The beauty never ends

In the fall of 2008, Mark and Joy van Marck celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary by returning to the site of their London honeymoon, followed by a 14-day Mediterranean cruise. Mark’s travel journal and Joy’s photography documented the highlights of their dream holiday. In the weeks ahead we’ll share some excerpts as the couple travels from the U.K. to Spain, Italy and Greece. If you’re considering a Mediterranean cruise, this will prove to be an excellent planning resource for you.

Chapter 3

Day Eight

Sunday, Sept. 7

Monte Carlo, Monaco

We had a light breakfast and then went to the promenade deck for a walk outside. We can see Monte Carlo in the distance and we’re expected to arrive about 11 a.m.

Monte Carlo…the highest income per capita in the world! The richest people in the world come to play here.

The harbour is filled with yachts. The Lady Moura, owned by the finance minister of Saudi Arabia, is the 16th largest yacht in the world and it’s docked next to our ship.

The tour we take climbs up the side of the mountain with a spectacular view of Monaco. We take many of the same streets as the famous Monte Carlo Grand Prix, the same road where Princess Grace was killed in the car crash. If you go off some of these roads it’s straight down for a thousand feet or more.

This has got to be the most beautiful city in the world. Lamborghinis and Ferraris are a common site. We stop at the famous Monte Carlo casino where the very wealthy come to gamble. 

That evening, back on the ship, we are treated to an incredible view of Monte Carlo at night. The lights, the harbour, the yachts. The view was worth the price of the trip!

Day Nine

Monday, Sept. 8

Livorno, Italy

We wake up and now we’re in Livorno, Italy. If Monte Carlo was the most beautiful, this dock is the ugliest. Apparently there is not room to dock the ship close to the city, so they put us in the container port. Nothing but cranes, containers, new cars ready to be shipped out or in. A real let-down but our buses are waiting for us and they take us to our first stop, Lucca. 

In the heart of the Tuscany province we passed vineyards and olive groves in a picturesque countryside. We visit ancient Lucca, with its massive walls and numerous towers. Much of this town was built over a thousand years ago.

Next we stop in Pisa and visit, of course, the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Built in 1173, it has a spiraling staircase of 294 steps running around the cylindrical core of the tower. It started to lean because of shifting ground at its base. They have stopped the leaning and could straighten the tower but choose not to because it has become so famous.

Lots of walking and our feet and backs are sore. Once back at the ship, Joy and I head straight to the hot pool and then for the thermal lounger. Oh that feels good! 

We have dinner reservations for 7 p.m. at the Pinnacle Grill. That’s the upscale restaurant. We want to treat ourselves tonight (boy, are we spoiled!).

Day Ten

Tuesday, Sept. 9


Today we go to Rome. We dock in Civitavecchia. It’s about an hour and a half drive to Rome. Beautiful day. We arrive at St. Peter’s Basilica. When we enter into St. Peter’s Square, it’s an awesome sight. You see it so often on TV, but to see it in person is an incredible sight. You can see the balcony where the Pope would stand and lead the service where over 150,000 people can gather. The church is the largest in the world and is a monument to Christianity. It’s decorated in mosaic tiles where the craftsmen who built St. Peter’s were able to produce a large array of colours reaching as much as 28,000 variations. The Vatican Mosaic School was established for the purpose of decorating this church. Inside it’s 32 stories high!

Next we go to the coliseum. The famous arena held 50,000 spectators who came to watch horrifying “entertainment” as live unarmed people confronted lions, or re-enacted famous battles and of course, gladiators.

Most of the famous buildings are ruins today but still give a sense of what it was like in Rome about 2,000 years ago.

It’s very hot today! So it’s tiring walking around. Next we stop at the Trevi Fountain where we throw in a coin which promises that we will return.

It feels good getting back into the air-conditioned bus. We stop at a restaurant and have a nice cold salad with lasagna and a couple glasses of vino. Very enjoyable lunch.

