Photos From Here

Hello and happy New Year’s Eve! Here are a few more photos from here. Wishing you the best of everything for the year to come. – Lori 😊

Gate into the past

The construction here in this corner of Mexico is frantic! I think that’s probably the case along a lot of tropical coastlines these days. Everyone craves a slice of paradise for themselves. I’m in no position to criticize the rapid development as it’s happening because people like me love it here and are seeking what we imagine to be heaven here on Earth. My presence here contributes to the changes as much as anyone’s.

Chickens foraging in a public walkway that leads down to the beach.

A calmer past and a hectic future stand right alongside each other here, close enough to touch. Sometimes the two tenses hold hands affectionately and cooperatively, and sometimes they stare straight ahead, separate, and in cold silence. The chickens still roam free, clucking and pecking, as a sleek BMW moves past them over a cobblestone street. Beyond the luxury car and the chickens, men work to build concrete and glass structures that reach up from a trampled paradise toward an unattainable heaven.

Bugumvillas on display at a garden centre.

“Is there anything more dangerous than dissatisfied and irresponsible gods who don’t know what they want?”

― Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Christmas in Paradise: Pheaturing Phone Photos

Our neighbour’s burro all decked out for the holidays.

Guess what? When it comes right down to it, wherever you go, there you are. Whatever you wind up doing, that’s what you’ve wound up doing. Whatever you are thinking right now, that’s what’s on your mind. Whatever has happened to you, it has already happened. The important question is, how are you going to handle it? In other words, “Now what?”

― Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are

I love Mexico. It’s been nearly two years since that day in Mazitlan when we heard Canada’s prime minister tell his citizens abroad, “Snowbirds, come home.” Fortunately, our flight out of Mexico was already booked for March 20, 2020, so we were able to depart as scheduled. And now finally, I’m back. Yay!

With the appearance and spread of the Omicron variant, there are definitely echoes of that uncertain March, but the world is better equipped to meet Covid now than it was back then. (I keep telling myself that.) Still, it’s a bit unsettling…

Because we only bring carry-on baggage, I forewent lugging along my camera and instead I’m taking photos with my phone this vacation. It’s convenient but I miss the editing capabilities I have on my PC in my home office.

Some lovely architecture around here. A lot of older structures, brick and concrete, are rapidly being knocked down and replaced with bland white condos, like the complex we’re staying in.

I can’t bring my home office wherever I go, but I always bring myself along. I can avoid a lot of people, a lot of unpleasant external situations, but I can’t avoid myself. I can’t avoid my struggles, even in paradise. The noisy, frantic construction of personalty-less condos that block the view and push long-time families up into the hills troubles me, like a robin crashing into my window at home and dying, also troubled me. Different location, same troubled perspective. I understand that the popularity of this place exists because a whole boatload of folks love it as much as I do. Of course, this also troubles me, makes me feel guilty for indulging my whim to non-essentially travel. Oh boy. 🙄 So you see? It just goes round and round.

The grounds here are beautifully kept, and display a wide variety of flowers and trees.

It would be nice if I could pack my mental baggage as lightly as I pack my physical luggage.

My perspective might cause you to ask, “Lori, why can’t you just relax and be happy?” Good quesion. Shows you’re paying attention. Sometimes I can relax. This does happen. Really, though, I’ve always over-thought things (much like I’m doing now in this post). Yes, sometimes I’d like to shut off that pondering part of my mind and yet wherever I go, there it is, even here in paradise.

A massage business below, private residence above, and a cat on the sidewalk.

Wherever you are and however you celebrate, I wish you a peaceful, healthy holiday with time to reflect and reasons to rejoice. Take care! – Lori

And So It Begins

Our first major storm of the season arrived last night and has continued merrily through the day. Now at around 4:00 p.m., it’s still blowing strong. It’s true. A lot of folks do think that the first winter storm blows. I used to, as well, but these days I work from home and enjoy (mostly) what each day holds in store for me. Life is slower now and its pace would drive some people crazy. But each to our own. I am content and cozy as winter settles in all around my still life.

