Friday, September 22, 2017

Tap, Tap, Tap

Moiya and I had a sleep over last night. We had been to court in the morning and during the early afternoon. We spent most of that shopping time, just sitting on a bench at Costco, sipping diet Coke and rehearsing the day’s events Then Wyona, Moiya and I spent what was left of the night, doing shopping therapy at Winners. Moiya’s bought an agate necklace.

Red Silk Scarf: $24.99
Agate Necklace: $30.00

Ccst? cheaper than a visit with a psychologist
I bought a red silk scarf and Wyona couldn’t find anything to put in her basket. Wyona dropping Moiya and I off here after all of the stores had closed. Moiya and I typed up notes and finally hit the bed about 1 am.

I wanted to talk a bit more to her, but Moiya does a considerable amount of lip reading, so after the lights were out and every time I wanted to say something to her, I had to leap up out of bed, turn on the light, say my piece and then hop back in bed. I did this a number of times, for there is always just one last thing for me to say at night. When I was finally in bed for the last time, I wanted to say one last-last thing to her without turning on the light. I wanted to tell her I loved her.

That is when I remembered the way Doral used to tell Wyora he loved her. He would lean quietly over to her in church, put his hand on her shoulder and go tap-tap-tap. I must have been into my teens when I asked him what he was doing when I saw him do this at church to her. It was a one way gesture. Doral would do it to Wyora and then she would just smile. I never saw Wyora do it back to Doral.

When I asked Doral why he did that to Wyora, Doral told me that the 3 taps meant “I love you”, and that is the way he could tell Wyora he loved her anytime.

He said he would do it to me too and then he gave me one of the taps that usually went to Wyora.

On remembering this gesture, late at night, I thought I would use it on Moiya, for she was part of the family, and must know about how Doral would send this message to Wyora.

That would be better than jumping up and turning on the light again.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

All I did was hit her enough that she was startled out of the sleep she had already fallen into. And she said, What? What?

That is when I jumped out of bed again, turned on the light and explained what I was doing.  She had no family memory of that gesture.

That being over I turned off the light again.

 Then I felt, boom, boom, boom.

 Either she really loves me or I had woken her one too many times.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

On My Cell Phone

The last thing I do every night is search for my cell phone. This is made easy by my landland which I use to call my cell phone and then I can plug in my cell phone so that it has enough power for another day. That and my fit bit – they feel like children that I must remember to tuck in at night.

I should have learned to love my cell phone by now. I set alarms for medication with it. That feature should be worth the price of its existence every month.

I set other occasional alarms during the day -- to pace my work, or to remind me that it is time to go an appointment.

I take pictures with my phone. I never would have dreamed of having a phone that would take pics.

My phone keeps track of my fitbit progress. I should hail its existence. I also get congratulatory messages over weight loss or the number of steps in a day. How is that for a phone that really cares!

Occasionally someone messages me on my phone and on days when I notice I text back but I am very bad at that. After texting me a person should also phone me and get me to read the text right away, if it is something important.

I have learned how to slide my finger across the keyboard to make texting faster. How cool is that?

As well I use the microphone, and then just hope that the reader can unlock the secrets of words that I say. e.g. Moiya becomes any number of moana, moeia, my yah, etc. Never her name. I solve the problem by just not saying her name. Now that I think of it, and I feel a need to say her name, I will just say, dear sister.

I am going to find a utube video today and learn some more tips and tricks about my phone. I have watched a couple videos and am stunned by all the things I cannot do yet, most of which are about double tap or double swipe and either up and down or left and right.  Or maybe "go to settings".

I am carrying this electronic device that has more secrets than I have time to unlock. And it carries more games to play than I am learn (I just found chess on my phone a couple of days ago). And there are more books to download than I can read (I haven’t even been able to get one yet).

No wonder I don’t love my phone. It is an electronic world that I am afraid to really enter. Just a couple of steps and that is all I am ever going to do with my phone.


Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Annual Physical

What I am going to talk about isn’t for everyone. But it has been a good idea for me, an idea which started when my mother died at 55 years old. She told me that she had been to the doctor many times while having her babies, but she didn’t have an annual physical on a regular basis. I decided to honour her death, by making sure I had a physical each year – visits to the doctor for having babies or not.

