Two Pink Lines


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I was sitting in the staff washroom at the I.D.A Pharmacy in a tiny town in central Alberta. I had driven in from my cabin on Pigeon Lake, specifically to buy a pregnancy test to confirm whether or not I was pregnant.

I was six weeks late.

I had told my partner not to worry. Every once in a while I might have a late period, especially if I was under any kind of stress. I had been diagnosed with endometriosis when I was younger and told that I will probably be unable to conceive on my own. I had already had one miscarriage ten years earlier. My new boyfriend and I had only been together for three months and neither of us were ready to start a family. I was being careful and always tracked my fertility dates just to be sure. Besides, I was turning 40 in just a few days. As a OB-GYN patient, I was considered geriatric.

I was the only customer in the pharmacy. There was an elderly lady at the cash, another elderly lady who who was stocking shelves, and another elderly lady, although perhaps a little younger than the other two, working the pharmacy counter. There were four tests to choose from. One in a pink box, one in a blue box, and two in generic-looking packaging. The house brands all claimed to be 99% accurate.

“Excuse me,” I asked the shelf-stocker. Her tightly curled hair was dyed dark brown and her eyes appeared very small behind her large glasses. She slowly rose from her position, kneeling on the floor in front of an open box, and walked toward me, smiling.

“How can I help you?”

“Out of these four tests, can you recommend one in particular?”

She looked up at the top shelf where the pregnancy tests were displayed. “Well,” She said slowly. “We’re not supposed to give out medical advice…”

“But as a product…” I asked.

“Well, they all seem to say 99% accurate…” She began picking up the boxes and reading them. “Let’s just ask Bernice here at the pharmacy.” Bernice was only a few feet away and reassured me that they were all good. I chose the pink one. I don’t know why. Perhaps pink for ‘girl’. 

A thought suddenly hit me. “It just occurred to me.  If this test comes out positive, I’ll need to come right back to buy some prenatal vitamins.” I said to Bernice. “Rather than driving all the way home or going to a nearby coffee shop, could I use your staff washroom and do the test here?” I asked.

“Absolutely!” Said Bernice. “It’s just around the corner here.” She said as she pointed down a hallway just behind her.

I walked up to the front of the pharmacy and paid for the pregnancy test. The elderly lady was pleasant and avoided eye contact with me. I wondered how many other small town “girls” come through here each month, head down, buying a pregnancy test, and grateful for the discretion of this grandmotherly cashier. I took the test and made my way to the staff washroom at the back of the store. I had done this a few times before, years ago, and both tests had reported ‘negative’, ‘not pregnant’. Nothing to worry about. I read the instructions, peed midstream on the little stick, then waited.

Two pink lines

Two pink lines indicated the presence of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone in my urine. 

Two pink lines meant pregnant.

Wow.  I exhaled. 


I looked in the mirror eyes wide, and suddenly smiled at myself. Forty years old… and accidentally pregnant.

“Prenatal vitamins!” I announced to Bernice as I approached the pharmacy counter once more. 

“Congratulations!” She said warmly.

“How wonderful!” My previous helper exclaimed, clapping her hands.

“Is this happy news?” The cashier asked, warmly but neutral, as I paid for the vitamins.

“Well, I am 40 years old and this was a surprise… but yes. Very happy news.” For me.

It was such a deciding moment, a slice in time cleanly dividing my life into two eras: BP: before the pregnancy- with myself as the sole priority, and AP: after the pregnancy and physically carrying a child, my child, in my belly. I was glad that I had made the choice to stay at the pharmacy and do the test there. Sharing this intimate experience with these women—even though I had never met them before, felt right. I felt surrounded and supported by their grandmotherly care and concern. I felt that this was a moment that needed to be experienced among other women. Other mothers, perhaps. I walked out of that pharmacy promising to come back when I needed more prenatal supplies and thanking the ladies for sharing in my happy moment.

“Come again anytime!” Bernice sang out. “We’re good like that.”

I am so glad that I took the time to record this story when it happened ten years ago. Sadly, the pregnancy in this story also ended in miscarriage and I had a total of three miscarriages before my son, Chayton, was born. My pregnancy with him was also “a story.” In a nutshell, I had been pregnant a third time, miscarried without knowing it (it’s called a “missed miscarriage”) and gotten pregnant again— without knowing. At my first ultrasound the technician announced that there was “nothing in there.” He was looking for an older fetus and told me that my doctor was wrong, that I was not pregnant. I was devastated but confused as my body kept telling me that I was pregnant. Three different doctors told me I was not pregnant yet every woman that I talked to said, “Listen to your body.” About a month later I went for an emergency ultrasound and they found a strong and healthy 7-week-5-day-old fetus happily minding his own business. This fourth pregnancy was viable and after being pregnant for almost a year (altogether with the two pregnancies) I had my son, Chayton Skye Danser.

