Darlene Foster's Blog

Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Like everyone else, many of my plans for this year have been ruined due to the global pandemic. A long-anticipated trip to Venice, a trip to the UK to see longtime friends and to celebrate a good friend’s 70th birthday, a meeting with a Canadian friend in Valencia, visits from Canadian friends during their around the world tour, and a trip to Canada to attend my youngest grandson’s high school graduation and a huge family reunion – all cancelled. But the biggest disappointment of all, is missing the opportunity to see my 91-year-old mom.

Mom is well looked after in a care home in Medicine Hat, Alberta. I keep in touch with the staff on a regular basis, and they have informed me that she is doing well, is happy and healthy. They are doing a great job of keeping the residents safe, and no cases of COVID 19 have been detected in the care home, which is a relief and I am so thankful.

But she is not allowed any visitors, for obvious reasons. As a result, I’ve not been able to Skype or FaceTime with her from Spain for the past four months, as it is the visitors who facilitate these video calls. I keep feeling she will think she’s been abandoned because no one comes to see her. I send her emails, as do my brothers, that the staff read out to her, but I really wish I could see her, at least on a screen if not in person.

The care home recently started allowing the residents to have visits by appointment. These visits are held outside with the regulated two-metre distancing and both parties wearing masks. My darling granddaughter made an appointment last week and visited Mom. It was hard not to be able to hug her great-grandmother or hold her hand. Mom has difficulty hearing and her own voice is very soft so the distance made conversation almost impossible. Initially, mom didn’t recognize her, but when she pulled down the mask for a quick smile, mom nodded and smiled in recognition. Of course, there were tears. As there were for me when I saw the pictures and video.

Mom wearing her face mask.
A quick photo of her without the mask.
Mom with a visit from her great-granddaughter.

There wasn’t much conversation but there was a lot of love. I was so happy to see these images and to see that Mom is all right and smiling.

This is what my dear granddaughter had to say about her visit:

“I booked a visit with my lovely Great Grandma. I have always had a close emotional bond with Grandma Frisch. She often took care of me when I was young, most weekends and more, and I returned the care to her when she needed it. I love her so much. Grandma’s existence throughout her whole life thrived on family. Thrived on making sure her family was ok by visiting, keeping in touch, and keeping close bonds. She is now in her 90s so she cannot hear very well and speaks very softly. Visits with Grandma are always in close contact so we can hear each other and feel the close presence.

Visiting Grandma like this, in today’s world, I had no idea I would break down. She didn’t recognize who I was at first with a mask on so I broke the rule and pulled it down for a smile. She lit up and smiled back and said I love you. We sat for our 30 minutes of no touch, no conversation, just eye contact. And uncontrollable tears from me. It is saddening, heartbreaking, and just too frustrating to even bare the strength of holding it back. I tried to hide my tears as best as I could… and I’m usually pretty strong.. but I could see that she knew. She tried to unlock her wheelchair brakes to come to console me. But of course, she couldn’t. So I smiled instead and said over and over I Love You.

I did ask, as she was about to be taken back, that we take off our masks for a real smile. The nurse thankfully said that was ok.

Our poor elders. What is this for … what is worse… and at what cost? Humans need humans. Humans need touch, humans need love…. we survive on it. Love through our eyes at a distance will have to do for now. Grandma is well, Grandma looks amazing, and I told her everyone loves her and thinks about her every day. ❤️

Suddenly small things don’t matter anymore like eyebrow waxing or hair cuts, when there are innocent people literally dying alone. And not just from COVID19.”

I feel incredibly proud of this young woman and touched by her words. And so very grateful that she shared this with me.

Who have you been missing during these days of lockdown? Have you been able to see your loved ones?

Stay safe my friends.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing mothers and mother figures out there. It will be different this year as we can’t get together, but the love will be just as strong. Recently I was guest on Sally Cronin’s Smorgasbord Friends and Family series where she featured a post I wrote about my dear mom. For those of you who haven’t seen it, enjoy.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the new posts from your archives with a theme of family and friends. Very important as our support system at the moment as many of us are isolated and out of physical touch. If you would like details on how to participate here is the link:Posts from Your Archives April 2020 Family and Friends

Author Darlene Foster shares memories of her mother, a tribute on Mother’s Day 2015, which despite being celebrated on different dates around the world, is a very important day of celebration.

