Character-Building Coffee

Back when I worked at Fabricland, I happened to be the first one into the lunch room one morning so I made the coffee. As my co-workers drifted in and sampled it, their eyes popped open and they made remarks about the potency of my brew. When one of the managers commented about how strong it was, I told her I was going to follow the Canadian government’s advice.

“My coffee isn’t strong, it’s character-building.”

At the beginning of the 1900s the Canadian government had this vast tract of prairie land newly-opened up and they wanted it settled. But there were some issues. The present homesteaders were telling the folks back in the Old Country just how severe the winters were and how dry the prairies tended to be in summer. Hard to grow anything. A challenge to survive the winters.

“We can’t have this kind of talk,” the Dept. of Immigration decided. “Farmers will never be enticed to the area if reports like this circulate.”

The ad men of the day rose to the challenge. All hints of a cold,  dry climate were banned from Govt of Canada information brochures, distributed liberally in Europe to lure settlers to Saskatchewan and Alberta. Promoters were encouraged to substitute words that held more appeal. The climate of the “Northwest Territories” became invigorating and character-building; the severe winter winds were now bracing and great for the promotion of general good health. You could be a manly man in western Canada!

Our temperature this morning, -29 C, would be great for character building except that we’re wimping out and staying in the house where it’s warm. We’re very thankful we don’t have to hitch up our team of horses, drive ten miles to the river and chip through eight inches of solid ice to draw water. We actually thought it was a bit of a hardship when the back door lock was frozen this morning so we couldn’t open the door. Practicing prairie ingenuity, my husband defrosted the lock with my hair dryer.

Anyway, if my coffee pops my guests’ eyes open nowadays, I give the matter a positive slant: this is a rich, fervent brew. Invigorating and character-building, like our climate. Still, my coffee can’t stand up beside the pot a fellow who worked with a friend used to make.

How to Make A REALLY Aggressive Pot of Coffee

My coworkers grumbled about MY strong coffee and I used only about ½ cup of grounds. A friend was telling us about the way his coworker made coffee — if he got to the office coffee-maker first. (I understand his fellow office workers did their best to prevent that from happening. 😉 )

Here’s how he did it:
For a ten-cup coffee maker: put the little white paper filter into the basket as usual, then fill it level full with fresh coffee grounds (about 1¼ cups). Add the ten cups of water to the chamber and hit the ON switch. Dark, rich coffee will flow into the carafe. Full-bodied, you might say. (When your body is full of it your eyes will open wide.)

Try it sometime and let me know if your coworkers and guests find it invigorating.


Bean me up, friend!



Janey’s Future

Time for another Friday Fictioneers tale and as usual, I can’t resist putting in my hundred words worth. In spite of the fact that Sandra Crook has donated the photo of a friendly looking old tree, there’s been murder and mayhem, death and accident in a number of tales this week. (Oh, and one hugging tree. Trust Eric to squeeze his alien in somehow. 😉 )

This Charge of the Write Brigade is being commanded as usual by Major Wisoff-Fields, DFFA, ATP. If you’d like to contribute your own tale hop over to her blog and click the Blue Frog, which will morph into a trusty charger on which you can ride into the fray.

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook


“Wish he’d listened. Ditched that rotten ladder!”

Janey stared at the tree. “Chan never was one for taking advice.”

I looked around. “Can you run this place alone?” With two tykes and another due soon? Dumb, but what do you say?

She shook her head, overwhelmed. “I should sell.”

I reached for her arm. “I got an idea… You been a good wife to Chan, Janey…and a good mom. He was so lucky. I know I’m some younger than you, but…do you think…”

She considered me awhile; my heart pounded something awful.

Her eyes sparkled. “Yeah. I think.”


Historical fact:
It wasn’t a park but a prairie homestead, and the suddenly widowed Mary was riding home from her husband’s funeral with her single brother-in-law, who also lived on the farm. Seeing her desperate situation, he proposed marriage. She saw the wisdom in this; in those days he couldn’t stay helping her on the farm without raising a LOT of gossip. So they turned the team around, headed back to town, and found the preacher. Tough times call for some quick decisions.

Personal note:
I’m putting the finishing touches on a pdf of my book, Silver Morning Song, and would like to give some away in exchange for some honest feedback. (And hopefully generate a few reviews on Amazon or Kobo.) If you’re interested and have the time, please let me know. I can send pdf, mobi, or epub.

Silver Morning Song is a collection of poems and short stories that consider the delightful world around us and the trials of home and family as well as Christian life. In a voice sometimes humorous, sometimes serious, in short stories and parables, the writer tells of folks facing issues, decisions and temptations. These are interspersed with accessible poetic descriptions of the natural world and the changing seasons.

