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A Brown Christmas Near The Mountains
Posted On 01/10/2019 00:43:55

I’ve been a bit absent again, but we’ve made it through a wonderful family Christmas, in spite of a few health challenges and “enjoying” a rare brown Christmas. What’s with us these days? If we have snow, there's a lot of whining about the cold days, the slippery roads, and the bulky coats we have to wear. When the weather is warm, and the snow melts, we are disappointed because the Christmas season doesn’t look like our Christmas cards… and it’s just not right! The real problem is that we have no control of the weather; that’s up to our Creator. He does what is part of His great plan.

In spite of what we think we would enjoy, the weather becomes a minor annoyance at best, when we start to get together with family and friends. Personally, we were overwhelmed by word that our daughter and family, who live in western Washington, were coming to spend almost a week with us. Because of our own situation, travel this past year was curtailed, and we haven’t seen the family for a bit over a year. Grandkids grow up so fast and our “American Princesses” are now teenagers. The family were expected to arrive around midnight of Christmas Day, but because of the delayed flight, no taxis available at the airport in the middle of the night, and waiting over an hour for our son to drive from his home to the airport, they arrived at our home just after 4 a.m. We heard them arrive but went back to sleep before being tempted to get up to greet them. We would do a better job after all of us had a good sleep. Christmas dinner was on Boxing Day, but it didn’t matter. We were all together.

There was a lot of snow in the mountains so our grandkids had a day of skiing and snowboarding, while some of our adults visited the town of Banff that was ‘teeming’ with local and international visitors. Our daughter’s favorite store in Banff was the Candy Store, still a must place to stock up on unusual sweets from all over the world. A lunch that included buffalo burgers and Greek food was enjoyed by some of us, and a tea break at the famous Banff Springs Hotel was the culmination of a wonderful day. To cap off the week, several of our American family were able to attend the National Hockey League game. They are huge Calgary Flames fans and follow the team on TV in Washington. It was a wonderful family time, and Nana and Papa were very happy and very tired.

Our belief that Christmas is always about the celebration of the gift of God’s Son, the giving and receiving of gifts are not always wrapped in fancy paper and ribbons, and traditions are not nearly as important as family and friends. Roast turkey and stuffing, Brussel sprouts (even though many don’t enjoy them), and mincemeat pie for dessert may have been ‘must’ items included in Christmas dinner in our younger days, along with pull crackers and funny hats were not missed. A simple meal with our entire family was the greatest gift.

Tags: Christmas Family Traditions


The Adventures of An Only Child
Posted On 12/01/2018 18:20:35

Being an only child living on a farm was an education in itself. I was deeply loved and well cared for by my parents, but I was lonely. There were times when I was called a ‘spoiled princess’ that never sounded like a compliment to me, or a ‘spoiled brat’, depending on the circumstances. I longed to have a brother or sister to play with.

Our closest neighbors were two miles away, and their four boys were all older than me. My dad was a fun guy and took the time to be with me whenever possible. He had been a cattle driver in the Cypress Hills before he married my Mom, and dreamt of some day having his own ranch, but it never happened. His one treasure from his days as a cattle driver was his beloved horse. ‘Brownie’ was a one-man horse, but occasionally Dad would take me for rides on Brownie. We lived on a mixed farm, and Dad’s work was seeding and harvesting fields of grain, milking cows, and tending to the work horses.

My mother raised chickens, some geese, and a few turkeys. She enjoyed a large garden, and preserved fruits and vegetables, jams and jellies, and made homemade sausage to enjoy in the winter months. She too worked hard so that our family could be as self-sufficient as possible.

I did have some playmates. ‘Spot’ was my dog and constant companion. He would even let me ride him around the yard until Dad told me that I should learn to ride a pony because I was getting too big to ride Spot. I also loved to play in the chicken coupe. Some of the chickens became so tame that when I entered their area, they would flap their wings and nestle down so that I could pick them up. I loved to carry one around the yard. This is a picture of me with my chicken, taken in 1945. 

Our post office was at Grainger, Alberta, a small hamlet several miles from home. There were three grain elevators, a railroad station, two houses, and Mike’s, a General Store and Post Office, with one manual gas pump, and Mike’s living quarters. I knew that when we stopped there, Mike would have a candy sucker for me as a treat.

I didn’t start school until 1947, when I was seven years old.  Berkley, a one-room school for nine grades, was about six miles from home. In warm weather,  we traveled by wagon, and in the winter by sleigh or stone boat, pulled by Dad’s team of workhorses. Often times, the neighbor’s boys traveled with us, especially when the winter weather was severe. There were some days when we couldn’t get to school because there was so much snow. Even the horses couldn’t get through the deep snow. Dad tried to keep the road clear so that at least we could get to church on Sundays, but it was very hard because he had to shovel the snow by hand.