The Gift of a Wonderful Mother by Darlene Foster

Mother´s day is a special day in many parts of the world although is not celebrated on the same day. Today it is Mother´s Day in Canada and the US and it was Mother´s Day in Spain last Sunday. In the UK, Mothering Sunday, sometimes known as Mother’s Day, is held on the…

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I am a guest on Sally´s Smorgasbord Blog Magazine where she features a post from my archives about my wonderful dad.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the new posts from your archives with a theme of family and friends. Very important as our support system at the moment as many of us are isolated and out of physical touch. If you would like details on how to participate here is the link:Posts from Your Archives April 2020 Family and Friends

Author Darlene Foster shares a lovely post about her dad, who was a real life cattle man, and also shares some of his down to earth wisdom. This was first posted in 2014

Cowboy Wisdom

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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…

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During a visit to Sedona, Arizona, a few years ago, my daughter and I were intrigued by the horsehair pottery we saw in the wonderful shops there. My potter daughter decided to create some of this pottery herself while I was visiting her last fall. I was privileged to watch this fascinating process. The four pieces turned out well. Here are some pictures of her creating horsehair pottery.

Carefully removing the pot from the kiln
And placing it on a cement slab
Applying the fine horsehair to the hot piece of pottery

Horsehair pottery is pottery that incorporates hair from the manes and tails of horses into its design. The process of creating horsehair pottery involves applying strands of hair to the surface of a hot clay pot that has just been removed from the kiln. The hair carbonizes, leaving random patterns in the pot’s surface. Horsehair makes great patterns because of its coarseness and length. Tail hair is thicker, so it leaves bolder patterns, and finer mane hair produces more subtle lines.

Every pot created using this pottery technique is unique. Many artists add other design features to the horsehair pots they create. Some artists use the same technique with dog or cat hair. For instance, my daughter has used the pet’s hair on urns she has created to hold a dear deceased pet’s ashes.  

The above information is based on information from this website. https://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-horsehair-pottery. Check it out to learn more.

Adding more hair
All four vases finished
Each one unique
The finished pieces after waxing

All the pictures were taken by me, the unofficial photographer, except the last picture taken by madmudslinger

For more of my daughter’s work check out her website www.madmudslinger.com

Follow her on Instagram where she posts many pictures of her work https://www.instagram.com/madmudslinger/

Have you seen or heard of horsehair pottery before?

Copyright © 2020 darlenefoster.wordpress.com – All rights reserved

The youngest member of my immediate family, my great-granddaughter, just turned ten. Ten! How did that happen? She is an amazing kid, wise beyond her years, kind, smart, funny, hardworking and an animal lover. Even though I don’t see her often, I have a close bond with her. She even goes to the school I attended all those years ago, and she is an Amanda fan. I spoke to her on her birthday, which made my day. Here are just a few pictures of her through the first ten years of her life. Some taken by me and others by her mom and other family members.

A sweet baby
A determined toddler
Visiting me in Vancouver
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Best buds
All ready for school
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A visit to Santa
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So excited
An Amanda fan
A real sweetheart
Helping me sell books
A school project based on a book I gave her
With some of her dog pals
Almost as tall as me.
Four generations of women
Reading to her dog.
Playing with her cat in the snow
Getting ready.
Ten years old. Love this little woman.

“Don’t try to make me grow up before my time…”
― Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

Copyright © 2020 darlenefoster.wordpress.com – All rights reserved

Susie Lindau is featuring a Blessed Project on her blog and I’ve decided to join in since Christmas is a perfect time to count your blessings! Here is the link if you would like to join in too. https://susielindau.com/2019/11/26/join-the-blessed-project-i-will-feature-yours/

I have been blessed with an amazing family.

The best parents ever! (Yup, that’s from the 90s)
A son who is a super dad, grandfather, and musician
An amazing talented potter daughter
and great brothers
Awesome grandchildren and great-grandchildren
Grandsons to be proud of
Fabulous granddaughters
A happy son with his kids and grandkids.
Blessed to have five generations in our family
A loving husband who keeps me laughing
And the sweetest dog!

I am blessed to be part of a huge German Canadian family with many loving aunts, uncles, and cousins. Here are a few of them, but not all.

