Friday, May 26, 2017

A STONE FOR YOUR THOUGHTS!

The "Shed" garden... new garden created last year.  Sweet Peas for the trellis are just popping out of the ground!

Vegetable Garden planted.


What was I doing before all this garden stuff happened?  I feel like I am going on vacation now that so much of the spring yard work is done.  I still will spend as much time outside as I can every day, but it's time to think about all the other things I was doing before spring hit.

Crafting comes to mind.  Even when I was out in the yard, crafting was never far from my mind.  Because I had never tilled my garden myself, I never realized how many stones were in that big garden.  As I tilled up pebbles, stones and yes even some rocks I started to pick them up and put them in a pail.  It took minutes for the pail to be full to the top.  I also found bits of glass - the prairie version  of sea glass - SOIL GLASS.  All this went into a pile.

I started making a stone border around the garden thinking maybe it would deter good old quack from creeping into the garden, and I finished one side of the garden in just hours.  And still I pick stones.

Do you ever wonder where they all come from?  I do.

Most of the stones I have picked are smooth, lots of different shapes and some pretty interesting colours... and of course when you wet them - better colours yet.  I feel the need to do something creative with them, just as I used to do with the stones I collected from the beach at the lake.  I made families of ducks, people, even a dog... I would fashion my figures together with epoxy, then put a shiny coat of sealant on top of it all.  My Mom had those little figures all over the house.  I don't know whatever became of them, but they were something I loved to do about 50 yrs ago.

Imagine my surprise, when I wandered onto Pinterest one evening and found hundreds of just such figures being made and sold  - some for over 100.00 !

I guess the saying holds - "Everything old becomes new again".

I find that a lot on Pinterest.  People claiming they created something new - when really the same craft was done in the 1970's by people long gone.

I am waiting to see someone create flowers out of fun fur and say they thought the idea up themselves, then I will laugh myself right off my rocking chair.  ( My Mom made fun fur flowers for just about everyone she knew in the 1970's).

So back to the stones - no I am not going to make figures - well maybe I will make a dog in the likeness of my Molly - to sit on my desk, just for me.

But I am going to go back out there and sift through those stones again, and really look at them with my creative eye this time... maybe something will hit me.


Have a Happy weekend

Till next time....




Thursday, May 25, 2017

A TREAT FOR A DAYS HARD WORK!

The vegetable garden is in.  It took me two fairly solid days to get it planted, but I managed to finish it and a still had some energy left to plant some bedding plants around the flowerbeds as well, before last night's rain fell.

I am pleased with myself this year as I took the time to really plan out everything I wanted to plant in the vegetable garden - not like last year where I just kind of thew a bunch of things in the garden and hoped for the best.

Vegetable gardening is all about eating.  My parents always had big vegetable gardens and I grew up eating fresh vegetables all summer long and then as good as fresh for the remainder of the year.  I had forgotten the difference in real fresh from the garden and fresh from the grocery store.  Believe me, there is a difference.

I froze a lot of vegetables last fall and even those were better - more flavourful than any you could buy in the store, and I am sure loaded with much more food value than those processed in big plants across the country.

We are just now finishing up the vegetables I froze last fall.  If this years garden produces as good as last year, I will be more than happy.

As a reward for a good couple of days work completed, we had our first "fresh from the garden" treat of this season last night for dessert.... Rhubarb Crisp.







It was so refreshing, so tasty that I can't wait for dessert tonight!

Rhubarb is loaded with nutrients and vitamins, the best being Iron.  Some just don't like it, but I would wager even if you don't like rhubarb, you would love this dessert.  It is sweet but still has enough tang to make it refreshing.  If you can get your hands on some fresh rhubarb, give it a try.


Rhubarb Crisp

4 cups fresh rhubarb
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Mix these ingredients together in a bowl and pour into a glass baking dish

Topping:

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup rolled oats (oatmeal)
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted

mix together and sprinkle over the rhubarb mixture.

Place in a heated  375 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until topping starts to turn brown.


Bon Appetite!



Wednesday, May 24, 2017

I FINALLY DID IT!

Canada's 150th birthday is July 1st.  To  commemorate her birthday, a special tulip was designed and created that when open resembles a flame, or a maple leaf - ( there are two versions of the description for this flower).

Last fall, thanks to my cousin Debbie, I managed to snag a box of bulbs.  There were supposed to be 25 in the box, but all I could salvage was 16 bulbs, and none of them were that good.

 A lot of the bulbs were powder, but I planted them anyway, hoping for the best.

I have never had good luck growing tulips.  My former neighbour Elaine is the tulip growing queen of Canada I am sure, I wish you could see her yard at this time of the year.  Over the years she has given me really good advice and lots of encouragement , but even so, my tulips either never had a bloom, or didn't show up at all!

So when I planted these rather sad bulbs, I was kind of thinking that really I wouldn't be too surprised or disappointed if they didn't grow.

But low and behold leaves popped out the ground this spring, and soon after I could see the flower buds in the center of every plant.  They stayed that way for a long time, and slowly the stem started pushing the bud up, but the stem remained very short short, so I was still skeptical.

I got out the picture from the advertisement of the bulbs and noticed a couple of things.  First the leaves in the ad had a white stripe down them.  Mine did not.  Secondly the flowers in the add were white and red... mine looked like they were going to be yellow and burgundy.

So I waited and watched some more.

