Sunday, September 4, 2011

Mishmash - Part Deux

A family photo with Jeanette's mom and dad.  John celebrated his 88th birthday. L-R Deni, me, Jeanette, Trevor, Ginette, John and Mary.
One of the many lakes that jot out of the prairie landscape.

Although I do have a substantive amount of photos and many stories to write, I seem to have little time to spend at the computer.  We are busy people, so it seems, and unless I am up really early, I do not get enough keyboard time to post more often. That, I believe, can be a good problem too.

In any event, the following is why I titled this blog as `Mishmash - Part Deux.

I mentioned in an earlier blog that I had the opportunity to take several motorcycle rides while Jeanette was busy with family business.  I rode well over 600 km during the several days spent in the countryside.
This is but one of the numerous photos I took of oil and gas exploration and production in the Province.
So many producing grain fields are dotted with oil and gas activities.  It`s a common site in this area.  Photos like the one above are more about gas production than oil.  For oil production, one can best see present day evidence of it by driving another three hours north to the Fort McMurray area.

This gas well - and the drilling rig- were left unattended.  While riding on Highway 41 south, I thought to get closer to get a better photo.  I stopped the bike at the entrance gate and while taking this photo, a water truck (they service gas well sites) going by quickly put the brakes on and began backing up.  I thought that the driver may have missed the turn off to this site but that was not the case.  The driver got suspicious when he noticed a motorcycle on site with a dark helmeted alien looking man with a camera in hand and wearing a leather jacket.  It felt odd that he was backing up but he did not seem intent on driving onto the site.  I quickly grasped the fact that he was suspicious of my being there. I understood his actions because there have been some unscrupulous activities at gas sites in the recent past.  With only two photos taken, I hoped back on my iron horse and rode off....waving as I went by.

What is the significance of this sign?
About 40 minutes later, I came to this tiny little hamlet of St. Edouard. This is where my mother went to school as a young girl.  I had not been to this area for well over 15 years and it was a magnet for me to stop in again.  My mother use to joke that she would have to cross country ski to school, every day in the depths of winter, up hill both ways, from their farm not far away.
Other than a few homes, the old church is gone - replaced with this 'Catholic Renewal Centre'.
I rode by my mother's childhood farm.  The old house burned down several years ago but I have an oil painting of it.  While still standing, this grand old home drew the attention of a local painter who put brush to canvas and replicated the house on canvas.  My mother had purchased the oil painting and it now dots one of the walls in our home.

My sister Paulette's home - south of my boyhood town of St. Paul, Alberta
Before I had left on my long ride, I had called my sister Paulette, who - with her husband Rick - operate a cow/calf operation near beautiful Lac Bellevue, about 20 minutes south from the town of St. Paul.  It is a lovely country setting and I always enjoy riding through that country.  Rick was busy making hay on another quarter but I did get to enjoy a coffee and chat with my sister for a few hours.
Hmm, I wonder if Paulette wants to take it for a ride.
Paulette's grand daughter Shania (middle)  dropped by to deliver a freshly baked pie she and her friend had baked.
Paulette and I chatted and enjoyed our coffee and then a phone call from Shania and subject of a  fresh baked pie took centre stage.  Shania and her friend dropped by to visit and to leave a pie behind too.  How nice that was. The girls were taking advantage of the very last day before the start of their Grade 12 school year.

Evening scene on the prairies.
The next day I called my brother who lives in the town of St. Paul.  It's about a 45 minute drive from Jeanette's parents' farm.  I do not have any photos of our visit.  I guess we were too busy with chat and lunch.  The photo below was taken at their winter abode in sunny Yuma, Arizona.  They have been regular winter snowbirds in Yuma these past ten years or so.

Brother Bernie (middle) and his wife Rita on the right in their home in Yuma, AZ.
Once Jeanette had finished with her family oriented chores and tasks, we loaded the motorcycle and made our way back to Edmonton for one more visit with our children before driving  back to the coast.

During my motorcycle rides, I took an interest in taking photos of the numerous churches that dot the prairie landscape. The following are some examples of the many taken.

A small Catholic Church...left in disrepair.

A Ukrainian Catholic Church....still in use and very well maintained

Another Ukrainian Catholic Church
The Ukrainian Orthodox church that Jeanette's maternal grandparents were members of.

Kaleland Ukrainian Orthodox Church - where Jeanette and I were married.

Another view of the little country stone church where we exchanged our vows in 1975.
I recall that there were so many people in attendance that several had to stand outdoors during the Ukrainian ceremony.  It is a tiny stone church built nearly 100 years ago.

Well, I've pretty well given you the mishmash of I better sign off before Google impose limits on photos and story telling.

Thanks for dropping by.


  1. there is another 'Rick and Paulette' in the world?..what the heck??

  2. Love the church photo's. For years my family has bought vehicles from the Zarowny Motors in St. Paul. My maternal grandparents are from the Vermilion area.

  3. Great blog, Rene!

    It was nice to see some of the places that are part of your families' history - and the family pics are great too!

    Some nice old churches too!

    How about that - you have a sister Paulette married to a Rick! Maybe you already told me that and I just forgot - I sure hope not!