Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

I rarely am able to stay awake until midnight, but each year I try. I even took a little nap this afternoon to see if that will help. I have played cribbage, wrote emails, read Facebook, played video games, washed the dishes, put dishes away, watched a movie, cleaned the carpet...you get the idea...anything I can find to do to stay awake I am trying!

I keep thinking "it is 12am somewhere so can't I just go to bed?" I will let you know tomorrow if I made it, but in case I don't I just want to wish you the happiest of New Years to you all. May you reach all of your goals, reach for higher dreams, and be a better person tomorrow then you are today!

Are you thinking about your 2011 Resolutions?

Full circle in the blog writing. I started off last year around this time talking about New Year's Resolutions and throughout the year I have reviewed mine and seen which ones I accomplished and which ones I need a little more determination to actually pull off.

This year I don't know that I will have broad resolutions. It seems like when I have broad things to do I don't muster the dedication to actually do them! Maybe it is because the resolutions are to broad rather than specific? Maybe that is the problem. For some reason I feel confused thinking about what happen last year and how to make the next year even more specific?

As I type this I hear in the background the news talking about being specific in your resolutions. Losing weight is not specific it is broad. Hum...very true. Losing weight is not specific at all so maybe that is why I find it hard to be dedicated or motivated to do anything about it. I want to travel more. Hum...not very specific at all! I want to give more. Hum..not very specific at all either.

Making resolutions is dedicating your future to yourself! Making your future better for you and those around you is the outcome you want. To many times we just talk about it. Maybe 2011 needs to be the year of action! Plan specific goals and go for them!

Resolution: I want to travel more - Overall resolutions are great, but let's be specific!

Specific Goals:
I want to go Ice Fishing on Lake of the Woods in January 2011
I want to go to the Grand Canyon in May 2011
I want to take a Harley trip with my folks to Glazier National Park in July 2011
I want to go on a 7+ day cruise to the Caribbean in November 2011

How about some more examples. Maybe you want to be debt free?

Your Resolution: I want to be debt free by 2012 and have money to travel - Overall Resolution is doable, but what are the specifics!

Specific Goals:
Pay off all 'toys' by April 2011
Set up direct deposit to savings bi-weekly of $100
Pay off credit cards by December 2011

Maybe you want to lose weight?

Your Resolution: I want to lose weight - Okay, but how?

Specific Goals:
I will lose 10 pounds by March 1, 2011
I will go to the gym 4 times a week for the next 2 months
I will work on my cardio for 45 minutes a day while at the gym
I will find 10 healthy and easy recipes on line by January 15th

Now that is specific and very doable!

So, as you go into the New Year tonight and start thinking about resolutions think about the goals you will need to make into actionable items. What would it really take to do what you resolve to do? Be specific,be able to measure it, make it doable, be realistic and when will you do it? SMART goals mean success!

Go forth and resolve and write down those goals! Make sure you are realistic and honest with yourself! Resolve to be specific!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Are you keeping the Jingle in your Step?

Within a week the Charlie Brown Christmas tree is really beginning to look like "A Charlie Brown Christmas Tree". Needles everywhere except on the tree! Okay, so there are still needles on the tree, but it was overnight that they fell and now the cats think it is fun to pick them up and carry them everywhere. The couch, the bathroom, the rugs, the tennis shoes...nothing is safe! Beware of pine needles if you visit!

Okay this post isn't about pine needles falling off the tree but it does give me a good analogy for today's post!

I started taking the decorations off the tree tonight and with every one of them the tree looked a little less festive and a lot more like it should be outside protecting a bird or two from the winter cold.

It was during the taking off that more needles began to fall and it reminded me a lot about the end of the year for each of us.  We have dolled ourselves up for the Holidays. Fancy outfits,  music and movies are all cheerful, gifts in pretty paper, smiles and hugs galore and just a little 'jingle' in our step. All of a sudden the day is over and the outfits get put back into the garment bags,music is back to country (okay for me it is), movies are back to repeats, paper is ripped apart, and people head to their homes far and away and the smiles and hugs become few and far between and in essence our needles began to drop.

It is right at that time that we have a choice to put away the jingle in our steps or keep it around for a while. That one moment when you can decide to keep the spirit in you alive and going or put it away for another year! One moment at one time during the end of a year to either celebrate the past and look forward to the future, or revert to the past and forget the future.

We will each be faced with that one moment this season as it always happens. Maybe it is when you begin to think about New Year's Resolutions or like me when you take down your Christmas Tree. You will have that moment when you can celebrate or revert and look forward or forget. One moment when you have the choice of continued positive and purposeful living or keeping up with the same old same old.

Today what that day for me and I celebrated! I took a quick look back at the year and realized it was probably one of the best for me. I lived, traveled, loved, cared, gave, received, became, grew, cried, smiled, laughed a lot, reacquainted with old friends and made a few new ones. It was a wonderful year. Worth keeping the jingle in my step for a long time to come.

How about you? Do you have have a jingle and will you be keeping it around? I hope so. Take inventory of your year and know that falling needles, torn paper, and fancy outfits are all part of life. Live them. Enjoy them. Remember them. Grow from them!

Jingle all the way!

Monday, December 27, 2010

There is something beautiful about this time of year!

Yes I know, Christmas, family, friends, and food but there is more! One of the reasons I love going up north for Christmas is the scenery. I call it the Timmy Picture Time. Tim is a friend of mine who is an amazing photographer and when I see something amazing I really wish he was standing next to me as I know his shots would be even more amazing.

On the drive home I just had to stop and take some "Timmy Pictures". My little digital camera doesn't nearly do the job of a Timmy Shot, but I try.

I just had to stop and take a few photos as it reminded me that in the hustle and bustle of the season it is good to be still and admire. I didn't go to a mall to get an after Christmas special, no money spend, no frustrations had, just simple peace and admiration. I hope you enjoy my way of spending the day after Christmas as much as I did.





Friday, December 24, 2010

If you think you have had a tough day...

Think about the story of tonight that happened so many years ago. It is the Christmas story.

Now we all know the basics of Mary, Joseph, the Kings, Angels, Shepard's, the Inn, and of course the manger scene, but did you ever think about what really happened?

Next time you think you are having a tough day think about the faith and belief Mary and Joseph must have had.

First Mary is told she is "with Child", and not just any child, God's Child. No pressure there! Then she has to figure out how to tell her Fiancé Joseph that "hey I know you aren't the father or anything, but I am pregnant!" I bet that went over well.

Joseph could have had her stoned to death. Sleeping with others was a real no no back then. So Joseph gets the Angel talking to him and says "don't worry Joseph, Mary is carrying Gods Son, so no worries!" No pressure there.

So Mary and Joseph are good to go and just as they are getting the babies room ready the Government gets involved in these poor peoples lives and says "hey all you citizens, head to your home town so we can count you!"

Seriously a bad day had to just feel like it got worse for them. But on they go. A very pregnant Mary walking and riding a donkey 90 miles home to Bethlehem. Now I have never been pregnant,but riding a donkey 90 miles doesn't sound fun even without child!

So they get there and poor old Joseph is looking for some place for Mary who is now in labor. Gracious, let's head to the stable Mary!

After they have the baby Jesus in the stable they are visited by Shepard's and Kings. What must have they been thinking when Kings are giving them gifts!

So the story goes they finally get a room in the House of David when all of a sudden Joseph is again visited by an Angel who tells him to wake up Mary, pack up the kid, get one donkey right now in the middle of the night and flee to Egypt!

So, now after a 90 mile donkey ride, you give birth in a stable surrounded by sheep, cows, and other fine smelling barn animals, you just get to sleep and all of a sudden you are waking up, packing up the family and heading to Egypt!