Yesterday I was walking past the bed they are in and I had to stop and stare.   Overnight the stems seemed to have stretched, and almost every one of the tulips were open.  A few of the flowers appear as if they are looking around a corner... but they are there.

So back in the house for the camera I went.

This is the image on the box that I bought.


and here are my tulips.


I was prepared not to like them, but turns out that I do love them.  Maybe they are different than the picture on the box, but I can see the flame, or the maple leaf ( which ever version of the description you want to believe) and I am happy with them.  I hope in the years to come that they get stronger, multiply and get more beautiful with each year.

But for now, I can look at them with a smile and a certain amount of pride, that finally I seem to have been successful in growing some tulips.

Happy Birthday Canada!

So Proud to call you home!






Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A SPECIAL BIRTHDAY WISH!

Today is a very special person's birthday.  Happy Birthday Colleen!

Colleen is one of the sweetest people I know, and lucky for me she is also my cousin -  our Dad's were brothers.  We didn't grow up close, like I did with some of my other cousins -  we really only saw each other a handful of times over our childhood years, and then not much at all until just a few years ago.  We connected with each other at a family reunion and have kept in touch ever since.  I am always amazed at how very much alike we are.

Colleen and her husband Cam live about 40 minutes away from us, up in the Riding Mountains.  They have a beautiful place off the beaten path where one can really appreciate all that mother nature has to offer.

They invited us up to spend a day with them at their farm just before Easter, and it was an experience like non other.  It was a mild end of March day, the snow was melting, but the scenery on the way up the mountain was so beautiful.  I kept telling Gary over and over again how I couldn't imagine how beautiful the drive would be when everything was green, because even with snow, the images were wonderful.

We found their place and turned up a long plank fence lined drive to the most charming country home, complete with two woolly horses watching our approach from their paddock near the lane.



We had a wonderful lunch with Colleen's Rouladen as the main course, and Bee Sting Cake for dessert - talk about feeling like we were dining at a 5 star restaurant - it was all so delicious!   And then we put our winter coats and boots on and went for a long walk on their country roads.

I had my camera along and got some nice photo's.

                                                                an old farmstead....


Chickadee's eating out of Gary's hand...


Gary and the horses...
Eagles...


After our walk we hopped in the truck and went for a long drive around the area.  We saw where last year's tornado went through - not far from their home.  We drove past lakes that I never knew existed and everywhere we looked - white tailed deer - in the fields, on the roads - everywhere.

I almost felt like crying when we had to leave for home.  It had been the perfect day, with the most perfect family hosts.

I am so happy that Colleen and I live closer to one another now - I know we will have many many more such days with her and Cam in the years to come.

Another reason to love living in the country!

Happy Birthday Colleen - I relive that day over and over - Thank You both for making our memories so special.









Monday, May 22, 2017

A PLANTING WE WILL GO!

It's time to plant the vegetable garden - and I am ready to get to it!


Seeds   - Check

Markers - Check

Why markers? - well the garden is so big and I am planting so many different vegetables, and I am rotating my plants like a good gardener is supposed to do - so how else will I know where I planted what... where?

I know you can buy fancy garden markers at the garden centers, but I am just too cheap so I went to Walmart and bought myself a wood burning tool ( which I will be able to use on other projects as well ) and I found some very large "say ahhhh" sticks in the craft section and so I made my own...


These should last for a few years and if they don't I have a lot more sticks to make new ones.


Map - Check!

I really am not crazy - I know you are all thinking I'm over the top - but I need some sort of plan so I have a general idea where I am planting each vegetable.  So I made a map...


It in no way accurately tells me how many rows of each vegetable I will be able to plant - but it does tell me where in the garden each vegetable will grow.  Did you know that like people - not every plant gets along with it's neighbour?  Apparently it is true.  So I have done the plan with companion planting in mind.  I am placing plants that get along close to each other... so yes - I need the map.

The garden is staked out so today I am starting to plant.  The temps are warm enough and more importantly the over night lows are now warm enough - hopefully we won't get anymore frosty nights but you just never know in this corner of the world.    I will cross my fingers and hope for the best.


It's cloudy and a bit windy, but we are not supposed to get any rain today so off  I go to play in the dirt.  It will probably take me a couple of days to get this done, but done it will be before the rains come at the end of the week.

Come back tomorrow - even though I will be planting I will have a very special post for you to read.










Tuesday, May 16, 2017

AN EVENING STROLL !

This evening, I decided to take my camera for a stroll around my property.  It was a cloudy day all day but just at suppertime the sun began to come out.

The song birds were tuning  up for their evening concert series, so I sat on my park bench, turned the camera on  - and waited.

First came a Robin - I think it's Baby from last year as whenever I am in the yard this young Robin is less than a yard away from me.

A pair of bright yellow canaries swooped over my head, one lit on the telephone wire above my head but by the time I raised the camera and focused - he or she was gone... 

And then there were these little fellows.  There was much activity in and out of this old birdhouse at the back of my garden...  but this little bird must have been on watch because he pretty much stayed on top of the house as long as I was outside watching.
The yard is really greening up nicely now, quite a difference from last weeks picture, isn't it?


And I have a plant blooming in one of my flower beds (don't know the name of it)


But the best pictures this evening were the fruit trees in bloom.  Once again they are giving quite the show...




What a great way to finish off the day, and I didn't have to leave my own yard.  How very lucky I am indeed.

Thanks for coming along with me for my evening stroll...







