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Living a different life

Weed the garden. Bake the bread. Clean the bathrooms. Call the insurance company. Pick the peas. Register the kids in another day camp. Pay the bills. Make that appointment for family pictures. Practise reading with Lars. Look into singing lessons for Sophie. Book in with the dog groomers. Write the column that’s due tomorrow. Water the plants. Sneak in a workout. Cook a delicious dinner. Support your family. Make sure everyone is happy and healthy. Unearth new and inventive ways to get the kids to eat broccoli.

Smile through all of it. READ

The search for self-worth

“She’s perfect,” I said, more to myself than anyone in particular. “So beautiful.” I gently passed my newborn grandchild back to my daughter. It was a precious and perfect moment. Life’s grand adventure had just begun to unfold for this perfect little person. READ

Respecting our land

Various aspects of weather since April Fool’s Day have made us all a tad testy. Certainly the heat and the drought are major factors but, for example, I am outraged that my prediction for when we would finally get a real rain was dead-on: two or three days in the middle of July. READ

Fresh fruit in Alberta

When one mentions fruit in Alberta, we automatically think of B.C. We don’t think of what we Albertans grow best, berries: saskatoons, raspberries, haskaps, or honey berries, currants, strawberries and cherries. READ

The benefits of a North West Redwater refinery

Leach was quoting the typical refrain that he had heard from supporters of the notion that we should be processing bitumen within the province, instead of exporting it as raw material. READ

High energy, all day long

The kids are bouncing from wall to wall. Their shrieks of merriment are carried easily throughout this otherwise peaceful house. They are playing a rambunctious game of hide and seek. Sophie makes her way, rather surreptitiously, into another room to hide but when discovering her ideal spot, she continues to giggle explicitly until Lars follows the sound, uncovering her location. READ

Peering through a confusing world of illusion

Have you been to my house?” she asked. “I’ve been visiting with neighbours.” I turned around to see an attractive young woman standing before me wearing a blue peasant dress with a floral design. On her head was a colourful scarf that was tied under her chin. On her feet were a worn pair of black leather lace-up shoes. She spoke with a Ukrainian accent. “I did stop by,” I replied. “But no-one was home. I guess you know that, though.” READ

Wondrous day camp

I’ve got a taste of the future … and I think I like it. The children had been begging me to enrol them in day camp this summer. I guess this particular summer program was the hot topic of the kindergarten class before school let out and Lars was gung ho to sign up. Lucky for me, Sophie qualified to participate in it, too. READ

Lessons from the bottle depot

My friend James is a positive guy — always looking on the bright side. When times get tough at work, he is the first person many folks will seek out for a pick-me-up. One day, I asked James how he managed to stay so upbeat. He just laughed and said it was no big secret — just something he learned while working at the bottle depot. I asked him to explain. READ

Gardeners must adapt to the different conditions

One thing that all gardeners can agree on is that every growing season is different. It depends on the amount of rain, sunshine and temperature. This year, rain is spotty within Central Alberta with some gardens growing well and others not. Wet areas are thriving and dry ones are struggling. READ

Future of the North Raven is in doubt

Herself did the driving so I could do the looking early in April on my annual slalom, zigzagging north and west up the North Raven River from where it flows into the South Raven River just west of Raven on Hwy 54. READ

Helping a sick kid feel better a huge task

The sound of Ariel’s singing soars boldly out of our living room television. Her voice is angelic and I can see why Sophie is constantly attempting to mimic those sweet lyrical sounds. Not today, however. Today, she is lying lethargically on the couch and just listening to her beloved undersea princess. READ

Stop assuming insincerity and accept more compliments

“I don’t give out compliments,” she said, “and I don’t like to receive them either.” I had just started a new job and was going through an orientation with the sales manager. I was taken aback by the comment but she was right. The entire time I worked for the business, she never once complimented me READ

Keep your garden free of fungus, pests and disease

Insects and diseases can destroy a garden, but usually they are just annoying. Knowing what to expect and dealing with the problem quickly can minimize damage. READ

A cutt above the rest

Outdoors people have polite names for days like we’ve been having far too many of lately, too hot, too bright, too dry: “Bluebird Days” and “Cutthroat Days. Duck hunters hate Bluebird Days because the birds don’t fly then. But anglers love Cutthroat Days,” because our only significant native trout species, the west slope cutthroat (the threatened bull trout is a char and the also threatened Athabasca rainbow trout is rare and tiny) is alone among our trout in feeding heavily in hot, bright sunshine. READ

Kids face pressure to grow up fast

It appears that in today’s world, certain adolescent pressures continue to bombard our children. There are so many milestones to break that simply being a kid is a thing of the past. Nowadays, they must be walking by a year, potty trained by three, breezing through Atlas Shrugged by six and out the door to work a 9 to 5 by 10 years old. READ

Does asking who’s to blame actually solve anything?

“I’m glad for the company,” said Annette. “I’m usually at these things alone.” It was the weekend of the annual craft fair at the local garden centre and the writers group had set up a table displaying books by club members and local authors. I was busy setting out copies of my new self-esteem book while Annette, a fellow writer, was setting out copies of her latest work — the biography of a famous southern belle. I was standing back inspecting the display when Annette recognized a one-time neighbour in the crowd and waved her over. READ

Lack of rain not hurting local angling

Two weeks ago, the column remembered the “200-year flood” of June 2005, when monsoon-struck Central Alberta rivers and streams were running harder and higher than longtime residents could ever remember, and noted that aquatic life, including fish, of those waters finally seemed to have recovered. READ

A cold remedy that uses ingredients grown in Alberta gardens

This past couple of weeks, I have been making a traditional cold remedy called fire cider with people who are looking for alternatives to over-the-counter cold medicine. Fire cider is a remedy one makes in the fall, during harvest. All the ingredients but two (and if need be, these can be eliminated from the remedy) are grown in Alberta gardens. READ

Stop fungi, viruses and pests in autumn

In late spring, summer and early fall, deciduous trees and shrubs are covered in leaves. During this time, yellow leaves, dead leaves and dead branches are tell-tale signs that the plant is not healthy. READ

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