We start back to the ship but have to turn off the main highway because of a fire along the route. It gives us a nice opportunity to go into the town of Civitavecchia. This town is a resort town where many Romans go to get out of the city and close to the ocean and beaches. We spot a helicopter scooping up water to bring to the fire!

Now back on the ship, we again head to the hot pool for a relaxing dip. We meet up with Ken, Dianne, Carol and Derek and afterwards have dinner with them. After dinner, we head up to the Crows nest for a nightcap and learn a new dice game, which was a lot of fun. 

Wow. Another great day comes to a close.

Day Eleven

Wednesday, Sept. 10

Messina, Italy

We wake up still cruising to Messina. We pass by the Stromboli Volcano, which is smoking. It’s hard to believe that there is a village right at the base of this active volcano.

We arrive in Messina about 12:30 p.m. We don’t have a tour planned for today, so we decide to walk around the town. Joy wanted to go to the shopping area, but after a half hour walk, we find out the stores are all closed between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. From what we can see, there’s not too much to see in Messina. We do find a few souvenir shops open and Joy bought a few things. 

We stopped at a sidewalk café and ordered an espresso and a tea. Another beautiful day. Very hot. It has to be about 35 C but with the humidity it feels hotter.

We head back to the ship and decide to just hang out at the pool and relax. It’s just too darn hot to walk around.

We played “win a cruise” bingo and I came so close to winning. Just one number left to be called but no cigar. Darn!

Got together with Ken and Dianne and Carol and Derek to celebrate anniversaries. Had dinner and then got together on our balcony for drinks, and played dice to the wee hours of the night. A beautiful Mediterranean night.


Happy Thanksgiving Halloween month! 

The nights are getting longer as we’re heading for that time of year once again when, on Oct. 31, kids of all ages will dress up in costumes and travel through neighbourhoods in search of treats and fun.  

It’s also quietly become an opportunity for astronomers to connect with their neighbours and friends they haven’t met just yet.  

Halloween night has become a time when I place my telescope out on the front lawn and offer views to the various goblins, superheroes and thrillseekers dropping by for treats. Many parents accompanying their kids have also had a look in my Halloween telescope and helped themselves to views of the ringed planet Saturn or some mountains or craters on the moon.  

Is astronomy better than candy? Uncertain, but it is surely less calories. But let’s now consider the viewing opportunities for the month of October. 



Oct. 7 will be the best opportunity to view Periodic Comet 103P/Hartley 2 when it (hopefully!) glows at fifth magnitude. 

The best views will be obtained from a dark site, so using binoculars within city limits is advised. Oct. 7 will find the comet only one degree below the famous Double Cluster in the constellation Peruses the Hero. Perseus is located in the NE sky direction. 

Here’s a small star hop to assist in locating the visual field. Cassiopeia the Queen is a W-shaped constellation found above Perseus. So first look NE and locate a large W-shape high in the sky. Take the center star in the W-shape & “hop” visually down to the lower left star in the same shape.  

Keep heading down and away from the constellation until you have travelled the same distance as between the two stars in the beginning of the star hop. Congratulations, you have arrived in the general area of the Double Cluster. 

If you have binoculars, do take a moment to observe these beautiful binocular objects. Expect to find extensive, bright, colourful groupings of stars. Not to over look the original objective, don’t forget to sweep down one degree to find Comet Hartley 2!   


(When two or more celestial objects appear together in the night sky.)

For Oct. 6: If you find yourself awake and standing outside about one half hour before sunrise, don’t worry. It’s simply a great time to spot the tiny, star-like planet Mercury when it is located low on the eastern (I) horizon to the lower left of the moon. It’s a naked eye observation but binoculars are optional.

For Oct. 9: Instead of observing in the night sky, try observing in the evening sky about one hour before sunset. Look at the SW horizon for the brightest planet Venus about four degrees to the lower right of the moon. This a naked eye observation that would work with  binoculars. CAUTION: WHETHER NAKED EYE OBSERVING OR WITH BINOCULARS, NEVER LOOK AT THE SUN. This observation should be quite safe since the sun will be 27 degrees to the right of the conjunction.

