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U - Useless, Under-Used and Useful!
Posted On 03/08/2017 23:53:45

Years ago, I met a lady in Scottsdale, Arizona who did seminars on how to be a good household organizer; organize your purse, organize your kitchen, organize your closets, etc. Her name is Donna Otto, and she is still doing seminars and recently, I saw that she has a group on Facebook. I haven’t seen her for a long time, but I still remember some of her ideas. To give an example… if sorting through a closet or a room, have three boxes/baskets that are labeled, Put Away, Give Away and Throw Away. It works well.

My husband and I have changed the categories a bit, when we are trying to “down-size” in my storeroom and in his shop. The categories are Useless (Why have I kept this for so long? It’s broken and/or useless),  Under-Used (I can’t remember the last time I’ve used this!), and Useful (I’ll keep this, or if I don’t need this anymore, someone else could make good use of it.) We will try to sell some of these items, but most things are put in boxes, bags, or loaded in back of the van, to be donated to some charity like Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, or Value Village.

It is amazing how much stuff we have accumulated since the last time we moved. Added to that, we love to drop by garage sales, auction sales, or thrift shops when we have time, in case there is something that catches our attention.

It’s like going on a treasure hunt; we may find something that is so cheap that we can’t afford not to buy it! 

Tags: Sorting Giving Buying Fun

T - Tractors, Trucks, and Tools
Posted On 03/02/2017 19:00:57

I have heard so many stories about  tractors and family traditions from my husband, and some of his friends gathered around our kitchen table on a coffee break. Even though I grew up on a farm, I have little to contribute to those conversations. I do remember the strange John Deere tractor, with the front wheels close together, that my father purchased the year before he decided that he had “enough” of mixed farming, and we moved to the city. He had been a cattle driver in the Cypress Hills, and his favorite saddle horse was still with us on the farm. He also had two teams of draft horses for farming. Those horses pulled the plow, the seeder, the binder, the hay rack… and the stone boat to take me to school in the winter.

And then there are the trucks. We have had one “job” truck, but nothing like the new truck that our son recently purchased. He even uses it when he is meeting with prospective real estate customers. There are so many “bells and whistles” in that truck; I don’t know where to start. It’s like his personal office on wheels. There are tools in that truck that require special courses to operate them properly. Bluetooth connection so that he can talk on the phone when he is driving (isn’t that included in the list of distracted driving rules?), GPS so he won’t get lost, radio to catch the news, CD player to listen to his favorite country music, front and back security cameras, in case he gets in a traffic situation that ends up in court (?). There are four passenger doors, so that he can drive with the whole family, or customers, in comfort. When I was invited to take a ride in the truck, I was grateful for the “booster handles”, or whatever they are called, to hoist myself UP into the cab. The view was great; we could look over the traffic in front of us, to plan ahead of time where we had to turn. I was told that it wasn’t all that necessary because the lady on the GPS would keep reminding us when to change lanes, how far till we turn off the road, and when we have arrived at our destination. She has an annoying voice, and the temptation is to turn her off, except we may get lost without her help.

Lastly, why did I have to mention the tools? When we stop at a Garage Sale, Auction Sale, Estate Sale, there needs to be tools available or he will stay in our van, while I walk around, looking for vintage glass and anything else that is so cheap, I can’t afford not to buy it. The tools are sorted, cleaned, and repair if needed, and counted. Gone are the days when if a hammer or screwdriver is needed, we ask the question, “Where is THE hammer; where is THE screwdriver?”, not where is the box of screwdrivers. Times have changed, haven’t they?

What about the tools in my kitchen? Don’t want to talk about it! I NEED all those tools; it depends on what I’m cooking! Now that I do less cooking and baking, I still have trouble getting rid of some favorite tools because I MAY need it again someday.


Tags: Family Machines Farming

S - Secret Sisters
Posted On 02/12/2017 12:29:26

When I was reading the most recent blog from Sherry, and thinking about her questions, it made me think of my experiences that developed through a ‘Secret Sister’ program, both in our church and in our kids’ school. Everyone who wanted to participate would write their name on a piece of paper, fold it at least a couple of times, and place it in some sort of container. Next, the container was passed around and everyone in turn would close their eyes or reach in the container that was held high above their head, to pull out a piece of paper. If you pulled out your own name, you returned it and selected another one. For the following year, we secretly investigated the person to learn her likes and dislikes, her birthday, and her favorite “anything”. We would send encouraging notes, a birthday card, get well cards, and occasionally a “just because” gift … anything to let her know that she was special. It was all very secretive, being very careful not to include anything that would give her a clue as to the identity of her “Secret Sister”. This ‘exercise’ terminated with a banquet, when we finally we able to introduce ourselves to our ‘sister’. I am still in touch with several of them.

