Thursday, May 27, 2010

Introducing WINTER WHEAT

My maternal grandparents were imigrants from Europe. Grandma immigrated from Austria in 1904 at the age of 16; and Grandpa, as an infant with his family from Poland. Grandma boarded a ship in Germany with a family she barely knew, travelled across the ocean in stearage on the ship to a strange country. Unable to speak english, she landed in Halifax then boarded a train and travelled across Canada, taking days until she arrived in Winnipeg where she was met by distant realitives which she'd never met before.

Can you imagine any of our children/grandchildren managing something like this now- a-days? I cannot!

My only memories of Grandma are from the very last year of her life, when she came to live with us so my mother could care for her. She occupied the second largest bedroom in the house, and pretty much never left the hospital bed she was in. To tell the truth, I remember the buzzer my Dad installed in the room, better than Grandma herself. I was 5 yrs old, and the buzzer seemed like a pretty fun thing, especailly when others than Grandma rang it, and Mom went running!

After Grandma was gone, and I was older, I started to listen to the stories my mother and her siblings told about my grandparents life. Sadly, it wasn't until my own mother was gone, that I truely became interested in my heritage. I kept thinking about the things that a young woman coming to Canada at that age would have experienced, and pretty soon a story was floating around my brain - not about Grandma per se, but about a young woman like her. I even gave her a name - Emilie!

My parents were children during the Great Depression. My Grandmother on Dad's side, died shorthly after delivering her tenth child, leaving my grandfather and his eldest daughter (around 12 0r 13 yrs of age) to raise 9 children, one of them a newborn, and the others a little over a year apart in age.

Growing up, I heard many stories of the depression years, and again I did not appreciate what I was hearing until I was much older... then I wished I would have listened more closely!
Soon I placed Emilie in the depression era, and I found a family of motherless children who needed her love and compassion... even if she could barely speak english... and my novel "Winter Wheat" was born.
Over the next few months, I'd like to share my story with you. I have no idea how long it will take to complete the story this way, but once a week, I'll post a few pages for you to read. I hope you enjoy the story, and I really would welcome your comments along the way, if you care to do that.
So check back next week for the first pages of "Winter Wheat."
About the pictures at the top of this post:
The first picture is of my materal Grandparents, taken on what I believe was their only trip back to the "Old Country". I'm not sure of the date, sometime in the late 40's I think. I look at this picture and realize that I am roughly the same age my Grandmother would have been in this picture.... scary!

The second picture is of my father and some of his siblings, taken during the depressionin 1933. My father is the cheeky lad holding the dog front and center. This picture is one of my favorite pictures of all.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A little Freeway Humor

My recent journey from Winnipeg to Chicago took us through North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin to Illinois. Here's a little poem about that trip.

Ode to a Freeway

I’m heading down the road today,
On my way to parts unknown.
A couple of days of driving south,
Perhaps I should have flown?

Wide open Dakota prairie,
Sure gives me false bravo.
Can I handle big city freeways?
Well; only God can know!

Before I know it’s on me.
Two lanes; now turned to five.
Oh cripes, the traffic’s horrid;
It’s scaring me alive!

Oh peace the hills of cheese land,
For green is all I see.
Bovine, and grass and silo’s tall,
A quick stop for some Brie.

The tension builds as signs appear,
Announcing Chi town’s state.
The speed is on, while traffic swells,
Our safety now is fate.

Tolls to the right, merge to the left;
I cut how many off?
Construction, semi’s, fools and such,
This drivers’ had enough!

Anger soon transpires to tears,
Add on a cuss or two.
I firmly vow to park my rig,
Yes, that’s just what I’ll do!

“Calm yourself,” Dear hubby states;
“You know we’re almost there!”
I rant and rave some more, poor guy,
Then fix him with a glare.

A few sharp turns, a stop or two;
Arrival now is near.
Relief, euphoria, joy unknown,
And finally we are there.

Don’t think about this drive again,
Says I, to only me.
Relax, enjoy and rest a bit,
Yes lady, that’s the key.

Well now I know just what I’ll do,
Next trip I plan to take.
A simple booking on a plane,
For everybody’s sake!

Dale Graumann

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A word about STROKES

Since I wrote and published my first novel in 2005, I have heard about many women young and old who have suffered a Stroke. Each time I've listened to stories of what has happened to these women, my mind goes directly to my novel, "STROKE OF LOVE".

Have you read it? It's a story about a mid-aged woman, a farm woman to be exact who suffers a severe stroke one morning while doing the thing she loves the most, which in her case is baking. At first it is not known if she will even survive the stroke. Her husband of many years fears that she may not survive it, and her grown daughter, a nurse, who lives hundreds of miles away, rushes home to be with her parents, not knowing if she will ever see her mother alive or not.

