Saturday 29 July 2023

Some things end, and the future is near

Yes, the landscaping work is complete - at least the part I had to pay for. Over on the other side of the yard, where the trees were removed, I've got some work to do to keep the weeds down. The bird feeder was on the stump of an old evergreen, and of course, birds and squirrels aren't particularly tidy. I've been pulling weeds, and using a herbicide in an effort to do away with as much as I can. The landscaper wasn't able to get the stump grinder into the back yard because of the limited width of the space between the sunroom and the fence. As a result, one of the tree stumps is beginning to show new growth. One night, when I couldn't sleep, I did a bit of research and discovered the most cost effective and relatively easy way to kill the tree is to drill holes in the stump, add Epsom salts and a bit of water, and cover with a tarp.

I thought the recent heat would also help, so picked up the Epsom salts and spent a half hour or so one morning using my drill to put as many holes into the stump as I could. After a few days, I can already see that the stump is beginning to erode/decay from the outside. The articles I read said it takes about a month for the tree to completely die. I'll keep an eye on it, and I may try digging a little more around the stump - if I can borrow and axe from my brother, I may be able to remove more of it in a couple of weeks.

Our heat advisory lasted about three days, which wasn't as bad as I thought it might be. It cooled off considerably into Wednesday morning, and I woke to 10C (50F). It did reach 28C (82F) by noon but a morning of the cooler weather was very nice.

Wednesday was also the day we said good-bye to Chris. The service was held at the funeral home, and there were a good number of people in attendance. Her sons both spoke briefly and a cousin gave the eulogy. There was an opportunity for others to share memories at one point and a few people did. One who did surprised me, as she has only known Chris for four weeks, since Chris started her temporary job at a local company. It was clear that Chris had been well-liked (not a surprise) and had integrated easily into the office. I spoke to her after the service and she said, that unlike some temps, Chris was willing to take on any task - she told her co-workers she wanted to be the temp that they would want to keep. She said they would have been thrilled had she stayed on and were as shocked as the rest of us at her sudden passing.

I did not go to the podium - I had provided some memories to the family, and some of my comments were included in the eulogy. The service did provide some relief, for lack of a better term, for me. Seeing the photo of her next to the urn reinforced the fact I'll never see her face again, hear her laugh, or share a hug. Until that moment, it hadn't really felt real - I'd even said to my son, "I almost think when we get to the funeral home, Chris will pop out and say, ha, ha I got you." 

I did have a few minutes to talk to her sons after the service and offered my help to J, her eldest (he didn't sound too enthusiastic so I'll leave him alone). It sounds like he is going to be the one who is shouldering much of the burden of dealing with his mom's property. I do know his uncle K is the executor of the estate so hopefully those family members will be supportive too. But, I'm not optimistic as they were separated at the service, with her sons and ex-husand, his wife and daughter on one side of the aisle, while her brother, his family, several cousins and aunts and uncles were on the other side. There is nothing I can do - if in fact, that split was deliberate but seeing it made me feel sad.

Stitch and chat was a welcome event later that day. There were three of us again, S, B, and I.  B brought a cross-stitching project to show us. Her adult children gave it to her a couple of years ago for Christmas. The pattern book is 63 pages in length and the finished project will be nearly 22" by 22". It's enormous and will be simply stunning when complete. I did a search and was able to find a photo. Isn't it spectacular? There are sooo many color changes, so it's not something I would ever tackle.

She was working on her tooth fairy pillows, while S was working on her scarf, and I had a mitten on the needles. Our conversation covered the various projects they are working on at home (quilts for charity), current news, and of course, the weather. I apparently wasn't paying enough attention to my knitting, as when I picked it up that evening, I discovered I'd added two additional stitches so had to frog it back a few rows. I did complete it that evening. I confirmed the count, and this mitten is the first of the 12th pair since the beginning of June. I'm getting there.

Thursday, was "pay day" or rather the day my pensions are deposited to my account. I did some on-line banking in the morning, and updated my spreadsheets, before heading out to pick up cat litter. The last Thursday of the month is senior's day at the pet store where I purchase the cat litter, and I get a 10% discount. It isn't a lot, but over a year, it's basically like getting a free bag of cat litter. I also stopped at a couple of grocery stores and picked up some fresh veg and fruit, and a couple of other items. The best bargain was B.C. fresh cherries at $1.99 a pound, marked down from $8.99 a pound (though I do think the grocery chain marks products up before they mark them down). On the other hand, potatoes are up in price again, five pounds for $6.99. It wasn't long ago when the regular price was $4.99. Seeing the recent announcement of Loblaw quarterly earnings has me steaming mad. No one can tell me there isn't price gouging happening under the guise of inflation and increased costs. But I'm sure their shareholders are happy.

