Roses – A Photo Blog

When I took some rose photos this morning, I realized just how many rose photos I have! I thought they’d make a cheerful photo blog. Roses are another beautiful reminder of the brevity of all life and of the importance of living in the moment. I tried to remember that today as I am feeling impatient as I wait for the days to come. Take care and enjoy!


From the rosebush in our yard.
Bee on a rose.
Pretty much perfect.
Lonely yellow rose out by the barn.
Wild roses growing against a fence.
A single rosebud.
One and a half.
A rose in my auntie’s garden.
A rose in my dad’s flowerbed.
A rose opening in my dad’s flowerbed.

Compassion for a Magpie

I thought of this post today because I am in charge of feeding the juvenile magpie that my neighbour rescued. The little guy is moving around a lot more today and is eating very well. Soon he’ll be old enough to survive on his own. Here’s a video of the rescued magpie singing its melodious song:

And here’s a re-post of Compassion for a Magpie:

A magpie up on my garage’s eaves trough.

As you may or may not know, depending on where you live, a [black-billed] magpie is a black and white bird with long tail feathers which looks a bit like a crow. When the sun shines on the magpie, its dark feathers are iridescent, appearing to be blue, purple and green all at once. The magpie doesn’t have a sweet, musical voice. It screeches and chases songbirds, even eating other birds’ eggs when the opportunity comes along. It flies behind cats, cawing loudly and snipping at their tails.

Listen to me read this post:

Around here, anyway, magpies are not well-liked. We have a few in our yard for a couple of reasons. They enjoy the suet I put out for other birds, and they are extremely fond of the eggshells they find in the compost bin. Both the suet and the shells are valuable sources of protein. There are also quite a few tall trees in our neighbourhood which provide excellent shelter and nesting habitat. And so, for now, the magpies are here to stay.

A sunflower in my backyard – a memory of warmer days.

Just yesterday, one magpie of a mating pair was injured. It lay in the grass struggling to lift its head while the other circled about, cawing and seemingly urging the other to stand or to fly.

I could feel the uninjured bird’s distress at the situation of its mate. The healthy bird was clearly agitated, quite frantic, and I thought “Not so different than us.”

There’s no feeling more frustrating than that feeling of helplessness and useless restlessness in the face of suffering – especially the suffering of someone we love. As I watched the magpies in this difficult circumstance, I recognized and understood their suffering as no different from my own.

A magpie perched strategically over the compost bins below.

I couldn’t watch nature take its course, and I don’t know for sure if the injured magpie went on to live or to die. I looked away and closed the curtains in response to the stab of pain in my heart. It was silly, after all, to feel so deeply the pain of another – especially one so despised and at times so despicable. What did I need that for when I already have enough sorrow of my own?

It’s true that we cannot easily take on all the sorrows of the world, nor can we single-handedly cure all the injustices, illnesses, and injuries. But the magpies made me consider that perhaps if I could just open my heart a bit wider to see and hold the suffering of others that I may be better equipped to deal with my own. If I can accept the magpies’ suffering – both the injury and the distress – then perhaps I can also better accept my own suffering and that of all living creatures. With a more open heart, perhaps next time I won’t need to look away.

Hughenden Sky

A Rainy Thursday on the Prairies

I took this short video while standing within our covered deck. It’s a beautiful place from which to listen to the rain and stay (mostly) dry while listening. I don’t remember the last time we got a deluge like this, but there was likely a good rainfall or two last summer. The rain is calming and makes my cooped-up feelings roost and relax a bit. Wherever you are, I hope you have a chance to enjoy the rain, to breathe in deeply, and to notice you’re alive.

No one can claim the name of Pedro,

nobody is Rosa or Maria,

all of us are dust or sand,

all of us are rain under rain.

They have spoken to me of Venezuelas,

of Chiles and Paraguays;

I have no idea what they are saying.

I know only the skin of the earth

and I know it has no name.

Pablo neruda

Don’t threaten me with love, baby. Let’s just go walking in the rain.

Billie Holiday

Buzzing Mountain Ash Trees

The mountain ash trees in our front yard are blooming and the blossoms fill the air with thick perfume, and every evening there’s a layer of yellow pollen on our patio table’s glass! There are so many bees pollinating the blossoms out front that the trees were humming last night. I took a few 10-second recordings trying to capture the sound. Turn up your volume and you’ll hear a steady hum. That’s the bees!

