Tick Tick Boom

I was quite surprised to get a phone call early June saying a local doctor was willing to take me on as a patient.  On top of that, it’s a woman, she’s young, and the office is on Pandosy and KLO, in other words, my hood.  I shop right there at Lakeview Market so it’s meant to be.

I met with Doc Bielby and told her I’ve sprouted a small forest of moles on my chest, and she looked at them and said she wasn’t concerned but would refer me to a skin doc to examine them with a more powerful instrument than she has.  She said “It’ll take a while” to which I replied I didn’t care, given there’s likely nothing funny going on.

I then went to Osoyoos for the weekend, and our neighbour Bonnie invited me on their “nature walk” which is a seven-acre piece of wild land below their property.  It’s lovely with grasses, indigenous bushes and lovely ponderosa pines.  There are benches in various areas where one can enjoy the view of the lake and mountains.

The next morning as I was brushing my teeth I noticed a dark mole on my chest that seemed to have sprouted overnight, and I thought wow, good thing that doc is on top of this. I put on my glasses and when I touched it, it moved!  I grabbed and pulled, and a tick came out and I threw it into the sink and washed it down, feeling creeped out.  But I know how these things operate, so I took off my nightgown, and sure enough, another new dark spot on my back.

I tried to phone Lynne who wasn’t home, so I phoned Bonnie and she headed right over.  In the meantime I told mom and showed her my back and she said “come over here” as though she thought she knew what she was doing and I said “I don’t want a blind person grabbing at this tick, I want someone who can actually see it.”

A few minutes later Bonnie arrived and asked for a magnifying glass (we have many due to mom’s eyesight) and a pair of tweezers.  This wasn’t working, so she requested a sewing needle and lighter which she then used to apply to the tick’s ass.  Unfortunately as I later learned from Google, that’s the worst way to remove them, however it did work and she was able to pull it out and put it into a glass vile for me.

When I got back to Kelowna I Googled the kind of tick, and it looks like it’s a ‘dog tick.’  This kind doesn’t spread Lyme disease however can cause Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.  I advised my pal Julie, who’s a nurse, and she said just watch for any symptoms like numbness, fever and some other things that I immediately decided I wasn’t going to get, and I didn’t.

Then today I was at RBC and while at the teller discovered I’ve lost my debit card.  I was in shock as I’m the sort of odd person who very rarely loses anything, so I was completely discombobulated and at one point handed my many cards to the teller and asked her to rifle through, which she did, and still nothing.

I said to her, “hey, I’m here to withdraw money, but it turns out I’m also here to report a lost card”.  She immediately cancelled my old one and we checked on-line for weirdness, but nothing.  So you see, if I had only the tick on my back, I would never have known and God knows what would’ve happened.  If I wasn’t at the bank today it could’ve taken a long time to notice my card was missing.  Sometimes bad luck is a kind of good luck in disguise.

A Visitor

Margaret’s coming for the weekend, and it’s been an awfully long time since I’ve had anyone here.  Certainly no one in 2022 that I can think of, and even last year I think the list would be quite short.  But I’m completely ready, shrimp in garlic cream sauce over spaghetti tonight, Milanese chicken tomorrow and stew made with coconut milk and coriander on Sunday.  Three bottles of tequila laid in as well.

I have an annoying situation with my Jetta in that the air conditioner has decided to work sporadically, and while fine this year as it’s freezing cold, if we get heat I’ll be very upset as the dogs won’t tolerate that.  I decided to take it into a shop, and as the one I called said they could fix a 2015 Jetta’s A/C, I booked the appointment.

Marie had to pick me up at 8:30 AM and drive me home, which was fine as we went for a walk, but then it took until 1:30 before I finally called and they said “Oh it’s a bigger problem than we thought and as Volkswagen has some proprietary issues we can’t get into the A/C/”

Propriety issues?  I said to the guy can you imagine how much it’ll cost me at the Volkswagen dealer, and he agreed and gave me the name of a local mechanic who works on Volkswagen, secret codes be damned.  Then when I got home I told Carl the handyman the story and he provided me with yet another mechanic who knows how to bust into the A/C of a Jetta.