My wonderful aunts and uncle

I have also been blessed with many friends, some I have had since childhood, who support me and make me feel loved every day.

Friends since babies

So you can see that I am indeed blessed and I am grateful every day.

May you have a blessed holiday season and new year with the special people in your life!!

Thanks, Susie for this opportunity to be part of the Blessed Project

During my recent trip to Canada, I stopped in to see my Great Aunt Meta and Great Uncle Lex at their new apartment in an assisted living complex. Aunt Meta is the last of my maternal grandfather´s siblings. They are both doing remarkably well considering they are in their mid-90s. As I was about to leave after an enjoyable visit, I noticed a black and white picture of a large ship hanging on the wall beside the door. I leaned closer for a better look and saw it was a German ship called The Kronprinzessin Cecilie. Uncle Lex said, “You know what ship that is, don’t you?” Then it hit me, it was the ship that brought my great grandparents over to North America in 1911. I was so excited, I had to take a picture of it.

My Grandpa Mehrer had often mentioned this ship. He would have been 4 years old when they made the journey. Years later, he named his fourth child, Cecilia, after the vessel, Kronprinzessin (Crown Princess) Cecilie.

My cousin (Aunt Meta´s daughter) had been in New York and while doing a tour of Ellis Island, looked for the Mehrer records in the research area, where she found information about the ship and the ship´s manifest. She ordered a copy of the picture of the ship and the manifest for her parents. Some very interesting information was included in the manifest. When she learned of my interest, she sent me the link to the website. I can’t tell you how thrilling it was to see the names of my great grandparents, my grandfather and his three siblings listed on the ships manifest. It gave me goosebumps.

Here is some information I found about the Kronprinzessin Cecilie from the website. The ship was built in Germany in 1906 and carried 1,970 passengers (558 in first class, 338 in second class and 1074 in third class). The ship sailed under a German flag from 1906 until 1917 when, during WWI, it was seized by the United States Government. Under the American flag, it was renamed Mount Vernon and was used for the US transport service. It was scrapped at Baltimore in 1940.

Just think how many immigrants were brought to the new world on this vessel in its early days. The Mehrers, a German family originally from Johannathal, Russia, sailed second class from Bremen, Germany in 1911 with four children ages 4 years to 6 weeks. Because they traveled 2nd class they would have had their own cabin and were not processed through Ellis Island. US Immigration would have boarded the ship and processed them there and they would have been free to catch the train for the Dakotas as soon as they disembarked.  (This information from the manifest was given to me by my cousin Jean Saunders)

From North Dakota, they proceeded to Canada to their homestead where they eventually had 8 more children.

Andreas and Katharina Mehrer after settling in Canada and raising 12 children. My grandfather, the oldest, is sitting on the far left.

I recalled that my father’s family also landed in New York before they came up to Canada. I found their ship, The S.S.Scotia, and its manifest with their names on it as well. It is such an amazing site. If your ancestors came to North America through New York harbour, you will most likely find the name of the ship and the ship´s manifest. Keep in mind, the spelling of names was often incorrect so if you know the year they arrived, that will help. https://www.libertyellisfoundation.org/passenger

The manifest of the S.S. Scotia listing my father´s family who immigrated in 1891

How exciting it must have been for my grandfather, a four-year-old, traveling on a big ship to a new country. I only wish I had asked him more about it when he was still with us.

I have blogged before about my amazing great grandmothers here and about my Mehrer great grandparents here. I consider myself blessed to have had ancestors with the fortitude and vision to embark on a voyage that changed the course of history for our family.

I was missing in action for the last month as I went to Canada to promote the latest Amanda Travels book as well as visit friends and family. It was a very successful trip, although a bit tiring. Here’s a sample of what I was up to.

I visited four schools in Alberta and BC, consisting of a variety of class sizes and students. All delightful with many questions and comments. My favourite part of being a published author is visiting schools and reading to the children. When I walked into one class, a young boy shouted, “She´s here! She´s here! I can´t believe she´s here!” For a moment I felt like a rock star. 

Amanda Travels fans in Okotoks, Alberta

“Any questions?” Look at all those hands in Airdrie, Alberta

Reading to students in the comfy chair in Sunrise Ridge, BC. It doesn´t get any better.