Book Review: Tangled in Time


Miss Main Street Book 1
By Angela Castillo

Although the book description hints at a mystery, I found no suspense and not much tension anywhere in the story. The pace is day-by-day leisurely with lots of setting details. Romance isn’t the main focus of the book, either. I see this more as chick-lit or general fiction with a romantic interest and elements of Christian fiction.

The main character, Darcy, has inherited her grandmother’s antique store in Wimber, Texas, and is determined to make it a viable business. There first few chapters are full of description, as recalls past summer holidays here, settles into her new property and prepares for opening day. Thoughts about God, his plan, a scripture verse and/or prayer are mentioned now and then.

Mention is also made occasionally of her grandmother’s secret closet and Darcy’s determined to open it and discover the contents; I guess this is the mystery angle. Another is the annoying town merchant who causes trouble and worry to the new owner. But why? Plus Darcy has the general stress of getting her store up and running and dealing with past and present love interests.

I think she comes across as wimpy when she’s avoids breaking up with her LA boyfriend. She thinks “It’s over” and he should realize it, yet she doesn’t voice her thoughts, dodges the unpleasant good-bye, ignores his calls, then sends him a “break-up text.” When he shows up wanting to know what gives, she thinks he’s self-absorbed and rude — labels that could apply to her behavior as well at this point. However, all we learn about the men in the story is through her feelings about them. This is what makes me think chick-lit: events are told only through her eyes; no other perspectives are given.

The book is well written and edited; I found only three minor typos. As a bonus, this book brings to light some interesting Texas history. The story flows along smoothly, if rather slowly — which suits the small-town feel — and the conclusion is satisfying. It’s light, clean reading for those who don’t want a lot of drama, terror, or sexual details.

I was given a free copy of this book from the Story Cartel in exchange for an honest review.

Life Goes On

It’s time for another Friday Fictioneers prompt. Many thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, for hosting our group and choosing our prompts, and thanks to Roger Bulltot for this picture he has submitted, the ruins of the Renwick Smallpox Hospital.

I thought of life-and-death battles fought here. Smallpox has been subdued but now cancer is the dreaded foe. Tuesday we attended the funeral of a grandfather who fought a battle with leukemia (CML) and yesterday I made an appointment to have my blood counts checked again. My muse, awash in a wave of blue, delivered this 100-word tale. I hesitated to post it as my F.F. response, but hope you’ll tell me if it sounds too melodramatic or soppy.

NOTE: All photos are property of the photographer, donated for use in Friday Fictioneers only, and should not be used for any other purpose without express permission. 


Contemporary fiction

“Thanks for bringing me to this peaceful spot. Let’s stop awhile. You’re tired of pushing me.”

“Never!” Pearl braked the wheelchair and kissed Grandma’s cheek.

“See those doves nesting up there. The people have passed yet life goes on here. That comforts me. You grandchildren will find mates, build your nests and our family will continue on.

“Let’s not…”

“I’ve been so privileged to see you all grow up, now I get to enjoy these goodbye days. So many don’t.”

Pearl’s eyes teared up. “Don’t give up, Grandma. Another round of chemo…”

“Take me home now, dear. I want to rest.”

“Going to the Dogs”

Today my mind has been tumbling bits and pieces of the latest news and all the implications, real or imagined, for our world today. A rather unprofitable pursuit, since my mulling makes not a speck of difference in the grand scheme of things.

But we do hear news that disturbs us. Then my mind went back to a song recorded in 1965, “The Eve of Destruction,” and I had to smile just a bit. We were in the Cold War years and someone pushing the button and wiping the world out with atomic warfare was everyone’s dread.

Back 52 years ago. Around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Nam war, the KGB. We lived through all of that. We here in Canada lived through the Quebec Referendum and were not split into two nations. Then the world survived Y2K. About the time we thought things were going well 9/11 hit us all pretty hard. Air traffic around the world was frozen and we in the Western world wondered what would come next. Now President Trump is leading the US and I gather from recent reports that we’re on the Eve of Destruction again.

Yes, we’re facing serious matters one doesn’t want to take lightly, but I did think of this little poem. It pulled my mind out of the whirlpool of dark thoughts, so I decided to post it, hoping it will give someone else a glimmer of hope.


My grandad, viewing earth’s worn clogs,
said things were going to the dogs.
His grandad in his house of logs,
said things were going to the dogs.
His grandad in the Flemish bogs
said things were going to the dogs.
His grandad in his old skin togs
said things were going to the dogs.
There’s one thing that I have to state:
the dogs have had a good long wait.

