Making myself over (or not)

Hitting my fifties, gaining more independence, and a recent health scare have started the wheels of change in motion for me.

Off on new adventures in my trusty green van.

Off on new adventures in my trusty green van.

Before this point, I had always taken care of others. From the time I was six years old, helping to toilet train my baby sister, through raising my own children, then taking care of my ill mother and others, it was always about doing for others and putting my own life on the back burner for later.

Don’t get me wrong. I did it all by choice (okay, maybe not the potty training at six) and knew that one day “my day” would come. And it has.

After finally getting over my “empty nest” syndrome and being blessed with grandchildren… After having a health scare that forced me to begin dieting and taking better care of myself… After learning that I can work at our home-based business remotely from almost anywhere… And after learning that my husband doesn’t mind if I wander off on adventures as long as I check in periodically… Now it finally becomes about taking care of me.

It’s interesting that I’m “trying on” different personae already. For instance, I’ve never worn makeup much, or fussed about my hair, but now I’m looking at different styles and colors and thinking, “Could I do/wear/use this?” Sometimes it’s yes, sometimes it’s no, and sometimes it’s maybe.

But that’s the fun of it, right? I’ll be just as surprised as you to find out how it all sorts itself out.

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New me, new language

Messing around with Instagram; this is the obligatory mirror selfie.

Messing around with Instagram; the obligatory mirror selfie.

I am trying to think of new adjectives to describe myself these days. I used to use younger-sounding ones like “nerd girl” and “explorer chick,” or maternal-sounding ones like “da mama.”

But in this time of redefining myself I realize I need to come up with updated words to define the redefinition… if that makes sense. One I particularly like is “Far Seer.” You’ll be hearing more and more from Far-Seer in days to come.

I’m an elder now, not a girl. I still love to travel and learn and laugh, but there is a whole lot more wisdom and experience behind my adventures than there ever was. I need to learn how to start expressing that.

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New adventures – let the fun begin!

My husband and I have long argued back and forth about selling the house and retiring somewhere a little warmer and less expensive.

We currently live in Calgary and, being a country girl, it is really starting to wear on my psyche. My vote was to sell and move to BC (where I grew up) but my husband wants to retire in place. He is also worried about losing equity in the home and becoming a pauper… All the things guys worry about, where we adventurers know we’ll be just fine wherever we land.

So what did we do? Well, at first we argued. A lot. Neither one could convince the other of their viewpoint.

Then, we compromised…

What if I spent part of my year in BC, closer to my grandchildren, and part of the year here at home? Perfect! I have recently figured out how to work on our business remotely (as long as I have a good Internet connection), so really, I can go anywhere.

And I will. I’m saving up for a three-week stint in BC in April and there I will be exploring small-town options.

The adventure begins!

Can't wait to hit the road!

Can’t wait to hit the road!

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An ancestor mentioned on a TV program

Thanks to my husband for finding this one for me!

A television program called Line of Fire has an episode named The Battle of Bannockburn. In a brief few seconds we see the story of one of our Kirkpatrick ancestors’ most famous hours.

Click here to view. Watch from about the 7:25 mark to see Professor Ted Gowan of the University of Glasgow describing the incident. (Sorry I could not embed this video as I usually like to do.)

Note that Professor Gowan calls our guy Kilpatrick. That is a variation of the name and has been interchangeable for hundreds of years.

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The importance and impact of sound

Over the years I have come to understand that noises around me strongly impact my moods and temperament, seemingly moreso as I age. That is why I have begun wearing headphones when I’m working – to block out my husband’s constant news feeds on his computer and on the TV. (It’s so darned stressful and depressing, am I right?)

When I am on my computer I usually play a mix of music and/or “sounds of nature” type productions like surf on the shore or birdsong. I find my stress levels diminish dramatically when I do, and my productivity increases.

So I was really tickled when I found this short-but-brilliant TED talk on the way sound affects us. It’s less than 6 minutes long, so do have a look.

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Thoughts on motherhood

Does anyone ever stop worrying about their kids, or am I an anomaly?


I worry about them all, even though they range in age from 26 to 38. And I have now acquired grandchildren and a son-in-law to worry about, too!

