Posted by: mparlee37279 | February 29, 2016

We Must Forgive to Live

Michael’s third book, We Must Forgive to Live, was published in 2013 by AuthorHouse, in Bloomington, Indiana.

The book is dedicated to all those who are struggling with the pain that the injustices of life have brought their way. The author hopes that they, like he, will find the peace, tranquility and wholeness that only the granting of forgiveness can bring.

Anger and hatred over past atrocities, if not resolved, often render an individual emotionally dysfunctional. Couple anger and hate with the refusal to forgive and you have a recipe for mental illness. Roger, a young 9 year old boy from the Ukraine, experiences the horrors of Stalin’s man-made famine of 1932-1933 in which his baby sister starves to death and his dad is executed for stealing a small bag of wheat. Roger and his mother escape from the Ukraine into Poland. A few years later, the Second World War breaks out. Because of their Jewish blood, his mother, grandfather and he are placed in the Nazi slave labour camps. His mother dies in the work camp and Roger witnesses the horror of his grandfather being beaten to death by an evil guard. Roger survives the slave labour camp, but with the passage of time, his grief over his great losses turns to anger and hatred. He adamantly refuses to forgive those who have caused him pain. Will Roger find the peace that only forgiveness will bring, or will the torturous trail he takes lead him to insanity? All of us can learn from Roger’s life.



Posted by: mparlee37279 | May 17, 2012

“Oh, What a Tangled Web” Dinner Theater in Bowden

St. Andrew’s Players, loosely affiliated with Bowden St Andrew’s United Church, have done it again! We held our popular BBQ Steak Supper/music/silent auction/theater production on May 4 and 5, 2012, in the Bowden Lions Hall to sold out audiences both nights. The Hall was beautifully decorated with round tables decked in black tablecloths with burgundy napkins in tall wine glasses, simple but elegant burgundy centerpieces, and a play program at each place setting, thanks to Mabel Hamilton’s magic touch!

The steak was donated by Belvin Angus, Marshall Farms and Wood Seed Farm and was barbequed to perfection just outside the hall. The community ladies helped Louise Falk and her Summit UCW team to prepare the rest of the meal and brought enough desserts to make a dieter faint! The dessert table was a multi-tiered feast for the eyes and the stomach! During the meal, Gwen Urano on piano and Herb Urano on bass fiddle provided pleasant dinner music.  After the meal, Charlie Brittain and Friends provided a delightful selection of toe-tapping tunes, including “The Mississippi Squirrel Song,” a perennial request about a squirrel that sets a church congregation on it’s ear!

Another interesting feature of the evening was the silent auction, consisting of a wide variety of items donated by individuals and businesses; jewellery, hand-made clothing, toys, wooden wagons, windmills, hay pellets, even a load of gravel. Michael donated several copies of his latest book, “Son of Sister Maria” to be used in the auction and as door prizes. Our children purchased a 1 1/2 hour airplane ride for three for Michael for Father’s Day. One of these days, Grandpa, Son and Grandson will get to enjoy that ride on a day of their choice! Our children also purchased a beautiful set of pearls for me for Mother’s Day after a fierce bidding war with several other interested bidders! Bidding was finally cut off and I was able to wear my beautiful pearls to the performance the next night!

Then it was play time! This year the St Andrew’s Players performed “Oh, What a Tangled Web,” a delightful comedy written by John R. Carroll.  On an impulse, Jan, a fifteen year old, makes up a story and the resulting complications are extremely funny. Suddenly needing an excuse (to get the day off for her sister), Jan fumbles for a moment, then blurts out that there has been a death in the family. Actually, the only thing wrong in this family is that the cat is missing. In any case, people start coming over to express their concern and sympathy. The parents think they’re referring to the missing cat and the hilarious complications just continue to multiply!

All of the local actors; Laura Stacey as Jan (daughter), Melissa Grashof as Chris (sister), Devon Bradshaw as Frank (father), Elaine Knorr as Shirley (mother),  Doug Manning as Mr Quigley (employer), Sian Richards as Mrs Quigley, Caleb Fox as Tim (friend), and Collette Radau as Cindy (animal shelter employee), did an excellent job of acting, thanks to the patient,  enthusiastic directing of Mabel Hamilton and to the countless hours of memorizing lines and practicing the play by the cast from January onward to show time!

