I'm inundated with saskatoons--huge clumps of almost blueberry-sized saskatoons. Now the raspberries are ripening. You probably won't hear from me for several weeks. I'll be in the berry patch.
This musing was written early in the morning on July 5th, but I just found out that I had to use Google Chrome in order to add postings to my website now.
I apologize for not getting to my musing before now, or did anyone notice that I hadn’t posted for some time and not as promised close to the end of each month?
The only reason I’ve resurfaced is that I took half a Tylenol 3, and narcotics of any type ‘zoo me out.’ So instead of sleeping at 1 a.m., I’m writing. Before someone calls for intervention, I should tell you that I had a cyst on my right foot removed today. It was a ganglion gone from bad to worse ending in a huge cyst that even the podiatrist labelled as ‘awesome’ in the most negative way. And, he’s seen a lot of cysts on many different people’s feet! Oh well, we all have to be awesome at something; with me, it’s growing an awesome cyst.
Not only was I in some pain most of the time, but I couldn’t wear closed-sides shoes. That latter fact makes it difficult to go outside in a climate where no one can physically wear sandals year round without frostbite or worse.
I had waited the recommended six months to see if the cyst would disappear and/or heal on its own, but all I got were two rounds of antibiotics for infection. I also caused one radiologist to go ballistic when the ultrasound tech showed her possible bone infection. I have never received such quick service for an x-ray. Fortunately, the infection hadn’t quite reached the bone, but it was too close for comfort. I got a sound scolding from my daughter, a former I.C.U. nurse who has witnessed bone infections. Apparently, the entire right side of the foot is not supposed to be red and inflamed…oh dear. I know now that no one should fool around with a possible infection. No wonder my foot hurt so bloody much.
Oh, and I should fess up and say I’m also writing this musing because I feel guilty that someone (anyone?) might have been worried about me not surfacing for two months. So, I chose to resurface.
My experience earlier today at the Bowness Clinic in Calgary was usual and unusual. Firstly, I had to wait for the good doctor/surgeon. That’s where the usual ended.
Unusual was that the clinic was clean to an extreme. A sign at the door said remove shoes or put on the blue booties so Doug and I removed our shoes. The second unusual event was the friendliness of the receptionist, a ‘mature’ woman whose hair was bundled in a scrub cap. She was not in the operating room, but she certainly set the tone for hair under control. Everyone was friendly, no one rushed my questions (although there were some I should have asked but didn’t) and I really felt like the patients were the center of attention. Interesting fact: This clinic is privately owned, but the doctor who operated on me is paid by Alberta Health Services through the public system. I haven’t had such good service since I had my hip operations also done by a surgeon in a private clinic. Both of my hip surgeries were paid for by Alberta Health Services. (There’s a message here, but I’ll let you determine the political implications of what I’m trying to say.)
The anesthetist was the talkative type, unlike the taciturn but ‘ballsy’ podiatrist as the latter was called by an unnamed doctor for even attempting this surgery. Apparently, the skin on the side of the foot is thin and not easily successfully stitched—I hope mine is thick enough.
I explained to the anesthetist that anaesthesia in general and narcotics in particular send me on trips, and I’m not talking about fun trips to Ireland or Italy. After previous surgeries, I thought that squirrels were chewing on my toes and dragons were dancing on the bed. So, the anesthetist assured me that he would give me just enough local anaesthetic so that I didn’t feel the pain. I think he achieved that as much as he could because I was comfortable. I got to hear the conversation in the operating suite as they discussed the benefits of renting versus buying a place to live right now in Calgary. No definite decision was made, but the newest member of the surgical team thought he might continue renting for now.
My hearing of this conversation without being able to contribute is proof of what I once read: Hearing is the last sense to leave us and a reminder for all of us to be careful what we say around people who appear to be sleeping or, worse, leaving us permanently. (Now that I have lost most of my readers as they are ‘googling’ that fact, I will carry on for those of you still dedicated enough to be reading.)
I was fitted with what’s called a healing shoe—a rigid piece of hard plastic with straps and velcro straps meant to keep my foot immobilized. Imagine the ugliest sandal you can, and you’ll know what it looks like. Two weeks until I get the stitches removed, and, hopefully lose the healing shoe. Here’s the real kicker: I have to wear this shoe day and night—yes, you read that right: a shoe in bed!
