Covid19 Christmas 2020 then the unthinkable.

Certainly a quiet Christmas was the order of the world this year & we were happy to oblige. We did have a visit from a Christmas deer. They like to drink the water in our birdbath. THis photo was taken through our window which has the dots – they prevent birds from crashing into them.

I made some shortbreads to send to Mom, since she finds it hard to stand & cook for long periods of time (like to make dough!). I am happy to do it & created my own decorations by cutting out a tree & a star shape on a hard piece of plastic. Then I colored superfine sugar w/ green & blue coloring. I had to carefully press the stencil on the raw cookie, sprinkle some of the correct coloured sugar then lift without too much sugar falling back on the cookie. I used silver dragees on tree top & star centre.

I also made little holly sprigs on another batch from cut up red & green marachino cherries (which I think are Mom’s favourites).

Bill bought me some earrings for Xmas – that don’t have an open gap at the back, which gets caught every time I remove my mask (or my sunglasses which are on a string). They work great & I think they’re beautiful.

Here’s how they open.

They have diamonds down the front & on the inside back.

We didn’t decorate the house (fear of kitten havoc!) but I set the table & had a few flowers on the counter & on the table. I also displayed all my Xmas cards on the piano.

We cooked a cornish game hen (no turkey this year I’m afreaid) with brussel sprouts, potatoes & gravy plus cornbread stuffing. Here we are at the table with Mom’s beautiful green goose placemats she made us years ago!

We had pumpkin pie for dessert (no photos of that!) and we had to work on it for quite a few days. We watched “Love Actually” on Christmas Eve (another feel good film).

After Christmas I had some great phone calls from the Usher kids. Funny thing is that all 3 are planning to (or already have) chickens! Jill & Cole in Victoria (Saanich, actually) have 5 chickens & a nice coop in their back yard. Apparently they are very near a farming area, so it’s not such a surprise. Here is a photo they sent of their pretty chickens. They are called Red Rock chickens and are a cross between Rhode Island Red and Barred Rock. Wow!

Of course Leslie & Michael were the first to have chickens & have added dairy cows to their farm (I believe they’ve actually registered to be an official working farm now!). They are looking after a neighbour’s horse this winter & that really makes it a farm (Leslie says it smells like a farm too!). I had a wonderful photo from last year of their chicken w/ chicks.

Al & Erin in Kingston, ON are planning on getting chickens but don’t yet have a coop. They do, however, have a new rabbit named Neil, along with their 2 cats.

New Year’s Eve wasn’t much different from any other – in bed by 9 PM! However, I had wine with my meal & Bill had a small finger of scotch later. We toasted & hope for a much better year than last. My dearest friend Sandy made us a Happy New Year card (she’s such a tallent).

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THE UNTHINKABLE HAS HAPPENED

My darling husband has died. He collapsed after we came up from the basement on Jan. 12th & stopped breathing. The EMS team tried to give him O2 but he was too far gone. It has been very difficult to accept that he’s gone. He was my rock, my best friend & my love. Here is his obituary which I wrote with input from my family & friends.

(This photo was a selfie taken w/ our friend Don who was out birding with us a couple of years ago. I had Bill separated in the photo from Don & me because I think it’s a beautiful photo of his smile.)

Dr. William Arthur Lang. April 22, 1944 – January 12, 2021 (Age 76)

Dr. Bill Lang died of respiratory failure after a long battle with lung disease. He leaves behind his wife of 43 years Lois Lang who will miss him terribly. He was predeceased by his mother, BerDeen George, brother Clark Lang, and father William Arthur Lang, all of Oklahoma. Also his dear father-in-law Steve Bleakley of Calgary. He is survived by his precious relatives from the US, Lou Ann Buck, Dana Buck, Paul Buck, Edith Cranor-Buck, and Hollin (Greg) Buck Anderson, all from Missoula MT. Also Maren (Mike) Buck Kinsinger of Westhampton, MA. He leaves behind his dearly beloved Calgary relatives: mother-in-law Isabelle Bleakley, brothers-in-law David (Inga) Bleakley and Brian Bleakley, nephew Ben Bleakley, neice Katherine Bleakley. He will also be mourned by all of his cousins to whom he was very close, from both sides of the Bleakley family across the US and Canada as well as Great Britain and New Zealand. 

Bill was a remarkable man with many interests as well as being a gentle, humble and modest soul with a great sense of humour. Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he finished a Bachelor’s degree at Oklahoma University. He was drafted into the Vietnam war where he served as a medic and when he returned to the US, moved to Canada with his first wife Virginia Young. They began birdwatching together but were divorced in 1976. He went to University in Calgary where he received his Education degree so he could teach school, which he did for several years especially helping troubled children and young teens. During the summers he worked as a field naturalist at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary where he met Lois. He went back to UofC to obtain his Master’s and PhD degrees. He was the counselor at the Banff School of Fine Arts (Banff Centre) for 25 years part time. He and Lois took cycling vacations all over the world for 25 years, including birding in their adventures. They also did birding trips to many special places in the world – their favourite being Antarctica. 

He was an excellent and prolific photographer who could find the right frame for any scene from nature, especially if a bird was present. His photographic legacy would make an excellent exhibition. His photos grace the walls of his home. He was a man who could do anything he put his mind to, including integrating modern technology into his life. When he and Lois moved from Calgary to Maple Creek, SK 7 years ago, they built a new solar-powered home which he designed. It incorporated the latest technology and is an energy-efficient, high-tech marvel. It also has a yard full of bird feeders and plants to nourish bees and butterflies. Maple Creek is a wonderful area for birds, and he and Lois had many outings with their special birding buddies from SK (Don, Ron, Julie, Moe, Marg and Carman). 

The greatest legacy of his life is surely his work in suicide prevention. Over the last 40 years he and his partners at LivingWorks Education developed the world’s leading suicide intervention training programs. They provide communities and organizations with suicide prevention solutions encompassing thousands of trainers, and have trained over a million people to prevent suicide. He wrote most of the programs with input from his wonderful partners. Few can claim they had so profound an impact and saved so many lives. 

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I need to leave this for awhile now.

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