Merry Christmas 2016

Where have the days flown?
It’s already Christmastime.
Sit to write my seasonal message.
This Christmas it MUST rhyme.







Cowboy Poetry’s my new passion.
But, you ask, what does THAT mean?
It’s horses and cows and country life
And even ranchers’ washing machines!

Folks gather to hear the music
And cowboy campfire poetry.
Through song and country rhymes,
We keep alive, our western history.

Shelley at Kamloops

Shelley at Kamloops








In March I was in Kamloops
At their Rising Star poetry contest.
I placed and I’m invited back
As a professional performer and guest!

I attended poetry gatherings
Last year, in Canada and the USA,
With my retired sister/friend, Loree,
In our fifth-wheel, down the highways.

I learned to haul that fifth wheel
With a three-quarter-ton pickup truck.
But the one thing that I’m most proud of
Is I learned how to back it up!

Sacred Reading Space

Sacred Reading Space








I moved eleven trucks of soil and rock
Into Harmoni’s beautiful backyard.
Built a sacred space for reading.
Don’t need a gym for muscles hard!

I came close to committing suicide:
Accidentally slashed my own wrist.
Only had to drive to three walk-in clinics
To find a doctor who would stitch!

In June I became a Funeral Celebrant
To tell the stories of the dead,
Who have their own ideas about
The funeral service and what is said.

I’ll have read my thousandth book,
Since 2007, to the last day of this year.
It’s been the adventure of a lifetime.
To my education, I’ve added years.

I think I’ll go back to only two books a week.
It is time I finished writing a few.
If you’ve read any good books lately, though,
I’d still love to hear from you.

Dove's 16th Birthday

Divot’s 16th Birthday








Divot, the golden Wonder dog
Is on Christmas seventeen!
The vet says she’s sure Divot’s
The oldest Golden Retriever she’s seen!

Divot still goes for daily walks,
Not more these days, than ’round the block.
Still likes to sniff out luscious smells
But sometimes her hind legs simply balk.

All my girls are doing fine.
In January, daughter, Harmoni
Begins a course online
For a degree in psychology.

Jasmine and Rhythm

Jasmine and Rhythm










Grandtoy, Rhythm continues dancing:
Performed in the Moscow ballet
Calgary Nutcracker performance.
Hopes to be choreographer one day.

Grandtoy, Jasmine took up the ukulele.
In only two weeks she was playing some tunes!
She seems to excel at whatever she tries.
Who knows: maybe first woman on the moon?

Daughter, Rachel has a new book soon,
Added yoga instructor to her CV.
Seems that girl is always on the run.
Some people say she’s a bit like me!

As usual, my plans for 2017
Are ambitious, to say the least.
I’ve had enough of famine;
I’m ready for a feast!

Between poetry and publishing,
Presenting and pontificating,
I plan to perform more, professionally,
Plow into next year’s posterior, celebrating!

Everyday, we all have plenty to eat,
More clothes than we can ever wear.
We have no wars plaguing our streets.
In our world, these privileges are rare.

Let’s be thankful for the many blessings
We all enjoy each and everyday.
My hope for you in the New Year
Is that Gratitude’s here to stay.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas,
Creating friends and family memories.
May your tears, next year, be tears of joy,
And your days overflow with “tee-hee-hees”!



My Finishing Mom


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I am blessed to have had three mothers. My first mother, of course, gave birth to me. My grandmother assisted in my rearing; I consider her my second mom.

Then there is my ‘finishing” mom.

I call her that because she finished the job of raising me. You see, I was 17 when I married her son and like most 17-year-olds, I thought I was pretty smart. In reality, I knew nothing.

Through her open heart, smiling face, undying service and unconditional love, she gave me many tools that have shaped my life.

We bury her today. This is my tribute to Mildred Olsen.

My grandma met Mildred through work. They became fast friends. Grandma started attending the church down the street and found the Olsens attended there.

That’s where I first met my third mom. I remember her incessant smile. I also remember sitting behind her and seeing her rearrange the sausage curl at the end of her hair.

I was 14 and had an immediate crush on her son. Three years later I became her daughter-in-law and she became my mother-in-law, a title she hated because of the negativity surrounding mothers-in-law and the ensuing jokes. She worked hard to dispel the stereotype and she achieved that.


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She always treated me as though I were one of her children.  My Christmas and birthday gifts were as generous my sisters-in-law’s gifts.  She both praised and scolded me (gently) as if she were my own parent. I never resented it. In fact, I loved the feeling of family she instilled in me.

I imagine she was taken aback by my ignorance of keeping a home.  As the oldest in my family, I was expected to labour outside on the farm. The extent of my kitchen skills were peeling potatoes, setting the table and washing dishes.

She taught me how to cook. Not so much taught, but allowed me to observe and ask questions. I often helped her do her Christmas baking. I learned how important food presentation is. The tomatoes weren’t simply sliced, but neatly arranged on the plate. I still serve tomatoes this way.

Her apple pie was legendary. In fact, Pastor DeMaere told me she made the best apple pie he ever ate and he had been served thousands of slices of apple pie over the years. A roast beef dinner evokes sweet memories of her Sunday dinners.

Not only did I learn how to cook in her kitchen I learned hospitality. Mildred loved nothing more than having company. Out would come the coffee and squares or cakes. Her reward for serving her guests was their company. That suited me well. I am thankful I learned hostess etiquette at her side.