Outside it reached a high of 25C (77F) so I took a page from Patsy, and spent the afternoon out in the yard reading. Housework and knitting could wait. I'm reading another book by Jodi Piccoult titled "Change of Heart. The story of a family tragedy: a father and his daughter are murdered while the mother is expecting their second child. This child, a daughter is born with a heart condition and needs a heart transplant. The convicted killer, on death row, offers his and testing proves he is a match. The blurb on the book asks: "Could you grant your enemy's dying wish in order to hold on to the last light of hope in your own life?" It's an interesting read, and of course, there is more than meets the eye in this story. 

On Friday, I woke to an overcast sky and chilly morning. The evening prior, I'd decided I'd spend some time outdoors dead-heading flowers, giving my petunias a haircut, and collecting the sun-ripened tomatoes. It was only 12C (54F) and felt much cooler when I went out to the bin with the cat litter. Pivot! The day was spent on Ancestry and housework. 

I received an e-mail from my real estate agent advising the most recent house in my neighbour sold in one day (and it needs work), for just below asking. That means NO open house...could I be as lucky? We've agreed to meet on the 8th of August to prepare the listing. That gives me a little more time to do more cleaning/sorting/organizing and yard work. I'll be sending my son out this weekend to ensure the eavestroughs are clear of debris. 

This morning, it was even cooler (6C/43F) when I woke, but has warmed up several degrees since then. The sun is shining, and we're expecting a high of 24C/75F. I'll putter around inside for another hour or so, and then head outdoors to get some yard work done. This afternoon and evening, there are baseball and football to watch.

Here's my harvest from the containers this week. When I moved the plants in front of the fence, I dropped a few green tomatoes so brought them in to ripen indoors. But the already red ones had ripened on the vine. I'll be enjoying them later today. 

Have a great week ahead everyone!

Monday 24 July 2023

Not my mother's potato salad

This recipe definitely has a Tex-Mex least to my palate. Very tasty!

I didn't have fresh corn so used some leftover canned kernel corn. I made about a half recipe, but since I rarely measure there was probably more of some ingredients and less of others. 

My son's opinion: he thought the flavor was good but hated the texture. Since I like it, it won't go to waste. 

Saturday 22 July 2023

A week that was

 Again, I must say thank you to everyone for your kind comments on my last post. Chris's friendship meant so much to me and your heartfelt comments were appreciated. I had my good cry on Thursday evening, though I suspect more tears will fall next Wednesday at her funeral, and for now, I am trying to focus on the good memories we made together.

With the exception of the shock of Chris' sudden death, it has been a pretty quiet week. I did a bit of grocery shopping on Tuesday as well as a trip to the thrift store. One of the items I purchased at Value Village was a summer dress; it is the one I'll wear to her funeral. I did make a trip back to the thrift stores on Thursday, mostly to wander the aisles and remember Chris. Since she wasn't there I did buy more yarn. Not that I've run out of yarn for mittens and toques but I'm down to certain colors and I was able to pick up a couple more. 

I'd have to count, but I think I've got ten pairs completed. With the ones I'd left with D in June, I think I'm about half way through this project. I'm using the bits and pieces of the leftovers to make toques, though I've only got one of those done so far. Hopefully I can provide ten or so of those as well.

Wednesday was stitch and chat, with S, B, and I in attendance. I hadn't gone last week because of the cold I was still dealing with, and I learned that Io had been there as well. I'm sorry I missed her. I told the ladies that I'd seem them next week, unless something crazy happened. Well, it did, but since Chris' funeral is Wednesday morning, I'll be able to attend next week's meeting.

While I was out on Thursday, I got my hair cut. And when I say cut, I mean I had it chopped off. I'd let my hair grow out through the pandemic, and kept it tied back in a pony tail as it was a good 5-6 inches below my shoulders. Recently the shedding was driving me crazy - I'd brush my hair in the morning and take a handful out of the brush. Even so, there were more errant pieces that seemed to find their way into my knitting or into the dishwater. It was time for it all to go. Initially, I had thought I might go for a short bob, but decided on a pixie cut. 

