Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A NEW IDEA FOR CHRISTMAS!

I am so tired of being in the kitchen!  Really - I like to cook, but having to be in there every day dealing with all the vegetables is starting to get to me a little bit - so I decided it was going to be a day spent in the studio.

It's been so long since I spent a whole day there that I was disorientated at first.  I have projects in various stages of completion all over my large work area, and I wasn't inclined to work on any of them.

Instead I decided to start some new projects - Christmas projects!  Yes - sorry, you heard me correctly!  There is a reason I need to start some Christmas projects - a very good reason, actually.

I have decided to have a Christmas Open House this year, to showcase my work, and hopefully sell some of it as well.  I don't want to be in the local craft sales - not being un-community - like,  but I totally dislike craft sales that are 80% vendors, and 20% crafters, and judging by the ones I visited around the area last year - this is the case.

It appears to be the new way that organizers guarantee that they can fill tables.  Sadly - this has become the norm for craft sales almost everywhere.

But there is a change happening.  There are serious crafters/artisans who like me, don't want to sell in vendor sales.  Those people are banding together and promoting going back to the "Old- Fashioned style of sales.  Some are even adopting juried entries, which I applaud.  This means you have to submit your work to the organizers to be judged before you are even allowed to rent a table.  The really good sales of days gone by - always operated in this manner.  I sold my work at the Manitoba Crafts Guild for years - and this was always the way your work was accepted - it had to be juried first.

When I first started doing craft sales with my Mother back in the 1970's every table at a sale was handmade.  Good stuff from leather crafters, wood crafters, seamstresses, loom knitters, needle knitters, precious gem jewelry crafters, where the gems were cut and polished by the artisans.  Many many other types of crafts, but all worthy of sharing an large hall with each other.  There were no made in China items, no Avon, Tupperware, no re-sellers of any kind.

I have nothing against Avon, or tupperware - I sold Avon myself - but they don't belong in a craft sale.

So  I am trying something different for my little community.  I am inviting the community into my home for two evenings, I will offer refreshments, beautiful Christmas music, and many things for sale that I am pretty sure no one here has ever seen before.  I want to know if my idea of someday running a real Craft ONLY sale will work in this community - or not.

But first I have to get things moving in my work studio.

To that end, I did pretty well.  I have a stack of Christmas Mug Rugs to applique on the next rainy day.  Now I need to hunt down my #7 hook and start to crochet.  There is much to do the next few months if I hope to pull my idea off.

Crafting and dealing with the rest of my garden produce is going to keep my very very busy indeed!




Monday, August 22, 2016

JUST HORSING AROUND!

It was a beautiful cool weekend here in the Riding Mountains this weekend.  Saturday I was inspired to get a lot of produce processed and put away for the winter - and I managed to accomplish most of what I set out to do.

Sunday I had all kinds of plans - do more vegetables, maybe bake - but the rodeo was in town and I was itching to see some horses.

Lucky for me the parade went right by my driveway because I didn't have too far to go to get some awesome horse pictures.

I have loved horses all my life.  I collected horse figures for many years as a child, even into my early teens.  I have no idea what happened to all those horses that use to sit on a shelf in my bedroom - I'd like to have them now - but they are long gone.

I wasn't disappointed by the beauties that I did get to see Sunday morning, and the rest of the day I pretty much sat up at my desk working on my photos.  I have some beauties to show you.

This beautiful pair were pulling a covered wagon in the parade.  Working horses are so amazing, they have such power, but still are incredibly beautiful animals to watch.  These were lovely, as you can see.

     







This sweetie was one of a team pulling a small wagon.  The horse was quite interested in what I was doing, even neighed at me as it passed me by.  What a beautiful creature!








This was the last entry in the parade and by far the most adorable.  They saved the best for last with this trio.  



This beauty is also one of a team of working horses that is often seen in the evening strolling through town pulling a wagon.  Usually some lucky person is getting a ride through town.

Don't know if this is a Prince or a Princess - I forgot to look - but the horse is gorgeous, outfitted in it's collar and pretty bridles.





I wanted horses, and horses I got - and I didn't even have to step off my driveway!









Not bad for an early morning ride, and I didn't even leave my yard!



Saturday, August 20, 2016

A LIFE FILLED WITH MIRACLES!

It's been awhile since I have been able to write a blog post.  It's a busy time.  Harvest time.  For me harvesting the garden produce is really in full swing.  Every day I am picking, cleaning, blanching, freezing or canning fresh produce from my garden.  It is why I planted such a large garden after all... I have to remind myself of that fact several times a day!