So you think you had a tough day? Really!

Now what is the morale to the Christmas Story? Faith and believing? Faith in what you cannot see or understand, and believing that all that happens is for a reason. Yes, this is the real meaning of Christmas.

Maybe today was a tough day or maybe there is one to come. Next time you feel like it is a tough day ask yourself  "Am I pregnant and on the back of a mule? Do I have to find a place for my wife to give birth? Do I have to flee to another county so my Son will not be killed?

After you have asked yourself these questions, remember -- faith and believing! It can get you through anything!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pretty Houses all around!

Tonight we did the drive around and looked at homes brightly lite up with Christmas lights. It seems there are fewer this year. Last year we could have driven around for hours and seen so many, this year not so many, but the ones we saw still made us stop and admire. I hope you enjoy our little positive experience. Some are blurry due to lack of hand stillness. The last one is our tree out front that we decorate. It is lightly snowing so I love the picture!









Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Paying Attention!

I am loving my quote calendar this week as there are so many wonderful reminders of positive and purposeful living. I would like to think they planned it around my need to write the blog every day, but I doubt I am that important in the world. So here is today's quote:

Diane Sawyer - TV Journalist
"I think the one lesson I have learned is that there is no substitute for paying attention."
Did I tell you! I believe some of my earlier posts were about the importance of paying attention and here you have it 300 days later, Diane Sawyer agreeing with me!

Paying Attention is such a critical step in positive and purposeful living it should be a week or more worth of work to figure out! Since I think I would lose many of my readers if I concentrated that long on one area, I will give you the highlights as a reminder again.

I want to revisit a post I did early May 2010 - How to live the rest of your life with NO regrets!

So how do we live the rest of our lives with NO regrets? Pretty easy to do if you are willing to be honest about what is important to you and know what you want in your life. Sounds a lot like purposeful living!

I will use my life as an example for all of you. There are four parts; understand what is important to you, pay attention to what you are doing, every day remember to live purposefully and keep in mind what you want to never regret.
Write statements for these parts and you can live without regrets.
Understand what is important to you
1. My family is important to me.

2. My health needs to be more important to me.

3. My friends are important to me.

4. Living a life that is full of new experiences is important to me.

5. Fishing is important to me.
Pay attention to what you are doing
1. I spend time with my family, but think I want more time with my folks.

2. I need to start having a dedication to healthy living and choices and I do not right now.

3. I spend time with my friends and am happy about what I give and get with them.

4. I am more comfortable with the common then the new and I want to expand my experiences.

5. I want to look at fishing as my personal quest and personal time; with or without company.
Live purposefully
1. I will remember what is important to me and live my live with daily purpose.
What I never want to regret
1. I never want to regret that I didn't spend enough time with my folks when they are gone.

2. I never want to regret that I lost a friend by not paying attention to their needs.

3. I never want to regret that I didn't take better care of myself.

4. I never want to regret that I didn't give something a chance or a try.

5. I never want to regret that I missed out on a great day of fishing.
Regrets happen when you forget what is important in your life, so remember what is important and dedicate yourself to purposeful living. In 20 years you will be able to say "I have no regrets".
How many of you have checked back on your goals, your objectives and your future? Have you paid attention to what you said you would do? Did you pay attention to what you accomplished?

I challenge you all to revisit your thoughts and work. Pay attention to yourself and your dreams!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Can to much planning destroy the event?

I read a quote today from Jane Austen that said:
"Why not seize the pleasure at once? How often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparation!"
This coming from one a highly acclaimed novelist, but how true?

How many of us sit and plan out all the details of an event or a day just to get so frustrated and overwhelmed that we actually plan ourselves right out of happiness?

I am a planner, an organizer, a list maker. I love to plan and organize and organize and plan. It is in my blood. This weekend we had a plan for delivering some treats to all of our friends and it took a little planning to organize all the stops. It worked out well but we didn't get everything done. My first thought was "darn, we didn't do what we had planned to do!" My mind quickly went to "But wait, we did exactly what we could do and in the mean time we connected with friends we hadn't for a long time!"

Had we stuck to the plan of 'drop and go' we wouldn't have share some laughs with our friends. We wouldn't have had a cup of coffee and caught up a little. We wouldn't have experienced a little Christmas cheer along the way. Yes we could have gotten everything done, but at what expense?

Sometime I think planning can really destroy the event, especially around this time of the year when everyone seems to want to get here or there and get things done. What about enjoying the adventure - the journey?

I was sitting "planning" out a vacation last night and as I did the voice said "wait, vacations are to experience not plan"! Now I know what some of you are thinking and yes I will plan some parts of the vacation, but seriously do I need to know right now what we will do every minute of every day? No! What happens if we want to experience something for longer then planned?

I know it is a busy week for everyone and my challenge is to plan cautiously and allow for the experience to happen. Don't worry about spending a little more time or energy doing the unplanned happiness times. Be okay and actually celebrate the event!

Here is to a carefully yet openly planned week!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

It's beginning to Feel a lot like Christmas!

What a wonderful day! Santa and her Head Elf headed out around 7am and delivered homemade treats to a number of homes around the area. After 120 miles of traveling we headed home to relax. I don't know how Santa does it all in one night, but I bet the time differences really help.


 When we got home the kids were enjoying the scenes of Christmas around the house. It is so nice when you see them enjoying all there is to see as well. So tonight, due to Head Elf being really tired, you get pictures of the day!

So after enjoying the sounds and sites of your holiday, sing a little Carol, find a cozy place to rest and hang our with your friends!

Friday, December 17, 2010

When the lights shine bright!

It is quiet in the house tonight. Cats are all sleeping and dog is as well. As I look out the window I see the Christmas lights that line the garage and am amazed as how bright they seem tonight. Maybe it's because it is so dark out or the snow is covering any other light out there, but the red, green, blue, orange, and white lights look like they are floating in line.

I love this time of year because of all of lights. The lights shine so bright in the dark winter nights.
Driving around it seems there are fewer and fewer people putting up lights this year, but I enjoy those that have.

There is something calming about seeing lights at Christmas time. It is like it brings you back to a time when life was slower, maybe a little more innocent. I wonder if the kids this day and age stop and enjoy the lights?

I remember in college when a large group of us would go out every weekend and walk around neighborhood to look at the lights. It was a wonderful time. We would crunch through the snow and at every house we would stop and enjoy. I don't know that this happens anymore, people seem to be in to much of a hurry.

Well, here is my personal reminder to slow down and go and see lights shining bright. They are still out there. We may need to just remember how it felt to be still and calm.

So, this weekend I will be going out and enjoying the lights. Enjoying the crunching of snow and seeing the lights shine bright.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I am Purple

Many of you probably have a favorite color or two. If you looked at my life I have two: Blue and Red. Most of my clothes are blue and all of my toys are red. I buy red toys – Harley's, Cars, Snow blowers, Ice Augers, Lawn Mowers, and such are red. Walls in our house are red; color on the dog is red and even my toothbrush sways to the red side. I buy blue clothes – jackets, sweaters, pants, t-shirts and such are mostly blue. I also like blue and red foods – blue berries, strawberries, tomatoes, red velvet cake…all very much good spiritual food for me!
The past few weeks I have been reading about colors and the impact they have on us. It is interesting that you can tell a lot about a person by their favorite colors. So what does it all mean and how can we use it to help understand ourselves?
First is to look at some common words around different colors:
Red: confidence, vitality, action, courage, enthusiasm, energy, protection, strong

