Tuesday, August 31, 2010

It's harvest time!

Well finally our time frames have aligned... it's threshing time in our story, and it's that time for real.  If you have never sat at a farm woman's table at threshing or modern day harvesting time, you have missed a very special treat.  I believe this is where buffets originated! 

My Aunt Olga, is bar none, the best cook ever - she has lived on the farm all her life, and makes a buffet look like child's play.  On minute she can be sitting and visiting with you, and hour later there is so much food on the table that you have to shake your head and wonder if you had slept somewhere along the way between your conversation and dinner.   Not one meat meal - but a two a day - we called it having supper twice because lunch was a hot meal with two types of meat - supper was another hot meal (different one) with two different meats.  I guess it helped much that there was an abundance of those meats running around her yard at any given time, but still....

Growing up, I heard many tales of feeding the "threshing gang".  Sounds like way too much cooking for me, but farm women are born to it, trained by their mothers to it, and excelled at it.  Then - and now.

So today - hats off to the women of the rural areas of our countries. 

An exceptional woman, as are all farm women.  Believe me it is far easier to go to a job for 8 hrs a day than to be a farm woman.

Winter Wheat...

It took an hour for her and Sue to wash up following dinner, and while Sue put Anne-Marie down for her afternoon nap, Emilie set the table for super which would be served at eight that evening. She started preparations for the lunch that would be served out in the field at four that afternoon. By two o’clock she had made a batch of thirty biscuits; dozens of sandwiches; iced the cakes that she had made that morning; packed the cakes and cookies in several boxes ready for transport and started packing tea-cups in a separate box. At precisely three-forty- five, she and the children carried the food, cups and hot tea to the wagon, and drove to the field where at by four o’clock they served the men’s lunch from the back of the wagon.

As she readied the wagon for the return trip to the house, Karl approached, and put his arm around his wife.

“How’s it going Em?” his voice rumbled softly in her ear, and for a moment she was tempted to rest her weary head on his wide shoulder. But instead of that she smiled warmly into his eyes and brushed the fine black soil from his face.

“How many days of this do we have to live through?” she answered his question with one of her own.

Karl chuckled at her plucky mood. “Oh, a few more yet, I’m afraid,” he hugged her close, kissed her brow and then released her. “I have to get back to work,” he said as he reluctantly backed away, “See you at eight . . .”

She nodded in agreement, blew him a kiss, and swung herself onto the seat of the wagon. “Come on kids!” she hollered, and watched as the children came running from every direction. When they were safely in the wagon she turned the team and headed back toward the house.

Karl watched his wife struggle with the team of horses and the cumbersome wagon, and grinned widely. Man, she was something, his Emilie. If anyone had told him six months ago that he would be deliriously happily married within the year, he would have knocked their lights out. But he was happy, and he was delirious half of the time - he knew that for a fact. He had only to think of his wife, or their big family, and his smile would rival the brightest sunniest prairie day.

He sobered a moment when he remembered the terrible day she had experienced yesterday. No matter how hard she had tried, it seemed that fate had decreed the day to be a total disaster. His heart had broke into a thousand little pieces as he’d watched her struggle through one disappointment after another. Later as he had held her close in their bed, he had heard her sobbing misery and he’d felt responsible for her anguish and disillusion.

She had rallied though - yes in true Emilie fashion, she had rose early this morning, brushed her emotions aside, and tackled the new day with vigor and determination, and by God if she wasn’t just pulling it off!

He sighed deeply as the wagon disappeared from his view, and he returned his attention to the men who had resumed working as soon as their lunch break had been over.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Three more to go..

Only three more short chapters until the story of Winter Wheat is over.  I hope you are still with me, and that you are still enjoying the story.  I must admit I have kind of got a kick out of posting this story every day, it makes me want to do what I had originally intended to do with this story...write a sequel.  I'll have to give it some serious thought in the days to come... maybe I could actually write it from scratch here... no that would be too painful for you to read...

Anyway here is the last little bit of Chapter 21 , and on to 22...

They continued their teasing banter, as they investigated the town at leisure.  They strolled the streets; purchased candy sticks and comic books for the children at the general store; sampled creamy vanilla ice cream cones at the diner; idled the isles of the hardware store, and swung on the wooden swings in the local playground.  They returned to the hotel and ate a dinner of wild duck, served with boiled potatoes, peas and carrots, followed by fresh peaches in cream.  When there was absolutely nothing else they could think of doing, they quietly slipped upstairs to their room.
The soft click of the door closing was the only sound to break the sudden silence between them.   After months of living under the same roof, suddenly they both felt shy and more than a little bit nervous.  Emilie walked to the window, and drew the heavy curtains aside, so she could see down to the street below.  She still clutched her purse tightly in one hand and her Beret was still jauntily resting atop her head.
“Emilie?”  Karl’s deep voice finally pierced the silence, and the uncertainty she heard there made her love him more.
She placed her purse on the small table in front of the window, and reached to remove her beret and placed it carelessly on top of the purse.  She turned to her husband of a few hours, and approached him boldly.
“I want to be your wife, Karl,”  her breathless admission clung to the air around them.  She reached for the tie at his neck and started tugging at the knot.  “Won’t you please make me your wife?”

