Saturday, February 14

I Remember Snowball

I was looking through some old files and found the button above. My friend Lynn made this for me from a photo, just after our dog Snowball passed away.

In the fall of 1987, my daughter, Michelle, and I decided we would like to have a dog. We went to the pet store at the local mall and they had some beautiful puppies that they described as American Eskimo. We decided that the male was the pup for us.

As we left the mall with our little bundle of fur, it was snowing hard. Since he was pure white, Michelle chose the name of Snowball.

Snowball was a hard puppy to train. I was driving cab and working the swing shift, which was 11 am to 2 pm. Michelle was still going to school and also working at KFC. Snowball was left alone much of the time and he certainly knew how to get into mischief.

After he was trained, he was a delight to us. Michelle has a photo of him jumping on her head while she was sleeping. I took the photo. I will ask her to scan it and post it on her blog.

I remember one winter when Snowball got out of the fenced yard after we'd moved to another property. Hubby and I went searching for him. A snow plow was backing down the side street and there was Snowball chasing it and barking for all he was worth. I was afraid that the plow would move forward and he would be gone, but that didn't happen. The snow plow driver saw us coming and stopped to find out what was happening.

Another time Snowball got out of the fence and we found him across the park right in the middle of a main intersection, going in circles. He had traffic stopped all four ways. What an experience.

Despite his adventureous nature, Snowball lived to be 13 years old. In the spring of 2000, he started peeing in the house, which he had never done. The vet told us that he had blood in his urine. He gave him a round of antibiotics. When they were finished, Snowball had to go back for another test. There was no blood. Have you ever tried getting a urine sample from a male dog. Well...that is another story.

In September, Snowball once again had blood in his urine. He was diagnosed with Renal Kidney Disease and the vet warned us that his time with us was almost over. He died in November 2000.

It wasn't long until Meeko came into our lives and then a little more than eight years later, he too has crossed Rainbow Bridge and now we have Dakota. Be assured that one dog doesn't replace another, but each find a special place in your heart. Today, I remember Snowball, who was a great companion and a good protector. I always felt safe with him in the house and I know he would have given his life for me. Rest in Peace, Old Friend, and know that I will never forget you.

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.

Friday, February 13

William Peyton Hubbard

February is Black History Month. It is a time of year that I enjoy researching the lives of Black Canadians and Americans. While doing that recently I came upon a name that I hadn't seen before...that of William Peyton Hubbard. In recognition of Black History Month, I would like to tell you more about this man.

William Peyton Hubbard was born in Toronto in 1842, to parents to had escaped slavery and came to Canada along the Underground Railroad. He was raised in a cabin in The Bush, which was in the vicinity of what is now known as Bloor and Brunswick Streets.

Hubbard's father had been a slave in Virginia. Upon arriving in Toronto, he waited tables to earn a living for his family. He saw that his son, William, attended school and when he had completed his schooling, he was sent to Toronto Model School to learn the trade of baker. This was a great opportunity, as Toronto's schools weren't segregated, unlike most Ontario schools.

Hubbard practiced his trade of baker for sixteen years, at which time he invented and patented an oven. He expected to continue in this line of work for the rest of his life.

On a dark, dreary night, Hubbard rescued a man who was driving his horse and carriage when his horses spooked and threw him into the Don River. Hubbard rescued him from the waters and found out that he was George Brown, the editor of the Globe newspaper and a future Father of Confederation.

Brown hired Hubbard as his personal driver - a reward for saving his life. The two men came to know each other well. Brown recognized Hubbard's sharp wit, oratory skills and strong sense of civic duty. He encouraged Hubbard, who had strong political views, to enter politics.

In 1894, Hubbard became the first person of African descent to sit on Toronto City Council. He stood up for the rights of the working man and protected small Chinese laundries from being harrassed by large laundry companies. Hubbard was re-elected several times and served on council for thirteen years.

Hubbard fought hard to keep Toronto's water supply public. He also played a prominent role in creating a public owned hydro-electric company which today is known as Hydro One. It supplies electric power to most of Ontario. Hubbard later went on toe champion the cause of tolerance and fight against racial prejudice.

