Sunday was the official first day of winter here in North America. And by North America I mean Canada. It started getting cold last Wednesday. Things got kicked off by a good old winter storm which brought us a bunch of snow. Then on Thursday the tem
perature started to plummet. We had -15’s (Celsius) through the weekend, and woke to -21 this morning.
The temp continued to drop throughout the day — we reached a balmy high of – 21. By the time I left work it was – 25. At 6:15 when I left for my yoga class it was -28. By tomorrow morning we’re only going to get a couple of degrees colder. It should be – 30 at 6 a.m., BUT the windchill will make it seem like – 42!!!
Is it any bleeping wonder that I hate winter!
I will do my best to be positive — but it would sure be a helluva lot easier if I didn’t have to face going out into that tomorrow.
Good night, sleep tight and dream of tropical breezes.
Okay, so let’s see. I left off at the Vauxhall Legion. We sat around for a bit, talked to some of the ‘old folks’ who knew Wilf and Gerry from when they lived in Retlaw and then headed out to the homestead.
Not that there’s any homestead left. The land was sold off long ago and all that remains of the old place is a small shed where they used to pump the water. We found some bits of chain and remnants of old farm equipment, but really nothing left to tell that this is where my husband’s family originated.
It is hauntingly beautiful country, though. As far as you can see: gold prairie grasses sighing beneath a sky of palest blue that’s been brushed ever so lightly with gossamer clouds. Then, look out across to the south and you can see the Union United Church of Retlaw. It’s just a plain, white church surrounded by more prairie and a few dilapidated houses. Barb wire fence runs along the western edge and there’s a big rock sitting just north of the entrance that someone sandblasted with the name and date of establishment. The rock looks strange, out-of-place. But it shows that people care.
Enough people cared to renovate and rebuild the old church. Tim’s, Rick’s and Rob’s parents were two of them. The inside of the church is quaint. Very plain. But beautiful, just the same. Like the prairies. I’m not a religious person, though I would say that I am spiritual. I like going in the church at Retlaw. It’s comfortable, and I can easily imagine the sense of welcome and comfort that many of the pioneer families must have received when they gathered inside its rough country walls.
The ‘boys’ wandered about a bit, went out to the old graveyard where their great-grandmother is buried. The graveyard is a couple of miles from the church in the middle of a bald patch of prairie. There’s a gate to mark the entrance, but no road — you simply drive in across the field and stop an appropriate distance from the first weather-beaten headstone.
Once the tour was complete we headed back to Lethbridge. We had another wreath to lay at the cemetary where Wilf and Gerry are buried. By the time we got back to town, everyone was tired. And hungry. We decided a snack was in order. So back to the house we go, where we gobble up a couple of buns, then it’s find some warmer coats because the ever-lovin’ wind has picked up. The sun is going down and Connie is beginning to fret that we’ll be laying the wreath in the dark.
However. . .
. . . it is determined that we must make a beer run before we can go to the cemetary. I’m no longer driving, so I don’t care. Although, I’m with Connie as for laying a wreath in the dark in a cemetary with gale-force winds and the threat of snow in the air. Eventually, we arrive at the gravesite and we all pile out and head over to where Wilf and Gerry lie. It’s freezing, our teeth are chattering. We apologize to Wilf for being so late and in such a hurry. We know he’ll understand, though, because these are his boys, after all, and he grew up here in the south, where the wind never seems to stop.
Back at the house we make plans for dinner, but Connie and I decide we need a nap first. We leave the boys to have a beer and play with Rick’s blood pressure machine.
Yes, you read that right. Blood pressure machine. They’d started playing with it the night before, right after Tim and I arrived. They’d tell a joke, then check their blood pressure. Have a beer, check the pressure. Watch TV for ten minutes, check again. Kids. Connie said that come Saturday night, when there was a party for Rick and 3 of his friends who had all turned 60 that year, the blood pressure machine would have to be hidden away. We could just imagine it becoming the most interesting ‘game’ of the night.