Chapter 22

She should have listened more carefully to Annie’s instruction, Emilie thought to herself as she stood in front of the mirror and hastily French-braided her hair before winding the long rope of braid around and around her head and jabbing three large hairpins in it to hold the coils in place.  Had she paid closer attention perhaps the first day of threshing would have gone a much smoother for everyone.  
Today was day two, and although she was sure she could do better than yesterday, Emilie worried about the embarrassment that Karl must have experience on her behalf.  
One minute she and Karl had been having a quiet breakfast, and the next minute their yard had become a parade of vehicles of every size and description until their yard resembled a small army camp.  First to arrive was the caboose.  It resembled a thin house on wheels and Karl explained that this was where the workers of the threshing gang would sleep at night.  Behind the caboose was eight stook wagons that would hold and transport the grain stooks to the threshing machine.  Next came a puffing, snorting steam engine which so resembled a locomotive that Emily wondered if indeed it was one.  Karl told her the steam engine was the most important piece of equipment in the whole threshing process.  It was the engine that would run the threshing machine so the grain could be separated from its stalk.  Without the steam engine, nothing would get done.
The threshing machine was pulled behind the steam engine and both were followed by a huge tank loaded onto a flatbed that held the water needed to run the steam engine.
As Emilie sat in stunned silence, twelve men approached the house and barged into her living room while Karl talked with the crew boss and decided where best to place the caboose and all the machinery - and still she sat as they all left the house and moved off the yard to set up for the start of the upcoming harvest.
What followed was one disastrous event after another, beginning with a lunch that had been grossly inadequate for a crew of hungry men, and ending with an overcooked supper served at eight thirty in the evening, which not only fell short of servings but tasted as appetizing as shoe leather.  It had not been her fault that she’d no idea what time the men would be done work for the day so the meal which she would have normally have served at six had sat in the oven for an additional two hours.  It had also not been her fault that she had not known that she was supposed to provide washing facilities for the dirt-covered, sweat-soaked men who in all likelihood had not seen a bath tub in weeks.  By the time they had finished washing up in her kitchen, her floors looked like a herd of cows had traipsed across them and her kitchen towels were as black as the soil in Karl’s fields.  
Her house smelled like the immigrant ship she had come to Canada upon.  Instead of the homey aromas of fresh baked bread mixed with fresh outside air from open windows, her house smelled of perspiration and flatus that permeated every nook and cranny of her pristine little home.  So it was also not her fault that by the time she was serving the over cooked supper to the strangers who had invaded her home she was more than a little rude if not down right uppity to the men gathered around her kitchen table.
She vowed day two would be different as she lit the coal-oil lamps and set the table for breakfast.  It was three thirty in the morning and she had much to do, but she was determined that this day she would do her husband proud.  
She set a kettle of water to boil on the stove for rolled oat cereal; fried three pans of new potatoes, four dozen eggs, and two full slabs of bacon; sliced five loaves of bread, filled two platters full of cake, poured two quarts of canned fruit into a bowl and made her largest copper kettle full of hot tea.  By five she was serving the twelve strangers, Karl and Charles their breakfasts, and by six when the whistle blew for the workday to begin, she was left with what would be the first of four huge loads of dirty dishes. 
At eight o’clock that morning she had already washed all the dishes, woke and fed the children, set the table for dinner, dug, washed and peeled a pail of potatoes, and another of carrots and placed three large roasts of beef into the oven.  At nine she made six apple pies; at ten o’clock she baked the pies and mixed two cakes, and by eleven o’clock she was ready once again to serve the men their dinner.
This time when the men approached her house she redirected them to the boiler of hot water waiting on the porch for them, along with strong lye soap and an ample stack of clean rags.  She caught Karl’s saucy wink, just before she turned to go back into the house, where she filled the dinner table with potatoes, meat, vegetables, canned fruit, cakes, bread and tea, enough to make sure that no man would leave her table hungry.

Friday, August 27, 2010

RR&R and Winter Wheat

We are only one week away from the Labour Day weekend - how the heck did that happen?  School starts here after Labour Day so the students have one more week of freedom before it's back to school!  Teachers are preparing, parents are preparing, and kids are dreading... nice to know some things never change!

I loved the first month of school... it was exciting getting my loot gathered, getting new clothes, sometimes even a new hair do...Then that first day of school... well major belly-ache until you actually arrived and saw who your teacher was and who was in your class, and if it was not a teacher you favored or classmates who liked you... big time major bellyache!!!

School has become such a "social" aspect of our children's lives -  no one goes to school to learn reading, riting and rithmitic anymore!!  There - I have just dated myself!!!  But it remains a necessary evil for children to bear - poor, teachers to bear... and then of course the parents.