Speaking of Carl it was raining like mad one morning as he was working on my deck, so he ran into the garage for shelter.  Later that day he asked me who used the BB rifle he saw in there and I said “My son used it for shooting mice in the basement.”  Carl also has two sons so he just shrugged and nodded.

As I get older I realize the worst mistakes I’ve made in my life more often involved saying no rather than saying yes, so I’m trying to say yes more often.  I was invited to the memorial of an old boyfriend, and though I hadn’t seen him in over 40 years, we’d become ‘friends’ on Facebook (whatever that even means) so I thought what the heck, I should go.

I was very glad I did, as I learned Don was a talented painter, played guitar, was a scuba diver, a gourmet cook, loved to travel, learned Spanish and was learning Italian, loved his mom, was a great uncle, shopped at thrift and read.  I sat there thinking you know, I should probably just kill myself right at this very moment.

But then I cheered up as I’ve discovered a new channel on You Tube called The Nurse Flipper.  This woman buys all manner of stuff at thrift, and then shows how much these items can yield on e Bay and other popular places.  Being suggestible, I immediately decided I would be the next Nurse Flipper (she’s an actual nurse…)

I raced to a few thrift stores and bought some items feeling sure thousands of dollars awaited, came home and carefully Googled each item and realized I am not going to be the next Nurse Flipper.  It’s still fun, though, and to that end Margaret and I plan to scour the shops for treasures tomorrow.  Because you just never know when the next Aynsley cup and saucer set will appear.

Trapped!

About 25 years ago Denis built a little garden shed on the side of the garage.  It’s large enough to store the lawn mower, weed whacker, garden pots, an old table I keep planning to ‘restore’, and all of my old beehive equipment.  The frames are gucked with old wax and there’s some sort of decay going on so if I ever return to beekeeping I can see a lot of cleaning will have to occur.

The latch to the door has become really finicky and for the past ten years we’ve had to keep a screwdriver lying on the ground outside it as once latched it’s really hard to open just with one’s hands.  However yesterday it was open as I’ve been going in and out getting pots to fill with dirt and plants, and then putting them into the greenhouse given this horrible cold spring.

In I went for another pot when suddenly a strong wind blew the shed door shut.  I ran toward it rattling it and realized to my horror I was locked in!  The shed faces the neighbour’s driveway so I tried screaming “help, help!” a couple of times, but of course given the wind, me inside a shed, them inside their house, I could see this was going to be futile.

For most of the time it’s been there a large thick English ivy has covered the entire garage and most of the shed as well, but it died this past winter.  Calvin had to take every single piece of it off, and by doing that he exposed a door I’d forgotten about on the opposite side of the shed.  This was good as images of breaking the glass to get out had already passed through my mind, and perhaps could now be discounted as a logical solution.

Seeing the door flooded me with relief and being a panicked maniac, I stampeded toward it knocking hive boxes, frames, and anything else in my way flying.  This door was fortunately bolted from the inside, and so with trembling hands I tried to slide the bolt, but it wouldn’t move as it hadn’t been done in a couple of decades.  I could also see a few thick old vines still adhering and causing a barrier.

I thought of the dogs outside, and how disappointed they’d be to miss their dinner.  Calvin was in the basement, probably with headphones on, gaming on the computer, and I imagined a day or two going by with people finally going huh, I wonder where Moni is.  I decided no damned way, I had to get myself out of this shed.

I studied the bolt and decided pushing the door forward would help, and finally I was able to loosen it which opened the door a crack, but the vines prevented full opening.  Kind of like when a fridge falls on a kid and the mom is able to lift it whereas otherwise she wouldn’t be able to, I pulled that freaking door toward myself as hard as I could and it gave way.  Suddenly I was out in the yard, panting.

How long was this traumatic adventure?  Maybe three minutes at most, but it felt much longer given I like going straight into panic mode.  Unlike the people who survive in the documentaries I enjoy about cave diving gone wrong, mountain climbing accidents and people lost on hikes, I prefer the all-out white-faced terror reaction when all logical thinking ceases.