Congratulations to the cast, to the producers, Norm Westman and Shirley Adams, to the set builder, Dean Knorr, to Sheila Fagan for doing make-up and hair, to Adam Willert and Charlie Brittain for the lighting and sound set-up, and to the many other invisible hands that helped make this production a delightful evening out!

Thank you to Mabel Hamilton for facilitating potential actors to have the opportunity to perform before their community.  Another big thank you to Norm Westmin who begins to hunt for the “right play” each January, then assembles past and future St Andrew’s Players to his house for a “read through” of the script, with tea and goodies courtesy of Marg.

Four years ago,  Michael was conscripted to  play Bascolm, a guiding spirit who comes back to earth to try to reform an earthly friend in “Rest in Peace” by Pat Cook. The following year, I played Diane, Abby’s best friend in “Cemeteries are a Grave Matter” by Peg Kehert.

There is a mixture of terror and pleasure in performing before your family and friends: terror when a well-memorized line is nowhere to be found, pleasure when you get it right and hear the appreciation of the crowd! I am always fascinated to observe how a group of individuals coalesces into a “family” as they work together on the play, sharing laughs, disasters and triumphs! It is a great feeling!

The last few years, Michael’s health issues forced us to retreat from active parts, but it has been fun to help with practices, with the banquet, and all the other details that make this evening a memorable one for the people of this community. And who knows what next January will bring our way!                                                                 Pauline Parlee

Posted by: mparlee37279 | April 26, 2012

Peace River Country Hospitality Revisited

Last weekend, Michael and I drove up to the Peace River Country to attend the Health and Wellness Conference in Rycroft. We had lived in the Peace Country from our births in the 1940’s until we moved to Bowden in 2005. The minute we arrived at the farm of our 82 year old, life-long friend, Mary Williams,  she started feeding us! We started with dessert, a delicious idea in itself, then proceeded to pizza hors d’oeuvres, to a full supper, then evening snack (in case we were still hungry!) and endless cups of tea, made from melted snow water! We looked through many books of obituaries and memorials and marvelled at the many people we had jointly known that have gone on before us. Our brains felt like pretzels trying to remember all the old connections, long buried under new experiences.

The next morning, I think our stomachs were still digesting last night’s fare when our host busily prepared bacon, eggs, porridge and home-made paska toast. Then it was off to the Health and Wellnes Conference in Rycroft. We wish to thank Sandy Isaac for getting in touch with Michael and giving him the opportunity to donate a copy of  his latest book, Son of Sister Maria, as one of the door prize for the conference. Two other former residents of the Peace also donated their books as door prizes: Tom Watson’s best-seller, Man Shoes, and Christine Falk’s Unremarkable in Light.

Roger Rymhs, Chairman of PALS (Peace Adult Learning Society) hosted the Conference.

The morning guest speaker, Karen Bass, author of three books; Run like Jager,  Summer of Fire, and drummer girl, (published by Coteau Books,)  richly described the hard work, discouragement, joy, and exhileration of writing.  She estimated that she wrote half a million words before she published her first novel, and showed us the box of manuscripts to prove it! She shared with us new research which shows that when we read about an event, our brains actually think we are there in the described action! That is the magic of reading, and for that matter, of writing. We disappear into the world we are creating! We smell, see, feel and hear what we are describing! Revising and re-doing a manuscript can go on for years. Getting a book published is another difficult task to accomplish…  No wonder it is a powerful moment when the author finally holds his/her published book, his/her baby, in his or her hands!

Lunch was delicious,  made more enjoyable by the performance of several intricate and graceful belly dances by three members of the Midnight Aurora Middle Eastern Dancers. When they finished, they solicited/dragged members of the audience to do a circle dance with them! When we were done, we breathlessly agreed that you have to be very physically fit, and a good sport too, to belly dance!

Exhibitors included Myofascial Release, Aromatherapy, Emotional Freedom Technique, Hand and Foot Reflexology, Spirit River Library and Peace Library System, GPRC Fairview Campus, Alberta Health Services Promotional Display, Ceremonies (how they can enrich your life) by Christina Cedar, Crossroads Women’s Shelter, Sensory Learning Therapeutics, Weight Watchers, and Heilkunst & Homeopathic Medicine. It was a great opportunity to explore new self- care health options.

The afternoon guest speaker was a treat for anyone who remembered “Reach for the Top” on TV.  Colin McLean, host of Reach for the Top for 20 years, spoke on “Old Age Ain’t for Sissies.” He kept us laughing and listening intently for all the “short snappers” he told.  We also had a mini- Reach for the Top Quiz in which he divided the room in half and gave us questions to answer! I am proud to say our side won, but all in good- natured fun.

