Saturday, 25 July 2015

The Dog Days of Summer Can be Draining...

...even for a five-year-old.

Jakobi, with his favourite truck
My nephew, Jakobi was ambling home from the communal kitchen where he had just had lunch. His lazy gait told me that the dog days of summer were having a toll on him, too.

Jakobi loves our Rock Truck and practically drools every time he sees or hears it. He's had a few rides with it and loves to talk about them as well. Any time we go for a walk, we 'just have to' go past this wonder on wheels, so he can climb on it or pose for pictures. Jakobi seems to think, Derek, one of our young men is the only one who can drive it, which makes him his hero, and his new wife, Marianna of just a few weeks "the most beautiful bride". Jakobi keeps reminding us, "Next time Derek will haul something with that truck, Marianna and I will take turns going along with him."

As he plopped down beside me on our front steps, I tried to chase away some of his sluggishness with a never-fail tactic, "Jakobi, after you've had your nap, we'll go to the broiler barn to see if they're still hauling manure. Perhaps you can get a ride with your favourite truck."

"I would just call." he mumbled listlessly.

Perhaps a nap under a cool fan will work better.

How are you dealing with the dog days of summer?

Friday, 24 July 2015

Time to Thrive - Amy Newmark and Loren Slocum Lahav

About the Book:

These 101 amazing and inspiring stories about growth, wisdom, and dreams will show you how to thrive — a road map to living the best life you can make for yourself!

It's your time to thrive — and these stories show you how! You'll learn how to take charge of your life, make time for what's important, and do what's right for you! These stories, from regular people who have taken control of their lives, show you how to do it yourself. Find new purpose, try new things, and take care of yourself, all while improving your relationships with family, friends, and co-workers.

You'll read chapters about:

•  Making your own needs important again
•  Carving out time for work–life balance
•  Thriving on your own path
•  Reinventing yourself
•  Embracing adventure
•  Pursuing your dreams
•  Making time for relationships
•  Taking time for your passions
•  Learning how to say no
•  And learning how to say yes to the things that will make you thrive!

My Review:

While I enjoyed the stories in this book, I enjoyed Denise A. Dewald's poem, Time to Share the most, because it sums up nicely what they're mostly about: We help ourselves become a stronger person, when we refrain from lamenting what we don't have and celebrate what we do have.  For then we're able to see our world in a new light, which motivates us to reach out to others who can benefit from our support; as the last stanza in the poem goes: And now I see things differently. I'm rich beyond compare! I've got to run, there's someone near, who needs to know I care. Even though we're going through a rough time, it's important to stay positive, find new purpose, try new things, and take care of yourself, all while improving your relationships with family, friends, and co-workers.


In exchange for an honest review Simon and Schuster and  Shelton Interactive provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.  

Thursday, 16 July 2015

The Plain Spoken Series

I've mentioned a few times that Hutterite Diaries is part of the Herald Press Plain Spoken series, but I don't think I've ever said anything about the other books.

I've read the first book, Chasing the Amish Dream by Loren Beachy. It's a delightful take on life as an Amish teacher, auctioneer and newspaper columnist...sprinkled with laugh out loud moments.

Life in author Loren Beachy's Amish community brims with old-fashioned box socials, smart-alecky students, and pranks involving pink duct tape and black pepper. Meet the young women who manage to be late for church twice in one day and the man who plans to fight drowsiness by jogging beside his horse and buggy. Cheer for Beachy and his cousins in cut-throat baseball games, and join community members as they surround and support a family in their loss.

With the witty warmth of small-town storytellers like Garrison Keillor and Jan Karon, Beachy invites readers into his life as a creative, wise, and wisecracking Old Order Amish schoolteacher and auctioneer.

The second book, Called to be Amish by Marlene C. Miller is on my 'to read and review list'. 

Fewer than one hundred people have joined the Old Order Amish and stayed since 1950. Marlene C. Miller is one of them. In this rare memoir, Marlene recounts her unhappy and abusive childhood, how she throws herself into cheer leading and marching band, and how she falls in love with Johnny, the gentle young Amish man who helps her lace her ice skates.

