Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Kayak, Part II

From Bonnie:
David shot away from the beach without a glance backward.
Off he kayaked over the cement boat launch, past the docks, and beyond where the water drops off, where tentative feet no longer have the security of touching down to rock bed to reassure themselves that the shore is still in walking distance.

I felt myself out of air, then realized I was on shore, and reassurance would be found in releasing my held breath and letting go.

The Gerald Melchin Funeral

... Gerald Melchin ...
... born Kitichener, ON, May 14, 1921 ...
Greg Bates asked me if I had gone to the Gerald Melchin funeral. I did go and have some things I could say about it. There have been some wonderful families who were raised at the same time that we were growing up in Calgary, and this was surely one of them, a family who have given dedicated service for more than six decades, I would guess.

Each of his children spoke:  Barbara Nitschke, Greg, Brooke, Richard and Wade Melchin, Shauna Murdock and Robyn Creason.   Tina LaRose (Greg Fayant) and all of her children and grandchildren were also listed on the programe. as well as the names of all of the posterity of Gerald and Evelyn Melchin.

Three musical numbers were telling from a number of points of view.  One was the semi-professional sound of the group.  Another is just the fact that so many people will willing get up and sing in a chorus to honour their grandfather.

One 13 piece group of 6 men and 7 women sang "O Divine Redeemer", a dated song that is not sung often now, but it was his favourite song.

Then at least 38 of the grandchildren sang a special arrangement of "Call to Serve", another of his favourites.  His grandchildren are all adults now, except the lovely teen-ager, Elizabeth, who played her violin along with her mother at the closing song which was done by the choir, the violins and the audience joined in.

This is one page of the double-sided
insert which was inside
of the funeral programme

The congregation was uncommonly quiet as we were waiting for the mourners to enter. I think it was the extra insert in the programme that had their attention; at least that is where my attention was. There was a double-sided page of short paragraphs from his experiences, the first one dated 1925 and the last dated August, 2000. There were stories told of his business experiences, his spiritual experiences, and his family experiences. My favourite line was "I have tried to keep an open mind".

The over-riding theme from the talks of his kids was that they knew their dad loved them and they knew that their Gerald often poured out his heart to the Lord.

When the funeral was over, I saw Maxine and Kenyon Chipman.  Later I wondered how they had known Gerald Melchin, but then, of course, it must have been him who called Kenyon to be a bishop.

Here is one thing I wouldn't have known about President Melchin.  He didn't have a university education.  He had gone on a mission, then entered the army where he worked with Morse code and then he began his trucking business with his brother.  And in the short talks that were given,  I was reminded again of his love for politics or probably more broadly his love of his country.


The Evening of the Party

... the first high school graduate in our family ...
At Ross Shepherd High School the grad comes in two parts.

 The first day the graduates walk across the stage.

 The second night is the banquet preceded by a group portrait on the steps of the legislature building.

 I was fascinated about how this would be done -- so many kids gathering at 4 pm sharp for that picture!

Anita dropped Dalton and me off on the legislative grounds.

I milled around in the background, not being able to keep my eyes off of the beautiful formal gowns, the women with their hair elaborately braided, the men in new suits and shiny shoes.

Some of them new not to treat them as runners and when gingerly beginning to scramble over barricades as though they had on runners, and then backing up again.

Photographs were being taken -- not too many selfies.

Mostly parents were taking picture of groups of friends who clustered here and there, all of them dressed up for the banquet which was to follow the picture, but at a different venue.

 Not too many people can boast that their group high school grad picture occurred on the steps of the legislature.

Dalton had different groups: those he had been in classes with; those he had performed with in plays and musicals; those he had done group work with; those who had been in clubs with him; all of them new friends, since he had entered high school in a new city.

Anita kept her camera in focus as groups of kids gathered, all wishing each other well.
Who deserves the biggest bouquet at the grad event is the person who does all of the chaufeurring, in this case, Anita.

She appears in few of the photos.

She was the driver to the group photo, to the banquet, and to the after-grad party, an event that lasted well into the morning hours of the next day.  As well she was the driver bringing Dalton back home in time for work the next day.  There is a special place in heaven for parents like her.


Two New Kayaks

June 29, 2016 ... a beginner's voyage
From David:

This is my first home day.

Its almost noon.