The time for another physical has rolled by again and I booked my appointment – doubling up to also check in after a cardiac oblation. A resident did the exam, which makes it very thorough -- a physical exam and then checking the obvious lungs, ears and heart. As she was doing her exam, I was trying to get her to promise me 7 to 13 years more of a good quality of life. She was holding back on making any promises. The more she resisted the harder I worked to get some kind of commitment from her. Finally she said, “Look, I just came from one of my rounds in oncology.”

“Whoops,” I said. “That is a place where doctors often make life-span predictions. I am backing off.”

I did tell my regular doctor, when she came into the room, that I was surprised at the hands-on physical. A few years ago she told me that those are a thing of the past. That she will give me one if I want, but modern medicine is showing that there are better ways to test what is going on in a body than that old way of doing a physical. She said, “Residents still give them.”

I did get three good warnings from the resident: watching for dizziness, watch for light-headedness, and watch for skipped heart beats. I think all of that is going to work for me.

So I will make the predication about my longevity without the help of medical science.

I have in mind thirteen more good years. I did lament to the intern the slow rate at which I have been able to shed excess pounds.

She said, “Don’t worry about the weight. Just keep moving. That is going to be where your pay-off is.”

Since I got out of the hospital in April, I have done 10,000 steps a day, excepting the two days I travelled to Boyce’s funeral. I know I can’t keep that record up for thirteen years.

Or maybe I can.


Saturday, September 16, 2017

At the movies

LtoR: Alice, Michael, Betty
Michael, Alice and Betty came over to play.

I set up The Fox and the Hound for them to watch and then proceeded to find snacks in a snackless house.

I did have popcorn.  Everyone had a bowl the size of the one you see in front of Betty. Michael needed to eat Betty's popcorn first before diving into his bowl and so I scolded him.

"No, Michael," you can't eat Betty's until your own is finished. Please work on your own bowl. "

I had hardly got the words out of my mouth when she looked straight at me, while turning to him, passing him the bowl and saying, "Here, Michael.  You can have mine."

What?  I am the enemy?

Whenever Alice comes over, she likes to take out my crystal nativity set and play with it.  I was curious about why she did that, so I bought another set, a South American nativity, and yes, she takes that out and plays with it.  So this week I found a boxed wooden set for her, the box opening up into a stable and landscape.  At the bottom left-hand side of the picture, you can see the two wisemen getting rides on a camel and a donkey.

I poured pop for them into shot glasses.  They could drink it faster than I could fill the glasses.  We went through a can of orange, root beer and grape pop.  How fun was that, ounce by ounce into those tiny little glasses.


The clarinet goes doodle, doodle, doodle det ....

How much fun is this!  Learning to play an instrument is the most fun ever.  This brought back lots of memories.

Yesterday I was over at the Bates's house and Charise was practising for her piano lesson this week.

Now Bonnie tells me that David is going to play the clarinet this year.  I can hardly wait to get out there and hear practising from him.

Music to my ears.

I will even offer to be the accompanist when he begins to do solo work.


Thursday, September 14, 2017


... a close up of the texture of injera ...
Pouria prepared an Ethiopian feast for us tonight.

Our meal was set out on injera, a sourdough-risen flatbread with a spongy texture.

When I was looking at it, I was reminded of the underside of a mushroom.

LtoR:Iranian stew, dahl, spicy beef, roasted red peppers

My injera is draped over my 12" plate
to give you an idea of the size of my meal.

So delicious!
He had purchased the injera over at an Ethiopian grocery in northwest Calgary, and then prepared some stews to put on top of it: a dahl, a stew of roasted red peppers, and a spicy beef. “This meal is only 75% Ethiopian,” he said, for he had added an Iranian beef stew as a fourth.

They offered me a fork for a utensil, but I know that the injera is at the same time food, an eating utensil and the plate. I ripped off small portions of the bread, using it to pick up pieces of the stews.

I bet everyone wishes they were at our house tonight.


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Who matches the socks?

I am remembering more things about Boyce's funeral.

Jeanelle and Jim Livingston, Ramona Easthope and Bishop Stewart Lang all spoke.