Today, on Mother’s Day, I honour ALL of the Mothers in my life. All of the women who raised me, mentored me, and kicked my ass when I needed to be reminded to stand tall. All of the women who have gained mastery in their lives and showed me that this was possible for me was well. All of the quiet, nurturing women who have held me in their bosom and let me cry and cry. All of the women who have showed me through example, what it means to be strong, to be intelligent, to be creative, to be beautiful, to be a woman. I honour all of the missing Indigenous women—many of whom were mothers and all were daughters of mothers who grieve for them. Today, I also honour the mothers in Ukraine (war), Shanghai (endless lockdown), Afghanistan (oppression), and India (extreme heat), and elsewhere around the world who today are enduring unbearable conditions while trying to raise children or grandchildren. And I honour my son’s grandma, Lorraine Danser who always has a smile and hug ready for Chatie. I honour my grandmother, Rose Delna Nabess (Ducharme) whose name I carry and who passed away when I was 12 years old. Finally, I honour my own mother, Barbara Lucille Jashyn (Nabess), who passed away nine years ago and never got to meet the miracle of her grandson. May your strength and beauty be reflected in some way in my own life. And may I be a “Mother” to those around me in their moments of need.

Worm Moon


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A Discovery of Worms

            As a young child my time in the city was often spent in lower income housing, moving to a new home almost every year. When I was five, we lived in a townhouse on a busy street just a short distance from a power substation. There were no parks in our neighborhood but my younger brother and I soon discovered the hedges that were planted all along the brick wall that surrounded the substation. Ignoring the tower and the thick buzzing cables, we would find the small opening and disappear behind the hedges, crawling on our hands and knees along the entire length of the wall. This was our own private piece of nature; a secret world that no one else seemed to know existed. 

On one visit, it had rained for a few days and we were thrilled to discover a large number of earthworms near the surface of the dirt behind the hedges. We had never seen so many worms together in one place and were both delighted and fascinated. I found an old margarine tub in a pile of garbage nearby and together we filled it with worms. We carefully carried our treasures home, intending to keep them as pets. When we arrived at the front door we proudly presented the margarine tub to our mother who looked at the worms with disgust. Then seeing our filthy hands and clothing, she ordered us straight upstairs to the bathtub. She made us leave our worms outside on the doorstep while we bathed and later, when we snuck out to retrieve them, they were gone. I remember crying and feeling that I had lost something precious. 

Thirty-five years passed. It was my second year living here at the cabin and I had just finished writing my Masters thesis and was looking for a fulltime job. This was not by choice; I needed to pay my mortgage. I found a temporary position with the Government of Alberta (with the Ministry of Education, Department of First Nations, Metis and Inuit Education—perfect as my graduate degree was in Educational Policy Studies specializing in Indigenous Peoples’ Education.) Unfortunately the office was located in the city and required an hour and a half commute each way. I promised myself that this was just a temporary situation until I found something closer to home. In the meantime, it meant waking up at five o’clock every weekday morning to walk my dog, dress, make a smoothie, and leave home by six in order to be at work by seven-thirty. It also meant going to bed by 8 pm every evening.

My body soon became accustomed to my new schedule and I grew to love those early walks in the woods behind the cabin. At this strange in-between hour it would still be dark when Lucy and I left home. As we walked, the sun would slowly peek up over the horizon and by the time we arrived home it would be daylight. On clear days, this early light was often deep yellow in color, giving the morning an otherworldly quality. There were different smells at this early hour as well: crisscrossing highways of scent trails made up of animal musk and fresh scat overlaying the damp earth. Every morning I looked forward to being greeted by the hawk who would wait until we were directly under his tree before calling out to us and then flying away. There were many other magical moments and chance encounters to look forward to: fleeting glimpses of deer and moose, finding new mushrooms or plants I had never seen before, eating small handfuls of ripe berries with their burst of intense flavor, and sipping tiny cups of morning dew offered by curled leaves lying directly on my path.

