/*from pinterest*/
Model T Ford

Model T Ford

This past weekend, Rolf & I visited the town of Cochrane (Alberta, Canada) just west of Calgary to see the “Cochrane Classics Car Club Show and Shine”.

Our neighbour Ross had entered his 1914 Model T Ford – ‘C’ cab. This is what it looks like. I especially like the leather diamond tuft seats.

This car is similar to the car Mr. Lyon drives in THE GHOST AND CHRISTIE MCFEE except Mr. Lyon’s car is a 1911 Model T.

Several readers have asked me if Mr. Lyon is a ghost, and I don’t know. But I do think there are several ghosts in that story, not just Christie’s ghost. At any rate, I never figured out if Mr. Lyon was a ghost or not, although I suppose, if he really was a ghost, he may have brought the car with him from 1911 – when the original town of Bandit Creek flooded.

Like most antique cars, Mr. Lyon’s car has had several modifications. For example, the buffalo wire wheels. Wire wheels were not available in 1911. And neither was the electric start conversion he added.

This is what it’s like driving a Model T on the highway in Alberta sunshine.

Model T Ford

Ross provided us with some interesting Model T Facts. Did you know that in 1914, it took 93 minutes to assemble a car, with an 8 hour day at $5.00 per day? Back then, $5 a day was an excellent wage and it attracted the best workers.

Not only did Henry Ford provide good wages, he was an early promoter of the 8 hour day. Although Ross wonders if that was because of the better working conditions, or the fact that an 8 hour day allowed for 3 shifts to work in the factory.

And then there were the colours. Colours, other than black, were only available for the Model T in 1908 – 1912, and 1926 – 1927. Ford wrote that “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.” Black – because it had the quickest drying time.

I don’t think Mr. Lyon liked black, because he had his 1911 Model T wearing a fresh coat of metallic red.

Have you got a favourite colour for your car?

Silver Springs Wildflowers

Silver Springs Wildflowers

~ Woolly Groundsel and Northern Hedysarum ~

On the Silver Springs hillside, above the still flooded Bow River, the land has never been ploughed.

A few days ago, the hillside boasted 31 varieties of blooming wildflowers. There are many other wildflowers there, but 31 of them were in bloom. That’s what you get with natural prairie.

The yellow ones are called Woolly Groundsel (senecio canus) and the pinks are Northern Hedysarum (hedysarum boreale). The pinks are also called Northern Sweetvetch, but I like Hedysarum better. A pretty word for a pretty flower. Maybe even a name for a character in a story . . .

What’s blooming where you live?

The 2013 Flood

The 2013 Flood

It started on Thursday, June 20th. Our son phoned us from his truck as he was on his way home. The Bow River was rising in Calgary, Alberta.

I took a walk in the rain down to the park above the river, along with other Silver Springs residents. We carried our umbrellas and our cameras. None of us had ever seen the river so high. Earlier on that Thursday, closer to the mountains near the town of Canmore, Cougar Creek flowed over its banks and wiped out a section of the Trans Canada highway, stopping all east-west traffic.

By evening, helicopters were flying over the subdivision of Bowness, broadcasting evacuation orders. My two sons live down there. One son ended up with friends in Scenic Acres. My other son and his fiancée and their dog Makita moved in with us.

I had a 6:25 a.m. West Jet flight to a family reunion in Ontario on Friday morning. There was no trouble getting to the airport since we live north of the river and the airport is north.

The family reunion was enjoyable, but everywhere I went I heard the news reports of Calgary in a state of emergency. But I knew my family was all right. My son, who owns a framing company, posted on Facebook: Framing crew available to build arks. Contact Ryan.

The Bow River crested on Sunday, June 23, the day of the family reunion. When I flew back on the following Tuesday (a week ago), Alberta was dotted with little lakes and greener than I’d ever seen it from the air.

But parts of Calgary are missing: roads, C-Train track beds, bike paths, bridges. Basements are full of silt and sludge. The vac trucks can pump out some of it. There are houses that didn’t survive at all and needed to be bulldozed.

Now the clean-up has begun. My (almost) daughter-in-law works downtown, normally. But the downtown core was without power. So she was among the many volunteers helping to rip out flood-damaged basements. Apparently, Peter’s Drive-In (a local burger place) was in her area, supplying food and drinks to all the workers. Volunteers are everywhere.

The Calgary Stampede will happen. The Stampede grounds were under water but they are being rebuilt. Most of the planned events will carry on. These T-shirts are on sale with proceeds going to Southern Alberta Flood relief.

Calgary 2013 Flood


And life returns to (the new) normal. I hope things are calm (and dry) wherever you are!

poster from the Calgary Stampede
high water from Depositphotos #74184969

Nanking cherries & bumblebees

Nanking cherries & bumblebees

This is the Nanking cherry tree in my garden.

Spring has definitely arrived in southern Alberta with summer-like temperatures this past week. In my garden, the Nanking cherries are blooming and the bumblebees are busy.

While thinking about a plot point, I was watching the bees in the blossoms and they reminded me of something Lawrence Block said in his WRITING THE NOVEL: From Plot to Print.

Block describes how he tried to learn the “right” way to write a novel. One source advised him to use three-by-five file cards and make a card for each character that would appear in the story. Each character card would include things like the character’s appearance, background and habits. Next were the scene cards. He was supposed to write a card for each scene in the book, detailing those events, what the weather was like and so on. The idea was that it was necessary to know everything the scene needed—and the whole book needed—before you actually sat down to write it.

Block (like many of us) was discouraged by this approach and gave up trying to write a book. But a few months later, he reports how he got up one morning and wrote a two-page outline of a novel.

A month after that, he sat down, and with his two-page outline, he began to type. He says:

“I felt a little guilty without a shoebox full of file cards, but like the bumblebee who goes on flying in happy ignorance of the immutable laws of physics, I persisted in my folly and wrote the book in a couple of weeks.”

He goes on to say that the other approach was not wrong, just wrong for him. And so we must each find our own method.

Are you a writer? Have you ever thought of preparing a shoebox full of scene cards? Do you have any bumblebees in your garden?

Nanking cherry blossoms from the barista

Another Winter Storm

Another Winter Storm

~ last year’s Rudbeckia ~
“Just like springtime in Alberta
Warm sunny days and the skies of blue
Then without a warning
Another winter storm comes raging through”
—Ian Tyson

Theoretically, March 21st is the spring equinox. Even at the 51st latitude, you’d think we’d have a semblance of spring. Unfortunately, this is what my backyard looks like.

Springtime in Alberta

picnic anyone?

Not a promising start to my gardening for this year. But I am making a “List of things I need to garden” and this is what I have so far:
  • garden gloves
  • rake
  • garbage bags
  • spade
  • peat moss
  • fertilizer
  • bedding plants (forget seeds, growing season is too short)
  • warm coat
  • snow shovel
  • heat lamp
  • geodesic dome
Springtime in Alberta . . . chills me to the bone.

How’s springtime at your latitude?