Mom Won’t Waste Food

Every Easter I dye hard-boiled eggs and because I love the colour to be super deep, I leave them in the dye for two or three hours.  Then they sit in a basket for a few days and then get thrown out.  Not at mom’s though as under no circumstances will she waste food.

So no-one should’ve been surprised to find out mom had eaten two of them a week after they were made.  Luke said the next day she told him they were slimy, but she rinsed them off and they tasted fine, so down the old hatch with the eggs.  Naturally she vomited all night long and was completely weak and sick for several days afterward.

The scary part was her inability to find the right words, but after a few days of that she regained her ability to speak and is now right as rain.  Every time she gets very sick she demands I phone the doctor’s office and get the doctor to order MAID (Medical Assistance in Dying) for her, and just like last time she told me to cancel the appointment as she’s feeling fine.

Given her hearty nature, I can’t imagine the doctor actually ordering MAID, but who knows.  I do as I’m told, even if the request is particularly out of the norm, yet most are really normal, thereby demonstrating her mind is sharp.  Today she reminded me to bring perennials from my garden to replace those that had died in hers.

And speaking of gardens, please never buy rudbeckia (common name black-eyed Susan) as just like variegated ground cover, mint, or forget-me-nots, you’re going to have it for the rest of your life and in every garden bed you own.  For years I ignored it as I’m a very lazy person so thought hey, that’s nice, I don’t have to do anything as these things plant themselves.  But now I have to dig and dig and dig to get it out of all the beds I allowed it to roam into.

As you may recall I was on the Liberal executive for five years, and thought that’s enough of event-planning and retired from it.  Yet one of the cagey fellow Liberal board members had me over for lunch and after a preamble asked if I’d be interested in doing events organization for the Kelowna Citizens for a New Performing Arts Centre Society.

Alice is on the board, and apparently in a meeting the topic of events came up and she said hey I have the perfect person.  Long story short, I’m now the events planner for this newly-formed society which hopes to raise 100 million dollars for a new performing arts centre to replace the old Kelowna Community Theatre.

But why not, as God knows some of my best memories come from plays such as Oh Calcutta! which I saw in London and was pretty outré for a twenty-something girl from Osoyoos.  The whole thing was performed in the nude which was very chi chi in those days.  Never mind my joy at seeing plays in Boston, New York and Vancouver.

I’ll be in Osoyoos this weekend for Mother’s Day and will be making a nice lunch and we’re hoping James and Julie will attend as is tradition.  With Liz and Liza gone they enjoy reminiscing with us.  The only fear will be when I drive home the next day and the wonder of what leftovers will be sitting out for X number of days precipitating another call for MAID.

Easter Confusion

Nick and his little family came to Osoyoos to have lunch on Easter Sunday, and the topic of what Easter means came up.  Neither Luke nor Nick had a clue, and wondered.  They said is it when Jesus was born?  I said no, it’s when he died.  Luke said I thought Christmas was when he died, and I said no, that’s when he was born.

It seems almost incomprehensible that two kids, ages 32 and 35, with quite decent IQ’s would never have understood the significance of either Christmas or Easter.  I said to Luke at your gramma Gen’s, we’d have birthday crackers and hats at Christmas to celebrate Jesus’ birth.  Oh well.

Most of the weekend went well except for one small skirmish whereby mom had to verbally attack a waitress at the Diamond Steak and Seafood House.  The waitress was one of those competent, self-confidence types who likes to call all customers ‘hon’, which is fine with me but to mom is like waving a red flag in front of a bull.

When the bill arrived mom explained she didn’t wish to be called hon and resented it.  The waitress was excellent, recognizing she had a severely old person here, given we entered at a snail’s pace with the walker which became a major obstacle to all who tried to pass.  So she rolled with the punches and just said she was sorry about that, and Luke and I said nothing because what can you say about a crabby 97-year-old?

Mom and I went out for a nice drive on Sunday afternoon to look at various areas of the town to see how development has affected the poor place.  It’s always amazing to see the amount of land taken out of the Agricultural Land Reserve for subdivisions.  I guess the town’s planners are banking on food coming from California for the rest of our days.