I would say that the one outstanding memory of their combined talks centred around Elmoyne. Boyce was born in the 1950’s, in a time when Downs Syndrome children were institutionalized, rather than integrated into families. Elmoyne was one of the women who believed there was a different way, and while she would have had very little support in the way of literature or social services, she forged forward to give Boyce a life inside of the Johnson family.
Did you ever play chess with Boyce?

There were stories of him learning to set the table and that he was meticulous about it. We discovered that he was the one who paired up the socks in the laundry and that he chased down people who only put one of their socks into the wash.

We learned about Boyce’s bank account, about his piano lessons, about the first sacramental prayer that he gave and about his job performance once he got out of school.

It was a lovely funeral.

I liked the fact that it was held in the ward where Boyce grew up. Many of the ward members came to pay their respect. They were old for they had to be 20 years older than Boyce to have been there and watched him on Sundays -- first as a child, then as a teen-ager and then as an adult.

Richard, Miranda and their three children came down from Calgary to the funeral. Virginia and Cammy were there, as was Corrine McBride, Michelle Ehlrich and Aunt Martha’s daughter, Rosamond. And of course, many of the extended family of Grant and Elmoyne were there and participated in giving prayers or being pallbearers.

At the lunch after the funeral, I connected up with many people, one of which was Judy Whitehead, a woman I went to university with in Edmonton. I haven’t seen her since then and so we had to compress 50 years apart into 5 minutes of conversation.

Can life have gone by that fast?

But life went by fast for Boyce who was only 59 years old.  Lucky me to have met Boyce when he was a baby.


Fondly remembered traditions

From Bonnie Wyora:

I made some cookies on Monday.

David was thrilled.

Actually, he was thrilled with the smell in the house.

His first guess?


I used chocolate chips that had too high of a sugar content, so any of them touch the pan burned. Next time I will stick with the semi-sweet chips.

David didn't do any complaining though, and might have eaten a dozen before I finished cooking the last batch.

I told him when he said how great the house smelled, that the smell of something warm and delicious cooking in the oven when I walked in the door from school, was one of my favorite childhood memories.

He asked if I might make it a tradition, that every Monday that I have off work, that he and I bake together or I alone bake something delicious for him to eat.

Of course my answer was yes, because what more is a tradition than something that someone remembers fondly and believes it happened more than once.


Lemon Squares

Lemon Squares      Bake @ 350 degrees (15-20 min.)

1 package      golden cake mix
1/4 c.             butter
1/8 c.             water
1 lrg.              egg
1 c.                 coconut

Mix together and put in a 9"x13" cake pan.
Put veg. oil on the palm of your hand and press down.
Bake @ 350 degrees (15-20 min.)
Cool it in pan.

1 lemon Pie Filling (cooked kind)
Mix it up and pour on top of the bottom layer of Squares.
Whipping Cream for the 3rd layer of the squares.

Paleo Art and Fantasy

Jan Sovak, 40 x 71 cm, mixed media
There is an event called Nickle at Noon which runs through the fall and winter semesters at the University of Calgary and is free. Usually it is an artist's or curator's talk or some other lecture associated with the arts.  It is run in the TFDL (Taylor Family Digital Library).

Today I slipped over at noon to listen to Jan Sovak, a Czech-born, Calgary based artist who specializes in representing dinosaurs, primeval organisms and fantastic beasts.  Thus the title of the talk, "Paleo Art and Fantasy".

Fun to push my boundaries a bit, since my interest in dinosaurs and fantasy is pretty low.

I enjoyed the lecture and at one point was wishing I had brought along my notebook. Sovak showed were some widely circulated photos from the past, one of which was an event in the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park in the 1880's -- a photo of a number of scientests having a banquet as though they were sitting in the middle of the stomach of a dinosaur.

Glad I took the time to walk over and see what was going on at the Nickle at Noon today.


NT Live - review of Yerma

Billie Piper, Maureen Beattie and Thalissa Teixeria
 in Yerma at the Young Vic.

Photograph: Johan Persson
In the Guardian, Susannah Clapp reviews National Theatre Live's production of Yerma

I could not stop myself from taking a peek at the review, even though it is weeks until we will see the show here.

This is Lorca's1934 play about a woman who cannot conceive.

The show has been updated for the London stage.

Looks like it will be fun.