For Oct. 19: Two hours past sunset, look SE to find the bright planet Jupiter nestled only six degrees below the moon.  

Meteor shower

For Oct. 21: Before dawn marks the peak of the Orionid Meteor Shower. 

Meteor showers happen when planet Earth’s orbit passes through the tail of a comet. The Orionid Meteor Shower is based upon arguably the best known comet of all: Halley’s Comet. The meteors happen as dust particles from the comet interact with Earth’s atmosphere. Showers are named for the host constellation containing the radiant point or source of the shower.  

Orionids come from the constellation Orion the Hunter but sporadic meteors come from all directions in the night sky.  Unfortunately this year, the shower will be competing with a bright moon. 


(Where and when to see them)

Evening: Venus (W), Mars (SW) (Mars disappears into the sunset later in the month), Neptune (S),
EAll evening and toward dawn: Jupiter and Uranus (E)

Dawn: Mercury (E) available only the first week of October before it disappears into the sunrise, and Saturn (E) rises higher each morning. 

Clear skies!

Warning! The following article contains disgusting imagery of disgusting bodily functions. If you cannot read through your eyelids, a Doctor of Euphemisms should be standing nearby to clean things up.

Sufferer:  What are the most painful 30 minutes a human body can endure without dying?

Innocent:  I give up, what?

Sufferer:  Having a bowel movement after hemorrhoid surgery. 

Innocent: You’re kidding!

Sufferer:  I swear.

Innocent:  Worse than childbirth?

Sufferer:  Not even close.

Innocent:  On a scale of 1 to 10?

Sufferer:  35.

Innocent:  Wow! I never knew.

Sufferer:  No one does.  

That’s right, people, no one does, because it’s a medical secret that doctors can’t divulge, because then no one would have the surgery (which of course is advantageous in the long run. Having the surgery, I mean.) 

Doctors will tell you there will be a lot of pain with your first bowel movement, but they don’t tell you that it will send you into convulsions and that it will happen with every BM for at least 10 days.  

The good news is that at Day 12, the pain is significantly less and at Day 15, you’re almost normal. But don’t believe the pamphlets that say you will be able to go back to work in three to four days. 

Those are vicious lies meant to coddle you into the operating room, where they will do unseemly things to your nether end and then put in freezing that will last for two and a half days, which will hoodwink you into thinking that you will indeed be returning to work in a day or two.

But then the freezing evaporates (along with your naivete), and during your first drug-free BM, you finally feel the full fiery force of volcano magma scorching its way down the raw column of all your surgery wounds, and you stop breathing because your brain doesn’t know how to respond to the pain except to kill you outright. 

The flames continue to incinerate you inside and out until the “flow” ebbs – and then you go, incandescent, into Phase 2. 

This is the wiping phase, wherein you must clean yourself without actually touching anything down there, and having to do it quickly to end the pain ASAP, but you can’t do it, because you can’t touch anything down there and besides, you are screaming and convulsing in pain, which tends to hinder smooth and efficient movement. 

Phase 2 is the Death Phase. 

If you survive Phase 2 (doubtful), you may then choose Phase 3 from the menu: Have an immediate warm, soothing sitz bath (suggested in the pamphlets) by resting your blistering booty on the unyielding porcelain of your tub; or simply dab the area with warm or cold water using something excruciatingly soft (my choice).    

Phase 4 constitutes lying on the bed flailing and moaning in anguish until the pain subsides enough for you to actually walk to the medicine cabinet and take four of whatever pain killers the doctor prescribed for you. 

If you are wise, you will stay loaded up on pain killers until day eight or nine.

As attractive as the pain portion of the surgery is, however, it is not the only benefit to be derived therefrom. There are the stool “softener and pusher” pills which you must take in order to facilitate (and survive) the BMs, but which you don’t want to take because you don’t want to have a BM with all the suffering it entails. 

