Grandpa Meets His Match

Christine Goodnough:

Two days ago I posted an old-time article about families who boarded the teacher, sharing my Grandmother’s story about coming to Spy Hill, Sask, to teach. Today I’ll share my grandfather’s story of homesteading at Spy Hill.

Originally posted on Vance Turner Connect:

Allen Vance and his father Sam arrived in the Northwest Territories in the fall in 1899 to check out the area. Sam’s brother was already homesteading near Neepawa, Manitoba; no doubt the prospect of 160 acres for $10 was appealing. Allen would be 21 in two months and could then file on for a homestead, too, and the two of them could work their land together. Mary (Mrs. Sam) and sixteen year old Will were left behind in Ontario to manage the farm there until they got back.

Sam and Allen would have trekked through an undulating land mostly rich in softwood trees, birch, poplar, and Manitoba maple with occasional patches of “tall grass prairie” until they reached the valley of the Little Cut Arm Creek, where the trees gave way to grassy hillsides. Allen picked out his quarter right beside this stream, not far from the town of Spy…

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Look For the Bright Spots

Here’s a post from “Meanderings with God” that reminds us spring is coming, in spite of how the world looks today. (It was -30 C here this morning!)

Beauty in Chaos

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Boarding the Teacher

Originally posted on Vance Turner Connect:

Spy Hill, Bavelaw School District SK

Spy Hill School, Bavelaw School District SK
Left to Right: Gladys Vance, Pearl Riddall, Wayne Riddall, Steve Vance
Photo: E. Whitney collection

How Grandma Met Grandpa

Our Grandmother, Emily Priscilla Turner was hired to teach at Spy Hill, SK around 1904, and was to be boarded with a local family, as was the custom of the time. According to Uncle Steve, she was hired by the school board of the newly formed Bavelaw School District for a salary of 20 dollars a month. The Barclay family were to board and room her for $10 a month.  (“I am quoting these figures from memory so I may be out a dollar or two.”)

Emily later married Allen Vance and they lived at Spy Hill.  Their children attended this school.  Today the school is gone and there is a cairn remembering it.

One old timer shared his memories in a prairie history…

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Memory Lane: Lily Bulb Rescue

It must have been about this time of year, some four years back, when the local Walmart store received a shipment of bulbs. They were wanting to get ahead of the spring rush, I suppose.

These bulbs were packed in wood shavings and then sealed in plastic bags with small air holes so they didn’t mould and thus perish. The bags were packed in big display boxes; when they arrived at the store these were set up for customers to admire the beautiful display and hopefully purchase the bulbs.

Alas, it was still winter. Those bulbs would have been stored in a dark, cool place until they arrived at Walmart; they suddenly found themselves in a warm, light environment and of course started sending out shoots.

A month later I happened to be in Walmart and wandererd over to the display. Alarm bells started ringing in my head, warning me to keep away from anything living – like plants. I already had a couple of African Violet “rescues” blooming their hearts out, occupying a good deal of space in my house. (In fact they are still thriving and taking up space as I write this, ten years later.) But I yielded to temptation to check out this display of lily bulbs.

I picked up several packages and examined them to see what shape they were in. This is a big No-No for me, because I know what shape Walmart seasonal plants are usually in. But I did check. And they were.

By this time these shoots, reaching for the light in whatever direction it could be found, had grown from three to six inches long. But those tiny bags do not accommodate long shoots. Some had grown a few inches, then turned completely upside down like a U. Some snaked like an S. Some were growing straight sideways. And they had all grown as far as they possibly could. The topmost leaves, crammed up against plastic, would soon start to rot–and for sure be stunted beyond recovery.

This always sets me to fuming a bit. Discount stores like Walmart don’t seem to concern themselves overly much with the care of any living things. I’m so thankful the company quit selling fish for that reason. It’s all about money: plants have a certain time to sell – a time when some effort is put forth to keep them alive – but after that initial period if it lives it lives; if it dies it dies. I know it’s business as usual, but these are living things. They deserve proper care.

I have a soft heart and/or a weak mind. I know it. If I were wandering along some beach at low tide and saw starfish dehydrating in the hot sun, I’d be like that fellow going along tossing them back into the ocean. Some people are just like that. (If you are, I’d advise you not to go near the plant displays in discount stores or your house is going to be very green.)

I weakened. I searched through the plastic bags and found the bulbs with the longest, kinkiest shoots, the ones most in danger of being hopelessly deformed. I did limit myself to three bags, though – three dozen bulbs – and carried them to the cashier, knowing all the while that this could well be some form of insanity.

When I got them home I immediately opened the packages so the poor things could stretch out and breathe. Then what? It would be at least another month until I would even see the garden, now under four feet of snow. I couldn’t leave the bulbs just sit until then.

Fortunately I had a bag of peat moss on hand and half a bag of potting soil, so I got a basin and mixed up a batch of soil, scrounged up some plastic pots and planted the things. I ran out of pots. Looked in the cupboard and found a stack of plastic drinking glasses, so I employed them in my rescue operation.

It was not very easy to plant some the bulbs, as kinky as some of the shoots were. I had to weigh down some of the pots so the heavy shoots hanging upside down over the edge wouldn’t pull the whole pot over. But I planted all thirty-six and set them in our cool windowsill where they’d get the morning sun.

A couple of weeks went by and the shoots redirected themselves upward. Some remained a little kinky at the base, but most of them straightened up nicely. About eight weeks later I planted them in the garden, wondering how they’d take the cool spring nights. They held up well. Every last one survived and grew well.