Also see:

A New Computer Game

From Bonnie Johnson

For Family Home Evening we played a round of Splendour.

Then David showed us the character he had created for the new game he is playing.

I liked his choice of moxy over muscle.

The new computer game: West of Loathing.

 David's character is called Cecil Simmons.

A Road Trip to Boyce Johnson’s Funeral

When Bonnie Wyora heard that Boyce Johnson had passed away, we were in Sicamous, B.C. She suggested that we take a road trip to the funeral. I have been waiting a long time to go through the Slocan Valley so we decided to take a few days and travel south through our forested province and then drive over to Alberta.

As busy lives go, our much anticipated plans were shortened, and the longer trip was compressed into a ride through the Roger’s Pass which is never a disappointment since the Slocan Valley is still there for next time. At the top of the pass and in the midst of billowing smoke over distant mountains we still managed to see the exquisite beauty of the avalanche slides, the tumbling waterfalls, and the purple fireweed blossoms along the road. A helicopter was flying to the summit, landing and then lifting again. We watched this for a while. At this point, Bonnie was taking a selfie, stepped backwards into a hole, did a graceful fall and shoulder roll and got back up on her feet.

 But she let me drive for a few hours after that and we went off in search of Advil, a suggestion from Catherine after we called her for medical advice.

I asked Bonnie why she wanted to make this trip.

She said that Boyce was her first childhood experience with a person with a disability. Now she works identifying disabilities with young children, but Boyce remains that first model that comes to her mind.

When Bonnie was telling me this, into my mind popped another moment that I had with Boyce upon which I have reflected often. His family was at the cabin on the Shuswap lake. People were water skiing. He wanted to take a try.

This was in the distant past when it was popular to begin the ski by sitting on the dock and letting the boat pull you off. Boyce was outfitted up with a life jacket, the skis were on his feet, his hands were holding the rope, and he shouted, “Hit it”.

In that split second before the boat put on the power, he jumped off the dock and into the water.

That was his first try. As the addage goes when falling off a horse, he got back on and tried again.

“Hit it”.

And off he jumped into the water before the power of the boat could get to the handle he was holding.

I don’t know why the driver of the boat gave him another chance, but he did. I can still see Boyce for the third time, on the dock, his skis on again, the life jacket straigtened, and the handle of the rope in his hand.

He was now more practiced at jumping into the water than holding onto the rope and the third time was not lucky for him.

The fear factor had Boyce into the water again, now shivering from the cold.

I don’t think my story has a point. Still, in my life, when I have wanted to contemplate desire and courage the image of Boyce on the dock comes to my mind.

I am writing this post because Rebecca said that she wanted to read about Boyce’ funeral.

Here it comes: Ramona had called Dr. Ken Hicken and asked him to play a medley of Boyce’s favourite tunes at the funeral. She gave him 40 titles. Ken told the congregation that if he had done 40 titles the time that would have taken would have resulted in a concert and not a funeral. So he abbreviated the list to 6 titles.

Of them, I can only remember “I’m Trying to be Like Jesus”, Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree” “76 Trombones” and “Climb Every Mountain”.

You may not know Ken Hicken, Rebecca. I was first acquainted with him when I was in the Department of Music at the University of Alberta in the late ‘50’s . Ken was a couple of years ahead of me, from southern Alberta, and his desire was to be a professional musician. One day I sat in church listening to him play prelude music and thought the music sounded familiar, although I couldn’t tell what Bach chorale he was playing. After the meeting, I went up to ask him about the music and he laughed. “Most people aren’t really listening to the prelude music,” he said.

“Well, I am.”

“Fine,” he laughed. “That was the popular and secular tune Harry Belafonte sings: ‘Shrimp Boats are A-Comin’. I put the tune in the base and played some religious sounding chords in the right hand, for fun.”

Now I am only telling you this because of our previous email discussion where you said you had as a model in Ottawa, a woman who had a certain measure of ‘disobedience’ at the centre of her soul.

I am sure Ken is such a person.

Fast forward to an older Ken Hicken, now playing a medley at Boyce’s funeral. Ken had gone on to get his PhD and has taught in the music department at the University of Lethbridge. He said a few words to us before he went to the organ. He announced he had entitled his medley “Rejoice with Boyce”.

