Saturday, January 24

Jackie at In the Land of the Living Skies, has tagged me for a meme. Here are the rules:

Open a document or photo folder

Choose the fifth folder and then the fifth photo in that folder.

Do a post describing the photo.

Tag five friends to do the Meme.

This is the fifth photo I found in the fifth file. It is of my niece, Melissa and her oldest son, Griffyn, who is almost 19 months old. This was taken at Christmas, I believe. Melissa was having some fun with Griffyn. Look at that smile on his face. You can tell that Melissa and Griffyn are very close when you look at this photo. She is an excellent mother.

Now to tag five people. That isn't an easy task for me, but here are my choices for this meme.

Diane of Diane's Place

Mama Bear of Bears in Exile

Denise of Samaritan Women

Storyteller of Small Reflections

Pea at Pea's Corner

Please let me know when you have posted the meme. I'd love to drop by to see the photos and read your story. If I haven't tagged you and you'd like to play along, you're most welcome to do so.

About a week ago, I received a package in the mail. It was from Hootin' Anni. When I opened it, this is what I found:

Anni knows I'm an avid reader and she picked me up a copy of Centennial by James A. Michener.

Centennial is an epic novel of the history, land, and people of Colorado. Centered around the fictional town of Centennial, the story contains an extensive cast of characters including Native Americans, French fur trappers, English noblemen, and American cowboys. Providing lively narrative against Michener's skillfully researched canvas are people like Levi and Ellie Zendt, who left the confining life of the Pennsylvania Dutch only to find terror and uncertainty on the trip west, and the Garrett family, whose yearly struggle to farm the land was met time and again with defeat.

This book is one that I know I'm going to love. It is a thick book and it's going to take some time for me to read it, but it is the kind of story that piques my interest.

Along with the book, Anni was kind enough to include a maple leaf book thong that she made and a beautiful card. In the card she wrote: May you enjoy this - It's a story of the area of Colorado USA where I grew up. Also included, a maple leaf book thong for my Canadian friend.

Thank you, dear Anni. You made my day. My apologies for being so late posting this. First my camera wouldn't work, then I had trouble uploading photos to my computer. Finally, after a lot of determination, I was able to get it posted. I appreciate these tokens of your friendship and treasure these gifts. The book, once it's been read, will go on my bookshelf with others that I love.

I hope all of my readers are enjoying the weekend. Remember to take some time to do something that you enjoy. ~Blessings, Mary~

Friday, January 23

My Interview

Hootin' Anni was interviewed on her blog and asked for volunteers to be interviewed by none other than Anni herself. Since Anni is so much fun, I couldn't resist volunteering. She sent me the questions in an email and this is what I have to do.

Hootin' Anni's interview can be found HERE!


Follow these instructions:

1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me." if you'd like to have questions asked.

2. I, the interviewer, get to pick the questions.

3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.

4. Five Questions, only.

5. Link to my interview post

Okay Mary, your questions are as follows:

1. You're single, in your twenties, and someone offered you a job that paid $100.00 an hour, but you had become betrothed and accepted this proposal prior to the job offer. Either way life will change for you. Would you back out of the job or back out of the promised marriage of bliss? Why?

A hard decision to be sure, but this is what I would do. I would tell my future husband that with me making that kind of money we could afford to move anywhere. I'd talk him into leaving his job and coming along with me so I could accept the job that paid such good money. After all, making that kind of money we wouldn't have to worry about finances. I'm sure he'd come along and find a new job where I was working. If he couldn't...well, at $100 per hour, he could be a kept man. LOL

2. Would you prefer a manicure/pedicure monthly or an hour long massage each month?

I WANT it ALL! But if I have to choose, I will take the hour long massage each month. This old body could sure use it and I can give myself a manicure/pedicure. I can't give myself a massage.

3. Make up your own quote. It's going to become an infamous quote that people around the world will recite over and over because of its notability, what would you say?

Once I leave this earth, I will live on in the heart of family and friends who loved me. As long as I'm remembered, my Spirit will never die.

4. Which animal is your favorite in the wild?

This one is very difficult because I love all animals...pandas, wolves, moose, elk, deer... but, if I had to choose a favorite local animal that lives in the wild, I would have to say deer...or maybe wolves. Yes, dear Anni, I'm breaking the rules. Deer AND wolves.

5. You're an actress, you're going to play a part in an epic film of the history of the world, which historical character would you play and why?

Mmm! Another hard one because I love history and would love to go back in time. But...I think Martha Washington because she was such a great support to George and she was the love of his life.

I also thought about choosing Mary Todd Lincoln because I would have loved to have met Old Abe, but she had too much sorrow in her life and suffered from depression, so Martha it is.

Now, if you would like to take part in this fun interview, just leave the words "Interview Me" in the comments on this post and I will send you your questions. This is a lot of fun and I have really easy interview questions.

