isaiah 40:29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.

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R & R

This week I took a couple of days of R&R in Banff—one of the prettiest spots in the world.

The trees were freshly brushed with green.

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It was two days of Rest and Relaxation: enjoying coffee, enjoying a quiet room with a great view.

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It was a time of Reading and ‘Riting:

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Also a time of Refuelling and Refreshing: How can one not feel renewed in the beauty of the mountain park?

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And then back to work at home. I can’t always escape to the mountains for a day or two but I’ve learned to take mini-moments of R&R—a cup of my favorite coffee in a quiet corner of the local coffee shop, a walk to the back of our property where I can see the mountains, a stop in the library to sit and think. These are the pauses that refresh.

Where and how do you like to grab days or even moments of R&R?

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THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS

1. Flowers

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2. birds feeding outside my window

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3. Grandchildren at play or work.

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4. Banff

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5. Trips to the lake

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6. research trips

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7. Art of any sort

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8. Parks with benches or tables so a person feels drawn to sit and read or write.

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9. New notebooks.

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10. A finished writing project.

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These are a few of my favorite things. What are your favorite things and is that sone worming its way through your head now?

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UPROOTING

It’s been unseasonably warm for April which means it’s time for yard work. The raking, aerating, etc. of the lawns.Pulling up old-growth bushes that are too gnarly and overgrown to prune any longer. It’s an ongoing process. One corner of the yard is finished and another needs attention. But it’s worth it to see the improvement as  new growth takes root. Below is a sample of before and after. Need I say, it’s a lot of work?

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On a related note, I’ve been revising and editing for the past couple of weeks. In many cases it means uprooting and pruning certain elements, rearranging others and striving to get an overgrown story down to a tidy format. Not unlike pruning and replanting in my yard. Need I say it’s a lot of work?

I see similarities in life. We each have dormant spells in our lives and we have times of uprooting and pruning… a painful process.These past few weeks I have seen the latter in some dear friends. My prayer for each of them is God will do something beautiful and abundant in their lives.

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