It was a good time to get rid of the long hair, as the extreme heat has arrived in earnest and is forecast to hang around for the week or so. It was 28C (82F) on Friday, with the temperature expected to increase daily until we reach a high of 35C (95F) by Tuesday. I'm sure the temps seem mild for some of you, but for us that's freaking hot! 

In advance of the heat, I've done some meal prep so I'm not going to need to do a whole lot of cooking. I expect the grill will be fired up a number of evenings. My son doesn't enjoy potato salad, but I found a recipe with bacon and red pepper that I'll try. He's told me he doesn't like eating cold potatoes so I may be enjoying by myself. 

The landscaper showed up about 5 p.m. on Friday evening to finish off the last few items on the to-do list. When they arrived, I asked if it wasn't quitting time and was told they'd work until midnight, if they had to. (They didn't, nor did they finish) The steps from the lower deck were built and installed, the edge finished along the front of the deck and the boards replaced on the shed. They plan to be back sometime today to finish the last couple of items, to install the edging between the grass and rocks, to repair the step into the shed (it was damaged when they replaced the boards on the shed), and to replace the latch on the gate. They're also going to give me a piece of lattice to cover the bottom of the shed. I'll share photos of the completed space in next week's post.

I had decided not to list the house for a few weeks because of the expected heat. I've no desire to sit in my car with an unhappy cat in the carrier during a heat wave. The forecast has now been revised, and things may be back to more reasonable temperatures by the end of July. If that continues to be the case, I'll be in touch with the real estate agent next week, and with any luck we can hold the open house on the weekend. I do want to have a cleaning crew through before the open house, so it will also depend on when I can get that booked. Decisions, decisions.

I was out early this morning to move some containers around the back yard. The front flower bed got a good soaking too, as there is no rain in the forecast. My ferns are still looking terrific but I suspect a few days of heat will cause them to start dying back. If I can keep them going for another couple of weeks, I'll be happy. 

The rest of my day will revolve around sports. There are three baseball games and two football games being aired and I'll definitely watch the Blue Jays as they play in Seattle, and the Riders game with the B.C. Lions. Another mitten is close to being completed, and then for a change I'll switch to knitting a toque. Beyond that this is very much a nothing day. I had made plans with Chris to go for coffee this morning; she'll definitely be on my mind as well.

Have a great week ahead everyone.

Thursday 20 July 2023

Life can be cruel


Today I am reminded at how cruel and unfair life can be.  Last night, at the far too young age of 50, my friend Chris passed away. Her son J, called today to let me know - thankfully he and her other son R, were with her, along with R's dad Ro. I've always referred to her before as C, and she is my friend whose mother passed away last December. 

I've known Chris for nearly 30 years; we met through mutual friends and despite the age difference, became close over the years. She had her son J when she was about 22, and I would often take him for a couple of days to give her a break when he was an infant. (My children tell me it was most weekends, but to honest, I don't remember it being that frequent at all.) 

Every summer, she and would take the kids (my two, her one) to the Regina Exhibition. While I took J on the kiddy rides, she would take mine on the midway - once they were all tall enough to ride, and the scarier the ride the better. I paid for the ride pass because there was no damn way I was going on the rides with them. Both D and C still talk about the fun they had with Chris at the fair.

Several years later, when she married Ro, I was one of her bridesmaids. After R was born (he's now 15) the three of us would get together to go garage-saling. I can remember one time, when R was about four very clearly.  He wanted an old toy lawn mower from one of the garage sales, and his mom said no, and he said "Mom, we need to compromise." It took some convincing for him to understand a compromise was when each person gave up something and he was really looking for his mom to capitulate. 

Sadly, the relationship between Chris and Ro didn't last, and Chris' life became quite chaotic. She moved several times within the city, occasionally I would be there to help with the move, and we'd get together once in awhile to hit a few garage sales. About five or six years ago, she moved out of the city, and our visits were even more infrequent. I did get a visit with her three years ago, when I did a day trip out to the area and we met for coffee at Tim Hortons.

Chris loved the coffee at Timmy's. The order was always the same, a large coffee with two cream and four sugar. My son, told me a story today, that he remembers Chris pretending to write her name in the coffee with the sugar. It wouldn't surprise me in the least! When I drove her to work this winter before she got her truck, the staff at the drive-through near her house knew her order because she was there daily.