Mom and I raced to the beach to have some time together before we pick up Jeremy.

 I tried out my new Kayak.  We have two of them.

I learned how to use my paddles as a squirt gun.

I unlock the two paddles so they are separate.

Then I fill them fully with water.

When I put them back together; they squirt water everywhere.
... not bad ...

I love it.

It is so fun. It was tricky at first, but then got super easy and fun.

I have already gone 1/3 of the way across the lake.

... getting my weaponry ready ...
I have not figured out how to aim the water stream at someone yet.

It mostly goes over my shoulder and squirts my mom's phone.

 I love the Lake. Please, everyone come out soon and I will take you for a ride on my boat.


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Dalton's High School Graduation

Grad Night for Ross Shepherd High School, Edmonton
There are some rites of passage that can’t happen enough times, though we only get one chance to do it ourselves: high school graduation.

But lucky those who have children and then grandchildren to watch.

Dalton’s class was a big one: 600 students. 

Doral had the calculation done before hand: how many seconds each grad would have on stage.

He estimated 10 seconds and he was correct; that is how long it took for the students who’s last names started with the letters A-K. Then the students got the idea of how this was being done and they sped the event up on their own, only about 5 seconds between the calling out of each name.

No diploma inside of this folder!
Ross Shepherd High School is a pro at graduations.

The balloons decorated the venue, Grecian pillars were on the stage and a white arch through which the students walked was the centrepiece.

Some of them stopped for their first second of immortality, posing for family and friends, or doing a small dance, or hugging the principal just a little too long.

Doral thought that Dalton would either do a full rolling tumble and end up on his feet or nothing at all. It was the later.

The tassel on the mortar board was flipped from left to right by the principal. Of the whole 600 students, he only pulled the tassel right off on one of the student’s hats.

  .... Dalton and Arta leaving for the grad evening ...
If each of the 600 grads brought only five people, as Dalton did, there would have been at least 3,000 people there, either lining the halls or queuing up for the stairwells to get in and out of the arena.

Dalton said it was an event, watching all of the people he has known for 3 years walk across the stage.

Some he has been in school productions with, or in classes with or has known as close friends.

 Five seconds for each can bring back a host of memories.

 .... Meighan and Doral in the audience ...
As well, the school website has a confession page.

Dalton liked following along on the Facebook site, even telling us later that when people who were really hot walked across the stage, that hit the confession page went bezerk.

Thank goodness for texting.

Dalton had a new suit – well he felt he had two new suits, since a different vest, shirt and tie were also purchased, so if not two suits, at least two looks.

LtoR: Arta, Ron, Ceilidh

Ceilidh was on a campout so she missed Dalton's graduation night
The next day she was busy at a Lacrosse tournament.
Now there is a game no one else in the family has done yet!
He had finished all of the courses needed for high school graduation in January, so his diploma came in the mail in February.

 Others of his classmates were handed a diploma. Dalton laughed when he could see he was only handed a blank folder, but then who needs two high school diplomas when one will do.

 LtoR: Meighan and Dalton:
"Finally the evening is over.  Now to the restaurant."
We went out to Boston pizza when the evening was over: Grandpa Ron, Doral, Anita, Meighan and Dalton.

 A good night for all, since the appetizers were buy two, get the third one free.

Congratulations, Dalton.


Saturday, June 25, 2016

Pencil sharpener

"Do you think this is sharp enough, Grandmother?"
Michael is in a 4 1/2 year old investigative phase.

First the stapler was the find of the day.  He stapled in duplicate and triplicate and then tried to use the staple remover to see now that worked.

Now the electric pencil sharpener has become an amazing piece of equipment.

Soon all of my pencils will have the finest point ever -- and 3 times over.

This is the kind of "fun at grandmother's" that I relish.

As well, though not connected to the pencil sharpener, this morning's breakfast talk was around the compost in Richard's yard. A heavy stone covers the opening at the bottom of the bin. The stone is moved away every night and compost is spread over the lawn. Richard called his father-iin-law so that he would name potential varmits: a coyote, a mature skunk, a large rabbit, or perhaps the crows who have been known to take the lid off of the compost. Chris has a camera that is activated by motion. In true detective mode, the men are going to set up some night surveillance.

Stay tuned.


