Archive | June 2014

Saving June


Sweet peas and raspberry brambles growing together in my backyard.

The long, hazy days between summer solstice and the Fourth of July – aren’t they just the best.

The raspberry crop is exceptional this year, thanks to abundant rainfall. With an old ice cream bucket slipped over my elbow, I’ve been picking piles of them. The overflow has been packed in containers and preserved in the freezer.

Always, the date is carefully penned on the lid.

berry 2

Some day deep into winter, I’ll pull it out of the freezer and think about June 25. A day when I was preparing for the future.

I’ll remember a soft summer night when the fireflies twinkled and I walked barefoot through the grass to pick raspberries. And smile because of a small piece of June saved for January.



Summer Reading: A Heart Most Worthy

A Heart Most Worthy NovelI’ve heard so much about historical author, Siri Mitchell, but had never read any of her novels until this week and was completely delighted. The novel I just read was called, A Heart Most Worthy.

It is the story of three young Italian ladies who all work for Madame Fortier’s gown shop in downtown Boston. The year is 1918…near the end of both World War I and the Great Italian Emigration, as well as the year that ushered in the Spanish influenza that infected 500 million people world-wide. For those who love history, this story has a rich backdrop to the lives of these three ladies.

Julietta is a headstrong girl who pursues a man with a mysterious past. Annamaria, always so compliant and eager to serve her parents and siblings, falls for a man from the wrong family. Luciana, must keep her true identity a secret in order to save her life. Each of these girls long for a happily, ever after…but will they find it?

What was interesting about the novel was its point of view. Currently, authors are encouraged to write a story from a first person or a third person limited point of view. In the former perspective, the reader follows only one character throughout the entire novel. In the latter, the reader may follow several characters, but only experience the story from one character’s perspective per scene. In both points of view, the author can’t interject, provide unknown information or address the reader.

However, at the prompting of her editors at Bethany House, Mitchell was encouraged to use an ominous point of view. This really made the book feel like a classic nineteenth century novel. I found that I enjoyed it very much. It added to the charm and the uniqueness of the novel. I’m not sure just any author could pull it off so well and I applaud Mitchell for taking a risk.

If you haven’t already picked up this book, I highly recommend it. I look forward to reading more from Siri Mitchell in the future.

Cherie Gagnon– Cherie

What have you been reading this summer?

Researching the Story

They say, when you’re writing a book, write what you know. The only problem with that is what I know isn’t always very exciting. If I were to write a book completely on what I know, you probably wouldn’t be very interested in reading more than a few chapters. I’m guessing it would be somewhat disjointed as I jumped from one area of expertise to the next. Possible, you would be a better expert in many of the areas and the flaws would shout out to you.

The first 80,000 word story I wrote was pretty much from my mind. It took place in Seacrest, Florida, a place we love to vacation. Even though I didn’t research it, experience had taught me something of the area.

The second story takes place at a pumpkin patch. For that one I visited a local one that has thousands of visitors each fall. I asked questions, found out how they plant and grow the pumpkins, and took lots of pictures. When I drive by the real pumpkin patch, I have a strong sense of ownership because that farm became my pumpkin patch. My hero worked in Washington D.C., so an aunt who had lived there helped me with the Metro Transportation System, what his job was, how he’d act, and a basic layout of the area.

Now I’m working on a historical and the research time has increased. I’ve spent hours in the town where part of the story takes place. Driving the streets looking for the perfect home, reading old newspapers on microfiche, and visiting the museums. The treasures I’ve found in the newspapers are stories no one would think of on their own!

But the best part of research happened a few weeks ago. My heroine is an aviatrix (female pilot) from the 1920’s. I found a local business man who flew and started asking questions. He offered to take me up in his biplane from the ’30’s. There was no way I was going to refuse that! Words cannot describe what it was like to fly in an old plane like this. It took me less that two minutes to know exactly why my heroine chose to fly.


Wooden prop and fabric covered wings. The paint makes the fabric stiff, but you can only step and the part right next to the fuselage or you'll break through.

Wooden prop and fabric covered wings. The paint makes the fabric stiff, but you can only step and the part right next to the fuselage or you’ll break through.


My beautiful ride for a few moments!

My beautiful ride for a few moments!













What a view.

What a view.

Flying low over the lake.

Flying low over the lake.













It was an experience I’ll never forget. I’m so excited that my heroine chose to be a pilot and can expertly fly this type of plane. I may never get to fly my own, but I’ll live through her as I finish writing this story. Hopefully someday, you’ll get to live through her too!