It was a combination of these circumstances that helped my parents decide to move to the city the next year. A neighbor agreed to work our farm on a lease basis, and my dad learned to be a carpenter. Life took on a whole new look… new home, new school, new church, new job …and lots of friends!

This “only” child was very happy!

Tags: Pets Family Friends


How Things Have Changed In My Lifetime
Posted On 10/28/2018 22:51:08

Recently, I was able to celebrate another birthday. I was amazed, grateful, and blessed with the many greetings and celebratory comments that I received, not only from family and longtime friends but from ‘cyber friends’ that I will never meet in person but have become precious friends, here on The Hill and on FB. When we keep adding candles on our birthday cake, we get far too comfortable in our ‘normal’ way of life. We’ve enjoyed independent living without the responsibilities of growing children; we’ve enjoyed our own timetables for when we eat, when we sleep, what we want to watch on TV, what genre of music that we can listen to without receiving ‘rude’ remarks of the younger members of the family. For my husband and I, we are still enjoying country living, and have informed our neighbors that they are stuck with us until the ‘Handi-bus’ has to come and pick us up.

At the same time, so many things have changed that we have had no control over. I can think of so many things that have changed in my life, but for now, I will share only three in this blog. Perhaps it will trigger some memories for those who read this, and I will be pleased if you share something in your comments.

When I started school, it was about a 6 mile trip from home. My dad would take me on his saddle horse when the weather was good, and on a ‘stone boat’ pulled by draft horses in the winter, along with the kids from our nearest neighbors. There were nine grades in the one-room school and Mom packed a lunch for me in a Roger’s Golden Syrup can. Each student had a tin cup with our name on it so that we could drink water that we pumped from the well behind the school. When we moved to the city, I was in grade three and I could walk a half block to school and go home for lunch. In Junior High School (grades 7 to 9) I walked ten blocks with friends and went home for lunch when the weather was tolerable. If there was a snow storm or heavy rain, we took lunch with us to school. My high school was too far for me to walk, so I took the city transit bus, and sometimes would stop at the fish and chip shop near my bus stop for a small order of chips (aka French fries) wrapped in newspaper and smothered with malt vinegar and salt.

Shopping has changed drastically. On the farm, we would travel about five miles in the opposite direction of my school to our town that consisted of three grain elevators, two houses, and a general store and post office operated by Mike. He didn’t have a family and lived in the back of the store, but had a way of spoiling any of us kids who came to town with our parents. He had one gas pump by the front door that Dad would have to first pump to fill the site glass with the amount of gas he wished to purchase. Mike only carried “necessary” items in his store… mitts and gloves for all members of the family, rubber boots, and occasionally, a few bolts of cloth material for mothers to sew clothes for the children. If Mike remembered to order Corn Flakes or Rice Crispies, it would be on the top shelf and he would have to use a stick to knock it down for the customer. A real treat was when he would slice off a sliver of cheddar cheese from a large round ‘wheel of cheese’ that came from the Mennonite Colony a few miles away. I can’t remember if he ever had any candy in his store; most families made toffee and fudge at home. The majority of family shopping was through the Sears’ catalog, especially for Christmas, and we would mark items for our ‘wish list’, hoping that Santa would bring us at least one of the items.

My ethnic heritage is German and the language was often spoken in our home with my grandparents, but soon forgotten when my grandparents were no longer living. In the city, I remember only two Chinese students in my high school, and the first black family we met lived across the back alley from us. The father was a football player, known as ‘Sugerfoot’ Anderson, which was his professional name. They didn’t mix with the neighborhood but were cordial and friendly if we met them on the street.

For those of us who were born and raised in North America and other countries where “freedom reigns”, do we welcome newcomers with open hearts and minds or do we tend to think “not in my backyard”? Do we want everything to be the way it was, even though so much has changed in our lifetime? Freedom of speech and freedom of religion are inherited privileges, but adapting to the culture and law of a country who welcome the newcomers is also to be expected.

How are you handling the changes in your life?

Tags: Memories Friendship Changes


What Was I Thinking?
Posted On 10/14/2018 00:05:45

Well, I did it! You would think that if I was going to make a spectacle of myself, I would do it in some deserted corner of town where there would be no witnesses. But no, I did it right in front of the shop that I had just left. I had even asked the clerk to put my purchases in a small bag so that I wouldn’t drop any of it when trying to unlock the door of my vehicle.