One morning, I experienced yet another unexpected magical moment. Lucy and I had just arrived back home from our walk. It was warm and the ground was still moist with dew. I was a short distance from my back door when I suddenly felt a presence, or more specifically, like I was in the presence of many. I had felt this sensation once before while living in Inuvik, Northwest Territories. On that occasion, I was walking behind the government buildings in the 24-hour darkness of winter when I suddenly felt like I was not alone. I looked up and saw that I was surrounded by hundreds of huge ravens roosting on the warm pipes that lined the back and sides of these buildings. It was an incredible experience, and now here I was again twenty years later in my own backyard in broad daylight feeling that same presence again. I instinctively looked up but saw nothing but sky and tree canopy. I looked around me but no one was there. I finally looked down at my feet and was amazed to see that all around me on the surface of the ground were hundreds (maybe thousands?) of huge dew worms! They were all mating, paired together in their 69 positions. I held my breath and remained very still, not wanting them to suddenly disappear but they didn’t seem to be too concerned by the presence of this human. I watched them for at least ten minutes when I decided that I just had to go and get my camera to document this experience. When I returned a few minutes later, the worms had all disappeared without a trace. I was disappointed but still deeply moved by the experience. What a privilege to be given a glimpse of something usually hidden from human—and early bird—observers! I had so many questions: Do earthworms always mate above ground? Do they always mate in large groups like this or was this coincidental? Did they mate nightly, weekly, monthly, or annually? How did all of the worms know exactly when to come up to the surface to mate? Was it timed by the Moon or was there some kind of communication among the worms? 

I realized how little I knew about earthworms but the fascination of my five-year-old self had been reawakened and I now carried these questions inside of me like a margarine tub full of treasure. All I needed now was an opportunity to do a bit of research and to spend more time with worms, observing and learning from them. I did not have to wait long. A year and a half later I gave birth to a child: a little boy who loved nothing more than to play in the dirt, searching for worms.

Wolf Moon—and my Interpretation of the Legend of La Loba


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Today is Wolf moon and if you know anything about me, you know that I love wolves. I was first captivated by wolves as a very young child and they have visited me in my dreams throughout my entire life. When I first moved out to the cabin a wolf appeared close by and I took it as a very good sign that I was in the right place at the right time. Last summer (ten years later), I saw another grey wolf standing out back next to my goose tractor. S/he was very still and relaxed and after looking at each other for a few minutes s/he quietly stepped into the woods and disappeared.

I first read the story of La Loba, or “Bone Woman” in Dr. Clarissa Pinkola-Este’s seminal book, Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype, and like many women, it touched me to the core. The story I share here is my interpretation based on my own intuitive experiences with La Loba.

Bone Woman

You may have heard of her. You may have seen her in your dreams or caught her reflection in a still pond looking back at you. Or while sitting around a fire you may have heard the faint, faraway sound of her singing carried on the night wind. If you are really lucky and have ever been to the wild and loneliest places in the deserts and mountains of northern Mexico, you may have even caught a glimpse of her—a silvery gleam in the eye or a flash of shaggy tail under a rough skirt that is frayed at the edges. She has many names but I am told that her people refer to her as La Huesera, “Bone Woman,” or La Loba, “Wolf Woman.” 

She is very, very old. She is small, hunched over, deeply wrinkled, and has gnarled and bony—but surprisingly strong hands. She works tirelessly at her one important task: to search and find and gather bones—especially wolf bones. Each day, she wanders and walks, eyes to the ground, searching. And when she finds one, she picks it up, tucks it into the folds of her skirt and lovingly carries it home. 

She does this endlessly and when she has finally collected an entire wolf skeleton, she carefully assembles it, each bone in its place on the ground. And when the Moon is full and the air is thick with magic, and breath, and completion, the old woman sits by her fire deciding what song she will sing. When she is ready, she stands and raises her arms above the skeleton and sings her chosen song, quietly at first, then louder with each repetition. As she sings, she prays, and in the flickering flame of the fire and the silver-white light of the Moon, you begin to see the wolf skeleton slowly begins to flesh out. She continues to sing and soon the skeleton is fully fleshed out and tinged with fur. She sings some more, and louder, and soon there is a tail… and ears… and whiskers… and claws… and a moist, black nose. She sings some more, her hands and arms gracefully moving, and finally the wolf begins to breathe… As the Old Woman reaches the end of her ancient song, the wolf opens its eyes, gets up… and begins to run. And as it runs, if you are lucky and the Moon is bright, and if you squint your eyes just a little, you might see that the wolf is suddenly transformed into a woman, who continues to run, wild and free, laughing into the night.