My wish today, is for every child to have a great first day of school.  May your teacher be young and energetic, and fun, and if you can't have one of those, if you get stuck with an "old" teacher - may they be fair.  May you make many friends, and may your parents be home at the end of the day to help you with your homework...

Teachers - bless you for what you do... your responsibility is huge.  May you be successful with each challenge you face, may you work with co-operative parents and fellow staff members and may you enjoy every moment of the new school year.

Parents - bless you all - your responsibility is never ending.  Be tough, be firm, be kind be loving... but be there for your kids.  No one can make a difference in your child's life as much as you...

Enjoy this last week before school resumes.... everyone.

Back to Winter Wheat.

Karl remembered his audience, and broke away from his bride with a start.  He cleared his throat, and turned to the Magistrate.
“We have another matter sir.  We have children other than mine, who have been living with us for almost as long as Emilie has been with us.  They have recently been left as orphans, and Emilie and I wish to be declared their Guardians, so they may stay with us.”  He reached into the breast pocket of his shirt, and produced a folded document.  “These are the documents from the authorities who wish to remove the children to an orphanage.”
“That’s ridiculous; why would they want to remove children from a home environment?  Our orphanages are already full of children that nobody wants.  I’d think they would be happy to find people like you and Mrs. Wright who want to keep a family together!”  Scanning the papers as he moved, the judge returned to his desk.
Mrs. Wright, Emilie said the words silently to herself, pleased with the sound of being addressed so by the judge.  She glanced at Karl, and caught his wink, before she returned her attention back to the judge.
“As far as I can see the only reason you were not considered suitable to the authorities was because you were not married.”  He raised his head and smiled conspicuously,  “But that’s no longer a problem, is it?  I see no reason why I should not grant you permanent custodianship of the Bell children.  It says here that one of the children is now sixteen years of age.  How does he feel about this?”
“George is very level headed, and feels responsible for his brothers and sisters.  I asked him if it was okay if we did this and he was relieved and thankful that we would even consider it.  He only asked that we not change their family name,”  Karl answered quietly.
The judge looked over his glasses to the young couple that stood before him, and he saw a pair who had already accepted this tragic family into their lives and their hearts.  To remove the children now would not only hurt the children, but this couple as well.  His decision was easily made,  “I’ll have my clerk draw up the appropriate papers today.  If you can come back here around four o’clock this afternoon, we will finalize this.”
“Oh Karl!”  Emilie jumped excitedly, and threw herself into his arms.  He lifted her off the ground and swung her in a small circle before carefully setting her back to the floor.
“Thank you so much, sir,”  Emilie could barely speak; she was so overcome with emotion.  She hastily wiped the tears of joy that had suddenly formed in her eyes, and smiled wobbly at the man who for the second time today had made her the happiest woman in the world. 
“You are quite welcome.  Now off you two go, and enjoy your wedding day, and I’ll see you back here this afternoon.”
When they were back outside, Karl grabbed Emilie’s arm and pulled her to his chest.  “Come here, Mrs. Wright, “ he growled as he embraced his wife.  His eyes toured her precious face and as he gently reached to push an errant stand of hair from her brow he counted his blessings for the wonderful gift of this woman in his life.  “I love you, Emilie,”  his voice broke for a moment,  “I shall love you all the days of my life.”
“Oh Karl,”  she reached to frame his face with her small hands.  “We shall have such a wonderful life together.  I love you so…”
“Let’s go do the town,”  Karl whispered playfully, as he spun her around and they set off for the hotel across the street.  
She tugged on his arm, and pointed to the depot.  “Remember the first time we met, Karl?  It was here at that depot.”
He chuckled,  “I remember.  I thought you looked too small and feeble to be of much use on the farm!”
“You thought that!  Oh Karl, how could you?”  her voice fell in disappointment.
“Remember how your stomach growled all the way to Annie’s?”
“Yes and I remember you were quite rude to me as well.  But Martha had already warned me that you could be that way!”  
“She did?”  He shrieked with surprise.
“Yes she did, but of course I didn’t believe her!”

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Homelessness and Happiness

Every morning on my drive to work, I drive through Winnipeg's inner city.  It is not as scary as some larger cities I'm sure; but we do have a lot of homeless persons who wander the streets in the downtown area of the city.  In the summertime we might not see many street people wrapped in blankets lying beneath structures, because they tend to congregate on the river banks and live under the bridges.

This past week I have seen street people wrapped in dirty old blankets, lying under the overhang of one building I pass by.  I will continue to see them there all winter, I'm sure.  It is an old apartment building with some pretty fancy architecture, and it is under this fancy architecture that they lay - close to the buildings right under the large vents from the heating units.

Seeing this has reminded me that I have several bags of knit and crochet squares sitting in my closet, ready to be sewn together into blankets.  Another project to do.  I need to organize a sewing bee... and get that done - winter is coming, and the homeless will need more blankets.

Michaels craft stores have a drop off box every year where you can donate knit or crochet squares... if you have spare yarn, and a few minutes to work it, it is a very worthy project to contribute to.

