Home and Happy

Clematis in full bloom

Will you look at that clematis in full bloom right outside the kitchen door! Wow!

It’s been two weeks since I came home from my travels in southern Alberta. From the land of rolling fields of canola, rodeo broncs and shiny buckles, cowboy culture and prairie winds to my Vancouver Island, lakeside cabin. I had some wonderful time with kids and grandkids. Life is good.

Kristen and Me

Me and my lovely daughter, Kristen enjoying music in the park.

Canada Day Cuties

My Canada Day cuties – Emma and Brit.

High River rodeo

They’re wearing that Alberta look well – daughter – Kristen, son-in-law – Matt, and granddaughters – Emma and Brit.

So – enough of holiday antics. I thought I’d share a few highlights from the last couple of weeks at home.

Fresh Salad Greens

Fresh salad greens from the garden is a big treat! The lettuce, radishes, baby kale and chives make an attractive side dish.

Garden

Lots of work for the head gardener but it sure pays off.

Lower Garden

Vegetables aren’t the only thing in the garden these days.

Oh my, bear and Buddha

Bear and Buddha – east meets west Smile

Bear and apple tree cha, cha, cha Bear and apple tree – cha, cha, cha. For this dance the bear is definitely leading.

Bleeding Heart

The last of the Bleeding Heart in the woodland garden.

2017 Wild West Rodeo – Making Memories Alberta Style.

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Guy Weadick Days in High River, Alberta – Pro Rodeo, WPCA Chuckwagons, food trucks and … stop the presses right there. What more can you ask for?

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I lunched on pirogues smothered in caramelized onion, bacon and sour cream. Wow, oh wow!

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Rodeo and chuckwagons are an integral part of High River history and this prairie town knows how to host a bang-up event.

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Guy Weadick, the man the High River Rodeo is named for, is the father of the Stampede tradition in Canada. He came to Fort McLeod in 1904 and fell in love with the area. In 1908, with wife Florence La Due at his side, the pair came to Calgary as part of the Miller Brothers Wild West Show. Guy organized the first ever Calgary Expedition and Stampede in 1912. He went on to introduce the sport of Chuckwagon Racing to the Stampede in 1923.

Guy and Florence Weadick

Guy and Florence lived west of High River on the Stampede Ranch. They brought Hollywood to the Highwood through their friendships with Will Rogers, Hoot Gibson and Charles Russell. Guy was laid to rest in the High River Cemetery in 1953.

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All of the Pro-Rodeo events were exciting but my granddaughters and I loved the barrel racing best!

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The Chuckwagon Races have always been a big hit in High River. Since first run in 1946, the town’s enthusiasm for the heart-stopping competition has never faded. I can attest to that fact. The crowds were packed in for the Sunday running and the boot stomping excitement when those chucks rounded the last corner shook the huge grandstand.

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During a break in the rodeo action, granddaughter Brit took a fall and scraped her knee, drawing blood. A medical attendant was on the scene in moments. Like I said, a well-organized event!

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I can’t end this blog without reporting on the first event of the day – Woolie Bucks. Kids chase after sheep to snatch envelopes of prize money from their backs. Only at the rodeo, as the saying goes.

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A few last minute instructions and the race is on.

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The sheep were stiff competition but no match for these little cow pokes.

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Run like you stole that money off the back of a sheep!

We recently looked back on the one-year anniversary of the day my daughter and her family sold their home in B.C. and made their way to High River, Alberta. Trepidation was high for Bruce and I. We wondered how this change would effect all our lives. I am happy to report that things have come out as right as B.C. rain. The community of High River has been a special treat for all of us – welcoming and packed with all a young family with growing kids could want as well as special events grandparents can enjoy!

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Yee-haw!

Free Book Offer Continues

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Disappearing in Plain Sight hit number 1 in the Amazon Free Store in the category of Literary Sagas today Smile 

Free book offers continues until midnight Wednesday, May 10th. Don’t miss out on a chance to read the first book in the Crater Lake Series for free.

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All my chimes were ringing in celebration today.

Pick up your free copy of Disappearing in Plain Sight on Amazon.com or Amazon.ca or Amazon.co.uk. Or search for it on the Amazon site of your choice. It is free everywhere Amazon operates.

And while you’re out and about book buying, please check out the pre-release page for the 4th book in the Crater Lake Series – No Compass to Right. Available June 1st.

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Free Book Offer: May 8-10, 2017

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Here’s your chance to grab the first book in the Crater Lake Series free of charge.

A Novel to Deepen One’s Humanity – Amazon reviewer

I rarely read contemporary novels (Marge Piercy and Barbara Kingsolver being notable exceptions), but once I read the first chapter of this one “just to check it out,” I was hooked. The psychologically-true and compassionate descriptions of each unique, complex character, blended with the real-life-like plot twists, kept me eagerly reading on. I resonated with the wisdom of the life lessons and insights each character developed, and their processes of growth and discovery catalyzed new insights in me. I appreciated the multisensory richness of the scenery, creating a vivid setting in which these extraordinary “ordinary” people move, stumble and grow in deeply realistic and moving ways. The plotting is intricate and well-woven, easy to follow if one pays attention — which is easy because the characters are so engaging and interesting. I grew to care about them, so I’m glad there’s a sequel. Best of all, I was reminded that everyone has a story, and if one knows these stories, one can never judge another human being, even while deploring some of the things they do. Reading this book, taking in the courage, vulnerability, and honest communication amongst the characters as the story progressed, I felt my own humanity was deepened.

Amazon.com         Amazon.co.uk          Amazon.ca

Fourth book – No Compass to Right – is available now as a pre-order for release on June 1, 2017.

