November life

Nov. 6

A good strong cup of Red Rose tea, a fire in the stove, and sunshine on the floor.

I am online, looking up recipes for baked halibut.  I think I found one that looks good and isn’t too hard.  Tim and Tammy from church gave us a wonderful bag of fish as a pastor appreciation gift and I’ve been hoarding it.  But I knew my cooking needed some spicing up and last night when my niece (Hi, Mrs. Smith! That is her name, for real) posted on facebook that  she was making maple glazed salmon with honey roasted almonds, I remembered that I had salmon and halibut in the freezer.

I’ve been feeling kind of flat the last two days.  It is probably partly jet lag and just simply getting back into normal life after our trip to Ontario for a wedding last weekend.  At the risk of sounding exaggerated. I pronounce it a fabulous trip.

We flew from Edmonton to Hamilton, which made it fun for the four children we took along with us.  We stayed with wonderful hosts in a big old farmhouse, where we had the upstairs all to ourselves and enjoyed breakfasts with our hosts and sitting in what I’d call a parlor to visit.  I’d forgotten all about the sitting rooms in those old houses.  One was what they called the family room and the other a living room.  And they were both beautiful, though one is more cozy and lived in than the other.

I’d forgotten about the beautiful brick and stone houses back east.  With huge porches! Decorated with pots of geraniums and mums! And rocking chairs!  So pretty and inviting.

I met up with two friends I’d known only through blogging.  We ate extraordinary pie and roasted pork with friends who’d first visited us here at BayTree on a trip to Alaska.  Our girls stayed with another family in a big farmhouse and had a wonderful time.  Our two oldest boys met us in Ontario after driving across the country to get there.  We had brunch and a lovely visit with friends from Guatemala that we knew from our days in Belize.

And then there was a wedding and weddings are always sweet.  Dan officiated and the happy couple looked like they’d never quit smiling.

I burned my favorite veil when I went to iron it at our host’s house, so for the whole weekend I was wearing this big, boxy thing in a land of super neat white caps.  Oh, life is so humbling.

While in Ontario, we got to meet Alec’s girlfriend from Pennsylvania.  She is a delightful person and will get along famously with our family, I do believe.

Nov. 7

Another cup of tea, a dying fire, and rather dubious sunshine patches.

I just finished washing off the front of the house from the mud we had weeks ago.  I tried to do it the other day, but it was too cold.  Anyone who has a clean door and dogs is my hero.  Keeping doors clean is a big job with dogs, kids, and mud.  Not to mention house fronts with pale yellow siding.

Bryant is gone to Wisconsin for two months.  He is living with Dan’s parents and working in his uncle Todd and aunt Kim’s bulk food store.  I am feeling empty-nestish about one less plate at the table.

This morning I cleaned my plant room.  My mom loved plants and I remember her cleaning her big plant table in the south window on Saturdays.  She was always pinching and repotting and tidying them.  When she and Dad built their retirement home (where we now live), she had a big sunroom built on to the south end of the house where she could start her tomato and cabbage plants in the spring.  And where she could display all her houseplants.

Alas.  I like plants too.  But I am lazier than my mom.  I feel like I should use the big sunroom, so it’s full of plants.  But mostly I just water them to keep them from dying.  I don’t trim and tidy and repot like Mom did.  Some of them do well.  Others do not spark joy.

We are having meetings next weekend and a guest speaker from Wisconsin.  So I was inspired to do some upkeep in my plant room.


It looks much better now.


I don’t know why blogging satisfies me so much, but it does.

Thanks once again for reading here.

If you are on facebook and/or instagram, the following pictures won’t interest you because you probably already saw them.

Happy weekend!

For some reason the captions don’t show unless you click on the pictures.

A few Ontario friends:



And a few of my sketches:



The Incredibles

Its Saturday morning again and after getting up at 5:30 to see our 17 year old son, his cousin, and my mom off on their trip to southern Alberta, I am again plagued with sleeplessness. So why not write a blog post? I made a wonderful cup of coffee and the house is so still and inviting.