And now a wedding... Chapter 21 begins

They were married two weeks later in a civil ceremony performed by Magistrate Brown in the tiny courthouse one hour’s drive from home.  
They set off on their journey early in the morning, before the heat of the day was fully upon them.  Karl, dressed in the same black suit he had worn for his first wedding, could barely stand the anticipation of two days spent entirely alone with the love of his life.  Emilie, wearing the new two- piece ivory suit and matching beret that Annie had made and presented as an early wedding present, felt like a princess as she sat demurely beside her intended nervously clutching the bouquet of flowers picked from her own garden and presented to her from all the children.
As they made their way across the prairie, they could not help but notice the disastrous effects the hot, dry, windy weather was having on the countryside around them.  The ditches were filled to the top in places along the road with top soil blown in from adjoining fields, and every crop they witnessed looked exactly like their own.
Karl shook his head as he filled his gaze with the ruins of the hot dry summer.  “It looks pretty bad, Emilie.  I don’t think we are going to have a crop this year,” he told her sadly.
“Surely it will rain, Karl,”  she said with confidence,  “Then everything will revive itself.  Just look at how good my garden is doing!”
He chuckled at her ignorance.  “Your garden is only surviving because you have been emptying all the wash and dish water on it,” he said lightly, and then a frown replaced his smile.  “Even if we get rain today, it’s too late for the crops.  The crops needed the moisture when the stalks were developing - now the part that gives life to the grain at the head of the plant is so dry it is like a straw, and no amount of water will revise that.  The plants are all but dead.”
Emilie swung her gaze to her future husband.  Worry etched a straight line across his brow, and for the first time Emilie wondered what would happen if they were not able to harvest a crop come fall.
By the time they reached town, the unrelenting sun was already baking the earth.  Dusty and parched from their ride, they stopped for a drink and then proceeded to the courthouse.  As they entered the small building, Karl reached for Emilie’s hand, and together they approached the young clerk behind the counter.
“Good morning,”  a dark-haired young man addressed them with a friendly smile.  “What can I do for you folks this morning?”
“We have come to get a marriage license, and hopefully to be married.  Is the Magistrate in today?”  Karl asked.
“You are in luck,”  the clerk opened a large book, and asked for their names.  After getting the information he needed to issue the license, he instructed them to have a seat to wait for the Magistrate to make his appearance.
Emilie clutched Karl’s hand tightly and joined him on the small sofa that took up most of the far wall of the small room.
“Are you nervous?”  Karl turned to Emilie, and squeezed her hand reassuringly.
She met his gaze, and smiled into his eyes.  “Not at all; I just wish that the children could have come with us, that’s all.”
His finger gently stroked her small hand,  “But then we would not have had a honeymoon,”  he answered, and watched as a delicate flush covered her face.
“The Magistrate can see you now,”  the clerk interrupted them, and led them into the judges’ chambers.
Magistrate Brown was a jolly, robust man, who enjoyed the part of his occupation where he could unite young couples in holy wedlock.  As he watched the couple nervously approach, he knew that today would be no exception.
He addressed them both.  “So you wish to be married today, do you?”  he asked in a kindly manner.  First I would like to ask you a few questions if I may?”  he waited for their consent and when it was given turned to Karl first.
“What is your occupation, Karl?”  He read the man's name from the paper in front of him.
“I’m a farmer, sir.”
“A trying time to be a farmer, isn’t it?”  The judge sympathized.
“Yes sir.”
“How long have you known Miss FreiheitFreiheit?”
Karl gazed at Emilie and smiled warmly,  “About eight months or so, I guess.”
“And how did you two meet?”
“Emilie came to work as a housekeeper for me at the recommendation of my sister who lives in Winnipeg.”
“Really!”  Magistrate Brown’s eyes swung to Emilie,  “So you are from Winnipeg then?”
“Oh no!”  Emilie smiled at his mistake,  “I am from Germany!”
Indeed she was, the Magistrate thought as he heard her heavy German accent for the first time.  “How is it that you happened to be in Winnipeg then, Emilie?”  
Emilie recounted her story once again, and when she had finished the judge nodded his head in understanding and sympathy, and addressed them both.
“I can see that the two of you have grown close over the months you have been together, and that is a good basis for a long and lasting marriage.  You have much to offer each other, and I see no reason to delay the event any longer!”  he pushed the papers away from him, and rose from his desk to call his clerk into the room.
In less time than it had taken them to answer the judge’s questions, they were pronounced man and wife.
“You may kiss your bride,”  the plump Magistrate folded his hands across the middle of his ample belly, smiled benevolently, and watched as Karl Wright did just that.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The end of Chapter 20