So, short of having someone scrub the bottom of that shoe every night, I will definitely be limited in how far I travel. I’m also supposed to keep the bandage underneath that shoe clean and dry for two weeks. The efficient recovery room nurse explained how to shower—plastic garbage bags and tape. She was kind but reinforced the fact that it’s probably better for me not to go digging in the garden or weeding the flower beds for a couple of weeks.
I can still enjoy my family’s and friend’s visits, calls and emails although I will miss playing and working outside with the grandchildren. Doug has kindly volunteered to do my pleasant outside jobs and the unpleasant ones too for hopefully just two weeks. The pleasant jobs would be picking saskatoons and spending even more time in the yard after he’s completed all his usual outdoor chores. The unpleasant ones might be pulling that pesky chick-weed that crawls everywhere and cleaning up the bat poop by the front door after their nightly hanging-out sessions. Of course, I can still do the library volunteer work, at least the part that can be done while sitting at a computer. Maybe I’ll even complete my musing on time.
I have eight books to read—do you think that’s enough?
As many of my readers know, the Okotoks Public Library is very important to me. I want to share some of our plans with you. Note that I will be walking in the 'Book It' event. Please join me if you live in the area. I would also appreciate pledges if you are so inclined. Thanks for reading and please support the local library in your area.
The Okotoks Public Library Board, Director and Staff continue to be very busy with several fundraising activities in addition to the regular programming and services offered by our library. Here are some events of note:
April 22 – May 7: In-Library Silent Auction
If you need a Mother’s Day gift, some updated kitchen accessories, a pail of goodies for the gardener in your life, or a special treat for yourself, check out our 10 Silent Auction items. We have a wide assortment in a range of prices: books, a certificate for a massage, gardening tools, kitchen accessories, gift certificates for tickets to Okotoks Dawgs Baseball games, wine, chocolates, a family day pass to Kayben Farms and even a chair!
Friday, May 3, 3:30 p.m.: Unveiling of the Donor Wall of Fame
Please join the Okotoks Public Library Board as we reveal the Library’s Expansion campaign Donor Wall of Fame. There will be a short program and cake and refreshments. Everyone is welcome.
Thursday, May 23, Plant It: Create a Succulent Container
Where/When: Thursday, May 23, 7 – 8 p.m., Program Room, Okotoks Public Library
Instructor: Jane Ervin, Library Board Member & Former Owner of Okotoks Flowers & Things
Maximum Enrollment: 30; Pre-register by May 17 at www.okotokslibrary.ca or in person at the library
Cost: $35; Pay online when you register or with cash or debit in-person at the library
Description: Jane will help you create a succulent container. Materials supplied, but please bring heavy gardening gloves and/or tongs. This is a fundraiser for the Okotoks Public Library.
Saturday, June 1, 10 a.m. – Noon: MAJOR EVENT: Book It – A Fun Walk/Run
NOTE: No registration fee, but we need participants to register by May 27th.
For more information, to register, and for copies of the waiver and pledge form, please see: http://okotokslibrary.ca/content/bookit
Please consider participating in “Book It” and/or pledging someone to walk/run as we really need your support. Note that both the Library Staff and the Board Members are forming teams, so you can add pledges to our pledge sheets if you wish! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks.
Monday, May 27: The Next Step for a Proposed Arts & Learning Campus on Riverside Drive
Okotoks Town Council passed motions on January 7th and February 25th for the exploration and then preliminary conceptual development plans for an Arts & Learning Campus on Riverside Drive. The Okotoks Public Library is one of the potential partners. The next important date is May 27th when the funding and phasing aspects of the proposed plan go before Council. Remember, everyone is welcome to attend Town Council meetings. If you are interested in attending to show your support, a delegation from the Library will be going. You are welcome to sit with us if you wish. Please contact me at email@example.com, and I’ll let you know the approximate scheduled time for that agenda item.
Well, spring is definitely in the air, and the forecast is for scattered showers over the next few days. I hope those showers scatter here because we need some moisture.