Author Unknown

Dog worried.jpg


Seek And Ye Shall Find

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find;
knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth;
and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”
— The words of Jesus in Matthew 7:7-8

One night a young man from Albania sat in a motel room in Spain, frustrated and discouraged. He was trying to make his way to a new life Canada but he was now hopelessly snared in a thorny ticket of red tape. He’d done everything he could, but the immigration officials were still shaking their heads.

He’d been brought up under communist teaching, had heard over and over, “God doesn’t exist.” This idea, they were told in school, is a lie meant to keep the common people in bondage. This myth is still being perpetrated by deceived fanatics, but we will wipe it out in time.”

As he grew up he began to question, “Why do the communists have to keep saying this? Surely by now a myth would be no trouble to them.” Or maybe God isn’t a myth? Maybe the communists weren’t able to stamp out this God and Bible business because there was something to it? He began to feel a longing to know the truth; later, working in Germany, he was able to obtain an Albanian Bible and started reading it.

In time he’d made his way to Spain hoping for a way to emigrate to Canada. Now here he sat all alone, far from home, his dreams for the future shattered. In despair he cried out to this God the Bible talked about. “Are You real? Do You see me? Will You help me?”

He looked up and saw a vivid picture on the wall. A painting of Jesus with His arms held out, to Cheti it felt like Jesus was inviting him to come. Did it appear at that instant or had it been hanging there all along and he’d just not noticed it before? In any case, he saw it now and felt the Lord speaking to him at that moment. The whole puzzle of religion became clear to him. God is real and had heard his prayer. Jesus is real. The Bible he’d been reading was telling him the truth.

That night he turned his life over to God and asked for His guidance in the future. The next day he went back to the Canadian immigration office and he received the emigration permit he needed.


“Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, “He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.” — Matthew 27:42

In the Bible we read that the religious rulers of Jesus’ time followed him around constantly. They heard his teachings, saw his miracles — and most of them would not believe He was from God. If God really sent him, they said, Jesus would follow the traditions. For lack of a better explanation they said, “it’s the devil himself that’s giving this man power to work wonders.”

When Jesus hung on the cross there was a great earthquake, the sky was darkened, the heavy curtain of the temple was torn in half from top to bottom. Two days after Jesus’ death the soldiers guarding the tomb came running and said, “An angel came down and rolled the stone away.” Solid proof, right? The Jewish leaders bribed the guards to keep quiet about this. (And that silence wouldn’t have come cheap, I don’t think.)

Their minds were made up about Jesus. They asked for signs but refused to see. They weren’t seeking so they never found. They didn’t knock, so the truth was never opened to them like it was to our friend Cheti in his hotel room in Spain.

“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”— The Apostle Paul, writing in to the Hebrews: ch 11:6.

Free Book: When Night Comes

When Night Comes: Free on Amazon for one more day.

When I got Dan Walsh’s e-mail on Sunday I wanted to quickly do a write-up and and tell you all about this great book that’s free on Amazon right now. Sadly, the days have slipped by and there’s only day left to get this fast-paced suspense novel.

The story opens with Sergeant Joe Boyd arriving at the scene of a possible homicide. “Check it out, Joe. It’s pretty strange,” patrolman Hank Jensen told him.

Homicide or not, they definitely had a dead body in that bed. There was no mistaking that familiar smell… Boyd guessed the boy probably died late last night, or in the early evening. He walked to the bed and looked down at the body, then at the kid’s face.

Yeah, that’s weird.

As Sgt Boyd was contemplating this mysterious death, Jack Turner was arriving in Culpepper, GA, as a guest lecturer at the invitation of his old history prof and mentor, Thomas Thornton. Jack, with his Master’s in Military History, was planning on giving a series of lectures on WWII.

Within days Jack has several bizarre dreams. It’s like he’s gone back in time to the scenes he’s been describing in his lectures, being part of the action as it unfolds. And Jack isn’t the only one having dreams. Two students are dead after experiencing bizarre hallucinations that seemed to drive them mad.

Forced into this puzzling situation, Jack wants to discover the cause of his strange dreams. He teams up with Rachel, an old acquaintance, now an attractive young teaching assistant at the university. Together they do some investigating — but someone’s determined to stop them.

For me this book is a keeper, one I can read over several times and still shiver with the thrill of the story. And it’s a bonus that Jack returns in a second and third book in the series.

Dan says in his e-mail, “The Kindle version of When Night Comes is absolutely FREE for the next 5 days. If you enjoy reading it, there’s a sample chapter for Book 2 at the end, and an Amazon link.”

And now there’s only one more day! So if this book sounds appealing, here’s the link to Amazon .com. And here’s the LINK to his BLOG.