Pink: love, calming, acceptance, contentment, relaxing

Brown: order, convention, wholesome, natural, stable, approachable

Orange: endurance, involved, creative, relief, bold, adventuresome, brilliant

Gold: wealth, wisdom, success, power

Yellow: wisdom, joy, happiness, clarity, uplifting, optimistic

Green: balance, change, freedom, new ideas, tranquil, secure, soothing

Blue: youth, truth, peace, calm, new, solitude, trusting, dependable

Purple: royal, balance, centered, innovative, uplifting, spiritual, respectful, humble

White: purity, cleanliness, fresh, clarity

Black: authoritative, earth, stability, mysterious, powerful, dignified

Gray: security, maturity, isolated, neutral
So my favorite colors of red and blue tell something about me: I am confident, I like to take action, I have energy, I am a protector, I believe in truth, I strive for peace, I am trusting and dependable. I would hope that is how others would describe me as well.
What is interesting about colors is that most of us aren’t just one; we usually are a combination of two or more. For me I gravitate to the mixing of my colors. Red and Blue make purple. My true color is purple.
So what does that say about me? Well, I do believe in balance, I like to be innovative, I thrive to uplift others, I am very spiritual and I feel I am a humble person. Now hopefully more people would agree with this color for me.
I gave each of you a chance to take this assessment early in 2010 but wanted to give you the link again to go and revisit your colors! What does it mean? Does it still stand true?

http://www.primarycolorassessment.com/test.php
There are many colors in our lives and we all mix and match, but I do believe we always center ourselves with our true colors. I don’t know if you need to complete a personality test on this, just take a look at the world around you? What colors do you wear? What color are your walls? What colors excite you? From there see if their meaning is you or if you mix them together is that more you?

Just another tool in gaining a better understanding of who you are and why you are who you are.
Yes, I am Purple!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The power of inspiration

I wonder if anyone knows the power of inspiration? How much energy is generated when you become inspired? Positive energy that gets your heart pumping, you mind working, and you soul believing. How much energy is gained?

I was thinking about this today when I was giving my year end presentation about celebrating the past while we look towards the future. It was inspiring for me to speak about the greatness of others and the dedication to work through issues and change. It was inspiring to see the look on peoples faces as the words hit a place in their mind, heart and souls. I was inspired and I felt my energy rise.

I found today that the one thing I have a passion for, inspiration, is something I forget to do every day. I forgot how wonderful it feels to get positive feedback on a vision, a thought, a focus and a mission. I dedicated 2011 to becoming and being inspired. I feel again like i did the first day of writing this blog...I feel inspired to do more, to be more, and to give more.

Be inspired, you will love the energy in you!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Giving to Others

I have been reminded a number of times this past week of how important it is for me to give to others and how wonderful it is when others are reminded of this as well.

I know that it is the season to give and the causes are out there to give too. I wrote a block a week or so about these opportunities, but do you know that every day we are reminded about little ways to give?

We had our neighbor want to give us a pan of baked goodies (we were going to give her the same) and we decided rather than giving to each other we would give to someone different that maybe won't 'get' anything.

At work today I was reminded that giving isn't just of material gifts but your thoughts, views, and ideas. You have a gift in being uniquely you and sharing your action and voice can be incredible gifts. It was a gift for me today to hear the views of others. I heard people talk about how they inspire others and how they make a difference. That in turn made me think about how I can inspire others and make a difference every day.

It was like a huge pay it forward day. I heard and was impacted and spoke and got others inspired. Hopefully they went on and did the same. One small gathering of idea giving lead to a days worth of giving of myself in a number of ways.

Yes, it is easy to give to charities and it is good to do so, but every day giving of yourself in action and words can have an amazing impact! Go forth and be giving!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

It was a quiet Baking Party!

Well, all the pre baking was done on Friday and by 11pm the snow started flying. By 6am the snow was 6 inches deep so we cancelled people coming over to help out. Safety First is my motto! By 3pm the snow was drifted 3 to 4 feet so the snow blower had to come out to play. It was a different baking party, but one to remember.

We still baked all the recipes and filled boxes for everyone that usually comes to help and we will deliver next weekend, but the house was really quiet!

So why tell you all this? Well, as I thought about what to write this morning I thought the baking party and all that happened this weekend is a lot like life! You have unexpected events that happen and it isn't the event that matters as much as how you react to the event that really matters.

We could have cancelled and did nothing. We could have cancelled and been upset that no one showed up or we could have baked!

I choose to bake so that we could still share the treats of the season with others. You see it isn't the event or the getting people over that mattered to me. It was preparing special treats that we can give to others to enjoy. No strings attached, no work needed, no payment received...just a simple box of cookies for others.

Every event and every day you have a choice to be positive or negative, to give or complain, to move forward or look behind. We had a choice yesterday and the choice was to give to others!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Pre Baking is so much fun!

Tomorrow is our 8th Annual Baking Party when we gather our friends and family and for a full day we bake. We have 17-20 different recipes that all the little elves make and decorate. At the end of the day every takes a selection of treats home with them as well as box and bag up many for others that are unable to come or that are in need. It is a wonderful time,

Everyone asks "How do you organize all of this seventeen recipes and 20-30 people and it all gets done and ready at the same time?" Easy! You plan it out, from the bowls to the sugar to the spices!

Today is the end of the planning. I start planning the week after Christmas when things start going on sale that will not spoil. I have an excel file that has every ingredient and amount so I know exactly what I need and hiw much I need. I evaluate the process and recipes after the par to see if I want to make them again or try something else.

The last thing to get ready for tomorrow is to perhaps the sugar cutout cookies! I do this as it takes a lot of space and time so pre baking is a must. It isn't the actual baking, but the aroma of Christmas cut-out cookies that will fill the house. It is the outcome of a planned event!

So now that you have read my blog every day this year, you know that this story isn't just about us baking, it's about life.

In order for life to have that rich aroma you have to plan, evaluate, take things in and get rid of things. You have to pre bake to get some things done before you get to the end. It takes friends and family to make this all possible, and you share and give as much as you receive.

Maybe this is why I love to bake. It is so much of my life and like my life.

There is a recipe for baking and a recipe for life. You can change an ingredient or two and
the outcome will be different. But if you plan, evaluated, change a few things, and try you end up with the aroma of your life.

So today if you can't bake a cookie, bake. Day in your life. What would your life's baking party look like?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Inuit Inukshuk

Town of Churchill Manitoba Inukshuk
While traveling in upper Manitoba to see the Polar Bears there was another site that was as magnificent as the bears, the Inuit Inukshuk's.

I was able to take a number of pictures of the stone markers in Churchill, but haven't shared many of these pictures with the explanation of what they mean.
If you watched any of last years Winter Olympics from Vancouver British Columbia you probably have seen one of them. It was the symbol used for the Winter Olympics.

Inukshuk on Hudson Bay in Churchill Manitoba
There are many stories, folklore and explanation of these stone structures and may lead to understanding the evolution of the structures.

Some say they are structures built to in the area where caribou migrate and served as hunting shelters or blinds. Others say that they were used for directional purposes. Some state and national parks in Canada still use these structures to provide visitors with navigational symbols. Others say that the structures were placed along main fishing areas and the distance from the water of the Inukshuk was the distance in the water to the fishing area. Still others say that they were placed on shores to warm ships and water travelers of distance to dry land.

The story I like best is the significance of the Inuit Inukshuk that symbolizes leadership, cooperation and the human spirit.
Each stone of an inukshuk is a separate entity but was chosen for how well it fits together with other stones. The stones are secured through balance. Each one supports the one above it and is supported by the one below it. Together, the stones achieve strength through unity. This effect is applied to a philosophy for people where a group can achieve greater success with cooperation and team effort rather than individually. The inukshuk stands for the importance of friendship and reminds us of our dependence on one another. (Source: http://www.freespiritgallery.ca/inukshuk.htm)
Inukshuk with moon at Sunset
       Strength and unity.
Building together and supporting each other.
Now there is a positive and purposeful living statement.



Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I 5 Love Winter!

That's right! I love, love, love, love, LOVE Winter!

I know this is going to make many of you think I am absolutely as crazy as you thought or maybe crazier then you thought, but I can't help it I FIVE Love Winter!

Now I could leave it to that, but it would probably make no sense to anyone, so here is my explanation of the Five Loves of Winter.

20 above to 20 below is part of winter in Minnesota and I LOVE it!  Here is why!

Love Number 1: Have you ever noticed that going outside in cold weather does one of two things? It invigorates you, wakes you up, and becomes reality really quickly and it makes you appreciate heat! I asked someone today "How would you like to feel warm and comfortable? She of course wanted it, so I took her outside and stood for a few minutes. On the way back in I said "Now you will feel warm and comfortable"! It is true! when you spend even a few minutes outside you really appreciate the fact that the furnace is working!

Love Number 2: Have you ever noticed that during the winter months food becomes so tasty! This is true for other seasons, but winter is my favorite. It is like comfort food becomes your soul mate. The only fruits in the store are apples, oranges and maybe the lady handing out samples of cheese and crackers in the back!

You can come home and make a big pot of stew and enjoy the comfort of feeling warm inside. Rarely would you make a really hot and rich meal in the summer!

Love Number 3: Have you ever noticed that with winter comes seasonal smells? The smell of cut grass is gone and is replaced by cut trees. Pine wood smell and cinnamon sticks. Next to fresh cut grass it really is my favorite smell.

In the summer you can buy passion fruit, Hawaiian Flower and a host of 100 other smells that meet your personal liking, but in the winter most of us gravitates towards cinnamon, sugar cookies, and pine. It is the most distinct aroma time of the year.

Love Number 4: It goes without saying but two weeks of -10 degrees and I am smiling while I sleep as I know that it is "making good ice". Yep, clear and cold nights are making ice on the lakes allowing for a littler safer trip when you head out fishing! This week is the most perfect week because of the temperature lows. Ah, good clear solid ice!

Love Number 5: Put the swimsuits away and pull out the oversize and fluffy clothes - enough said! Seriously, a fleece sweater, lined slippers, flannel PJ's...it is like you bond as one with your comfortable clothes.

So there you have it. My 5 Loves of Winter! I know many of you could say the same about Fall, Spring, or Summer...but it is my blog and I love, love, love, love, LOVE Winter!

Here's to warmth, comfort, aromas and food!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

With the new snowfall and the Christmas lights sparkling bright outside, it was time to make the inside of our home sparkle as well.

Yesterday a nice 6 foot Charlie Brown tree became a decoration. I am not sure which smells better, the tree or the cinnamon pine cones that are in baskets around the house.

There is a Nativity Scene in every room and the Christmas cards from loved ones near and far are hanging on the fireplace mantel. Nine Christmas stockings are hanging fro the banister, one for every furry kid, Suzan's 4 foot one and mine. It looks and smells like Christmas.

As I sit here today I am surrounded by all that is good about this holiday. Simple decorations, wonderful aromas, cards and pictures of friends, favorite carols playing, and the understanding that Christmas in my life is not about commercial gain, rather joy-filled blessings.

Christmas is my favorite time of year. It has meaning that goes beyond the presents, beyond the hustle and bustle. It's about sharing, caring, and believing. It really is beginning to look like Christmas!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Get your Snowblowers going!




What a glorious night. It snowed all night! All of the individual flakes came together to make for a 6-8 inch coating of glorious!

It looks like a Thomas Kinkade picture outside and although I am not a professional photographer I thought these pictures from this morning tells the story of the day.

Yes, Janice there is a God. One who can make everything bright and clean all from a group of flakes smaller then a pin top! The magic is there and I am going to enjoy every minute of the day playing in it! A big flake surrounded by the small ones.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Are you a Flake?

Riddle of the Day: What is white, a half inch tall and can impact thousands of people?

Anyone? Any guesses?

Okay, I will tell you! SNOW!!!!

The snow started around 2 today and by 4pm this little 1/2 of white stuff had turned freeways into parking lots, small hills into sledding parks, and homes into places of comfort.

While on the bus this afternoon I was thinking about how something so small can have such a huge impact. It is a lot like us!

Okay, so some of us aren't so small, but how many times have I heard or even thought "what can I do, I am just one person" or "I don't have an power to do anything". Full of I can't, don't, won't, wish I could, or really would like to but!

What if we were all like snow and just let it fly! Let ourselves build up and see what happens? Let ourselves join the other flakes out there and have an impact on thousands of people!

You see, maybe one person can't change the world or make a huge impact, but if all flakes united we would stop traffic! We could turn houses into homes! We could turn blocks into neighborhoods! We could CHANGE THE WORLD!

So, as I watch the snow fly outside and see the flakes pile up, know that I am thinking of you! Thinking of all the Flakes I know and how much we could impact if we came together.

Tonight and this weekend be the biggest Flake you can be and impact the world!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Stars of December

Have you ever noticed that the Stars in December seem brighter?

Maybe it is because with the long winter nights you have more hours of the day to notice them or maybe it's because people seem to look up during the season for hope, joy, and blessings.

Tonight, as I was waiting for the dog to do her business outside, I looked up and noticed. I noticed how bright the north star is on a clear and dark night. I noticed the constellations and how they have changed over the months. I noticed how the planets, that are visible now, are almost hard to look at because of how bright they are. I also noticed how the stars twinkle more through the cold air.

I looked up, I noticed, and I saw the stars.

Take a walk tonight. Go outside and notice the stars. Look up and be blessed.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

If you never ask, you never receive!

During this time of the year there seems to be an increase in phone calls and emails asking for donations for food, toys, gifts, or time. There are ads on TV and Red Kettle Bell Ringers on every street corner. It is easy to find a worthy cause to give too. These agencies put themselves out there and ask for help. They ask because they know that if they don't ask they will never receive!

A friend of mine decided to adopt a family for Christmas. She has a list of things they needed from furniture to toys. The family had nothing and needed basic things.

Now, my friend could have tried to find all of the things by herself and in fact she did have a number of items, but then an email came "I need your help!"

Within a matter of hours there were 20 - 30 people working on finding all the things on the list. Working angles and leads to find bunk beds and winter boats. Going to clothing stores, picking up groceries, and searching classified ads to make sure everything on the list was covered!

People on the original email sent it to others and all of a sudden new dolls and blankets were arriving. Children's Books and baby clothes came by the box load! All because one person asked for help!

During the holiday season it is always easy to find a way to give back, to answer the call of a friend asking for help. Maybe you have a need? Maybe you know of someone who has a need? What will you do? Will you try and take care of it all yourself, or will you ask?

If you never ask, you will never receive!

What is your need? What is your wish? What is your dream? Ask and you shall receive!

Churchill MB Great White Bear Tour

Click here to view this photo book larger

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Wrought Life

Reality has set in. I am back to work, back to comfortable life, and back to just being.
As I have been reacquainting myself to my life after vacation the word tractable came to me today. It was my daily calendar ‘word of the day’. The word tractable means “easily handled, managed, or wrought”. I know what handled and managed were, but throwing in wrought seemed like a curve ball.

So I looked up the synonyms for wrought. The first one on the list was shaped, next fashioned, formed and created. Hum…so easily handled and managed to me don’t always mean formed or created in fact forming and creating is always harder to do then comfortably handling and managing things.

I reflected on the word and as I did it came to me that I really don’t want to have a life that is easily handled or managed! I really do want a life that is formed and created – In fact I do want a wrought life!