Monday, May 15, 2017

ON MOTHER'S DAY!

Happy Monday, everyone.  I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend, and that Mother's everywhere enjoyed their special day.

Mother's Day is an honour for those of us who have children,  and everyone one alive has or has had a mother, so we all should celebrate Mother's Day to some extent.

Is that being completely fair?

For some, Mother's Day is painful.  What about the people who have lost their mother, or those who never knew their Mother, or those who's Mother's mistreated them, or how about the women who lost every child she carried, or the ones who never got the chance to carry a child at all...

I saw something this year, that I am not sure I noticed before.  I use social media to connect with family and friends just like so many other people.  Yesterday social media exploded with Mother's Day tributes, pictures, and that is nice - but right along with the major explosion was a sentiment of quiet despair.  I saw it, I read it and to be perfectly honest - I felt it a bit myself.

At times I wasn't sure if I was seeing Mother's Day - or Christmas!

I am not saying I am against Mother's Day being celebrated - I most certainly am not - but is this in-your face - look how I treated my Mother today- truly celebrating Mother's Day?

Growing up we celebrated Mother's Day with a hand made card, maybe a handmade gift, breakfast in bed, and lots of love and appreciation throughout the day.  As we got older perhaps the card was bought, maybe we added flowers instead of a gift,  if we were still living at home, maybe we made breakfast - lots of love and appreciation - not just on Mother's Day - but every day of the week, month and year.

Were we neglectful compared to the celebrations of present day Mother's Day?  Not at all.

Most Mother's I know only want one thing - to be loved by their children - not just on one day, but every day of the year.  We work so hard and do so much for our children as they grow into adulthood, its nice to know they appreciate everything we do and have done for them.  Do we need to be shrined in gifts, flowers and pictures?

One comment I did like on social media about Mother's Day was from a cousin of mine who is a bit older than I.  She told of a tradition long past where it was customary for people to wear a carnation on Mother's Day to honour one's mother.  If your Mother was alive you wore a pink one, if she was deceased - a white one.  In her case growing up in a small town where there was no florist the carnations were made of crepe paper, but Gary tells me his family practiced this tradition, and they wore real carnations.

A silent tribute to your Mother worn over your heart - all day long.  It brings tears to my eyes.   How very special.

I have a Mother's Day card taped to my wall above my computer from my son.  It's from a few years back.  I have it there because it tells me how much my son does love me.  The sentiment inside the card is simple... "Happy Mother's Day, with love and thanks for all you do."  He has signed it from himself, the dog and the bird.  

But it's the front of the card that tells me how much he cares... he took the time to find the special card for his Mom.  He knew that I would appreciate the "crafty" look of the card over one with a picture of real flowers.  That alone, makes this card so very special to me, and is why it hangs on my wall as a reminder of just how much my son loves me.    I know his love will be the same today, tomorrow, and for the rest of my days.   That's all I really need to make every day  -   Mother's Day!







Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A WISH... AND A PROMISE!

I want to take a moment to congratulate my Great niece Alyssa and her new husband Lucas, on their marriage yesterday.  They are celebrating their wedding in Mexico this week.  I wish them both well.

I doubt she will be on here, so I will show you the wedding card I designed for them.  This one was so much fun to do.

I added a black and white ribbon along the left side of the couple to complete the card.


So back to the promise of Sweet Peas for Dad.

This spring when I sent my order of vegetable seeds in to T&T seeds,  I included an order for 2 pkgs of sweet pea seeds.  I ordered a Mammoth Mix, which are supposed to be a very large long-stemmed sweet pea, and Streamers Mix, the flowers of which are shaded like they have been dipped in paint.  Both are frost hardy for this zone.

I soon realized that I had nothing in my yard for the sweet pea vine to attach itself to while growing.  I have no fences,  I do have one trellis against my shed, but it doesn't get enough sunlight for this plant so I was stuck.

We were in Dauphin at the Canadian Tire store and while wandering around the seasonal section I came across some 6 ft hardwood stakes.  I bought them thinking of staking tomatoes... then I saw some plastic chicken wire - I bought that as well.  When I got home I realized I had everything I needed to make a fence for Dad's Sweet peas so I got the staple gun out and got busy.

Here is what I ended up with.






I poured both packs of seeds together, soaked them for 24 hrs and then planted all the seeds in front of  these two fences.  I am making a marker for the garden that says "Joe's Peas"

This little garden pictured here is one I started when I moved the shed last year.  Initially it was supposed to be a garden around the shed - but then we moved the shed back (a previous post) and so now I am slowly making this into another flower bed.  It is still in it's infancy, but hopefully I will have some color there this summer with some of the perennials I planted last year.

You can see my vegetable garden in the back - all tilled and ready to be planted just as soon as the weather is more stable.




Here is a better picture of that garden.

Yes, I know it is very large.  We are going to seed a strip on the right side by the hedge in grass - nothing much grows there anyway.   At the front left side I have my strawberry patch already growing and at the very back I just moved 5 rhubarb plants from the front yard where the fruit trees are planted.  

I have the garden all planned out on paper with companion planting in mind.  Now all I need is some heat and no hint of overnight frost, and I will be busy putting it all together for real.

Now I am off to get some trees and shrubs.  I know what I want - the trick will be to see if I can find them out here.

Check in next week and we'll see how I made out!

Stay safe everyone!







Tuesday, May 9, 2017

KEEPING A PROMISE!

