Thursday, June 27, 2013

Alaska Bound!

Last year we had many celebrations in our own back yard.
This year there are more celebrations to come.
And some of these events will have destinations in mind.
We are celebrating 40 years of marriage.
I remember my parents 40th anniversary and I remember thinking how old they were.
We planned a church event for them...those were the expectations.
We also want to celebrate this time with family and friends,
but it will look different.
Forty years is a long time, but thankful for the journey.
We are headed for Alaska!

During this time we will surely be celebrating July 1,  Canada Day!

And then of course July 4, Independence Day.
I'm sure we will witness a few fireworks on this cruise.

May you all enjoy the up-coming holidays
and I know the sun is arriving shortly.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Princess Elvie ~ Royal Posse

Elvie was one of us.
We all hung out together during our
school days, church days, and  Bible School days.
We enjoyed a good laugh.
We enjoyed mischief.
Then she got married...the first of the group.
And so did all the rest of us.
And you know how life loose connections
as each  life takes on it's own twists in a  different journey.

A few years ago, February, 2010,
Elvie began having symptons in her leg which aggravated her walking.
The short of it, was that she was diagnosed with ALS,
known as Lou Gehrigs Disesase.
During this time...Elvie, Lorraine, Judy and I reconnected.
We came together over the following years in different ways.

After a short struggle,
Elvie passed away.
It's been exactly one year today. 
She left us too soon.
She was a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, and a grandmother,
just like the rest of us.

During one of our visits she showed us this dress.
She had sewed this during Home Ec., while I was knitting a pink baby sweater.
She made this for her younger sister Bonnie.

A different time she handed me a gift.

She had packaged a t-shirt for me which was designed for those
who participated in  last years Walk for ALS.

Elvie always called herself  a Princess...
When being diagnosed with ALS your body becomes ultra sensitive.
Everything needs to feel and fit just right.
  Her mother and sisters continued straightening out her collars,
taking out any wrinkles or seams that would aggravate her skin, pull stray hairs off her neck.
So Elvie referred herself, to the story of the  'Princess and the Pea"
So her family members became her royal posse...
always doing there best to make her feel comfortable.  

 She also gave me a small devotional, one of her own meditation books.
I smiled as I read the title.
She and I understood too well what that meant.
Elvie, we have missed you...there's a void in my life.
Meanwhile your heart beats on in each one of us.

 Elvira Martha Wiebe
Dec. 8, 1952 - June 25, 2012

She left us with this poem.

The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
Mary Oliver

I think I can see Elvie strolling through the fields.
But I still miss you.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Les Miserables'

 This past weekend I had the opportunity of seeing the Broadway  musical, 'Les Miserables'  In fact I saw it twice.  Each time the words became more meaningful, and the story line became more clearer. It's a true story of love, hope, compassion and redemption.  This was a wonderful event to celebrate our family's birthdays.

"Jean Valjean, known as Prisoner 24601, is released from prison and breaks parole to create a new life for himself while evading the grip of the persistent Inspector Javert. Set in post-revolutionary France, the story reaches resolution against the background of the June Rebellion. 
Based on the novel by Victor Hugo, 'Les Miserables' travels with prisoner-on-parole, 24601, Jean Valjean, as he runs from the ruthless Inspector Javert on a journey beyond the barricades, at the center of the June Rebellion. Meanwhile, the life of a working class girl with a child is at turning point as she turns to prostitution to pay money to the evil innkeeper and his wife who look after her child, Cosette. Valjean promises to take care of the child, eventually leads to a love triangle between Cosette, Marius who is a student of the rebellion, and Eponine, a girl of the streets. The people sing of their anger and Enjolras leads the students to fight upon the barricades."

A highlight for me was the song, 'Bring Him Home'  Truly a song which represents the deep love of a father for his daughter and future son.  He was singing this song in hopes that his daughter's lover, Marius would be spared of his life in the revolution so that he could 'come home' and marry his daughter, Cosette.  A most moving experience.

While Valjean’s efforts on behalf of others inevitably cause him problems, they also give him a sense of happiness and fulfillment that he has never before felt. Valjean’s love for others—in particular, for Cosette—is what keeps him going in desperate times.

