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I wanted to tell you a story about long ago Christmases. Perhaps find pictures of the season in my parents’ collection of photos. I found nothing. I’m beginning to think their idea of Christmas was much simpler than ours. My father told me there were few gifts. He was the youngest by several years and what he remembers is his older siblings coming home and how one sister made the best fudge. Her reputation was known among the neighbors.

Perhaps we need to get back to a simpler way of celebrating the season…at least, that is my feeling. So my goal for this year is simple but thoughtful. Less presents. More quality time.

Are you doing anything different this year? Celebrating more? Maintaining certain customs? Making changes?

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I had occasion this week to see where my grandparents used to live. They’ve been gone many years but as I was in the neighborhood, I wanted to see if the house was still there and what memories I’d have of the place.

The house was gone, replaced by a new one. Yet many old homes still stood. The street was narrow, as I remembered, the houses close together. A quiet, sedate neighborhood.

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Yes, there were memories like a boy coming to see us as we played in the yard. I don’t know if he lived there or was visiting as we were but he was all too happy to show us his brass knuckles and tell us how dangerous he was. I tended to believe him but then I was from a small town where we had never encountered anything like that.

Then there was the time an ambulance screamed up and stopped across the street. The attendants rushed inside and brought a man out on a stretcher. We had never before seen an ambulance in real life. How shivery exciting for three young kids.

My grandmother was small and constantly fussing. My grandfather was tall and quiet. My aunt lived with them and took care of them. She had the husky voice of a smoker. They had a yellow canary who, once he got over the shock of seeing children, sang. As I recall, their front room was crowded with furniture including a china cupboard full of knickknacks.

Below is a picture of their wedding day in 1890, another of them in front of their home in Kansas and the final one is the celebration of their 60th anniversary.

grant and minnie mumert, wedding Nov. 26, 1890grant, minnie, dora, myrtle, leslie, Tonganoxie, Kan, 1904grant and minnie mumert's 50th anniversary

I was disappointed that the house in the city was gone but the memories remain of the long, long drive to where they lived. We crossed several rivers and drove through woods.

Now I’m the grandmother and the kids come to see me. I don’t have a canary but I do have a parrot who loves to dance with the kids. And the grandchildren can run and play with abandon on our farm.

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Funny how things have gone full circle—small town kids visiting in the city to city (big town) kids visiting on the farm.

I hope my ramblings have brought you warm memories of your grandparents. Do you have one special memory?

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My stories often have children in them so I am often challenged to find toys for them. I’ve visited countless museums and have thousands of pictures taken at them but if one were to judge the abundance of toys (or rather lack of) by how many displays there are of toys, I’d have to conclude there weren’t a lot of toys. It would seem that children of the 1800s relied heavily on their imaginations, their siblings and pets or farm animals for entertainment.

There has always been dolls. Both commercially made and homemade.

irricana museum July 28 019 montana research trip July 098 The doll on the left is a topsy-turvy doll. The child turned it upside down to reveal another doll.


There were carriages for the dolls.

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There has been marbles, and board games. And of course, books. (see marble game and books on coffee table)

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Sometimes the child was fortunate enough to have a wooden horse or a wagon.

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Wealthier families might have a stereoscope what would be used with adult supervision.

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Mothers and fathers often created toys for the children. Mother’s made dolls and animals from socks, clothes pegs or scraps of fabric. Fathers carved little animals. And swings hung from trees have always been popular. We have a play structure in our yard and two swings hanging from the tree. Guess which is the most used.

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One of the problems I encounter in museums is the lack of circa dates. I really appreciate it when the displays are clearly marked.

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I’m wondering if any of you have discovered information about the toys pioneer children would enjoy.

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It’s time to renew my passport. I have gone so many places with the current one (though not as many as I’d like).

It’s probably no surprise that one of my favorite things about travel is visiting museums and I thought I would give you a little sample of the many I’ve seen.

A nearby museum and one of the rooms. I’ve actually used this room as a model for a house in one of my stories.

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North to Alaska. At least Whitehorse, Yukon. We visited lots of museums. The tour of the paddle wheeler was great. The first class lounge was aA stark contrast to where the economy class passengers spent their time. They were not allowed on the upper decks.

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Display at Whitehorse museum where we also saw a cabin where Robert Service lived.

A trip on the famous Whitepass Railway.


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Museums to the south—Colorado: Lots of great museums. And Bents Old Fort. Did you notice the three dollar bill?

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Last but not least—Hawaii. Yes, even in Hawaii I visit museums. Whaling and protestant missionaries made a  big impact on the islands.

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In 1898 the Hawaii flag to the left was lowered and replaced with the American flag when Hawaii became a territory of the USA.

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Do you visit museums? What is your favorite past of doing so and have you made a surprising discovery?

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It’s been a week with unexpected surprises. Several times I’ve felt like Johnny Appleseed.

Oh, the Lord is good to me.
And so I thank the Lord
For giving me the things I need:
The sun and the rain and the apple seed;
The Lord is good to me.