Hubbard was blessed with the gift of longevity. He died in 1935 and was buried at Toronto Necropolis, a historic cemetery alongside other prominent Canadians such as George Brown, William Lyon Mackenzie (Toronto's first mayor) and Dr. Anderson Ruffin Abbott. (Canada's first black surgeon.)

Each year, Hydro One awards two African Canadian students with scholarships in honor of William Peyton Hubbard for the study of power related industries. William Peyton Hubbard left behind a great legacy.

National Geographic has a great site. Take a trip on the Underground Railroad. Make choices that slaves would have made when traveling this underground system to freedom. Remember, each decision you make, your life is at stake. Will you gain freedom or be returned to your Master?

Enjoy your weekend and be sure to take time to have fun with your family. ~Blessings, Mary~

Thursday, February 12

A Bit of This and That

Well, since blogger won't allow me to upload photos or even a divider, I am going to bring you up to date on the news.

My youngest grandson, Jordan, is a big Ottawa Senator's fan. He's always wanted to go to a game. He has an Ottawa Senator's coat, hat, shirt, towel and blanket. He lives and breathes the Senators where hockey is concerned.

My daughter, Michelle, was able to get free tickets to an Ottawa Senator's NHL hockey game. A neighbour had won them and was unable to attend. So, because Jordan is such a huge Senator's fan, he was chosen to get the tickets. The game was against the Buffalo Sabres and took place in Buffalo. This meant crossing the border and of course that is no easy task in this day and age.

Jordan and his father left here at approximately 5pm for a 7:30 pm game. That should have given them lots of time to get there, but something happened. Visit Michelle's blog to find out the very odd thing that happened to Barry and Jordan at the border.

In other news, (sorry the divider wouldn't upload) Chicken Soup for the Soul is looking for stories from everyday people for several books. I submitted one today for A Book of Miracles. Deadline for this book is March 31, 2009.

They are also looking for submissions for several other books, including, In Harm's Way - Honoring Our Military. This is the Call for Submissions that they placed on their website:

An amazing collection of 101 stories from soldiers who defend and protect our country – both active and retired – and from their families who make sacrifices when their loved ones are far away. You will be overcome with emotion as you read these stories that will acknowledge, entertain and inspire you and will leave you with admiration and gratitude for our nation’s best and brightest. The deadline date for story submissions is March 31, 2009.

If you are from a military family, be sure to send in your amazing story. You don't have to be a professional writer, just tell the story from your heart.

For more information on Chicken Soup for the Soul, visit their Looking for Stories page on their website.

Take care and have a great Friday the 13th. ~Blessings, Mary~

Wednesday, February 11

Flash Fiction Writing Contest Results

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I posted about the Flash Fiction Writing Contest at Pix n' Pens? Well, it was close between me and a lovely woman named Cleda of another Cleda's Cafe. Congratulations, Cleda.

The contest judge was Miralee Ferrell and the prize was her book, Love Finds You in Last Chance. The contestants were to write a historical story of 300 words or less and use the words, cougar, stampede and riding breeches. I wrote up a little story and submitted it. Here it is for your reading enjoyment.

In the Nick of Time by Mary M. Alward

A flash of bronze streaked from a thicket toward the herd of cattle. Luke turned his horse with a flick of the reins.

“Cougar!” he yelled.

Luke knew if the cougar reached the herd, the cattle would panic and stampede. The ranch hands certainly didn’t need that to contend with on top of everything else that had happened lately.

He dug his spurs into the sides of his horse and headed toward the cougar at full gallop. His friend, Charley, was riding hard from the opposite direction, rifle poised. Luke hoped that Charley was quick enough to avert disaster.

A shot rang out! The cougar tumbled, regained its footing and vanished behind an outcropping of rock.

Luke reined in his horse as he approached Charley and slid from the saddle. Charley dismounted and dusted off his riding breeches.

Luke slapped Charley on the back. “Good work,” he exclaimed. “and just in the nick of time.”

~The End~

Miralee Ferrell was such a good sport about the entire contest. Not only did she contribute the prize of her book, but she commented on each of our entries. Here's what she had to say about Cleda's and mine.