Since my vacation I have become acutely aware of how much time goes by that could be spent forming and creating. Maybe this is because my senses are still on high alert, but maybe it is also because I met kids in their 20’s traveling along, building schools in Africa in their free time or seeing the world for what they can do while in it NOT what the world can do for them!

There was a sense of wrought in them, a sense that they could create their future and form the outcomes of their lives. I knew they were special just by how they choose to create themselves. It fit perfectly with the saying ‘Life is not about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself’.

So today I pledge an even stronger oath to myself and those around me to have a wrought life. I pledge to shape my future to be more then easily handled and managed. To shape, create, form and fashion my life around my passions and opportunities!

Today is a new day, a day to move from comfort into wrought. A day dedicated to inspire and dream. A day dedicated to starting my future rather than wait for it.

May you all have a wrought life!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Great White Bear Tour - Journal

If you would like to read about the Polar Bear Trip, please see Journal at http://www.mycoffeematters.com/tripjournals.html

To Find or Create?

It has been fun writing this blog as so many of you have given me ideas to write about. It isn't the ideas that excites me as much as having kindred spirits paying attention to people, places, signs, and the world around them.

Yesterday I got a picture of a saying, from my brother, that read:
Life isn't about Finding yourself. Life is about Creating yourself!

I cannot count the times I have heard "I need to find myself" or "I need to leave to find myself" or "If only I could find myself"!

People spend so much time and money trying to find themselves it can get pretty crazy. Like they are lost or something. They spend so much time trying to 'find' themselves they forget to love, to create, to live.

If you want to find yourself, look in a mirror. You are right there and congratulations you have found yourself! Now, the fun part comes--creating!

What does creating yourself mean? It means to become the person you want to be. It means to live the life you dream about. It means to do the things that you imagine yourself doing. No excuses, no limits and no mirrors! Creating ourselves starts with understanding your goals and your passions and putting them to action!

You can wander around trying to find yourself, or you can look in the mirror and began to create the real you!

What is your creative plan for yourself? What do you dream about? What do you imagine yourself being? What does your heart say?

Life is about creating yourself. Every day, every interaction, every job, every thought, every dream, and every action. Begin again and Create! Create Yourself!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Great Horned Owl

So the Churchill Trip has really got my senses on high alert. I thought culverts covered with snow were bear holes driving home and every time I see a Charlie Brown tree I think I am in the Tundra.

Last night after dinner we were all sitting around chatting and someone noticed a big bird sitting on the neighbors roof. Now I have heard Owls around here, but never expected to see one 40 yards away, sitting on the neighbors roof.

It was a Great Horned Owl, so very big. It sat there for a while until, of course, we tried to take a picture and off it went. I guess they don't like their picture taken!

There is just so much to see if I just pay attention. If I can keep my senses aware and focused the world becomes alive. Blue Jays flying everywhere! An Owl on the Roof! Rabbit tracks and Sparrows. I love the fact that I see everything right now.

Become aware and watch for everything. You may surprise yourself on what you will see!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday or Hope Friday?

After writing my blog this morning I turned on the TV. It is cleaning day and I wanted to watch a Christmas
Special. There were a number of them on, but I got so tired of the Black Friday ads I had to turn the TV off and try the radio. No difference...ads galore so now it is CD's, I know I will not get an ad there.

I started thinking about what Black Friday is all about and how many of these hours could be used to help.
I don't believe much in Black Friday as it shows the greed in many of us. What if Black Friday were a day to reach out to someone in need and give them Hope. What about Hope Friday?

Hope Friday - when everyone gets up at 3am and stands in line to give blood or waits for the doors to open at a food shelter to help serve or sleeps in front of the doors of an elderly home who has no one who cares. What if Black Friday was Hope Friday?

There are many that can't and don't have hope or even can see a spark of hope. Kids on the street or elderly in a home. Each waiting for someone to make a difference in their lives. Each hoping for a chance at happiness. For a day or a lifetime.

Hope Friday - now there is something to plan and get excited about!

A Belated Thanksgiving Happy!

Well I am back in the Cities after my 12 day adventure in Churchill Manitoba. I wasn't able to post as much as I would have liked, but I am putting together a little journal book that I will share with you all on the front page of the blog. If you care to read about all the daily happenings, it will be posted there....hopefully by tomorrow.

So, what could be better then pictures and blogging/journals? How about videos of bears! Yes, I have them! I haven't figured out how to get them off the camera, but that is another task to do today.

Before I do that though I wanted to wish everyone a belated thanksgiving happy!

Yes, you read it right. I am sure we all say "Happy Thanksgiving" to friends, family and even strangers. I wondered yesterday if I was Happy that it was Thanksgiving or if I was thankful to be happy?

I decided I was thankful to be happy, healthy, and alive. Oh this year has so many thankful moments and I could list 20-30 off without even thinking about it. But did you every think about being thankful you are happy or thankful that you have a choice to be happy?

So be thankful you have the choice to be happy!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pictures from the trip so far

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Day 5 November 16 - Arrival into Churchill

Tuesday, November 16

It was a harder night sleeping last night but time went fast. It is now 5:45 am and the train guy just came by and said "30 minutes to Churchill, 30 minutes to Churchill". Whoa the train is going to be early by 30 minutes!

It is still pitch black out but as the train begins to back into Churchill the lights of the town become visible. It is maybe 5 miles away or less.  

I can see snow outside and the outline of trees but it is to dark to see much more. Looks like a lot of rabbit tracks in the snow, but that is about all i can see.

The train car has come alive with activity. Everyone is packing up their carry on bags and making sure they have everything. The train is going forward again after a track change so we must not back into Churchill. Okay going backwards again and a little faster and the towns lights are getting closer on the left side of the train.

I am not sure what to do first as it is to early to check into the hotel so we'll have to waste a few hours before we head over there. Maybe we can at least leave our bags there while we wait.

I talked to the rail lady that helped get the luggage off the train; all luggage arrived with the train, and she said the train usually gets in around 9am so this was unusual. As we talked her phone rang and it scared her as she had just gotten it. She said she was the 99th person in Churchill to get a phone. The town has around 600 people so it isn't like the States.

We decided to take a taxi to the hotel, even with it being only a few blocks away, with the snow and the luggage it was worth the $8 to have the cab take us here.

7:30
We dropped our bags off at the Polar Inn and the room was not ready yet so we decided to go and have breakfast.
 
Breakfast at the Seaport Lodge and Cafe which is less then a block from the Polar Inn. Eggs,toast, potatoes and sausage was what Dad and I had and Mom had Eggs Benedict. Is was good and the price very good at around $6.50 a piece.

After breakfast we walked Southdown Kelsey street to the Great White Bear Tour to check in for the next two days of tours. The owner said that this was the last week of tours as the bears will soon be out on the ice and not back until July.

She had a lot of good information. Dress in layers as the buggy rides are warm, but the viewing patio will be cold. She said that yesterday they saw over 30 bears and moms with cubs, so it should be a great last week of tours.

She was a retired school teacher from Winnipeg and they retired in Churchill after a visit here. She said the bears are everywhere in town now so be very careful. Last night one broke into a house in town and came right through the living room window!

She said it is pretty safe in town but stay away from the bay as well as the river. The shop had a lot of souvenirs and I will have to stop back as the prices seemed good. 

So we checked in and went outside and Dad said that he just heard shots, which means there is a bear in town. Pop pop and a number of trucks go speeding north towards the bay area.

As we walked back we say a lady walking two beautiful Newfoundland dogs.huge animals. As we approached i asked if they were friendly and she said, "wait for them to come to you as you look big to them and they would attack. We all stood still and within seconds they trot over to us. Friendly huge dogs. 

