Typical Day in Lethbridge. Alberta, Canada

The day began so typically for Lethbridge. The morning was rainy and drizzly.

The air felt about two degrees above snow. By mid morning it was raining for real.

By lunch time the sun was shining and the birds were singing.

Naturally that couldn’t last long and the process started all over again.

Yeah, yeah, I know….those of us who have lived here for say….more than a week know just how typical that day really was. I can tell who you are by the knowing little smile on your face.

Those of you who are new comers to our fair city, unless you are from the west coast of BC or southern Ontario, might still be living under the delusion that Saturday was a freak of nature.

Trust me, you will soon learn to keep a jacket or a sweater in your vehicle. You will also keep your windshield scraper within easy reach at all times.

Say whut?

Yeah, you heard me right. Jacket and scraper always handy. You also need to make certain that the air conditioning in your vehicle is operating properly. That’s mainly for late August and early September when we get plus 30 temperatures.

Anyone who has lived here for more than a week also knows first hand the wonders of retiring on a snowy winter night listening to a howling north wind and knowing that the temperature is fast approaching minus 40… and waking up to sun shining, blue sky, streets filled with slush and temperatures anywhere from plus 5 to plus 15!

All of this may be a bit much for a new comer to absorb

but you too will learn.

In the meantime all you really need to know is three very simple words….

This Is Lethbridge!

George the Barn

George is one of  the stories in my upcoming book “Down on the Farm”.

“Hi there! Yes, it’s me, George. What? You’ve never heard of a talking barn?

Come on in and let me give you the tour. I was built in the late 1800’s by Sarah’s 4xG grandfather Peter Howell. My base is made of fieldstones to keep my walls from becoming rotted at the bottom.

I am 200 feet long and 75 feet wide with a peaked roof. When I was built I was the biggest barn in Wentworth County.
Do you know where the word ‘barn’ comes from? It means barley house. Barley is an ancient grain first grown in almost all of Europe and Asia or what we sometimes call Eurasia. It has been cultivated for over 13,000 years. That’s even before the end of the last Ice Age. It must be hardy stuff. It is still used today for feeding animals and making beer.

Many critters live inside me. There’s Millie and Herbert and their six kittens, Oscar the horse, Walter the donkey, Trudy the mouse and her brood. Even the ducks and geese like to come inside when the weather is nasty.

I almost forgot Winston and Beatrice my owl friends up in the rafters. They are so quiet during the day that it’s easy to forget that they are home.

I also store the garden equipment like rakes, shovels, hoes and wheelbarrows.

If you look way up high you will see windows at each end. They are for ventilation. It gets awfully stuffy in a barn and without the windows it would get too hot in here for my friends.

They can also be closed with long poles that grab onto window handles when the weather gets too cold. When that happens there is another vent on my roof. It’s the funny square in the middle that looks like a small house.

I really appreciate it when Sarah’s dad Terry leaves the long doors on my east side open during the day. When I was built I just had two small doors that opened up in the middle but Terry made a brand new track that has big sliding doors that open up almost the entire east side.

I can see out across the whole barnyard and watch the ducks and geese splashing around in their pond though I can’t always see the frogs because I’m too far away but I can always hear them. I like the songs they sing on hot summer nights.

You are probably wondering why we have mice, owls, frogs and so many other animals all living together her at Howell Farms.

We have a very strict rule here. Everyone on the farm is safe from the animals that would normally be predators. When Winston and Beatrice, for example go hunting, they must go at least a one-minute flight in any direction.

Have you ever wondered why old barns are usually red?

When you build a wooden barn it must be sealed to protect it from rotting away.

Before modern paints famers used linseed oil, which is made from a grain called Flax. They would add crazy ingredients like milk and lime…not the fruit…the mineral. Next they would stir in rust flakes from machinery and anything else metal that was left outside.

The rust flakes killed fungi (like mushrooms) and mosses that tried to grow in the wood.

Many people still use red paint in honour of tradition.

How to Annoy Your Reader

There are many ways an author can annoy their reader without even trying, or in most cases, thinking about it.

So…how to annoy me (the reader) let me count the ways.

Apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning a British poet 1806 -1861
Her classic poem began… “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”

Use lots and lots and lots of run on sentences with ‘ands’ that never seem to end.
Make sure that they are really convoluted (look it up) and hard to understand.

Oh, yeah, use words that you have absolutely no idea what they mean.
Your reader won’t appreciate trying to figure out the word that really belongs there.

A good rule of writing is to never use five words on page that would likely be beyond the reader’s level. There are lots of resources that organize words into what grade a child is likely to learn them.

Please………use the wrong form of the word…. that really gets our blood boiling and makes us so proud of you…. NOT!

Sally and Timmy went over to there/their friend’s house after school.
“There are to/too/two many candles on my cake” Uncle Harry complained.

Begin every sentence that you possibly can with either ‘And’ or ‘But’.

Whenever I see this happen my blood almost literally boils! I have been writing for over 50 years and have never had to begin a sentence with either one. If your sentence is rolling along  and you can’t bare to start a new one simply put a semi colon….; instead of beginning a new one with ‘and’.

These two lovely words interrupt the flow of your story and jolt the reader right out of the book. I know, I know ‘they’say it’s acceptable. If you choose to be a mediocre writer go right ahead.

Any author who really knows their ‘stuff’ when it comes to grammar and word usage is miles ahead of the pack.

If you follow these suggestions I can guarantee you will have accomplished your goal of annoying your reader to the point of never getting past the second or third paragraph of your article.