Family Christmas meal

The table with only the three youngest kids. That’s me with a fork in my mouth.

I come from a large family. Let me size it up for you. I’m kid number 10 of 11. My parents have 29 grandkids. While my mom’s family is small (she has only 4 siblings), my father’s family is immense. He has 16 siblings and almost all of them had at least 2 kids. To say I had many cousins doesn’t do it justice. We live in the same province as my dad’s family, so we visited each other often.

At my family’s peak, we had 12 people living in a small (think very small) home. Mom was an excellent cook, and everything was made from scratch. We were a boisterous bunch, and we weren’t forced to eat in silence. By the time I got into double digits, some of my older siblings were married and had kids of their own.

My siblings, their spouses and their kids came to my parents’ home for Christmas day. That meant the kitchen table was always full and we filled the living room and flowed into the hall and closets to find a place to eat when the eating time came.


Travelling Food

At the moment, my characters in Healing Stones (Castle Keepers Series: Book 4) are travelling through Yikker Wood. They left Inglenook about two weeks ago, and they won’t reach a settlement to buy supplies for another three days.

This means they must carry all their food in packs or saddle bags on their horses. They could hunt, and they may resort to that, and they’ve picked mushrooms along the way to add to their dwindling supplies.

Starting Out

For several days after they left Inglenook, they ate biscuits, bacon, eggs, bread and meat, but those perishable goods are gone after 14 days. This is the point where I scramble to find food for them to eat, so they won’t starve.


Fog5x5It had been a glorious August day in 1990. I had set out in my twelve-foot row boat around noon. The sun was shining and the water was placid. As usual I was alone, settled in the centre seat with my fingers wrapped around the blue oars. My boom-box sat on the seat in the stern on top of a sweatshirt and towel and beside my sneakers.

Most of the time I sailed barefoot. I loved the feeling of cool wood and salt water on my skin. I could climb in and out of the boat, walking through knee-deep surf, without worrying about wetting my rubbers.

Rubbers…I don’t recall owning a pair back then. I either went barefoot or wore my ocean sneakers. These were old sneakers I wore without socks to places I couldn’t go barefoot.


NewfoundlandI love tea. It’s one—no, it is—my most favourite drink in the world. I like rum, cranberry juice, gin and wine, but I love tea. I love it so much that if I couldn’t make a good cup where I lived or have one shipped in, I’d move. I think I might survive a week—maybe seven days—without tea if I had one of my other likable drinks or hot chocolate, but that’s pushing it.

Coffee doesn’t factor into the equation.

Tea drinkers—I’ve found—are often in search of two best things: the best type of tea and the best vessel in which to drink it from.


Diane Lynn McGyverIn grade ten, our English teacher assigned a weekly writing assignment. I know most students didn’t embrace this intrusion to their brains, but as a budding writer, I did. A few months ago, I discovered my old writing journal from that year. Below is one of the essays I wrote.

The Old is Brand New

Would it not be exciting to travel around the world discovering all sorts of things that have been mysteries buried for thousands of years? Archaeology would definitely be a great area to be in. Just to travel all over the world into ancient tombs and long forgotten lands is enough to fill my life. But actually digging up the remains of extinct animals or exploring unexplored caves would be icing on the cake.


Stephen Ellsworth TibertAn essay I wrote shortly after my youngest child was born, 2003:

It was the scariest day of my life. I was strapped to an operating table with an IV in my arm surrounded by several doctors. Every few minutes the blood pressure band around my left bicep became excruciatingly tight. I held my breath until the band reached its maximum capacity and started to release its air.

The doctors were preparing me for a C-section. My third child was side ways in the womb and could not be turned. To make the situation worse, since he was sideways, the incision would not be the normal horizon cut most women enjoyed. It would be vertical through many stomach muscles.

Going in, I knew that any future pregnancies would also end in a C-section because the womb and muscles would be too weak to support a natural birth. What I didn’t know was that for weeks afterward, I wouldn’t be able to talk loud, cough, sneeze or laugh. The pain would be acute and even two years later, when this child would step on my incision, a sharp pain would shoot through my nerves.


As Bronwyn reined the horse into the fading evening light, Isla snuggled into his back. He smelt of sweat and dirt, but a more wonderful odour at this moment she couldn’t imagine. His scent soothed her. Beside him, she felt home, no matter where they travelled. He was her hero, and nothing and no one could change that. ~ snippet from Shadows in the Stone

There are days when I am starving for a hero. When life gets dull and dreary I wish a hero would ride in, scoop me up and take me on a wild journey into the unknown where danger lurks in the shadows and magic fills the air with adventure. I want him to take me where survival balances on knowledge and skill, where just on the brink of disaster, he saves the day.