You’ll also hear an attention-seeking robin in the background trying to steal the show with his melodic singing voice. And in one of the videos, a mourning dove chimes in. Her mother told her she can sing. (She can’t.)

Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.

Hal Borland

Big Knife in April

The Battle River Below

We had the opportunity to visit Big Knife Provincial Park last week for another hike, this time on the Highland Trail. During our previous visit, we hiked the Lowland Trail. Downloadable trail maps are available from the Alberta Parks website, if you’re interested.

Thanks to Wander Woman Travel Magazine (check out the publication – it’s excellent) for the following story about how Big Knife park got its name:

Big Knife Provincial Park is named after Big Knife Creek, which flows through the park. The park and the creek are in Blackfoot Nation territory. According to legend, a fight to the death happened near the creek. A Cree warrior named “Big Man” fought a Blackfoot warrior named “Knife.” The creek was thereafter known as Big Knife.

Debbie Olsen

Nothing like a fight-to-the-death story to keep us visiting our provincial parks, am I right? Another draw this particular visit were the bright yellow signs posted around the park and at every trailhead: Warning – Bear in the Area. “How relaxing!” I exclaimed. I didn’t. Instead, my husband and I held loud conversations when we’d remember. Occasionally, we’d lapse into comfortable silence as we walked along until we remembered that our silence could potentially startle a very large, faster-than-you’d-think, bear and end in one of our deaths. Probably mine as I have much shorter legs than my husband.

The Lowland Trail: Bear-less (for now) Path into the Woods
Hoodoo View

During our last visit during which we hiked the Lowland Trail, we found a narrow path leading up to this hoodoo. Against my better judgment, I stepped on its clay side at the base of the hoodoo where its incline just begins. The earth gave way as soon as all my weight was on it. Under the dry surface, the clay was wet and slick. I slid and fell down, clay all over my one shoe and covering my right pant leg. I didn’t get hurt, but my pride was a little bruised.

View From Above of the Big Knife Creek Valley
Another View of the Battle River

To be whole. To be complete. Wildness reminds us what it means to be human, what we are connected to rather than what we are separate from.

Terry Tempest Williams
The Hills Beyond the Park
I never thought to take a picture of the bear-warning sign, but this image is close.
One More View of the Battle River

I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority.

E. B. White

Breathing Life Into Reading

A few weeks ago, I received an email through my website. It was from a school librarian in Fort Saskatchewan. She and a couple coworkers were planning a photo tour around Alberta as part of a literacy project. They would visit several communities during their school’s spring break in my area of the province, capturing images of “large” attractions and meeting authors along the way. Staff members of the French-immersion school, École Parc Élémentaire, made this incredible journey to spark a love of reading in their students through local sites and local stories.

École Parc Élémentaire staff members reading my books in front of Hughenden’s large brown-eyed Susan created by Ed Larson from a really big Bridgestone tire.

On Thursday, April 1st, the three of them – two teachers and the librarian – pulled into town in their white van and up to where I waited to greet them by the brown-eyed Susan situated on the edge of town. They presented me with a thank-you card and a water bottle featuring their school’s logo. I gave them some books and a coveted Village of Hughenden pin to attach to the literacy display that they would set up in École Parc.

When they left Hughenden, they were headed to the Drumheller area and had made reservations to stay overnight at the historic Rose Deer Hotel in the nearby village of Wayne where they would visit the Last Chance Saloon downstairs for supper and in hopes of spotting a ghost. They have updated me since and, while they enjoyed their stay and their supper, they reported their disappointment at not seeing an apparition there or anywhere during their trek.

They may not have seen a ghost, but these engaging École Parc Élémentaire staff members breathed life into the spirit of reading and, along the way, they made this east-central Alberta author’s day!

Prairie Sunsets with Pablo Neruda

For years, I believed Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) to be the soft, starry-eyed poet of the love struck. Of course he was, but this Nobel Prize in Literature (1971) recipient was so much more.

“He who becomes the slave of habit, who follows the same routes every day, who never changes pace, who does not risk and change the color of his clothes, who does not speak and does not experience, dies slowly.”

