I’m Turning 78 MPH into a Book and Need Your Help

blog to book

Turning 78 MPH into a real book

When I started writing my blog in June, 2015 I had no idea how well it would grow. Thanks to my editor/publisher, Colleen, who not only was a big help in making my writing more interesting by the usage of the “three C’s – clear, concise and complete” but always has an idea of what I should write for the next post. And the next post. And the post after that.

Now with 77 blog posts, more than 10,500 views and a total of 62,298 words I have decided to put it into book form, and this post will be the last entry in the book. We’re looked around and decided to use intorealpages.com to do this, we’ve tried single, double and triple column formats, different colours and options and I’m really excited to put it into print.


Part of 78 MPH’s book cover

When I print it, I will have 197 comments on the blog, but I would really like to hear what you think of my blogging, how you know me, that kind of stuff. I can’t use the Facebook comments so I would REALLY like you to comment on the bottom of this so it will show up in my book.  Good or bad – let me know. I want you to be a part of the hardcopy.

Thanking you in advance, I look forward to your comments. This doesn’t mean I’m going to stop writing — I have lots to write about — but nearly six months in, I think I have enough content and want to see what it looks like!

Golf Lessons Count at Every Age

cropped-image29.jpgWhen I started golfing over 50 years ago, I thought everybody just bought clubs and went out and played golf. Back then, nobody suggested I should take lessons first. I just went out there, and played.

I could always hit the ball a long way (albeit not always on the fairway!) and, looking back over the years, I am really surprised that the Pros or Assistant Pros at the golf courses I played at never came up and suggested to me they could help me better my game if I just took some lessons. I know now they could have made a huge difference in my game if I’d just learned the proper setup from the get-go!

It’s a funny thing with golf. You see how others swing both on the course and on the driving range, you watch the professional golfers on TV, and you try to imitate their swings. Seems to me that you end up making one of your own that in your mind looks like the ones that you admire, but if you’d ever looked into a mirror, you’d soon realize it is not. Of course, back in the days, we didn’t have iPads or Smartphones to film our swings and make comparisons to how other people’s swings are and how our’s should be. I must have played with my self-developed bad habits for at least five years before I finally took lessons, and what a difference they made!

As for scoring expectations, I figured anything under 100 and over 90 was probably great and I shouldn’t expect much better than that, since that’s how I and the people I played with normally scored in a round of golf. It wasn’t till Wade Hudyma, a golf Pro at the Wascana Country Club, saw me on the range one day who told me that by way I could hit the ball, I should be scoring in the 80’s. I was rather surprised. I ended up taking a series of lessons from him and he became my go-to Pro until he got a job in another city. As for scoring in the 80’s, it turns out he was right.

Maureen and Scott Knapp

Maureen and Scott Knapp

Just because he moved on didn’t mean I stopped with lessons. I kept on taking golf lessons from other Pros.  Scott Knapp helped me many times over the years in Regina.  Lessons are very helpful in the spring after the five months layoff with the winter months. They can help you remember what it really should feel like and sound like when you are striking the ball.

Lessons are really important AT ANY AGE.  And just because you’re older doesn’t mean it’s too late for you. YOU CAN IMPROVE WITH AGE  Take a good look at yourself.  Why do you golf?  Do you golf just because you like the fresh air and the company of friends?  Come on!  Who are you kidding anyway?  Why would you spend $$ or $$$ for a round of golf and barely break 100,110 or 120 when you could spend that money for a lesson or two that MAY have you shaving 10 or more strokes off your score right away?

Maybe it is as simple as your grip – maybe that’s what needs realignment, maybe it is your balance, maybe it is your swing. But whatever reason it is that needs help, your Pro can help you.

A couple of days ago. I was paired with a man who I’d say was somewhere in his 60’s and not playing very well. But I was! I shot 82, which was one of my best rounds of the season. He complimented me on my straight, long drives – his were errant slices for the most part – and said he wished he could hit like I do.

I told him that he could; that you’re never too old to start taking lessons and I recommended he find a pro and take some lessons. It’s quite easy to find one near you – you can even track them down through your local branch of the PGA.