Last Friday was a great day, especially after the piles of snow that we were gifted with a couple of weeks ago. The roads were clear and I had a list of things on my ‘To Do’ List. My husband was pleased that he could stay at home instead of waiting for me. He knows that when we get to town, I will stop and talk to anyone who looks familiar when I am shopping.


The routine for the day was to first head to the city for an appointment and fill our van with gas (at a cheaper price than in our town). Next, I would take the north highway to our favorite town, purchase groceries, replenish items in my pantry at Bulk Foods, buy black thread at the Dollar Store so that I can repair my slacks, and drop by for a coffee at Tim Horton’s before heading home.


It didn’t quite work out as planned. Two more items on my list were left, and I was ready to head for home. I had parked the van in the ‘Handicapped’ zone in front of the shop, so I decided to put my purchases in the van, and then walk several doors down to the Dollar Store. What happened next escapes me, but I fell face down beside my parked van. My glasses were not damaged but I had a cut above my eye that was producing a lot of blood. They think that my face landed on a stone on the pavement. Before I could figure out if I was hurt, and if I was, how would I get myself back on my feet, I heard some voices around me. It seemed that half the town was there, trying to help this poor lady who had fallen. I wondered who she was… then realized that the poor lady was me! I was hoping that I could ask somebody to help me get to my feet and get into my vehicle. A kind gentleman was the first to speak to me, asking if I needed help. Was it that obvious? Then two ladies came with wet paper towels to apply to the cut and clean the blood off my face and hands. The cashier from the shop smiled and asked if I had planned the fall when I had asked her to put my purchases in a bag. Small town people are always helpful and also lots of fun!


When I finally got back in my van, I tried to gather my thoughts as to what to do next. I was about 20 miles from home and on my own. I read the ‘To Do’ List again, then drove two blocks to Tim Horton’s for a coffee. Coffee will fix my headache, and some ‘sit-down’ time would give me time to think.


The traffic was normal on the way home. I’ll have to fix my slacks after my next trip to town.


My favorite recliner will be occupied this weekend by the poor lady who missed a step… I think!

Tags: Personal To Do List Friends


Surprise! I Have Something To Say!
Posted On 10/08/2018 23:09:51

Once again, I’ve been a bit absent from The Hill. It seems that I have been getting distracted by some annoying personal requirements that needed more of my attention. At one time, I thought that there would be much more leisure time when we officially retired, but that has proved to be incorrect.

The newsworthy events that occurred in our area the last few weeks have kept us home more often, and given me time to do some ‘catching up’ on things I love to do, including activities on my computer. I’ve been wandering all over The Hill, and have become involved in ‘Buy and Sell’ local sites to try and ‘declutter’ our home. Things sure have changed in many areas. All the stuff that we have saved to pass on to our family members are no longer needed or wanted. I still have and treasure items that belonged to my parents, but what do I do with them now?

Speaking of things that have changed, I have something to say (are you surprised?).In my wandering around 'The Hill', it seems that there are members on here who don’t agree with the rules and guidelines set out by the Owners and Staff of NOTH. Some have even suggested that they could do a better job if given the opportunity. I have been a member since it was started more than ten years ago, and have met many people who are now very special cyber friends. We may never physically meet, but have enjoyed learning from each other. I’m wondering if those who are unhappy with the setup and rules of NOTH are still here?

There are so many people here who have moved forward from this introduction “I got this computer from my grandson, and I don’t know how to turn it on!” because they have received instructions and suggestions from helpful Staff and many Staff Helpers. This is not a site of ‘experts’; much more like a bunch of people who now have Internet “Pen Pals”! Many of my friends have left ‘The Hill’, some for personal reasons, and some because of personal experiences here.

In my personal opinion, I recognize and appreciate the Owners and Staff that we have!

Tags: Friends NOTH Rules Guidelines


Armchair Travels
Posted On 07/25/2018 00:44:30

Years ago, my Dad did a lot of traveling with his widowed sister, and they were in many places in the world. He wasn't much for taking pictures until after my Mom passed away because she is the one who carried a Kodak box camera. When my Dad retired, his company gave him a movie camera, a 35 mm camera, 2 projectors, and a screen (you can tell that his work was with the "government"), so he decided to learn how to use "that stuff"!

He moved into a Seniors' Residence so he wouldn't have to worry about his property when he was traveling, and he took lots of pictures. Many were not that great at first, but when he got back home, he would sort through his slides, put them in order, and put them in trays that fit his projector. Next, he would make arrangements with the Staff to have use of the Social Room, then put a notice on the bulletin board that there would be an evening of ‘Armchair Travels’, with date and time included. On the designated evening, he would set up the screen, put on a pot of coffee, and entertain many of the residents with his pictures of the latest travel adventure. 