Have a great weekend. Stay safe and warm and take time to enjoy life a little. Leave your worries behind and spend time with your family. ~Blessings, Mary~

Thursday, January 22

Diane from Diane's Place was tagged for a meme. The tagger of the meme assigns you a letter of the alphabet and you then list 1o things you love that begin with that letter. Diane didn't tag anyone, but in the spirit of fun, I volunteered for this. She sent me the letter M because I jokingly told her I needed an easy letter. She gave me the letter because it is the one that my name begins with. Well Diane, I'm not sure if this is easy or not, but I had some fun trying to find 10 things I love beginning with the letter M. So here goes:

Mountains - Yes, I've had the privledge of seeing the Rocky Mountains of Canada. It was in 1974, when my daughter was five years old. We flew to Cranbrook, British Columbia to visit her father's relatives. The City of Cranbrook is surrounded by two mountain ranges...the Rockies and the Purcells. Here are a couple of photos of the area.

The Rockies

The Purcells

The Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights)

Cranbrook Sunset

View from the City of Cranbrook

So now you can see why I love the mountains. I would love to live in this small city in the Interior of British Columbia.

Meeko - Meeko is our Alaskan malamute and I love him dearly. He is a great companion and would give his life to protect us. Though he is usually very laid back, he can become very cross when strangers approach our property. He is sociable when he is out for a walk and never challenges other dogs, but if they challenge him he can become a bit irritated.

Meeko on the Alert

Michelle - My only child, my daughter, Michelle. She will be 40 in a couple of weeks. Where has the time gone. She is a pharmacy technician, holds down her job and raises two sons, ages 11 and 13, one of which is on the Autism Spectrum.

Margaret - My mother who is 81 years old and very independent. She has many talents. She can paint, do a wide variety of crafts. Mom sews, quilts and writes poetry.

Mary Margaret - I love the name that my parents gave me. The Mary was for my maternal grandmother...Margaret for my mother. I've always been very interested in the women of the Bible whose names start with M. Mary, the mother of Jesus, Mary and Martha and Mary Magdalene have all piqued my interest. What were their daily lives like? How did they withstand the crucifixtion and still maintain their faith. These are just a few of the questions that I'd like to find the answers to.

Mysteries - I love reading mysteries.

Mockingbird - I had never seen a mockingbird until 2005. On a trip to Arkansas, a bird was singing in a large tree outside of a motel room. The song intrigued me, as did his appearance. I asked the owner of the motel what kind of bird it was and she told me it was a mockingbird. One of my favorite books is To Kill a Mockingbird.

Macaroni & Cheese - I love macaroni and cheese made the way that my grandmother cooked it. Mom can come very close to duplicating it. It is delicious.

Moose - We have moose in Ontario and I have seen them from a distance. They are one of my favorite animals. They are so ugly they are magnificent. There's nothing like seeing a moose in its natural habitat...however, use caution. Moose will charge at the slightest provocation, especially in rutting season, which is in the fall.

Moon - I love walking at night when the moon is full and the moonbeams light my path. Meeko and I often take a longer walk on nights when the moon is full. There's something magical about the moon on freshly fallen snow or its reflection on the water. One of my favorite things to do with my protector, Meeko.

I hope you've enjoyed my answers to the meme. I'm not going to tag anyone, but if you'd like to participate, please let me know and I will send you a letter. ~Blessings, Mary~

Wednesday, January 21

A Bit of Needlework

It's been a while since I've been out of the house. I've been working on my writing and staying in where it is cozy and warm. But I was beginning to get Cabin Fever, so today hubby and I headed out to Mary Maxim, which is a needlework and crafts store.

We spent about an hour looking around and we bought a couple of things. One was the stamped cross stitch kit above. I also bought an iron-on transfer pencil, embroidery floss, an eight-inch embroidery hoop (mine broke quite a while ago and I only have 12-inch, which is too big for a project I'm planning) and a package of embroidery needles.

I used to do a lot of needlework. I did a large swan and cygnet needlepoint years ago. It hung on our bedroom wall for years but one day when hubby was working in there, it came crashing to the floor and the frame broke. I really need to take it and have the mat changed and the frame either repaired or replaced.

I have had another needlepoint on the go for some time. It is of a stag on the moor of Scotland. I have been working on it off and on since Christmas, but don't have a lot of time. I was having problems seeing it, but since I got my new glasses, that isn't a problem, so hopefully I'll get it done before the winter's over. I don't do needlework in the summer because of gardening and being outdoors more.

For the next while, the needlepoint will sit neglected once more while I work on a small project. I can't tell you what it is, because it is for someone who reads my blog, but you will find out once it's done and this person has received it.

