Saturday, June 30, 2007

Michael Long - RIP

Michael Long

May the souls of the faithfully departed,
through the mercy of God,
rest in peace...

There are moments when life doesn’t make sense, things just don’t seem fair at all…but we must accept that God's timing isn't necessarily our timing for life or death issues. The heavenly invitation comes when least expected, and since we know where it comes from, we must accept it as divine providence!

An early morning telephone call shook up our family today, news of a friend Michael Long, killed last night in a freak accident. He had traveled for the summer to assist his father, to spend time working side by side with him on a project, but it wasn't meant to be. While traveling he hit a deer last night, and when he exited his vehicle to observe and inspect the damage, as well as the deer itself, another car zoomed by and hit him dead on, killing him, taking away his last breath. Today another young friend was going to travel to join them for the next three months, and then the telephone call this morning...

Michael was a gentle and patient mentor to one of our sons when he was a teen attempting to choose paths on his road of life. It was Michael who happened across his meandering and wavering walkway, a strong bonding friendship eventually forming. As the friendship grew, so did the hard knocking advice for assisting our son greatly in his youthful ways, offering him much direction, and eventually teaching him the values of faith, family, stewardship, vocation and hard work.

Michael with our son at our anniversary dinner in March.

Michael was such a gentle soul who wore his emotions on his sleeves at times, a man who took it upon himself to get a whole host of folks praying for my hubby when finding out about the illness afflicting him, and a man who only wished to remain in the background and never in the forefront of fanfare. He was kind beyond kind and had such a tough life, working harder than anyone we know to keep on solid ground. How he tried so hard!

All our children and grandchildren loved him; he was that smiling face who would have given anything to help anyone, gave service freely and more often than most people did in a lifetime.

He was honored to be our granddaughter’s godfather.
Our little Rose (and all of us) will miss him.

Recently he attended our thirtieth wedding anniversary evening when we were in Vancouver this past March. He left us a rather long and very emotional video message, taped by our son and his wife. It rings true; one never knows the day nor the hour when they will be called….

Michael, we will miss you when we return in August! You ran the race well friend, rest in peace…

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

~ Hebrews 12: 1-3

Thursday, June 28, 2007

And...the rain came tumbling down...

Wild and Wet!

It’s been some time since we’ve been to the waterslides. A water park is a spectacular and all encompassing day’s worth of amusement for the entire family, one daytrip outing we attempted each summer for several years at one time. However, it’s been quite a while and I was trying to think just how long it’s really been, and five years came to mind.

Waterslide fun!

Currently we're participating in the soccer season with our fellow homeschooling families here, we were inundated with personal invitations to ensure we were in the loop with the happenings of the end of year waterslide day set aside for our group. With a wondrous special group rate, a perfect sunny day and four enthusiastic children, it wasn’t going to be missed this year for sure. Off we went yesterday morning, freshly baked muffins and fruit in the cooler with our drinks, knapsacks and other such things tagging along.

Pool fun while taking a break from sliding.

The day was brilliantly bright, hotter than all get out; humidity was high leaving anyone not dipping in the water drenched with perspiration. The entrance fee included mini golfing as often as one wished for, and all other activities on the grounds except laser tag, bowling, and rock climbing. Those were extra fees, but our older son opted to get a game of laser tag in with a friend after they swam for many hours.

Mini golfing was enjoyed many times over.

This was a first year all our enthusiastic children had friends aplenty partaking in the fun ahead, and off they went giggling with excitement. I drifted about chatting with many of the mothers present, until I couldn’t stand the heat any longer and happily succumbed to the pools for some time.

Bumper cars.
This daughter has a wee passenger on hers.

We had a great day! We had hoped for the bulk of the day until dinnertime for our fun, but as predicted (when are the weather stations exactly accurate?); the thunder began rolling in slowly but surely, lightning, and rain to follow. Odd winds began to thrust upon us for very short periods of time, making all realize this was not going to be a small storm to hang around and wait out.

The storm was drifting towards us.

