/*from pinterest*/
Mary Balogh

Mary Balogh

This is Mary Balogh signing “A Summer to Remember” for my hubby Rolf.

On Sunday night, Rolf and his friend Bryan returned home from a two-week car/bike trip from Calgary, Alberta to Winnipeg, Manitoba and back.

Along the way, they stopped in the little town of Kipling in southeast Saskatchewan. The town is named after the English author Rudyard Kipling. And, the town is also the summer home of Welsh Canadian author Mary Balogh.


A long time ago, when Rolf was looking for a new book to read, I suggested one from my Mary Balogh collection. Since then, he has been hooked.

Naturally, he looked up Mary Balogh’s website . . . and discovered she might be in Kipling when they were travelling through. So he visited the town.

paper clip in Kipling, Saskatchewan

The town is home to the world’s largest paperclip.

World's Largest Paper Clip

World’s Largest Paperclip

Rolf and Bryan are congenial sorts, and while walking through the town, they took up a conversation with a friendly, retired gentleman. When this gentleman learned that Rolf is a fan of Mary Balogh’s, he walked them over to Mary’s house.

Rolf had been hoping she might be in her yard, because, of course, he knew not to knock.

This is the sign I have on my Writing Room door.

Over the years, I have trained Rolf not to interrupt writers. (Or so I thought…)

Unfortunately, Mary wasn’t in the front yard. But since Rolf is persistent and hopeful, he went around to the alley to look in the backyard—where he saw her on her screened-in porch. She was typing, and looked up.

Rolf: I hope we’re not interrupting you.

Mary: Well you have now!

And then this gracious lady signed the book Rolf had with him, and talked to him and Bryan for twenty minutes about how she creates her characters.
Mary Balogh

He phoned me that night to tell me he’d met her. This was the highlight of the trip for him.

Mary Balogh

Mary Balogh Place

The town has named a street after its famous author, but she doesn’t live there. The full name of this street is “Mary Balogh Place”.

Here is Rolf creating his own Summer to Remember.

Rolf with his autographed book

From the realtor listing: Mary Balogh Place has lots for sale “offering a wonderful countryside view with unlimited possibilities for landscaping dreams.”

I first met Mary Balogh at an Alberta Romance Writers’ Association workshop in Calgary in March 2001. I had just started writing.

I also heard her speak at workshops for the Calgary Association of the RWA. Since she is a teacher by profession, she is also an excellent teacher of writing. And she is one of my favourite authors.

If you are ever in Kipling, please do not interrupt Mary while she is writing. After all, we do want to get that next book. Why not go to this coffee shop instead? You might just get lucky and find her here!

Paperclip Cottage Cafe, Kipling

Paperclip Cottage Cafe

Here is the first book in a new Mary Balogh 3-book series. It releases on July 12. Mary was writing the third book in this series when Rolf spotted her.

Remember Love by Mary Balogh

For lots of information and an interesting read, check out Mary’s website here.

Have you read Mary Balogh? Have you ever met her? Have you ever attended one of her workshops?

Saskatchewan map from Depositphotos #53987815

Three Hills Show N Shine

Three Hills Show N Shine

On Friday, June 3, and Saturday, June 4, we attended the Show N Shine in Three Hills, Alberta.

Three Hills Show N Shine

This event is hosted annually for auto enthusiasts. (And spouses of auto enthusiasts.) Apparently, it is the largest of its kind in Western Canada.

On the Friday night of this event, a parade (cruise) of classic cars and trucks—as well as motorcycles and hot rods—proceeds down Three Hill’s Main Street, and then to the little town of Trochu, and back again to Three Hills.

Saturday is the “Show N Shine” event.

Parked along Main Street and along First Avenue SE, the vehicles are polished, photographed and admired. This 1960 Chev Impala has mirrors in the hood to reflect the perfectly clean engine.

Three Hills Show N Shine

I don’t know anything about old cars, except that many of them look like pieces of art that you drive.