I’m so thankful for the writing prompts some of you gave me a while ago. Now that I feel like writing again, I am on a roll.

In this post, I’ll combine two writing ideas. Someone asked me how we chose our children’s names and someone else suggested writing a positive attribute of each of our children.

Alec Daniel was born on his dad’s birthday, so hence the middle name. We liked the name Alex, but it was so common that we went with a different flavour. We have sometimes regretted that choice, as he pretty much gets called Alex all the time by those who don’t know him well. But I still like the name and its meaning: defender of men.

Alec is 21. He is a sensitive and passionate person and gifted in mechanics and music. Most people probably think of him as the dark and mysterious type. But when you know him well, he kind of wears his heart on his sleeve. He is an honest soul with high ideals.


I’ve always liked names that end in “a” for girls. And Victoria sounds so regal and queenly. But we didn’t really love Vicky for a nickname and we knew a long name like hers would be shortened. So we went with Tori instead.

Victoria Brianne just turned 20. She lives up to her regal name and has always been such a lady. Victoria is kind, has impeccable manners, loves sunshine and children, and reads and writes a lot. She adores the classics and plays piano and ukulele beautifully.


Bryant’s name? I think we chose it because it sounds like a strong name. And it’s quite uncommon, at least in our circle of acquaintances. It means noble, strong, and virtuous.

In Dan’s family, a Joe had a Dan and that Dan had a Joe and that Joe had a Dan. In honour of the tradition, but not wanting to make our children feel obligated to pass it on, we chose Joseph for a middle name.

Bryant Joseph is 17. He is strong natured, but kind of easygoing. If that makes sense. Bryant is good with little kids and has a great sense of humour. He thinks very deeply about life and faith and is always listening to things that increase his knowledge of the world. Ask him your current events and history questions.


Natalia Brooke is 13. We had a friend Victoria in Belize who had a little girl named Natalia. I always thought it was a beautiful name and I remember telling Victoria in Belize that if we had another girl, she would be named Natalia. And we did. Her name is Russian and Spanish (among other races) for Natalie.

Natalia is neat and careful and a whiz at school. (Not to brag, but our children all are. They don’t excel in athletics, but they do so well in music and books.) Natalia is a composed and responsible person. I know that if I ask her to sweep the floor or fold the laundry, it will be done well. And she can learn a song like nobody’s business. She has dry wit and usually outsmarts the rest of us. And she does beautiful French braids and Dutch braids and fishtail braids.


Andre is our twist on Andrew. It means masculine and brave. He weighed 10 lb. 4 oz., so his name fit him back then and still does.

Andre Matthew is 12. He is built like his dad and kind of similar in personality too. He is very laid back and loves a good joke. Andre’s love language is quality time and nothing suits him better than hunting with his dad or a special shopping trip with me. He loves dogs and is insightful and funny.


We watched The Sound of Music at our piano teacher’s house a few weeks before Liesl was born. After we came home, Dan said, “Let’s name our baby Liesl if we have a girl.” So we did. Liesl is a diminutive of Elizabeth in German. We say it with a soft “s”, but like it either way.

Liesl Deanna was born the day after my brother Kevin’s birthday. (He’s the one who passed away.) His middle name was Dean, so the Deanna is in honour of him.

Liesl is 10. She is the cuddler of the family and I just love her hugs. She loves little children, books, and pretty things. She’s a sensitive little soul and cares about animals and flowers and other things in nature. She is more of a dreamer than her practical sister.

So there you have it. We are incredibly proud (thankful-proud, not prideful-proud) of these beautiful children. I could write a long post about their faults too. But I’ll save that for another day. 😁

I love hearing other people’s name choices. So if you care to…you know what to do–without me begging. 😉😂

Happy Saturday!

Saturday morning

Dan and I woke early. His phone buzzed and I was a little mad that he had it beside our bed.