The final events of the day were the draws for the door prizes. Michael was called upon to make the presentation of his book, Son of Sister Maria, to the delighted recipient, Marian Skoworodko.  Again, thank you to Sandy Isaac for handing out promotional material about Son of Sister Maria to conference atendees. Unfortunately, our supply of Son of Sister Maria books did not arrive in time for us to bring them up to the conference. Thank you to Peace Adult Learnong Society coordinator, Gail Cooper, for highlighting local talent in such an enjoyable way! Peace Country hospitality warmed our hearts once more!    Pauline Parlee

Posted by: mparlee37279 | April 18, 2012

New Exerpt from “Tanya”

Tanya’s heart was racing wildly. She desperately wanted Tom to win!

With a grin on his face, Tom threw a five-dollar bill on the table.

“Hot damn!” Lars blurted out and threw his own five dollars on Tom’s.

Had Lars known of Tom’s phenomenal strength, he could have saved himself five dollars. Tom weight lifted since he was ten and had been training hard, pushing iron at the mill for the last eight months. At two hundred ten pounds, he could dead lift an incredible six hundred and ten pounds and bench press three hundred and fifty.

They locked their hands. Jed called out, “Go!” as he took his hands away. Lars was used to a quick flip and bore down with all his might, his ruddy face contorted in effort.

Very slowly, Tom spoke. “Anytime you’re ready, I am.”

There was a loud “rap” as Lars’ knucles hit the table.

Lars, for all his bravado and BS, was a good sport. “You took me fair and square,” he called out. “What the hell have you got in those bloody arms of yours? Take off your shirt, Tom. I’ve got to see those arms.”

Tom was reticent, but Jed interjected, “Go ahead Tom, take off your shirt.”

Tom pulled his shirt off and flexed his arms a little. The muscles in his chest and arms were huge, and stood out like thick ropes.

You’re built like a damn gorilla! Lars cried out.

Tanya drank in Tom’s massive chest and bulging arms. She was so happy and relieved he won that she wanted to go over and hug him! For all intents and purposes, Tanya was completely under Tom’s spell.
Page 105

Like · · Share
Posted by: mparlee37279 | September 15, 2011

Son of Sister Maria

Son of Sister Maria, Michael Parlee’s second book, is the emotionally charged story of Maria and her son, Andrew. Maria is unable to care for Baby Andrew, so she has to give him up for adoption. We follow their lives as Andrew goes through a a series of foster homes, some good, some horrible. Maria prays for her boy every day, but also senses when Andrew is going through crisis and prays for his welfare until the burden lifts. They long to re-discover each other. Read this book to find out if their longing is fulfilled!

Posted by: mparlee37279 | September 15, 2011

New Book- Son of Sister Maria

Son of Sister Maria begins in a small coal mining town in
southwest Alberta. With a chronically depressed, bedridden
mother and an alcoholic father there is no question that
sixteen year old Maria has a most dysfunctional home life.
Maria’s life changes for the better when she meets Andrew,
a twenty-two year old service man. For the first time in her
life she feels true love and support. Ominous clouds soon
begin gathering though. It’s in the midst of World War II.
Andrew is posted overseas and isn’t expecting a leave for
eight months. Shortly after he leaves, Maria finds out she is
pregnant. When she breaks the news to her folks, her mom
attempts suicide and has to be permanently institutionalized.
There is no support from her father as alcohol rules his life. In
desperation, Maria phones her boyfriend’s folks for support.
Her world further shatters when she learns to her horror that
Andrew’s folks have just received word that Andrew has
been killed in action. Throughout her pregnancy, events force
Maria to make the painful decision that she must give her
baby up for adoption.

Baby Andrew is adopted by a young couple who soon
divorce. In the divorce the adoptive mother is awarded sole
custody of wee Andrew. Unbeknownst to the adoption agency,
Andrew’s adoptive mother has as an addictive personality.
She becomes addicted to heroin and baby Andrew is again
made a ward of the government. We follow Andrew as he goes
from foster home to foster home. Some of the homes are good
and some horrible. Throughout his troubled life, Andrew
longs to find his biological parents. Will he ever find them?

For links to the book:

Posted by: mparlee37279 | August 22, 2009

Tanya’s Childhood

Although Tanya and the twins loved to have Mom read
them bedtime stories, Tanya much preferred her dad’s ad-lib
tales of his early years. Like all kids, she had her favorites
that she wanted told over and over.