It was almost a tie between Cleda and Mary and a very tough choice. I liked both equally well, but there was one thing that pushed me toward Cleda's....she evoked an emotional response while I read hers and I liked the originality of using Cougar as a first name. I would have loved to have seen Mary's a little longer as her writing is quite strong.

What a lovely complement to say that my writing is strong. That was very encouraging and I certainly enjoyed the light critique that she gave.

Thank you Miralee Ferrell. If you would like to check out some of Miralee's books, follow the link to her official site and do a little exploring. You just may find something there that you'd love to read. There's nothing in the world like snuggling up with a great book. ~Blessings, Mary~

Tuesday, February 10

Dakota and the Boys

Brandon and Jordan came to spend Saturday night so Mom & Dad could go out for Mom's birthday. Of course they were anxious to see Dakota and they actually gave us a big break because they played with him and kept him tired out.

We watched Space Buddies, the movie about the Golden Retrievers that are shot into space. It was a great movie and we all enjoyed it. If you haven't seen it, be sure to pick up a copy. It is the latest in the Air Bud series.

Here is Dakota in his box in the bedroom. Jordan took this picture and did a very good job. Dakota likes his box at night but sleeps on the carpet in the day time mostly. If he gets scolded he heads for his box. I think it is his safe haven. Brandon and Dakota on the bed enjoying time together. This is not what I wanted this time but one day when I was out and hubby was trying to sleep, he put Dakota on the bed. Now he tries to get up there.
Jordan and Dakota having their turn on the bed. Dakota likes that new silky comforter. Our dogs seem to find their way onto the furniture and he is no exception. Meeko loved sleeping on the bed, as did our American Eskimo, Snowball.

Dakota is getting to know his name. Most of the time he comes when I call him, although he may just be responding to my voice. He sometimes goes to the door and asks to be let out. Sometimes he goes out and comes back in and does his business on the floor, but most of the time he goes on the newspaper. I think he is doing very well for his age. After all, he's only a baby.

Not much else going on here. I've enrolled in a course to write articles and picture books for children. I'm waiting for my books to arrive and will keep you updated on how that goes. I've always wanted to write picture books and have a fantasy chapter book written. I'm also revising the novel that I wrote during the 90s.

Other than chasing Dakota and trying to get some writing done, life hasn't been too exciting here lately. Well, that is not entirely true. It's a little more exciting than I'd like. It's actually a full time job just to take care of Dakota right now. He is a ball of energy and I'm in my 60th year. The energy levels just don't match. I had forgotten how energetic puppies are. Michelle warned me that I had brought home a baby and she was right.

Our weather has been beautiful and spring-like the last few days, but it's going to turn cold again. I'm certainly looking forward to the arrival of spring.

Take care and be sure to get out into the great outdoors for some fresh air and exercise. ~Blessings, Mary~

Monday, February 9

Michelle's 40th

We had a great time at my daughter, Michelle's, 40th birthday. Some of the family gathered on Sunday afternoon to celebrate.
As soon as Melissa and Jack arrived with the boys, Michelle and Griffyn starting playing a game and here he is giving her a big hug.
Michelle, opening the spring cake pan that Mom gave her. Is this a hint that Michelle is going to be making our Christmas fruitcake in years to come?
Brandon and Jordan gave her a pumpkin teapot that we bought her in 2005 while we were on vacation. They kept saying it wasn't the right time until now. So she will have a nice keepsake of her 40th from them.
I made her a card with a picture of a beautiful Edwardian lady. The artist is Harrison Fisher. I have a disc of many of his ladies.

Michelle likes candles and so hubby and I bought her a set of three candle holders. Here she's holding one of the globes. There is an insert to fit into each. They are really nice and I knew she'd like them.

I also gave her the ring that her father gave me when we were married. I have kept it all these years for her and I thought her 40th was the appropriate time. Besides that ring, Barry gave her an amethyst ring. We were having so much fun that I didn't get to see it. I will be sure to make a point of seeing it next time I visit. I was a little disappointed that I missed out. I know how much Michelle loves bling.
Griffyn and I having a little fun. He is an adorable boy. So cute now at this stage and he gives the best bear hugs ever. He is already doing well in the potty training department and he's only had the potty a few days.

