Sunday, April 17, 2022

Happy Easter from Powell River Books

from
Wayne and Margy

and
Powell River Books

Wayne and I send each of you best wishes for a very happy Easter. While we are in the Arizona sunshine the Easter Bunny is looking after our spring daffodils and tulips. -- Margy

Sunday, April 10, 2022

"Ride the Rising Wind" by Barbara Kinscote

Last week I wrote a book review about the epic cross-country horseback trip that Annie Wilkins took from Maine to California. Barbara Kingscote had a similar experience riding across Canada from Quebec to British Columbia in 1949-50. Here's a reprint of my review of Ride the Rising Wind that was posted on Margy Meanders in 2015.

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I follow several Powell River friends online. One day there was mention of a book about horses, one of my favourite subjects. As a young girl in the suburbs of Los Angeles, I dreamed of having a horse of my own. My dad helped by taking me riding at a nearby stable on the Los Angeles River, which at the time was not the cement channel it is today. I always rode Flash, but I think his name was more of a joke than a description of his fleet footedness.

When we came to Powell River, I saw a brochure offering trail rides at Tanglewood Farms. I’ve never completed my desire to check it out, but when I learned that the owner Phoebe Kingscote’s mother Barbara wrote a memoir of a riding adventure from the early 1950s, I had to get it.

Barbara Kingscote grew up in Quebec in the 1940s. She too had a love of horses. Working on a small subsistence farm, she gained the experienced needed to apply for veterinary college. In 1949 when she was twenty years old, the owners of the farm moved to the West Coast, but couldn’t take their horse Zazy. The solution? Barbara would ride the black mare all the way from Montreal to their new home in Lytton, British Columbia. But just prior to departure, Charlie, the owner, gave the mare to Barbara to be her own.

Ride the Rising Wind: One Woman’s Journey Across Canada (NeWest Press, 2006) is Barbara and Zazy’s story of the massive undertaking spanning sixteen months and over four thousand miles. Barbara left with minimal supplies lashed to Zazy’s saddle and $100 in her pocket. She stopped along the way at logging camps, farms and towns to intercept mail, buy meager supplies for herself and her horse, and enjoy the company of generous Canadians all along the way.

When she wasn’t offered a loft or bedroom, the intrepid pair slept under the stars or a tarp in pouring rain. Their winter was spent working in the cookhouse at a logging camp. That was a story in itself. But come spring, the two were back on the road.

To take such a journey today seems impossible. The roads are more like freeways, the traffic even more congested. Towns and logging camps along the way no longer depend on horses, so support would be minimal. That’s one reason Barbara’s story is so compelling. Horse people dream of such adventures and opportunities. The closest I ever came was riding in the Chilko Lake area helping a dude ranch hand with the horses.

After learning about the book, I found a used copy online. And then, strangely enough, I bumped into another at the Powell River thrift store. I always stop in every week or so to see what Canadian and regional treasures I can find to add to my reading shelf. -- Margy

Sunday, April 03, 2022

"The Ride of Her Life" by Elizabeth Letts

Margy (12) and Misty in 1960

Ever since I can remember I've loved horses. Mom told me about Grampa's plow horse on the Compton farm in the early 1900s.

My parents worked so Betty was my sitter. She grew up in a French chateau where they raised thoroughbreds. She told me stories about life before WWII and gave me jodhpurs she brought when she came to America.


Margy (15), Dad, Misty and baby Burke in 1963
Dad took me riding at a Los Angeles River stable. "My horse" was always Flash. I remember a movie with my little legs barely reaching over Flash's back.

I begged for a horse. My parents relented by junior high and Misty came into my life. By then the river was a cement channel, but I didn't care. My dream had come true.

This brings me to this month's review. As a kid, I read every horse book in the library. I still enjoy reading them.  I recently discovered The Ride of Her Life, the biography of Annie Wilkins by Elizabeth Letts.

Elizabeth Letts grew up in Southern California, like I did. She began riding at a young age, like I did. But she went the English route while I was a Western rider. Her love of horses has led her to write several well researched books.

The Ride of Her Life: The True Story of a Woman, Her Horse and their Last-Chance Journey Across America (Ballantine Books, 2021) is the factual account of the nearly two year journey of 63-year old Annie Wilkins, her horse Tarzan and dog Depeche Toi across America in the early 1950s.

Research included interviews, letters written by Annie to friends she made along the way, newspaper articles and television coverage.

Annie, affectionately called Widow Wilkins, grew up poor on a homestead near Minot, Maine. In her sixties, she had little savings and owed back taxes on the farm. After a hospital stay for severe pneumonia, the prognosis was only a few more years to live. Rather than giving in, she got to work and prepared for the journey of her life to see the Pacific Ocean. 

Credit: The Ride of Her Life page 278

As Annie travels, the author tells the story of America in the early 1950s. It was a time when towns were growing into cities, and roads were becoming highways. The emergence of television helped to broadcast Annie's story and built interest in her adventure.

