Tuesday, November 28, 2006

winter 1939

I was out taking a few pictures this morning and I was once again glad as I have said to Terry time and time again these past few days . . ."I'm glad I'm the lady". This wind is still gusting from the northeast and I'm more of a "window" snow storm lover. As I was thinking about how much I love to stay warm in my cozy home during storms, I was reminded once again of my Mom.
I thought about her childhood winters and her experience when my great grandma passed away. They lived in the prairies where cold doesn't begin to describe winter. I'll give you a few excerpts of her record.

"It was February 1939. I had just turned seventeen. . . .Uncle Peter Penner came on the yard . . .we knew something must be wrong for him to come in the bad weather. He told us that Grandma had a bad stroke and he wanted me to go with him to stay with Grandma and Grandpa till she would feel better again.
The roads were drifted over and the horses kept falling into the snow up to their stomachs and would always have to jump to be able to move on. It was a terrible drive. It must have been the Lord that helped us to their place without the harnesses breaking or even the sleigh. "
She goes on to tell that they couldn't make it to the grandparents in one day and stayed the night at her aunt and uncles. It was only ten miles. By the time they got there her grandma had another severe stroke and they asked my mom to walk two miles to the train station and then take the train to Glenbush and from there find her way home.
She says " I walked along the railroad. I ran almost all the way. I was so afraid the train might come, and I had no where to go to let it pass by. There was only deep snow to fall into. I was at the station only a short while before the train arrived and I was so thankful I made it, the Lord helped me again."
When she got home her parents immediately left to go to the grandparents and the children were left to take care of the farm. My mom was the oldest. They had to water the cattle and horses. They hauled water out of the deep well with a pail. They milked the cows, cleaned out the manure put down fresh straw and brought in enough wood to keep warm at night. She says that they were on their own for 2 nights in the storm. At one point one mean horse bopped her in the nose and broke it but she had to keep going.
Once again I sit here humbled by the strength my mom obviously had. She had an indomitable strength of character I never fully appreciated while she was alive. As I have recently reread her 300 hand written pages, I realize again how blessed our family is to have had a Mom who had an inveterate trust that her future lay in the hands of her Lord Jesus.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

first snow

Otis has a perfectly dry place to sleep but he's a manly dog and likes to pretend he pulls dog sleds in his spare time.

Real icicles. Not like the ones that reached the ground when I was five years old, but they'll do.

Terry saw me taking this picture out of our front door and called over to me something like. . . . "oh here we go, that figures" I have no idea what that is supposed to mean.

Terry just came in and said he thought that I would report that he was pushing the snow across to the neighbors yard. . . . that had not occured to me. He is a little paranoid.
I just love the first snow of the season. Some years I wait and wait and wait and feel disappointed at the end of the winter and I sulk around in sad sense of privation. This year we've had fabulous weather already and it's only November.

The first snow of the winter is most exciting. When I was a young thing I would be the first to rise and listen to CFVR (that was our radio station) and listen with anticipation for the school closures. When our children were in grade school I'd be the first to rise hoping that I would have exciting school closures to report. Even when our kids were in university there was still that chance that school could be closed and life would be different for a day or two. Now some of my favorite people are teachers and even now I still hope for them a snow day.

My sweet man knows how much I love the first snow of the year and hid away my engagement ring to propose marriage on that occasion. Luckily for me it was not a snowless winter and we got engaged on November 23, 1977. He knew his chances of me saying "yes" was a given because the world around me is absolutely perfect when it snows.

I know that in a few days the snow will be gone and we'll be back to rain but I thank God for the celebration of a snow day today. Tomorrow morning I'll listen to see if the schools are closed and I'll be on the phone spreading the good news.

Friday, November 24, 2006

lunch with my friend

Today was a delightful day. Kathy and I first met when her and I were both pregnant with our first children. We had sons and they had daughters. We lived a short distance from one another and often went for long walks together pushing our strollers.
A bit of distance has now separated us and the daily walks are long gone but this morning Kathy and I went to do a bit of Christmas shopping. Now that I have daughter-in-laws and she has son-in-laws we can actually Christmas shop in the same stores and advise on each others selections.
Around 11:30 our proclivity is to consider our lunch options. We both love to cook and bake and so we naturally share ideas for recipes and entertaining ideas. We settled for a bowl of steaming Potato Corn Chowder and a Cornmeal muffin.
After a relaxing lunch we went up to the B&B to see how the Christmas decorating is coming along and garner inspiration for our own homes.
Kathy headed home and I landed up staying at the B&B to help Dorothy for a bit. I made 3 chocolate ganache tortes and a caramel sauce. I think I'll find my way back there to help with with that event.