And you might not just need an adjustment when you’re golfing at your home club, or in your home city, either. Although public courses quite often offer a series of lessons for one set price and I’ve taken them up on their offers, I’ve had lessons when I’ve been on a road trip, too. Every once in a while, you find someone who makes learning fun and has great chemistry, like I had with Adam Long, the Director of Golf at The Wilderness Club in Eureka, Montana. In a quick tune-up, Adam had me remembering how to turn correctly once again and I found that the shortness I’d been experiencing with my irons isn’t down to age or the clubs, as it turns out, but the turn!

With all you need to learn, to play well, YOU REALLY NEED TO TAKE LESSONS to start with!  None of this going out to golf with someone (a relative or friend) and asking them to teach you!  Chances are they don’t know more than you — unless they are a Golf Professional.

And don’t stop taking lessons. Keep going back every year (or more often) – for at least a check-up like I do. Are you in a rut? Are you continually doing something that annoys you, like a slice or a hook — — or just being inconsistent?

Stop the suffering now. Go and see a Pro.

The Links of North Dakota

links4Back in 1997, one of my friends and I went on a road trip together to play golf in North Dakota. I’d met Adele Obrigewitsch through the Ladies Club at the Murray Golf Course in Regina, Saskatchewan when we were both members, and the trip to Roy, just outside of Williston would be girls’ weekend out. A new golf course had opened down there and people were talking about it, and it had peaked our curiosity. The road trip would give us an opportunity to play some golf, do some shopping — and maybe buy some American beer to bring back home. Williston was just a little more than three hour’s drive away.

The Links of North Dakota, as it’s officially known, was built on a hill the locals have called Red Mike Hill for over a hundred years. Back in the 1890’s, Red Mike was a lowlife – a cattle rustler or a horse thief – depending on who’s telling the story – and on that hill, along the Lewis and Clark trail that is now part of Highway 1804, he was captured by a group of vigilante cattlemen and set on fire. Or hung. Whichever it was, Red Mike turned, indeed, red, and lived to tell the story and so the legend began.

Neither Adele nor I had been down to The Links to play before, but both of us had watched enough golf on TV to have an idea of what a links-style of course was. The reality is that hearing about it and actually knowing what it was — is two different things. Looking back I realize that TV wasn’t all that much help — we certainly didn’t have the high definition or 3D displays we have today to help us really get an idea of what the players were up against when they played links courses such as St. Andrews. I know better now. When it comes to links courses, playing is knowing.


The course was was breathtaking, and beautiful, and I’d have to say it was rather barren – that’s not a criticism, just the facts. Yes, there were some bushes here and there, but I doubt if there was a single tree on the entire course. Why would there be? Trees don’t grow, ordinarily, on the prairies, or in the Badlands either, where Red Mike lies. The hills on the course were mostly kept just the same way Mother Nature had designed them to be, and the greens, bunkers and fairways just added on top  to turn it into a golf course.

Rough Stuff

Lining the fairways beyond the second cut of rough was where the native prairie-style grass began. That combination of bent grass and fescues grows from 4 to 79 inches in height. It is a tufted grass and once your ball is in it, even if you were allowed to play from it, you COULDN’T get any club through this tight, long grass. That is, of course, unless you wanted to break either a club or a wrist, or both.

links3That was our second “first” for the day. Neither one of us had encountered that kind of grass on a golf course before, even though we’d heard it mentioned in golf broadcasts. The starter warned us.  He said there was no water on the course, but there were breathtaking views of Lake Sakakawea. And he made it absolutely clear: that long grass is environmentally protected and you are not allowed in for any reason. Not to look for your ball, to play it, or even retrieve it.

That was fine with us. We had no intention of going there.

Ha Ha Ha

With all those bumps, directing our balls to go hither and yon, that prairie grass was a magnet, beckoning our balls to come and visit, even asking some of them to stay! Thank goodness, the golf cars were equipped with a golf ball retriever. It’s not that we used it in the usual way, retrieving our balls from a pond or water hazard, but to retrieve our balls from the FESCUE.  And if a ball ended up there, you had the pleasure of adding a one stroke penalty to your score, that is, if you were lucky enough to “fetch” your ball from this long grass with the long armed-assistance of the golf ball retriever!

What an experience!  We lost a few balls but we loved the golf course, which, as a twosome, we practically had to ourselves. Looking back, we sure could have used some local knowledge! A caddy like Josh who I had at Coeur d’Alene would have come in handy, that’s for sure. Twenty years on, and with over 175 golf courses under my belt, I would dearly love to play this course again.