I hadn't realized she'd moved back to the city a couple of years ago, but we had kept in contact through Facebook. She was busy working full-time, spending weekends with R, and volunteering at the Rider games throughout the football season. Then her mom got ill last winter and passed away, and we began to spend more time together. 

I can't remember a time, when we were together throughout the years, that we didn't laugh about something. Even in those darkest days after her mom passed, one of us would remember something and the laughter would bubble up. Any time we were at a garage sale and the stuff was tacky ugly, she'd pick something up and say, isn't this adorable or cute or pretty? I'll just say, I don't have a poker face and trying to be polite without agreeing was interesting. We'd crack up in the car afterward. 

She could talk to anyone, and often did at length. Before R was born, I'd have to drag her away from a garage sale if there was a baby nearby. More recently, it was often a dog that would catch her attention. Since I was usually the driver I'd have to make as if I was leaving her behind.

Chris loved cats, and her current apartment is full of them. There are two live ones and every cat tschotske known to humankind. (Knick-knacks and paddy whacks is how she referred to them.) Many of these items were purchased at garage sales or the thrift store. And of course, many were gifts she was given over the years. It was never hard to buy a Christmas gift for Chris.

With her mom's passing, she came into an inheritance that suddenly made her life much easier. She had struggled most of her adult life to support herself, to help J, and pay her child support for R.  This was a huge change for her and Chris felt guilty about the money, as it came at such a price. But she had dreams, and a couple of them came to fruition. She was able to get a tattoo, dyed green streaks in her hair (for the Riders), and bought a bright yellow pick-up. Chris was looking forward to buying a house, where there would be room for R, and a fenced yard for a dog. We even talked about taking an ocean cruise someday in the future. 

Today, I am angry for her. It seems so unfair, that just as her life was becoming easier and more opportunities were opening up, she won't ever have the chance to realize her dreams. Chris won't meet her grandchild, due in a few months. She won't be there when J marries his girlfriend or when R graduates from highschool. 

Today, I am heartbroken with the loss of my friend. We weren't always close, but our friendship spanned almost three decades. I am especially grateful for the time we were able to spend together over the past few months. We had made plans to get together this weekend for coffee. Instead, I'll be attending her funeral in a few days. 

Chris was a very special friend. No matter how much time had passed between visits, we started up right where we left off. We never parted without a hug and I love you to each other. I will miss her very much.

Saturday 15 July 2023

Getting a few things done

To start, I'd like to say thank you to everyone for your kind comments on my recent posts about the camping trip to my home town. Eli may be a bit young still, to remember much about this trip, but hopefully the photos will be reminders of the fun we had, and the family history we shared. 

Back at home, Monday was a write-off, as I still wasn't feeling up to par. Whatever this bug was that started in my sinuses and moved into my chest, it isn't about to let go easily. Every day I've been feeling some better, but it continues to linger and the nights are the worst. Thankfully, last night was much better.

The fridge was looking a bit bare, and the cat food cupboard equally so, and I had an errand to run for D, so Tuesday I had to go out. I made sure I masked up for the sake of others because I didn't want to pass this on if I could help it.  

I also had the water rental heater company out to do a service on the equipment. While I thought they'd done a change of the anode rod in January, a quick review of the copies of the work orders indicate they had not. According to my real estate agent, it's one of those things that home inspectors check and some buyers assume if one minor thing isn't done, then the maintenance of the property is lacking. Since my water heater is a rental, there was no cost to me, but interestingly enough I was informed this is the last rod they will change out unless, or until, the heater leaks. According to the technician, the company did a survey and discovered that it didn't matter whether the rod was changed regularly or not, the impact of our horrible water was the same. I can't quite wrap my head around it but no matter, hopefully it won't be an issue for me. 

Other things have been happening around here too. Here's what I came home to!

I had received a text from the Ch on Thursday to let me know that the sod was in and the patio blocks on the side of the sunroom had been installed. Of course, he wanted to be paid too. :)  I sent him a partial payment, and withheld a portion of the total cost as the work isn't yet complete. The edging between the grass and rock needs to be done, the boards are to be replaced on the shed, and the steps built. He mentioned that the latter would be done in a couple of weeks when the sod is well-established. 

My son kept it watered during my absence, and I took over on Sunday evening. I've been watering twice a day, as the day-time temperatures haven't been too high. Here's a photo I took last night. While I can still see the edges between the pieces of sod, it's looking pretty good.  