How many times have you promised to do something?  Have you kept that promise?

I don't really know that I have promised too many people anything - not in a real promise way - you know not with the words - "I promise You".  I don't really think we do that anymore in our busy lives... at least not verbally.

I made a promise last summer to my Dad.  We were having a conversation over the phone about gardening - one of many.

If you knew my Dad you knew how much he loved his vegetable gardens.  It kind of was something his whole family believed in and enjoyed doing.  When I was a kid we had a small vegetable garden in the back yard, but he also rented a large garden plot on the outskirts of the city to grow even a larger garden.  He loved his vegetable garden -the larger the better.

One of the things he was so excited for me on our move to the country was that I would have a vegetable garden - a large one!  He immediately started coaching me in the right way to plant.  He was a believer in the Farmer's Almanac, and always planted his gardens by the moon cycle charts in that little book - must be something to it - because his gardens always produced high yields of everything!

In this particular conversation I was telling him about my rose gardens, and how troublesome I was finding the task of keeping quack out of that particular garden.  He wasn't interested really - so I asked him why he never got into flower gardening as much as vegetables.  I know a lot of men who loved to have gardens of both.

His words... "The only flower worth planting is the Sweet Pea.  I used to plant them all the time, years ago."

Have you ever had a few words just zap you back to another time and place?  Zap - his words had me standing in my parents backyard watching my father tying string onto an old white wooden picket fence.  I can see it as plain as the day it happened... and then I could see his sweet peas - and I could smell them!  I was maybe 6 yrs old.

I told him I remembered his sweet peas when I was small, but couldn't remember them in the later years.  That's when he told me he quit planting them because of me.  I was allergic to so many plants as a child, his sweet peas were on that list - so he quit planting them.

Well that made me sad... so I made him a promise.  I said I would plant some next spring just for him, and send lots of good pictures to him when they bloomed.

Dad didn't make it to this spring.  I can't send him pictures of his sweet peas, but I did make a promise, so I'm going to keep it.

But like everything in the garden - there is a process...


Stay tuned!





Monday, May 8, 2017

THE STORIES BEHIND THE PICTURES!

We are starting the week off with the first real rain of the season.  We had a thunderstorm overnight and there are big puddles everywhere.  The grass is greener this morning and even though its a gloomy day, life seems to be just busting outside.

I wanted to start today's blog off with word about the new photos on my page.

First  the one of the dog and the lamb - is that not the cutest thing you have ever seen?  I didn't take the picture but I edited for my friend, who has a sheep farm a few miles down the road from here.  It's been a busy spring for her and her family as birthing lambs can be somewhat iffy at the best of times.  Sheep don't always automatically make the best mothers, according to my friend, Diana.  Because of that, they are constantly having to check the new lambs.

They have companion guard dogs on the property that are there mainly to watch the sheep and the lambs, keep them safe from predators like coyotes and wolves, but often her dogs really go above and beyond.

The dog in the picture is often found with a lamb in its great jaws, as he picks them up and moves them when they get away from the flock or away from their mothers.  And like in this picture - sometimes a cuddle and a fuzzy warm tail works too....

Diana's son noticed an Ewe without her lamb.  He went searching thinking the lamb might have died but instead he came across this scene.  He reached for his phone and snapped the picture... a one of a kind moment that would never present itself again!  How lucky he was to be in the right place at the right time.

Now on to my cover photo...

There are several things special about my cover picture.  The picture is one taken of my Mom and Dad the year before she passed away - it is special in itself - but check out that tiny bouquet of flowers beside the picture.

Those are wild Manitoba Prairie Crocus - Manitoba's official Flower - and my Easter gift from my Cousin Lorne and his wife Debbie.

Who has a cousin who stops his truck and tramps through ditches and fields on his way to Easter dinner, to find three little precious wild flowers that he knows will bring a tear to his cousins eyes.... I do!

I had actually never seen one of these before - but I have heard about them all through my childhood and beyond.  My Mom always talked about fields and fields of them when she was a child walking to school in the spring they were one of her favourite memories of childhood, and certainly one of her favourite plants.


I posted my picture on face book, and the very next day I received a email from my nephew in Calgary with a picture of some crocus that are growing close to where he lives.  I can't tell you how happy that made me.  I just love it when things like that happen...

These tiny beauties are disappearing from our landscape, like so many heritage wild flowers.  This year I got to see them not once but twice, I count myself very lucky indeed!

Such tiny treasures as these need to be protected and cherished, for the next generations to enjoy.   As a society we are loosing touch with these treasures at an alarming rate.   We need to do better... all of us... to keep these treasures alive for those yet to come.




Friday, May 5, 2017

ARE YOU READY?

I am always amazed and thankful when I see how many visits I have to my blogs each day - even when I haven't posted for a few months.

Yes - I have been gone far too long - I certainly feel that way, but my time away was well spent catching up on so many things while I awaited the arrival of spring.

And what an arrival!  Is there anything better than that first few warm days when the song birds are back, the grass is turning green, the green leaves of early perennials are popping through the ground, and tulips are poking their pretty little heads out?  Remember those 25 special tulips I planted last fall to commemorate Canada's 150th Birthday?  They are all up and every day I am peering down at them to see if I can see a bud.  Finally I can!