Where the farms haven’t been taken out of the ALR many have converted to grape-growing, which is another puzzle as to how that’s agriculture.  But maybe we’ll end up like the Ruskies, and have our grocery shelves empty of food, and where they have gallons of vodka in times of severe food shortages, we’d be able to forget our troubles with gallons of red and white wines.

I’ve embarked on a new project for mom’s vast collection of books.  Most were bought and read by my dad, so there’s a lot of World War 2 history, and many 60-year-old books in that teensy print that seemed to be okay back then, but now we don’t like that small font, probably due to being very lazy and so we want reading to be easy.

As a result, every two weeks I take a couple of dozen off the shelf, and then replace them with books under 20 years old, within a wide range of categories.  In a year I should have each book replaced and then people will want to grab one off the shelf and read it.  Very few people are interested in the life and times of Hermann Goering.

Certainly the next time I’m in thrift with Elsa I’ll peruse the religious section and try to find books with which to enlighten the children with the meaning of the holidays we’ve celebrated for our entire lives.  I may have to throw in a couple of books about Judaism and Islam and as Jan’s a Buddhist, perhaps one or two of those, too.  In any case, it can’t hurt and perhaps will lessen holiday confusion.

A Wedding and Two Funerals

I’ve now attended three significant events at my brother’s house on Whonnock Lake in Maple Ridge in the past ten years.  First, my niece Julie’s wedding, almost ten years ago, and then in quick succession a memorial for Freddie almost two years ago followed by one last week for Twig.  I could have called this post A Wedding and Two Memorials but it loses its punch.

Jan had a nightmarish experience and wasn’t able to open her PCR test results so had to miss her planned flight to Thailand, so she was heartbroken, but re-booked it all, leaving a week later.  She was flying from Kelowna so Luke dropped her off in his truck, parked here, and we drove in my Jetta to Maple Ridge.

I love the turbo charge, but less when Luke’s driving as I don’t like him going “look, we easily made that corner at 110 and the sign says 70!”  Sometimes I just closed my eyes as I could imagine the pain of being smacked by the air bags as they deploy.  But it was all for nothing as we arrived safe and sound at 12:30.

The event began at 2:00 and the girls had rented a large tent, same as for the other two events, but added heaters due to the time of year, and had organized catering and had masses of alcoholic beverages.  Everyone was invited to take one of Twig’s teacups as they didn’t want them, plus they said it’d be a great way to “have a cup of tea with Twig.”

I, being a trained shark from thrift, picked up an Aynsley turquoise blue cup and saucer with a fruit theme.  I came home and Googled it and see it’s worth around $262.  I felt extremely proud, but don’t they say after 10,000 hours of something a person becomes an expert?  I’m pretty sure Elsa and I have done that amount of time over the years.

The girls, Twig’s brother and Freddie’s best friend Stu all spoke about Twig, and Jason had made a beautiful slideshow of her life.  It was lovely to see them all in days gone by, but horribly sad as Freddie and Twig were both just 74 when they died which is quite young these days.  We’ll miss them, that’s for sure.

When we were driving down Luke said he was dead tired because he and Jan had gotten up at 4:00 AM in Osoyoos because she was catching the plane in Kelowna that morning.  I said well that’s good as then maybe we can leave at a decent hour, like 9:00.  At Freddie’s memorial I went to bed at midnight, and the rah rahing outside went on until dawn so I really didn’t want that given Luke and I had to drive to Julie’s house to sleep.

At 9:00 Luke was swilling beer, laughing and talking, having a ball and I was standing looking at him the way the dogs do when we visit somewhere and they figure it’s time to go home.  He looked at me and said “I know what you’re thinking.”  I did manage to get him out of there shortly after which was good, and I drove in pitch dark with him helping with directions to Julie and Jason’s lovely house on the Alouette River.

The next morning we left smartly at 8:00 and naturally now the oil light was on so we had to stop and top up with that plus gas, then the death-defying 140 KPH on the straight ways, the accelerated passes on the freeway, and the eye-shutting testing the limits of what speed the car will hold on turns….. fun!  Made it though.