― Pablo Neruda

“Give me, for my life, all lives, give me all the pain of everyone, I’m going to turn it into hope.”

― Pablo Neruda

“Let’s try and avoid death in small doses, reminding oneself that being alive requires an effort far greater than the simple fact of breathing.”

— Pablo Neruda

“In one kiss, you’ll know all I haven’t said.”

— Pablo Neruda

“He who does not travel, who does not read, who does not listen to music, who does not find grace in himself, she who does not find grace in herself, dies slowly.”

― Pablo Neruda

“With which stars do they go on speaking, the rivers that never reach the sea?”

— Pablo Neruda

“He who has nothing — it has been said many times — has nothing to lose but his chains.”

— Pablo Neruda

“If nothing saves us from death, at least love should save us from life”

— Pablo Neruda

“And that’s why I have to go back to so many places there to find myself and constantly examine myself with no witness but the moon and then whistle with joy, ambling over rocks and clods of earth, with no task but to live, with no family but the road.”

— Pablo Neruda

“It is not so much light that falls over the world extended by your body its suffocating snow, as brightness, pouring itself out of you, as if you were burning inside. Under your skin the moon is alive.”

— Pablo Neruda

“My soul is an empty carousel at sunset.”

— Pablo Neruda

“Do you not see that the apple tree flowers only to die in the apple?”

— Pablo Neruda

“Give me your hand out of the depths sown by your sorrows.”

— Pablo Neruda

“So I wait for you like a lonely house
till you will see me again and live in me.
Till then my windows ache.”

— Pablo Neruda

An Awfully Heavy Burden

Do you want to be right or do you want to be light? Throughout life and especially as we age, we need to decide if we’ll release the burden of the past and forgive or if we’ll keep carrying around our pain. Either way, it’s difficult. It’s hard to lug through life all our hurts and resentments that grow heavier with time. It’s challenging, too, to open our hearts, accept our pain, and to forgive and move on.

Listen to me read this post:

In a cardboard box downstairs in my house, the house that belonged to my grandmother, there’s a trove of cards and letters that my grandmother collected over the years. In that cardboard box, I found and read several warm and caring letters written in my mom’s graceful hand to her mother-in-law who openly could not stand this young woman married to her son. So consumed by her feelings toward my mother, Grandma expressed them to me, long after my mother was dead and gone.

My grandma chose the narrative that supported her resentment, those poisonous perceptions. No one forced her to sustain it. There is always a small payoff to carrying grudges and resentful attitudes: we get to feel we’re right, that we hold the truth and see situations as they actually are. It is a very small payoff compared to the repeated stabs of resentment we experience each time we review our treasured memories of slights and insults, real or imagined.

The Gift We Give Ourselves

Feeling justified often keeps us from forgiving. We tell ourselves, “They don’t deserve my forgiveness.” We hold our anger close so that it scorches us, but instead of dropping that hot coal, we clench our fists and hold our hate tightly. We clutch our memories of situations that hurt us but now are over. Why don’t we let go of our suffering? Perhaps we feel that we shouldn’t give up our view of being right, of being the victim in all this. Our resentment and the stories surrounding it are part of our identity. Sometimes, we become our pain. If we didn’t hurt anymore, who would we be?

That’s why forgiveness is not for the other but only for us. It’s the forgiver who changes, not the forgiven. The forgiven don’t even have to know they been forgiven for forgiveness to work. Heck, they’ve probably forgotten all about us. They’re too wrapped up in their own stories, just like we are.

To forgive means to take control of our own minds and of our own lives. This isn’t easy, either. But as long as we judge ourselves and blame others, these negative feelings are in charge. The more we forgive the more power we have over our lives. Counterintuitively, the more we release, the more we gain.  There is strength in forgiveness, more than in bearing a grudge and holding close our old hurts.

It seems strange to me that forgiving is often interpreted as weakness. If you’ve tried it, you know it takes much more determination to forgive than to hate. We can slide into resentment like slipping down a hillside, slick with mud. Forgiving is like climbing that same hill while the rain is still coming down.

A Path to Peace

There’s no way around it that I’ve found. There can be no personal peace without forgiveness. That’s too bad because not only is forgiving one of the most difficult things we do, it’s also never ending. We will never forgive one final time, wash our hands and say, “Well, I’m glad that’s done” as if we’ve just finished painting a room or cleaning the garage.

