Friday, December 23, 2011

My Childhood Christmases

I'm over at the Inkwell today with the post, Big Christmas Trees from Logging Country. I'm showing photos of Christmas in my childhood.

Christmas morning, 1960. Anita 3, sister Bonnie, 4.
Logging Camp #5, Stevens, Ontario

In my post, I talk about the Lulu dolls we're holding in the above picture, toys, Christmas trees and ornaments and my 50 yr old stocking. Stop in and say hi even if it's just to look at the pictures. :)

I credit my mom for taking so many photographs of my childhood so that I can share it now with you.

The questions for discussion are: Look at your own photo of a past Christmas. What do you remember about it? The gifts? The location? The people? Do you remember how you felt as you waited for the 'click' of the camera?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My Nativity Set Collection

I'm at Inkwell Inspirations today showing photos of my Nativity set collection and expaining how we ended up with so many.

Here's my east-facing kitchen window with several of them:

The questions for discussion over at the Inkwell today are about the presence of the 3 wisemen/kings at Jesus' birth...

Does it really matter, or is the symbolism sufficient?

What pieces do you think a Nativity set should contain?

If you have a few moments, drop by the Inkwell and see what all the fuss is about. :)

And to my dear husband who has put up with me for 35 yrs now, Happy Anniversary, honey. I love you.
Merry Christmas.
Anita Mae.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


I can't believe it's been a month since I posted here. I have to blame it in part on my other blogs here on my new website. Under the Blogs tab you'll find 4 of them including this one, but there's the Book Review blog under the Books tab and the Recipe blog under the Fun tab. My latest recipe is for sugar cookies and I have one of Nick from last year decorating a delightful Christmas tree sugar cookie. :)

I've also posted a whole page of Christmas theme jigsaw puzzles under the Fun tab.

Meanwhile, I've been busy at church taping all the worship sessions including this one with Nick and Nelson leading with O Little Town of Bethlehem. You can find more videos of Nick and Nelson on the Glenavon Church on the Hill YouTube Channel.

And if you're wondering what our weather is these days, this photo is a fairly good representation. Lots of frost, but not much snow with temperatures averaging 5 below freezing.

I'm really missing Jessie this year because she would be coming home right about now to help with last minute preparations. Instead, she flew out at noon today to Vietnam where she's a relief worker for the orphanage missionaries so they can come back to their families for the season.

But she'll be home at the beginning of January to spend a couple weeks with us. Meanwhile, please pray for her.

Crystal won't be home for Christmas this year, either as she'll be coming home when Jessie comes in January.

Bonnie and Magnar are our other Christmas regulars but they won't be here this year either because they're helping Sonya Rose move to Fort McMurray, Alberta during the holidays. However, we'll get to see them this coming week when we meet them in Regina so it won't be too bad.
I've got a big weekend coming up because I'm baking tomorrow and decorating (finally) on Sat/Sun. I am in the minority here with all these men/boys around and for some reason, they don't want to sit around listening to Christmas carols or even decorate. But I intend to get them moving this weekend. I'll let you see how it goes. :)


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sundogs are Back

Last year I posted many shots of morning and early afternoon sundogs. If you want to see them, click on
'Sun dogs' under the Labels in the right columns. I'm using a new camera this year and it seems to leave dots of light on my photos - other than the actual sundog effect - so please ignore those.

Those brilliant sundogs are back. I saw my first one of this season last week and tweeted about it. This was the photo included with that tweet:

Sundog south of Montmartre, SK. Nov 18, 2011 3:45 pm

The strange part about that sundog was that it appeared in the late afternoon, 2 hrs before sunset. Usually I'll see them between dawn and 2 pm. But it depends on the ice crystals in the air and at the time the above photo was taken, the distant trees were shimmery.

Then on Sunday, Nov 20th, we'd just left the house for church and I saw what I've come to call the 'Bethlehem Star' effect. I have no idea what the scientific or common name for this is, but I think the Bethlehem Star effect is self-explanatory. Look for yourself...

South of Montmartre, SK on Francis grid, Nov 20, 2011 9:38 am

I've posted photos previously that show a magnificent white light below the sun, but this is the first time I've seen such a concentration beam straight down. What confused me was the lack of the sundog effect at this time. No mini rainbows or mini suns or either side of the actual sun itself - just this Bethlehem Star effect.

Then ten minutes later, Nelson said, "There's your sundog." Sure enough, this is what i saw...