But NOT having a BM when you need to involves a whole other kind of pain, so “keep things moving” is the advice from all medical personnel. The problem with the softeners and pushers is figuring out how many of each pill to take for your particular body, because sometimes following prescription directions can lead to “projectile pooping,” which I don’t believe needs an explanation. 

After a couple of episodes of hosing down your bathroom, you will know how to dose yourself with these helpful little devils.

Now, as pleasant as all this sounds, I don’t want anyone rushing to their proctologist begging for hemorrhoid surgery. 

It will happen all in good time and you will have your turn. 

But, seriously, when all is said and done (Thank the Good Lord!), it is over relatively quickly and it is wonderful to be rid of those hanging stalagtites ruining your “cogitative time” in the biffy. 

Cogitating in the outhouse is a time-honored activity and ought not to be trifled with by some dagburned pile of “piles.”

And so, although I would have died rather than admit it on days four through eight after my surgery (Magma and Projectile days), I’m glad that I “gosh-darned gone and done it” – to quote Shania Twain, who probably knows a thing or two about outhouses.

-Claire Helmers

• Vegreville Farmers’ Market

Open March through December, on Fridays from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Vegreville Elk’s Hall, 5002 – 55 Ave. Shop for locally grown produce, baking, meat, eggs, jewelry, handcrafts, gift items and more.

• Country Farmers’ Market

Country Farmers’ Market open Mondays now through Oct. 25. To book a table call or email 780-674-8805 or BH_MCFM@hotmail.com.

• Spruce Grove Farmers’ Market

Saturdays (9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.) until Dec. 18. Located at the Grain Elevator Site, 100 Railway Ave. (Hwy 16A, south of the tracks). Come enjoy our friendly market. Wide variety of vendors, unique handcrafted gift items and tasty homemade food. For info/tables call 780-240-5821.

• Sherwood Park Farmers’ Market 

Sherwood Park Farmers’ Market runs rain or shine every Wednesday now through Oct. 6 at Festival Place. Locally produced plants, vegetables, craft and lots of home baking. For more info email manager@sherwoodparkfarmersmarket.ca.

• Mayerthorpe & Area Farmers’ Market

Come out to the Mayerthorpe & Area Farmers’ Market every Thursday in Mayerthorpe Diamond Centre from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more info call 780-786-2523.

• Heritage Farmers’ Market 

Heritage Farmers’ Market is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays until October at Heritage Park, 50 St. and 42 Ave. in Stony Plain. Call Lisa at 780-963-2777 for info.

• Baseline Farmers’ Market

The Baseline Farmers Market is held Wednesdays from 4 to 8 p.m. in the Home Depot parking lot, now through Sept. 29. Baked goods, jams, pickles, Ukrainian food, Alberta beef, kettle corn, Kastelen sausage, hand-crafted items, and more. New vendors always welcome. Email kylawoitas@shaw.ca or call 780-760-6807 for more info.

• Barrhead Farmers’ Market (1)

Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Barrhead Neighbourhood Inn Banquet Room. Friendly market with a variety of handcrafted gift items, fresh baking and some commercial items. To book a table call 780-939-7222 or 780-785-2058.

• Barrhead Farmers’ Market (2)

Every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the multipurpose room in the Agrena till Dec. 18. Free coffee and sometimes goodies. For info call 780-674-2106.

• Whitecourt Farmers’ Market

Every Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Legion Hall (downtown) until Oct. 5. Christmas markets Nov. 9-23, Dec. 14, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For info call 780-674-2106 or 780-778-4366.

• Artwork with a Water Theme

Water! Water! Members of the Art Society of Strathcona County will be showcasing their “artwork with a water theme” – local art, various mediums, affordable prices – in the Loft Aft Gallery at the A. J. Ottewell Arts Centre, 590 Broadmoor Blvd. in Sherwood Park, Sept. 9 through Oct. 30. Open Thursdays 5 to 9 p.m., and Saturdays 10 to 4 p.m. The gift shop also features unique small items made by artists of the Society. Call Kay at 780-922-6324 for more info.