As Martin Luther King Junior said, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a constant attitude.” And he would know.

Forgiveness is an ongoing, high-maintenance project. The moment we’ve successfully let go of one hurt, another one pops up to take its place.

Yes, forgiveness is a lifetime’s worth of work, but it may be the most worthwhile work we choose to do. In the end, it’s up to each one of us to decide if we will carry our heavy burden into old age or if we’ll lay it gently down and continue along a path to peace.

Of course, it’s too late for my grandma to feel the soothing balm of forgiveness. But it’s not too late for me to remember her painful and heavy burden, and to use her story to encourage myself to undertake the lifelong and urgent work of forgiveness.  

Abandoned Around Here – A Photo Blog

When looking for photos to post to the historical society Twitter account I manage, I realized that I have quite a trove of photos from abandoned homesteads and building sites in the area. Here are some of the best close-to-home shots from over recent years. These were all taken at the same abandoned farmstead. Wherever you are, take time to enjoy the view. – Lori

The view through the farmhouse window
The cupboard is bare.

“It was a mistake to think of houses, old houses, as being empty. They were filled with memories, with the faded echoes of voices. Drops of tears, drops of blood, the ring of laughter, the edge of tempers that had ebbed and flowed between the walls, into the walls, over the years.

Wasn’t it, after all, a kind of life?

And there were houses, he knew it, that breathed. They carried in their wood and stone, their brick and mortar a kind of ego that was nearly, very nearly, human.”

― Nora Roberts, Key of Knowledge

The same barn from a distance.

“Give me an old house full of memories and I will give you hundred novels!”

― Mehmet Murat Ildan

Historic Preservation Quote | Renovation Quotes

“The reality is that old houses that were built a hundred years ago were built by actual craftsmen, people who were the best in the world at what they did. The little nuances in the woodwork, the framing of the doors, the built-in nooks, the windows—all had been done by smart, talented people, and I quickly found that uncovering those details and all of that character made the house more inviting and more attractive and more alive.”

― Joanna Gaines, The Magnolia Story

Treacherous Skate, Frosty Walk

Yesterday morning I dug out my old skates and walked down to the outdoor rink that the local fire department created in December. It’s situated by the local arena which lately, due to Covid-19 restrictions, has been closed. People skate on this oval all the time, but this was my first visit to the newest attraction in the village.

When I arrived at the ice rink, one of the volunteer firefighters was just finishing adding some water to the ice surface to remove the thick frost left there by the rain we’d received a day or two before. He’d made a wide, wet ring around the outside edge of the oval, but the centre was still thick with a combination of frozen rain and sleet. The firefighter had run out of water to apply to the ice so he drove off on his quad, hauling a little trailer behind, and I laced up my skates.

Prior to this attempt, I hadn’t skated for about seven years. As I stepped onto the ice, I made a realization: wet ice is extremely slippery. I took a few tentative steps and began staggering around like a newborn giraffe, my arms flailing in tight circles as I tried to gain some balance. Then, as I rounded the oval I discovered what I couldn’t detect from just looking at the ice rink. It has a definite downhill slope and suddenly, I was on that decline and picking up speed fast on the wet surface. With my knees locked in terror and my arms spread for balance, I made a frantic plan to leap into the snowbank I was headed for. But, even as I planned my desperate escape, my skate blades obeyed my feet and followed the curve of the wet ice oval. Here, the ice was level and I slowed to nearly a stop.

Heart pounding, I stepped off the wet outer oval and onto the frosty centre where I staggered about until the firefighter returned on his quad with a full canister of water on his trailer. By the time he returned, I was regaining a small slice of my lost skating ability. Still, I was happy to head to the bench, swap my skates for boots, and let him finish resurfacing the ice.

After my short, sweaty skate (sweaty from fear and the exertion it took to keep upright), I dropped my skates off at home and went for a walk. The sun was bright and the trees were adorned with frost. There were large ice crystals embedded in the frost and floating through the air, glinting as the morning sun kissed them.

The ice crystals are quite visible on this glittering tree.
The road I walk north of the village.

Thanks for dropping by to spend some time with me today. Take care. ~ Lori

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