The owner was flying out today for a month in Toronto to see her kid so she was taking them for a walk. They each weighed around 175 pounds so four times as big as Brandy. Just big and furry dogs. I loved them. The owner got them to sit pretty and Mom took a picture.

Everyone in town has been so friendly and saying hi or ey!

We tried to go to the store but that doesn't open until 10am so back to the hotel to wait for our room. We found out that we can keep our room until 6pm so we don't have to worry about where to put our luggage before the train leaves on Saturday. This will be good.

So we wait. Mom is playing solitaire and Dad is reading about polar bears. This really is a trip of a lifetime and I am so excited to go and see the bears tomorrow.      

Day 4 November 15 train ride

Monday November 15, 2010

 I don't have a lot of service areas now so wanted to send an email when I can.
 
Last night was the first "try to sleep on e train" night. It is not a smooth train like the one in Germany...it reminded me of trying to sleep on a roller coaster.. A moving roller coaster. Throw in a train whistle at ever road and you have quite the fun time. 
They dim the lights around 7pm and now I understand why as it took 12 hours of trying to sleep to get 3 or 4 hours of sleep. But I will say that I did actually sleep.

I woke up at 2:30am as the train stopped and we were in La Pas. I didn't get out, but Dad did and said it was so nice. I woke up again around 4am as the train stopped and started backing up. A little bit later it started going forward again.

It is now 7am and although the sun is not up I can see lots of trees and snow from the window. Our next big stop is Thompson but I don't knowhow far that is. It is an 18 hour train ride from Thompson to Churchill so judging from the time that would make Thompson around 6 hours away.

Mom and Dad just went to breakfast. They have blueberry pancakes on the menu...so Mom reported. I decided not to eat this morning as it seems like all we are doing is eating and sleeping. I have a hot cup of coffee so i am set.

I was going to take a shower on the train, just to say i did,  but I will have to do that on the return route. I found it today so I better use it.

I am beginning to see more outside as it is getting a little lighter out. There are electrical poles along the track that are not placed in the ground rather propped up by three other poles, teepee style. I just heard the horn again so another road ahead. They are becoming few and far between.

The trees look like a Minnesota Christmas Card. Pine trees full of snow. This could be the start of the Boreal Forest area, so i will get my map out and confirm. There is a small stream that the train seems to be following. I can't tell for sure, but it looks like open water maybe three feet wide. Every once in a while you see it cut through the trees. I can't imagine that it is not frozen, but so far it looks like an open stream.

I can't wait for the light as it is a pretty weird feeling looking out both sides of the trainu and seeing pine trees so close. It is like they cut a path just big enough for the train to get through.

Mom just came back and said the reason why the train is going so slow. I guess we are going through permafrost. It is like a frozen peat bog. So the ground is very unstable. I would think we should go 90 miles an hour to get through it, but I guess that is why I am not a train engineer.

Okay now I can see more, 7:40am. Yes in deed there is an open water stream flowing next to the tracks. It actually is very interesting landscape with pine trees and a scattering of poplar and it looks like bog grass. The train is maybe going 5 or 6 miles an hour so you can really see what permafrost looks like and is.

I do see a signal tower ahead so it must be a town coming up. Oh to the left, two black birds in a tree. Okay, now a lot of blackbirds in trees. A little Hitchcock around here. Another interesting thing, electrical poles have no lines running on them. Just the pole and glass caps. I see lights ahead so if we stop i will get out and take a picture or two.

We have a town. Silver leaf hotel in Wabowden. It doesn't look like we are stopping and all of a sudden the train is picking up speed. Houses and trailers are scattered throughout the tees and i can see a pretty good size lake as well.

8:15am
It is full light now. No sun but with the snow covered ground it is bright out. The trees have become very thick Noe and every clearing is now a frozen lake. The stream is still open along the tracks, but everything else looks a little frozen, okay a lot frozen.

9:10am 
We are stopped at some little town to let people on.. All of a sudden there are four wheelers and snow mobiles galore. Where did they come from? Three dogs are chasing around as see another guy come walking down the little road with his dog. The town is called Thicket Forest.
 
The lady and kid that got on in La Pas last night are now getting off. Looks like one of the snow mobiles is for them.as quickly as the atvs and snowmobiles came they are gone and the train begins to move forward again.

11:15am
We are in Thompson, or at the train rail station. We had heard that we have to back into town, but we didn't. It is snow covered and none of the streets are plowed so pick-ups everywhere.

11:30am
Mom and I head to town. We have until 1 pm so we walk fast. Town is about 5 blocks from the train station and after going over the small hill the town shows up. First is The University of the North. It is a branch of the University of Winnipeg and the farthest northern university in Manitoba. Next a stop light and car dealerships - Ford and Chrysler. Turn to the left and you have a lumber yard and to the right the City Centre Mall.

We walk towards the mall looking for a gift shop to get something from from Thompson. There is an Arctic Trading Company but only sweatshirts that have Thompson on it. We walk out and what to my wandering eyes would appear but a Wal-Mart! They are seriously everywhere. But wait there's more...a McDonalds and a Starbucks also are in the mall. Crazy!

Mom buys some more yarn and chocolate for Dad and off we go. We find a Safeway next so we pick up some grapes, bananas, cokes, and a couple cans of cherries. Mom says cherries help her legs settle down so she will be eating cherries tonight.

It is now 12:30 and rather then chance missing the train there is a line of taxis waiting to take us all back to the train. $6 forge ride and we are back within minutes.

The restrooms at the train stations are nice and as Dad says " they don't move so his aim is better." I see they have a hand dryer so i quickly wash my hair in the sink and blow dry it. It feels good to get it curly again.

Temperatures? Not bad. I didn't wear gloves and it was fine so maybe 30 degrees out or so.

1pm sharp

Train is on a roll again! We just went backwards for about five minutes and now are stopped. Okay going backwards again and a little faster. Maybe we back out of Thompson rather than back in?

Seems like all the new friends are back on the train so no one looks missing. We have a few more new people on the train but still not crowded at all. The train is now to the Y on the track so I think we are now at the end of the backing up. You can hear the tracks being changed and the train hits it.going straight again so thinking we will stay to the right now...on the tracks again and sure enough, moving forward.

There is one more stop before Churchill and that is the town of Gilman. There is no Internet service out here, but I keep trying. Between here and Gilman and Gilman and Churchill is a shattering of small dots on the track. They are the Inuit villages so it will be a different experience.

The train is now stopped as one of the men got off to switch the tracks is now getting on in the back and off we go again.

The area is still full of pine and birch trees and little rivers or lakes along the way. One interesting thing is the slabs of ice stuck on trees maybe 2 or 3 feet up on the tree trunks. It looks like the water was high, froze and then the water went down and left slabs of ice attached to the trees. 

We have 17 hours to go and I am looking forward to waking up in the Arctic Tundra. Will stay up as long as I can at least while there is light out.

2:30pm
Not a lotto report. The train goes fast and then slows down to let a train pickup truck pass and then off it goes again. I got Dad playing checkered on e iPad and some bowling. Will probably need to play some three handed pinochle tonight before bed and after dinner. 

3:21pm
 We arrive in the small village of Pikwitonei and most of the folks we picked uo in Thompson are feting off. The town has five or six buildings and a number of houses. It is on a river so a few boats are sitting on the banks as well.

We were able to get off the train for a few minutes while the locals got off and unloaded their supplies. A snowmobile with a plastic sled loaded some boxes as well as a few pickup trucks. There are three dogs that are greeting the locals and after a few minutes to off load, the train is on it's way again.

It is starting to snow now but I am surprised at how warm it feels out. This is the first snow I have seen this year and it is good. We are still surrounded by pine trees. Jack pines but the poplar and birch are no longer standing along side them. It looks like few ash trees are sitting closest to the tracks but 99% are pine.