Friday, June 24, 2016

The Rabbit Traps

... trap for small animals ...
a Canadian Tire special

As Glen says, if you can't buy it at Canadian Tire,
you don't need it.
Richard has been wanting to trap whatever it is that comes through our yard at night – rabbits or squirrels he said, since we see them in the day as well.

 Ron Treleaven put Richard onto the Canadian Tire centre of the isle sale of animals traps.

 If they are half price, why not get two.

The preferred bait seems to be peanut butter on bread.

I knew the trap wasn’t working that well when I woke in the middle of the night to a squirrel scratching on my window, one who had fallen into the window well. “That animal is wildly scratching,” I thought to myself and adding, “well, a middle of the night gift, that nose against my window pane.”

I turned over and slept while it kept scratching.

I told Richard the next day about his trap failure and left it at that, but again, in the middle of the next night, that wild scratching again. I didn’t go investigate, but may have thought, darn that squirrel. I could see the nose against the window and the claws on that dark night, though there was no moonlight

I went to check in the morning to see if it was out of the window well yet.


And it wasn’t a squirrel.

... finding shade in the middle of the day ....
A tired skunk – going on three days in the window well. I checked twice and it did have enough energy to move out of the direct sunlight still and into the shade.

Greg came over and put two planks in the window well for it to make its own escape.  My guess is that the skunk had no energy left.

Richard called pest control. They told him good luck at removing it.

Now for the worst part. On its way to skunk heaven it left its final gift.

Pouria had the doors open when I went to tell him of the skunk’s demise. He said he has never smelled that before, and he thought some toxic chemical had been released somewhere, so he was opening all of the doors and windows. I thought, better to keep the scent outside as far as possible.

Internet searches for help on the clean-up seem to agree: hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, vinegar, bleach – and also pest control’s “good luck”.

Oh yes, I have also been praying for rain.


She Took Me In

There was a viewing tonight, prepatory to the Gerald Melchin funeral tomorrow.  

Many of the Melchin family were there at the church.  

Evelyn, now 93, was sitting in a chair receiving people.  When I leaned over to give her my name she knew who I was.  Then she said my mother’s name.  “Wyora.  I loved her.  She took me in.  And she loved my family.  Someday I will see her again.  Wyora.”

Yes, I thought to myself.  All of us should be so lucky.

If you didn't get a chance to see the obituary of Gerald Melchin, you can look here.

Evelyn is 93 now and lives in Royal Oaks.

Shawna asked about Rebecca, since Shauna was her piano teacher many years ago.  

I stood in front of Judy Takahashi in the lineup.  Judy was one of Gerald’s caregivers in the last few weeks.  I commented to her that most of us know at least one thing that is bad about our friends or colleagues or acquaintances, but I couldn’t really think of anything bad about Gerald Melchin.  

While I was letting this roll around in my head I was thinking of the spin-off of this kind of goodness, since one of his sons comes to home teach at our house.  Brook came initially on a church assignment but his visits have transferred him into a trusted friend.  We know him as a man who will give help even when it is not convenient for him to do so.  I don’t know if Gerald had that same quality.  He must have been proud to have a son who stands so tall.

I stood behind a woman in the line-up who turned to me and said she thinks she knows me.  She had on a name tag: Sister Conrad.  I didn’t have on a nametag so I had one advantage there.  I gave her my name.  It turned out her maiden name was Wendy Markowski, Moiya and Glen.  She remembers both of you fondly. Strange how the past catches up with us, in this instance, in a heart-warming way.

My favourite part of the evening was seeing half a bag of miniature marshmallows on one of the chairs – the best part of families – that they span in age from the nonagenarian to babies, and all being taken care of at the same time.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Simple Joys

The show is so fascinating that the kids don't
realize that the snacks are vegetables.
The truth of our lives is simple.

We spend a lot of our time in our back yard or in our homes if the weather is too hot outside.

Wyona delivered to us some old technology: a TV that runs VHS tapes.

Not only did she bring us the monitor, but it came with about 15 movies from the past:  The Lion King, The Toy Story, Dr. Seuz Stories and Buzz Lightyear.

All I had to do was pull out cherry tomatoes for Alice and some carrots sticks for Michael and our afternoon was set.

"Want to play Wack-an-Ankle?"
We have one other item that really works outside and which you can see in the upper right hand corner of this picture of Michael.

