After the Party’s Over

Things calmed down after the party & the gallstone!  We came home to do more birding & stuff around the house.  My clematis is the nicest it’s been so far (red flowers are bee balm).


The park was in its own glory when we were birding there.  No bird photos, but lots of nice flowers.



I found out it was time for peas!  I ordered 8 bags of peas from the farmer’s market in Calgary, since they have the very best I can get.  The Hutterites here have some nice ones for a couple of weeks, but they are the long pods – not as sweet as the short pods!  So I headed to Calgary on my own & spent extra time with Mom (stayed with her for 2 nites).  I cleaned her curio cabinet & fridge.  Here she is reading in her new lazyboy chair.


The 1st nite I was there we went out for sushi (which I miss ALOT!) – & Mom had tempura shrimp & yam fries (she cleaned them up nicely!)

The next day we went out for the same food again for lunch – & at nite we went out for raw oysters with Jane (sorry no photos available).  I miss the oysters – & Jane!

I brought Mom back with me to Maple Creek & she even helped shell peas for hours!

In the end I froze 14 cups of peas!  Hopefully they’ll last all winter!

Mom wanted to visit her old home town (Abbey) as well as Cabri.  I had bought a rose for her room downstairs & she asked if I would mind if she placed it on her Mom’s grave.  (Of course not!) We visited Cabri 1st, though Mom didn’t recognize much.  She kept saying, “The trees & bushes are so big I can’t even see behind them!”  Her Mom & Dad’s house was demolished years ago & there is only a vacant lot now.  The locker plant (Grandpa Larson’s butcher shop) also burnt down long ago.  We did however, go for lunch at the Chinese restaurant (I think it may be the only place in town to eat except for the hotel).


We went on to Abbey & toured the town where Mom DID recognize a few places.  The old school house:


There is only 1 elevator left which actually looks like it may still be used.  Can’t be sure.


Mom at the gravesite of Granny & Grandpa Larson (the rose is what was in her room).


We also stopped at Uncle Lloyd’s grave right beside them.


Also found a number of Buck graves – Betty Jackson’s relatives.  Buck is her maiden name & she & her husband Ken were 2 of Mom & Dad’s best friends growing up.  She is one of the few still living, but is in Vancouver & not too mobile.  They talk on the phone regularly.


It was an absolutely perfect day with low winds, lots of sun & the fields were green from plenty of rain.  Look how pretty the graveyard was with canola glowing behind the evergreens.


That evening, after a long day of driving, I wasn’t very inspired to make dinner.  So guess what?  Mom says “I’ll make pancakes for you!”  Since I don’t make pancakes (waffles, yes – but never made pancakes), she got me to stir the batter & she cooked:


Holy Mackerel – what an awesome woman!  And if you think that’s awesome, get a load of this – THE NEWEST CAT  WHISPERER!  Yep, that’s Katrina on Mom’s legs!  She just got right up there.  First time this has ever happened!


The next day we went out for a drive to the hills & visited Penny & Wilf’s new house under construction.  Mom even walked up the ramp into the actual house under construction.  That’s Wilf she’s talking to.

It’s really coming along – all closed in, electrical done for now & they hope to have it mostly completed by the end of October.

We had Karen out for dinner (& stay-over) while Mom was here & Penny came too.  Poor Wilf was staying up at the construction site.



On April 3rd our new cousin Aldis came through town with her son John.  I was supposed to host them for dinner but Penny had told me the wrong date & I wasn’t ready!  Penny however, had made her salad & had frozen burgers, so we went to her place.  I made uncooked blueberry pie for dessert, since I had planned to make one anyway!


They were on their way to visit her Dad, but turned back the next morning because John wasn’t feeling well.  They did make the trip eventually though.

While out birding I took a photo of wild bee balm.  We have a domestic variety which is bright red in our yard.  This wild lilac colored one is beautiful!