Pinkola-Estes, Clarissa. (1992) Women who run with the wolves: Myths and stories of the wild woman archetype.

A brief history of our cabin—built by Gerald and Miriam Hutchinson, and its’ unique relationship to Rundle Mission on Pigeon Lake, Alberta


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I remember the very first time I visited this cabin. It was mid-August 2010. I had recently left my old life in the city behind and was now in search of a new home “in the bush.” I spent many days searching, driving down quiet country roads off the beaten path just waiting for that special gut feeling when I’d know that I had found it. I had explained to a realtor that I was looking for a secluded property surrounded by wilderness and was annoyed with him when he announced that he was showing me yet another cabin on Pigeon Lake. The last time we were out here he had shown me a tiny clapboard cabin on a property the size of a postage stamp with neighbors just a few feet away on both sides. Oh yes, and an asking price that was double my budget. I reminded him that I was not looking for a lake property and that Pigeon Lake was far too expensive for me.

“This one is different.” He replied as he drove us toward the lake.  “It’s a special property. You have to at least take a look.”

We pulled up to a large pan-abode cedar cabin with a huge stone chimney. It was beautiful but my eyes were drawn to the woods beyond it. I got out of the realtor’s car and the first words out of my mouth were, “Show me the land.”

The owner, Terry, was there and I was happy that he was available to answer all of my many questions. As we walked through the property and cabin he told story after story of the local history here and the significance of this special place.

In the 1940s the Freiman’s owned and operated a mill here and many homes built in the city of Leduc (40 minutes away) were built with lumber from this very mill.

But here is where the stories got really interesting. Forty years ago, Reverend Dr. Gerald Hutchinson and his wife, Miriam, retired, bought this land from the Freiman’s, and built this cabin here. Hutchinson had worked in the area as a United Minister since 1949. Being of a deeply curious nature, he had asked the simple question, “Why is this area called Mission Beach?” No one around here really knew the full story and so he spent the next fifty years of his life researching the early contact between the local Aboriginal peoples and Protestant missionaries.

He was particularly interested in Reverend Robert Rundle, chaplain to the Hudson’s Bay Company at Fort Edmonton. Rundle started a mission here with the First Nations people of this area in 1840. Having lived in Banff when I was younger, I was familiar with the famous and picturesque Mount Rundle and was surprised that a man who had had a mountain named after him in the Rockies had also spent time working with Aboriginal peoples, helping them farm the land, right here on the shore of Pigeon Lake. 

For Rundle the good news was showing somebody that they could plant seeds and grow food. He longed for a place to do this. He couldn’t get permission to proceed with that plan because of tensions developing beween James Evans, who was Rundle’s superintendent, and the Company. And as long as Evans was involved, little else would happen in terms of missions. It was only after Evans died in 1846 that the Company would say”okay” [to a mission outside of Company houses]. They sent an assistant out to work with Rundle and in turn, Rundle chose this place to begin the practice of agriculture in this region.

~Gerald Hutchinson, A Mission on Grey Wooded Soil

Very little was known about Rundle and so Hutchinson knocked on doors speaking with local peoples. Then he and Miriam travelled to England and Australia gathering fragments and piecing together the stories and history of Rundle and the time he spent here on Pigeon Lake. He wrote and published three books on this findings, including The Rundle Journals, 1977; The Meeting Place, 1990; and A Mission on Wooded Soil, 2009.

In 1956, he established the Rundle’s Mission Society and two years later, the Rundle’s Mission Lodge was built just a few minutes’ walk up the road from here. In 1965, the Mission was formally recognized as a National Historical Monument. 

In his university days, Hutchinson had studied agriculture at Olds College. Having grown up on a farm in Duhamel, Alberta, he had a lifelong passion for the grey wooded soil of this area as well as a deep desire to help the farmers and Aboriginal peoples who lived on this land. Gerald and Miriam lived here in this cabin for thirty years until Miriam needed to be closer to the city for medical reasons. They sold this property to Terry who was a close friend and board member at the Rundle Mission Society. He and his family had owned it for ten years but were now moving west and wanting to sell it to the right person.