“Tell me the King story,” she’d command, as she bounced on
her dad’s knee in anticipation, “when there was deep, deep snow.”

“Back before you were born,” Jed would begin, “back when
King was still a very young horse, there was a bad snow
storm. The snow was very, very deep.”

At this stage of the story Tanya would invariably hop off
her dad’s knee and with eyes full of wonderment ask, “How
deep was the snow, Daddy?”

Jed would put his hand on top of her head and whisper,
“This deep, Tanya, as deep as you are tall.”

Tanya would climb back on her dad’s knee, and the story
would continue.

“Late in the fall a bunch of hunters got caught in a snow
storm, way back in the foothills. Three of them made a shelter
and spent the night there, but the fourth hunter decided to try
to walk through the bush to the main road and got lost. Late
the next morning, my old friend, Joe Manyfingers, stopped
by and asked me if I could help him look for the hunter. We
started out after dinner. Joe was on snowshoes, I was riding
King. The snow was so deep King would have to stop quite
often and puff. Finally late in the afternoon we found the
hunter, just about frozen.”

“Was he glad to see you?” Tanya would interject.

“Yes, he was so glad that he started to cry. He said we
saved his life. I put the half-frozen hunter up on King with
me and we finally got to a farmer’s place just as it was getting
dark. While Joe and the farmer took the hunter into the house
to thaw him out, I put King in the barn. I rubbed him down
and gave him some hay. Do you remember what kind of a
treat I gave him then, Tanya?”

“Yes, a snuff treat,” Tanya would chirp enthusiastically.

“You’re right. And do you remember if King was tired?”

“Yes he was,” Tanya would cry out. “He was so tired he
went to sleep standing up.”

“That’s right, so you better go to bed and sleep just like
King did.” Jed would conclude. Dad would hug his little girl
good night and Mom would tuck her into bed.

page 63-65 (Excerpt from Tanya by Michael Parlee

Posted by: mparlee37279 | May 20, 2009

New Exerpt from Tanya

Spending the evenings alone with Tanya gave Betty the
opportunity to sort through her thoughts. After hearing Jed’s
story, she was glad that they were separated for the nights.
The recounting of the death of his wife and infant daughter
moved her so deeply, she no longer trusted herself around
him. Now she understood why he suffered so much anguish
when Tanya was born.

On the completion of seeding, Jed, Betty and Tanya headed
back to Red Deer. Betty packed a big lunch and at noon, they
pulled off the road for a bite to eat.

Betty’s mind was in a whirl. She dreaded the thought of
spending the summer back in the city and being separated
from Jed for another three months.

“Since you told me about the horrible loss of your wife and
daughter, I can’t stop thinking of how much pain you’ve suffered,”
she began. “All those lonely nights. All your anger and hurt.”

Suddenly she reached down, took Jed’s hand and placed
it palm down on her upper thigh, leaving her hand on top
of his. Through her light dress, Betty felt the warmth of his
touch spreading over her body. Her leg was on fire. Her heart
raced wildly with the realization of how daring she was. All
she could think of was how much she wanted and needed
him physically.

“Damn it! What are you trying to do, girl?” Jed exclaimed.
“You know you’re playing with fire.”

“I care for you so much,” Betty pleaded.

“I haven’t touched a woman since Tanya died. God only
knows how I want you now.”

Jed knew he would lose his resolve if he made eye contact
with her. Fighting to maintain control, he looked down at
their hands.

“Look at our hands and tell me what you see.”

Betty glanced down. “I just see our hands.”

“And what’s different about them?”

“Well, mine is small and yours is big.”

“Yes, and mine is old and yours is young, mine is black
and yours is white,” Jed added.

“Well, so what?” Betty said, after a few moments

“So, my dear girl, I think we need to use our heads a bit, I
now have the same feeling for you that I felt for my first wife.
Still, you’re not even divorced yet and your little girl is only
four and a half a months old.”

Betty slowly lifted her hand off Jed’s. As Jed removed his
hand from her leg, he put a bit of pressure on his fingertips
as he trailed them across her thigh.

“God only knows how I long to make love to you,” Jed
whispered, “so please Betty, don’t do that again.”

“Thanks for being so strong,” Betty whispered back, after
a short pause. “I guess we’ve got to think things through
carefully. It’s just that I need you so much.”