Then we couldn’t get back to sleep.



I rarely look at my stats on WordPress, but this week I did and I was amazed and humbled at how many people read my last post. I honestly don’t know why you bother, as I just kind of meander along and don’t feel full of wisdom to impart to you–or even things that are interesting.

I always thought most of my readers were directed to my blog from Facebook or Instagram. Those places are where I get the main comments and interactions. But lately I get random comments from people I know nothing about and I’m so curious about you. Sorry that I don’t answer you more. It’s just kind of hard to know what to say to a stranger who kind of knows me when I don’t know them at all. And I really don’t get a lot of comments on this blog, period.

But so many of you have said that you praying for me and I wish I knew how to thank you. ❤️

At the risk of looking like I’m trying to copy the revered Shari Zook’s latest survey on her blog, I’d love it if you’d leave a comment and tell me a little about yourself: age if you care to, single or married, where you live, what you’re passionate about, why you bother reading here. Whatever. I do get private messages from people who say they don’t like to comment publicly and I understand that. Stay hidden if you prefer.

I set up this blog a long time ago and it’s the free version. I actually have no idea how the comment section works for you. Is it decently user friendly? It doesn’t ask you to prove that you’re not a robot and pick out of those horrid pictures of every image that has traffic lights on it, does it?

I feel like I’m begging for comments. Mostly I just want to make a little connection with you.

When I wanted to write this week, I kept thinking of a post called These Are the Days. It would include elk skulls bleaching in my porch, planting bulbs and digging them up, baking dozens of cookies, and taking to kids about romance and dating.

But I didn’t write it.

When I asked what you’d like to hear about, my friend Grace said she’d like to hear from me about growing up with pioneer parents. Sadly, I am the eighth of ten children and it was my older siblings who had the excitement of true pioneer-dom. By the time I came along, life was pretty dull. When I was younger, chocolate chips, raisins, and cheese were special treats reserved for company and Christmas. And as many of 10 of us lived together at one time off and on with only one bathroom–and lots of guests. But my life was pretty cushy. There were those horrid pointy shoes Mom found in the attic and made me wear when I was about six. And some ugly double knit hand me down dresses. But I had it pretty easy. My sister Carol needs to write the pioneer stories. I actually have another sister who is working on some of them and maybe she’ll start her own blog. I’ll keep working on convincing her.

Last night I rode on the combine with Dan. This morning it is snowing. And the oats is not off yet. 😩It’s been such a wet summer and fall, so challenging for farmers. The snow isn’t likely to stay, but it just complicates things.

Skip this part if we’re friends on Facebook or Instagram. But here is something I’ve been having fun with.

“Ruth” asked me to write about how to learn to love autumn. She hates it. It’s very hard for me to see the wind working so hard to remove EVERY leaf from the trees. But there’s something about the dying off and tucking away that I like. And I loooove the colour. And the combines. Can you help Ruth out by leaving a comment about how to love fall?

It’s positively white out there now that it’s light. My poor farmer.

Happy Saturday! Just a reminder to deign to drop by and say hello. 😁❤️

I do love you, known and unknown.



10 things

Yesterday was Canadian Thanksgiving.  This morning the house is put together again after a happy weekend and I’m thinking about thanks.  Do you have obscure things you’re thankful for?  I’ll list a few of mine.

