happiness

In Grandma’s Words part 16 (FGK 78)

And finally we have the story of how Grandma’s kitchen came to be in her own words. I absolutely love this description. I have to say I smile every time I look at the photo of Grandma in front of the fireplace as she’s accompanied by the best dog of all time, my old friend Kayla. I don’t know how Kayla managed to get into Grandma’s memory book but I love that she’s there. I miss that dog.

I have so many memories of lying on that old red leather couch, surrounded by the overpowering smell of geraniums and reading old Archie comics. It was one of my all time favourite places to hang out when I was a kid. Although the geranium smell made me swear I would never ever have those flowers in my house, I religiously plant them in the flowerbed in the verandah just off the kitchen because that’s what was always there and anything else seems wrong. They just fit.

We decided then to tear off and build a new kitchen, level with the rest of the house. And build up the earth to be level with the back door and widen all our doors so that a wheelchair could get around easily.

At this age in my life I had enough experience to really know what I wanted in a kitchen, and I got it. Small kitchens were the style then but to me and our way of life the kitchen always seemed to be the heart of the home. I compare a good kitchen in a home to a good woman. And in my way of thinking a good woman is the most important person in the world. Like a good woman, a kitchen should be efficient and beautiful and always have a pleasant fragrance surrounding it. What is more alluring than the aroma of fresh baked bread, hot pies, and a roast in the oven?

One wall of my new kitchen is of knotted pine and has a fireplace with built in china cupboards on each side. The cooking area has knotted pine cupboards. Natural wood adds warmth to a room. The south west corner is all windows which look out on a panoramic view of the Jumping Pound valley up to the wide range of Rockies. This area is an indoor garden of flowers because we seem to have 9 months of winter in this country. It also holds our old red leather covered chesterfield. My range is a beautiful old fashioned one Percy bought me many years ago and I wouldn’t have it for any modern one even an Ultra Ray. There was one small window, about 3ft by 2 ft off the south wall which I didn’t like so I designed a stained glass one which portrayed our wildflowers and friendly wild birds and of course our source of existence – a cow and calf on pasture. This adds colour and conversation to the room.

I spend time every day looking at this stained glass window, it has always brought me a feeling of peace. I was told that Grandpa informed Grandma that the window was missing a bluebird and so he drew one in the top left hand corner. You can kind of see how the artwork of the bluebird is different from the rest of the window and that’s why.

My kitchen table seats twelve comfortably but of course often more. Adjoining is a very efficient mud room and extra bathroom. I worked hard for that kitchen.

The summer we built it I cooked for 18 men all summer in just a make shift kitchen. At the same time I gave Margie her physiotherapy which consisted of 38 exercises with resistance and each one 15 times. This I did twice a day. Margie also caught the mumps that summer.

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In Grandma’s Words part 13 (FGK-75)

One of my most valued artifacts in this house is a buckskin jacket with beadwork sewn on it. I was told that years ago (waaaay before my time) one of the ladies on the reserve who Grandma was friends with wanted to go to a fancy function but she didn’t have a gown that was appropriate for it. Grandma gave her one of hers so that the woman would be able to go, and never thought much of it again. A while later the buckskin jacket was gifted to Grandma as a thank you for the gift of the gown, and the beads that were hand sewn onto it were taken off of said gown. I look at it daily and it serves me as a reminder of how important it is to live life with an open heart, to give freely, and to receive with gratitude. Again, I try to be sensitive to the words that are used. Grandma only every spoke respectfully of our Indigenous neighbours to the west of us, and so I stayed true to the words written because it was what was used at the time.

The jacket
The beadwork

Grandma’s Cheese Straw recipe! My kids grew up eating cheese straws, and they are one of my fondest memories of snack munching as a kid. I agree with her sentiment that it’s a very precious recipe.

All through the years we felt a close tie between us and our neighbours the Indians at Morley. We would contract fencing jobs to them all summer. In the fall they would often help us harvest. And later in November would often ride with the men to help round up stray cattle. I loved our Indian friends and felt I could always trust them. We looked forward to the First of July when they held their annual Stampede in the beautiful natural setting where they had built their corrals. What a magnificent picture to view. We would park our car on the hillside looking down into the corrals, and beyond them the big circle of teepees and tents and their children, cats, and dogs. And back of it all those Gissing blue foothills leading up to the Rockies. Where on earth could you find more beauty and activity? I always felt well entertained. My chickens were just nice fryers by July 1st and I always fried about four or five and along with a salad, cake, and sandwiches that would do us for the day.

My Harry Jacques, the jeweller from Calgary used to have a contest with a prize for the best dressed Indian baby. He very often asked me to be a judge and I wanted so badly to give first prize to everyone there, they were so cute and the beadwork on the buckskin was beautiful. Our kids just loved the first of July and the Morley Stampede.