Sherwood Park Square Dancing

Square Dancing begins Tuesday, Sept. 21 at Festival Place in Sherwood Park. For information phone Wayne at 780-467-1765.

Carvel perogy supper

St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church in Carvel is having a perogy supper on Sept. 24 from 4-8 p.m. All are welcome! Tickets at the door. Adults $12, kids $6 and kids under five are free. Carvel Hall is located in the Hamlet of Carvel, five kilometres south of Hwy 16 on Hwy 770. For information check out http://www.stnicholasincarvel.com or phone Stephanie at 780-963-1541.

Spruce Grove PolioPlus fundraiser

The Rotary Club of Spruce Grove, assisted by Stony Plain Rotary, will hold a PolioPlus Fundraising Gala Friday, Sept. 24 at 7 p.m. at Horizon Stage. Featured speaker is Danny Catt, photographer, world traveller and biologist, using his own photographs to illustrate his vision for a sustainable world, a polio-free world. Information/tickets 780-960-1517 or polio@rotaryclubofsprucegrove.org.

East Parkland pig roast

The East Parkland CrimeWatch Association and the Junior Forest Wardens are having their 24th annual pig roast on Sept. 25 at the Clymont Hall, 51423 Highway 60, Spruce Grove. Tickets are $25. There will be a silent auction and dancing. Call Marilyn at 780-470-0006.

Looma Talent Show & Potluck Supper

On Saturday, Sept. 25 the Looma Talent Show & Potluck Supper will be held at Looma Hall. Doors open at 5:30 and supper is at 6:30. Entrance fee is a potluck dish. Do you have talents  you’d like to share with us? Then join us. For more info call Jan at 780-417-2897 or Valerie at 780-410-1022.

• Calahoo Firefighter’s Ball/Silent Auction

On Sept. 25 at the Calahoo Arena, it’s the Calahoo Firefighter’s Ball & Silent Auction. Doors open at 6 p.m. and auction begins at 7 p.m. Dinner at 9 p.m. Silent auction closes and dance begins. Tickets $35 per person. Adults only. Tickets available at the Calahoo stores. Should you have any donations toward the silent auction, call Dianne at 780-967-3771.

• Beaumont Garage Sale

Place Beausejour 5020-52 Ave. in Beaumont, is having a garage sale on Oct. 1 from 4-8 p.m. and Oct. 2 from 9 a.m.-noon. Appliances, books, magazines, small kitchen appliances, all kinds of household items. Come and have coffee and a doughnut and browse for treasures.

• Sherwood Park Fall Garage Sale

The Strathcona Twins & More Club is having their annual fall garage sale at 

The Park Church on Saturday, Oct. 2 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. (1 Brower Drive, Sherwood Park). It is open to the public. Loads of toys, clothes, baby items, maternity 

clothes…pretty much everything related to babies or kids. More than 30 tables of all kids stuff.

• Stained Glass Classes

Stained Glass Lessons and Workshop time will start at Telford House in Leduc on Monday, Oct. 4. Beginner lessons will run four weeks. All materials and equipment included. You will learn how to create pieces using the copper foil technique. Workshop time will allow you to work on your own projects. To register and set up a class time or for more info call Dwayne Brandly at 780-986-8664.

• Art Society Workshops

Art Society of Strathcona County presents workshops at the Ottewell Arts Centre in Sherwood Park by Doug Swinton in Oils (Oct. 29, 30 and 31). Call 780-449-0570 or 780-449 4443 for more info. Register by mailing cheque to ASSC, Box 3061, Sherwood Park T8H 2T1.

• Leduc dinner theatre

East of 60 Society is presenting dinner and an evening of mystery and suspense on Oct. 8 and 9 (prime rib) and Oct. 10 (matinee and Thanksgiving lunch). Call 587-783-3760 for tickets.

