Darlene Foster's Blog

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Today I am a guest on Leanne Dyck’s informative blog.

Why I Write for Children by Darlene Foster

I began my love affair with books as a child. Some of my fondest memories are being read to by a family member, visiting the library for the first time, and discovering the ability to read by myself. I keep worn copies of favourite childhood books and revisit my old friends from time to time for comfort. Books and children go together like strawberries and ice cream.
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The picture of the cutie reading is my four year old great granddaughter. Reading runs in the family.

 

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.

Waiting at the Medicine Hat airport

Waiting at the Medicine Hat airport

 

First time on an air plane

First time on an airplane

 

First time at a beach

First time at a beach

 

Helping Gramma sell books

Helping Gramma sell books at Fort Langley

 

Visiting Science World

Visiting Science World

 

Look what I built with Keva at Science World!

Look what I built with Keva at Science World!

 Making feathered friends at the Bird Sanctuary

Making feathered friends at the Reifel Bird Sanctuary

 

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Fish and Chips with the grandparents

Fish and Chips with the grandparents in Steveston Village

 

Trying things on at the Maritime Museum

Trying things on at the Maritime Museum

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.

First time on a ferry

First time on a ferry

Finding a huge pencil on Mudge Island

Finding a huge pencil on Gabriola Island

Finding a 1000 piece puzzle at the Book Nook with his aunty

Finding a 1000 piece puzzle at the Book Nook with his aunty

Aunt and nephew on her island; good buddies

Aunt and nephew on her island; good buddies

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

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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.

Dad and his family 1995

Dad and his family 1995

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!

 

Mom & Dad a few years ago

Mom & Dad 

Darlene:

I’m so excited about the release of my newest book in the Amanda travel adventure series. What do you think of the cover?

Originally posted on Central Avenue Publishing:

Summer is almost here and we have a lot of recent releases and ones coming up to keep you reading.

Today, we are very happy to present the cover for Darlene Foster’s fourth book: Amanda in Alberta: The Writing on the Stone. This book finds twelve year old Amanda in her home province of Alberta and showing her English best friend, Leah, all the sights.

Due to be released on July 11, 2014, we know both young and young-at-heart readers will enjoy another one of Amanda’s adventures.

 Amanda is delighted to show Leah around Alberta during her visit from England. They take in the Calgary Stampede, go on a cattle drive, visit Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, spend time with the dinosaurs at the Royal Tyrrell Museum and explore the crazy Hoodoos.
 
When Amanda finds a stone with a unique mark on it, she doesn’t think it’s important until everyone seems…

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I need to tell you more about  Taos Pueblo as I was so enthralled by my recent visit. It is considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited community in the USA and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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Taos Pueblo with the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the background

Taos Pueblo with the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the background

Approximately 150 people live within the Pueblo full time. The buildings are made entirely out of adobe, with no electricity or running water in the sacred village. Wood stoves and fireplaces warm the homes and are used for cooking. Bread and pastries are baked in a horno, an outdoor adobe oven. We purchased cookies and pie made in a horno and they were delicious. We also had fry bread made in front of us, drizzled with honey which was also very tasty.

Horno - outdoor adobe oven

Typical horno, an outdoor adobe oven

The Pueblo is situated on both sides of the Red Willow Creek which is the source of drinking water for the natives. One resident told us that a legend tells of an eagle that dropped two feathers, one on each side of the river which was a sign for the ancient people to build the Pueblo at that spot.

Red Willow Creek

The Red Willow Creek

Adobe homes

Adobe homes

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Welcoming fireplace inside an adobe home

Welcoming fireplace inside an adobe home

Many of the homes are inhabited by native artists who welcome visitors to enter their homes, view their art work, chat and make purchases. We bought a number of handmade items to take back home as gifts (and a couple of items for ourselves.) We met some very nice people. Everyone was willing to take time to talk to us. I love getting to know  local artists when I travel and to support them when I can.

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exquisite artwork

exquisite artwork

One amazing artist we met was Jeralyn Lujan Lucero, painter, potter, soap maker; to name a few of her many talents. But she tells us her most important job is that of mom to her three children. Jeralyn and her husband are raising their children in their ancestral home, living a traditional Pueblo life. From her website, It may not be possible to take Taos Pueblo with you, but owning an image created by Jeralyn Lujan Lucero is possibly one way to take the spirit of Taos with you.” I am happy to have the spirit of Taos, via an art card signed by this talented woman, in my home.

Feast Day at Taos Pueblo, Gathering Flowers by Jeralyn Lujan Lucero

Feast Day at Taos Pueblo, Gathering Flowers by Jeralyn Lujan Lucero

The modern day San Geronimo Church, built in 1850, is a Registered National Historic Landmark and is used by the mostly Catholic inhabitants of Taos Pueblo. It is made of thick adobe walls, keeping it cool in summer and warm in winter.

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The ruins of the original San Geronimo Church, built in 1619 and destroyed in 1847 during an uprising are now part of the cemetery. All that remains is the bell tower in memory of those who lost their lives.

Original San Geronimo Church and cemetery

Original San Geronimo Church and cemetery

This high desert oasis has so much history, culture and spirit, drawn from the past and continuing to this day. I left with a feeling of peace and tranquillity and much respect for the native people.