I was industrious while I was away for those couple of months.  I finally got around to pulling the ugly wall paper off in our bedroom and painting the room.  Oh - so much better.  Part of the reason it has taken me so long was that I kept changing my mind on a paint colour.  In the end I chose a very soft pale green - and it is so restful and soothing - perfect for a bedroom.

Then I moved on the the main floor bathroom. It has taken me almost 2 years to get this room done as well - but done it is, and I'm loving it.

My biggest project was my studio.  Hate to say it - but I couldn't really work in it after I reorganized it just after Christmas.  I didn't like the colour I had painted and I certainly didn't like the layout.  So I stripped it down, repainted and put everything back the way it was before the wasps invaded last fall.  It's home again, and I'm not changing it ever again!  (mark that on the calendar, would you please!)

I am so glad I got all the inside work done, because now I just want to be outside working in the yard.

I bought myself a little electric tiller, and tilled my big vegetable garden all by myself, instead of having to wait for someone else to do it.  The garden is ready to plant.  I decided to wait on the raised beds for another year.  I wanted to try some different vegetables this year so thought the space would be easier to handle if I just used the big garden.

Believe it or not - we are just finishing all the vegetables I froze last fall - so perhaps I didn't plant too much last year as I originally thought!

I am looking forward to a new season of growth, new journeys, new adventures, and hopefully some more new friends.  Hope you can join me for whatever spring and summer 2017 will bring...

See you next week!


Thursday, February 23, 2017

IT'S COMING!

Good morning everyone!

We are less than a month away from the first day of spring and if you are like me, that means that a lot of your thoughts have been focused on the great outdoors!  For some it means getting outside and riding a bike, going fishing, hiking, camping, playing sports.

For me it is starting the very long list of "to dos" that I want to accomplish outside this year!

Of course in my mind, I will get everyone one of the things on my list done probably in the first month - or so I tell myself.

Check out this list:

Build raised garden beds - I am thinking (4 )  6ft beds to start with.

Build a rustic fence around the beds - not to keep anything out - just because I want a fence with a gate around my raised bed area.

Make perimeter beds around the fence for flowers - annuals and perennials.

Start seeds indoors - things like tomatoes, some herbs, annuals and flowers...

Clean all flower beds and continue working on the rose beds on the south side of the house.

Plant a apple and a pear tree

Remove brick flower bed along the west side of the house and save any bulbs or plants for replanting.  Dig and make a new bed along the house with new soil and replant.

Re-seed lawn where necessary.

Plant trees and shrubs at the front of the house... thinking 1 tree and 2 shrubs (for now)

Plant 1 tree and a couple of shrubs on the garage side of the yard for privacy.

Find, buy and install a umbrella clothesline in the space behind the shed.

Plant vegetable garden

Replace windows

Paint exterior of the house and garage...



And that should take me to June!

All of a sudden I am feeling a bit tired... think I will go and see how April is coming along!

This is what I have been doing for a whole day already - I am watching a Giraffe by the name of April as she labours to give birth to her baby.  It is fascinating - not because I have never seen an animal give birth, but maybe because I have never seen a giraffe give birth!

 There are several live feeds on line - they go off once in awhile, but for the most part are on until the event happens.

One is CBS Denver's Facebook page ( this is the best feed) but the comments are nuts, so turn them off - hate it when humans have to be humans while watching nature in progress.

Youtube also has a feed - just type in Animal Adventure Park, and you will see the feed.

Well, I feel like I have done a whole lot this morning - time for breakfast and some much needed coffee...

Enjoy your day everyone!


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

HOW DOES ONE PACE ONESELF?

It's time to get back to the studio and get some projects done before spring hits.  Once the weather warms up enough to be outside working in the yard, the studio pretty much gets forgotten.

You would think spring was here, this past weekend we had record warm temps for this time of the year.  The snow is melting like crazy and when you go outside you really are fooled into believing it is late March or even April, instead of February.  I took this picture on Saturday, Feb 18th.  A week ago this was buried under about three feet of snow that we had piled beside the garage.  While it was exciting to see the Iris' I had totally forgotten I had planted here last fall, it still should not look this way quite yet.


So back to the work waiting in the studio ...

I am working on some items for the Antique shop... some homespun-type things that will go good with vintage and antique items in the shop.  The shop is called "Uniques and Antiques" - perhaps my items would qualify more for the "Uniques" portion of the name.

So currently working on large (26") cloth angels, made from recycled materials from shirts, pants - actually anything, really.  Their wings are "crazy patch" construction to give them that homespun "poor angel" look.

I also have started a couple of cows - and boy and girl cow to be exact.  These are made of fabric as well, about 21" and crazy cute.

My friend Louise has managed to snag me a pattern for a pair of chickens that are outrageously funny and cute, so they are going to be next on the docket...

And if I have some time I might do a couple of bears, bunnies and perhaps a giraffe.

I haven't done soft cloth figures in a long time, so this is a re-visit and a re-learning experience for me.  It is a most welcome change from mug-rugs and needle work and crochet.

But then Gary informed me that his topic for his Spiritual Care group at the nursing home this week is going to be Angels.  Right away my brain goes into overdrive.  I have come to know and love the residents there, so thought it would be nice if they could all get a little Angel once their group meeting was over.

So out came the crochet cotton and needle and I ended up making  tiny little angels that they can take to their rooms and hang on a plant or the window shade, or where ever they want.

My head is getting so far ahead of my hands that I just know I am going to run into trouble eventually.  It always happens when the creative juices go into over drive!  At 61, I am still trying to learn to pace myself - whatever that might be... I'm just not getting the concept.