On my way to Okotoks this morning, there were about a dozen Trumpeter Swans on a pond southeast of our place. The trumpeters make a stop there every year on their migration route through, and it’s always an exciting day when their large white bodies can be seen—often bottoms up—as they feed. They are only there for a few days. Of course, I had to stop and try to get a photo or two—I was parked on the road so the photo on my Home page is somewhat blurry.
I checked my “Birds of Alberta” book when I got home though just to make sure they weren’t Tundra Swans which also migrate through this area. But, the Tundra Swans don’t have the distinctive curved neck of the Trumpeters so I’m sure I have my sighting correct. (However, if any ‘birder’ is reading this and can get a good idea from the photo, please do let me know.) Their calls were also very loud and bugle-like while the Tundra Swans have a higher-pitched, quivering call.
The Robins have been back for a couple weeks now, and I enjoy their cheery songs. We haven’t seen any male Mountain Bluebirds yet, but there have been lots of sightings in the area so I think they might be avoiding our houses. We cleaned the birdhouses out in early March, but bluebirds are notoriously fussy about their real estate, as my Dad used to say.
The mule deer have moved into the yard as they wander about seeking the green sprigs of grass that are starting to emerge. Hayley dog is getting quite deaf now so the mule deer bother her less although she still barks if they come too close up the path.
The moose spend most of their time in the environmental reserve behind us. They have been in the yard, but we haven’t seen them up close—just the evidence. Soon, it will be time to shovel all that out of the yard and garden.
The windows look very filthy in the bright spring sunlight so that’s another job that will need to be tackled. Of course, the entire house could use a good spring cleaning, but the chances of that happening look increasingly unlikely as my volunteer Library Board work continues to take over.
Best Spring wishes to all of you. Thanks for reading, and please do respond to me if you have the inclination. It’s always nice to get comments so it doesn’t feel like I’m talking to myself.
The woman hurried along the sidewalk boots up to her knees, a down-filled coat, toque pulled down severely and thick mitts on her swinging arms. A typical Canadian winter scene, only this was on a sidewalk in Oceanside, California, in February. The locals and snowbirds there for the weather were not impressed with the 37 Fahrenheit morning temperature—that’s plus 3 Celsius to the world outside the United States—and the cold wind off the brown waves of the ocean.
The waves were brown for several reasons. The main one was that on Thursday, February 14, there was the worst winter storm in 40 years, according to a security guard at North Coast Village. I stayed in the condo, watching as palm trees bent almost double in the wind, and the waves brought in debris from places near and far. Branches, a couple of entire trees, all kinds of garbage and unidentifiable objects were hurtled onto the shore in what became an approximately 10 feet wide and 4 feet high barrier. Apparently, the main source of contamination is raw sewage dumped in the ocean near Tijuana. The mess was still being cleaned up when I left: bobcats at work and huge garbage disposal bins.
The rain came in sheets, causing all kinds of havoc including flash flooding, closed streets and accidents on the freeways. My daughter had cautioned us to avoid driving in the rain because people down there do not know how to drive in rain! About 3.5 inches of rain fell in Oceanside that day, and when the soil doesn’t absorb moisture, that is a problem. In what Californians call the mountains, 10 inches fell and some of that was snow. I only ventured down to the parking garage to make sure my rental car was not submerged; fortunately, there was just a small amount of water on the garage floor.
For me, the weather was incidental once the worst of it had passed and it continued to be cool with periodic showers over the next few days. After wearing the same red cardigan for 12 days, I did notice the fact that it hadn’t warmed up. My reason for being there was to spend time with my granddaughter—and her parents too, of course—and to help celebrate her 6th birthday.
Packing for a couple weeks in Southern California is always a crap-shoot. I have learned to take one set of clothes for very warm weather and one set of clothes for very cool weather. I learned to do that after one September when I had to buy a sundress and spend most of my time sitting under a fan when the temperature sky-rocketed. Fortunately, the condo where we stay has laundry facilities so I only need to pack one carry-on bag.
But, this past two weeks I certainly didn’t need to worry about a sundress! At the same time, Doug was home coping with bitterly cold weather and plowing and shovelling every day as the snow continued to accumulate. We split our trips to California this year so one of us was home with Hayley.
