I’ve created a trailer for my latest book, Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone. Let me know what you think.
I was invited to read my books to the students and families of Sowing Seeds Preschool today. What a fun experience that was! Most of the children were preschool age, which is younger than I am used to reading to. But they were very attentive and well behaved. Parents and siblings were also invited so it was a large and diverse group. I read small excerpts from each book and allowed for questions and comments in between. The puppets were a hit again with Ali Baba stealing the show. He was passed around so everyone had a chance to hold him for a minute or two. One young listener was reluctant to return him to me.
The school went all out to make me feel welcome. As I approached the gates of the school, a poster announcing my visit greeted me.
A walk of fame directed everyone to the gymnasium where I made my presentation. How cool is that!
I set up my display featuring items representing all four books.
I read short excerpts from each book, choosing passages with lots of action and animals.
One delightful three year old girl, Bhargavi, asked me if Amanda was going to India. I said that it was a great idea and that Amanda would love to go to India, as would I.
When the children got a bit restless, the Director of the school had them stand up and do the Hokey Pokey. They loved shouting Yee Haw at the end (the cowboy version). So I donned my cowboy hat and read from Amanda in Alberta.
I was presented with a delightful book the students had created together just for me as a thank you.
It ended with thank you written in all the languages represented in the school. Something I will treasure forever!
And some may wonder why I write.
During my recent trip to New Mexico, my travelling companion and I visited the St. James Hotel in Cimarron on the Santa Fe Trail. The hotel was built in 1872 by a trained French chef, Henri Lambert. Many famous guests stayed in this elegant but often violent hotel. Cimarron is Spanish for wild or unruly, which was a fitting name for this lawless town in the nineteenth century when arguments were often settled with bullets. Twenty-six people lost their lives at the St. James Hotel.
We had a delicious burrito lunch in the restaurant sitting under a huge Texas longhorn. We then wandered into the bar where bullet holes from days gone by, pepper the ceiling.
Famous lawmen, outlaws and wild west characters stayed in this hotel. Colourful individuals such as Wyatt Earp and his brothers, Doc Holliday, Jesse James, Buffalo Bill Cody, the author Zane Grey and Annie Oakley.We wanted to look inside the rooms that are still decorated in the manner Mr. Lambert had established. With luck a friendly maintenance man agreed to show us around. The St. James is still an operating hotel but since many of the rooms were vacant we could check them out.
The Annie Oakley Room
We had heard the hotel was haunted and were eager to learn more. Our guide told us that many guests have felt the presence of the spirits of those who have met their demise in this hotel. The staff tell stories of cutlery being moved around, a cowboy suddenly appearing and then disappearing and the sudden scent of rose perfume. Room #18 is never rented out as the ghost of a cowboy, T.J. Wright, killed during a game of cards, resides there. The St. James Hotel has been featured on a number of television shows.
A peaceful sitting area outside with murals, a waterfall and a bear about to steal a freshly baked pie is a good place to escape from the eerie feeling inside.
This was a great place to visit, full of wild west history and ambiance. I’m sure there are many stories contained in those walls. But I’m not sure I would want to spend a night.
More great pictures of the hotel and the rooms here
Today was a fabulous sunny day and a perfect day to launch Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone. This is the fourth book in the Amanda travel adventure series. (Can it be possible that I have had 4 books published?) The event was held at Albany Books, a wonderful local book store. I was delighted to see so many of my friends and supporters stop in. I am blessed with the most amazing fans of my work. Those that couldn’t make it were there in spirit.
I dedicated this book to my dear cowboy dad. The bolo tie I am wearing was his and the horseshoe on the table came from his ranch. I think he would have liked that. It was indeed a perfect day for a book launch!
I recently flew to Medicine Hat, Alberta to visit my mom in the hospital and to see my son and his family. My thirteen year old grandson returned with me to spend a couple of weeks on the west coast. Although his older brother and sisters have spent time with us, it was his very first visit. It’s been fun to watch him experience many firsts. It is his first time away from his parents and his first trip outside of Alberta. You can imagine how excited he was to fly on an airplane for the first time.