South of Montmartre, SK on Francis grid, Nov 20, 2011 9:38 am

The curved lights on either side of the photo is the actual sundog, however please ignore all the other spots on the photos. I have a new camera and it doesn't cover the lens when it's shut off. It's a Nikon CoolPix P500 and I'm supposed to keep the lens cap on but I'm so used to putting it on and shooting, that uncapping it slows me down. Which means I've gotten into the bad habit of leaving it off. So yes, the inner dots are probably dust on the lens.
So, does anyone know the actual name for what I call the Bethlehem Star effect?

And in case you're interested, I'm blogging about 19th century children's sleighs at Inkwell Inspirations today.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Talking Turkey

I'm talking about Heritage turkeys at Inkwell Inspirations today. Lots of turkey photos including this one:

Oh wait - that's Nelson and a pair of Broad Breasted Bronze Heritage turkeys, not 3 turkeys. My bad. Hahaha

Lots of info about preserving rare breeds.

There's also info about The Canned Quilter and her site about canning, quilting, and making things yourself. She lives at Hickery Holler Farm in the Ozarks and her Nov 14 blog is about making your own Swiffer dust pads. Neat!

And finally, there's a YouTube video about 3 Royal Palm soccer-playing turkeys. Too funny. Here, watch:

The questions for discussion today are:

- Were you aware of the roles the ALBC and RBC play?
- Have you ever looked a turkey in the eye? Touched one?
- Which variety do you think looks the nicest?
- Do you eat turkey for Thanksgiving/Christmas?
- Have you heard about the plight of the tigers?

Have a great day!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

We Remember

I just finished writing a Remembrance Day post on the church blog.

It's a special post because it tells the story of the lone stained glass window in our church.

Check out for more info.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Montmartre Moose

After not seeing moose in this area for years, they're making a comeback. Almost a year ago, on Dec 11th, 2010, we spotted a cow moose and her 2 yearlings although in my photo journal of them, I said they were 3 cow moose. My father quickly set me right.

We saw the same 3 moose in the spring but they were too far for photos.

Last month, a bull moose started hanging around a few miles from our farm. Nelson spotted him on the way home from work and came to get me but by the time we got back, the moose was too far for photos. The next evening while I was on my way back from town around 5:20, I spotted him about a mile down the road. At least I suspected the dark shape on the side of the road was him because everything else was golden or yellowing vegetation. The shape moved as I drove closer and my suspicions proved true. I pulled over to the side of the road and took these photos while he lumbered away toward the west.

In between those photos, I was able to take this short video of the bull moose in action - slow action, to be sure, but action none the less.

Check my YouTube channel for more videos of animals and other things I find interesting.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Woolly Bear Caterpillar

The woolly bear caterpillar is making its presence known this year and by the looks of its fat, orangey band, this coming winter could be a mild one. I first noticed the woolly bears a couple weeks ago when I went into my office in the garage and a caterpillar just missed falling on my head. It curled when I picked it up, but I just lobbed it outside and took a pic of it:

I went back into the garage and looked above the door. There was another one crawling along the top. They must have come in through the gap at the top of the door. (Yes, that's why I freeze when I work in the winter.)

I tickled the woolly bear caterpillar down from it spot and lobbed it outside. I then saw the first one scurrying away at an unbelievable rate so I grabbed my camera...

It rained a couple days later and I went out to take pics of momma duck and her babies splashing in a puddle. I almost tripped over my cement chicken decorated for fall decor.

Yes, it's a chicken. Look close. It's missing it's head and the tip of its tail, but is still my hen. There just happens to be some people in our house (not mentioning any names) who think a cement hen isn't worthy to stand on the front steps and it keeps ending up in the grass.

Not only was the hen decorated, but the caterpillars were sporting liquid ornamental beads. Who knew they were water repellant?

Now I don't know anything about insects and their society, so I can't tell you if they're after this spider or vice versa.

Well, except for this one... he seems to be high-tailin' it outta there.

From the colour of the band, I'd say we're in for a mild to average winter. I used to think that the wider the band, the more severe the winter, but it seems the legend is opposite. The colour also plays a part as I found out at the site of The Woolly Bear Festival  every October in Vermilion, Ohio. A comment states, "They (woolly bear caterpillars) sport 3 colors: Gold for mild; Dark Brown for Average; and Black for Intense."

And if you don't believe them, how about the Weather Blog Channel ? They have a very informative post about the woolly bear caterpillar.

And if that isn't enough to convince you, what about the claims made in the Old Farmer's Almanac? Surely you can trust the Almanac? But then, someone at the Almanac also suggests that the woolly bear shows what the previous winter was like instead of predicting the future one.

After the cold winters we've had here on the Canadian prairies lately, a short mild winter followed by an early, warm spring with lots of sunshine for the plants would be dandy. And while I'm wishing... early rain - preferably at night and then a dry spell while the farmers plant and then more rain to speed growth would be just about perfect.

