Archive | March 2014

Catching a movie: The Long Riders

Classic films are the theme this week. Last weekend, I decided for a special treat I’d watch a streaming movie off the Internet and decided to try a Western I’d heard about but never seen: The Long Riders.

long riders

Check out those dusters.

The movie is about the famous James-Younger gang. Always good material for someone who lives in St. Joe within spitting distance of where Jesse James was killed.

The story line itself was quite accurate, but since it covered several years, it didn’t flow really well and the dialog was stilted. Like a good many Westerns, The Long Riders was violent and glamorized wrongdoing.

The scenery and cinematography, however, were breathtaking. The shootout and escape from the botched bank robbery in Northfield, Minn., felt like the real thing. It was so well done, I was surprised it was filmed in 1980. The soundtrack is a beautiful blend of Civil War-era songs with Western themes.

Only when the credits started rolling did I discover this movie starred FOUR sets of real life brothers. David, Keith and Robert Carradine portrayed the Younger brothers. James and Stacy Keach starred as Frank and Jesse James; Dennis and Randy Quaid portrayed the Miller brothers in the gang and Christopher and Nicholas Guest depicted Bob and Charlie Ford, who shot Jesse James.

Can you imagine what it was like to have that many brothers on the set? I’m sure it added a lot to make this movie the powerful film that it remains today.

Susie-4022-EditPSWhat’s your favorite Western?

~Susie

Spring Cleaning?

It’s obvious, by the lack of blogging going on this week on Pages, that none of us must be too in the mood for Spring Cleaning. Good grief, I’m even struggling to get ANY cleaning done! With the wind we’ve had for the past two days, it might have been a good idea to take the screens off the north and south windows, open them up, and let the wind take care of the rest. Of course, I’d be lucky to have any furniture left either–that’s how hard it was blowing!

Since the wind has now calmed down, I can’t try that idea out. But, I do have one tip I found several years ago. I was very faithful to do it that year and haven’t since, but SOMEDAY I will do it again because I loved it.

There is a blog I randomly follow, http://www.memoriesoncloverlane.com. This blogger is a mother of six, ages 19 to 19 months. She keeps things very simple in her life and home. You can tell from the pictures that she didn’t clean just so the pictures look good. The reason there isn’t clutter in her home is because she’s gotten rid of it and doesn’t bring more in.

The year I “met” her blog, she was just starting her ’40 bags in 40 days’. I made my list of rooms and joined her. The concept is so simple: During the forty days of Lent, you get rid of forty bags. One bag each day. It can be as small as a Wal-Mart bag or as large as a 33 gallon trash bag. The size isn’t the point–it’s the decluttering your home one bag at a time that matters. I did it once and could see the difference. I need to do it again. It wouldn’t have to be during Lent, but that is a nice starting/stopping point.

Last year she didn’t do the 40 bags challenge herself. Her reason? She didn’t have 40 bags of clutter left. Can you imagine? Because she’d been faithful for several years to fill 40 bags during Lent, AND she didn’t allow herself to buy/bring more stuff into her home during the year, she got a year off. What an amazing feeling that would be!

Maybe I will try it from Memorial Day to the 4th of July. I’m feeling a little encouraged after writing this post. June is a busy month here, but it’s one bag a day. One bag. How long does it take to fill one bag? From all the clutter I see at the moment, not long!

Anyone else going to try this at some point?

Happy Cleaning!

Sara

Not Quite Ready for Spring Cleaning

We made our schedule of topics back in November. Who knew that this week would still feel like winter for many of us? I don’t know about you, but I can really get into spring cleaning when the mood hits. However, when there is still snow on the ground and more falling from the sky today, I can’t seem to get motivated.

When the wind warms up and carries that promise of renewal, I just love being outdoors and start with cleaning up the gardens. However, that warm wind hasn’t really come yet in my part of Ontario. Most of the snow has melted but today we are getting one last blast of that white stuff! At least I’m hoping it’s the last.

This year we’ve had a record snowfall with record low temperatures here in Southern Ontario. The pile of snow along both sides of my driveway were close to 4 feet high (yes, my Northern Canadians…I know you put up with a lot worse!). Sometimes the snow was very wet and then would freeze, creating piles of ice.

I wasn’t the only one not impressed with the severity of this winter, neither were my ceadar shrubs…

 

My poor cedar shrubs could take this winter either!

My poor cedar shrubs couldn’t take this winter either!

 

These shrubs line my driveway and ended up breaking under the tremendous weight of the ice and snow. They are 18 years old and have survived each winter without a problem…until now.

What do you think? Are they goners?

If I have to replace them, what would you suggest?

Cherie Gagnon– Cherie

Good Night Everybody!!

This is spring break time in our neck of the woods. And by evening our wee cove will echo with the sounds of five grands, ages soon-t0-be-eleven to seventeen.  While I did read to our children, and also to the grands, I’m quite sure that what they will remember most is the bedtime routine that their grandpa initiated when they were all quite small.