Saku has given it his stamp of approval. He enjoys the taste of green grass, though has a tendency to discard it if he eats to much. As long as I don't let him injest too much, it's all good. 

The gravel area under the tree is still a work in progress. I'd like to put a chair out there for reading, and will move the bird bath, the mower and small wheelbarrow, but for now it looks far better than it did.

I've been keeping busy indoors as well. I've decided there is a gremlin living in my house as little things keep breaking and need to be fixed. While I was away, the pump on Saku's water fountain quit working, my bedside lamp broke (that I can blame on the cat), and since then, the interior door handle to the garage has suddenly gone wonky. The first two were dealt with easily by ordering through Amazon. Saku is happy to have his water readily available again. I'd been putting water in the bathroom sink for him, because he has a bad habit of tipping bowls. The lamp I purchased was on sale, and is far better than my last one, as it has a plug-in for the cell phone charger. 

I had planned to call the lock company anyway, as I need to have the front door handle replaced. It has a lock on it, and recently we had an issue where my son was locked out temporarily while I was away (not this trip). Now, it appears that both handles may need to be replaced. I've sent photos to the company and they'll send out replacements with the technician. I'm hoping the one to the garage can simply be repaired. The appointment was originally booked for Friday afternoon, but due to the length of another job, it had to be moved to Monday.

The darned smoke from the forest fires returned Thursday, and got worse on Friday. I've had to keep the windows closed, as it seemed to be irritating my cough. I did spend some time outside while I watered the sod, and the rest of the containers. My tomatoes are doing so well - I foresee a bumper crop. I have one small green pepper and two wee (less than gherkin size) cucumbers on the vine. But it's my marigolds I that I grew from seed that are impressive.
Both are a good three feet tall, and the blooms on the plants are entirely different from the other. It seems to me, one set were grown from seeds I collected from last year's plants, the other from seeds I purchased. 

And then there is this petunia that seems to be losing/changing it's colors. The plant has mostly flowers that are white with purple stripes, but these blooms (and a few others) have changed to purple with white stripe or mostly purple. 

It's a cool day today, with a high expected of only 22C (72F). I'm planning to spend the day watching sports, baseball and football, knitting, and working on Ancestry. Sounds boring to mosts I'm sure, but I enjoy my quiet weekends.

Have a great week ahead everyone!

Thursday 13 July 2023

Memories - past and present (part 2)

Our second full day, started early as had the day prior. There was leftover bannock and bacon from the previous morning so that was what we ate. Eli was feeling much better after a decent night's sleep, so we headed to the playground to run off some energy before we hopped in the car. 

Our first planned stop was mural on Centre Street near the post office.

The artist recreated an old store front that existed well before I was born, and some of the individuals in the mural were locals he had asked permission to take photos of. One of those individuals is my dad; D and I wanted to have a photo of Eli walking with him. The artist captured Dad so well, that little half smile, and yes, he was that slim. I don't think he ever weighed more than 175 pounds and was six feet tall.

Our next stop was the Nipawin and Area Living Museum, a place where my Dad spent a lot of his time volunteering, after he and mom moved to town. We arrived just as the museum opened and were the only ones on the grounds for the hour or so we were there. I took a number of photos, but promise to share just a few favorites here. :)

There were many vehicles arranged around the back lot. I like this one in particular and we had Eli sit in the front seat. I don't know he'll ever ride a school bus, but I have many memories of doing so, though not on one as old as this one. (the sign indicates it would hold 25 passengers). 

This old log cabin was donated by the fellow who bought my parent's home quarter. The building was on the property when Dad purchased it around 1960, and was originally used as a chicken house or granary, but when we were young, it was our playhouse. Later it was used by Dad and the new owner for storage before it was moved to the museum site.

The museum has transformed it into a trapper's cabin. I remember the old cupboard on the back wall was in the cabin when we were kids, and the window to the left was our "take-out" window when we played drive-in restaurant. 

Next up was a visit to the Cherry Ridge School. None of use ever attended the school, as it was closed many years before, but the community held several events throughout the year. My favorites were the summer picnic, with games including the three-legged race, gunny sack races, and the adult's baseball games, and even better was the annual Christmas concert. After the concert, which consisted of whatever children could be coerced/convinced to sing or dance or recite a poem, and a skit written and put on by the Cherry Ridge ladies, Santa would arrive with a bag full of presents (marked girl or boy) and the ladies would hand out bags of candy too. 