Do any of you do needlework? I find it relaxing. It also is very rewarding once your project is done. Please comment and let me know what hobbies you have. I'm always interested in projects that my readers have on the go. ~Blessings, Mary~

Tuesday, January 20

Today in History

I have spent most of the day watching the Presidential Inauguration of President Barak Obama. As I did so, I heard many trivia facts about previous Presidents and their wives. Since I am a history buff, I have enjoyed today immensely.

There's been a few times in my life when I've seen history in the making. When I was in grade eight, our principal announced one November day that President John F. Kennedy had been shot. Our classroom was silent as we awaited news of the President's condition. When the news finally came, it was as bad as it can get... President Kennedy was dead. Even though we were Canadian kids, we were all in shock. We probably knew more about President Kennedy than we did about our own Prime Minister.

In the decade of the 60s, there were two other assasinations...those of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy. Again, the shocks reverberated around the world. Then in 1969, the first landing of man on the moon. I sat in our living room with my six month old daughter on my lap and watched as Neil Armstrong said, That's one small leap for man, one giant step for mankind.

There have been other historical happenings that I've witnessed since then, but none have been quite so glorious as today, when the first African American President was sworn into office. Yes, Barak Obama is now the President of the United States of America. This is a day I never dreamed would happen in my lifetime, but I'm glad it did. What giant steps have been taken in my lifetime. Steps that, as a teen, I thought I would never see.

Let me step back in time for a moment. When I was six years old, my parents took me and my siblings to Niagara Falls. It's the furthest we'd ever been from home. We'd been raised to treat all people with respect and dignity. My father was adamant that all people were created equal and he was the first one to stick up for anyone who wasn't being treated well. Dad taught us right from wrong from the time we were babies, as did Mom.

On this particular trip, my mother took me and my sister to the bathroom near the falls. As we entered, I noticed a sign on the outside of the building that said, Whites Only. Though I was young, I sensed something horribly wrong. Why would only white people be allowed in a bathroom? Then, upon entering, there was an African American woman cleaning the floor. This confused me even more. Why, if whites were the only people allowed in the bathroom, was this lady doing the cleaning? I asked my mother and all she did was hush me and tell me we'd talk about it later.

Through the years, many things happened that shouldn't have happened. I begin to study Black history, including slavery and the Underground Railroad, so much so that it became a passion for me. I dug deep into the history books and have learned a lot from what I've read. I've watched movies and documentaries on the issue of slavery. Once in Niagara Falls, New York, we unknowningly walked into a black restaurant. I couldn't figure out what was wrong with that, as I saw no difference between these people and myself except for the color of their skin.

Through all of this, I never thought that there would ever be an African American President elected during my lifetime. It seemed to be so far away. But we never know what God has planned and in November 2008, Barak Obama was elected as President of the United States...a historic moment in time. Today, I was able to once again watch history in the making as I watched Barak Obama being sworn in as President, his wife, Michelle, holding the Lincoln Bible. I am so glad that I lived to see this historical event and that, as young boys, Brandon and Jordan were able to also witness it also.

President Obama has a tough row to hoe. He has become President at a time when his country is at war and in a deep economic crisis. Please join me in praying that God will guide him along the path that he must lead. History was made today. ~Blessings, Mary~

Home School Open House

Tammy at Lattes and Lollipops is having a Home School Open House and she's invited me to take part. Thank you, Tammy, for the invitation.

I don't home school any children for their official education, but I do love teaching children. There are many things that the Board of Education teaches the boys that is absolutely boring and many things that they are interested in that isn't taught.

The historic inauguration today of Barak Obama has brought up a host of different topics. They heard that Obama is traveling the same route as Abraham Lincoln did when he traveled to Washington from Illinois. They've also heard that Obama will be sworn in on the same Bible that Abraham Lincoln used when he was inaugurated.

The boys thought this was rather fantastic. They expressed how great it would be to touch the Bible that Lincoln did. It has also brought up the subject of slavery and why anyone would want to own another human being. So, being the history buff that I am, we read the book, "The Last Safe House: A Story of the Underground Railroad" by Barbara Greenwood.

We started reading this book way back in November and we still aren't done. We have a ways to go yet, but the boys are keenly interested in the story, the political ramifications and the plight of the slaves.

The story is about two families who meet in the summer of 1856. The Reids live in St. Catherines, Ontario. The Jacksons are slaves, trying to escape the bonds of slavery. Though the Reids and the Jacksons are fictional families, the story is filled with facts of what slaves endured on their flight to freedom to Canada.

From the back cover:

Late one night in June 1856, a "package" is delivered to the Reid family in St. Catherines, Ontario. The package is 11-year-old Eliza Jackson, on the run from a southern plantation. She is one of many escaped slaves who followed the network of hiding places and forest trails, traveling to free northern states and later across the border into Canada. For Eliza, the Reid's home is the last safe house at the end of the long road to freedom known as the Underground Railroad.