Hope to be able to show you completed projects in my next post.

Keep busy everyone - it's good for you!


Thursday, February 16, 2017

THE BEST OF MY LIFE!

While I have been writing the series of posts about my Dad, all kinds of wonderful things have been happening to people I know and love - and to me as well.

First, this past weekend we were Blessed with a visit from our Dear friends,  Sharon and Al.  They were visiting family in Winnipeg and later in Brandon, so they stopped for a overnight with us on the weekend.  

We haven't seen them for a couple of years so we had lots of catching up to do.  It was wonderful having them here, and my only complaint aside from wishing my dear friend wouldn't have to be battling cancer again, is that the visit was much too short.  But God-willing it won't be years before we see each other again!


Not two days later we got the news we have been waiting to hear for over 8 months! 

Well I'll let this precious little fellow tell you himself!



On Valentine's Day Thomas got to go home.  Here he is checking out of Ronald McDonald House!


Thomas is not over his ordeal yet - starting March 1st he starts his next round of chemo treatments, but from now on, he will no longer need to live in Vancouver full time.    He still has 2 more years of treatment ahead of him, but he will be home with his family, his pets and his friends, which is going to be so wonderful for him.

Thomas and his Mom, my niece Alanna have inspired me so very much these past 8 months.  Little 10 yr old boys can be Hero's - and he is mine.  Both he and his Mom have fought hard, but all through this journey they both have kept smiling, kept being kind to everyone they met along the way.  They didn't take their sorrow or pain or fear out on anyone - they faced it and overcame their obstacles one by one.  The picture above is proof of strength of spirit, and more so - strength of character that both Thomas and Alanna possess.  

Thomas had help, much loving help from the Angels who worked with him and for him every day.  The doctors, nurses, technicians, radiologists to name a few.  Without them, this beautiful picture would never have happened.  Thank You one and all for taking care of my family.  
And finally, many thanks to Ronald McDonald House staff for wrapping your arms around my family and giving them everything they needed at the time they needed it most.

This world IS full of wonderful people, wonderful places and wonderful outcomes...  I have seen it many times myself, and now I have just seen it one more time.

Two special people who both are battling cancer, and who both mean the world to me.

"I choose to make the Rest of my Life,
The Best of my Life..."

I'm sure they would agree....






Wednesday, February 15, 2017

THE MAN I CALLED DAD - AND THE CYCLE AGAIN!

THE CYCLE AGAIN

Well here I am again to write, 
The next part of our story;
There are some parts that may be sad,
For that, I'm truly sorry.

For Dale it was a happy time,
As she was about to marry;
It took so long for her to find
Her true love, who was Gary.

But others were not quite as blessed,
Especially our dear Dad.
His loneliness fro our sweet Mom,
It really made him sad.

He tried awhile to live alone,
But soon he took a wife.
He and Norma struggled some
To try and have a life.

Around this time a little boy,
Was born to Wendy and Dean.
Leigh was such a precious child,
He made his Dad's eyes beam.

Our Father was not happy now,
Divorce was not his style;
He sold the house and moved away,
To rest and think awhile.

About his time there seemed to be
A reason for some joy.
Dale and Gary were so proud,
Of little Jonathan, their boy.

The family was so different now,
The closeness fading fast.
Togetherness was just a dream
We held on from the past.

Before I thought we would survive,
But now, I'm not so sure.
We've grown apart in so many ways,
I hope we will endure.

Dale Graumann
1993




Dad really meant it when he said he couldn't live alone, and in my opinion he never gave himself enough time to try and live without my mother.  He remarried in a little over a year after Mom's passing and the marriage only lasted a year.

After his second marriage failed, Dad decided he needed to get away from his life in Winnipeg, so he sold his home and moved to British Columbia to be nearer to two of his sons.

He raced into another relationship and a year later he was married once again.

The next twenty seven years would be a difficult time for Dad and for us, his family.  Our family relationship fell apart drastically.  Personally, my relationship with my Father was strained when we were communicating, and totally absent during the times we didn't communicate.  The few times we were together during this time, seldom were good times.  We became strangers and it seemed easier to avoid each other than to bear the disappointment of our failed relationship.

Dad's third marriage also ended in divorce, but by then so much damage had been done with our relationship with our Father that it was difficult to return back to happier times.

It changed for me, when we moved out to the country.  Shortly after we moved, Dad called me and we talked for a very long time... we even laughed together, and I felt something had changed for the better.  As time went on it was better, so much so, that our conversations were enjoyed and even longed for.

I am thankful I had that almost two years before he passed away to reconnect with the man who had been such a huge part of my life growing up.

Writing this tribute to my Father has helped me in so many ways.  It has connected me to my Father again because of the bond we have always held, through good times and not- so good times - the bond of father and daughter.  Dad wasn't perfect - but then neither am I, and neither is the rest of my family.

I wish we had not wasted so many years on hurt and anger, but I now realize that we had just as many years with love and laughter and that brings me peace and comfort, especially now that he is gone.

Rest in Peace Dad - I will love you forever...








Friday, February 10, 2017

THE MAN I CALLED DAD - TALENTS!

When you are a kid growing up you never stop and think - "Wow, my parent is so talented!"  Guess it takes years of living your own life and experiencing what it takes to make a good life for yourself and your family to realize that some people just are blessed with am abundance of talents.