As I think about my day, I feel so grateful for the blessings in my life. This week at my ladies care group, one of the ladies gave us each a little angel holding a sign that says "Give Thanks".
I have so much to be thankful for. God has blessed me with the gift of a husband who loves me, children who love their wives, (and I think us) family and friends who understand my heart, inspire me, and share my joys. Lord help me to honor You by being a blessing to those that you have put into my life.

Monday, November 20, 2006


Otis came to live with us almost 12 years ago. I had gone grocery shopping to Costco one morning and I noticed a man selling puppies out of the back of his truck. We had recently buried our black lab that never really did understand why rules about going on the road were for his benefit. Knowing that buying puppies from someone out of the back of his truck could be a bit dicey I peered in. I couldn't count because of the ruckus, but he had at least 20 puppies, all different breeds. I spotted this adorable German shepherd puppy and raced home to confer with Terry. Within the hour we had Otis in the back of our truck heading home.
After reading Becky's post (random ponderings) about her vermin problem I was reminded of Otis's early years and our similar problem. Our good friend Peter the poop hauler would invite Otis into the barn at the beginning of his day. Otis would then race back and forth in the barn while Peter moved out the manure, and hunt rats from morning till night. He'd sniff them out grab them by their throat and fling them as high as the rafters and then move on to the next tunnel.
We had a big white cat named Oliver a few years back. Otis and Oliver had an understanding. Otis held the subaltern position. When Oliver met his untimely death on the dangerous road we went back behind the barn to bury him. Otis followed behind looking suspicious of Oliver's lack of movement. When we placed Oliver in the ground Otis stuck his head in the hole to make sure he was not moving. Terry couldn't resist , he let out a loud meow and Otis jumped vertically about 3 feet. It made the otherwise sad occasion quite amusing.
We never taught him to do his toilet behind the barn, he just had the common sense to think of that himself. We never taught him to sit on the loading dock looking ominous, he just knew it would be helpful.
Otis has been slowing down lately. He has retired I suppose since we haven't any vermin left for him to hunt. He seems to be losing it a bit. In the last year or so he has taken up gardening. He knows we don't appreciate his efforts so he's always careful to enjoy his hobby while we are away. On occasion we'll come home and see bark mulch tossed everywhere and he'll slowly skulk away knowing that we'll not be impressed. We've not ever caught him that is until yesterday. Terry had taken off in the afternoon and I was looking out the kitchen window because we were having a major downpour. I watched Otis slowly get up off the porch and head down the steps. The horizontal rain was getting him wet so he must have figured it was as good a time as any for some good digging. He found himself a nice spot, gave a quick glance around and started to dig. I couldn't believe it. I opened up the door and called his name and the look he gave me was "oh shoot". Poor guy. I just couldn't scold him. He looked so guilty all on his own.
I thought I'd write about Otis today and not on some sad day when we have to bury him under the Cottonwood tree beside Oliver. When you buy a puppy out of the back of someones truck and have no idea where it came from and what the temperament of its parents are, you take a risk. Otis is a bit unorthodox as far as German Shepherds go. He's the ruler of our porch and he is just a great dog.

Friday, November 17, 2006

relocating the leaves

Well that was quite the storm. It would be rated at least a eight or nine. When I left off last time, Terry was calling me to come outside and enjoy the fall festivities with him. When I went out it wasn't really raining yet and we still had power. The leaves had pretty much all come off the trees and they were blowing around with gusto.