Our Calgary family joined me for eight days, and the three grandchildren had a great time at Disneyland. My favorite rides are still a couple of the originals: the teacups where my two granddaughters kept us spinning by turning the wheel as fast as they could, and the roller coaster named Thunder Mountain.
Back in Oceanside, the kids had fun playing in the sand on the beach before the big storm, and on the playground and in what was accessible and uncontaminated of the sand after the storm. The harbour area was quickly cleaned as it is a city-owned beach. The area near the condo was the worst in terms of debris. There was still a definite brown line near the horizon beyond which was what looked like cleaner water. Needless to say, there was no swimming or wading.
My granddaughter spent February 18th, our Family Day and the U.S. Presidents’ Day, with me and had her first sleepover. On our walk to the pier, she was invited to play in the sand along the sidewalk with a couple of little girls. Their parents told me they had moved to Oceanside eighteen years ago from near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The father explained that he worked repairing hail damage on vehicles and basically followed the hailstorm path in the spring and summer. He starts work in Louisiana and Texas and then moves on to the Midwest United States. He was curious about our hailstorms in Canada but would need a Visa to work here. When I asked, I was told that there are never hailstorms in Southern California.
Three days later, San Diego had some hail. My daughter drove in it on her commute home, and she knows hail. The fellow sitting beside me on the plane home was out for a walk after his conference sessions ended for the day and got caught in the hail. He’s from Edmonton so he knows hail. All we got in Oceanside was huge raindrops which I thought might turn into hail, but stopped short. As I drove my granddaughter home, we saw a full rainbow—the first one she remembers seeing.
“Seems it never rains in southern California … but girl, don’t they warn ya? It pours, man, it pours…” And, yes, it did hail for a few minutes one day in February 2019.
I know I’m not alone when I say that a great deal of time and effort seems to go into maintenance—not of my vehicle, but of myself. The time spent just to keep myself from falling apart seems to increase with each passing day. Yes, I know that I’m fortunate that I still have to do maintenance as the alternative is not to be here to do it. I also realize that my maintenance is not life-threatening. But, I have to write about something in this Musing!
In April 2018, I told my dentist during a regular check-up that my four bottom teeth were loose. “Loose?” he queried, as he wiggled them. “Teeth are supposed to move somewhat.”
Well, this was more than somewhat. I appeared to be in competition for losing those four teeth with my oldest grandchild who was starting to lose her baby teeth.
It took some convincing that something needed to be done, but the dentist started to discuss alternatives with me. I was tempted to just have all my teeth removed and stop what I predict will be an ongoing saga of dental work and huge bills. Of course, the advice out in dental world is to keep your own teeth for as long as possible. So, I agreed to have teeth implants.
You probably don’t want all the gory details so stop reading if you’re squeamish. I went to an oral surgeon on May 30th and so the eight-month ordeal began. I had to sign off on a form that said I knew cadaver bone was being used for a better result—in short, the implants needed better bone than I had.
I was told that my mouth is very small—so take that all you people who think I have a great deal to say! The dental surgeon removed the four teeth, and I was told that to heal well, it was advantageous if I could go without a partial plate for at least two weeks.
First of all, the oral surgeon—who is well over 6 feet tall with linebacker shoulders—had large hands. Remember, I have a small mouth. In fact, a pediatric bite blocker had to be located because the adult small was too large. Having said that, the oral surgeon did a very good job and the overall bill from his work wasn’t as high as everyone had predicted.
Unfortunately, after any dental procedure, I am prone to canker sores. Apparently, some patients get canker sores, there isn’t any way of preventing them and they are caused by stress. Obviously, I was stressed. The canker sores were more irritating than the surgery site itself which healed well. The dental surgeon prescribed a rinse. However, a clerk at the local Shoppers Drug Mart recommended a couple of products that worked even better: a ‘grown up’ topical anesthetic similar to what I used to squirt on the kids’ gums during teething and an oral wound cleanser.
I went to a denturist and had more impressions. She made a partial plate so that I could at least appear in public without looking like ‘an upside-down vampire.’ There was only one catch, of course: the partial plate had to be removed to eat. Since the front teeth are used a fair amount in biting, speaking clearly and so on, it became an eight-month endurance test.