Tarryn and I. This boy has a beautiful smile and look at those eyes. Look out girls. He's a charmer.

Michelle and Tarryn. He's not sure what to make of it all. He's only six months old.
Griffyn and Michelle. They get along really well. They have invented a new high five game and they play it well together.
Melissa and Tarryn. He is still nursing and definitely a Mama's boy at this point. Michelle with her traditional Chocolate Fudge Cake. That is the kind that she asks for every year. We had a great time and a little cake and ice cream. I'm sure she enjoyed it and, as usual, she got lots of nice gifts.

Michelle has started her own blog here on blogspot. Please drop by and welcome her to bloggy land.

Have a great week, my friends and remember to do a random act of kindness. You never know what others are going through and at times, a smile can make someone's day a little brighter. ~Blessings, Mary~

A Valentine to Remember

The subject for this week is Valentine's Day and though we don't really celebrate Valentine's Day, I do have a memory that I think you will enjoy.

The photo above is of my first husband, Lynn. He was my childhood sweetheart. We met when I was 8 years old and moved from the one-room school to the two-room school. He and my brother became friends and from there friendships grew.

We also became close friends and we spent a lot of time together. I was not one of the popular girls in school and I had a crush on this young man. I was always happy when he came around to visit my brother.

I was always nervous when Valentine's Day came around. At school, we always had a Valentines box and on the morning of the celebration, we brought our Valentine's to school and placed them in the box. For some reason I was always afraid that I wouldn't get any. Some years I got quite a few and other years were not so good.

One year, I received a Valentine that had no name on the back. It was a sweet card that said, "Please Be Mine," within a heart. There was a boy and girl on the card holding hands. I had no idea who it could be from. It wasn't long until I found out. The next weekend, Lynn told me that it was he who had placed the Valentine in the box with my name on it. Being rather shy, he didn't want the other kids to find out and tease us, so he sent it anonymously. I was very pleased. Until then, I had no idea if he liked me or not. Now I was sure he did.

When I was sixteen and Lynn was nineteen, we married. Three years later we had our daughter, Michelle.

Lynn passed away on December 31, 1977 at approximately 3am. He was 33 and had inherited a rare heart disease from his father, who had died at 43.

I still think of him often and I think you will see quite a resemblence between him and Brandon. He looks so much like his Grandpa Lynn did when we were kids. I think of him often and will never forget that Valentine's Day when I received the anonymous card asking, "Please Be Mine."

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.


Anni at Hootin' Anni's is celebrating her birthday today. Happy Birthday, dear Friend. Please accept this card as a token of our friendship.

Please drop over and wish Anni a Happy Birthday. If you have never visited her site, you are in for a real treat.

Sunday, February 8

Happy 40th Birthday, Michelle

Fourty years ago today, February 8, 1969, at 10 am, I was sitting in the rocking chair in the little apartment I shared with your father, in labor. In those days we didn't know if we were going to have a boy or a girl - not like today where you can find out the sex of your baby before it was born. When a baby was born back in those days, it was a surprise.

At 1pm, we left to drive to the doctor's office. The doctor examined me and told me to get to the hospital. A snowstorm had hit the area the day before and he was afraid you would be born in a snowbank. Ha! I knew better and had no plans to lie around a hospital for hours waiting for your arrival, so your Dad and I went back to the apartment to get my suitcase that was packed and sitting in the front closet.

We arrived at the hospital around 3:30 pm. They prepared me for delivery and the wait began. You were born at 7:36 pm and was a sound and healthy baby. Your Dad and I were very proud of you. You had beautiful brown eyes, which haven't changed much over the year, a cute little nose and a beautiful rosebud mouth.

It seems like yesterday that you were born and today you are turning 40 and have two boys of your own; one a teenager and the other almost. I really don't know where the years have gone, so cherish your boys while you have them.

Happy 40th Birthday! May you be abundantly blessed with many more birthdays over the years. ~Love, Mom~