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I will leave you with the Tribal Manifesto:

“We have lived upon this land from days beyond history’s records, far past any living memory, deep into the time of legend. The story of my people and the story of this place are one single story. No Man can think of us without thinking of this place. We are always joined together.”

 

 

Darlene:

Read what I have to say about documenting travel experiences on Karen Sanderson’s blog.

Originally posted on Karen R. Sanderson's Blog:

DSC00977 I have traveled quite a bit, but have not always made a habit of writing about my experiences. Many of my travels have no documentation, just memories.

Though one trip to Maine I kept a diary and took pictures. I also kept the maps and guide books. I did the same while on a trip to Germany.

My mom traveled to Wales and England, and she kept a diary and took pictures (yes, I have the diary and the pics!). I hope to make that same trip one day.

Research with travel books

When I go to yard sales, I look for travel books and books about geography and different states and different countries. I may not be able to visit all these wonderful places, but I can sure read about them.

Small notebook

While traveling, keep a diary. Or if you have a laptop, knock out your day-to-day experiences…

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I can’t believe my luck. I have had so many fabulous get-aways this year and now I just returned from a week in Taos, New Mexico.

This trip was extra special as I spent it with someone very dear to me.  I was not granted a sister, instead I was blessed with an aunt my age. We were born in the same hospital two months apart. We did everything together as kids. She moved to Arizona many years ago and we don’t get the opportunity to see each other often. When we do it is usually at a family reunion, special birthday, wedding or funeral with many others around. This was perfect as we were able to spend the entire week together, just the two of us like we did when we were children. We have so many common interests like visiting museums, art galleries, historic houses, shopping, chocolate and eating great food. Taos was the perfect spot to meet and we had a splendid time.

Here are a few pictures of our holiday in this  amazing part of the world.  I will write more details about some of the places later.

Cashmere and Chocolate, the old jail in Taos

Chocolate and Cashmere in the old jail

Artist from the Taos Peublo

Artist from the Taos Peublo

San Francisco De Asis Church

San Francisco De Asis Church

Me at Hacienda do los Martinez

At Hacienda do los Martinez

Mable Dodge Luhan House

Mable Dodge Luhan House

Taos Pueblo

Taos Pueblo

Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs

Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs

Awesome scenery

Awesome scenery

La Fonda Hotel across from the Taos Plaza

La Fonda Hotel across from the Taos Plaza

With my travelling companion

With my wonderful travelling companion

More pictures and stories to follow.

 

Happy Mother’s Day!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was recently interviewed for a Writing for Kids podcast by Alexandra Amor. If you would like to hear what I had to say, here is the link:
It’s a little long (I do love to talk) so you may want to do the dishes while you listen to it.  It was my first audio interview and was fun to do. I hope you enjoy it.

 

Darlene:

I’ve been away so thought I would share Carl’s humorous post with you. Don’t laugh too hard and remember to bring your husbands to the rummage sale (those of you who have one, If you don’t, I’m sure you can borrow one!) Which is your favourite?

Originally posted on I Know I Made You Smile:

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Myself and my good friends, Jayne and Shannon, were recently invited to spend a weekend with my daughter and her partner on Mudge Island.  It takes two ferries and a small boat to get to her island, but it’s worth it. I’ve written about my daughter and her island previously here. It was a wonderful weekend, with much visiting, eating and wine consumption in their cosy, comfortable home.  We feasted on fresh crab caught the day before by our host, salad made with fresh greens from the garden and steamed kale (also from the garden) . Everyone brought food and we took turns making meals and snacks. We balanced the eating with long walks and fresh air. The island, green with moss at this time of the year, is great for walks and has many picturesque spots to visit. The sea lions kept us company with their barking.

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Mudge Island in the spring

One walk took us to Dodd’s Narrows were we watched sea lions, all the way from California, swim past in the swirling waters, happy to fill up  on herring. Such a lovely spot to sit and take in nature.

Dodd's Narrows

Dodd’s Narrows

Dodd's Narrows

Dodd’s Narrows

Another trip took us to Link Island, a small island that can be reached at low tide, linked to Mudge.  We enjoyed collecting seashells, exploring  the island and catching some sun on the rocks. Not warm enough to sun tan yet.

Link Island

Link Island

Comet, their amiable yellow lab, loved every minute. She was happy to go for long walks and explore with us.

Comet exploring Link Island

Comet exploring Link Island

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View from Link Island to Mudge

Unique rock formations on Link Island

Unique rock formations on Link Island

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Enjoying the sun on Link Island

Barnsworth, the 19 year old cat, enjoys looking at himself in the mirror when he's not sleeping

Barnsworth, the 19 year old cat, enjoys looking at himself in the mirror when he’s not sleeping, which is most of the time

The outhouse, clean and comfortable

The outhouse that sits among the trees, is clean and comfortable

 

What is under the outhouse??

But what is under the outhouse??

Mudge buddies

Mudge buddies

Our gracious hosts

Our gracious hosts

One last drink at the Skol pub on Gabriola before catching the ferry back to reality.

One last drink at the Skol pub on Gabriola Island before catching the ferry back to reality.

Yet another fabulous get-away. I’ve been having the best spring haven’t I? Soon I’m off to Taos, New Mexico to spend time with a special aunt. I’ll report back later.


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