We were also introduced to the concept of ‘Pen Pals’ when we were in school, writing letters and sending pictures to someone in another country. There are so many stories of ‘pen pals’ finally meeting face to face, even in their senior years. Their deep friendships began with an introductory letter.

The same experience can happen in Social Media, if we are open to it. It won’t happen if they keep their page ‘blocked’ to anyone who isn’t a friend. I will never forget the feeling that I had when a lady on my NOTH list of friends, who had been reading my postings of our travel experiences in eastern U.S., sent me a message to tell me that we were near her town, and if we had time, please stop in for a cup of tea and a chat face to face. The only thing she knew about me was that I live in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies, I am about the same age as she, and my given name is Mona. That could be a whole lot of people… but she still invited me. Unfortunately, our schedule didn’t make time for the visit, but I was so touched by the offer.

I have friends on NOTH from a number of countries I have never visited, and even though several have become much less active on The Hill due to personal reasons, we are still exchanging private messages. It feels like a sister that I never had, and we learn through time that we have more things in common. Can you imagine what it would be like if we hadn’t been honest in our initial contact? We would always be concerned that our stories matched.

By the way, I have also met some very nice guys here on The Hill, and have journeyed with them through some fun and tough times. I never had a brother either, so thanks for being my friend.

Tags: Friendship Honesty

R - Remembering my Residence Room
Posted On 02/06/2017 23:10:34

It was the last week in August, 1958 when I entered the School of Nursing. I experienced a mixture of happy anticipation and almost paralyzing nervousness as I rode in the back seat of my parents’ car. My best friend from middle school would be there. I had seen very little of her during our high school years because she attend a church school for her high school years. I had already decided that if we had to share a room with someone, it would have to be her because I didn’t know anyone else. I had always had my own bedroom because I was the only kid in my family… the dreaded “only child”! However, Mom told me to look on the bright side, because I’m going to gain a whole bunch of “sisters” at this school.

When we arrived at the Nurses’ Residence for our orientation, I wasn’t prepared for the crowd that was there. I later learned that there were 96 in my class, and all of us would be living in the new 10-storey Residence. We busily filled out our registration forms, introduced ourselves to others, and perused the information package, including our guidelines, lovingly referred to as the “Blue Book”. Finally, we were organized in groups of 20, for a tour of the building. We learned the routine of checking in and checking out of the Residence at the front desk, had a visit to the laundry room in the basement, complete with wringer washing machines and drying racks, and the PJ Lounge, next to the Laundry, where we could relax and watch TV.

Next, each of us was given a number and instructed to meet in the lobby on the second floor. It wasn’t until all of us were together that we were told the number indicated our assigned room number on either the first, second or third floor. Imagine my surprise when I opened the door to my own compact and furnished room. There was a single bed with a brown blanket/spread and a vinyl upholstered “thing” the same length of the bed, attached to the wall. It was a place to hide our pillows, and also a place to lean on when the bed became our sofa in the daytime. At the foot of the bed was a large cupboard with two large doors and one skinny door, all with locks. It was the clothes closet and bureau all in one cupboard.  On the opposite wall was a chair at a desk with a lid, three drawers on one side and a sink on the other side. When the desk lid was lifted, there was a large mirror on the underside of the lid, and a shallow area to keep cosmetics, toiletries, and any other stuff we wished to keep out of sight.

Last but not least was a “push button” on the wall with a little area above that didn’t seem to have a function, until we were given a demonstration. It was for communication from the front desk. One buzz was to let us know there was a phone call on hold for us at the booth by the elevators; two buzzes indicated a visitor waiting for us in the lobby. If the little area above was white, there was a message for us at the front desk. This, most definitely, became the most important feature in our room, especially on date nights.

By the way, we didn’t have the same room for all three years of our training. Every year we had to move up three floors, so that the new students could move into the first three floors. When we were seniors, we were on the top three floors, with a great view of the city, but the closest to a stern Matron who had her apartment on the top floor. We had great respect for her, and also a generous dose of fear. To the day that 91 of us graduated, the “Blue Book” remained our behavior guide, and she did her very best to make sure that we followed the rules.

