Posts filed under ‘family’

Harry’s Trees, the picture book

 

Carolyn's Book Front Cover layout

 

Nearly two years ago at my  father’s funeral service, I looked around at all the preschoolers in our family and realized, though they’d been here this day, most of them wouldn’t remember their great grandfather and what was important to him. Family was topmost, but there was another significant interest in his life, as an individual, as a father and grandfather and farmer, and that was his care and concern for environment and his respect for what trees mean to us. They provide fruit, shade, they hold the soil together and they put oxygen into the air we breathe.  And they’re beautiful to look at when they’re full of blossoms in spring and as the leaves open. I love to watch that process too.

As a young boy, he’d climbed many of the trees on his parents’ farm—the farm that he would manage one day with our mother. There are more stories than I can share here in one post, but one I will share. When one of our black walnut trees was struck by lightning, it had to be cut down. Using his skills and tools, he used wood from that tree and lined a space in the kitchen wall as a china cabinet for some of Mom’s special plates and dishes and anything else worthy of showing off. That space is still there though the farm has been sold.

Back to the funeral day and my thoughts. That following week, I began to write a story for those small children. I didn’t know how it would evolve, but it did. It went through many versions and I submitted it to my critique groups, both the Revision group online with The Word Guild and my face-to-face group. I received so much helpful guidance for my revision. I named the book after my Dad and called it Harry’s Trees.

When my story neared completion, I got in touch with a young woman I’d met at a writer’s event. She was a trained artist and she was definitely interested in illustrating my book. The process took several months. In early January 2017, I had a book to distribute to my family. Then, of course, several friends who saw it wanted one too, and cousins and people outside that circle too.

With great thought, I decided to put out a general market version. The story and the art are the same, but the dedication is slightly different. and I had some help with the packaging by Angel Hope Publishing in Drayton, Ontario. In this version, my artist and I would be featured on the back cover, as on any picture book.

I had help promoting it by a journalist, Helen Lammers-Helps who wrote about it in Ontario Farmer and Oxford Review. But also the Tavistock Gazette, our hometown weekly editor who got first chance at spreading the news.

In June, when I received that shipment of books, I thought my heart would burst with happiness. (The first order was emotional.) There also rested some recognition of my father and respect for what he had taught us, and many memories. And a bit more grief too. But it was good grief and honouring.

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As of this month, three plant nurseries in Waterloo Region have welcomed my promotional efforts of Harry’s Trees in their location and willing to host a book signing there. I’ll be at Sheridan Nursery, Kitchener location, this Saturday, April 28th, from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm. Two more events will follow on Saturday, May 5th and Saturday, May 12th and I hope several more. For spring is a time of growth and renewal.

My book was also a feature of Earth Day events at Sheridan Kitchener this past weekend. My friend Judy read the book as part of those events since I was already committed elsewhere.

So, Dad, if you’re checking on us, know that what you taught us has had great effect and  is going out to many other readers beyond your family. In your humble way, you would not have asked for recognition, but it’s there all the same.

 

 

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April 25, 2018 at 12:26 am Leave a comment

Maplefest, Buckhorn, Ontario

 

Maplefest, Buckhorn, Ontario

On the 24th of March, my husband and I accompanied our daughter and son-in-law and their two daughters to Maplefest that’s held near Buckhorn each year. The location was the McLean Berry Farm. It’s a bit of a drive but the girls entertained themselves pretty well on the way.

 

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When we arrived at the farm, we saw the horse pulling a wagon. We’ll get a ride in too, though Dave says it’s not very far. Still it’s kind of neat.

 

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Big round bales for the children to climb on while waiting for a ride. And someone taking a picture.

 

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You can get your picture taken in this scene.

 

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Watching their Mom and Dad saw a piece off a log

Then we can get a brand on the cut-off piece. I needed one of these for promoting Harry’s Trees. Perfect. It’s a maple leaf. So fitting.

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And another photo opp

 

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The ladies in the maple sugar tent, showing us and telling us how it’s done. We got to taste pure maple sugar taffy, then Dave got some floss to try out too. Thanks, Dave.

 

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Fun for the children

It was too cold to tap maple syrup that day, in fact very chilly, but it didn’t dampen spirits for the rest of the activities.

 

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We heard a quick talk on the evaporator to see where they boil down the sap

 

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Picture opportunity of our family

And the horses get to have a much needed break. Food time and rest for them over the noon hour. The next visitors got the tractor and wagon for their ride. Still pretty neat for a city family or anyone.