We’ve tried hard, over the years, not to go against the rules of their respective parents…however, bedtime and snack time remains hallowed ground for our house!!  With that in mind, and the fact that grandpa has a very strict go-to-bed time for himself, the routine of saying goodnight, goodnight hugs and kisses, was haphazard at best.

UNTIL–One night, and no one can really remember how old they were when this started–grandpa DANCED into the room where they were all assembled, waved his arms like he was conducting a choir, and in a sing-song voice proclaimed…Goooood Night Everyboooodyyy!!

They caught on real fast, and when he did it the second time they all joined in, giggling at his silly antics.

This has remained a constant. He only has to stand, raise his arms, and the chorus begins.

You know, it’s one of those silly things that one hopes will never end. We both know the times we have with these precious kiddos all together in one place at one time is fragile. Babes grow up. Even now, because of age and jobs, we are down to five at one time instead of the six we used to have. They still all crowd into one bunk room–and that soon, too, will have to stop.

And my most fervent prayer is that I will never have to try to remember the ‘last’ time the chorus sang–

Gooood Night Everybooooddyyy!!

road 2 we like!

Book Review: Ellie Sweet novels for young adults

This week, we’re writing about bedtime stories. I don’t have children, but I did recently read some books for young adults/teens. And I thoroughly enjoyed them!

The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet is a funny, engaging book about a frustrated teen writer. Ellie Sweet is being ignored by the girls she thought were her best friends and she has a crush on a boy who thinks her name is Kelly.

She escapes through her keyboard to a medieval Italian court, where she is Lady Gabriella being wooed by a handsome prince.

Ellie was a delightful, honest girl who had to navigate the tricky waters of high school. As an adult, I could relate to her, but the story also had a humor and lightness to it that captured the fun of  being a teenager. (Unlike much young adult fiction that gets so loaded down with issues that it becomes almost inappropriate for young readers.) I confess to developing a crush on Chase, Ellie’s new friend, and stayed up way past my bedtime to finish the book.

In the sequel, The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet, the new author sees her book in print – and her friends recognize their role. It becomes even more difficult for Ellie to figure out where she fits in when her older brother starts dating her former best friend. And things with boys are never easy.

Real-life author Stephanie Morrill lives in Overland Park, Kan., and encourages fresh voices through her blog GoTeenWriters. I’d recommend her Ellie Sweet books as bedtime stories for readers age 12 on up who can relate to someone who finds herself in an embarrassing situation.

The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet is just 99 cents on Kindle. Click the cover to go to the Amazon page.

Susie-3994-EditPS 72Happy reading!
~ Susan

Blessed in a Busy Week

This year I’m teaching at the school the boys attend. My job has me working with every age from kindergarten to seniors, but no junior high. Elementary art classes, high school FACS (family and consumer science), senior boys Home Ec, and being a para in the elementary classes keep me running every day. Because I didn’t think I’d be busy enough, I agreed to co-sponsor the junior class since my oldest is in that class.

Last week everything came to a boiling point. We were a host site for Sub State Basketball and the junior class is responsible for all basketball concession stands. It was also Dr. Seuss’s birthday so my FACS class prepared lessons to do with the elementary students throughout the week and then we had a big birthday party on Friday. To top it off, it was the last week for me to have my first group of senior boys in Home Ec. so we were wrapping things up. It was a busy week.

Through all the busyness, my heart was touched by these students. They saw how busy things were and stepped up and took over. The juniors worked hard to set up and work the concession stand each day. They worked together and accomplished so much. What a joy it has been to work with these caring and hardworking young men and women.

FACS class hosting Dr. Seuss birthday party for K-3 students

FACS class hosting Dr. Seuss birthday party for K-3 students

My FACS girls came in to set up for the party on Friday during each study hall. Not only did they pull off a great party that the kids loved, but then they told me to leave while they cleaned up. When I got to my classroom later, half of them were there cleaning up all my messes from the day. I know I was tired, but I left the room in (good) tears.

When I accepted this job, I really hoped to make a difference in the lives of these students, but last week, I realized they have touched my life so much more. There is great potential in each one of them and it is a blessing to see that. They are amazing people.

Spring Break starts at 3:30 today and after the busyness of the past three months, I can’t wait! I hope you have a wonderful weekend and a great week!

Sara

A house divided?

One of the hardest things to do, as a grandparent, is decide which activity to attend when your grandchildren are in two different school systems, 1.5 hours apart. While the parents, and also the grands, are very understanding that we can’t possibly make them all–and forgiving when we choose one over the other–it is still a very, very difficult decision.