What really works is that fire pit in the back corner of the yard.  Last week it roasted some of the most delicious deer sausages known to man.

And Miranda found some chocolate covered biscuits that do away with the need for having graham wafers and pieces of milk chocolate separate in some-mores.  All she had to do was roast the marshmallows and put them between the 2 chocolate covered biscuits.

That makes living in the 21st century a life of ease.


Party Games

"Hard to believe this fuss is about me!"
When the birthday cake had been devoured and when I thought the party was over, a third event opened up for us: playing family games.

Last week we were practising a game with pool noodles which we have nick-named "Wack an Ankle".

The rules are contained in the game name: you can wack your opponents, but only on the ankles.

This leaves room for you to accidentally go a little higher, but not much.

... one balloon for Betty ...
... handfuls of balloons for the rest of us ...
The way we play the game involves a lot of running after each other, calling out "you are it", screaming and trying to get people to go after someone else, not you.

I am not a fast runner, but what I lack in speed, I make up for with strategy, running in circles around trees or circling what we call the tree house -- a lovely piece of playground equipment that is not in a tree, but that doesn't seem to matter to the people who call it "the tree house'.

... helium free balloons ...
Miranda upped the ante at Betty's party by replacing the pool noodles with balloons and stick purchased at the dollar store.

We divided out the balloons and then began to chase each other, holding onto the long sticks and screaming in mock terror, both when we were hit, ... and screaming in real terror when a balloon would pop unexpectedly.

Betty's First Birthday -- fun for all.


Happy Birthday, Betty

Happy birthday candles being lit for Betty .
Alice turned 1 on June 16th.

Her party was celebrated shortly thereafter with a small family gathering -- the same gathering that happens every night in our backyard about 6:15 pm.

But this time dessert came in the form of a happy birthday cake -- a gluten free cake.
All of this is for me.

I am not a fan of watermelon, but this watermelon cake looked too good to be true.

There it was, rimmed with bananas along the bottom edges and the top, and heaped with blueberries in the middle.

Large pie-shaped pieces filled all of our plates.

I never take a piece of watermelon when it is passed out in the summer.

But I took two large pieces of this cake.
... hard to keep the juice off of my chin ...

Nobody seemed to miss the old form of birthday cake -- not the cake mix, nor the icing sugar and butter whipped together and then heaped on top.

The cold juice from the watermelon slid down Alice's form, along her hands and down her elbows but the day was hot and the taste refreshing.

Happy first birthday to our Betty.


Monday, June 20, 2016


"Thanks for letting me help, Grandmother."
Alice and I were weeding behind the fence of her backyard and up against the garage.  Michael had helped with four tall weeds, just enough to know that he didn't like the scratchy feeling of the plants against his arms, not the repetition of pulling weeds, one after another.

Alice had bigger dreams.  She took the weed pile that I was collecting and dragged it back into her yard on the other side of the fence, trailing weeds and roots all along the way as she took them back to her mother's lovely tended vegetable garden.

Better I should have left the weeds growing than have to pick up the mess my helper Alice made.


Thursday, June 9, 2016

Wyona-Death Come Quickly or Herb Robert

While weeding at the lake I often come upon this lovely little fragrant flowering pink plant.  I went out a few days ago and picked some wild flowers to paint. This plant was one of them.
You can find this plant among the other wild flowers I picked from our path down to the lake. It is at the top of the painting.
I searched on line over a dozen websites looking for this plant. I asked the expert neighbor, Glen next door and he only could say he thought it was a weed. Too beautiful to me to be a weed.
Until I found it tonight...I took the plant over for Janet to see because she has never seen it.

Here it is up close. It is called 'Geranium robertianum, Herb-Robert', Red Robin, Death come quickly, and Stinky Bob in Washington; a noxious weed.
In traditional herbalism, Herb Robert was used as a remedy for toothache and nosebleeds. Freshly picked leaves when crushed and rubbed on the body the smell is said to repel mosquitoes. It was carried to attract good luck enhance fertility. I just love the long tapering and beaklike flower/seed.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Morning Walk - timing myself on walking to the hospital

West Campus Pond
... all of this green in the middle of the city ....
I head out of the house, determined to walk an hour every morning.  The ideal walk is to the West Campus Pond, but it is just 7 minutes out of reach if I only go for a half an hour each way.  Hard to believe that a space like this with acres of land is right in the inner city.  There is an initiative to develop West Campus and one set of my friends are planning on buying a condo there in 3 years when she is 70.  Imagine the bonus of being right on campus for the rest of your life and having all of that culture there available to a person.  Whoops, I already just about have that.