Against the wishes of both sets of parents, Marlene and Johnny get married and begin a family. Follow the author on this unusual journey to find out how God s love called her out of bitterness and depression and into the warm embrace of her new Amish community.

Accompany her as she dons an Amish dress and prayer covering and gets baptized. Learn how she endures the strain of ten children, a hundred-acre farm, and accidents and tragedy, and find out how she comes close to walking away from it all. Turning Amish has proven to be anything but plain and simple for this former majorette. But nearly fifty years later, Marlene is still living out God's call as an Old Order Amish woman.

Third in this series is my book, Hutterite Diaries. 

It's been very exciting to share this collection of stories with people and to hear their thoughts after reading it. After I did a well-attended launch at the Winnipeg McNally Robinson, it was on their bestseller list for three weeks straight. Our local library in Portage la Prairie hosted a launch as well, where we also had a good turnout. A few weeks ago I was invited to the Ste. Claude Senior Book Club; which turned out to be an enjoyable evening as well.

There will probably be more books in this series, but nothing to announce at this time. 

All of these books are available on Amazon or ask for them at your favourite bookstore.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Hello! It's been a while...

... since I've posted anything. With the end of school, gardening, a wedding, and a long list of other things to do, my blog had to stay on the back burner.

This planter is made from an old pallet.

It's a scorcher here in Manitoba today, 31 degrees Celsius, one of those days when I'm really grateful for the invention of this thing called air conditioner. But our flowers are loving the heat and are putting on quite a show. Here are a few samples, all taken in our yard:

 And now for a short update on Hutterite Diaries: I'm enjoying reading the reviews that keep rolling in and also any other feedback coming my way, some verbal, other through email and snail mail. It's so rewarding to see how many people, Hutterites and non-Hutterites alike, enjoy and are touched by my book.If you've read Hutterite Diaries and have posted a review somewhere, I thank you so much for doing that! I know people are reading them and find them helpful.

Last weekend I met a Hutterite lady who told me, "Linda, I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying your book. This is just what Hutterites need, one of our own telling our stories. Thanks so much for doing this!"

I'm pleasantly surprised by how the stories in my book inspire people reading them. I'm part of a writers group and at our last meeting, upon arrival I noticed a quilting book and some beautiful fabric samples stapled together like a large book (used in stores or by salesmen to show the various fabrics) sitting on the table beside a man. I couldn't imagine why he brought them, for I couldn't see him taking up quilting. But I soon learned that after reading the story about my community making lap quilts for Alzheimer patients, he acquired a bunch of those fabric sample books  from somewhere. Then he found a quilting book at a garage sale. I was touched when he generously gave all of that to me, to be used for future quilting projects.

Others have told me, that they treasure their copy of Hutterite Diaries and have read it a number of times; and enjoy it each time.

Wishing you a fabulous summer, with lots of time to read, relax and enjoy nature. Along with gardening, canning, reading and writing, part of my summer will be spent taking a philosophy course.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Taken - Dee Henderson

About the Book:

Abducted at the age of sixteen and coerced into assisting the Jacoby crime family, Shannon Bliss has finally found a way out. She desperately wants to resume some semblance of normal life, but she also knows she has some unfinished business to attend to. She might have enough evidence to put her captors behind bars for a very long time. When Shannon contacts private investigator Matthew Dane, a former cop, to help her navigate her reentry into society, he quickly discovers that gaining her freedom doesn't mean her troubles are over. If the Jacoby family learns she is still alive, they'll stop at nothing to silence her. If justice is to be done, and if Shannon's life is ever to get on track again, Matthew will need to discover exactly what happened to her--even if it means stirring up a hornet's nest of secrets.


Dee Henderson's recent books are for the most part, somewhat similar; the main female character is dealing with a horrific past and a noble law enforcement official is helping her through it. The two, it seems have hardly any flaws. However the plot is always multi-layered, complex and captivating. Even though each book is a stand alone, characters from previous ones usually make an appearance, which I always enjoy. Another aspect that makes the story intriguing is that Shannon kept journals during the eleven years nobody knew where she was, which she managed to hide with help from another person in the crime ring, but who wanted out. I thought it was rather unrealistic though, that her captors allowed her to have a camera and take thousands of pictures, even though they always took out the ones with people in them. I just thought it's rare to see elements of kindness in criminals. One can't help comparing these latest books with the O'Malley Series, which are also about crime and justice, but are so very different that it sometimes seems like different people wrote them. Still, Dee Henderson's books are always make for entertaining reading.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Friday, 26 June 2015

School Year Highlights

This this being the last school day before summer holidays begin, I'll share a few highlights from this past school year.