Soon the waterslides and all water activity areas surrounding them were closed, and we made the executive decision to begin packing up for the day. In hindsight, it’s a good thing we did. With smiles on our faces the entire drive towards home, we noted the falling rain accumulate and dump on us! YES! We needed it! The lightning continued for several hours, our electrical power went on and off, and scary funnel clouds appeared down the road. Oh dear!

Rain! YES!

The forecast details sun and heat to continue for another 14 days, one small 30% chance of rain in between it all. Today, it’s glorious outside again, so lovely I think I’ll head to the front porch with my coffee and keep my hubby company now.

Hope your day is great too!



But these ones weren't for me. Our family was invited to another's for a lovely summer night dinner (yes, they had air conditioning on the hottest day of the year!), so these ones were for our hostess. smile

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

You know it's HOT when....

You know it's HOT when....

Whoever coined the famous phrase;

“Lazy days of Summer

obviously lived over in the east!

Our summer began with a bang, watching the red on the thermometer rise higher and higher to double digit numbers within the thirty degree Celsius levels, early summer season extraordinary temperatures, high enough to make even a sun-lover weary by nightfall. The locals tell us we've been lucky experiencing only three higher humidity days so far, so in all honestly, the weather has been like a tropical oasis, sending us all happily into the new summer season.

Tempting water's edge!

Ahhh, cooling off!

Water play has been huge recently.

We’ve been loving the fabulous brighter days, enjoying the summer sun shining upon us, and offering this season’s early greetings. The nightsky has been a rich black velvety blanket of shiny twinkling stars amidst a silvery glowing moon, lighting our way outdoors. It's been light out until almost eleven at night. However today is day 14 of this dry spell and thoughts of concern are showing on the farmer’s faces about now.

Laundry hung outdoors is dry in record time.

(This clothesline is filled with hockey
jerseys from a deep garage cleaning)

There is strong evidence we are expecting a thunder/lightning storm tomorrow, hopefully some rain will fall. At last count, we have one young maple tree dead in the front, two more dying near its locale, and we’re concerned enough about the four new Siberian spruces and one large Norwegian spruce in the front seemingly a bit shocked with the intensity of the heat, not having the extra nightly moisture for their roots to keep moist and supple by day. Early morning rising has been mandatory to perform the watering tasks necessary before the heat of the day. Coffee on the front or back porch accompanies the watering duties, something akin to "bonding" hours.

Invited for a swim many times from several folks.

With the high readings on the thermometer, drifting thoughts of the water’s edge is extremely tempting, already we've made several visist there this past week, and yesterday we were invited to another homeschooling family’s home for a swim.

Friend's family pet loves the warmth.

  • You know the weather is hot and dry when the swimming host family's pet lizard comes outdoors to play with the children, clinging onto it’s owner quite well to create little gasps aloud from the children present.

  • You know it’s hot when the grass has already become crunchy and is on its way to a yellow hue.

  • You know it’s hot when the dogs don’t want to take a walk after 9am anymore, so the earlier the better now.
  • You know it's hot when both dogs are enjoying their swimming pool refills of colder water, staying a long while and parading under the spraying hose water while doing so.

  • You know it’s hot when our daughter becomes concerned and leery of the neighbor’s timing for her horse riding if it turns out to be the afternoon.
  • You know it's hot when there's a complaint about late dinner hour horse riding lessons after a toasty afternoon. They want to go, but it's TOO hot to wear helmets, pants and get on a sweaty horse!

  • You know it’s hot when the neighbor had a problem with his pool liner and he’s not been able to swim in it, let alone us to cool off a bit and he apologizes for it (smile).
  • You know it's hot when a local church changes it's welcome sign to advertise it has air conditioning inside.
  • You know it's hot when you're invited out to lunch and secretly you wonder if the restaurant has air conditioning.

  • You know it’s hot when I had to cancel the older two’s golf lesson today, just over the top HOT and the radio announcer has indicated an alert for those in the sun, a burn likely within ten minutes!

  • You know it’s hot when you hang a load of laundry on the clothesline and it’s dry within a half hour!