Research really does make a story more exciting and real. Fortunately, when it involves something like flying in a biplane, it’s pretty painless!

photo (8)




I spent the first part of my life, judging time by according to the “what happens next” plan.   You know how it goes. ‘ I have to get up at 6 AM because breakfast happens next and it has to be ready 6:30 because the school bus comes at 7:00. Then what happens next is work and its at 8:00 and its forty-five minutes away… and after work what happens next is . . .”

No more. At least not all the time.

A couple of weeks ago my grand girls went with me to see my mom who lives two and a half hours from me.  The trip out seemed long and boring because of a side trip I needed to make for work so on the way home I made a decision to put time on a different scale  and we meandered.

No trip can start until the reinforcements arrive so we made a quick stop at the Quick Stop.




Then we visited Oreo (the cat) at the Book Grinder in Eldorado–and bought a book or two

at the Book Grinder

We took a side trip to visit the Historic Beaumont Hotel


We  wanted to see the wind turbines up close, but it was too rainy


All we saw were cows


We meandered cross country to Parsons where we enjoyed lunch at Chatter’s


And visited  Gentiva Hospice where I work.  The girls discovered that my supervisor, Terry,  was a friend of their mom’s.  That was fun.   We forgot to take our picture while we were there so–we went to Brahm’s and that made it all better.



We had a great day meandering and arrived back home in only five hours and forty five minutes.  And nobody thought the trip was long and boring!

Funny about this thing called “TIME”  isn’t it.







Until the wind blows…

tree in roof



And the storm came

And the wind blew

And the bough broke

And it left a hole and lots of debris in its wake

But–it wasn’t the strongest limb

And when it tore away, it revealed a decayed center

Who knew?

Who knew that branch, that seemed so firmly attached

That limb that provided shade for my kitchen

And a leafy canopy for the resident squirrels

Would one day cause so much damage

Would crash and take a lot of supporting structure with it

Who would have believed the hole it would leave

And the fallout that would continue with every little bump

God knew

God knew that hiding from the eyes of man

And revealed only through the storm

Was a rotten, decaying center

It is not coincidence

We are going through the gospel of John at our little church in the hills

And in chapter fifteen, Jesus says HE is the TRUE VINE

And his Father, God, is the husbandman–the One who

Prunes and purges all those branches who do not bear fruit.

Nor is it coincidence

That decay manifests itself from the inside out

And is so easily hidden

Until the wind blows



The mail comes through


Pony Express rider delivers the mail mochilla

The mail arrived in St. Joseph from Sacramento on Saturday. The annual re-ride of the Pony Express route left California on June11. Riders carried the mochilla filed with 65 pounds of mail around the clock, retracing the route the riders took in 1860.

The last riders galloped over the Missouri River on U.S. Highway 36 with a police escort on Saturday. Those of us waiting at the Patee House Museum cheered as they rode up the hill. It really was something to imagine that mail bag traveling on horseback all the way across the country. For that first trip 154 years ago, I can understand why the people were amazed.

Gary Chilcote, right, the curator of the Patee House Musuem.

Gary Chilcote, right, the curator of the Patee House Musuem, with the riders after they arrived in St. Joseph.

Just about everyone had a camera on Saturday. Fans young and old crowded around the riders, asking about their trip and petting the horses.


Opening the mail.





Last year, I got to see the send off from St. Joseph headed West. This year, I got to see the opening of the mail pouch. Actual letters were carried on the route, wrapped in duct tape to keep dry. I met one woman who saw the sendoff in Sacramento, then discovered she would be visiting a friend in Kansas when the re-ride would reach St. Joseph, so she came to see the ceremony.

The annual reSusie head shot-ride has lasted a lot longer than the original Pony Express. I don’t think we’ll ever get tired seeing the mail come through.

~ Susan


The Love of a Father

heart handsThis week’s theme was Famous Father’s as a nod to Father’s Day that kicked off this week. Before I get too far into this blog post, I’d like to wish my dad a Happy Birthday who celebrates on this very day. It’s sunny here in Southwestern Ontario. My grandmother swore that it never rained on my dad’s birthday and today is consistent with her declaration. Enjoy the day, Dad!

This year, I agreed to do another read through the Bible with a friend. It’s been good to refresh on details of stories in the Old Testament or review the lesser read portions of the New Testament. There is one story about King David and his son Absalom that really stood out for me in the book of Second Samuel.