Speaking of flowers, our birding bud Don, sent us a photo of his beautiful gladioli (of which he has about 30 varieties).  But this one is very unusual – WOW eh?!


He also had an awesome experience finding breeding Red-headed Woodpeckers near his place.  One was seen from his deck a few years ago, but nothing since, so this was really wonderful.  Adult left & a young & adult right.

Speaking of Don, he once again (on his spring visit) brought me a beautiful array of homemade preserves.  I used his canned home-grown tomatoes to make spaghetti sauce.  Yummm.

We had some unusual visitors  in late August.  They are horse people, live on a ranch south of Calgary & were headed for a riding vacation for a month.  They also did not stay in our house, preferring to be with their horses.  But they had dinner with us the 1st evening – then breakfast the next morning before they left!  They have a combination trailer – 2 horses & accommodation for themselves (+ 2 dogs).  Here is their elegant rig (sorry I’m not very good at pano yet!).


We had a fun time with them over dinner & I think they liked Uncle Jack’s uncooked blueberry pie for dessert!


After breakfast the next morning we went out to see them off.  It’s the 1st time I’ve had a chance to pet some horses for many, many years.  I love horses!  (Bill – not so much.)  This is Angie & Doc.


Brian is the Chairman of the Board at LivingWorks!  He had a long career before retiring & joining LW.  They are such cool people.

On Aug. 14th our “niece” Leslie Usher married her wonderful partner, Michael, in Cape Breton, NS.  It was a small ceremony on the beach with just their parents, Michael’s son Cam & two other friends.  They had a lovely day for it.  Aren’t they beautiful?!!


They live in one of the most beautiful areas in the world (we think) – the Margaree Valley near the west coast of Cape Breton.  We cycled many times past their place (before it was their place) & stayed at a beautiful lodge called Normaway Inn.   They are “homesteading” on this land they bought & raising dogs.  They also have chickens, geese & pigs. Here is some of their menagerie & a couple of extra shots (like Michael’s award-winning fish!).


Cool, eh?

On Sept 8 I finally got through to the Haven Hutterite colony & asked if I could get some chokecherries.  Well – did I get ‘em!  They didn’t have separate gallons, so I got another delivery of 5 gallons of chch’s!  I let the bucket thaw overnight to I could separate it into large ziplock bags & re-freeze them.  I’ll make juice & syrup later.  Filled up my spare freezer in the garage!

Bill has recently been diagnosed with oxygen deficiency & needs to be on oxygen full-time now.  He has made the best of his situation & has researched all the types of equipment available.  Fortunately his dose (#2) is low enough he doesn’t have to use the canisters.  He has a larger unit for around the house as well as a shoulder pack & a fanny pack.  The 2 smaller units can be plugged into our vehicles, so we can travel to Calgary, etc.  Here’s a shot of Bill (he’s talking to Mom on the phone) with his new moustache!


The beautiful Larson twins celebrated their birthdays together in Saskatoon.  Look at that, 71 & still so gorgeous!


We got to celebrate with Karen after she returned – along with Penny & Joan (2 other sisters – Uncle Bud’s kids).  I made saskatoon pie instead of BD cake:

We had been talking about taking a train trip across Canada, since we have found someone (& not just anyone – OUR COUSIN KAREN!) to look after the house, kitties & birds when we go away.  So we decided to try a short train trip from Havre, MT to Portland, OR – a good trial run.  We have a lot more stuff to take of course, including a small suitcase for Bill’s O2.  Here are a few shots from our sleeper car (which included a shower, toilet & sink + bunk beds (I took the upper).  Here’s 1 shot out the window.


Long story short, train travel is not for us!  with Bill’s extra “suitcase” of O2 & 2 suitcases of clothes/toiletries, there is barely room to move past each other.  The windows are tinted (or coated with  UV  protection) which makes it difficult to take photographs.  Food was not anything to write about either!  The cars were pretty tired looking, which may not be the case with VIA Rail, but we decided it isn’t for us.  Thanks goodness a lesson learned before booking a tour across Canada!