God on high
Hear my prayer
In my need
You have always been there

He is young
He's afraid
Let him rest
Heaven blessed.
Bring him home
Bring him home
Bring him home.

He's like the son I might have known
If God had granted me a son.
The summers die
One by one
How soon they fly
On and on
And I am old
And will be gone.

Bring him peace
Bring him joy
He is young
He is only a boy

You can take
You can give
Let him be
Let him live
If I die, let me die
Let him live
Bring him home
Bring him home
Bring him home.

If you love musicals, this is a must.
 A musical drama filled with action, hope, dreams, compassion and love.

'Les Miserables'

Friday, June 21, 2013

Fashion Trends Back East!

I've always been fascinated with fashion trends of all sorts.
Today I'm going to give you a run down of some of the latest trends
 I observed while on our book signing tour in Manitoba.
Can you identify with any of these?
I hope you can smile along and enjoy some humor.

Is this La Senza?
Can you believe  that these undergarments were worn by our grandmothers?
They are made of cotton eyelet, from nighties, to slips to camisoles.
I'm sure you'd pay a fortune for these today.

Would you dare to lie down on some else's kitchen island?
Seems like that's the current trend in Steinbach.

Even a few sports moves.
Amy, here demonstrates volleyball spike, while I tried to demonstrate a foul shot.
Manitoba is known for trending tall girls.

What happens when the hostess takes us to her husbands shop?
Check the sign behind her head.

It's all in a man's world right in Steinbach.
 'the quote of the day'
I wonder what the story is behind that?

I thought Mennonites didn't drink.
These cases were carted right through the  Mennonite museum.
Can you believe that?
(it was for a wedding...I wonder if they were Mennonites?)

Marketing food presentation was strong.
Our desserts came in a jar, with spoons and granola attached.
They were referred to as
'For busy Mennonite women on the run.'

Did you all know that the maxi skirts are making a comeback?
Just this past week I heard about the maxi fashions on our local CTV news station.
These women are truly observing the most current modest trends.

Ah, yes...we have all seen these aprons being worn.
I loved them so much that I bought one for myself,
so that I could keep my 'original one' for Sunday's.

These little girls made my day...
There mother had made them new dresses for this special occasion.
After all, they were meeting the   'Mennonite Girls Can Cook'.
Thank you girls for being part of preserving our heritage.

A typical window dress.
Simple, and inviting.
Cotton, with thick red seam binding trim.

Pantries filled with preserves.
Yes, cooking and canning was evident.
Did we not learn that from our grandmothers years ago?
I think someone will be filling those empty jars this summer. 

I'm familiar with 'Moen' faucets.
I had to share this bathroom with three other women.
They wondered why it took me so long.
I felt somewhat 'daft'.
This was something new...I had to play with it.
How was I suppose to brush my teeth with water gushing over my face?

Check out this lighting fixture.
A bit of vintage or what?
It was stunning., not metal bars like in the old days.
Cedar planks locked together.
Now that's a 'Pinterest Idea' 

There was no lack of food anywhere.
There were obviously no changes in the food industry.
I'm not sure if this Mennonite lady is trying to start a new trend?
Her name badge seems to be falling off.
(Really why didn't any one tell me?)

So much for fashion trends that I observed back east.
You never know which fashion trends you may be forecasting shortly.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

That's My Truck, Yesterday and Today!

 It was many years ago...1990's
Cropping has always been one of my favorite parts of farming.
'This was my truck' was a five ton, automatic transmission, with a cat diesel.
Anyone who has driven truck will really appreciate the automatic transmission.

A hydraulic lift wagon dumped the silage or corn into the truck.
Backing the truck to the dump wagon was the challenge..
I needed to learn how to use mirrors. 
But before long I became quick, efficient, and knew exactly how many minutes,
I needed in order to make a round trip to the bunker and back.

John always drove the 5600 JD.
He loved it...that was his 'baby'
If it was not purring he was not happy.
In the winter months he spent hours repairing, painting and maintaining his JD.
Then in 1993, we sold the dairy and purchased a broiler farm.