Absalom worked to conspire against his father. For four years, he would turn people away at the city gate who wanted to see King David for a matter of justice. He told them that there was no representative for the king to hear the people out…if only he were appointed judge in the land! By doing this he won the hearts of the people. (Not to mention, he is described as exceptionally handsome and without blemish.)

Before long, Absalom stole the kingdom from his father and won the allegiance of the many. David, on the other hand, had to run to save his life from being taken by his own son.

Can you imagine how David must of felt, having his own son betray him? Or, that his son would wish him dead?

I wouldn’t have blamed David if had become enraged and desired retaliation. But David responded differently. He longed for his son and left the palace weeping. Later, when David’s troop were forced to fight against Absalom’s army, he begged them to be gentle with Absalom for his sake. In the end, Absalom was defeated and killed in battle.

When the news of Absalom’s death reached David, he mourned for his son. In fact, his grief was so heavy that his army, who had returned victorious, fell into mourning. The men returned to David as though the were ashamed, instead of with the joy of champions. David wept so intensely that one of the commanders had to basically tell him to snap out of it. His grief demoralized the men. David was strongly advised to acknowledge those who defended him – if not, David risked the men turning against him.

What an intense love David had for his son. His son behaved in such a traitorous way – deceiving and betraying-and bent on murdering his own father. Yet, David showed nothing but compassion toward Absalom.

David was called a ‘man after God’s own heart.’ If he could have great love for such a son, how much more love does God have for us?

(You can read about Absalom in 2 Samuel 13-19:8)

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Cherie Gagnon– Cherie

The Urge to Purge

It’s Happened!
That urge to purge.
Clean it out,
Throw it away.
Give it up

So we began,
We dug out the junk
Swept up the dirt.
Boxed up the excess.
And sighed.
If only it would last
It won’t
Spring will come and the urge will hit
And once again
We’ll purge.

It’s a silly little tale but it is true that de-cluttering is what we have been up to for the last week and we are far from done. Today as I worked, it occurred to me that sometimes, we need to do exactly the same thing with our emotional and spiritual lives. Just like with our physical surroundings we often collect stuff we really don’t need. A bag of resentments, a drawer full of unnecessary activities. Excuses littered everywhere. I think I am going to have to follow this physical purging with some new habits.

Blessings,  Kathy

One man’s opinion – a Father’s Day reflection from my brother

My post last year about my dad’s sayings prompted my brother Bob to write this wonderful essay. This week, we’re writing about famous fathers and Bob’s piece demonstrates why our dad is pretty famous.

My Dad had many witty sayings which he often repeated during my formative years. Though much of his wit and wisdom seemed to be wasted on the youthful inexperience of his children, much like a beautiful painting, or a beloved bible verse, over time the color, depth, and richness of his sayings have opened to reveal a particular beauty not seen at first. Here are a few of his prodigious sayings, with my thoughts of what they meant at the time, and some of what they mean to me now.

“It’s all work and it all has to be done, so it doesn’t make any difference to me, I’ll do whatever you need me to do.”  Dad’s attitude toward work never ceased to amaze me – he seemed to thrive on it. Unfortunately that character trait didn’t pass to the next generation without some dilution. I’m much more particular about what work I do, and also how much I do.

“Well which one did you think I meant?”  Dad’s patience was tested frequently when instructing his children in the finer points of working cows. We thought at the time that he expected us to be mind readers, now I understand that he expected us to be in tune with what he was doing so that we would already know what he wanted done, and would just need a little guidance on the particulars. It rarely happened that way.  He never could quite figure out why we couldn’t quite figure out what we were supposed to do. “Hold that one, let that one out, shut the gate, get in front of her, open the gate, no, not that one, watch behind you, now what are you doing?”  I’m telling you, PT would have been glad to have Dad on his crew.

“I’m always glad when the neighbors do well, they may want share some of it with the rest of us.”  To this day at the age of 94 my Dad is an incurable optimist. Always thinking well of others, wanting the best for them, totally satisfied with more modest accommodations for himself. Generous with his time and attention. His invitation whenever someone showed up at the door was “Come on in and join us, we’ll put another cup of water in the soup.” His reply when anyone would offer to pay him for some kindness he’d shown them was “You don’t owe me a thing except a kind word.” I think the only times he ever ‘splurged’ on himself was when he bought hay equipment.