Oh, I know. I should leave them to live their lives, and I really try. I bite my tongue so hard sometimes, refraining from giving advice. I stop myself from throwing money at them (money I can ill afford to be throwing around). I work to love and accept and encourage, but not to manage them. I am often successful in doing so… but not always.

It hurts to see them struggle – financially or emotionally. Things seem so much harder now than I had it.

rob and holly 1981 - 1-cropped

A long time ago in a country far, far away…

My first husband made good money and I started out married life with a new mobile home on our own city lot and never really wanted for anything. Even after our divorce, when I suddenly found myself to be a working single mom, I had a job I loved, fun friends around me, and relatively well-to-do grandparents who loved to help out with a cheque now and then.

Still, I had my struggles and a lot to learn about life. And where I am now boils down to paths I chose and decisions I made. Did I make mistakes? Oh boy, did I! I made mistakes out the wazoo;  I like to think I learned from them.

But back to the kids…

There comes a time when you have to just let go and trust that you’ve given them the smarts and courage to live their own lives and let them deal with their successes and mistakes. Maybe I had a tougher time letting go than some (I battled empty nest syndrome for YEARS), but I am mending and backing away from meddling.

Besides, managing my children’s lives gets in the way of living my own life fully, and lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do with the second half of my life. All my life I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about and caring for others, from the time I toilet trained my baby sister when I was six.

Now it’s time to start thinking about me.

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Let’s get this party started


Last summer’s trip to Alkali Lake Ranch, a place of mucho family heritage.

I’ve been non-blogging lately – not because I have nothing to write about. I have had some adventures and a family reunion or two, but I’ve been very busy with volunteer work and life and… stuff.

But now I want to come back to my little blog and start nurturing it again. I think it has potential, both for sharing family research AND for exploring my life and my self. Maybe as a tool for inspiring myself and others to still more learning, experimenting and hilarity.

Does that make sense?

I am a 50-something gramma with the other half of my life ahead of me. I’ve got things to do! Bring it.

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Vintage film of Alkali Lake in 1946

I’ve written about Alkali Lake a few times. It is where Herman Otto Bowe settled and where the wild football game great uncle Sam wrote about took place.

So, imagine my surprise and joy when cousin Bernice posted this amazing video on Facebook. Many of these people could be family – I just wish I knew who.


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Convoluted family links

The more research I do, the more confused I get about our family history. For instance, I am trying to make the leap “across the pond” from our American Kirkpatrick immigrants to specific families in Scotland. Not going so well.

The Alexanders and the Georges and the Jameses I am looking for seem to have nearly-identical families with identical names, all in the same area. And none of them left good records, that I can find. Or maybe I’m not looking in the right places…

But it’s a good mystery. One I can sink my teeth into. And if I can prove the lineage, I can link us to very ancient and sometimes royal family ties.

I know it’s been awhile since I posted but I am back in the research saddle again, so keep an eye on this little blog.

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Emma (Bowe) Kirkpatrick

Emma (Bowe) Kirkpatrick. In her beautiful face I see my grandfather's, along with some of my aunties' faces.

My great grandmother Emma’s marriage to James Douglas Kirkpatrick was the point where the Kirkpatrick line first merged with the Bowe line, back in the day. Great grandma was quite the extraordinary woman.

Born 8 March 1872, Emma was the daughter of Herman Otto Bowe, a German, and Quilinick “Caroline” Pasho, a Shushwap girl and the daughter of Chief Pasho. She had three brothers – Henry, Fritzee and John – and one sister, Charlotte.

From what I’ve read about Emma, she was legendary – a woman full of energy and fire. Here are a couple of quotes I found about her:

“She was a promising child and her parents expected great things of her.  She completed all of her schooling in New Westminster and then went to Chicago with her father to see the World’s Fair and to complete her music studies.  She was a gifted musician and artist.  She was also a keen horsewoman and could shoot a rifle with great accuracy.  She had only been home a year or so when a group of musical Kirkpatricks came to surprise the Bowes with a visit… They danced until day light and breakfast was announced by the voluntary cooks.

“The second night Emma Bowe went to the Indian Village which was less than a mile from the ranch house.  She invited the young folks to come down and take in the dance. They were all good dancers, as they had been dancing for years in their own hall, so they came eagerly and had an enjoyable time.  There was no discrimination, they mixed and danced and had more fun than the previous night.”