The property for sale was only 1.7 acres but it was backing onto 150 acres of protected land (220 acres in total if you count land across a highway), which were donated by Gerald and Miriam to the Conservancy of Canada.

As we continued to walk the land and tour the cabin things just felt right. I loved everything about this place, the ramshackle greenhouse made of reclaimed window panes, the huge slabs of stone and petrified wood that Rev. Hutchinson had singlehandedly hauled back from Jasper on a homemade wooden trailer behind his Volkswagen Beetle, the botanical fossils in the grand fireplace, and all of the other interesting rocks that he left behind here. I loved the eleven huge spruce trees (I call them “Grandmothers and Grandfathers”) who stand in a protective line behind the cabin (Miriam made Terry promise that he would never cut those down) and the way that the property was so interesting with its sloped land and the absence of any straight lines. I love the way the property was edged by two small canyons and surrounded on three sides by the protected land and the lake on the other side (across the road and behind some trees).  

As Terry and I talked, I shared my Metis background, that I also was a writer, educator, and gardener; and that I also had a deep love of the land. Terry was warm and friendly but as I was leaving he let me know that his asking price was firm and that he could not go a penny less. My best possible offer was considerably lower and I was amazed when it was accepted! Terry told me later that he knew I was “the one” the moment I got out of the car and said, “Show me the land.” He really could not imagine selling Gerry’s cabin and land to someone who was just looking for a recreational lake property and said that he had actually turned down a few offers already. After spending time with me he knew that I would love Gerry and Miriam’s cabin and land as much as they did and that I would take very good care of it. He also thought it was right that after all of the work Gerry had done with Aboriginal peoples that this place would now be owned by a Metis woman who could appreciate the scope and significance of Gerry’s work.

Six weeks later, on September 30th, I finally took possession of the cabin and arrived in the late afternoon with the key and a U-Haul truck full of my possessions. The sun was shining brightly and it was as hot as a summer day despite being early Autumn. The sky was a vivid blue and the trees had all gone bright yellow and orange. A breeze was teasing the leaves out of the trees and they fell like a gentle, swirling rain. I sat alone on the front deck of this beautiful cabin watching the indescribable beauty of the falling leaves for a long time. The beauty of surrender, letting go…  I realized that I was in a mild state of shock and not fully able to understand how it was possible that I was even sitting here… That after waiting for years—decades—in the city that this gorgeous cabin and land were my new home… 

As I continued to sit and marvel at the beauty of the falling leaves the sun began to sink lower in the sky. Suddenly the light shifted and everything was now bathed in a rich golden light. The sky was now golden, my bare arms and legs looked golden, I am sure that my red hair must have looked like it was on fire, and the leaves that continued to fall and swirl were also pure gold. A few landed on me and I did not brush them away, but instead, completely surrendered to the medicine and magic of this place. 

I spent that first night sleeping on an air mattress in the living room. When I awoke I opened the living room curtains and was amazed to see a huge Great Horned Owl sitting on the arbor about 15 feet away. I held my breath as I watched it for a few minutes, then it swooped down to the base of a large apple tree where it effortlessly caught a mouse and then flew away. A few days later I saw the owl again in the back yard. 

A year later, I had the honour of having Gerry, his son, Ken, and Ken’s late wife, Jean, over for a visit here. We also attended his huge 100th birthday party at the Mission where he gave a delightful speech and received a plaque from the Queen. 

Rev. Dr. Gerald Hutchinson passed away a year later on April 14, 2015 (Miriam passed away in 2010 at 94 years of age). Gerry and Miriam’s ashes were mingled and their gravestone in Fisherton Community Cemetery located behind Rundle Mission reads, Together forever in the land they loved

What you may not know, is that a small portion of their ashes were reserved and sprinkled under a patch of wild blueberries at the edge of this property by their three children, Ken, Beth and Rob. Nowhere on earth will you find blueberries that taste quite like this. They are shockingly sweet, grow in wooded soil, and belong to this land.

This is my tenth year of living in this cabin and I never forget that I am living in a very special place with a very special story. Although I am 50 years old now the stories of this place never grow old. My son (who also attended Gerald’s 100th birthday party as a baby) is eight years old and he loves living here. He can show you on a globe the exact location of Pigeon Lake, Alberta (he once claimed he could see our cabin on the globe). As he grows, I tell him the story of two very special people, Gerald and Miriam Hutchinson, and how they dedicated their lives to telling the story of this area of Pigeon Lake, our tiny spot on the globe, known as Mission Beach.