It was handy on Halloween though, and my family either got used to seeing the upside-down vampire eating, or they were too polite to say anything.
Plan on seeing the inside of a dentist’s office very frequently if you embark on such an adventure: at one point three times in one week with a bill to match. There was some excitement in that I couldn’t seem to keep the temporary crowns on, regardless of the fact that I cut up my food into bite size pieces similar to what you’d do for a one year old starting on solid food. Two temporary crowns fell out. I swallowed one that had been replaced—I’ll leave the details of that result to your imagination.
Finally, on January 23, 2019, the implants were literally torqued into place. So far, nothing has fallen out. The greatest result is that I can actually eat in public!
As per usual given my age and stage of life, there is always more maintenance, specifically the regular mammogram. My theory is that the technician makes all the difference in this experience, and I lucked out this past week with a very capable and fast technician.
After the mammogram, I was booked for a bone density. I was glad to relax on that table, wedge cushion under my knees. The technician explained she was having difficulty locating me in the system based on a name search. I encouraged her to try alternative spellings of Cathro. No, that didn’t work either. She asked if I’d changed my last name. Finally, she keyed in my health card number, and there I was.
“According to this, your last name is P H Y.”
So, not only do I have new front bottom teeth, but, apparently according to Alberta Health Services, I am now Lorraine Phy.
When I asked Doug if we should send a Christmas letter this year, he replied that he’s still the same old boring guy. I’m the same old boring woman, but here’s our letter anyway.
Doug’s 1940 Ford Convertible will be on the road in 2019. It’s actually at a body shop being painted a deep metallic blue. Many hours this past year were spent working on the car.
Doug plays golf in the summer and curls in the winter. He and a friend flew to St. Paul Minnesota to attend the “Back to the Fifties” car show with over 11,000 cars, 1964 and older.
Doug and I spent ten days in Southern California in late January and early February. He attended the Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona. We celebrated an early 5th birthday with granddaughter Ella. The weather was unseasonably warm so we had several beach days. Of course, it was back to Legoland with Ella on even faster roller coasters.
In April, Doug and I flew to Chicago and spent a few days in the ‘Windy City.’ That nickname came from the hot air expelled by the politicians, but it could also have referred to the cold wind. We only lasted five innings in the wind and sleet at Wrigley Stadium. The waves were reported to be 16 feet high out on Lake Michigan.
We enjoyed the Museum of Science and Industry. The building was originally built for the 1893 World’s Exposition and then opened as the Science and Industry Museum in 1933 during the Chicago World Fair. Some family history: That year, my father, grandparents and great-grandfather Lohr drove to the Fair from Erskine, Alberta. So, that fact made the museum visit extra special. We also enjoyed the Architectural River Cruise where the guide explained the origins and styles of the downtown buildings while we huddled under plastic rain coats.
From Chicago we drove to Dearborn, Michigan, to the Henry Ford Museum, the largest museum complex in the United States at 254 acres. We only had a day to spend there and didn’t get through all the exhibits. It’s much more than a car museum. The highlight was sitting in the same bus seat that Rosa Parks refused to give up to a white passenger on December 1, 1955.
We enjoyed our time in South Bend, Indiana, although the Studebaker Museum was closed so we toured the Oliver Mansion. The Oliver family was famous for the invention of the chilled plow and the nearby plant produced farm equipment.
Then we went to Mount Carroll, Illinois, where we enjoyed visiting with family members from the Lohr Branch. They are the Great Grandchildren of Solomon Lohr who was my Great-Grandfather George Lohr’s brother.
After a night ‘in jail’ at the Jail House Inn B&B in Galena, Illinois, we drove through part of Wisconsin. I had no idea there were so many varieties of cheese! We returned to Chicago and flew home. Chicago is a great place to visit; maybe just not in April.
Our visit with the Lohr relatives was my only family history work this past year. My volunteer work on the Okotoks Library Board has become like a part-time job. We are advocating and fundraising for a library expansion. I’m certainly learning a lot about libraries.
Cabin life was busy again this summer. Mark, Robin, Hannah, and Grayson spent time at the cabin, and Heather and Ella were there for a few days in August. As we drive that eight hour one way trip, we sometimes wonder why we do it, but, once we’re there, we enjoy the lake and seeing old friends and neighbors.