~ Kirkpatrick Gold, June 15, 1992 edition

Somehow I came to possess a medal that Emma got at the Chicago World Fair when she was there. It is on a worn little ribbon and is one of my most cherished possessions.

And this quote from one of Great Uncle Sam’s writings:

“[Emma was a] remarkable ranch girl of a bygone period… she was more than a remarkable woman, she was a rare specimen of humanity. She was a planner, a manager.”

Source: A Short History of James Douglas Kirkpatrick, by S. D. Kirkpatrick, 1963

Jim and Emma had 11 children, some of whom I have written about in this blog: Anna Christine “Nana,” Alice Isobel (“Aunt Alice” in this post), James Douglas II, Francis Ludwig “Lud,” Charlotte May, John Gillham, Elsabe Violet, Jean Caroline, George Theodore (my grandfather), Olivine Emma “Ollie,” and Samuel Thomas.

All went on to have children, except Jimmy, who “died for freedom and honour” at Vimy Ridge, France, in World War I. Great grandma Emma saw his death in a waking dream as she was dozing one day. She was not surprised when she received official word, but she was deeply grieved.

Great Uncle Sam’s writings are a great blessing for we researchers. He was gifted with being able to paint wonderful pictures with his words and the following tale illustrates Emma’s pluck, determination, and horsemanship.

“The following year, I came to town and Jim was there. He said that he had taken a job at the livery stable and was, at present, breaking horses to the harness, to be used on the stage lines to the Cariboo. He said the family was with him and Emma was running a restaurant in town, so I paid them a visit and stayed with them a few days.

“That evening Jim said to Emma, ‘I have a job for you.’ Some society group in Victoria wanted 6 saddle horses for ladies’ use, gentle and well broken to the side saddle with a lady rider. Jim said the manager had left it up to him, now he said I am leaving it up to you.

“Apparently, this appealed to Emma. She smiled and said, ‘I’ll be there at 8 tomorrow morning.’

“Now, it may be as well to mention that it had been said those that knew the facts, that Emma had broken many wild horses with a stock saddle, and had ridden bucking horses on a side saddle.

“Anyway, I was loafing around the barn at 8 a.m. when Emma came along wearing a long riding skirt that she had to hold up off the ground. Jim had saddled a well broken horse that they had on hand for hire. Jim led him to the middle of the street and boosted Emma up on the saddle. The horse paid no attention to her till Jim let go of the halter and walked away. Then he noticed something strange; his ears pointed back and the whites of his eyes showed. She let him stand while she patted his neck and gave him horse talk. Then she shortened up on the left bridle rein and pulled his head around towards the skirt. He glared at it but made no move. Emma took her time. She allowed him to straighten out, then the performance was repeated.

“This time, he was not afraid of the skirt. When she got him back to normal position, his ears were pointing to the front. It was then she tightened up on the bridle reins and chirped to the horse to move ahead, which he did, with a spring to his step, as if he was prepared to go into action, but he soon quieted down to a natural walk. Two blocks down and back, a rest period, another trip… this time she came back at a trot. The third trip she walked him to the turning point, then suddenly she let out a ‘Yippee!’ and hauled him roughly to the left, then slapped his right shoulder with her riding whip and used the English spur on her left foot.

“The horse whirled and broke into a gallop. She increased it to a dead run. When they came to the starting point, she hollered ‘Whoa!’ and hauled roughly on the bridle, stopping him in two jumps. She slid down without help, went to his head and made herself acquainted by rubbing his face. Scratching his ears, she talked to him. She lifted his upper lip and looked at his teeth. Then she drew a laugh from the spectators when she pulled the horse’s head down and whispered in his ear, then winked at the crowd. She stroked his neck, his front leg to the hoof, she picked up his foot, tapped his shoe with a rock. She didn’t only put on a show – she put the horse entirely at ease.

“Then she said, ‘Come on, Buster. That will be all for now.’ She headed for the stable. Buster followed her on a slack rope.”

Source: A Short History of James Douglas Kirkpatrick, by S. D. Kirkpatrick, 1963 (I have tidied up the spelling and punctuation a little to make the reading of the tale flow more smoothly.)

James and Emma and their family. My Grandpa George is sitting on Jim's lap. (Click to view a larger image.)

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