Winter is a time for more writing, for jigsaw puzzles, and for homemade soup. This season is for walks in the crunchy snow and for feeding the birds. Winter is a time for nighttime sleeps that resemble hibernation, long winter naps. It’s easier to accept winter when there is nowhere else you have to be.

The wet snow stuck to the living room window overnight, forced there by the driving wind.
Winter outside my office window, blowing across the garage roof and bending branches in the distance.

I hope you’re safe and well in your corner of the world. Thanks for stopping by today and take care. – Lori

Exploring Local History at Sounding Lake

Me at the R.N.W.M.P cairn near Sounding Lake

Last April I had the opportunity to visit Special Area 4 tucked into this east-central corner of Alberta, and bursting with natural beauty and Western Canadian history. That early spring day, the hilltops were covered with crocuses and the temperature was a mild 20 degrees Celsius.

I took a whole bunch of photos on the adventure and I’ll share some of those here with you. My trip inspired me to research a bit about the history of Sounding Lake and the treaty adhesion that was signed there back in 1878. On behalf of the Amisk-Hughenden Historical Society, I posted a blog that also features my photos and that links to several pages from this area’s earlier history book called The Lantern Years: Buffalo Park to Neutral Hills. If you’re craving real wild West history, you can access the society’s post here.

Wild crocuses, small and delicate, grow and bloom on unbroken prairie in the early springtime.

When visiting this area, we were guided by our gracious host who contacted the landowners and those who lease crown land, to get permission to explore Sounding Lake’s history. The Treaty Number Six Adhesion signing and all the other gatherings that took place there make this area a very significant part of Canadian Prairie history. It would be excellent if this area were more accessible to people exploring our historysuch a rich history so close by and so hidden away.

The Adhesion 157D to Treaty Number Six cairn on the eastern shore of Sounding Lake.

This cairn, erected in 1978, tells the story about the signing of the Treaty Number Six Adhesion. It was a very big deal. The cairn reads:

“Dedicated to the signing of Adhesion 157D to Treaty Number Six by the Woods Cree and Plains Cree Indians, on August 19, 1878, at or very near this site known to the Cree as “The Nose”. The signing and subsequent treaty payment attracted some 5000 people to Sounding Lake.

This congregation of 4000 Indians, many Métis, 50 Northwest Mounted Police, 33 traders and many others, was said to be the largest such gathering ever to assemble in the West.

The 1879 treaty payment was completed here with some 2000 in attendance, noted visitors to Sounding Lake included: Gabriel Dumont, Charlies Trottier, the Marquis of Lorne, Poundmaker, Big Bear, Fathers Lacombe and Scollen, Reverends John and George McDougall, trader and writer John McDougall, Indian Commissioner Edgar Dewdney, Lieutenant Governor David Laird, and N.W.M.P. Inspector John French.”

A close-up photo of the text on the cairn.
A reflection of the far shore on the still surface of Sounding Lake.

As a reminder of the bison herds that roamed the Canadian Prairies, our host brought us to what he believes is a “bison rubbing stone.” These were large boulders on the Prairies that bison would rub against to take off their thick winter hair and also any irritating bugs. The herds rubbed against these big stones so often and for so many years that the boulders’ edges became rounded and smooth.

This boulder is very weathered and yet you can still see the smooth, rounded corners where bison may have eased their itch for hundreds of years.

If you’re interested in bison rubbing stones, you can read more about them on this engaging site created by the Souris Plains Heritage Association in Manitoba.

On the hilltops overlooking the Neutral Hills to the south a few tipi rings are still visible. This is the best-preserved tipi ring I captured that day:

This photo overlooks the hills to the north (if I remember correctly).
A view of the lake from a hilltop.

Not only was our host and guide very informative, he also owns big, sturdy truck that allowed us to get around this rough terrain, and up and down hillsides.

On our drive to Sounding Lake and the Royal North-West Mounted Police outpost site, we were fortunate to see two matching mules. There’s not much excitement anymore in those Neutral Hills and it seemed the pair of mules were pretty curious about us as they came right down to the fence line to watch us pass.