We had a nice stop in Portland – found an excellent Italian restaurant right across the street from our hotel.  This is the view out our window.


Dear Karen had  a major breakthrough with our kitties (that’s Katrina on her lap!).


So I guess they’re best buds now!


The trip back was uneventful, though we really enjoyed having lunch in Havre where we’d found a great little Mexican restaurant near the train station.  We got in our car & drove home!  Luckily our cats gave us a happy greeting when we got there, so I guess we aren’t on-the-outs with them after Karen!

Bill has researched (as only he can) every type of O2 device there is & has a fanny pack, shoulder pack & a smaller unit to take on trips which will fit in a small suitcase.  All are rechargeable & plug into the car while we’re driving.  Here he is doing the dusting with his fanny pack on!


On Sept. 29th, cousin Barry & wife Janet came to Maple Creek to enjoy the marriage of their beautiful daughter (well, 1 of them) Lauren.  Here they are walking her down the aisle & here are Lauren & her new hubby (sorry, I can’t remember his name) cutting the cake! (Photos courtesy of cousin Karen!)

The day of the wedding it snowed here.  Lorne Larson, who flew over from England to attend the wedding, drove back to Calgary after the reception – which took him 6 hours of pretty hairy driving!  Here’s what it looked like on our deck:


He made it to Calgary & even spent some time with Mom!  I had a practice session of making a pie with a lattice crust (saskatoon/rhubarb).  I heard a tip that if you make the lattice on a flat surface & freeze it, it is much easier to slide onto your pie than weaving it in place.  Worked like a charm!  Here are the results:

Also baked a batch of sugarless carrot cake cupcakes (grated, frozen carrots courtesy of my lovely friend Florence).  The missing one I ate plain because I ran out of frosting!  They freeze beautifully.

Our nephew Ben (David’s son) & girlfriend Omanthi came to visit for a weekend & we took them out birding!  Also to Cabri because Ben has a friend from there & he wanted to report back that he’d been there!  Here are a couple of shots he used to prove it to his friend.  L-top: sign on the way in.  L-bottom:  larger-than-life Canada Goose, wheat & prong-horned antelope on the edge of town.  R: B&O in front of the Chinese restaurant on main street!

We took them down to Morse to see if the Snow Geese were collecting on migration.  Sure enough!  Some smaller Ross’ Geese as well as a few Tundra Swans in with the thousands of Snow Geese.  Something scared them up & boy, what a noise!  Awesome!

Here are B&O in our living room & in a selfie with us just before they left!

On Oct. 20th, we ventured out to the Elks Hall to enjoy the Fish Fry.  I’m not sure how often it is held, but it was great!  Blaine (our builder, whose son Jay, was doing the French fries) recommended we go, although he had to leave for AZ before the date.  So we went on our own & really enjoyed it!

On Oct. 24th I drove to Calgary to bring Mom back with me for a few days.  We returned on the 25th, but that evening Bill wasn’t feeling well (& his lips were blue!).  So I toted him off to Emergency at the hospital.  He had pneumonia!  While we were in the evaluation room, the power went out.  His O2 machine went off, all the lights, etc.  But thankfully they came back on in about 30 seconds (the hospital has a generator, of course!).  After an initial evaluation, they sent him off to Swift Current in an ambulance!  Meantime, Mom was at our place not knowing anything.  The wind was howling at about gale force – it was really nasty out there!  I drove home with only my daytime running lights on (wasn’t thinking very straight) to tell her what was happening with Bill.  She had panicked when the lights went out, not knowing that we have a generator for our house which kicks in in just a couple of seconds when the power goes out.  So she hunted around to try to find candles or a flashlight (which she found in the back hall).  She was sitting, reading in the living room with the flashlight beside her when I got back.