On our way home, we stopped at Lund’s Landing Restaurant for the chef’s special which happened to be freshly caught Walleye from Lake Sakakawea. The restaurant was right on the water. And with cheery red and white checkered tablecloths, it was the perfect setting for a delicious dinner after our round of golf.




November 11th and Sacrifice

Dr. Joe O'Shea

Captain Joseph P. O’Shea, M.D., R.C.M.C. 1917


They hearkened to the call and thus
They found themselves amidst a rush
Of bursting shrapnel and of shell
A veritable roaring Hell
Then fell that Liberty might live
Heroes who did sincerely give
All that they loved and lived to call
Mother, Sister, Sweetheart, Wife all
And dying what a sacrifice!
Two deaths in one and dying twice
Killed down the iron crown of might
Giving to each man a freeman’s right
They who into their graves were thrust
Still live – their tombs can hold but dust
– Joseph P. O’Shea, 1921

Dr. Joseph Patrick O’Shea, was my husband Doc’s father. He was a medical doctor, and became a Captain in the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps during World War I. He also wrote poems and prose, like his friend and fellow countryman John McCrae most famously did in the writing of In Flander’s Fields. This poem, Sacrifice, is one amongst dozens upon dozens of poems in just one of his notebooks that I’ve managed to keep, nearly a century old.

The paper and pen was often their only outlet to keep them going. I’ve heard that while the doctors were busy amputating a limb, blood saturating the floor all around them and amidst screams of agony, they would be composing poetry in their heads, trying hard not to focus on the horrific act they were undertaking. And obviously, as seen by this poem, the great sacrifices that had been made and the memories the soldier-doctor had of war didn’t stop running through his mind just because the Great War had ended.

Quebec City

In old Quebec, 100 years later, you can still find priests in the old city.

Dr. Joe (as he was affectionately called) volunteered for service. He was 37 when he signed up, five years out of medical school at the University of Laval in Quebec City in 1912. After graduating, Joe moved out to Saskatchewan, as did another physician he’d gone to school with; Joe set up practice in Radville and his friend, Dr. Parent, in Sedley.
I would be remiss not to tell you more of Joe’s life, or to write down what I remember, since there is really no one left to tell. Though Joe had an Irish name, he was born in Scotland. When his parents died, he was sent as a youngster to the USA to live with his aunt in Vermont. But she, too, died young and the boy, now an orphan, was sent to an orphanage run by Jesuits.

R.A.M.C. Picking up wounded in a captured village.

R.C.M.C. Picking up wounded in a captured village.

When Joe finished high school, the priests told him to go north, to Quebec, where he could find work on the railroad and make enough money to afford tuition. He’d be able to study in Quebec City, but although Quebec was French, they were sure he would be able to master it quickly, especially after working on the railroad. And Quebec City was a Jesuit town: the Jesuits there could help get him into the school, but the hard work would be up to him.

It took Joe eleven years before he graduated. His Catholic upbringing and humble past was a continual influence throughout his life: he and his wife Bridgetta Connaughty, who he married in 1922, adopted Doc when he was just two years old, but that is a story for another day.

I want to re-post something I found on the horrors of World War One.  If we hadn’t made the sacrifices in World War I and World War II, we would not have the freedom we cherish so much.

Canada Goes to War

In 1914, Canada was considered a part of the British Empire. This meant that once Britain declared war, Canada also was automatically at war. The First World War opened with great enthusiasm and patriotism on the part of Canadians, with tens of thousands rushing to join the military in the first months of the conflict so they would not miss the action. They need not have worried. The war would grind on for more than four years, killing more than ten million people in fighting that would be revolutionized by high-explosive shells, powerful machine guns, poison gas, submarines and war planes.

April 10, 1917

April 10, 1917


Dr. Joe was poisoned by the mustard gas in the Belgian town of Ypres. As bombs were shelling around them for two days straight, Dr. Joe and his medical team took shelter in the basement of a hotel and continued to attend to the wounded. He was later transferred to a Army base in India to recuperate until he came back to Canada.

