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Z – Zoos, Zippers, and…
Posted On 04/20/2017 23:16:42

I’ve never been a big fan of zoos, unless I could go with young children, especially our grandchildren. Watching ‘little people’ delight in animals, no matter the size or reputation, seems to show a mutual respect between animals and children. I don’t like watching animals pacing back and forth in their enclosure. I suppose for many people, it is a treat to see real live animals from far away places; animals that they would normally only see in photos books.

We have visited one exotic animal “attraction” on a family vacation, including our grandkids, which I did enjoy very much. It is an animal park near Escondido, California, that is quite different. San Diego Zoo Safari Park is an expansive wildlife sanctuary, home to more than 3,500 animals representing more than 400 species. The animals have large fenced areas where they can roam to their heart’s content; it is the visitors who are ‘caged’. To see the animals, we boarded an electric train that toured the 1800-acre park. The grandchildren had so many questions, and we were treated with squeals of delightful laughter.

What can I say about zippers? Thank goodness somebody had the smarts to invent such a useful item. If I had to rely on buttons on my jackets, my housecoat, and my wallet, I likely would be short a button or two (or more), and my cash would probably be in a draw-string sack. Now, when I’m shopping at my favorite Thrift Store, looking for an item of clothing that is so cheap that I can’t afford not to buy it, I look for a zipper closure, if appropriate. My favorite “treasure hunt” is for leather and nylon handbags. Quality leather is one thing, nylon is easy maintenance, but zippers are a must. Zippers keep stuff organized and secure, so that I won’t lose anything, should I drop or mishandle my purse. It’s hard enough to forget stuff, but even worse to lose important items.

I’ve said enough. It’s been fun participating in this A-Z Blog Challenge, second time around. How many blogs do I still need to write to complete the whole alphabet? ZERO!

Tags: Challenge Blog Complete

Y - Yardley, Yams and Yancey
Posted On 04/13/2017 12:26:09

It must be the snow in the air, but I’ve been enjoying home time the last couple of weeks. I must say that I don’t remember ever being bored, and I’m sure that the computer has much to do with that. Sitting by my window, and watching a fresh blanket of snow forming on our back patio, I came up with the idea for my next A to Z Blog Challenge.

Thinking of topics that could start with ‘Y’, the first word that came into mind was Yardley. I had to go to Google to find out if it was a real English word or something that I made up. Sure enough, it is a genuine English word, and it revived a very real memory. My mother’s favorite scent was lavender, and she would always have a bar of Yardley English Lavender soap tucked in the back of her underwear drawer. As a child, I couldn’t understand why it was always in her drawer, still in the wrapper, and not by the sink in the bathroom. The Palmolive soap that I got to use wasn’t nearly as nice as the one my mother had in her drawer.

Yams, also known as sweet potatoes was a favorite at home, but I rarely buy them now. I do know that they can be baked, mashed or roasted, and even in delicious desserts, but when my spouse doesn’t like yams, I rarely think of them except for Easter, Thanksgiving and/or Christmas Dinners. We will be enjoying Easter dinner with our DIL’s family and I’m hoping they are thinking about yams too.

Philip Yancey is one of my favorite authors. He was a Chicago journalist who now writes some very thought-provoking books. Two of his many books that I have enjoyed are ‘The Jesus I Never Knew’ and ‘What’s So Amazing About Grace?” Other titles are ‘Where Is God When It Hurts?’ and ‘Finding God In Unexpected Places’.

I just thought of one more ‘Y’ word… YOU! Thanks for taking the time to read my blogs.

Tags: Memories Eats Books

X - Xerox and Xylitol
Posted On 04/13/2017 01:03:47

What can I tell you about two ‘X’ words that once were commonly used in our home. I love crossword puzzles and the Internet game, Words with Friends, and I’ve often use xa, xi, and xu but in my office and my home, these two words that I am including in this blog were common.

I had a home-based graphic design business for seven years, with customers in the town closest to where we live. I figured there were enough home-based businesses with self-taught designers in the city, and in an effort to produce full color advertising posters, business cards and other project, I was able to purchase a Xerox printer that used wax crayons instead of color ink or laser toner. It was a dream printer but when I decided to “retire”, it made no sense for me to keep it because of the high cost of the ‘crayons’.