But is has been great.  We are enjoying the fresh produce, and eating so many better meals because of it.  I find that our meat consumption is much reduced - instead I am searching new recipe's for main meals that contain mostly vegetables.  For a person raised on good farm-raised beef and pork, I am finding that I can be just as satisfied with a casserole containing only vegetables as one with meat.

We had a wonderful almost 3 weeks with our son Jonathan, while he was out here visiting with us, it was great to have him underfoot again.  Now he's gone back home, and it's just the two of us again - but that is okay too!

I want to share a recent picture of little Thomas with you.  Thomas is doing okay - he has much to deal with in his young life, but he is facing his leukemia with an amazing spirit.  This little boy is not whining, feeling sorry for himself, being miserable, he is embracing every special moment that life has to offer, like this one with his Mom and sister.  His spirit is amazing, his love is amazing... he puts a lot of adults I know to shame.
Thomas is an inspiration to all who know and love him.  I thank God for giving us Thomas.

While I am at it, I want to say that my niece Alanna, also is an inspiration.  I can't imagine what she faces every day as she watches Thomas' struggle.  That and having to be seperated from her two other children just so she can be with Thomas at this time, must tear her apart  - I know it does, she is a very tender-hearted woman and mother.  But her strength has no end.  And her children's ability to weather this storm, together and apart speaks volumes about the Mother she is and always has been to her children... even through her own personal tragedies, she has remained the rock of this family.  I thank God for Alanna as well, and I am so proud of her.

Two beautiful miracles in my life filled with many such beautiful miracles I call family.  Each and every member of our family is a blessing to me in their own way - even if I seldom say the words - I feel it every day in my heart.

Embrace your miracles whenever you can - tell them you love them - tell them how proud you are of them.  
Tomorrow is not guaranteed to anyone.


Friday, August 12, 2016

SHUTTER BUGS...

It is no secret that I love photography.  It is a craft I first studied in my senior year of high school when I joined the photography club in grade 12.



 I don't know why I waited until the last year of school to join this club, probably because most of my junior and senior high school activities centered around music - singing in the choirs and playing the cello in the orchestras.

 Back then there were no SLR's, no digital photography, we were each handed a basic 35mm camera and under the tutelage of our beloved Mr. Coyle, we were taught the basics of photography.  Prior to that I had only taken pictures with a Brownie box camera that belonged to my Mother, and a Kodak Instamatic, that I had received from my brother for my 13th birthday - believing I had won the lottery of photography when I received that camera!

The photography club wasn't a fluff credit, we learned a lot of useful tools.  We were the group responsible for taking pictures at school functions for the newspaper and for the yearbook.  We got a lot of practise, and then we were introduced to the dark room.  If I had known all that I would learn that year - I surely would have joined the club in grade 7!

I never forgot the skills I learned from Mr. Coyle... but after that year, I never got to shoot another picture from a 35 mm camera for quite a few years.

It wasn't until I was finished my nursing training and was working as a RN before I could afford to purchase my own 35mm camera.  I bought a Pentax, and a bunch of lenses and I was hooked.

That camera was my main camera for many years, but life sort of got in the way of my photography - motherhood, working full time and every day living didn't leave me much time to continue my hobby so the camera sat longer periods in the camera bag than it ever did in my hands.

 Just as I was beginning to have the time and interest in re-visiting photography our home was broken into and all my camera equipment was stolen.  SLR's had shoved 35mm's aside, and I wasn't entirely sure I had what it took to start the learning process anew, so I bought a small digital camera and pretended that I was more than happy in pointing and shooting and getting a fairly decent picture.

Three years ago, I experienced a lay-off from a position I had held for over 17 yrs.  I received a years severance and for some reason the first thing that came to mind was that I wanted to take some money and buy a real camera.  I had talked about replacing my 35mm for years, but the timing and financing was never quite there - now it was.

So I bought my Nikon - and my love affair with photography was once more restored.  My camera isn't high-end - but I don't care - it does everything I want it to - and more - I still have a lot of features I have never tried.  I work with only two lens ( so far) and somehow for me - it's enough.

Since moving to the country, my camera has become even more of a companion.  Rarely a day goes by when its not in my hand  aimed at something in my yard.

These past couple of weeks it has been a yo-yo - between Jonathan's hands and mine, and it has been so much fun to share my hobby (and my camera) with my adult son.

I look forward to the day when he has his own camera and we can spend a day out shooting pictures together... what fun that will be!

So for the next few posts, I will be sharing some of our photos.  Some he took and I edited.  Some I took and edited... all were taken on my camera - a few are so similar, we really can't say for sure who took them - but they all are pretty darn good pictures, if I do say so myself.

So, I hope you come back to see our work.