I was really admiring Terry's method for removing the leaves from our property and I was as usual trying to document his actions. You can see from the last photo that my endeavour to capture every moment of his technique ... well, it wasn't terribly appreciated. He was corralling the leaves along the length of the barn and was doing a fantastic job of making a row which would then be able to be blown behind the barn. At that point the wind was blowing from the west which was the direction Terry was blowing them as well. What you can't see is that when he got them to the end of the barn the wind shifted to come from the south. The picture of the leaves blowing across the street is not our house, its our neighbors house. I know it's just not the same coming from me but you'll have to take my word for it, it was pretty funny. He felt really bad and was quite embarrassed but it wasn't really his fault and we just hoped that the neighbors were not looking out the window.
Our power from the road was off for thirty hours. The winds were clocked at 95 kilometers per hour. Power lines were laden with fir tree branches and telephone poles were leaning over.
Technically we had power through our generator. We were denied cable which put us in a quandary as to the evening activities. We took out our Scrabble game. Imagine that. . . a board game. It was fantastic. The game nearly ended in a tie but I had the good sense to save a blank tile for the very end as well as an "s". So it was all good.
Do to my new found enjoyment of being a "reporter" it may be some time before I'm invited out on a windy day date again but that's all right. I'm not concerned. Winter is coming and I'll l be invited out to see the snow. Such fun.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

rag quilt craziness

Last night at our Essential Six quilting class, Lori moved us on from cutting squares to sewing squares. We sewed from one corner to the next through the top layer, the flannelet and the bottom layer (which is just like the top). That was easy and I felt quite successful.
This morning I was anxious to lay the squares out so I could have some idea of the finished product and also to be able to sew them together. Originally I started to lay the squares on our table but after I ran out of room I moved it on to the area rug. I should have put a sheet down first so that the border of the rug wouldn't add to my craziness but I'm sure not moving it all again.
There must be a mathematical way to lay out the squares to make them even but math was definitely not my strength so I just went for it. I actually had to take a break and go for a good brisk walk on the treadmill to clear my mind. I'm used to patterns and instructions step by step. I decided it would be good to take a picture of it so I could get a birds eye view of my color deficiencies. Well, I can see that the picture is a good idea and I'm sure you are looking at the same thing I am . . . . noticing the too many beige and too many blue or red in one area. I think after a relaxing lavender bubble bath I'll be ready to tackle it again.
We are quite the scene working together. Last night we put Gilmore Girls on for those of us that enjoy the "fast talkers". I was actually requested to do my sewing during commercial breaks due to the noise velocity of my walking foot. I was quite happy to honour this request since I had my back to the television.
Weather Alert. . .
Terry just came in and told me to come outside for a bit. It's crazy windy weather out there . . . my favorite kind. The wind will blow the cobwebs out my brain and I'm sure that I'll be able to see better when I come in.
Stay tuned for tomorrows weather news and pictures of Terry dealing with the leaves.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

the magnolia tree

It's raining again today and as I look at my precious magnolia tree I see that once again it is giving into yet another releasing of its leaves. It's a rule with me, where we move the magnolia tree moves with us. So far this hasn't been such a difficult task and fortunately it seems to grow quite slow. My parents gave us that tree as a constant reminder of my father-in-law when he passed away. We haven't really needed reminders of Dad, he is fondly remembered often. He was a hands on Dad, with a willing heart to help. He's been gone 12 years already and yet it seems like yesterday. What a wonderful gift in life to be able to call up your Dad and see what he thinks about things and just shoot the breeze.
So my tree will sit quietly for another winter and wait for some warmth to coax its beautiful buds forth. The buds will start already in winter when only an optimist can imagine Spring around the corner.
I have no idea why I thought about Dad today; it's not unusual though. I loved my father-in-law and enjoyed the times he'd stop in for coffee. He would often pick up the boys and drag them around the countryside with him because he hated being alone. He'd bribe them with a promise of doughnuts at the end of the outing. He would tinker endlessly on anything broken and enjoy making the useless, useful again.
When I look outside and see that tree I think of Dad even if its just for a fleeting moment. For now we'll enjoy our memories and anticipate our reunion in heaven ...and we'll continue to be thankful for a Dad who left a legacy that was priceless.