All that checking of blood pressure’s, however, bore some fruit. Rick became so alarmed at how high my husband’s blood pressure was (I’ve been trying to get him to see a doctor about it for a couple of years) that he dragged him to his doctor on Friday morning and Tim got some medication. Now the trick is for Tim to actually take it and get to his own doctor for a check-up.
They don’t like to admit that they’re not 20 or even 30 anymore. Tim and Rob are in their 50’s while Rick is now 60. Watching them goof around and play their silly tricks on one another, listening to them laugh I couldn’t help feeling a little wistful. Where has the time gone? My God, it seems like only yesterday when our kids were all small. We were piling them into vehicles and taking them up to Beauvais to go fishing and spend a day at Connie’s parent’s cabin. We, meaning Connie, Kelly and myself would be annoyed as hell with the guys for drinking too much, making too much noise and taking off for hours without letting us know where they were going or what they were doing. They’d pile into the boat and take off and you could hear their laughter clear across the lake.
Through all the dramas over the years, the heartbreak, the joys, the arguments, all the little moments that have made and joined our lives — the sound of Larson boys laughing is one sound that binds us all.
Okay, a couple of hours have passed since my last post. I’m telling you — weeks go by without a word — then, wham! 2 posts in one day!
So, Thursday, which was Remembrance Day we have plans to attend a service in Vauxhall, and then lay a wreath at the cemetery in Lethbridge where Wilf is buried.
The morning gets off to good enough start. Connie makes us all french toast — yum! — and then Rick starts with ‘organizing’ everyone. We need to be in Vauxhall by 11 a.m. he tells us. Okay. Rob, who has a broken arm and is facing surgery on Monday, decides he needs to go wash his rental truck. (His own truck was broken in to and vandalized — for the second time this year — and is in the shop for repairs.) It’s a rental, we all say — why bother? Well, because he’s a Larson, that’s why.
Being a Larson will be a recurring theme throughout this account. Just so you know.
Rick tells Rob to be back by 10 so that we’re not late. No problem. The rest of us then set about getting dressed and organizing cameras, gathering up wreaths, boxes of Kleenex, etc. By 9:30 there’s no sign of Rob. Rick is becoming frantic. “We need to get out of here.” he keeps repeating. That’s that Larson thing I was mentioning. But you told Rob 10 o’clock we keep reminding him. Well, he should know enough to be back early, Rick counters. It’s decided we’re not waiting. We go to get in Rick’s vehicle. There is a ton of stuff on the back seat. I say let’s take our vehicle. I’ll drive. (I’ve been through my apology by this point.)
So, we pile into my vehicle and are out on the highway when Rick asks Connie if she locked the doors. Of course, she says. Well, how are Rob and Kelly going to know where we are, he says. And then they discover they’ve forgotten their cell phone, so it’s spin around and go back. Rick and Connie rush in, get the phone, make a sign for Rob and Kelly. We’re just about to pull away when I see them coming down the street. They pull up, the time is 9:56. Rob is a little miffed — “you said 10 o’clock, it’s 10 o’clock!” Anyway. . .
. . . we finally leave. We’re out on the highway again. It’s been all of five minutes since we left the house and both my husband and Rick are haranguing me from the back seat. I’m driving too slow, I’m stopping too fast, I’m in the wrong lane. . . I tell them both to shut up or they can get out and go with Rob. But Rob is now passing me and tearing off down the highway at super-speed. More haranguing from the back seat. Connie and I just look at each other and do our best to ignore them.
Rick starts telling me that if I don’t step on it we’re going to miss the service. It’s just after 10, I tell him, you said it starts at 11. Well, I want to get a good spot he says. We’ll get there, when we get there, I tell him. I’m doing 120 kmh and both him and Tim are telling me to go faster. I ignore them. This is as fast as I’m going to go. If we’re late, we’re late. Nothing to be done about it.