The World’s in Quite a Pickle

I find myself unable to stop watching the news, which is dumb as there’s nothing in it but sadness, and other than giving five dollars each time I buy booze, I’m not able to do a lot to help the people in Ukraine.  But then we watched the desperate people in Afghanistan and Syria before them too, and went geez, that sucks.  We’re in a fortunate, yet helpless, part of the world.

And other than planning for Nuclear Winter, life goes on pretty much as normal.  I went to visit mom who became sick while I was there, likely due to high blood pressure and congestive heart failure, both of which she doesn’t think she has.  She said, “do you think I have that sickness, you know, that thing everyone has?”  And I said, “Covid?” And she said “yes, that.”

I said I didn’t think she had it, as there were no symptoms of it.  Then she asked if I thought she was dying, and I said, “given you just ate a bowl of custard, then a muffin and drank a coffee, I think you’re far from dying.”  She was then indignant, saying she knew of “lots” of people who ate just before they died.

The cantankerousness was a sign she was on the mend, and so I drove home knowing Luke’s right next door, at her beck and call.  It’s so much better with them in their own home as it turns out mom’s like one of those animals you read about in the SPCA, you know the ones for adoption where it says “would do best in a home with no other animals.”

Being on the Hall Road Facebook page has helped me realize what a pariah I am.  Not only do I feed nuts to the magpies and Steller’s jays, I have two outdoor cats.  Apparently the larger birds like to murder and eat smaller songbirds, which of course the cats like to do as well, so it turns out I’m responsible for songbird deaths.  Because the cats would shred my house, keeping them in is a no-go however I’ve resolved to stop feeding the big birds, so there.

Jan’s off to Thailand in less than two weeks and she always takes tons of chocolates with her.  I’ve ordered some on-line and bought a good assortment at Winners and Homesense, so she now has over $200 worth of chocolate for the family and friends. Luke said due to my largesse with the chocolates when we visited in 2012 my picture’s on the wall of one of the small restaurants in the little village.

With this strange cloud of imminent doom hanging over all of our heads, thanks to Putin, I find either I’m in a state of paralysis, numbly watching news clip after news clip on You Tube, or else tuning it all out entirely and sweeping for a couple of hours outside until my body calls it quits. 

I also made a photo book of the Hawaii trip for Marie, and had the Crones over last week which necessitated a lot of fancy-pants meal prep, and today I bought a shirt that I’m going to alter in the sleeves to make it all adorable and bespoke.  So far, I’ve managed to stay away from the incessant colouring I do when the stress levels get too high.

But of course stress is relative, and when I see moms holding babies and leading a tired toddler by the hand I think oh shut the hell up about your so-called stress!  Honestly.

Hilarity and Hysteria in Hawaii

As it was hot and sunny for our entire trip to the Big Island, there’s not a lot a person can report but what is very memorable for me are the hilarious people from the trip.  The very first person to provide entertainment was the front desk ‘clerk’ at the Kona Islander Hotel.  I say clerk guardedly as she explained to anyone in earshot she didn’t work for the hotel so she certainly couldn’t help any of us.

Turns out the Kona Islander is all privately-owned condos so if your owner is negligent, too bad for you.  This happened to us, as we’d asked for two beds but had to bunk in one, though it was a king so it was fine, and was worse for another group from Oregon who arrived to a pillow smeared in blood, get outta here if you think you’re getting another one.

But the hotel had a lovely pool and beautiful grounds, plus it was just one night, and then we had a really nice condo for the next nine nights.  Once settled in we headed for a national park where we’d heard we could see turtles, so went into the ranger-staffed little office and said to the disinterested employee, “Are there turtles here?”

He very helpfully replied “No, not here.  Ya have ta go down to the bay to see ‘em.”  We thanked him and left and then spent quite a bit of time rehearsing funny replies such as “Really?  We thought they’d be right here on this desk.”

Several days later we ran into a clerk at the Outlet store who couldn’t understand that Marie had bought and paid for three items, and that I was trying to pay for one single item.  She kept trying to extract $20.97 from me and I kept pointing to the tag saying I refuse to pay more than the $10.00 this tag is indicating.