These are some of the conditions these doctors worked under during that war. Here is an excerpt from The Battalion Doctor

It is the cold and nervous hour before the attack.  The Medical Officer is in a position immediately behind the “jumping off” line.  He has organized his staff to cover the battalion front and with his sergeant and corporal burdened with medical supplies, he waits the barrage.  As soon as it falls he moves off with the first wave of attack.  For him it is not a question of waiting in a dugout to receive the wounded, he must be with the battalion to do the ordinary work of first aid and to establish his dressing station the moment the “objective” is reached.  So he goes into the smoke and tumult of action, to take his chance and, if need be, to give his life to the service of his men.

How many owed their lives to him
No man shall tell;
over the top in half-light din,
Into the fiery hell,
Unsent he went,
Seeking  them there,
And to the depths of their despair
Came like an answered prayer.
The M.O. (medical officer) in action was beloved of every man who saw him in action.  An aid post is a grim spectacle.  There are rows of stretchers, huddled groups of walking canes, blood everywhere and the sound of suffering in the air but in the midst the doctor at his merciful work, haggard and wan he may be from sleepless nights an unresting days, but he has about him an air of authority, a suggestion of undismayed confidence which, in itself, reassures and comforts weary men.  Honour to which honour is due!  Be he the battalion doctor or the officer in the field ambulance, or the surgeon in the operating room of the casualty clearing station, or the base hospital, here is a man who through courage and devotion has maintained and advanced the traditions of a professional which from its earliest days, has stood for unselfish service of mankind.


By Heart

McCrae House

Maureen in front of McCrae House in Guelph, Ontario

There are many songs I know by heart. Take “The Wreck of The Number Nine“, for example. That’s a song that was written way back in 1927 and I’ve been performing it for family and friends ever since I was five years old – always standing up! It’s a song about a train engineer who leaves his sweetheart behind to drive “Old Number Nine”. At the end of the song, the engineer dies in a head-on crash, and his dying words for his love always make me cry and I never reach the end of the song without tears falling down my cheeks!

When it comes to poems, though, I’ve got a pocketful of favourites, but “In Flanders Fields” probably comes to mind first.

It’s a poem that many Canadian students learn in grade school, sometimes close to Remembrance Day (November 11th) or when studying about the First World War. I’m pretty sure all my kids know the poem, too, because our family has a connection with the poet, John McCrae, from Guelph, Ontario.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields – at McCrae House in Guelph

My father-in-law, Dr. Joseph O’Shea, served with Dr. McCrae in the Royal Canadian Medical Corps, and both of them were gassed by the Germans with deadly chlorine gas in the Belgian city of Ypres. I remember my husband retelling stories that his father had told him about how bad that war was, of how the physicians were faced with unbelievable wounds and unimaginable human suffering, sometimes wading in inches of blood on the floors of their makeshift operating theatres.

Writing poetry was something that many soldiers did when ever they had a bit of time on their hands. Perhaps they were putting the stanzas together while wet and scared in those muddy trenches, or while waiting for a battle to begin again. We inherited poems that Dr. O’Shea had penned and never had published, most of what he had written was also about the war, missing home, or simple, beautiful things, like the poppies on the fields in Flanders. Another Canadian poet, Robert W. Service, wrote “Rhymes of a Red Cross Man” based on his experiences as a stretcher bearer for the American Red Cross, and that book was a part of the collection of war-related books the doctor and his wife, Bridgetta Connaughty, collected.



Ruth and Jean Julien at McCrae House


While Ruth and I were on our road trip this past summer, we made a stop at the McCrae House in Guelph, Ontario, which is now an historical attraction in the city. We learned a lot about McCrae’s life and toured his family’s cottage, a preservation of a home from the 1870”s. In Flanders Fields was first published in 1915 in Punch, a British magazine, and it became immediately popular, quoted and re-quoted for inspirational speeches and fund-raisers. The poem also inspired the use of the poppy as a remembrance symbol, something that has been used since 1921 when the American Legion used them to commemorate the American soldiers killed in the Great War.

Today, small plastic poppies are used to raise funds for veterans, especially in Great Britain and Canada, and wreaths made of poppies are often laid at the cenotaphs recognizing fallen soldiers.

McCrae was 45 when he died in 1918 of pneumonia. His poem has lasted a century now, and is one that I know by heart.

Do you know In Flanders Fields? What is your favourite poem? Let me know.