This week in Kansas, State basketball tournaments are being held. Today all the boys’ teams will play in the 3A class…in Hutchinson…which is over two hours away.  This won’t be such a difficult decision as only one of the grands’ teams will be playing…Hesston Swathers.  We’ve watched them all year and they are very good. While they have no clue who we are–we have learned to recognize names and faces.  We hope they win!!

Hesston Swathers

Tomorrow, all the girls teams in 3A will play, same location.  But because both Council Grove and Hesston are playing, it makes it a bit more difficult–although tomorrow they will not play one another so we can cheer for both!!

Hesston lady swathers

The two previous pictures are the Hesston Swathers, and Hesston Lady Swathers.

Below is a picture of our local Council Grove Lady Braves.

cg lady braves

We are not actually a house divided. Our hearts are with each participant on these teams and we will cheer for all. Regardless the outcome–there are no losers.

road 2 we like!

The Making of Memories

memories

“The only real treasure is in your head. Memories are better than diamonds and nobody can steal them from you.”
― Rodman Philbrick, The Last Book in the Universe

On the weekend we had two of our neices for a sleep-over. We enjoy having them as much as our boys do. After dinner one night, we were all hanging out in the kitchen talking and just being silly. It’s no wonder the kitchen is often call the heart of a home–so much interaction and connecting happens around the table.

In the midst of all the chatter, my husband did something exceptionally goofy and a bit out of character. At first the kids were shocked and then as if on cue, they all burst out laughing together. The reaction was so strong that I couldn’t help myself and joined them. And once we all started laughing, none of us could stop.

My one neice slid off her chair and onto the floor. The other one who is usually reserved was holding her stomach as she laughed aloud. It was too much for my youngest who started running back and forth across the kitchen, sputtering, “I can’t stop, I cant stop.” My oldest had an ear-to-ear grin, while he tried to catch his breath. My ribs hurt and tears streamed down my face.

My neice on the floor finally shouted out, “If we don’t stop laughing, we are all going to pass out!”

Finally, we pulled it together and the kids decided it would be a good idea to play outside in the snow to cool down.

As the kids piled on the layers of outdoor clothing, one said it best, “In the future, when we look back at the past, we will always remember this day. We will remember it until we are very, very old.”

How her declaration warmed my heart.

You know, we weren’t on a fancy trip or in an exotic location or doing anything spectacular. We were simply sharing laughter around the kitchen table making memories.

Cherie Gagnon– Cherie

Do you have a favourite memory that was simply made?

Joy. And bluebirds.

I’ve been thinking. As I walk down the sidewalks of the neighborhood and see winter give way to a season of all things new.

I’ve been thinking. About spring. And the delight to see two fat robins flitting around a yard.eastern_bluebird_11

About joy.

About how much it means when a friend comes to my defense. Even if I’m standing on shaky ground.

And how just a few sharp words. Or even a look. Or just being over looked. Can hurt.

How one of the most precious gifts of the Holy Spirit is the soft, persistent voice that whispers when no one else is around. When nothing makes sense. That it will be okay.

Joy. It doesn’t come in the noise. But in the quiet.

I’ve been thinking. That joy is like a bluebird. Often times unexpected. Sometimes out of place. And  always welcome.

Susie-3994-EditPS 72May your day be graced with gifts of spring. And joy. And bluebirds.

~ Susan

Cows Become Plane Minded

While researching my current story, I’ve spent quite a few hours at a museum in the town my heroine is from looking at microfiche files of old newspapers. While this may sound dull and boring, nothing could be farther from the truth and the things I’ve found are proof that so many things really happen that a writer would never dream up! To me, these articles are golden nuggets because they add life and quirkiness to your story. The following is a small article I found on one of my trips.

COWS BECOME PLANE MINDED

Devour part of Airplane at Port

Not only Abilene folks but the cows of the vicinity are becoming air minded is the evidence presented by the experience at the municipal airport of the “Spirit of Service.” Harold McCrary, pilot, landed his plane at the airport Monday and placed a fence around it to protect it from invasion. But the port is also a pasture and the cows inhabiting it evidently wanted to see what the strange visitor was. Anyhow it was found this morning that they had in their in ordinate curiosity broken down the fence and gone on an inspection tour. Besides looking over the plane they made a meal off the wings. What this will do to the butter and cream is not certain but it may produce a most airy quality.

What it did to the plane was to damage it to the extent of $1000 and Mr. McCrary will patch it up and take it to Wichita tomorrow for permanent repairs. Then it goes to Jewell City to carry passengers for a few days.

Abilene probably cannot expect its airport to be over popular unless it insures visiting planes immunity from air-minded cows.

See what I mean? You’d never believe this if I made it up. I love the humor the author shows–the butter and cream being an airy quality? That’s priceless!

So someday, perhaps you’ll be reading my story and will come across a scene in which this happens. Then you’ll be able to say that you know the rest of the story!

Have a WONDERFUL weekend!

Sara