Jed reached over, cupped Betty’s face in his hands and
kissed her on the lips. They drove the rest of the way to the
city in silence.
Page 42-45, Tanya, by Michael Parlee

Posted by: mparlee37279 | April 29, 2009

An Exerpt from Tanya

Jed took his hand off Betty’s shoulder and turned to go down the porch steps.

The fight began the second Betty stepped inside.

“You low-bred bitch,” Aaron slurred, lurching forward and hitting her hard across the face. “I’ll teach you to screw with that black bastard. I saw his hand on your shoulder.”

Betty cried out in pain and backed into the corner.

Aaron lunged at her, but never quite made it.

Half way down the porch steps, Jed was having second thoughts about leaving Betty, with Aaron as drunk as he was. He quickly re-climbed the porch steps and waited at the door. When he heard Betty cry out, he barged into the house.

Jed grabbed Aaron by the shirt collar just before he reached Betty again.

“I’ve no use for woman beaters,” Jed roared. “I’m going to thrash you but good.”

Jed hit him a good backhand across the face. Aaron’s head flopped like a rag-doll. Jed hit him several times, alternating the back of the hand with the flat of the hand.

“That’s for beating on your wife,” Jed snarled. He paused for a moment then belted him another good backhand. “And this one is for calling me a black bastard.”

Aaron’s face was a bloody mess. Still grasping him by the collar, Jed dragged him to the wash basin and poured a couple of dippers of water over his head. As Aaron regained consciousness, there was terror in his eyes. Jed lifted him clear of the floor and pinned him against the wall.

“I’ll let you off easy this time with just a good thumping,” Jed said, glowering at him. “If it ever happens again though, I’ll hit you with my fist, not the flat of my hand. If I have to do it again, you’ll be in the hospital for a long time. There’s no excuse what-so-ever for abusing your wife, especially now that she’s expecting. You get the message?”

page 2 and 3 Tanya

Posted by: mparlee37279 | April 20, 2009

A Note From the Author

Tanya is a forthright emotionally charged figment of my imagination. It is an occasionally earthy, occasionally  violent, passionate love story of a pioneer couple, Tanya and Tom Parker. From the nineteen twenties to the nineteen seventies we follow them through all the joy and pain that life brings their way.

As you begin Tanya, you are back in the mid 1920’s in the Westview Valley of Western Alberta. The western end of the valley is forested and melds into the foothills of the Rocky
Mountains. Some thirty miles to the east the valley flattens out and becomes parkland.

This is homesteader country. Being born in this era myself and having brought several thousand acres of bush land under cultivation, I can vouch for the struggle of these hearty pioneers as they attempted to turn forest primeval into productive farm land. Along with the hardships though, there were plenty of good times. Although Tanya is fiction, a fair amount of the story is true to life.

Intertwined with the struggle of these pioneers are three poignant love stories. With each there are hardships a plenty to overcome. Jed Osmond loses his wife and baby daughter in child birth. He is bitter over his loss and immigrates to Alberta from Tennessee. He befriends Betty, a neighbor lady who is pregnant and in an abusive relationship. Betty goes into labour in a blizzard. Jed comes to her aid and Tanya is born. Eventually Betty and Jed marry.

Bill and Emma Parker’s dream of a happy married life  is shattered when Bill loses both legs in WW1. Despite his disability they struggle to eke out a living on their farm. From their union Tom is born.

Tom and Tanya meet in a horrific scene when 16 year old Tom saves 12 year old Tanya from being raped by a pedophile. A few years later Tom begins courting Tanya. After being separated by WW2, they marry.  After a few years of marriage, infidelity raises its ugly head. The power of love and forgiveness eventually overcomes all and the marriage again flourishes. Financial loss and finally terminal illness comes their way. Without question, the ending of the story is both savage and beautiful.

Undoubtedly there are those who will take issue with the occasional bit of coarse language used by some of the more earthy characters. In addition there are some scenes of graphic violence and a few sexual encounters that may be shocking for some. If my words of caution don’t faze you, read on.

Some comments from people who have read Tanya:

” a beautiful love story.”

“once I started reading, I couldn’t put the book down”

“that darn book kept me up all night, once I started reading it!”- an  83 year old senior

“a good yarn”

“the courtship described very sensitively and powerfully”

” enjoyed the book and found the large font easy to read”-  retired person

“enjoyed the book”  a 23 year old

“enjoyed the themes that were running through the book. Thank you!”

Michael Parlee