Today on my walk, I slipped into taking a different direction to see how much time it would take me to walk to the Foothills Hospital.  Just the same amount of time and the bonus along the way is the shopping centre -- which turned out to be no bonus for me.  All of the merchants have moved out of there -- gone is The Cat House and the Billingsgate Fish Market as well as the Chinese Buffet -- a big renovation taking place in the strip mall and the merchants are 90% gone.



... an iris in our neighbourhood ...
A few weeks ago Michael asked me what neighbourhood means, so as we take short walks at night after supper, we look around our "neighbourhood" to see what is going on there that is new.

We have been known to gather beautiful rocks and stones along the way.

Yesterday it was about 81 degrees Fahrenheit as we began our walk but Alice insisted on wearing a white fleece hoodie.  I couldn't dissuade her, and since it was a contest between a 2 1/2 year old who knows her own mind and a 70 year old grandmother who didn't really care one way or the other, she got to wear the jacket.

We walked by the new infill, noting that the basement forms have been filled with cement and are coming off.  We hear a loud discussion between the contractor and two workmen on the sidewalk in front of that infill and we listened in for a minute and then continued down to 24th Avenue where our community is getting a new sidewalk, and perhaps even a new lane for traffic just at the Crowchild intersection.

Yes to our community, always under construction.

Alice picked up rocks along the way home, putting them in the kangaroo pocket of her coat.

"So that is the reason she had to put that fleecy on before we left," I idly thought.  "She knew ahead that she needed pockets."

I dropped the kids off at their home and continued working around my yard, filling up my black and blue recycling containers for the pick up in the morning.

Richard came outside and  yelled over his porch to me, "Sixty-three,"


"Yes," he continued, "I just emptied 63 rocks out of her pocket from her walk with you."

I waited until she had gone to bed before going over there to get the rocks and return them to the alley.

Yes to recycling rocks ... from one alley to the next.


Saturday, June 4, 2016


From Bonnie Wyora:

It's a beautiful sunny Saturday.

 The apple tree and cherry trees by the noisy and quiet cabins
are getting ready for you to visit.

The water last night was so perfect
(once David and I got in) that he said,
"Let's never get out of the lake.
The water feels amazing.
I can walk as deep as I want and I am still in the ramp."

Not many boats out on the lake yet.
The loudest sound right now are some very chirpy birds.

David says "Don't forget your bug spray."


Glen brought me over a the beginning of a climbing vine.
He told me to have patience, that it would grow.
That was many years ago,.
I didn't have much patience.
Still, every year I weeded, watered and tended that plant
I want to be in two places at once.

I am asking the impossible.

I should be happy to be in one place at a time.

... digging around the base of the vine ...
... lifting the earth up ...
... pulling out the weeds ...

In B.C. I spent most of my time last week with a shovel and a pitch fork, trying to get the weeds out of the raspberries vines and separating the peony bushes from other plants that love the rich earth they are planted in.

There is a joy in cleaning around the base of the lily plants.

When I drive into Sicamous there is a house at the end of the T the leads either to the channel, or if you go the other way, to Askews.

At that T is a length of lilies as long as the yard on which the house sits.

Now I have some of those lilies by the side of my house and can hardly wait until they grow as tall as the bushes I have always admired.
Now the vine has grown
enough to have caught onto
the pole and begun to climb.

As Glen said, "Be patient, it will grow."

Lately I read one of those sayings that are meant to change people's lives, or at least comment on them.

This one said something like, "I don't want to spend my old age gardening."

What, I thought?


Thursday, June 2, 2016


 ...wetpond at the UofC West Campus ...
One of my favourite walks is straight west from my house.

I don't have to think about turning a corner nor even about traffic patterns.

Tonight Rebecca and I didn't start out until after 9 pm for our exercise but we took that root, heading on past Starbucks, past Domino's Pizza and past Subway.