Matching mules, ridiculously cute.

Here’s a photo of the R.N.W.M.P cairn where there was an outpost, including barracks and a barn. Again, if you’re interested in Sounding Lake and its important place in Western Canadian history, visit the Amisk-Hughenden Historical Society’s website to read my post there. Take care and have a really nice weekend! – Lori

A Post About Nothing

Hi there! Welcome to this re-post about nothing in particular. I posted this upon returning from beautiful Mazátlan, Sinaloa, at the start of this very long global pandemic. At that time I couldn’t have imagined this situation lasting as long as it has. I remember my auntie asking me in late March of 2020 how long I thought the pandemic would last and I predicted, “Probably until August.” I was referring to August 2020, of course. Hah! I wish. The whole world wishes.

While we were way in March of 2020, our friends’ house burned down. They have since rebuilt and are putting the finishing touches on their brand new house on the same lot they used to call home. So much has changed during this time and yet time itself feels like it’s trudging along. It does to me, anyway. Has your experience of time been different from mine during this pandemic? Has it moved swiftly and without anxiety?

Here are some pleasant ramblings from the days way back when, just as we were introduced to Covid-19. Take care!

In the time before physical distancing…

Unfaithful

A New Book to Read

Remember Me Image

A couple years ago, I glanced out the large window in my front door and thought I saw something hanging there from the knob. I opened it up and there was a book in a bag along with a note: “Doing some house cleaning, found this and thought of you.” Yes, I am a fan of cemeteries and of history. Some would also say I’m uncomfortably comfortable with the idea of death and dying. So this book was a good pick for me.

Just this morning I started reading Remember Me As You Pass By and it drew me right in. Here’s the kind of stuff I love. The author, Nancy Millar, begins the introduction to the book with this epitaph from a cemetery not too far from where I live:

Remember me as you pass by
So as you are, so once was I.
As I am now so soon you’ll be,
Prepare for death and eternity.

~ On the grave marker of William Henry Erichson, 1859-1927, in the Gadsby, AB Cemetery

The last paper book I read was Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man Is Hard to Find, and Other Stories. Since then I read her gothic novel Wise Blood in digital form. I’m looking forward to touring with Nancy Millar some prairies graveyards and discovering her insights into the lives revealed there, the stories etched into granite.

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Language Learning: A Humbling Experience

You can’t stay arrogant for long when attempting to learn a bit of a new language. While in Mazatlán, we were out for a lovely dinner on Cerritos Beach. I must have been feeling particularly elegant that night because in my best Spanish I inadvertently ordered a mug (taza) of the restaurant’s finest white wine. The word to use when ordering wine is copa, unless of course you’ve had a mug-of-wine-kind of day, and arguably we’ve all had some of those lately.

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Sometimes it’s best not to understand what folks are saying. I was out for a morning walk on the beautiful beach. As I passed a family, a young boy scooted out in front of me to catch up with his parents. His mom told him in Spanish, “Watch out for that gringo” which I took to mean as, “Don’t crash into the nice white lady.” But the thing is, I’m a gringa because I’m a woman. The Spanish language is unrelentingly specific about the gender of its words. If I’d been braver, I would have pointed out my gender to the mom but alas, I was not, and that funny moment has passed me by.

My Backyard Is My World

And I’d better get used to this fact. This spring I was looking forward to packing a picnic cooler of delicious drinks and snacks and exploring nearby parks and historical sites with my husband. We even hoped to be away so much on these short excursions that we had decided not to plant a garden. We thought, “We won’t be around to weed and water, so what’s the point?” Now the point might be our survival in the post-Apocalyptic world. (I’m exaggerating. For now, I hope.) Oh, how circumstances have changed!

I might not be able to tour the parks and enjoy a sandwich in a public space, but I can still photograph the birds that come to my backyard feeder. Here’s a cute little dark-eyed junco, freezing his feathers off this early April.

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I’ve Got Time to Write

Obviously as this is my second post in two days. Recently I did some editing work for a client so it would seem that others are also finding time to write. Here’s what Alynne had to say about working with me:

“Working with Lori was a wonderful experience. She was fast, affordable and professional.  She offered great feedback and with her expertise the story magically came together. She understood the audience we were trying to reach! I hope to work with her again in the near future. Thank you Lori!”