If you'd like to read the book, it is available on

When I wrote this story, I did so using knowledge I had acquired during my nursing years. I based Millie's experience on cases I'd worked on over the years.
What scares me now, is just how little has changed over the years in respect to this disease.
I haven't nursed in years, and still this killer is striking men and women of all ages, all over the globe.

The latest story I heard is of a young woman under 50 yrs old. She just dropped, and even with the life saving drug that can be given early after the stroke, she is now struggling for her life. If she lives, she will have no speech, she will be paralyzed, and have months of months of rehabilitaion to regain some, if any normal body function... just like Millie....

Life becomes fiction then becomes life.... over and over again.

My mother in law, whom I've written about here before, suffered a stroke a little over a year ago, and I personally think she may have had a few smaller ones prior to the big one. The last stroke altered her and her daughters lives forever.

Do you know the signs of stroke? If someone beside you was having a stroke, would you recognize it as such? It can be as illusive as a feeling of confusion, and as evident as a total collapse. Perhaps it would be to all our benefits to learn more about this disease that despite medical technology, continues to be on the rise.

Here is a helpful little email that I received a while ago. One of those chain emails that we tend to want to delete before we read it.

Doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions:
Using the first 3 letters of the word STROKE:

S *Ask the individual to SMILE.
T *Ask the person to TALK and SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (Coherently) (i.e. It is sunny out today.)
R *Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.

If he or she has trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks, call emergency number
immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

Simple steps that could save a life, or more.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

It's been ten days since my last post, I did have some followers before, but maybe they have lost interest in my abscence. I hope not.

The past 10 days have kept me busy with unpacking all my loot from our trip; laundry, laundry, laundry; returning to my full time day job; gardening - you should see the weeds in my flower beds; and all the life things that happen to a person returning home from a couple of weeks vacation. Ten days post trip - it seems like a dream!

I'm almost caught up at work; I almost have the "loot" stored away in the craft room; the garden - well that is a work in progress most of the summer anyway; all the imediate things have been taken care of, so it's pretty much back to the routine of daily living in my house.

Our weather has been glorious! We have been in a heat wave this week - it's capris and sandal time in the Peg! Of course that is the mode of dress of the women over 40, I really can't speak for the younger crowd... but I have witnessed some pretty skimpy outfits these past couple of days.

I find myself caught in a web of indecision as to which pending project I should tackle first. I want to start a nine patch quilt; I have a new angel dress floating around in my head that I'm dying to start crocheting; I have several mini-bears to make for graduations, and a bride and groom set that needs to be done by June. In true Dale form, I'll probably start them all within the same week, and I will toggle between them until they are done.

But the beautiful spring air is calling me outdoors, at least for this long weekend. Some sun, a big pile of dirt, some annuals and maybe even some windex and paper towels will dictate the next few days as we kick off the summer with the first long-weekend of the season. Happy Victoria Day everyone... enjoy the weekend, whatever you do... and be safe...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Home, the spot of earth
supremely blessed,
a dearer, sweeter spot
than all the rest.

I worked this into a x-stitch sampler years ago (1994) to be exact, and the older I get the more meaningful those words become.

We are home. None the worse for the wear, tired but happy to have had a safe journey, and happy to have spent time with family members that mean so much to us. Even though the drive down and back was terrible ( seems we were destined to drive in wind and rain storms both ways) we did hit on some beautiful warm even hot weather wherever we stayed.

Spring is more advanced down south, the lilacs are almost finished while ours are just thinking about blooming. My Aunts perennials had flower stalks showing, while mine are barely through the ground. There it felt like summer.. here it really is still spring.

After a day of laundry today I'll tackle some unpacking. The van was loaded down with new clothes, shoes, towels, quilt scraps, and bags and boxes of "things" from Aunt Margaret's house.
The "things" will be exciting to unveil. Some will be assorted craft supplies, some will be dolls, patterns, pictures, one never knows what one will find in an Aunt Margaret box, but already I unearthed a tiny cloth with Battenburg lace.. which has already found it's place on a shelf in my bathroom.

I have enough fabric scraps for 10 quilts, one I'm anxious to start is a Victorian crazy quilt done in velvets, brocades and laces. It would have taken me years to collect enough materials for this quilt - but surprisingly enough - I now have enough to start and finish this project.