Tags: Nurses Rules Education

Q - Quick Questions About Quebec
Posted On 02/02/2017 22:46:07

This may be a surprising topic, and I promise it won't be of a political nature. By the way, it's not easy to think of a topic that starts with ‘q’, as I endeavor to work my way through this A to Z Blog Challenge. Here come the questions…

  1. What is a Quebecer? A bi-lingual person living in Quebec, the largest province in Canada,
  2. Is it true that they only speak French in Quebec? No; French is their official language, but it is bilingual.
  3. Do I speak French? No; when I was in school, we were not required to study/learn French. I know less than a dozen words!
  4. Is Quebec near where I live? No; we are at the opposite end of Canada.
  5. Have I ever been in Quebec? Yes; we took a road trip across Canada some years ago, and visited the cities of Montreal and Quebec City, and enjoyed beautiful rural areas on our way to the Maritimes.
  6. What did you do in Montreal? Rather than find our way around, at the risk of getting lost, we took a city bus tour. Highlights of the tour were visits to the Olympic Dome, the Uunderground Shopping Plaza, and the very entertaining bus driver who spoke English through the whole tour, for us “Westerners”!
  7. Did we have any problem because we couldn't speak French? Only one instance that I can recall when we thought we may have a problem, was at a gas station, when the Gas Attendant greeted us in French, which we didn't understand. When my husband responded in English, the Attendant smiled and said (in English), “Welcome to Quebec! Shall I fill ‘’er up?”
  8. What did you do in Quebec City? We walked the cobblestone streets of the Old City, and had lunch at Chateau Frontenac. We watched ships on the St. Lawrence River from the Plains of Abraham, and learned a lot about the history of Canada.
  9. Did we enjoy any particular food in Quebec? Montreal Smoked Beef and local Maple syrup.
  10. Would you ever go back for another visit? In a heartbeat, especially Quebec City. We would also like to see more of the rural areas, now that we know that most Quebecers can speak English.

Tags: Travel French Canada

P - People, Presents and a Potluck Party
Posted On 01/09/2017 05:26:50

Christmas has come and gone, and hopefully all of you have a fresh stash of pleasant memories. Hopefully, there will be more time for “computer fun” now. I am continuing on my personal A-Z Blog Challenge with this episode.

We all have our particular traditions of celebration, and 2016 Christmas took on a new form for us. Our celebrations continued for more than two weeks, and we enjoyed every minute of it, starting with the arrival of two families, relatives of my husband, from northern England. All but two of them had been with us before, and their preference is to come to Canada in the winter, to experience the snow in the Rocky Mountains. Their accommodations were in Banff National Park, about 50 km from our home. Downhill skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating at Lake Louise, and ‘tubing’ near us, were on their agenda. This year they experienced some very cold days, and driving in the fog at night was a challenge, especially with the steering wheel being on the “wrong” side of the cab!!!

Our two adult grandchildren, Emily attending U of Victoria, and her brother Zach, attending Caperwray Bible School were home for a great Christmas break.  Visits with family, catching up with their friends, and joining in activities with the Brits filled their days.

Christmas Day was at our home, and I was thankful for all the help. It was a Potluck Party because food was prepared in three different locations and served buffet-style. Sixteen people sat at two tables, enjoying roasted Alberta beef, as well as a traditional turkey with all the trimmings.  For years, only the children in our family received Christmas gifts, and this was our first “all adult” Christmas. It was fun too, just having everyone at home. However, presents arrived from relatives back in England. Calendars from Yorkshire, lime marmalade and chocolates, Bassett Liquorice Allsorts and Liquorice Cakes from Pontefract, and greeting cards and letters, all reminders of our times with them. Visiting in Pontefract was the only experience we’ve ever had of smelling liquorice in the air.

With all the fun and laughter, our deep joy was in the celebration of the most precious gift of God’s Son, the Prince of Peace. For us, He is the real Reason for the Season!

Tags: Christmas Family Tradition Friends

O - Only Oxfords
Posted On 11/18/2016 15:42:07

It may sound like a silly topic, but I’ve had almost a lifetime association with oxfords, not always by choice. It all began when I was seven years old.

Our family lived on a farm, in a beautiful valley near a flowing creek. Being an “only” child, my playmates were my dog, Spot, a coop full of chickens, and when he had time, my dad. He worked hard, maintaining a small herd of cows, and growing and harvesting grain crops. The winter of 1947 is well remembered for the record amount of snow that year. We were snowbound in our valley, unable to get to my school, pick up our mail, shop for groceries, or go to church. It was a real treat for me when my dad would take me with him on his horse, on his tractor, or to visit with the neighbors.  One morning, he surprised me with the announcement that he and I were going to go tobogganing. There was a great slope behind the barn and chicken house, and Dad and I pulled the toboggan right to the top. He sat on the toboggan and I sat between his legs, and we whizzed down the hill together several times. He kept telling me that I needed to pull the rope to steer the toboggan, so that we could glide between the two buildings and into the yard. Finally, it was my turn to go on my own. The first trip was great, the second one, not so great. I tried with all my strength to steer properly, but I crashed into the back of the chicken coop. I don’t know how my dad got down the hill so fast, trying to catch up to me, but I sure was glad to see him when he picked me up from the snow. My feet and legs hurt so much, and Dad knew that he needed to take me back to the house, and get some help from my Mom. The only doctor that we knew was almost 20 miles from our farm, even if we could get out of the valley. Dad did the best he could, wrapping both feet with bandages made from a bed sheet, cut in strips. My parents didn’t allow me to walk for several weeks, and Mom got a pair of lace-up boots for me to wear when I went back to school. They were awful, and looked like boys boots, but I was given no choice. I don’t remember how long it took to get an order from the Sears catalogue, but when the parcel arrived, I was introduced to my first pair of Oxfords.