  • You know it’s hot when you’re outdoors for a few minutes and your face is soaking wet with perspiration and fool yourself into thinking you've been working really, really hard to obtain it. laugh

  • You know it’s hot when two showers a day / per person becomes the norm.
  • You know it's hot when the shower doesn't seem cold and fresh enough to assist in cooling you down!
  • You know it's hot when your water bottle becomes a mini shower option over a head of hair.

  • You know it’s hot when the weather forecaster announces the humidex (temperature plus humidity factors combined) reading is over 46 degrees C on the thermometer and climbing, and we woke up this morning at 6am to 93 degrees. So soon?

Yes, this is a HOT day folks, almost too hot to be comfortable outdoors. We are lucky though, only three days so far like this, so that's not too bad. The air conditioner is making the house quite comfortable. What did we ever do without it?

Now for a little rain tomorrow, that would be nice, but thunder and lightning aren’t a pleasant thought as we will be meeting the homeschooling group at the waterslides for the day. You can’t win them all I suppose…we need rain, at least for a bit and then the sun can radiate it’s heat onto us again afterwards.

You know it's hot when the water's edge is tempting every evening, if only to dip our feet into while watching the sun descending to bid us goodnight!

Whew - Water's edge and sunsets!

Last night it was still over eighty degrees outside by 11pm.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Signs of Summer

Signs of Summer

Well used clothesline for beach wear drying.

Second attempt at the canopy.
It collapsed and was damaged with
our huge wind storm two weeks ago.

Beach bags with equipment ready at a moment's notice.
Color coding kids still reigns in this family!
Here are two of the several colors...

A bit of shade on the other side of
the back deck before the sun sets.

Golf balls landing in back from the golf course nearby.

A lulling and peaceful tune playing nearby.

Play Ball!

Play Ball!

A few neighbors joined our gang for a pizza fun night, all pitching in for food, drinks and munchies. Hubby and I thought this was a great idea!

While chomping down their chow, all decided on a game of baseball in our own field, perfect for playing a great game with bases on the ground for easy stealing.

Play Ball!

Build it and they will come….”Field of Dreams film”

We never had to “build it”, for it was already here, and much better and larger than any ballpark around the country area we reside within.

The air was steamy warm, sunshine beating down on them all, but only as youth can, they pitched and played until another game was decided upon – California kickball! Did I mention the heat overhead?

Field of our own backyard!

Trampoline fun came next, a comedy movie with plenty of chuckles, and then all ended with a wild game of “Pictionary” which none of the guests had played before.

What fun!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Beach Bums!

Beach Bums!

Heat wave = Beach day!

Front row seats for sunset enjoyment.

For all you on the west coast, too bad for all the rain (snicker) you've experienced. We've had two weeks of balmy bliss, and another predicted week of higher temperatures coming up until next weekend. Yardwork and schoolwork completed, it was time for fun. Grab a pizza on the run and get down to the water...

Wish you were here!

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Daisies - Make me smile!

The Field Daisy

I’m a pretty little thing,
Always coming with the spring;
In the meadows green I’m found,
Peeping just above the ground,
And my stalk is cover’d flat
With a white and yellow hat.

Littls Mary, when you pass
Lightly o’er the tender grass,
Skip about, but do not tread
On my bright but lowly head,
For I always seem to say,
“Surely winter’s gone away.”

~ Ann Taylor

A favorite and most lovely book in our family library.

Heirlooms and family treasures...

Family Heirlooms from the past

A family is a circle without a beginning or an end.
Always bending never breaking in this love we can depend.
Love holds us all together as in life we travel round.
From one generation to another - years of love handed down.
So, remember in this family you are a special part.
Of a love that starts with God and lives within your heart

~Author unknown

According to Webster an heirloom is...

"A piece of property that descends to the heir as an inseparable part of an inheritance or something of special value handed on from one generation to another."

