authors, Books, Brandon Sanderson, Carla Kelly, Christy Barritt, Emery Lord, gratitude, Jennifer Beckstrand, Johnny Worthen, Kasie West, Krista Lynn Jensen, Kristen Heitzmann, Marissa Meyer, Melanie Jacobson, NaNoWriMo, Rachel Pfifer, Robin McKinley, Stephenie Meyer, Tamera Alexander, Thanksgiving, The Sea Child, writing
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone out there. I feel so blessed this year. I have a wonderful family, sweet grandchildren, good friends, plenty of food and a comfortable home in a beautiful area where I enjoy so many freedoms. I have a cute little dog who loves to walk with me. I am thankful for my talents. I have really enjoyed painting and writing this past year. I am grateful for the fun and excitement of the NaNoWriMo challenge. The Sea Child ended up at 62,502 words and 266 pages. One of my hardest critics read the first chapter and loved it. Yeah! I am thankful for books, and for the creators of all my favorite stories. A special thank you to Robin McKinley, Kristen Heitzmann, Tamera Alexander, Jennifer Beckstrand, Melanie Jacobson, Krista Lynn Jensen, Rachel Pfifer, Brandon Sanderson, Emery Lord, Carla Kelly, Kasie West, Christy Barritt, Johnny Worthen, Marissa Meyer, and Stephenie Meyer for enriching and enlivening my world.
Today I was able to spend a lot of time writing. (Over 8.000 words so far for NaNoWriMo!) I had so much fun!
This month as we celebrate Thanksgiving, we stop and think about what we are thankful for. I have been blessed so much, and just one of the things I am grateful for is language. I love looking up words and finding out where they came from, their root meanings, and the nuances and history they reveal.
Once when looking at my great-great grandmother’s name on a census, I noticed that it said she couldn’t read or write (English that is. She might have been able to read and write Gaelic, but I don’t know for sure.) It really struck me. I can’t even imagine how empty my life would be if I couldn’t pick up a book and read. I love stories, and my life has been uplifted, inspired, and enriched so many times through the writings of someone who took the time and effort to record their stories.
I am thankful for my computer which allows me to write so much faster than I would be able to on paper. I am thankful to be able to record my stories and to be able to pass them on to my children and hopefully to others as well.
I am thankful for words, for the beautiful gift of language, for the meanings and history and richness of words from many languages. I love words.
Language. It’s a beautiful thing.
bad weather, blizzard, book review, Christmas, Christmas Eve, contemporary fiction, delivering a foal, family, foals, friendship, generosity, Gifts, gratitude, growing up, handicaps, horse breeding, horse farm, horse rescue, horses, Kristen D Randle, Love, maturity, Morgan horses, pregnancy, rehabilitation, romance, snow, storytelling, teenagers, The Christmas Pony, the meaning of Christmas, winter, YA fiction
Book Review: The Christmas Pony – Kristen D. Randle Xan (Alexandra) lives on a rescue horse farm, where horses and children get second chances. She has a warm, loving family, but she is restless and unhappy, yearning for something bigger in her life than unrequited love and dealing with her family and incompetent ranch hands. Then her large, extended family arrives at the farm for Christmas Eve just before a blizzard hits and the power goes out. As the family scrambles to adapt, Xan’s first thoughts are for her pregnant mare. Through a series of misunderstandings, her beloved horses have been left out in the storm, and Xan risks her life by going out to find them. I loved this novelette. It read like a beautiful, lyrical dream. Xan is a real teenager, full of good intentions, grumpiness, and rough edges, unable to see how good her life is until tragedy hits. She learns the lessons of life slowly, as we all do, and she becomes a better person because of what she experiences. She even finds her own romance. I wish I could have grown up on a horse farm with her family. The story was so vivid, and I was right there, experiencing the blizzard, Xan’s fears, and finally, her realization that she has everything she really needs. I especially liked how the realities of normal family life, friendship, and love were portrayed. Kristen Randle is a master storyteller. I have enjoyed every book she has written.
ancestors, Books, Canada, Canada Day, Canadians, Carlton, Catherine Hayes, Catherine Helena Wall, celebration, families, family, family history, family stories, farmers, Farringdon Hants England, fireworks, friends, genealogy, gratitude, heritage, immigrants, John Wall, learning, March, Navan, Ontario, Ottawa, Richard Bickerton, Sophia Eames, teachers
To all you Canadians out there, Happy Canada Day. I hope you have a great time with your family and friends, barbequing, swimming, playing games, and all your other activities.