This past week, I saw 'my truck'.
I needed to experience a deja'vous  moment.
I drove up to the yard...

 There it was...flying down the dusty fields at full tilt.
This driver was on a mission.
I remember those dusty days and  inhaled every moment of freedom.
I looked forward to cropping. It was my way of getting out of the kitchen.
I always hired someone to look after the children and prepare meals for the workers.
An 18 hour day, driving truck gave me a feeling of accomplishment.
Here it was, years later, that the Goertzen family purchased this truck
and  brought it back to life again.
 I stepped up to the truck and said to the driver,
"That's my Truck!"

Laurie looked at me and said, "Jump in."
I jumped into 'my truck' and away we sped.
She needed to meet the demands of the harvestor operator.
The field was drying too quickly and I felt the tension in the air.

She knew how to thrust that thing in to reverse and she backed it up into the bunker,
the same way I would of.

In less than five minutes the truck was unloaded and away we went.
We both shared moments that day of understanding farm life.
We both understood the role of a farmer's wife.

 Back to the field.
The operator was waiting.
"Move it, Laurie"

The wagon unloaded and the dust and silage flew all over.
We quickly closed the windows...but on second thought,
we opened them again and inhaled the fresh country smells.

Back in the open fields, where the grass lay swathed, the next load was cut.

 The  harvest operator was her husband, Vic.
Vic and Laurie have been good farming friends for many years.
We understand farming.

Meanwhile I saw her daughter in law, Mary on her quad,
making a quick check with her husband Brian about evening chores.
Mary knew her next job, and she knew how to scrape those barns clean.
A smile goes a long way Mary and it's contagious.

Thank you Laurie...for a wonderful experience after 20 years.
She challenged me to drive a load.
I declined politely.

But remember one thing, Laurie...

That's still my Truck!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Boissevain: A Small Community with a Big Heart!

 The book signings were completed in Winnipeg and Steinbach.
We had a wonderful time and you can catch all the news by reading
Lovella's Judy's and Kathy's accounts.
Char and Betty, our Manitoba sisters made this a truly memorable event.

I added a few extra days after our book signings.
I wanted to meet some of my favorite cousins from Manitoba.
My only sister, Sheryl, flew in from Abbotsford to meet me.
We were excited about this opportunity.
Our destination was Boissevain, a small rural community of 1500 people.
 We were going to experience a mini cousin reunion.
But before I could get my head around things...I realized,
my cousins had been arranging an impromptu book signing.
The following morning the breakfast table was prepared
and Em read the devotional from Jesus Today, by Sarah Young.
Meaningful times were held around the kitchen table.
Then we sped off.

The book signing was arranged in a small quaint local coffee shop, "Sawmill" "The Sawmill is supported directly by community donations and purchases. All proceeds are utilized to further the work of Prairie Partners Inc. and its programs. Sawmill acts as a gathering place for the community, provides a place where youth, young families, seniors, and everyone else, can feel at home. Sawmill brings in various events to enrich the life of the community, employs both local youth and community members living with disabilities, and seeks to be a place where further opportunities for the community are created."

We arrived on time and began to decorate the table with my aprons.
Cousins and friends prepared, my signature Hazelnut Roll,
Betty's Apple Rolls, rhubarb platz and lemon buns.
It was delightful to see these farm/country women come together.

Young and old came by.
They chatted about there favorite recipes.
They asked me to share about the royalties of both books,
 our Ukraine Project and the WASH Project.
They loved to play the Menno Game.
They loved the aprons.

They were generous as many purchased extra books for family members.
We looked up recipes on the Ipad.

Yes, there was one young man who enjoyed the fresh Mennonite baking.

The major supporters were my family.
Heather, my niece; Sheryl my sister;
Aunt Martha the mother to Em and Mic, my cousins.
We all grew up together in our early years in the Fraser Valley.
Thank you family so much for making our trip so worthwhile.
We left Boissevain in a cloud of dust to make our next flight connections back to Abbotsford.
Meanwhile I felt like Boissevain blessed us with there genuine generosity.
 We will remember this small community with it's big heart.
You've helped us reach out to those in poverty.