Three Hills Show N Shine

This Firebird in the next photo is similar to the one Isabelle drives in ON THE WAY TO A WEDDING.

Three Hills Show N Shine

Did I say they were shiny?

This is not a classic car. It’s a tiny home. The company that builds these had this one at the event and let us look inside. This four-season home is well-insulated and incredibly spacious, with beautiful workmanship.

VedaHawk Tiny Homes

VedaHawk Tiny Homes

In town, there is a fair-like atmosphere with retailers selling memorabilia, and local charities selling a variety of fast foods like burgers and hot dogs and ice cream.

Three Hills Show N Shine

example of fast food back in the day, and 1970 Chevelle

There are also drag races at the local airport on Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday night, we had dinner at the Harvest House Restaurant. Good thing we made reservations!

This year, like all years, the weather cooperated, giving us a mix of sun and cloud, and a pleasant temperature for wandering among the classic cars. We were told that the weekend has never been rained out. I think we were lucky this year, because it was raining on Sunday morning when we left to go back to the city, so the show just missed the rain.

spring blossoms on Main Street, Three Hills

Have you ever attended a “Show N Shine”?

Pfizer and spring and skiing

Pfizer and spring and skiing

About three weeks ago, I got my first Pfizer vaccine. It was almost anticlimactic. The drugstore had phoned us to set up our appointments. No waiting on the phone, no online forms. We just showed up—and no crowds. Hopefully, the booster shot will be as easy.

After a long locked-down winter, spring has finally hit the prairies. As is usual for Calgary, the daytime temperature fluctuates. We are anywhere from 0 Celsius to 17. Except for the in-town ski hill, Canada Olympic Park (COP), the snow in the city has melted.

But in the mountains, we are at that wonderful time of year when the skiing is perfect. It’s winter snow, but with springtime air temperatures. We were at Sunshine Village yesterday with the best conditions ever.

This is what the sky looked like. Not a cloud in sight.

blue skies!

Of course, still COVID, so must mask. I wore my black one today. At this point, I have several colours to choose from. Even when I get my booster shot, it will be masking as usual.

masking as usual

This sign was by the Standish lift. (Standish lift because it goes up Mt. Standish.)

gondola wear a mask

The Wawash reference is to the Wawa Bowl.

And this is the pause that refreshes.

taking a break

It was above freezing so you get warm quickly, and thirsty. Besides the water, I also had some Earl Grey tea . . . and a great view of the mountain from the Chimney Corner Lounge.

We picked the right day, going yesterday. Today, it’s socked in at the hill. But, in the city, it’s already up to 14 degrees and the sun is shining.

The robins have returned and when I saw some early this morning, they looked bigger than usual. But, they’re not. When it’s cold, they puff up their feathers to stay warm. (It’s called rousing.)

Although we could still get another snowstorm, things are looking good. The trees are budding and the tulips are poking up.

Wherever you are, I hope you are enjoying the signs of spring.

Pfizer from Depositphotos_426520962

Skiing at Sunshine Village with COVID-19 restrictions

Skiing at Sunshine Village with COVID-19 restrictions

Last Wednesday we went skiing at Sunshine Village for the first time this season. And, for me, for the first time in three years. Almost one year ago, I got my new hip.

My New HipFor a whole year before my surgery, I could hardly walk, let alone ski.

My surgeon told me it was okay to ski since I already know how. (Probably not a good idea to take up skiing after a hip replacement, but who knows?)

So, new hip. And also, COVID-19 restrictions.

You have to wear a mask in the lineups. Although, on a Wednesday in January, there aren’t a lot of people there. Still, there are times you might be within six feet of someone else. So, masks. The gondolas can carry six people, but you only ride up with your own group, which was just me and Rolf.

Sunshine Village with COVID-19 restrictions: This is what Sunshine has to say:

Face coverings or face masks are mandatory to ride, or wait for, any of the lifts. The face covering can be a non-medical mask, a face warmer or a buff, and resort staff will be monitoring visitors for compliance.