“It’s right there where I told you it was, now go back down there and get it.” Another frustration for Dad was his children’s inability to recognize various hastily described machinery parts that he would send them to the shed to retrieve. Invariably we would return empty handed, declaring that no part bearing any resemblance to that description was within 100 miles of the place. He’d end up taking us to the shed, going to the exact spot and pointing at the requested piece.

Our family has a trilogy of well-worn jokes that now only require a punch line as everyone knows the story line leading up to it. “No, it just doesn’t take me long to look at a horseshoe.” “What’s time to a hog?” and “It can’t be my goat, he’s tied to a log.”  Of course Dad has managed to also apply the punch lines to a multitude of life’s experiences and situations over the years, and if someone hasn’t heard the original joke, he’ll tell it to them, laughing just as hard as he did the first time he heard it.

“That’s okay, he’s one of the good guys, and we want to take care of the good guys” is my Dad’s response to anyone who opines that he may have come out on the short end of a deal. And Dad did come out on the short end at times, but he always seemed to make enough to get along, and that’s all he seemed to need.  And he got to help out the good guys. What a way to live.

“Don’t throw that away, you never know when you might need it again” and “We’re saving that for hard times” were two expressions heard almost daily at our house. “Don’t be so wasteful. Just because that was easy to come by doesn’t mean the next ones will be.”  Growing up during the Great Depression and participating in WWII rationing efforts to help our country win the war activated Dad’s frugal gene, and it’s been growing ever since. So if times ever get tough and you need a magneto for a 1939 H Farmall tractor, there’s a strong possibility that Dad has one.  If he ever had one, he still has it.

Other frequent saying were “Whiz went Nellie’s hat” and “Sold to the American,” random expressions of joy that flavored our world. “I just want them to have happy childhood” was his stated philosophy on child rearing, tempered by “You don’t always get everything you want.” “Zigging when he should have been zagging” described someone who had made a move that hadn’t ended as intended. “I’m going to see a man about a dog” meant grown-up business that kids didn’t get to tag along on, and often yielded new hay equipment, sometimes a new horse, maybe even a new dog on occasion. “Well if you’re not going to do anything anyway, get out of the way doing it” was usually muttered as we headed back out to pasture to round up the cattle that were mistakenly let out.

My favorite of Dad’s sayings wasn’t spoken as frequently as the others, but it carries a particular depth of meaning for me. I was pretty impressionable as a youngster, and it was easy to tell the persuasion of the last person I’d spent time with, or read about, as I would be convinced that their position was the correct one, whether it involved gold mining in Alaska, cattle ranching in Montana, or any number of half-baked ideas I stumbled upon and wanted to adopt.  After listening to me wax eloquent about the subject, and speak passionately about a specific position, or especially if I became obstinate that my position was clearly the correct one, Dad would often wryly state that “One man’s opinion doesn’t necessarily make it unanimous.”  I’ve since adopted this saying as my own, and have employed it a number of times over the years, in regards to myself, as well as others.

I know that my humble opinion doesn’t necessarily make it unanimous, but I believe my Dad is one of the greatest, and I am truly grateful for his wit and wisdom that he has poured into my life.  Thanks Dad, I love you.

Patio Update For Under $100

We have a deep covered patio behind our house with a high ceiling. It quite nice to have the shade but all the brick with the high ceiling gives it a bit of an industrial feel. This year we decided to see if we could spruce up the area without spending a lot of cash.





  • The first thing I did was stop by a few garage sales to see what I might be able to buy to hang on the walls. I lucked out on these shelves which were still inside an unopened box. The asking price was only $5.
  • Next, I found a white stool which most of the paint had chipped off. That was a freebee. Sold! It took me about an hour to sand it down and apply a couple of coats of outdoor paint in blue. The can of paint was about $15 and I have a lot left for another project. (That’s the sound of my husband running. He’s certain I will paint anything that doesn’t move!)
  • I looked around the house to see what I already had to compliment these decorations and found the small, green stool that hadn’t used since I moved to our current house.
  • The next touch was to bring in a few green and blue pots that I spent less than $5 on at the Dollar Store.
  • Finally, I added a few plants that could handle a shady spot. The large plants were $10 each for a total of $20. The other little plants came to $15.
Patio Flowers
It may not grace the cover of Better Homes and Gardens, but you know what they say…a change is as good as a rest!
Cherie Gagnon– Cherie

Do you spend a lot of time on your patio in the summers?

What are some things you decorate your patio with?