We had a record of the Johnny Appleseed story that the kids loved. Is that old school or what? Check out the YouTube version

We had snow in October and before that, wet weather. So although the crops here are good, they lay in damp fields with little hope of getting them off. We’re talking about farmers losing a year’s income but still having huge input costs to pay. But now, in November, we are having dry weather with lots of sun and wind to dry out the crops. It’s wonderful to see the combines going and dust hanging in the air from harvesting.

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I’ve had some wonderful news as well. I can’t share the details just yet but watch for upcoming announcements. In the meantime, I will enjoy it on my own.

Plus we got the lift fixed on the handicap-equipped van so I can finally take my client places.

Don’t we sometimes forget to count our blessings even though we have so many of them?

Care to share some of your blessings this week?

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This week I got a box of books—Montana Cowboy Family—Book #2 in Big Sky Cowboys series. For fun, click on the link and make a jigsaw puzzle of the cover. It comes out in Jan. The story of Sadie, the school teacher, and the youngest Marshall brother, Logan.

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It’s me, Peanut. My owner asked me to do a blog for her. Sometimes she forgets that I am royalty and she’s my servant.

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She won’t let me call her mommy. She says any child of hers walks on two legs, isn’t covered with fur and doesn’t stick his face in his food to eat. Sounds like strange creatures to me.

I’m learning that life isn’t fair. I mean if I coughed and hacked like she’s been doing, she’d put me outside. I only tolerate her behavior because she rubs my under the chin in that spot I really like. And of course, the food she provides. Mind you, I’m perfectly capable of finding my own food. I even offer to share with her. She isn’t as grateful as she should be. Humans are very strange creatures.

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So I’ve been contemplating what I should say. I’ve given it a lot of thought.

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I could tell you of my many adventures or how I learn to hide from a certain child. Or I could tell you–

But look at the birds out there. Excuse me while I go do some research.

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I’ve once again asked Peanut to stand in for me as I am sick with a cold.

He wasn’t impressed at my request.

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But finally agreed to say something.

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But I think he forgot before the urge to sleep claimed him.

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I pestered him until he woke up.

But then he took one look out the window, saw snow and hid.

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Oh well, I tried.

Maybe next week one of us will feel up to talking.

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It is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada. Normally, it is a lovely fall day with crisp leaves of gold and yellow, fat orange pumpkins and a blue sky.

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Not so much this weekend. We have (shh, don’t say it aloud) snow. Yikes. What’s with that? I surly hope it doesn’t indicate we are in for a long, mean winter. If so, I might have to relocate to Mexico or Hawaii. Mind you, I think I’ve said that every winter for the last twenty years and yet here I am still.

Nevertheless, I have much to be thankful for.

1. A nice warm office where I can hunker down, write and ignore the cold weather.

2. My health and the health of my husband, children and grandchildren. So often we take such things for granted but when I look about at what others are dealing with I am truly grateful.

3.Friends. People who know my history and what it took to get where I am now. There’s no need to explain. They just know. And they listen when I need to talk. They pray for my concerns.

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4. The abundance of our garden and especially that it is DONE for another season. I will enjoy the vegetables every day of the winter and be glad I put in the effort to get them in my freezer or cold room but now is the time to enjoy the rewards of my labor.

5. The freedom and security of our land. I simply can’t begin to fathom what it would be like to be in a war-torn country, to be a refugee, to be reduced to living in a cold tent and wondering where I would get my next meal. My heart goes out to those who suffer these indignities.

6. My family. What a joy to share special occasions with them. To take part in everyday moments, to listen to joys and sorrows. Is there anything sweeter than a grandchild on my knee singing a story she made up? “Once upon a time there was…” Words can not begin to describe the feeling.

7. My church where the Word of God is taught, where we bear one another’s burdens and find sweet communion with others.

8. Grapes. Yes, I’m thankful for grapes which are now available year round. My favorite fruit. Apples are good too and again, we can get them fresh and crisp every day of the year. When I read about families in the thirties surviving the winter on turnips I realize how blessed we are.

9. My home. It’s just right for us. Oh sure there are some things I might change if I had the chance…like add an all-season sunroom and another bathroom. But like I said, it suits our needs. And now that it’s been repainted, repaired and rejuvenated, I like it even better.

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10. My God who loves me without measure, day in and day out.

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Happy Thanksgiving. What will be on your list of things you are thankful for?

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Autumn, also known as fall in North America, is here. The free dictionary describes it this way:

1. The season of the year between summer and winter, during which the weather becomes cooler and many plants become dormant, extending in the Northern Hemisphere from the autumnal equinox to the winter solstice and popularly considered to include the months of September, October, and November; fall. In the Southern Hemisphere autumn includes March, April, and May.

It’s an explanation that falls (see what I did there?) far short of what autumn is. I prefer a collection of 24 quotes in Country Living. I share copies of 2 of them. To see them all go to:

I’m privileged to live in a small town with a college where there is a botanical garden and a wetlands project. And where I can walk and enjoy the plantings. I present some for your pleasure.

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I love autumn: Long walks, colorful leaves, cool air and a scent all its own. There is not room or time to list all the things I love about fall.

How do you feel about fall? What are your favorite things?

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