Then Ken went to the organ and began to do now as he did then, threw in some musical tropes to mix people up, changed rhythms and sounds, used the pedals and then different registers of the organs. At one point I might have heard the sound of an organ grinder in one of the songs.

When he began the last tune, “Climb Every Mountain”, I knew my job was to remain focused on watching Ken’s method. He pulled out all of the organ stops, and sent the volume soaring.

Keeping myself focused on Ken’s method is what kept me from throwing myself on the pew and sobbing at the last song: “Climb every mountain / Ford every stream / Follow every rainbow / 'Till your dream”. I don’t know if it is better to let the tears flow down my cheeks, or to choke them back so that they wash down the inside of my guts.

I know how to do both.


Monday, September 11, 2017

Antigonish ... Here comes Zoe!

Zoe's sisters in Calgary had a surprise celebration party 
for her for being invited to participate
in the 2018 Canadian Special Olympics.

Charise drew a picture and the girls had it painted on a cake for her. 
They had the party at Chisholm.

This means a number of us will be absent from the lake
 next year from July 24th or so to Aug. 7th or so.

We will be in Antigonish, Nova Scotia or thereabouts,
watching Zoe complete.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Blackberry Cheesecake Brownies


for the brownies
   ¾ cup cocoa powder
   1½ cups sugar
   2 eggs
   12 tablespoons unsalted butter
   ½ cup all-purpose flour
   2 teaspoons vanilla extract
   ½ teaspoon salt

for the blackberry puree
   6 oz fresh or frozen blackberries
   ¼ cup granulated white sugar
   ¼ cup water

for the cheesecake
   8 ounces cream cheese, softened
   ¼ cup greek yogurt
   1 large eggs, room temperature
   ¼ cup sugar
   ½ teaspoon salt


1  Cook blackberry puree by combining all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes. Use a whisk or spoon to help break down the blackberries. Once cooked, place a fine mesh strainer over a small bowl and, using a spatula, squeeze through all of the liquid and dispose of the solids. Let cool to room temperature.
2  Preheat oven to 325°F. Line an 8"x8" baking dish with parchment paper and set aside. In a microwave-safe mixing bowl, melt the butter. Stir in sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, and salt. Once combined, fold in cocoa powder and flour. Pour the brownie batter into the baking dish, spreading evenly to the edges.
3  Combine all cheesecake ingredients in a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Cream for 2-3 minutes on medium-high speed. Pour over brownie batter, spreading evenly to the edges. Drizzle the blackberry puree on top of the cheesecake batter and swirl using a fork, knife, or toothpick. Try to swirl only into the cheesecake batter, not the brownie batter.
4  Bake for 1 hour, or until the cheesecake begins to turn golden and a knife inserted in the center of the brownies comes out mostly clean. Place in fridge and allow to cool for at least 2 hours but up to overnight. Cut into 9 large squares. Store brownies in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Park Hill Trails, North Loop, Canoe, B.C.

From Arta:  I look like I am leaning against a tree, but no, this is a 
trick selfie.  The truth is, that tree is three feet downhill and I am so 
tired on that bench that I can just barely turn around for the shot.  
Luckily Bonnie pulled out a sandwich: deli meat, cheese
and a tomato on French bread.  
Enough sustenance to get me back to the car.
From Bonnie:

After walking in the forest across from my house and then circling the  McGuire Lake Trail three times, Arta and I still didn't have our 10,000 steps in for the day.

Off we went to Park Hill Trails over by Canoe, B.C.

I had been on the Northern Loop once before with my friend Anita, so feeling confident I led the way.

Even if you've been on a trail before, that doesn't mean it's going to seem as familiar as you hope it will feel.

On this time up the trail there were two sets of trees laying across the path. We had to go under or climb over them. We both went over the first set of trees.

... under or over? ...
The second tree look like a tuning fork, I went through the middle and Arta went under. As she was under a branch and I was over the same branch  going over, at that time I thought, "I really hope I don't put too much pressure on this branch. If this hard-working person dies in a tree accident let it be mother nature and not me who takes her out.

Thanks to Arta, we got to rest on a wooden bench she spotted off the trail. We had a beautiful view of the Anglemont community on the shore opposite us. The Shuswap waters didn't have the glassy look of the early morning.  Quiet ripples on the lake were from boats long gone by.