Most families have real heirlooms they hold dear and wish to pass down to future generations. Some have simple items, perhaps only a photo from a relative in generations past. Others may have elaborate pieces of furniture, jewelry, kitchen items, a family Bible or an entire photo album. Since I love all things old fashioned and especially items of heirloom quality, it’s no surprise I am a sentimental woman who adores all things from the past. Knowing someone touched them, wore them, used them, cared for them and still, they survived the test of time descending downward through the years and are now my personal possessions I will always treasure. Okay, I admit it, let’s just say I get all mushy thinking about them and the reasons I cherish fondly, those heritage items I have been blessed with.

My husband's maternal grandfather
and his brother in the 1890s.

I am the lucky “keeper” of many family heirloom items, a “keeper” only because my time on earth will pass one day and therefore I value the importance of associating the items with their family stories, because once passed through another generation, these stories become even more important. Many families have generational and historical backgrounds of family members consisting of hard working pioneer farmers or perhaps an aristocrat or two (we have a German Baron in one of our lineages, interesting!), tales of landing in the new world selling everything owned for their passage fare, and all things relating to settling within North America from abroad. Beyond that the sky’s the limit when discoveries delight us with research on our family trees. Obtaining detailed knowledge of those in our past family generations needs to be preserved, shared and detailed. It is within those details that we learn how we came to be, finding the good and sometimes the bad within our family history. Nevertheless, heirloom items we can touch and feel, need to be preserved as well, very carefully or they will not last for future generations.

My mother in law and her sisters
at play in the 1930s

Much thought needs to be put into the care of these items, where to store them, how to display them perhaps, but in the end, the most important thing is “who” will love them like we do down the road?

As heirloom items must begin somewhere, sometimes I wonder what item or items might survive as representation of my own life, and who will one day in the future become “keeper” when I am no longer able to keep them safe?

Who will become the future caretaker of the family heritage of our own immediate family? That is the question I wonder about, whom of my own children will someday willingly treasure and preserve the items I hold dear to my own heart personally, those of my own and also those many gifts from loved ones who aren’t living anymore to tell me more stories about them.

Family treasures link generations in a deep, personal way. Anyone who has seen their great-grandmother’s baptismal gown like my husband and I have from Holland, two of our children wearing it for their own special days and finding out the first time it was already 111 years old when our fourth child was able to wear this same exquisitely hand sewn gown, made by nuns. Though I haven't seen it since, I will always marvel over the delicacy and beauty of it and feel seeing and touching it contributed greatly to my love for victorian heirloom sewing I turned to some years later myself.

The baptismal gown is now 132 years old!

My mother in law wearing the
baptismal gown as an infant,
shown with her governess.

The same family baptismal gown in our home,
worn by two of our own children.

There are other things that pang and tug at the heart, a photo of a relative going off to war, finding out how it affected the family, those are the stories worth preserving. My own grandmother mentioned often how her youngest brother went to war at the young age of nineteen, his plane shot down and his imminent death because of it. How she missed him for years and years! How the tragedy affected her young heart, as she had also raised her siblings when her mother died while she was young. Treasured stories and items of heritage value such as these, passed down from generation to generation, providing detailed insight into the lives of our ancestors and a richer understanding of our family’s history.

Often these treasured family items make the journey from one generation to the next, but the stories that help give meaning to these treasures often don't survive the trip. As I have made an effort to do, why not begin today if you need a nudge to do so, by simply asking family members about their possessions from the past, who was the original owner, and if there are special stories attached or memories they can detail about each item. Please though, never use a regular pen or pencil, try using a pigma ink pen to complete this process, as it is permanent and acid free to last forever. My mother’s treasured stack of letters from her mother wrapped in a beautiful sateen ribbon became wet when a landslide of snow hit their home and caved in the back of the main floor. Her stack of letters was in dire need of drying, and sadly much of the writing disappeared due to the moisture content and regular ink used. Pigma ink pens are available everywhere, and come in an assortment of colors. Gel pens seem to also find their way into some permanence, try them as a secondary resource. Paper also needs to be acid free and lignin free, for over time it will begin to crumble from age, or yellow and gather foxing to it’s pages. No wonder museums and genealogy centers make folks wear white gloves to touch items of heritage value, protection at the forefront always.