Long story short, after a couple of days in Swift, they sent him to Regina. I was able to visit him in Swift & wonderful Karen went to see him the next day. Brian (what a champ) drove here on Saturday & took Mom home Sunday – so we did not have much of a visit.  She is no trouble, but I wan’t sure when I would have to take off.  She doesn’t know our house & doesn’t cook any more – so it wasn’t possible to just let her stay on her own.  I did not have my winter tires on the car & the weather forecast was terrible.  Snow off & on, lots of wind – awful (& suited my mood!).  I was able to get to Medicine Hat to have my winter tires put on, though I did not end up going to Regina.  This is Bill feeling so much better in the Swift hospital (looks pretty cheerful, eh?!)


Here is Bill’s explanation of what happened.

“STUFF has happened since we last organized “our” trip to a NZ-based cruise. I went into the hospital last Friday with pneumonia and was transferred first to Swift Current, then to Regina. Had a TON of tests, including an angiogram which showed my heart is in great shape, given my lungs.  COPD, probably “helped” by a genetic predisposition and mis-spent younger years, is the main problem. The upshot of this is that Air NZ denied my travel, so we had to cancel our trip. It actually means that we will do no more flying in our lives (and won’t leave Canada either) because they do not want anyone on constant O2 on their planes (go the states and be charged the maximum for the minimum). Airlines are not transparent about this limitation at all. They hide it behind a screening process that, in effect, keeps looking until they “find” a reason (not according to your doctors) to deny travel. The need for continuous oxygen is “treated” as a disability that they will not accommodate unless one almost doesn’t need it. They took so long to find “reasons” to deny flying that we had to pay for the trip. We did not have cancellation insurance since I had just been cleared by my internist and it was so close to the time of trip. Be careful when your accountant says, “spend money; take a trip.”

There are blessings in all of this. in Swift Current, I fell under the guardianship of a diagnostic genius of impeccable professional ethics. Basically, for ten years, I have been mis/undiagnosed and mismanaged. This internist concluded that I was being treated for symptoms but with no real understanding of what the underlying problems actually were. Got me into Regina for “the works” in one day. Not by reputation or anything (never knew); just concern for her patient. And got me into the hands of heart and lung specialists of either the same ethics or outright fear of her. Unheard of, probably. Would not want to cross her. And, I now know what I am dealing with!!!

(By the way, I note that in SK you can get an app and have access to all your medical records. Respect and collaboration are rearing their “ugly” heads—yipee. This and my treatment has given the medical community, here anyway,a big boost in my eyes.)

Lois and I also learned some very valuable new things about our relationship and about my self as well. Last of this line is that we were able to give the trip away to SK birding companions of long standing who will make the most of it—and could never have afforded it otherwise. There are easier ways to learn lessons but take them where you get them is my advice.

I got home on Halloween day! I am is still on a final dose of antibiotics but getting better every day. Hoping for a miracle and to get off oxygen and back on drugs. They have some great drugs for COPD these days but it would be a miracle. My lungs are probably in very bad shape. Testing in six weeks. Stay tuned and take care.”

The upshot of it all at this point (Nov. 20), is that Bill is feeling pretty good with his drugs & O2.  He is determined to enjoy life as much as he can.  We are planning spring birding trips (driving) & hoping for visits from friends to share our passion with us!  We love visitors!

With my darling Bill arriving home on Halloween & requesting a cheeseburger & non-alcoholic beer for his 1st meal:


I finally felt more enthused about carving my pumpkin.,


Other relatives were participating in the spirit.  Ben & Omanthi went as 2 dogs:  hot dog (Omanthi’s favourite food) & Ben was “just a dog” (not sure what type).  Pretty cute!


Karen & Steven were…(well, not sure about Karen – Steven was obviously a Jack-o-lantern).

Frannie (such an amazing artist) did such a great job making Steve into part cousin, part pumpkin!

We wish you all a very Merry Christmas & a happy, healthy 2020! 🎄🎁☃️🥂🍾🎉

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