• Ardrossan United Church fundraiser

Come to an evening of T ‘n’ T, Tunes and Treasures, featuring music by the Josephburg Men’s Chorus, Belles in Harmony and Measure for Measure. Also a silent auction. Saturday, Oct. 16 at the church. Doors open at 6:15, tickets are $10. Phone Nina at 780-417-1772 for information.

• Cloverlawn artisan sale

Homespun Harvest 13th annual artisan sale at Cloverlawn Community Centre, Oct. 16, 10 a.m.– 4 p.m. Located southeast of Leduc on RR 233 and Secondary Highway 616. Vendors showcase from as far away as Spruce Grove, Czar, Camrose and Edmonton. Call Edie at 780-387-4772.

• Natural fibre day

On Oct. 23 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. come join us at Namao Hall (junction highways 28 and 37). You can see alpacas, llamas , sheep and angora goats.There will be spinning, weaving and knitting demonstrations throughout the day.Sign up and try your hand with courses in dyeing, needle felting, rug hooking or knitting! For more info call Laurie at 780-973-3532 or peetersfarm@yahoo.ca.

• Leduc Chamber Home & Leisure Expo

On Oct. 22-24 at the Leduc Recreation Centre, join us as local Leduc businesses showcase their products and services in a 3-day expo. Friday 5-9 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Sunday 9 a.m.-4 p.m. More info at http://www.leduc-chamber.com or by calling the office at 780-986-5454.

The name for the finely crafted pull-out bed couldn’t be more appropriate. The guidebook identified the lofty perch, piled high with blankets and quilts, topped with a  cover embellished with hand-made lace, as a ‘himmelbad’ or literally a ‘heaven bed.’

An exaggeration, perhaps, but only a slight one. In affluent homes the himmelbad could almost reach the ceiling. 

And the setting for the himmelbad was equally appropriate. Created around 1920 in the Rosthern area of Saskatchewan, the beautiful pine bed is ensconced in the groote stow – or great room – of one of the historic homes in Neubergthal, a Mennonite street village three kilometres south of Altona in southern Manitoba.

Across the room the glausschaup, or built-in wall cabinet, lent another elegant touch to the room, with its scalloped-top edge and glass-fronted display shelves. 

Underneath the window on another side of the room, a wooden cradle on half-moon rockers sat ready for another wee babe – no doubt many a little one has been tucked up in this sweet cot with decal application typical of the Russian settlement from which the cradle was brought in 1924. 

I came across this intriguing exhibit of Mennonite furniture and floor patterns while taking in the Manitoba Sunflower Festival in Altona in late July. The exhibit, put together through the efforts of the Neubergthal Heritage Foundation, is on until Oct. 11, offering a compact and appealing history lesson on the Mennonites who fled Eastern Europe and their imprint on their new homeland on the Canadian Prairies. 

One of the clocks ticking away in the great room came from 1865, made by the Mandtler family, clockmakers for several generations. The hanging corner cupboard shows the skilled grain-painting techniques, black trim, pin-striping and applied decals typical of this type of Mennonite cabinet.

A look at the floors upstairs and down in the Friesen Housebarn Interpretative Centre that houses the exhibit shows another slice of days gone by. From the late 1800s to the mid-1900s, many Mennonite women painted the floors of their housebarns, and some of these patterns have been unearthed from under layers of linoleum. 

Pre-1920 the patterns were floral but geometrics took over after that, “because of the lino patterns,” says Margruite Krahn, an artist who lives next door to the Friesen housebarn and who is chair of the Neubergthal Heritage Foundation. Upstairs in the attached barn Norma Giesbrecht, a member of the heritage board, was busy showing visitors around her former home. She grew up in that housebarn with her siblings and parents Abraham and Margaretha Friesen, so she knew the ins and outs of the place. 

“This door leads to the loft (of the barn),” she said, opening what looked like a closet door on the second floor of the house. 

The ‘veranda room’ – one of the upper bedrooms with a balcony leading off it – was “always a bit of a bonus for whoever had it” because it was “huge, nice and sunny.” 