We had another bumper crop of saskatoons and raspberries, but the pumpkin seeds planted by Hannah and Grayson never did grow pumpkins, just vines spreading throughout the garden. So in October, Doug bought a couple pumpkins and put them in the garden on the vines.
Hannah is enjoying grade one and takes piano lessons. Grayson, three in October, spends Wednesdays with us. He has to be watched as he likes to figure out how everything works. His favorite activity is driving the tractor with Doug. We purchased a ‘Tin Lizzie’—a former Shriner’s car. Hannah and Grayson like to ride along as we go up and down the lane.
Hayley will be 13 years old on December 30th. We thought we were going to lose her this summer as the smoke and heat negatively affected her breathing. However, once winter arrived and with the canine versions of glucosamine and ibuprofen, she is now walking and sometimes trotting down to the highway and back each morning to help us bring home the newspaper.
Doug and I are looking forward to our visits the last week in January and early February 2019 to see Heather, Mike, and Ella. (We are going to ‘take turns’ going to California so that one of us is home with Hayley.) Ella is now in Kindergarten so we probably won’t see her as much as when she could spend every day with us. But, I’m sure there will be roller coaster rides again.
We hope that all is well with you and your families. Merry Christmas and best wishes for health and happiness in the New Year.
In the Calgary Herald (November 29, 2018), there was a photo and article titled “Danger Catastrophic as Wildfires Rage in Northeast [Australia].” The caption under the photo read: “Fires burn north of Bundaberg, Australia, as firefighters battle flames in heat up to 40 C and winds of 40 km/h.”
The only reason Doug and I know about Bundaberg is the chance meeting of John and Avon on a river cruise. The cruise was with Scenic Tours and started in Amsterdam and ended in Budapest. Scenic Cruise Lines is an Australian-based company so the majority of the passengers were from Australia. Also, as those of you who travel know, many Aussies travel the world. Wherever we go, we meet them. I know this is a stereotype, but we often meet them in pubs. (Of course, since that’s where we meet them, that means Doug and I must be in pubs too!)
Anyway, back to the story. Doug and I noticed this couple who was always laughing and appearing to have a very good time. When we introduced ourselves, the man said his name was John and her name was Avon. They were from Bundaberg. Of course, we didn’t have a clue where Bundaberg was so they explained the area with great pride. We also found out that Avon was originally ‘a Kiwi’ [from New Zealand] as John explained.
They owned a farm and ranch supply store and a gardening store in season. Avon also ran a pet store. We began to realize that they were wealthy in an understated way. They told us they were on a three-month extended holiday and had recently been in Africa. After the cruise, they were going to spend time in France. John said he’d been to the Calgary Stampede three times and bought a pair of cowboy boots each time. We also found out that they had been to most countries in the world and flew first class.
Doug and I didn’t understand everything John said as he had what we found out was a regional accent. In other words, many of the other Australians didn’t understand him either.
As we proceeded on the cruise, we often ended up going with John and Avon to pubs after our tours in the various ports. John could drink copious amounts of beer. He explained: “In Bundaberg we drink beer to stay hydrated.”
John was in amazing shape, and Avon told us that he had won a national level bicycle road racing competition. There was a younger fellow on Board who wore sleek fitness clothes and was rumored to also be a champion bicycle road racer. John and this younger fellow were among the people scheduled to ride from one port to the other on bicycles while the rest of us cruised along on the ship. When Doug found out about this, he went around trying to get wagers on who was going to win the race: John or ‘Mr. Dress-Up.’ Our money was on John. Unfortunately, the race didn’t happen because of inclement weather.
Most of the Aussies found the weather quite cool. It was November after all, and they were often decked out in warm coats, scarves, toques and mitts. Some of them marvelled at Doug and me wearing t-shirts while they had on their jumpers [sweaters].
John wore jeans, a shirt and a well-worn brown leather jacket regardless of the weather and whether on the ship or on land in one of the ports. Avon was a free spirit with her flowing clothes and long, curly red hair. On the evening that it was their turn to have dinner in the ‘fancy’ section of the restaurant, John was in his usual place at the ship’s bar waiting for Avon. She joined him in a stunning gown with her hair beautifully tamed. John was in his regular uniform.