The landscape is starting to be more hilly and the trees much smaller. It looks like many of the trees have fallen like toothpicks in a stack. There are small towns every few miles now so we maybe picking up more or dropping off a few.we will have to wait and see.

As quickly as it started to snow it has stopped, but the sky is still different shades of grey like it is waiting and wanting to snow. The weirdest feeling so far on the train is when we take corners. It feels like the cars are tilting to one side and out the window you can see the engine cars.

The jack pines are poles here. It really is a baron land. If you ever wanted totally remove yourself from civilization, this would be the place.

 The train horn no longer blows as there are no roads anywhere to be found. It seemed when we left Winnipeg the horn was blowing every few seconds, but today I think I have heard it may three times in 9 hours.

I keep a watch out for animals - moose, deer, fox, rabbit, elk or anything else. I see a ton of tracks, but nothing moving. Most of the tracks look like rabbit and deer and have small paths that run in and out of the thicket. With only an hour or so left of daylight I hope to see a little more before the night sets in.

4:40pm
Well night set in. I am amazed how instantly dark it gets out here. Maybe 10 minutes from sunset to pitch black.

We had dinner at 5pm. I had Polaco and Mom and Dad had the Salmon and Rice. For dessert a little chocolate ice cream and strawberry shortcake. Mom said the shortcake didn't taste like hers, but it was still very very good. We had the grouchy train guy again. He doesn't take a joke at all. We figured he was a year and a half to retirement so he is just here to buy his time. I will never understand buying time, if that is what he is doing. I also don't understand being in the service industry if you don't like to be friendly. No one knows his story so maybe he stubbed his toe or something.

We have two more stops, planned stops, before we head straight into the Tundra town of Churchill. One at about 6:30 and the other is Gillam, the last official town before Churchill. I need to at least go outside and step on the ground to say I have.

Interesting fact: the train changed it's horn a few years back in Canada to a higher pitched sound. Why? Well the old horn sounded very similar to a bull moose call so when the train would give a toot, the moose would come a running. Ended up to be to many along or on the railroad tracks, so they changed horns.

Just had a stop in Hilman where more people got off with supplies and a few more got on. As we were standing outside one of the train engineers was there and he said that in a month or so the locals will not use the train anymore as the rivers will be frozen 3-4 feet thick and they drive on the ice up or down to bigger towns.  He also said that they have a Large Fishing Derby up here that everyone comes out for. I asked what they caught up here and he said big Northern Pike.

Also, Dad asked him what was the problem with the grouchy guy who serves in the dining car and he said " oh him, he is lazy. He doesn't want to ever do anything!" I guess bad attitudes are seen by guest as well as colleagues.

Dad also asked how cold it gets up here and he said it was to warm now, but by Thursday windchill is suppose to be -40 so that will make for some good ice.

6:30pm
Train is on the move again. Next stop is Gillam, MB. It will be the last stop for the night until we reach Churchill in the morning. Train will be a little late, but maybe an hour or two at the most.

8:30pm
The train has just left it's last stop until Churchill, Gillam MB. Another small-town but right across from the depot was the Canadian Mounty Legion. Dad has been talking about the Legion in Churchill since he found out there was one. He even brought a hat from the McIntosh Legion to give to them.

Well now starts another night of trying to get comfortable and sleep on a moving train. There should be no horns tonight as the last of the roads are behind us know, so we listen to the click a de clack of the train as it makes it's way northeast 500 miles or so.

Looking out the window I see more pine trees. I do not believe that will be the case in 10 hours when I get up. 

Very strange to see an electrical plant out here. Not a small one either, it is huge and lights up the sky. As quickly as it was here it is now gone. It seems a lot quieter tonight as the rails aren't clanking hardly at all. I can tell that they turned the heat up. Whoa. Nice and toasty.

Okay, time to head to the bathroom now that we are out of town and get comfortable for the night.    

Day 3 November 14-Churchill or Bust

Churchill or Bust!

Today is the day we get on board. After breakfast at The Pancake plac again we packed up and off we went. Mom drove the car around and we loaded the bags to drive a block to the train. It was easier then trying to pull suitcases over cobblestone roads. Mom went and parked the car again and once back we checked our luggage.

It is interesting seeing the types of people who go on trips like this. Mostly older, retired, but 2 families with kids as well. Some of the older couples look the outdoorsy part with the hicking boots and coats with Park patches sewn on. Others look like they should be going to the theater with mink coats and high heeled boots. It will be interesting to see them when we grt up there.

I didn't see the train come in, but at high noon the attendent comes on the speaker and says "Your train is ready"! The doors open and the escalator takes you up one floor to the train. The sleeper car is in the back of the train, then the dining cars, then two economy class coach cars and finally the engine. I counted 7 cars total, but will recount when we stop.

Seconds after we got to our seats, which is where ever you want to sit, the train man comes by and collects your ticket and the train begins to move!

It goes faster then I thought it would and within the hour we are pullung into the first town, Portage, but no one gets on. Still no snow on the ground, but I. am pretty sure that will change. Dad wants to check out the dining car so I go with him and we see the guy who took our tickets. Dad asks if they have coffee or beer and the guy says "tell me what you want and I can get it" . Not mister nice guy so that is two bad. Dad gets a Canadian Molten Beer and I grab a cup of coffee. $2 for coffee and $6 for a beer. we sit down in the dining car and there is a Mom and son sitting across the aisle. He is writing a journal of his trip and his Mom said "you should interview people on the train and find out where they are from?" You could see the kid was not really into talking to people. he didn't know so I said "Hi, I am Janice and I am from Minneapolis, MN and I am writijg a journal as well". He smiled and wrote down Minneapolis and then Dad said " and I am from McIntosh" and. he wrote that down.  I am sure we will see him again as it is a small train and lots of hours.

2:38pm We finally see snow! Not much of it, but a little in the endless field.  Cows galore as well and a few more trees. We are heading more north now and ere are more and more trees here. The water in the ditches is frozen and the fields are no longer plowed as much. Strange sight to see are bird houses along the tracks. Blue ones and then a red one. Not sure what they are out here for. All the roads now look to be gravel where as in Portage most were paved. Still houses with cattle every where. Talk about living with no neighbors.

4:40pm
our first officialstop is Dauphin, MB. It lookslikea goodsizetown so everyone got off and either had a smokeorwalkedaround the train station which is now a museum. the sun is set so it will be dark soon. Dad wants to get something to eat and my Mom is playing Solitaire. not sure how long the train will stay here. They start serving dinner, aka supper, at 5pm so I would guess we will be eating soon. 

email is working pretty good but the mapping apps are not picking up exactly where we are at. we are right here so not a problem. 

Day 2 November 13

Saturday.
The agenda of the day is to tour the train station and figure out where we are going as well as go to the Train Musuem. We got up around 5am..why...I have no idea, but that is what time they get up. I made two pots of coffee and we all showered, seperately, and it was around 7:30 went we went out the door. 

Breakfast was at The Original Pancake House. I had the Grandma's Special which was an apple stuffed crisy pancake the size of a plate. Mom had a cheese crepe and Dad a waffle since he didn't know what else to get..

after breakfast Mom wanted to find a small purse as she didn't bring hers because she thought it would be to big. I asked the lady at the front desk and she gave me directions to the shopping center. It was only 15 minutes away so we drove over there and what do you know, another wal-mart. Mom bought the exact purse she has at home but in tan and you could tell instantly that she was comfortable again.

We got back to the hotel and headed to the Museum. The Museum is in the train station so we made sure we knew where we were going and of course where the bathrooms were.