Dad was one of these.  In an earlier post "Enough Said"  I told you about my Dad's ability to use Pig Latin as a language, when he chose to do so.

He also was a pretty good musician.  My grandfather played the fiddle, and Dad said that there was always music in his home growing up.  He learned to play the guitar as a young man,  and also taught himself to play the "mouth organ" (harmonica) and the Concertina (his "squeeze box")- which is a small accordion-like instrument with buttons instead of keys - which believe me - is not the easiest instrument to play.   Each button gives you two notes, depending on which way you squeeze the bellows.

Dad loved music and he encouraged all his children to try and learn an instrument.  I was like him, I wanted to play everything I saw - and so we had this special bond because of music.

When I was just 4 someone gave me a tiny little chord organ, which apparently I spent hours and hours sitting and playing.  I wanted to play the piano, so my parents found a teacher but they couldn't afford a piano, so Dad arranged for me to practice my lessons every night on a neighbour's piano.  I did that for two years, until they had saved up enough money to buy me my own instrument...

Dad was the only one in the house who sat and listened to my practice sessions - always encouraging me to play more.  When I had learned all my chords and scales, he brought out his Concertina and we started to practice together - he playing the melody - me chording on the piano.  It quickly became "our" thing to do.  I learned all his "old songs" - Turkey in the Straw; The Old Washer Woman: You're The Only Star in my Blue Heaven... which he made me learn so he could play and sing it to my Mom.  I taught him some new songs... "Dominique" from the Flying Nun... "This Land is Your Land"... and many more.



When guests came to visit - we entertained for hours - and when the winter evenings were long - we played - just because we loved to.

Because of Dad's influence, I learned to play other instruments -  his Concertina, my own mouth-organ (given to me as a gift from him); guitar, Melodica, Cello... and these instruments were added to our practice sessions many many times.

It is something that to this day, brings me pleasure and pride to think about.  It is something I will never forget -  this gift that we gave each other.

He gave me his Concertina a few years ago - not because I play it well, but I think he knew how much those days of playing music with him always meant to me, and having his instrument would keep it alive in my heart.













But Dad had many other talents as well.  He could grow anything.  His gardens were crazy big and always successful.  He could build anything, he could fix anything.  He could hand-sew anything and he knew and used the sewing machine almost as well as my Mother.  I often felt that if you had handed him a pair of knitting needles, he would have conquered that too.

One day he decided he wanted to learn to paint - and so he did.  I have a couple of pieces that he painted - not on canvas, but on wood.  This little diamond-shape one is my favourite.  It was one of the first pieces he painted.




I wish I had a video of my Dad and I playing our music together - I can hear it in my head - but it would have been so great to be able to hear it again now.

But as luck would have it - low and behold it was discovered a year or so go that Dad has a you-tube video of himself playing his mouth-organ.  Who knew? 

He is playing at a farmer's market where a friend and her husband had a booth.  She spins, and he plays...

I will leave you with him playing "The old Spinning Wheel" - one of his particular favourites and one we played hundreds of times together.

Enjoy!


Thursday, February 9, 2017

THE MAN I CALLED DAD - AND THE CYCLE CONTINUES!

My Mother was the most important person in Dad's life - as he was to her.  As their children grew and left home to build their own lives, they finally had time to do things together - just the two of them.  They did everything together, and because I was the last one to leave the nest,  perhaps I was the luckiest of all.  If I hadn't been paying attention to their relationship growing up - I had the opportunity to see it every day as a young adult still living at home.


I used to watch them and hope and dream of a day when I would have what they had.  Their bond was love, but they also respected and treasured each other and their time spent together.


If Mom was sitting in front of the TV making something - chances are Dad was right beside her, or very nearby, doing the same thing.

When Mom passed away at the young age of 61, Dad's world came apart.  I remember an evening about 2 weeks after her death.  I was staying with him and I found him downstairs in the spare bedroom sitting at Mom's desk head down on the desk crying his heart out because he didn't know how to pay a bill.  I had never seen my Dad like this before.  He actually scared me.  We worked through it and he calmed down enough to learn how she did things like pay bills and organize his life... that was the day I first heard him say he didn't know how to live alone.


THE CYCLE 
CONTINUES

Some time ago I wrote a poem,
About some people I knew.
It was my family, or so I thought - 
But you should see how it grew.

First Wayne and Bev, they had three boys;
Charles, then Trevor, then Blair.
A lively time we always had,
When we would visit there!

Merv and Gail had two, you know - 
A girl and then a boy.
Cheri was the quiet one,
And Scott - Oh what a joy!

Norman married Valda,
Two beautiful girls had they.
Alanna, always so serious;
And Cindy, always so gay!

Dale, though looking very hard,
Could not a good man find.
She shared her time with all these kids,
And did not seem to mind.

Now Dean had found that special one,
And took himself a wife.
They built themselves a brand new house.
And had a real good life.

Life was good and happy.
Until that awful day - 
When God reached down amongst us,
And took our Mom away.

Nothing seemed to matter much,
For quite a long long time.
Then slowly time became our friend,
And the sun once more did shine.

Well time continues to roll along,
The future we face together.
For with our love for one and all,
There's nothing we can't weather.

Dale Fischer 
1984

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

THE MAN I CALLED DAD - THE CYCLE!

In 1979  I was 24 yrs old.  I had been writing poetry since I was a child.  I had always written about other people, but never my own family - so I wrote a poem for my parent's  37th  Wedding Anniversary.