Eli was fascinated by the typewriter at the back of the classroom. D and I wandered reading through a number of the exhibits. There were a few items that mentioned Mom and/or Dad as they were active in the community club and curling club.

A highlight of the museum for Eli was the train cars. Only one is currently accessible as the other has deteriorated since its installation.

I'm not certain where the cars came from but the train station was moved from, where else, Railway Avenue a number of years ago. After some convincing, we got Eli away from the train cars and through the station. There is an area where the station master might have lived, the public waiting room and ticket counter, and the telegraph office. In the latter, there is a display of various computers/computerized tills that various local businesses have donated. In the back of the station are other donated artifacts and a couple of buggies.

We made a brief stop at the church, a building my Dad fell from when painting it years ago. He was knocked unconscious from the fall and when he came to, he asked who the ambulance was for! He also told his fellow volunteers "don't tell Betty" as he knew mom would be upset to learn he'd been climbing ladders at his age (late 80's if I remember correctly). Of course she found out, and of course, she wasn't happy with him.

Finally we went through an old house - Eli was about done so we left him on the first floor looking at a display of typewriters, while D and I finished the tour.

Just outside the house was evidence of the storm damage. The volunteers had already been through and taken away the trunks and branches, but you can see how the tree roots were pulled up. There is a pile of cut wood by the one of the luckier trees.

We did a wander through the main building exhibits as well, and the worker took us to the back room where we saw a memorial to Dad on the wall. We learned that only one of the individuals who was part of his crew of volunteers is still alive and active. 

Our next stop was meant to be the local florist to pick up flowers for mom and dad's graves. However, it turned they were closed on Saturday! D was very disappointed, but we went ahead and drove out to visit their graves. We also found my Uncle Wilf's grave in the area for the World War vets. He served in WWII and was gassed in France, resulting in lifelong emphysema.

Back at the campground, we did some organizing for our trip home the next day, while Eli relaxed with his tablet. Later in the afternoon, he and I went to visit the barnyard zoo again, where he was able to feed the chickens and bunnies with some leftover lettuce. Dinner that evening was burgers and hotdogs, along with grilled corn on the cob for Eli, the remaining pasta salad for D, and raw veg and dip for me. Dessert was watermelon, and we tried s'mores over the campfire. Eli didn't like them, D didn't want any, so I ate one. Bedtime was even later than the two previous nights, and we were all ready for sleep.

The following morning we were awake early and enjoyed our last campfire before packing up the car, and turning our minds toward home. But we had to make one more trip to the playground and the barnyard before we left! A rousing game of tag, you're it, woke us all up. 

We stopped on our way out of town for fuel for the car, and breakfast for all of us. The drive went well, and we were at D and Eli's by lunchtime. Initially I had thought I would stay for a bit, before driving home, but I was not feeling well and made the decision to leave as soon as everything was out of the car.  Good thing, as I spent much of the late afternoon napping on the couch, before falling into bed by 7:30 p.m. I guess I needed the sleep.

This begs the question, would I go camping again? Well, I will say that sleeping on the ground, even on a thermarest wasn't the most comfortable. Worse still, was getting up in the night to use the facilities. (I'll leave it at that.) While I do enjoy being outdoors, and found being in among the evergreens and trees from my childhood was wonderful, I hate bugs. The mosquitos were thick, though lazy, and while I didn't get bitten often, poor Eli wasn't as lucky no matter how much bug spray his mother used. 

Despite the discomforts, I wouldn't have missed this trip for the world. It brought back so many happy memories, and some sad ones too, and gave me a chance to make more memories with my grandson and daughter. I do think, if there is a next time, I'll consider renting a nearby cabin instead with indoor plumbing, more comfortable beds, and a kitchen.

Thanks for joining me on this trip down memory lane.

Tuesday 11 July 2023

Memories - past and present (part 1)

The drive to D's was the start of the parade of memories for me. I realized the last time I was in my hometown for any length of time it was September 2008, when my Dad passed away and we held his funeral. I'd been there once since, but only to attend my godfather's funeral and return the same day. We'd made a list of places and things we wanted to do/see, and I went through each in my mind as I drove.

But first there was much packing and last minute yard work to be done. It's a good thing that I enjoyed the game Tetris as it took a great deal of turning and shuffling of items to fit everything into the car's trunk and interior. (If I were do it again, I might rent a truck, seriously!) 