The museum is upstairs in the station and on one of the old rails so it was chilly in there.  $5 to get in, but worth it. Lots of old train cars and vehicles to see as well as the history of the Canadian Rail. One area was dedicated to "The Rosies of the North" which were the women who worked for the rails during WWII war. pretty cool story.

It took about an hour to go through the Museum and afterwards we headed outside. The Santa Claus Parade was tonight so we were going to watch that. Problem was it started at 5pm and it was only 1pm. We walked a bit and decided to see what Earl's was. It is a bar so Dad had a beer and Mom and I Daquaris. A spinach and articoke dip as well as chicken wings was lunch.

We headed back to our room as it was getting a little chilly out.

around 4pm we headed up the street to the parade area. the people were already gathered but we found a good spot to. sit on a ledge. We wereabout an hour early but time went fast as the people next to us were talking to Dad. I am surprised at how easy Dad talks to people now. I never remember that about him.

A little after 5:20 the parade finally made it down to where we were at. An hour later it was still going, but so was the drop in temperature. Standing for 2 hours in the cold wasn't to fun so as the end of he parade neared we decided to head bsck and get something to eat at one of Mom's favorite places " The Olde Speghetti Shop". Food was good and we were all glad we got there when we did as the parade crowd all showed up about 10 minutes after we got there.

It was about 8:30pm when we got back to the hotel and after a quick check of email it was bed time. Oh, bring ear plugs when sharing a room...they work wonders keeping it quiet.

November 12 day one

we left Mcintosh at 9:30 am on Friday, november 12th heading to Manitoba throught Pembina. we stopped in Grand Forks, ND to see Moms sister LaVerda who is in the hospital and after about an hour there headed to Walmart to get Dad a pair of snow pants. he was going to bring his Carhart bibs but they are so big so he decided on a pair of snowpants.

it is about 90 minutes from Grand Forks to the border crossing town of Pembina and we were going to stop at the duty free station but thought it would be at the border. it isnt. it is in the town of Pembina, so we missed that. we stopped at the border and the Candian officials asked thhe basic questions: who are you, where are you coming from, where are you going, and do you have any weapons, cigarettes or alcohol with you. well no weapons or beer but Dad had cigarettes so Mom told him that and he said " have fun with the bears" and off we went.

first stop was the tourist info station on the Canadian side. we exchanged out money and could all re,ember when the American dollar was worth over $1.50 over the Canadian dollar. no more. 96 cents on the dollar going and coming. We got a couple maps and info on Churchill that the lady, Lateria, said wehad to have and she only gives it to people who say they are going to Churchill.

about an hour later we were in Winnipeg. we stayed at the Inn at the Forks which is a block fromm the trainstation and close to the eating  and shopping areas. got all checked in and i have to say the young woman behind the counter was truly wonderful. Yoni was her name and she was giving Dad a hard time about looking like Santa Claus but he would have to gain some wieght. all good fun. she set us up on a night for the return trip and gave us a complimentary parking pass for the whole time. i love quality service.

The two young guys behind the counter were giving Mom a hard time as she had diet coke in her hand and they asked if she had brought them any...later that night they said the same thing about the pizza and ice cream she was carrying as well. of course the parents loved the teasing!

thursday night we had a drink at Joe Flarneys and Dad is into dark beer so he tried a Fort Garry Ale. A few salt shakes later he was good to go. Mom of course had her Mikes Hard Lemonade and me a diet coke. we walked around after that as the Forks has a lot of little shops as well. mom founf a couple things...floaty pens and Dad went from sitting bench to sitting bench waiting. There is also a farmers market area there but most is eating places. Pizza, subs, stir fry, Sri Lanka food, candy, ice cream, and mini donuts that will need to be taste tested on the way home. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

5pm update

Churchill or Bust!

Today is the day we get on board. After breakfast at The Pancake plac again we packed up and off we went. Mom drove the car around and we loaded the bags to drive a block to the train. It was easier then trying to pull suitcases over cobblestone roads. Mom went and parked the car again and once back we checked our luggage.

It is interesting seeing the types of people who go on trips like this. Mostly older, retired, but 2 families with kids as well. Some of the older couples look the outdoorsy part with the hicking boots and coats with Park patches sewn on. Others look like they should be going to the theater with mink coats and high heeled boots. It will be interesting to see them when we grt up there.

I didn't see the train come in, but at high noon the attendent comes on the speaker and says "Your train is ready"! The doors open and the escalator takes you up one floor to the train. The sleeper car is in the back of the train, then the dining cars, then two economy class coach cars and finally the engine. I counted 7 cars total, but will recount when we stop.

Seconds after we got to our seats, which is where ever you want to sit, the train man comes by and collects your ticket and the train begins to move!

It goes faster then I thought it would and within the hour we are pullung into the first town, Portage, but no one gets on. Still no snow on the ground, but I. am pretty sure that will change. Dad wants to check out the dining car so I go with him and we see the guy who took our tickets. Dad asks if they have coffee or beer and the guy says "tell me what you want and I can get it" . Not mister nice guy so that is two bad. Dad gets a Canadian Molten Beer and I grab a cup of coffee. $2 for coffee and $6 for a beer. we sit down in the dining car and there is a Mom and son sitting across the aisle. He is writing a journal of his trip and his Mom said "you should interview people on the train and find out where they are from?" You could see the kid was not really into talking to people. he didn't know so I said "Hi, I am Janice and I am from Minneapolis, MN and I am writijg a journal as well". He smiled and wrote down Minneapolis and then Dad said " and I am from McIntosh" and. he wrote that down.  I am sure we will see him again as it is a small train and lots of hours.

2:38pm We finally see snow! Not much of it, but a little in the endless field.  Cows galore as well and a few more trees. We are heading more north now and ere are more and more trees here. The water in the ditches is frozen and the fields are no longer plowed as much. Strange sight to see are bird houses along the tracks. Blue ones and then a red one. Not sure what they are out here for. All the roads now look to be gravel where as in Portage most were paved. Still houses with cattle every where. Talk about living with no neighbors.

4:40pm
our first officialstop is Dauphin, MB. It lookslikea goodsizetown so everyone got off and either had a smokeorwalkedaround the train station which is now a museum. the sun is set so it will be dark soon. Dad wants to get something to eat and my Mom is playing Solitaire. not sure how long the train will stay here. They start serving dinner, aka supper, at 5pm so I would guess we will be eating soon. 

email is working pretty good but the mapping apps are not picking up exactly where we are at. we are right here so not a problem. 

It's the Train Day

Good Morning everyone and what a fine Sunday morning it is. Today is Train Day! The day we board the train and begin our journey north 1200 miles into the Arctic Tundra. The parents are so excited they can't sleep and Dad must have smoked 2 packs yesterday.

We went to the train station yesterday and figured out where to go and what time to be there and that, yes they do check baggage so we won't have to worry about that. The Station is nice but not what I expected in a station. I have been to Grand Central in New York and though it would be more that size. The trains go over the building so a little freaky while walking through and the trains are going over where you are walking.

The hotel has been awesome. Dad keeps saying "This is no Super 8". My folks ONLY stay in Super 8's when they travel so this is like 20 steps above that. Pretty funny.

I am sure Dad will want to be over at the train station around 9, but we do not leave until noon so hopefully I can keep them busy for a while longer this morning. Get some breakfast and drink coffee will definitely be on the mornings agenda.

If you want to track the towns we are going through today go to: http://www.viarail.ca/en/trains/prairies-and-northern-manitoba/winnipeg-churchill/schedules  this will give you an idea of all the places we will see today and tomorrow.

We will be arriving in Churchill on Tuesday morning so I will try and write more from the train as we go. They are suppose to have Internet access (wireless of course) from the train, so will try it. If not I will keep writing and post when I get there.

So, for now...let the ride begin!