We always tried to get to Banff or Vermillion crossing for a few days holiday and fishing just before haying. Once we went to Everett, Wash, USA and dug clams just as Percy did when he lived at the coast as a boy.

Family fun time
Family picnic at the ranch
As you can see from the caption “slave labour”. The running joke is that the CL on the brand stands for “Continuous Labour”.
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Bear in the mountains

We took Bear up to the mountains today. I’ve waited for years to have a dog I can take places – this guy is so chill and happy it’s awesome.

It was a perfect sunny afternoon. As we were walking I realized this was the happiest I’ve been for a long time. For a couple of hours there was no stress, everyone was getting along, and we had the happiest dog in the world. This is what I’m working towards as our normal state of being.

Bear scared of a bear statue.

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Snow bowl

We decided it was spring like enough outside this afternoon so the girls grabbed their bikes and I grabbed my dog and we went out for a walk.

I love our evening walks, I love listening to the cousins giggle, I love seeing the dog happy, and I love the peace of the country and the mountains. It balances my soul and that brings me to happiness.

The girls found a great little snow bowl drift and stopped for a little rest along the way. They have so much fun together

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Keeping the faith

I woke up this morning pretty ticked off with God. There’s no nice way to say it, I wasn’t questioning His existence, but rather questioning why He seems to enjoy seeing how much I can take before I break.

Yesterday the boy told me how he felt that his generation hasn’t been raised in the church and he that blamed my generation for that. He said how grateful he was that I’d taken them to church and led them on a path to get to know God.

With that in mind I took my pity party to church this morning in hopes that the sermon would provide me some comfort. It didn’t. It probably annoyed me more than any sermon has in years. Fortunately it was a guest speaker, but I will be happy to not have to hear him again.

I left church still pretty pissy with God. As we came over the hill on our way home and looked out over the ranch and the mountains I stopped the car. I said this is how I know God exists and that he’s not a complete jerk. Look at how beautiful this is, only love could make something so amazing.

Figures since I’ve always found God at the ranch. But it’s not just the place, although it’s very spiritual for me, it’s the people – the tribe – who remind me that God exists in everything.

I stopped by my uncle and aunt’s place to pick up some food for my mom. Watching how my family loves and cares for each other – that’s God stuff, that’s God in the details, that is a reminder that we aren’t walking this journey alone. That is happiness

A photo my dad took of the mountains in the background of the ranch. This is my spiritual happy ground

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Avoiding sadness 

When I started this happiness journey it was my sincere desire to get to a permanent state of bliss. I naively thought that if I found something to be happy about every day I would one day be happy all the time. 

I’ve begun to understand lately that I need to feel the sadness. Pretending it’s not there and only focusing on the happiness means I’m not open to learn the lessons that pain beings and the strength that comes from that. I believe it’s important to shine light in the darkness and not focus on the bad, but in order to grow from it I need to acknowledge the sad times too. 

Sometimes life is just hard, some days have more tears than smiles, but every day is a gift. It really is. Feeling sadness also allows me to feel joy more intensely. 

Tonight there was an amazing sunset. I stood at the window with my mom and we watched it go behind the mountains. And that moment of happiness – it was a good one. 

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Waterton memories 

Waterton has long been one of my favourite places. I first went there on a school trip when I was 9 and it’s had a special place in my heart ever since. 

In recent years it’s become a happy place the kids and I have shared. There is a certain kind of peace we find in those mountains that we can’t find anywhere else. 

So today, as our beautiful haven is on fire, we spent some time with our happy memories of a place we love. It’s a special place for many of my friends as I’ve noticed them putting up some of their favourite Waterton photos. 

Nature will heal itself, it always does. But in the meantime we pray for the people and animals in the way of the fire. And remember all the happy moments we have spent in this magical place. 

It is my happy place. 

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The smoky mountains

We took an impulse drive to Banff this afternoon – how lucky are we that this wonderland is so close to our home. The drive was a little more tiring than I had thought it would be – shoulder is not happy with me – but the trade off was giggles and smiles from my monsters all afternoon. I feel like we’ve missed out on a lot of that this last month and we need to dedicate this last weekend of summer to fun.

The drive was insanely smoky, but interestingly enough Banff has less smoke than we have here so we were able to walk around and enjoy the mountains and the town. Best of all, after the fire last winter the candy shoppe has reopened so the kids got to get a treat. Happy happy happiness.

I definitely feed off the energy of the mountains and every so often I need to stand surrounded by them – in a mountain hug – and recharge myself.

I had coffee with a friend this afternoon and we both agreed we need to be doing some rebalancing. Funny how it’s so much harder to get back to centre than it is to lose it. But we work together and hold each other up and step by step we get there.

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