We stopped long enough to see a couple of birds swooping down close to the water looking for an afternoon snack, and a canoe and a paddle boat board passed through our view.

The beach on this side of the lake is just visible and it looks so inviting, but if I'm going to take a dip it's going to be in  Annis Bay.


10,000 +

I received my favourite bear bell from
my brother's treasure chest of outdoor equipment.
I have a lifetime of middle of the road exercise.  I have a spurt, keep it going, then a few days of rest which turns into too many days of rest.  I begin my spurt again.

Now I have a Total Cardiology nurse calling me which broad questions like "how are you doing".  I say just great but yesterday I looked at my Fitbit and it said 9, 454 steps.  Not good.  I started walking around my kitchen island for it was 11:30 pm and I wasn't in for walking up and down the driveway.

Bear jumpy, even if the bears are asleep and I am ringing my bear bells and shouting,"Go bear, go."

Five hundred steps around a kitchen island.



Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Where Two Seas Meet

From Wyona

Today we spent the day in Denmark, going to the tip of Denmark where the Baltic Sea meets the Northern Sea. The tip of Denmark is becoming larger as time passes. Our bus went to a parking lot where we picked up the 'Sandormen', a trolley car which is pulled by a tractor. The ride is very bouncy and very noisy. The Sandormen takes people out to the tip of the sandbar where one can walk of the tip of the sandbar out to the point where the two seas meet. It was a fascinating experience. 

There were two baby seals laying on the sandbar doing a few tricks for the tourists. The seals were absolute hits. 

As I was walking I had to examine the weeds and any shells, very few of them and one small rock. I did manage to find a razor mollusc shell and one black rock with a grey centre in it. I like to put rocks in my world rock collection at Shuswap.

There is no swimming allowed on the sandbar because it is too dangerous. A hundred years ago there were many shipping accidents at this place. This is the first light house that was built to warn ships of the dangers in these waters.

We then toured around Skagen to view the typical yellow houses found there. 

Greg came upon a Schmidt residence. 

Tomorrow Norway.


Boys and Blackberries

Bonnie, David and Owen left the house to pick blackberries. I was to find out how to wash blackberries. I didn’t mind my task. I had no idea how Bonnie was going to get the boys to pick blackberries, given the ones they were going for are the ones on my hill, planted years ago from 3 pieces Glen brought over from the original patch by the original house. These are the thorniest blackberries in the world.

Even bears don’t want to go into the patch.

Bonnie, Owen and David came back with about 4 cups of blackberries. David and Owen may have picked 5 each. I couldn’t see any visible wounds on Bonnie.

Apparently blackberries are not to be sprayed but dipped. Put them in a colander and submerge them gently into a larger bowl of water. To get the bugs out of the berries dissolve 2 tablespoon to ¼ cup of salt in the water. Who knew? We dried the berries on some paper toweling and divided up the very last of the ice cream left from the summer. Just enough to make 2/3 of a bowl of ice cream each and then we topped the bowl up with those blackberries. No sugar. There was enough sweetness in the ice cream and in the berries for me to have called my bowl ambrosia.

We added extra berries as the contents of the dishes went down.

What is there to say except that it was a perfect moment together.

Fire in the Sky (a summer of smoke)

It was a smoky summer indeed.   Here are some photos!


Monday, August 21, 2017

The Welder's Mask and the Eclipse

"And I thought I would be on the road to Victoria and
miss the eclipse.  Just one more wonder to my day."
Tonia came over to alert us that the welder's mask was being used over at the Pilling's to see the eclipse.

We gathered up our things to run over there, but before we could get up the driveway David Pilling had brought the welder's mask over to our house.

What a grand way to see the eclipse: Duncan, Tonia, Rebecca and I, all being amazed at the sudden chill that came over the earth and then the warming again.

There will be more spectacular renditions of what happened in other parts of the world.

On our driveway, we all stood amazed.
Our view of the eclipse as captured in a phone
held up to the welder's mask.
We just couldn't help ourselves.
Then we chatted about the wonders of science, about this phenomenon when it would have been explained to us in our junior high science classes, and we talked about the general beauty of the spot where we live, of the spectacular sunsets, of the light shimmering across the water.

