I just returned from a 2 day girls’ trip to Banff. Four of my five daughters joined me for a all-girls’ getaway. Such fun.

There was eating. Lots of eating. Of course, those who can enjoy such treats had a Beaver Tail (it’s a kind of flat doughnut that you can have topped with any variety of toppings). The girls dutifully accompanied me to the Whyte Museum

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On the right, a display depicting Mary Schaffer Warren, an early woman explorer.

No trip to Banff would be complete without going to the Banff Springs Hotel. This is a view of their sunroom off the great ball room.

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Nor could we not wander the administration gardens.

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But the highlight was a morning spent at Lake Minnewanka. Such stunningly beautiful scenery.

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You might guess that I love Banff.

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Two weeks ago, my blog took me to the beautiful Broadmoor hotel. It’s a place I could gladly spend a week or two for a writing retreat.

My last stop on my trip to Colorado is Bent’s Old Fort on the Santa Fe Trail.

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The fort has been restored with people in period dress and the rooms displayed as they would have been at the time. There is also an opportunity for people to sign up for a week of living authentically as one would in those days. Yes it was tempting. But I’m not keen on sleeping in a buffalo robe on the floor.  

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I am considering setting a series on the Santa Fe Trail so enjoyed seeing this place and purchasing several books for research.

If any of you have a good resource for more information on the Santa Fe Trail, I would love to hear from you.

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I am blessed to come from a long line of Moms. Ha ha.

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My mother on the left with two of her sisters.

My mother taught me many things. Like the importance of words and of pursuing your dreams. She wrote hundreds of articles, stories, puzzles, etc.  I think she got paid a few cents/word. But she faithfully wrote, faithfully sent out her work and never complained when she got rejections.

She taught me how to work hard. Monday was wash day and that meant putting a tub of water on the stove to heat overnight then up early to start the laundry. All the clothes would be hung on the line before we went to school. She also grew a huge garden using the empty lots of either side of our house. Most of the labor was done by hand.

She taught me the importance of taking care of others. She regularly visited shut ins, often opened her house to someone in need and took care of a friend’s child for several months when the need arose. I never once heard her complain of the extra work or inconvenience. Come to think of it, I never heard her complain about much of anything and her life of hard work makes mine look easy.

She taught me the importance of reading my Bible and memorizing scriptures, offering us rewards for learning many passages by heart. Along with that, she taught me that God loves me and because of Jesus’ death on the cross, there is a way for me to enjoy that love eternally. I remember asking her, at the tender age of four, what I had to do. I don’t recall the exact words but something to the effect of just asking Jesus to be my Savior. I think she used the words, ask Him into your heart.

Mom, your works rise up and bless you. Thank you for being faithful to your dreams and convictions. Thank you for teaching me such valuable lessons.

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Last week I was on the train through the Royal Gorge. Did any of you guess it?

Here’s a picture from the top.


Can any of you guess my next stop? It would be a perfect place for a writing retreat.

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The flowers and lake are beautiful.

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There is even a museum and lots of western art useful for research.

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Where am I?

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Last week was too hard. I gave too few clues. The place was Fountain Valley School in Fountain, Colorado. A school unlike any I ever attended. Here is glimpse inside the art barn where they do all sorts of crafty things—photography, metal work, pottery, painting, etc.

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And a picture inside one of their many buildings. I could really find my muse in this setting.

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My next stop is much easier to guess. I am in Colorado. On a train.

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I am by a river with huge rock walls on either side.

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Overhead is a bridge. Way-way overhead.

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Where am I?

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Yes, I’ve been away and visited a number of places. Can you guess where I was? Here are the first set of clues.

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I want to know specifics. Not just a general area. What state am I in? Where are these buildings? Send me your answers at< or on my facebook account.

Can’t wait to see how many know or can guess this place.

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An early spring for us. Who can complain? Yes, we will likely get snow again and more than likely about the time of the May long weekend. It’s a tradition in Alberta.

But for now, our snow is gone. Tulips are poking through the ground and I started tomato plants. This is the first time in years I have started my own plants. With a man in a wheelchair who crashes into everything, I didn’t have a place I though was safe but last fall I got new doors and the one at the end of the hallway where he never goes, has a window.

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I’m hoping there is enough light there.






I discovered a new mini greenhouse, complete with warming blanket to get the soil warmer and the seeds germinated faster.

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A couple of months from now I will wonder why I was so excited about gardening and all the extra work but that’s okay. I intend to enjoy the fictional dream for now.

I live in a fictional dream with my characters too. See how I bring everything back to my writing?

Do you enjoy gardening? Do you enjoy vegetables fresh from the back yard? Umm. Can’t wait for it.

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I am fascinated with old journals, old writing instruments, and the stories of old writers.

There is something so tactile about the way they worked.