In July they bloomed – and they were gorgeous. I took a bouquet to the Villa where I work and the folks marvelled at their beauty, their colour and scent. One lady who visited the Villa at that time phoned me up and asked what variety they were. She thought I must have purchased some really special collection.

I told her, “that’s right. I did.”

Do you think plants know when they’re in caring hands?

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Do Not Grow Weary…

Originally posted on Along Life's Path...:

IM000248.JPG(an acrostic prayer)

Dearest Father, we humbly come to this hour to present ourselves again as sinners in need of Your mercy.

Open us to the washing of Your grace, dear God, as You continue to gather us as a hen gathers her chicks.

No one among us is worthy to call upon Your name, Father, except through the sacrifice of Your Son.

Obstinate we are, Father. We are opinionated, unyielding, and inflexible at times. We feel adamant about our own goodness, Father. Please forgive us, Lord, as we have been too much like this world in which we live.

Tailor us to fit Your will instead of us wanting to tailor You to fit us, Father.

Grant to us the spirit to stay the course for You and not grow weary in doing Your will for Your sake, O God.

Recover us…

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What Passion!

It’s All In The Delivery

The actress Helena Modjeska was highly regarded for her ability to breathe life and emotion into her performances.  One day she was giving a dramatic recitation at a dinner party.  The item she recited was well known in her native Poland and she delivered it with such zeal and passion that, even though they didn’t understand any of it, her listeners were moved to tears.

Now that’s talent!  And what was this wondrous piece of literature that could so touch the emotions of her listeners?

The Polish alphabet.

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Appreciaton: Love’s Life Blood

When we lived in a small town in Ontario, I got together quite often with an elderly widow who lived down the block. I know that she missed her husband very much; they’d had such a happy home. She often told me about his attitude and what a blessing it was to her every day.

“Ernie was left motherless at a very early age. Then his father went out West and left him in the care of his grandmother and other relatives, knocked from pillar to post as it were. He never knew a proper home, so when he finally had one he was so happy for it. In all our years together never a day went by but what he told me how thankful he was to have a home of his own.

We were young, in our early twenties, but so naive. We had very little money when we got married, just enough to pay the rent and buy some furniture. But Ernie was sure that we were meant for each other and he never worried a lot about money. He had a strong faith and trusted that the Lord would provide.

Then came the Depression years and he had no steady work for five years. We were often down almost to our last dime–in fact one time we only had four cents in the house! Something would always turn up, though; the Lord always provided for us and we made it through those tough years.”

I am sure that this man’s attitude made their home a more pleasant place than many a rich man’s home! Wouldn’t we all be easier to live with if we’d cultivate a thankful heart and express our appreciation more? (But in this day and age maintaining a contented heart is an uphill climb, when advertisers tell us daily how we still need THEIR product in order to be totally happy.)

I do believe that love can conquer many obstacles. Two people together can accomplish things that they never could if each worked alone — if they can work together and not chip away at what the other does. When you have someone you love by your side you have something far more valuable and a force far more powerful than a fat bank account or a fancy new home.

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The Gracious Way to Get There


Does the grouch get richer quicker than the friendly sort of man?
Can the grumbler labor better than the cheerful fellow can?
Is the mean and churlish neighbor any cleverer than the one
who shouts a glad “Good morning,” and then smiling passes on?

Just stop and think about it.  Have you ever known or seen
a mean man who succeeded just because he was so mean?
When you find a grouch with honors and with money in his pouch,
you can bet he didn’t win them just because he was a grouch.

Oh, you’ll not be any poorer if you smile along your way,
and your lot will not be harder for the kindly things you say.
Don’t imagine you are wasting time for others that you spend;
You can rise to wealth and glory and still pause to be a friend.

written by Edgar Guest

From the book A Heap O’ Livin’
© 1916 by The Reilly & Britton Co.

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Wise Advice For Parents Of Teens

One wise counsel given to parents these days is to keep the lines of communication open with your children and teens. In this encouraging post fellow blogger Lori tells us how they work at communication, and try to teach respect for others, in their home.

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“You’re Very Analytical”

Years ago a friend told me one day, “You’re very analytical.”

I can’t deny it. I see and hear things and my mind goes into deep contemplation mode, considering the various angles. Here’s just one example:

As I was mingling among the multitudes at the mall one day a passing T-shirt caught my eye.  In bold black and white it declared, “Compromise is for Losers.”

No doubt the young man wearing the T-shirt thought he was making an “I’m tough. I bend to no one” statement.  My wheels began to turn.

Losers of what? Here are some things you lose if you are the compromising type:

Your “My way or the highway” arrogance?
Your “If you don’t agree with me you are so wrong” stubbornness?
Your “My mind is made up; don’t confuse me with the facts” prejudice?
The chance of having your children walk out and never speak to you again.
The chance of witnessing first hand the proceedings of divorce court. (Probably several times over.)

Then I thought of the opposite: what are you apt to gain? Someone who’s humble, peaceable, conciliatory — “easy to be entreated” the Bible says, is easy to love, to respect, to work with, to live with.

You gain more peace in your home, lower blood pressure, smiles from your family. And like begets like: you’ll find the people around you become more willing to compromise as well.

Truth and faith you dare not compromise but someone should point out to this young man that some things are better lost.

Wise cracks and one-liners abound these days, but I implore you:  never say anything with your mouth or on your T-shirt that you don’t mean with your heart.

(First posted Sept 6, 2012)


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