Thanks to the Pillar Inn, I now have several ideas on how I would like to redecorate my bedroom. It involves a lot of paint and fabric, but I am confident I can achieve the look I want thanks to about 100 pictures I have of that wonderful Victorian Inn.

Before I leave for the day, I want to wish all Mother's everywhere, a Happy Mother's Day. My son prepared a shrimp stir-fry for us last night for dinner. This coming from the beloved son who 2 weeks ago did not cook... it was delicious, and very much appreciated!

For those of you who have followed my 2 week journey, thanks for coming along on my trip. This blog will continue, but focus more on my Erndales work, my Etsy shop and my writing. Please continue to visit as I work at getting my craft business and my writing up to speed again.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

I've always known I should have been born during the Victorian era... I love all things Victorian, and so when I found The Pillar Inn on the internet I booked a room (the Victorian Room) without even giving it a moment's thought.

The Pillar Inn is in Cold Spring Minnesota, about 10 miles off I 94. Its a three storey Victorian home situated on Main street in a town with a population on a little over 1200 persons. Driving down Main street, makes me think of downtown Gladstone Manitoba, or downtown, anywhere small town. There were young boys fishing off the bridge as we drove by. They still use a siren to warn of emergencies (freaked hubby and I out a wee bit when it went off about a 1/2 hr or so ago). People stop and say hi to you as you walk past them on the street.

We are the only guests registered in the inn tonight - it is still off season, and mid-week, so the inn keeper said we could have the run of the whole house. Wow.. my camera is going to be busy. She has laid out cakes and cookies, popcorn, teas, hot chocolates, coffees, sodas and fruit for snacks for tonight. I cannot imagine how full we will be by the time we go to sleep. And then there will be breakfast...

We are 6 hrs from home, and this is our last night on the road, tonight we will relax and reflect on our trip.... and stuff our faces one more time before we get back to reality and a normal diet.

If you are ever in this area... check out this inn... it's beautiful...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Collectors and collections part 2

I wasn't able to upload more pictures so here are a few more. Enjoy...

Some more of her eggs, made by her, and a few of my Aunts Dolls. Over the years she has gotten rid of a lot of them, but there are still a lot here. Check out the doll wall paper in her bedroom.

It has been such fun being here with her these past few days. We have swapped many ideas and she has taught me many new things. I inherited a lot of her crochet cotton stash which at 92 she feels she might not use.

I'm also heading home with boxes and boxes of fabric scraps for quilt making. She has been a quilter for years and has a massive stash of fabric scraps. I have inherited many different types of fabrics, and already I have ideas for quilts I'd like to tackle.

This little home in Janesville Wisconsin is better than any craft store I've been in...

Monday, May 3, 2010

Collectors and collections

Is there any of us who haven't started a collection of something at one time or other in our lives? I find it so amazing the variety of collections that can be found in peoples homes.

I have a nephew who collects guitars, a brother who collects toy cars, I collect dolls. But the winner of the best and most collections has to be my Aunt Margaret. She has been a doll and bear collector for years. She is a crafter and makes decorations from eggs - chicken, duck, goose, emu, ostrich, rhea... amazing creations that fill her curio cabinets. Then there are the hundreds of crystal objects in and on the eggs, surrounding the cabinets, and just about everywhere the eye takes you.

For my crafting friends I wish you all could spend a day with this 92 yr old powerhouse. Her mind and her hands never rest. Her home is a museum of her beautiful creations. To a crafter her home is a haven.

She has shared her talents with me all my life and much of what I do today has been taught to me by her and my mother, who were the best of friends and fellow crafters.

Here are some of her creations. Pictures do them no justice but you will get an idea of the special talents of my most special Aunt.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Cones and Sliders

Chicago is rich in tradition, and many of those traditions revolve around food. One well-loved tradition is the Rainbow cone. For 82 yrs it has been a tradition of south- siders to visit an establishment on Western Ave, where they make the cones as you wait.

I first was introduced to Rainbow cones 25 yrs ago. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw a cone piled high with squares of several different types of ice creams and sherbets and a wafer cookie sticking out of the side of it.

Rainbow cones have survived many generations of ice cream lovers and we just had to have some last night on the way home from downtown.
The same establishment and the same great cones. I must confess even though we were tempted to get the large cone,we didn't... we got the small, and it was fantastic.shapeimage_3.gif

Another tradition are White Castle Sliders. Personally I never could quite see the attraction to these little tiny burgers that you purchase by the sac, but hubby had to have some for lunch today. There are several theories as to why they are called Sliders.. I'll let your imagination conjure up your own ideas... suffice to say, hubby has been spending a lot of time in the can since lunch time!

Two Chicago traditions... sliders anyone?