This book is a must for older children during the month of February, which is Black History Month. It will give them insight into the life of a young slave who had to undergo a treacherous route in order to gain her freedom. It also tells of the willingness of people such as the Reid's who put themselves in danger in order to help slaves get to the northern states and across the border to Canada.

An exciting moment is when Eliza and the Reid's daughter, Johanna, are alone in the house and a slave catcher comes to the door. Johanna now has to face the terror that Eliza has experienced all of her life. What will happen? Will Johanna thwart the slave catcher's attempt to capture Eliza, or will she be returned to a life of slavery?

Along with the story, this book tells how to make a cornhusk doll, how slaves learned to live in freedom and how they found work after they were free. The historical significance of this book is wondrous and the boys have learned so much about what life was like for those who lived within the bonds of slavery.

Barbara Greenwood is an award winning author and she weaves this fictional story together based on historical fact. I highly recommend this book to all parents who are teaching their children history through home schooling. It brings history to life in a moving portrayal of friendship, slavery, cruelty, kindness and courage. Not one to be missed. Illustrations are by Heather Collins. A beautiful book for any age.

Published by Kids Can Press

ISBN: 1-55074-509-3

Available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Chapters online.

Sunday, January 18

I remember how hard my Dad worked. He would leave home early in the morning to be at work by 7am. When I was very young, he drove coal truck. His duties were to unload the coal from the box cars and put it into the coal bins in the yard of the establishment where he worked. Then it was shoveled by hand onto the trucks to be delivered to the customers.

Dad often didn't get home until after dark during the short days of winter. Around 6pm (sometimes later) we would see our dog, Jack, who was part German shepherd, part border collie, perk up his ears and go to the door. That meant that Dad would be home within the next 10 minutes. I'm not sure how Jack knew, but suspect he could hear Dad's truck long before we could.

Before driving coal truck, Dad owned his own gravel business. However, Dad was too soft-hearted to be a business man. He extended too much credit and eventually had to close the business. Years later, when he passed away in 1981, we found bill books with large amounts of money that had never been paid for the gravel he had delivered. This job also required shoveling the gravel off the truck, though the gravel was loaded by a conveyer belt at the quarry.

Way back, before I was born, Dad worked for the county digging ditches for $1.00 a day. That was hard work and he shoveled from dawn to dusk,. Those were 10 hour days and there were no fancy digging machines to do that job back then. It was all manual labor.

Dad loved his cup of tea and his cigarette. Dad didn't smoke much, but the tobacco and papers for his "rollies" were always in his shirt pocket. Dad never smoked as he worked, but enjoyed a cigarette and a cup of tea on his breaks. He quit smoking when he had his first heart attack.

In 1965, Dad was working delivering furnace oil. One icy winter day, he slipped on a driveway that was on a hill, feel flat on his back and slid down the driveway under the oil truck. He was taken to the hospital and remained there in traction for seven months. Mom, who had never worked out of the home, got a job at Woolco. My older brother and I quit school (I was 15) and went to work in factories to help supplement the family income.

Dad was never able to return to work, but did keep the house sparkling clean while Mom worked outside of the home. His health deteriorated over the years. He had a heart condition and in his youth he'd had rheumatic fever. The doctor had told his mother that he never would live to grow up.

We were lucky to have Dad with us so many years. Dad and I weren't close when I was young and fought like cats and dogs through my teens. But in adulthood I realized that many of the things he had done was out of his love for me. The years before he died we were very close.

The day my father died was August 26, 1981. I had taken Michelle, my daughter, and Melissa, my niece, to spend the day at Mom's and Dad's. In a few days they would be going back to school and this would be the last day of the summer when they could spend the entire day in the country enjoying all the things that the season brings. On that day, I noticed that Dad was wheezing terribly. I asked him if he was alright and he said that the wheezing was caused by the very high humidity.

We left my parent's place at 8 pm that night. As I went out the door, something told me to go back and kiss Dad goodbye and though he and I never displayed our affection much, I went back, kissed his cheek and told him I loved him. He replied, "I love you too, Daughter."

That was the last words my father ever said to me. At 11pm, Mom called and said that Dad had passed quickly. He had suffered no pain.

I am so very thankful that Dad and I healed our relationship and forgave past trangressions on both our parts. My last memory of my father is one of the best of my entire life. If you have parents who are living, be sure to let them know how much you appreciate them . They can be gone in the blink of an eye. We have only one set of parents and no matter what has happened in the past, when they are gone, you will miss them.

This is just one small memory of my father. There are so many other great ones and one day I will tell you more about him.

Have a wonderful week. ~Blessings, Mary~

If you would like to join the I Remember When meme, please visit Speaking from the Heart. It's a lot of fun stepping back in time through our memories.