Karl was halfway home before he realized that he had left his horse behind in Frederich’s coral.  He chuckled at his absent-mindedness, and continued on his way.  He’d send George over later this evening to collect the horse, and maybe by then he will have gotten up enough nerve to speak to Emilie about their future.
As he approached his yard his eyes spotted the sway-backed nag that belonged to Joseph.  His eyes swung toward the house, and sure enough, there was the man himself, lying on his side in the tall dry grass beside where Emilie stood hanging her wash on the new clothes line that George had strung the week before.  Did the man have nothing better to do, than lie around and watch women work?    
Karl shoved his hands deep in his pockets and clenched his fists tightly.  He’d have his work cut out for him trying to get rid of Joseph so that he and Emilie could be alone later this evening.  Now was a good time to let his stubbornness rule the day, he figured, as he squared his shoulders and approached the couple, who until this minute had been unaware of his approach.
“Good day, Joseph.  Nice day isn’t it?”  Karl said with less enthusiasm than he would have in greeting his horse.   “I’d think you would have all kinds of chores to do on a fair day as this!” 
Emilie turned from her task and regarded Karl silently, and wondered about the tone of his voice.
“Hello Karl,”  Joseph’s broken English irritated Karl to no end, as it reminded him anew of Joseph’s bond to Emilie.
Karl moved close to Emilie’s basket of laundry, then reached down and picked a small shirt from the basket.  He shook it to the wind as he had seen Emilie do many times in the past and then using a clothes peg left on the line from the last wash, pinned it haphazardly to the line.     
“Karl, what are you doing?”  Emilie’s cheeks flamed, as she reached out and grabbed the next item to be hung out of his hands.  
“I just thought I’d give you a hand here, Emilie – save time and get you out of this horrible heat!”
“Well I can do this myself!”  she bristled, suddenly uncomfortable with his presence.  Why was he acting such a fool?  Was he deliberately trying to embarrass her in front of her friend?  Oh she’d take him to task for this, she vowed, as she slammed the peg harder than necessarily down onto the line.
“Okay,”  he backed away from her, and turned toward the house.  “I’m going to eat something now, and then go out to the north pasture and work on the fence till dark,”  he announced to no one in particular, as he made his way to the house.
“Oh, that man!”  Emilie muttered to herself, as she hastily finished hanging the wash.  “If you want something to eat Joseph, you’d best come now too,”  she informed her guest as she whisked past his still prone body, and followed Karl into the house.
Karl was already finished half of his sandwich when Emilie entered the kitchen.  “You didn’t have to hurry, I am capable of making my own lunch, you know.”  He informed his flustered housekeeper with more than a bit of sarcasm in his voice.
“I know you can make your own lunch, but you haven’t had to do it in months, so why would you want to now?  And what has gotten in to you, Karl Wright?”  she placed her hands on her hips and waited for his answer.
He sighed,  “I don’t know; I think maybe I’m just hungry.”
“Karl Wright, you are a lot of things, but you have never been a liar.”  Her eyes lit with challenge,  “You have never offered to do the wash before either!”
“Yeah well sometimes a man just does what he does,”  his lips turned up with the beginnings of a smile at his stupid explanation for his behavior.  He tipped his head to the door.  “What’s he doing here this time of the day?  Has he nothing better to do than lay around my yard and make eyes at you?” 
Emilie grinned at his accusation.  “I do believe that you are jealous,”  she chuckled softly in delight.
If one stood at a certain angle, one could see clear through to the kitchen of Karl Wright’s home – this Joseph found quite by accident as he reached to open the screen door into the house.  From his spot on the porch, he could witness the beginnings of an argument between Emilie and her employer.  He could see her standing there as if awaiting an answer from some question, and then watch as the man sitting at the table turned to address her question.  
You would have to be blind not to notice how the man regarded the woman before him, and if you were a man, you would know exactly where the other man’s eyes would rest.  You could see the man throw down his sandwich in frustration and reach for the woman and draw her ever closer to where he still sat by the table.  Their lips would move, but you would not hear what was said being said, because even though they were close enough to watch they were much too far to hear. 
You could watch as the man gently lowered the unresisting female onto his lap, all the while devouring her with his eyes and you would notice sadly, that her eyes did the same.  You would see the man’s hand travel down the length of the woman’s back and then slide along the side of her torso, before finally coming to rest across her breast.
If you stood there long enough, you would see them kiss; tentatively at first, and then passionately, mouths open and tongues seeking, and you would feel their excitement by just watching their actions.  The longer you observed, the more heated their embrace would become, until pretty soon you would know that to continue your observation of their private moment, was beneficial only in making sure your own heart was broken to bits.
Just before you turned away, without opening the door after all, you would see a small girl child come upon the embracing couple, and they would spring apart with haste, but then they would both turn to the child with love and attention, and you would know once and for all that they were a family, and you were interfering in their private lives.
If you were any kind of man, you would turn on your heels before you were discovered for the spy you were; you would hurry to your horse, and ride on home, alone and lonely once again.   

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A little bit of music, and a whole lot of Love

My dear friend Carol's husband will be undergoing open heart surgery this morning for a very serious heart condition.  Please keep Carol and JR and his surgeon in your prayers today... Godspeed, my friends.

One of my earlier posts was about my Husbands YouTube video of him playing the organ.  I mentioned that he got a new organ (of sorts) new to him, but in no way new by any stretch of the imagination.  What I didn't tell you is how much Gary loves organs of any kind.  As a child growing up he was fascinated with the instrument in the church he attended, and to this day, church organs - especially pipe organs remain his first love of instruments.