I am thankful for my Canadian heritage, for my ancestors who came to Canada seeking a fresh start, freedom, and adventure. Some were farmers and fishermen; one was a sea captain. Many of them were teachers with a deep love of music, books, and learning. One of these was my great-great grandfather, Richard Augustus Bickerton, who was born in Farringdon, Hampshire, England in 1840 to Richard Bickerton (a builder’s clerk) and Sophia Matilda Eames (former lady in waiting to the queen). Alexander, Sophia, and Frederick soon followed. His mother died in childbirth when Richard was 8 years old, and his father remarried to Charlotte Christmas, who had one daughter, Charlotte. Richard went to school, learned the carpenter’s trade, read books, and played the violin. His father died in 1854, and Richard and Alexander stayed with their Uncle Samuel, working as carpenters until Richard was 21. Then Richard immigrated to Canada and became a teacher. He secured a position as the teacher for the town of March, Carleton Co, Ontario. One of the families he stayed with (John and Catherine Wall, immigrants from England and Ireland, and their eight children, all born on the farm in March) had a beautiful daughter named Catherine Helena Wall, and the two were soon in love. Her mother wanted Catherine to marry a lawyer (so she could escape the rigors of farm life), and she was not happy about their romance. She even offered to pay Richard’s way through law school, but Richard’s dream was to have his own land and farm. So Richard and Catherine eloped. They were married on July 24, 1863 at Christchurch Cathedral, Ottawa (then known as Bytown), Ontario. They then went to Navan (Cumberland Twp, Russell Co.) and, using the inheritance from his father, Richard bought land to start the farm. It turned out to be a good choice for them. Richard and Catherine had 15 children, all of whom grew to adulthood. Richard and Catherine were respected members of their community, and Richard was on the school board. Richard helped to build the church in Navan, contributing money, labor, a handmade pew, and a stained glass window.
A few years ago, my sisters and I traveled to Ontario. We went to Christchurch Cathedral in Ottawa and saw the marriage record for Richard and Catherine. We visited the farm in Navan. The current owners were kind enough to show us around and let us see inside the house. We were impressed with the thick walls of the house (necessary for those cold Canadian winters) and the beauty and orderliness of the farm. We also saw the church our great-great grandfather had helped to build in Navan, as well as the cemetery where many of the family members are buried. It was a wonderful trip and reinforced in me a deep connection to my ancestors, who passed down to me their love of learning, music, gardening, family stories of the past, and books. I am grateful for them.
A Tale of Two Cities, attitude, beach, beauty in nature, blessings, Charles Dickens, children's music, classical, endurance, enduring to the end, food, good books, gratitude, health, hymns, illness, It was the best of times it was the worst of times, kindness, Love, music, Nook, Optimism, popular music, sickness
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” So Charles Dickens begins A Tale of Two Cities, published in 1859. As I look back on my life, I discover the same thing. Each phase is made up of both good and bad experiences, and what we take from both becomes our wisdom.
I spent two months in California, and during the first half I was very sick. When life reduces you to journeying between bed and bathroom, couch and bathroom, and outside to take the dog potty and bathroom, you feel very low. All you can do is grimly hang on and pray. Life is reduced to its barest parameters. When I finally began to feel better, I was very grateful for small things, like being able to eat again, the taste of food, having my grandson cuddle beside me for a story, the smell of flowers, the sound of the waves crashing on the sand, and the feel of raindrops on my skin. I sat outside and let the warm sunshine soak into my body. I noticed the brilliant colors and wonderful variety of the flowers, plants, and trees, and I saw how beautiful this world is. I appreciated the kindness of others and the love shown to me, especially by my son and daughter-in-law. I also was very thankful that I could read. I was so grateful for the abundance and availability of good books (I had my Nook with me). There’s nothing like a good romance, fantasy, or adventure to take your mind off how miserable you feel. Another thing that got me through this time was music. While lying there feeling terrible, I would ‘play’ music in my mind. I was intensely grateful for beautiful music of all types, from children’s music to hymns to classical to popular music, that I was able to access at a mere thought. (I was also grateful that I lost that extra ten pounds, but I wouldn’t recommend the method!) Good books, music, food, beauty in nature, and the love of dear ones: these are things that make life worth living, and I am grateful for their presence in my life.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! I hope you enjoy your feast today. I’m busy making a pecan yam casserole and green bean casserole to complement the turkey. This is a day to gather with family and friends and express gratitude for all we have. So here are 26 things that I am grateful for (not necessarily in order of importance):
1. God, who has blessed my life so greatly 2. My wonderful husband who loves me 3. My dear children (that includes their spouses), who are all unique and wonderful in their own ways. 4. My home, especially my nice, cozy bed. 5. My extended family and my husband’s family 6. My friends 7. My computer 8. Hot water and soap 9. Imagination 10. Books 11. Music 12. Good art, 13. Trees 14. My sweet grandson 15. Electricity 16. All those authors who have blessed my life through their stories 17. Dogs and cats 18. Delicious food 19. My garden 20. Movies 21. My sisters, who are heroes in their own right. 21. Church 23. Sunshine 24. Rain 25. Beautiful flowers 26. Chocolate.