  1.   Geraniums.  I didn’t used to like them.  For one thing, the smell.  But my mom grew lovely ones.  And my neighbor, Linda Funk, has them blooming in her sunroom in the depths of winter and they’re SO cheery.  I have come to love them.  I grow them in the summer and bring some in every fall.  They get gangly and ugly.  But this year I’m determined to keep after them and prune them, even if it means cutting off buds.
  2.   My hair.  I say that with some hesitation.  I have never had thick hair and I’ve always dreamed of it.  After six babies, it is so thin that I don’t like for anyone to see it down.  I have taken collagen and tried shampoos and had my thyroid checked.  And my hair has gone quite grey while I am relatively young too.  So I don’t love my hair.  But I’m thankful for this:  I don’t have places at all where I’m balding and the hair on my scalp is relatively thick.  So if I cover up the back, I look like a relatively normal person. For that I am thankful.  When I get to heaven, I am going to ask Jesus for thick, glossy, curls. (And if you have tried and true methods for growing thicker hair, I’d love to hear them.)
  3.   My church.  I was reading an old diary the other day and in it I was so discouraged because we’d had a members’ meeting with only eight people.  I remember praying back in those days, “Lord, we’re not asking for much, but you know that a few good, solid families would really balance us out and make us more effective.” I remember claiming the verse about God doing exceeding abundantly beyond all we could ask or imagine.  We slogged along with just a handful of people for what felt like a very long time.  But God DID send us some wonderful people.  Not a great heap of them.  But enough to help us have a good school with good teachers.  And decent singing on a Sunday morning.  And more hands to do hard jobs like cleaning and upkeep.  And balance to our decisions at members’ meetings.  God is good.
  4.   The sun.  This goes without saying if you know me. And it’s not really obscure.  But I am sooooooooooooooooooooooo  thankful for the sun.  (I can see why some people have worshiped the sun.  It’s borderline worship for me.  I just need to direct that worship to the God who made it.)
  5.   Colour.  I love colour in the landscape, in flowers, and in clothing.  The end. (And I am so glad that pretty florals are all the rage again.)
  6.   My friend *Lydia.  (not her actual name because she is modest and I don’t want to embarrass her)  There is a lady in our church who is organized, efficient, kind, and sews beautiful clothes.  She is the type who just keeps things together.  She loves numbers and is a great book keeper.  She reads through the Bible with her teens in the early mornings and is always looking for ways to improve her health and spirituality.  I used to feel inferior to her, but she is so humble that I feel small when I compare myself to her, so I have just come to accept the fact that she’ll always be ten steps ahead of me.  A neighbor once made a comment that living with Lydia must be like living with Jesus himself.  So you can see that she has a good reputation.  I love her very much.
  7.   Dried thai honey mangoes, the Happy and Healthy brand that our Walmart sells.  Too much added sugar.  But otherwise the Best Snack Ever.
  8.   This coat that I found the other day at Salvation Army.img_7039
  9.   Dan, Alec, Victoria, Bryant, Natalia, Andre, and Liesl.
  10.   The promise in Philippians 1 that He who began a good work in us will bring it to completion.

I’d love to hear just one thankful thought from you today.  I know that’s a common question and you don’t have to answer it.  But you can if you want to.

(I am also thankful for four weeks of good health.  I can hardly believe that I have gone so long with very few depressed days.  But I am ever so grateful.)

Of weddings & menus

Hi friends!

When I asked for writing prompts in my last post, someone suggested writing about our wedding menu and someone else suggested writing about what I’ve been cooking.

So let’s talk food for a bit.

For some reason I had always thought having a wedding brunch would be fun.  So that is exactly what we did.  I’m not sure how people felt about a wedding that started at 9:00 a.m.  But they were good sports and came.

We got married like so many before us have done and headed to Bonanza Community Hall for the wedding.

There we were served my mom’s famous quiche, a recipe tried and perfected on her family for months before the wedding, then made in big amounts and frozen. She even brushed the bottom crust with egg whites to keep it from getting soggy.

We had Morning Glory cottage cheese that Dan’s parents brought all the way from Wisconsin, a favorite brand of his family’s all their growing up years.  Dan’s mom also brought Wisconsin-canned peaches, as Dan was partial to how his mom canned them.

We had appetizers of melon balls and strawberries in little plastic goblets and orange juice to drink.  And we had muffins, doughnuts, and coffee.  We weren’t going to bother with a cake, but Dan’s sister whipped together a heart-shaped creation with plastic roses on it because it’s not a wedding without cake.