We were up early on Thursday morning, after a night of revolving beds. Eli and I started on the mattress on the floor, then I moved to the couch, he followed, I returned to the mattress, he followed, and so and so forth. The little stinker then slept on while his mom and I continued to packing of the coolers and dry goods. With everything finally packed and youngster awake and fed, we were on the road by about 9 a.m.

There wasn't a lot of traffic on the secondary highway and we made good time to Tisdale where we stopped for lunch. Eli had been wonderful, only asking once how long before we get there. I had seen a travel hack that suggested, for long road trips/flights, wrapping small gifts for the child to open every hour or so. Between watching the abandoned houses (it could be a shed or granary but they were all houses to Eli), a couple of airplanes, horses, cattle, and several birds, the small gifts did their magic.

After our brief stop, it was a short 35 minute drive to Nipawin. We past the spot where the memorial comprising 16 crosses for the Humboldt Bronco hockey team was set up about 5 years ago. Across the road, from an accident in 1997, there are six crosses for the family of three adults and three children who died at the same highway crossing.

We drove through town, agog at the damage that was done in a recent storm. Trees were uprooted on the boulevards and in the yards of many homes. One yard would have significant damage while the next had sustained none. 

Arriving at the regional park just after 1 p.m., we were able to check in and start the process of unloading the car and setting up the tent. Then it was off to explore the playground.

There were three areas of playground equipment: this newer area, a slightly older area in the background (the yellow apparatus was a hit - you'll see why shortly), and outside the frame and to the left the oldest area. In fact there was a piece of equipment that I remember playing on as a child! I remember how hot that metal slide would get in the summer heat. 

The hit of the playground was the zipline. D remembers playing on it when she was a child, visiting my parents over the summer. 

Look at that face! He was so intent on holding himself up. Although his feet should be on the ring he's holding onto, he wasn't tall enough to reach the handles above the foothold. This worked well enough and he enjoyed himself immensely.

Back at camp, we finished our set-up and started dinner; hamburgers and pasta salad for D and I, a hotdog and veg for Eli.  Later we had a fire and made popcorn before turning in for the night. We were all tired from the drive, and after a round of the tickle game, G'ma won the race to sleep. I wasn't feeling particularly well, as I'd managed to catch a cold a couple of days before we left. 

We were up bright and early the following morning, well before our neighbours. Our breakfast of french toast didn't happen, because I forgot to pack the egg mix D had put together. Instead, we cooked over the fire, bannock in a cast iron pan (D), and bacon on a griddle pan (me). After a visit to the playground, to run off some energy (and a few calories), we headed out towards town.

Our first stop was at the old Nipawin Bridge. Built in 1930, and opened to vehicular traffic in 1931, it is double deck bridge currently available only to train traffic. The lower deck was closed to traffic in 2021 due to deterioration. The newer bridge was built in 1973 north of this location, but when I was a child this was the only access to the west and north of Nipawin. We rode the bus daily across the bridge, and I can recall meeting traffic, such as a grain truck, where the vehicles would have to stop and pull in their mirrors. Later a set of stop lights were added on either side, and traffic was limited to one way.

Driving onto or off the bridge required one to slow down due to the bends, though based on the railings, it would appear not everyone did. I remember a friend's boyfriend trying to show off for us, and hitting the gas as he manuevered the curves. He wasn't her boyfriend for long.

Our next stop was the Woodlawn Cemetery where I was able to locate my grandparent's graves. D was quite impressed, as I still remembered where their graves were located, and found them relatively quickly. Sadly, I could not find the markers for my great-grandparents. There was some damage here too, with a few trees downed by the recent storm.

Eli hadn't slept well the night prior, so D and I decided a drive might give him a chance to nap (it didn't). We headed out of town and drove to the farm where I grew up. Along the way, I pointed out the farm yards, naming the families that I remember living there. There was the farm where I went after I rolled my car on the gravel road, one where we got the best Halloween treats, and another where the father had a wooden leg. I recall he used to tease us kids by asking us to "check his reflexes". We never remembered which leg was the good leg. :)

I didn't take any photos, as the property no longer is in the family. I can tell you, that D was shocked at the size of the yard; once seemingly huge to her young eyes, now appeared so small. I took the chance to travel a number of back roads for a short distance, one I often rode about 10 miles to reach my aunt's house in a small community nearby, and another that led past farmland my Dad farmed for so many years. There we saw the miles of trees that we planted (and weeded) as a wind break. On the way back we stopped at the former site of the Cherry Ridge school and the curling rink where our family spent a lot of time in the winter. My Dad was once the ice-maker there and both of our parents curled.