Rebecca gave us a further explanation about phonemes found in other a native language and how the words spirit, day and eye are all connected.

This other way of viewing the world was in response to David wanting the world to fast forward just one year, but then taking it back and saying that he must believe in others who say it is the process that is going to matter.

Rebecca, of course, wants the world to rewind in the same way.


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Boyce Kendall Johnson - passed August 18, 2017

Kelvin, Boyce and his cousin, Catherine
Boyce passed away this week.

I don't know exactly how old he was.

I think he was born in the late 1950's.

He was part of a large extended family.

I think he had 42 first cousins just on the Johnson side.

I got to know him when I married into the family and I think he was about three when I went to watch him while his mom and dad went to Banff for a summer symposium.

He was little, still in a high chair.  He needed to be hand fed still.  I got to know him well.  At least the baby Boyce.

Over the years I would tell him that I was his favourite aunt.  I told him that enough times that he began to believe it.

At least he told me so.

Over the years I  used to send a mimeographed copy of my family letter monthly, maybe even oftener to my own siblings.  I would always send a copy to Boyce, for he seemed to either read it, or know that I was trying to send him my own family news.  I tried to include a note somehow, telling him he was my favourite nephew.

My most vivid memory of an interaction with him was when he was older, but still living at home.  Kelvin and I went to visit Grant and Elmoyne but they weren't home.  Only Boyce was there.  I hadn't come bearing gifts, but I wanted to leave one, so I told him that I was going to give him a whole bag of oranges that I had just purchased for the trip.  He said his mom wouldn't let him have a whole bag.  I told him, then lets hide them in a drawer in your room and you can eat them when you want to.  He said that wouldn't work for Elmoyne would find the orange peelings in the garbage in his room.  I told him then he should take the peelings right out to the garbage in the alley and throw them there after he had eaten each one.  He was okay with that and so was I.  Kelvin and I continued on our trip home.

Months later I was with Grant and Elmoyne again.  I told her the story of how hard it was to give Boyce a bag of oranges.  I told her every detail, right down to the deal of getting those peelings out to the garbage in the alley.

She smiled and said, I wondered why one of my neighbours was putting their orange peelings in my garbage can.

What I take from this story is that I wasn't smart enough to show him how to put his contraband orange peelings in the neighbour's garbage.

The funeral will be held in Lethbridge Sept 1 at 11 am at the Stake Centre (the one that is on Scenic Drive, close to the Enmax Centre).

There will be no viewing.

The interment will be at the Cardston Cemetary at 4 pm.

Please stay for lunch with the family when the funeral is finished.  There will be lots of food.  If it is at all possible for you, please stay for a couple of hours and visit with family and friends.


The Case of the Soft Brown Sugar

First of all, no one has 5 two pound packages of brown sugar in their house but me.  I didn't buy them all.  People who have shopped this summer all come home with another package saying to me, "This is so you don't run out of brown sugar for cinnamon buns."  I will never run out, and that is when I shop on my own.  But when every family buys another, I get a back up, and so store some of them in the 2 1/2 gallon ice cream tin and put an apple in their to keep the sugar soft.


I haven't made any cinnamon buns since Ceilidh left.  I did go to grab 2 1/2 cups of brown sugar to make brownies last night and out came flying the best collection of fruit flies I have had since I did a science experiment with them in my first year college biology class.  Had chloroform been present I could have seen which had blue eyes and which had black, and had enough specimens present.

At any rate, I spent some of last night getting rid of them and that apple which now had the texture of an over baked apple, soft and wet.

The brownies were good though.

However I made them for Duncan and now wish I hadn't for we played a game of Spendor and a game of Waters or the Deep, in both of which he whipped me.  He has no mercy for the aging.  And no gratitude for warm brownies presented alongside Island Farms Vanilla Ice Cream.


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Splatsin Centre Event

Photo: courtesy of
There have been two events of the month that were high on our calendaring. One was attending a show at the Splatsin Centre in Enderby, B.C. which is only a short hour’s drive from us. We wanted good seats so we left in lots of time, arriving there before the performers, the rest of the audience and the ticket taker. We had to search him out later to pay our fee.