I think it was a rather lovely wedding in its day, though these cell phone pictures of ancient pictures quickly taken from my wedding book don’t necessarily depict it as such.


Enough about weddings.


Last week I wasn’t a very exciting cook.

But here’s what we ate:

Sunday: Roast chicken, baked potatoes, mixed vegetables

Monday: Belizean style beans, homemade flour tortillas, Caesar salad

Tuesday: Stew meat in a crockpot.  Easiest meal ever.  Put in crockpot frozen, then cover with one can of mushroom soup and one envelope of onion soup.  We ate it over brown rice. Also had cooked broccoli and cauliflower.

Wednesday: Ham and potato chowder.  Seven layer salad.

Thursday: Goulash and green beans.  (I hate the word goulash.)  It’s not a favourite here, so I guess I’ll wait a long while till I make it again. This goulash involves macaroni, chili powder, garlic, tomato juice, and hamburger.

Friday: Chicken teriyaki stir fry

Saturday: Taco salad

Sunday: Roast beef, mashed potatoes, corn, and Caesar salad

So there you go.   Tell me what you had for dinner tonight.  I always love cooking ideas.

sometimes I still miss it

A quiet house, except for the jiggle of the pressure cooker and the hum of the dryer. A cup of Earl Grey tea with honey and cream is my company.

The cool, crisp air, the sunshine, and about twelve days of feeling extremely decent after a terrible low make me feel like writing and writing. But when I sit down to do it, I realize how lazy I am, how prone to just write in the moment. I dash off something on facebook or instagram and that calms me down for a while. But I have never done much of the real work of writing. Plus, I feel kind of brain dead after a hard bout with depression. So while I long to write, I’m not sure what to write about.

With the pressure cooker jiggling and the smell of black beans in the kitchen, I am always transported back to our days in Belize.

may-july 2005 183

I miss it.

I miss people at the door all day long. I miss running to the shop for a bag of beans in the sunshine and saying bueonos dias to everyone on the street, bright white dust clinging to our flipflops. I miss Orangewalk fruit and vegetable stands and street tacos and Chinese shoe shops. I miss Ms. Dorothy and Ms. Juana, their doors always open for a visit, their smiles kind and welcoming.


The adjustments were hard when we first moved to Belize. We got homesick. It was HOT. We had three little children to train and were houseparents to two youth. Dan was installed as fill-in pastor of a little church, with no commissioning or training beforehand. There were needs at the door every day and we had no clue sometimes (often!) about the best ways to help. Dan struggled to feel useful.  We weren’t sure we belonged and tried hard not to be too American/Canadian.

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I remember taking a weekend break from noisy village life and the white streets of Carmelita and driving what felt like far, far away. The quiet of the green hills beckoned. It felt strange and wonderful to just be a family.  No youth to be responsible for, no one knocking at the door for rainwater.

But slowly the life grew on us. We learned to know our village and they learned to know us. Preaching came more easily for Dan. We took a trip home and it didn’t feel like home as much anymore. Returning to Belize, it felt like we belonged. We weren’t just the missionaries who came and went. We were just people and we started to fit in. We grew to love our fellow pastor families from churches nearby.

I thought we might stay forever.


Then, by a series of events, we came back to BayTree again. Sometimes I still feel like a displaced person here. But maybe I can write about that some other day. For right now I am happy with the many things that make this home. From Brian with Down’s syndrome taking the offering at church, to bright fall leaves, to kids going off to ski every winter.

Our snow of last week didn’t stay long at all. Haha to you, southern Alberta and Montana.

NOT!!! It’ll be us next.

If you have any ideas for what you’d like to hear about from me, please let me know. I can’t promise to deliver, but I’d love some writing prompts.

Sunshine and Caramel macchiatos

I’m sitting at an outdoor table at Starbucks, soaking up the sunshine.

Some moments are worth $8.61.