A few years ago he met a fellow from Fargo ND, at an organ convention here in Winnipeg...(yes I did say organ convention!)  If ever two people were alike, Gary and Bill are.  Bill shares Gary's passion for pipe organs, and plays at Messiah Lutheran in Fargo ND... his church televises their service every Sunday, so if you are inclined you can see Bill play on Hour of Worship on PBS every Sunday.  When these two fellas are together, you'd better be prepared to listen to music (organ music) and music talk.

This past weekend, Bill drove up to spend the day with us... BUT Gary had arranged for Bill to be able to play the 4 manual Cassavant pipe organ in our church, so off the two of them went and I didn't see them until almost 6pm.  You should have seen the smiles on their faces when they got home... 

You have to witness Bill's joy the best way I know... and that is to watch him play... so here is a little video Gary took while they were at the church.

The most important part of this story is how one friend can make another's life so much better, by such as simple thing as playing an instrument.  Gary cannot do much right now because of his failing eyesight, and it has been a very difficult and frustrating time for him... but he can sit and listen to organ music, and that is what he did all day Saturday.

Thank you Bill...

And so here he is...


It seems that romance is in the air in Winter Wheat!  Stay tuned....

Frederich stopped walking and lowered himself to sit on the ground.  What could he say?  Everything that Karl said was true, but still he believed that marrying Emilie would be the best thing Karl Wright had ever accomplished in his life.
Frederich pulled a blade of quack from the soil and placed it between his teeth.  He rolled the grass around in his mouth for a minute and then spoke.  “Well Karl, things are not good, that’s for sure.  I’m sorry to hear about your sister’s hardships, but maybe they would be better off out here.  There are a lot of abandoned farms around here, I’m sure they could find a place to live quite easily.  No matter how hard times have been in the past, I have never known a family to starve out here.  Oh they might have a miserable lean winter, but at least they would have a roof over their heads and they would be together.”
“I think Martha thought they could stay with me.  I don’t know how I can stand to tell her that she cannot!”  
“You tell her you will help her find a place for her family to live, and you will share anything that you can, but that you cannot cram one more person in that little house of yours.  She’ll understand when she sees your home.”
“And Emilie . . .”  Karl looked to his old friend,  “What do I do about her?”
“Ah Karl, you already know what you’ll do about Emilie.  She’s the best thing that ever walked in to your life, young man; and if you don’t grab her, someone else will!” 
“Joseph.”  Karl said quietly, naming the man who was trying everything in his power to lure Emilie away from him.  He scooped a handful of sandy soil into his palm, and let it slowly sift through his fingers.  “I love her, you know . . .”
“Yeah I know you do.  I’ll wager that Emilie knows that too . . .”
Karl smiled as he thought of Emilie’s proposal the evening before.  Who the hell was he kidding?  He wanted that woman more than he had ever wanted anything in his life, and suddenly he was impatient to tell her so.  He stood and brushed off the seat of his overalls, then reached a hand down to help Frederich up off the ground.
“Thanks, Fred . . .”  he said with a warm smile to his neighbor.
Fred slapped him soundly across the back,  “You’re welcome my friend,”  he answered, his own smile widening, as he watched Karl head off across the prairie toward his own home.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Weddings, great friends and Winter Wheat

Hope everyone had a good weekend. It was a beautiful sunny and hot weekend here in Manitoba, and a perfect weekend for a wedding.  A very special couple tied the knot this weekend... congratulations to Trevor and Andrea on their marriage on Saturday.  Much happiness to you bothI.

I'd also like to thank our friend Bill for visiting us on Saturday and making Gary's day such a happy one.  Hope you had a safe trip home to Fargo.

I am still on the hunt for a Chatty Baby, but I was trying to identify a doll that a friend had purchased and as often happens on the Internet, one page leads to another and I stumbled upon this video on Doll repair - in particular Chatty Cathy doll repair... kinda freaked me out how she pops these dolls apart to repair them.  I'm all for doll repair, but I'm not quite sure I agree with it to this extent... still it is interesting to watch. Not much original about the dolls after she is done with them... but they do look nice.

So on to Chapter 20 of Winter Wheat.