How nice is that? If you’ve got a memoir idea or family history you’d like to tackle, now’s a good time to do it. It’s not like you’re going anywhere. And I’ve got time to help you as an editor or as a writer or as both. Just ask.

Well folks, that’s about all I’ve got to say today about pretty much nothing. Keep safe and healthy, and have that mug of wine if you need to take the edge off. Thank you for spending some time with me today! ~ Lori

Wheres Waldo

No Country for Small Cars

I went out for a drive the other day finally alone and able to drive out to an old homestead I could see from the highway. Strangely, my passengers or drivers don’t always want to drive out to every broken down building we see off in the distance. They claim to need to “get somewhere” because they “have a life.”

Optimistically, I turned on my signal light and turned off the highway onto the road that would usually be graveled. That day, though, there was a grader moving slow and scraping the road’s surface down to clay, creating a long barrier of gravel down the road’s centre (see photo below) — and doing this right by where I planned to leap out of my small green car and take some photos with my phone.

I passed the grader nonchalantly acting like I was heading somewhere else. Where? Apparently, no one lives on that road, at least not until the next intersection. And that’s where I spun the car around, hoping that the grader had moved on. It had not. How could it be with this long stretch of road to scrape that this grader was right where I wanted to be — still?

At this point, I didn’t care anymore. I was irritated. The presence of the grader would stop me from trespassing, but it would not stop me from taking some photos.

As I pulled over, I gave the grader driver a wave. He ignored me. I waited until he’d gone a little farther and was out of my way. I approached the fence line and got these pictures of an old homestead. I had passed by many times from a distance, but the site is not easily visible from the main highway and from that faraway, I couldn’t see that the foundation is made of stones, so that was really exciting for someone who has nowhere to go and no life.

Side view.
A little blurry – really zoomed-in.
Once again, really zoomed-in.

That’s all from me for now. Have a great weekend and a happy Halloween! – Lori

The Stars and the Moon to Gain

Hello there! Here’s a re-post of a favourite of mine about how glorious it is just to get outside at nighttime during this time of year. Thanks for dropping by and have a really nice weekend. – Lori

Red Moon and Branches
Eclipse moon.

On a Sunday evening last week, I stood out on my front lawn with binoculars and my camera watching that beautiful, white moon grow slimmer and slimmer until, instead of fading away, she turned red before my eyes and camera lens. As I stood there shivering with wonder and from the night chill I thought, “Why don’t I look at the night sky more often?”

Then last Friday night a friend and I were enjoying a glass of wine on my front step. As we visited in the cool dark of evening, the stars twinkled above us against their inky purple backdrop. With the sky right there and unobscured by ceiling and roof, our conversation grew softer, more intimate. It felt like our words now had the attention of the night sky, and so those syllables better be sweet and worth speaking.

Hear me read this post:

After my friend left, I asked my husband to go for a nighttime walk. Yes, I realized it was cool, but sometimes – not often – I walk in 20 below temperatures. I reminded him gently that snow is just around the corner and that opportunities like this one are fleeting. The sky was blacker than it had been during my front step visit, and as we walked out of reach of the street lights’ glow, the sky grew darker and larger still.

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April moon through the trees.

We stopped for a moment along the railway tracks and under the spreading boughs of a row of old trees. We listened as the breeze moved the dying leaves, making them brush up against one another, to jostle and drift down to the asphalt. Autumn sounds. Halloween sounds, like the slow dance of skeletons. These sounds were precious, ones that I would’ve missed out on during time spent in front of the television.

It seems improbable, I know, but I think until that night when I saw it again, I had completely forgotten about the Milky Way! How sad. It’s worth considering that perhaps I’ve been spending way too many of my evenings in the basement on my elliptical trainer and not nearly enough out walking with the sky looking down on my progress, unhurried and refreshingly aimless. “Where are you going?” the moon might ask. I’d tell her, “Nowhere in particular.” The moon might smile and think, “How nice.”

