The garden produces

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tomato blossoms

The plants are maturing and we’re beginning to reap the rewards. One day I went out and picked a cucumber. I sent a message to my daughter. E. will be happy to see cucumbers. “Can you bring the girls one day soon to see the garden?”

Several days later, they came, ready to see how it looked. Sure enough, there was another cucumber waiting to be picked. E loves cucumbers.

“You need to share that.”

And she agreed.

 

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happy about the cucumber

 

Her sister, A., didn’t want to be in this picture. She wished for one of her own. Industriously, watering the strawberry plants, she got her wish.

 

 

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giving the plants a drink

 

It was a good time of day to water, at early evening. We were having a hot dry spell with no rain so the plants were ready for a drink. We had to fill the small watering bucket again and again. Of course other plants got a drink too while the girls and their Mom were at our place.

The girls might have been surprised to see how the plants had grown. There were even the beginnings of tiny tomatoes. “I saw them, ” E. said. They both love the tiny tomatoes and will be happy to help pick, and eat, them when they’re big enough and ripe.

 

 

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zucchinis starting to grow

We could have quite a lot of zucchinis growing, but no worries. Our family likes zucchini and my daughter, Laura, has one of those spiralizer machines that cuts the vegetable very thin.

 

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mint in a pot

 

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parsley

My parsley plant has seen better days. Here’s hoping I can find another plant to replace it, even this late in the summer. Our granddaughters, even the one with selective taste buds, like to pinch off a piece and eat it right there at the garden

This morning when I went out to take photos of the garden, I saw my neighbour in her yard. After a bit of conversation, I offered her a basil plant and so we got to talking about how to use it.

 

 

 

 

 

July 2, 2016 at 3:00 pm 5 comments

Write Canada 2016

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Linda Hall, Indie publishing

Next week is Write Canada in Toronto. The committee has been working for months to get it organized and the registrar’s been busy too.

Instead of the intensive like last year, I’ll offering a two-part workshop on writing Creative Nonfiction and another on what you can do Before the Editor Steps In (not the one on your shoulder that taunts you about your writing, but the one who helps get your work ready for publication).

As far as I know registration is still open. Sign up for Professional Day, Saturday, or the whole conference, here.

Looking forward to it and hope you can join us.

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Steve Bell performing at the 2015 Awards gala

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Fern and Ruth share a table at one of the workshop sessions

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NJ Lindquist, ready for gala

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Members of the Creative Nonfiction Intensive group last year with my co-leader, Stephanie (left)

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Sharing photos at gala, l. to r.: Donna Mann, me and Sara Davison

 

 

photos by C. Wilker and others at 2015 conference

June 17, 2016 at 12:36 pm Leave a comment

The Garden as a Lesson in Growth

A few days ago I posted over at Canadian Writers Who Are Christian about lessons in gardening.

Read the first bit of it here:

I’m teaching my granddaughters who are 4 and 6 about gardening. It’s an ongoing lesson. They enjoy helping me plant and giving the plants a drink. I’m sure they’d be like me, as a child, if it was a large garden, dreading the long rows, but ours are much shorter than the large garden we had on the farm.

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posing by the garden with her own tools

The garden teaches about growing. After sowing seeds, we look forward to seeing those first shoots poke above the ground. The children are gentle with the tender small plants that we set in the ground. They know that water helps the plants grow and so they love to get out the watering can and help it along.

 

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Watering buckets can be heavy, but she’s strong

 

Read more here.

June 14, 2016 at 1:47 am Leave a comment

Our Garden Grows

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I had some help again this year in planting our vegetable garden. You might say I’m training the next generation, engaging them while they’re eager to help me, but they’re also enjoying it.

At Easter, I bought both girls their own gardening tools, a set in blue and one in green, a shovel and little rake. The girls were excited about finally using their tools and liked digging the holes for the plants and pressing them in the soil very gently.

We planted tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini, a neat specialty lettuce and herbs (basil). And we planted the morning glory seeds too.

 

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Of course we posed after the work was done so we could show the results. And we watered the holes and put the plants in after, because it was such a hot afternoon.

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The watering bucket is heavy when it’s full, but she’s strong.

 

 

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After all that work, we need to sit under the umbrella and have a cold drink.

 

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And we’re happy that all this work has been done.

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Making time for a bit of fun. We love to blow bubbles together.

 

 

A mere few weeks later, with sunshine and rain, our plants and seeds are growing.

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Morning glories need thinning. I think every seed sprouted.

 

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Transplanted mint is doing well.

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Zucchini has blossoms

 

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Cucumber plants are doing well too. One little girl will be very happy about that.

 

 

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And tomatoes are doing well too, growing straight and tall. One little plant needs setting in some pot yet.

 

Let’s see what a few more weeks of sunshine and rain (or watering) take the garden.

 

 

June 10, 2016 at 2:52 pm Leave a comment

Why hospice is a good thing

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VON Sakura House Hospice

Sakura (‘SAH-ku-ra’ or ‘sah-KUH-ra’), the Japanese word for cherry blossom…The cherry blossom reminds us of the fragility and impermanence of life and seemed the perfect symbol for our hospice.

It’s just two weeks, as I write this, that we said our goodbyes to our father. Still emotional, but so very grateful to have had our father for 90 years, a kind and  gentle man who both protected us and loved us. Who made time for us in his chosen life as a farmer. Together, he and our mother took good care of us.

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We are also grateful to the   doctors, nursing staff and volunteers for the wonderful care Dad (Harold) received in his time there. And to them, this blog post is dedicated.

Early in Dad’s stay, when the snow was mostly gone—making travel back and forth much easier—I resolved that I would eventually promote the facility on my blog, and so I took photos of the place.

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Dining area where we could sit awhile, eat and just have tea, coffee and a conversation, if we wished. We also had a game of Mexican Train one afternoon while Dad slept.