Frederich Barnes walked along the edge of his wheat field, and absently kicked at the stone that had been in his way for the last quarter of a mile.  Damn this world anyway, he thought to himself, as he ambled alone but for his crowed thoughts.  Here he was, fifty-seven years of age, and thinking about starting a family for the first time in his life.  Oh he had thought about it many times in the past when he and Annie had been younger, in fact for many years it had been all they had thought about, wished for, and worked towards – but that had been a long time ago.  They had tried for years to have the family they so desperately wanted, but it had never happened.
After all this time, they had grown accustomed to the realization that they would live out their lives alone, but now, suddenly, things had changed.  Suddenly everything they had yearned for was right beneath their fingertips, and still they hesitated.  Too late, he thought.  It was too late, they were too old, to tired, to set in their ways.  But then God had sent them Joseph and Fred, and sweet, sweet, Warren.  Again it was too late, because already he could not imagine his life without the love of the three children whom he had come to consider his own.  His Annie would fight to the death for those children, just like he knew Emilie would fight for everyone of the children she cared for.  
Yes it was too late all around.  What should he do; what could he do?  It would kill Annie to give up those children, and it would kill him to imagine them living in an orphanage, or being split apart and adopted into strange families.  He sighed heavily and raised his attention to the path he followed instead of his feet.  Karl Wright stood three feet ahead of him, waiting patiently.  He recognized the same feelings in his friend as the ones he battled this very moment, and he knew they both had important decisions to be made, and soon.
“Frederich,”  Karl fell into step alongside his older friend.  “Your crop looks like mine,”  he said, as he gazed over the wheat crop that by now should have been six inches taller.
“Yeah, it’s not looking too good,”  Frederich answered, as his head tipped up and he gazed at the sky.  “We need rain, Karl; without it we are going to be in trouble.”
The season, which had started uncharacteristically warm, had continued to be hot and dry.  No rain had fallen since the seeding had finished, and although several violent lightening storms had passed overhead in the past few days, not a single drop of rain had reached the ground.  The green vegetation was fast disappearing to be replaced by the brown, dry; sun baked remains of a promising spring.
Karl shook his head in agreement, and continued to walk silently by Frederich’s side.
Frederich glanced at his friend.  “So, how are things at your house?”  
Karl lifted his face to the sun,  “ Oh you know Frederich, the same as I suspect at yours.  Emilie is an emotional wreck; the children are too quiet . . .”
“And you, Karl?”
Karl looked at his friend and shook his head.  “I’m worried about a lot of things, Fred; the crops, the children, Emilie – it’s a tough time right now.”
Frederich nodded his head, but made no comment.  Whatever his young neighbor had come to discuss must be serious.  In all the years he had known Karl Wright, the few times that he had sought advice had been when his young friend had reached a turning point in his life.  Karl was a proud man, and generally solved his own problems.  Him showing up now with his chin to the ground indicated to Frederich that something serious was happening in Karl Wright’s life.
“Remember when Judith died, I vowed never to take a wife again?”
Frederich chuckled, suddenly understanding the young man’s plight.  “Yes I remember, but that was before Emilie, eh my friend . . .”  he teased mildly.
Karl grinned, and nodded,  “Can you believe it Karl - she asked me to marry her last night!”  his face sobered quickly with his next words,  “She’s so set on keeping those kids that she thought nothing of asking that of me!”
“So what did you answer?”  
“I didn’t answer her; how could I?  She’s asking me to marry her so that we can adopt four more children!   It would mean starting off our married life with six children!  What is a man supposed to say to a prospect like that?”
Frederich rubbed his chin thoughtfully.  “Seems to me if a man loved the woman enough he would say yes to any prospect of a long happy life with her.”
Karl ignored Frederich’s words and continued to voice his thoughts.  “What if we have more children of our own?”
“Then you build a bigger house,”  Frederich teased some more, and wondered if Karl objected more to the size of the family he would inherit, than to the idea that a woman had proposed to him first.
“Oh Frederich, I’m serious.  You know as well as I do that hard times are ahead.  Just look at how much the price of wheat has dropped in the past few years.  A couple of years ago we were getting over two dollars a bushel, this year they say we’ll be lucky to get eighty cents, and that’s if we have a crop!  If this hot dry spell lasts much longer, we aren’t even going to have enough wheat to sell!”
Frederich knew the truth of Karl’s words.  The world was changing around them.  The last time he had gone to town he had seen dozens of men riding the rods - desperate men with families like the one Karl wanted to protect - men who had no choice but to jump the freight trains from town to town, looking for work so they could feed and clothe their families.
  “I haven’t even told Emilie this yet, but two days ago I received a letter from my sister Martha.  Her husband has lost his job, and can’t find anything else.  They are on relief, but the money is not enough for the size of their family, they are probably going to loose their home very soon.  Martha wants to come and live out here . . .”