For the first in a very long time, I came to town and did a leisurely grocery shopping trip. I realized that the reason that I dislike grocery shopping so much is that I am always doing it in a rush. Usually it’s time to get home for supper because we come in after school for an orthodontist appointment or something. And I have (sometimes grumpy) children helping me grocery shop or sitting out in the car.

But today I moseyed along with shopping and I even washed the suburban. I can’t say how long it’s been since that has happened. I was checking the weather forecast and it looks like a good week of sunshine, so it was finally the day for that. Poor old vehicle. It’s ugly, but I still love it because it hauls so many people.

Like so many of you today, I am checking the Pray for Lincoln page on Facebook over and over. This whole story has been so heartbreaking. I don’t usually comment on Kaitlyn’s poignant posts because I just don’t have words!

When my parents lost my brother Kevin, they talked about how his death felt so backwards. You just always expect to die before your child does.

Watching how gracefully this family is moving through the last moments of their child’s life reminds me of losing Dad and Kevin, though of course it’s a different scenario with one so very young. I don’t know if I took either death very gracefully. With Kevin’s, I battled bitterness and anger so much.

So much grace and sweet peace to the Schrocks and others facing the hardest and most sacred moments of their lives.

The leaves are blazing magnificently this fall. I have sweet peas in a vase on the kitchen table that smell like a little piece of heaven.

After a dark week last week, this one is much better. I don’t understand the ups and downs. But even at my best, I struggle deeply with motivation. NOTHING feels meaningful and worth doing. And it’s not that there’s a lack of things to do!

Anita Martin writes about stages of depression in her book about bipolar disorder:

Light gray stage- I am able to keep after normal duties, but no extras.  I feel sad and draggy.  I am so happy to tumble into bed at the end of the day.  But I still enjoy my cup of hot chocolate.

Moderate gray stage- Ironing looks hard and mending looks impossible; it takes deliberate concentration to follow a recipe.  Menus are mind-boggling and exhausting.  Going away looks big, especially if I realize I have to fill up with gas.  I feel increasingly sad.  Unrealistic thoughts play at the edges of my mind-“I think the neighbor lady hates me.  I believe I married the wrong man.  None of my children will amount to anything.  My life is a waste.”  Doing dishes and sweeping the floor is the limit.  I go to bed an hour or so earlier than normal and get up an hour later.  It takes too much effort to get a mug out to make hot chocolate.

Dark gray stage- It takes heroic effort to get out of bed.  Arms feel heavy, and I move slowly and methodically about the house.  My thinking is very foggy, and I struggle to remember what day of the week it is or what month.  Noise, light, and conversation hurt.  Food is a necessary evil.  An overwhelming sadness pervades everything.  Hot chocolate doesn’t even cross my mind.

Black stage-  My life revolves around bed and bed only.  Going to the bathroom is exhausting and combing my hair looks impossible.  Washing my hair is unthinkable.  I feel immobilized…in a trance of supreme discomfort.  My thinking and talking is irrational, and sometimes incoherent, full of lost phrases, floating fragments of thoughts.  Someone brings me a steaming mug of my favorite hot chocolate, but hot chocolate stinks.  Living hurts and death looks inviting.

This is pretty much spot on.  I share it in case you are trying to understand someone who’s depressed.

I think the pills I take keep me in a haze. The hexagon shaped one gives me a rash around my mouth. The pink rectangular one makes me yawn all the time. They both dull things, so that life isn’t as bright as it once was. Why are you on them? you may ask.

Because no one wants another manic episode and they stabilize mood.

Yesterday the day was so beautiful that it felt like we should have an outing. So we bought pizza and went to the park instead of eating sauerkraut and smokies at home.

Then we walked down to the river.

Lovely fall, will you stay a while?

It’s wonderful here at Starbucks and I would like to just stay and let the city of Dawson Creek pass me by. But there are frozen things in the shiny, rusty suburban to put in the freezer at home.

Adios. Thanks for reading my words again.