Making feathered friends at the Reifel Bird Sanctuary
I delivered him to his aunt’s place which took a two hour ride on a large ferry, a twenty minute ride on a smaller ferry and a ten minute small motor boat ride to get there. For a prairie boy who has never seen the ocean before, this was quite an adventure.
Finding a 1000 piece puzzle at the Book Nook with his aunty
Last report from my daughter is that he went crabbing with his uncle, sampled crab for the first time and loved it! His adventure continues.
Do you remember the first time you went some place without your parents or tried something new?
In honour of Father’s Day I would like to share an article I wrote as a guest blogger on Karen Sanderson’s blog two years ago.
Cowboy Wisdom, By Darlene Foster
My Dad was a cowboy. Not the Hollywood type, but a real cowboy – a man who tended cattle. A hard-working man of integrity, loyalty and determination, he almost always wore his signature cowboy hat and boots, jeans and western shirt. He lived the code of the cowboy where a man’s word was a man’s word and you never broke a promise once made. He believed you should do what has to be done without complaint, take pride in your work and always finish what you start. He was a man of principle; tough but fair. I learned so much from him.
His education included grade seven. Responsibilities on his father’s farm in the spring and fall took him out of school, which put him behind. By the time he turned fifteen he didn’t bother going back to school being so much older than the rest of the class. In spite of his limited schooling, he was the smartest man I have ever known. A curious man, Dad believed in continuous learning. His gift of the gab enabled him to start a conversation with almost anyone and he always came away wiser. “You can learn at least one thing from everyone you meet,” became a lesson I never forgot.
Dad read the newspapers and kept up to date on current events, but his busy schedule didn’t permit him to read much else. At age seventy-five, he finally retired and moved into the city. His love of the outdoors and fresh air, took him on walks to the local library on a regular basis. Once there, he chose about half a dozen books on a subject he had always wanted to learn more about. He took the books home, read them front to back and returned with a new subject in mind. At seventy-five he educated himself and expanded his world. I found this to be most admirable.
There wasn’t much I couldn’t discuss with him. He taught me the art of conversation, negotiation and debate; valuable lessons that have served me well over the years. He served as my confidant, financial advisor, political guru, mentor, and he was my hero. He always had time to listen to my woes and to provide encouraging words. I didn’t make many major decisions without discussing with him first. But he wouldn’t tell me what to do; he just helped me look at all sides of the situation. He encouraged me to be an independent thinker, creative problem solver and not to always look for the easy way. He claimed, “You make your own luck in this world.” I believe that to be true for the most part, but I sure was lucky to get him for a Dad. His confidence in me and my abilities enabled me to reach higher and not give up on my dreams.
Always a perfect gentleman, he could also swear a blue streak if the occasion called for it. Like the time he hit his thumb with a hammer while fixing a piece of farm machinery. He forgot I was in hearing distance.
Life wasn’t always easy for a cowboy but Dad’s amazing sense of humour and positive attitude got him through the tough times. He loved a good practical joke and April Fool’s was his favourite day. I can still see the twinkle in his eyes when he knew he got one over on us. He didn’t mind laughing at himself as well. There were many times he would tell a story and have everyone in stitches. From him, I learned the value of a good laugh and how to look on the bright side. He often said, “It could always be worse.”
A tough cowboy on the surface, he was really a big softy. Dad always found the best in everyone, was a helpful neighbour and a good friend to many. His love for his animals was evident as was his unfailing devotion to his family. A generous, loving father, grandfather and great-grandfather, he made an impact on everyone. When I see traits of him in my children and grandchildren, I am comforted knowing his legacy lives on.
It’s been seven years since we lost Dad. There isn’t a day I don’t think of him, quote him or seek his advice. He was a true cowboy to the last.
Happy Father’s Dad!