In her kitchen I also learned how to clean. Her kitchen gleamed. Everything was wiped down daily and because of that regularity it was easy to keep it up. I will never claim to be as meticulous as she was but I learned how nice it feels to work in a clean kitchen.

Her message was consistent: whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability. Go the extra mile. Make it look beautiful just because.

I used to marvel at her energy. She was the first one up and the last to bed, always working, always doing, usually for others.

When my babies came, she taught me how to care for them. She was their second mom and I always felt comfortable leaving my children in her care. I knew she loved them at least as much as I did. I am forever grateful that my children got to have all those comfortable memories of time spent at Grandma’s.


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She was our moral barometer. When the girls were teens and trying out racy language, they would claim it wasn’t so bad. “Would you say it front of Grandma?” They would hang their heads, “No.” Settled. If we were ashamed to do it in front of Grandma it was likely shameful.

She and I used to talk for hours on the phone or play games Sunday afternoons when the men were napping off their big meal. Those conversations shaped my thinking. Mildred also influenced me by sharing her self-help library. To this day my reading includes self-help books, which most people find boring.

Mildred had class, quiet dignity. She genuinely cared about people. She was happy in her roles of wife, mother, grandmother and homemaker.

Luckily, I see Mildred in my girls. R____ has her darker skin and hair and voluptuous figure. She reveals her pain through her eyes, just like her grandma. She is also meticulous in everything she does. H____ shares her openness, loving spirit and her innate sense of morality.  She thrives on company too. My girls both appreciate having known this wonderful woman and they acknowledge her profound influence in their lives.

As I compile this, the memories of her love flood my mind and it’s hard to choose which should be included.  The most indelible one is this:

My grandma and Mildred were neighbours and friends for decades and forever connected through their descendents. In the last years they were in the same seniors lodge for a time.

My grandma began to deteriorate. At one point she was unable to walk to the dining room for lunch. The lodge wasn’t exactly accommodating.

One day my sister arrived at the lodge in time to see this: Grandma was perched on the seat of Mildred’s walker. Mildred, bad heart and bad hip notwithstanding, was pushing Grandma slowly towards the dining room.

This image of my finishing mom supporting my second mom, regardless of the hardship it might cause her, is the statement of how Mildred lived her life. It is how I will forever remember her.

In service to others in her own quiet way. With a smile and great love.

“There is no greater love than to give one’s life for a friend.”

Thank you, Mildred, for finishing me, for being my grandma’s longest friend and for helping me raise my daughters. I could not have walked this way without you.


Posted on February 8, 2013

My family is deeply affected by certain foods. We have gluten sensitivity, diary allergies, and we are careful about processed food including anything with sugar in it.

As a result birthday parties and other family celebrations require careful planning. We can’t just buy a cake and our traditional family recipes need to be significantly modified.

We are learning to think about food differently. Why do we need cake to celebrate? Shouldn’t we celebrate with the nutrition of whole real food?

Last evening we celebrated my daughter’s birthday with a family dinner. I was charged with bringing dessert.

As I have avoided sugar since the Christmas chocolate and goodies ran out in early January, I wasn’t thrilled about bringing a cake, imposing that unhealthy item on my health-conscious family. Even a gluten-free dairy-free cake needs sugar to make it palatable.

I had read about making chocolate pudding out of avocado and I wanted to try it for the party. I found numerous recipes online and I decided to create my own using those recipes as a guideline.

I have to say, I really outdid myself. My youngest grandtoy, J____, licked her bowl clean and then eyed the two extra servings on the platter. When Mommy said no, J____ was choked.  Peace was restored when I told her I had brought the extras so she and her sister could take them for lunch the next day.

Chocomole is creamy (because of all of that healthy avocado fat). The maple syrup sweetens it without all the harmful effects of white sugar. The antioxidants of the dark chocolate are preserved because they’re not heated.

In my opinion Chocomole is better than conventional chocolate pudding: no “cow” aftertaste and mucous buildup in my throat that I usually get when I eat dairy products.

I’ve been thinking about how I can use avocado to make other “puddings”. (If you have ideas, do share!)

Nobody would ever guess that this dessert is actually good for them. I urge you to try it for yourself.

Bon appétit!

My Chocolate Avocado Pudding “Chocomole”

adapted by Shelley Goldbeck from four recipes

4 avocados, ripe and soft

½ cup coconut milk (or almond/rice milk)

1 ounce of dark chocolate (72% or higher), high quality, dairy-free, melted

2 heaping Tbsp. high quality cocoa powder or to taste (you may use all cocoa if you don’t have

dark chocolate squares)

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

pinch Himalayan sea salt

¼ to ¾ cup maple syrup, to taste. (Or honey or agave; I expect you would need less of these).

(I add sweetener last, in increments, to avoid making it too sweet).

Portions depend on the size of the avocados.  I used medium.  Process until smooth, occasionally scraping down sides. Taste and add more cocoa powder, required. Add more sweetener, to taste, and milk, if you’d like it looser. Divide between serving cups and serve immediately, or refrigerate until ready to serve. Keeps in fridge 24 hours. Makes 8 to 10 ½ cup servings.

Garnish with fresh berries or toasted almonds.