1999 to 2000

The Old Saw Mill (Dec 1999)

The final issue of the year, the decade, the century and the millennium. What to write about…. the pressure is building, I can sense why so many need to talk/write about it. Not me. I think our calendars are a bit out. The Year of the Dragon starts in mid-February and since I was born in 1952 that makes it a monumental year for me. All in all I can feel the need to change and Jan’s leaving has brought about many. I have found that once a void is created, either by cleaning my closets, my mind or my environment, nature fills it, so I expect the New Year to be as awesome as watching the changing colour of the leaves or listening to the big wind as all the leaves fall. I enjoy raking leaves especially when the morning sun is shining in all her glory. I like […Read More]

Driving the Tractor (Feb 2000)

The front cover photo is of my brother David on the tractor, which was donated to the family by my Grandma in Oregon. It was well used for many years and sold only when we left Rosswood. This great invention was used to ford flooded creeks, till the land, carry loads of potatoes or hay and ferry people up the mountain to go goat hunting. It could climb hills like a billy goat and made carrying down the dead one much easier. Aunt Cathie is in the trailer with Mom, who has a gun propped against her knee. Aunt Cathy wasn’t a hunter. She wanted to see the valley from high up and this one-time trip let her enjoy Mom’s love of the North. Camps were built at intervals so that the long hike into the mountains was successful and manageable. The tractor went up as high as the tree […Read More]

Skating on the Frozen Pond (Mar 2000)

This month’s photo is of my family in our canoe. Dad is at the back, beside the motor and sitting in the front is Aunt Cathy. You met her last month when she hiked up Mount Goaty with Mom. I am the only girl, sitting near the front and behind me are my five brothers, the sixth and youngest is being held by Aunt Cathy. The canoe was painted bright yellow to match our home-on-wheels, a refurbished school bus. It was a Grumman, which were famous because they never sink. They had air tanks built in the bow and stern and if it capsized everyone was to hang on and kick to shore. I don’t remember ever wearing a life jacket. If we had them they were used for sitting on, for the canoe bottom was always cold and hard.Every so often the whole family went for a canoe ride […Read More]

The Great Easter Egg Hunt (Apr 2000)

Do you recognize the dreamy-eyed girl? It is me, when I was four or five years old and still living in Michigan. I seldom wore dresses or white clothes after we moved to Rosswood when I was seven. I asked Marcel what kind of picture she would like to see on this month’s front cover and she said, “An Easter egg picture,” so I dug deep and found a picture of my rabbit and told her one of my favourite stories. The rabbit is on the table because my Mom was learning to be a painter and was told by her teacher to practice painting live objects. My rabbit seemed content to pose and I seemed content to watch. The baby bottle was my brother’s; Mom used it as a contrast to give perspective to the picture she was painting. The pile of Easter eggs is an added artistic touch […Read More]

Happy Mother’s Day (May 2000)

This month’s cover is a photo of Tess, my Mom, when she lived in Alaska. It was taken by Clarence, my Dad, who was quite impressed with her adventurous nature. Written on the back side is a note to his parents. It says, “This is it, Nice Eh? She had all kinds of nice clothes but likes to wear buckskin.” After twelve years in a Catholic convent for girls, Mom travelled to Los Angeles where her aunt encouraged her to take photography classes. Cameras then were quite complex. Her stepfather was gold mining in Alaska and offered her a flight to Aklavik, NWT, to visit Grandma. After the visit Mom flew to Anchorage, Alaska, and found a job as assistant photographer at Mount McKinley Park. She was to take pictures of wolves and record their habits. The pay was $125 per month plus room and board. She loved dogs and […Read More]

Happy Father’s Day (Jun 2000)

Meet Clarence, my Dad, when he was thirty years old. In the background is a railcar similar to the one that he lived in while he was in Alaska. He met Mom there and that story was in last month’s Musings. Dad was born in Detroit, Michigan, Feb. 17, 1918, third oldest child—the same as me, except I have two older brothers and he had two older sisters. At age eighteen he left home and found work at the CC camps (Construction Crews). The depression was in full swing and if you were fit, able and willing to work, you could work building Nature Parks. He got paid a dollar a day and got free room and board, plus one hundred dollars per month was sent home to his parents. Food wasn’t always plentiful, so some days Dad would go fishing. Since he didn’t own a fishing rod he improvised. […Read More]

116 Years Old Native Woman (Jul 2000)

Meet Nasuskau, an Inuit woman who was 116 years old when I met her. My family was travelling north in the Peace River Country to pick up Grandad and we stopped at an Indian village with our school bus. They were curious to see inside and asked to have a look. I remember the native Chief offering to buy my brother Billy for $2 (They thought he would make an excellent fisherman). I thought it was a great deal and didn’t understand why Mom and Dad didn’t accept the offer. My parents often complained about not having enough money and here was a chance to make some and get rid of a brother. Next came Nasuskau with a child at each arm, they gave her directions in their native tongue, as to how to get up the stairs of our bus. Inside her young helpers suggested that she sit on […Read More]

Dad Helping Me to Find Balance (Sep 2000)

Meet me at five months old learning the art of balance on my Dad’s hand. This was a joint effort: I had just enough leg strength to hold myself up and Dad did the balancing. His hand would move keeping me upright and if I tumbled, he still had hold of my feet and would loop me upwards as he caught my head and brought me to face him. By the look on my face I was probably wondering… “Is this necessary?” “Yes! It was a family tradition!” His Dad did it to him, all my brothers learned to do it, and now it was my turn. I don’t remember learning this skill but I do remember my Dad practicing with my younger bothers and many of their friends when they came over. The team work involved in showing off these skills was good for the soul. I am glad […Read More]

Happy Halloween (Oct 2000)

The front cover this month is a photo of my family dressed up for a Halloween party at our one-room schoolhouse in Rosswood, BC. Community gatherings were few and far between, as were the homesteads. We looked forward to these special occasions, for we knew there would be fresh-baked goodies to eat and time to play with the other eight kids that lived within a ten-mile radius. I usually dressed myself and then helped my brothers find suitable props to create the character they wanted. David wore his favourite hat and added a cape, sword, eye-patch and beard and became a pirate. Phillip went as a hobo and if you look closely you can see his sack tied on a stick. I went as an Indian princess. Mom let me use Grandma’s hand-beaded ceremonial cuffs and belt. These were given to her by some native women in Saskatchewan in appreciation […Read More]