After a quick stop at the local Co-op for a few snacks, more vegetables and fruit for dinner, we headed back to the campground. Eli was not yet feeling well, so we gave him his tablet and he hung out in the tent while D and I relaxed in our chairs. I read and did a bit of knitting, while she played on her phone and posted some photos from the morning. After a late lunch, we decided to visit the barnyard petting zoo near the park gate.

There were several pens of chickens. Later in the trip, Eli and I discovered this rooster was hen-pecked.

There were two peacocks and a white fowl I didn't recognize. 
The domestic geese were very noisy, especially if anyone came near their cage.

In addition, there were two young calves and a couple of playful goats. At one point, they were playing with a large piece of a tree limb, and later started their head butting.

But the best part of the zoo for Eli were the bunnies! There were several cages, most with adults, one with three immature bunnies and one with babies. 

These three were nearly inseparable - every time we stopped by the cage they were napping together or feeding together.

While we saw a total of seven wee ones, we were later told there are actually eight babies. Aren't they cute?

After this visit, we headed back off to the playground where Eli played/tired his mother out on the zipline. I took a short walk, down the hill toward the river where I found the old swinging bridge - no longer safe to use and the lookout. To the right, one can see the new bridge that is currently used to cross the river. I remember it added another five or six miles to our trip to town. As a result, we continued to use the old bridge most of the time. 

Dinner that evening included grilled corn on the cob, grilled asparagus, a green salad with grilled chicken, and watermelon for dessert. We stayed up later that evening enjoying the campfire. I'd brought a couple of new-to-him books, so those were read after we all climbed into our sleeping bags. The neighbours were a little less quiet, so it took a bit of time before we all fell asleep. D heard the partiers later in the night, but Eli and I both slept through the noise.

At this point, I'll end today's post since there are more photos and lots to share. 

Wednesday 5 July 2023

Wordy Wednesday

In a couple of hours, I'm off to my daughter's place for one night before we head to my home town for three days of camping. She has most of the camping gear, including the tent, camp stove, pots/pans, dishes (but only for two), and the infamous toilet bucket. The latter is something I hadn't even thought of, but on their last camping trip, a year ago, Eli showed a real aversion to using the outhouse. So D did some on-line searching and came up with the bucket idea. I haven't seen it yet, but I think it is an old cat litter tub. I picked a pool noodle that we'll cut to fit the edges to make the landing a little softer. She's providing garbage bags and toilet paper,  while I've got wet wipes. I suspect/hope we won't need to use it except at night as our campsite is just a few sites down from the public washroom. 

We both have the other necessities: sleeping bags, pillows, lawn chairs, and of course, I've borrowed the three Thermarest mats from my brother. Between D and I, we've come up with a menu plan and have split the groceries. I suspect she'll do most of the cooking, as she quite enjoys cooking over the fire. We'll pick up some wood for the fire at the park gate, as temperatures are expected to be moderate, so no fire ban likely. That's okay, I'll keep Eli entertained, and I'll almost certainly be the one to do the dishes. D is providing the dish tubs, along with the dish detergent, a scrubbie and dish cloths and drying towels. 

We've got lots planned including a trip to the cemeteries to visit my parent's, grandparent's, and great-grandparent's graves. We'll also visit the museum where my Dad spent a lot of time as a volunteer and the mural down-town that includes him striding along. Of course, we'll spend time at the park, that includes a barnyard petting zoo, a playground, mini-golf, and a swinging bridge. Years ago, there was a splash pool there, but I'm not sure it still exists. If not, we'll likely go into town to the pool one afternoon. I've also discovered there is a walking trail that I'd like check out. It's about 4.7 km. (2.9 miles). If we have time, we'll drive out the farm where I grew up, though it the old farm house burned down several years ago. 

I'm off to finish a few household chores before I fill the cooler and the grocery bag with the food I'm taking with me. I've got my camera, my knitting bag, my clothing and personal items, and a bag full of bits and pieces that I'm taking to D. The wrapping paper - I'll explain that later.

As I'll be away until Sunday or possibly Monday, there won't be a post until I return. I'm sure there will be lots of photos and fun moments to share with you when I return.

Take care everyone!