Click here for more information on Rundle Mission on Pigeon Lake, Alberta.

A magical evening spent with Pigeon Lake Horse Drawn Rides—a fundraising event with the Pigeon Lake Watershed Association


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Yesterday evening, we enjoyed the first day of the year in a magical way—on a sleigh ride, through the woods, in the dark, through miles (and miles— two exactly) of twinkling Christmas lights.

The sleigh ride event was offered by the Pigeon Lake Watershed Association who partnered with Pigeon Lake Horse Drawn Rides as a fundraising event to support programs for a healthy lake and watershed. We were gifted with tickets by some good friends (Thank you!) and we made a donation to the Association to add to the fundraising pot. We were very excited! Although we had been on a handful of wagon rides (usually at the Village during Christmas or on visits to Fort Edmonton Park) we had never been on a sleigh ride through the snow.

The weather miraculously cooperated. After extreme cold warnings for over a week (-40*C with windchill) it suddenly warmed up to 8*C that evening! We dressed warm up for the 30-minute ride and when we arrived, we were greeted by Catherine (of the PLWA) with hot chocolate and a cozy fire.

The ride was truly magical. That really is the best word to describe it. Maybe because it was the first day of the New Year filled with promises of new adventures… Maybe because it was dark and the fire and Christmas lights glowed so brightly… Maybe because the ride was long enough that you felt immersed in the nocturnal world of the woods… Or maybe it was that hit of Baileys in the hot chocolate combined with the heady scent of horse and hay…

Regardless, Pete and Tug (two extremely large and handsome Belgian horses) pulled our heavy sleigh through the deep snow like we were feathers. Our teamster, Rus, made sure we all were comfortable and kept us laughing. He also gave Chayton (eight years old) a few impromptu lessons on how to be a teamster, letting him hold the reigns, steer, and even stopping and starting the horses. “Step up!”  (That was an experience Chayton will always remember! Thank you, Rus!) A handful of small downhills on the trail made Chayton scream with delight (“We’re on a rollercoaster!!!”) and he enjoyed trying to touch the miles of strings of Christmas lights, which were always just out of reach.

Click here to see a video of the Christmas Light Night Ride on the Pigeon Lake Horse Drawn Rides website.

Pigeon Lake Horse Drawn Rides has been serving central Aberta for over 5 years. Owned and operated by Mike Patterson and Karen Sterling, they offer many services throughout the year, including:

  • Christmas Light Night Ride
  • Daytime Sleigh Ride
  • Birthday Party Wagon Ride
  • Romantic Ride
  • Fireside Roast
  • Weddings
  • Photography (in partnership with Sterling Photography and Marketing)

They have a variety of wagons and sleighs, including a carriage, oak wagon, hitch wagon, bobsled, and sleigh (comfortable seating up to 3 passengers).

They also offer Horsemanship and Pony Exposure. 

“Our little teams of miniature horses are quiet and gentle. They provide to opportunity to learn about horses. Pony Exposure allows you to handle these little guys in a fun and less intimating way then the big horses. Highly recommended for people of all ages.”

~Pigeon Lake Horse Drawn Rides

Located close to Pigeon Lake Provincial Park, include Pigeon Lake Horse Drawn Rides in your travel plans. Come out for the day and enjoy the horses and our beautiful Pigeon Lake Watershed!

My mission is to help folks create lasting memories with the use of my horses and the beautiful province we live in. 

~Michael Patterson

Thank you to Michael for taking the picture of us last night (we forgot to bring our phone). Also, all photos on this page have been “borrowed” from the Pigeon Lake Horse Drawn Rides website (it was dark when we were there). Please visit their website for more excellent photos and video!

For more information, please contact Michael and Karen through the contact form on their website or call 780-878-1054.

Pigeon Lake Watershed Association (PLWA) is a charitable, not-for-profit environmental advocacy group made up of people who live, work and play in Pigeon Lake and its watershed. Our mission is to enhance, preserve and protect Pigeon Lake and its watershed as a healthy and environmentally sustainable ecosystem for current and future generations.

cabinorganic has finally launched our online store! (and a few challenges we had in getting here)


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On December 16, 2021 we finally (FINALLY!!!) launched our online store. I say “FINALLY” because this was something we had been talking about for three years with very little to show for it. 