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We were glad to get back in the van and warm up a bit on the way to the GrandView Resort. We checked out their trailer, had some lunch that we’d packed, then set off for the trip home. It was a full day, and a good one.

April 12, 2018 at 2:29 pm 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

Dreaming of spring but living in the now

We can well dream of the season ahead when plant life begins to poke its head above the soil and the sun warms them and helps them grow, yet we must live in the now and not in dreamland. For as Janice L Dick says in her post today, then we have material to write about. She wrote:

“No matter who we are, we will experience uneven roads on our respective journeys. Writing is living out our thoughts, dreams, fears..

 

 

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some of the gaillardia from my garden last year

 

Canadian Networker Fall Business Expo photo courtesy of KW Snap 2015

March 1, 2016 at 1:10 pm Leave a comment

Bringing in the New Year

Once a month I post over at the Canadian Writers Who Are Christian blog. Here’s a taste of what I wrote this month, so early in 2016.

22581694128_cdbe97abd6_z                                                                                        At the Fall District 86 Toastmasters conference in Blue Mountain

 

Bringing in the New Year—Carolyn R. Wilker

 

We’re nearly two weeks into 2016, but for a few moments I want to reflect on the old year that we’ve just put aside.

This past year was momentous in so many ways and sad in others. Three people in my circle of acquaintances and friends—some for as long as 30 years—died in 2015, plus one young teen who attended our church. As I mourned the loss, I also felt grateful to have known Kathy, Susan and Patricia, and Samantha. I reflected on the blessings they brought to my life. Susan was part of my early writing life and edited my first book, Once Upon a Sandbox. Kathy had invited us to her place when we were new members at the church and then to the Bible Study she often hosted. Patricia was a kind and generous neighbour who became a friend, and Samantha is gone too soon at the age of 16.

Even while I mourn the loss, there were good times aplenty. My husband and I gained a new granddaughter, an addition to the two small grandchildren we already have. I had new publishing credits (Hot Apple Cider with Cinnamon and Tower Poetry) and requests for a column in our national denominational magazine, Canada Lutheran, and publication therein, but also invitations to do my memoir workshop in new locations to new organizations. There have also been new friendships in the making and a fabulous writer’s critique group in my corner.

Read more here.

 

 

Canadian Networker Fall Business Expo Fall Business Expo in Kitchener, Ontario

January 12, 2016 at 12:37 am Leave a comment

Christmas Eve Day

We’re nearly there, at a day we celebrate every year. Presents bought and wrapped, cards sent and received, a tree in our living room. Often a Christmas party or two as well.  And the creche on the window ledge.

 

 

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the stone creche after our story time

 

I asked my granddaughters who are 4,6 to help me set it up. They were  here for the first two days of the school holiday.

“What’s a creche, Grandma?”

“You’ll see.”
I got out the box and invited them to help me unwrap the figures, but first we took out the stable, and I began to tell the story of a man and woman travelling a long way to a place called Bethlehem.

We unwrapped the other characters and I named the items— the angel, shepherds, Mary the mother and Joseph the father, and of course the baby Jesus. There were shepherds and sheep to unwrap too, but not wise men for they didn’t come to the stable. Also a donkey for travelling and a cow for the stable.

I moved the white stone pieces around as I told about Mary and Joseph travelling a long long way, then how there was no room in the inn, because so many people had come there, but the inn owner said they could stay in the stable out back where they’d be protected from the wind.

I told the girls about the shepherds in the field watching their sheep and how an angel came to tell them the good news of the new special baby, then more angels appeared in the sky and sang to them and about a special star in the sky. It was not an everyday occurrence to see an angel so the shepherds were afraid at first. But then they were excited to see the baby, so some of them went to find the stable while the others watched the sheep.

“What do you think a shepherd would take as a gift for the baby?”

“A toy?” said the six-year-old.

“Might they bring a baby sheep? They can get the wool cut off and make a blanket for the baby.”

They nod their heads.

“The shepherds were really excited about this special baby and they went and told other people before they went back to the fields.”

 

I stop there and let them ponder this much of the story. Better in smaller parts. Besides they’ll learn more later. I let them play with the figures and move them around.  And the photo is the way they ended up. It’s fitting they’re all there together at the end of the story. Think I’ll leave it as it is for now.

 

 

December 24, 2015 at 1:41 pm Leave a comment

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