We moved to the city the next year; my dad had his fill of farming and bad weather. Even though I tried very hard to persuade my Mom to let me wear some ‘city’ shoes, it wasn’t until my 12th birthday, that I received my first pair of saddle oxford shoes. White leather with navy inserts… they were beautiful! I don’t remember if I ever had a different style of shoe all through my school days, but I do remember looking forward to have my first job so that I could buy my own shoes. But… I was accepted into Nursing School, starting two months after my high school graduation, and nurses need to wear good shoes because of being on their feet for the whole shift. White oxfords, clean and polished, and inspected every day by our instructors or house mother.

I’m now a senior lady, and still walking without assistance. After surviving several fractures (ankles and legs), I am grateful for the one and only pair of shoes that I now own… OXFORDS! I am finally content … comfort over fashion has won my heart!

Tags: Shoes Farm Life Nursing

N - NOTH Nonsense
Posted On 11/06/2016 14:44:56

There is a saying that "one can't see the forest for the trees". In my case, searching all over the place for an idea for the letter 'N', my next A-Z challenge. then my brain finally clicked into gear, and the 'N' was right here. We all know that NOTH isn't found in the dictionary, but we have learned what the acronym stands for. Hopefully it brings fond memories to mind. For me, I have been a member from the beginning of this site. It has been a lot of fun meeting new friends from many parts of the world, learning what is important in their lives, discovering some of their favorite things, and even some of their passions... family, religion, politics, to name a few.

There is also a lot of nonsense... stuff that makes us laugh and have fun, and stuff we've developed as a habit of nonsense. I love to laugh, and my favorite lady is 'Maxine'. She can be so full of nonsense that I can't imagine how the artist keeps going with his ideas. Often his new creations reflect current situations, which help us find a bright side to a mundane or serious occurance in life. I also like her humor, without vulgar inuendos and offensive language. 

The other kind of nonsense here on The Hill is the unrelenting 'nit picking' about a miriad of situations. There have been instances of members who have forgotten that they are a 'guest' of this social network, not the owner. Others seem to think that "my way or the highway" should work on The Hill too. That is such nonsense! We can learn from each other, show respect for another person's viewpoint, and be quick to apologize and to accept an apology for misunderstandings. And if you wish to meet new friends, don't block your page so that only those who are already your friends can see it. It's like inviting someone to come and meet you, and then keeping the door locked so they can't come in. This site is secure, and there are always staff who are watching for the occasional intruder, who are expelled without cerimony.

If you have been in this cyber committee for a long time, or have just joined us... remember, there are NO dumb questions! If you enjoy your computer but do not understand how to do something that you have seen other people do, here on The Hill, ASK for help. There is a list of Staff Helpers who volunteer on The Hill (I'm one of them), to help others and answer questions. We don't have all answers, but will help you find someone who can. We learn from each other, and the learning never stops. Join a group to meet others with similar interests, or to learn about something you have never heard about before. Try writing a blog about something that you have experienced in life or on The Hill. NOTH is a great Social Network... sort of a modern version of finding 'pen pals', like we did when we were in school.

Tags: NOTH Friends Activities

M is for Make-Up
Posted On 10/29/2016 22:28:07

I've never been very enthusiastic about Halloween. In my younger years, I did take part in some friendly “trick or treat” visits to the neighbors, and I remember that we were requested to sing a song or recite a poem before we were invited to open our ‘pillowcase’ sacks and accept their treat. Many of the treats were made in the neighbor’s kitchen, but there was no fear of razor blades or drugs hidden in the treat. By the time our children were old enough to dress up, they wore masks of their choosing, suitably coordinated with their selected character costume. About the scariest costume was being a ghost, but other ideas were to be a butterfly, a cowboy, a fireman, a princess, but no vampires!

Our granddaughter, who is studying fine arts at university, has been learning make-up techniques, has been posting some of her projects, and that broke the “brain-cramp” that I’ve been experiencing in my A-Z Alphabet Challenge. We have been surprised that she has been doing so well, because make-up wasn’t a big issue with her during her high school years.

Rather than write a lengthy wordy blog, I will let the pictures do the talking for me.


Tags: Halloween Photos

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