Annie, Tarzan and Depeche Toi were successful in their quest thanks to many individuals and towns who offered lodging, meals and encouragement along the way. Arriving in Hollywood she was invited to appear on Art Linkletter's "People are Funny" TV show.

I highly recommend The Ride of Her Life to anyone who loves reading about horses, strong women, adventure and historical times. It's available in print, ebook and audio versions at Amazon and many other online booksellers.

The new Misty, Margy, Wayne and Daddy in Pomona in 1985

Before I say goodbye, here are my last two horses. During college there wasn't enough time for riding. That and my teaching career created a twenty year gap until a new Misty came into my life. (Can you guess my favourite childhood horse book?) Wayne surprised me one Christmas morning when we lived in Pomona, a childhood dream come true. And Dad was still with us to share my excitement.

Cowboy, my last horse in Pomona before moving to Powell River

After Misty came the last horse in my life, Cowboy Bich. Life moves on, but my love of horses never will. -- Margy


Visit the monthly Book Review Club for teen/young adult and adult fiction over at Barrie Summy's blog.

Also shared with Your the Star at Stone Cottage Adventures.


Thanks for visiting my post this week. I'm linking up with Saturday's Critters. Check them out for more great animal pictures.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Wayne and Margy's 2021-22 Snowbird RV Adventure - Part 3 Begins

Lazydays RV storage.
Wayne and I've left our Powell Lake float cabin home to get some winter sun and warmth in Arizona and New Mexico.

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Canada and the United States have fewer Covid restrictions. Even so, we are taking things carefully. RV travel can be a form social distancing. We shop for groceries once a week and don't interact with others in an unsafe manner. We are vaccinated and boosted, still wear masks in crowded spaces, and use sanitizer and wash our hands just like at home. For now, our Sunseeker RV is our home on wheels.

Wayne at the wheel.
Part 1 - We left Bellingham on November 14 and flew Allegiant Airlines to Mesa, Arizona. From there we used an Enterprise rental car to drive to the Tucson Lazydays KOA Resort to pick up our RV waiting in storage. We learned a hard lesson. Five months in dry storage depleted batteries. After a AAA visit we were ready for 36 days of exploration around southern Arizona. On December 19 we put the RV back in storage and flew to Bellingham for a Christmas break.

Tucson Lazydays KOA Resort


Part 2 - Because Canadian border restricitons made a trip home impossible, the second leg of our trip started early on January 2. Again flew south to pick up our RV at Lazydays then spent 46 days camping south of Tucson and in the foothills north and east of Phoenix. For the first time in three years we attended women's outdoor softball games at Arizona State and the University of Arizona. On February 23, the RV went back into storage (with batteries disconnected) and we flew to Bellingham for a second break.  

Part 3 - Success, with relaxed Canadian border crossing restrictions we were able to return to our float cabin home. We left Powell River on March 18 for Bellingham and a March 27 flight to Mesa, Arizona. This route has become routine including a rental car to make the two hour drive the Lazydays. Before Covid they flew direct to Tucson, but we don't mind the drive. This time the batteries were still charged. For 35 days we'll explore and camp our way from southern Arizona to New Mexico and back. New Mexico is new for us, so that'll be an adventure in itself. On May 1 we'll put the RV in our reserved storage spot one last time then fly to Bellingham and a summer at our float cabin home in the cooler north. Our Sunseeker will spend the long hot summer for the third time waiting for our return in November 2022.

We hope you will follow along as our adventure unfolds. You can read all about it over at my Margy Meanders blog. -- Wayne and Margy

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Book Review: "For Joshua" by Richard Wagamese

Last month I reviewed Buried Secrets in the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series by Mike Martin. Windflower is Cree and is inspired by the works of Richard Wagamese. That inspired me to read his books.

First I read Indian Horse about the devastating repercussions residential school attendance. 

Next I chose the memoir For Joshua: An Ojibwe Father Teaches His Son.

Wagamese was taken from his parents and raised by Canadian families. He didn't learn Ojibwe culture, was bullied in school and never felt he belonged. The process became known as the "Sixties Scoop" where children were forcibly placed in non-native foster or adoptive homes. Like residential schools, it was a means to force assimilation into Canadian norms and values.

In For Joshua, Wagamese tells his life story and how he struggled to learn who he was as an Ojibwe man. Life left him estranged from his son, so he used the book to pass along important teachings.

I live in the traditional territory of the Tla'amin Nation in Coastal British Columbia. Workshops following the Truth and Reconciliation of Canada Final Report opened my eyes to past and present impacts of residential schools. Reading books by Richard Wagamese has been helpful to increase my understanding. 

Richard Wagamese was one of Canada's most famous indigenous authors. He wrote novels, memoirs and Embers, Objibwe meditations. He passed in 2017 at 61 years of age, a life ended way too soon.