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I expect in reality it’s about as romantic as having an outdoor biffy but that’s okay. It’s nice to think of someone working so diligently on a journal.



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It took some effort to mix up ink, carry it with you and keep the quill sharpened.

This informative, educational site tells about writing with quill and ink. I quote from it.


Lewis and Clark started off with their own supply of ink. It was packed in a powder form, and they turned it to liquid by adding water. They only mixed as much as they needed at one time.

Several easy substitutes were used for making ink on the frontier. One simple method is by mixing egg whites, ashes or charcoal and honey with a small amount of water. You can also make ink by soaking walnut hulls in water and straining out the stained liquid. Vinegar was added to help the ink set. Other plant juices, such as indigo, have been used as ink for centuries.

Writing with a Quill

The most important tip to remember when using a quill is to write lightly. It’s tempting to press hard, but the proper way is to barely scratch the paper. Handwriting in the 1800s was very flowing and fancy. Moving the quill so much helped keep the ink flowing and made writing easier. In that way, it’s more like painting than writing with a pen or pencil. Practice making some loops and turns to get the feel of it.

When visiting the local museum I was shown a large bottle of powder that was mixed and sold to customers. Likely they refilled little bottles. School desks for older students had a hole in the top so the ink bottle could sit safely and not be knocked to the floor.

(picture from wikipedia.)

Don’t you think this makes the historic journals even more interesting? Even romantic?

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No doubt you’ve hear our family name—Ford. I may have married into the name, but I figure it gives me the right to access all of its fame. And the family has many claims to fame.

A man sharing our name invented the affordable family vehicle and a company bearing his name is still making affordable vehicles, though they seem somewhat less than affordable when we have to make the monthly payments. And no, bearing the name does not give us a financial advantage when it comes to buying a vehicle with our name branded on the front.

Our family ruled the United States for a while. It doesn’t matter that the ruler was adopted. Just goes to show what lengths people will go to in order to attach themselves to the family

Then there are the ones who made it big in the movies—both adventures and westerns. I blush to admit that the aversion for snakes revealed by Harrison seems to be synonymous with the name.

But have you heard of one of the most famous Ford of all?

That would be my father-in-law.

The seventh son of a seventh son, he also produced seven sons.

He and his brother left Exeter, Ontario during THE war in search of adventure and a cause that would aid the war effort. Farming seemed the noble thing to do so one brother settled in the grain belt of Saskatchewan and my father-in-law found an abandoned farm in the desert of eastern Alberta. He was able to purchase the land by driving the school bus to pay off the back taxes

Farming may have sounded noble but his heart wasn’t in it. All his life, he remained a frustrated inventor. He was certain there was a better, more efficient, quicker way to do everything and would spend hours adjusting and experimenting while one or more of the seven sons gnashed their teeth and checked the sky, wanting nothing more than to get on with the job before the weather turned bad.

His philosophy was anything could be repaired with a piece of hay wire.

His fix-it bent drove many of his sons to tearing at their hair especially when the new combine sat idle in the yard while their father insisted he could fix the old one. may 31 011

Not only could he make it run, but it would run better than the new one. And maybe he could have…given enough time, but with winter hovering on the horizon the sons only wanted to get the crop off.

Not that his efforts were in vain. He came up with some nifty ideas. Why waste time forking off hay? He rigged up a sling to pull the load off the wagon. Of course, sometimes his quest for a faster, easier way led him into a few predicaments. Like slapping the belt connecting the flywheel of the tractor to the hammer mill to make it catch. He tried it once too often and it caught. It caught the sleeve of his coat and almost tore his arm off.

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We bought the family farm and on trips around the yards I would often find myself staring at some maze of wire and belts. Upon questioning my father-in-law or one of the seven sons, I would be told it was how he pulled the pump, or fixed up an automatic waterer (long before one could go to the nearest farm supply story and buy one), or that’s how he bunched bales or any number of things.

I suppose being a farmer, he never had time to pursue all his ideas. Or to patent some of the better ones. There’s a lesson to be learned here. Ideas—like dreams—need to be pursued if we want to make the most of them.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a story idea that needs my attention.

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Modern Picasso

My three year old granddaughter shows real talent.

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Pretty good. Right?

I believe everyone is born with creative talent. It might be in painting, writing, understanding math or mechanics. But something happens to most of us.

This article talks about creativity killers. In summary, the author calls them.1: the Control Crew 2: the Fear Family 3: the Pressure Pack 4: the Insulation Clique 5: the Apathy Clan 6: the Narrow-minded Mob 7: the Pessimism Posse

In short, we ourselves or our society or our teachers tend to kill our creativity.

But creativity is a muscle. The more you use it—in whatever direction it takes—the stronger it gets.

What creativity muscle or muscles are you exercising?

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