I started making “Gifts for the Gardener” three years ago and sold my garden décor, photography, body care, journals, bookmarks, and a small selection of nature-inspired jewelry at markets, art walks, music festivals, and other special events. I also sold some of my products in a few stores, including Magpies Collection, and more recently, Mulhurst Bay Books & Gifts.

The jewelry and silk scarves were the most popular items and soon became all that I sold at markets. I really needed more space… I needed a store

I started researching and learning everything I could about eCommerce and setting up an online store. However, there were a number of obstacles that needed to be addressed before the store could become a reality. First, we desperately needed unlimited high-speed internet. When high-speed first became available in my neighborhood there were just too many trees around the cabin to receive the signal and so we had to make do with lower speed via satellite. On our limited plan, my son, Chayton, (who is home schooled) would often use up the data by midmonth and our internet would slow down to a crawl making it impossible to do any work online.

Last spring, we decided to try to upgrade our internet and was happy to learn that our internet provider now has mini towers that they can install on your roof. Now we are able to receive a signal without having to cut down any of our trees. And with our new unlimited internet plan we can each use the internet throughout the month without running out of data. 

A few more challenges involved needing a new computer (I was sharing mine with Chayton who often used it for school), needing to stock up on supplies and inventory (in case someone actually buys something online), and needing to get back into balance with my health (auto-immune issues).  I am happy to report that I love my new MacBook Pro (Chayton loves having the old Mac to himself), my inventory is growing as I continue making things each day, and yes, I am feeling much better, thank you.

As a mom, there was also the problem of “never enough time.” With cooking, cleaning, gardening, home schooling, and taking care of our animals (chickens, goats, geese, rabbit, dog, budgies, fish), there never seemed to be enough time left over for a business venture. Then Brian got me a new bed and I started sleeping better (and no more sore back). With better sleeps, I was able to reschedule my whole day, now rising at 5am to have three-to-four hours of precious uninterrupted time to work on the business. Brian is a huge help with some of the cooking, cleaning, chores and errands, and when I go to bed at 8pm, he spends the last two hours of his day with Chayton, watching a movie, quietly reading together, and brushing teeth.

And here we are, three years later. The store is launched and open for business! 

I will continue participating in markets, art walks, and other special events, but now I can pick and choose my favorite ones. I will post any Upcoming Events so that you will always know where to find me. I will also do more Open Houses, Tent Sales, and Wine & Cheese events right here at the cabin throughout the year. And while this is not a physical store, anyone can make an appointment to visit my studio here at the cabin to view all of my products and do some shopping in person. 

This has been an exciting milestone for us. With the launch of the store, we look forward to posting more blog posts and youtube videos. Here’s a sneak peek at what’s coming soon:

  • More DIY, recipes, projects and articles on cabinorganic blog and youtube channel
  • Homeschooling/life learning projects and articles on Red Feather Smooth Stone blog and youtube channel
  • An exciting new writing project on Delena Rose

We are looking forward to seeing where the next chapter takes us. Thank you for being an important part of this journey with us!

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Honouring the Balance of Dark and Light on Winter Solstice


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The view from our cabin. Today the sun rises at 8:49am and will set at 4:16pm

Happy Winter Solstice!

This is the Solstice, the still point of the sun, its cusp and midnight, the year’s threshold and unlocking, where the past lets go and becomes the future; the place of caught breath. —Margaret Atwood

On this day—the shortest day and longest night— we honour both the darkness and the return of the light. This balance of night and day is an essential part of the balance of the universe.

Winter in Alberta, Canada is a dark season. Our days are short and often very cold. Here at home, we spend more time together indoors near the fireplace, reading, visiting, and making music. We slow-roast our meals and bake more. We rest, daydream, and make plans for the garden for the upcoming spring and summer. These last dark weeks of winter are a time of reflection and inwardness. For me personally, this is a time of taking stock and letting go of the things that are no longer working in my life; a time of appreciating change and the freshness and new ideas that change often brings; a time of gratitude for my life and my loved ones.

Wishing you all peace, harmony, health, abundance and prosperity!


pickled eggs


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Until recently, my only experience with pickled eggs was peeking through the window of an old pub and spying on the ones in gallon jars that were lined up on the worn wooden counters. It never occurred to me that I could order one just to try it. I’m not a big fan of pickles or sour things so to spoil a perfectly boiled egg by drowning it in vinegar just seemed wrong.

Three years ago we set up a chicken coop and got our first chickens and for the first time in my life I became spoiled with a daily supply of freshly laid eggs. Once you have had this experience there is just no turning back.