My other ‘x’ word was added to my kitchen and dining table. I admit that I have always been a “sugar pig”, and I used xylitol as an alternate sweetener. It’s not as sweet as sugar but I tried it for a couple of years, in an effort to keep my weight under control. However, it didn’t last long, even though it was a natural sweetener.  I didn’t like the taste, and decided I would do better by learning to eat LESS, rather than adding xylitol to my diet. Even though it took me almost a year to adjust my eating habits… learning to recognize the difference between being ‘satisfied’ and ‘being full’ finally worked for me.

My final comment in this blog is that neither word is no longer in my vocabulary or household. One I can’t afford, and the other I can’t enjoy!  

Tags: Designs Printing Diet

W - Wordsmiths
Posted On 04/10/2017 23:37:48

First of all, did you know that the term wordsmith’ is an English language word that was created in late 1800s to describe a person who works with words, and is especially a skillful writer. The word ‘skillful’ in the last sentence leaves me out; I’m not skilled but I love words. I talk a lot, at time too much, but I also remind myself that I need to listen to other people’s stories. They are very interesting too… well, most of them! I don’t like to listen to gossip, or bitter and unforgiving stories. If you haven’t visited my page, you will see for yourself that I am a lady of words. Drop by anytime!

Writing blogs has been a new experience for me, except for items that I have written to our family about some of our travel experiences. Family members don’t complain, and for all I know, they don’t read everything that I write. That’s their choice. When I first heard about the A to Z Blog Challenge, I told my friend that I wouldn’t be able to do it, but now, I’m almost at the end of my second round of blogs. Thank you for all the great comments that I have received. I have been hoping that others will start writing blogs. There are very clear guidelines at the top of the Blog page, written by the creators of NOTH, that are easy to follow. Everyone has a story to tell, some funny, some sad, some just every day experiences. If there are any “wordsmiths” here on The Hill, they don’t seem to be interested in participating. Their personal reasons are none of my business, but I mention it just to point out that none of us are ‘wordsmiths’, just people that are filled with stories that could be shared in this safe community.

Well, when will we write wonderful weekly wireless blogs? Nine ‘w’ words out of ten isn’t a bad effort!

Tags: Words Personal Stories

V - Visiting Viking, Vulcan and Vermillion
Posted On 03/29/2017 23:13:57

There are three towns in Alberta, and two of them have become known worldwide for different reasons. Neither of them are near where we live, but we've visited both. Let me tell you about them.

Viking is a town in central Alberta, near the Alberta/Saskatchewan border. Anyone who is a hockey fan will have heard of the Sutter Family, one of the most famour families in the National Hockey League. Six brother reached the NHL as players, and several eventually went on to coach in the NHL. Brent and Darryl Sutter both coached the Calgary Flames, our home team. Darryl is now head coach of the Los Angeles Kings, and Brent has retired. 

Vulcan is a prairie town in south central Alberta, between the cities of Calgary and Lethbridge. The town 'turned Trekkie' when the Star Trek television series was at its prime. The change began when several council members showed up wearing 'Spock Ears', just for the fun of it. It became a hit! Vulcan is now the home to the Official Star Trek Walk of Fame, and the host of the annual 'Trekkie' Convention. This town of 2000 people were honored to welcome Leonard Nimoy to their community in 2010. He had been encouraging Paramount Pictures to premier the showing of the new Star Trek movie in Viking, but there is no theater in town, so 300 residents travelled by bus to Calgary for the advanced screening of Star Trek XI in 2009. All this put Vulcan on the tourism map, a great boost in the economy of this "one-horse" prairie town. This is the Tourist Information Center.VikingVisit.jpg

The town name Vermilion comes from the red clay found in the river valley. In fact, one of the first businesses in Vermilion was the brick factory which operated from 1906 until 1914. Some Vermilion buildings built from brick from this factory are still standing. It is the home of Vermillion School of Agriculture and one of three demonstration farms in Alberta.

Tags: Alberta Hockey Star Trek Towns

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

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