These days it is home to a slew of handcrafted toys; the showpiece being a full-bodied rocking horse carved about 1910 by John Peters of nearby Gnadenthal. Although showing its years – the saddle is well-worn from many generations of children clambering off and on – the original black and green paint remains. Split sections of a buggy wheel form the rockers on this well-turned out item. 

Other interesting pieces in the exhibit include: 

Raft bench – a plain, rough bench made by Bernhard Penner from the raft that transported his family down the Rat River when the family immigrated to Manitoba in 1875. 

Immigrant trunk – not made by Mennonites, this and other trunks hand-made in South Russia nonetheless are key to Russian immigrant history. This chest has the iron handles, criss-cross tin strapping on the lid and two tin panels on the front. Elaborate floral designs decorate each panel. 

Spice box – a rare find, made from pine about 1925, with three pairs of small drawers arranged vertically with one long drawer at the bottom. The rectangular body curves to an arrow-shaped top. 

Coffin bench – made to lay out the deceased in the groote stow for visitation before the funeral. Shows typical mortise-and-tenon with decoration by way of scalloped edges in the skirt. 

The exhibition is entitled Himmelbleiw, which is Low German for heavenly blue, a favourite colour for walls and furniture because it expresses hope and joy. 

More on Neubergthal – Considered one of the best-preserved Mennonite street villages in the world, Neubergthal is both a National Historic Site and a working village. Eight intact housebarns remain. 

The village came about when the entire Bergthal Colony packed up and moved from Russia in the mid-1870s, with many settling in the newly created Province of Alberta. 

The Friesen Housebarn, built in 1901, and now the interpretive centre for the historic site, is a classic example of rural Mennonite architecture. A large, central, brick heating oven highlights the main floor. Norma Giesbrecht (nee Friesen) says she had mixed feelings on learning her childhood home was being turned into the interpretive centre. The housebarn, built by her grandfather Bernhard Hamm, of one of one of the founding families, was “this close to being mowed down” because it was so rundown. During my visit I experienced a pleasant Mennonite custom – faspa. For this afternoon coffee, I ate fresh bread baked from the brick oven at the Friesen Housebarn.

It’s autumn, 1985. The fires of fashion are raging out of control and millions of people are learning fashion sense from their televisions. 

Dynasty teaches the power of shoulder pads and Miami Vice is seducing men into a world of pastels and deck shoes. Women are defying the laws of physics in leg warmers, lace and headbands perched above Brooke Shields eyebrows. Men are swaggering in Magnum-inspired Hawaiian shirts and growing thick moustaches and designer stubble. 

It’s chaos. 

It’s excess. 

Hair can’t be big enough, makeup can’t be heavy enough and Polo cologne can’t be strong enough. 

Evening television includes the Night of 100 Stars Diamond Fashion Show hosted by Joan Collins and featuring Treat Williams and a plethora of nighttime soap stars wearing designs from Halston III for JC Penney, Bob Mackie and Oscar de la Renta. (Check out You Tube and be sure to turn up the volume to fully enjoy the disco-infused Beethoven.)

I’m 11 years old and my favourite season is here. I love fall because I’m mad about sweaters, and this year I have two new outfits of note. First, a pair of red wool plaid pants with a mustard yellow knit sweater. Second, stirrup pants with slouch socks, Keds and a striped batwing sweater. Yes, memories are made of this. Crisp September days and cosy sweaters.

Every autumn is like this for me, and friends are familiar with my love of sweaters. Even Style Guy said to me, “Well Sarah, you do love your cardigans.” Yes, all 17 of them. I love black turtleneck sweaters, argyle sweaters, Aran sweaters, Fair Isle sweaters, and the list goes on. And when I showed Style Guy a photo of my favourite hand-knit sweater and asked him how to describe it, he replied, “Ugly.”