They were delighted - they made me frame it, and they hung it in their bedroom.  It hung there until their home was sold after Mom's death...

As it turned out this poem would become the first in the "Cycle" series.  I updated this poem several times throughout the years...



THE CYCLE.

Some years ago two people I know,
Were joined together for life.
The vows they made to one another,
Were that, of Man and Wife.

So young they were, and full of dreams,
Their aim in life was plain;
And when their first child came to them,
They called their new son, Wayne.

Some time they had with this young lad,
Growin' so fast and learnin'
But soon a brother came for him,
And this one they called, Mervyn.

The times were hard, the money scarce;
Outside the air was stormin',
About this time, another child - 
The third son, who was Norman.

The days passed by and turned to years,
The changes they were many.
There seemed no hope for daughters now,
They didn't plan on any.

But fate it was, that they should hear,
The news that made the pair go pale;
A child again, a girl this time - 
A welcome sight named Dale.

Their family was completed now,
Or so to them it seemed;
But in awhile surprise again -
A boy, whom they called Dean.

This story has no end you know,
Now most of the kids are grown.
Their children now, are coming fast,
And the cycle continues on.

Well time will tell what the future brings,
And I know it won't be too bad;
Not with the start, we all got from home,
Thank You, Mom and Dad.

1979 
Dale Fischer


More tomorrow...



Tuesday, February 7, 2017

THE MAN I CALLED DAD - 2

Growing up as a child I often wondered how my parents could afford to buy a brand new home in the city when they couldn't afford to buy a farm.  I admit, this wondering stemmed from my disappointment is not being able to be a "farm girl" as I always wanted to be.

It was a loan - given to them by the same Grandmother from Iowa who years before had come to the rescue of 11 children left without a Mother or a Father to care for them.  My Great-Grandmother Effie Owens!

So, in 1953, My parents moved into Winnipeg into their brand new home in the Crescentwood area.  It was their first home of their own, and it was also their last.  They lived there until my Mother passed away in 1984.

They might have had a new home, but they didn't have much else.  My Dad's education ended at  grade 7, and other than his work in the mines, his only skills were in farming.  So he took a job as a door to door salesman for Kitchen Queen.  He sold pots and pans, and then vacuum cleaners.  It really wasn't enough to sustain his family so he did odd jobs for pay wherever he could - and his three young son's got paper routes.

I came along in 1955.  Even though life was financially a struggle for my family, somehow they managed to keep their bills paid, and they managed to keep their home.

Shortly after I was born, Noranda Mines of Quebec opened Canada Wire and Cable co. in Winnipeg, and because my Dad had worked for Noranda Mines during the war, he was hired on the spot.  He stayed in that job until he retired in 1985.

Dad quickly became involved in his community through his older son's.  He coached hockey at the local community club, and became a Scout troop leader.  He and my Mother joined Oxford United Church Congregation - and he never left here either until he moved from the city.

Here we all are in front of our house.  He was so proud of 1313... always boasted that it was the luckiest house number anywhere - and for it - it was.  My brother Merv is not in the picture because he took the picture.



Things were easier after Dad got a better job.  His family was growing up, and he was able to start doing the things with his family that he truly loved.  One of those things was fishing.

In the mid 60's Dad bought a very small, used pull trailer and hauled it to a seasonal spot at Caddy Lake.  It became our summer home for many years.  Every weekend we went to the lake where we all enjoyed nature, fishing, boating, swimming.  It was Dad who taught us to appreciate nature - the birds, the wildlife, the constellations, the weather... he was a natural teacher in all things of the outdoors.  His favourite pastime was trolling the shores of Caddy Lake and beyond in his aluminum fishing boat.  The picture isn't a great one, but Dad's boat was always filled with children - his and other peoples.


- Fishing for  "Jacks" and "Pickerels" was always a fun time with Dad - and our catch went straight into the frying pan as soon as they were cleaned!

Did I say fish?  Notice how Dad's eyes are not on the camera but on the fish  - and while you are busy noticing - check out the chubby little girl that just seems to be in every picture - me!


Please don't tell me you never saw fish fillets hanging from the cloths line - didn't every one's Dad's do that.?  Well if your Dad smoked his own fish - he did - these are fish drying from the salt water brine they had been soaking in prior to going in the smoker...



We went on road trips to see Great Grandmother "Effie"many times - the whole family squished into Dad's car, but now the older boys were able to help drive.

Both my parents loved children - but especially my Dad.  So to supplement the household income, my parents started taking in foster children.  Even though at times I am sure my mother was overworked, and our home was less than perfect, I believe it was an experience that everyone in our home benefited from.  We all had to pitch in and help with the additional children in a house.  Sometimes there would be newborns, sometimes toddlers, sometimes older, but always we were taught to consider these strangers our family - and so we did.  We watched and learned from both our parents how to give love and show love to those less fortunate than ourselves.  Even though Dad worked every day, he did dish duty, bottle duty, diaper duty, rocking and singing duty right along with everyone else - and he always did it with a smile... I think this was something he remembered doing in his youth with his own siblings as they were growing up  In the end, my parents made a home for 32 foster children in all.

The years rolled on - Wayne and Mervyn married and started families of their own.  Norman -  that handsome hunk in the second to last picture, moved to Northern BC to work on the Power Dams - and life went on for us all...


to be continued...