“Living history” comes alive even when an item has no specific monetary value in general; its importance is beyond value to those who treasure them. Family heirlooms are a great treasure, but can be easily damaged by light, heat, humidity, pests, and handling

My paternal grandparents the day of their wedding.

One of my Aunties researched my paternal side of the family back to 1687 finding out the family name used to have two names with a hyphen in the center. When arriving in this new land, some chose to keep the first name, others chose the last, splitting the family forever more for future generations. Talk about confusion, it reigns when attempting to research the family tree!

My husband's maternal grandparents on their wedding day.

In my husband’s family’s case when arriving on North American shores, it was decided to make a slight change to the spelling of the name by omitting two letters and adding another for the Anglo Saxon pronunciation ease for their fellow countrymen in their new land. We’ve recently found a whole slew of other families also holding our “unique” family surname, all now wondering online on a surname site if they are somehow related, also having thought all the while how they were unique unto themselves. It’s been fun to find several families within an hour’s drive away and possibilities of meeting for a lovely afternoon together are in progress.

My Maternal Great Grandmother

My maternal family tree was fascinating to me as well, especially when I had just birthed child number three, named him, and found out there were others with his same name, three of them! Long ago, Adam Reitzel sold his material possessions to pay for passage on a ship to America. With him, his wife and small son, Adam Reitzel the second boarded the ship with so many hopes for their future together in the New World. Alas as fate would have it though, Adam was assigned duties aboard atop of his fare, and one very stormy night he fell into the ocean from the sails high above the wooden ship. Once landing on the shores of the New World, his wife and young son were sold into slavery to pay for the remaining passage fare the husband could not provide as agreed upon beforehand, and eventually when every last penny was paid off, Adam Reitzel the second grew up and had his own son, Adam Reitzel the third. And so the story goes… As I held my newborn baby Adam, I realized this is the type of story necessary to file into our generations to come, to value, to savor and to learn by. I mentioned a while back about watching the epic film “North and South” and knew this story, we did have slavery within our heritage ourselves. Thought provoking isn’t it?

Stay tuned as there will be three parts of this artible, I'm just gathering photos to scan into the writing.

Yard work, Grass cutting, Birds, Oh My!

Yard work, Grass cutting, Birds, Oh My!

It’s inevitable - grass grows in finer weather.

When one has three acres of the stuff, it’s a never ending journey into the deep abyss of cutting, trimming, weeding, and sweating! Find the water bottles, hats and sunscreen, for the mission will last a while this day...

Well dear, the front yard is done, who's on the back?

Trimmer in training.
Note the protective gear he donned.
Remind you of someone else in years past?

The temperatures have soared this past two weeks, with only one small rain shower before the sun crept back out of the clouds later the same day. Two days of intense and high humidity kept most folks (even the local golfers) indoors pining for air conditioning and cold showers. The impact of the humidity forced thermometers to highs of 46 degrees, sweltering heat, and uncomfortable outdoor possibilities. For those with lung issues, these were not the finest of the week, however a lovely breezy wind began yesterday morning and the day was glorious all day long, sunset viewing and outdoor cookout on the back deck the order of the evening.

Weeds, weeds, weeds

With today’s inaugural celebration of summer beginnings on the calendar, it would be our hope each day could remain as great as yesterday. After a labour intensive team effort in property maintenance, there was a time to create joy and laughter.

Time to get the rest of their energy
out while dinner is cooking.

The sprinkler and trampoline were the setting for such a time, and all took some part in getting wet and cooling off.

Add a sprinkler and anything is possible!

Guess who the brave one ended up being?

Yes, we all love those sunsets with front row seats on our back deck, and the calm it provides at the end of the day taking in the full-length feature before us. The skies couldn’t be more beautiful, blasts of colorful hues lighting up the final moments before the curtain draws for another day.

Today's forecast = looks great for a repeat.

About our birding, viewing the photos in this writing will show our feeders in action, our books on the current reading list for all..

Tea for the birds?
Our youngest daughter made this feeder at Brownies.

Teens are walking and riding mowers in the background.

Last dog stroll for the evening

Birding books