She was thinking about a paper she is right and I was thinking about stretching my gait and putting some weight on my arms to keep fit.

While Rebecca took pictures I listened to the evening sounds of the birds and insect -- buzzes, chirps, quick melodies.

I am not that good with tracking animals, but I am sure we saw Richard's rabbit again, maybe a couple of times.
The sun was casting its last rays onto the east hill
and a duck is swimming in the middle of the pond.
All seems right with the world.

On the way home we heard such a racket.  Probably from the pack of coyotes on west campus.

An animal in pain. Such howling.

And a dog barking. Soon it seemed as if there were a pack of animals with noises filling the air everywhere.  That is my first time coming across that kind of night music.


I collect rocks

... my collection of the day ...
Alice and Michael and I have been out collecting rocks at the parking lot of St Pius Church on the corner of 24th Street and Crowchild Trail. 

Alice puts her rocks in the pocket of her hoodie until it hangs down far below her knees. 

Michael took his biggest triangular shaped rock and put it on his head, asking me, "Do you think my shadow looks like a dinosaur". 

 I looked down.  Sure enough -- a dinasaur. 

Then he asked me, "Do you think I look like a king with a crown?" I could wrap my head around that as well.  His question to me was so close to the lyrics of "Where you ever in Quebec' that I sang "where there's a king with a golden crown" all of the way home.

 ... a 3 person selfie organized by Aunt Rebecca ...
I had encouraged Michael to collect only the smooth, small rocks.  I figure that he can get more rocks that way.   But there is always a big one that gets into the bucket ....

Our adventure made it hard for me not to be reminded of Al Simon's "I Collect Rocks", which I just went out to find at minute 3:08 on this utube segment.

I love that song!


My First Peony

 .... my peony bush is loaded with buds this year ...
I always thought that peonies required ants so that the buds could open into blossoms.

The University of Michigan website says this is not so.

And they give a tip.  If you don't want those ants inside of your house, plunge the blossoms into water before making a bouquet of them in your house. 

I have one other tip about peonies.

I picked my first one of the year tonight to put on the picnic table outside.  The length of the stem was making the arrangement unstable so I took my scissors and cut off an inch or two.  Then I cut it a second time so that it would just fit in the Emile Henry Lion's Head Soup Bowl that I was using as a vase and be secure on the table.

Only a few minutes later, I was plating up a garden salad, and absent mindedly pick up a piece of celery that had fallen on the table and popped it in my mouth.

Well, I shouldn't have, but old habits die hard.  Not only was the piece bitter, but it was so hard to chew -- tough and stringy.  Try as I might, I couldn't get it to a place where I dared swallow it.  That is when the penny dropped.  I was chewing a piece of a peony stem.

I do not recommend it.

I do recommend eating outside in the evening with the family next door.  They tumbled out of the house t hat is next to ours, at 6 pm,  bringing 2 pizzas:  vegetarian and cheese.  I supplied the salad (peony stem for my mouth only), and candy cotton grapes for dessert.  I know the grapes are expensive, but if you haven't tried them yet,  do. They are a wonder though Michael says to him, they taste like dirt.


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Those old pictures -- curlers

Arta, Wyona, Wyora, Bonnie
... the picture is dated July 1958 ...
Rebecca was humming "Short shorts" (sung by The Royal Teens, written by Bob Gaudio)  and asked me to come over and take a look at another of the photos, now hidden between pages of scrap books where the photograph tips have fallen out and the pictures are slipping from their old positions.

Oh yes, that is me -- my arms hanging below the hem of my shorts and with my white shoes unbuckled.

I have no idea where we are, except that a Nature Trail sign is pointing to the east.  It looks like all of us have piled out of a car, 3 out of 4 of us with our hair in rollers or bobby pins.

I can't remember my sister, Bonnie, ever wearing pants with a wild striped pattern like the ones she has one, but the evidence is right in the picture.

If you enlarge the picture Wyona seems to have a large bird decorating her left shoulder which would be typical for her.  And look at her face -- any evidence there that she is related to Gabe Treleaven?

Here is my question to you  Given that I can't get women to pose for a picture anymore ("No, I can't, I look awful"), how is it that the 4 of us peeled out of some car and let Doral take our picture with our hair in curlers?

And don't let the answer be, "You are just stupid, I guess".