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When you have your own chickens, you sometimes find yourself in a position of having too many eggs in your refrigerator. We sell our eggs to a few choice friends and neighbors but sometimes people go on holidays or just don’t need eggs that week. As our hens lay around 18-22 eggs per day, keeping the eggs from accumulating in our fridge can be a bit challenge. When I have a surplus, I bake more often, make eggs benedict for breakfast, and crème brulee for dessert. My neighbor has inspired me to try soufflé… I’ll let you know how that goes.

In the meantime, I recently decided to try pickling some eggs. Brian and his parents like pickled eggs, so I thought that if I made them at least someone would eat them. They were quick and easy to make and to my utter shock and surprise, I found that I loved pickled eggs. They are amazing on their own as a snack, chopped up in an egg or chicken salad, or sliced in half and served on a bed of greens. As I don’t like food that is too vinegary I eat them while they’re still mild, after just a few weeks of soaking in the brine.

I thought pickling eggs would be a great way of preserving our extra eggs for those long, dark months when our hens are laying less, however, jars of pickled eggs just don’t last very long in our house.


I have been using Jean Pare’s recipes in her Company’s Coming: Preserves cookbook. She has both a traditional vinegar recipe as well as a sweeter version. I love them both. Try them and let me know what you think.


Pickled Peppers Eggs

12 large hard boiled eggs, shelled

1 each: yellow, red, and green pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips

1 large onion (red, Spanish, or yellow), cut into half rings


2 cups white vinegar (I use white wine vinegar or pickling vinegar)

1 cup water

¼ cup granulated sugar

8-10 whole cloves tied in a piece of cheese cloth (or leave them loose and strain the vinegar as you pour it into your jars)

1 teaspoon sea salt

Arrange eggs a few at a time in a 2-quart jar. Place colored peppers and onions around them as you fill the jar.

Brine: In saucepan, bring all 5 ingredients to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often. Boil for 5 minutes. Discard spice bag (or strain liquid). Pour over the eggs mixture. Brine must completely cover the eggs completely. Cover and store in refrigerator at least 4 days or more before eating. Keeps in refrigerator at least 6 months. Makes 2 quarts.

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Sweet Pickled Eggs

12 large hard boiled eggs

Cold water to cover

1 large onion, cut into half rings


2 cups white vinegar (I use white wine vinegar or pickling vinegar)

2 cups water

½ cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon mixed pickling spice, tied in a piece of cheese cloth (or leave loose and strain when pouring into the jar)

Arrange eggs and onions in a 2-quart jar.

Brine: In saucepan, bring the first 4 ingredients to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil then remove from heat. Add pickling spice and swish the bag around for 30 seconds. Remove bag. Pour brine over the eggs mixture to within ¼ inch of the top. Seal. Brine must cover the eggs completely. Cover and store in refrigerator at least 1-2 weeks before eating. Makes 2 quarts.


the chicken coop in winter


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Following my recent posts on the building and setting up of our chicken coop and yard, I wanted to add a few pictures of the coop in winter. The coop is insulated and ventilated—and we have a heat lamp in there that operates on a thermostat—so the chickens are quite comfortable even on the coldest days here in Alberta.

To extend some level of comfort to the outdoors, Brian wraps the entire small yard in plastic, creating a greenhouse, which keeps the chickens reasonably warm when they venture out. The plastic traps the heat, keeps the snow and moisture out of the yard, and blocks the bitter winds. For example, on days when it is -21 degrees celsius outside, it can be as warm as -14 degrees celsius in the yard, depending on whether the sun is shining. This helps keep the coop warm day and night as the window and south- and west-facing walls are against the warmed yard.


Brian hangs the plastic in autumn and takes it down again in spring. He staples the sheets to a wooden frame, then staples thin wooden strips on top of the plastic to hold everything tightly in place. It can get quite hot in there once the weather warms up in spring so we often take the plastic down in stages so that the chickens don’t overheat but can still be out of the wind until it warms up enough to take it all down for the rest of the season.

We carefully roll up the plastic and reuse it year after year (we are on our third year and have only had to replace the door piece once as well as part of the back piece where the goats rubbed through it on the other side of the fence). So far there has been very little waste.


Here is Chayton feeding the girls their evening scratch. It’s nice for us to have a warm place to hang out with the chickens even on the coldest days.