As part of our end of school year field trip, we toured the Manitoba Legislature Building in Winnipeg. 

Trying to get a better angle of our tour guide as we listened to her in the Rotunda.

In it, to win it, at our annual multi-colony Hutterite Track and Field Day.

Shooting Hoops while skipping for our Heart and Stroke Jump Off Fundraiser.
There is indeed a skipping rope there, but difficult to see.

 Some of our students were in the winners circle after the Prairie Sounds Arts Festival

 Our Educational Assistant, Garett, graduated from Brandon University and according to
our students is now a 'real teacher'. This has been quite the year for him. In early spring he was
baptized upon confession of faith, then graduated with greatest distinction and next week he's getting married.

Wishing you a splendid summer, with lots of time for 
rest, relaxation and reading.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Memories to Help Celebrate Father's Day

As part of celebrating Father's Day, I thought it would be fitting to post an excerpt from Hutterite Diaries. I know Dad would be so happy with this book, and the how things have been going since its release a month ago. For the third week in a row it has been on the Winnipeg Grant Park McNally Robinson bestseller list!
Beautiful is the man who leaves a legacy that of shared love and life.  It is he who transfers meaning, assigns significance and conveys in his loving touch, the fine art and gentle shaping of a life. This man shall be called, Father. — Stella Payton

Another Father’s Day without dad. It has been more than ten years since he died. On days like this, when I miss him the most, I like to engage in an activity that I know now he helped cultivate and nurture: storytelling...
...On a Hutterite colony it’s very common for members to volunteer at different tasks in addition to their daily duties. I’ve been tending the flowers at the community cemetery. I love the tranquility there, especially in the evening when the sun sinks low in the western sky. It creates lace-like shadows on the soft, cool grass.

From time to time, some of the children come to help with weeding or mowing the lawn. One day it was two school boys who worked with me. One of them proved to be a good little worker; the other one, not so much. Even with all my reprimands, he was clearly not in a working mood. The ripe raspberries that kept calling him from across the road didn’t help either.
Children always ask many questions about the people resting in the cemetery and enjoy listening to stories about them, especially if the person is a relative. “These markers are stones with stories. This stone says Edward and Marvin Maendel,” I tell them. “They’re my little brothers who died in a house fire many years ago.” The boys were silent. The past touched the present for a moment.
One year, my mom, Aunt Margaret, and I were planting flowers on the graves when the German teacher stopped by. “I think you could use some help here. I’ll go round up some boys for you,” he offered.
“That should go well,” I chuckled as I watched him leave. “I wonder if he knows what he’s up against. He’ll have to break up the Hutterite Grey Cup Game .” Watching them sometimes seems like there’s almost as much at stake as in the Canadian Football League’s Grey Cup game.
Nevertheless, in a few minutes, I was pleasantly surprised when a parade of bikes headed our way. “How did you pull this off?” I queried.
“Wasn’t too difficult,” their teacher answered. “I just told them you needed help and that with so many working together, not too much precious game time would be lost.” Soon the place was bustling like a beehive. Some were planting and watering, while others were digging up around the trees and adding rich farm soil from the cow pasture. Before long the boys could return to the battle for bragging rights, with their impromptu, longer-than-usual half-time intermission behind them.
“Community action,” I mused when we were all done. It's another reminder of how invaluable multiple generations are to our communal life. In working together, tenets of our faith, values, work ethics, culture, and heritage are passed on to our children. Bridging past with present, gravestones evoke memories of those who walked before us and who call us to continue their legacy: "impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up" (Deuteronomy 6:7)
Dad, who lived by the maxim “Arbeit macht das Leben süβ” (“Work makes life sweet”), must have been smiling. Working together, three generations had transformed our cemetery, adding lovely splashes of color to the neatly trimmed carpet of grass.