Two things were on my mind: seeing their beautiful new round-house where the events was to be held; learning more about this band of the Secwepemc First Nation. I was not to be disappointed in either.

The size of the roundhouse is breathtaking, as are the pillars that hold up the roof, and the architecturally grand hole in the top that leads to the sky. Room around the outside of the circle would hold the break-out sessions for any conference.

The Splatsin (pronounced splat-chine) Facebook page promised dancing, story telling, a history lesson, bannock and tea – all for $10 or pay what you can. The dancing was the culmination of work done during the school year by people 14 and under – the boys doing the grass dance, the girls doing both traditional and fancing dancing. I was studying the regalia, looking for what distinguishing marks they would have. I have been to lots of pow wows, probably more than any settler in the room, and have had lots of chances to look at both beadwork and design. In this case, one woman has spent the last ten years designing and executing most of what was worn. What was common to all of the dancers were beautiful moccasins. I studied their feet for there was a 45 minute wait for us for the programme to begin. During that wait one of the young dancers grabbed a stuffy and got a game of Pig in the Middle going. So I watched those feet run back and forth for a long time. Quite a show. The part I liked best is that they let everyone join and made sure that the youngest got his turn to be in the middle and on the throwing sides of the game.

Rebecca, Bonnie, Arta, Duncan
Ann Cook was the story teller, along with her grandson Braden, whose help she often interrupted, telling him (to the pleasure of the young kids listening), “No, that is not the way the story goes”. The story was the The Liberation of the Chinook Wind and is now in the collection called Secwepemc: Lands and Resources Law Research Project (p.138). Old habits run deep. I could not help but read  the story, more than twice, in preparation for the event. I was glad for her telling of the story fleshed out questions I was left with after reading both the story and the case brief in the book.

It has been a few days now since we went to Enderby and I have had time to think about the highlights for me. One was the history part of the show. The students marched 7 placards around the room, each one of a different image of a place in their traditional territory: the Enderby Cliffs, Sicamous, Eagle River, Splatsin, the cemetery, sunflowers. That was the piece of the programme that Rebecca loved and she wanted to see the text written down so that we could remember all that was said. I do remember the Sicamous means the narrowing of a woman’s waist, and then came the explanation that the waters around Sicamous could be seen as representing a whole body. And the space around the Eagle River has a folk tale concerning a woman dipping her hair in the river and then running to the top of the hill before it dries.

Re the sunflowers, when we drove into the centre another building to the east had a garden of 10 foot high sunflowers, maybe higher. That was stunning.

I was taken with a six foot pole onto which were hanging strings and pieces of material that sparkled. When the story telling was performed, at one point Braden Cook went to the pole, brought it close to the audience and pointed to a small bag on the pole, one which represented the bag that held the Chinook wind. I noticed that other strings coming from the pole held sparkling representations of fish. Those didn’t get into the story about the Chinook wind.

Drinks? Bannock and drinks was the half time snack. I didn’t realize that what was being offered were traditional drinks. One was soapberry tea. I passed on that one for the second looked more interesting, a tea made out of 10 items collected from the land, one of them being devil’s club. Of course that is the one I chose.

The evening ended with a traditional friendship dance, everyone in a circle, holding hands and doing one of two steps that were demonstration. The second was for those whose knees or ankles are weak. I danced the first.

Just when I think I have told about the outstanding moments another one comes to mind. A former law student at UVic was there helping with the traditional dances. When the evening ended she chatted with Rebecca and said, “Too bad I didn’t know you were here. We had a Harpoon Making Class this afternoon with my uncle. Look at the burn marks on my hands. You could have come.” Yes. Too bad but hope for next time on that one.

Photo: courtesy of
The last event of the evening was themed in a traditional way, but far down the road we were travelling home. Two cars were on the left side of the road and two were on the right, but those were facing into us. People were milling around, someone was looking under one car and the people looked in shock. “Looks like an accident, but I don’t see the damage,” said Rebecca. She slowed down in another 30 metres and there was a dead deer on the road. “If we stop to get that off the road, we will be of no help. It will be more than we can pull,” she said, slowly driving on.

I spent the rest of the drove home trying to think of ways to make the carcass of the dead deer into moccassins, but all I could think of is that Richard told me that massive bruising spoils the meat.