Eager students in Stirling, Alberta

I launched my latest book, Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action, at Albany Books in Tsawwassen, BC, a community I lived in for fifteen years. I love this friendly, locally-owned, independant bookstore that has supported my books since the start. 

With my amazing publisher at Albany Books

I also held a book signing at Chapters Indigo in Coquitlam, on the other side of the city, which was also well attended. Chapters is a large Canadian chain, with each store run like a local independent store. The staff and atmosphere at Pine Tree Village couldn’t have been more friendly and welcoming.

At Chapters/Indigo in Pine Tree Village, Coquitlam, BC

I also had a table at the Surrey International Writer’s Conference where I sold books and met other wonderful writers including Diana Gabaldon, the creator of the Outlander series. I love her books and her.

My table at SiWC, one of the largest writers´ conferences in North America
A favourite author, Diana Gabaldon. A fabulous writer and a lovely person.

In Medicine Hat, my home town, I held a reading and signing at the charming Inspire Art Cafe. It was awesome to see so many folks come out and support my writing. I had a sweet young helper too.

At Inspire Art Cafe with a special helper

It wasn’t all about books though. I spent wonderful times with family and friends.

I visited my great aunt and great uncle in their new home. My great aunt is the last of my grandparents’ siblings and doing very well in spite of breaking her hip earlier this year at ninety-five years old.

And later I met their great-grandaughter, Anika, at a library presentation in Calgary.

Anika is my fourth cousin.

I stopped in to have a cup of tea with my Aunt Peggy and she made an apple pie, from scratch, just for me!

The best apple pie ever, warm from the oven!

Of course, I spent some good times with mom and my son and his family

Mom loves her Tim Horton’s ice caps!
Mom with my grandsons and great-granddaughters
My son and his granddaughter

I took a floatplane to Gabriola Island to spend three glorious days with my potter daughter
On the floatplane to Gabriola Island
The little green and yellow rowboat is how I got to her island

I watched her make horsehair raku pottery. Fascinating.

Creating horsehair raku
Sharing Ethiopian food with my brother

There were many visits with other family members and friends, shared meals, coffees, and sleepovers. Everyone had pets so I had lots of fur babies to cuddle. I may share those pictures on another post.

I encountered rain, snow, sunshine, strong winds and more rain, sometimes all on the same day! I traveled by plane, train, car, bus, truck, taxi, floatplane, and rowboat. It was a busy time with never a dull moment but I loved every minute!

My talented daughter lives on the beautiful west coast of Canada where she makes pottery and communes with nature.

Here are a couple of examples of her pottery.

More of her pottery can be viewed on her website https://madmudslinger.com/

She recently had an opportunity recently to observe first hand an Eagle family. She sent me pictures of this amazing nest where the Eagle parents are raising their adorable Eaglet. This is what she had to say about the youngster –

“It’s so cute, ever since he’s been big enough he peaks his head over the side while waiting for his parents to come back with food. Interesting that only one hatched this year.”

She also included some information about the nest.

“The nest has been there for years, maybe decades, but 2 years ago a series of storms crashed it to the ground. The site was abandoned until last year when the Eagle couple decided to rebuild. Building is a lot of work, it went into the season so they waited until this year to hatch another family. It’s very exciting. A celebration!”

“An Eagle nest weighs one ton and a VW Beetle can fit inside it. The adult wingspan is 8 feet so they need some room with all the comings and goings.”

She is fortunate to be able to witness this marvel of nature. I’m so happy she shared it with me.

Have you ever had a chance to view wild animals in nature?

Mother’s Day is celebrated on different days in various parts of the world but in Canada, USA, Australia and South Africa and possibly other countries, it is celebrated on the second Sunday of May. I love this day as I have been blessed with a very special mom. I wrote about her a couple of years ago here

I put together a little video of my special mom.

Of all the many jobs in my life, the best has been being a mom!! It wasn’t always easy but it was always worth it. I am so proud if these two. 

with number one son
with number one daughter
and now I’m a mom to this crazy fur baby who knows how to relax

Wishing all mothers, step-mothers, grandmothers, aunts and mentors, a wonderful day as we celebrate motherhood in all its forms.


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© Darlene Foster and darlenefoster.wordpress.com, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Darlene Foster and darlenefoster.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.