I have often been asked by new friends here on the hill to tell them a bit about where I live, especially if they have never visited Canada. I often refer to myself as “… living in the Foothills of the Rocky Mountain!”, so I decided to change my page to a ‘Summer in the Rockies’ theme. Some of the pictures included were taken by myself as we traveled, and the others were found online, included two videos. I will keep the theme for the summer, and if I have spurred a bit of interest, drop by and have a look. The Rockies are a magnet of many International visitors every year.

How’s this for doing some ‘self-advertising”? 

Tags: Vacation Tourists Photos


The Irony of Life
Posted On 07/17/2018 23:37:06

There are times that a topic for a Blog pops in my mind in the middle of the night when I should be sleeping. That’s what happened a couple of days ago, after a news release in our area, that involved a long time friend of mine. It brought back memories of long ago, and how we’ve kept in touch as much as possible.

When I was just four years old, my maternal grandfather gave me a piano and also paid for my first year of piano lessons. My parents were so very pleased with the gift and made every possible effort to get me to the lessons. We lived on a farm, and the piano teacher lived on a dairy farm about 8 miles from us. There were two teenage boys in that family who worked very hard, carrying large pails of milk from the barn to the separator in the pump house. I remember asking if they would be my brothers because I didn’t have any. It was at least good for a laugh. 

Years later, when we moved to our present location, I received an invitation to attend the 60th wedding anniversary of my piano teacher and I again met my two “almost brothers”. I learned that both of them were world-renowned ophthalmologists, Dr. Hervey Gimbel in Loma Linda, California, and Dr. Howard Gimbel in Calgary. Adding to the wonder of learning about them, an ophthalmologist from Venezuela, who came to live with us while waiting for his accreditation, told us that he always used Gimbel instruments in surgery, developed by Dr. Howard.

Back to the news release this week, this is the beginning of the announcement:

“After a 54-year surgical career, Dr. Howard Gimbel is set to change his focus to teaching and mentoring as he prepares to undergo a procedure to remove a cancerous tumor.

Gimbel, 84, said a mild symptom brought him to a doctor and led to the discovery of a tumor beside his left eye. Since radiation or chemotherapy are not possible in this case, removing the tumor will also require removal of the eye. Without binocular vision, he will no longer be able to perform surgeries.” …

Considering the irony of the situation, I know he’s not done yet. 

Tags: Medical Friendships New News


It's All About The Stampede
Posted On 07/06/2018 21:45:01

Today is the start of the 106th annual Calgary Exhibition and Stampede. It is now a 10-day event, starting with a huge parade. My parents would take me downtown to watch the parade, and a visit to the Exhibition. In elementary school, my teacher emphasized handwriting and would select some of our examples to compete in the Exhibition. I remember the first time I went to an afternoon Infield Rodeo event with my Dad. He knew a lot about the life of a cowboy because he had been a cattle driver before he married my mom.

We did the same thing when our children were growing up. We would make the annual trek to the downtown core, carrying folding chairs, umbrellas, lunch bags, camera, sunglasses, and a portable radio (so we could listen to the radio commentators. The parade started at 9 a.m., and we needed to go early to find a spot on the parade route for our chairs so we could be in the front row. It was fun but I looked forward to the day the kids could go with their friends if they were still interested.

Pancake Breakfasts are still well attended. They can be found in residential communities, on 8th Ave. downtown, and on the Fairgrounds. I just read that it is estimated that about 200,000 pancakes are served during the 10 days, and some even include bacon and eggs. I can do that at home too!

We haven’t personally attended any events for years. It’s much better watching the parade on TV, dragging snacks from the kitchen, and no “road apples” or “horse pucky” to scrape off my shoes! 

Drop by my page when you have time; Calgary Stampede is now my theme.

Tags: Parade Rodeo Family Fun Hoses


Yesterday's Travel Conversation
Posted On 06/30/2018 15:15:58

We were on a road trip yesterday, enjoying the green fields on our way to the town where hubby and I met and lived 56 years ago. We were looking forward to spending the day with our dear friends who we met the same year that we were married. We have traveled thousands of miles together with them over the years, most of them in a vehicle with wheels (… and once on a cruise), and we are STILL friends.

Hubby and I wondered if much of it was a result of a wall hanging in our kitchen where we see it every day. Sometimes the reminder doesn’t work but we’ve tried to learn to say ‘I’m sorry’ and admit when we could be wrong, even though we thought we were right. In the end, it really doesn’t matter what happened in the past… deal with it and then forget it!

angrywords

I wonder how it would work in our public life. There is so much animosity these days, in the little things and big things. It would be much harder in the “big” issues, but it may work there too.

Tags: Travel Opinions Quotes




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