We roll through Taber, take our left at the sugar beet factory and head towards Vauxhall. Still the bitching from the back seat. “I will kick you to the curb,” I tell them. “Ha,” says Rick, “There is no curb! This is a country road.” Him and Tim laugh hysterically at that. Connie and I roll our eyes. Finally, we see the entrance to Vauxhall. I, amid a flurry of new instructions and directions, turn onto main street and head towards the 4-way in the middle of town. The Legion is to the right.
“We’ve missed it.” says Rick.
“How could we have missed it?” I ask. “It’s only ten minutes to 11.”
“Look at all the cars.” he says. “Well, that’s it. We’re too late. There’s no point in going in.”
We all look at him in amazement. “We’re going in. We didn’t drive all this way NOT to go in.”
Connie marches towards the hall, we all follow. As we enter the building we hear the familiar sound of Revelry. Then, a voice intoning everyone to observe 2 minutes of silence. We aren’t too late! We’re just Larson late!
After observing the 2 minutes of silence we tiptoe to a doorway. And are turned around and told to go to the other door where there is a bit more room. Off we go. We’re standing at the back of the Legion hall. The place is packed. My husband is holding the cross of poppies they’ve brought to lay in memory of their father. We stand for a long time. There are scripture readings, followed by a song from a couple of local girls, then prayers from a local minister, followed by a speech from another. Then, there is an interminably long reading out of names of the local business and community organizations — some of who are placing a wreath, but most certainly not all. At some point I turned to Connie and asked if Rick had called ahead to tell the organizers that they wanted to place a wreath in honour of Wilf. She frowned. Shook her head no. I grinned. Next thing I know, Rob is asking if anyone has a pen. I dig through my purse, find a pen. Connie finds an old receipt and writes on the back of it: In memory of Wilfred Larson. Wreath laid by his son, Timothy.
Then Rob, with his bright purple cast/sling slinks through the back of the hall, sidles up along the side of the hall and stands waiting for a pause in the reading of names so that he can pass along his note. Quite a bit of time goes by. We see him start to nod off. Finally, he is motioned to step forward. The presenter reads out our note. All eyes in the hall have now spun around to stare at our small group. My husband’s name is spoken. He steps forward with the cross. I get out my camera to catch the moment. What I catch is his head concealed by a drooping flag.
Huge sigh. But the moment is past.
The service is finished. The colour guard marches out and we head into the recreation side of the Legion. It’s time for a drink and a donut.
Well, hello! It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? I’ve had no time at all lately, but now, I am away for 5 days visiting relatives in Lethbridge and I’ve made some time to sit down and do a bit o’ bloggin’.
We came down to attend a couple of Remembrance Day ceremonies in honour of my husband’s father, who served as a tail gunner in WWII. He passed away 10 years ago, but when he was alive we always tried to come down to honour Remembrance Day with him. Now, it’s not every year that we get ‘home’, but every couple of years. This year, my time off from work added up to 5 days so we decided to make a mini-holiday of it. Also, there was a birthday party for my brother-in-law to attend and that sealed the deal.
We’ve been here since Wednesday night. The drive down was not pleasant. Tim and I have been having some ‘difficulties’ lately. So, we weren’t talking. I drove the entire way. Angry. Listening to the radio, loud, while he played with his Blackberry. At one point, he did say to me: “So, do you want me to drive?” in a tone that clearly suggested he did not want to drive at all. Of course, being stubborn and stupid, I said: “If you can’t offer to drive, then forget it.” This caused us to argue bitterly for about 5 minutes, then we went back to our respective silences for the remainder of the trip. Such fun!
By the time we reached Rick and Connie’s I was exhausted and feeling sorry for myself. Suffice it to say, I behaved badly once we got in the house. I acted like a dopey drama queen. And even as I was behaving so badly, a little voice in my head was yelling at me to stop, but would I listen? No! So, the next morning, after some sleep, I sheepishly apologized to my husband of 31 years, and to Rick and Connie for behaving like such a fool.
52 years old and I can still act like an idiot. Proof, I guess that my life is still evolving and that age does not necessarily equal wisdom.