Well, I am learning that love for a sweater doesn’t translate into said sweater being stylish or flattering for your body type. This is where Style Guy comes in. I wondered, what sweaters are hot for fall this year and who should wear them?

Here, Style Guy gives us an overview of a fall favourite.

The Cardigan – this sweater classic is as versatile as it is essential. In a variety of textures from silk to cashmere and wool the cardigan sweater can be dressed up elegantly for a night out, worn to the office to finish off an outfit or more casually with a pair of great denim. 

The Turtleneck – another fall/winter classic. The turtleneck sweater comes in several forms, but it is important to remember a few key things. First, NEVER wear a ‘mock’ turtleneck, as this is not a good look on anyone, and secondly, if you have a short neck length avoid this type of sweater altogether, as it will cut off your neck and make you appear less than flattering.

The Cable Knit – this sweater is all about comfort and staying warm. This is the perfect sweater to wear on a cold fall evening or winter’s day. Look for one that is more tailored to your body shape and size and pair with khakis or denim for a comfortable look that is still pulled together.

Colours? For women: black, brown, camel and pastels. For men: black, navy and grey.

Where to get the Look? For women: Banana Republic (WEM), Urban Outfitters (WEM), BCBG (City Centre and WEM), H&M (WEM, Kingsway, South Edmonton Common). Best bets for plus sizes are Toni Plus (WEM) and The Bay.
For men: Henry Singer (Manulife Place), Identity Clothing (Rabbit Hill Road), HG2 (Manulife Place), G-Star (WEM)

And now onto our rapid-fire Q&A, where Style Guy answers my questions and takes us through some of the more common fashion successes and mistakes. 

Who shouldn’t wear turtleneck sweaters? Anyone with a shorter neck or those who have a round-shaped face.

Women’s wrap sweaters? Yes if done correctly, but this is not a look everyone can pull off. 

Women’s long, belted sweaters?  NO, NO, a million times NO! 

One colour of sweater and pants? (Ivory on ivory, navy on navy…) This monochromatic look can work, but it has more potential to go wrong, so unless you consider yourself to be in the advanced styling category I would say to avoid this look. 

Collared shirt under sweater?  Absolutely! This is a great look, kind of preppy and dresses up a sweater for an evening out or at the office. 

Men’s v-neck with what beneath? I would recommend wearing a dress shirt with a tie underneath a v-neck sweater. This can be a great alternative under a suit or to dress up a pair of pants or khakis for the office. 

Men in cardigans? Guys should definitely wear cardigans. Again be aware of your size and body shape when selecting fabrics and colours, but this can be a great look for guys.

For more of Style Guy’s moral discourse and honeyed words, check out styleguyjared.ca and “Like” his Facebook page. Watch for the next disciple column in September, as it coincides with Fashion Week.

• 2½ cups water

• 1/3 cup thinly sliced carrot

• 1½ cups fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces

• 1 cup sugar snap peas

• 1/4 cup ice water

• 13½ oz can of evaporated skim milk

• 1 tsp garlic and herb no-salt seasoning 
     (such as Mrs. Dash)

• 1/2 tsp lemon pepper

• 2 cups whole wheat elbow macaroni,

• 2 green onions, finely sliced

• 1 cup grated light sharp cheddar cheese

• 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Bring water to a boil in medium saucepan. Add carrot. Cover. Cook on medium for four minutes. Add asparagus, peas and red pepper. Cover. Cook for three minutes. Remove vegetables with slotted spoon to ice water to cool quickly, reserving 2 cups cooking water. Drain vegetables once cooled. Set aside.

Add evaporated milk, seasoning and lemon pepper to reserved cooking water in same saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add macaroni. Cook, uncovered, on medium for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until macaroni is tender and most liquid is absorbed. Do not drain. Pour into large bowl.

Add asparagus mixture, green onion and cheese. Stir. Turn in to greased 3 qrt. (3 L) casserole. Cover. Bake in 350º F oven for about 30 minutes until heated through.

Garnish with parsely. Makes eight cups. Serves four.