Richard Wagamese's books have a Canadian focus, but forced assimilation for indigenous peoples happens in many countries. I highly recommend his works as a way to increase your understanding and get involved. -- Margy


There's the monthly Book Review Club for teen/young adult and adult fiction over at Barrie Summy's blog.

Also shared with Your the Star at Stone Cottage Adventures.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Book Review: "Indian Horse" by Richard Wagamese

The last book I reviewed, A Perfect Storm by Mike Martin, led me to this month's book. The main character in the Sgt. Windflower Mystery series is a Cree RCMP officer. He maintains traditional practices, and reads Embers: One Ojibway's Meditations by Richard Wagamese for solace and inspiration. After reviewing books by Wagamese, I selected Indian Horse to be my first.

Indian Horse is a novel about Saul Indian Horse, an Ojibway from Northern Ontario. He was raised by his grandmother in traditional ways, but at age eight he was forced to live at an Indian residential school.

Residential schools were funded by the Department of Indian Affairs and administered by churches. Their purpose was to expunge Indigenous ways and inculcate Canadian culture. Attendance for school age children was compulsory from 1894 until an unconscionable 1996 when the last closed. 

Not only were Indigenous children ripped from their families during formative years, they were subjected to physical, emotional and sexual abuses, and too many died from harsh conditions and torture. The result is generations of First Nation peoples alienated from their culture and language, lacking education, and experiencing post-traumatic syndrome and racism.

Indian Horse takes us through this dark period through the eyes of Saul. The book opens with him telling the reader that he has been told he needs to tell the stories to understand where he is from and where he is going. As his story unfolds, we can feel his joy and sadness, his success and failure, his anguish and emergence from a blocked out horrific experience. 

Canadians are going through a reconciliation process to "redress the legacy of residential schools." In 2008, then Prime Minister Harper issued an apology on behalf of the Canadian government. That same year the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established to hear testimony.  Their "Call to Action" was finally released in 2015.

A community traditional canoe carving reconciliation project.

Towns like Powell River across Canada brought Settlers (non-Indigenous Canadians) and First Nation members together to have hard conversations and to develop a better understanding of the ramifications of racial prejudice and subjugation. As a Settler in my native U.S.A. and my Canadian home I personally have a lot of work to do to reconcile my life of white privilege with systemic racism.

Indian Horse was the "People's Choice" Award of Canada Reads and First Nations Community Reads winner in 2012.  It's not an easy read, but the message is important especially now. I highly recommend Indian Horse and am looking forward to my next Richard Wagamese book.

Here's another book related to truth and reconciliation. Powell River is located on traditional land of the Tla'amin First Nation, a Coast Salish tribe. Written As I Remember It by elder Elsie Paul tells about this same period of time from a local perspective. 

Raised by her grandparents and hidden from authorities during fall sweeps, she was forced to attend the Sechelt Residential School at age ten. He memoir includes Tla'amin Nation history from oral traditions to the present as her people move away from Indian Act control to a self-governing nation. 

 Both books are available online including Amazon. -- Margy

Monday, November 01, 2021

"Buried Secrets" by Mike Martin

This month's review is about Mike Martin's eleventh book in the Sgt. Windflower mystery series. Buried Secrets continues the story of Newfoundland RCMP Sgt. Winston Windflower.

Mike's mystery books are different from most police-based novels. The reader gets to know the officer as a family man in addition to his official duties. And the rural Grand Bank, Newfoundland, setting gives an additional hometown feel.

While each of Mike Martin's books can be read as a stand-alone, it's helpful to read the series in order. References to previous cases and family activities have more depth if you do.

In this book, Sgt. Windflower is investigating the death of a retired minister. The case draws Windflower back to Grand Bank from a special duty assignment (Book 10) in St. John's, the capitol. Covid also plays a minor role in the story. As Winston delves into the buried secrets surrounding the minister's demise, he encounters several societal issues including drug abuse, human trafficking, embezzlement, vehicle-moose accidents, and sexual harassment within the ranks of the RCMP.

On the family side of the story, we follow along as Winston and his wife Sheila raise their two young daughters. Each night they read the girls bedtime stories. One was Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr. When I taught kindergarten, it was a favourite with my students for it's repetition and colourful pictures.

You can find Buried Secrets in print and Kindle e-book formats at Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, !ndigo and Ottawa Press. If you are a Kindle Unlimited reader, it's available there as well. Speaking of Kindles, Wayne and I just received our new Paperwhites. Our old 2010 Kindles that have served us so well are losing their cellular download capability. I'm proud to stay that Buried Secrets is the first book to be read on my new device.

One last bit of news. Mike just released a post on his Facebook page about his Reading Equity Program. You can read more about it here. I applaud Mike for giving away twenty-five free books to individuals who cannot afford to purchase one of their own. As the Children's Literacy motto goes, "Reading is Fundamental." Good for you Mike. -- Margy

Visit the monthly Book Review Club for teen/young adult and adult fiction over at Barrie Summy's blog.

Also shared with Your the Star at Stone Cottage Adventures.