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Report Card Time

 

Brit - Guenette photo

I’ve been thinking a lot about report cards and the whole assessment dimension of sending our kids and grandkids off to school. I came across these great quotes.

Friendship … it’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you haven’t learning anything. (Muhammad Ali)

Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one learned in school. (Albert Einstein)

What makes a child gifted and talented may not always be good grades in school, but a different way of looking at the world and learning. (Chuck Grassley)

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Our beautiful granddaughter, Britney – just look at that Mona Lisa smile! – got her first kindergarten report card yesterday. Five-years-old and already in the assessment mill of school. Heavy sigh! All her kindergarten academics are strong but on the scale of C = consistent, O = occasionally and S = seldom, she is C for talking out in circle time and rushing through her fine motor skill work so she can get busy with the next activity.

As someone who has never taken educational assessment all that seriously, I was tempted to laugh. I remember my son’s surprised face when one year he came home from school and told me, in dramatic teen fashion, how his dad was going to kill him because of a failing grade in math. I shrugged and said, “Hardly. Your dad and I know how smart you are. It’s just a grade.”

To know Britney, is to know she is a force to contend with. Even as a baby, she was a hard child to move and I mean that literally as well as figuratively. She has a low centre of gravity. She would make a great protester. When the police drag her to the paddy wagon, she won’t make it easy. It’s who she is. She has all those second child characteristics – one of which is the constant feeling that she is missing out on something and must hurry along. No wonder she rushes through fine motor skill activities!

Brit doing math - Guenette photo

But I didn’t laugh. A child’s first kindergarten report card is a big deal – to the parents and the child. I listened to my daughter’s concern and the disappointment in her voice tugged at my heart. We all want our kids to be top of the class with all their C’s, O’s and S’s in the right spots.

The best thing a parent can do is put things in perspective and this continues between grown children and their parents. I listened, then said, “Reminds me of someone else’s report cards.” My daughter paused and then laughed. Yes, I meant her. We looked at her kindergarten report card a few years ago and one comment stood out. “Less chatter and more paying attention would certainly help her progress.”

Brit and Kristen

This parenting thing – never easy, for sure.

Home Sweet Home to the Rain and Storms

Storm at the lake - Guenette photo

Home sweet home … never have those words resonated so strongly for me than my first night back in my own bed – requisite number of properly shaped pillows in place, my body comfortable against softly-worn, flannel sheets and the steady sound of rain against the skylights. Yes, indeed, it is good to be home.

I’ve been spending a lot of time comfy in my bed. My doctor tells me that it can take up to two months to recover from a bout of traveller’s tummy that resulted in the dehydration I described. Who knew?

Resting has given me lots of time to observe North Island rain-slashed storms and the subsequent rising of the water on the lake. I watch with interest rather than worry because our cabin is situated high up on a cliff above the water. This morning I awoke to a novel sight. Though I’ve spent twenty-three years here, I’ve never seen so many trees and logs floating on the lake – a veritable flotilla of moving debris. The migration of fallen trees that mark the shores around the lake happens almost every fall but this year is something new in terms of sheer volume. We cross our fingers and hope that most of it passes by us. We well remember the huge log that plunked down on almost half our beach and stayed for about eight years. It floated off two years ago and we were happy to wave goodbye.

Today will find me glued to the internet reading and listening to the latest news on the election results coming from our neighbours to the south. cbc.ca/news will be my venue of choice. In Canada, the image of the mouse living in the shadow of the elephant has a certain significance. We hold our breath and wait.

CBC US Election Coverage

On a final note – how can it possibly be November 8th already? Remembrance Day is just around the corner and Christmas not far behind. Does anyone else feel time racing by? I’ll sign-off with this gorgeous photo taken at Zion National Park. These native flowers springing from the surrounding rock cheer me!

Native Flowers at Zion park (2) - bruce witzel photo

On the Road Again

Big Hole National Battlefield, Montana - bruce witzel photo

I recently wrote a blog entitled – What kind of a traveller are you? I lauded the many opportunities a trip provides for a tried and true writer’s way to fill the time – people watching. I’ll soon be at that pursuit again, folks.

Bruce and I are in the process of turning our entire home upside down in order to prepare for an extended car trip to points afar. We love the car trips. There is an exhilarating freedom that comes from packing up a vehicle that one could never experience with a mere suitcase. Of course, this freedom can lead to excess.

If there’s one chance in a million we might need it – sure, throw it in! We excel at this type of thinking. We won’t leave home without a very large unopened jar of peanut butter stowed away somewhere. No way we’ll risk the chance of being stranded without a good source of high calorie protein. You just never know!

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We are constantly tuned to arranging the many items in our car in such a way that laying our hands on what we need will be as painless as possible. It takes a few days on the road for true organization to emerge – setting up a roadside picnic in a matter of moments, laying our hands on bathing suits and towels for that wonderful hot springs stop we can’t miss, finding the essential electronics when we stop for the day. But no sooner do we get into the swing of things than the early starts and late stops take their toil on our organizational skills – meagre at the best of times. The well placed suitcases, coolers and organized shopping bags start to shift. Travel guides for the day’s miles to cover and sights to see go astray, a precious chunk of cheese gets lost in the melting ice at the bottom of the cooler, and though I packed at least twenty-five hair ties, the one that is left can’t be found. All part of the joy of a road trip.

Watch for my posts as we travel the scenic byways. We’ll be in the RAV4 with all our gear perfectly organized. Not! My plan is to post every second day, keeping it short – highlights and a couple of photos. Feel free to follow along – we all love a caravan.

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