Oh yeah - That's me on the far left side of the picture holding the camera and looking so serious.

Talk about a flash back moment!


































..........

Monday, August 8, 2016

A TRIP UP THE MOUNTAIN!

Last week we took a drive up the mountain to the top of Mount Agassiz, where the Agassiz ski hill used to be.



I had not been there since I was a teenager in the early 1970's.  Back then it was a thriving winter destination for Manitoba skiers, touted to be the best ski hill between Thunder Bay Ontario and Banff Alberta.

Agassiz's humble beginnings started in 1958 when Parks Canada leased 142 hectares  for the development of a ski area.  In 1961 Mount Agassiz opened with a few ski runs.

It continued to grow and expand - touting a vertical of over 500 ft, adding more runs until there were 15 runs in total, the longest run 1.6 km ( 1 mile).

In 1979 Mount Agassiz was the site for the Alpine events of the Canada Winter Games.  It was at it's peak - at it's best.

A year later the owners were bankrupt.

The ski hill closed.  No one ever considered that it would never be reopened again - but that is what happened.  It was left to decay and ruin before it was demolished and taken down completely, leaving only memories to those who had remembered it from earlier days.

https://youtu.be/lKPLYojFvuI


As I stood in the open field to the right of where the lodge once stood, I felt a lump in my throat as I remembered white slopes filled with happy people skiing on a bright cold Manitoba winter day some 40 yrs before.







  All that is left now is a vacant valley, a part of a building that used to be part of the lodge, a picnic table and an outdoor  toilet.














Some 40 yrs ago I did not know that I would be living in the town that considers Mount Agassiz theirs.  We are the town that grew much beyond what a farm town should - because of a ski hill across the road and up the mountain.  We have Alpine Archie - the  mascot of the Alpine portion of the 1979 winter games.



 We have the Agassiz lodge on the highway just before the turnoff to Mount Agassiz - built to accommodate overnight and weekend skiers.  We are the town that has lost much with the closing of the hill, we are the town that still is fighting for the chance to see the ski hill area re-opened to the public once again.





And Still Archie Waits... 


The trip back down the mountain was much quieter than the one going up.  No one spoke, we just sat quietly watching the overgrown forest pass us by.  The gravel road has not been graded in some time, so it was a slow ride back down.

As we crested a small hill, we were shown a glimpse of the beauty that all skiers must have enjoyed from the top at one time or another.  So we stopped the car, got the camera out, and took this small piece of Agassiz to take home with us.






Thursday, August 4, 2016

TIME FLIES, WHEN YOU ARE HAVING FUN!

The old adage, "Time flies when you are having fun," really is true.  Gary, Jon and I are having a lot of fun spending time doing the things we have always enjoyed doing as a family.  It has been great to have Jonathan here with us for this past week and a half, and he says he is not ready to go back home yet - so bonus for us.

What have we been doing?

We have visited a couple of towns, done a lot of walking, taken a lot of pictures, talked a lot, laughed a lot, even shared a couple of tears  - especially when we talked about our beloved Molly. We have watched movies, American political conventions, and Gary and I have shared our new life with our son so he can see how happy and settled we are here in a new town and in a new house.

I have tried to get out in the garden to weed - but the most I seem capable of completing is picking beans.  This past week and last,  I have picked many litres of beans blanched and froze them - at last count I think I had about 15 lbs of beans in the freezer.  I think they are just about done, so now I am concentrating on  Zucchini.  I am shredding and freezing for later dishes, and we are eating as much as we can fresh, so we are getting our green vegetables in spades!

On July 27th,  Gary and I were honoured at a Volunteer Appreciation afternoon at the nursing home.  They served us the most amazing orange cake; tea and coffee in real china tea cups, and there was even entertainment.  Jon was able to attend along with us so he got to meet some of the residents who have come to mean so much to us.
Amazing Orange cake from a bakery in Dauphin...

Jon and Gary sipping tea in china cups!

Residents and family members enjoying the entertainment!

Thursday afternoon we returned there again to do the Lutheran church service for the residents, and Jon got to witness his Dad as he led the service, and Mom played the piano.



We hope to go back to the nursing home on Saturday August 6th, to help celebrate one of the resident's birthdays.  She is turning 103 yrs old - and she is adorable.  It should be fun!

You won't believe the work Jonathan has been doing with my camera.  I am editing some of the shots that I am particulary drawn to, and will share them with you as I get them done.  He has managed to capture rural Manitoba in a way that tells the story of our beautiful province, our history and our heritage, in a way that calls my heart.  You'll see what I mean, when I get his pictures done.  

That's it for now, but I will be posting a lot of pictures in the days to come...

See you soon....