beauty in nature, canada geese, color, fairy tales, field trip, friendship, giving, gratitude, Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve, helping, jokes, Love, rainbow, Simple Gifts, Simple things, teaching, uplifting, V formation, writing
Today a friend reminded me that amid the storms of life you have to stop and be grateful for the little things. So I sat down and started to think back. Immediately, vignettes burst into brilliant color in my memory. On Sunday, I sat down with my class of Four-year-olds, and one little girl smiled up at me and took my hand. I felt her love, her trust, and her gladness to be there. I was honored. Last week I came out of the house and headed for the garden, intending to get some weeding done before the rain started. I looked up. There in the east, before a backdrop of wet, deep purple-gray was a dazzling rainbow. A friend who suffers greatly from almost constant pain came over to talk, and we were able to lift each other. One of my sisters sent me a really funny joke, which made me laugh. My rainy-day stew turned out, and my husband liked it. Last night I enjoyed an evening of writing on my fairy tale. Yesterday I helped with a field trip at the nature preserve. I listened to the wind rustling in the rushes and grasses, and a great calmness came to me. We saw a flock of Canada geese winging their way south, flying in the classic V formation. One of the guides explained that by staying in this formation, the geese reduce the energy needed to fly. When the lead goose gets tired, he drops back, and another takes his place. In other words, they help each other. We watched until they were out of sight. These small things and more are stars glittering in the night, reminding me that life is full of beauty. I am grateful.
Alberta, band, Barbra Streisand, Beatles, Billy Joel, choir, church, classical music, concerts, country music, dance, Disney, Elephant Show, Gaelic, gratitude, guitar, Handel, Hank Williams, Highland Scottish Festival, jazz, Johnny Cash, Jonas Brothers, Juanes, Messiah, music, musicals, Opera, Owl City, radio, Raffi, Scottish music, Sesame Street, Sharon Lois and Bram, sisters, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Wynton Marsalis
Music has been woven through the fabric of my entire life. When I was a child, my father formed a country and western band. They drove all over Alberta performing, and he played the drums. I was very familiar with his favorite country stars, such as Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Johnny Cash. Mom thought we needed some class in our lives, so she fought back with records of Classical music and her beloved Scottish music, as well as religious music sung and played at church. We learned French songs at school and Gaelic songs at home. In the midst of this kaleidoscope of music, we kids discovered the radio. The Beatles became our heroes, and we turned the volume up full blast as we sang along. “She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah…” As teenagers, my sisters and I learned to play guitar, and we sang along to the latest hits on the radio. Two of my sisters took their guitars on the road for a time, performing and sharing their love of music with others. In college, my roommates and I learned songs from the musicals, and we took dance classes to learn disco, waltz, foxtrot, and cha-cha. My husband sang in the choir and introduced me to jazz and other music genres. We attended concerts by Wynton Marsalis, Barbra Streisand, and Billy Joel. Although I wasn’t musically talented like my sisters, I passed on my love of a wide variety of music to my children. We sang along with Raffi. Sharon, Lois, and Bram’s Elephant Show and Sesame Street became staples. Of course, there was all the music from the Disney movies. Every year we found a performance of The Messiah and experienced the splendor of Handel’s music. My friends and I took our kids to the Opera, open-air concerts, and of course, the Highland Scottish Festival. All this exposure to music paid off: My children love a wide variety of music. As teens, they introduced music back to me from their favorite latest hits. I’ll never forget what fun it was going to the Jonas Brothers movie with my youngest daughter. My oldest daughter gave me a CD by Juanes. My second son is always saying, “Mom, have you heard this?” and he’ll play something he’s downloaded. Now, I’m sitting at my computer listening to my playlist, which includes Owl City. I love all the visual imagery in his songs. I think about how richly music has blessed my life, and I am truly grateful.