What about you? Do you believe the Woolly Bear Caterpillar can accurately forecast the weather?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

2011 ACFW Choir Video

Last week I was in St Louis, Missouri at the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference. As usual, the conference ended on Sunday morning with a worship session which included the ACFW choir.

Rachael Phillips, the 2011 ACFW Choir Director said, "They are a wonderful, gifted group, and I love working with them. I send them music and mp3 files beforehand, which they rehearse on their own, and in four/five crazy conference practices wedged in between classes and appointments, these singers from all over the country blend their diverse talents and spirits into a single voice of praise. SO proud of them!"

So there I was in the back corner of the room with my little Lumix camera. Because I was so far away, the faces in the choir are barely discernable. And the video is shaky since I didn't have a tripod. However, the music is a beautiful outpouring of the spirit. I hope you can look past the inadequacies - perhaps just close your eyes - and receive the blessing of these gifted singers.

Thank you going out to all the singers as well as to Rachael Phillips, the ACFW Choir Director who wrote one of the songs, called "Writer's Prayer", based on scripture.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Bouquet For Me

So after being in my cave for most of the summer - not counting the 2 wks I took off for travel - I finally finished my new manuscript. A day later, Nelson came back from the city with this beautiful bouquet and said it was for completing my book.

The new novel is set in 1888 in the North-WestTerritories of Assiniboia and Saskatchewan (now the Province of Saskatchewan) and my hero is a North West Mounted Police corporal. I really enjoyed writing this story. There'll be more info posted on my new website on my research and books pages as well as my Woven Under Western Skies blog.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Salamander Exodus

I'm not sure what's going on, but we seem to have an exodus of salamanders crossing the road these nights. This first photo was taken with only the car lights shining on the road.

Nelson first saw about a hundred of them crossing the road a few nights ago. Two nights ago as we were coming back from the city we spotted about ten in a 12 mile stretch. We're not sure if it's almost over or if it was the wrong time of night.

Here's another shot of the same salamander using the flash on my camera.

Has anyone ever heard of this before?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Gospel Music Videos

I'm blogging at Inkwell Inspirations today with 3 music videos I created for the Glenavon Church YouTube channel, like this one:

Jessie, Nick and Nelson lead worship with Lead Me To The Cross

I'm trying to get more made, but the optimum time to upload is between midnight and 6 am and even then it takes several hours for each 5 min video.

But so far, I have videos by:
  • The Draper;s
  • The Keller's
  • Dianne Bonk
  • Joey Theriault (a guest singer)

I'm working on one with only Nelson, and more by the above musicians.

These videos are not professional and neither are the musicians, but they are heart-inspired by the people leading the worship who have the courage to get up in front of a congregation and lead the rest of us.

I'm sending a huge thank you out to all those people who lead praise and worship in whatever venue the Lord has called you to fill. Bless you.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Blog Changes & Giveaway

I've created a website for my writing career which has necessitated the need to split this blog into two: one for writing and one for family.

This blog is now incorporated into the new website. (I'm working on the tabs to convert weebly to blogger.)

To celebrate my new website and re-defined blogs, I'm giving away a prize package.

The rules are listed at the top of the right column of this blog. Where it says, 'this site' that means my whole new website.

Check my WELCOME PRIZE GIVEAWAY post for a photo of the prize and a list of contents.

Hope you enjoy your visit. :)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Back To Normal... Almost

It's August and things are almost back to normal after putting 5200 kms/3200 miles on my vehicle during a 10 day stretch in July which included:

July 12: JJ and I headed west, stopped at Fort Walsh in the Cypress Hills, SK.

July 13: Drove to Calgary, AB to spend time with Jessica.

July 16: Jessica, JJ and I drove back to the farm.

July 17 am: Nelson and the kids went to church where they led worship with JJ working the sound. Meanwhile, I picked up Crystal at Regina airport.

pm: Crystal and I joined the family at church where she spent a few mins with her dad, then the kids and I headed east to Thunder Bay. Nick shared the driving.

Jul 18-21: Spent 4 days in Thunder Bay with Grandma Mary and Grandpa Torsti including a family meal at Hoito's with Uncle Paul and cousin Nancy.

While in Thunder Bay we enjoyed a birthday celebration at the Prince Arthur Hotel with Grandpa Bill and Grandma Judy.

We also drove out to the Amethyst Mine Panorama for exercise and pretty purple rocks. :)

July 21: Dropped Crystal off at Thunder Bay airport for flight back to Vancouver, BC

July 22: Drove 3 kids back to farm, again with Nick sharing driving

July 23 am: Arrived exhausted, run-down with sore throat, stuffy nose, et al, but content. Van still in relatively good shape.

pm: Nick left for the Street Invaders Team boot camp in Eston, SK prior to his departure to South Africa.