She remained stymied until Marie brilliantly suggested “Why don’t you just void that and start over?”  She did, and after that it worked, but a customer behind us who witnessed the whole thing gathered up her purchases and moved to a different till. I guess she didn’t want that kind of a battle with a cashier.

We were as stupid as some of the people we met, as on the second day I said let’s go to Hilo, and we proceeded to head south instead of north.  Several hours later we did manage to find our way there and had a nice serenade from a guitar-playing couple on the street who gave away CD’s of their music.

The last ridiculous person was as we were getting onto the plane. A woman in first class said to Marie “You can’t bring that onto the plane.”  Marie then calmly explained the lower suitcase went into the overhead bin and the smaller bag fit under the seat in front of her.  I said to Marie how good of you to explain to her how carry-on works.  The woman must be exhausted at the end of each day with so many strangers doing so much wrong all the time.

Prior to this incident I’d almost been denied boarding as the government’s ArriveCan app wouldn’t formulate a barcode for me, so despite being vaccinated and having a negative PCR test, I nearly had to book a later flight home.  Fortunately my hysteria moved a Westjet employee who had a good amount of common sense as she said just get on the plane.  Thank God for people with a heart plus a brain.

Fingers Crossed As Usual

Last fall the government told us we could travel ourselves silly, so my friend Marie and I booked a trip to Hawaii.  Two months later all non-essential travel was being discouraged, however our trip is non-refundable, so we decided we’re damn well going to Hawaii.  It’s currently 30 degrees C there, and about that in Fahrenheit here.

The whole thing could come to a screeching halt on Thursday morning when we go for the Covid tests which are required within 24 hours of leaving for Hawaii.  Then the WestJet website advises one needs to be at the airport at least two hours prior to a domestic flight, so we’re planning to be at the airport at 11:00 AM, with carry-on and boarding passes, for a flight to Vancouver which leaves at 1:00.

Covid certainly makes for a long day of travel.  However I’m not complaining and am just praying and hoping we do actually get onto the plane.  I won’t believe it until we land in Kona, and then the fun really begins as we’re due to arrive at 10:30 PM. Our hotel has no staff after midnight and the woman Marie spoke to said the lock box is “very complicated.”  Doesn’t that instill confidence?

There’s a really nice video of the hotel’s grounds on their website at http://www.konaislanderinnhotel.com, and when Marie saw it she said if we end up sleeping by the pool it’s fine and she’s right.  Check it out as it’s a really great location in Kona, though we’re just there for one night, and then off to Waikoloa Village for nine nights at a condo.

My friend Donna had given me a gift certificate for a pedicure at a local aesthetics salon for my birthday and so I finally got to use it the other day.  She’d emailed me “don’t forget to take your thongs” and I replied they’re now referred to as flip flops.

The kids had disabused me of using the word ‘thong’ to describe flip flops long ago, when they were in their teens.  As we were heading outside one day I said I needed to find my thongs, to which they both heartily replied “ewwww.”  In those days we would all delight in screaming “ewww” at Denis when we caught a glimpse of him naked or lightly clothed, to which he’d always reply “ew yourself.”

The Crones and I had an interesting experience at the new Hyatt Place on Enterprise as we decided to go for Happy Hour.  We arrived at 3:00 and then had to wait a bit for the bartender to show up, and then the drinking began.  The cocktails were fine and after an hour or so we ordered food.  I ordered a burger and fries, as did Sharon and Petra had ordered sweet chili chicken wings. 

When I bit into my burger, I noted it was raw in the middle, so sent it back and Petra said the wings were buffalo, IE hot, and so the wrong ones, and so sent those back.  As a result I had two free cocktails, and I think Petra had one free, so we left feeling pretty good about it all. My second burger, and her sweet chili wings, were all good the second time.

Things have settled down in Osoyoos as mom now has her house back and Luke and Jan are in theirs, so at least I can go on my trip not worried sick about the fighting down there, and instead can worry myself sick about the world of travel during Covid.