Full Moon

The vastness of the night sky makes me feel insignificant in the most comforting way. I’m lucky to live in a village where there is very little light pollution to keep me from admiring the night sky. And yet, I don’t spend much time outside at night just enjoying the experience of night, the experience of being so small, a blonde bump on the earth’s surface. From the perspective of the stars, my problems are tiny and short-lived; my life, a breath; my existence, neither here nor there, but just maybe, in a way, everywhere.

Although I’m not one for resolving to act in any certain way, preferring to remain flexible, I think I’ll make a conscious effort to spend a bit more time under the stars and a little less under the glare of the pot lights recessed in my basement ceiling. This effort might just be worth it. After all, I’ve got nothing to lose, and the stars and the moon to gain.

December Moon
A pale December moon rests gently over the Alberta prairie.

Drums in the Woods – A Photo Blog

It’s cold and dreary here tonight — a perfect time to edit the photos I took a week ago when the weather was not cold and dreary. That day, I had planned to walk north of town, but a work crew had just sprayed a sealer on the roadway. It smelled terrible and was really slippery!

And so I headed off the road I usually walk and walked instead out through pastures and village streets. In an alleyway, I stopped to visit with a neighbour enjoying her morning coffee in her backyard. I surprised her. I don’t think she expected to see me skulking through her alley with my camera in hand like some poorly-informed paparazza. It was nice to see some different sights and talk to someone I hadn’t seen in a long while.

This adventure made me stop and consider that I really need to get out more. Take care and enjoy the scenery. – Lori

Rocker series drum kit by Ludwig in the woods.
Redcliff Pressed Brick Company made bricks starting in 1912 in Redcliff, Alberta.
Not cold and dreary.
The rear wall of the old Ford garage built in 1946.
As far as I can tell, this Fargo pick-up is from 1948.

Can You Relate?

A few days ago, I got out the squeegee and washed the windows. This is always a clear invitation to the birds to fly into the glass panes and die. Slowly or quickly, they love to die by flying into the clean windows. Yesterday, a large female robin decided to take the slow-death route. She crashed into the window and apparently broke her wing. She was in bad shape.

Listen to me read this post:

I sobbed like a child at her demise. That terrible helpless feeling settling in as the local magpies opportunistically gathered in the branches above where she sat still, unable to even move, wide eyed with terror. My heart physically ached. We let nature take her cruel course and in the morning, a scattered array of grey feathers told us how the robin’s story ended. I’ve felt horrible about that robin ever since.

These days, the world’s sorrows feel as close as my own. I watch the news and feel helpless, angry, and afraid. If all of us who feel this way boarded a cruise ship, it would soon begin to sink from the weight of our bodies and the weight of our collective despair. But the ship won’t have the chance to sink. Within moments of being all together, we’d each quickly disembark because someone expressed a point of view counter to our own. That ship would bob right back up and sail away with the three people left on the planet who still get along without completely agreeing.

I’ve never seen the world as divided as it is now. We suffer as our relationships crumble. We feel alone, isolated, and separate while the creators and exploiters of hate machines profit from the great divide they greedily encourage.

The world’s gone a long way down this track. I don’t see a way back. On a smaller, personal level, I know I’d benefit from fewer news stories and more board games with friends. The slow comfort of a paper book in my hand compared with the jumpy frantic-ness of my tablet would be a welcome change. Turning inward I know I can generate a kind of peace, and in walking out in the sunshine and in the shadowy woods. For moments when I really try, I can believe that in the eternal rotation of the earth, the forever succession of days, it will all be inevitably okay. But probably not during what’s left of my lifetime.

On a lighter note:

All masked up with nowhere to go.

Thanks for stopping by. Take care and have a good weekend. – Lori

Goodbye, Summer – A Photo Blog

Hello! Thanks for joining me. Here’s a re-post of a photo blog from last year … I think. Or maybe it’s from the year before. Pandemic time is slippery. I can’t put order to it the same way as I could those wonderful regular days that preceded these. Have a great weekend. May you be well and happy!

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