July 24: Jessica left for job as counsellor at Circle Square Ranch, Wolf Creek, SK.

July 30: Picked Jessica up at the ranch.

July 31: Drove Jessica to Regina airport for flight back to Calgary, AB.

Aug 1: Nick landed in Cape Town, South Africa. Please pray for him and the mission team.

So, the girls have gone back to their homes, but Nick won't be back until mid-Aug.

And that's how my summer's been so far.

How about you?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fort Walsh and Cypress Hills

JJ and I drove to Fort Walsh National Historic Site in the Cypress Hills on the Saskachewan side of the border shared with Alberta. Our visit was two fold: research for my Mountie story, and to see if I could find a Mountie to use for promotional purposes with my story. The Cypress Hills are the highest land elevation east of the Rocky Mountains. (I can't remember at the moment if the Laurentians in Quebec are higher.)

Fort Walsh was part of the Old Forts Trail which ran from Fort Benton, Montana up to Edmonton, Alberta and other places.

To get to Fort Walsh, we had to go down this hill, across the valley, and up a steep, winding road. This road with hairpin turns is so steep, you're advised to unhook your trailer/camper and leave it in a designated parking area for that purpose. Once you get to the top of the hills, you cross the wide plateau you see at the top of this photo. After several kilometres, you find the visitor's centre with the actual fort down in the valley below.

We took a bus from the visitor's centre down to the fort where two young Mounties greeted us. They really look young and yet this is the age of most of the recruits back in the 1870's which this fort represents.

This is the fort guardhouse, of particular interest to me because of my story. If you look closely into the cells, you'll see they are only the length of a bed - or a mattress - and back then, people were smaller and those beds were short!

JJ tried out the cell for size.

See what I mean about the height?

Not sure if I like him in there, though.

This is an authentic cooking tent for when they were on the road. Inside is a box stove where the staff created cinnamon buns as a treat for us visitors. (Small piece, but great taste.)

An exciting part of the day was this mock trial using visitors as law-breakers. Very entertaining. The Mountie presiding over the court was an excellent actor and kept the crowd in stitches. This staff operates on a minimum staff and I was amazed at the multi-tasking and role-playing of these members. Not to mention once court is over, he does a quick change out of his uniform and into civilian clothes and then drives the bus.

JJ took advantage of the offer to test out the Mountie beds for softness. NOT!

The barrack building consists of sleeping quarters as well as a mess hall for dining and recreation.

Lookee here... I finally found someone who looks like the fictional hero of my Mountie story. His name is Michal (Me-hal) and he'll be used in all my promotional material for the character, Remy Bisset.

Thank you Michal for taking the time to pose for pics. Someone has already asked me if you were a model in your former life. *grin

This is a scale model of Fort Walsh. They have a legend with little buttons that you push and a red light will glow to show the corresponding building. Excellent workmanship but I didn't get the modeller's name.

We missed the bus after we finished taking photos and instead of waiting an hour for the next one, JJ and I walked back up the hill. As you can see, it's about a mile up. That was my exercise for the day on top of all the other walking around.

We left Fort Walsh behind and headed over to Conglomerate Cliffs to take a few photos from the top of Cypress Hills looking east...

... and looking northeast. What an exceptional view!

The trip to Fort Walsh and the Cypress Hills was so worth our time. The staff - especially Tracy and Michal went beyond any employees I've met anywhere. They spent invaluable time with me ensuring the research for my Mountie story was accurate. But the rest of the staff both down at the fort and up in the visitor's centre were welcoming and attentive to our needs. Kudos going out to the Fort Walsh National Historic Site.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Brine Shrimp and Giant Birds

JJ and I are on a western road trip en route Calgary to pick up Jess, but we have things to see before we get there. One of those places was Chaplin Lake on the Transcanada highway between Moose Jaw and Swift Current.

Chaplin Lake is a huge salt lake and the Brine Shrimp are so good, shorebirds come from all over to dine on the tasty morsels.

Here's some shrimp on display at the Chaplin Lake Interpretive Centre.

We climbed the observation platform and JJ availed himself of the giant binoculars to check out the big salt mine.

I couldn't pass up an opportunity like that...

Those Brine Shrimp are an important food source enabling the Plovers to grow to spectacular sizes.

In fact, this American Avocet seems to think JJ is a shrimp!

The next time we go through Chaplain Lake, I think we'll take a tour of the actual lake for a close up of the shorebirds and other going's on.

Have you ever been to a salt lake such as this? Any other salt mine?