 

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My niece with Lois, a regular volunteer, whom we came to know, next to the kitchen area. We could often smell the wonderful aromas down the halls emanating from fresh baking. There were usually fresh cookies and sometimes tarts too.

 

As the weeks went on, we saw the blossoms come out on the trees around the building, the birds that stopped at the feeders, and Dad was able to look out from his bed and see the outdoors. When nursing staff wheeled his bed to the sunroom, he could look out over the fields and see signs of spring and people on tractors getting the soil ready for crops as he had done for so many years himself.

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The sunroom where patients could be wheeled for a change of scenery

 

From his bed in his own room, Dad could turn on the large screen television and keep in touch with what was going on in the outside world, including the US primaries where we joked about a certain candidate who will not be named here. We also played and replayed family slide shows and videos, including from a family wedding, and one evening we used Skype to connect with Mom and Dad’s friends and family members in Kapuskasing, Ontario.

 

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One of the lounge areas for families to sit and take a break

We had much time for conversation, allowing our patient to rest when his eyes became heavy. We even had a jigsaw puzzle set up for awhile in his room, knowing there was another one set up in the common area for anyone to work on. And we did that too.

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Coffee and tea ready where we could help ourselves, and offer a donation for it

 

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Room with a view and a  baby grand piano that I played sometimes. A bell choir rehearsed here and a fellow who had played for a musical group for years came to play the piano.

 

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An entertainment room to watch a movie, or nap, and toys for small children to play with. Small children were welcome there and our three grandchildren were among them.

We spent many hours in the hospice, visiting and later sitting with Dad when he slept more than he was awake. It was comforting to know that such wonderful caring people worked and volunteered around him—including staff who were well fitted to this kind of nursing who treated patients with dignity and respect. One of the nursing staff called my father “Dude” in a most kind way. They made room for us too and answered our questions when we had them.

 

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In that place there’s also a library, filled with many books for pleasurable reading and resource material on grief. [And for those who wish to have help with getting through grief, the volunteers can help  you connect with a group. They are also trained.]

 

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On those shelves, alongside Chicken Soup for the Soul books and others, is a copy of Hot Apple Cider with Cinnamon, by Canadian authors (ed, NJ Lindquist). The theme is “Finding Love in Unexpected Places.” I was privileged to have a story published in that book.

I felt this was a perfect place for such short stories, because we did find love and caring there. I hope that readers will find hope within those pages as well as in that place, even at the end of a loved one’s life. It may be that a person will read stories of hope to patients, or that it may be of  comfort to family members who sit at the bedside of a father, mother, wife or grandparent.

Thus I say thank you to doctors, nursing staff and all the volunteers who made our time there with Dad such a blessing. If Dad could say thank you now, I know that he would do it. Thank you also to  nursing staff who came to Dad`s visitation to say a more formal good-bye. You know who you are.

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photos © C. Wilker

 

 

May 26, 2016 at 4:24 pm 2 comments

Making Memories

Yesterday when doing business at our bank and mentioning about my father’s death, our advisor expressed her condolences and something about making memories. She said,”You’re still making memories.” That’s so true. We’ve got many.

If all the photos that we collected over the years were put into a slide show, it would go on  quite awhile. Indeed, the one made for our father’s 90th birthday in January by my sister Kim was quite lengthy, but Dad enjoyed every minute of it on that day, soon after and even while he was in hospice.

I’m glad we recorded all we did on camera film and then digital. We have serious, proud and funny moments, for Dad was a kind fun-loving guy. And so today, I’ll share some from my collection which is considerably smaller, but still special.

 

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The Tavistock Fall Fair when Dad drove the restored tractor in the parade

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Mom and Dad’s wedding day

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Member of the Nith Valley Singers for about 10 years (left, in front row)

 

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Dancing with my father at my daughter Adrienne’s wedding

 

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Joining in the fun at our granddaughter’s birthday

 

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Dad walking with one of his great grandsons though the bush lot, as he did with us each spring

 

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Dad and Mom, this past winter, saying goodbye, after a  visit with granddaughter and her small one

 

There are many so more, some at community events where Dad was active, beyond his own family and farm acreage, including the Tavistock Agricultural Society, the church we attended, and extended family gatherings. Too many to number. A life well lived, and a husband (for my mother), father, grandfather and great grandfather well loved.

May 21, 2016 at 12:48 pm 2 comments

I love spring

 

When the snow recedes and the flowers come up and bloom, that’s the thing I like best about spring. A couple  of times, I thought spring had finally made it, then we had more snow and  ice in our northern hemisphere. Overall, the plants held up, even if a few blooms  didn’t make it.

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Although I don’t have a crocus bulb or snowdrop in my flower beds, I do have narcissus,  paper white hyacinth and grape hyacinth. The narcissus are done now, but those little grape hyacinths are still blooming, sprinkled all over the garden, wherever they choose to grow. I took a bunch of those out, but left some here and there because I like them.

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And then the flowers really began to bloom—grape hyacinth springing up between the purple phlox

 

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the spring-pink blossoms on the uva ursi arctostaphylus

 

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hyacinth

 

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white phlox

 

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then the multi-hued tulips I love

and for the visual effect of many put together… and some trimming that still had to be done on old growth
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tulips next to the thyme

 

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a bright bunch of those colourful tulips

 

 

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My front garden with a marker where new bulbs will sprout next spring. Bulbs from the pots of flowers given to my father when he was in hospice that he wanted us to plant in our gardens to remember him. And we will, of course.

 

There’s a good part of my garden. It’s a work in progress, and of course there are more beds and they too will change over the seasons. More for another day.

 

 

photos by C. Wilker

 

 

May 17, 2016 at 7:02 pm 2 comments

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