Friday, August 20, 2010

The end of Chapter 19

Emilie felt her heart fragment into a thousand tiny pieces.  As she listened to the men’s debate, her only thoughts were for the sweet children she had come to love.  How could she let them down now, she anguished, as her face became drenched with the tears she had been shedding.  The children were just now beginning to show happiness, after months of grief and despair over the loss of their Mother and their home.  Now they would have to endure the grief over the loss of their Father, and the loss of the place they now called home.  It was too much to expect of them.  Emilie knew it would break their spirits, and scar their hearts for evermore.
“Could you leave the children here with us until you find their relatives?”  she pleaded with the Pastor, who seemed the more reasonable man of the two.
“If, they have relatives,”  Mr. Milton reminded unnecessarily.
Karl watched the men exchange a quick glance, and then Pastor Sharp nodded his head in agreement.
“I think we can do that, Miss Freiheit, but I remind you it is only a temporary arrangement.  If we can find no relatives they will be taken to the orphanage.”
“Will you be visiting Frederich and Annie Barnes as well?”  Karl asked.
“Yes, we are going there next.  You say the children are there, perhaps we will have the opportunity to speak to them as well,”  Pastor Sharp informed them.
“We will tell the children of their father’s passing,”  Karl’s voice warned no argument would be accepted.  “They cannot hear such news from strangers, and they will not hear such news from strangers,”  he insisted stubbornly.
Bless you Karl, Emilie’s heart whispered as she watched him accompany the men outside to their waiting team and wagon.  She lowered her head onto arms and closed her eyes against the vision of seven dear faces that had been thrown into her life.  Why had God given her these children, if he only meant to take them away again?  She felt the hot tears start to trickle down her face once again, as she gave into her anguish and fear.  
“Emilie,”  Karl’s gentle voice, and comforting hand caressing her shoulder, roused her from her terror.  She raised her head and turned to look at Karl.  She watched as two large tears followed one another down his cheek and into his mouth.  She rose from her chair, and turned into his waiting arms.  As he wrapped his strong arms around her body she felt him shudder and the sob that had been waiting for her comfort, broke from his voice.
“We’ll find a way to keep them, Emilie – I promise you we’ll find a way,”  Karl promised, as he gently rocked her in his embrace.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

It occurred to me that I have not been talking much about Erndales, which is pretty bad since one of the reasons I started the blog to begin with was to promote Erndales, my craft business.

I have been working on items for my on-line shop and I am in the process of opening a shop on Facebook as well.  But first I need stock, so my fingers have been busy working on items for sale.  I registered for a large craft sale in December as well, so now it's time to get busy.  Currently I am working on Wedding Items.  I have made quite a few little bridal purses, which are really darling, and also some flower girl purses.  I have a Christening Set on the go made from ivory no.5 Crochet thread.  It is going to be beautiful - a true heirloom set with gown, bonnet and booties. The other night when I couldn't sleep I designed a new Angel gown, so I am anxious to make it and see if the finished product comes close to the image in my mind!

Christmas is only months away, and a lot of my sales are Christmas items, so I'll need to restock there too... so the next few months will be busy ones for me.

I hope to be able to post some pictures and links sometime in  early September... 

Okay, so now for more Winter Wheat!... we are getting close to the end of this story... are you saying yeah!!

“Karl!”  Emilie rushed to his side and grabbed his arm with the strength of a man.  “Karl, they are going to take the children away.  Karl, Please!  Tell them that they cannot!” 
Karl reached for Emilie’s hand, and held it tightly.  He could feel her pulse bounding in her small wrist, and he longed to be able to put his arms around her shoulders to comfort her.  He looked at the men at his table, and felt an instant dislike for them both.
“Emilie, sit down while these men tell me what this is all about,”  he said calmly, as he bent and retrieved her chair and forced her to sit back down on it.  He directed his attention back to his visitors.  “Why have you upset her like this?  What is this about?”  he asked for the second time.
Pastor Sharp introduced himself and his companion to Karl, and proceeded to retell the events of Charles Bell’s passing.  Thank God the children were not home, Karl thought as he learned of their father’s tragic end.  To think a man was so distraught that he could take his own life and leave behind seven helpless children filled Karl with unaccustomed rage.
“So you see we must apprehend the children . . . “ Mr. Milton finished his speech.
“I see nothing of the sort, sir,”  Karl spoke now.  “The children have a home here with my family, and that of Frederich and Annie Barnes.  Why can they not remain as they are?”
“Do you honestly say that you can afford to keep all these children?  Don’t you have children of your own as well, Mr. Wright?  And I shouldn’t have to remind you that you have no wife to be a mother to any of these children!”  
He hated the man.  Karl was surprised at the instant reaction to the other man’s presence in his home.  He wanted nothing more than to take Mr. Milton by the scruff of the neck and throw him out the door, but he knew for the benefit of the Bell children, he would not act on his feeling.
“Yes I have two children, who are thriving under Miss Freiheit’s care.  She has been more of mother to them than their own mother ever was.”  He heard himself say, in Emilie’s defense.
“How you choose to raise your children is none of my concern, Mr. Wright; but the fact remains that an unmarried couple raising a bunch of children, is not, I’m afraid, in the best interest of the children.”
“Why you . . .!”  Karl lunged forward and would have reached the offender, if it had not been for Emilie’s small hand pulling him back to his senses.
The pastor rose from his chair, and looked nervously to his companion.  “We did not come here to criticize your methods of child rearing, Mr. Wright; we merely came to inform you of what the law says in regards to the Bell children.  The fact is that they are orphans, and they will be placed into an orphanage until we can be certain that there are no relatives who will claim them.”
“Wouldn’t you think if they had relatives they would have come forward by now?”  Karl asked incredulously.  “We have heard no mention of relatives all these months from the children.”
“Then there probably are none,”  Mr. Milton charged.