Sunshine Village with COVID-19 restrictions

Wearing a mask was not a big hardship. I mean, consider all the other stuff we have to wear – helmets, goggles, layers and layers of clothing. Rolf only wore his mask in the lineups. I found it easier to just keep it on. And bonus, it blocked the wind from hitting my nose.

Standish Mountain, Sunshine Village

view from the top of Standish

We had good temperatures, about minus 8 throughout the day. This is a “Canadian nice” for January. It was a bit windy on the lifts but that’s usual. The snow was good with good coverage.

And the sun was shining. In the morning, there was only one tiny little cloud in the sky. By late afternoon, more clouds showed up.

Sunshine Village

lots of sunshine at Sunshine Village

Rolf stayed with me on my first run to make sure I was okay. Of course, I remembered how to ski. It’s like remembering how to ride a bicycle. But it felt different on my operative side. I guess some of those muscles are still weak. I don’t notice the weakness with walking, but making turns, I do notice it. Plus, it just felt weird. A strange sensation. By the end of the day, that strangeness went away and I was just tired, as you usually are after a good day of skiing.

On the website – skibanff.com – we learned that there were designated shelters set up for skiers and boarders to warm up in and to eat lunch while remaining seated. There are hosts on duty to manage capacity and to disinfect tables.

There’s no table service anywhere on the hill, but lots of Grab and Go food and beverages that you can purchase and take into one of the shelters. The usual eateries, like Trappers and the Day Lodge, have food for sale. There is also a Tenn Roof Co. Taco Truck.

Chimney Corner Lounge

We had heard that the Chimney Corner Lounge was only open to hotel guests, and we were disappointed because we always eat there. But, turns out, the Chimney Corner was open on Wednesday—with hardly anyone in there.

empty Chimney Corner Lounge

empty Chimney Corner Lounge

The greeter is behind plexiglass. You give your name and phone number in case they need it for COVID-19 tracing. Through a slot in the plexiglass, she passes you a tall bottle of water and glasses and napkin-wrapped cutlery.

water bottle

Then you pick a table. Probably two-thirds of the tables have been removed. A QR code is laminated onto the table. You use your phone to check out the menu.

Then go back to the front, order, and they give you a pager. When your food is ready, you go to a pickup window.

pick up food here

So, it’s all done without wait staff.

We both got the Beef Burger—Alberta Chuck, Bourbon BBQ Sauce, Smoked Cheddar, Crisp Lettuce, Tomato and Garlic Aioli. And we each got a cup of the spicy Tomato Bisque plus a big order of fries. I love ski food.

Beef Burger and Tomato Bisque

In the morning, I was on Angel and Standish. After lunch, I skied another hour and a half with more time on Standish, then another run on Angel and then I went to the easy hill—Strawberry. Meanwhile, Rolf went up the Divide and did moguls.

Sunshine Village

By late afternoon, more clouds showed up.

At this time of year, the sun falls behind the mountains early, so the light is better up high. Right now, the lifts only run until four o’clock. Later in the season, they will go till four-thirty.

I was done by three o’clock. Rolf skied almost another hour more, almost until the lifts turned off.

Java Lift Coffee Bar

In the meantime, I went to the Java Lift Coffee Bar for my usual half-sweet vanilla latte – and a butter tart. Yum! Then I sat outside and enjoyed the fresh air, and the sunshine, and the peace.

I hope you are coping with the restrictions of COVID-19 and I hope you are getting lots of Outdoor Time!

Chimney Corner Lounge

winter decoration in the Chimney Corner Lounge

QR image on phone from Depositphotos #14697937
All other images from Suzanne’s trusty phone

Tired of COVID-19

Tired of COVID-19

Who isn’t tired of COVID-19?

The World Health Organization officially declared a pandemic on March 11. My home province, Alberta, declared a state of emergency on March 17.

Stores closed. Schools and daycares closed. People started working from home. Non-essential surgeries were cancelled—partly to prevent the spread of the virus and partly to be sure that ventilators would be available if symptoms got that bad.