Friday, November 10, 2006

empty nestin

It sure is amazing to me how fast the past 28 years have gone. I married my high school sweet heart right after high school and we really never gave much thought to goals for our life together. My dream from my earliest recollections was to get married and be a mom.
A year and a half into our marriage we had our first child and a year and a half after that we had our next child. I wouldn't claim that it was always terribly easy or that we didn't have difficult situations to work through but we settled into life as a family. We focused on the celebrations of birthdays, holidays and vacations. Every year we saved enough money to take our kids camping. It was nothing fancy. We bought a used soft top tent trailer with a zip on add-on-tent. We usually went with our friends and had such a good time. I'll tell you more about our camping trips another time.
We always said that we were quite happy that we would be young enough to enjoy life after children. I never actually realized how fast that would happen. This year we went camping alone to Manning Park Provincial Park which was always one of our favorites. We have long since ditched the soft top tent trailer but camping is still camping and we'll love it forever. We had a blast.
So where is this all going? Well, now it's just Terry and I. He still amuses me with his antics. We have a bit of a thing at bedtime. He knows how much I hate being the last one to bed so he purposely tries to sneak in first just to be a pest. Last night I realized he was gone and I kind of looked around the house. Now, our bungalow isn't that big and there aren't that many places to hide. (we try that sometimes) I thought to myself; well perfect I'll just sneak into bed first. I went into the dark bedroom and started to take off the many cushions and pillows and I noticed a bulge under the covers. That kook was hiding under there for I don't know how long . . . in wait.
On occasion we feel like we have the empty nest syndrome. I think that's probably normal. On most days though my nest feels just right. In it is the one person I chose to share it with. What a blessing.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

the essential six

Last night was the the first night of the new quilting club. The whole idea started after my niece Lori presented my great niece with a beautiful quilt. It was so beautiful in fact that it inspired within some of us girls the desire to start this craft. I have often thought about quilting, it was something my mom really enjoyed. She blessed many of her grandchildren with cozy grandma quilts. It never really appealed to me until the idea of quilting together with family was brought up.
We actually started a few Saturdays ago by going to the quilting store togther and picked out our fabrics. We met together last night and began to cut our 5 inch squares. I have sewn for a lot of years but I have to say that the pressure of perfect squares made me quiver. Lori is a fabulous teacher and she scurried back and forth between us, helping us figure out how to achieve this goal.
Tanya was unable to attend but she is very organized and already has all her squares cut. She is busy this week preparing for a fundraiser on the weekend which I'll tell you about another time.
I really thought that we should have a proper name. This caused some heckling and good natured teasing. I'm the Aunt and Mother-in-law to these girls and I want this special grouping to have a name. After some debate Lori suggested "the essential six". It's really quite simple. There are six of us quilting and if any of us choose to quit after the first quilt is completed we will change the name accordingly. On the other hand if anyone else sees how much fun we are having together and wants to join, well then we'll adjust the name again. Unfortunately some of my nieces live across the country and can't join in the fun.
Our family has grown over the years and some of the originals have moved away. How fun it would be for me if I could see all of my family regularly. I really hope that I can convince more family members to join in the blogging fun so that we can stay connected. Seeing other families blog together has inspired me and I hope it becomes a contagious joy.
From time to time I'll give updates on our quilting achievements and perhaps you will be inspired to start a quilting club within your own family.

Sunday, November 5, 2006

little coats

There is something I find quite satisfying about sewing surprises. I found this pattern for little girl coats and just got so excited about sewing a few up. It could be that the patterns have become better, but I never seemed to sew that much for my boys when they were little. (not that they would have looked very good in little girl coats)
I sewed the first one up for my great niece baby Shaye. She is now only a few months old and I hope it will fit her next winter and not on Canada Day. The little blue coat Bea helped me come up with the fabric design for her little niece Camryn. Bea covered the buttons and sewed them on. It was a joint project to be sure. It will fit her this winter after I shorten it a few inches.
I'm using my mom's sewing machine that she bought brand new to sew my wedding dress. That machine has sewed like a charm for 28 years. When she passed away 11 years ago I inherited it and many memories. The rolling chair with 2 drawers that came with it still hold the same things that I got it with. Many times I've opened those drawers and thought that I should clean them out and reorganize them. Every time I just put the same things back in. They hold 60 year old knitting patterns that I'll never knit up, a pattern for making birth certificates for her grandchildren, old scissors that can't cut through cotton, an old fur collar that must be from an old coat, knitting needles, bits of fabric, and few old notes that I gave her and on and on, all jammed in those 2 drawers. Someday when my girls clean up that old stool they'll wonder why I never organized those drawers and made use of perfectly good space in my limited sewing closet. When I went through my mom's things after she passed away I sure wondered about a few of her drawers, they must have held memories that were for her alone.
I'm thinking of retiring that old machine. I've put a request into Santa for a nice new Bernina. I'll let you know how that goes. Karlee, my first daughter inherited her grandmas sewing machine so I'll pass this old relic onto Bea. My mom would have like that. In the meantime I'll keep going with my surprises. What fun. Posted by Picasa