1989 to 1992

Making Root Beer (Sep 1991)

In the good ol’ days when everyone recycled everything….beer bottles were used for making Root Beer. All that was needed was a bottle capper gadget and a box of new caps plus a package of Root Beer Malt and water. As children we waited anxiously for the day when it was ready to drink…sometimes the batch starting fizzing early and the bottles blew their caps, making a mess of the storage room. When the big day was announced we would cart the bottles down to the creek so they could be immersed and get cold. Drinking Root Beer was usually part of a planned celebration such as a birthday. Living in the boonies with no corner store, T.V. or fast food joints offering quick satisfaction, we learned to appreciate a certain quality of life. Any spare time was spent reading, visiting with friends (the closest was one hour away if […Read More]

Harvesting Hay the Ol’ Way (Nov 1991)

Just recently, I had the opportunity to travel north and spent several days in Rosswood, the community where I grew up. I visited all the old homestead sites… lingering a few minutes at each …starring at the state of decay that most were in. Many were demolished, including the old homesite where most of my Mom’s pictures were taken. The main highway going to the Nass Valley cuts right through our old homestead and all that remains is a fragrant lilac bush. As I toured Rosswood… I remembered the faces of the folks who had chosen to live there without the modern comforts that electricity makes possible and I marvelled at their physical endurance in raising a family naturally. Today, many of the settlers have generators, propane fridges and dryers and even indoor toilets. Plus… a small general store with a radio phone… so that important messages can be relayed […Read More]

Never Enough Snow! (Jan 1992)

Memories of the glorious days of winter, when it never seemed to snow enough. There was nothing quite as enjoyable or thrilling as a perfect run down the hill. I can still hear David or Phillip, my two oldest brothers, alternately yelling the phrase “Stay off the middle of the hill.” It was much easier to climb to the top if you didn’t have to crunch through the deeper, unpacked snow on the edge of the hill, with every step, especially if it was your turn to tow the sled up. As the hill became more packed the run would last longer, with the sled cutting fresh snow into our faces as we zoomed just a little bit farther. Falling off the sleigh or detouring off the main track and hitting the boonies was not a tragedy. It gave us stories to tell and for days afterwards, we repeated them […Read More]

Making Butter (Mar 1992)

Ol’ Betsy was the sweetest, gentlest animal on the farm. She would often wander up to the front door and poke her head in, just to say “hi.” I enjoyed taking twilight walks with Dad or Grandpa  to walk Betsy home from the neighbours’, several miles away. I marvelled at how she, a cow, knew the quickest route home better than I, a human, did. I remember when we first got her, how I marvelled at her horns and how huge she seemed to me, as an eight-year-old. Our parents took the time to show us how to feed her food from our hand by showing us how gentle Ol’ Betsy was. As children we discovered how much animals enjoy being petted and how lovable they are, for they wish only to be of service. On the front cover is my youngest brother, Donnie, taking his turn at churning the […Read More]

Northward Bound (May 1992)

I passed grade one in 1959 and my parents decided this was the year for the big move north. Destination … the end of the road … somewhere in northern BC where the government had announced incentives for homesteaders … land at $2.00 per acre.  My uncles came over and helped Dad load our second-hand school bus, the inside of which had been converted to a home, complete with bunkbeds and a kitchen. On top we packed everything that was important, including my mom’s piano and her trunk containing mementoes, many cameras and dark room equipment.  The bus was re-painted yellow and named Chinook, in honor of Mom’s beloved husky, who had just died. The dog had been just a pup when my Mom was working in Alaska and met my Dad.  Chinook came to Michigan, my Dad’s home, for the wedding, and they were supposed to return soon after […Read More]

Self-Sufficiency (Jul 1992)

Thank you to friends and strangers alike for their warm cheers about last month’s Musing column. It was fun doing the research on Grandma Tessier and Great-Grandma Kost. My Mom loved answering the questions and was delighted to haul out the newspaper clippings which prove that both my Grandmothers were driving forces of energy. My Mom made sure we kids knew that Grandma and Grandpa lived in the Arctic but when I was a teenager, her stories about them did not impress me. Then I got married and didn’t have time to listen. But now that my boys are in college and I’m single, I acquiesced to Mom’s desire to have Grandma’s story told and I had lots of fun doing it.  One day I may use some of her pictures on the front cover. I often get asked “How do you decide what to write about?” I try to live in […Read More]

Sister Superior Fires a Riffle (Sep 1992)

Every so often, I find the courage to take time off from business. This summer I spent three weeks exploring the Kootenays, going barefoot, swimming in Kootenay Lake and visiting with friends. I also spent time at an Ashram, which reminded me of going to Bible Camp when I was twelve years old. My Grandad was a devoted Catholic and my Mom enjoyed the local nuns’ company, so the four of them came out often to visit our homestead in Rosswood. These wonderfully spiritual ladies loved to go fishing and they were eager to give just about anything a try, even a little target practice, as you can see on this month’s cover photo. I remember their good-hearted belly laughs and how deftly they appeared to get around in those long skirts despite their dangling rosaries, even on a hot summer day. One Sunday, the parish Father joined the nuns […Read More]

The Cold Water Splash (Nov 1992)

As children on a farm with no running water, this was the way we washed our faces. Choosing this month’s cover photo taken by my Mom of brother Phillip helped me to put together a few more pieces of the puzzle understanding why I am the way I am. I never thought much about it till my kids and husband left home and gave me some time to myself, but once in while I used to wonder why people did things in a certain way. For example, I wonder why … I still torture myself on cold winter mornings, filling my cupped hands with cold water to splash my face, the same way that Phillip is about to do in the photo. When it is really cold I use luke warm water and some years ago I smartened up and started running hot water over my hands to warm them […Read More]