People were encouraged to wear masks if they had to go out for groceries. And most grocery stores would deliver. Even Staples will deliver free of charge because if you are working from your home office, you need ink.

The local drugstore has arrows to direct the flow of traffic down aisles and thus ensure social distancing. Same for Safeway. I like stores that have that “flow of traffic” figured out.

And now, finally, the curve has indeed “flattened” and some restrictions are being lifted. At least, in most of the province. Calgary and Brooks are a little late since these two cities have had a higher number of cases.

I walk on the path by the river in the morning. People maintain the 2-metre “social distancing” and wave as we pass each other. They are all team players.

Earlier this year, I was one of the lucky ones. I got my “non-essential” surgery done on January 28. A new hip. For me, most of February was a blur as I rotated ice packs, did my exercises, and slowly recovered.

When March came, I was looking forward to getting out into the world again. But then, COVID-19.

At first, the stay-at-home was not too hard to follow. I’m an introvert, after all. So you would think I’d be getting a lot of writing done with this social distancing.

But, not so much. It’s hard to stop thinking about COVID-19.COVID-19 keyboard

And, I find that I miss people. Now my favourite café, Friends, has sort of reopened, with take-out service.

There’s Plexiglas at the service counter, and masks and gloves for the staff, and visibly marked-out social distance areas. Using the front and side doors, a one-way flow of traffic has been created. And there’s a brand new “tap” for the credit/debit machine.

They even have curbside pickup.

This morning, two of my writer friends and I met at “Friends”. We got our take-out coffees. (Also, I picked up one of the “Heat & Eat” lasagnas for tonight’s supper.) Then we headed back to one friend’s balcony where we could sit apart but be together. We could have made coffee but it’s just not the same as going to Friends. (friendscappuccinobar.ca)

Zoom has been great, and my writing groups have made good use of it. But I have definitely missed my Friends.

How are you coping? Are you tired of COVID-19? Do you love Zoom?

Mask from Bigstockphotos 351136352
Keyboard from Depositphotos_361140466_l-2015
Friends Cappuccino Bar image from Friends Cappuccino Bar

The Asparagus Festival

The Asparagus Festival

Last Sunday (June 9, 2019), the Annual Asparagus Festival was held at Edgar Farms near Innisfail, Alberta.

Who knew such an event existed?

The Asparagus Festival

Edgar Farms is a sixth generation family farm established in 1907. From a diversification experiment in 1986, the farm now cultivates 50 acres of asparagus. As well as asparagus, the farm grows green and yellow beans, rhubarb and peas. They also raise grass-fed Angus beef which is hormone and antibiotic free.
asparagus field
The asparagus has a short growing season, usually only May and June. After that, the asparagus is allowed to grow into a fern so the plant can store nutrients for the winter.
Over the growing season, the asparagus is picked every day. If there’s rain, the field might need to be picked more than once. The little spears grow that fast.
Thanks to the cool Alberta climate, this asparagus is sweet and tender. It’s available fresh onsite at the Edgar Farms General Store and also at Farmers Markets from Edmonton to Calgary. Soups and pies from Edgar Farms can also be found in the frozen section of some grocery stores.
You might like to know that asparagus is a good source of Vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, zinc and many other trace nutrients. It is also an excellent source of dietary fibre.
wagon ride
The festival offered wagon ride tours of the farm and viewing windows for a glimpse of the kitchen. Children visited farm animals, pumped water, and played in the activity centres.
And, Aspara-Gussy was on site providing treats and photo-ops.
The festival also hosted an Artisan Market with everything from chocolate, nuts and honey to pottery, woodworking and mini donuts.  
We purchased meat pies, fruit pies, pickled beets and a huge bag of asparagus. I’ve already tasted the Saskatoon rhubarb pie and it’s the best on the planet.
I will definitely be at the Festival next year and will most likely stop by the General Store the next time I’m in the area.
Have you ever been to an Asparagus Festival?