John’s response to cooler temperatures was to add a scarf to his ensemble. One day and another port, we were with John and Avon in a couple of pubs. After we got ready to leave the second pub in order to get back before the ship sailed, John told us that he had lost his scarf. So, we hurried back to the first pub. No one had seen it. Then he found the scarf bundled in one sleeve. We realized that the ship was sailing in a few minutes so we ran to the dock, just making it in the nick of time. But, John had his scarf.
Toward the end of the cruise, I asked Avon about the origin of her name. Was she named after the River Avon in England? “No,” she replied. “My name is Yvonne, but John can’t say it right.”
As I read the article in the newspaper this morning, I was suddenly right back with Doug, John and Avon enjoying their laughter and goodwill. I will never see them again; but, I’ll never forget them. I hope their lives aren’t too affected by the terrible fire presently raging in Bundaberg, Queensland.
Our granddaughter is excited about being a cat for Halloween. Our grandson wants the spooky Bubble Guppies show “Haunted House” played over and over. When my email finally started working today, there was a photo of our California granddaughter in a purple and black witch’s costume. (Purple is her favorite color.) Even the women working at the dentist’s office this morning were dressed up as characters, including a very elaborately dressed Little Bo Peep with her staff.
Being a ‘farm kid’, we didn’t go out trick or treating or get a whole lot of candy on Halloween—or any other time of the year for that matter. We once carved a Jack-o’-lantern, put a candle in it and Mom accompanied us to Granny and Grandpa Lohr’s house in the same farmyard. Our plan was to put the Jack-o’-lantern up to their kitchen window to give them a good fright. The only problem was that we forgot to bring matches, so we had to go in and ask them for a match before we could try to frighten them!
I knew the ‘town kids’ went out trick or treating. One year, I thought I should get in on the action so I stayed overnight with a friend of mine in Erskine. Her mom found a couple old sheets so we could be ghosts. We carried pillowcases. I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of candy we received as well as apples, popcorn balls and pieces of homemade fudge wrapped individually in waxed paper. No one needed to check to make sure our candy was safe either. What a bounty!
Fast forward several years: I was teaching young children. We had Halloween parties so the teachers had to dress up too. One year the woman I was team teaching with and I dressed up as babies. We put our hair in pigtails, wore huge diapers over our slacks, t-shirts, scarves as bibs, slippers (booties) and carried around baby bottles filled with water. We reached up and squeezed the bottle liners and got people thoroughly wet. Our students thought it was great fun.
Then I started teaching ‘big kids’ at the University of Saskatchewan. On Halloween 1987, a colleague and I dressed up as characters from the novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. She was teaching that novel in her introductory English class. I was Miss Ratched—the head nurse who ruled with an iron fist. I borrowed a nurse’s uniform from a ‘real nurse’ neighbor, and carried my children’s toy doctor’s kit and a muffin tray filled with pills—multi-colored jelly beans. She wore green scrubs borrowed from a friend in Veterinary Medicine. With latex gloves on her hands, she was ready to do some serious examining. We ‘targeted’ instructors we knew, got their schedules and burst into classrooms shouting, “It’s Miss Ratched and The Doctor.” The instructors were asked to get up on the table at the front of the room, and The Doctor listened to their hearts with a toy stethoscope. The Doctor also made some comments—which won’t be repeated here—about examining as she snapped the tops of her latex gloves. I gave injections with the toy needle and passed out “pills” to the students. Most people—but not all—thought it was funny.
Before I knew it, I was the mother trying to find or devise Halloween costumes. Fortunately, we inherited some great home sewn costumes from extended family when the kids were young. Once the kids outgrew those, the ‘store bought’ costumes were made of flimsy paper that didn’t survive what was usually a cold Saskatoon night. I remember one of our neighbors insisted the kids sing before giving them candy. Doug usually took the kids out while I stayed home and answered the door.
Now that we’re on the acreage, we rarely get any children coming to the door. Doug buys one box of Halloween candy each year, just in case. As of today, about a third of that bag is gone although no children have come to the door yet—enough said!
Happy Halloween Everyone.
Hello everyone. I will be posting an entry at the end of each month. Please feel free to respond.